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attention to the fact, and had asked the House of Commons to condemn it. The King, acquainted beforehand with the motion, declared that he had no doubt that it would be found that Mr. Hume had discovered a mare's nest.1 The debate did not fulfil the King's expectations. It was shown clearly that lodges had been formed in the army under warrants signed by the Duke of Cumberland. All that the Duke or his friends could allege in excuse was that warrants, signed by the Duke in blank, had been filled up by the persons to whom they had been entrusted in a manner which the Duke himself had not contemplated.
In these circumstances it became impossible to deny the existence of lodges in regiments, and strict orders were issued to try by court-martial any officer or soldier who belonged to an Orange lodge. The King, indeed, in assenting to this course, took occasion to condemn other societies which he perhaps thought would not be equally disliked by his Ministers. He wrote on August 7 that—
He highly disapproves of all similar societies, whether Protestant or Catholic, including, of course, political and trades unions, and he sincerely wishes all could be put down by the strong arm of the law.
For the moment the matter dropped. In the recess Mr. Hume continued to urge Lord John to take further steps for the dissolution of Orange clubs, and at the commencement of the session of 1836 moved an address to the Crown for the removal of every functionary, civil or military, who attended the meeting of any Orange lodge or of any other political club. Lord John, rising immediately after the motion had been seconded, proposed an amendment praying the King to take such measures as he might deem advisable for the effectual discouragement of Orange lodges and of all political societies. Perhaps no speech in the House of Commons before or since has ever produced a more remarkable effect than that which Lord John then made. The leading Orangemen themselves,
1 The King to Lord J. Russell, July 18, 1835.
S though they desired to exclude from the amendment any express allusion to their own organisation by name, yielded at once to the temper of the leader of the House. Lord Stanley congratulated his noble friend on the triumph he had obtained by the mild, quiet, prudent, and statesmanlike tone he had assumed on the occasion. Mr. Greville declared that Lord John had immortalised himself. His
speech, far surpassing his usual form, dignified, temperate, and judicious . . . drew tears from the Orangemen, enthusiastic approbation from Stanley, a colder approval from Peel, and the universal assent of the House. ... In accomplishing this by moderate and healing counsels, by a conciliatory tone and manner, Lord John deserves the name of a statesman. His speech is worth a thousand flowery harangues which have elicited the shouts of audiences or the admiration of readers, and he has probably conferred a great and permanent benefit upon the country.
Whilst the King, who had now learned to regard his Minister in a very different light from that in which he looked upon him in 1835, highly approved—
the very judicious course adopted by Lord John Russell. His, Majesty does not think that, under all the circumstances which had led to the agitation of the question, the words 'Orange lodge' could reasonably have been excluded from the amendment, and his Majesty rejoices that the amendment was carried without a division.
Thus, thanks to Lord John, a great step was taken in 1836 to reconcile Ireland. In the same session the House of Lords and the Tory party did much to widen the breach between it and England. The question of appropriation, which had been thrust into prominence in 1834, was now connected by the rejection of the Irish Municipal Bill with the question of local self-government. Irish politicians and Irish agitators were beginning to see that the second subject was of even greater importance than the first. The Ministers, however, could not yet make up their minds to sacrifice the measure on which they had come into office, and decided on re-introducing both the Tithe and the Corporation Bills. The Lords, under Lord Lyndhurst's guidance, showed little respect for either measure. The Tithe Bill was re-constructed. The Municipal Bill was 1 returned with the title altered, with the preamble changed ;' out 'of 140 clauses [to quote Lord John's account of the matter], 106 have been in substance omitted, 18 other clauses have been introduced, and of the whole purport and intention of the original Bill little is to be found in the Bill which is now come down to us.'1
Lord John had patiently endured the conduct of the Lords in the previous session. He had resisted the appeals which had been made to him to take up the question of Peerage Reform, and had recommended a policy of calm expectation. But the attitude of the Peers in 1836 changed his opinion, and he drew up the following paper. It is not too much to say that, if the course recommended had been adopted, the position which the Melbourne Administration fills in history would have been materially altered.
June 5, 1836.
I beg to call the attention of the Cabinet to the position in which the present conduct of the House of Lords may place the Ministry and the country. It is evident that a majority of that House are combined, not to stop or alter a particular measure, but to stop or alter all measures which may not be agreeable to the "most powerful, or, in other words, the most violent, among their own body. Both the Tories and the Radicals have the advantage of a definite course with respect to this state of things. The Tories praise the wisdom of the Lords, and wish to maintain their power undiminished. The Radicals complain of a mischievous obstacle to good government, and propose an elective House of Lords. The Ministers stand in the position of confessing the evil and not consenting to the remedy. The influence of public opinion is, indeed, to be looked to as some check to the House of Lords; but, on Irish questions, it is a very imperfect one. It is certainly possible to wait till the beginning of next session before any definite course is taken. But I own it appears to me better to take every opportunity of increasing the strength of the Liberal party in the House of Lords, than to begin a struggle against a majority such as that which the Tory Peers
_, . 1 Hansard, xxxiy. 218.
now possess. It is possible, nay, probable, that, if the Tories could see a steady and gradual creation of peers to meet this obstinate resistance, they would be disposed to yield. Before the passing of the Reform Bill they were coerced by [the threat of] a large creation, and by that alone. It appears to me, therefore, that this opportunity should be taken for the creation of eight, ten, or twelve peers, and that the Ministry be prepared to advise a similar creation whenever it is provoked.
In reference to this paper Lord John sent the following note to the Prime Minister :—
Dear Melbourne,—I think, if you are not of the opinion stated in the paper I send you, it will be better not to send it round. One day or other we shall all come to one mind upon it, and, till we do, it is well not to have my propositions debated. But I beg you to consider it well. . . .—Yours, J. R.
Lord Melbourne replied on the same evening—
South Street : June 5, 1S36. My Dear John,—I have kept your letter in order to give it a little consideration. It is a very serious step: and, I have no doubt, if taken, will lead to the resignation of the Government, and to attempts to form another. What may be the consequences of this struggle it is impossible to foresee, and I own that at present I am loth to be the immediate and proximate cause of bringing it on. . . .—Yours faithfully, MELBOURNE.
Lord Melbourne's reluctance to force on a crisis prevailed. No peers were created till the following year, and Lord Lyndhurst and his followers were not restrained in the almost undisguised effort which they made to check and thwart the policy of the Administration. Those persons who think that the conduct of the Lords and the submission of the Commons were among the most unfortunate features of the Melbourne Administration, will regret that the suggestion which Lord John made to the Prime Minister was not adopted. But at the same time those who are best acquainted with the inner political history of 1835 and 1836 will be disposed to make large allowance for Lord Melbourne. It was the Prime Minister's misfortune that, while he was engaged in carrying large and comprehensive measures of public policy, he was constantly distracted and opposed by the presence of petty questions and private jealousies. The claims of rival lawyers, and the objections which the sovereign entertained to particular individuals, gave the Ministers more trouble and anxiety than the differences between Lords and Commons or the suppression of Orange lodges.
In 1836 the King entertained an extraordinary dislike of Lord Glenelg. His treatment of that Minister in 1835 has been already mentioned. In June 1836, almost on the day on which Lord John was proposing the creation of a fresh batch of peers, William IV. was informing Lord Melbourne that he had refused his assent to a despatch which Lord Glenelg had submitted to him, and that he never would—
assent to any despatch which shall countenance the possibility of making a change in the manner of constituting the Councils in any of the colonies.1
Lord Glenelg would probably have best consulted his own dignity if he had at once retired from a situation in which his advice was not acted on. Instead of doing so, he remained in office. One of the consequences will be best told in Lord Melbourne's own words.
South Street: August 26, 1836.
My Dear John,—. . . . Affairs wear a very awkward aspect at Windsor. You observed the state of irritation in which the King was at the prorogation of Parliament, and I was told from good authority that he had been more heated and vehement than he had ever been seen before, and that serious alarm and apprehension had been entertained respecting his state.2 . . . On Wednesday last I wrote to the King proposing Lord Southwell for the vacant Riband of St. Patrick, to which I have received the following reply this morning :—
'The King, however anxious to give the vacant Riband to the Viscount Southwell, must pause till his Majesty has brought the vacillating and procrastinating Lord Glenelg to confer the
1 Lord Melbourne to Lord John, June 7, 1836.
2 Lord Melbourne here relates a scene at "Windsor, already recorded by Mr. Greville, in which the Duchess of Kent was the subject of the King's anger (Greville, Memoirs, iii. 368). For the King's subsequent speech to Lord Aylmer, iiid. iii. 395.