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Huskisson
Huskisson
327

that he only meant to tender it if the duke thought fit to demand it, and he repudiated any formal offer of resignation. But the duke was inflexible, and laid the matter before the king. Huskisson demanded a personal audience of his majesty, but this was refused, and the resignation was definitively completed on the 29th, when he gave up the seals and received expressions of the king's personal regret at his loss. Although he explained in the House of Commons the summary mode by which he had been removed, his party censured him for imperilling the ministry by an ill-timed and factious resignation (see Bulwer, Palmerston, i. 258; Greville, Memoirs, 1st ser.i. 130; Wellington Despatches, iv. 449-78; Hansard's Parl. Debates, xix. 915; Le Marchant, Spencer, p.228 n.; Ellenborough, Diary, i. 115, 116; and Croker Papers, i.4, 23, which give the duke's own account of the transaction).

Huskisson appeared little in parliament during the remainder of the session, and, his health failing, he spent the autumn abroad. In 1828 he supported the Roman Catholic Emancipation Bill; made a great 'speech on the silk trade, and took up the study of Indian questions. In consequence the governorship of Madras was offered him, and he was sounded about the governor-generalship of India, but the state of his health made his acceptance of either post impossible. He was, however, an active member of the East India committee, especially on matters referring to the China trade. During the session of 1829 he was unusually prominent in debate. He made several speeches in favour of moderate reform, warned the ministry that some change was inevitable, and supported Lord John Russell's proposal to confer additional parliamentary representation on Leeds, Liverpool, and Manchester. During 1830 his health grew worse, and, though he was able to attend the king's funeral in July, he was seriously ill. He went to Liverpool in September for the opening of the Manchester and Liverpool railway, and was received warmly by his constituents. On 15 Sept. he attended the opening ceremony. A procession of trains was run from Liverpool. Parkside was reached without mishap. There the engines stopped for water, and the travellers, contrary to instructions, left the carriages and stood upon the permanent way, which consisted of two lines of rails. Huskisson went to speak to the Duke of Wellington, to whom, in spite of their recent disagreement, he felt bound, as member for Liverpool, to show courtesy. At that moment several engines were seen approaching along the rails between which Huskisson was standing. Everybody made for the carriages on the other line. Huskisson, by nature uncouth and hesitating in his motions, had a peculiar aptitude for accident. He had dislocated his ankle in 1801, and was in consequence slightly lame. Thrice he had broken his arm, and after the last fracture, in 1817, the use of it was permanently impaired. On this occasion he lost his balance in clambering into the carriage and fell back upon the rails in front of the Dart, the advancing engine. It ran over his leg; he was placed upon an engine and carried at its utmost speed to Eccles, where he was taken to the house of the vicar. He lingered in great agony for nine hours, but gave his last directions calmly and with care, expiring at 9 p.m. He was buried with a public ceremonial in Liverpool on the 24th (cf. Gent. Mag. 1830, ii. 265-6; an account of the accident is given by Fanny Kemble, who was present, in her Records of a Girlhood).

Huskisson achieved little success in public life compared with that which his rare abilities should have commanded. His adherence to Canning, combined with a coldness of manner, probably accounts for much of his failure. Lamb, afterwards Lord Melbourne, told Greville that, in his opinion, Huskisson was the greatest practical statesman he had known, the one who best united theory with practice. Sir James Stephen's judgment on him was almost the same (Macvey Napier, Letters, p.307; see, too, Lord Palmerston to L. Sulivan, August 1827, in Ashley, Life of Lord Palmerston). As a speaker he was luminous and convincing, but he made no pretence to eloquence; his voice was feeble and his manner ungraceful. Sir Egerton Brydges, in his 'Autobiography' speaks of him as 'a wretched speaker with no command of words, with awkward motions, and a most vulgar, uneducated accent' but this accent seems to have worn off in later life. Greville describes him as 'tall, slouching, and ignoble-looking, In society extremely agreeable without much animation; generally cheerful, with a good deal of humour, information, and anecdote; gentlemanlike, unassuming, slow in speech, and with a downcast look as if he avoided meeting anybody's gaze. There is no man in parliament, or perhaps out of it, so well versed in finance, commerce, trade, and colonial matters; it is nevertheless remarkable that it is only within the last five or six years that he acquired the great reputation which he latterly enjoyed. I do not think he was looked upon as more than a second-rate man, till his speeches on the silk trade and the shipping interest, but when he became president of the board of trade he devoted himself with indefatigable application