John Russell, 1st Earl Russell

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John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, KG, GCMG, PC (18 August 179228 May 1878), known as Lord John Russell before 1861, was a British Whig and Liberal politician who served twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the mid-19th century.


  • It is impossible that the whisper of a faction should prevail against the voice of a nation.
    • Letter to T. Attwood, October 1831, after the rejection in the House of Lords of the Reform Bill (7 October 1831).
  • If peace cannot be maintained with honour, it is no longer peace.
    • Greenock, 19 September 1853
  • [A proverb is] one man's wit, and all men's wisdom.
    • Variant: [A proverb is] the wisdom of many and the wit of one.
    • Remark to James Mackintosh on October 6, 1830, reported in his posthumous memoir, Memoirs of the Life of the Right Honourable Sir James Mackintosh, Vol. 2 (1836), p. 472

Quotes about Russell[edit]

  • Lord John Russell—I believe you may take my word for it—has probably, from association, from tradition, from his own reading and study, and from his own just and honest sympathies, a more friendly feeling towards this question of Parliamentary Reform than any other man of his order as a statesman.
    • John Bright, speech in Birmingham (27 October 1858), quoted in Speeches on Questions of Public Policy by John Bright, M.P., Vol. II, ed. J. E. Thorold Rogers (1869), pp. 14–15
  • Lord Russell had no fear of freedom. He could much more easily be persuaded to give up, and he would much more willingly abandon for ever the name of Russell than he would give up his hereditary love of freedom. The Government, which was led by Earl Russell in one House and by Mr. Gladstone in the other, was founded and acted upon the principle of trust and confidence in the people.
    • John Bright, speech in Birmingham (27 August 1866), quoted in Speeches on Questions of Public Policy by John Bright, M.P., Vol. II, ed. J. E. Thorold Rogers (1869), p. 193
  • My confidence in England rests partly on the honourable character of the statesmen to whose hands the reins of power are committed—on Lord John Russell and on Lord Palmerston. Lord John Russell, I will say it openly, at the risk of being considered more and more an Anglo-maniac, is the most liberal Minister in Europe.
    • Cavour, quoted in Lord Acton, ‘Cavour’, The Rambler (July 1861), quoted in Lord Acton, Historical Essays and Studies, eds. Reginald Vere Laurence and John Neville Figgis (1907), p. 178

External links[edit]

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