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other hand, were afraid of its too great exten- the argument that advantage should be taken sion, and did not support it; and the majority of any opportunity to advance the question, of the Conservatives seemed to be doubtful he referred to the successive promises and whether it would secure any such end. Of failures of recent years with regard to a meacourse Mr. Bright, who had then been re- sure of reform. “In 1851 my noble friend, turned to represent Birmingham, opposed the then the first minister of the crown, approached measure, which he truly said excluded the the question of reform, and commenced with working-classes, and as was afterwards seen a promise of what was to be done twelve by a remark of Sir E. L. Bulwer, who months afterwards. In 1852 he brought in warmly supported it in a long and remarkable a bill, and it disappeared together with the
speech, it was not intended materially to ex- ministry. In 1853 we had the ministry of · tend the franchise in that direction. Quoting Lord Aberdeen, which commenced with a Cicero's axiom : “ Semper in re publicâ ten- promise of reform in twelve months' time. endem est, ne plurimum valeant plurimi,” he Well, 1854 arrived; with it arrived the bill, explained it to mean, “The one point that but with it also arrived the war, and in the must never be yielded in a state is, that the war was a reason, and I believe a good reason, greatest powers shall not be in the hands of for abandoning the bill. Then came the govthe greatest numbers."
ernment of my noble friend the member for On the 21st of March Lord John Russell | Tiverton, which was not less unfortunate in proposed as an amendment" that it is neither the circumstances that prevented the redempjust nor politic to interfere in the manner tion of those pledges which had been given proposed in the government bill with the free- to the people from the mouth of the sovereign hold franchise as hitherto exercised in the on the throne. In 1855 my noble friend counties of England and Wales; and that no escaped all responsibility for a Reform Bill rearrangement of the franchise will satisfy the on account of the war; in 1856 he escaped all house or the country which does not provide responsibility for reform on account of the for a greater extension of the suffrage in cities peace; in 1857 he escaped that inconvenient and boroughs than is contemplated in the pre- responsibility by the dissolution of parliament; sent measure.” “With regard to this great and in 1858 he escaped again by the dissoluquestion of reform,” said Lord John after an tion of his government.” Mr. Gladstone conable speech, “I may say that I defended it tended that these failures strengthened the when I was young, and I will not desert it misgivings of the people as to the reluctance now that I am old.”
of the house to deal with this question, made Mr. Sidney Herbert, disclaiming any party it more hazardous to interpose obstacles, and feeling, opposed the amendment. Mr. Glad required the progress of the government bill stone on the same ground gave the govern- to completion. He announced that he could ment a modified support. As there was no not be a party to the disfranchisement of the controversy traceable to differences between county freeholders in boroughs; he could not political parties, he regretted that the house be a party to the uniformity of the franchise; was now in hostile conflict, with a division he could not be a party to a reform bill which before them which would estrange those by did not lower the suffrage in boroughs. Unwhose united efforts alone a satisfactory settle- less they could have a lowering of the suffrage ment could be come to. He objected to the it would be better not to waste time upon the form of the resolution, but confessed that if subject. He approved that portion of the bill they could have had a strong government he relating to the redistribution of seats, but put should have been induced to vote for it. He in a strong pleaon behalf of the small boroughs, saw, however, that after carrying the resolu- which were the nursery ground of men who tion the opposition would pursue separate were destined to lead the house and be an courses, but he thought that the government ornament to their country; and he maintained had a claim upon members. In support of that the extension and the durability of our
THE DERBY GOVERNMENT DEFEATED.
liberty were to be attributed, under provi | address, he directed himself to the political dence, to distinguished statesmen introduced portion of the theme, and having literally deto the house at an early age. These were molished the mover of the amendment, sat reasons for going into committee. If they down amid universal cheers.” passed the amendment, it could have no other But oratory could not save the bill from the effect than that of retarding a settlement of effects of the amendment. By the 25th Lord the question: it was not the question of the Palmerston seems to have seen his way. government, but of reform. He urged the “There is no doubt,” he said, “the amendhouse not to let slip its golden opportunity. ment will be carried, and then what is the For himself he should be governed by no government to do? We are told various other consideration than the simple one- things. Some persons say the ministry will what course would most tend to settle the resign. Sir, I believe no such thing. I think question ? When he voted to negative the it will be a dereliction of duty on their part resolution of Lord John Russell, he should if they do resign. I do not want them to give his vote neither to the government nor resign. I say to them, as I think Voltaire to party.
said of some minister who had incurred his The debates were long and spirited, and on displeasure, ‘I won't punish him; I won't the second night were graced with the pecu- send him to prison; I condemn him to keep liar oratory of Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, his place. They took the government with who on that occasion rose to an oratorical dis- its engagements. They undertook a meaplay which he had never before exhibited; sure of reform, and they will be flinching while Sir Hugh Cairns, who as Mr. Cairns from their duty to the crown and the country had made a great impression during the dis- if, in consequence of such a vote as that procussions on the India bill, took the position of posed by my noble friend, they fling up their a skilful and able debater.
places and throw upon us the difficulty of “A night of immense power and excite- dealing with this subject. . . . But then it is ment," wrote Disraeli in his report to the said they may dissolve. I have no greater queen of the progress of that debate. “Two faith in their dissolving than in their resignaof the greatest speeches ever delivered in par- tion. I am of this opinion, because to dissolve liament-by Sir Edward Lytton and the soli- parliament at the present moment implies citor-general. ... Both spoke in a crowded more than the single will of the government. house: one before dinner, the other conclud- The concurrence of this house is necessary to ing, just down. Never was a greater contrast its own dissolution. Before the government between two orators, resembling each other dissolves it must take another vote in supply, in nothing but their excellence.
pass the Appropriation Act, the Ways and “Deaf, fantastic, modulating his voice with Means Act, and make provision for exchequer difficulty, sometimes painful—at first almost bills which will fall due in May. Now all these an object of ridicule to the superficial-Lytton operations require the hearty concurrence of occasionally reached even the sublime, and the house, and are the government, I should perfectly enchained his audience. His de- like to know, sure of obtaining that concurscription of the English constitution, his analy- | rence?” sis of democracy,—as rich and more powerful The amendment was carried by a majority than Burke.
of 39 and parliament was dissolved. The “Sir ,Hugh Cairns devoted an hour to a elections brought a gain to the government of reply to Lord John's resolution, and to a vin- about 20 seats, but they were still in a minordication of the government bill, which charmed ity. The new parliament consisted of about every one by its lucidity and controlled every 302 Conservatives and 350 Liberals. The one by its logic. When he had, in the most Marquis of Hartington moved an addition to masterly manner, and with a concinnity which the speech from the throne, which being none can equal, closed the business part of his carried was equivalent to a vote of want of
confidence in the ministers, which being car- Peel a majority of ninety, I found the Tories ried by a majority of 13 led to the immediate more civil in the intercourse of the lobbies resignation of the government. Then arose and the refreshment-rooms than the Whigs. another difficulty. The queen had to consider It runs through all departments. It seems as the respective claims of Lord Palmerston and if the Whig leaders always thought it necesLord John Russell, between whom a coolness sary to snub the Radicals to satisfy the Tories was believed to exist. Her majesty took an they were not dangerous politicians. But I alternative course and sent for Lord Granville, do not blame them, for they live by it. I do then the acknowledged leader of the Liberal blame those advanced Liberals who allow party in the House of Lords. Lord John, themselves to be thus used and abused. There however, declined to serve under Lord Gran- is no remedy but in the greater self-respect of ville, though he had no objection to take office the middle class. I fear we have been going under Lord Palmerston. This prevented Lord the other way for the last ten years. The Granville from forming a ministry, and again great prosperity of the country made Tories Lord Palmerston rode triumphantly into of us all.
During my experience the power, and not to the dissatisfaction of the higher classes never stood so high in relative, nation, who had already forgotten, or had more social, and political rank, as compared with completely “got at the rights” of his supposed other classes, as at present. The middle class want of consistency in the affairs of the French have been content with the very crumbs from despatch.
their table. The more contempt a man like
Palmerston (as intense an aristocrat at heart Lord Palmerston was again prime minister as any of them) heaped on them, the louder with a government in which Lord John Rus- they cheered him. Twenty years ago, when sell was foreign minister, and Mr. Gladstone, a hundred members of the house used to chancellor of the exchequer; and it was a muster at the call of Hume or Warburton to period when both those offices would have to compel the Whigs to move on under threats be administered with skill and sagacity. But of desertion, there seemed some hope of the Lord Palmerston, people must have thought, middle class setting up for themselves; but had learnt something or forgotten a great deal now there is no such sign. on his side also, for no appointment was made “You ask me my view of the political to the presidency of the Board of Trade, and situation. It is hard fate for me to be obit was discovered that the place was kept liged to choose between Derby and Palmervacant in the hope that it would be accepted ston, but if compelled to do so, I should cerby Mr. Cobden, who was then on his way tainly prefer the former. Nothing can be so from a visit to the United States.
humiliating to us as a party or a nation as It must have been rather amusing to some to see that venerable political impostor at the of Cobden's friends when they heard of this head of affairs. But how will you prevent intention, knowing as they did what had been his return to power? Half-a-dozen his opinion of the former government under great families meet at Walmer and dispose Lord Palmerston as compared to that of Lord of the rank and file of the party, just as I do Derby.
the lambs that I am now selling for your In a letter to Mr. Lindsay, Cobden had aldermen's table. And I very much doubt written of the Derby administration : “The whether you can put an end to this ignomipresent men are most honest, and they are cer- nious state of things. Until you can, I don't tainly more obliging than the last. In this I think you are playing a part in any noble agree with
you, , and it might have been said of drama." any Tory government as compared with any Mr. Cobden had been to America to inquire Whig one since I have been in the political | into the affairs of the Illinois Railway, in ring. I remember when I came into the house which, with some imprudence, as his friends in 1841, after the general election which gave not unnaturally believed, he had invested the
PALMERSTON OFFERS COBDEN A SEAT IN THE CABINET.
greater part of his money. Cobden, in fact, see you and to have personal communication though an able political economist, does not with you as soon as may be convenient to you appear to have possessed the qualities neces- on your arrival in London.” sary for a successful man of business, and his The invitation was seconded by another personal affairs were often in a precarious letter from Lord John Russell, who said: “An condition. But there were those who did not attempt has been made, more or less wisely, hesitate to help him in a direct and yet in a to form a government from various sections delicate manner,
for he was, as it were, the of Liberals. Recent speeches have prevented property of a cause and a political faith, and the offer of a cabinet office to Mr. Bright. his was such a sweet and cordial nature that This is much to be regretted; but if you personal regard was added to esteem and ad- accept, his accession may take place hereafter. miration for his public and private character. If you refuse, I do not see a prospect of amal
During his absence not only had the events gamating the Liberal party during my lifewhich we have described taken place, but time. In these circumstances, I confess, I during the elections the men of Rochdale had think it is a duty for you to accept the office met and decided to choose him as the Liberal of president of the Board of Trade.” candidate, much to the delight of Mr. Bright, Cobden's own account of the receipt of these who attended their meeting and recommended letters, and the interviews to which they led, to them “his political associate, his political is characteristic and amusing. brother.” Cobden was well pleased, for he “As I came up the Mersey," he says, “I admired Rochdale Liberalism. He was even- little dreamed of the reception which awaited tually returned without a contest.
Crowds of friends were ready to greet The following is the letter which was de- and cheer me; and before I left the ship a spatched by Lord Palmerston (the new prime packet of letters was put in my hand, conminister) to Cobden on his landing at Liver- taining one from Lord Palmerston, offering pool. It was dated “94 Piccadilly, 27th June, me a seat in the cabinet as president of the 1859.
Board of Trade; and another from Lord John “My dear Sir, I understand that it is Russell, urging me in the very strongest terms likely that you may arrive at Liverpool to- to accept it. There were letters from Moffat, morrow, and I therefore wish that this letter Gilpin, and a great many others, advising me should be placed in your hand upon your not to refuse the offer. landing.
“I was completely taken by surprise by all “I have been commissioned by the queen this, for I had heard nothing of the change of to form an administration, and I have endea- government, and was twenty-five days withvoured so to frame it that it should contain out having seen the latest news from England, representatives of all sections of the Liberal namely eleven days' passage, and fourteen party, convinced as I am that no government days which we were behind the news when I constructed upon any other basis could have left Quebec. sufficient prospect of duration, or would be “I went on shore and proceeded to the sufficiently satisfactory to the country. hotel, where my troubles began. More than
“Mr. Milner Gibson has most handsomely a hundred of the leading men of Liverpool consented to waive all former difficulties, and assembled in the large room to present me to become a member of the new cabinet. I with an address, which was put into my hand am most exceedingly anxious that you should by Mr. William Brown. Afterwards consent to adopt the same line, and I have Mr. Robertson Gladstone from the Financial kept open for you the office of president of Reform Association, Mr. Rathbone from the the Board of Trade, which appeared to me American Chamber of Commerce, and the to be the one best suited to your views, and president of the Peace Society, all presented to the distinguished part which you have addresses, to which I was obliged, without a taken in public life. I shall be very glad to moment's notice, and with my head still
have to say.
swimming with the motion of the sea, to years I have been the systematic and constant deliver replies. It was really like killing one assailant of the principle on which your forone with kindness. I have come on here [to eign policy has been carried on. I believed Manchester) to see my friends, and hear what you to be warlike, intermeddling, and quarrel- .
A deputation from Roch- some, and that your policy was calculated to dale is over also. And I have an address from embroil us with foreign nations. At the same a number of persons, including Bazley and H. time I have expressed a general want of conAshworth, wishing me to accept the offer of fidence in your domestic politics. Now I may a seat in the cabinet. Indeed, almost without have been altogether wrong in my views; it is exception, everybody, Radicals, peacemen, and possible I may have been; but I put it candidly all, are trying to persuade me to it.
to you whether it ought to be in your cabinet, “Now it really seems to me that they must whilst holding a post of high honour and all have gone mad, for with my recorded emolument derived from you, that I should opinions of Lord Palmerston's public conduct make the first avowal of a change of opinion during the last dozen years, in which opinions respecting your public policy? Should I not I have experienced no change, were I suddenly expose myself to severe suspicions, and deto jump at the offer of a place under him I servedly so, if I were under these circumshould ruin myself in my own self-respect, stances to step from an Atlantic steamer into and ultimately lose the confidence of the very your cabinet? Understand, I beg, that I have men who are in this moment of excitement no personal feelings which prevent me from urging me to enter his cabinet. So great is accepting your offer. I have opposed you as the pressure put on me, that if it were Lord the supposed representative of what I believed Granville, or even Lord John, at the head of to be dangerous principles. If I have ever affairs, I should be obliged, greatly against been personally offensive in my opposition it my will, to be a right honourable. But to was not intended, and assuredly you never take office now,
without a single declaration gave me any justification of such a course.' of change of view regarding his public con- “In reply he disclaimed any feelings of a duct, would be so monstrous a course, that personal kind, and said that even if there had nothing on earth shall induce me to do it. I been any personalities, they never ought to be am going to town this afternoon, and shall for- remembered for three months; and he added ward him my answer on my arrival. I listen in a laughing way that he thought Gibson had to all my friends and say nothing, but my hit him quite as hard as I had. Then he commind is made up."
menced to combat my objections, and to offer, On arriving a day or two later in London, with apparently great sincerity, a variety of Cobden lost no time in calling upon Lord arguments to show that I ought to enter the Palmerston. He wrote a full account of all cabinet, dwelling particularly on the fact that that passed between them to Mr. Sale, his as questions of foreign policy were now upperbrother-in-law in Manchester.
most, and as those questions were in the hands “ London, 4th July, 1859.—I thought it best of the executive, it was only by joining the on my arrival in town to go first to Palmer- government that I could influence them. ston, and explain plainly and frankly every- | 'You and your friends complain,' he said, "of thing. On calling on him I was most pleas- a secret diplomacy, and that wars are entered antly welcomed, and we talked as usual for a into without consulting the people. Now it few minutes on everything but what I went is in the cabinet alone that questions of forabout. At length I broke the ice in this way: eign policy are settled. We never consult par“You have acted in so manly and magnani- liament till after they are settled. If, therefore, mous a manner in pressing me to take office you wish to have a voice in those questions, you in your cabinet, that I feel bound to come can only do so in the cabinet.' This was the and talk to you without reserve upon the sub-argument I found it most difficult to answer, ject. My case is this. For the last twelve and therefore he pressed it more strongly.