I have read your speech upon opening the debate on the sugar question with feelings of admiration and pleasure I cannot describe. The Free Traders have never been orators since Mr. Pitt in early days. We have hammered away with facts and figures and some argument, but we could not elevate the subject and excite the feelings of the people. At last you, who can do both, have fairly undertaken it, and the cause has a champion worthy of it.
 Lord Sydenham said later, “Lord John is the noblest man it has ever been my fortune to follow” (Spencer Walpole’s “Life of Lord John Russell").
Mr. Baring, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, proposed to lower the import duty on foreign and colonial timber and sugar. Lord John, before the Budget speech, announced his intention of moving the House into a committee on the Corn Laws. During the course of the eight days’ debate he admitted that the proposal of the Ministry would be a fixed duty of 8s. a quarter on wheat. It was on the occasion of this proposal being discussed in the Cabinet that Melbourne, at the close of the meeting, made his famous remark, “By the by, there is one thing we haven’t agreed upon; what are we to say? Is it to make our corn dearer or cheaper, or to make the price steady? I don’t care which; but we had better all say the same thing.”
On June 4th, the very evening Lord John had intended to introduce his measure, the Government was just defeated on Peel’s motion of a want of confidence: “Bill woke me at four this morning with the sad words, ’Beaten by one! Oh dear, oh dear! To expect a triumph and see it won by the enemy. Never mind; our friends deserve success if they cannot command it.... Party at Lady Palmerston’s. He was there.”
Four days later her hesitations came to an end, and they were engaged to be married.
Miss Lister wrote to Lord John on June 8th from Windsor Castle:
Oh! I am happier than I can tell you. God knows you have deserved all the good that may come to you, and I always felt it must be because of that. I long to be with you and to see her. ... Oh! I am so happy, but I can scarcely believe it yet. I hope Lady Fanny will write and then I think I shall believe it.
Ever yours affectionately, Harriet Lister
* * * * *
June 9, 1841 Could not write on Monday or Tuesday. Saw him on Monday morning ... it was a strange dream all that day and is so still.... As soon as he had left me Mama came in. Oh my own dearest and best Mama, bless your poor weak but happy child. Then I saw Papa. What good it did me to see his face of real happiness!—then my brothers and sisters—I never saw William so overcome.
ADMIRALTY, June 10, 1841
Tried to be busy in the morning ... but nothing would do. Must think and be foolish. He came in the afternoon and evening—brought me an emerald ring.... Miss Lister came—both of us stupid from having too much to say, but it was a great pleasure. Children here to tea with ours (all but Victoria) and very merry and kind to me. Dear precious children.
Lady Minto to Lady Mary Abercromby