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his business then lay in Downing Street,” she says, " and I lived in the next street, Fludyer Street, he used to come to my study from Lord Althorp or Lord Grey when they wanted my opinion on measures which they were then preparing. Our express business was (commonly) discussion of certain items of Lord Althorp's forthcoming budget, and changes in some of them, and consultations about Lord Grey's tithe measure, now forgotten in the final settlement. In these conversations I was impressed, as at all times, with Lieutenant Drummond's (as he was then called) diligent and earnest attention to the business in hand. In those days it was the one disclosure of the ardour which was otherwise concealed by a reserve, even distance or coldness of manner, which few then understood. The truth all came out when he went to Ireland. Before that, the impression of even his friends was, that while the most upright, honourable, diligent, and able of public servants and private gentlemen, he was somewhat cold of nature, and, in his personal regards, politic beyond even the repute of Scotsmen. All that set of impressions was effaced from the moment when his enthusiasm on behalf of Ireland began to shine out. By its light the former attributes became translucent and very beautiful ; and warm admiration and affection succeeded to the respect and favourable expectation (cordial enough in their way) with which he had always been regarded.
“ Yet there were signs by which people might have known more than they did ; e.g., he was full of concern, was really gravely concerned, while his friends were laughing at him for his apprehensions, that ‘we must conquer China.' They nicknamed him • The Conqueror of China,' while he had good reasons to give, and actually did lay down the plan of future events, almost as accurately in the main features as if it had been done thirty years later. When the events happened, the friends remembered him and his reasons, and the gravity with which he offered them.”
The summer session of 1833 having ended, Drummond set off on a series of long vacation visits. From Sir George Philips' he went to Lord Althorp's, and thence to Brougham Hall. To the last place he seems not to have been particularly desirous to go, but the imperious Brougham would take no refusal. “He seems determined,” says Brougham's secretary, “that
go; and he adds, when you are together you can do a good stroke of work. He also says that he has written to the King, strongly adverting to your services, ' a strong panegyric on Drummond's services about the Borough Bill.' You must come. I know from experience that when he once sets his heart on anything, there is no rest till he has his way.” He was obliged to go, and early in October returned to town, accompanied by the Chancellor.
By the following spring his mother had returned to the north, and the correspondence recommenced. There is not much to be learned from it, however. The spring was occupied with preparations for new bills on tithes, the poor-law, and church-rates. The letters abound in criticisms on the opposition of the Times to the new poor-law, and its assaults on the “ lath and plaster Cabinet;” many of the letters, written to be shown to the late lamented Charles Maclaren, contain hints and suggestions for leaders in the Scotsman. If the Scotsman still receives such assistance, no one need wonder at its information being at once early and correct. Communications to, or for behoof of, Mr
Maclaren were made almost daily. At the same time Drummond was supporting the Government through the press in London, the Globe and Morning Chronicle being the chief of the Government papers. In the Chronicle at this time he wrote some leading articles, chiefly on questions of finance.
In May 1834, the attitude assumed by the majority of the Cabinet in regard to the question of the appropriation of the surplus fund of the Irish Church (raised first by a bill of Ministers in the previous year, and now again by an independent resolution brought forward by Mr Ward), led to the resignation of Mr Stanley and Sir James Graham, and also of the Duke of Richmond and Lord Ripon. This dissolved the Administration of Lord Grey. For a time it was doubtful who would succeed to the seals of office. The Commons, it was understood, desired an administration with Althorp for its head. His lordship, on the other hand, sick of government, was longing to escape from its cares. is so desirous to keep out,” says Drummond,“ that I do not think it likely that any combination of circumstances will prevent him.” He was, however, prevented. The King sent for Lord Melbourne; and the condition on which Lord Melbourne would alone agree to undertake the difficult task of forming a Government was, that Althorp should continue to be Chancellor of the Exchequer, and leader of the Lower House. After much hesitation Althorp consented. · His services and situation entitled him," says Drummond, “ if he had been actuated by the feelings of ordinary politicians, to expect that, if the Government continued in the hands of the Whigs, and if he was called to take a part in it, he should be placed at its head. He has sacrificed every feeling of kind, if he
any; he has sacrificed his
desire to get out of office, that the Government may be retained in the hands of the Liberal party, and that our friends may not be sent to a new election.” The first Melbourne Administration was destined, however, to be short-lived. In November 1834 Lord Spencer died, and Lord Althorp became Lord Spencer. His elevation to the House of Peers was seized upon by the King as a pretext for dissolving the Ministry. Lord Melbourne was for going on with Lord John Russell as Chancellor of the Exchequer, but the King sent for the Duke of Wellington
The Duke could do nothing in the way of assigning the offices of state in the absence of Mr Peel, who was then in Rome. But, on the principle that “the Government must be carried on,” he took on himself the whole business of the empire. It was the joke of the day, that the Cabinet sat in his head, and the Ministers were all of one mind! “Great bustle at the different offices,” writes Drummond from Downing Street, November 18th. “ The Duke has exhibited some promptitude in taking possession of the Home Office, but all the other appointments are yet undecided. The great seal is to be held provisionally. The seals of the different Secretaries of State are held provisionally by the Duke ; and, in fact, everything is provisional till Peel returns. If a good spirit manifests itself in the meantime, it is possible that they may find greater difficulties than they now imagine in the way of forming a government. Peel has more sagacity and less courage than ‘His Highness,' and may not be disposed to enter upon the desperate course which the latter seems resolved to attempt. Without Peels assistance, it is over with him. Meanwhile, the Duke is doing what he can: he has shown the most indecent haste to seize the seals of
the Secretaries of State, and even sent for their Cabinet keys on Monday last, immediately after the Council. There is much more the appearance than the reality of vigour in this, and it simply disgusts people, even those who are against us. But it is in keeping with the political character of a man who has discovered that a large Church reform is necessary, and who has found a worthy supporter in that profligate and perfidious journal the Times.” Hard language for His Highness as for the newspaper! I question whether the Times was ever so cordially detested as it was by the Melbourne Whigs.
Peel returned, and took the reins of Government. Parliament was prorogued on the 18th December, and dissolved on the 30th. The dissolution had been anticipated, and prepared for by the Reform party. On the 21st November 1834 Drummond wrote as follows to his brother John :
“ We consider the dissolution inevitable, and are preparing accordingly. The accounts from the country and from our friends are very satisfactory. They are preparing quietly, but actively and energetically, for the approaching election. The same will be done in Scotland. It is from the north, from Scotland and Lancashire, that the spirit will come. I hope Mr Maclaren will not attack the Radicals at the present moment. It is quite true what he says; but they are sensible of their errors, and this is not the moment to exasperate, but to soothe and conciliate. If there are any district committeerooms to which you would wish the Chronicle or Globe to be sent, let me have the names, and it will be done. The Chronicle advances rapidly, so does the Globe. The Times quails and wavers, as such a miserable deserves to do.
I wrote to the Lord Advocate yesterday; pray tell him that I had a long conversation to-day with Mr Abercromby, who thinks the greatest caution must be observed, to prevent its being supposed that any committee is formed for the purpose of managing the