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having to explain away, as best he could, his colleague's language. Lord John felt bitterly the whole of this transaction. He did not, indeed, agree with the view which was taken of the affair at Court. The Queen thought Lord Palmerston wrong both in matter and manner; Lord John, on the contrary, thought him right in the matter of the dispute and wrong only in the manner of enforcing it. But he could not refrain from the conclusion that, after what had occurred, and was constantly occurring, Lord Palmerston could not with any propriety be left at the Foreign Office: and he told both Lord Lansdowne and the Queen that he had determined on a change at the end of the session. He communicated his decision to Lord Palmerston in the following letter:—
Arivate] . . PEMBROKE LoDGE, May 22, 1850.
MY DEAR PALMERSTON,--I saw the Queen on Monday, by her desire, and it is right I should inform you of the course which I stated to her I should pursue, and which she has been pleased to sanction. I first stated that all your colleagues were prepared to assume the responsibility of your conduct on the Greek question, and that if any change took place on that question it must be a change of the entire Ministry. The Queen deprecated the resignation of the Ministry, and desired me not to propose it. I then said that there were some questions pending in Parliament which might make that resignation necessary. I would not, however, anticipate votes, of which the importance must be weighed at the time. But, supposing the Ministry to arrive at the end of the session, it was my duty to tell her Majesty that I thought the interests of the country required that a change should take place in the Foreign Department; that, without imputing blame to you, I thought it must be confessed that, looking at the position of England, her readiness to acknowledge all forms of government, despotic and democratic, and her wish to respect the rights of all foreign nations, she was encountered by more hostile feelings in her course than was natural or necessary; that I thought, if you were to take some other department, we might continue the same line of foreign policy without giving the same offence; that I should object to any change which implied that we preferred the intimate alliance of Austria and Russia to those we had hitherto maintained; that, with respect to the particular arrangement to be made, I could not make any definitive proposal at the present time. The Queen assented entirely to all that I had stated, but declared her opinion that the change to be proposed should not take place later than the end of the present session. I will only add that I consulted Lord Lansdowne before and since my audience with the Queen. He has made a suggestion as to the proposed arrangements, which, I shall be glad to communicate to you, as well as various details on this matter, when we have an opportunity of talking it over together—I remain, yours very faithfully, - - J. RUSSELL.
It was Lord John's intention, when he wrote this letter, to take the post of difficulty himself, and to assume personally the management of the Foreign Office. But, as he could hardly hope that his health would be equal to the multifarious duties of that department, the lead of the House of Commons, and the general supervision of the Administration, he intended simultaneously to accept a peerage. So matters stood on May 22. But in the next few days the conduct of the Conservative party completely altered the situation. Lord Stanley gave notice of a motion, which he ultimately proposed on June 17, in which he asked the Lords to declare their regret that ‘various claims against the Greek Government, doubtful in point of justice or exaggerated in amount, have been enforced by coercive measures directed against the commerce and people of Greece, and calculated to endanger the continuance of our friendly relations with other powers.” A Minister, who thought—as Lord John thought—that Lord Palmerston had been right in matter, and wrong only in manner, could not avoid directing his colleagues to meet this motion with a direct negative. But a Ministry which resisted Lord Stanley was forced from the very nature of the case into fresh alliance with Lord Palmerston. The result of the debate, moreover, made this plain; for Lord Stanley's motion was carried by a considerable majority, and Ministers had only to consider whether they should retire from office or ask the House of Commons to support them against the Lords. They chose—and few constitutional authorities will doubt that they rightly chosethe latter alternative; and Mr. Roebuck was selected to bring forward a motion in the Commons, formally approving the policy which Lord Palmerston had adopted. The debate which took place on this motion was one of the most memorable which ever occurred in the House of Commons. It was the last in which Sir Robert Peel was ever destined to take part; it was signalised on the second night by the remarkable speech in which Lord Palmerston himself, from the dusk of one day to the dawn of another, vindicated his policy. It was closed on the fourth night on behalf of the Government by Lord John, who of course suppressed the annoyance which he had so frequently felt at Lord Palmerston's conduct, and confined himself to a generous defence of his colleague as a Minister of England. It was followed by a triumphant division, and it left Lord Palmerston the most popular man in the country. History had, in fact, repeated itself. And, just as the struggle which had taken place in the Melbourne Cabinet in 1840 had resulted in a victory for Lord Palmerston, so the circumstances which had apparently prepared his fall in 1850 had made his position more secure than ever. During the many disputes for which the previous years had been remarkable, and which have been partly related in this chapter, Lord John had undoubtedly filled a middle position between the Court and the Foreign Office. He had almost uniformly agreed with the principles on which his colleague had acted, and he had almost as uniformly regretted and reproved the manner in which Lord Palmerston had conducted his policy. During 1846, 1847, 1848, and 1849, the Queen had addressed her remonstrances to Lord John. It has been recently shown that at the commencement of 1850 she adopted another course, and carried her complaints to the Irish Viceroy. It is perhaps unnecessary, in this memoir, to inquire too closely into the reasons which induced the Queen to take this unusual course; it is sufficient to acknowledge that throughout the whole of his Administration she gave to Lord John the support which a Minister has a right to expect from his sovereign; and, even in those cases in which she dissented from his opinions, accepted his recommendations.
While, however, the discussion on the Greek claims was being carried on, and the Queen was complaining of Lord Palmerston's neglect to bring his despatches into conformity with her wishes and the directions of the Cabinet, she drew up the memorandum on the relations between a Foreign Minister and his sovereign, which has been published under her own authority. The memorandum, prepared in March, was, however, not issued till the middle of August, and Lord Palmerston in acknowledging it declared that he would “not fail to attend to the directions which it contains.”
With the issue of this memorandum the curtain fell on the first act in this strange drama. In words Lord Palmerston had fully submitted; and for a few weeks the Court was pleased to observe that he was
exceedingly attentive and active, writing and explaining to the Queen all that is going on.
But in practice the victory was with Lord Palmerston. The attack upon his policy had not merely failed: it had covered him with fresh popularity. Four years of office had deprived him of the confidence of the Crown; but he had gained, in exchange for it, the confidence of the people.
THE extraordinary events which agitated continental Europe in the early months of ‘1848 naturally made a strong impression on the people of this kingdom. In Great Britain, where the commercial crisis of the previous autumn had thrown multitudes out of employment, the people were easily persuaded that their social advancement could readily be secured by political changes. In Ireland, the calm which had been temporarily established by Lord Clarendon’s Administration was rufiled by the fall of Louis Philippe. The discontented resumed their agitation ,' their leaders sent a deputation to M. de Lamartine to beg for the sympathy and aid of France ; their organs used language inciting to violence ; Lord Clarendon declared that civil war wasimminent ; and Lord ]'ohn, moved by these circumstances, on March 30 drew up the following memorandum :—
STATE or IRELAND.
The increasing danger of an outbreak in Ireland, and the prospect of the misery it would occasion, make it necessary for the Government to give their urgent attention to such measures as may be best calculated for such a crisis.
Lord Clarendon points out the humanity and the economy of immediate steps, but it may be doubted whether those he suggests are sufficient to meet the evil.
I will not point out here the quick spread of disaffection, the equal danger of trials for high treason and of leaving at large the instigators to rebellion, the misery prevailing in the country, the