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to number among my supporters. In looking over this address, I am pained to recognise the names of many persons who have received severe injuries in the attempt to protect me, and of some others whose property has suffered considerable damage. I am happy to take this occasion of returning my sincere thanks for services so invaluable rendered at so heavy a sacrifice, and to express a hope that those who rendered them may never again be called upon to suffer anything on my account. I know not the motive of the attack upon me, but one effect I beg to assure you it will not have, so long as I retain the confidence hitherto extended to me by my constituents, no menaces of physical violence will deter me from again soliciting their suffrages or induce me to change my resolution to stand by them so long us they are willing to support me. Very fortunate should I esteem myself if, as I have already in some degree united moderate men of all parties in political concord, so I could also be, if not the cause, at least the occasion of a similar union for the purpose of carrying instruction and civilisation among those classes in the borough which recent events have shown to be so deplorably in need of both. Once more thanking you for your kindness,
I remain, Gentlemen,
Your obedient and faithful servant,
It has been said that it was the stones that rattled on Lord Sherbrooke's head at Kidderminster which made him ever afterwards so determined an opponent of the extension of the franchise. We have only to turn to the preceding chapter, and to note his deep distrust of the system of universal suffrage in America to realise that this is another popular delusion. To be sure, the experience of having one's head cut open, and being yelled and cursed at by a mob of three or four thousand men and women, was not calculated to remove any preconceived bias against democracy. But Robert Lowe was, as Professor Bryce recognises, at bottom a philosopher; he was an earnest student of cause and effect, and therefore his convictions and opinions were never based merely on the personal accidents that befell him in life. The Kidderminster riots, like the low standard of morality in struck him in America, no doubt increased his dread of mob
public men which
rule; but they in no wise caused it, and had, indeed, no effect in shaping his political creed.
Mrs. Chaworth Musters, Lord Sherbrooke's favourite niece, whose opinion on the subject is of value, being based on intimate personal knowledge, thinks that her uncle's rooted dislike of mobocracy arose from a scene of which he was a witness in his early manhood. It must have occurred about the same time as that very similar incident in which Tennyson bore a part, as he tells us in one of his later poems.
For lowly minds were maddened to the height
By tonguester tricks,
And once I well remember that red night
All flaming, made an English homestead Hell-
Have helpt to pass a bucket from the well
Along the line.
Mrs. Chaworth Musters thinks that the scene of the sacking of Colwick Hall at the time of the Reform Riots of 1831 by the Nottinghamshire mob made an indelible impression upon her uncle. She writes: My predecessor, Mrs. Musters (Byron's Mary), a dearly loved neighbour of the Lowes, was at Colwick at the time in very bad health, and was carried out into the wet shrubbery while the house was set on fire. My father and uncle walked over the next day, and I have no doubt the whole scene helped to strengthen my uncle's horror of mobocracy. The poor lady died three months afterwards at her house near Bingham, where I now live.'
It is not to be disputed that such an event brought so immediately under his notice must have profoundly affected Robert Lowe, then a young man of twenty. But it is also quite clear that it did not mould the anti-democratic convictions of his later life. The sacking of Colwick Hall was in 1831; but there was no more ardent supporter of Lord Grey's Reform Bill of 1832 than the younger of the two brothers who had witnessed that scene of destruction. No! we must
go deeper, to the very constitution of his mind and roots of his being, to understand the profound dislike and distrust of democracy which the late Lord Sherbrooke so prominently displayed.
Just after his death, one of the oldest of his official friends specially directed my attention to the article which appeared in the Standard (July 28, 1892). He underlined two sentences, and remarked that whoever wrote them was a clever man who had fathomed Lowe's character and had given the key to his political career. The passage ran thus: In an age in which even the wisest and the noblest apparently deemed it their duty to burn incense on the altar of Democracy, Robert Lowe held fast to the old gods, the old creed, the old ritual. He was an aristocrat to the core, in no class signification, but in the solid and substantial sense that he believed in Government by the best, and utterly disbelieved in the sagacity or superior wisdom of the crowd.'
This is no doubt profoundly true; but I would like to add one further remark. Much as Lord Sherbrooke detested the perpetual tinkering of our Constitution in a democratic direction, and purely to suit the exigencies of contending factions, he was probably less influenced by class feeling and social prejudice than any English statesman of the time; while, as a Minister, he was the most active of reformers in every department of the State over which he was called to preside. In his eyes character and merit should be the sole passport to power and promotion, and with never a thought of tickling the ears of the groundlings, he urged with rare force and eloquence, and on more than one occasion, that our army could never be in a sound state until the private carried in his knapsack the field-marshal's baton. He was, as the Standard points out, a believer in the government of the best; an unpopular doctrine, but one in which he is upheld by most of the great and notable Englishmen of the age outside the mere parliamentary arenaby such men as Carlyle and Tennyson, Froude and Arnold.
But in his effort to promote and reward character and merit altogether apart from favour and family, Robert Lowe was more thorough and consistent than any of these distinguished men of letters, and distinctly in advance of any English statesman of his time.
IN AND OUT OF OFFICE
Sir James Outram and the Mutiny-The East India Company-Defeat of Palmerston-Gladstone's Mission to the Ionian Islands-The Kidderminster Addresses-Retirement from Kidderminster-Lord Stanley's Offer-Friendship of Lord Lansdowne-Elected for Calne-Macaulay and Seward
AFTER the unpleasant ordeal at Kidderminster, Robert Lowe resumed his place at the Board of Trade. So overwhelming was Palmerston's victory at the polls, that he and his colleagues might well have been justified in thinking they would remain in power for some years; but it is always the unexpected that happens. As a matter of fact, they were out of office in less than a year, blown to pieces, as it were, by the explosion of Orsini's bomb in Paris. Before Lord Palmerston's untimely defeat, however, on the Conspiracy to Murder Bill (February 19, 1858), the Government had to face its gravest responsibilities in the suppression of the Mutiny and the re-conquest of India. After Lucknow, Sir James Outram could never again be at the mercy of jealous officials and ill-conditioned scribes. Robert Lowe had read the man aright-his deeds, and still more his character, would have inspired the pen of Plutarch. Unfortunately, the correspondence that is known to have passed between Lowe and Outram during the Mutiny cannot be found. One large box containing Sir James Outram's letters of this period was lost and has never been recovered; among them were a number of Lord Sherbrooke's.