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A Memoir with Selections from Her Diaries and Correspondence







The manuscripts which have supplied the material for a memoir of my mother
deal much more fully with the life of my father than with her own life.
Mr. Desmond MacCarthy has therefore linked into the narrative several
important incidents in my father's career.

The greater part of the memoir is written by Mr. Desmond MacCarthy; the
political and historical commentary is almost entirely his work. The
impartial and independent opinion of one outside the family, both in
writing the memoir and in selecting passages from the manuscripts for
publication, has been of great value.

My grateful thanks are due to His Majesty the King for giving permission to
publish letters from Queen Victoria.

I am also grateful to friends and relations who have placed letters at my
disposal; especially to my brother, whose helpful encouragement throughout
the work has been most valuable.

Mr. Justin McCarthy, who many years ago recorded his impressions of my
mother in his Reminiscences, has now most kindly contributed to this book a
chapter of Recollections.

My cordial thanks are also due to Mr. George Trevelyan for reading the
proof sheets, and to Mr. Frederic Harrison for giving permission to publish
his Memorial Address at the end of this volume.



October, 1910


CHAPTER I. 1815-34

Early years--Paris--Lord Minto appointed Minister at Berlin--
Germany--Return to Minto

CHAPTER II. 1835-41

Lord Minto First Lord of the Admiralty--Life in London--Bowood--Mrs.
Drummond's recollections--Friendship with Lord John Russell--Putney
House--Minto--Admiralty--Her engagement


Marriage--Sketch of Lord John's career before marriage--His conversation
with Napoleon--Moore's "Remonstrance"

CHAPTER IV. 1841-45

Wilton Crescent--Endsleigh--Chesham Place--Birth of her eldest
son--Anti-Corn Law agitation--Her illness--Lord John's letter from
Edinburgh--He is summoned to Osborne--Attempts to form a Ministry

CHAPTER V. 1846-47

Illness in Edinburgh--Letters between Lord and
Lady John--Repeal of the Corn Laws--Ireland and coercion--Lord John Prime

CHAPTER VI. 1847-52

Pembroke Lodge--Difficulties of the Ministry--Revolution in France
--Chartism--Petersham School founded by Lord and Lady John--The Papal
Bull--Durham Letter--The Queen and Lord Palmerston--The _Coup
d'Etat_--Breach with Palmerston--Defeat of the Russell
Government--Literary friends

CHAPTER VII. 1852-55

Lord Aberdeen Prime Minister--Lord John joins Coalition Ministry--Lady
John's misgivings--Gladstone's Budget--Death of Lady Minto--Samuel
Rogers--The Reform Bill--The Crimean War--Withdrawal of Reform--Roebuck's
motion--Lord John's resignation


Defeat of Aberdeen Ministry--Lord John's Mission to Vienna--He accepts
Colonial Office in Palmerston Government--Vienna Conference--His
resignation--Lady John's diary and letters

CHAPTER IX. 1855-60

Retirement and foreign travel--Palmerston and China--City election
--Reception at Sheffield--Orsini's attempt upon Napoleon III--Italy and
Austria--Lord John's share in the liberation of Italy--Lady John's
enthusiasm--Garibaldi at Pembroke Lodge

CHAPTER X. 1859-66

Death of Lord Minto--Lord John accepts peerage--American Civil War--Death
of Lord Palmerston--Lord Russell Prime Minister--Reform Bill of 1866--Mr.
Lowe and the "Adullamites"--Defeat and resignation of the Russell

CHAPTER XI. 1866-70

Travel in Italy--Entry of Victor Emmanuel into Venice--Disraeli's Reform
Bill--Irish Church question--Gladstone Prime Minister--Winter at San
Remo--Paris--Dinner at the Tuileries--Return to England

CHAPTER XII. 1870-78

Franco-German War--Renens-sur-Roche--Education question--Cannes--Herbert
Spencer--Letters from Queen Victoria--Herzegovina--Death of Lord
Amberley--Nonconformist deputation at Pembroke Lodge--Death of Lord Russell


Lady Russell--Her love of children--Literary tastes--Friendships--
Correspondence--Haslemere--Death of Tennyson--England and Ireland--Last
meeting of Petersham Scholars--Illness and death


Letters from friends--Funeral at Chenies--Poem on Death






From a miniature by Thorburn. 1844



From a photograph


From a miniature by Sir William Ross. 1851


From a portrait by G.F. Watts. 1852


From a water-colour drawing by W.C. Rainbow. 1883


From a photograph by Frida Jones. 1902


From a water-colour drawing by Mary Severn. 1854


From a water-colour drawing by Fred Dixey. 1899


From an oil painting by Samuel Helstead. 1896


From a photograph. 1884




On November 15, 1815, at Minto in Roxburghshire, the home of the Elliots, a
second daughter was born to the Earl and Countess of Minto.

Frances Anna Maria Elliot, who afterwards became the first Countess
Russell, was destined to a long, eventful life. As a girl she lived among
those directing the changes of those times; as the wife of a Prime Minister
of England unusually reticent in superficial relations but open in
intimacy, in whom the qualities of administrator and politician overlay the
detachment of sensitive reflection, she came to judge men and events by
principles drawn from deep feelings and wide surveys; and in the long years
of her widowhood, possessing still great natural vitality and vivacity of
feeling, she continued open to the influences of an altered time,
delighting and astonishing many who might have expected to find between her
and them the ghostly barrier of a generation.

She died in January, 1898. The span of her life covers, then, many
important political events, and we shall catch glimpses of these as they
affect her. Though the intention of the following pages is biographical,
the story of Lady Russell's life, after marriage, coincides so closely with
her husband's public career that the thread connecting her letters together
must be the political events in which he took part. Some of her letters, by
throwing light on the sentiments and considerations which weighed with him
at doubtful junctures, are not without value to the historian. It is not,
however, the historian who has been chiefly considered in putting them
together, but rather the general reader, who may find his notions of past
politics vivified and refreshed by following history in the contemporary
comments of one so passionately and so personally interested at every turn
of events.

Another motive has also had a part in determining the possessors of Lady
Russell's letters to publish them. Memory is the most sacred, but also the
most perishable of shrines; hence it sometimes seems well worth while to
break through reticence to give greater permanence to precious
recollections. With this end also the following pages have been put
together, and many small details included to help the subject of this
memoir to live again in the imagination of the reader. For from brief and
even superficial contact with the living we may gain much; but the dead, if
they are to be known at all, must be known more intimately.

* * * * *

Minto House, where Lady Fanny was born, is beautifully situated above a
steep and wooded glen, and is only a short distance from the river Teviot.
The hills around are not like the wild rugged mountains of the Highlands,
but have a soft and tender beauty of their own. Her childhood was far more
secluded than the life that would have fallen to her lot had she been born
in the next generation, for her home in Roxburghshire, in coach and
turnpike days, was more remote from the central stir and business of life
than any spot in the United Kingdom at the present time. Lady Fanny used to
relate what a great event it was for the household at Minto when on very
rare occasions her father brought from London a parcel of new books, which
were eagerly opened by the family and read with delight. Those were not the
days of circulating libraries, and both the old standard books on the Minto
library shelves and the few new ones occasionally added were read and
re-read with a thoroughness rare among modern readers, surrounded by a
multiplicity of books old and new.

They were a large, young family, five boys and five girls, ranging from the
ages of three years old to eighteen in 1830, when her diaries begin, all
eager, high-spirited children, and exceptionally strong and healthy. In her
early diaries, describing day-long journeys in coaches, early starts and
late arrivals, she hardly ever mentions feeling tired, and she enjoyed the
old methods of travelling infinitely more than the railway journeys of
later days, about which she felt like the Frenchman who said: "On ne voyage
plus; on arrive." Long wild country walks in Scotland and mountain-climbing
in Switzerland were particularly delightful to her.

This stock of sound vitality stood her in good stead all her life; only
during those years which followed the birth of her eldest son does it seem
to have failed her. Her life was an exceptionally busy one, and her strong
feelings and sense of responsibility made even small domestic affairs
matters for close attention; yet in the diaries and letters of her later
life there are no entries which betray either the lassitude or the
restlessness of fatigue. She was not one of those busy women who only keep
pace with their interests by deputing home management to others. This power
of endurance in a deeply feeling nature is one of the first facts which any
one attempting to tell the story of her life must bring before the reader's

There was much reading aloud in the fireside circle at Minto, and for the
boys much riding and sport. Many hours were spent upon the heather or in
fishing the Teviot. Lady Fanny herself cared little for sport, or only for
its picturesque side. Near the house are the rocks known as Minto Crags,
mentioned by Sir Walter Scott in the "Lay of the Last Minstrel," where many
and many a time Lady Fanny raced about on hunting days, watching the
redcoats with childish eagerness--intensely interested in the joyousness
and beauty of the sight, but in her heart always secretly thankful if the
fox escaped. Fox-hunting on Minto Crags must indeed have been a picturesque
sight, and there was a special rock overhanging a precipice upon which she
loved to sit and watch the wild chase, men and horses appearing and
disappearing with flashing rapidity among the woods and ravines beneath.
The pleasures of an open-air life meant so much to her that, in so far as
it was possible for one with her temperament to pine at all, she was often
homesick in the town, longing for the peace and freedom of the country.

There were expeditions of other kinds too.

"Gibby [1] and I," she writes towards the end of one October, "up a
little after five this morning and up the big hill to see the sun
rise. It was moonlight when we went out, and all so still and
indistinct--for it was a cloudy moon--that our steps and voices
sounded quite odd. It was mild enough, but so wet with dew that our
feet grew very cold. We waited some time on the top before he rose
and had a long talk with the Kaims shepherd. It was well worth
having gone; though there was nothing fine in the sky or clouds
compared to what I have constantly seen at sunrise. But what I
thought beautiful was the entire change that his rising made in
everything. All we were looking at suddenly became so bright and
cheerful, and a hum of people and noises of animals were heard from
the village." "I wish people," she adds impetuously, "would shake
off sleep as soon as the blushing morn does peep in at their

[1] Her brother Gilbert.

The entries in these early diaries show a quality of clear authentic
vision, which was afterwards so characteristic of her conversation. For
those who remember their own youthful feelings, even the stiff occasional
scraps of poetry she wrote at this time glow with a life not always
discernible in the deft writing of more experienced verse-makers.

The household was a brisk, cheerful, active one, and ruled by the spirit of
order necessary in a home where many different kinds of things are being
done each day by its different inmates. The children were treated with no
particular indulgence, and the elder ones were taught to be responsible not
only for their own actions, but for the good behaviour, and, in a certain
measure, for the education of the younger ones. As a girl she writes down
in her diary many hopes and fears about her younger brothers and sisters,
which resemble those afterwards awakened in her by the care of her own
children. A big family in a great house, with all the different relations
and contacts such a life implies, is in itself an education, and Lady Fanny
seems to have profited by all that such experiences can give. If she came
from such a home anticipating from everybody more loyalty and consistency
of feeling than is common in human nature, and crediting everybody with it,
that is in itself a kind of generous severity of expectation which, though
it may be sometimes the cause of mistakes, helps also to create in others
the qualities it looks to find.

The children had plenty of outlets for their high spirits. There are some
slight records left of the opening of a "Theatre Royal, Minto," and of a
glorious evening ending in an "excellent country bumpkin," with bed at two
in the morning; of reels and dances, too, and many hours laconically summed
up as "famous fun" in the diary. Then there were such September days as

"Bob'm [2] and I went in the phaeton to meet the boys. They were
very successful--about twelve brace. The heather was in full blow,
and in wet parts the ground white with parnassia. I never felt such
an air--it made me feel quite wild. The sunset behind the far hills
and reflected in the lonely little shaw loch most beautiful. When
we began our walk there was a fine soft wind that felt as if it
would lift one up to the clouds, but before we got back to the
little house it had quite fallen, and all was as still as in a
desert, except now and then the wild cry of the grouse and
black-cock. Bob'm mad with spirits, and talked nonsense all the way
home. Not too dark to see the beautiful outline of the country all
the way."

[2] Her sister Charlotte, afterwards Lady Charlotte Portal.

Such tired, happy home-comings stay in the memory; drives back at the end
of long days, when scraps of talk and laughter and the pleasure of being
together mingle so kindly with the solemnity of the darkening country;
drives which end in a sudden blaze of welcome, in fire-light and candles,
tea and a hubbub of talk, when everything, though familiar, seems to
confess to a new happiness.

Here is another entry a few days later:

"Beautiful day, but a very high, warm _real Minto_ wind. We
wandered out very late and sat under the lime, playing at being at
sea, feeling the stem rock above us as we lent against it and
hearing the roaring of the waves in the trees. No summer's day can
be better than such a day and evening as this--there was a cloudy
moon, too, above the branches. I wish I could express, but I never
can, the sort of feeling I have at times--now more than I ever had
before--which would sound like affectation if one talked of it. A
fine day, or beautiful country, or very often nothing but the sky
or earth or the singing of a bird gives it. One feels too much love
and gratitude and admiration, and something swells my heart so that
I do not know how to look or listen enough."

There was another kind of romance, too, in her young life, destined in
future to be at times a source of pain and anxiety, though also of keen
gratification and permanent pride. What can equal the romance of politics
when we are quite young, when "politics" mean nothing but "serving one's
country" and have no other associations but that one, when politicians seem
necessarily great men? The love-dreams of adolescence have often been
celebrated; but among young creatures whose lives give plenty of play to
their affections in a spontaneous way, such dreams seldom vie in intensity
with the mysterious call of religion or with the emotion of patriotism. It
stands for an emotion which seems as large as the love of mankind, and its
service calls for enthusiasm and self-devotion. The Mintos were in the
thick of politics and the times were stirring times. "Throughout the last
two centuries of our history," says Sir George Trevelyan in his Life of
Macaulay, "there never was a period when a man, conscious of power,
impatient of public wrongs, and still young enough to love a fight for its
own sake, could have entered Parliament with a fairer prospect of leading a
life worth living and doing work that would requite the pains, than at the
commencement of the year 1830." Her father was not only the most genial and
kindest of fathers, but he was to her something of a hero too. His
political career had not begun during these days at Minto; still he was in
the counsel of the leaders of the day--Lord Grey, Lord John Russell, Lords
Melbourne and Althorp--great names indeed to her. And the new Cabinet was
soon to appoint him Minister at Berlin.

The country was under the personal rule of the Duke of Wellington, who had
sorted out from his Cabinet any who were tainted with sympathy for reform;
but, as the election of July which resulted in his resignation showed, the
country, however one-sided its representation might have been in the House
of Commons, had been long in a state of political ferment. This state of
affairs, the gradual breaking up of the Tory party dating from the passing
of the Catholic Emancipation Bill, the brewing social troubles, and the
prospect of power crossing to the party which was determined on meeting
them with reform, made politics everywhere the most absorbing of themes.

In a country house like Minto, which was in close communication with the
statesmen of the time, discussions were of course frequent and keen. The
guests were often important politicians; and long before Lady Fanny saw her
future husband, she frequently heard his name as one whom those she admired
looked up to as a leader. In a girl by nature very susceptible to the
appeal of great causes, whose active brain made her delight in the
arguments of her elders, these surroundings were likely to foster a
passionate interest in public affairs; while other influences round her
were tending to increase in her a natural sense of the delicacy and
preciousness of personal relations. In the course of telling her story
occasions may come for remarking again on what was one of the chief graces
of her character; but in a book of this kind the sooner the reader becomes
acquainted with the subject of it, the more he is likely to see in what
follows. So let it be said of her at once that in all relations in which
affection was complicated on one side by gratitude, or on her side by
superiority in education or social position, she was perfect. She could be
employer and benefactress without letting such circumstances deflect in the
slightest degree the stream of confidence and affection between her and
another. She had the faculty of removing a sense of obligation and of
forgetting it herself. Such a faculty is only found in its perfection where
the mind is sensitive in perceiving the delicacy of the relations between
people; and it must be added that like most people who possess that
sensitiveness, she missed it acutely in those who markedly did not.

The life at Minto, with its many contacts, was a life in which such a
faculty could grow to perfection. The daughters, while sharing much of the
boys' lives at Minto, saw a great deal of the people upon the estate.

The intercourse between the family at the House and the people of Minto
village was of an intimate and affectionate nature. Joys and sorrows were
shared in unvarying friendliness and sympathy, and to the end of her life
"Lady Fanny" remembered with warm affection the old village friends of her
youth. Kindly, true-hearted folk they were, with a sturdy and independent
spirit which she valued and respected.

She only remembered seeing Sir Walter Scott on one occasion--when he came
to visit her parents. She was quite a child, and it was the day on which
her old nurse left Minto. She had wept bitterly, and when Sir Walter Scott
came she hardly dared even look at him with her tearful countenance. She
always remembered regretfully her indifference about the great man, whose
visit was ever after connected in her mind with one of the first sorrows of
her childhood. She regretted still more that in those days political
differences unhappily prevented the close and friendly intercourse which
would otherwise have undoubtedly existed between the Minto family and Sir
Walter Scott.

A word or two must be said upon the religion in which she was brought up,
for from her childhood she was deeply religious. Like her love for those
nearest to her, it entered into everything that interested or delighted her
profoundly; into her interest in politics and social questions and into her
enjoyment of nature.

The Mintos belonged to the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. The doctrines
of this Church are not of significance here, but an indication of the
attitude towards dogma, history, and conduct which harmonizes with these
tenets is necessary to the understanding of her life. For this purpose it
is only necessary to say that this Church belongs to that half of
Protestantism which does not lay peculiar stress upon an inner conviction
of salvation. It differs from the evangelical persuasions in this respect,
and again from the Church of England in finding less significance in
ecclesiastical symbols, in setting less store by traditional usages, and in
a more constant and uncompromising disapproval of any doctrine which
regards the clergy as having spiritual functions or privileges different
from those of other men. In the latter half of her life she came gradually
to a Unitarian faith, which she held with earnestness to the last; and the
name "Free Church" became more significant to her through the suggestion it
carried of a religion detached from creeds and articles. Many entries occur
in her diaries protesting against what she felt as mischievous narrowness
in the books she read and in the sermons she heard. She sympathized
heartily with Lord John Russell's dislike of the Oxford movement. There are
many prayers in her diaries and many religious reflections in her letters,
and in all two emotions predominate; a trust in God and an earnest
conviction that a life of love--love to God and man--is the heart of
religion. Her religion was contemplative as well as practical; but it was a
religion of the conscience rather than one of mystical emotions.

Of personal influences, her mother's, until marriage, was the strongest.
There are only two long breaks in the diary she kept, when she had no heart
to write down her thoughts; one occurs during the year of Lady Minto's long
and serious illness at Berlin, which began in 1832, and the other after
Lord John Russell's death in 1878.

Lady Minto was not strong; bringing many sons and daughters into the world
had tried her; and her delicacy seems to have drawn her children closer
round her. Lady Fanny's references to her mother are full of an anxious,
protective devotion, as though she were always watching to see if any
shadow of physical or mental trouble were threatening her. So in imagining
the merry, active life of this large family, the presence of a mother most
tenderly loved, from whom praise seemed something almost too good to be
true, must not be forgotten.

In November, 1830 (the year Lady Fanny's diaries begin), the Duke of
Wellington resigned, having emphatically declared that the system of
representation ought to possess, and _did_ possess, the entire
confidence of the country. He had gone so far as to say that the wit of man
could not have devised a better representative system than that which Lord
John Russell, in the previous session, had attempted to alter by proposing
to enfranchise Manchester, Leeds, and Birmingham. But the election which
followed the death of George IV on June 26th had not borne out the Duke's
assertion; it had gone heavily against him. Lord Grey, forming his Ministry
out of the old Whigs and the followers of Canning and Grenville, at once
made Reform a Cabinet measure. During the stormy elections of July the news
came from Paris that Charles X had been deposed, and unlike the news of the
French Revolution, it acted as a stimulus, not as a check, to the reforming
party in England.

The next entry quoted from Lady Fanny's diary, begun at the age of
fourteen, is dated November 22, 1830; the family were travelling towards
Paris, matters having almost quieted down there. Louis Philippe had been
recognized by England as King of the French the month before, and the only
side of the revolution which came under her young eyes was the somewhat
vamped up enthusiasm for the Citizen King which followed his acceptance of
the crown and tricolor. It is said that any small boy in those days could
exhibit the King to curious sightseers by raising a cheer outside the
Tuileries windows, when His Majesty, to whom any manifestation of
enthusiasm was extremely precious, would appear automatically upon the
balcony and bow. But there were traces of agitation still to be felt up and
down the country, and over Paris hung that deceptive, stolid air of
indifference which is so puzzling a characteristic of crises in France.

The Mintos travelled in several carriages with a considerable retinue, with
a doctor and servants, but not with a train which, in those days, would
have been thought remarkable for an English peer.

MELUN, _November_ 22, 1830 [3]

We left Sens at half past eight and did not stop to dine, but ate
in the carriage. We passed through Fossard, Monteran, and got here
about four. The doctor is quite grave about his tricolor and has
worn it all day. We have had immense laughing at him. He was very
much frightened at Sens, because Papa told him the people of the
hotel were for the Bourbons and were angry with him for wearing the
tricolor. A great many post-boys have it on their hats and all the
fleurs-de-lis on the mile-posts are rubbed out.

[3] All extracts not otherwise specified are from Lady John Russell's

By this date Charles X, surrounded by his gloomy, ceremonial little court
of faithful followers, was playing his nightly game of whist in the
melancholy shelter of Holyrood, where he was to remain for the next two
years, an insipid, sorrowful figure, distinguished by such dignity as
unquerulous passivity can lend to the foolish and unfortunate. Meanwhile,
Paris was attempting to vamp up some interest in her new King, who walked
the streets with an umbrella under his arm.

PARIS, _December_ 23, 1830

We were in the Place Vendome to-day, which was full of national
guards waiting for the King. We stopped to see him. It looked very
gay and pretty: the National Guard held hands in a long row and
danced for ever so long round and round the pillar, with the people
shouting as hard as they could. It looked very funny, but the King
did not come whilst we were there. We heard them singing the
Parisienne. The trial is over and the ministers are at Vincennes,
going to be put in prison. There have been several mobs about the
Luxembourg and the Palais Royal, but they think nothing more will
happen now.

Who can hum now the tune of the "Parisienne"? It has not stayed in men's
memories like the "Marseillaise"; no doubt it expressed the prosaic,
middle-class spirit of the National Guard, which kept a King upon the
throne, in his own way just as determined as his predecessors to rule in
the interests of his family.

PARIS, _February_ 5, 1831

Mama, Papa, Mary, Lizzy, [4] Charlie, Doddy [5] and I have been to
a children's ball at the Palais Royal. It was the most beautiful
thing I ever saw, and we danced all night long, but no big people
at all danced. We saw famously all the royal people; and Lizzy
danced with two of the little princes. The Duke of Orleans and M.
Duc de Nemours were in uniform and so were all the other gentlemen.
The King and Queen are nice-looking old bodies. [6] It was capital fun
and very merry indeed, the supper was beautiful. There was famous

[4] Her sisters Mary and Elizabeth, afterwards Lady Mary Abercromby and
Lady Elizabeth Romilly.

[5] Her brothers Charles and George.

[6] The next time she was to see the "old bodies" was on her own lawn at
Pembroke Lodge, where she heard from the King the unimpressive story of "ma

PARIS, _February_ 15, 1831

This is _Mardi gras_, the last day of the Carnival. We were
out in the carriage this morning to see the masks on the
boulevards; there were a great many masks and crowds of people,
whilst there were mobs and rows going on in another part of the
town. The people have quite destroyed the poor Archbishop's house,
because on Sunday night the Duc de Bordeaux's bust was brought, and
Mass was said for the Duc de Berry. They have taken all his books,
furniture, and everything, and they wanted to throw some priests in
the Seine, and they are breaking the things in the churches and
taking down the crosses. All the National Guard is out.

These disturbances were the last struggles of the party who had not been
satisfied by the spectacle of the son of Philippe Egalite, with the
tricolor flag in one hand, embracing the ancient Lafayette on the balcony
above the Place de Greve. Their animosity against the Church was the
ground-swell of the storm which had washed away Charles X himself. The
Sacrilege Law introduced in 1825 had revived the barbarous mediaeval
penalty of amputating the hand of the offender. Charles's attempt to
reintroduce primogeniture by declaring the French principle of the equal
division of property to be inconsistent with the principle of monarchy had
irritated the people less than the encouragement he had given to monastic
corporations which were contrary to law. The controversy which followed
between the ecclesiastics and their opponents was the cause of the repeal
of the freedom of the Press; and when he had stifled controversy his next
step was the suspension of Parliament. Whence followed the events which so
abruptly disturbed his evening rubber at St. Cloud on July 25th.

These outbreaks of the republican anti-clerical party to which Lady Fanny
refers were soon calmed; a few weeks later the soldiers had no more work to
do, and a grand review was held in the Champ de Mars.

PARIS, _March_ 27, 1831

We all went in the carriage to the heights of the Trocadero and
there got out. It was very pretty to look down at the Champ de
Mars, which was quite full of soldiers, who sometimes ranged
themselves in lines and sometimes in nice little bundles and
squares. In front of the Ecole Militaire was a fine tent for the
Queen and Princesses. The King and the Duc de Nemours rode about,
and there were some loud cries of "Vive le Roi." Less than a year
ago in the same place we saw old Charles X reviewing his soldiers
and heard "Vive le Roi" shouted for him and saw white flags waving
about the Champs de Mars instead of tricolor. It seems so odd that
it should all be changed in so short a time, and spoils the "Vive
le Roi" very much, because it makes one think they do not care
really for him.

PARIS, _April_ 2, 1831

We had a long walk with Mama to the places where the people that
were killed in July were buried. There are tricolor flags over them
all, and the flowers and crowns of everlastings were all nicely
arranged about the tombs. Amongst them was the kennel of a poor dog
whose master was one of the killed, which has come every day since
and lain on his grave. The dog itself was not in. The poor Swiss
are buried there, too, but without flowers or crowns or railings,
or even stones, to show the place.

She had been "wishing horridly for fields and trees and grass" for some
time past; on June 16, 1831, they were all back again in England.

DOVER, _June_ 16, 1831

Everything seems odd here; pokers and leather harness, all the
women and girls with bonnets and long petticoats and shawls and
flounces and comfortable poky straw bonnets, and boys so nicely
dressed, and urns and small panes (no glasses and no clocks),
trays, good bread, and everybody with clean and fresh and pretty
faces. We have been walking this evening by the sea, and all the
English look very odd; they all look hangy and loose, so different
from the Paris ladies, laced so tight they can hardly walk, and the
men and boys look ten times better.

ROCHESTER, _June_ 17, 1831

We did not leave Dover till near twelve--the country has really
been beautiful to-day; all the beautiful gentlemen's places with
large trees, and the pretty hedges all along the road full of
honeysuckle and roses; clean cows and white fat sheep feeding in
most beautiful rich green grass; the nicest little cottages with
lattice windows and thatched roofs and neat gardens, and roses,
ivy, and honeysuckle creeping to the tops of the chimneys;
everybody and everything clean and tidy.... The cart-horses are
beautiful, and even the beggars look as if they washed their faces.

_October_ 9, 1831, BOGNOR

We heard this morning of the loss of the Reform Bill, and we were
at first all very sorry, but in a little while rather glad because
it gives us a chance of Minto. When the people of Bognor heard it
was lost, they took the flowers and ribands off that they had
dressed up the coaches with, thinking it had passed, and put them
in mourning.

Lord John Russell had introduced the first Reform Bill on March 1, 1831;
this was carried by a majority of one; but in a later division the
Government was defeated by a majority of eight, and Parliament was
dissolved. The elections resulted in an emphatic verdict in favour of
Reform, and on June 24th Lord John introduced the second Reform Bill, which
was carried by a large majority in the House of Commons. He had proposed to
disfranchise partially or completely 110 boroughs; a proposition which had
seemed so revolutionary that it was at first received with laughter by the
Opposition, who were confident no such measure could ever pass. Lord Minto
had returned from France to support this Bill in the Lords, which on his
arrival he found had been rejected by them in a division on the 8th of
October. The rejection of the Bill was followed by disturbances throughout
the country. Several members of the House of Lords were mobbed, Nottingham
Castle was burnt down, and there was fighting and bloodshed in the streets
of Bristol. Before the third Reform Bill was brought forward and carried by
a huge majority in the Commons, the whole Minto family were on their way

Lady Fanny announces the fact of her arrival at her beloved home with many
ecstatic exclamation marks.

_November_ 2, 1831, MINTO !!!!

Between Longtown and Langham we passed the toll that divides
England and Scotland. Harry and the coachman waved their hats and
all heads were poked out at window.

The moment we got into Scotland it felt much finer, the sun shone
brighter and the country really became far prettier. We went along
above the Esk, which is a little rattling, rumbling, clear, rocky
river, prettier than any we ever saw in England....

As we drove into Langham we were much surprised by a loud cheer
from some men and boys at the roadside, who all threw off their
caps as we passed. While we were changing, a man offered to Papa
that they would drag him through the town; Papa thanked him very
much but said he would rather not; so the man said perhaps he would
prefer three cheers, which they gave as we drove off.... The whole
town crowded round the carriages. Just as we were setting off,
however, we were very much surprised to see numbers of people take
the pole of the little carriage and run off with Papa and Mama with
all their might. They spun all through the town at a fine rate, and
did not stop for ever so long. There was immense cheering as we
drove off, and the people ran after us ever so far.... The house
all looked beautiful, and this evening we feel as if we had never
left Minto.

But she was not to stay there long, for early in 1832 they went to
Roehampton House, near London, and the same year Lord Minto was appointed
Minister at Berlin.

At this time Berlin was not a capital of sufficient dignity to entitle it
to an embassy; but considering the state of European politics, the
appointment was one of some diplomatic importance.

Germany was at the beginning of her task of consolidation. The revolution
of July had not been without its effect on her. In the southern States the
cause of representative government was not wholly powerless; but it had
been weakened by the reaction after 1815. Since the government was no
longer an undisguised tyranny and since the people themselves were growing
richer, a strong sentiment of personal loyalty to the sovereign began to
spread among them. Constitutional changes were therefore indefinitely
postponed. The great work of the next few years for Prussian statesmen was
the removal of commercial barriers between the various German States, and
the establishment of a _Zollverein_ between them. In this way the sway
of Austria was weakened, and though political union as an aim was carefully
kept in the background, the foundation for the subsequent consolidation of
the German Empire was securely laid. During the two central years of this
process, 1832-4, Lord Minto was at Berlin. The manners of the time were far
simpler and the life at the court far more informal than they were soon to
become. Law and custom still preserved some lingering barbarities: during
their stay at Wittenberg they heard of a man being broken on the wheel.

They stopped at Brussels on the way. There is a characteristic entry in
Lady Fanny's diary describing a visit to the battle-field.

NAMUR, _September_ 6, 1832

We coach-people left Brussels much earlier than the others that we
might have time to walk about Waterloo....

They showed us the house where the Duke of Wellington slept the
night before and the night after the battle and wrote home his
dispatches; then after a long and fierce dispute between a man and
woman which was to guide us, the man took us to the Church, where
we saw the monuments of immense numbers of poor common soldiers and
officers--then to the place where four hundred are buried all
together and one sees their graves just raised above the rest of
the ground. Then we drove to the field of battle, and the man
showed us everything; it was very nice and very sad to hear all
about, but as I shall always remember it, I need say nothing about
it. We are quite in a rage about a great mound that the Dutch have
put up with a great yellow lion on the top, only because the Prince
of Orange was wounded there, quite altering the ground from what it
was at the time of the battle. The monument to Lord Anglesea's leg
too, which we did not of course go to see, makes one very angry, as
if he was the only one who was wounded there--and only wounded too
when such thousands of poor men were killed and have nothing at all
to mark the place where they are buried; and I think they are the
people one feels most for, for though they do all they can, after
they are dead one never hears any more about them.

Soon after their arrival at Berlin, Lady Minto fell dangerously ill. From
September, 1832, there is a long gap in Lady Fanny's diary, for she had no
heart to set anything down. This long stretch of anxiety coming when she
was sixteen years old, if it did not change her nature, brought to light
new qualities which were to mark her character henceforward. There is a
little entry written down eight years afterwards on the birthday of her
sister Charlotte which shows that she, as well as others, looked back on
this time as a turning-point in her life.

Bob'm sixteen to-day, just the age I began to be unhappy, because I
began to think. Heaven spare her from the doubts and fears that
tormented me.

During the months of her mother's gradual recovery she seems each day to
have been happier than on the one before.

_June_ 6, 1833, POTSDAM

At a little before eleven this morning, Mary, Ginkie, Henry, [7]
Mr. Lettsom [8] and I set off from Berlin in a very curious rickety
machine of a carriage, to leave Mama for a whole day and night,
which feels very impossible, and is the best sign of her (health)
that one could have. We were very happy and we thought everything
looking very nice. We were sorry to see no friends as we left
Berlin, for we looked so beautiful in our jolting little conveyance
with four horses and a post-boy blowing the old tune on his horn.

[7] Her brother, afterwards Sir Henry Elliot.

[8] The tutor.

To escape the heat of Berlin they moved out to Freienwalde.

_June_ 14, 1833, FREIENWALDE

A beautiful morning, and at about 10 they all set off from Berlin,
leaving Mama, Papa, Bob'm and I to follow after in the coach. After
they went, there were two long hours of going backwards and
forwards through the empty rooms, then having said a sad good-bye
to Senden,[9] Hymen,[9] Mr. Lettsom and Fitz, though we know we
shall see them again soon, we got into the coach with the squirrel
in a bag and drove off. I could not help feeling very sorry to
leave it all, though it will be so very nice to be out of it, but I
knew we should never be all there again as we have been, and all
the misery we have had in that house makes one feel still more all
the happiness of the last month there.

There is nothing to say of the country, for it is the same as on
all the other sides of Berlin; the soil more horrid than anything I
ever saw, and of course all as flat as water, but just now and then
some rather nice villages.... After about two hours there we came
on, first through nice, small Scotch fir woods, then quite ugly
again till near here, when we got into really pretty banks of oak,
beech, and fir, down a real steep road and along a nice narrow lane
till we got here, where they were all standing on the steps of our
mansion ready to receive us. Mama was carried to the drawing-room
... before the house is a wee sort of border all full of weeds, but
nothing like a garden or place belonging to the house, but there
seem very few people; then there is a terrace, which is very nice
though it is public. Mama is not the least tired and quite pleased
with it all. It is very, very nice to be here, able to go out
without our things and expecting no company, and what at first one
feels more nice than everything, not having any carriages or noises
out of doors; for eight months and a half we have never been
without that horrid, constant rumbling in the streets. It is
_very_ odd to feel ourselves here; unlike any place I ever
lived in. The bath house is close by, but that is the only house
near us.

[9] German friends at Berlin.

There they lived all the summer the life that they liked best. They lost
themselves in the forest, they read aloud, and they enjoyed the rustic
theatre. The autumn brought visits to Teplitz and Dresden.

They were back in Berlin for the winter and early spring, when she began to
take more part in society.

April 1, 1834, BERLIN

Stupid dinner of old gentlemen. Mary still being rather silly[10] did
not dine at table.... It was very awful to be alone, but at dinner
I was happy enough as Loeven sat on one side of me. Humboldt was on
the other. Afterwards came Fitz for a moment and Deken and

April 5, 1834, BERLIN

I sat the second quadrille by my stupidity in refusing Bismarck.

[10] Scotch for unwell.

Early in May came "the hateful morning of good-byes" to friends in Berlin,
and at Marienbad. Lord Minto heard the news that Lord Grey had resigned
owing to Lord Althorp's refusal to agree to the Irish Coercion Bill. Lord
Melbourne succeeded him as Prime Minister. Lord Minto had not long returned
to England when the King summarily dismissed Lord Melbourne and a
provisional Government under the Duke of Wellington was patched together
until Sir Robert Peel should return from abroad. The governorship of Canada
had been offered meanwhile to Lord Minto, and the family started on their
home journey fearing they would have to leave England immediately for
Quebec. But this did not happen, and December found them at last once more
on the road to Minto. The girls wrote poems celebrating their return on the
journey, and tried every cure for impatience as the carriage rolled along.

MINTO, Thursday, December 25, 1834

We left Carlisle about eight, and for the three first stages were
so slowly driven that our patience was nearly gone. To make it last
a little longer Mary read some "Hamlet" aloud between Longtown and
Langholme, and I had a nap.... As soon as we entered Hawick we were
surrounded by an immense crowd.... The bells rang, there were flags
hung all along the street, and fine shouting as we set off. Papa,
which we did not know at the time, had to make a little speech, and
contradict a shameful report of his having taken office. A few
minutes on this side of Hawick we met the two boys and Robert
riding to meet us, looking lovely. Our own country looked really
beautiful; rocks, hills, and Rubers Law all seemed to have grown
higher. We passed the awful ford in safety across our own lovely
Teviot, and soon found ourselves at Nelly's Lodge, where old Nelly
opened the gate to us.... The trees looked large and fine--in
short, everything perfect. Catherine, Mrs. Fraser, and Wales
received us at the door, and in a few minutes we were scattered all
over the house. We spent a most happy evening.... This has really
been a happy Christmas. It is wonderful to be here.

At this point Lady Fanny's early girlhood may be said to end. Her life in
London society and the events which led to her marriage will be told in the
next chapter.



While the Minto family were still on their way home from Germany a
startling incident occurred in English politics. One morning a paragraph
appeared in the Times announcing the fact that the King had dismissed Lord

We have no authority (it ran) for the important statement which follows,
but we have every reason to believe that it is perfectly true. We give it
without any comment or amplification, in the very words of the
communication, which reached us at a late hour last night. "The King has
taken the opportunity of Lord Spencer's death to turn out the Ministry, and
there is every reason to believe the Duke of Wellington has been sent for.
The Queen has done it all."

(The authority upon which the _Times_ was relying was that of the Lord

So on coming down to breakfast that morning the Ministers, having received
no private communication whatever, read to their amazement that they had
been already dismissed. Brougham had surreptitiously conveyed the
information in order to embarrass the Court. The general trend of political
gossip at the time was expressed by Palmerston, who wrote:

It is impossible to doubt that this has been a preconcerted measure and
that the Duke of Wellington is prepared at once to form a Government. Peel
is abroad; but it is not likely he would have gone away without a previous
understanding one way or the other with the Duke, as to what he would do if
a crisis were to arise.

As a matter of fact there had been no concerted plan. It was the first and
last independent step William IV ever took, and a most unconstitutional
instance of royal interference. The Duke, summoned by the King, expressed
his willingness to occupy any position His Majesty thought fit, but
considering the Liberal majority in the House of Commons was two to one,
and it was but two years since the Reform Bill passed, he did his best to
dissuade the King from dismissing all his Ministers. During the interview
the King's secretary entered and called the attention of the King to the
paragraph in the _Times_ that morning, which concluded with the
statement that the Queen had done it all. "There, Duke, you see how I am
insulted and betrayed; nobody in London but Melbourne knew last night what
had taken place here, nor of my sending for you: will your Grace compel me
to take back people who have treated me in this way?"

Thereupon the Duke consented to undertake a provisional Government, while
Mr. Hudson was sent off to Italy in search of Sir Robert Peel. He reached
Rome in nine days; at that time very quick travelling. "I think you might
have made the journey in a day less by taking another route," is said to
have been Peel's only comment upon receiving the Duke's letter. He returned
at once to England to relieve the temporary Cabinet, and formed a Ministry
in December. The same month Parliament was dissolved, and the Conservative
party went to the country on the policy of "Moderate Reform" enunciated in
Peel's Tamworth manifesto. "The shameful report" referred to by Lady Fanny
in the last chapter, and immediately contradicted by Lord Minto on his
return to Scotland, was that he had joined the Peel Ministry.

Thus Lady Fanny came home to find the country-side preparing for a
mid-winter election. Her uncle, George Elliot, was standing for the home
constituency against Lord John Scott, whom he just succeeded in defeating.
In most constituencies, however, the Liberals triumphed more easily, and
when the new Parliament met they were in a majority of more than a hundred.
In April Lord John Russell carried his motion for the appropriation of the
surplus revenues of the Irish Church to general moral and religious
purposes, so Peel resigned. Melbourne again became Prime Minister, and in
the autumn of the same year, 1835, Lord Minto was appointed First Lord of
the Admiralty.

This meant a great change in Lady Fanny's life; henceforward for the next
eight years more than half of every year was spent by her in London. There
is a change, too, in the spirit of her diaries. Her nature was the reverse
of introspective and melancholy, but at this time she was often unhappy and
dissatisfied for no definite reason; her diaries show it. It is not likely
that others were aware of this private distress. She was leading at the
time a busy life both at home and in society, and there were many things in
which she was keenly interested. The troubles confided to these private
pages were not due to compunction for anything she had done, nor were they
caused by any particular event; they expressed simply a general discontent
with herself and a kind of _Weltschmerz_ not uncommon in a young and
thoughtful mind. For the first time she seems glad of outside interests
because they distract her.

The months in London were broken by occasional residence at Roehampton
House and by visits to Bowood. At Bowood with the Lansdowne family she was
always happy. There she heard with delight Tom Moore sing his Irish
melodies for the first time. There was much, too, in London to distract and
amuse her: breakfasts with Rogers, luncheons at Holland House, and
dinner-parties at which all the leading Whig politicians were present. But
society did not satisfy her; she wanted more natural and more intimate
relations than social gatherings usually afford.

LONDON, _May_ 9, 1835

We went to Miss Berry's in the evening. I thought it very tiresome,
but was glad to see Lord John Russell and his wife.

BOWOOD, _December_ 26, 1835

The evening was very quiet, there was not much to alarm one, and
the prettiest music possible to listen to. Mr. Moore singing his
own melodies--it was really delightful, and a kind of singing I
never heard before. He has very little voice, but what he has is
perfectly sweet, and his real Irish face looks quite inspired. The
airs were most of them simply beautiful, and many of the words
equally so.

_January_ 31, 1836, ADMIRALTY

I am reading "Ivanhoe" for the first time, and delighted with it,
but things cannot be as they should be, when I feel that I require
to forget myself in order to be happy, and that unless I am taken
up with an interesting book there never, or scarcely ever, is a
moment of real peace and quiet for my poor weary mind. What is it I
wish for? O God, Thou alone canst clearly know--and in Thy hands
alone is the remedy. Oh let this longing cease! Turn it, O Father,
to a worthy object! Unworthy it must now be, for were it after
virtue, pure holy virtue, could I not still it? Dispel the mist
that dims my eyes, that I may first plainly read the secrets of my
wretched heart, and then give me, O Almighty God, the sincere will
to root out all therein that beareth not good fruit....

_February_ 4, 1836, ADMIRALTY

The great day of the opening of Parliament. Soon after breakfast we
prepared to go to the House of Lords--that is to say, we made
ourselves great figures with feathers and finery. The day has been,
unfortunately, rainy and cold, and made our dress look still more
absurd. The King did not come till two, so that we had plenty of
time to see all the old lords assembling. Their robes looked very
handsome, and I think His Majesty was the least dignified-looking
person in the house. I cannot describe exactly all that went on.
There was nothing impressive, but it was very amusing. The poor old
man could not see to read his speech, and after he had stammered
half through it Lord Melbourne was obliged to hold a candle to him,
and he read it over again. Lord Melbourne looked very like a Prime
Minister, but the more I see him and so many good and clever men
obliged to do, at least in part, the bidding of anyone who happens
to be born to Royalty, the more I wish that things were
otherwise--however, as long as it is only in forms that one sees
them give him the superiority one does not much mind. After the
debate, several of Papa's friends came to dine here. Lord
Melbourne, Lord Lansdowne, Lord Glenelg, and the Duke of Richmond,
who has won my heart--they talked very pleasantly.

_March_ 9, 1836, ADMIRALTY

I wonder what it is that makes one sometimes like and sometimes
dislike balls, etc. It does not always depend on whom one meets. I
am sure it is not, as most books and people seem to think, from
love of admiration that one is fond of them or else how should I
ever be so, when it is so impossible for anybody ever to admire my
looks or think me agreeable? I sometimes wish I was pretty. And I
do not think it is a very foolish wish: it would give me courage to
be agreeable.

All through this year there are many troubled entries:

_March_ 28, 1836, ADMIRALTY

Youth may and ought to have--yes, I see by others that it
has--pleasures which surpass those of unthinking though lovely
childhood: but have I experienced them? ... What makes the same sun
seem one day to make all nature bright, and the next only to show
more plainly the dreariness of the landscape? Oh wicked, sinful
must be those feelings that make me miserable--selfish and
sinful--and I cannot reason them away, for I do not understand
them. Prayer has helped me before now, and I trust it will still do
so. O Lord, forsake me not--take me into Thy own keeping.... Mama
fifty to-day [March 30, 1836]. Oh the feelings that crowd into my
heart as if they must burst it when I look to this day three years
ago. I cannot write or think clearly of it yet. I can only
feel--but what, I do not myself know--at one moment agony, doubts,
and fears, as if it was still that fearful day; then joy almost too
great to bear. When I think of her as she now is, then everything
vanishes in one overpowering feeling of intense thankfulness. I
have several times to-day seen her eyes fill with tears--every
birthday of those one loves gives one a melancholy feeling, and the
more rejoicings there are the stronger that feeling is.

_June_ 27, 1836, ADMIRALTY

It was decided that we should go to the Duchess of Buccleuch's
breakfast. My horror of breakfasts is only increased by having been
to this one, though I believe it was particularly pleasant.
Certainly the day was perfect, and the sight and the music pretty;
but I scarcely ever disliked people more or felt more beaten down
by shyness. My only thoughts from the moment we went in were: How I
wish it was over, and how I wish nobody would speak to me.

_September_ 6, 1836, ROEHAMPTON

Mama and I went to dine at Holland House.... The rooms are just
what one would expect from the outside of the handsome old house,
with a number of good pictures in the library, where we sat, all
portraits. Lord Holland is perfectly agreeable, and not at all a
man to be afraid of, in the common way of speaking, but for that
very reason I always am afraid of him--much more than of her, who
does not seem to me agreeable. I was very sorry Lord Melbourne did
not come, as he would have made the conversation more general and

The impression she made on others in her girlhood will be seen by this
passage in the "Reminiscences of an Idler," by Chevalier Wyhoff: "I had the
honour of dancing a quadrille with Lady Fanny Elliot, the charming daughter
of the Earl of Minto. Her engaging manners and sweetness of disposition
were even more winning than her admitted beauty."

In July it was decided that her brother Henry should go out to Australia
with Sir John Franklin. The idea of parting troubled her extremely, and,
moreover, the project dashed all the castles in the air she had built for
him. August 21st was the day fixed for his sailing. The 20th came--"dismal,
dismal day, making things look as if they understood it was his last." Long
afterwards, whenever she saw the front of Roehampton House, where she said
good-bye to him, the scene would come back to her mind--the waiting
carriage and the last farewells. The autumn winds had a new significance to
her now her brother was on the sea. She was troubled too about religious
problems, but she found it difficult, almost impossible, to talk about the
thoughts which were occupying her. Writing of her cousin Gilbert Elliot,
afterwards Dean of Bristol, for whom she felt both affection and respect,
she says: "In the evening Cousin Gilbert talked a great deal, and not only
usefully but delightfully, about different religious sects and against the
most illiberal Church to which he belongs--but how could I be happy? The
more he talked of what I wished to hear, the more idiotically shy I felt
and the more impossible it became to me to ask one of the many questions or
make one of the many remarks (foolish very likely, but what would that have
signified?) which were filling my mind."

_December_ 24, 1836, BOWOOD

Mr. Moore sang a great deal, and one song quite overcame Lady
Lansdowne. At dinner I sat between Henry [11] and Miss Fazakerlie,
who told me that last year she thought me impenetrable. How sad it
is to appear to every one different from what one is.

I like both her and Henry better than ever, but oh, I dislike
myself more than ever--and so does everybody else--almost. Is it
vain to wish it otherwise?--no, surely it is not. If my manner is
so bad must there not be some real fault in me that makes it so,
and ought I not to pray that it may be corrected?

[11] Afterwards Lord Lansdowne and the father of the present Marquis.

She read a great deal at this time; Jeremy Taylor, Milton, and Wesley,
Heber, Isaac Walton, Burnet; Burns was her favourite on her happiest days.
She thought that work among the poor of London might help her; but her time
was so taken up both with looking after the younger children and by society
that she seems to have got no further than wondering how to set about it.

On June 20th, 1837, William IV died, and in July Parliament was dissolved.
On the 4th they were back again at Minto.

Her uncle John Elliot was successful in his candidature of Hawick.
"Hawick," she writes, "has done her duty well indeed--in all ways; for the
sheriff's terrible riots have been nothing at all. Some men ducked and the
clothes of some torn off. We all felt so confused with joy that we did not
know what to do all the evening." These rejoicings ended suddenly: Lady
Minto was called to the death-bed of her mother, Mrs. Brydone.

_August_ 19, 1837, MINTO

I feel this time as I always do after a great misfortune, that the
shock at first is nothing to the quiet grief afterwards, when one
really begins to understand what has happened.

I cannot help constantly repeating over and over to myself that she
is gone, and sometimes I do not know how to bear it and however to
be comforted for not having seen her once more.

When the new Queen's Parliament met after the General Election the strength
of the Conservatives was 315 and of the Liberals 342. The Melbourne
Ministry was in a weaker position; they could only hold a majority through
the support of the Radical and Irish groups, and troubles were brewing in
the country. On the other hand, Peel's position was not an easy one; the
split among the Conservatives on Catholic Emancipation had left bitterness
behind, and in addition to this complication, his followers in the Commons
included both men like Stanley, who had voted for Parliamentary reform, and
its implacable opponents. But in spite of this flaw in the solidarity of
the Opposition, the Ministers were far from secure. There were the troubles
in Canada, which Lord Durham had been sent out to deal with (the Canadian
patriots had a great deal of Lady Fanny's sympathy), and in England the
grievances of the poor were in the process of being formulated into the
famous People's Charter. During the parliamentary sessions the Mintos
remained in London, with only occasional very short absences.

ADMIRALTY, _December_ 26, 1837

People all seem pleased with the news from Canada because we are
beating the poor patriots--let people say what they will I must
wish them success and pity them with all my heart.

EASTBOURNE, _April_ 14, 1838

It is not only the out of doors pleasures, the sea, the air, etc.,
that we find here, but the way of living takes a weight from one's
mind, of which one does not know the burden till one leaves London
and is freed from it. "I love not man the less" from feeling as I
do the great faults, to us at least, of our London society. It is
because I love man, because I daily see people whose thoughts I
long to share and profit by, that I am so disappointed in being
unable to do so. Oh, why, why do people not all live in the
country--or if towns must be, why must they bring stiffness and
coldness on everybody?

ADMIRALTY, _May_ 10, 1838

Court Ball.... Beautiful ball of beautiful people dancing to
beautiful music. Queen dancing a great deal, looking very happy.

ADMIRALTY, _June_ 22, 1838

Evening at a Concert at the Palace--all the good singers.... All
the foreigners there, Soult and the Duke of Wellington shaking
hands more heartily than any other two people there.

ADMIRALTY, _June_ 28, 1838

Day ever memorable in the annals of Great Britain! Day of the
coronation of Queen Victoria! ... We were up at six, and Lizzy,
Bob'm, and I, being the Abbey party, dressed in all our grandeur.
The ceremony was much what I expected, but less solemn and
impressive from the mixture of religion with worldly vanities and
distinctions. The sight was far more brilliant and beautiful than I
had supposed it would be. Walked home in our fine gowns through the
crowd; found the stand here well filled, and were quite in time to
see the procession pass back. Nothing could be more beautiful, the
streets either way being lined with the common people, as close as
they could stand, and the windows, house-tops, balconies, and
stands crowded with the better dressed. Great cheering when Soult's
carriage passed, but really magnificent for the Duchess of Kent and
the Queen. The carriages splendid. Did not feel in the Abbey one
quarter of what I felt on the stand.

MINTO, _November_ 4, 1838

This morning brought us the sad, sad news of the death of Lady John
Russell. God give strength to her poor unhappy husband, and watch
over his dear little motherless children.

The only event of importance which occurred in the family during 1838 was
the marriage of the eldest daughter, Mary, to Ralph Abercromby, son of the
Speaker and afterwards Lord Dunfermline. It was a very happy marriage, but
Lady Fanny missed her sister very much, and her accounts of the wedding and
the last days before it are mixed with regrets. She speaks of it as "an
awful day," though it seems to have ended merrily enough in dancing and

In May, 1839, the Government resigned in consequence of the opposition to
the Jamaica Bill. The object of the Bill was to suspend the constitution of
Jamaica for five years, since difficulties had been made by the Jamaica
Assembly in connection with the emancipation of slaves. The Radicals voted
with the Conservatives against the Government and the Bill was lost.

ADMIRALTY, _May_ 7, 1839

We are all out!!!!

Papa was summoned to a Cabinet at twelve this morning. Mama and I
in the meantime drove to some shops, and when we came home found
him anxiously expecting us with this overpowering news. We bore,
and are still bearing it with tolerable fortitude; but we are all
very, very sorry, and every moment find something new to regret.
Mama, notwithstanding all she has said, is not better pleased than
the rest of us. Papa looks very grave, or else tries to joke it

FRIDAY, _May_ 10, 1839, ADMIRALTY

Agitating morning--one report following another every hour. Sir
Robert Peel refused to form a Ministry unless the Queen would part
with some of her household. To this she would not consent. To-day
she sent for Lord Melbourne.... We went to the first Queen's ball,
very anxious to see how she and other people looked, and to try to
foresee coming events by the expression of faces.... I spoke to
scarcely one Tory, but our Whig friends were in excellent
spirits--the Queen also seemed to be so.

TUESDAY, _May_ 14, 1839, ADMIRALTY

Papa and Bill [12] came from the House of Lords quite delighted
with Lord Melbourne's speech in explanation of what has
passed--manner, matter, everything perfect.

[12] Her brother, Lord Melgund, afterwards third Earl of Minto.

Thus, within the week, the Whig Ministry had resigned and accepted office
again: this is what had happened.

On his return from Italy to take office Sir Robert Peel requested the Queen
to change the ladies of her household, and on her refusal to do so, the
Melbourne Ministry had come in again. Their return to power has been
generally considered a blunder, from the party point of view; but their
action in this case was not the result of tactical calculations. The young
Queen was strange as yet to the throne, and she could not bear to be
deprived of her personal friends. When Peel made a change in her household
the condition of accepting office, she turned to the Whigs, who felt they
could not desert her. "My dear Melbourne," wrote Lord John, "I have seen
Spencer, who says that we could not have done otherwise than we have done
as gentlemen, but that bur difficulties with the Radicals are not

They were, indeed, hard put to it to carry on the Government at all, and
they only succeeded in passing their Education Bill by a majority of two.

On August 12th the Mintos were still kept in London. "Oh for the boys and
guns and dogs, a heathery moor, and a blue Scotch heaven above me!" she
writes. When they did get away home, they remained there until the
beginning of the new year. At home she seems to have been much happier. She
taught her young brothers and sisters, she visited her village friends, and
rambled and read a great deal. In short, it was Minto!--all she found so
hard to part from when marriage took her away.

Many of the extracts from the diaries quoted in this chapter must be read
in the light of the reader's own recollections of the process of getting
used to life. They show that if Lady Russell afterwards attained a happy
confidence in action, she was not in youth without experience of
bewilderment and doubts about herself. Following one another quickly, these
extracts may seem to imply that she was gloomy and self-centred during
these years; but that was never the impression she made on others. Like
many at her age, when she wrote in a diary she dwelt most on the feelings
about which she found it hardest to talk. Her diary was not so much the
mirror of the days as they passed as the repository of her unspoken
confidences. "Looked over my journals, with reflections," she writes later;
"inclined to burn them all. It seems I have only written [on days] when I
was not happy, which is very wrong--as if I had forgotten to be grateful
for happy ones."

Mrs. Drummond, Lord John Russell's stepdaughter (who was then Miss Adelaide
Lister), has recorded, in a letter to Lady Agatha Russell, her
recollections of the Minto family at that time.

I think (she writes) my first visit to the Admiralty, where I was
invited to children's parties, must have been in the winter before
my mother's death. I have no distinct first impressions of the
grown-up part of the family, except perhaps of your grandmother,
Lady Minto. Although children exaggerate the age of their elders,
and seldom appreciate beauty except that of people near their own
age, I did realize her great good looks. She had very regular
features and a beautiful skin, with a soft rose-colour in her
cheeks. Her hair was brown, worn in loops standing out a little
from the face, and she always wore a cap or headdress of some kind.
Her manner was most kind and winning, and she had a pleasant voice.
I am sure she must have been very even-tempered; and as I recall
her image now, and the peace and serenity expressed in her
beautiful face, I think she must have had a happy life. I never saw
her otherwise than perfectly kind and gentle and quite unruffled by
the little contretemps, which must have befallen her as they do
others. With this gentleness there was something that made one feel
she was capable and reliable, that there was a latent strength on
which those she loved could lean and be at rest. But in speaking of
these things I am going far beyond the impressions of the small
child skipping about the large rooms of the Admiralty.

There came a time when I not only went to parties and theatricals
at the Admiralty, but went in the afternoons to play with the
children. One great game was the ghost game. To the delightful
shudders produced by this was added some fear of the butler's
interference, for it took place on the large dining-room table. The
company was divided into two parties--the ghosts and the owners of
the haunted house. At four o'clock in the afternoon (so as to give
plenty of time to pile up the horror) the inmates of the house got
into bed--that is, on to the table. The ghosts then walked solemnly
round and round, while at intervals one of them imitated the
striking of the clock; as the hours advanced the ghosts became more
demonstrative and the company in bed more terror-stricken, and as
the clock struck twelve the ghosts jumped on to the table! Then
ensued a frightful scrimmage with ear-splitting squeals, and the
game ended. I imagine it was this climax which used to bring the
butler. We also had the game of giant all over the house. The yells
in this case sometimes brought Lady Minto on the scene, who was
always most good-natured. We were quieter when we got into
mischief; as when we made a raid on Lord Minto's dressing-room, and
each ate two or three of his compressed luncheon tablets and also
helped ourselves to some of his pills. This last exploit _did_
rather disturb Lady Minto; but, as it happens, neither luncheons
nor pills took any effect on the raiders.

There were often delightful theatricals at the Admiralty. The best
of the plays was a little operetta written by your mother, called
"William and Susan," in which Lotty and Harriet[13] sang
delightfully in parts; but this must have been later on than the
game period.

I come now to my first distinct impression of your mother. It is as
clear as a miniature in my mind's eye, and it belongs to a very
interesting time. I think her engagement to Papa [14] must just
have been declared. She came with Lord and Lady Minto to dine with
him at 30, Wilton Crescent, the house he owned since his marriage
to my mother. As she passed out of the room to go down to dinner,
"Lady Fanny's" face and figure were suddenly photographed on my
brain. Her dark and beautiful smooth hair was most becomingly
dressed in two broad plaited loops, hanging low on the back of the
neck; the front hair in bands according to the prevailing fashion.
Her eyes were dark and very lustrous. Her face was freckled, but
this was not disfiguring, as a rich colour in her cheeks showed
itself through them. Her neck, shoulders, and arms were most
beautifully white, and her slim upright figure showed to great
advantage in the neat and simple dress then worn. Hers was of blue
and silver gauze, the bodice prettily trimmed with folds of the
stuff, and the sleeves short and rather full. I think she wore an
enamelled necklet of green and gold. Mama [15] long afterwards told
me that at this dinner she went through a very embarrassing moment;
Papa asked her what wine she would have, and she, just saying the
first thing that came into her head, replied, "Oh, champagne."
There was none. Papa was sadly disconcerted, and replied humbly,
"Will hock do?" I used to take much interest at all times in Papa's
dinner-parties, and sometimes suggested what I considered suitable
guests. I was much disappointed when I found my selection of Madame
Vestris and O'Connell did not altogether commend itself to Papa.

[13] Lady Harriet Elliot, sister of Lady John Russell.

[14] Lord John Russell.

[15] The second Lady John Russell.

Mrs. Drummond, in another letter to Lady Agatha Russell, alluding to a
visit to Minto before Lord John Russell's second marriage, writes:

Mama [then Lady Fanny Elliot] was very kind to me even then, and I
took to her very much. I used to admire her bright eyes and her
beautiful and very abundant dark hair, which was always exceedingly
glossy, and her lovely throat, which was the whitest possible--also
her sprightly ways, for she was very lively and engaging.

The winter of 1840 was spent between the Admiralty and Putney House, which
the Mintos had taken. Lady Fanny's description of Putney sounds to us now
improbably idyllic:

Out almost till bedtime--the river at night so lovely, so calm,
still, undisturbed by anything except now and then a slow,
sleepy-looking barge, gliding so smoothly along as hardly to make a
ripple. The last few nights we have had a little crescent moon to
add to the beauty. Then the air is so delightfully perfumed with
azalea, hawthorn, and lilac, and the nightingales sing so
beautifully on the opposite banks, that it is difficult to come in
at all.

PUTNEY HOUSE, _April 30, 1840_

Finished my beloved "Sir Samuel Romilly." It is a book that
everybody, especially men, should immediately read and meditate

It was during the summer of this year, 1840, that she began to see more of
Lord John Russell. She had met him a good many times at "rather solemn
dinner-parties," and he had stayed at Minto. She had known him well enough
to feel distress and the greatest sympathy for him when his wife died,
leaving him with two young families to look after--six children in all,
varying in age from the eldest Lister girl, who was fourteen, to Victoria,
his own little daughter, whose birth in 1838 was followed in little more
than a week by the death of her mother. Lord John was nearly forty-eight.
Hitherto he had been a political hero in her eyes rather than a friend of
her own; but, as the following entries in her diary show, she began now to
realize him from another side.

_June 3, 1840,_ PUTNEY HOUSE

Lord John Russell and Miss Lister [16] came to spend the afternoon
and dine. All the little Listers came. All very merry. Lord John
played with us and the children at trap-ball, shooting, etc.

[16] Miss Harriet Lister was the sister of Lord John's first wife.

The next time they met was at the Admiralty: "Little unexpected Cabinet
meeting after dinner. Lords John Russell and Palmerston, who talked _War
with France_ till bedtime. I hope papa tells the truth as to its
improbability." Two days later she writes: "Lord John Russell again
surprised us by coming in to tea. How much I like him." The next evening
she dined at his house: "Sat between Lord John and Mr. E. Villiers. Utterly
and for ever disgraced myself. Lord John begged me to drink a glass of
wine, and I asked for champagne when there was none!"

On August 13th they left London for Minto:

We had two places to spare in the carriage, which were taken by
Lord John Russell and little Tom [his stepson, Lord Ribblesdale].
We had wished it might be so, though I had some fears of his being
tired of us, and of our being stupefied with shyness. This went off
more than I expected, and our day's journey was very pleasant.

MINTO, _August_ 14, 1840

Actually here on the second day! From Hawick we had the most lovely
moonlight, making the river like silver and the fields like snow.
Oh Scotland, bonny, bonny Scotland, dearest and loveliest of lands!
if ever I love thee less than I do now, may I be punished by living
far from thee.

MINTO, _August_ 30, 1840

A great party to Church. Many eyes turned on Lord John as we walked
from it. He was much amused by the remark of one man: "Lord John's
a silly [17] looking man, but he's smart, too!"--which he, of
course, would have understood as an Englishman. In the evening he
gave me a poem he had composed on the subject of my letter from
Lancaster to Mrs. Law [18] announcing ourselves for the next
day.... In the morning [September 1] Lord John begged to sit in our
sitting-room with us.... I told him the library would be more
comfortable, and we were established there (he very kindly reading
the "Lay" aloud), when two Hawick Bailiffs arrived to present him
with the freedom of the town.... After dinner, Miss Lister asked me
so many questions chiefly relating to marrying, that I began to
believe that Lord John's great kindness to us all, but especially
to me, meant something more than I wished. I lay awake, wondering,
feeling sure, and doubting again.

[17] Delicate.

[18] Housekeeper.

MINTO, _September_ 2, 1840

Lord John, Miss Lister, Addy and I went to Melrose Abbey and
Abbotsford.... It was his last evening, and in wishing me good-bye
he said quite enough to make me tell Mama all I thought.... I could
see that she was very glad I did not like him in that way. I am
sure I do in every other.

MINTO, _September_ 3, 1840

Lord John set off before seven this morning. I dreamed about him
and waked about him all night.... Mama gave me a note from Lord
John to me which he had left.... I wrote my answer immediately,
begging him not to come back; but also telling him how grateful I
feel. Had a long talk and walk with Miss Lister, whose _great_
kindness makes it all more painful to me.

Lady Fanny wrote to her sister, Lady Mary Abercromby:

A proposal from Lord John Russell is at this moment lying before
me. I see it lying, and I write to you that it is there, but yet I
do not believe it, nor shall I ever.... Good, kind Miss Lister
positively worships him.

MINTO, _September_ 4, 1840

Went to the village with Mama and my darling Addy [Lord John's
stepdaughter], to whom I may show how I love her now that he is

MINTO, _September_ 7, 1840

Received a very, very sad note from Lord John in answer to mine--so
kind, but oh! so sad.

The note ran as follows:

_September_ 5, 1840

DEAR LADY FANNY,--You are quite right. I deceived myself, not from
any fault of yours, but from a deep sense of unhappiness, and a
foolish notion that you might throw yourself away on a person of
broken spirits, and worn out by time and trouble. There is nothing
left to me but constant and laborious attention to public business,
and a wretched sense of misery, which even the children can never
long drive away. However, that is my duty, and my portion, and I
have no right to murmur at what no doubt is ordained for some good
end. So do not blame yourself, and leave me to hope that my life
may not be long.

Yours truly, J. RUSSELL

Miss Lister wrote to Lord John on September 9, 1840:

Sad as your letters are, it is still a relief to have them. I
_will_ hope for you though you cannot for yourself.... I
cannot thank you as I wish and feel for all you are with regard to
the children, for all you have been to them. I never can think of
it without tears of gratitude.... You have been more than even an
own father could have been. And by your example--an example of all
that is good and pure and great in mind and conduct--you are doing
for them more than any other teaching can do.

For a few days Lady Fanny seems to have felt that the matter was
irrevocably settled: "The more I think of what has happened, the more I
bewilder myself--I therefore do not think at all."

But on the following day she writes: "Though I do not think, I dream. I
dreamt of him last night on some of Catherine's bride cake, and that Miss
Lister wrote to me of him as one whose equal could not be found in the
whole world."

Of one thing she was certain, she did not want to leave her home: "The west
hills looking beautiful as we walked round the church. What a pleasure it
is to have a church in such a situation! One worships God the better from
seeing His beauty so displayed around.... Walked in the glen and wandered
about the burn and top of Mama's glen, wondering how anybody could ever ask
me to leave all that is so much too dear.

"Yesterday [October 23] received a letter from Miss Lister. Tells me a
great deal about him--the way in which he first named me since, and his
keeping the book, and much more that is very, very touching; but I will not
sentimentalize even to my journal, for fear of losing my firmness again."

Meanwhile, gossip was busy coupling her name with Lord John's, and the
Press published the rumour.

_Lady Minto to Lady Mary Abercromby_

MINTO, _November_ 9, 1840

... You will see in the papers the report of Fanny's marriage to
Lord John Russell. It is very annoying to her, and I had a few
lines (very touching) from him begging me to have it contradicted,
which I had already done. If you ask me my reasons why, I cannot
tell you, but I have a sort of feeling that she will marry him
still. Gina says certainly not, and neither Lizzy nor I think her
opinions or feelings changed, but I feel it _in my skin_!!!
Still, these feelings are not infallible.... Will you tell me if
I wish it or not? For I have now thought so much about it I don't
know my own mind. If I knew that she would not marry _at all_,
if she did not marry _him_, then I should most miserably
lament that she refused him; but I also know as certainly, that if
she told me that upon second thoughts she had accepted him, I
should be too unhappy to be able to look as I ought to do. In
short, dearest Mary, I heartily wish it had never happened. I was
obliged to tell John [Elliot] of it, as the report was going to be
made a subject of joking, which would have been very unpleasant for
Fanny. He was very much surprised, and notwithstanding his great
dislike to disparity of years, he regretted her refusal deeply. He
is a great admirer of Lord John's, and was delighted with him when
he was here. He says that in spite of the drawbacks he is clearly
of the opinion that she has made a great mistake, and hopes that it
may take another turn still. You may fancy how I am longing to talk
to your Father about it. He says in his last letter that his eyes
were only just opened to Lord John's being an old man, when he
looked on him in this new light....

MINTO, _November_ 15, 1840

My birthday--it frightens me to be twenty-five. To think how days,
months, and years have slipped away and how unfulfilled resolutions
remain to reproach me. Long walk with Papa--talked to me about Lord
John very kindly. Had a long letter from Miss Lister--tells me a
good deal about him, and the more I hear the more I am forced to
admire and like. Then why am I so ungrateful? Oh! why so obstinate?
I can only hope for the sake of my character that Dryden is right
that "Love is not in our choice but in our fate."

At the beginning of the new year the family moved up to London. The next
entry, dated from the Admiralty, expressive in its brevity, runs: "A
surprising number of visitors, one very alarming, no less than Lord
John--and I saw him." Then, a week later, on February 8: "The agitation of
last Monday over again.... After all, perhaps he only wished to show that
he is friendly still. It is like his kindness, but he did not look merry."

In March she wrote to her married sister, Lady Mary Abercromby, an account
of her feelings and perplexities.

ADMIRALTY, _March_ 16, 1841

DEAREST MARY,--Tho' it is not nearly my day for writing, a long
letter from you to Mama, principally about myself, has determined
me to do so--and to do so this minute, while I feel that I have
courage for the great effort (yes, you may laugh, but it is a
terrible effort) of saying to you all that you have the best right
to abuse me for not having said before. If it was really
_saying_, oh how happy I should be! but there is something so
terribly distinct in one's thoughts as soon as they are on paper,
and I have longed each day a thousand times to have you by my side
to help me to read them and to listen to all my nonsense. I felt it
utterly impossible to write them, altho' I also felt that my
silence was most unfair upon you and would have made me, in your
place, either very suspicious or very angry. It _has_ made you
suspicious, but now let it only make you angry--as angry as you
please--for I have _not_ changed and I do not suppose I ever
shall. When we first came to town, nothing having taken place
between us since my positive refusal from Minto, except the
contradiction sent by us to the report in the papers, Miss Lister
asked me if I was the same as ever; and when I said yes, and
forbade her the subject for the future, she only begged that I
would see him and allow myself to know him better. I said I would
do so, provided she was quite sure he was ready to blame himself
alone for the consequences, which she said he would. Accordingly,
wherever we met I allowed him to speak to me. I begged Lizzy always
to join in our talk, if she could, as it made me much happier, but
this she has not done nearly as much as I wished. Whenever I knew
we were to meet him, I also took care to tell Lizzy that it would
be no pleasure to me, and that if it was at dinner, I hoped I
should not sit next to him. I said these things to her oftener than
I should naturally have done, because I saw that in her wish to
disbelieve them she really did so, and I wished to make her
understand me, in case either Papa or Mama or the boys should be
speaking of it before her. You will say, why did I not speak more
to Mama herself?--partly because I was afraid of bringing forward
the subject, partly because I knew what I had to say would make her
sorry, and partly because I was not at times so _very_ sure as
to have courage to say it must all come to an end. However, after a
dinner at Lady Holland's last week, when he was all the evening by
me, I felt I _must_ speak--that it would be very wrong to
allow it to go on in the same way, and that we had no right to
expect the world to see how all advances to intimacy, since we came
to town, have been made by him in the face of a refusal. I do not
despise the gossip of the world where there is so much foundation
for it, and I have felt it very disagreeable to know that busy eyes
were upon us several times. It must therefore stop, but do not
imagine that I have been acting without thought. I am perfectly
easy about _him_--I mean that he will blame nobody but
himself, as I have taken care never to understand anything that he
has said that he might mean to be particular, and the few times
that he ventured to approach the subject he spoke in so perfectly
hopeless and melancholy a way as to satisfy me. I am also easy
about Miss Lister, as only a week ago she said how sorry she was to
see that I was happier in society without than with him; but both
he and they must see that it cannot go on so. What a stone I
am--but it is needless to speak of that. Only when I think of all
his goodness and excellence, above all his goodness in fixing upon
me among so many better fitted to him, I first wonder and wonder
whether he really can be in earnest, then reproach myself bitterly
for my hardness--and then the children: to think of rejecting an
opportunity of being so useful--or at least of trying to be so! All
these thoughts, turned over and over in my mind oftener than I
myself knew before we left Minto, _did_ make me think that
perhaps I had decided rashly. Now do not repeat this, dear Mary; I
have said more to you than to anybody yet--but I am sorry it is
time to stop, I have so much more to say. I cannot say how grateful
I am to Papa and Mama for leaving me so free in all this, and to
you for writing.

Ever your most affectionate sister, FANNY

The day after this letter was written she saw Lord John again. "He called
and had a long conversation with Mama.... Mama liked him better than

_Lady Minto to Lady Mary Abercromby_

ADMIRALTY, _March_ 18, 1841

... I must now return to _the_ subject. I told you of the
conversation I had with Fanny when she spoke so openly and so
sensibly of her feelings.... She said she was too old to think it
necessary to be what is called desperately in love, and without
feeling that his age was an objection or that the disparity was too
great, yet, she said, if he had been a younger man she would have
decided long ago. And that is the truth. It is his age alone that
prevents her at once deciding in his favour. It prevents those
feelings arising in her mind, without which it would be a struggle
to accept him, and this she never will do. She was therefore
desirous that he should know the state of her feelings, that she
might be again at her ease. He had seen her manner cold towards
him, and wrote to say that he would call upon me yesterday. I was
_horribly_ frightened, as I hate lovers, and you must allow
that it was a difficult task to go through.... However, he put me
so completely at my ease by his sensible, open, gentle manner, that
my task was less difficult than I expected--except that I fell in
love with him so desperately, he touched my heart so deeply that I
could scarcely refrain from promising him Fanny whenever he chose.
There is a depth of feeling and humility about him, and a candour
and generosity in his judgments, that I never saw so strongly in
anyone before, and every word that he spoke made me regret more and
more the barrier that prevents him from becoming one of us. I said,
of course, Fanny's wish and ours could only be for him to do what
he considered best for his own happiness, and that half-measures
did not answer; that he now knew the whole truth and it was for him
to judge how to act. He said then, "I cannot have a doubt; I will
visit you less frequently; I will speak very little to you in
public, but I cannot, unless you positively forbid me, renounce the
intimacy now established with your family." I said, of course, that
it would be a great happiness to us all not to lose him, but that I
was very doubtful of the wisdom of his decision, as it might only
be rendering himself more unhappy. "That," he said, "is my affair,
and I am willing to run the risk." ... Fanny, to whom I told
everything, says she is now quite happy, and her mind at ease.

He seems, however, to have made up his mind to keep away from them for some
weeks. The next mention of him is on May 7th, more than a month later:

Morning visit from Lord John. Said he had a great speech to make
this evening on sugar.... Billy came to dinner full of admiration
of the speech. Honest, noble, clever. Well, we shall go out with

This speech on sugar was made at a crisis of particular difficulty. The
debate was the first important discussion in Parliament on the new
principle of Free Trade. Greville describes Lord John's speech as an
"extraordinarily good one," and Lord Sydenham [19] wrote from Canada:

I have read your speech upon opening the debate on the sugar
question with feelings of admiration and pleasure I cannot
describe. The Free Traders have never been orators since Mr. Pitt
in early days. We have hammered away with facts and figures and
some argument, but we could not elevate the subject and excite the
feelings of the people. At last you, who can do both, have fairly
undertaken it, and the cause has a champion worthy of it.

[19] Lord Sydenham said later, "Lord John is the noblest man it has ever
been my fortune to follow" (Spencer Walpole's "Life of Lord John Russell").

Mr. Baring, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, proposed to lower the import
duty on foreign and colonial timber and sugar. Lord John, before the Budget
speech, announced his intention of moving the House into a committee on the
Corn Laws. During the course of the eight days' debate he admitted that the
proposal of the Ministry would be a fixed duty of 8s. a quarter on wheat.
It was on the occasion of this proposal being discussed in the Cabinet that
Melbourne, at the close of the meeting, made his famous remark, "By the by,
there is one thing we haven't agreed upon; what are we to say? Is it to
make our corn dearer or cheaper, or to make the price steady? I don't care
which; but we had better all say the same thing."

On June 4th, the very evening Lord John had intended to introduce his
measure, the Government was just defeated on Peel's motion of a want of
confidence: "Bill woke me at four this morning with the sad words, 'Beaten
by one! Oh dear, oh dear! To expect a triumph and see it won by the enemy.
Never mind; our friends deserve success if they cannot command it.... Party
at Lady Palmerston's. He was there."

Four days later her hesitations came to an end, and they were engaged to be

Miss Lister wrote to Lord John on June 8th from Windsor Castle:

Oh! I am happier than I can tell you. God knows you have deserved
all the good that may come to you, and I always felt it must be
because of that. I long to be with you and to see her. ... Oh! I am
so happy, but I can scarcely believe it yet. I hope Lady Fanny will
write and then I think I shall believe it.

Ever yours affectionately, Harriet Lister

* * * * *

June 9, 1841 Could not write on Monday or Tuesday. Saw him on
Monday morning ... it was a strange dream all that day and is so
still.... As soon as he had left me Mama came in. Oh my own
dearest and best Mama, bless your poor weak but happy child. Then I
saw Papa. What good it did me to see his face of real
happiness!--then my brothers and sisters--I never saw William so

ADMIRALTY, _June_ 10, 1841

Tried to be busy in the morning ... but nothing would do. Must
think and be foolish. He came in the afternoon and evening--brought
me an emerald ring.... Miss Lister came--both of us stupid from
having too much to say, but it was a great pleasure. Children
here to tea with ours (all but Victoria) and very merry and kind
to me. Dear precious children.

_Lady Minto to Lady Mary Abercromby_

ADMIRALTY, June 11, 1841

You must be longing so ardently for post-day that I hate to think
of the uncomfortable letter this is likely to be; but as Fanny is
writing to you herself, my letter will be of less consequence. Oh
the volumes and volumes I could write and long to write and the wee
miserable things that I do write! I must at once begin by saying
that Fanny's happy face would, more than all I can write, convince
you how perfectly satisfied and proud she is of the position she
has put herself in; how it delights her to think of the son-in-law
she has given to your Father, and the friend she has given your
brothers. To me he is everything that my proudest wishes could have
sought out for Fanny. You know as well as me that it was not an
ordinary person that could suit her; and it really is balm to my
heart to see the way in which he treasures every word she says, and
laughs at the innocence and simplicity of her remarks, and looks at
her with such pride when he sees her keen and eager about the great
and interesting events of the day, which most girls would neither
know nor care about. I don't mean that he is absurd in his
admiration of her, but it is evident how fully he appreciates the
singular beauty of her character. In short, to sum up all I can say
of him, he is in many respects a counterpart of herself. She is
very open and at her ease with him, and I am quite as much at my
ease with him as I was with Ralph....

_From Lady Mary Abercromby to Lord John Russell_

GENOA, _June_ 19, 1841

... You will every day discover more the great worth of what you
have won. You cannot have known her long without admiring the
extreme truth and purity of her mind; it is sensitive to a degree
which those with more of worldly experience can scarcely
understand, yet I feel sure you will watch over it, for it has a
charm to those who can appreciate it which must make them dread to
see it disturbed. It is a great privation to me to be so little
acquainted with you, but believe me I cannot think of you as a
stranger now that you belong to my dearest Sister, and that I look
to you for her happiness. If you could think of me as a sister and
treat me as such it would be a delight to me.

ADMIRALTY, _June_ 18, 1841

Very happy day--every day now happier than the one before. Oh will
it--can it last? O God, enable me to thank Thee as I ought--to live
a life of gratitude to Thee.



"He served his country well in choosing thee." [20]

[20] From a sonnet to Lady John Russell by Lord Wriothesley Russel, written
after reading Lady Minto's ballad in which these words occur: "His country
and thee."

Parliament had been dissolved soon after Peel's motion of a want of
confidence had been carried. In the election which followed Lord John was
returned for the City of London on June 30th.

ADMIRALTY, _June_ 26, 1841

Day of nomination in the City. He says the show of hands was
greatly in his favour.... Mama says he looked so calm, in the midst
of the uproar.

"True dignity is his, _his_ tranquil mind Virtue has raised
above the things below!"

And whether storms may await us in our journey together, even to
the wreck of all earthly hopes, I know that he will rise superior
to them--and oh! to think that I may be by his side to support him
in adversity as well as to share in his prosperity and glorious
fate, for which God enable me to be rightly grateful.

The family moved to Minto before the result was declared; from London Lord
John wrote the following letters:

_Lord John Russell to Lady Mary Abercromby_

WILTON CRESCENT, _June_ 25, 1841

Your letters have filled us all with joy and completed what was
wanting. I feel very grateful to you for the kindness with which

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