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than to promote its credit. It was plain to everyone that the Ministers could only retrieve their position by an earnest effort, and, though the session was protracted till August 15, Lord Melbourne, at the very commencement of the recess, consulted Lord John on the propriety of reassembling Parliament almost immediately. Here is Lord John's answer:
Saltram : " Sept. 12, 1834.
Dear Melbourne,—I received only last night your letter of the 8th. I quite agree with you that the question of assembling Parliament requires great consideration, and that the pros and cons are both of great weight. But I attach little consequence, I confess, to any arguments drawn from suppositions that Parliament will not go along with us. In the present actual state of affairs I own I think it the duty of Government to adopt a decided course of policy and ask Parliament for their support; and I think from all I know of the House of Commons that they will be far more likely to support a Ministry so acting than one which pursues the wretched, wavering, blundering course of policy which was adopted last session. The House of Commons then naturally say, ‘These fellows don't know what they're about ; we must take the affair into our own hands and manage it for them.’
I am aware that it will not do to propose coercion laws if there be no practical act on the part of O'Connell to justify it. The misfortune is that, having prepared in Tipperary and the other counties his whole means, he may open his battery in Dublin about November 20, when it is too late to call Parliament before Christmas. What I should be inclined to propose, then, is this : that Parliament should be called together to consider the tithe question, and that we should introduce a Bill on the principle of that of last year, only clearly providing that all money paid by the Treasury should be repaid out of the property of the Church, and that livings, where there was not a tenth of the population Churchmen, should be suspended when vacant for that purpose ; that in proposing this measure Government should declare that they were ready to protect the Protestants of Ireland against any club government which should pretend to direct elections and intimidate juries ; that, if necessary, a Bill would be brought in for that purpose ; if not necessary, the law would be strictly enforced against associations of this description. This course would be clear and intelligible, and would, I am sure,
be successful in the House of Commons. The Lords probably would again reject the Tithe Bill ; upon them let the responsibility rest. Leaving this for your consideration, I will only add that I hope, whatever independent members of Parliament may do, no member of the Government will seek any intercourse, or ask for any truce, from O'Connell. I could have wished, I must say, that the chief Ministerial paper had not joined with O'Connell in condemning Lord Grey. Auckland comes here to-day, and I shall have some talk with him to-morrow and then go back to Endsleigh.-Yours truly,
On the very day on which Lord John was thus urging the Prime Minister that no member of the Cabinet should have any intercourse with Mr. O'Connell, Mr. Abercromby, who had joined the Ministry as Master of the Mint only three months before, was sending to Lord Melbourne a long and confidential letter which he had received from the great Irish agitator imploring the Government to take some steps to break the Orange monopoly, and to seize the opportunity which a vacancy in the Irish Bench afforded them of conciliating the Roman Catholics.
I would suggest, first, that a judge should be moved from the Common Pleas to the King's Bench. . . Second, to give Blackburne the vacant seat thus created in the Common Pleas : his legal knowledge would be of use in this court, which is deplorably deficient. Third, if these suggestions be not attended to, I do implore you not to make the Solicitor-General a judge. He is utterly unfit for it. . You will be disgraced in the eyes of every rational man in Ireland if you make . . . Crampton a judge. . . . If you appoint Blackburne, you take out of the office of Attorney-General the most decided Orange Tory that ever filled that office. If he refuse to accept the situation, you may then dismiss him without reproach. Reproach or no reproach, you ought to discontinue him as Attorney-General. It is impossible for you to conciliate Ireland whilst he is the leading law officer of the Crown. If the vacant seat be not filled by Blackburne or Crampton it ought not to go beyond Serjeant O'Loghlen. He is a Catholic, and his appointment would show that it was not intended to allow Emancipation to continue a dead letter. Besides, all parties admit his perfect capability. . . You are aware that almost all the functionaries who serve under the present Administration in Ireland are of the deepest Orange tinge. I merely submit to you that this ought not to continue.
In forwarding this letter to Lord Melbourne, Mr. Abercromby said—
The only remark I shall make on O'Connell's letter is that I wrote to Althorp on hearing of Jebb's death, suggesting that Serjeant O'Loghlen should be the new judge, assigning as my reasons that such an appointment would help to conciliate the Irish public, who are rather more favourable than formerly to the Ministry. And secondly, that it was very important to show the Orangemen that the recovery of their political influence was hopeless. This being a vacancy that was not reckoned upon, it leaves your chance of removing Blackburne just as it was, and there may be some advantage in not opening the office of Attorney-General until you have finally decided how to act with respect to O'Connell."
The Government, however, refused to accede to Mr.
O'Connell's wish. The Solicitor-General was made a judge; but, with a view to conciliating the Irish, Serjeant O'Loghlen was made Solicitor-General. The Ministry probably thought that by this arrangement they had satisfied the claims of their own colleague, and at the same time had done something to conciliate the Irish Roman Catholics. But events, which they could not have foreseen, were in progress which deprived Serjeant O'Loghlen's appointment of much significance; for Lord Spencer died in the beginning of November, and Lord Althorp, the leader of the House of Commons, succeeded to the peerage.
Three days after Lord Spencer's death, Lord Melbourne drove down to Brighton, where the King was staying, and submitted to him the arrangements necessary on Lord Althorp's retirement from the Commons. “The concurrent opinion and advice of all his colleagues and those most competent to suggest any opinion with respect to the feelings of the House of Commons, was that Lord John Russell should succeed Lord Althorp as leader.’
* This very important correspondence was apparently sent by Lord Melbourne to Lord John, and not returned. The reader will do well to compare it with Mr.
O'Connell's letters to Lord Duncannon in the Correspondence of Daniel O'Connell, i. 473, 477.
Lord John did not underrate the difficulty of the task which was thus proposed to him. But he thought it cowardly to refuse. He said, in joke, that if he were offered the command of the Channel fleet, and thought it his duty to accept, he should not refuse it. What his relations thought of the offer, however, may be seen from the following note of Lord Tavistock:—
Dreadful indeed I suppose you must be leader, and yet I tremble for your health. Then comes the difficulty about your seat and your office. Oh that you had provided for this long ago There are two plans : you must either remain where you are, and make Abercromby or S. Rice Chancellor of the Exchequer, or you must boldly take your chance of a re-election and fall back upon this county if you are defeated. Charles [Lord C. Russell] would, of course, resign, as I wished and proposed to do in 1830 after the Bedford election. It would make a noise for a short time. But I see no other course but one of these two.—Yours affectionately,
Russell [Lord Russell, eighth Duke] might resign for you in case
of defeat. But that would make a much greater noise.
His relations were soon relieved from their anxiety. The King had told Lord Melbourne two months before that he “could not bear John Russell,' and now
His Majesty stated without reserve his opinion that he [Lord John] had not the abilities nor the influence which qualified him for the task, and observed that he would make a wretched figure when opposed by Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Stanley. . . . His Majesty had further objections. He considered Lord John Russell to have pledged himself to certain encroachments upon the Church, which his Majesty had made up his mind and expressed his determination to resist." And so, to bring the long story to a short conclusion, the King, exercising his personal authority in a manner which the sovereign of England has never since employed, dismissed his advisers and sent for the Duke of Wellington.
It so happened that Lord John was far from well at this time, and was unable, in consequence, to attend the council at which the Ministers formally took their leave of the King. He wrote explaining the reasons of his absence to the King's
* Memoirs of Baron Stockmar, i. 329; and Greville Memoirs, iii. 137.
private secretary, Sir Herbert Taylor, and received the following answer :— St. James's Palace: Nov. 17, 1834. My dear Lord, . . . . His Majesty wishes me to say that your attendance at the Council upon this occasion was not necessary; but that he regrets that indisposition should have partly been the cause of your absence. His Majesty has commanded me further to assure you of his entire satisfaction with the manner in which your Lordship has discharged the duties of your office, and of his sense of the zeal and assiduity which you have shown, as well as of your attention to his Majesty in every communication you have had to make to him.—I remain, &c., yours very faithfully, H. TAYLOR.
A more genuine expression of regret reached him a few days afterwards:– Chelsea College : Nov. 25, 1834. My Lord, I cannot resist the desire to express to your Lordship how deep/y sensible almost every individual of this establishment feels for the zealous and constant interest which you have shown for their welfare and comfort during the short period which you have presided at the head of it. I regret I was not aware of your being here the other day, as I should have felt gratified in paying my respects to your Lordship, and in being a witness to the quiet ceremony of affixing as it were your hand and seal to the Old Men's Paradise which has been so happily called into existence under your Lordship's kind and considerate auspices.—I have, &c., J. WILSON.
Among the other letters which Lord John received at the time was one from Lord Grey, declaring that he could not blame the King ; that in his opinion it was impossible for the Government to go on ; and that for the sake of the Ministers themselves, and particularly of Lord John, there was not much cause for regret. Lord Althorp in a much shorter note gave a different opinion –
My dear John, This is the greatest piece of folly ever committed. It is, however, a great relief to me, and I think ultimately it will have
For the Paradise zide supra, p. 162. Lord John received letters of the same cordial kind from other members of the establishment at Chelsea.
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