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ORD Russell was invited by the Queen to form a Gov.
ernment after the death of Lord Palmerston. For a few days a certain amount of doubt and speculation prevailed in London and the country generally. It was thought not impossible that, owing to his advanced years, Lord Russell might prove unwilling to take on him the burden of such an office as that of Prime Minister. The name of Lord Clarendon was suggested by many as that of a probable head of the new administration. Some talked of Lord Granville. Others had a strong conviction that Mr. Gladstone would himself be invited to take that command. ing position in name which he must have in fact. Even when it became certain that Lord Russell was to be the Prime Minister, speculation busied itself as to possible changes in the administration. Many persuaded themselves that the opportunity would be taken to make some bold and sweeping changes, and to admit the Radical element to an influence in the actual council of the nation such as it had never enjoyed before, and such as its undoubted strength in Parliament and the country now entitled it to have. According to some rumors, Mr. Bright was to become Secretary for India in the new Cabinet ; according to others, the great free-trade orator was to hold the office of President of the Board of Trade, which had once been offered to his friend Mr. Cobden ; and Mr. Mill was to be made Secretary for India, It was soon found, however, that no such novelties were to be announced. The only changes in the Cabinet were that Lord Russell became Prime Minister, and that Lord Clarendon, who had been Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, succeeded him as Foreign Secretary. One or two new men were brought into offices which did not give a seat in the Cabinet. Among these were Mr. Forster, who became Under Secretary for the Colonies in the room of Mr. Chichester Fortescue, now Irish Secretary, and Mr Goschen, who succeeded Mr. Hunt as Vice-President of the Board of Trade. Both Mr. Forster and Mr. Goschen soon afterward came to hold high official position, and to have seats in the Cabinet. In each instance the appointment was a concession to the growing Liberal feeling of the day; but the concession was slight and cautious. The country knew little about either Mr. Forster or Mr. Goschen at the time ; and it will easily be imagined that those who thought a seat in the Cabinet for Mr. Bright was due to the people more even than to the man, and who had some hopes of seeing a similar place offered to Mr. Mill, were not satisfied by the arrangement which called two comparatively obscure men to unimportant office. The outer public did not quite appreciate the difficulties which a Liberal minister had to encounter in compromising between the Whigs and the Radicals. The Whigs included almost all the members of the party who were really influential by virtue of hereditary rank and noble station. It was impossible to overlook their claims. In a country like England one must pay attention
to the wishes of “the dukes." There is a superstition about it. The man who attempted to form a Liberal Cabinet without consulting the wishes of "the dukes" would be as imprudent as the Greek commander who in the days of Xenophon would venture on a campaign without consulting the auguries. But it was not only a superstition which required the Liberal Prime Minister to show deference to the claims of the titled and stately Whigs. The great Whig names were a portion of the traditions of the party. More than that, it was certain that whenever the Liberal party got into difficulties, it would look to the great Whig houses to help it out. Many Liberals began to speak with more or less contempt of the Whigs. They talk of these shadows of a mighty name as Thackeray's Barns Newcome talks of the senior members of his family, his uncle more particularly. But when the Liberal party fell into disorganization and difficulty some years after, the influence of the great Whig houses was sought for at once in order to bring about an improved condition of things. Liberalism often turns to the Whigs as a young scapegrace to his father or his guardian. The wild youth will have his own way when things are going smooth ; when credit is still good, and family affection is not particularly necessary to his comfort. He is even ready enough to smile at old-fashioned ways and antiquated coun. sels; but when the hour of pressure comes, when obligations have to be met at last, and the gay bachelor lodgings, with the fanciful furniture and the other expensive luxuries, have to be given up, then he comes without hesitation to the elder, and assumes as a matter of course that his debts are to be paid and his affairs put in order.
Lord Russell had to pay some deference to the authority of the great Whig houses. Some of them probably looked with alarm enough at the one serious change brought about by the death of Lord Palmerston-the change which made Mr. Gladstone leader of the House of Commons. Mean
while there were some changes in the actual condition of things which did not depend on the mere alteration of at Cabinet. The political complexion of the day was likely to be affected in its color by some of these changes. The House of Commons elected just before Lord Palmerston's death was in many respects a very different House from that which it had been his last ministerial act to dissolve. We have already mentioned some of the changes that death had made. Palmerston was gone, and Cobden, and Sir George Lewis, and Sidney Herbert, and Sir James Graham. There were changes, too, not brought about by death. The Lord John Russell of the Reform Bill had been made a peer, and sat as Earl Russell in the House of Lords. Mr. Lowe, one of the ablest and keenest of political critics, who had for a while been shut down under the responsibilities of office, was a free lance once more. Mr. Lowe, who had before that held office two or three times, was Vice-President of the Committee of Council on Education from the beginning of Lord Palmerston's administration until April, 1864. At that time a vote of censure was carried against his departmentin other words, against himself-on the motion of Lord Robert Cecil for alleged "mutilation” of the reports of the Inspectors of Schools, done, as it was urged, in order to bring the reports into seeming harmony with the educational views entertained by the Committee of Council. Lord Robert Cecil introduced the resolution in a speech singularly bitter and offensive. The motion was carried by a majority of 101 to 93. Mr. Lowe instantly resigned his office; but he did not allow the matter to rest there. He obtained the appointment of a committee to inquire into the whole subject; and the result of the inquiry was not only that Mr. Lowe was entirely exonerated from the charge made against him, but that the resolution of the House of Commons was actu. ally rescinded. It is probable, however, that Mr. Lowe felt that the government of which he was a member had not