PP/GC/LE/115 Letter from Sir G.C.Lewis to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, regarding the politics of 1812-30, recent policy towards India, and the proposed electoral reform bill 28 December 1858
Letter from Sir George Cornewall Lewis, second Baronet, [Member of Parliament for Radnor], Harpton [Court], Radnor, [Radnorshire, Wales], to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: Lewis thanks Palmerston for his answer to the enquiry about events in 1830. "Your account of what passed in 1830 with the Duke of Wellington is extremely interesting, and I am glad both for your sake and for the sake of truth that it has been put upon record." During the recess, Lewis has written two papers on the period 1812 - 1830. The first, from 1812 to Lord Castlereagh's death in 1822, will appear in the January edition of the EDINBURGH REVIEW. The second, which covers from Canning's appointment as Foreign Secretary to the formation of Lord Grey's ministry, will probably appear in the following edition. "The politics of that period seem to me to have been much influenced by personal feelings between the Duke of Wellington and Canning, the effect of which lasted after Canning's death. If there had not been a strong personal feeling between the Duke and Huskisson, nothing would have been easier than to have adjusted the East Retford quarrel by the Duke expressing the wish that Huskisson should remain, and by Huskisson withdrawing his letter. When the Duke and Peel had quarrelled with the extreme section of their own party by carrying the Catholic question, and by their mode of carrying it, their only course was to strengthen themselves by an alliance with a more liberal section. The Canningite party were just the persons with whom they ought to have been most studious to combine - and yet they were not prepared to make the concessions necessary for the purpose. Peel seems to have increased his obstinacy on the question of reform, in the exact proportion in which he had yielded on the Catholic question. Altogether, Peel's character is a difficult one to decipher. There seems to have been no keeping in his opinions, notwithstanding his apparent prudence and cautiousness. At one time, he was the stiffest of tories, at another, the most yielding of liberals." Events have justified fully the Indian policy of the previous government. The Queen's assumption of the government, combined with the amnesty, has had the effect of "strength and clemency". It happened at the right moment, when people were ready for change. "None of the results anticipated by the Company in their much admired petition have come to pass. In fact, the results have been the opposite of their predictions. Stanley's proclamation seemed to me a rather feeble composition, but it suited the occasion, and its success in India was rather a proof of the goodness of the measure than the skill of the writer. It is remarkable that the proclamation entirely throws over Ellenborough's despatch." The government will doubtless keep their reform bill secret until it is produced. It is likely that Bright and his followers will vote against any reform bill this government introduces; the fate of the bill will therefore depend on the Whigs and moderate liberals, who hold the balance. "I should not be surprised if the government proposed a varrigated measure, if they put in a few touches to please their own party, and added one or two strong things which it would be difficult for liberal members to vote against. The bill ought to be judged as a whole, its general character and tendency ought to be estimated, and the decision made accordingly." If the bill reaches committee stage it will probably pass. Lewis has been asked by Reeve to write an article on reform for the January edition of the EDINBURGH REVIEW. He has agreed to do so. The article is chiefly historical and confined to general considerations. It does enter into any details of a plan, which would be premature before a government measure is produced. Bright's campaign has been useful, proving that the country does not want his scheme of reform. Bright's scheme narrows at every successive speech. Lewis will be in London a few days before the meeting of Parliament. 28 Dec 1858
Lord Ellenborough's despatch appears in THE TIMES, 8 May 1858.
Two papers
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Sir George Cornewall Lewis, second Baronet, and EDINBURGH REVIEW articles
Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, former Prime Minister, deceased
Robert Stewart, second Marquis of Londonderry, known as Viscount Castlereagh, former Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, deceased
Newspapers and the press
George Canning, former Prime Minister, deceased
Charles Grey, second Earl Grey, former Prime Minister, deceased
William Huskisson, former Member of Parliament, deceased
Sir Robert Peel, first Baronet, former Prime Minister, deceased
John Bright, Member of Parliament for Birmingham
Edward Henry Stanley, later twenty fourth Earl of Derby, Secretary of State for India
Edward Law, first Earl Ellenborough, former Governor General of India, former president of the Board of Control
Mr Reeve
Parliamentary reform; East Retford, Nottinghamshire
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