Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/375

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Grey
Grey
363

leave system and revoked the order in council of 1840, by which New South Wales had ceased to be a place for the reception of convicts (Colonial Policy, ii. 43-4); his attempt also to land convicts at Cape Colony in 1849 was much resented, and would doubtless have been actively resisted if enforced. He was possessed with the idea that it was practicable to give representative institutions and then stop without giving responsible government (Letters of Lord Elachford, ed. Marindin, 299). In his despatch to Governor Harvey on the granting of constitutions to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in 1848 he urged him 'to abstain from going further than can be avoided without giving up the principle of executive responsibility (Com. Pap. 1847-8, v. 42-77). In 1848 a charge was made against the colonial secretary by Lord George Bentinck in the House of Commons of having misled the committee of inquiry on the subject of West Indian distress by withholding papers. Grey defended himself in the Lords, pledging his honour that the omission was accidental ; but, however unjustified the charge, the awkward fact of omission was made much use of by his opponents and critics (Wakefield, Art. of Colonisation, p. 248).

In the beginning of 1849 the colonial secretary revived the committee of the privy council for trade and foreign plantations as a deliberative and advisory body (see his Colonial Policy of the Administration of Lord J. Russell, ii. 91), and the constitutions drafted for the Australian colonies in 1850, and for the Cape Colony in 1851, were framed in the first instance at the recommendation of this body. In South Africa Grey acquiesced unwillingly in Sir Harry Smith's establishment of the Orange River sovereignty 'on condition that the management of their own concerns, with the duty of providing for their own defence and for the payment of the expense of the system of government, should be thrown entirely on the emigrant Boers, and on the native tribes among whom they are settled' (Corresp. relative to the State of the Kaffir Tribes, July 1848, p. 68). His view was that if the majority of the inhabitants would not support the authority of the resident, he must be withdrawn' (in. February 1852, p. 243), and he held the opinion that it would be far better for this country if the British territory in South Africa was confined to Cape Town and to Simon's Bay (Colon. Policy, 2nd. ed. ii. 248). This doctrine of colonial administration resulted in the recall of Sir Harry Smith. Grey, however, deserves the entire credit of the appointment of Lord Elgin as governor of Canada. In order to secure the best man for the working out of a dangerous situation, the colonial secretary showed himself superior to party politics, and his instructions as to the policy to be pursued (Grey, Colonial Policy, i. 206, 234) were statesmanlike and worthy of the occasion. On the riots at Montreal following Lord Elgin's consent to the rebellion losses indemnity bill, Lord Grey defended in the House of Lords the governor-general's action, and declared that the principle of responsible government was the only possible method of administration for Canada.

In 1853 he published 'The Colonial Policy of Lord John Russell's Administration' (2 vols.) in the form of a series of letters addressed to the late prime minister ; therein he boasted that during his period of office a remarkable development in both the population and the resources of the colonies had taken place, a commercial revolution deeply affecting the colonies had been safely passed through, and a great reduction of the colonial charges imposed on the treasury had been effected (Colonial Policy, ii. 303). He was also satisfied that the granting of the management of their own affairs had not interfered with the maintenance of the welfare of the empire as a whole, and exhibited no sympathy with those members of his party who looked forward to the severance of colonial ties with an easy assurance ; such an event he regarded 'as a grievous calamity, lowering by many steps the rank of this country among the nations of the world' (ib. p. 305). He maintained that parliament by adopting free trade had not abandoned the duty and power of regulating the, commercial policy of the British empire,' and in later years considered that the surrender of authority by the imperial government and the consequent abandonment by British colonies of the free-trade policy had been injurious to the whole empire (see his Commercial Policy of the British Colonies and the McKinley Tariff, p. 17.).

In Lord Aberdeen's coalition ministry of March 1852 Grey was not included, and although his interest in politics never nagged, he did not sit in another cabinet. From the spring of 1852, when he withdrew from the colonial office, until his death, forty-two years later, he played the part of critic to both parties, and in consequence received the support of neither. Always opposed to the Crimean war, he resisted Gladstone's proposals for increased income tax and the issue of exchequer bills ; but his motion in the House of Lords, 25 May 1855, in praise of the