In the autumn of 1846 Lord John, little thinking that a home would soon be offered to him by the Queen, bought a country place, Chorley Wood, near Rickmansworth.
Lady John Russell to Lady Mary Abercromby
CHORLEY WOOD, RICKMANSWORTH, December 12, 1846
About the 10th January we all go back to town for good, as John must be there some time before the meeting of Parliament. Oh that meeting of Parliament! It is so different from any I have ever looked forward to; and though it has always been awful, this is so much more so. I shall then first really feel that John is Minister, and find out the pains of the position, having as yet little experience of anything but the pleasures of it. Then will come the daily toil beyond his strength, the daily abuse to reward him, and the daily trial to us both of hardly meeting for a quarter of an hour between breakfast and bedtime. In short, I had better not begin to enumerate the evils that await us, as they are innumerable. However, I feel very courageous and that they will appear trifles if he succeeds; and if he is turned out before the end of the session, I shall never regret that he has made the attempt. It is a fearful time to have the government in his hands; but for that very reason I am glad that he and no other has it. The accounts from Ireland are worse and worse, and what with the extreme misery of the unfortunate poor and the misbehaviour of the gentry, he is made very miserable. As he said this morning, at times they almost drive him mad.
During Lady John’s long illness in Edinburgh, Francis Lord Jeffrey had been one of her kindest friends, and had helped to brighten many a weary hour by his visits and conversation.
Lord Jeffrey to Lady John Russell
EDINBURGH, December 21, 1846
It is very good in you to remember my sunset visits to you in the hotel. I never pass by its windows in these winter twilights without thinking of you, and of the lessons of cheerful magnanimity (as well as other things) I used to learn by the side of your couch. The Murrays and Rutherfords are particularly well; the latter will soon be up among you, and at his post for the opening of a campaign of no common interest and anxiety. For my part, I am terribly frightened—for the first time, I believe I may say, in my life. Lord John, I believe, does not know what fear is! sans peur as sans reproche. But it would be a comfort to know that even he thinks we can get out of the mess in Ireland without some dreadful calamity. And how ugly, in fact, do things look all round the world!
One of the first acts of Lord John’s Government was to vote L10,000,000 for the relief of Ireland. In July, 1847, Parliament was dissolved. When it met again Lord John was reluctantly compelled to ask for its votes in support of an Irish Bill resembling the one on which the Liberals had defeated Peel the year before.