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a great measure. Yet, during a session, in which he succeeded to a large extent in retrieving his position, Lord John frequently suffered from the physical debility which, throughout his life, so materially increased the difficulties of his political career. The short Easter recess found him grievously in need of rest; and his best friends seriously debated the propriety of his seeking relief in the calmer atmosphere of the House of Lords. At Althorp, where Mr. Greville stayed at the end of March,
Graham talked much of John Russell, and said his loss would be so great that, if he was unable to face the severe work of the House of Commons, he had better go to the Lords, and retain his office.
Sir James Graham's opinion was repeated to the Duke of Bedford, who communicated it to his brother; and Lord John seems to have actually made up his mind to take a peerage; but, as he did not consider his own fortune and the Irish estate, which the Duke had settled on him, adequate for its support, to create it with remainder to his brother the Duke. The short Easter holiday, however, enabled him sufficiently to recover his strength to struggle on. The notion of a peerage was abandoned for another twelve months, when it was revived in another shape." And in the result another dozen years passed before Lord John, on the eve of entering his seventieth year, escaped from the late hours of the House of Commons to the easier duties of the House of Lords.
Lord John, moreover, in the summer of 1849, had one consolation which had always a marked effect on his own health. Lady John gave him a fresh assurance of her gradual recovery by presenting him, on July 11, with his third son.N. The boy was christened three months afterwards at Windsor, the Prince standing sponsor to him, and giving him the second of his three names—Francis Albert Rollo. In the interval between the boy's birth and the christening a good deal happened. Parliament was prorogued by the Queen in person.
1 Wide ante, p. 57.
on August 1; and, while the Queen set out on her visit to Ireland, her First Minister retired to the quiet of his own home at Richmond, where he celebrated his fifty-seventh birthday by giving the children of a little school, which he had just opened at Petersham, a tea under the trees and a dance on the lawn of Pembroke Lodge. Two days afterwards he set out to attend the Queen at Balmoral. While he was at Balmoral he had a day's shooting with the Duke of Leeds, and had the satisfaction of killing his first deer, and, if the Times correspondent at Balmoral was correct, the first deer ever shot by a Prime Minister in office; 1 and thence he forwarded to Lady John the following lines:—
I breathe the lightsome mountain air,
Lord John left Balmoral in the society of Mr. Greville, who had been summoned north to attend a council, who drew from the Prime Minister in conversation his real opinion of Lord Palmerston's conduct, and parted from him at Perth. Lord John spent the rest of the autumn chiefly at Pembroke Lodge, paying, however, visits at Woburn, at Windsor, and Bowood. At Bowood he saw for the last time his old friend the poet Moore, whose intellect was already obscured by the weight of sorrow which clouded his declining years; and at Woburn he
* The Times said a stag. But Lord John, writing to his wife, said, ‘I have been out deer-stalking, and have killed a deer. It was a hind (113 yards off), but no matter. Mr. Ross says I am the first Prime Minister who has been out deer-stalking."
had the satisfaction of seeing his eldest son imitating the example of his own boyhood and playing one of the Babes in the Wood in an extravaganza composed by Mr. Stafford O'Brien for the occasion. But the autumn was not given up to amusement. Early in October Lord John brought before the Cabinet a proposal for a new Reform Bill. The time seemed ripe for the change. In resisting a motion of Mr. Hume's for a large measure of Radical Reform on June 5, Lord John had been careful to define that he was in favour of some extension of the suffrage; while still later, on July 3, he had resented the notion that he was pledged to resist all Reform; declaring that he had never used the word finality which had won him his famous nickname." So moderate a politician as Sir James Graham told him afterwards that he was bound to give effect to these two declarations;” and in conformity with this view Lord John brought the question before his colleagues in an October Cabinet. The members looked grave. Sir Charles Wood and Lord Lansdowne expressed alarm, and the others asked for time. But time did not make the proposal more palatable. The four members of the Grey party, reinforced for the occasion by Lord Lansdowne and Lord Palmerston, thought the proposal premature. They argued, with some force, that it would make a dissolution unavoidable; and that a new Parliament might possibly place a Protectionist Ministry in office. Lord John saw that it was hopeless to persevere with a project which he could not carry in his own Cabinet. But the decision was unfortunate, for it compelled him, in again resisting Mr. Hume's motion for Reform, to use the arguments which had frightened his colleagues, instead of those which had influenced himself:—
I have communicated with them [my colleagues] upon this subject; and we have not thought it advisable in the present session of Parliament to set aside other great questions for the purpose of . . . raising any question whatever on the franchise. . . . Of late years many changes have been made which are still matters of grave discussion both in the House and the country. My opinion is . . . that these matters ought to be settled previous to placing before the country another question like this. . . . That there is no very prevailing wish for these changes—that the middle classes, as the hon. and learned member for Sheffield said, are rather opposed to them—are certainly not conclusive reasons against these changes. It is unadvisable to wait for a storm before you put to sea; but, if you lift your anchor in a perfect calm, you may be drifted against the rocks."
1 Hansard, cv. 1215, and cvi. 1302. * Greville, 2nd series, iii. 294.
Mr. Bernal Osborne laughed at the leader of the Liberal party waiting for a breeze. But the captain had in reality remained in port in consequence of the refusal of his crew to sail. If Lord John was thus unable in 1850 to proceed with the great work of organic Reform, he introduced, at the commencement of the session, a measure which, though it excited little heat at the time, may possibly be remembered when the Reform Act is forgotten. Nothing is more remarkable in the history of England than the opinion, which was generally entertained in the middle of the century, of the value of the colonies of England to the mother country. Men of mark, conscious of the gradual decay of the West Indies, irritated by the constant series of petty and expensive wars which retarded progress in South Africa, and alarmed at the inconvenient demands which were constantly arriving from Australia for free labour and self-government, almost openly declared that colonies were a burden, and not an advantage to the empire; and privately admitted that they would have welcomed the severance of the link that bound the one to the other. The constitution of the Cabinet of 1846 perhaps increased this opinion. Lord Grey' administration of the Colonial Office deserves to be remembered with gratitude. But Lord Grey managed to make himself the most unpopular of Ministers. He was so conscious of his own unpopularity that he suggested in 1849 that he should be permitted to retire before he was broken by the weight of office and the burden of obloquy. Lord John never deserted a
* Hansard, cix. 203, 205.
colleague because he was unpopular, and he determined, in the session of 1850, to place colonial policy in the forefront of his programme, and to take its management into his own hands. He communicated his intention to Lord Grey at the beginning of the year, and, on February 8, brought the whole question before the House in a speech, in which he reviewed the history and progress of the colonies, and the principles of colonial policy —
It is important that you should know on what it is you will have to deliberate : if your public spirit should induce you to preserve your colonies; or if your wisdom should induce you to amend your policy; or, finally, if an unhappy judgment should induce you to abandon your colonies, it is essential to know what you would preserve, or amend, or abandon.
In this remarkable speech Lord John showed how Englishmen, even in the worst periods of English history, had always carried to new settlements across the ocean those ideas of self. government which they had formed at home; and he traced the progress which had been made of recent years, and especially during his own administration, in giving autonomy to the great colonies of Australia and Africa, which had sprung into existence during his own lifetime. He proposed now to take a great step in advance by separating Port Phillip, as Victoria was then called, and Van Diemen's Land from New South Wales, and by giving to all the Australian colonies the legislative institutions which New South Wales already enjoyed. A good deal of criticism was excited at the time by the form of government which Lord John proposed to give to the colonies. Following a precedent which had been already set in 1842, and acting, as he expressly declared, on what he believed to be the wishes of the colonists themselves, he proposed for each colony a single chamber, two-thirds of whose members were to be popularly elected. But in the result this provision was of no significance, because the chambers thus
* Lord Stanhope calls this “a most able speech' (History of England, vol. vi. p. 143). -