31 MARCH 1855, Page 12



PERSONALITIES are to be avoided in reference to public affairs, and 3 et while persons retain influence it is impossible to exclude per- sonality as a portion of the powers which we have on our side or against us—part of the evidence by which our actions must be guided. Official Prussia recently put forth the claim that foreign powers should look only to her state documents or the diplomatic communications which passed the frontier, and should not pay any attention to the language used by official persons elsewhere or ut- tered by the Prussian representative in the Federal Diet. But the answer was ready at hand, that if such a principle were conceded, any state could safely take measures for creating combina- tions against another, could push its preparations to maturity, and yet remain neutral until it ventured to proclaim its hostilities in an authenticated document. As foreign states would at once refuse so preposterous a claim on the part of Prussia, so the public must refuse to shut its eyes entirely to the personal proceedings of those men in high station whose conduct affects public interests. It is miserable littleness to pursue a private individual into his home or his relaxations; but yet a man's local habitation has some- times its public importance. It is a fact of public interest, if Lord John Russell, not content with hotel-accommodations in Vienna, should have taken a house in that attractive capital; for Lord John Russell has made himself wanted in London, and whatever may have been his intentions in setting out for his diplomatic mission, the fact that he has been followed by the members of his household supposed to be dearest to him and least ready of sudden removal, coupled with the fact that he is said to have entered into negotiations with a Viennese landlord, naturally raises the ques- tion whether he has not changed his mind. He has been known to do so before, in matters apparently more important; and yet in this case very important interests are involved in Lord john's "address."

Lord John Russell has accepted the responsibilities of her Ma- jesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies. Now there are some offices of state that are sinecures, or may be made so. A man may become Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and no very momentous affairs be suspended because his individual per- son is withdrawn from the Cabinet on a foreign tour; yet it is not usual for men holding even that unimportant position to travel abroad. A man may be a Privy Councillor, but if he is not in the Cabinet he is understood to be free to travel whither he lists. We are not aware that the Chief Secretaryship for the Co- lonies has yet become an honorary decoration given as the reward of merit without duties appended. The absence of the Colonial Secretary is the more remarkable, because politically the Colonial Office is entirely vacant, no Under-Secretary having yet been ap- pointed. The Colonies have several important questions requiring the attention of the real political chief. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, if the journals which speak for the public on occa- sions of this kind raise the question—whether is it true or not that Lord John is inveigled into some house-hiring transaction with a Viennese landlord P To say that the Colonial empire merits the notice of the Co- lonial Secretary, is perhaps not an assertion too bold for general acceptance. There is not one group of our Colonies that does not require attention during this present week. Sir Henry Darkly is engaged in arranging the representative and administrative affairs of Jamaica ; and it is impossible to foresee what despatches may not aoive from him, and what instant attention they may not re- quirk' The province of Victoria has been visited by an in- .surrection among the gold-diggers, resulting from serious mis- takes in the administration of the gold-districts ; while the colony itself has been in protracted agonies to produce a constitution un- der the Imperial Government, and the Governor has on hand the extremely difficult and delicate task of arranging the admission of migrant convicts from Van Diemen's Land, so as to minimize at once the mischief of their presence and the odium of their admis- sion. Questions not dissimilar exist in other parts of Australia. The Cape colony is threatened with border disturbances. And British North America, by a remarkable turn in the affairs of the Colonies, exhibits a spontaneous and warm loyalty which calls for an immediate official response. Canada has, through its Parlia- ment, sent a handsome contribution of money for the service of the Allies in the East ; and by other means, by municipal declarations and personal statements, our Government has received an offer of men as well as loyal support and money. The men may not be needed ; the Colonies may not be required to take Im- perial burdens upon them ; but favours of this kind, so novel, so important, so significant, cannot be slighted with impunity. It is the more necessary not to waste any friendly feeling which may exist in British North America, since the North America which is no longer British is not in the most favourable mood towards England at the present moment. The strong infusion of Irish insurgency has been followed by a re- action against the United Kingdom for sending that troublesome element into the republic; and Brother Jonathan is upon the whole in a hart, irritated, and indignant frame of mind. How desirable, therefore, to cultivate the friendliest feeling with his next-door neighbour, our nearer relative. Yet the suitable reception and response to these offers and testimonies in British North America appear to be hung up, because the official representative of the

empire towards the Colonies is retained in Vienna by foreign affairs and family matters.

It is true that Sir George Grey professes to be performing Lord John's duties in his absence: but Sir George Grey is not strong in health, and we have never heard before that the duties of Colonial Secretary are the lightest in the Cabinet. Lord Palmerston pro- bably can tell us also whether the duties of Home Secretary are so trifling that they can be performed by deputy or " doubled " with the Colonial business. The worst of the arrangement is, that there seems every necessity why it should not exist, and no ne- cessity why it should. We want a Colonial Secretary in Downing Street now, and not a Colonial Secretary some weeks hence' or in the heart of Europe. If Lord John cannot perform the duties, there is no reason why they should remain unperformed. If Sir George Grey prefers the Colonial Office, and can carry on the now tolerably settled policy which belongs to that department, let him remain there and surely there are other men who could relieve him of the }tome department. On the other hand, if it is thought more desirable that Sir George should continue to conduct the Home business there are other men who could take his place at the Colonies. business, Elgin' for example, has gone through his Co- lonial school with great credit; has proved that be rightly ap- preciates the true rationale of Colonial government ; is ready at hand ; would be welcomed upon his entrance to office by most of our Colonies; and is under no Viennese obligations, diplomatic or domestic.