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With regard to domestic policy I think we are all very much agreed, because the feeling of the country, and of those who have conducted great reforms, is very much like that of the man who, having made a road in your own highlands, put a stone on the top of the mountain with an inscription ‘Rest and be thankful.”
Strange, indeed, is the fate of epigrams. Almost every wellinformed person has laughed at the author of the Reform Act advising the country to rest and be thankful;" while perhaps no one recollects that “Peace with honour’ was claimed by Lord Russell as the result of his foreign policy fifteen years before the same words were borrowed by the Minister who was destined to make them famous.”
Lord Russell left Meikleour at the end of September; and, after paying a few visits on his way south, reached Pembroke Lodge and business early in October. To the Foreign Secretary the autumn of 1863 and the session of 1864 was a very busy one. The affairs of America, of Poland, and of Denmark, occupied his attention both in his office and in Parliament. But, in a domestic sense, the most important event of the spring of 1864 was the visit of General Garibaldi to England. In other respects it seemed Lord Palmerston's chief object to illustrate the truth of the adage, ‘Happy is the country that has no history.’
To Lord Russell's family circle, however, 1864 brought many changes. In September he received a letter at North Berwick, where he was passing the recess, to announce his eldest son's engagement to the fifth daughter of Lord Stanley of Alderley. Lord Stanley had long been Lord Russell's colleague. He had begun his official life, nearly thirty years before, as Under-Secretary at the Home Office. He sat in Lord Palmerston’s Cabinet as Postmaster-General. His father
1 Lord Russell himself, writing to Mr. W. E. Forster in September 1872, said of this epigram— ‘If I have said that, having made a road up a steep hill, the makers may rest and be thankful, I never said they would be fools enough to encamp and wait on the top for years." * The phrase had previously occurred in a speech from the throne of November 13, 1770. * WOL. II. 2 D
had been raised to the peerage during Lord Melbourne's Administration as Lord Stanley of Alderley; he had been himself summoned, on Lord Russell's recommendation, to the House of Lords during his father's lifetime as Lord Eddisbury. The atmosphere of Alderley was as Liberal as that of Pembroke Lodge; and the long connection between the parents, their community of opinion, as well as the attractions of the bride, made the marriage a very welcome one. It was celebrated at Alderley on November 8; the late Dean of Westminster (Dr. Stanley) and the present Dean of Llandaff (Dr. Vaughan), cousins to the bride by birth and by marriage, performing the ceremony. And Lord Russell himself, at the breakfast which followed, after professing that, accustomed as he was to making speeches, this was an occasion on which he could not make a speech, succeeded, in a few words, in saying all that was required of him:—
Lady Russell and himself had that day lost a son, but they had gained an excellent and an affectionate daughter; and their son, Lord Amberley, was about to become possessed of the greatest blessing that life can bestow—a wife with all those qualities, virtues, and graces which not only adorn life, but make life worth living. . . . But there was another source of happiness to Lady Russell and himself. They were likely to become more closely associated with their old friends, Lord and Lady Stanley, with whom he had had the pleasure of being so long connected through political channels and in other ways, and it would be a source of joy to him to know that that continued connection would be bound up with the future happiness of their son and daughter-in-law.
Lord and Lady Russell left Alderley on the day which succeeded their son's wedding. Lady Russell, after dropping her younger boys at Harrow, returned to Pembroke Lodge. Lord Russell, taking his eldest daughter with him, travelled to Aberdeen, where he had undertaken to deliver an address. In the middle of November the whole family was re-established at Pembroke Lodge; and there, in the following month, they welcomed Lord and Lady Amberley. Lord Russell, however, found time amidst the enjoyment of their society and the occupations of his office to run down to Bowood for the purpose of saying farewell to the widow of his old friend the poet Moore, who was on her death-bed. He found leisure also to re-edit his old work the ‘Essay on the Constitution, and to add to it a new chapter. Domestic policy had no more interest in 1865 than in 1864. The presence of Lord Palmerston continued to suffuse a conservative calm over the political ocean; and Lord Russell occupied himself with the great questions of foreign policy, in which he was absorbed, without attempting to promote the organic reforms which, a few years before, he had so zealously advocated. One other member of the Government, indeed, found ample work to do. Lord Palmerston's Administration will always be as memorable for the fiscal reforms of Mr. Gladstone as for the foreign policy of Lord Russell; and even Radicals tolerated a monotony of inaction when they contemplated the splendid results which the Chancellor of the Exchequer was achieving. For these were the years when the revenue rose with leaps and with bounds, and when, at each fresh application of the pruning knife, it shot up in luxuriant vigour. In this very year the Chancellor of the Exchequer employed his surplus to reduce the rate of the income-tax from sixpence to fourpence and to make concurrently a large reduction in the duties on tea. Lord Russell was in favour of a still more remarkable policy. CHESHAM PLACE: April 6, 1865. MY DEAR PALMERSTON,-I think you have decided rightly in the Cabinet about the Budget, saving amendments in detail. You ask me very fairly what has made me change my opinion about income-tax, I will give you my reasons. First, the unexpected surplus of nearly four millions makes me think the operation perfectly practicable if our present prosperity continues. Next, I have become very sanguine of maintaining peace both with France and America. If these two data are allowed, then I think a strong argument may be drawn from the declarations of 1842 and 1845. The income-tax was then imposed in order to make certain commercial experiments, and fill up a void which might for a time be created. .
The experiments have now been made, the void has been filled up, and the success is undisputed.
It seems, therefore, to me that the crowning of the edifice, as our neighbour has it, would be the total extinction of the incometax. It is a tax properly imposed on all income, but which no ingenuity could make just or equal. I have been very slow in coming to the conclusion that it ought to cease; it is a most convenient weapon for a Government in danger of foreign war; but I think its abolition, with a power of revival, would be a proof of power and confidence in our resources which would greatly satisfy our own people and astonish our enemies abroad. . . .—Yours, &c., RUSSELL.
Lord Russell's proposal was not, of course, adopted; and Mr. Gladstone retained the tax for the purpose of pursuing still further the remarkable financial policy which had already produced such surprising results in his hands. The session of 1865 was not otherwise memorable, and it was closed at an unusually early period. The Parliament of 1859 had, in fact, completed the sixth year of its existence; and the Ministers were anxious that the dissolution should take place while the country was fresh from the spectacle of their leader displaying night after night the elasticity of youth beneath the weight of age. Parliament was dissolved in July, and the elections which immediately followed showed that his colleagues had not exaggerated the effect of Lord Palmerston's popularity. For in those days even metropolitan constituencies returned Liberal candidates; Lord Russell had the satisfaction of seeing the City which he had so long represented true to the Liberal cause; and perhaps the only disappointments which he felt in connection with the first general election, since he had attained his full age, in which he had borne no part, were occasioned by the defeat of his son at Leeds, and of his colleague Mr. Gladstone at Oxford. Lord Amberley and he had, however, other causes to compensate for their mortification. On August 12, Lord Russell received a telegram from Alderley announcing the birth of a boy, the present Lord Russell. Ten days later, Lady Russell and he stopped at Alderley on their way to Scotland, and had the satisfaction of
seeing their little grandchild. Thence they paid a series of visits in Scotland, crossed over to Ireland towards the end of September, and, after seeing many of their friends and some of their tenantry, returned to Pembroke Lodge on October 4. When Lord Russell returned to Richmond, Lord Palmerston was at Brocket still labouring at his duties. But early in the month a chill, caught while out driving, brought on the illness of which, on October 18, he died. The days had long gone when either rivalry or difference had raised any cloud between Lord Russell and Lord Palmerston; and, throughout the Administration of 1859, the two men had worked together in the closest fellowship and harmony. Lord Russell could not, however, avoid reflecting on his own increasing solitude. The men with whom he had commenced life were mostly joined ‘to the great majority. The solitary survivors of Lord Grey's Cabinet, after Lord Palmerston's death, were Lord Brougham, who had withdrawn from politics; Lord Derby, who had long led the Tories; and Lord Russell, who was resuming the lead of the Liberal party. More than one-half even of the original Cabinet of 1846 had already passed away; while, during the Administration of 1859, death had fallen equally on old friends like Lord Lansdowne, Lord Minto, Lord Campbell, Sir James Graham, and Lord Palmerston, and upon younger friends like Mr. Sidney Herbert, the Duke of Newcastle, Lord Elgin, and Sir George Lewis. The time, however, was one for action and not for mourning. Before Lord Palmerston's death, the Queen, writing from Balmoral, told Lord Russell that she should ask him to carry on the Government; and on the 19th she wrote— The melancholy news of Lord Palmerston's death reached the Queen last night. This is another link with the past that is broken, and the Queen feels deeply in her desolate and isolated condition how one by one of those tried servants and advisers are taken from her. . . . The Queen can turn to no other than Lord Russell, an old and tried friend of hers, to undertake the arduous duties of Prime
Minister, and to carry on the Government. She has otherwise nothing to add to her letter of yesterday.