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Such a Federation would not have been very different from the amalgamation with Piedmont which the other States had just proposed of their own accord; and consequently the Emperor of the French could not well protest against Lord John’s proposals without repudiating all his earlier negotiations. Thus England and Italy now held France on their side, an unwilling ally in diplomacy, and Austria, on whom Lord John had endeavoured all along to force the principle of non-intervention, at last gave way. She refused, however, to commit herself for the future, or to admit that she had not the right to interfere at any time in Italy’s affairs; but she let it be known that, for the present, reluctance to renew war with France and Piedmont would determine her actions. Of course the people of the States confirmed their vote in favour of annexation, and on April 2, 1860, the first Parliament representing Piedmont and Central Italy met at Turin.

This was the first stage in the making of Italy. When it was completed there remained only three independent Powers (excluding Austrian Venice) dividing the peninsula among them–in the north the new kingdom of Piedmont; in the centre the diminished Papal States; in the south the kingdom of Naples. Lord John, as the spokesman of England, by playing off Napoleon, who was no friend to Italian unity, against Francis Joseph, who was the prime enemy of Italian freedom, had secured for Italy an opportunity to work out her own salvation. He and Cavour together had forced Napoleon to prevent Austria from checking what Napoleon himself would have liked to prevent.

Subsequently it came to light that Napoleon’s surprising readiness in agreeing to the annexation of Central Italy in April had been due to a private arrangement between him and Cavour in the previous month. It was agreed between them in March that Savoy and Nice should be handed over to France as the price of her acquiescence. In the secret treaty of Plombieres, Napoleon’s reward for helping the Piedmontese, should the war leave Venice, Lombardy, and the Romagna in Victor Emmanuel’s hands, had been fixed as the cession of these territories to France. But since Napoleon had withdrawn and made peace when, as yet, only Lombardy had been wrested from Austria, he had waived his claim upon Nice and Savoy at Villafranca, and claimed in exchange a contribution towards his expenses in the war. But the moment Piedmont proposed to annex Tuscany, the Romagna and the Duchies, he returned to his original claim. His action had two important results: one which immediately added to the complication of Italian politics, and one which affected the diplomatic relations of the Great Powers for the next eleven years. In Italy his demand made a lasting breach between Cavour and Garibaldi. The latter never forgave the cession of Nice, his native town, to France, and never could be convinced that the sacrifice of Italian territory was a necessary step towards uniting Italy. In his eyes the agreement with Napoleon had been a kind of treason on the part of Cavour. Among the European Powers, on the other hand, Napoleon’s action created an impression, which was never effaced, that he was a predatory and treacherous power.

In England the news was received with the greatest indignation. Lord John was extremely angry, and practically threatened war. He, like Garibaldi, did not realize that Cavour was driven to the concession, nor that Napoleon was, in truth, compelled on his side to demand what he did. The following letter from Sir James Hudson, the English Minister at Turin–“uomo italianissimo,” as Cavour called him–is particularly interesting, because, though addressed to Lady John, it reads as though it were also intended for the eyes of the Foreign Secretary, from whom indignation had temporarily concealed the truth that this sacrifice was the only compensation which would have induced Napoleon to look on quietly while the new kingdom of Italy was consolidating on his frontier. The last event Cavour desired was a war between the two Powers whose unanimity forced neutrality upon Austria. Napoleon on his side was practically obliged to demand Savoy and Nice as a barrier against Italy, and because the acquisition of territory alone could have prevented his subjects from feeling that they had lost their lives and money only to further the aims of Victor Emmanuel.

_Sir James Hudson to Lady John Russell_

TURIN, _April_ 6, 1860

MY DEAR LADY JOHN,–I have seen Braico–Poerio brought him to me after I had offered my services to him in your name, and we have combined to dine together and to perform other feats, besides gastronomic ones, in order to cheer him whilst he resides in these (to a Parthenopean) Boeotian regions.

You mention in your letter the name of that scandal to royalty, Louis Napoleon. What can I say of him? Hypocrite and footpad combined. He came to carry out an “idea,” and he prigs the silver spoons. “Take care of your pockets” ought to be the cry whenever he appears either personally or by deputy.

But do not, I beg of you, consider and confound either the King of Sardinia or Cavour as his accomplice. Think for a moment on the condition of Sardinia, who represents the nascent hope of Italy. Think of the evil that man meant–how he tried to trip up the heels of Tuscany, establish a precarious vicarial existence for the Romagna, and plots now at Naples. Not to have surrendered when he cried “stand and deliver” would have been to have risked all that was gained–would have given breathing time to Rome, reinforced and comforted Rome’s partisans in the Romagna–have induced doubt, fear, and disunion throughout Italy. Judging by the experience of the last eight years, I must say I saw no means of avoiding the rocks ahead save by a sop to Cerberus. But do not lose confidence in the National party–Cavour or no Cavour, Victor Emmanuel or another, that party is determined to give Italy an Italian representation. I regret that the Nizzards (who have a keen eye to the value of building lots) are wrenched from us by a French _filou_; but I cannot forget that the Savoyards have constantly upheld the Pope, and have been firm and consistent in their detestation of Liberal Government in Sardinia. _I am not speaking of the neutral parts_, please remember.

Your most devoted servant,


Meanwhile the reign of Francis II of Naples and the Two Sicilies, who had succeeded Ferdinand, was proving if anything worse than his father’s. Early in 1860 insurrections began to break out in Sicily, and on May 5th Garibaldi, on his own initiative, set sail from Genoa to help the rebels. “I go,” he said, “a general without an army, to fight an army without a general.” His success was extraordinarily rapid. At the end of May he had taken Palermo from 24,000 regular troops with his volunteers and some Sicilian help, thus making the dictatorship of Sicily, which he had declared on landing, a reality. It soon became known that he intended to recross to the mainland to free the people of Naples itself. Piedmont, of course, wished Garibaldi to succeed in this further undertaking. His cause was her cause. Though this action was entirely independent, his dictatorship had been avowed as a preliminary step to handing over the island to Victor Emmanuel. The King could not, therefore, oppose him nor prevent him re-embarking for Naples without separating himself from the cause of United Italy and making an enemy of almost every patriot in the country; but both he and Cavour were afraid either that Garibaldi might fail, in which case the union of Italy would have been postponed for many years, or that the pace at which changes were coming would lead France or Austria to interfere again.

France, of course, was most anxious to stop the further increase of the power of Piedmont, and therefore to check Garibaldi. Napoleon’s idea of “United Italy” was a federation of separate States under the presidency of the Pope, who in his turn would be under the influence of France. He at once put pressure upon Cavour and Victor Emmanuel, compelling the latter to write to Garibaldi, telling him to stop in Sicily. Thus, in spite of her desire that Garibaldi should sail and succeed, Piedmont was compelled publicly to express disapproval of his intention. In England it was supposed that Cavour meant what he made the King say in his letter to Garibaldi, and in addition Palmerston, who was glad enough to see the old Governments of the little States tumbling to the ground, was rather alarmed at the prospect of a United Italy, which would also be a Mediterranean Power. Hitherto the honour of assisting Italy had belonged equally to him and to Lord John. Henceforward, however, Lord John, who had been brought up in the Fox tradition, and whose Italian sympathies had been fortified by his wife’s enthusiasm, definitely took the lead in determining England’s policy.

The aim of Cavour was to help the revolution as much as possible without making it obvious to Europe that he was doing so; but, like everybody else, Lord John had taken him at his word, and thought that the liberation of Italy might be retarded by Garibaldi’s departure from Sicily for the mainland, till information reached him that in reality Piedmont was most anxious nothing should hinder Garibaldi’s attack upon Naples. It reached him apparently in the following manner.

Cavour determined to appeal to the Russells personally through a secret agent. With this object Mr. Lacaita [afterwards Sir James Lacaita], who had been exiled from Naples for having helped Gladstone to write his famous letters upon the state of the Neapolitan prisons, which Lacaita knew from inside, was instructed to call upon Lord John in London and to tell him that in spite of her official declaration, Piedmont was desperately anxious that Garibaldi should drive the King of Naples from the throne; for Garibaldi’s extraordinary success in Sicily had made his failure on the mainland far less likely, and Cavour was now certain that there was not much power of resistance left in the Neapolitan kingdom. Lacaita, though ill in bed, got up and went to deliver his message. He was told that Lord John was closeted with the French and Neapolitan ambassadors and could not see him. Lacaita guessed that Lord John was at that very moment talking over the means of preventing Garibaldi’s expedition, and he immediately decided to ask for Lady John. When informed that she was seriously ill, he insisted upon being taken up into her bedroom, and adjured her for the love of Italy to get Lord John away from the ambassadors at once. A scribbled note begging her husband to come to her immediately brought him upstairs in some alarm. And there he learnt from Lacaita that Victor Emmanuel’s letter of July 25th was a blind, that united Italy must be made now or never, and that he would never be forgiven if England stopped Garibaldi.

This incident is recorded by several persons to whom Mr. Lacaita told the story. [54] It explains the sudden right-about of English diplomacy at this juncture, which, as Persigny shows in his memoirs, puzzled and astonished him. For Lord John having received this information, refused to act with France in preventing Garibaldi from crossing the Straits of Messina. This he accordingly did, and marched straight on to Naples, where he was welcomed as a deliverer; the royal troops deserted or retreated to Capua, and Garibaldi made his entrance into Naples, as was said in the House of Commons, “a simple traveller by railway with a first-class ticket.” Before the end of October the King of Sardinia and Garibaldi met near Teano and Garibaldi saluted Victor Emmanuel as King of Italy.

[54] Lady John’s diaries of 1860 being lost, this incident is given here on the sole authority of the late Sir James Lacaita.

On October 27, 1860, Lord John wrote a dispatch, in which he said that–

Her Majesty’s Government can see no sufficient grounds for the severe censure with which Austria, France, Prussia, and Russia have visited the acts of the King of Sardinia. Her Majesty’s Government will turn their eyes rather to the gratifying prospect of a people building up the edifice of their liberties and consolidating the work of their independence….

Lord John also quoted from “that eminent jurist Vattel” the following words: “When a people from good reasons take up arms against an oppressor, it is but an act of justice and generosity to assist brave men in the defence of their liberties.”

_Mr. Odo Russell to Lord John Russell_

ROME, _December_ 1, 1860

MY DEAR UNCLE,–Ever since your famous dispatch of the 27th, you are blessed night and morning by twenty millions of Italians. I could not read it myself without deep emotion, and the moment it was published in Italian, thousands of people copied it from each other to carry it to their homes and weep over it for joy and gratitude in the bosom of their families, away from brutal mercenaries and greasy priests. Difficult as the task is the Italians have now before them, I cannot but think that they will accomplish it better than we any of us hope, for every day convinces me more and more that I am living in the midst of a _great_ and _real_ national movement, which will at last be crowned with perfect success, notwithstanding the legion of enemies Italy still counts in Europe.

Your affectionate nephew,


Such was the second important juncture at which the British Ministry came to the rescue of the Italian nationalists. If after Villafranca the negotiations which secured the safety of Italy were the work of three men, Palmerston, Lord John, and Gladstone, contending against an indifferent and timid Cabinet and the opposition of the Court–it is clear that when the success or failure of Italian unity was a second time at stake, the decision and initiative were Lord John’s.

After his retirement, when he was travelling with his family in 1869, they took a villa at San Remo. The ceiling of the _salon_ was decorated with those homely frescoes so common in Italy, which in this case consisted of four portraits–Garibaldi, Cavour, Mazzini, and–to their surprise–Lord John himself. Next to the national heroes he was associated closest in the minds of the people with the achievement of their independence.

When Garibaldi came to England in the spring of 1864, and received a more than royal welcome, Pembroke Lodge was, naturally, one of the first houses he visited. On April 21, 1864, Lady John writes in her diary:

All looked anxiously to the sky on getting up–all rejoiced to see it bright. Sunshine the whole day. Garibaldi to luncheon at Pembroke Lodge. Our school children, ranged alongside of approach with flags, cheered him loudly. All went well and pleasantly.

John gave him a stick of British oak. Garibaldi gave John his own in exchange.

Agatha gave him a nosegay of green, red, and white–he kissed her on the forehead. Much interesting conversation with him at luncheon. Told him he would be blamed by many for his praise of Mazzini yesterday. He said that he and Mazzini differed as to what was best for Italy, but Mazzini had been his teacher in early youth–had been unjustly blamed and was _malheureux_. “Et j’ai cru devoir dire quelque chose,” and that he (Garibaldi) had been in past years accused of being badly influenced by Mazzini: “Ceux qui ont dit cela ne me connaissent pas.” That when he acts it is because he himself is convinced he ought. Inveighed bitterly against Louis Napoleon, whom he looks upon as _hors la loi_. Simple dignity in every word he utters.

Park full of people. Richmond decorated with flags.



Since only political events in which Lady John was herself deeply interested or those which affected her life through her husband’s career are here to the purpose, the other international difficulties with which Lord John had to deal as Secretary for Foreign Affairs in this Government may be quickly passed over. And for the same reason the domestic politics of these years require only the briefest notice. Palmerston’s Ministry produced very little social legislation, and the fact that Lord John was at the Foreign Office, while the Prime Minister led the Commons, increased the legislative inactivity of a Government which, with Palmerston at its head, would in any case have changed little in the country. Gladstone’s budgets and Cobden’s Free-Trade Treaty with France were the important events. Between 1860 and 1864 the taxation of the country was reduced by twelve millions, the National Debt by eleven millions, and the nation’s income increased by twenty-seven millions, while foreign trade had risen in two years by seventy-seven millions. These were the most splendid results a Chancellor of the Exchequer has ever been able to show; but the changes by which it had been achieved had been far from welcome to Palmerston himself. It had required great resolution on Gladstone’s part to carry the Prime Minister with him.

Many comments have been made on the indifference which the country showed to domestic reform during these years of Liberal Government; but it is not very surprising. It is a familiar fact that when foreign affairs are exciting the people are not eager about social or political reform, a fact upon which Governments have always been able to count. And foreign affairs had been very exciting. Under Lord John and Palmerston our own foreign policy had been bold and peremptory; the policy of France was directed by Napoleon, whose head, as Palmerston said, was as full of schemes as a rabbit-warren is of rabbits; and the quarrel of 1852 between Prussia and Denmark had arisen again in a far acuter form. It was, therefore, natural that popular attention should be constantly turned abroad.

The deaths of those who linked Lady John with her childhood now came quickly. Her father, Lord Minto, died a month after Lord John had taken office. He had been ailing for some time.


John at 7 a.m. to Huntingdon to propose Mr. Heathcote at nomination; back to Pembroke Lodge about five, having been very well received, but chiefly by the _ill-dressed_. Papa surprisingly well–saw him on my way out of town; far the happiest sight I had yet had of him. Dear Papa, he looked so pleased, smiled so brightly when he saw me. “Ah, dear Fanny! How glad I am to see you! How fresh and well you look.” Held my hand all the time I was with him…. I said I hoped in his place I should be as patient–that he was an example to us all, as he always had been…. Said few daughters could look back at my age without being able to remember having heard from their father one word but of love and kindness….

He died on July 31, 1859. His keen interest in public questions continued to the end, with a firm belief in the ultimate triumph of good. “Magna est veritas et prevalebit” were almost the last words he spoke on his death-bed.

During the autumn of 1860 Lord John accompanied the Queen to Coburg, where boar-shooting with the Prince Consort and Court-life (he never liked its formalities) failed to console him for absence from wife and children.

_Lady John to Lord John Russell_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _October_ 11, 1860

I found two letters from you here…. So you are fairly on your journey and safe so far. And here I am with my large detachment, all well and merry, and all at dear beloved home again after our wanderings. I am so thankful, and I hope to be still more so in five days, when I am no longer doomed to sing “There’s nae luck about the house,” as I have done daily for three weeks…. That you should have killed a wild boar is all but incredible, and makes me expect to see you with a long moustache and green _Faeger_ costume.

In April, 1861, Lord John’s second daughter, Victoria, married Mr. Villiers, son of the Bishop of Durham. Lady John wrote some verses to her on her marriage which are published in Walpole’s “Life of Lord John Russell.”

In May the Duke of Bedford died. The Duke had been Lord John’s close friend, and had often advised him at the beginning of his career. He was one of those influential noblemen who watch politics with unflagging interest, but without the smallest desire to take an active part in them. It was his pride and pleasure to know the ins and outs of a situation perhaps even better than some of the principal actors in it, and his judgment was always at his brother’s service. On his death Lord John inherited the Ardsalla estate in Ireland. The loss of his brother precipitated perhaps an intention he had considered for some time of saving his strength by accepting a peerage, and exchanging the strenuous life of the House of Commons for the lighter work of the House of Lords. The exchange was effected in July, when Lord John became Earl Russell.

“Very dismal about the peerage,” writes Lady John in her diary, “and seeing only the sad side of it…. John made a fine speech on Sardinia, perhaps his last in the House of Commons.”

_Lady Minto [55] to Lady John Russell_

_July_ 20, 1861

…It is impossible not to feel _very sad_ in parting with a name which has so long been the rallying point of the Liberal party, the watchword of all those who in our day have fought the good fight, and, whatever name he may bear, it will never carry to English ears the same sound as “Lord John.” People older than ourselves had looked to it with hope; and in our time, whenever Liberty has been in danger, or truth or justice or the national honour has been attacked, the first question which rose to men’s lips was, “What will Lord John do?”….I remember his first speech on the China War in 1856. How empty the House was when he rose, how rapidly it filled to overflowing; then the intense silence which followed the rush, and lastly the overpowering cheers from all sides as he went on. To leave the scene where he has so long wielded at will the, alas! _not fierce_ “democracie” (and it will be milder still without him!) must require immense self-control and self-denial.

[55] Formerly Lady Melgund. Her husband had now succeeded his father as third Earl of Minto.

_Lord John Russell to Lady Minto_

LONDON, _July_ 23, 1861

MY DEAREST NINA,–It seems very bad of us not to have explained duly and deliberately that I have the project resolved upon and decided of accepting a peerage. But there have been many changes in my mind before the final leap was resolved upon. Forty-seven years of the House of Commons are enough for any man, and imply a degree of wear and tear which those who read the speeches listlessly at the breakfast table have little conception of. A reply which is to go to Paris, Petersburg, Turin, and Washington requires much presence of mind, and often much previous thought, work, etc. A calmer atmosphere will suit better my old age, but I could not leave my companions on the Treasury Bench while any change was impending, and if I were to wait till 1862 I might again find the ship in a storm, and be loath to take to the boat. About a title for Johnny there is still some doubt, but I shall be Earl Russell, and make little change in the signature of

Your affectionate brother,


In August Lord and Lady Russell and their children went to Abergeldie Castle, which had been lent to them for several successive autumns. Their free and happy life in the Highlands was delightful to them all. In October Lady Russell writes: “Left our beautiful Highland home…. Very very thankful for all our happy Abergeldie days.”

In the April of this year the American Civil War had broken out, and the Ministry had been obliged to decide the question whether England should recognize the Southerners as “belligerents” or accept the Northern view of them as “rebels.” The touchiness of the Northerners, and the fact that in England many people sympathized loudly with the South, made it difficult for the Ministry to maintain the attitude of neutrality, which, while recognizing the Southern Confederacy as a belligerent Power, they had officially declared in May. In November two Commissioners, sent by the Confederacy to put the case of the South before the Courts of Europe, were forcibly seized on board the _Trent_, an English, and therefore a neutral, vessel. This was a breach of international law, and the resentment it provoked in England was increased by the truculent attitude of the North in the face of our demand for the restoration of the Commissioners. The Congress, instead of apologizing, proceeded to pass a vote of thanks to Captain Wilks for having intercepted the _Trent_.

_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_ [56]

PEMBROKE LODGE, _December_ 13, 1861

When the account of the seizure of the Southern Commissioners first reached us I was afraid of the effect on John’s health and spirits, as you may well believe; but, as you say, he could not but feel that there had been no fault on our side, that not a word had been spoken, not a deed done by him but what showed the friendliest feeling to the United States, and the strongest wish to remain at peace with them. I wish the newspapers were blameless; but there was a sneering, exulting tone in many of them after the military disasters of the North which was likely to irritate. Mr. Motley said long ago that the _Times_ would, if possible, work up a war between the two countries, and though I can’t speak from my own knowledge, as I have seldom looked at its articles, I have no doubt from what John and others say that he was right…. There can be no doubt that we have done deeds very like that of Captain Wilks–not exactly like, because no two cases ever are so–but I wish we had not done them, and I suppose and hope we shall admit they were very wrong. It is all terrible and awful, and I hope and pray war may be averted–and whatever may have been the first natural burst of indignation in this country, I believe it would be ready to execrate the Ministry if all right and honourable means were not taken to prevent so fearful a calamity.

[56] Her husband, Mr. Ralph Abercromby, was now Lord Dunfermline.

_December_ 19, 1861

John to town to see Mr. Adams [57]…. John’s interview with Mr. Adams encouraging. Mr. Adams showed him a dispatch from Mr. Seward declaring Government to be quite uncommitted as to opinion on seizure of Commissioners.

[57] American Minister in London.

In December the Prince Consort died. Almost his last public act was to modify the dispatch sent in reply to the vote in Congress, so that it offered the North an opportunity of relaxing with dignity their uncompromising attitude.

_Lady Russell to Lady Charlotte Portal_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _December_ 24, 1861

I know you, like everybody, must have been thinking much of our poor desolate Queen. Her anguish, her loneliness of heart on that pinnacle of human greatness, must weigh on all who have known how happy she was; but to us who have often seen that lost happiness, it is almost like a grief of our own. I don’t believe I have ever seen her take his arm without the thought crossing my mind: “There is the real blessing of your life–that which alone makes you as happy a woman as others in spite of your crown.” Everybody must have been full of dread of the effect upon her, but she has borne up nobly–or rather, she has bowed humbly to God’s will, and takes comfort in her children. It must be soothing to her that his rare worth is now fully acknowledged and gratefully felt by the whole nation.

_January_ 7, 1862

John to town at twelve, back at half-past six; dispatches and letters from Lord Lyons of December 26th discouraging, cabinet still considering our demands. Surrender possible, but in Lord Lyons’s opinion very unlikely.

_January_ 8, 1862

Telegram to John at 6 p.m. Commissioners surrendered! Thank God. General rejoicing in the House.

_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _January_ 13, 1862

Well, what do you say to our American triumph? It ought to go far to cure you all. It is long since any political event has given me, my particular self, such unmixed pleasure. For my country, for my husband, and for the other country too, with all its sins, I rejoice with all my heart and soul. John is delighted. He was very anxious up to the last moment.

…We “Plodgians” were all so delighted that it has been a surprise to us to hear of the very tempered joy, or rather the ill-concealed disappointment, of _London society_; but John says London society is always wrong, and I believe the country to be all right.

_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

LONDON, _February_ 10, 1863

You ask me about Kinglake’s book–everybody except ourselves is reading or has read it…. With regard to the sleepy Cabinet dinner at Pembroke Lodge he has from what we hear fallen into great inaccuracy…. John says that the despatch, having been circulated in the Cabinet before that dinner, was already well known to them all. As far as he remembers none but Sir William Molesworth went to sleep. I remember perfectly how several of them told me afterwards about Sir William sleeping and falling from his chair, and we have often laughed about it, but I do not remember being told of anybody else going to sleep. I suppose I shall read the book, but I cannot tell you how I shrink from anything that must recall and make one live over again those terrible months of vacillation and weakness, the consequence of a Coalition Cabinet, which “drifted” us into a most terrible war–a war from which consistency and firmness would have saved us. A thoroughly Aberdeen Ministry would have maintained peace. A thoroughly Russell or Palmerston Ministry would have maintained peace and honour too.

_Lord Russell to Lady Minto_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _July_ 9, 1863

Parliament is coming to an end, most people being tired of talking and everybody of listening…. Lord Chelmsford says in honour of the House of Lords: “The Commons have a great deal to do and they don’t do it–the Lords have nothing to do and they do it.”

In 1863 relations between England and America were again strained. English vessels were perpetually running the blockade to bring cotton to England and goods to the Southern ports–a risky but highly profitable business. They were often captured by Northern cruisers and forfeited. There were complaints on our side that the Federal courts were not always careful to distinguish in their decisions between cases of deliberate blockade-running and legitimate trading with ports beyond the Southern frontier. The North, besides blockade-running, had a further cause of complaint. The Confederates were getting cruisers built for them in neutral ports. The most famous case of the kind was that of the _Alabama_, which was built in the Mersey. The English Government had information of its destination, but failed to prevent it sailing–a failure which eventually cost us an indemnity of L3,000,000. The speech referred to in the following letter was made in the midst of these troubles. It was a defence of England’s good faith in the matter of the _Alabama_ and an assertion that Americans should be left to settle their own difficulties without European mediation. At this time the French Government and a strong party in England were in favour of European intervention. By securing the independence of the South, they hoped to diminish the power of the United States in the future. Such an idea could only be entertained while the struggle between North and South seemed evenly balanced. The next year showed the hopelessness of such a project and vindicated the wisdom of the English Government in having refused to attempt to divide America into two independent Powers.

_Mr. William Vernon Harcourt (later Sir William) to Lady Russell_

_September_ 28, 1863

I hope you will excuse my taking the liberty to write you a line of admiration and satisfaction at Lord Russell’s speech at Meiklour [in Scotland], which I have just read. I take so deep and lively an interest in the great American question and all that concerns it that I looked forward to the authorized exposition of English policy by the Foreign Secretary with the greatest anxiety. Lord Russell’s speech, will, I am sure, be of immense service both to Europe and to America. It has the _juste milieu_, and withal does not suppress the sympathy which every good man must feel for the cause of freedom, in a manner which more than ever justifies the Loch Katrine boatman’s opinion of his “terrible judgment.”

I cannot help feeling that this speech has for the first time publicly placed the position of England in its true light before the world, and I with many another one am very grateful for it. Among all Lord Russell’s many titles to fame and to public gratitude, the manner in which he has steered the vessel of the State through the Scylla and Charybdis of the American War will, I think, always stand conspicuous…. Now I am going to ask a great favour. I saw at Minto a copy of verses written for the summer-house at Pembroke Lodge, of which I formed the highest opinion. May I have a copy of them? I should really be most sincerely grateful and treasure them up amongst the things I really value.

These are the lines referred to by Mr. Harcourt:

To J.R. PEMBROKE LODGE, _June_ 30, 1850

Here, statesman, rest, and while thy ranging sight Drinks from old sources ever new delight Unbind the weary shackles of the week, And find the Sabbath thou art come to seek. Here lay the babbling, lying Present by, And Past and Future call to counsel high; To Nature’s worship say thy loud Amen, And learn of solitude to mix with men. Here hang on every rose a thorny care, Bathe thy vexed soul in unpolluted air, Fill deep from ancient stream and opening flower, From veteran oak and wild melodious bower, With love, with awe, the bright but fleeting hour. Here bid the breeze that sweeps dull vapours by, Leaving majestic clouds to deck the sky, Fan from thy brow the lines unrest has wrought, But leave the footprint of each nobler thought. Now turn where high from Windsor’s hoary walls, To keep her flag unstained thy Sovereign calls; Now wandering stop where wrapt in mantle dun, As if her guilty head Heaven’s light would shun, London, gigantic parent, looks to thee, Foremost of million sons her guide to be; On the fair land in gladness now gaze round, And wish thy name with hers in glory bound. With one alone when fades the glowing West, Beneath the moonbeam let thy spirit rest, While childhood’s silvery tones the stillness break And all the echoes of thy heart awake. Then wiser, holier, stronger than before, Go, plunge into the maddening strife once more; The dangerous, glorious path that thou hast trod, Go, tread again, and with thy country’s God.


WOBURN ABBEY, _August_ 18, 1864

My dear, dear husband’s birthday. [He was seventy-two.] I resolved not to let sad and untrustful thoughts come in the way of gratitude for present happiness, and oh! how thankfully I looked at him with his children around him. They made him and me join them in a match at trap-ball that lasted two hours and a half. He, the boys, Johnny and Agatha rode, Mademoiselle and I drove in the same direction. He and his cavalcade were a pleasant sight to me. He looked pleased and proud with his three sons and his little daughter galloping beside him. The day ended with merry games.

In September, 1864, came the news of Lord Amberley’s engagement to Lord Stanley of Alderley’s daughter. He was at that time only twenty-one. Lady Russell’s feeling about it is shown in the following letter:

_Lady Russell to Lady Georgiana Russell_

NORTH BERWICK, _September_ 21, 1864

MY DEAREST GEORGY,–Your long and dear letters were a great pleasure to me, showing how you are thinking and feeling with us about this event, so great to us all. Whatever pangs there may be belonging to it, and of course there are some, are lost and swallowed up to me in great joy and gratitude. We might have wished him to marry a little later, to have him a little longer a child of home. But, on the other hand, there is something to me very delightful in his marrying while heart and mind are fresh and innocent and unworldly, and I even add inexperienced–for I am not over-fond of experience. I think it just as often makes people less wise as more wise. There is more real truth in their “Ideale” than in what follows…. God bless you, dear child.

Your very loving MAMA

In July, 1865, Parliament was dissolved, the Ministry having held office for six years. They had lost prestige over the Schleswig-Holstein negotiations. Lord Derby, with justification, denounced their policy as one of “meddle and muddle,” and Palmerston only escaped a vote of censure in the Commons by being able to point to the prodigious success of the Ministry’s finance. His personal popularity and ascendancy, however, were as great as ever; the Liberals were returned by a majority of sixty-seven. Although this majority must have been more than they looked for, the election disappointed Lord Russell in two respects: Gladstone lost his seat at Oxford and Lord Amberley was beaten at Leeds. Before Parliament met Palmerston fell seriously ill.

PEMBROKE LODGE, _October_ 19, 1865

Letter from the Queen at Balmoral to John telling him she means to ask him to carry on the Government in case of Lord Palmerston’s death. Dearest John very calm and without the oppressed look and manner I always dread to see.

On the 18th of October Palmerston died. Had he taken the precautions usual at the age of eighty, he might have lived longer, but in private as in public life, he despised caution. He was one of those statesmen whom modern critics, on the watch for the partially obsolete and with the complexity of present problems always before them, tend to depreciate. He had the first quality which is necessary for popularity: he was readily intelligible. In addition he was prompt, combative, and magnanimous; shrewd, but never subtle; sensible, but not imaginative. He had no ideas which he wished to carry out; he did not like ideas. He wanted England to dominate in Europe and to use her power good-naturedly afterwards; to be, in fact, what a nobleman may be in his home-country, where he is universally looked up to and ready to take immense trouble to settle fairly disputes between inferiors. Opposition from a direction making it savour of impertinence he stamped upon at once, without imagining the provocation or ideas from which it might possibly spring; he could not understand, for instance, that there might be two sides to the Chinese War. It is probable, too, that had not the Prince Consort intervened to soften the asperity of the Government’s protest against the seizure of the Confederate emissaries on board the _Trent_, we should have had war with the Northern States. This menacing, peremptory attitude in diplomacy served him well, till Bismarck crossed his path. In the encounter between the man with a great idea to carry out, who had taken the measure of the forces against him, and the man who had only, as it were, a dignified attitude to support in the eyes of Europe, the odds were uneven, and Palmerston was beaten.

Lord Russell, though he must have been among the few who knew the Prime Minister had been failing lately, writes that his death came with a shock of surprise, he was so full of heart and health to the last.

Lord Russell now became Prime Minister, and Lord Clarendon took his place at the Foreign Office.

PEMBROKE LODGE, _November_ 2, 1865

John to town at twelve, back at half-past five, having taken leave of the dear old Foreign Office and left Lord Clarendon there. Happy, happy days, so full of reality–the hours of work so cheerfully got through, the hours of leisure so delightful. Sometimes when I walk with my dear, dear husband and see my lovely Agatha bounding along with sparkling eyes and rosy cheeks, and the bright sun shining on the red and yellow trees, I can only feel the sunshine of life and forget its autumn leaves. Or when we sit together by our evening fire and talk, as our moods or fancies lead us, of things grave or gay, trifling or solemn, my heart seems to leap within me from the sense of happiness, and I can only utter silent and humble thanks to the Almighty Giver. It must end, oh, fearful thought!–parting and death must come; fearfully yet not despairingly I think of that end. Come when or how it will, it cannot take all away–this happiness, this unutterable gratitude is not for time only, but is mine for ever.

The succession of Lord Russell to Palmerston’s place at the head of the Government implied a change in its character and policy. It was not merely a continuation of an old, but practically the formation of a new Government. Lord Russell was bent upon introducing a Reform Bill, and thus closing his career in forwarding the cause in which he had won his earliest and most famous laurels, and for which he had on two other occasions striven without success. But though the country was now in a mood for such measures, and Gladstone’s speeches in favour of an extension of the franchise had been well received, the party which had been elected in support of Palmerston was largely composed of men who shared his indifference, if not his dislike, to all such proposals. In all probability the Ministry was therefore doomed to a short life. “Palmerston,” wrote Lord Clarendon to Lord Granville, “held a great bundle of sticks together. They are now loosened and there is nobody to tie them up.” [58] In any case such a Bill would require very careful steering. The first ominous sign of a split occurred when it became necessary to fill the vacancy caused by the retirement of Sir Charles Wood. A place in the Cabinet was offered to Mr. Lowe, but he refused on the ground that he could not support Reform. Lord Russell, with characteristic abruptness and without consulting his colleagues, then offered the place to Mr. Goschen, who was quite unknown to the public; he had only been three years in Parliament, and held a subordinate office. [59] The choice was an admirable one, but to those who had not read Mr. Goschen’s book upon Foreign Exchanges the appointment might well seem inexplicable.

[58] “Life of Lord Granville,” by Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice.

[59] Promotion so rapid has only occurred once or twice in Parliamentary history. See note, Morley’s “Life of Gladstone,” vol. ii, p. 156.

LONDON, _February_ 3, 1866

Sir Charles Wood [60] called–wished to see me alone–chiefly in order to talk about John, his occasional sudden acts without consulting colleagues, and the bad effect of so acting. He gave some instances, in which he was quite mistaken, some in which he was right. The subject was a difficult one for me–but his intentions were very kind, and as I heartily agree with him in the main, we got on very well, and as a wife I was glad to have the opportunity of saying some things of my dearest, dearest John, who is not always understood. Sir Charles took my hand, kissed it, and said: “God bless you.”

[60] Sir Charles Wood retired with the title of Lord Halifax.

Early in March Lady Russell writes to her son Rollo, at Harrow, of a very agreeable evening at Chesham Place, when Mr. Froude and Mr. Bright were among her guests.

_Lady Russell to Mr. Rollo Russell_

_March_ 1, 1866

I wish you had been here at the Friday dinner…. It was such a pleasant little dinner. Bright was between Johnny and me; … his conversation is interesting; he is warm hearted and very much in earnest. We talked of Milton, Shakespeare, and poetry in general; he has intense admiration for Milton, as a man and as a poet, as he ought to have; but agreed with me that it is less improbable that the world should produce another Milton than another Shakespeare. He said reading poetry was the next to the greatest pleasure he had in life–the greatest was little children. These refined and amiable tastes are not what the common world would attribute to Bright, who is better known for determination and pugnacity.

Although Lord Russell and Lord Derby were the two leaders of their respective parties, they were no longer the principal men on either side. The centre of interest lay in the House of Commons, and Gladstone and Disraeli were now the antagonists whom everybody watched. On March 12th the Government’s Reform Bill was introduced in a speech by Gladstone, which was chiefly remarkable for lacking his usual fervour. The cause of this want of ardour on his part lay in the nature of the Bill itself. In order to conciliate the apathetic or hostile section of the party, the Cabinet, against the advice of Lord Russell and the inclinations of Gladstone had separated the franchise question from their redistribution scheme, which ought to have been an integral part of any Reform Bill capable of meeting the needs of the country. The grievances which such a Bill would aim at mitigating, although less gigantic than those which called for removal at the time of the first Reform Bill, were still serious enough. In 1865 “there was not one elector for each four inhabited houses, and five out of every six adult males were without a vote.” [61] But in addition to this the large increase in population had been very unevenly distributed, with the result that large towns like Liverpool were palpably under-represented. The franchise had been fixed by the first Reform Bill at L10 a year rental. The Bill which Gladstone brought forward in the Commons proposed to reduce the county franchise from L50 to L14, and the borough franchise from L10 to L7 rental. Gladstone wished to make the payment of rates qualify a man for a vote; but this change was thought to be too radical, and any lowering of the qualifying sum of L7 rental would, it was found, place the working-classes in command of a majority in the towns–a result which the Cabinet was not ready to face. Moderate as the measure was, it was received with bitter hostility, while its half-heartedness roused little enthusiasm among the keener Liberals of the party. The debates upon the first and second readings were remarkable for energy of attack from the disaffected section of the old Palmerstonian party, nicknamed the “Adullamites.” Mr. Lowe’s speeches from “the cave of Adullam,” “to which every one was invited who was distressed, and every one who was discontented,” are still [62] remembered as among the most eloquent ever delivered in the House of Commons. The second reading passed by so narrow a majority that the Government thought it prudent to rally their reliable supporters, and meet just criticisms upon the inadequacy of their Bill, by bringing forward a redistribution measure and incorporating it with their franchise proposals. For a time this served to help them. By declaring that they would also stand or fall by the redistribution clauses of their Bill, they at any rate showed a better front to the Opposition. Towards the end of June, however, they were beaten in committee by eleven; their defeat being principally due to the attacks and manoeuvres of Mr. Lowe and Mr. Horsman, who had been Irish Secretary in Palmerston’s first Ministry.

[61] Spencer Walpole, “The History of Twenty-five Years.”

[62] John Bright’s speech.

_Lady Russell to her two sons at Harrow_

_March_ 15, 1866

…Horsman and Lowe are both Liberals; Horsman used, I think, to be reckoned Radical. But both have taken a violent dislike to Parliamentary Reform, and certainly one would not guess by their speeches that they were liberal in anything. Mr. Lowe’s was a very clever speech; Bright’s very clever too, and very good. Of course the Bill does not satisfy him; but his honest support of it, being all in the right direction, is creditable to him and very useful to the measure. Your Papa is much pleased with the whole debate, thinking it a very good one (excellent speeches for and against the measure), and the result probably favourable to it. As to the likelihood of its passing, opinions vary. I hear that Lord Eversley (the late Speaker) says he would take a good big bet that it won’t pass. Your Papa says he is ready to bet against him that it will. Will Ministers dissolve Parliament if beaten? To that I must answer I don’t know. I heard Mr. Gladstone’s speech. As Willy says, the latter part was very eloquent. It was all good; but the details of a Suffrage Act are tiresome, and the apparent indifference, or even apathy, of our side of the House allowed even the striking passages with which the speech was interspersed to fall dead. The passages were striking, but nobody seemed to be struck. I don’t believe the real feeling is one of dislike to Reform; but that, of course, they don’t like to show, as the greater part of them, in spite of dislike, will support it. Your classical hearts must have enjoyed Mr. Gladstone’s “ligneus equus” quotation; but I am afraid Mr. Lowe’s continuation was better. I never, or seldom, like quotations that merely illustrate what the subject of discussion does _not_ resemble–they are forced and without much point; but when Mr. Lowe _likens_ our Reform Bill to the “monstrum infelix,” and hopes it will not succeed in penetrating the “muros” of the Constitution (isn’t that pretty nearly what he said?) there is wit and point in the quotation. [63]

[63] Gladstone, in his apologetic introductory speech, had declared that no one could regard the Bill as a Trojan horse, which the Government was introducing surreptitiously within the citadel of the Constitution. “We cannot say:

“‘Scandit fatalis machina muros
Foeta armis.'”
(The fated engine climbs our walls, big with arms.)

Mr. Lowe retorted:

“That was not a very apt quotation; but there was a curious felicity about it which he [Mr. Gladstone] little dreamt of. The House remembers that, among other proofs of the degree in which public opinion is enlisted in the cause of Reform, is this–that this is now the fifth Reform Bill which has been brought in since 1851. Now, just attend to the sequel of the passage quoted by the right honourable gentleman:

“‘O Divum domus Ilium et inclyta bello Mcenia Dardanidum! Quater ipso in limine portae Sustitit, atque utero sonitum quater arma dedere.’ (O Troy, house of gods and Dardanian city famous in war! four times in the very gateway it stood, and four times the clash of arms sounded in its womb.)

“But that is not all:

“‘Instamus tarn en immemores, caecique furore, Et monstrum infelix sacrata sistimus arce.’ (Yet we, thoughtless and blind with enthusiasm, urged it on, and in our hallowed citadel stationed the ill-omened monster.)”

_Mr. Charles Dickens to Lady Russell_

GLASGOW, _April_ 17, 1866

MY DEAR LADY RUSSELL,–…In sending my kindest regards to Lord Russell, let me congratulate you on the culminating victory before him, and on the faith and constancy with which the country carries him in its great heart. I have never felt so certain of any public event as I have been from the first that the national honour would feel itself stung to the quick if he were in danger of being deserted….

Dear Lady Russell,

Ever faithfully yours,


LONDON, _April_ 19, 1866

Political prospects not brightening. John and his Ministry will be in such an honourable position, whether they stand or fall, that no serious danger threatens the country if they fall. My only anxiety is lest John should be disappointed and depressed; and it was with a sense of relief of which he was little aware that I heard him say yesterday of his own accord, as he looked out of window at the bright sunshine, “I shall not be very sorry–it’s such fine weather to go out in.”

LONDON, _June_ 19, 1866

At 7.30 a note was brought to John from Mr. Gladstone. Government beaten by eleven. Happily Gladstone, though ambiguous in one sentence as to the importance of the vote, was not so in others–or at all events was understood to mean “stand or fall.”

Cabinet at 2.30 resolved that John should write to the Queen to offer resignations. Queen meantime writes from Balmoral, foreseeing the defeat, that she will not accept the resignations.

Dearest John not depressed, though very sorry for this defeat of his hopes. He will stand well with the country, and that he feels.

The Queen could not understand the necessity of her Ministers’ resignation. The amendment upon which they had been defeated by so small a majority seemed to her a matter of small importance compared with events which made continuance in office desirable. For Bismarck had just declared war upon Austria, and the failure of Overend and Gurney had thrown the City into confusion. After a delay of more than a week, however, she was compelled to accept their resignations, which had been tendered as early as June 19th.

PEMBROKE LODGE, _June_ 28, 1866

John so well and happy that my joy in his release becomes greater every hour. There is a sense of repose that can hardly be described–abounding happiness in his honourable downfall that cannot be uttered.

_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _June_ 30, 1866

As I wrote to you last in a doubting and disagreeable state of mind, I am in a hurry to write again, being now perfectly certain that the blessings of the resignation far outweigh its pains. I do not care for the charge of fickleness which may with justice be made against me. I can only confirm it. The defeat made me very sad. I hoped for many days that John could honourably remain in office…. On the day of the resignation he was serious–perhaps sad–and so was I. The next day everything, including his face, looked brighter, and has gone on brightening; so that now I am only afraid of being too much uplifted by our downfall, and hardly have words enough to describe my relief and joy. All the best men are full of approbation of his conduct. He and Mr. Gladstone have given an example to the country worth more than a Reform Bill. A short Tory reign will strengthen the Whig party; a good strong Whig Opposition will prevent much Tory mischief, so that there is little regret on public grounds to mix with my unbounded joy on our private account. Seven years of office had made me aware of its advantages and its interest, and I saw that John liked it, and I thought I did; but now I see that he has had enough of it, and any fear I may have had that he might regret it is for ever gone, and I have found out how entirely it was an acquired taste with me. I can’t say how often we have already said to one another, “Now that we are out,” as a preface to something pleasant to be done. He said to me this morning, “The days will not be long enough now.” That “now” would surprise those people who may imagine that time will hang heavy on his hands. He is in excellent spirits…. We feel as if fetters had been struck off our minds and bodies. If God grants us health, how happy we may be, dearest Mary! I have said far too much on this subject, but you will understand how I have reason to be both sadder and gladder than other Ministers’ wives.

Prussia and Italy had declared war against Austria, Hanover, Bavaria, and Hesse on the day the Russell Government was defeated. At Custozza the Italians were badly beaten by the Austrians, under the Archduke Charles.

Alas, alas! for poor Italy! Alas for everybody engaged in this most wicked and terrible German war! Surely it is all wrong that two or three bad, ambitious–men should be able to cause the death and misery of thousands upon thousands. Our day at Harrow, Agatha with us, was very happy. I never had heard John so heartily cheered by the boys.

He was in his seventy-fourth year, and he was never again to bear the cares of office. That summer they went down to Endsleigh, which they had not visited since the first years of their marriage,

ENDSLEIGH, _August_ 4, 1866

John, Georgy, and I here about 7.30, after a beautiful journey. Lovely Endsleigh! it is like a dream to be here…. Thoughts of the old happy days haunting me continually. To church, to Fairy Dell. Places all the same–everything else altered.



During 1866 Lord Russell finished his “Life of Fox.” In the autumn and winter he and his family travelled in Italy, where they were often _feted_ by the people of the towns through which they passed. At the close of the seven weeks’ war Austria had ceded Venetia to Italy, and on November 7th they witnessed the entry of Victor Emmanuel into Venice as King of all Italy. It was a magnificent and most impressive sight. Lord Russell was full of thankfulness and joy at the deliverance of Venetia from foreign rule, and the triumph of a free and united Italy.

In the memoir of Count Pasolini by his son (translated by the Countess of Dalhousie) the following passage occurs:

Lord John Russell was then in Venice, and came to view the pageant from our windows in Palazzo Corner. When my mother saw this old friend appear with the tricolor upon his breast, she said, “Fort bien, Milord! nos couleurs italiennes sur votre coeur!” He shook her by the hand, and answered, “Pour moi je les ai toujours portees, Comtesse. Je suis bien content de vous trouver ici aujourd’hui; c’est un des plus beaux jours de notre siecle!”

Somebody then said to Lord Russell what a pity it was that the sun of Italy did not shine more brightly to gild the historical solemnity. “As for that,” said he, “England shows her sympathy by sending you her beloved fog from the Thames.”

_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

VENICE, November 8, 1866

We are all enchanted with this enchanting place…. Thursday (yesterday) was the grand and glorious sight–_how_ grand and glorious nobody who has not been here and probably nobody who has can conceive…. Newspapers will tell you of the countless gondolas decorated with every variety of brilliant colours–alike only in the tricolor flag waving from every one of them–and rowed by gondoliers in every variety of brilliant and picturesque garb–and they will tell you a great deal more; but they cannot describe the _thrill_ of thousands and thousands of Italian hearts at the moment when their King, “il sospirato nostro Re,” appeared, the winged Lion of St. Mark at one end of his magnificent gondola, a statue of Italy crowned by Venice at the other. So spirit-stirring a celebration of so great an event we shall never see again, and I rejoice that our children were there.

_Lord Russell to Lady Minto_

VENICE, _November_ 11, 1866

… We have been delighted with this place, but especially with being here to see the crowning of the edifice of Italian Independence. The people have rather their hearts full than their voices loud. When the Italian flag was first raised none of the crowd could cheer for weeping and sobbing. It is a mighty change…. We have seen many pictures. I am exceedingly struck with the number of fine pictures, the magnificent colouring, and the large conceptions of the Venetian painters–faulty in drawing very often, as Michelangelo said long ago, but wonderfully satisfying to the imagination.

They returned to England early in 1867.

It was a critical time in the history of the franchise. Neither Lord Derby nor his followers liked Reform, but the workmen of England were at last set upon it, and Disraeli realized that only a party prepared to enlarge the franchise had any chance of power. Unlike his colleagues, he had no fear or dislike of the people. His imagination enabled him to foresee what hardly another statesman, Conservative or Radical, supposed possible, that the power of the Democracy might be increased without kindling in the people any desire to use it. He divined that the glamour which wealth and riches have for the majority of voters would make it easy to put a hook in the nose of Leviathan, and that the monster might be ultimately taken in tow by the Conservative party. His first move in the process of “educating his party” was to offer the House a series of Resolutions upon the principles of representation. These were intended to foreshadow the nature of the Government’s proposals and also to prepare their way. By this device he hoped to raise the Bill above party conflict, and to lead the more Conservative of his followers up a gently graduated slope of generalities till they found themselves committed to accepting a somewhat democratic measure. His plan was frustrated by the determination of the Opposition to force the Government to show their hand at once.

He consequently placed before his colleagues a measure which based the franchise on the occupation of houses rated at L5, coupled with several antidotes to the democratic tendencies of such a change in the shape of “fancy franchises,” which gave votes to men of certain educational and financial qualifications. His proposals seem to have been accepted by the Cabinet with reluctant and hesitating approval. On examining more carefully the effects of the L5 franchise upon town constituencies Lord Cranborne (afterwards Lord Salisbury) retracted his previous assent, and Lord Carnarvon followed his lead.

On the very day that Lord Derby and Disraeli were pledged to define their measure they found themselves threatened with the resignation of two most important members of the Government. At a hasty Cabinet Council, held just before they were to speak, it was agreed, after about twenty minutes’ discussion, that the borough rental should be raised to L6. The Opposition, however, declared a L6 franchise to be still too high, and they were now backed by a considerable section of the Conservative party itself, who felt that when once they were committed to Reform it would at least be wise to introduce a measure likely to win them popularity as reformers. Lord Derby and Disraeli yielded to pressure from within their party, and Lord Cranborne, Lord Carnarvon, and General Peel resigned. The subsequent history of the Bill consisted in a series of surrenders on the part of Disraeli. All the clauses and qualifications which had originally modified its democratic character were dropped, and Gladstone succeeded in carrying nearly all the amendments his first speech upon the Bill had suggested.

When the Bill finally passed Lord Salisbury described it as a measure based upon the principles of Bright and dictated by Gladstone; and what many Conservatives thought of Disraeli’s conduct is reflected in the speeches of their ally Lowe: “Never, never was tergiversation so complete. Such conduct may fail or not; it may lead to the retention or loss of office; but it merits alike the contempt of all honest men and the execration of posterity.” [64] Gladstone, writing to Dr. Pusey at the end of the year, said: “We have been passing through a strange, eventful year: a deplorable one, I think, for the character and conduct of the House of Commons; but yet one of promise for the country, though of a promise not unmixed with evils.” The feeling of romantic Tories in the country is expressed in Coventry Patmore’s poem “1867,” which begins:

In the year of the great crime,
When the false English Nobles and their Jew, By God demented, slew
The Trust they stood twice pledged to keep from wrong.

[64] Morley’s “Life of Gladstone,” vol. ii, p. 235.

The last and longest struggle took place over the compound householder. On May 17th Mr. Hodgkinson proposed and carried an amendment that in a Parliamentary borough only the occupier should be rated, thus basing, in effect, the franchise upon household suffrage, and forcing upon Disraeli a principle which he had begun by announcing he would never accept. To make the following letters intelligible it is only necessary to add that in 1866 Lord Amberley had been returned to Parliament as Radical member for Nottingham:

_Lord Russell to Lady Georgiana Russell_ [65]

PEMBROKE LODGE, _January_ 22, 1867

MY DEAREST GEORGY,–I have been very negligent in not writing to you before, as I meant to do, but laziness after exertion is very pleasant. My exertion was not small, as, besides speaking at the beginning of the evening, I sate up for the division, and did not get home till near four in the morning. The triumph was very great; Derby and Cairns and the foolish and wicked Tories were beat, and the wise and honest Tories, like Salisbury and Carnarvon, helped the Liberals to defeat them…. We shall have a great fight in Committee; but I still trust in a reasonable majority for not pushing amendments too far, and then the Bill will be a great triumph of sense over nonsense…. We had Dickens Saturday and Sunday–very agreeable and amiable….

Your affectionate father, R.

[65] This letter ought to be dated July 22, 1869, and addressed to Lady Georgiana Peel. It refers to the debate on the Irish Church Bill.

_Lady Russell to Mr. Rollo Russell_


_February 21, 1867_

… Your Papa and I dined yesterday with Lord and Lady Cork. I heard some funny stories of Mrs. Lowe…. Here’s the best. Mr. Lowe was talking of the marriage service, of the absurdity of making everybody say, “With all my worldly goods I thee endow”–“For instance, I had not a penny.” _Mrs. L_.: “Oh, but Robert, you had your brains!” _Mr. L. (sharply)_: “I’m sure I didn’t endow you with _them_.” Very funny; but very cruel, too, in answer to what was meant so affectionately…. Now, I must get ready to walk with your Papa. He keeps well and strong, in spite of the cloudy political atmosphere (hazy, perhaps, rather than cloudy)–nobody thinking or feeling anything clearly or warmly, except him and Gladstone and a score or two of others. He feels that the Government has so discredited itself and the Tory party generally, that the Whig party might be in a capital position if it chose. But the general indifference of Whig M.P.’s to Reform, and their selfish fear of dissolution, come in the way of public spirit and combined action.

Your Papa is writing to Mr. Gladstone, from whom he has just received an account of the debate. Disraeli’s clever and artful speech appears to have had more effect on the House (and even on our side of it) than is creditable…. Johnny has made a very good impression–so we hear from Mr. Brand, Hastings, [66] Mr. Huguesson, and Gladstone–by his maiden speech. All these, except Gladstone, heard it, and concur in warm praise, both of matter and manner. It is a great event in his life, and I am so thankful it is well over.

[66] Afterwards Duke of Bedford.

_Lord Russell to Lady Minto_

LONDON, _May 21_, 1867

MY DEAR NINA,–As you have been so much bothered with the compound householder, you will be glad to learn that he is dead and is to be buried on Thursday. It was supposed he was the last and best product of civilization; but it has been found out that he was a son of Old Nick, and a valiant knight of the name of Hodgkinson has run him through the body.

The Duke of Buccleuch, with whom Fanny and I have been having luncheon, says that Dizzy is like a clever conjuror. “Is that the card you wished for, sir?-and is that yours, and yours, and yours?” But politics are rather disgusting than otherwise. … Fanny and I went yesterday to see the Queen lay the first stone of the Hall of Science and Art. [67] It was a grand sight–great respect, but no enthusiasm, nor occasion for it.

Lotty is going to give us dinner to-morrow. I call her and Mary, L’Allegra e la Penserosa. _Fanny_: “And what am I?” “L’Allegra e Penserosa.” I have no more nonsense to tell you. I should like to go to Paris in July or August, but can we? Let me know when you will be there.

Your faithful


[67] The Albert Hall.

A few weeks later he wrote again to Lady Minto: “Our Reform Bill is now brought to that exact shape in which Bright put it in 1858, and which he thought too large and democratic a change to be accepted by the moderate Liberal party. However, nothing is too much for the swallow of our modern Tories.”

In August, 1867, Lord Russell’s eldest daughter, Georgiana, married Mr. Archibald Peel, [68] son of General Peel, and nephew of the statesman, Sir Robert Peel.

[68] The marriage service was at Petersham, in the quaint old village Church, hallowed by many sacred memories.

The daughters, who had now left the old home, were sadly missed, but intimate and affectionate intercourse with them never ceased. Lady Russell’s own daughter, the youngest of three families–ten in all–thought in her early childhood that they were all real brothers and sisters, a striking proof of the harmonious happiness of the home. In November, 1867, Lady Victoria Villiers wrote to Lady Russell: “How I long to make our home as pure, as high in its tone and aims, as free from all that is low or even useless for our children, as our dear home was to us.”

On Lord Russell’s birthday, August 18, 1867, Lady Russell wrote in her diary:

My dear, dear husband’s birthday. Each year, each day, makes me feel more deeply all the wonderful goodness of God in giving me one so noble, so gentle, so loving, to be my example, my happiness, my stay. How often his strength makes me feel, but try to conquer, my own weakness; how often his cheerfulness and calmness are a reproach to my anxieties. Experience has not hardened but only given him wisdom. Trials have taught him to feel for others; age has deepened his religion of love. All that so often lowers commoner natures has but raised his.

In February, 1868, Lord Derby resigned, owing to ill health. “With Lord Derby [says Sir Spencer Walpole [69]] a whole race of statesmen disappeared. He was the last of the Prime Ministers who had held high office before the Reform Act of 1832; and power, on his fall, was to be transferred to men not much younger in point of years, but whose characters and opinions had been moulded by other influences. He was, moreover, the last of the Tories. He had, indeed, by his own concluding action made Toryism impossible; for, in 1867, he had thrown the ramparts of Toryism into a heap, and had himself mounted the structure and fired the funeral pile.” Disraeli succeeded him as Prime Minister.

[69] “The History of Twenty-five Years,” vol. ii, p. 287.

_Lady Russell to Mr. Rollo Russell_

CHESHAM PLACE, _February_ 18, 1868

…Lord Derby is supposed to be dying, I am sorry to say. It is horrible to hear the street criers bawling out in their catchpenny voices, “Serious illness of Lord Derby.” I feel for his wife and all belonging to him without any of the flutter and anxiety about your father which a probable change of Ministry would have caused a few years ago. He will never accept office again. This is right, I know, and I am thankful that on the conviction of its being so he has calmly made up his mind–yet there is deep sadness in it. The newspapers are not favourable to his pamphlets on Ireland [three pamphlets published together afterwards under the title, “A letter to the Right Hon. Chichester Fortescue”]. He does not care much about this, provided men in Parliament adopt his views or something like them.

We find London very sociable and pleasant … people all looking glad to meet, and fresh and pleasant from their country life, quite different from what they will be in July….

Lady Russell, as well as her husband, was always anxious to encourage perfect freedom and independence of thought in her children. The following passages are from a letter to her daughter on her fifteenth birthday:

37 CHESHAM PLACE, _March_ 28, 1868

… Every day will now bring you more independence of mind, more capacity to understand, not merely to adopt the thoughts of others, to reason and to form opinions of your own. I am the more sure of this, that yours is a thoughtful and reflective mind. The voice of God may sometimes sound differently to you from what it sounds even to your father or to me; if so, never be afraid to say so–never close your mind against any but bad thoughts; for although we are all one in as far as we all partake of God’s spirit, which is the breath of life, still the communion of each soul with Him is, and must be, for that soul alone…. Nothing great is easy, and the greatest and most difficult of all things is to overcome ourselves…. Life is short, and we do well to remember it, but each moment is eternal, and we do still better to remember that…. Heaven bless you and guide you through the pleasures and perplexities, the sorrows and the joys, of this strange and beautiful world, to the source of all light, and life, and goodness, to that Being whose highest name is Love.

The everlasting Irish question had been coming again to the front. During 1867 the Fenians had attempted to get the grievances of Ireland redressed by adopting violent measures. There had been an attempt upon the arsenal at Chester, numerous outrages in Ireland, an attack at Manchester upon the prison van, in which two Fenian leaders were being taken to prison, and a subsequent attempt to blow up Clerkenwell jail. The crisis had been met by suspending the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland. Lord Russell, when Prime Minister, had replaced Sir Robert Peel, as Chief Secretary, by Mr. Chichester Fortescue, who later received the same office from Mr. Gladstone. In February, 1868, Lord Russell published his letter to Mr. Fortescue advocating Disestablishment in Ireland, but declaring himself in favour of endowing the Catholic Church with part of the revenues of the disestablished Church. In April Gladstone succeeded in carrying three Resolutions against the Government on the Irish Church question, and though Disraeli tendered his resignation, dissolution was postponed until the autumn. The same month Lord Russell presided at a meeting in St. James’s Hall in support of Disestablishment. At the general election in the autumn the Liberals came in with a large majority; Gladstone became Prime Minister, and in the following year carried his Bill for the Disestablishment of the Irish Church. [70] Lady Russell’s views on the question of Church and State are shown in the following letter:

_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _May_ 20, 1868

MY DEAREST MARY,–…How can one write letters in such weather as we have had? A fine May is surely the loveliest of lovely things, and the most enjoyable, at least to lucky mortals like ourselves who are not obliged to be “in populous city pent”–and those who have never seen Pemmy Lodge in its May garments of lilac, laburnum, wild hyacinth, hawthorn, and the tender greens of countless shades on trees and shrubs, are not really acquainted with it…. I have been going through the contrary change from you as regards Church and State. I thought _I_ was strongly for the connection (at least of _a_ Church with the State, certainly not _the_ Church of England as it now is), but reflection on what the history of our State Churches has been, the speeches in St. James’s Hall of the Bishops fostered by the State, and Arthur Stanley’s pamphlet, which says the best that _can_ be said for connection, and yet seems to open my eyes to the fallacy of that best, and the conversations I hear, have opened my eyes to the bad principle at the very root of a State Church. If _all_ who call themselves teachers of religion could be paid, it might be very well, best of all perhaps; but I’m afraid there are difficulties not to be got over, and the objections to the voluntary system diminish on reflection…. This new political crisis raises John’s hopes a little; but he has small faith in the public spirit of the Liberal party, and even now fears some manoeuvre to keep Dizzy in.

Ever, dearest Mary, your most affectionate sister,


[70] Mr. Froude, in a talk with an Irish peasant on the grievances of his country, remarked that one cause of complaint was removed by Disestablishment of the Church. “Och, sure, your honour, that is worse than all. It was the best gravance we had, and ye’ve taken it away from us!”

_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _December_ 3, 1868

MY DEAREST MARY,–Yesterday’s _Pall Mall_ and Sir David Dundas, who dined with us, set us all agog with the news that the Ministry are to resign at once, probably have now resigned; certainly much the wisest course for themselves, and John rather thinks the best for everybody…. How different this change of Ministry is to us from any there has been before since we were married, and for John since long before! There is now only a keen and wholesome interest for the country’s sake–none of the countless agitations which at all events on the formation of the three last Ministries, of which John was either the head or a prominent member, more than overpowered satisfaction and pride, perhaps not to himself, but to his wife in her secret heart. As to pride, I never was prouder of him in one position than in another, _in_ than _out_, applauded than condemned; and I had learned to know the risks, not to health only or chiefly, for that, precious as it was, seemed a trifle in comparison with other things, but to the power of serving his country, to friendship, to reputation in the highest sense, which are involved in the formation of a Government. These are matters of experience, and in 1846 I was inexperienced and consequently foresaw only good to the country and increase of fame to him from his acceptance of the Prime Ministership. I now know that these seldom or never in such a state of parties as has existed for many years and still exists, can be the _only_ consequences of high office for him, although, thank God, they have always been _among_ the consequences, and my only reasonable and permanent regret (for I don’t pretend to the absence of passing and unreasonable regrets) is for the _cause_ of office being over for him. What a letter full of _John_, and just when I ought to be talking of everybody else except _John_; but you will guess that if he were not perfectly cheerful–and he is more, he is full of patriotic eagerness–I could not write all this…. Thanks for your sympathy about Johnny–we were _very_ sorry, I need not say[71]…. I don’t at all mind the beating, which has been a glorious one in every way, but I _immensely_ mind his not being in Parliament….

Your most affectionate sister, F.R.

[71] Lord Amberley was defeated in the General Election.

Mr. Charles Dickens to Lady Russell


Saturday, December 26, 1868

MY DEAR LADY RUSSELL,–… I cannot tell you how highly I esteem your kind Christmas remembrances, or how earnestly I send all seasonable wishes to you and Lord Russell and all who are dearest to you. I am unselfishly glad that Lord Russell is out of the turmoil and worry of a new Administration, but I miss him from it sorely. I was saying only yesterday to Layard (who is staying here), that I could not get over the absence of that great Liberal name from a Liberal Government, and that I lost heart without it.

Ever faithfully yours,


_Lady Russell to Lady Victoria Villiers_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _February_ 4, 1869

We have had such a gay time of it–that is, from Saturday to Monday only; but we have had such a quiet life in general that that seems a great deal. The Gladstones with daughter Mary to dine. Gladstone was unanimously pronounced to be most agreeable and delightful. I never saw him in such high spirits, and he was as ready to talk about anything and everything, small and great, as if he had no Ministerial weight on his shoulders. He carries such fire and eloquence into whatever he talks about that it seems for the moment the most important subject in the world.

_Lady Russell to Mr. Rollo Russell_

37 CHESHAM PLACE, _March_ 2, 1869

London is extremely agreeable now, not rackety, but sociable–at least to the like of us who do not attempt to mix in the very gay world….

Arthur Russell called last night after hearing Gladstone’s great speech [on Irish Disestablishment], well pleased himself and expecting the country to be so–_the_ country, Ireland, more especially. _On_ the whole your father is satisfied, but not _with_ the whole; he does not approve of the churches being left to the Protestants for ever, as there is nothing granted to the Roman Catholics. Neither does he like the appropriation of national money to charities. [72]

[72] The Bill transferred to the new disestablished Episcopal Church all the churches, all endowments given since 1660, while the remaining funds were to be handed over to the Government for the relief of poverty and suffering.

Lord Russell had followed up his first letter to Mr. Chichester Fortescue by two more letters, in which he again advocated both the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church. He warmly supported Gladstone’s measure; though he again insisted that the funds of the Irish Church should be used to endow the other Churches. He was in constant attendance at the House of Lords, and during the same session he proposed, without success, a measure which would have added a limited number of life peers to the Second Chamber. These incursions into politics seem in no way to have taxed his strength.

_Lady Russell to Mr. William Russell_

_June_ 3, 1869

It is a great misfortune that we have so few really eminent men among the clergy of England, Scotland, or Ireland–in any of the various communities. Such men are greatly needed to take the lead in what I cannot but look upon as a noble march of the progress of mankind, the assertion of the right to think and speak with unbounded freedom on that which concerns us all more deeply than anything else–religion. I believe that by the exercise of such unbounded freedom we shall reach to a knowledge of God and a comprehension of the all-perfect spirit of Christianity such as no Established Church has ever taught by Creeds or Articles, though individuals of all such Churches have forgotten Creeds and Articles, and taught “true religion and undefiled” out of the real Word of God and their own high and holy thoughts.

PEMBROKE LODGE, _August_ 18, 1869

My dear husband seventy-seven this day. God be thanked for all that has made it a calm and bright and blessed one to us.

Our happiness now is chiefly in the past and present as to this world, in memory more than hope. But the best joys of the past and present are linked to that future beyond the grave to which we are hastening…. Bright and beautiful day. We sat long together in bowling-green and talked of the stir in men’s minds on Christianity, on all religions and religion, our own thoughts, our hope, our trust.

_Lord Russell to Lady Georgiana Peel_


MY DEAREST GEORGY,–… Your very kind and warm congratulations delight me. It is sad that the years pass and make one older and weaker and sillier, but as they will pass all the same, it is well to have one bright day in each year when one’s children can recall all the past, and feel once again gratitude to the Giver of all good.

Your affectionate Father, RUSSELL

_To Mr. Archibald Peel_

MY DEAR ARCHIE,–Thanks for your good wishes. Happy returns I always find them, as my children are so affectionate and loving–many I cannot expect–but I have played my part, and think the rest will be far easier than my task has been.

Your affectionate F.I.L. (Father-in-Law)


On October 26th they left home for Italy, travelling across France in deep snow. They reached the Villa Garbarino, at San Remo, on November 3rd, and remained there till April, 1870. “The five months,” Lady Russell writes, “were among the very happiest of our lives, and we reckon it among the three earthly paradises to which our wanderings have taken us–La Roche, St. Fillans, and San Remo. It was a very quiet life, but with a pleasant amount of society, many people we much liked passing through, or staying awhile, or, like ourselves, all the winter.”

They also became friendly with several of the Italians of San Remo, whom they welcomed at little evening gatherings at their villa. Their landlord, the Marchese Garbarino, was an ardent patriot. He it was who had decorated the ceiling of his drawing-room with the four portraits: Cavour, Garibaldi, Mazzini, and Lord John Russell, so it was to him a delightful surprise to have Lord John as his tenant.

_Lord Russell to Lady Minto_

SAN REMO, _November_ 23, 1869

I am very sorry that headache and neuralgia should have been added to illness and dislike of writing, as your reason for not inquiring how we were going on. We sit here in the receipt of news without any means of reciprocity, but we can speculate on France, Italy, and Ireland. Of those, the country which most interests and most concerns me, is Ireland…. I have heard much of Lady and Lord Byron, and from good sources. I can only conclude that he was half mad and loved to frighten her, and that she believed in the stories she circulated. [73] The Duke of Wellington said of George IV’s story that he was at the Battle of Waterloo, “At first it was a lie, than a strong delusion, and at last downright madness.”

Brougham’s conversation with William IV on the dissolution was another delusion, and so on in perverse, wicked, contradictory human nature. Those who like to probe such systems may do so–the only wise conclusion is Swift’s, “If you want to confute a lie, tell another in the opposite direction.” Madame de Sevigne tells of a curate who put up a clock on his church. His parishioners collected stones to break it, saying it was the Gabelle. “No, my friends,” he said, “it was the Jubilee,” on which they all hurrahed and went away. If he had said it was a machine to mark the hour, his clock would have been broken and himself pelted.

I hope your second volume is coming out soon. [74] There are no lies in it, and therefore you must not expect a great sale. I must stop or you will think me grown a misanthrope. Fanny and Agatha are well. If the day had been fine the Crown Princess and her sister would have come here to tea, and you would have had no letter from me. Do send me a return, when your mankind is gone a-hunting.

[73] The publication of “Astarte,” by the late Lord Lovelace, containing the documents and letters relating to Byron’s separation from his wife, has now made it quite clear that the grounds for separation were real.

[74] The second volume of “Life and Letters of Sir Gilbert Elliot, First Earl of Minto.”

_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

SAN REMO, _December_ 1, 1869

Your letter of November 24th found the Amberleys here…. They were preceded by the Crown Princess of Prussia and Princess Louis of Hesse, announced by telegram in the morning, and a young Prince Albert of Prussia, son of the Prince Albert of our Berlin days, and a suite of two gentlemen and a lady, who came from Cannes, where they are living, on Friday, to pay us a visit, dined with us, slept at the nearest hotel, and were off again Saturday morning, we going With them as far as Bordighera; and on Monday arrived the Odos [75] for one night only, sleeping at an hotel. You see that our usual quiet life was for a while exchanged for one of–… Well, I beg pardon for this interruption and go back to our illustrious and non-illustrious visitors. The illustrious were as merry as if they had no royalty about them, and as simple, too, dining in their travelling garments, brushing and washing in my room and John’s, enjoying their dinner, of which happily there was enough (although the suite was unexpected owing to my not having received a letter giving details), chatting and laughing afterwards till half-past eight, when they walked in darkness, and strange to say, mud! but with glorious stars overhead, the five minute’ distance to their hotel, accompanied by Agatha and me. The drive to Bordighera next morning was the pleasantest part of the visit to us all–John, Princess Louis, and Prince Albert in their carriage, Crown Princess, Agatha, and I in ours. It is wonderful to hear Princesses express such widely liberal opinions and feelings on education, religion, nationality, and if we had talked politics I dare-say I should add that too. Their strong love for their Vaterland in spite of their early transplantation is also very agreeable.

The Amberleys had been ten days with Mill at Avignon–a good fortification, I should imagine, against the wiles and blandishments of priests of all degree to which they will be exposed at Rome…. Little Rachel [76]is as sweet a little bright-eyed lassie as I ever saw, hardly saying anything yet, but expressing a vast deal.

[75] Mr. Odo Russell (afterwards Lord Ampthill) and his wife.

[76] Daughter of Lord and Lady Amberley, born in February, 1868.

_Lord Russell to Colonel Romilly_

SAN REMO, _December_ 4, 1869

MY DEAR FREDERICK,–I had understood from you that you wished to propose some alterations in my Introduction to the Speeches, and I was much obliged to you for so kind a thought. But it appears by a letter from Lizzy that she and you think that all discussions of the future (which are announced in my preface) ought to be omitted. In logical and literary aspects you are quite right; but I must tell you that since 1832 Ireland has been a main object of all my political career…. I am not without hope that the House of Commons will pass a reasonable Land Bill, and adhere to the plan of national education, which has been in force now for nearly forty years. At all events, the present government of Ireland gives no proofs of the infallibility of our rulers. Tell Lizzy that it is not a plate of salted cherries, but cherries ripe, without any salt, which I propose to lay before the Irish.

Yours affectionately,


In the closing passage of the “Introduction” referred to in the above letter Lord Russell gives a modest estimate of his own career: “My capacity I always felt was very inferior to that of the men who have attained in past times the foremost place in our Parliament, and in the Councils of our Sovereign. I have committed many errors, some of them very gross blunders. But the generous people of England are always forbearing and forgiving to those statesmen who have the good of their country at heart; like my betters, I have been misrepresented and slandered by those who knew nothing of me, but I have been more than compensated by the confidence and the friendship of the best men of my own political connection, and by the regard and favourable interpretation of my motives which I have heard expressed by my generous opponents, from the days of Lord Castlereagh to those of Mr. Disraeli.”

_Lady Russell to Mr. Rollo Russell_

SAN REMO, _February_ 17, 1870

How awful Paris will be after the easy, natural, unconventional life of San Remo, one delight of which is the absence of all thought about dress! Whatever may be and are the delights of Paris–and I fully intend that we should all three enjoy them–_that_ burden is heavier there than in all the world beside–and why? oh, why? What is there to prevent human nature from finding out and rejoicing in the blessings of civilization and society without encumbering them with petty etiquettes and fashions and forms which deprive them of half their value? Human nature is a very provoking compound. It strives and struggles and gives life itself for political freedom, while it forges social chains and fetters for itself and wears them with a foolish smile. And with this fruitless lamentation I must end.

_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

SAN REMO, _February_ 23, 1870

I don’t know a bit whether we shall be much in London during the session–it will be session, not season, that takes us there…. The longer I live the more I condemn and deplore a rackety life for _any_ girl, and therefore if I do what I myself think right by her and not what others may think right, she shall never be a London butterfly. Would that we could give our girls the ideal society which I suppose we all dream for them–that of the wise and the good of all ages, of the young and merry of their own. No barbarous crowds, no despotic fashions, no senseless omnipotence of custom (see “Childe Harold,” somewhere).[77] I wonder in this age of revolution, which has dethroned so many monarchs and upset so many time-honoured systems of Government and broken so many chains, that Queen Fashion is left unmolested on her throne, ruling the civilized world with her rod of iron, and binding us hand and foot in her fetters.

[77] A favourite stanza of Lady Russell’s in “Childe Harold”:–

What from this barren being do we reap? Our senses narrow, and our reason frail, Life short, and truth a gem which loves the deep, And all things weighed in custom’s falsest scale; Opinion an omnipotence, whose veil
Mantles the earth with darkness, until right And wrong are accidents, and men grow pale Lest their own judgments should become too bright, And their free thoughts be crimes, and earth have too much light.


_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

SAN REMO, _March_ 2, 1870

I am writing in my pretty bedroom, at an east window which is wide open, letting in the balmiest of airs, and the spring twittering of chaffinches and larks and other little birds, and the gentle music of the waves. Below the window I look at a very untidy bit of nondescript ground, with a few white-armed fig-trees and a number of flaunting Italian daisies–a little farther an enclosure of glossy green orange-trees laden with fruit; then an olive plantation, soft and feathery; then a bare, brownish, pleasant hill, crowned by the “Madonna della Guardia,” and stretching to the sea, which I should like to call blue, but which is a dull grey. Oh dear, how sorry we shall be to leave it all! You, I know, understand the sort of shrinking there is after so quiet, so spoiling, so natural and unconventional a life (not to mention climate and beauty) from the thought of the overpowering quantity of people and business of all sorts and the artificial habits of our own country, in spite of the immense pleasure of looking forward to brothers and sisters and children and friends.

_Lady Russell to Mr. Rollo Russell_

SAN REMO, _March_ 17, 1870

… No doubt we must always in the last resort trust to our own reason upon all subjects on which our reason is capable of helping us. On a question of _language_, Hebrew for instance, if we don’t know it and somebody else does, we cannot of course dispute his translation, but where nobody questions the words, everybody has a right–it is indeed everybody’s duty–to reflect upon their meaning and bearing and come to their own conclusions; listening to others wiser or not wiser than themselves, eagerly seeking help, but never, oh never fettering their minds by an unconditional and premeditated submission to _anybody_ else’s, or rather _pretending_ so to fetter it, for a mind will make itself heard, and there’s much false modesty in the disclaimer of all power or right to judge–that very disclaimer being in fact, as you say, an exercise of private judgment and a rebellion or protest against thousands of wise and good and learned men.

_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

SAN REMO, _March_ 23, 1870

You must take John’s second letter to Forster, [78] which will appear in the _Times_ and _Daily News_, as my letter to you for to-day, as I had already not left myself much time for you, so that copying them, although they are not long, has left me hardly any. I think you will agree with him that now, when the moment seems come for a really national system of education, it would be a great pity not to put an end to the teaching of catechisms in rate-supported schools. People may of course always have their little pet, privately supported sectarian schools, but surely, surely, it’s enough that the weary catechism should be repeated and yawned over every Sunday of the year, where there are Sunday schools. I wonder whether you are in favour of compulsory attendance. I don’t like it, but I do like compulsory rating, and I wish the Bill made it general and not local, and I also want the education to be gratis.

[78] In February Mr. Forster introduced the Elementary Education Act. It passed the second reading without a division. In Committee the Cowper-Temple Clause was admitted by the Government.

_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

SAN REMO, _April_ 6, 1870

We go on discussing the Education Bill and all that is written about it with immense interest, but oh, the clergy! they seem resolved to fulfil the prophecy that Christ came not to bring peace on earth, but a sword…. How true what you say of want of earnestness in London society and Parliament!

On April 7th they left San Remo, “servants [79] all in tears,” she writes, “and all, high and low, showering blessings on us, and praying for our welfare in their lovely language.” At Paris they stayed with Lord Lyons at the British Embassy. The Emperor Napoleon and Empress Eugenie showed them much kindness during their visit to Paris. One evening Lord and Lady Russell and their daughter dined at the Tuileries, Lady Russell sitting next the Emperor and Lord Russell next the Empress. It has been told since that at this dinner the Emperor mentioned a riddle which he had put to the Empress, and her reply.

_Emperor._ Quelle est la difference entre toi et un miroir? _Empress._ Je ne sais pas.
_Emperor._ Le miroir reflechit; tu ne reflechis pas. _Empress._ Et quelle est la difference entre toi et un miroir? _Emperor._ Je ne sais pas.
_Empress._ Le miroir est poli, et tu ne l’es pas.

[79] Their Italian servants.

On April 27th, after six months’ absence, Lord and Lady Russell were once more at Pembroke Lodge.

_Lady Russell to Mr. Rollo Russell_

37 CHESHAM PLACE, _May_ 26, 1870

… We came up, your father and I, on Tuesday to dine with Clarendons, and stayed all yesterday to dine with Salisburys. Many things strike me on returning to England and English society: the superiority of its best to those of any other nation; the larger proportion of vulgarity in all classes; ostentatious vulgarity, aristocratic vulgarity, coarse vulgarity; the stir and activity of mind on religion, politics, morals, all that is most worthy of thought. What is to come of it all? Will goodness and truth prevail? Is a great regeneration coming? I believe it in spite of many discouraging symptoms. I believe that a coming generation will try to be and not only call itself Christian. God grant that each of my children may add some little ray of light by thought, word, and deed to help in dispelling the darkness of error, sin, and crime in this and all other lands.

_Lady Russell to Mr. Rollo Russell_

_June_ 2, 1870

I wish most earnestly for legal and social equality for women, but I cannot shut my eyes to what woman has already been–the equal, if not the superior, of man in all that is highest and noblest and loveliest. I don’t at all approve of any appearance of setting one against the other. Let equal justice be done to both, without any spirit of antagonism…. I can well believe in all the delights of Oxford, and envy men that portion of their life.



In July, 1870, public attention was abruptly distracted from Irish and educational questions by the outbreak of the Franco-German War, which followed immediately upon the King of Prussia’s refusal to promise France that he would never, under any circumstances, countenance his cousin Prince Leopold’s candidature for the Spanish throne. War came as a surprise to every one, even to the Foreign Office, and its real causes were little understood at the time. The entire blame fell on Napoleon. Only some, who had special information, knew that Bismarck had long been waiting for the opportunity which the extravagant demand of France had just given him; and very few among the well-informed guessed that he might have had a hand in contriving the cause of dispute itself. Napoleon, since his annexation of Savoy, had so bad a reputation in Europe, a reputation which Bismarck had managed to blacken still more in their recent controversy over Luxembourg, that people were ready to take it as a matter of course that Napoleon should be the aggressor. Finally, by publishing through the _Times_ the secret document in M. Benedetti’s own hand, which assured help to Germany in annexing Holland, if Germany would help Napoleon to seize Belgium, Bismarck destroyed all remaining sympathy for France.

Now, however, that the inner history of events has come to light, we know that it was Germany who fomented the quarrel, though both Austria and France must be held responsible for the conditions which made the policy of Germany possible. The significant suppression of the part of Bernhardi’s memoirs dealing with his secret mission from Bismarck to Spain, and the fact that a large sum of Prussian money is now known to have passed to Spain, [80] while the Cortes was discussing the question of succession, make it probable that Bismarck not only took advantage of French hostility to Prince Leopold’s candidature, but deliberately instigated the offer of the Spanish throne to a German prince, because he knew France was certain to resent it.

[80] Lord Acton, “Historical Essays and Studies.”

Napoleon, however, must be held responsible, inasmuch as since the close of the Seven Weeks’ War, he had intrigued with Austria to induce her to