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parsons (excuse me) it can be no source of permanent gratification to see the town fall back into the slough in which it had been for so many years wallowing when we pulled it out. I have, at any rate, baulked them of the saturnalia which they had promised themselves, and I hope exonerated Mr. Huddlestone from the payment of the eighty-four bribes which I am told he had promised. Don't believe that I gave up too soon. It is the interest of those to say so who hope to get up a new contest, but I know better. Don't let such a thing take place if you can help it. It would only give them a triumph and enter the people anew in the taste of corruption. Si Pergama dextrá.
Very sincerely yours,
Notwithstanding Lord Sherbrooke's wish to relieve the future Baron Huddlestone of the trouble and expense of a contest for Kidderminster, the townsfolk were not to be baulked of what he called their saturnalia. Huddlestone was not only opposed by a local Liberal, but beaten. On the face of it this might seem to justify Lowe's friends, who thought that he should not have withdrawn from the contest; but this is a matter that can only be determined by knowing what were the election expenses of Baron Huddlestone and his successful rival.
A few days after his retirement from Kidderminster Lowe received a remarkable offer from the present Earl of Derby, then Lord Stanley, Secretary of State for India. Considering that their relation in the House had from the first been that of political opponents, and that on the very subject of India, they had taken opposite sides, and that even in his last Kidderminster speech Lowe had attacked the Tory Government unsparingly, the following letter redounds highly to the honour of both writer and recipient.
Lord Stanley to the Right Hon. R. Lowe.
23 St. James's Square: April 17, 1859. Dear Mr. Lowe,-I have a proposition to make to you which I sincerely hope you may find it compatible with your duty and private interest to accept. You are aware that by Mr. Peacock's acceptance of the Chief Justiceship there is a vacant seat in the
Council at Calcutta-that of the fourth, or legislative member, as he has always been called. It has often been debated whether this' office was necessary to be retained or not. Lord Canning has expressed a strong opinion that it is necessary for him to have in the Council, besides the Judges, a colleague versed in matters of law and legislation. The reasons which he assigns, and which I need not here repeat, are to my mind convincing. At the same time, it is important, in the actual state of India, that the new member of Council should not be merely, or principally a lawyer, but should understand thoroughly financial and general business. Practical ability and varied experience are the requisites for the office in question. It has become my duty to endeavour to find someone to fill it who is at once unconnected with the Indian services and yet not unacquainted with Indian affairs, who has legal knowledge and training without being exclusively a lawyer, who is a law reformer and to whom questions of trade, finance, and general administration will be tolerably familiar. If to these qualifications be added an intimate knowledge of public and Parliamentary feeling in cases where it will bear upon Indian legislation, the desired combination is complete. You will excuse me if I say that I know of no one person in whom these conditions are so fully satisfied as in yourself. The Bar and the India Board, the Board of Trade, Parliament, the Law Commission, have each contributed to give you the requisite information, and the feeling would be general, both in India and here, that your acceptance of the post now vacant would materially strengthen the local government. It is in that belief that (acting with the entire approval of Lord Derby and of Mr. Disraeli) I obtained the Queen's sanction to make you the offer of it; and that offer, for the sake of India, I earnestly hope you will accept.
It is needless to refer to our relative positions in English politics. India must always be neutral ground, even if the differences of English parties were not more factitious and personal than real and deep-seated. I am certain that no considerations of this kind will weigh with you. They have not prevented Sir Henry Rawlinson from accepting the Persian Mission, nor Sir Charles Trevelyan from undertaking Madras. I do not wish to press you for a decision, but at least you will, I am sure, not reject the offer I make without full consideration.
Very truly yours,
Lowe promptly declined Lord Stanley's proposal, but there can be no doubt that he greatly valued the personal
tribute it implied, coming from one of whose sagacity and judgment he ever entertained the highest opinion. Although he did not see his way to accept this appointment, he devoted much time and labour to the subject of Indian law reform, and was a member of the Commission of 1861; his colleagues being Sir John Romilly, Chief Justice Erle, Sir E. Ryan, Mr. Justice Willes, and Mr. J. M. Macleod. 'These gentlemen,' wrote Sir Henry Maine, 'have devoted much of a leisure which they could ill spare to the preparation of a code which, to judge from this first instalment, while it possesses all that is best worth keeping, and of most general application in English law, combines with it a simplicity of form and an intelligibility of statement which a French codifier might envy.'
While Lord Stanley was urging Lowe to go to India, Lord Lansdowne wrote to offer him his powerful support if he cared to represent Calne; and he also received an offer to stand for Birmingham. He conveyed all this exciting news as well as his decision in a letter of exemplary brevity to Canon Melville.
Robert Lowe to Canon Melville.
April 19, 1859.
My dear Melville,-You will be pleased to hear that in the same 24 hours I was invited to stand for Birmingham (expenses paid) against John Bright; to go out to India as Legislative Counsellor £8,000 a year; and to sit for Calne by Lord Lansdowne. I chose the last. So that Fortune has not wholly forgotten me. In haste. Very truly yours,
Sir W. Fenwick Williams, of Kars, had represented Calne in the last Parliament, but he retired at this time on accepting the post of Commander of the Forces in Canada. Lord Lansdowne at once proffered his influence to Mr. Lowe, should he care to stand in the Liberal interest for that small but ancient and historic borough. By accepting Lord Lansdowne's offer, Lowe subjected himself to the taunt of Bright that he
was merely the nominee of an influential nobleman, who could, had he chosen, have sent instead of an intellectual gladiator, his butler or groom into Parliament. In the heat of debate, Mr. Bright perhaps forgot that Mr. Gladstone, his own leader, owed his entry into the House of Commons entirely to the good offices of the Duke of Newcastle. Not only so, but in a memorable debate in 1859- the very year that Lowe was returned for Calne-Mr. Gladstone delivered a speech in which he pointed out that a number of the greatest parliamentary leaders, including Chatham, Pitt, Fox, Canning, and Peel, had all entered Parliament through these 'pocket' boroughs. For my part, I think that Lord Sherbrooke in all probability would have preferred to stand for Manchester or Birmingham rather than Calne, but for the unfortunate condition of his eyesight. As he himself explains, he felt his deficiency most in dealing with groups of men and strangers; in his own social circle, or even in the House itself, he could manage very well. It is true that the late Mr. Fawcett, who was totally blind after his twenty-fourth year, not only represented Brighton, but also Hackney, a populous London suburb; but then Mr. Fawcett was carried into Parliament on the crest of the Reform wave.
Had Robert Lowe in 1859 elected to contest either Manchester or Birmingham, he could only have hoped to succeed by a resolute and persistent canvass, and by coming into personal relations with as many of the electors as possible. This, I take it, he felt to be a task altogether beyond his powers. There were only two alternatives if he desired to continue his public career. The one was to find a comparatively small borough in which the majority of moderate men of both parties should unite to elect him, as was the case at Kidderminster for seven years; the other was to accept the support of an influential nobleman like the Marquis of Lansdowne, between whom and himself there was sufficient political agreement and personal esteem for the one to be able
to make the offer freely, and the other to be able to accept it without compromising his independence. These were absolutely the conditions under which Lowe consented to sit for the borough of Calne. It was inevitable that such pocket boroughs should be abolished; but, as Mr. Gladstone reminded the House of Commons in 1859, Chatham had sat for Old Sarum, Mr. Pitt for Appleby, and Mr. Canning for Newport; and, he might have said, himself for Newark. To this by no means ignoble band may be added Robert Lowe for Calne.
The Conservative party in the borough of Calne (of which the Rev. W. B. Jacob and Mr. T. L. Henley were prominent members) brought forward Captain Marshall, who made a canvass of the electors, but finding there was no chance of success, withdrew his candidature. The nomination took place in the Town Hall under the presidency of the mayor; Mr. Lowe having been duly proposed and seconded. A clergyman rose to put a question as to Mr. Lowe's view on marriage with a deceased wife's sister. The mayor, however, ruled that as there was but one candidate, such or any question must follow election. On that the reverend questioner proposed Mr. Henley, and the Rev. Mr. Fletcher seconded the nomination. This was done simply to secure the question about the deceased wife's sister being put before the election took place. On the Mayor inquiring of Mr. Henley whether he accepted the position, he replied that though very ignorant of parliamentary matters, yet if elected he would do his best. A large number of girls from Mr. Henley's flax factory were present, and on a show of hands taking place these held up both hands, which secured their employer a majority. A poll was demanded for Mr. Lowe, when this result was signally reversed, not more than twenty-six or twenty-seven votes being recorded for Mr. Henley.
As member for Calne, Lowe was naturally brought into more intimate relations with the Marquis of Lansdowne