Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/381

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

the public knew nothing of his treasons, and knew that he was the only living Englishman who had won a great battle. The abstract of the papers was read by the clerk. Russell then spoke with great applause; and his friends pressed for an immediate decision. Sir Christopher Musgrave very justly observed that it was impossible to pronounce judgment on such a pile of despatches without perusing them; but this objection was overruled. The Whigs regarded the accused member as one of themselves; many of the Tories were dazzled by the splendour of his recent victory; and neither Whigs nor Tories were disposed to show any deference for the authority of the Peers. The House, without reading the papers, passed an unanimous resolution expressing warm approbation of Russell's whole conduct. The temper of the assembly was such that some ardent Whigs thought that they might now venture to propose a vote of censure on Nottingham by name. But the attempt failed. "I am ready," said Lowther,--and he doubtless expressed what many felt,--"I am ready to support any motion that may do honour to the Admiral; but I cannot join in an attack on the Secretary of State. For, to my knowledge, their Majesties have no more zealous, laborious or faithful servant than my Lord Nottingham." Finch exerted all his mellifluous eloquence in defence of his brother, and contrived, without directly opposing himself to the prevailing sentiment, to insinuate that Russell's conduct had not been faultless. The vote of censure on Nottingham was not pressed. The vote which pronounced Russell's conduct to have been deserving of all praise was communicated to the Lords; and the papers which they had sent down were very unceremoniously returned.[352] The Lords, much offended, demanded a free conference. It was granted; and the managers of the two Houses met in the Painted Chamber. Rochester, in the name of his brethren, expressed a wish to be informed of the grounds on which the Admiral had been declared faultless. To this appeal the gentlemen