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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Earl Russell

  • [Lord John Russell, afterwards raised to the peerage as Earl Russell; a distinguished Whig statesman; born in London, Aug. 18, 1792; entered Parliament, 1813, and advocated reform; secretary for the home department, 1835; prime minister, 1846; secretary for foreign affairs, 1852 and 1859; president of the Council, 1854; colonial secretary, 1855; prime minister, 1865–66; died 1878.]
  • The re-cant of patriotism.

  • To Sir Francis Burdett, who turned from Radical to Tory, and sneered at the “cant of patriotism,” Lord John Russell made reply, “I quite agree with the honorable baronet that the cant of patriotism is a bad thing; but I can tell him a worse,—the re-cant of patriotism.”
  • He said of the American civil war, “It is a struggle in which the North is striving for empire, and the South for independence.” Gladstone said of Jefferson Davis during the war, “He has made an army, has made a navy, and, more than that, has made a nation” (at Newcastle, 1862).
  • When Mason and Slidell were taken from “The Trent,” in 1861, Lord Palmerston asked Earl Russell what should be done. He replied in the words of Grattan, in reference to another power: “The United-States Government are very dangerous people to run away from.”
  • Lord John Russell’s impromptu definition of a proverb was very happy: “The wisdom of many, and the wit of one.”
  • Samuel Rogers relates that walking one day, in 1838 or 1839, with the Duke of Wellington, and naming the antagonists of Lord John Russell in the House, as Peel, Stanley, Sir James Graham, etc., the duke replied, “Lord John is a host in himself.”
  • Rest and be thankful.

  • In replying to the toast of her Majesty’s ministers at Blairgowrie, Sept. 26, 1863, Earl Russell referred to the Scotchman who, after having made a road in the Highlands, put a stone on the top of the mountain with an inscription, “Rest and be thankful;” and said, “That seems to be very much like our feeling; not that there are not other roads to make, and other mountains to climb. But it seems to be the feeling of the country, in which I cannot help joining, that our policy is rather to ‘rest and be thankful,’ than to make new roads.”—JENNINGS: Anecdotal History of Parliament.