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It can only be hoped that the Vice-President of the Board of Trade found himself invigorated and refreshed by his American trip; for, when Parliament reassembled (February 3, 1857), there was plenty for him to do. He had stirred up a veritable hornets' nest on the question of the shipping dues. Not content with this, he brought in a Bill, on February 6th, for the abolition of passing tolls, which affected four seaport towns whose harbours were regarded as harbours of refuge, viz.: Dover, Whitby, Ramsgate, and Bridlington. His proposals were, on this occasion, generally well received; but of course the members for those seaports, and others representing 'vested interests,' grew purple in the face in their denunciations. It was on this occasion that Viscount Galway warned his fellowmembers to beware of the reforming zeal of a Minister who could speak of their title-deeds as 'musty parchments.' At this time the greatest hostility and rivalry existed between the shipping interests and the railway companies, and, as Mr. Lowe regarded his office at the Board of Trade as a judicial one, constituted purely in the interests of the general public, he offended both. Accordingly, a combined attack was made, not on the Minister personally, but on the Board of Trade itself. The speech which Lowe delivered on June 4, in reply to these attacks, would be invaluable to an historian desirous of writing an account of the origin and development of that particular

department of the State. Mr. Lowe's chief opponent, the then member for Liverpool, had, in a blundering sort of way, given the House a history of its origin; but the obnoxious Minister had one of those encyclopædic minds which make their possessors so offensive to inexact or semi-informed people. The member for Liverpool had ventured on some historical reference derogatory of the Board of Trade in the time of Edmund Burke; whereupon Mr. Lowe had to inform him that that institution had nothing in common with the existing department of the State. The present Board of Trade, he pointed out, was not a board at all, but a public department, consisting of a President and Vice-President with their staff of trained officials. The Board of Trade in Mr. Burke's day, he said, consisted of eight members of Parliament (among whom was Mr. Gibbon), who received 1000l. per annum for doing nothing. No doubt the member for Liverpool and the other seaports must have thought that this was a very much more desirable state of things than to have a Minister who was always prying into abuses and upsetting monopolies.

In the course of his very thorough defence of his department, Lowe claimed for it, that it had been the grave of protection in 1840, when there went forth from it that invaluable evidence before the committee on the import trade, given by Mr. John Deacon Hume.' It was said that a peer and a lawyer were unfit to preside over the trade of the country. Lord Stanley of Alderley and himself did not pretend to do so; they were rather in the position of arbiters, and when a conflict arose between a powerful interest and a long-suffering public, they saw that justice was done. He instanced the subject of maritime insurance, quite in the spirit of Mr. Plimsoll; and very startling his remarks must have appeared, coming from the Treasury bench in those days. Who did not know, he asked, that maritime insurance engendered at least carelessness in the owners as to the manner in which ships were sent to sea? It very often happened that they were purposely

cast on shore when insured beyond their value; and it was for inquiring into these matters that the department came under the censure of ship-owning M.P.'s. The Board of Trade could also intervene in the public interest against trading companies and even against corporations. The Corporation of London had the power of taxing sea-borne, but not landborne, coal. The Corporation opposed every Bill for a railway with a terminus in London, and only withdrew its opposition upon the directors submitting to pay the same duty on coal brought by their line as was payable on sea-borne coal. This was effected by a series of private Acts of Parliament of which the public knew nothing, but by which the public interests were sacrificed. The Board of Trade then presented reports on private Bills, and of course those on whose toes they trod resented it. Thus he continued to give illustration after illustration. Briefly, the moral of his admirable speech being that the public might know that the Board of Trade was doing its duty when the monopolists began to cry out. On the whole it was considered that the Vice-President had made a very effective defence for his department.

As Sir Thomas Farrer declares, Lord Sherbrooke was then in the full vigour of his remarkable powers of intellect. I have already quoted his testimony as to the pleasure he felt in working under him at this time, owing to his keenness of mind and quickness of grasp. Sir Thomas, in a further analysis of his former chief's mental powers and idiosyncrasies, remarks that it was both a strength and a defect in his character to look at things, when he had made up his mind, as if there was only one side, and as if, having once established a principle, it was needless to go back to facts. But Sir Thomas admits that, while at the Board of Trade, Lowe took infinite trouble with the facts before he formulated his general principle. No one could well have been more painstaking over the merest detail. In those days, says Sir Thomas, he left no opposing topic in the dark.'

It was as a member of this reconstructed Palmerston Government, that Robert Lowe formed his friendship with Sir George Cornewall Lewis, who had succeeded Mr. Gladstone as Chancellor of the Exchequer at that very anxious time when our army was besieging Sebastopol. Although Sir George Lewis was a man of very different temperament and characteristics, he had much in common with Lord Sherbrooke, and there grew up between them a strong, mutual, life-long regard, based on their scholarly tastes and intellectual sympathies. One might, indeed, aver that Lord Sherbrooke had a greater liking and esteem for Sir George Cornewall Lewis than for any other public man with whom he was brought into intimate relations. This was very natural. They were both men of scholarly tastes; in fact, one would not be wrong in saying that they were in all probability the best-educated men in the House of Commons. Not only were they scholars in the classical sense of the term, but each took a profound and philosophic interest in human affairs--in the origin and progress of civilisation, in the rise and fall of nations, in short, in that widest field of speculation which may be termed theoretical politics. Although their range of thought and reading was so wide, they alike detested the intellectual Jack-of-all-trades, of whom Lord Brougham is perhaps the most conspicuous instance in our history. They were men of very diverse temperaments; Sir George Lewis was of a much more placid mind and of a less emotional nature. As he himself once said to a friend who was urging him on to some energetic course of action, 'No, I can't do it. The fact is, Wilson, you are an animal and I am a vegetable.' Lord Sherbrooke, with all his erudite scholarship and love of intellectual speculation, was, indeed, much more the man of action; he had much more driving power: The feeling that Australia was being made a permanent prison drove him on to the top of the vehicle in the pelting rain on the Circular Quay; his deep resentment against wrong and injustice made him sit up night after night to master the

case of Sir James Outram. One cannot imagine Sir George Lewis doing these things, at least not from the same overpowering feeling. Lowe's character was much less impassive, his whole life much more of a struggle, and there ran in his veins more of the true Berserker blood. But there was something in the cool, impartial judgment, and in the absence of all intellectual pretension, which attached him warmly to Sir George Cornewall Lewis. In a world where it is so difficult to arrive at the truth in any matter, where nine people out of ten are either dull and stupid, or biassed and bigoted, he felt it a great pleasure and solace to meet a man who discussed all subjects with such a fair and impartial mind, whose instincts were so uniformly good and kindly, whose knowledge was so thorough, and whose tastes and habits were so simple and so elevating. Lord Sherbrooke, in his brief autobiography, records with evident satisfaction that his dear and lamented friend, Sir George Lewis, used to say that if he were to be cast away on a desert island I was the associate whom he would choose.'

The Palmerston Government in which Sir George Cornewall Lewis was a much more conspicuous member than his friend, was now tottering to its fall. This catastrophe can in no way be attributed to its Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is hardly possible to imagine a Finance Minister with a more difficult task than that which Mr. Gladstone handed over to Sir George Lewis. He had to raise the money somehow for the Crimean war, the heaviest drain on the resources of the exchequer since Waterloo,' writes Walter Bagehot. That eminent financial authority states that Sir George Cornewall Lewis managed to borrow without undue charge to the State, and with that immediate success which sustains the credit of the State and secures a prestige in the money-market.'

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Hardly were we at peace in the Crimea than we drifted into hostilities with China, which proved the temporary downfall

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