He was a much more complicated character than tradition would allow.
SIR CHARLES WEBSTER
He prided himself on his exploits in Europe, but it is by his instincts in England that he will be remembered.
He was plucky and Palmerston to the last.
The origins of the Whig-Peelite coalition presided over by Aberdeen from 1852-5 may perhaps be most precisely located in an extraordinary outburst of ultra-Protestant hysteria in 1850. Ostensibly, this was occasioned by a papal brief issued in that year by Pius IX, re-establishing the Roman hierarchy in England for the first time since the death of Mary Tudor. The effect would be to divide England into dioceses each with a bishop with a territorial title, and to create over them a Catholic archbishop of Westminster. The first archbishop-designate of Westminster, Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman, at once injudiciously published from Rome a florid pastoral letter ‘from out of the Flaminian Gate’ in which he wrote rhetorically of the ‘restoration of Catholic England to its orbit in the ecclesiastical firmament’. This unleashed a wave of anti-Papism in England of which, in one more spectacular display of demagogic Whiggery, Russell decided to be the aristocratic chief trumpeter.