Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/374

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Grey
Grey
362

secretary for home affairs from January to July 1834. In the Melbourne ministry he was admitted to the cabinet with the office of secretary at war, 18 April 1835, and was created a privy councillor. He supported Lord John Russell's motion concerning the Irish church, and his disapproval of the alterations to the Irish corporation bill made in the second chamber was so pronounced that he is reported to have talked of the possibility of the ' lords being swept away like chaff' (Greville, Memoirs, i. iii. 290), an error in judgment which he lived to rectify. In the difficulties with Canada in December 1837 Howick dissented from the course followed by the cabinet in withdrawing the revenues from colonial control and in suspending the constitution, and only gave way after ineffectually threatening resignation (S. Walpole, Life of Lord J. Russell, i. 294). Lord Glenelg he regarded as incompetent, and he wrote to Lord Melbourne on 27 Dec. 1837 expressing the need for change at the colonial office (Melbourne Papers, ed. Lloyd Sanders, p. 381). Again, in January 1839, he announced his intention of resignation, as he was dissatisfied with the colonial secretary's proposals for dealing with the West Indian crisis (ib. i. 313). At the crisis created by Grote's motion with regard to the ballot (June 1839) Howick, though opposed to such legislation, was in favour of freedom for both cabinet and party to vote according to individual opinion. In August the suggestion was made by Lord John Russell that he should be given the post office and called to the House of Lords ; he, however, preferred to retire from the ministry (Torrens, Melbourne, ii. 310 ; Hansard, li. 768), especially objecting to the appointment of Poulett Thomson as governor of Canada. Though now out of office, his interest in parliamentary politics did not slacken, and his amendment (Hansard, lvii. 1073) to the Irish franchise bill in 1841 resulted in the defeat of the government (Walpole, Hist. iii. 523) and the ultimate abandonment of the bill.

At the general election in 1841 Howick lost his seat in Northumberland, but on September 1841 was returned for Sunderland. His views with regard to free trade were at this time far in advance of those of his party. Though on 18 Feb. 1839 he had voted with the whole cabinet excepting Poulett Thomson against Villiers's motion to take evidence on the operation of the corn laws (Hansard, xlv. 156), he, in 1843, made his motion for investigating existing causes of distress the occasion for setting out at length the argument in favour of free trade. Though the motion was lost, his argument, in which he stoutly maintained protection of every kind to be robbery of the community at large, created a considerable impression. Howick's clear and decided views served to dispel Lord John Russell's doubts on the subject in 1845, and he laid down as one of the guiding lines of policy for his party the viciousness of 'the whole principle of what is called protection' (letter from Lord Howick to Lord J. Russell, 16 Dec. 1845, English Historical Review, i. 125). Having been raised to the House of Lords by the death of his father (17 July 1845), the new Earl Grey was immediately recognised as the active leader of his party in the second chamber. Hence his objection to serve in a cabinet with Lord Palmerston as foreign secretary in December 1845 proved fatal to Lord John Russell's attempt to form an administration. This action was due entirely to his distrust of Palmerston's management of foreign affairs, especially with regard to France (ib. p. 124). On the successful formation of the administration six months later, in June 1846, Grey withdrew his opposition to Palmerston as foreign secretary, owing to the necessities of the situation, and himself took office as secretary for the colonies, 'the two ministers working together as if they had ever entertained the highest opinion of each other's good temper and discretion' (Campbell, Autobiog. p. 11). He held the post for nearly six years, from June 1846 to February 1852, and during this period led the debates in the Lords for the government. Grey's conduct with regard to the colonies was chiefly governed by his belief in free trade, and representative institutions, and his desire to lessen the responsibiiities and expenses of the mother country. Somewhat unsympathetic, and on all occasions didactic and dogmatic, he has been termed 'singularly unhappy in his management of colonies' (Egerton, British Colonial Policy, p. 318). He was, however, wise enough not to force his favourite projects against decided expressions of colonial feeling. His elaborate scheme for the government of New Zealand, put forward in 1846, being found not workable, a bill was passed suspending the constitution for five years [see Grey, Sir George, Suppl.] In 1847 he attempted unsuccessfully to impose his favourite idea of making municipalities the constituent bodies for representative assemblies, but withdrew the scheme on opinion in the Australian colonies proving adverse. Failing absolutely to appreciate the growing feeling against transportation, he Instituted 'towards the beginning of 1848 a ticket-of-