Sivut kuvina

and most moral Government this country ever had.' Lord Palmerston wrote

C[ARLTON) G[ARDENS), March 20, 1850. MY DEAR JOHN RUSSELL, -I cannot resist congratulating you upon the result of last night. It must be most gratifying to you in every point of view. Your course has been worthy the Minister of a great country, and the House of Commons has maintained its character as the organ of a noble people.—Yours sincerely,


Many of his own followers, however, regarded the matter with very different feelings. If Lord John had not called them together in Downing Street on the previous day and told them frankly that the existence of the Government depended on the issue of the debate, some of them would undoubtedly have gone into the opposite lobby. Lord Clarendon, who differed from him on the subject, told him frankly that the result was due to attachment to himself and not to confidence in the Government. And Mr. Greville declared that he had never seen anything like the surprise of some people and the indignation of others at the course which Lord John had taken.

That course, however, was successful. The Cabinet prevailed; the squadron was saved ; and, though several embarrassing questions arose during the next few months, no issue critical to the existence of the Administration was raised till Mr. Roebuck brought forward the motion to which reference has been made in a previous chapter, approving Lord Palmerston's foreign policy. Thus the session closed without any serious change in the aspect of affairs; and the Ministers maintained, if they did not improve, the position which they had already secured. Yet, if the annals of the session made only a slight difference in the status of the Administration, a great alteration was made in the composition of the House of Commons. For, at the beginning of July, Sir Robert Peel succumbed to the effects of a fatal accident. Lord John had for more than thirty years been identified with principles the reverse of those which were

usually advocated by his great rival. For a dozen years, from 1835 to 1846, they had been sharply opposed to one another as the leaders of the two great parties of the State ; and, in the friction of political warfare, they had perhaps each of them underrated the great qualities of the other, and attributed to one another defects or faults which were due to their own imaginations. But recent circumstances had increased their mutual respect; and, though fortune or tradition still kept them apart, a communion of opinion was bringing them nearer to one another. And so it chanced that, in the last months of Sir Robert Peel's life, Sir Robert was always ready to support Lord John, and Lord John was ever ready to acknowledge Sir Robert's assistance.

During the years in which they were confronted as opponents, as well as during those in which they were co-operating as allies, few written communications—and those only of the inost formal character-passed between the two men. In the autumn of the year, however, which preceded Sir Robert's death, Prime Minister and ex-Prime Minister exchanged through the Duke of Bedford their views on the odes of Horace. Lord John sent to Sir Robert through this channel an extract from one of Mr. Fox's letters on the subject, and Sir Robert replied to the Duke 1

November 27, 1849. MY DEAR DUKE,—Pray thank Lord John for the extract from a letter of Mr. Fox.

I am rather surprised at the preference given by Mr. Fox to 'Quis desiderio,"2 but I am quite a Foxite in the admiration of * Ulla si juris.'3 I dare say Lord John recollects the application of that ode to Mary Anne Clarke, 4 and the singular appositeness of every line, and almost every word.

1 Lord John set so much value on Sir Robert's letter that he had it copied by his private secretary, Mr. (now Lord) Arthur Russell. For the benefit of those who have not kept up their classics so well as Lord John Russell and Sir Robert Peel, I have given references to the various odes quoted by Sir Robert. 2 Book I. ode xxiv.

3 Book II. ode viii. :.4.The lady.who used her influence with the Duke of York to enable her to carry on a traffic in commissions.

Sed tu, simul obligasti
Perfidum votis caput, enitescis
Pulchrior multo, juvenumque prodis

Publica cura.

I will vote with Lord John in assigning a very high place to Quis multa gracilis,'1 and also to 'Lydia, dic per omnes,'but not so high ás toUlla si juris,' or to one not mentioned by Lord John or Mr. Fox, which I think quite perfect, 'Donec gratus eram tibi.''s Mr. Fox does not mention an ode from which he made a beautiful quotation towards the end of his life :

Lenit albescens animos capillus
Litium et rixæ cupidos protervæ.
Non ego hoc ferrem calidus juventa,

Consule Planco.4 I am forgetting, however, that this is the day on which the November sittings of the Cabinet begin, and that Lord John has other things to think of than the odes of Horace. We cannot give him the invitation to idleness which Horace gives to some one (Mæcenas, I believe) :—

Negligens, ne qua populus laboret,
Parce privatus nimium cavere :
Dona præsentis cape lætus horæ, et

Linque severa.
Believe me, my dear Duke, very faithfully yours,



Four months afterwards, in the course of a conversation with Lord Hatherton at Drayton, Sir Robert

spoke in the most respectful terms of Lord John Russell, praising. his talents and the consistency of his character.

He added

I have great reliance on him, and have an earnest desire to support him.6

1 Book I. ode v.

2 Book I. ode viii. 3 Book III. ode ix.

4 Book III. ode xiv. 5 Book III, ode viii.

6 Lord Hatherton's unpublished diary. From a long extract in the Russell papers,

Is it not a fair presumption that Sir Robert, when he wrote the above letter, was conscious, as Mr, Fox had been before him, that the grey locks of advancing age had appeased his appetite for strife, and was anxious that Lord John should know that he was ready to play a different part from that which he had filled in the maturity of his powers during the reigns of the fourth William and the fourth George?

In the following summer, however, Sir Robert Peel's life was abruptly closed, and all that Lord John could do was to bear his testimony to

that long and large experience of public affairs, that profound knowledge, that oratorical power, that copious yet exact memory, with which the House was wont to be enlightened, interested, and guided.

· Lord John went on to acknowledge the temper and forbearance' which Sir Robert had always displayed to those who held opinions opposite to his own; he declared that there was no doubt that, on the two great occasions when he proposed measures, which shook and afterwards subverted his power,' he did so from the motive of deep love to his country, and from that strong sense of duty which always distinguished him; he stated his conviction that Sir Robert Peel had prevented a war of classes after the passage of the Reform Act; he reminded the House that Sir Robert had given up a life which might have been one of culture and ease for Parliamentary labour; he expressed his hope that this example would not be lost on the people of the country; and he predicted that posterity would place the name of Sir Robert Peel among the names of the foremost statesmen who have adorned the annals of this country and have contributed to their lustre.

In the speech, from which these sentences have been extracted, Lord John stated his readiness, if the family should desire it, to pay the statesman's memory the tribute of a public funeral; and, when this mark of respect was refused in deference to the known wishes of Sir Robert Peel, and when

for a similar reason Lady Peel declined the peerage which Lord John at once offered her, he proposed and carried a motion for the erection of a public monument in Westminster Abbey

Though, during the session, Lord John had not suffered from the constant ill-health which had so seriously interfered with his Parliamentary labours in 1848, he was frequently worn out by incessant attendance at the House of Commons. His family welcomed for him the intervals of repose which the short adjournments at Easter and Whitsuntide obtained. The former of them he spent with Sir Benjamin and Lady Heywood near Manchester; and the visit enabled him to renew the acquaintance which he had made as a mere boy, in Mr. Playfair's company, nearly forty years before, with the chief industries of what Lady John called smoky, toiling, prosperous Manchester. The latter of them, when he was suffering from a depressing cough, he spent, so far as business enabled him to do so, in the quiet of his own house at Richmond. There, indeed, a succession of visitors constantly broke in upon his repose; and, on Sunday afternoons especiallyfor Sunday, both in the session and in the recess, was usually spent at Pembroke Lodge—his London friends came to be refreshed with country air, and enriched by the conversation of the Priine Minister. His wife wrote of the summer of 1850–

[ocr errors]

I think everybody liked seeing him and hearing him talk in the ease and quiet of the drawing-room or the garden. And the fresh air and beauty and repose of our blessed home always raised his spirits and gave a zest to his delightful powers of conversation. He would stroll with his guests in the garden, and join, now one group, now another, and converse with equal ease on subjects as various as the flowers among which he wandered. His memory was excellent, and he abounded in historical and poetical illustrations and quotations. He had a vast store of anecdote, and was always alive to wit and pathos; his whole countenance kindling into laughter when he approached the point of a comical story ; his eyes filling with tears when he told of an heroic deed, or a deep human grief. He listened as eagerly as he talked; he was

« EdellinenJatka »