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the Secretary of State were to be precluded from expressing any opinion on passing events except as the organ of a previously consulted Cabinet, there would be an end to that easy and familiar personal intercourse which tends so usefully to the maintenan of friendly relations with foreign Governments.
I have only to add that my answer to Normanby's despatch of the 15th was sent direct because the question to which he asked for an answer regarded myself personally.—Yours sincerely,
PALMERSTON. On receiving this communication, Lord John wrote the letter, which has been already published by Mr. Ashley, in which he said
No other course is open to me than to submit the correspondence to the Queen and to ask her Majesty to appoint a successor to you at the Foreign Office.
It is not necessary to continue any further the history of a controversy between two men of great eminence, of great patriotism, and distinguished for great services. But it may be desirable to add one letter which Lord John wrote to Lady Palmerston, who, it will be recollected, was one of his oldest friends, and who seems to have fancied that her husband was the victim of a conspiracy.
PEMBROKE Lodge, December 28, 1851. DEAR LADY PALMERSTON,—The tone of your letter might justify me in making no reply. But I must, in justice to others, say that there has been no conspiracy. What I did, I did alone to save others from the responsibility. If Palmerston had been fully aware of the difficulties I had to contend with, I think he would have furnished me with means of explanation as soon as I asked for them. I deeply regret the whole matter, and the loss of your friendship adds greatly to the weight. Perhaps a time may come when you may judge me more fairly.—Yours truly,
J. RUSSELL. It has never been the object of this book to obtrude the author's judgment on his readers, and it is with diffidence that he adds three observations on this unfortunate controversy :
1. It is plain that, to the last, Lord Palmerston either
misunderstood or ignored Lord John's true complaint. That complaint was not that Lord Palmerston had expressed privately his own opinion to Count Walewski in the ordinary course of official communication, but that he had done so knowing that that opinion was opposed to the decision of the Cabinet. 1
2. It has been usually assumed that Lord Palmerston was removed because of this private expression of opinion to Count Walewski; but the true grounds of his removal were more serious, viz., that, after the Queen and Lord John had complained of this expression of opinion, he had deliberately repeated it, not in a private letter, but in an official despatch to Lord Normanby.
3. It is difficult to see how, in such circumstances, Lord John could have longer resisted the Queen's demand for Lord Palmerston's removal. And, instead of charging him with impatience at his colleague's conduct, most persons have thought that he submitted too long and too patiently to Lord Palmerston's disobedience. But it was characteristic of Lord John that, in his old age, he criticised adversely his own decision :
Baron Stockmar . . . seems to have acquiesced in the opinion that my conduct upon that occasion was dilatory and undecided. My own judgment upon it is that it was hasty and precipitate. I ought to have seen Lord Palmerston, and I think I could, without difficulty, have induced him to make a proper submission to her Majesty's wishes, and agree to act in conformity with conditions to which he had already given his assent.
Verily in 1875 Lord John must have forgotten, as he had already long forgiven, some of the difficulties which had so sorely tried him from 1846 to 1852.
1 Lord Palmerston complained, and the complaint has been repeated in Mr. Ashley's biography, that he had done no more in expressing approval of the coup d'état than Lord John himself had done in private conversation with the French Ambassador. But Lord John distinctly denied the truth of the statement. Writing to Lord Lansdowne on October 26, 1852, he said, I never told Walewski that I approved of the coup d'état. I always confined my good wishes to the measures taken to put down the Socialists.'
DISRUPTION AND COALITION.
I cannot say that the new year is a happy one to me : political troubles are too thick for my weak sight to penetrate them. But we all rest in the mercy of God, who will dispose of us as He thinks best. In these words Lord John acknowledged his step-daughter's (Mrs. Maurice Drummond's) congratulations on the first day of 1852.
Political troubles were very thick. The removal of Lord Palmerston from the Foreign Office had fatally weakened the Administration. Lord John failed to secure elsewhere the help which he sorely needed; he was unable to enlist the Duke of Newcastle, or Sir James Graham, or any other prominent member of Sir Robert Peel's party, in the ranks of his Administration. His inability to do so proved the hopelessness of his task. His fall was only a question of time.
During the few weeks, indeed, through which his Ministry survived, Lord John showed no outward evidence of failure. He had the satisfaction, during their course, of introducing a new Reform Bill. He never made a better or more successful speech than that in which, on the first night of the session, he explained the history of his difference with Lord Palmerston. He never made a more brilliant apology for a friend than his defence of Lord Clarendon on the eve of his fall. Of the first of these speeches Mr. Greville said
In all my experience I never recollect such a triumph as John Russell achieved, and such a complete discomfiture as Palmerston's. Lord John made a very able speech, and disclosed as much as was necessary, and no more.
Of the second of these speeches Lord Clarendon said
I have had nearly forty letters from persons of very different opinions, but all agreeing that your speech on Thursday night was not only one of the most effective you ever made, but one of the finest that was ever heard in Parliament.
On the evening that succeeded this speech, Lord John was defeated by a small majority in a small House, and at once resigned office. 1. The cause of his resignation is so well known that it is hardly necessary to restate it. The coup d'état in France had been followed by what Mr. Cobden called the second of his famous three panics; and Lord John, though far from sharing the universal alarm, brought forward the scheme, which had been matured four years before, for reorganising the local militia. Lord Palmerston, in perfect consistency with the opinion which he had expressed in the Cabinet in 1848, moved an amendment to extend the operation of the measure. As he said, in his own light-hearted way
I have had my tit-for-tat with John Russell, and I turned him out on Friday last.
Lord John's Administration had lasted almost exactly five years and eight months; a period which exceeds by eleven months that during which his rival, Sir Robert Peel, had held office. During the whole of it he had been exposed to difficulties from which Sir Robert had been free. In the Parliament of 1841 the Conservatives had enjoyed a predominating majority. In the Parliament of 1847 Lord John could only secure a majority in the Commons by the combination of various and not always concurring parties. During much of the time, moreover, his wife's health and his own delicate constitution forced him to abstain from many of those social gatherings by which public men in England do so much to conciliate and consolidate their followers. His own fortune,
1 Mr. Gladstone, writing in the Nineteenth Century, January 1890, has said of this speech that it contained 'some of the noblest fighting passages which I have ever heard spoken in Parliament.'
though sufficient for the modest requirements of his household; was hardly equal to the exigencies of his position; and it is a well-known fact that Lord John stated to a committee of the House of Commons that he had never been in debt till he had become Prime Minister of England. The members of his Cabinet, too, were rather attached as friends than united in policy; and Lord John was not always able to carry in Council the measures which he would have liked to bring forward in the Senate.
Few Prime Ministers had ever done more to encourage letters, science, and art. He gave the Royal Society £1000 of public money to be spent on scientific research; he made Sir John Herschel Master of the Mint; he made Mr. Tenny. son Poet Laureate. A man of letters himself before he was a statesman, he was always seeking for literary society and striving to reward literary merit. Just as in his youth he had delighted in the company which had gathered round the tables of Holland House, so in his age he would temper his dull political dinners by inviting such a man as Mr. Dickens to his table. “Nothing so flat,' so he used to say, “as the cream by itself. It has been well described to be like table-land, high and flat.'? No man ever placed the claims of literature on a higher level. Soon after he became Prime Minister the students of Glasgow desired to elect him their Lord Rector. He wrote
DOWNING STREET, November 13, 1846. DEAR RUTHERFORD,-I should be very sorry to be the cause of preventing the election of Mr. Wordsworth as Lord Rector of Glasgow. Cannot you represent to the students that I think this. would be a good opportunity of making the distinction purely literary? It is a great honour to be thought of for the honour, but I should greatly prefer seeing it conferred on Mr. Wordsworth,
The exact words of his evidence are, 'I know, for my own part, that I never had a debt in my life till I was First Lord of the Treasury. I have now paid it off; so that it was no great encumbrance to me.'
2 Lord Morpeth's Diary, p. 103. Lady Russell thinks that Mr. Moore was the author of this excellent saying. VOL. II.