‘History’, says Lord Acton *, ‘is better written from letters than from histories.’ In The Panmure Papers the historical student will find given to the world, for the first time, the correspondence of a Sovereign with her War Minister during the course of a great modern war. Out of nearly two hundred letters of Queen Victoria which the editors have been graciously permitted by His Majesty the King to print, less than a dozen have been already published in The Letters of Queen Victoria, 1837-1861, edited by Mr A C Benson and Viscount Esher.† The remainder are so far unpublished, and are, we venture to say, of the utmost interest in illustrating, not only Her Majesty’s profound sympathy with her Army in its seasons of suffering and of triumph, but her close attention to the minutiæ of the War Department and the details of its administration. Second only to these in interest are the letters of his Royal Highness the Prince Consort, revealing as they do the breadth of intellectual view and the high sense of duty of one whose services to the nation were too early lost and too late appreciated. Lord Palmerston’s letters may be said to illustrate the principle that, to the successful carrying on of a great war, the personal interest of the Prime Minister in the affairs of the War Department is essential. Of Lord Panmure’s own letters it is enough here to say that, in addition to the new light thrown by them upon the Crimean War, and especially upon the period following the close of Kinglake’s authoritative work — as, for instance, by the plans for the continuation of the war in the summer of 1856 — they will be found to touch on many questions not uninteresting to the military student at a time of development and remodelling in the Army. The papers here published have been selected from a vast mass of material, much of which has necessarily been sacrificed to the considerations of continuity of narrative and of events which have retained their interest for the general public.
The Editors desire to express to the representatives of the writers of the letters their thanks for permission to print the same.
* Historical Essays, p. 506.
† Murray, 1907.
THE ancient family of Maule is one which from the historian’s point of view has enjoyed exceptional advantages; for, as far back as the end of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth centuries, two accomplished members of that family devoted themselves to the compilation and illustration of the history of their house. Mr. Harry Maule of Kellie, a younger son of George, second Earl of Panmure, and his son, James Maule, combined ardour in research with a remarkable erudition, and with a degree of critical discrimination, which in their day were rare, and it is mainly owing to their labours that the archives of Panmure can be characterised as among the ‘fullest and most considerable in Scotland.’1 In indicating as briefly as possible the outline of the family history, we shall be guided by the documents collected as above.
The family of Maule, then, is stated to be of French origin, the first member of whom record survives being Ansold, Lord of Maule, near St. Germain; who, in the year 1015, made a donation to the Priory of St. Martin des Champs at Paris. Second in succession from the above was another Ansold, whose great wealth obtained for him from the ecclesiastical historian, Ordericus Vitalis, the designation of ‘the rich Parisian.’
In 1076, his son and heir, Peter, Lord of Maule, grants the two churches of the village of Maule to the monks of St. Evroult in Normandy. In 1098 Peter with his sons defended his castle of Maule against an assault by William Rufus. In 1106 he died, and in 1398, by the marriage of the heiress of Robert, its last lord, the French house of Maule became merged in that of Morainvilliers.
Meantime, the founder of the English branch of the family was a son of Peter, Lord of Maule, named above, who, having accompanied William the Conqueror to England, received from him the lordship of Hatton de Cleveland in Yorkshire, together with much other land in the conquered country.
In the reign of Henry I., Robert and Stephen de Maule make a grant of the church of Hatun of Cleveland, with its pertinents, to the Abbey of St. Hilda at Whitby.
During the struggle between the adherents of King Stephen and those of the Empress Matilda, Scotland continued to attract many settlers from the south, and it is believed to have been at this period that the above-named Robert de Maule migrated to the Court of King David I., from whom he received a grant of lands in Lothian. Robert Maule’s second son, by name Roger, continued the family in the male line.
About the year 1224, Roger’s grandson, Sir Peter Maule, married Christina de Valoniis, of Panmure, the heiress of another Norman family, whose grandfather, Philip de Valoniis, had been High Chamberlain of Scotland, and had received from William the Lion a grant of the manors of Panmure and Benvie. And from this time on, says the family historian, ‘the succession is abundantly clear, and every link is established by the family papers.’ Accepting this assurance, we refrain from tracing categorically the successors of Sir Peter Maule and his wife, as they appear during the centuries immediately following, figuring as granters of tacks and charters, and in other legal instruments.
In the earlier part of the fifteenth century, Sir Thomas Maule, claiming through the De Barclay family, established his right as heir to the lordship of Brechin.
In 1547 Robert Maule, having opposed the match between Edward of England and Mary of Scotland, was made prisoner by the English whilst defending his house of Panmure, and underwent a term of confinement in the Tower. Of him and of his eldest son, Thomas, born in 1521, of their characters and adventures both in warfare and the hunting-field, the family MS. furnishes accounts which are highly picturesque and interesting.
In the seventeenth century, Patrick Maule was a Gentleman of the Bedchamber to King James I. and his successor. In 1646, in consideration of long and faithful service to these sovereigns, his son, a second Patrick, was created a peer by the title of Earl of Panmure, Lord Brechin and Navar.
Lord Panmure shared the King’s captivity at Holmby and Carisbrook, and, dying in 1661, was succeeded by his son George, who had fought for Charles II. at Dunbar and Inverkeithing, and who now carried out his father’s intention of rebuilding the house of Panmure — a work which was supplemented by his eldest son and immediate successor.
True to the Stuart traditions of his family, James, the fourth earl, who had succeeded his elder brother, opposed the settlement of the Crown on William and Mary, and having declined to take the oath of allegiance on their accession, never again appeared in the Scottish Parliament.
In the Jacobite rising of 1715, he himself proclaimed King James VIII. at the market-cross of Brechin, fighting for him at Sheriffmuir, and being taken prisoner. Having been rescued by his brother, Harry Maule of Kellie, of whom mention has already been made, he entertained the Chevalier at Brechin Castle. But his adherence to the Stuarts cost him dear; for, being attainted of high treason, his honours and estates were forfeited to the Crown, and he himself was driven into exile. To him succeeded his brother Harry, who, though as stout a Jacobite as himself, nevertheless contrived to obtain a lease of the forfeited estates of Panmure and Brechin from the purchasers.
Harry Maule had improved a period spent in exile by prosecuting his studies in the Law of Nations and the Canon Law of the Church, in both of which he was deeply versed, and had likewise conducted an extensive correspondence with the leading Jacobites. His elder son, James, sometimes styled Lord Maule, had inherited his studious tastes, and assisted him in collecting and arranging the documents illustrative of the family history. But, James having predeceased him, he was succeeded by his younger son, William, who restored the honours and estates of the family.
Having entered the Army, and served at the battles of Dettingen and Fontenoy, William Maule became a General Officer, represented Forfarshire in Parliament, and in 1743 was created a Peer of Ireland by the title of Earl of Panmure of Forth. In 1764 he bought back the forfeited estates in Forfarshire for a nominal price, a feeling of honour and of consideration restraining others from bidding against him. He died unmarried in 1782, when his title became extinct.
The succession was then continued by the family of Jean, his sister, the eldest daughter of Harry Maule of Kellie, who had married George, Lord Ramsay, eldest son of William, fifth Earl of Dalhousie.
Thus, on the death of the Earl of Panmure, in 1782, the Panmure estates were inherited by his nephew, George, eighth Earl of Dalhousie, the second son of the above marriage; and on the death of the eighth earl, in 1787, they were vested, in terms of a deed of entail,2 in his second son, the Honourable William Ramsay, who thereupon assumed the name and arms of Maule of Panmure.
A lad of fifteen when he inherited the Panmure estates, William Maule in due course became a cornet in the 11th Dragoons, but left that regiment to raise an Independent Company, which, however, was soon disbanded. From 1796 to 1831 he represented the county of Forfar in Parliament, and in the latter year was created a Peer of the United Kingdom, by the title of Baron Panmure of Brechin and Navar. In 1794 he married Patricia Heron Gordon, daughter of Gilbert Gordon of Halleaths, in Dumfriesshire, by whom he had a family of seven daughters and three sons.
The eldest son, who, on the death of his father in 1852, became the second Baron Panmure, and is the subject of this memoir, was born April 22, 1801, and was christened Fox as a compliment to Charles James Fox, the Man of the People, for whom his father, the first Liberal of his family, and an approver of the principles of the French Revolution, cherished an enthusiastic admiration. This incident led to the following interchange of letters.
ST. ANNE’S HILL, Wednesday, September 16, 1801.
SIR,—I learn from a friend in Scotland that you have done me the great honour of naming your eldest son after me. Such a circumstance, from a person of your distinction, to whom I had not the happiness of being personally known, can only be owing to your approbation of my general conduct; and in this view allow me to return you my warmest thanks for this very honourable testimony. The esteem which I feel for the character you so universally bear makes me justly set the highest value on it.—
I am, with great regard, sir, your most obedient servant,
To the above Mr. Maule replied as follows:—
BRECHIN CASTLE, October 11, 1801.
SIR,—I had the honour to receive your letter. Had I been personally known to you, I would not have named my son after you without having previously solicited your consent. Respect for your public and private virtues, and the high estimation in which I have always held the exertions you have made in the cause of humanity and in defence of public liberty, contrasted with the conduct of your opponents, were certainly my motives, and I am much gratified to find that my having done so meets with your approbation.—I have the honour to be, sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,
Fox Maule was educated, first at a private school at Clapham, and afterwards at Charterhouse, where he had George Grote, Connop Thirlwall, and Henry Havelock as schoolfellows — all of them destined to distinction in after life. Throughout life he remained warmly attached to his old public school, of which in due course he came to be appointed a Governor, being the first Nonconformist Governor the school had had since the days of Oliver Cromwell.
The happiness of his school-life was, however, by no means unalloyed, and it is regrettable to have to acknowledge that his troubles were due to a difference of opinion with his father. The painful episode may be told as briefly as possible; to omit it entirely would be unjust to the son.
As a public man, then, William Maule was by no means lacking in gifts and qualities. Indeed he was, in his own day, a very powerful and conspicuous personality. To the tenants of his large estates he was a liberal landlord, and throughout Forfarshire generally he enjoyed great personal popularity. But his strong character was undisciplined, and his temper overbearing, and, when crossed, ungovernable. In the tradition of the county where most of his long life was passed, he now survives as the last of an old school of country gentlemen who were notorious mainly for their hard living. A contemporary has described him, not ill-naturedly, as follows:—
‘His ample fortune, his profuse hospitality, his capacity beyond others to endure convivial excesses with impunity, above all, his joyous, cordial, affable manners, which diffused cheerfulness wherever he went — these were points on which he stood elevated and alone, without rival or competition, in these northern regions. If his conduct was not in all respects equable and exemplary, it might fairly enough be questioned, what models were there for his guidance, or to what canons could he have referred? Our doctrines of morals, politics, and religion had become very confused and problematical in those days.’3
It is, of course, true that the moral tone of the Regency period was, to say the least of it, not a high one; nor must we forget that it was the misfortune of the first Baron Panmure that, having long survived such of his contemporaries as Fox and Sheridan, his conduct should be judged by the more rigid standard of a later day. In the vices of drunkenness and a ruinous extravagance he at least did not participate; none the less it would be idle to pretend that his domestic character was such as commands admiration. The glimpses of his old age at Brechin Castle afforded by the private letters of his second son — when, in enfeebled health, but still surrounded by a little court of parasites and sycophants, he continued to make head against the world — are grim and repellent in an unusual degree. But these belong, of course, to a much later period than we have yet reached. Suffice it here to say that between William Maule and his wife an estrangement arose, the circumstances which led to it being as follows: Whilst Mr. Maule was in London, attending to his duties as a member of Parliament, Mrs. Maule, who was a very beautiful woman and had been brought up in strict Presbyterian principles, remained in Scotland, devoted to the care of her youthful family. There reports of her husband’s life in town were brought to her, which led her to leave his house and take up her abode with relations of her own in Ireland. The incident was in every way regrettable, but perhaps the chief sufferer from it was the eldest son of the marriage. Highly incensed at this unforeseen desertion, Mr. Maule visited his eldest son at school and put the following alternatives before him: If he would consent to take his father’s side and to cease from communication with his mother, he should be allowed in the meantime every advantage befitting his position and would eventually be given a seat in Parliament; but if, on the other hand, he continued to see his mother, all he should receive from his father would be a commission in the Army with an allowance of £100 a year. It was a cruel choice to force upon a boy of fifteen or sixteen years. But with a spirit which would have been admirable in any one, Fox replied that he did not see that his mother had been to blame, and announced his intention of standing by her. The father’s nature is revealed in the relentlessness with which he carried out his threat. During the five-and-thirty years of life which yet remained to him, he never once saw his eldest son again — and this in despite of dutiful efforts made by the latter, at a later date, to bring about a reconciliation. And, as regards money matters, it is enough to state that — the decision in an action against his father which he had carried in the Scotch Courts having been reversed in the House of Lords — until he was fifty-one years of age, when his father died, Fox Maule continued to subsist as best he could upon a yearly income of £1000, raised, together with a sum of £10,000 paid down, on a post-obit from the Jews.
After leaving Charterhouse, young Maule, in his altered circumstances, pursued his studies in the University of Edinburgh until 1819, when he received an ensign’s commission in the 79th Highlanders. At that date his uncle, George, ninth Earl of Dalhousie, a general officer who had served with distinction in the Peninsular War, had recently been appointed Governor-General of Canada. He attached his nephew to his staff as aide-de-camp, and in Canada Fox remained during his uncle’s tenure of office. But though affairs in that colony were then ripening for the rebellion of a few years later, the military outlook generally was not at that time stimulating, and after twelve years’ service in the Army he retired with the rank of captain. In later years,, when holding the offices of Secretary-at-War and Secretary of State for War, he was often heard to declare that his practical experience of soldiering was of the greatest advantage to him in the performance of his official duties. Meantime, having in 1831 married Montagu, eldest daughter of the first Lord Abercromby, and grand-daughter of the famous Sir Ralph of that name, who was killed at the battle of Alexandria, he took up his abode at Dalguise in Perthshire, and looked forward to leading the life of a country gentleman — a life, by the way, which his inherited love of sport rendered peculiarly attractive to him. With this project, however, circumstances were destined to interfere as follows.
Whilst at Dalguise he had formed a close friendship with Lord Glenorchy, eldest son of the fourth Earl and first Marquis of Breadalbane. Glenorchy was at that time the accredited Whig candidate for the parliamentary representation of Perthshire, and into his friend’s electioneering campaign Maule, who was by conviction a strong Liberal, soon entered heart and soul. So it happened that when, in 1834, Lord Glenorchy, on the death of his father, succeeded to the peerage, his energetic lieutenant was selected to take his place as candidate, and, the General Election coming early next year, Fox Maule was duly elected member for the county, defeating the sitting member, General Sir George Murray, a nominee of the Mansfield family.
In parliamentary history the early months of 1835 are memorable on account of Sir Robert Peel’s short-lived Ministry, and the gallant efforts made by their leader in the face of overwhelming difficulties. Maule’s maiden speech was spoken in the debate on the Address, when, in supporting the amendment moved by Lord Morpeth, he defended, ‘with warmth and eloquence’ says the Times, the changes introduced by the Reform Act into the electoral system of Scotland. And here it may be observed that, though making no pretension to the higher gifts or achievements of the orator, throughout his parliamentary career Maule spoke at all times readily and to the point, whilst exhibiting a full and business-like knowledge of the details of his subject.
In the following March he spoke in support of the motion of Mr. Poulter,4 for leave to bring in a bill for ‘protecting the voter in the free exercise of his franchise.’ Early in April the Peel Ministry fell, and on the consequent formation of Lord Melbourne’s second Administration, Fox Maule was appointed to the office of Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department. His parliamentary experience was at the time very brief, but obviously he had already succeeded in impressing his colleagues favourably. His new appointment brought him into close association with Lord John Russell, then Home Secretary and leader of his party in the Commons, between whom and himself a friendship was begun which lasted until Maule’s death. With Lord John, too, during the coming years, he carried on a constant correspondence, of which, however, only Russell’s letters have been preserved among the Panmure Papers. These deal, as was to be expected, with very multifarious subjects, including the enrolment of special constables, the improvement of Newgate and erection of other prisons, the mitigation of Criminal Laws, the Poor-Law Bill, the Scottish University Commissioners, the Scottish Church Commission, and Crown Teinds. And in reference to the subjects last named, it appears that Lord John was already beginning to turn his subordinate’s local knowledge to account, for, in a letter dated September 6, 1836, he exhorts him to inform himself as much as possible ‘of all matters referring to the Government of Scotland.’ Lord Melbourne also turned to him for information upon Scottish affairs; and indeed, though the office of Secretary for Scotland was not created until a much later date, it is no exaggeration to say that at this time Maule was performing many of its functions. At the same time, in his new capacity, there frequently devolved on him the duty of defending the conduct of Ministers, a task of which he acquitted himself consistently with credit. In 1835, whilst moving for leave to bring in a bill for modifying the Game Laws of Scotland, he had taken occasion to declare that he ‘would always advocate the interests of the poorer classes and do his best to redress their grievances,’ and it can scarcely be considered fanciful to reflect that the lessons of oppression had not been thrown away upon himself.
At the General Election which followed the death of King William IV. in 1837, Mr. Maule lost his seat in Perthshire, being defeated by Lord Stormont; but next year he was chosen as member for the Elgin Burghs, a constituency which he continued to represent until 1841. On his re-election to Parliament, he had resumed his former position in the Home Department under his former chief. But on August i8, 1839, Russell writes to him as follows:—
‘I wish to tell you most confidentially that it is most likely I shall exchange offices with Normanby.5 I wish much to know whether, in that case, you would prefer to remain in the Home Office or to go to the Colonial.6 Of course I should like to have you with me, but, looking to your acquaintance with Home Office business, and standing in the House of Commons, it would be a serious injury to my successor to carry you away with me. However, tell me what you feel about it.’
Chiefly from unwillingness to sever his connection with Scottish business, and, as his draft reply puts it, ‘the more immediate knowledge of what was doing in that respect,’ he decided to remain at the Home Office; and accordingly, so long as Lord Normanby held the office of Home Secretary — that is, from 1839 to 1841 — he continued in his post, having the advantage of such advice and assistance as Lord John Russell could find time to give him.
Comprising, as it did, a portion of the Chartist Agitation, this period was one of great importance and great stress in home affairs.
The autumn of 1838 will be remembered as the time when the Chartist Movement began to excite apprehension in the country. In the December following, it was found advisable to issue a proclamation forbidding torch-light processions, and throughout the year 1839 the correspondence of the Home Department is much occupied with Chartism. Thus, in April, a letter is addressed by the Home Secretary to the Lords-Lieutenant of Monmouthshire and six other English counties, enjoining watchfulness against unauthorised drilling, suspicious meetings, or illicit traffic in arms. Then additional military force is ordered to suspected districts, the services of country gentlemen and farmers who have formed themselves into an association for the preservation of peace are accepted, and these are furnished with pistols and cutlasses; arms are likewise sent out for pensioners and special constables, and seizure of ammunition and the payment of costs incurred in prosecuting Chartists are authorised. Later on, there are issued instructions to troops on the march in the event of their coming in contact with armed bodies, whilst the conduct of magistrates who have been active in suppressing disorder receives commendation. Notwithstanding preventive measures, however, a letter addressed by Lord Melbourne to Fox Maule on November 5 of that year announces ‘a serious outbreak in Monmouthshire and several lives lost.’ This refers, of course, to the attempt made on the previous night, under the leadership of Frost, an ex-justice of the peace, to deforce the gaol of Newport and effect the release of Henry Vincent and other Chartists.
To the debate of January 28, 1840,7 Maule contributed a speech on Chartism, which is an able and telling piece of special pleading, and from which a few extracts may serve the purpose of giving an idea of the speaker’s style and manner in Parliament. After explaining the appointment to the Commission of the Peace of Frost, and of a Mr. Muntz, of Birmingham, who had been accused of being implicated with the Chartists, he proceeds to the following review of the conduct of his party in regard to Chartism:—
‘I have endeavoured to trace, as far as I can, the origin of Chartism. It had its public birth in the summer of 1837, at a meeting of the Working Men’s Association, held at the Crown and Anchor Tavern in the Strand, at which resolutions were passed in favour of Universal Suffrage. Some parts of the Charter were then adopted. On the 11th of August 1838, it was adopted by the Political Union of Birmingham, and six weeks afterwards several speeches were made, in which expressions were used, and opinions savouring of disaffection avowed, and dangerous doctrines promulgated. On looking back, I find that there was no alarm existing in the country with reference to Chartism till the beginning of November 1838, and the Government have been accused of neglecting the information which was then, and which has been since afforded to it, and, by its inertness and inactivity, encouraging the growth of that of which I, in common with every member of the House, and in common with the bulk of the people, deplore the existence.
In the month of November 1838 the first intimation was given to the Home Office of the disturbances and seditious meetings in the northern districts. In November 1838 a variety of correspondence took place between the Magistrates and the Home Office, in answer to the communications which were then made, informing the Magistrates how to act, and calling upon them to act with promptitude. On no one occasion since that time can the Magistrates complain of having failed to receive from the noble Lord, at present Secretary of State for the Home Department, or from the noble Lord now Secretary of State for the Colonies, the most direct aid, either by way of advice or of armed assistance, in any way that the Magistrates may choose to ask.’
He then goes on to assert that much of the so-called Chartist agitation is, in reality, anti-Poor-Law agitation,8 and to charge the Opposition with responsibility for the latter. Next he enumerates the preventive measures which we have already summarised, and claims that, if he can ‘demonstrate to the House and to the country that, without making any parade of coming down to ask for any extraordinary powers beyond the law, without spreading alarm in other districts, without resorting to any extra-ordinary course of severity, the disturbers of the public peace have not only been summoned to the bar of justice, but have been fairly tried and punished’ — if he can do this, then he will go far towards relieving the Government from the charge of any dereliction of its public duty, or of having given the slightest encouragement to outrage by its inertness and inactivity. After which, having proved these points, he proceeds to carry the war into the enemy’s country. It will be remembered that the disorders which had marked the distressful years of 1816 and 1817 had been met by very stern repressive measures — which measures were, of course, capable of being turned to account for the purposes of the present argument.
‘The Government of 1817,’ he continued, ‘came down to the House for extraordinary powers. They came down to Parliament for the Six Acts. The 19th Chapter of the 57th George III., under the pretence of being an Act for the more effectual prevention of seditious meetings, was in effect an Act passed for the purpose of suppressing public discussion altogether. Not content with these powers, they applied for the most extraordinary powers which that House could give to any Government — they applied for and obtained a suspension of the Habeas Corpus. God forbid we should ever live in times when a necessity for such a step should exist! As far as I can form an opinion of the circumstances which gave rise to that course, I must say that I look upon it as a most unnecessary and extraordinary stretch of the powers of the Government. They nevertheless rather defeated than advanced their own object; for they alarmed the country in a very great degree — they shook the confidence of the public — and they, moreover, held up to the country the most undesirable spectacle of bringing numbers of State prisoners to trial, against whom, either from the weakness of the charges, or from some other cause, no convictions were obtained.’
A comparison of the severity of 1817 with the self-restraint and economy of repressive means shown by the Government of 1839 then furnishes the orator with an effective contrast in favour of his party.
‘Now, when I contrast these proceedings of 1817 with what has recently occurred under circumstances very similar — when I look at the weakness of that Administration, as evidenced in the fact of so many cases which had been brought to trial having been dismissed in that abrupt manner9 — a dismissal which must very materially have affected public opinion at the time — when I advert to the number of convictions which have been obtained from juries in cases arising out of the recent disturbances — 232 convictions out of 290 committals — I cannot help being confirmed in my opinion that that Government best does its duty to the State which stands on the authority of the law as it exists, so long as it will suffice, and does not come down to Parliament for extraordinary power until the last resource has failed. Above all, it is most essential that Government should not bring men to trial for political offences without, at least, some satisfactory ground for concluding that conviction will follow, and that the prisoners will not be dismissed in triumph from the bar.’
Then, after a spirited denunciation of the employment of spies and paid fomenters of disorder, he declares that the present Government have no charge brought against them of this nature.
‘I have a right to go back to Tory times,’ he adds, ‘and it is only in the Tory times of 1817, 1818, and 1819, that I can find the Government coming down to the House to ask for extraordinary powers, and employing spies, whilst they also moved for secret and ex parte committees, in which the cause of the people was left entirely undefended. Such is the parallel between the Government of 1817, 1818, and 1819, and that of 1839.’
Excepting the masterpieces of a Burke or a Macaulay, the interest of even the most successful efforts in parliamentary oratory is generally remarkably short-lived. But the above summary may doubtless serve the purpose of showing that Maule had already at this date attained to the mastery of a vigorous, well-informed, and closely reasoned style of speaking, which explains his value to his party in debate, and the confidence reposed in him by them. As long before this as 1837 he had already taken upon himself to disclaim in Parliament, on behalf of the Scottish nation, all sympathy with the People’s Charter, and to declare that his countrymen were ‘true friends of peace and order.’
But though the Chartist movement was absorbing the lion’s share of attention during these years, it must not be concluded that domestic legislation was on that account brought to a standstill. This was by no means the case. The establishment of the Committee of Council on Education marked an important epoch in the history of public instruction in this country, the Custody of Infants Act redressed an injustice of long standing, and the severity of the Criminal Laws was mitigated by a sweeping reduction in the number of capital offences. Inquiries into the condition of the poor were also being carried on, and, in 1839-40 he passed through the House of Commons the English Police Act, brought forward ‘in order to induce counties to look after their own interests in the restriction of crime, instead of doing that which it was the universal practice in those days to do — making the British Army the police of the country.’10 In short, Fox Maule had ample opportunity of forwarding legislation of that useful and enlightened, or beneficent and humanitarian, type which most appealed to him.
The repercussion of Foreign Affairs was also making itself felt in his department. The seizure of Syria by Mohammed Ali, Pasha of Egypt, had led to an intervention on behalf of the Porte, in which England had taken part. Syria was restored to the Turkish Empire by a Convention signed in London in July 1840, Mohammed Ali being at the same time confirmed in his government of Egypt. But France, which had taken no part in the intervention of the Allied Powers, became thereupon so angrily suspicious of the designs of England upon Egypt that for a time war seemed imminent. An Association of persons calling themselves The Friends of Peace was consequently formed in the country, to protest against the war — which it did not always wisely. The following characteristic and level-headed letters, addressed by Lord Palmerston to Fox Maule, respectively on October 27th and 31st of this year, serve to throw light on the situation. In the first he writes :—
Foreign affairs look better. The retirement of Thiers11 makes Peace certain; but, in fact, there never has been for a moment any real danger of war, unless from the incautious manifestations of some of our friends of their anxious desire to cling to Peace at all conditions. The French armaments have been chiefly a system of Bully; for I cannot learn that when complete they will carry the French Army beyond its full Peace establishment.
In the second:—
I received by the post this morning, a cargo of these Handbills.12 Would it be possible to get any of our friends at Manchester to attend this meeting and oppose the Resolutions which may be proposed?
The line of argument to be taken would be, that we are all favourable to the Preservation of Peace, not only at the present crisis, but at all times; and that such a general declaration of opinion, being of the nature of a Truism, is useless unless it is to have a practical bearing upon the existing state of things. But what is that existing state of things, and how is it likely to bring on war?
The Four Powers are engaged in assisting the Sultan to recover one of his own Provinces, namely Syria, to which he has an indisputable right; and the recovery of which is necessary, to enable him to remain independent, and to keep Constantinople, the Bosphorus, and the Dardanelles in his own independent custody, without being under the Rod and Rule of any Foreign Power; but the Four Powers, in so doing, are not going to attack France, nor to injure any French interest which the French Government have hitherto avowed. How, then, is the execution of this Treaty to lead to war? Why, only in the event that France, in opposition to the principles she has laid down, and in disregard of the declaration she has made, should, without any provocation or just cause, attack the Four Powers, and make an aggressive war against them. But how will such resolutions as those which are to be proposed prevent France from so doing, and thus preserve Peace? If the danger of war arose from an intention on the part of England to invade or attack France, then, indeed, such resolutions as these might be useful as a check upon the Government of England; but, seeing that the danger of war, if any such danger still really exists, consists in a supposed intention of France to attack England, such resolutions as these could only render war more likely, by encouraging the Government of France to make war in consequence of a belief that the People of England would not defend themselves, but would submit to any terms which France might chance to impose as the Conditions of Peace.
Therefore, if the Proposers of this meeting really wish for Peace, the best way to preserve it would be either to have no meeting at all, or, if they will have a meeting, to resolve at such meeting that they hope the British Government will never draw the Country without provocation into a war with any Foreign Power, but that, if Foreign Power should without provocation make war upon England, the English Nation will know how to repel aggression and defend itself.
The Syrian crisis was tided over.
Early in 1840 Maule was appointed Vice-President of the Board of Trade, an appointment which, owing to the fall of the Melbourne Ministry in the following summer, he held for only about four months.
At the General Election of 1841 he was returned to Parliament for the city of Perth, which seat he held until his succession to the peerage in 1852. The Peel Administration lasted till 1846, and though throughout this period he spoke frequently on such subjects as the treatment of Chartist prisoners, the law in regard to chimney-sweepers, juvenile offenders, and capital punishment, the part which he took in general politics as a member of the Opposition was naturally less active than before. Two most important subjects were, however, engrossing his attention, and his views in regard to them serve to illustrate his progress in the direction of a more pronounced and independent Liberalism. The subjects were the Corn Laws and the Church of Scotland.
In 1841 Lord John Russell had already announced a concession to the views of the Free Traders in the shape of a fixed duty on wheat, and proportionally diminished rates on other cereals — a measure which is described by the Honourable Charles Gore, sometime Private Secretary to Lord John, in a letter to Maule, as being ‘an instalment merely, but still a necessary one, to give the farmers a warning, and to allow them to make other arrangements for the cultivation of their lands.’ But upon this point Maule’s views had been progressing more rapidly than Russell’s. The following letters are interesting as illustrating their divergence, and containing an eloquent appeal from the lieutenant to his nominal leader:—
CHESHAM PLACE, December 20, 1842.
MY DEAR MAULE,—I had here yesterday Palmerston, C. Wood, Baring, Duncannon, and Lord Minto. In this little anti-Cabinet it was agreed, on my proposition, that it would be advisable to propose an amendment, on the first day of the Session, praising the principles of the tariff of last Session, agreeing in the character of our acts given by the Crown at the prorogation, and declaring that we shall be ready to extend the same principles to articles on which there are still duties, either prohibiting, or so variable that they discourage trade, and injure the community.
This is all in the supposition of no move being made generally in the Corn Laws by Peel. It is a step that would force him to declare his intentions.
All this being premised, I wish, and those here wished, you to move the amendment During your short official career at the Board of Trade, you made an admirable speech on the subject in Scotland. Of course you might be as general as you pleased. I take for granted you would not pledge yourself to total and immediate repeal. And I trust you are still for a moderate fixed duty. 8s. might be too much in present circumstances. 5s. or 6s. I should think a fair compromise.
I have had some conversation with Lord Cottenham on the County Courts Bill, and I think either you or I should bring such a bill into the House of Commons.
You will dine with me, I hope, on the 1st of February, when I shall ask a few of the old stagers. . . .—
Yours very truly,
December 25, 1842.
MY DEAR LORD JOHN,—This being Xmas day, I shall begin my answer to your letter, which I received only yesterday, by wishing you and yours many happy returns of the season, and assuring you of the great pleasure it gave Mrs. Maule and myself to see Lady John’s confinement so prosperously got over.
Your proposal that I should move an amendment such as you sketch is extremely gratifying to me, as a mark of the friendship and confidence of those with whom it was my happiness to be associated in office; but, while I heartily concur in the tactics of such a step, I fear there are reasons which will be conclusive with you that I am not the proper person to take the lead in it. Perhaps while you and your former colleagues were adjudging me this honourable post, they did not recollect my course in Villiers’13 motion for the total and immediate repeal of the Corn Laws during last Session. I was then of opinion that these laws must ultimately be repealed, but I felt myself justified in declining to vote, as I was unwilling to rank myself in a division against those with whom I had acted in office. Since the prorogation of Parliament I have been anxiously watching the progress of this question, and have done my best to weigh the consequences of contending with the stream which is fast bearing the Corn Laws to an end, and the result of my observations is the conviction that those who struggle will struggle in vain; and, moreover, that the longer this question is agitated, the worse it will be for the landed proprietors in the country.
When you proposed a fixed duty of 8s. the country was prepared to compromise. It was not our fault that this was thrown overboard, and the only principle on which a duty on corn, if raised at all, should be raised, rejected. But so it has happened. Things are now more altered in a short space of time than one could have conceived, and what was considered fair in 1841 would be looked upon as oppressive in 1843, and it is my firm conviction that the circumstances and safety of the country demand — and I use this strong term advisedly — a repeal of the laws on corn. It is impossible to see the starving thousands in this country, whose miserable pittance is counted by 1⁄5ths of a penny, and not feel that every penny by which the price of meal is kept up by a corn law is cruel and abhorrent to all reason. The farmers in this country are beginning to find out that, as far as they are concerned, Corn Laws matter not.
The farm-servants are joining in the cry now almost universal for their repeal, and a short essay of Mr. Hope, an East Lothian farmer, which you will get with two others on the same subject at Ridgway’s, will show you how ably these men can treat upon this question.
That the Corn Laws are doomed I think no one can deny. Look at your own constituents and see how they are moving. Need I say how earnestly I could wish to see you lead them on in this great move, and make your name, already honoured as the mover of the Reform Bill, imperishable as the repealer of the Corn Laws. You will, I think, excuse me for dwelling so tiresomely on this subject, but I assure you I have not extended my views upon it rashly, nor without weighing well my own interest and that of others connected with land in this country.
I have accepted an invitation to join the Glasgow banquet in favour of Free Trade principles, where I imagine my opinions on corn will be called forth; and if, as I fear it may happen, they are too strong for you, then, as I said at the beginning of my letter, this is conclusive against my moving the amendment. This letter has grown too long, but I must add only one more sentence to say that I trust you will study in your amendment to rally as many Liberals round you as you possibly can.
I will be very glad to aid you in County Courts, and, as I believe I have all the records of our former bill, I may be of service to you.
I will certainly join you on the 1st, if you will have me still as an old stager?
To this Russell somewhat drily replies:—
December 29, 1842.
MY DEAR MAULE,—I am very sorry to hear of your adhesion to the extreme views of the Anti-Corn-Law League,14 but I quite agree that, in such circumstances, you would not be the best person to move the amendment.
Pray dine with me on the 1st, and if you and Cobden form a Cabinet, I will give you all the support I can.
Pray let me know, if you hear, whether Graham is still in treaty with the rebels of your Church. Yours truly,
Impartial readers will probably agree that Lord John’s posthumous reputation would have stood higher had he taken Maule’s advice. In the sequel the proposed amendment was dropped. The events of 1846 brought Russell’s views once more into line with those of Maule.
Simultaneously with the agitation for repeal of the Corn Laws, there was being carried on what has been described as the Ten Years’ Conflict in the Church of Scotland — a Controversy into which Maule eagerly threw himself, and in which he at once became a leader. The part played by him in this capacity is dealt with in detail, in the Supplementary Chapter, by one well qualified to speak upon the subject, so that it is here unnecessary to do more than generally indicate Maule’s course of action.
A member of the Church of Scotland, as Under-Secretary for State he had taken an important share in dispensing the patronage of that Church — a task which he had performed with conscientious care. When difficulties arose over the questions of the independence of the Church Courts and the right of patrons to appoint parish ministers without the concurrence of the congregation, he identified himself with the Evangelical and reforming party, whose spokesman and champion in Parliament he at once became, and which he continued to support by every means in his power through the crisis of the Disruption of 1843, and indeed to the end of his life.15
It was perhaps a matter of course that those opposed to him should question the purity of his motives in adopting this line — the strictures of these critics being pithily summed up in the words of a Forfarshire farmer, who, when characterising the public men of the day, was overheard to remark, ‘There’s my Lord Panmure: he disna care muckle aboot the Kirk; but it’s a graand poleetical engine!’ But against this view of the case we have the opinion not only of the late Principal Rainy, which might perhaps be open to suspicion of unconscious partisanship, but of Charles Gore, who at this time knew Maule as well as any man did, and who, in the extremely frank and often critical letters addressed by him to his friend, gives to that friend full credit for sincerity and singleness of mind in the course which religious conviction had led him to pursue.
His activity in Scottish affairs, combined with his advanced Liberalism, had by this time made the name of Fox Maule a name to conjure with in Scotland — at all times a forcing-house of Liberal ideas, — one typical result of his popularity with the rising generation of Scotsmen being that, in 1842, he was elected to the Lord Rectorship of the University of Glasgow, and was re-elected in the following year.
To return now to the Corn Laws, it was to these that was due the Ministerial Crisis of December 1845. The last two or three years had witnessed a remarkable development in the views upon this subject held by the respective party leaders, and, after the outbreak of the potato disease in Ireland, Peel had suggested, as a remedial measure, the opening of British ports to foreign corn. His Cabinet, however, declined to support him in this proposal. It was followed by an announcement on the part of Lord John Russell of his conversion to the doctrines of the Anti-Corn-Law League. On this, Peel, in his turn, improved upon his rival’s policy by deciding to recommend repeal. Failing, however, for the second time to carry the Ministers with him, on December 5th he gave in his resignation. The Queen then summoned Lord John, who endeavoured to form a Ministry.
LONDON, December 18, 1845.
MY DEAR MAULE, — I have only time to say that Lord John Russell will be glad to see you as soon as you can come to London. He has, as the papers will have told you, undertaken the Government, but is fixing in his mind its component parts, and I am for the moment his Private Secretary. — Ever yours,
Russell’s party was not at this time strong in the country, nor did he command a majority in the House of Commons; moreover, Peel had declined to bind himself by a promise of support on the Corn Law question. Still, as is shown by the following letter, it was less these things than the differences of his own followers which led Russell to despair of forming a Cabinet.
CHESHAM PLACE, December 20, 1845.
DEAR FOX MAULE,—We are not in office, Lord Grey having declined to act with Palmerston as Foreign Minister. This is sad, but it saves us from a dreadful position. — Ever yours truly,
Peel’s resignation consequently was not accepted.
In the earlier part of the following year the Corn Laws were repealed, Peel fell, and Russell returned to power.
July 2, 1846.
MY DEAR FOX MAULE,—I have the Queen’s permission to propose to you to accept the office of Secretary-at-War. I cannot offer with it the Cabinet, which is already more than usually full.—Yours truly,
Maule accepted this offer, and was thus embarked upon that work of Army Administration with which his name is most closely associated. Some three years later he was advanced to a seat in the Cabinet.
48 EATON SQUARE, November 27, 1849.
MY DEAR MAULE,—The proposal that you should enter the Cabinet was received with great applause, and I hope to meet you there to-morrow at half-past two. — Yours truly, J. RUSSELL.
This post he held till 1852, introducing many Army reforms, as chief among which he kept consistently in view the bettering of the conditions of the private soldier’s life. Thus, already in December 1846, his brother, Colonel the Honourable Lauderdale Maule of the 79th Highlanders, is able to write to him: ‘I see you have conferred a boon as to rations and marching-money on soldiers, and have also increased our wretched pittance of fuel; for these you have already our thanks.’ In the year following he brought forward a measure for revision of the Pension Warrant, with a view to increasing the soldier’s pension from a minimum of sixpence per day to eightpence — a proposal in regard to which the Queen graciously wrote, that it gave her ‘real pleasure’ to approve it. In the same year he regulated the management of military canteens, reducing the sale of spirits there, and proving, in a memorandum on the subject which he drew up, that he appreciated the idiosyncrasies of the private soldier and had his moral welfare at heart. The system of reliefs to regiments on foreign stations he likewise improved, keeping in view at once the interest of the soldiers themselves and those of the home government and the colonies. He also took the first practical steps towards the disuse of flogging in the Army, and introduced a bill which limited enlistment to a term of ten years. In regard to the latter, it is interesting to recall that the Duke of Wellington at first opposed it. And it was not until it had been proved to his Grace that his own reinforcements during the Peninsular War had been recruited under Windham’s Short Service Act,16 that his opposition was withdrawn. In addition to the above, a Warrant of Maule’s remodelled the Mutiny Act and the powers of Courts-Martial, and he was also the first to establish educational tests for the admission of officers to the Army.
He likewise already foreshadowed and advocated the consolidation of the Army Offices, and other departmental reforms which were, at a later date, adopted; but in bringing these forward he was fatally hampered by the influence of the Duke of Wellington, whose opposition to all military innovations is well known. These matters are referred to as follows in a Confidential Memorandum dated January 1850:—
‘Whatever the Ordnance Office may have been,’ he writes, ‘it is now notoriously a clog upon the Military Service. Its departments are cumbrous, its business is transacted in a complicated manner, its accounts are kept in an inferior way to those of other departments, and the impediments which obstruct one at almost every turn in transacting the commonest business with the Ordnance are proverbial in all departments that have to do with them. Reform is necessary and will come, in spite of all opposition or delay, whether arising from consideration for the feelings of old and distinguished officers, or an indisposition to touch the question. . . . I believe much economy would result from an entire combination of the Civil branches of the Army and Ordnance; but the Military Command of that branch of the Service, and the actual direction of all warlike services and operations should be left to Military Authority …’
And again, ‘What the House of Commons wants, and is resolved to have, is some one member of the Government, who shall be responsible to them for all military matters upon which public money is expended, or in the administration of which the public is concerned. Let the appointments, promotions, exchanges from corps to Corps, be considered functions of the prerogative, and be left, if it is thought more expedient, to be settled as at present; but the movement of the troops, their armament and equipment, their clothing, their medical attendance, — their lodging, and their food, are questions which the House of Commons will make their own, and which they are entitled to call on a Minister on his responsibility to explain.
My opinion is, so long as so large a portion of our annual expenditure is required for the Army and Ordnance, you must have a distinct and separate Minister who shall make it his business to look into all military matters; who shall be able, not only to check expense, but to issue the orders of the Government to the Commander-in-Chief’s Department from time to time; who shall direct the clothing, arming, lodging, medical attendance, and recruiting of the Army, making it his duty to issue orders on all these points and to see that they are efficiently and economically conducted. Let the patronage of the Army be left to the Commander-in-Chief and its strategy to its own officers, but let all other matters rest with a responsible Minister of the Crown. I foresee great difficulty in carrying out these views so long as the Duke of Wellington or Lord Anglesea live, as I should be sorry to do anything to disturb the setting sun of either gallant soldier, and I think that the House of Commons would not press changes likely to denude either, especially the Duke, of any of the dignity of his present position; but the change must come sooner or later, as it is founded on reason and constitutional principles.’
Probably these are not by any means the only instances which might be cited of the public service having been made to suffer out of consideration for a deserving individual. The subjoined letter, written when Fox Maule went out of office, shows that at least the Duke was not insensible to the consideration which had been shown him.
LONDON, February 25, 1851, 4 P.M.
MY DEAR SIR,—I am much concerned to learn from you that our official intercourse is finished. I assure you that I have derived the greatest satisfaction from the reflection that the efforts of both to render it useful to the public, as it was agreeably despatched, have been successful. —Believe me,
In the species of national panic which followed in this country the usurpation of the supreme power in France by Louis Napoleon, the question of National Defence assumed paramount importance. The Government, therefore, resolved to bring in a Bill intended to reconstitute the Militia, which had become practically extinct. Distrust of France had brought the matter to a head, but already for some time previously it had been engaging the attention of Maule and other members of the Ministry. Indeed, so long before as December 1847, Lord Palmerston had written as follows, in reference to a draft Bill on the subject.
December 18, 1847.
MY DEAR FOX MAULE,—If you will send me a copy of the proposed Militia Bill that was prepared by the late Government, I will have it printed at the printing-press in my office with as many copies as you may like. I think the Cabinet cannot properly consider what is to be done without having that plan before them.
My own view of the matter is simply this. The danger to be provided for is, that if war were to break out between England and France, quod Deus avertat, we should not be able, by any Naval means, to be sure of preventing the landing of 30,000 French Troops on the Southern coast of England within a fortnight after the rupture should have taken place; and what we want, therefore, is a very large Force, which, being partly dormant, but nevertheless to a certain degree trained, in time of Peace, might suddenly, and at ten days’ notice, start up at the approach of war, like the men of Roderick Dhu, and become an army capable of mixing in Quarters, in March, in Camp and in the Field, with the Regular Army. Such a Force must be very large in nominal establishment, because, from the nature of things, you must allow a large percentage deduction for men who will not be forthcoming on the day when they are to be embodied. Such a Force must be organised and trained like Regular Regiments, so that, when wanted, it may fall in with Regular Regiments without confusion and disorder. Such a Force must consist of men chiefly taken from the same classes in society of which Regular Regiments are composed, in order that it may be, in the habits and constitutions of the men who compose it, fit to endure the hardships and exposure to which, if it had to act, it would necessarily be liable. It should, in short, be in all respects as like Regular Troops as the nature of things will admit; and especially it ought, from the first day when it assembles for service, to be liable to be marched to any part of the United Kingdom where its service might be required.
Now, in my opinion, no volunteers or local force would at all answer these conditions. It would cost you nearly as much as a better description of force, and when the day of invasion came it would be totally useless. Moreover, the great value of such an army of reserve would be that the French, knowing that we had it, and were therefore prepared with an adequate force to meet and repel invasion, would probably never attempt invasion; but you may rely upon it that they would hold in no respect a force tied down to counties, or composed of attornies, shop-keepers, gentlemen’s servants, and the like.
The Volunteers of 1803 had a great effect from their immense numbers, added to Regulars and Militia, and from the manifestation which they displayed of the universal spirit of the nation; but 20 or 50,000 Volunteers, as a reserve for 15 or 20,000 Regulars, would be derided by Troops accustomed to the Kabyles and the Arabs of the Desert.—
The letter is not without special interest at the present time. And, as Palmerston had had suggestions to make for the draft Bill of 1847, so, when in February 1852 a Militia Bill was introduced into Parliament, he was its principal critic, being by this time out of office. The outstanding feature of the Bill was that it proposed to substitute a local Militia for the regular force then in existence.17 But it failed to stand against Lord Palmerston’s attack, and with it fell Lord John Russell’s Government.
Ere this, however, Fox Maule had ceased to be Secretary-at-War, the circumstances of his doing so being as follows. The East India Company’s Charter being about to expire, a readjustment of relations with our Eastern dependencies became imminent. Lord Broughton, 2 President of the Board of Control, had announced his retirement, and Sir James Graham had been thought of as his successor. But the capacity shown by Maule at the War Office, coupled perhaps with his near relationship to the Governor-General, recommended him for the appointment. The following comments taken from the Times of January 31, 1852, serve to illustrate the estimation in which the new President’s abilities were held. ‘Solve senescentem,’ remarks the leader-writer, referring to Lord Broughton, ‘he has left some heavy work to his successor in the construction of the new Bill for the government of India. That work devolves upon a man whose long habits of business, strong sense, and genial temper particularly qualify him for it. . . . The Indian Charter being about to lapse, something was necessary to be done, and Lord John has given the work to the best man for the purpose he could find in the existing Cabinet.’
At the end of two or three weeks, however, the fall of the Russell Ministry cut short his term of office at the Indian Board.
Two months later, by the death of his father, on April 13, 1852, he succeeded to the title of Baron Panmure. On the 8th of the month, his old leader had addressed him in the following terms:—
PEMBROKE LODGE, April 8, 1852.
MY DEAR MAULE,—I feel very much the loss of your assistance in the House of Commons. From the days of the Home Office to the last days of our official connection, I have received from you the most friendly and the most useful aid in carrying on the business of the country.
When good sense and habits of business are so much wanted, we can ill spare you. But I hope before the new Parliament meets we shall be working together again.— Yours truly,
Lord Panmure, as he must for the future be called, was now again out of office. But the care of the vast and long-neglected estates which he had just inherited supplied him with ample occupation. In spite of contrary orders issued by his father, the brothers Maule had clung loyally and affectionately together. In their private correspondence they alluded to themselves as a Triumvirate whose interests were identical; nor can we justly blame the two who had retained some portion of their father’s favour for keeping back from him the nature of their relations with the son who had incurred his displeasure. In referring to the family estates, the second brother, Lauderdale Maule, had written, in 1845, to Fox: ‘So you have been at Panmure. Alas, poor demesne! The great body of the estate is, of course, as good, perhaps better than ever it was. But the house, the bare parks and thinned-out woods are melancholy examples of irreparable wrong. I never shall forget my first impressions on viewing Panmure on my return home in 1834.’
But, if there was much lee-way to be made up in getting the estates into order, the fine natural energies of their new owner especially qualified him for the task. During the three years which intervened between his leaving the India Board and his being called to the War Office at the crisis of the Crimean campaign, this was his principal occupation. It is true that he did not relax his interest in national affairs, but he refrained from adding to the amount of business already on his hands. Thus, when, in October 1852, on the retirement of Mr. Carr Glyn, he received from the Directors of the London and North-Western Railway Company a unanimous invitation to undertake the Chairmanship of the Board, he declined it on the ground of pressure of private affairs. And it may here be mentioned that, having long taken an active part in the business of the Company, on becoming a Cabinet Minister he had resigned his Directorship, together with all other directorships of public companies. This act entailed a considerable loss of income, but he considered it due to the position to which he had been called.
Despite the ability shown by Disraeli as leader of his party in the Commons, it soon became evident that the Derby Administration was not destined to a long existence. In anticipation of the event, Lord John Russell writes to Lord Panmure:—
THE GART, CALLANDER, October 10, 1852.
MY DEAR MAULE,—AS Newcastle and Cobden and Duffy are all agreed that I am not to be at the head of the next Government, I suppose it is to be so. I shall look with some curiosity to see how it is composed.
Arrive qui pourra, I cannot but be grateful to you for your constant friendship and fidelity to the old colours. —I remain, yours truly,
It was in December that the crisis came. The necessity of providing for members of both the Whig and Peelite parties in the new Coalition Ministry left Panmure for the time without a seat in the Cabinet.
FOREIGN OFFICE, December 29, 1852.
MY DEAR MAULE,—The arrangement of offices under the Junction Company has been very difficult, and many good friends of the High Contracting Parties have been left behind. I should have liked, for instance, to have had your assistance in the Cabinet. But it was not for me to prescribe. I have proposed, however, that your brother Lauderdale should be Surveyor-General of the Ordnance, and I should be very glad to know, before Friday, whether he will accept it.
Give our best regards to Lady Panmure, and believe me, yours faithfully,
December 30, 1852.
MY DEAR MAULE,—I am glad to find you approve of my conduct. It has not been without great hesitation I took the course I did. The Whig party must feel great confidence in their own strength and popularity to submit to their present inferiority.
The Greys, Lord and G.,19 declined office.
I wrote to you yesterday to propose the office of Surveyor of the Ordnance for your brother, Colonel Maule. But his seat is in no danger, and he may have the office, reserving the writ for the 10th February.
I do not think of remaining in this office20 after that day. But I propose to lead the House of Commons during the Session. — Yours truly,
Under the circumstances detailed above, Lord Panmure no doubt found it easy enough to console himself for a spell of enforced leisure from politics. Lord Palmerston had surprised the country by accepting the office of Home Secretary in the new Government. The subjoined letter is his reply to an offer of assistance in regard to those Scottish matters to which Lord Panmure had given so much attention.
January 16, 1853.
I am much obliged to you for the letter which I received from you some little time ago, and which I ought to have answered sooner. Having spent many years in looking after our interests abroad, I am glad to be charged with the care of some of our interests at home. A man ought not to live abroad too long, either in body or in mind. It gives me pleasure to be connected by departmental duty with Scotland, where I passed much time in early life both profitably and agreeably, and I shall be glad from time to time to avail myself of the assistance which you offer.
Our Militia arrangements have certainly as yet answered even beyond expectation. It remains to be seen, as you say, whether the future trainings will be as fully attended as they ought to be. I incline to think that they will, and, if so, we shall have a large body of active young men sufficiently instructed in military movements to render them a most valuable reserve for the Regular Army if we are destined ever to be at war again.
I trust, however, that at all events we may remain at peace for one or two years to come, and, if we make the most of that interval by providing means of defence, the temptation to attack us may be considerably diminished.
As to our new Government, it seems to be generally approved of; no one Party was strong enough to make an administration singly. The inconvenience of a Junction of Parties is that many good men necessarily remain out of the combined arrangement.
One source of strength for the new Government will be that, if it was overthrown, there is nothing at present to succeed it but the Government which has recently been proved too weak to stand.
The aspiration expressed towards the close of the above letter, that ‘at all events we may remain at peace for one or two years to come,’ will scarcely strike the reader as immoderate. He who uttered it had had the amplest opportunity of obtaining insight into European politics. And yet, long ere the period specified was past, the country was in the midst of such a war as she had not known for close on forty years. As to the glib remark about ‘making the most of the interval,’ if that may be extended, as surely it may, to embrace the general state of preparedness for war, it was destined very soon to be exposed to the most bitterly ironical comment.
In so far as they affected Lord Panmure, the result of these coming events was that the services of the man who had been crowded out of the Aberdeen Ministry were eagerly requisitioned when the hour of need arrived. Hitherto we have seen him in the character of a level-headed and hard-working administrator, a consistent advocate of enlightened reform, giving special attention, on the one hand to Scottish business, and, on the other, to the interests of the humbler classes in the Army and the State. He was now to be called to play a far more strenuous part, upon a more conspicuous stage. The time has, therefore, arrived when the present brief sketch of his career may fitly give place to his own letters and those of his correspondents — at which, in a word, he and they may speak for themselves. It must first be mentioned, however, that in this year, 1853, his services received two gracious marks of recognition, by his being created a Knight of the Thistle, and appointed Keeper of the Privy Seal of Scotland.
On November 11th of the same year he sustained the loss of his wife, Lady Panmure.
A few further particulars of the earlier life of the first Baron Panmure may be gathered from Archibald Constable and his Literary Correspondents, a Memorial, 1873, vol. i.
A single anecdote may serve to illustrate the peculiarly saturnine quality of his humour After recovering from a very severe illness, he gave a dinner to his tenantry in celebration of the event. Rising to his feet at the close of the feast, he made the following speech : ‘Gentlemen, I shall propose but a single toast — the disappointed one.’ He referred, of course, to his eldest son, their relations being no secret. But a worthy farmer who was present put a different construction on his words. ‘Fegs!’ exclaimed he, ‘I’ve heerd mony a queer toast proposed in my time, but this is the first time I have been called to drink the health o’ the deil.’ With which words he took down a bumper.
6. Referring to this exchange, Lord John writes characteristically, August 26, 1839: ‘Looking to our difficulties in Canada, and the obligation under which I lie of bringing forward a measure next Session, I believe the change will be useful in the end to the country.’
8. Directed against the new Poor Law adopted in July 1834, which, though very beneficial in its results, was very unpopular in the country at the time, having been denounced by Cobbett as the ‘Poor Man Robbery Bill.’
9. He had previously stated that, of twenty-four persons against whom the Government Solicitor had been instructed to institute proceedings at York in August 1817, ten were pronounced not guilty, against eleven others no bills were found, and one was liberated on bail.
17. In a sketch of the history of the Militia, the late Sir Spencer Walpole wrote: ‘By a series of Acts passed between 1808 and 1812, the regular Militia was supplemented by what was called the local Militia. This force, like the regular Militia, was raised by ballot. But, unlike the regular Militia, it could only be called out for the suppression of riots, or in case of invasion, the appearance of an enemy on the coasts, or of rebellion. It could not, even in the greatest crisis, be moved out of Great Britain.’ The principles of the Bill Proposed by Lord J. Russell’s Government were as follows :—(1) Compulsory service for three years in the locality, (2) Twenty-one days’ training during each year, (3) No substitutes, (4) The Militia to serve out of the county only in case of Invasion or of war.