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Title: The Greville Memoirs, Part 2 (of 3), Volume 1 (of 3)

Author: Charles Greville

Release date: February 3, 2008 [eBook #24504]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Paul Murray, Eve M. Behr and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at


Transcriber’s Note:

In this work, all spellings and punctuation were reproduced from the original work except in the very few cases where an obvious typo occurred. These typos are corrected without comment.

In the original volumes in this set, each even-numbered page had a header consisting of the page number, the volume title, and the chapter number. The odd-numbered page header consisted of the year of the diary entry, a subject phrase, and the page number. In this set of e-books, the year is included as part of the date (which in the original volume were in the form reproduced here, minus the year). The subject phrase has been converted to sidenotes located below the relevant page number.

In the original book set, consisting of three volumes, the master index was in Volume 3. In this set of e-books, the index has been duplicated into each of the other volumes. Navigation links were created to the entries for the current volume.

The Greville Memoirs





FROM 1837 TO 1852


Charles C. F. Greville, Esq.






TACITUS, Ann. iv. cap. 32.




When the first portion of the Memoirs of the late Mr. Charles Greville, consisting of a Journal of the Reigns of King George IV. and King William IV., was given to the world in the autumn of the year 1874, it was intimated that the continuation of the work was reserved for future publication. Those volumes included the record of events which Mr. Greville had noted in his Diary from the year 1818 to the accession of Her Majesty Queen Victoria in the year 1837, a period of nineteen years. As they were published in 1874, an interval of thirty-seven years had elapsed between the latest event recorded in them and the date at which they appeared. The reigns of George IV. and William IV. already belonged to the history of the past, and accordingly I did not conceive it to be my duty to suppress or qualify any of the statements or opinions of the Author on public men or public events. I am still of opinion that this was the right course for a person charged with the publication of these manuscripts to pursue. I have seen it stated that the [viii] first edition of these Journals contains passages which have been suppressed in the later editions: but this is an error. The first edition contained a good many mistakes, which were subsequently pointed out by criticism, or discovered and corrected. Two or three sentences relating to private individuals were omitted, but nothing which concerns public personages or public events has been withdrawn.

Eight and forty years have now elapsed since the date at which the narrative contained in the former volumes was suspended, and I am led by several considerations to the opinion that the time has arrived when it may be resumed. We are divided by a long interval from the administrations of Lord Melbourne, Sir Robert Peel, and Lord John Russell, and, with a very small number of exceptions, no one survives who sat in the Cabinets of those statesmen. Nearly half a century has elapsed since the occurrence of the events recorded in the earlier pages of these volumes, and in a few months from the publication of them, the nation and the empire may celebrate with just enthusiasm the jubilee of the reign of Queen Victoria. Those who have had the good fortune to witness this long series of events, and to take any part in them, may well desire to leave behind them some record of a period, unexampled in the annals of Great Britain and of the world for an almost unbroken continuance of progress, prosperity, liberty, and peace. It is not too soon to glean in the records of the time those fugitive [ix] impressions which will one day be the materials of history. To us, veterans of the century, life is in the past, and we look back with unfading interest on the generations that have passed away.

As far as I am myself concerned, I am desirous to complete, whilst I am able, the task allotted to me by Mr. Greville in his last hours, which indeed I regard as a sacred duty, since I know that in placing these Journals in my hands his principal motive and intention was that they should not be withheld from publication until the present interest in them had expired. The advance of years reminds me that if this duty is to be performed at all by me, it must not be indefinitely delayed, and if any strictures are passed on the Editor of these volumes, I prefer to encounter them in my own person rather than to leave the work in other hands and to the uncertainty of the future.

If I turn to precedent and the example of other writers, it will be found that the interval of time which has elapsed since the latest date included in these volumes, embracing the period from 1837 to 1852, is considerably greater than that which marked the publication of similar contributions to political history[1]. [x] At the head of these must be placed Bishop Burnet’s ‘History of His Own Time.’ Bishop Burnet had lived in confidential relations with four Sovereigns and their Ministers, and it would be a mistake to compare the position of Mr. Greville (who never filled any office of a political nature, and who never lived in confidential intercourse with the Court) with that of the bold adviser of Charles II. and James II., and the trusted councillor of William and Mary. Bishop Burnet finished his history of the reigns of Charles II. and James II. about the year 1704; that of William and Queen Anne between 1710 and 1713. In 1714 he died. The first folio containing the earlier reigns was published by his son in 1724; the second in 1734, barely twenty years after the death of Queen Anne. Many passages were, however, suppressed, and the text was not restored in its integrity until the publication of the Oxford edition in the present century.

[1] To look back as far as the Memoirs of the fifteenth century, it may be noted that the first edition of the Memoirs of Philippe de Comines, who had lived in the confidential intimacy of King Louis XI. and King Charles VIII. of France, was published in Paris in 1524, under a special privilege obtained for that purpose. Louis XI. died in 1483, and his son Charles VIII. in 1498. Comines himself died in 1511. These Memoirs, therefore, were published at a time when many of the persons mentioned in them, and most of their immediate descendants, were still alive.

Lord Clarendon died in 1674, and the first edition of his ‘History of the Rebellion and the Civil Wars’ was published in 1702-4, with some alterations and omissions, which were supplied by the publication of the complete text in 1826.

Lord Chesterfield died in 1773, and his ‘Letters to his Son,’ a work abounding in keen and sarcastic observations on his contemporaries, were published in the following year, 1774.

Sir Nathaniel Wraxall’s ‘Memoirs,’ which contain the best account extant of the debates at the time of [xi] the Coalition Ministry in 1783, and on the Regency Question in 1788, were published in 1815, about thirty years after those discussions.

But it is scarcely necessary to seek for remote precedents to justify the publication of the materials of contemporary history. Our own time has been fertile in great examples of it. For instance, the ‘Memoirs of Lord Palmerston,’ by Lord Dalling and Mr. Evelyn Ashley, are full of confidential correspondence on the secret discussions and resolutions of the Cabinet. The ‘Journal of Lord Ellenborough,’ recently published by Lord Colchester, contains the private record of a Cabinet Minister on the events of the day and the characters of his colleagues. The more recent publication of Lord Malmesbury’s ‘Autobiography,’ and of the Croker Papers, has made public a large amount of correspondence and information of great interest, with reference to the ministerial combinations and political transactions of the present century. And above all, Her Majesty Queen Victoria, by placing the papers of the late Prince Consort, and her own correspondence and journals, in the hands of Sir Theodore Martin, for the purpose of composing from the most authentic materials a full biography of that illustrious Prince, has shown that, far from regarding with distrust or repugnance the records of contemporary history, she has been graciously pleased to contribute to it in the most ample manner by the publication of an immense mass of documents relating to the interior of [xii] the Court, the intercourse of the Sovereign with her Ministers, the character of foreign monarchs, the less known transactions of her reign, and even the domestic incidents of her life. No Sovereign ever courted more fully and more willingly the light of publicity on a reign which needs no concealment or disguise.

It would be presumptuous to compare the Journals of an individual who never held any important office in the State, and who derived his knowledge of public affairs entirely from the intercourse of private friendship, with the correspondence and private records of sovereigns, ministers, and statesmen of the highest rank, which have been published with their sanction or with that of their immediate successors. These Journals advance no such pretension; but the production of so many confidential documents of contemporary or recent history by such personages may be fairly invoked to justify, à fortiori, the publication of notes and memoranda of a humbler character.

The incidents and opinions which will be found in these volumes derive their chief value from the fact that they are recorded by a bystander and spectator, who was not, and did not aspire to be, an actor in the occurrences he witnessed, but who lived on terms of intimacy with many of the most active politicians of his times, in both the leading parties in the State, although he strictly belonged to neither of them, and was wholly indifferent to mere party interests.

Mr. Greville himself, in communicating a portion of [xiii] his manuscripts to one of his friends, wrote of them in the following terms:—

You will find the greater part political, not often narrative; mostly allusions and comments on passing events, the details of which were not notorious and accessible; some miscellanea of a different description, personal, social, official; you will find public characters freely, flippantly perhaps, and frequently very severely dealt with; in some cases you will be surprised to see my opinions of certain men, some of whom, in many respects, I may perhaps think differently of now. Gibbon said of certain Pagan philosophers, that ‘their lives were spent in the pursuit of truth and the practice of virtue.’ I cannot boast of having passed my life in the practice of virtue, but I may venture to say that I have always pursued truth; and you will see evidence of the efforts I have made to get at it, and to sum up conflicting statements of facts with a sort of judicial impartiality.

But although I am of opinion that the time has arrived when a further portion of these Journals may without impropriety be published, yet I am sensible that as the narrative draws nearer to the present time, and touches events occurring during the reign of the Sovereign who still happily occupies the throne, much more reticence is required of an Editor than he felt in speaking of the two last reigns, which belong altogether to past history. There were in the records of those reigns topics of scandal and topics of ridicule, already [xiv] familiar to the world, which cast a shadow over those pages, and the more so as they were true. In narrating the earlier passages of the reign of Queen Victoria, no such incidents occur. The Court was pure; the persons of the Sovereign and her Consort profoundly respected. The monarchy itself has been strengthened in the last forty-eight years by a strict adherence to the principles of moral dignity and constitutional government. Nothing is to be found in any part of these Journals to impugn that salutary impression; and they will afford to future generations no unworthy picture of those who have played the most conspicuous part in the last half century.

Nevertheless, the delicacy and caution which ought to be observed in recording the language and the actions of eminent persons, some of whom are still alive, appear to me to prescribe the omission, at the present time, of some passages that may more fitly be published hereafter. Accordingly, I have exercised to some extent the discretionary powers entrusted to me by the Author with these manuscripts; and I have withheld from publication details which appeared to be of a strictly confidential character, or which related the conversations of living persons. In this respect I have again followed the example set by the illustrious precedents to which I have already referred. Lord Clarendon’s ‘History of the Great Rebellion,’ Bishop Burnet’s ‘History of His Own Time,’ the Duc de Saint-Simon’s ‘Memoirs,’ were all first [xv] published with large omissions from the text; and it is only in our own age—one or two centuries after the death of the writers—that these works have been made known to the world in their integrity from the original manuscripts. I know not if these Journals are destined to so long a life; they certainly do not lay claim to so great and lasting an historical and literary fame; but it is probable they will be read and referred to hereafter as a portion of the materials of history of England in this century.

The alternative lay between the entire suppression of the work for an indefinite period, and the publication of by far the larger portion of it with the omission of a few passages which touched too nearly on our contemporaries. Upon the whole, the latter course appears to me the most consistent with the duty I accepted from the Author, and which I owe to the public. It must not be supposed, however, that the passages which are omitted in this edition contain anything which it would be thought discreditable for the Author to have written or for the Editor to publish, or that they are of considerable extent or importance. These passages are simply withheld at the present time from motives of delicacy to persons still alive, or to their immediate descendants. I adhere to the opinion previously expressed by me, that the public conduct of those who, by their station or their offices must be regarded as public characters, needs no reticence or concealment.

[xvi] An observation occurs in one of the later volumes of these Journals (which had previously escaped my notice) in which the Author remarks that much that he has written appears to him to be extremely dull, and that to avoid dullness the manuscript should be carefully revised before it is made public. I have not the same dread of dullness which affected Mr. Greville. A passage may be found to contain something of interest hereafter, though it is not amusing, and at the worst the reader can pass it by. Nor do I attach importance to the amusement the public may derive from this work. The volumes now published may be less attractive to some readers than those which preceded them, for they relate to less dissipated and distracted times; but they are, I think, more instructive because they are marked by a deeper insight into political history.

In conclusion, I may remark that the present publication embraces a period of fourteen years, extending from the accession of Her Majesty Queen Victoria in 1837 to the coup d’état of Napoleon III. in 1851. The latest events recorded in these pages are separated from us by an interval of about thirty-four years. The occurrences which took place after the close of 1851, the subsequent establishment of the Imperial power in France, the formation of the Cabinet of Lord Aberdeen, followed in 1853 by the Crimean War, mark an important epoch in the history of this country and of Europe. I have therefore thought that this date is [xvii] the appropriate conclusion of this portion of the work. Mr. Greville continued his Journal for nine years more, until the close of 1860, though in his later years he was less conversant with public affairs than he had been in the more active period of his life. Should life and health be vouchsafed to me, I shall endeavour to complete the task he confided to my care by the publication of one or two concluding volumes at no distant period.


⁂ The notes in brackets are by the Editor, those without brackets by the Author.



The following inaccuracies have been remarked whilst these sheets were passing through the press:—

Vol. ii, p. 37, the Duke of Wellington sate in Sir Robert Peel’s Cabinet of 1841 without office. Sir E. Knatchbull was Paymaster-General with a seat in the Cabinet.

Vol. ii, p. 60, line 18, for Emerson Tennent read Tennant.

Vol. ii, p. 72, for Sir George Grey in the text and note read Sir Charles Grey.

Vol. ii, p. 113, the Rev. William Capel was Vicar, not Rector, of Watford, and Rector of Raine.

Vol. ii, p. 126, last line but two, for any read my.

Vol. ii, p. 194, last two lines, for Moore O’Farrell read More O’Ferrall.

Vol. ii, p. 372, the battles of Moodkee and Ferozeshah were fought in December 1845, before, not after, the battle of Aliwal.

Vol. iii, p. 108, line 12, for Machale read MacHale.

Vol. iii, p. 218, note1, line 2, for Gotto read Goito.

Contents of the First Volume


[xix] The New Reign — Character of William IV — Political Effects of the King’s Death — Candidates for Office — Lord Durham — The King’s Funeral — The Elections — The Whigs and O’Connell — First Impression of a Railroad — Lord Stanley at Knowsley — The King of Hanover — Return to London — Result of the Elections — Liberality of the Queen — Princess Lieven’s Audiences — Conservative Reaction in the Counties — The Queen and Lord Munster — State of Parties in the New Parliament — The Corn Laws — The Poor Laws — Tory-Radicals — Promise of the Queen’s Character — Her Self-Possession — Queen Victoria and Queen Adelaide — The Queen and Lord Melbourne — Mango wins the St. Leger — Racing Reflexions — Death of Lord Egremont — The Court of Victoria — Conservatism of the Whigs — Radical Discontent — Irish Policy of the Government — Mr. Disraeli’s First Speech — Lord Brougham’s Isolation — Radical Politics — Lord Melbourne and Lord Brougham — The Canada Debates — The Use of a Diary — Duke of Wellington on Canada — On his own Despatches — On the Battle of Salamanca — King Ernest in Hanover — English Manor Houses — Festivities at Belvoir Castle — Life at Belvoir — Reflexions — Beaudesert — Death of Lord Eldon.


Debates on the Canada Bill — Moderation of the Duke of Wellington — State of Canada — Lord Durham’s Position — Weakness of the Government — Parallel of Hannibal and the Duke of Wellington — The Ballot — Lord Brougham on the Ballot — Position of the Government — Policy of Sir Robert Peel — Death of Mr. Creevey — Knighthood of General Evans — Lord Brougham’s Conversation — A Skirmish in the House of Commons — Defeat of Government — Skirmish in the House of Lords — Annoyance of Peel at these Proceedings — Brougham’s Anti-Slavery Speech — Opposition [xx] Tactics — Brougham on the Coolie Trade — Ministerial Success — Sir Robert Peel’s Tactics — Composition of Parties — A Dinner at Buckingham Palace — Men of Science — The Lord Mayor at a Council — The Queen at a Levée — The Guiana Apprentices — Small v. Attwood reversed — Character of the Queen — Wilkie’s Picture of the ‘First Council’ — Small v. Attwood — Immediate Emancipation — Birthday Reflexions — Lord Charles Fitzroy turned out — Vote on Lord Durham’s Expenses — Lord Durham’s Irritation — Wolff the Missionary — Newmarket — The Coronation — Lord Brougham’s Reviews.


A Ball at the Palace — Aspect of Foreign Affairs — Irish Tithe Bill — Debate on Sir T. Acland’s Motion — Death of Prince Talleyrand — Death and Character of Lady Harrowby — Government defeated on Emancipation of Slaves — Dispute of Mr. Handley and Lord Brougham — Dinner at Lambeth — Arrangement of Irish Questions — Settlement of Irish Questions — O’Connell declines the Rolls — Naval Intervention in Spain — Duke of Wellington’s Moderation — Marshal Soult arrives — Preparations for the Coronation of Queen Victoria — The Wellington Statue — The Coronation — Coleridge and John Sterling — Lord Durham’s Mission to Canada — Lord Brougham contrasted with the Duke — Macaulay on his return from India — Soult in London — Duke of Sussex quarrels with Ministers — Lord Burghersh’s Opera — High Church Sermons — Lord Palmerston and Mr. Urquhart — The Ecclesiastical Discipline Bill — The Duke’s Despatches — Macaulay’s Plan of Life — Lord Durham’s Canada Ordinance — Mr. Barnes — Canada Indemnity Bill — Lord Durham’s Ordinance disallowed — Irish Corporation Bill — Review of the Session


The Queen and Lord Melbourne — The Battersea Schools — A Council at Windsor — A Humble Hero — Lord Durham’s Resignation — Duke of Wellington’s Campaigns — The Grange — Lord Durham’s Return — Death of Lord Sefton — Lord Durham’s Arrival — His Reception in the Country — Position of the Radicals — A Visit to Windsor Castle — Lord Brougham’s ‘Letter to the Queen’ — Lord Durham repudiates the Radicals — A Lecture at Battersea — Dinner at Holland House — Curran and George Ponsonby — Prospect of the New Year — The Petition of the Serjeants-at-Law — Reconciliation with Lord Durham — Murder of Lord Norbury — The Corn Laws attacked — Lord Palmerston and the ‘Portfolio’ — The Serjeants’ Case — Brougham and Lyndhurst ‘done up’ — Opening of the Session — Resignation of Lord Glenelg — State of Parties — Lord Durham’s Report — Lord Glenelg’s Retirement — Lord Normanby, Colonial Minister — Corn Law Repeal — Sir Francis Bond Head — Gore House — Lady Blessington


[xxi] Opening of the Session — Lady Flora Hastings — Bulwer’s ‘Richelieu’ — Changes at the Colonial Office — Attack on Lord Normanby’s Irish Administration in the Lords — General Aspect of Affairs — The ‘Morning Chronicle’ — Death of Lord de Ros — Precarious Position of the Government — Views of Lord John Russell — A doubtful Question — Conciliatory Conversation with Sir James Graham — Attitude of the Whig Party — Peel’s cold Reception of the Proposal — Result of the Debate — Attitude of Lord John Russell — Language of the Radical Party — Conciliation — Change of Feeling in the Country — Duke of Newcastle dismissed from the Lord Lieutenancy — Lord John Russell’s Letter — Jamaica Bill — Defeat of the Jamaica Bill — Resignation of Ministers — The Queen retains the Ladies of her Household — Conduct of the Whigs — End of the Crisis — The Truth of the Story


The Whigs retain the Government — Motives of the Queen — Decision of Ministers — Lord Brougham’s Excitement — Ministerial Explanations — State of Affairs in Parliament — Lord Brougham’s great Speech on the Crisis — Duke of Wellington’s Wisdom and Moderation — Visit of the Grand Duke Alexander — Macaulay returns to Parliament — Disappointment of the Radicals — The Radicals appeased — Visit to Holland House — Anecdotes of George Selwyn — False Position of the Whigs — Downton Castle — Payne Knight — Malvern — Troy House — Castles on the Wye — Tintern Abbey — Bath — Salisbury Cathedral — Death of Lady Flora Hastings — Violent Speech of the Duke — Conversation with the Duke of Wellington — Lord Clarendon’s début in the House of Lords — Lord Brougham attacks Lord Normanby — His fantastic Conduct — Pauper School at Norwood


Review of the Session — Ministerial Changes — Effect of Changes in the Government — A Greenwich Dinner — Dover Dinner to the Duke of Wellington — A Toast from Ovid — Decay of Tory Loyalty — Unpopularity of Government — Brougham’s Letter to the Duke of Bedford — Character of John, Duke of Bedford — Brougham at the Dover Dinner — Brougham and Macaulay — The Duke’s Decline — Duke of Wellington consulted on Indian and Spanish Affairs — Baron Brunnow arrives in England — False Reports of Lord Brougham’s Death — Insulting Speeches of the Tories — Holland House — Lord Brougham and Lord Holland — The Queen’s Marriage is announced — Remarkable Anecdote of the Duke of Wellington — The Mayor of Newport at Windsor — Ampthill — Lord John [xxii] Russell’s Borough Magistrates — Lord Clarendon’s Advice to his Colleagues — Prospects of the Government — Opening of the Session — Duel of Mr. Bradshaw and Mr. Horsman — Lord Lyndhurst’s View of Affairs — Prince Albert’s Household — The Privilege Question — Prince Albert’s Allowance — Precedence of Prince Albert — Lord John Russell and Sir Robert Peel — Judgement on the Newport Prisoners — A Vote of Want of Confidence moved — The Newport Prisoners — Prince Albert’s Precedency — Sir Robert Peel and his Party — Sir Robert Peel’s Speech and Declaration — Precedence Question — The Queen’s Marriage — Illness of the Duke of Wellington — The Precedence Question settled — The Duke opposed to Peel on the Privilege Question — Change in the Health of the Duke — Prince Albert’s Name in the Liturgy — Success of Pamphlet on Precedence — Judicial Committee Bill — Lord Dudley’s Letters — Amendment of Judicial Committee — King’s Sons born Privy Councillors, other Princes sworn — The Duke returns to London — Lord Melbourne’s Opinion on Journals


The ex-King of Westphalia — The Duke of Wellington at Court — Failure of the Duke’s Memory — Dinner at Devonshire House to Royalties — Government defeated on Irish Registration Bill — The King of Hanover’s Apartments — Rank of Foreign Ministers — The Duchess of Inverness — War with China — Murder of Lord William Russell — Duke of Wellington on the China War — Weakness of Government — Duke of Wellington’s Conduct towards the Government — The Queen shot at — Examination of the Culprit — Retrospect of Affairs — Conciliatory Policy — Advantages of a Weak Government — The Eastern Question — Lord Palmerston’s Daring and Confidence — M. Guizot and Mr. Greville — Pacific Views of Louis Philippe — M. Guizot’s Statement of the Policy of France — Growing Alarm of Ministers — Alarm of Prince Metternich — Lord John Russell disposed to resist Palmerston — History of the Eastern Negotiation — A Blunder of M. Guizot — Important Conversation with Guizot — Conflict between Lord John Russell and Lord Palmerston — Energetic Resolution of Lord John — Lord Palmerston holds out — Conciliatory Proposals of France — Interview with Lord Palmerston and Lord John


The Cabinet meets — The Government on the verge of Dissolution — The Second Cabinet — Palmerston lowers his Tone in the Cabinet — But continues to bully in the Press — Taking of Beyrout — Deposition of Mehemet Ali — Lord John acquiesces — Total Defeat of Peace Party — Lord John Russell’s False Position — His Views — Lord Granville’s Dissatisfaction — Further Attempts at Conciliation — Prevarication of Lord Ponsonby [xxiii] — Newspaper Hostilities — Discussion of the French Note of the 8th October — Guizot’s Opinion of the Note of the 8th October — Louis Philippe’s Influence on the Crisis — Summary of Events — Death of Lord Holland — Lord Clarendon’s Regret for Lord Holland — M. Guizot’s Intentions as to France — Effects of the Queen’s Partiality for Melbourne — Resignation of Thiers — Bickerings in the Ministry — Lord John Russell’s Dissatisfaction with Lord Palmerston — Lord John resigns — Lord John demands the Recall of Lord Ponsonby — Lord Palmerston defends Lord Ponsonby — M. Guizot’s Policy — Conciliatory Propositions fail — Attitude of Austria — Asperity of Lord Palmerston — Operations in Syria — Success of Lord Palmerston and his Policy — Baron Mounier’s Mission to London — Birth of the Princess Royal — Results of the Success of Lord Palmerston’s Measures — The Tories divided in Opinion as to the Treaty — Retrospect of the Year — Lord Holland


Successes in India, China, and Syria — The Hereditary Pashalik of Egypt — Lord Palmerston’s Hostility to France — Lord Palmerston and the Tories — His extraordinary Position — A Communication from M. Guizot — Death of the Duchess of Cannizzaro — Her History — Dinner with Lady Holland — Macaulay’s Conversation — Opening of the Session — A Sheriffs’ Dinner — Hullah’s Music Lecture — Tory Successes — Duke of Wellington ill — Irish Registration Bill — Opposed by the Conservatives — Conservative Government of Ireland — Petulance of Lord Palmerston — Double Dealing of Lord Palmerston — Ill Temper of the French — M. Dedel’s account of the State of Affairs — M. Dedel’s account corrected — Termination of the Disputes with France — Bad News from China — Hostility of the United States — The Sultan’s Hatti-sherif — The Hatti-sherif disapproved by some Ministers — Peel’s Liberality — The Hatti-sherif disavowed — The Bishop of Exeter left in the lurch — Poor Law Amendment Bill — Lord Granville’s Illness — Death of Mrs. Algernon Greville — Loss of ‘The President’ — Government defeated — China Troubles — Danger of the Government


The Royal Precedency Question


FROM 1837 TO 1852.


[1] The New Reign — Character of William IV. — Political Effects of the King’s Death — Candidates for Office — Lord Durham — The King’s Funeral — The Elections — The Whigs and O’Connell — First Impression of a Railroad — Lord Stanley at Knowsley — The King of Hanover — Return to London — Result of the Elections — Liberality of the Queen — Princess Lieven’s Audiences — Conservative Reaction in the Counties — The Queen and Lord Munster — State of Parties in the New Parliament — The Corn Laws — The Poor Laws — Tory-Radicals — Promise of the Queen’s Character — Her Self-Possession — Queen Victoria and Queen Adelaide — The Queen and Lord Melbourne — Mango wins the St. Leger — Racing Reflexions — Death of Lord Egremont — The Court of Victoria — Conservatism of the Whigs — Radical Discontent — Irish Policy of the Government — Mr. Disraeli’s First Speech — Lord Brougham’s Isolation — Radical Politics — Lord Melbourne and Lord Brougham — The Canada Debates — The Use of a Diary — Duke of Wellington on Canada — On his own Despatches — On the Battle of Salamanca — King Ernest in Hanover — English Manor Houses — Festivities at Belvoir Castle — Life at Belvoir — Reflexions — Beaudesert — Death of Lord Eldon.

June 25th, 1837

I remember when George IV. died, seven years ago, having been struck by the small apparent sensation that his death created. There was, however, at that time a great deal of bustle and considerable excitement, which were caused by the activity of the new Court, and the [2] eccentricities of the King; but in the present instance the Crown has been transferred to the head of the new Queen with a tranquillity which is curious and edifying. The first interest and curiosity to see the young Queen and observe her behaviour having passed off, there appears nothing more to do or to think about; there are no changes, and there is no talk of change. Her Majesty has continued quietly at Kensington, where she transacts business with her Ministers, and everything goes on as if she had been on the throne six years instead of six days. Animated panegyrics were pronounced upon the late King in both Houses of Parliament by those who had served him; and Peel repeated in the House of Commons, in more set phrases, the expressions of his admiration of the conduct of the Queen on her first public appearance, which he uttered to me when I saw him after the Council on Tuesday. Melbourne’s funeral oration over William IV. was very effective because it was natural and hearty, and as warm as it could be without being exaggerated. He made the most of the virtues the King undoubtedly possessed, and passed lightly over his defects.

King William IV., if he had been born in a private station, would have passed unobserved through life like millions of other men, looked upon as possessing a good-natured and affectionate disposition, but without either elevation of mind or brightness of intellect. During many years of his life the Duke of Clarence was an obscure individual, without consideration, moving in a limited circle, and altogether forgotten by the great world. He resided at Bushey with Mrs. Jordan, and brought up his numerous children with very tender affection: with them, and for them, he seemed entirely to live. The cause of his separation from Mrs. Jordan has not been explained, but it probably arose from his desire to better his condition by a good marriage, and he wanted to marry Miss Wykeham, a half-crazy woman of large fortune, on whom he afterwards conferred a Peerage. George IV., I believe, put a spoke in that wheel, fortunately for the Duke as well as for the country. The death of the Princess Charlotte opened to [3] CHARACTER OF WILLIAM IV. him a new prospect, and the lack of royal progeny made his marriage as desirable an event to the public as it was convenient to himself. The subsequent death of the Duke of York, which made him heir to the throne, at once exalted him into a personage of political importance, and when the great Tory schism took place, upon the death of Lord Liverpool, Mr. Canning thought the Duke of Clarence’s appointment to the office of Lord High Admiral would strengthen his Government, and at the same time relieve him from some of the difficulties which beset him; and he accordingly prevailed upon the King to revive the office in his person. Soon after the Duke of Wellington’s elevation he found it necessary to remove the Duke of Clarence, and it is an excellent trait in the character of the latter that, notwithstanding his vexation at the time, which was very great, he harboured no resentment against the Duke of Wellington, and never seems to have hesitated about retaining him as his Minister when he came to the throne. His exaltation (for the moment) completely turned his head, but as his situation got familiar to him he became more composed and rational, if not more dignified in his behaviour. The moral and intellectual qualities of the King, however insignificant in themselves, now became, from their unavoidable influence, an object of great interest and importance, and in the early part of his reign he acquired no small share of popularity. People liked a King whose habits presented such a striking contrast to those of his predecessor. His attention to business, his frank and good-humoured familiarity, and his general hospitality, were advantageously compared with the luxurious and selfish indolence and habits of seclusion in the society of dull and grasping favourites which characterised the former reign.

The King seemed to be more occupied with the pleasing novelty of his situation, providing for his children, and actively discharging the duties of his high function, than in giving effect to any political opinions; and he took a correct view of his constitutional obligations, for although he continued his confidence to the Duke of Wellington unabated [4] to the last, he transferred it as entirely to Lord Grey when the Whigs came in. He went on with his second Ministry as cordially as he had done with his first, nor does it appear that he took fright at their extensive plans of reform when they were first promulgated. He was probably bit by the popularity which the Reform Bill procured him, and it was not until he had gone too far to recede with safety that he was roused from his state of measureless content and unthinking security. The roar of the mighty conflict which the Reform Bill brought on filled him with dismay, and very soon with detestation of the principles of which he had unwittingly permitted himself to be the professor and the promoter; and as these feelings and apprehensions were continually stimulated by almost all the members of his family, legitimate and illegitimate, they led him into those unavailing struggles which embroiled him with his Ministers, rendered him obnoxious to the Liberal party, compromised the dignity of the Crown and the tranquillity of the country, and grievously embittered the latter years of his life. But although King William was sometimes weak, sometimes obstinate, and miserably deficient in penetration and judgement, he was manly, sincere, honest, and straightforward. The most painful moment of his life, and the greatest humiliation to which a king ever submitted, must have been when he again received the Whig Ministers in 1835; but it is to the credit of Lord Melbourne, as well as of the King, that their subsequent personal intercourse was not disagreeable to either, and greatly to the King’s honour that he has never been accused or suspected of any underhand or indirect proceeding for the purpose of emancipating himself from a thraldom so galling. Of political dexterity and artifice he was altogether incapable, and although, if he had been false, able, and artful, he might have caused more perplexity to his Whig Government and have played a better party game, it is perhaps fortunate for the country, and certainly happy for his own reputation, that his virtues thus predominated over his talents. The most remarkable foible of the late King was his passion for speechifying, and I [5] POLITICAL EFFECTS OF THE KING’S DEATH. have recorded some of his curious exhibitions in this way. He had considerable facility in expressing himself, but what he said was generally useless or improper. He never received the homage of a Bishop without giving him a lecture; and the custom he introduced of giving toasts and making speeches at all his dinners was more suitable to a tavern than to a palace. He was totally deficient in dignity or refinement, and neither his elevation to the throne nor his association with people of the most distinguished manners could give him any tincture of the one or the other. Though a good-natured and amiable man, he was passionate and hasty, and thus he was led into those bickerings and quarrels with the Duchess of Kent and with his own children, which were a perpetual source of discomfort or disgrace to him, and all of which might have been avoided by a more consistent course of firmness and temper on his part. His sons generally behaved to him with great insolence and ingratitude, except Adolphus. Of the daughters I know nothing.

The various political hopes, fears, and expectations which his death has raised may be very shortly summed up. Nobody can deny that it has given the Whig Government a great advantage over the Tories. Hitherto the Government have been working against the stream, inasmuch as they had the influence of the Crown running dead against them; the tide has now turned in their favour, and to a certain degree they will be able to convert the Tory principle to their own advantage. The object of the Whigs is to remain in office, to put down the Radicals and Radicalism, and go on gradually and safely reforming; above all to proceed as fast as the innumerable difficulties which impede their course will let them, in bringing Ireland into a state of quiet and contentment, and to pave the way for some definite settlement of the great questions which distract that country. This I believe to be the object of Lord Melbourne and Lord John Russell, but at the same time they have colleagues and supporters who have more extensive and less moderate views, and who would like to see the Government more cordially allied to the Radicals than it is, and who are so [6] animated against the Tories that they would do anything to prevent their return to power.[1]

[1] [A list of Lord Melbourne’s second Administration will be found in the first part of this work, vol. iii. p. 256. It had undergone no change since 1835, except that the Great Seal, which had been put in commission, was now held by Lord Cottenham.]

The great body of the Tories, on the other hand, are thirsting for office: they are, or pretend to be, greatly alarmed at the Radical tendencies of the Government, but they are well aware that in the actual state of the House of Commons they have the power of keeping the Government in check and of defeating every Radical scheme while in opposition, but that it would be dangerous to attempt to turn them out and take their places. So far from being satisfied with this position of exceeding strength and utility, they are chafing and fuming that they can’t get in, and would encounter all the hazards of defeat for the slightest chance of victory. It is only the prudent reserve of Peel (in which Stanley and Graham probably join) that restrains the impatience of the party within moderate bounds. The Radicals are few in number, and their influence is very low; they are angry with the Government for not making greater concessions to them, but as they still think there is a better chance of their views being promoted by the Whigs remaining in, they continue to vote with them in cases of need, though there are some of them who would prefer the dissolution of the Ministry and war with a Tory Government rather than the present imperfect alliance which subsists between themselves and the Whigs. The Whigs then expect to gain by the new elections and to obtain an accession of strength to their Government. They think the popularity of a new reign, and the partial neutrality of the Tory principle, will be of material advantage to their cause. The Tories, though they maintain that they shall not lose at the elections, evidently feel that they take the field under a great disadvantage, and do not deny that the King’s death has been a heavy blow to them as a party.

June 29th, 1837

All the accounts continue to report well of [7] LORD DURHAM. the young Queen, of her quickness, sense and discretion, and the remarkable facility with which she has slid into her high station and discharges its duties. The Duchess of Kent never appears at Kensington, where the Queen occupies a separate range of apartments, and her influence is very silently exercised, if at all. The town is rife with reports of changes and appointments, some very natural and others very absurd; all agree that the power vested in Melbourne’s hands is unbounded, and that (as far as Court appointments are concerned) he uses it with propriety. The great topic of interest is the question of Lord Hill’s removal,[2] which the Radicals and violent Whigs have been long driving at, but to which it is believed Melbourne is himself adverse. So Lord Stanley told me the other day as his belief; and when I said that though this might be so, it was doubtful how far he would be induced to fight the battle in his own Cabinet if it was mooted there, he said that from what he heard, he thought Melbourne was lord and master in his own Cabinet.

[2] [Lord Hill held the office of Commander-in-Chief from 1828 till 1842, when he resigned it.]

The eternal question in everybody’s mouth is what is Lord Durham to have, or if it is indispensable that he should have anything. When Durham left England, he was the elected chief of the Radicals, and he was paving the way to future Court favour through a strict alliance with the Duchess of Kent and Sir John Conroy. At St. Petersburg his language was always moderate; now that he is returned, the Radicals, still regarding him as their chief, look anxiously to his introduction into the Cabinet. Charles Buller, whom I met the other day, said, in reply to my asking him if Government would gain at the elections, ‘I think they will gain anyhow, but if they are wise they will gain largely.’ I said, ‘I wonder what you call being wise?’ He said, ‘Take in Lord Durham.’ But they want Durham to be taken in as a pledge of the disposition of the Government to adopt their principles,[3] whereas Melbourne will receive him upon no such [8] terms; and if Durham takes office, he must subscribe to the moderate principles upon which both Melbourne and John Russell seem disposed to act. After all, it appears to me that a mighty fuss is made about Durham without any sufficient reason, that his political influence is small, his power less, and that it is a matter of great indifference whether he is in office or out.

[3] After this was written, a letter of Durham’s appeared couched in vague but conservative language, and without any allusion to the Ballot or the Radical desiderata.

July 9th, 1837

Yesterday I went to the late King’s funeral, who was buried with just the same ceremonial as his predecessor this time seven years. It is a wretched mockery after all, and if I were king, the first thing I would do should be to provide for being committed to the earth with more decency and less pomp. A host of persons of all ranks and stations were congregated, who ‘loitered through the lofty halls,’ chattering and laughing, and with nothing of woe about them but the garb. I saw two men in an animated conversation, and one laughing heartily at the very foot of the coffin as it was lying in state. The chamber of death in which the body lay, all hung with black and adorned with scutcheons and every sort of funereal finery, was like a scene in a play, and as we passed through it and looked at the scaffolding and rough work behind, it was just like going behind the scenes of a theatre. A soldier’s funeral, which I met in the morning—the plain coffin slowly borne along by his comrades, with the cap and helmet and sword of the dead placed upon it—was more impressive, more decent, more affecting than all this pomp with pasteboard crowns, and heralds scampering about, while idleness and indifference were gazing or gossiping round about the royal remains. I would rather be quietly consigned to the grave by a few who cared for me (if any such there might be) than be the object of all this parade and extravagance. The procession moving slowly through close ranks of Horse and Foot Guards holding tapers and torches in their hands, whilst at intervals the bands played a dead march, had, however, a very imposing effect. The service was intolerably long and tedious, and [9] THE ELECTIONS. miserably read by the Dean of Windsor. The Queen Dowager, with the King’s daughters and her ladies, were in the Royal Closet, and the FitzClarences in the one adjoining. At twelve o’clock she was to depart for Bushey, and a bitter moment it must have been when she quitted for ever the Castle where she had spent seven years of prosperous and happy splendour.

We continue to hear of the young Queen’s admirable behaviour, but all other subjects are swallowed up in the interest of the approaching elections. There will be more contests than ever were known, and it is amusing to see both parties endeavouring to avail themselves of the Queen’s name, the Tories affecting to consider her as a prisoner in the hands of the Whigs, and the Whigs boasting of the cordiality and warmth of her sentiments in their favour. The Whigs have the best of this, as they have some evidence to show in support of their assertions, and the probability really is that she is well enough contented with them, as they naturally take care she should be. Of the probable changes, one of the most important is the defeat of Sir James Graham in Cumberland, an event which the Whigs hail with extreme satisfaction, for they hate him rancorously. I am under personal obligations to Graham, and therefore regret that this feeling exists; but it is not unnatural, and his political conduct is certainly neither creditable nor consistent. He is now little better than a Tory, a very high Churchman, and one of the least liberal of the Conservative leaders. In Lord Grey’s Government he was one of the most violent, and for going to greater lengths than the majority of his colleagues. When the Reform Bill was concocted by a committee consisting of John Russell, Duncannon, Durham, and Graham, Graham earnestly advocated the Ballot, and Lord Durham says he has in his possession many letters of Graham’s, in which he presses for a larger measure of reform than they actually brought forward. In his address he says he has not changed, and talks of ‘having belonged to the Whig Government before they had made the compact by which they are now bound to O’Connell.’ [10] Tavistock[4] said to me yesterday that this was too bad, because he knew very well that the only understanding the Government had with O’Connell was one of mutual support in the Irish elections, the same which existed when he was in office; and, moreover, that at that time the majority of the Cabinet (Graham included) wanted to confer office upon O’Connell, and that they were only induced to forego that design by the remonstrances of Lord Lansdowne and the Duke of Richmond, who insisted upon a further probation before they did so. O’Connell got nothing, and soon after took to agitating and making violent speeches. This exasperated Lord Grey, who, in his turn, denounced him in the King’s Speech, and hence that feud between O’Connell and the Whigs, which was only terminated by the attempt of the Tories to retake office in 1835. This led to the imperfect alliance between them, half denied by the Whigs, which exposed the Government to as much obloquy as if they had concluded an open and avowed alliance with him, and perhaps to greater inconvenience. It was a great blunder not securing O’Connell in the first instance, and certainly a curious thing that such men as Lord Lansdowne, and still more the Duke of Richmond, should have influenced so important a matter and have overborne the opinions of the whole Cabinet. After all this, it is not extraordinary that his old associates should be disgusted at seeing Graham become a Tory champion, and at hearing him more bitter against them than any man on the Opposition benches. The Tories, on the other hand, rejoice in him, and his bigotry about all Church matters cancels in their minds all his former Liberalism in that and every other respect.

[4] [Francis, Marquis of Tavistock, afterwards seventh Duke of Bedford; born 12th May 1788, died 14th May 1861. He was one of Mr. Greville’s most intimate friends. They agreed in the main in politics, and had a common amusement—the turf. Lord Tavistock preferred a life of retirement, and he refused office, but he kept up an enormous correspondence with the leading statesmen of the day. He was consulted by them on all occasions, and not infrequently by the Queen, and he exercised a considerable, though inostensible, influence on public affairs.]

Knowsley, July 18th, 1837

Tired of doing nothing in London, [11] FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF A RAILROAD. and of hearing about the Queen, and the elections, I resolved to vary the scene and run down here to see the Birmingham railroad, Liverpool, and Liverpool races. So I started at five o’clock on Sunday evening, got to Birmingham at half-past five on Monday morning, and got upon the railroad at half-past seven. Nothing can be more comfortable than the vehicle in which I was put, a sort of chariot with two places, and there is nothing disagreeable about it but the occasional whiffs of stinking air which it is impossible to exclude altogether. The first sensation is a slight degree of nervousness and a feeling of being run away with, but a sense of security soon supervenes, and the velocity is delightful. Town after town, one park and château after another are left behind with the rapid variety of a moving panorama, and the continual bustle and animation of the changes and stoppages make the journey very entertaining. The train was very long, and heads were continually popping out of the several carriages, attracted by well-known voices, and then came the greetings and exclamations of surprise, the ‘Where are you going?’ and ‘How on earth came you here?’ Considering the novelty of its establishment, there is very little embarrassment, and it certainly renders all other travelling irksome and tedious by comparison. It was peculiarly gay at this time, because there was so much going on. There were all sorts of people going to Liverpool races, barristers to the assizes, and candidates to their several elections. The day was so wet that I could not see the town of Liverpool.

This is a very large place, the house immense, with no good room in it but the dining room. The country is generally flat, but there are fine trees and thriving plantations, so that it is altogether sufficiently enjoyable. It is a strange thing to see Stanley here; he is certainly the most natural character I ever saw; he seems never to think of throwing a veil over any part of himself; it is this straightforward energy which makes him so considerable a person as he is. In London he is one of the great political leaders, and the second orator in the House of Commons, and here he is a lively rattling sportsman, apparently devoted to racing and [12] rabbit-shooting, gay, boisterous, almost rustic in his manners, without refinement, and if one did not know what his powers are and what his position is, it would be next to impossible to believe that the Stanley of Knowsley could be the Stanley of the House of Commons.

Just before I left London, the Proclamation of the King of Hanover appeared, by which he threw over the new Constitution. Lyndhurst told me of it, before I had seen it, with many expressions of disappointment, and complaining of his folly and of the bad effect it would produce here. The Government papers have taken it up, though rather clumsily, for the purpose of connecting this violent measure with the Tory party; but it is a great folly in the Opposition, and in the journals belonging to them, not to reject at once and peremptorily all connexion with the King of Hanover, and all participation in, or approbation of, his measures. Lyndhurst told me that the King had all along protested against this Constitution, and refused to sign or be a party to it; that he contended it was illegal, inasmuch as the States by which it had been enacted had been illegally convoked; that he was able to do what he has done by his independence in point of finance, having a great revenue from Crown lands. The late King was very anxious to give this up, and to have a Civil List instead; but when this was proposed, the Duke of Cumberland exerted his influence successfully to defeat the project, and it was accordingly thrown out in the Senate (I think the Senate) by a small majority. Though we have nothing to do with Hanover, this violence will, no doubt, render him still more odious here than he was before, and it would be an awful thing if the Crown were, by any accident, to devolve upon him. The late King’s desire to effect this change affords an indisputable proof of the sincerity of his constitutional principles, and it is no small praise that he was satisfied with a constitutional sovereignty, and did not hanker after despotic power.

July 25th, 1837

I remained at Knowsley till Saturday morning, when I went to Liverpool, got into the train at half-past eleven, and at five minutes after four arrived at [13] RESULT OF THE ELECTIONS. Birmingham with an exact punctuality which is rendered easy by the great reserved power of acceleration, the pace at which we travelled being moderate and not above one half the speed at which they do occasionally go; one engineer went at the rate of forty-five miles an hour, but the Company turned him off for doing so. I went to Kenilworth, and saw the ruins of Leicester’s Castle, and thence to Warwick to see the Castle there, with both of which I was very much delighted, and got to town on Sunday to find myself in the midst of all the interest of the elections, and the sanguine and confident assertions and expectations of both parties. The first great trial of strength was in the City yesterday; and though Grote beat Palmer at last, and after a severe struggle, by a very small majority, it is so far consolatory to the Conservative interest that it shows a prodigious change since the last general election, when the Conservative candidate was 2,000 behind his opponents.

July 28th, 1837

The borough elections in England, as far as they have gone, and they are nearly over, have disappointed the Government, who expected to gain in them.[5] The contests have been numerous, often very close, and in some instances very costly. Norwich, won with the greatest difficulty by Lord Douro and Scarlett, is said to have cost 50,000ℓ. A compromise was offered at Yarmouth and at Norwich, but the parties could not come to terms, and the result has been the same as if it had taken place—two Tories in one place and two Whigs in the other. There have been a vast number of changes, and, as always happens, results very different from what were expected in particular places. The balance is slightly in favour of the Tories, but the best sign of the times is the defeat of the Radicals in various places. Grote nearly beaten in the City, and probably will be turned out on a scrutiny;[6] Roebuck and Palmer were defeated at [14] Bath, Ewart at Liverpool, Wigney at Brighton, Thompson at Hull. It was clear enough before from the Conservative language which was put into the Queen’s mouth by her Ministers, and by that which they held themselves, that it was the only tone which would be palatable to the country, and the event of the elections confirms this impression. This is, after all, the essential point, to which the gains of either party are entirely subordinate. If the Government keeps together without internal dissensions, and nothing particular occurs to produce a change, these Ministers cannot well be turned out, because, though their majority is small, they have the undoubted support of the House of Commons, and in my opinion they will be all the stronger from the Radicals being so reduced in numbers, as those who remain must support them, and cannot expect any concessions in return. It is quite impossible to doubt that there is in the country a strong Conservative reaction, and it is the more valuable from not being more strongly pronounced. It is great enough to prove that our institutions are safe, but not great enough to bring the Tories back into power and to turn their heads, ready as they always are to be puffed up with every returning gale of success. The Tories have made one good exchange in the article of whippers-in, for they have got Planta and Holmes instead of Bonham and Ross.

[5] [It was found that the Liberals replaced by Tories amounted to 66, and the Tories replaced by Liberals to 53. The Government therefore lost 13 seats in the boroughs.]

[6] [Mr. Grote was returned by a majority of only six, but he was not turned out.]

Everything that could be said in praise of the Queen, of her manners, conduct, conversation, and character, having been exhausted, we now hear no more of her. It is an interesting speculation to conjecture how soon she will begin to think and to act for herself upon higher matters, as she has at once done on all minor points connected with her domestic arrangements. It is generally believed that she is perfectly independent of any influence in these things, and while in all political concerns she has put herself implicitly in Melbourne’s hands, in all others she is her own mistress. From the beginning she resolved to have nothing to do with Sir John Conroy, but to reward him liberally for his services to her mother. She began by making him a baronet, and she has given him a pension of 3,000ℓ. a year; but he has [15] PRINCESS LIEVEN’S AUDIENCES. never once been invited to the Palace, or distinguished by the slightest mark of personal favour, so that nothing can be more striking than the contrast between the magnitude of the pecuniary bounty and the complete personal disregard of which he is the object. The Queen has been extremely kind and civil to the Queen Dowager, but she has taken no notice of the King’s children, good, bad, or indifferent. Lord Munster asked for an audience to deliver up the keys of the Castle which he had, and was very graciously received by her, but she did not give him back the keys. Adolphus FitzClarence has lost his Lordship of the Bedchamber, but then they only retained Peers, and he keeps the command of the Royal yacht. He has had no intimation whether his pension and his Rangership of Windsor Park are to be continued to him. [In the end, however, they retained everything, and the Queen behaved with equal liberality and kindness towards them all.]

July 29th, 1837

The loss of Leeds, news which arrived last night, is a great blow to the Tories, and the only important Radical triumph that has occurred. George Byng[7] told me yesterday that all the applications from the country for candidates sent to the Reform Club desired that Whigs and not Radicals might be supplied to them, which affords an additional proof of the decline of Radical opinions. He owned that they are disappointed at the result of the borough contests, having lost many places when they had no idea there was any danger.

[7] [The Hon. George Byng, born 8th June 1806; succeeded his father the Earl of Stafford, 3rd June 1860.]

July 30th, 1837

Madame de Lieven told me yesterday that she had an audience of the Queen, who was very civil and gracious, but timid and embarrassed, and talked of nothing but commonplaces. Her Majesty had probably been told that the Princess was an intrigante, and was afraid of committing herself. She had afterwards an interview with the Duchess of Kent, who (she told me) it was plain to see is overwhelmed with vexation and disappointment. Her daughter behaves to her with kindness and attention but [16] has rendered herself quite independent of the Duchess, who painfully feels her own insignificance. The almost contemptuous way in which Conroy has been dismissed must be a bitter mortification to her. The Duchess said to Madame de Lieven, ‘qu’il n’y avait plus d’avenir pour elle, qu’elle n’était plus rien;’ that for eighteen years this child had been the sole object of her life, of all her thoughts and hopes, and now she was taken from her, and there was an end of all for which she had lived heretofore. Madame de Lieven said that she ought to be the happiest of human beings, to see the elevation of this child, her prodigious success, and the praise and admiration of which she was universally the object; that it was a triumph and a glory which ought to be sufficient for her—to which she only shook her head with a melancholy smile, and gave her to understand that all this would not do, and that the accomplishment of her wishes had only made her to the last degree unhappy. King William is revenged, he little anticipated how or by what instrumentality, and if his ghost is an ill-natured and vindictive shade, it may rejoice in the sight of this bitter disappointment of his enemy. In the midst of all her propriety of manner and conduct, the young Queen begins to exhibit slight signs of a peremptory disposition, and it is impossible not to suspect that, as she gains confidence, and as her character begins to develope, she will evince a strong will of her own. In all trifling matters connected with her Court and her palace, she already enacts the part of Queen and mistress as if it had long been familiar to her.

August 8th, 1837

At Goodwood since this day week till Saturday, when I went to Petworth;—to town yesterday. The county elections have produced an endless succession of triumphs to the Conservatives, of which the greatest was that over Hume in Middlesex. The Whigs are equally astonished and dismayed at this result, for they had not a notion of being bowled down as they have been one after another. If the others had known their own strength, they might have done a great deal more; Bingham Baring[8] could [17] CONSERVATIVE REACTION. have brought in another man with him for Staffordshire; Henry Windham could have won Sussex had he chosen it, and was very near being brought in without his own consent, and against the wishes of Lord Egremont, who, having renounced politics, could not endure the idea of his son being member for the county. Had Lord Egremont lifted up his finger, Windham would have come in. The most extraordinary of all these elections is that of Bingham Baring. He could not stand again with any chance of success for Winchester, and he went with 5,000ℓ. in his pocket to Stafford, from time immemorial a corrupt borough; there he was beat, and he was about to return after spending about one half of his cash, when Lord Sandon pressed him to allow himself to be proposed for Staffordshire, asserting that nothing was requisite but a candidate, so much stronger was the Conservative feeling in the county than people were aware of. Without much hope of success, his family having never resided in the county, though his father has some property in it, and being personally unknown to the electors, he consented to stand, and, though he had no committee, and nothing was previously organised or arranged, he was carried by a prodigious majority to the head of the poll. The elections in which the Conservatives have failed have, nevertheless, exhibited a vast change in the public mind, for they have generally been very severe contests, and in Yorkshire, with nearly twice the constituency that there was at the last election, John Wortley was within a few hundreds of his opponents, when on the former occasion he was in a miserable minority.

[8] [William Bingham Baring, afterwards second Baron Ashburton, born June 1799, died March 1864. He sat for North Staffordshire in this Parliament.]

Lord Munster has got back his keys of the Round Tower. Melbourne found out that the place was held for life, and he sent for Munster, and told him he had been hasty in disposing of it, that it was his own doing and not the Queen’s, who had acted entirely by his advice, and that in his situation it was impossible for him to do otherwise than bestow any vacant appointment upon a person connected with his [18] own party, but that he was extremely glad in the present instance to find that he was not at liberty to deprive Munster of the office. Munster afterwards saw the Queen, who was exceedingly gracious, and told him she was very glad to restore the keys to him. The Queen and Melbourne appear to have both evinced kindness and good feeling on this occasion.

August 25th, 1837

Nothing of any moment has occurred for some time past, and all the world has been occupied with the elections as long as they lasted. After much disputing between the two parties as to the actual result, it appears by an impartial examination of the returns that the Ministers will have a majority of 30, and possibly a little more. As the Government members always attend better than their opponents, the working majority will probably be usually greater than this. The Conservatives are exceedingly triumphant at the result, and not without reason. The English counties have made a very important demonstration in their favour; they have not lost in the towns, and the Radicals have been almost everywhere defeated. This latter circumstance is exceedingly satisfactory, but the Radicals themselves do not admit that this election affords any proof that their principles are on the decline throughout the country. There cannot, however, be a doubt that questions of organic change are not at present in any degree of public favour. Charles Villiers, one of the Radicals with whom I sometimes converse, insists upon it that the Ballot has made great progress, but he also declares that, if carried, it would prove a Conservative measure, and that better men would be chosen. He predicts, however, with greater appearance of reason, that the question of the Corn Laws will, before long, become of paramount interest and importance, and I am induced to think that the next great struggle that takes place will be for their repeal.

The Tories behaved exceedingly ill in one respect during the late contest, and that was in availing themselves as much as possible of the cry that has been raised against the Poor Law. No measure of the Whig Government deserved greater credit than this, or obtained so much unqualified [19] TORY OPPOSITION TO THE POOR LAW. praise and general support. Inasmuch as the Tories are the largest landed proprietors, they are the greatest gainers by the new system, and if a Tory Government should be in power at the period of the expiration of the Act, they will not hesitate to renew it. Nevertheless when they found that some odium was excited in various parts of the country against the new Poor Law and its administration, many of them did not scruple to foment the popular discontent, and all watched its progress with satisfaction when they saw that it was exclusively directed against their political antagonists. It has been remarked with truth, that Peel has observed an almost invariable silence upon this head. During the discussion of the Bill he seldom took any part; never opposed it; but, if appealed to, expressed his acquiescence by silent nods. Of late, when a great clamour has been raised against the Act, and language bordering on sedition has been used, he has never said a word in favour of the system, which it would have been more generous, manly, and honourable to do than to cover himself with a cautious and mysterious reserve on so important a subject. The Duke of Wellington took part in the original measure very frankly; but at the end of last year, when Lord Stanhope got up a discussion in the House of Lords on the subject, though appealed to by Lord Tavistock, the Duke would not say a word. This was not like him, for with reference to mere party tactics, it is to his praise that he is generally ‘too fond of the right to pursue the expedient.’ It is this behaviour of the Tories which has shown me that there may be such a thing as a ‘Tory-Radical;’ for though I had heard the appellation, I thought they were contradictory terms which did not admit of a conjunction. A Tory-Radical is, however, a politician who for Tory party purposes endeavours to influence the minds of the people against the laws and their administration, not because he thinks those laws either ill-contrived or ill-executed, but because he thinks that the consequences of such popular discontent will fall upon his opponents, and that he can render the angry feeling instrumental to his own selfish or ambitious designs.

August 30th, 1837

[20] All that I hear of the young Queen leads to the conclusion that she will some day play a conspicuous part, and that she has a great deal of character. It is clear enough that she had long been silently preparing herself, and had been prepared by those about her (and very properly) for the situation to which she was destined. The impressions she has made continue to be favourable, and particularly upon Melbourne, who has a thousand times greater opportunities of knowing what her disposition and her capacity are than any other person, and who is not a man to be easily captivated or dazzled by any superficial accomplishments or mere graces of manner, or even by personal favour. Melbourne thinks highly of her sense, discretion, and good feeling; but what seem to distinguish her above everything are caution and prudence, the former to a degree which is almost unnatural in one so young, and unpleasing, because it suppresses the youthful impulses which are so graceful and attractive.

On the morning of the King’s death, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Conyngham arrived at Kensington at five o’clock, and immediately desired to see ‘the Queen.’ They were ushered into an apartment, and in a few minutes the door opened and she came in wrapped in a dressing-gown and with slippers on her naked feet. Conyngham in a few words told her their errand, and as soon as he uttered the words ‘Your Majesty,’ she instantly put out her hand to him, intimating that he was to kiss hands before he proceeded. He dropped on one knee, kissed her hand, and then went on to tell her of the late King’s death. She presented her hand to the Archbishop, who likewise kissed it, and when he had done so, addressed to her a sort of pastoral charge, which she received graciously and then retired. She lost no time in giving notice to Conroy of her intentions with regard to him; she saw him, and desired him to name the reward he expected for his services to her parents. He asked for the Red Riband, an Irish peerage, and a pension of 3,000ℓ. a year. She replied that the two first rested with her Ministers, and she could not engage for them, but that the [21] THE QUEEN’S SELF-POSSESSION. pension he should have. It is not easy to ascertain the exact cause of her antipathy to him, but it has probably grown with her growth, and results from divers causes. The person in the world she loves best is the Baroness Lehzen, and Lehzen and Conroy were enemies. There was formerly a Baroness Spaeth at Kensington, lady-in-waiting to the Duchess, and Lehzen and Spaeth were intimate friends. Conroy quarrelled with the latter and got her dismissed, and this Lehzen never forgave. She may have instilled into the Princess a dislike and bad opinion of Conroy, and the evidence of these sentiments, which probably escaped neither the Duchess nor him, may have influenced their conduct towards her, for strange as it is, there is good reason to believe that she thinks she has been ill-used by both of them for some years past.[9] Her manner to the Duchess is, however, irreproachable, and they appear to be on cordial and affectionate terms. Madame de Lehzen is the only person who is constantly with her. When any of the Ministers come to see her, the Baroness retires at one door as they enter at the other, and the audience over she returns to the Queen. It has been remarked that when applications are made to Her Majesty, she seldom or never gives an immediate answer, but says she will consider of it, and it is supposed that she does this because she consults Melbourne about everything, and waits to have her answer suggested by him. He says, however, that such is her habit even with him, and that when he talks to her upon any subject upon which an opinion is expected from her, she tells him she will think it over, and let him know her sentiments the next day.

[9] [The Queen, in a letter to her uncle, King Leopold, published with Her Majesty’s sanction, speaks significantly of what she terms ‘my sad childhood.’]

The day she went down to visit the Queen Dowager at Windsor, to Melbourne’s great surprise she said to him that as the flag on the Round Tower was half-mast high, and they might perhaps think it necessary to elevate it upon her arrival, it would be better to send orders beforehand not to do so. He had never thought of the flag, or knew anything [22] about it, but it showed her knowledge of forms and her attention to trifles. Her manner to the Queen was extremely kind and affectionate, and they were both greatly affected at meeting. The Queen Dowager said to her that the only favour she had to ask of her was to provide for the retirement, with their pensions, of the personal attendants of the late King, Whiting and Bachelor, who had likewise been the attendants of George IV.; to which she replied that it should be attended to, but she could not give any promise on the subject.

She is upon terms of the greatest cordiality with Lord Melbourne, and very naturally. Everything is new and delightful to her. She is surrounded with the most exciting and interesting enjoyments; her occupations, her pleasures, her business, her Court, all present an unceasing round of gratifications. With all her prudence and discretion she has great animal spirits, and enters into the magnificent novelties of her position with the zest and curiosity of a child.

No man is more formed to ingratiate himself with her than Melbourne. He treats her with unbounded consideration and respect, he consults her tastes and her wishes, and he puts her at her ease by his frank and natural manners, while he amuses her by the quaint, queer, epigrammatic turn of his mind, and his varied knowledge upon all subjects. It is not therefore surprising that she should be well content with her present Government, and that during the progress of the elections she should have testified great interest in the success of the Whig candidates. Her reliance upon Melbourne’s advice extends at present to subjects quite beside his constitutional functions, for the other day somebody asked her permission to dedicate some novel to her, when she said she did not like to grant the permission without knowing the contents of the work, and she desired Melbourne to read the book and let her know if it was fit that she should accept the dedication. Melbourne read the first volume, but found it so dull that he would not read any more, and sent her word that she had better refuse, which she accordingly did. She [23] MANGO WINS THE ST. LEGER. seems to be liberal, but at the same time prudent with regard to money, for when the Queen Dowager proposed to her to take her band into her service, she declined to incur so great an expense without further consideration, but one of the first things she spoke to Melbourne about was the payment of her father’s debts, which she is resolved to discharge.

October 23rd, 1837

Since August 30th, nearly two months, I have written not a line, for I have had nothing to record of public or general interest, and have felt an invincible repugnance to write about myself or my own proceedings. Having nothing else to talk of, however, I shall write my own history of the last seven weeks, which is very interesting to me inasmuch as it has been very profitable. Having asked George Bentinck to try my horse ‘Mango’ before Doncaster, we went down together one night to Winchester race-course and saw him tried. He won the trial and we resolved to back him. This we accomplished more successfully than we expected, and ten days after he won the St. Leger, and I won about 9,000ℓ. upon it, the first great piece of good fortune that ever happened to me. Since Doncaster, I have continued (up to this time) to win at Newmarket, so that my affairs are in a flourishing condition, but, notwithstanding these successes, I am dissatisfied and disquieted in my mind, and my life is spent in the alternations of excitement from the amusement and speculation of the turf and of remorse and shame at the pursuit itself. One day I resolve to extricate myself entirely from the whole concern, to sell all my horses, and pursue other occupations and objects of interest, and then these resolutions wax faint, and I again find myself buying fresh animals, entering into fresh speculations, and just as deeply engaged as ever. It is the force of habit, a still unconquered propensity to the sport, and a nervous apprehension that if I do give it up, I may find no subject of equal interest.

November 14th, 1837

Yesterday morning I heard of the death of Lord Egremont, who died after a week’s illness of his old complaint, an inflammation in the trachea, being within a [24] month of eighty-six years old.[10] He was a remarkable man, and his death will be more felt within the sphere of his influence (and that extended over the whole county of Sussex) than any individual’s ever was. He was immensely rich and his munificence was equal to his wealth. No man probably ever gave away so much money in promoting charitable institutions or useful undertakings, and in pensioning, assisting, and supporting his numerous relations and dependants. His understanding was excellent, his mind highly cultivated, and he retained all his faculties, even his memory, unimpaired to the last. He was remarkably acute, shrewd, and observant, and in his manner blunt without rudeness, and caustic without bitterness. Though he had for some years withdrawn himself from the world, he took an eager interest and curiosity in all that was passing in it, and though not mixed up in politics, and sedulously keeping aloof from all party conflicts, he did not fail to think deeply and express himself strongly upon the important questions and events of the times. In his political principles and opinions he was anti-Liberal, and latterly an alarmist as well as a Conservative. He had always opposed Catholic Emancipation, which it is difficult to account for in a man so sagacious and benevolent, except from the force of prejudices early instilled into a mind of tenacious grasp which was not exposed to the changeful influence of worldly commerce and communication. It is probable that Lord Egremont might have acted a conspicuous part in politics if he had chosen to embark on that stormy sea, and upon the rare occasions when he spoke in the House of Lords, he delivered himself with great energy and effect; but his temper, disposition, and tastes were altogether incompatible with the trammels of office or the restraints of party connexions, and he preferred to revel unshackled in all the enjoyments of private life, both physical and intellectual, which an enormous fortune, a vigorous constitution, and literary habits placed in abundant variety before him. But in the system of [25] CHARACTER OF LORD EGREMONT. happiness which he marked out for himself, the happiness of others formed a large and essential ingredient; nor did old age, as it stole upon him with gradual and insensible steps, dull the brightness of his intellect or chill the warmth of his heart. His mind was always intent upon providing for the pleasure or the benefit of those around him, and there was nothing in which he so keenly delighted as the rural festivals with which he celebrated his own birthday, when thousands of the surrounding villagers were assembled in his park to eat, drink and be merry. He was passionately fond of children, and animals of every description found favour in his sight. Lord Egremont was a distinguished patron of artists, and it was rarely that Petworth was unvisited by some painter or sculptor, many of whom he kept in almost continual employment, and by whom his loss will be severely felt. He was extremely hospitable, and Petworth was open to all his friends, and to all their friends if they chose to bring them, provided they did not interfere with his habits or require any personal attention at his hands: from any such obligation he considered that his age and infirmities released him. He received his guests with the utmost urbanity and courtesy, did the honours of his table, and in every other respect left them free to abide as long as they pleased, but to amuse themselves as they could. Petworth was consequently like a great inn. Everybody came when they thought fit, and departed without notice or leave-taking. He liked to have people there who he was certain would not put him out of his way, especially those who, entering into his eccentric habits, were ready for the snatches of talk which his perpetual locomotion alone admitted of, and from whom he could gather information about passing events; but it was necessary to conform to his peculiarities, and these were utterly incompatible with conversation or any prolonged discussion. He never remained for five minutes in the same place, and was continually oscillating between the library and his bedroom, or wandering about the enormous house in all directions; sometimes he broke off in the middle of a conversation on some subject [26] which appeared to interest him and disappeared, and an hour after, on a casual meeting, would resume it just where he had left off. But this habitual restlessness, which was so fatal to conversation, served perhaps to exhibit the vivacity of his mind and its shrewd and epigrammatic turn in a more remarkable manner: few persons visited Petworth without being struck with astonishment at the unimpaired vigour of his intellectual powers. To have lived to a great age in the practice of beneficence and the dispensation of happiness, and to die without bodily suffering or mental decay, in the enjoyment of existence up to the instant of its close, affords an example of human prosperity, both in life and in death, which has fallen to the lot of few, but which may well excite the envy and admiration of all.[11]

[10] [See for descent of Lord Egremont, p. 337, vol. ii. of the First Part of Mr. Greville’s Journals.]

[11] The substance of this character of the Earl of Egremont was inserted in the Times newspaper of Saturday, 18th November 1837.

November 3rd, 1837

At Court yesterday when the Queen received the Address of the Commons. She conducts herself with surprising dignity: the dignity which proceeds from self-possession and deliberation. The smallness of her stature is quite forgotten in the majesty and gracefulness of her demeanour.

The Session has opened merrily with an angry squabble between Lord John Russell and the Radicals, at which the Tories greatly rejoice. Upon the Address, Wakley and others thought fit to introduce the topic of the Ballot and other reforms, upon which John Russell spoke out and declared he would never be a party to the Ballot, and would not reform the Reform Bill. They were indignant, and attacked him in no measured terms. The next night Charles Buller returned to the charge with equal violence, when Lord John made (by the agreement of all parties) an incomparable speech vindicating his own consistency, explaining his motives for making the declaration which he did the first night, and repelling with great dignity the charges with which he was assailed.[12] Of course opinions vary as to the [27] RADICAL DISCONTENT. expediency and propriety of his conduct on this occasion, but I do not see that he could have acted otherwise, and it is much more manly, straightforward, and honourable to declare at once what his sentiments and intentions are than to endeavour to evade the subject for a time, and to raise hopes and expectations which he has no design of realising, and which, whenever he does declare himself, as eventually he must, would only excite the bitterer disappointment and resentment. However, whether he acted wisely or not, the immediate effect has been to enrage the Radical section of his party exceedingly, and those who want the Government to be turned out fondly hope that this split among them will bring about the consummation. This is not probable, for angry as they may be, they will still prefer Melbourne to Peel, and O’Connell (who is all moderation) will throw Ireland into the scale and entreat them for Ireland’s sake to lay aside their resentment. Such questions as the Ballot can only be carried by the desire for them gaining ground largely throughout the country, and this many assert to be the case. At this moment it is pretty clear that the people care very little about speculative questions, and want only peace and tranquillity. It is also said that there is a growing anti-Catholic and anti-Irish spirit which the Conservatives do their best to excite and extend. It would be a curious speculation, supposing both these influences to operate widely, to anticipate the result of their action upon the great antagonist parties in the country, and see which would gain most by a coalition of Radical and sectarian principles. A state of things might by possibility arise when they would act as mutual checks.

[12] [It was to this debate that Mr. Disraeli referred in his maiden speech, delivered a few days later, when he spoke of the ‘passion and recrimination of the noble Tityrus of the Treasury Bench and the learned Daphne of Liskeard,’ and added that ‘these amantium iræ had resulted in an amoris redintegratio.’ The orator was laughed down before he concluded the sentence.]

[The Editor of these Journals may here be permitted to say, that it was at this time that his acquaintance with Mr. Greville began, as he was appointed to an office in the Privy [28] Council on November 17, 1837. This acquaintance speedily ripened into confidential friendship, which was uninterrupted for a single day in the course of the next eight-and-twenty years. Indeed Mr. Greville’s kind offices to his young acquaintance began immediately; for the appointment of Mr. Reeve having been attacked with great bitterness by Lord Brougham, who was then extremely hostile to every department of the Government, Mr. Greville exerted himself with his usual energy to defend it.

It may not be out of place, though it is out of date, to insert here, as a memorial of this long friendship, a note written to the Editor of these Journals by Mr. Greville, on May 6, 1859, when he had just resigned the office of Clerk of the Council. It is in the following terms:—

My dear R.,—I will not delay to thank you warmly for your kind note. Your accession to the Privy Council Office gave me a friendship which I need not say how much I have valued through so many years of happy intercourse, which I rejoice at thinking has never been clouded or interrupted and which, I hope, will last the same as long as I last myself. It is always painful to do anything for the last time, and I cannot without emotion take leave of an office where I have experienced for so many years so much kindness, consideration, and goodwill; but I hope still to be considered as amicus curiæ and to be applied to on every occasion when I can be of use to the Office. Between you and me there has been, I think, as much as possible between any two people the ‘idem velle, idem nolle, et idem sentire de republicâ,’ and, in consequence, the ‘firma amicitia.’

God bless you, and believe me always

Yours most sincerely and faithfully,


November 26th, 1837

It is still a matter of general discussion and speculation whether Lord John Russell’s bold declaration will have the effect of breaking up the Government by disgusting the Radicals to such a degree as to make them in spite withdraw their aid on some important occasion. Those gentry are still very irate and sulky, but I do not expect they will connive at the overthrow of the Government; they know better than to open the doors of office to the Tories. Lord Brougham has taken the field with a violent [29] COMMITTEE ON THE PENSION LIST. Radical speech, and he seized an occasion to set his tongue wagging against the Chancellor; in short he seems bent on mischief. He has written word to Lord Granville that he would not be gagged this Session; he will be glad to lead anybody who will be led by him; and as the post of general of the Radicals appears to be vacant, he may aspire to that. His actual position as contrasted with his vast abilities is indeed calculated to ‘point a moral.’

December 8th, 1837

The notion of a break-up of the Government has gradually faded away, and though the Radicals have not forgiven John Russell for his speech, they appear to have no intention of altering their conduct towards the Government, and some concessions have already been made partly for the purpose of mollifying them. Government have given up the Pension List, and it is believed that the Ballot is to be made an open question. This will be considered more than an equivalent for the discouraging effect of John Russell’s speech. Peel and the Tories oppose the Committee on the Pensions,[13] but it is remarkable that on the Civil List Committee the other day, when Rice proposed that 75,000ℓ. should be granted for pensions, and Grote moved to suspend the grant till after the Pensions Committee had reported, Peel and his people (Goulburn, Harding, Fremantle, &c.) supported Grote, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer was in a minority of one. This too was an accident, for Francis Baring was absent from the division on account of the following circumstance. In a speech in the House of Lords the night before on the Post Office, Lord Lichfield[14] had attacked Mr. Wallace with great severity, and immediately after Wallace sent him a message which was tantamount to a challenge. Alvanley was employed to settle the quarrel, which he did, but it became necessary to instruct Baring to say something on the subject in the House of [30] Commons, where Wallace was going to allude to it. Alvanley detained Baring so long that he was too late for the division in the Committee; had he been there and made the numbers even, Rice, as chairman, must have given the casting vote for or against his own proposition, either of which would have been very awkward, but it is not very clear why Peel voted as he did.

[13] [The Chancellor of the Exchequer moved for a Select Committee to inquire how far pensions granted under the Acts of the last reign, and charged on the Civil List or the Consolidated Fund, ought to be continued. The motion was carried by 293 to 233 votes.]

[14] [The Earl of Lichfield was Postmaster General.]

Lord Roden brought on the Irish question in the House of Lords, when Mulgrave[15] made a very triumphant vindication of himself and utterly discomfited the Orangemen. The Duke of Wellington made a very clever speech, and availed himself of the contradictory returns of crimes and convictions skilfully enough, but he had the candour to give Mulgrave ample credit for the vigour with which he had caused the law to be enforced, and, as for months past the Orangemen had been clamouring against the Irish Government for neglecting to enforce the law and for depriving Protestants of its protection, it was a very magnanimous admission on the Duke’s part, and such a one as few of his political opponents would have made. It is the peculiar merit of the Duke that he is never disposed to sacrifice truth for a party purpose, and it is this manliness and straightforwardness, this superiority to selfish considerations and temporary ends, which render him the object of universal respect and admiration, and will hereafter surround his political character with unfading honour. Not content with the defeat which they sustained in the House of Lords, the Orangemen had the folly to provoke another contest in the House of Commons, and Colonel Verner brought forward ‘the Battle of the Diamond,’ giving Morpeth an opportunity of another triumph as signal as Mulgrave’s in the House of Lords. The Irish Orangemen were left to their fate on this occasion, for none of their English associates came to their relief.

[15] [Constantine Henry, second Earl of Mulgrave, created in the following year Marquis of Normanby. He was at this time Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. Lord Morpeth was Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant.]

Mr. Disraeli made his first exhibition the other night, [31] MR. DISRAELI’S FIRST SPEECH. beginning with florid assurance, speedily degenerating into ludicrous absurdity, and being at last put down with inextinguishable shouts of laughter.[16]

[16] [Mr. Disraeli’s first speech was made on the motion with reference to what was called ‘the Spottiswoode Gang.’ An association had been formed in London for the purpose of collecting money to test the validity of the Irish elections wholesale. Mr. Spottiswoode, one of the Queen’s printers, was the president of this association, which was denounced by the Radicals and the Irish Members as ‘the Spottiswoode Gang,’ and attacked in Parliament by Mr. Blewitt, who moved five resolutions condemning the institution of the Spottiswoode fund. Lord John Russell, however, discouraged the attack, on the ground that the number of election petitions in the present year was not such as to warrant any extraordinary measures in regard to them. Mr. Blewitt withdrew four of his resolutions and left the House without moving the fifth. Solvuntur risu tabulæ.]

The new House of Commons does not promise to be a more business-like or more decorous assembly than its immediate predecessor. Already two whole nights have been consumed in the discussion of two topics so unprofitable as ‘the Battle of the Diamond’ and ‘the Spottiswoode Gang,’ and it is said that such a scene of disorder and such a beargarden never was beheld. The noise and confusion are so great that the proceedings can hardly be heard or understood, and it was from something growing out of this confusion and uproar that the Speaker thought it necessary to address the House last night and complain that he no longer enjoyed its confidence, and if he saw any future indication that such was the case he should resign the Chair. His declaration was taken very quietly, for nobody said a word.

Brougham made a great speech on education the other night, but it was so long, tedious, and digressive that he drove everybody away. He is in a very bitter state of mind, scarcely speaking to any of his former friends and colleagues, and having acquired no new friends of any party. He courts the Radicals, and writes letters and makes speeches directly at variance with all his former professions and opinions; but the Radicals, though they do not object to make use of him, will by no means trust him.

I asked Charles Buller if they would have Lord Brougham for their leader, and he said ‘certainly not,’ and added that [32] ‘Durham had done nothing as yet to forfeit their confidence.’ He enlightened me at the same time about his own Radical opinions and views and the extent of them, together with those of the more moderate of his party, complaining that they were misrepresented and misunderstood; although for the Ballot and extension of the suffrage, he is opposed to reform of the House of Lords or any measure directly affecting the Constitution. He does not admit that the measures he advocates do affect the Constitution directly or indirectly.[17] I told him if he repudiated the violent maxims of Molesworth and others, he should not let these ultra-Radicals be the organs of the party, as the world did not and could not distinguish between them, especially as the Moderates took no steps to clear themselves and establish juster notions of the character and tendency of their principles. He did not deny this, but they dread an appearance of disunion; so, as always happens when this is the case, the most exalted and exaggerated of the party, who will not be silenced and are reckless of consequences, take the lead and keep it.

[17] [It cannot fail to strike the reader that all the measures which were regarded as the tests of Radicalism in 1837 have long since been carried, and have now the general assent of the nation.]

December 12th, 1837

On the debate about Pensions the other night Whittle Harvey outdid himself; by all accounts it was inimitable, dramatic to the greatest degree, and acted to perfection. Peel was heavy, Stanley very smart, the Ministers were beaten hollow in the argument, but got a respectable division, of which they make the most; but it proves nothing as to their real strength, which has not yet been tested. John Russell made a wretched speech, being obliged to vote in the teeth of his former opinions and conduct.

December 14th, 1837

There was a grand breeze in the House of Lords the night before last between Melbourne and Brougham. The latter is said to have been in a towering passion, and he vociferated and gesticulated with might and main. Jonathan Peel was in the Lobby, and being attracted by the noise, ran to the House, and found Brougham not only on his legs, but on tip-toes in the middle of his indignant [33] LORD BROUGHAM AND LORD MELBOURNE. rejoinder. Melbourne’s attack upon him seemed hardly called for, but I heard he had declared he would not much longer endure the continual twittings and punchings that Brougham every day dealt out to some one or other of the Ministers. The Chancellor, Lord Lansdowne, and Glenelg, had all suffered in their turns, and so when Brougham taunted him with his courtly habits, he could not restrain himself, and retorted savagely though not very well. What he said was nothing but a tu quoque, and only remarkable for the bitter tone in which it was uttered and the sort of reproach it conveyed. Probably Melbourne thought it as well to put an end at once to the half hostile, half amicable state of their mutual relations, to their ‘noble friendship,’ and real enmity, and to bring matters to a crisis, otherwise he might have had some indulgence for his old friend and colleague, have made allowance for the workings of deep disappointment and mortification on his excitable temperament, and have treated him with forbearance out of reverence for his rare acquirements and capacity. But the fact is, that Brougham has ostentatiously proclaimed the dissolution of all his former ties, and has declared war against all his ancient connexions; he has abandoned his friends and his principles together, and has enrolled himself in a Radical fellowship which would have been the object of his scorn and detestation in his calmer moods and in more prosperous days.

Le Marchant, who was his secretary for four years, and knows him well, told me that no man was a greater aristocrat in his heart than Brougham, from conviction attached to aristocracy, from taste desirous of being one of its members. He said that Dugald Stewart, when talking of his pupils, had said though he envied most the understanding of Horner (whom he loved with peculiar affection), he considered Brougham the ablest man he had ever known, but that even then (forty years ago) he considered his to be a mind that was continually oscillating on the verge of insanity. Le Marchant said that Brougham’s powers of application exceeded what he had believed possible [34] of any human being. He had known him work incessantly from nine in the morning till one at night, and at the end be as fresh apparently as when he began. He could turn from one subject to another with surprising facility and promptitude, in the same day travelling through the details of a Chancery cause, writing a philosophical or mathematical treatise, correcting articles for the ‘Library of Useful Knowledge,’ and preparing a great speech for the House of Lords. When one thinks of the greatness of his genius and the depth of his fall, from the loftiest summit of influence, power, and fame to the lowest abyss of political degradation, in spite of the faults and the follies of his character and conduct, one cannot help feeling regret and compassion at the sight of such a noble wreck and of so much glory obscured.

December 24th, 1837

News of the insurrection in Canada arrived the day before yesterday, and produced a debate of some animation in the House of Commons, in which the Radicals principally figured, making speeches of such exceeding violence that it was only justifiable to pass them over, because those who uttered them are not worth notice. Gladstone spoke very well, and Lord John Russell closed the discussion with an excellent speech just such as a Minister ought to make, manly, temperate, and constitutional. He is a marvellous little man, always equal to the occasion, afraid of nobody, fixed in his principles, clear in his ideas, collected in his manner, and bold and straightforward in his disposition. He invariably speaks well when a good speech is required from him, and this is upon every important question, for he gets no assistance from any of his colleagues, except now and then from Howick. This is a fine occasion for attacking the Government and placing them between two fires, for the Radicals abuse them for their tyrannical and despotic treatment of the Canadians, and the Tories attribute the rebellion to their culpable leniency and futile attempts at conciliation by concessions which never ought to have been made, and only were made out of complaisance to the Radicals here. As generally happens when there are [35] THE INSURRECTION IN CANADA. charges of an opposite nature, and incompatible with one another, neither of them is true.

Since Brougham and Melbourne’s set-to in the House of Lords, the former has been speaking every day and entering a protest about every other day. He is in a state of permanent activity, and means to lead such of the Radicals as will enlist under his ragged banner. He was quite furious about the Civil List, and evidently means to outbid everybody for popularity. He goes on belabouring and ‘befriending’ the Government Lords, but the effect he produces (if any) is out of doors, for he usually wastes his rhetoric on empty benches.

The Queen went to the House yesterday without producing any sensation. There was the usual crowd to look at the finery of carriages, horses, Guards, &c., but not a hat raised nor a voice heard: the people of England seem inclined to hurrah no more.

December 30th, 1837

Since the receipt of Colborne’s despatches,[18] the alarm about Canada has subsided, and if Ministers had been aware that matters were no worse, probably Parliament would have had longer holidays. Nobody doubts that the insurrection will be easily put down, but the difficulty will be how to settle matters afterwards. It does not appear that this Government has been more to blame than any other, for the same system seems to have been pursued by all. They might indeed have adopted decisive measures at an earlier period, and as soon as they found that the Assembly was invincibly obstinate and deaf to the voice of reason, they ought to have put an end to the humiliating contest by an assertion of Imperial power. All that can be said is, that they tried the conciliatory power too long.

[18] [Sir John Colborne was Lieutenant-Governor of Canada at the time the insurrection broke out, and the suppression of it was mainly due to the vigorous measures taken by him on the spot. For these services he was raised to the peerage by the title of Lord Seaton. He died in 1863 at the age of eighty-four.]

Burghley, January 2nd, 1838

Among other changes of [36] habit, it has occurred to me why should not I begin the New Year by keeping a regular diary? What I do write are merely fragments of memoirs with passing events briefly alluded to, and the odds and ends collected from different sources recorded and commented on. It is not the first time I have had thoughts of keeping a more regular journal, in which not only my doings should be noted down and my goings, but which would also preserve some record of my thoughts and feelings, if ever indeed I really do think and feel. The reason I have never done anything of this sort is partly that I have been too idle, and the result partly of modesty and partly of vanity. A journal to be good, true, and interesting, should be written without the slightest reference to publication, but without any fear of it; it should be the transcript of a mind which can bear transcribing. I do not in sincerity believe that my mind, or thoughts, or actions, are of sufficient importance or interest to make it worth while (for the sake of others) to take this trouble. I always contemplate the possibility that hereafter my journal will be read by the public, always greedy of such things, and I regard with alarm and dislike the notion of its containing a heap of twaddle and trash concerning matters appertaining to myself which nobody else will care three straws about. If therefore I discard these scruples and do what I meditate (and very likely after all I shall not, or only for a very short time), the next thing is, Why? It seems exceedingly ridiculous to say that one strong stimulus proceeds from reading Scott’s Diary—which he began very late in life and in consequence of reading Byron’s—not because I fancy I can write a diary as amusing as Scott’s or Byron’s, but because I am struck by the excessive pleasure which Scott appeared to derive from writing his journal, and I am (and this is the principal cause) struck with the important use to which the habit may be turned. The habit of recording is first of all likely to generate a desire to have something of some interest to record; it will lead to habits of reflexion and to trains of thought, the pursuit of which may be pleasing and profitable; it will exercise the memory and sharpen the understanding [37] THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON AT BURLEIGH. generally; and though the thoughts may not be very profound, nor the remarks very lively or ingenious, nor the narrative of exceeding interest, still the exercise is, I think, calculated to make the writer wiser, and perhaps better. If I do this I shall read over all I write long before anyone else will have an opportunity of doing so, and I am not likely to be over-indulgent if I find myself a bore.

Yesterday morning I left town, slept at Newmarket, saw the horses, rode out on the Warren Hill, and came here to dinner, where I find twenty-two people—the Duke of Wellington and Lord Aberdeen, the Salisburys, Wiltons, and a mob of fine people; very miserable representatives of old Lord Burleigh, the two insignificant-looking Marquesses, who are his lineal descendants, and who display no more of his brains than they do of his beard. The Duke of Wellington is in great force, talked last night of Canada, and said he thought the first operations had been a failure, and he judged so because the troops could neither take the rebel chief, nor hold their ground, nor return by any other road than that by which they came; that if Colborne could hold Montreal during the winter it would do very well, but he was not sure that he would be able to do so; that the Government ought to exhibit to the world their determination to put this revolt down, and that to do so they must seal the St. Lawrence[19] so as to prevent the ingress of foreigners, who would flock to Canada for employment against us; that the Queen could not blockade her own ports, so that they must apply to Parliament for power to effect this, and they ought to bring in a Bill forthwith for the purpose. This morning he got a letter (from a man he did not know) enclosing the latest news, which he thought very good, and promising better and more decisive results. After breakfast they went shooting.

[19] The Duke expressed no such opinion in either of his speeches on Canada (February 4th).

I walked out and joined the Duke, who talked to me for I dare say an hour and a half about his Spanish campaigns, and most interesting it was. I told him that the other day [38] Allen[20] had asked me to find somebody, a military man, to review the Wellington Despatches in the ‘Edinburgh Review,’ and that he had suggested Sir George Murray as the fittest person if he would undertake it; that I had accordingly spoken to Fitzroy Somerset, who had agreed to apply to Murray; and, if Murray would not do it, I begged him to turn in his mind what officer could be found equal to such a task, and I then asked the Duke if he knew of anybody. He seemed amazingly pleased at the idea, said he knew nobody, but Murray was the fittest man. From this he began to talk, and told me a great deal of various matters, which I wish I could have taken down as it fell from his lips. I was amused at the simplicity with which he talked of the great interest of these Despatches, just as he might have done if they had been the work of any other man; said he had read them himself with considerable astonishment and great interest, and that everybody might see that there was not one word in them that was not strictly and literally true. He said of his generals, ‘that in the beginning they none of them knew anything of the matter, that he was obliged to go from division to division and look to everything himself down to the minutest details.’ I said, ‘What on earth would have happened if anything had befallen you?’ He laughed and said, ‘I really do not know. There was a great deal of correspondence about my successor at the time Sir Thomas Graham went home.[21] I was against having any second in command, which was quite useless, as nobody could share the responsibility with me. However, afterwards Graham came back, and then there was Hope next to him.’ He said, ‘Hill had invariably done well, always exactly obeyed my orders, and executed [39] THE BATTLE OF SALAMANCA. them successfully.’ The fall of Badajoz was a great blow to him, but he did not know that it was by an act of treachery. The Spanish Government perhaps did not believe that he was approaching to relieve the place, but it was a most curious fact, that whereas it was agreed that the Spanish army should march out over the breach with the honours of war, they were obliged, after the capitulation, to make a breach for them to go over, none having been made by the besiegers. The General, with whom he finds much fault (in the ninth volume) for disobeying his orders and making false movements, was Victor Allen, but he said he treated him with great leniency, and so he did his officers on all occasions, and was as forbearing and indulgent with them as it was possible to be.

[20] [Mr. Allen, an accomplished literary inmate of Holland House, the author of a work on the ‘Royal Prerogative,’ and himself an occasional contributor to the ‘Edinburgh Review.’]

[21] [The intention of the Government was that if any accident befell the Duke of Wellington, General Sir Thomas Graham, afterwards Lord Lynedoch, should take the command of the British forces in Spain. This appears from the Memoir of Lord Lynedoch, published in 1880, by Captain Alexander Delavoye.]

All the movements and operations before the battle of Salamanca were to the last degree interesting. The Duke was anxiously waiting for some advantageous occasion to attack Marmont, and at last it arrived; he saw it happen, and took his resolution on the spot. He was dining in a farm-yard with his officers, where (when he had done dinner) everybody else came and dined as they could. The whole French army was in sight, moving, and the enemy firing upon the farmyard in which he was dining. ‘I got up,’ he said, ‘and was looking over a wall round the farm-yard, just such a wall as that’ (pointing to a low stone wall bounding the covert), ‘and I saw the movement of the French left through my glass. “By God,” said I, “that will do, and I’ll attack them directly.” I had moved up the Sixth Division through Salamanca, which the French were not aware of, and I ordered them to attack, and the whole line to advance. I had got my army so completely in hand that I could do this with ease, and in forty minutes the battle was won—‘quarante mille hommes battus en quarante minutes.’ I asked him if it was true that he and Marmont had subsequently talked over the event of the battle, and that Marmont had asserted that his orders had been disobeyed, or that this movement of which the Duke took advantage would not have been made. He said he believed there had been some conversation on the [40] subject, and that Marmont had said he was wounded before this movement took place; he said he did not know if this was true, but it might be, as there had been continual fighting for some time previous. I asked him why Bonaparte had not himself come to Spain to attack him; and if he had with a great force, whether he would have driven him out. He replied that he thought Napoleon had satisfied himself that it would be a work of great difficulty, and what was more, of great length, and he had no mind to embark in it; and that the French certainly would not have driven him out: he should have taken up some position, and have been enabled to baffle the Emperor himself just as he had done his marshals. He thinks that Napoleon’s military system compelled him to employ his armies in war, when they invariably lived upon the resources of the countries they occupied, and that France could not have maintained them, as she must have done if he had made peace: peace, therefore, would have brought about (through the army itself) his downfall. He traces the whole military system of France from its first organisation during the Reign of Terror, in a letter in the tenth volume of the Despatches. I asked him how he reconciled what he had said of the extraordinary discipline of the French army with their unsparing and habitual plunder of the country, and he said that though they plundered in the most remorseless way, there was order and discipline in their plundering, and while they took from the inhabitants everything they could lay their hands upon, it was done in the way of requisition, and that they plundered for the army and not for themselves individually, but they were reduced to great shifts for food. At the battle of Fuentes d’Onor he saw the French soldiers carry off horses that were killed to be cooked and eaten in another part of the field. ‘I saw particularly with my own eyes one horse put upon a cart drawn by two bullocks (they could not afford to kill the bullocks), and drawn off; and I desired a man to watch where the cart went, and it was taken to another French division for the horse to be eaten. Now we never were reduced to eat horseflesh.’ I remarked that he alluded in [41] A PARTY AT BELVOIR CASTLE. one of his letters to his having been once very nearly taken, and he said it was just before the battle of Talavera in consequence of some troops giving way. He was on a ruined tower from which he was obliged to leap down; and if he had not been young and active, as he was in those days, he should certainly have been taken.

He talked a great deal of the Spanish character, unchanged to this day; of the vast difficulties he had had to contend with from both Spanish and Portuguese Governments, the latter as bad as the former; of their punctilios and regard to form and ceremony. ‘At the time of the battle of the Pyrenees[22] I had occasion to send O’Donnel to advance, and he was mightily affronted because he did not receive the order by an officer from head-quarters. I was living under hedges and ditches, and had not been to head-quarters for several days, and so I told him, but that he should have an order if he pleased in the proper form.’ I asked him if it was not then that he found the troops in full retreat. He said they were beginning to retreat when he arrived, ‘then they threw up their caps and made a most brilliant affair of it.’

[22] [This expression occurs more than once in these Journals. No battle is known in history as the ‘battle of the Pyrenees,’ but the expression doubtless relates to the actions which were fought in the Pyrenees, after Soult took the command of the French army in July 1814.]

It is impossible to convey an idea of the zest, eagerness, frankness, and abundance with which he talked, and told of his campaigns, or how interesting it was to hear him. He expressed himself very warmly about Hill, of all his generals, and said, ‘When I gave him my memorandum about Canada the other day I said, Why it looks as if we were at our old trade again.’ He added that he ‘always gave his opinion when it was required on any subject.’

Belvoir Castle, January 4th, 1838

Came here yesterday, all the party (almost) migrating, and many others coming from various parts to keep the Duke of Rutland’s birthday. We are nearly forty at dinner, but it is no use enumerating the people. Last night the Duke of Wellington talked of [42] Hanover, said he really did not know much of the matter; that neither William IV. nor George IV. had ever talked to him on the subject or he must have made himself acquainted with it; that the Duke of Cumberland had written him word that he had never had any notion of adopting the measures he has since done till he was going over in the packet with Billy Holmes.[23] The Duke wrote him word that he knew nothing of his case, and the only advice he could give him was to let the affair be settled as speedily as possible. When the late King had evidently only a few days to live, the Duke of Cumberland consulted the Duke as to what he should do. ‘I told him the best thing he could do was to go away as fast as he could: Go instantly,’ I said, ‘and take care that you don’t get pelted.’ The Duke, Aberdeen, and FitzGerald all condemned his proceedings without reference to their justice or to his legal and constitutional right as regards Hanover, but on account of the impression (no matter right or wrong) which they are calculated to produce in this country, where it ought to be a paramount interest with him to preserve or acquire as good a character as he can. They all declared that Lyndhurst was equally ignorant with themselves of his views and intentions, with which in fact the Conservatives had no sort of concern. The Duke also advised him not to take the oaths as Privy Councillor, or those of a Peer in the House of Lords, because he thought it would do him an injury in the eyes of his new subjects, that he, a King, should swear fealty as her subject to the Queen as his Sovereign; but somebody else (he thought the Duke of Buckingham) overruled this advice, and he had himself a fancy to take the oaths.

[23] [The first act of Ernest, King of Hanover, on his accession, was to suspend the Hanoverian Constitution, and to prosecute the liberal Professors of Göttingen.]

To-day we[24] went to see the house Mr. Gregory is building, five miles from here. He is a gentleman of about 12,000ℓ. a year, who has a fancy to build a magnificent [43] MR. GREGORY’S HOUSE AND ESTATE. house in the Elizabethan style, and he is now in the middle of his work, all the shell being finished except one wing. Nothing can be more perfect than it is, both as to the architecture and the ornaments; but it stands on the slope of a hill upon a deep clay soil, with no park around it, very little wood, and scarcely any fine trees. Many years ago, when he first conceived this design, he began to amass money and lived for no other object. He travelled into all parts of Europe collecting objects of curiosity, useful or ornamental, for his projected palace, and he did not begin to build until he had accumulated money enough to complete his design. The grandeur of it is such, and such the tardiness of its progress, that it is about as much as he will do to live till its completion; and as he is not married, has no children, and dislikes the heir on whom his property is entailed, it is the means and not the end to which he looks for gratification. He says that it is his amusement, as hunting or shooting or feasting may be the objects of other people; and as the pursuit leads him into all parts of the world, and to mix with every variety of nation and character, besides engendering tastes pregnant with instruction and curious research, it is not irrational, although he should never inhabit his house, and may be toiling and saving for the benefit of persons he cares nothing about. The cottages round Harlaxton are worth seeing. It has been his fancy to build a whole village in all sorts of strange fantastic styles. There are Dutch and Swiss cottages, every variety of old English, and heaps of nondescript things, which appear only to have been built for variety’s sake. The effect is extremely pretty. Close to the village is an old manor house, the most perfect specimen I ever saw of such a building, the habitation of an English country gentleman of former times, and there were a buff jerkin and a pair of jack boots hanging up in the hall, which the stout old Cavalier of the seventeenth century (and one feels sure that the owner of that house was a Cavalier) had very likely worn at Marston Moor or Naseby.

[24] The Duke and Duchess of Sutherland, Lady Salisbury, Lord Exeter, Lord Wilton, Lady Adeliza Manners, Lords Aberdeen, FitzGerald, J. Manners, and myself.

To-day (the cook told me) nearly four hundred people [44] will dine in the Castle. We all went into the servants’ hall, where one hundred and forty-five retainers had just done dinner and were drinking the Duke’s health, singing and speechifying with vociferous applause, shouting, and clapping of hands. I never knew before that oratory had got down into the servants’ hall, but learned that it is the custom for those to whom ‘the gift of the gab’ has been vouchsafed to harangue the others, the palm of eloquence being universally conceded to Mr. Tapps the head coachman, a man of great abdominal dignity, and whose Ciceronian brows are adorned with an ample flaxen wig, which is the peculiar distinction of the functionaries of the whip. I should like to bring the surly Radical here who scowls and snarls at ‘the selfish aristocracy who have no sympathies with the people,’ and when he has seen these hundreds feasting in the Castle, and heard their loud shouts of joy and congratulation, and then visited the villages around, and listened to the bells chiming all about the vale, say whether ‘the greatest happiness of the greatest number’ would be promoted by the destruction of all the feudality which belongs inseparably to this scene, and by the substitution of some abstract political rights for all the beef and ale and music and dancing with which they are made merry and glad even for so brief a space. The Duke of Rutland is as selfish a man as any of his class—that is, he never does what he does not like, and spends his whole life in a round of such pleasures as suit his taste, but he is neither a foolish nor a bad man, and partly from a sense of duty, partly from inclination, he devotes time and labour to the interest and welfare of the people who live and labour on his estate. He is a Guardian of a very large Union, and he not only attends regularly the meetings of Poor Law Guardians every week or fortnight, and takes an active part in their proceedings, but he visits those paupers who receive out-of-door relief, sits and converses with them, invites them to complain to him if they have anything to complain of, and tells them that he is not only their friend but their representative at the assembly of Guardians, and it is his duty to [45] LIFE AT BELVOIR. see that they are nourished and protected. To my mind there is more ‘sympathy’ in this than in railing at the rich and rendering the poor discontented, weaning them from their habitual attachments and respects, and teaching them that the political quacks and adventurers who flatter and cajole them are their only real friends.

We had a great ball last night, opened by the Duke of Rutland and Duchess of Sutherland, who had to sail down at least a hundred couple of tenants, shopkeepers, valets, and abigails. The Duke of Newcastle gave the Duke’s health at dinner instead of the Duke of Wellington, who generally discharges that office. He made a boggling business of it, but apologised in sufficiently handsome terms for being spokesman instead of the Duke of Wellington. The Duke of Rutland made a very respectable speech in reply, and it all went off swimmingly. To-day I went to see the hounds throw off; but though a hunter was offered to me would not ride him, because there is no use in risking the hurt or ridicule of a fall for one day. A man who goes out in this casual way and hurts himself looks as foolish as an amateur soldier who gets wounded in a battle in which he is tempted by curiosity to mingle. So I rode with the mob, saw a great deal of galloping about and the hounds conveniently running over hills and vales all in sight, and then came home. They said a thousand people were out, many attracted by the expectation of the Duke of Wellington’s appearing, but he was rheumatic and could not come out. He is incessantly employed in writing military statements and memoranda, having been consulted by the Government, or probably by Lord Hill on behalf of the Government, both on this Canadian question, and on the general government of the army, and he will take as much pains to give useful advice to Melbourne’s Government as if he and Peel were in office. There never was a man who so entirely sank all party considerations in national objects, and he has had the glory of living to hear this universally acknowledged. Brougham said of him, ‘That man’s first object is to serve his country, with a sword if necessary, or with a pick-axe.’ [46] He also said of the Duke’s Despatches, ‘They will be remembered when I and others (mentioning some of the most eminent men) will be forgotten.’ Aberdeen told the Duke this, and he replied with the greatest simplicity, ‘It is very true: when I read them I was myself astonished, and I can’t think how the devil I could have written them.’ This is very characteristic, very curious from a man who has not one grain of conceit in his disposition; but really great men are equally free from undue vanity or affected modesty, and know very well the value of what they do.

Last night I sat next to Lord FitzGerald at dinner, who said that if ever his memoirs appeared (he did not say that any existed) they would contain many curious things, and among them the proofs that the events which were supposed to have been the proximate cause of the Catholic question being carried were not the real cause, and that the resolution of the Duke of Wellington is traceable to other sources, which he could not reveal.

Melton, January 7th, 1838 (Lord Wilton’s house)

I came here to-day from Belvoir. Last night the Duke of Wellington narrated the battle of Toulouse and other Peninsular recollections. All the room collected round him, listening with eager curiosity, but I was playing at whist and lost it all. FitzGerald said to me that he had a great mind to write upon Ireland, and make a statement of the conduct of England towards Ireland for ages past; that he had mentioned his idea to Peel, who had replied, ‘Well, and if you do, I am not the man to object to your doing so.’ This he meant as a trait of his fairness and candour; but the fact is that it is Peel’s interest that all Irish questions should be settled, and he would rejoice at anything which tended to accelerate a settlement, and I am no great believer in his fairness. I was struck with a great admiration for Peel during his hundred days’ struggle, when he made a gallant fight; but this has very much cooled since that time.

FitzGerald said one thing in conversation with me of which I painfully felt the truth, that an addiction to worthless or useless pursuits did an irretrievable injury to the [47] REFLEXIONS. mental faculties. It is not only the actual time wasted which might have been turned to good account; the slender store of knowledge acquired on all subjects instead of the accumulation which there might have been; but, more than these, the relaxation of the mental powers till they become incapable of vigorous exertion or sustained effort:—

Quoniam medio de fonte leporum
Surgit amari aliquid, quod in ipsis floribus angat:
Aut quum conscius ipse animus se forte remordet
Desidiose agere ætatem, lustrisque perire.

Or, as Dryden nobly translates it—

For in the fountain where these sweets are sought
Some bitter bubbles up, and poisons all the draught.
First guilty conscience does the mirror bring,
Then sharp remorse shoots out the angry sting,
And anxious thoughts, within themselves at strife,
Upbraid the long misspent, luxurious life.

I feel myself a miserable example of this species of injury, both as relates to the defects and omissions of my early education and the evil of my subsequent habits. From never having studied hard at any time, no solid foundation of knowledge has ever been laid, my subsequent reading has been desultory and very nearly useless. I have attacked various subjects as I have been prompted thereto by curiosity, or vanity, or shame, but I have never mastered any of them, and the information I have obtained has been like a house built without a foundation, which the first gust of wind would blow down and scatter abroad. Really to master a subject, we should begin at the beginning, storing the memory with consecutive facts, reasoning and reflecting upon them as we go along, till the whole subject is digested, comprehended, made manageable and producible at will; but then, for this process, the mind must be disciplined, and there must be a power of attention undiverted, and of continuous application; but if the eyes travel over the pages of a book, while the mind is far away upon Newmarket Heath, and nothing but broken fragments of attention are bestowed [48] upon the subject before you, whatever it may be, the result can only be useless imperfect information, crude and superficial ideas, constant shame, and frequent disappointment and mortification. Nothing on earth can make up for the valuable time which I have lost, or enable me to obtain that sort of knowledge, or give me those habits which are only to be acquired early in life, when the memory is fresh and vigorous, and the faculties are both lively and pliant; but that is no reason why I should abandon the design of improvement in despair, for it is never too late to mend, and a great deal may yet be done.

Beaudesert,[25] January 12th, 1838

On Monday went to Sutton; nobody there but Mr. Hodgson, formerly my tutor at Eton, the friend of Byron, author of a translation of Juvenal—a clever, not an agreeable man. The house at Sutton is unfinished, but handsome enough. Came here on Wednesday; a magnificent place indeed, and very comfortable house. A good many people, nobody remarkable; very idle life. Read in the newspaper that Colburn gave Lady Charlotte Bury 1,000ℓ. for the wretched catchpenny trash called ‘Memoirs of the Time of George IV.,’ which might well set all the world what Scott calls ‘gurnelising,’ for nobody could by possibility compile or compose anything more vile or despicable. Since I came here, a world of fine thoughts came into my head which I intended to immortalise in these pages; but they have all evaporated like the baseless fabric of a vision.

[25] [The seat of the Marquess of Anglesey near Burton-on-Trent.]

Beaudesert, January 17th, 1838

To Sandon on Monday, and returned here yesterday; go away to-morrow. It has been a dreadfully idle life all day long, facendo niente, incessant gossip and dawdle, poor, unprofitable talk, and no rational employment. Brougham was here a little while ago for a week. He, Lord Wellesley, and Lord Anglesey form a discontented triumvirate, and are knit together by the common bond of a sense of ill-usage and of merit neglected. Wellesley and Anglesey are not Radicals, however, and blame Brougham’s new tendency that way. Anglesey and [49] DEATH OF LORD ELDON. Wellesley both hate and affect to despise the Duke of Wellington,[26] in which Brougham does not join. They are all suffering under mortified vanity and thwarted ambition, and after playing their several parts, not without success and applause, they have not the judgement to see and feel that they forfeit irretrievably the lustre of their former fame by such a poor and discreditable termination of their career. Douro is here, une lune bien pâle auprès de son père, but far from a dull man, and not deficient in information.

[26] Lord Wellesley became good friends with his brother before his death, and Anglesey has long been the Duke’s enthusiastic admirer and most attached and devoted comrade.—1850.

Badminton, January 23rd, 1838

The debate in the Lords the other night was very interesting and creditable to the assembly.[27] Brougham delivered a tremendous philippic of three hours. The Duke of Wellington made a very noble speech, just such as it befitted him to make at such a moment, and of course it bitterly mortified and provoked the Tories, who would have had him make a party question of it, and thought of nothing but abusing, vilifying, and embarrassing the Government. This was what Peel showed every disposition to do in the House of Commons, where he made a poor, paltry half-attack, which was much more to the taste of his party than the Duke’s temperate and candid declaration.

[27] [Parliament reassembled on the 16th January. This debate was on the Address to the Queen on the Canadian Rebellion. A Bill was at once brought in to give extended powers to Lord Durham, who was sent out as Governor General. Mr. Roebuck, as the Agent for Canada, was heard against the Bill at the bar of both Houses. The Bill passed, but Lord Durham soon exceeded his powers under it.]

Lord Eldon died last week full of years and wealth. He had for some time past quitted the political stage, but his name was still venerated by the dregs of that party to whom consistent bigotry and intolerance are dear. Like his more brilliant brother, Lord Stowell, he was the artificer of his own fortune, and few men ever ran a course of more unchequered prosperity. As a politician, he appears to have been consistent throughout, and to have offered a determined and uniform opposition to every measure of a Liberal [50] description. He knew of no principles but those (if they merit the name of principles) of the narrowest Toryism and of High Church, and as soon as more enlarged and enlightened views began to obtain ascendency, he quitted (and for ever) public life. I suppose he was a very great lawyer, but he was certainly a contemptible statesman. He was a very cheerful, good-natured old man, loving to talk, and telling anecdotes with considerable humour and point. I remember very often during the many tedious hours the Prince Regent kept the Lords of the Council waiting at Carlton House, that the Chancellor used to beguile the time with amusing stories of his early professional life, and anecdotes of celebrated lawyers, which he told extremely well. He lived long enough to see the overthrow of the system of which he had been one of the most strenuous supporters, the triumph of all the principles which he dreaded and abhorred, and the elevation of all the men to whom, through life, he had been most adverse, both personally and politically. He little expected in 1820, when he was presiding at Queen Caroline’s trial, that he should live to see her Attorney-General on the Woolsack, and her Solicitor-General Chief Justice of England.


[51] Debates on the Canada Bill — Moderation of the Duke of Wellington — State of Canada — Lord Durham’s Position — Weakness of the Government — Parallel of Hannibal and the Duke of Wellington — The Ballot — Lord Brougham on the Ballot — Position of the Government — Policy of Sir Robert Peel — Death of Mr. Creevey — Knighthood of General Evans — Lord Brougham’s Conversation — A Skirmish in the House of Commons — Defeat of Government — Skirmish in the House of Lords — Annoyance of Peel at these Proceedings — Brougham’s Anti-Slavery Speech — Opposition Tactics — Brougham on the Coolie Trade — Ministerial Success — Sir Robert Peel’s Tactics — Composition of Parties — A Dinner at Buckingham Palace — Men of Science — The Lord Mayor at a Council — The Queen at a Levée — The Guiana Apprentices — Small v. Attwood reversed — Character of the Queen — Wilkie’s Picture of the ‘First Council’ — Small v. Attwood — Immediate Emancipation — Birthday Reflexions — Lord Charles Fitzroy turned out — Vote on Lord Durham’s Expenses — Lord Durham’s Irritation — Wolff the Missionary — Newmarket — The Coronation — Lord Brougham’s Reviews.

London, January 28th, 1838

I came to town on Wednesday night, and have been laid up with the gout ever since. Found all things prepared for a fight in the House of Commons on Thursday, upon Peel’s two amendments to the Canada Bill. The Tories had mustered in large force, and the Irishmen had not arrived, so that there was a very good chance of the Government being beaten. In this emergency Edward Ellice made a very convenient and dexterous speech, in which he begged Lord John Russell, for the sake of unanimity, to give way. Lord John said he would consult his colleagues and give an answer the next day. It was clear enough what he would do, and accordingly he came down the next day, and amidst shouts of triumph, and what was intended for ridicule from the Tory mob, announced his intention to accept both amendments. Peel next fell upon the Instructions to Durham, which he treated very scornfully, [52] and predicted that they would be compelled to withdraw them. The Tories were in high dudgeon with the Duke at his speech in the House of Lords, which they showed in a sort of undergrowl and with rueful faces, for they stand in awe of the great man, and don’t dare openly to remonstrate with him or blame his actions. There is no doubt that his speech was essentially serviceable to the Government, and upset one of the most promising topics of its opponents. Francis Egerton came up from the Carlton Club to his own home after it, and said with deep melancholy that ‘the Duke had floored the coach,’ and he described the consternation and mortification which were prevalent throughout that patriotic and disinterested society. They were in consequence the more anxious to urge on Peel to make an attack of some sort upon the Ministers in the House of Commons, and he gratified them by moving these amendments, and vilipending the Instructions.[1] It may be questionable whether it was right to attack the Government upon the details of their measures when no difference exists between the opposite parties as to the principle; but granting that it was, he acted with great skill as a party tactician. He was certainly right upon every point. The Bill will be improved by his alterations, and it was equally unnecessary and ill-judged to lay the Instructions on the table of the House. The result has been a very clamorous triumph on the part of the Tories, and a somewhat unlucky exposure of themselves by the Government; as one of their own friends (in office) acknowledged to me to-day, they have had ‘to eat humble pie.’

[1] [Lord John Russell adopted amendments proposed by Sir R. Peel by striking out of the preamble of the Bill the words recognising Lord Durham’s council of advice and the clause empowering the Queen to suspend the Act by Order in Council.]

February 5th, 1838

Another debate in the House of Lords on Friday, and a good one, which will probably finish the Canadian discussion. Upon this occasion Brougham fired off another fierce philippic, and was bitterly answered by Melbourne, who declared war against him once for all. Aberdeen [53] MODERATION OF THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON. made an attack on the Government which he had intended to make on the first debate; but as the Duke then said ‘Shall I speak?’ he said, ‘Oh yes, do,’ expecting the Duke would make one instead, but was bitterly disappointed when he heard that moderate speech which gave such offence to his friends and such comfort to his foes. So on Friday Aberdeen said what he had intended to say before, and to do him justice, he made some strong points against the Government, which told well. He accused them of unnecessary delay in bringing in this Bill last year, after they had passed their Resolutions, and asserted that they shuffled it off for fear they should be inconvenienced thereby in the election contests which were approaching. I incline to believe this accusation is well founded, and if so, it was very paltry conduct, and not an inapt illustration of the Duke of Wellington’s famous question during the Reform Bill, ‘How is the King’s Government to be carried on?’ The King’s Government was not carried on; its interests were neglected or postponed to the more pressing interest (as they thought, and I believe thought erroneously) of the party in their election contests. The Duke of Wellington was expected upon this occasion to make some amends to his party by explaining away the exculpatory remarks with which he had before assisted his opponents. But not a bit: he repeated the same thing, and made a second speech quite as moderate as his first. The Duke is therefore incorrigible. My mother told him the other day how angry they were with him for what he had said, and he only replied, ‘Depend upon it, it was true.’

I saw a letter yesterday with a very bad account of the state of Canada.[2] It was to Lord Lichfield from his Postmaster there, a sensible man, and he describes the beaten Canadians as returning to their homes full of sullen discontent, [54] and says we must by no means look upon the flame as extinguished; however, for the time it has been smothered. On the other hand, there are the English victorious and exasperated, with arms in their hands, and in that dangerous state of mind which is the result of conscious superiority, moral and intellectual, military and political, but of (equally conscious) physical—that is, numerical—inferiority. It is the very state which makes men insolent and timid, tyrannical and cruel; it is just what the Irish Orangemen have been, and it is very desirable that nothing like them should exist elsewhere. All this proves that Durham will have no easy task. It is a curious exhibition of the caprice of men’s opinions when we see the general applause with which Durham’s appointment is hailed, and the admiration with which he is all at once regarded. Nobody denies that he is a man of ability, but he has not greatly distinguished himself, perhaps from having had no fair opportunity to do so. He has long been looked upon as a man of extreme and dangerous opinions by the Conservatives, and he never could agree with the Whigs when he was their colleague; to them generally he was an object of personal aversion. Latterly he has been considered the head of the Radical party, and that party, who are not rich in Lords, and who are not insensible to the advantage of rank, gladly hailed him as their chief; but for the last year or two, under the alterative influence of Russian Imperial flattery, Durham’s sentiments have taken a very Conservative turn, and, though he and the Radicals have never quarrelled, they could not possibly consider him to be the same man he was when they originally ranged themselves under his banner. In public life the most that can be said for him is, that he cut a respectable figure. When in office he filled the obscure post of Privy Seal, and spoke but seldom. He was known, however, to have had a considerable share in the concoction of the Reform Bill. The only other public post he has held was that of Ambassador to Russia, where nobody knows but the Minister who employed him whether he did well or ill. Now everybody says he is the finest fellow imaginable, and that [55] WEAKNESS OF THE GOVERNMENT. he alone can pacify Canada. Nor do I mean to say he is unequal to the task he has undertaken, but the opinion of the world seems oddly produced, and to stand upon no very solid foundation. If he had continued plain John Lambton I doubt if he ever would have been thought of for Canada, or that the choice (if he had been sent there) would have been so approved. Why on earth is it that an Earldom makes any difference?

[2] [The actual disturbances in Canada, which had broken out in November of the preceding year, were terminated in about a month, by the military operations of Sir John Colborne and Sir Francis Head. The debates which ensued in England related to the treatment of the prisoners and the future government of the Canadian provinces.]

To return to the Canadian discussions. The Ministers have on the whole come out of them discreditably. Peel has worried and mauled them sadly, and taken a tone of superiority, and displayed a real superiority, which is very pernicious to a Government, as it tends to deprive them of the respect and the confidence of the country. Brougham’s harangues in the House of Lords have not done them half the mischief that Peel’s speeches have done them in the House of Commons, because Peel has a vast moral weight and Brougham has none. In the conduct of the business and in their Parliamentary proceedings they committed errors, especially in the latter, and Peel availed himself of both with great dexterity and power. The front Treasury Bench is in a deplorable state. John Russell is without support; Rice is held cheap and is ineffective; Palmerston never utters except on his own business; Thomson and Hobhouse never on any business; and Howick alone ventures to mix in the fight. The Tories render ample justice to Lord John under these overwhelming difficulties. Francis Egerton (one of the keenest of the party) writes to my brother an account of their recent successes, full of scorn and triumph, and proud comparisons between the Government and the Opposition, and he says, ‘John Russell is alone—a host in himself I admit; but Rice and Howick, the only colleagues who did assist him, are gone down in the Parliamentary estimation a hundred degrees. I certainly admire the spirit and dexterity of John Russell, and give him credit for great ability.’ There is no doubt that the Tories have put themselves in a better position for getting office, and the Whigs in a worse for keeping it, than they were in before, because [56] impartial men who look at these debates will say that Peel and his people are the abler practical men, and as time settles the great questions in dispute, and renders the public mind more indifferent about those which still remain, there will be a growing opinion that the direction of affairs ought to be entrusted to those who display the greatest capacity to conduct them. The Conservatives besides have the inestimable advantage of an alliance with the ‘Times,’ the most vigorous and powerful agent which the press ever produced. The effect of its articles, stinging as they are, is irresistible on the public mind, and the Government have nothing to oppose to such a torrent. It is impossible however, while admiring the dexterity of Peel in the elaboration of his offensive measures, to overlook the selfish and unpatriotic spirit which the great body of the Tories have manifested throughout the proceedings. If they could have foregone the bitter pleasure of achieving a party triumph, and shown themselves ready not only to support the Government in suppressing the rebellion, but to join with them in rendering the necessary legislative measures as conducive to the great object of pacification as they could be made, they would have covered themselves with honour, and acquired a credit for noble and public-spirited conduct, which, as it is, the Duke of Wellington has alone obtained, and which none of them share with him. Nor do I believe if Peel had exerted his dexterity and astuteness in another way that he would have failed to acquire the same moral superiority over the Ministers by pacific and moderate behaviour, that he has acquired by hostile motions and taunting language. But his tail was in a state of furious agitation, and so angry and dejected at the Duke’s forbearance, that he felt himself compelled to give them the gratification of a triumph of some sort. To the majority of his followers the Canadian insurrection was a very pleasing occurrence, and they would have been overjoyed if the troops had been defeated and Montreal captured by the rebels. This would indeed have been a fine case against the Government, and have paved the way for the return of the Tories to office—all that they care about.

February 8th, 1838

[57] HANNIBAL AND THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON. I have just conducted to a successful termination a negotiation (through Allen) between Sir George Murray and Macvey Napier, and Murray is to write the article on the Duke’s Despatches in the ‘Edinburgh Review.’[3] I am rather surprised at their persuasion that Murray will execute the task so well, and I hope it may turn out so. They have employed the handsomest language in praise of the Duke and towards Murray. [He did it very ill: his articles (he wrote two) were very poor performances.]

[3] [Mr. Macvey Napier was at this time editor of the ‘Edinburgh Review.’]

February 11th, 1838

I suppose all great generals have necessarily some qualities in common; even Vendôme, an indolent and beastly glutton and voluptuary, was capable of prodigious exertions and of activity not to be surpassed. There is a great deal in the character of Hannibal (as drawn by Livy) which would apply to the Duke of Wellington; only, instead of being stained with the vices which are ascribed to the Carthaginian general, the Duke is distinguished for the very opposite virtues.

‘Nunquam ingenium idem ad res diversissimas, 1. parendum atque imperandum, habilius fuit, itaque haud facile discerneres, utrum imperatori, an exercitui, carior esset: 2. Neque Hasdrubal alium quemquam præficere malle, ubi quid fortiter ac strenuè agendum esset, neque milites alio duce plus confidere aut audere. 3. Plurimum audaciæ ad pericula capessenda, plurimum consilii inter ipsa pericula erat: 4. Nullo labore aut corpus fatigari aut animus vinci poterat: caloris ac frigoris patientia par: cibi potionisque desiderio naturali, non voluptate, modus finitus: vigiliarum somnique nec die nec nocte discriminata tempora. Id, quod gerendis rebus superesset, quieti datum: ea neque molli strato neque silentio arcessita. 5. Multi sæpe militari sagulo opertum, humi jacentem inter custodias stationesque militum conspexerunt. 6. Vestitus nihil inter æquales excellens: arma atque equi conspiciebantur. Equitum peditumque idem longè primus erat: princeps in prœlium ibat: ultimus conserto prœlio excedebat. 7. Has tantas viri [58] virtutes ingentia vitia æquabant; inhumana crudelitas, perfidia plus quàm Punica, nihil veri, nihil sancti, nullus Deûm metus, nullum jusjurandum, nulla religio.’[4] ...

[4] [This passage is cited from Livy, lib. xxi. c. iv.]

1. Nothing is more remarkable in the Duke than his habit of prompt obedience to his superiors and employers, and this shines forth as much when the triumphant Commander-in-Chief of the Allied armies at the end of the Spanish war, as in his early campaign in India. He was always ready to serve when, where, and how his services were required, and so I believe he is now.

2. In India he was employed by Lord Wellesley and Lord Lake in all the most important and difficult military enterprises and civil transactions.

3. Napier says some of Wellington’s operations were daring to extravagance, some cautious to the verge of timidity, all founded as much upon keen and nice perceptions of the political measures of his adversaries as upon pure military considerations—and ‘he knew how to obey as well as to command.’

4. He told me himself that he was obliged to do everything in person. His despatches show that he thought of everything, wrote of everything, directed everything.

5. During the battles of the Pyrenees he slept wrapped in a cloak, under a thick bush, and the shot fell so near him that he was urged to remove to a less exposed place.

6. He was always dressed in his plain blue coat; he rode very good horses.

7. Here ends the parallel and begins the contrast. No general ever exhibited to the world a nobler example of mildness and humanity, of the most perfect and invariable good faith, of severe truth, of inflexible justice, of scrupulous honesty, of reverence for religion, and regard to the precepts of morality. Cruelty is not a modern vice; no general is cruel in these days. I doubt if there has been any great deed of cruelty committed since the Thirty Years’ War, the sack of Magdeburg, and the exploits of Tilly and Pappenheim. Turenne ravaged the Palatinate, but that was Louvois’ [59] THE BALLOT. cruelty, not Turenne’s. There were no military cruelties perpetrated in the revolutionary wars that I remember.

February 18th, 1838

On Thursday night came on the Ballot, and its advocates divided, as they said they should, 200. Lord John Russell, though ill, came down and spoke against it. Peel made a good speech, and complimented John on his conduct. All the Cabinet Ministers voted against it except Poulett Thomson, who stayed away. The result is the creation of a strong impression that the Ballot will eventually be carried; Brougham says in five years.[5] There can be no doubt that if the Government had declared a neutrality, perhaps if John Russell had not so deeply committed himself against it, it would have been carried now. Some men in office, many others closely connected with Ministers, did vote for it; a great number stayed away, and of those who followed John many did so very reluctantly, and some certainly will never vote against it again. Then it is indubitable that the Ballot is getting more popular in the country, and it is not regarded with much apprehension by many of those who are altogether opposed to Radical principles: by such as Fazakerley for instance, a sensible man and moderate Whig, who did not vote at all on this occasion.

[5] [It was carried, but in thirty-four years from this time. It is possible to foresee and predict political events with considerable certainty, but very difficult to foretell when they will arrive. The division on this occasion, on Mr. Grote’s motion in favour of the Ballot, was 305 to 198.]

On Friday night Brougham announced to the Lords that they must make up their minds to the Ballot after the division of the preceding night, and yesterday morning, when we were assembled in my room before going into court (Parke, Erskine, Bosanquet, and himself) he gave us his speech in high glee. Parke, who is an alarmist, had just before said that he had never doubted when the Reform Bill had passed that England would become a republic, and when Brougham said that he gave the Ballot five years for its accomplishment, Parke said, ‘And in five years from that we shall have a republic,’ on which Brougham gave him a great [60] cuff, and, with a scornful laugh, said, ‘A republic! pooh, nonsense! Well, but what if there is? There are judges in a republic, and very well paid too.’ ‘Well paid!’ said the other in the same tone, ‘and no.’ ‘Yes, they are; they have 350ℓ. a year. But, never mind, you shall be taken care of; I will speak to Grote about you.’ This is the way he goes on. He sits every day at the Judicial Committee, but pays very little attention to the proceedings; he is incessantly in and out of the room, giving audience to one odd-looking man or another, and while in court more occupied with preparing articles for the ‘Edinburgh Review’ or his Parliamentary tirades than with the cases he is by way of hearing. The day after the Lord Advocate’s attack upon him in the matter of the Glasgow cotton-spinners, he received Wakley, and as he returned (through my room) from the interview, he said, ‘Do you know who that was? It was Wakley. He would have felt your head if he had stopped, for he is a great phrenologist. He examined all the heads of the Glasgow men, and he said they had none of them the organ of destructiveness except one.’ ‘Oh,’ said I, ‘then that man would have committed murder.’ ‘No,’ said he, ‘for the organ of benevolence was also strongly developed.’ He is in extraordinary good humour; in a state of furious mental activity, troubled neither with fear nor shame, and rejoicing in that freedom from all ties which renders him a sort of political Ishmael, his hand against everybody, and everybody against him, and enables him to cut and slash, as his fancy or his passion move him, at Whig or Tory, in the House of Lords.

To return from Brougham to the Ballot. It is not so much the number of 200 who voted for it that demonstrates the greatness of its progress as the circumstances which attended the discussion. There can be no doubt that John Russell’s strenuous declaration, besides annoying the Radicals, greatly embarrassed the Whigs, who had either wholly or partially committed themselves on the hustings to its support, and the consequence has been to place the Government in a false position, for while the opposition to the Ballot has been called a Government measure (and William [61] LORD JOHN OPPOSES THE BALLOT. Cowper told me the evening before the division that nobody could keep his place and vote for Ballot), and many have been induced to sacrifice their opinions or act against their professions upon the ground of the necessity of supporting the Government; many others in office, who were too deeply pledged to, or too much afraid of their constituents to vote against it, either voted with Grote, or, what is very nearly the same thing, absented themselves, and will have done so with impunity, for the Government cannot turn people out for voting or non-voting on such a question as this; the proscription would be too numerous as well as too odious. They are much too weak for any such stretch of authority and severity; besides, the Cabinet itself is probably neither unanimous nor decided in its opposition to the Ballot. John Russell had, however, spoken out with such determination, that his honour was irretrievably committed against it, and accordingly the most strenuous efforts were made, the most urgent entreaties and remonstrances were employed, to induce people to support him on this occasion, but with a success not at all commensurate with these exertions. Vivian offered to resign, but could not be prevailed on not to vote.[6] So disgusted was John Russell with the result of this division, that it was with the greatest difficulty he was prevented from resigning; and yesterday it was reported all over the town that he had resigned. It is remarkable that in contemplation of his resignation, Morpeth is the man talked of as his successor as leader of the House of Commons, a man young enough to be the son of half the Cabinet Ministers, and not in the Cabinet; but in such low estimation are all Lord John’s colleagues, that not one of them is deemed capable of taking his place in the event of his giving it up. However, there is not much use in speculating about Lord John’s successor if he secedes, for the whole concern would in that case inevitably fall to the ground. Indeed, it is not likely that it will, under any circumstances, go on much longer. When [62] once the leader of the House of Commons has become thoroughly disgusted and dissatisfied with his position, either a change or a dissolution of the Government may be anticipated, and in this case any attempt at change can scarcely fail to break up this rickety firm.

[6] Vivian’s Cornish petition was signed by 2,100 or 2,200 freeholders, the same number who had voted for him at the election, but of these there were 200 who had voted for Eliot.

The circumstances which enable them to go on at all I take to be these: the extreme repugnance of the Queen to any change, and the necessity in which Melbourne finds himself on her account to go on as long as he possibly can; and on the other hand, the reluctance of Peel to assault the Government in front. I know no more of Peel’s opinions and designs than what I can gather from his conduct and what he is likely to entertain under present circumstances; but it must be his object to delay coming into office till he can do so as a powerful Minister, and till it is made manifest to Parliament and the country that he is demanded by a great public exigency, and is not marching in as the result of a party triumph. If the resignation of the present Government should take place under any circumstances which admitted of a reunion of the Whigs and the Radicals, and of the whole re-united party being held together in opposition to a Conservative Government, Peel would be little more secure, and not more able to act with efficiency and independence than he was in 1835, and this is what he never will submit to. It is also a great object to him that the Irish questions should be settled before he comes into office. Nothing would gladden his heart more than to have the Government in Ireland established on a footing from the practice of which he could not deviate, and that once effected up to a certain point (as far as the Whigs can go) he would be enabled to go a good deal farther; and as the man who covers in a building has always more credit and is considered the artificer more than he who lays the foundations, so Peel would obtain all the credit of measures which would in fact have been rendered easy or practicable by the long-continued toils and perseverance of others. His interest therefore (and consequently I suppose his design) is to restrain the impatience of his followers; to let the [63] POLICY OF SIR ROBERT PEEL. Government lose ground in public estimation gently and considerately, not violently and rancorously; to assist in putting them in a contemptible or inefficient point of view; to render their places as uneasy as possible; and to give them time to crumble to pieces, so that his return to power may be more in appearance the act of the Whig Ministry than any act of his own. Then he may demand, and would probably obtain, as the condition of his acceptance of office, the support of a large proportion of the moderate of the Whig party, and the necessity of conciliating such men and of acquiring their support could afford him an excuse for adopting those Liberal maxims which, though far from palatable to the Conservatives, would be indispensable to the formation of a strong Government, as without their adoption no Whig could with honour and consistency support him. I care not who is Minister, but I want to see a strong Government, one which may have a power of free action and not be obliged to pick its steps through doubtful divisions, living from day to day, and compelled to an incessant calculation as to the probable success of every measure, whether of principle or detail, on which it ventures in the House of Commons. Things are not yet ripe for such a consummation, and before the fresh fusion of parties takes place which is necessary to bring it about, it must be made manifest that there is no other alternative, for there is always a considerable amount of party violence and selfish interest which reluctantly sacrifice themselves, no matter how desperate the position they hold or how great the good which may ensue. Though the adherents of Government put on as bold a front as they can, there is a very considerable impression that the days of the Whig Cabinet are numbered; however, I don’t think they will go just yet.

February 20th, 1838

I made no allusion to the death of Creevey at the time it took place, about a fortnight ago, having said something about him elsewhere. Since that period he had got into a more settled way of life. He was appointed to one of the Ordnance offices by Lord Grey, and subsequently by Lord Melbourne to the Treasurer ship of [64] Greenwich Hospital, with a salary of 600ℓ. a year and a house. As he died very suddenly, and none of his connexions were at hand, Lord Sefton sent to his lodgings and (in conjunction with Vizard, the solicitor) caused all his papers to be sealed up. It was found that he had left a woman who had lived with him for four years as his mistress, his sole executrix and residuary legatee, and she accordingly became entitled to all his personalty (the value of which was very small, not more than 300ℓ. or 400ℓ.) and to all the papers which he left behind him. These last are exceedingly valuable, for he had kept a copious diary for thirty-six years, had preserved all his own and Mrs. Creevey’s letters, and copies or originals of a vast miscellaneous correspondence. The only person who is acquainted with the contents of these papers is his daughter-in-law, whom he had frequently employed to copy papers for him, and she knows how much there is of delicate and interesting matter, the publication of which would be painful and embarrassing to many people now alive, and make very inconvenient and premature revelations upon private and confidential matters.... Then there is Creevey’s own correspondence with various people, especially with Brougham, which evidently contains things Brougham is anxious to suppress, for he has taken pains to prevent the papers from falling into the hands of any person likely to publish them, and has urged Vizard to get possession of them either by persuasion, or purchase, or both. In point of fact they are now in Vizard’s hands, and it is intended by him and Brougham, probably with the concurrence of others, to buy them of Creevey’s mistress, though who is to become the owner of the documents, or what the stipulated price, and what their contemplated destination, I do not know. The most extraordinary part of the affair is, that the woman has behaved with the utmost delicacy and propriety, has shown no mercenary disposition, but expressed her desire to be guided by the wishes and opinions of Creevey’s friends and connexions, and to concur in whatever measures may be thought best by them with reference to the character of Creevey, and the interests and [65] MR. CREEVEY’S PAPERS. feelings of those who might be affected by the contents of the papers. Here is a strange situation in which to find a rectitude of conduct, a moral sentiment, a grateful and disinterested liberality which would do honour to the highest birth, the most careful cultivation, and the strictest principle. It would be a hundred to one against any individual in the ordinary rank of society and of average good character acting with such entire absence of selfishness, and I cannot help being struck with the contrast between the motives and disposition of those who want to get hold of these papers, and of this poor woman who is ready to give them up. They, well knowing that, in the present thirst for the sort of information Creevey’s journals and correspondence contain, a very large sum might be obtained for them, are endeavouring to drive the best bargain they can with her for their own particular ends, while she puts her whole confidence in them, and only wants to do what they tell her she ought to do under the circumstances of the case.

General Evans’s appointment as K.C.B. has made a great stir at the United Service Club, and is blamed or ridiculed by everybody. It is difficult to conceive why the Government gave it him, and if he had not been a vain coxcomb, he would not have wished for it; but they say he fancies himself a great general, and that he has done wonders in Spain.[7]

[7] [Sir De Lacy Evans probably did as much in Spain as it was possible to do with the troops under his command. But in justice to him as an officer it should be remembered that he commanded a division of the British army in the Crimea, long afterwards, and showed considerable foresight and ability at the battles of the Alma and Inkerman.]

We have had Brougham every day at the Council Office, more busy writing a review of Lady Charlotte Bury’s book than with the matter before the Judicial Committee. He writes this with inconceivable rapidity, seldom corrects, and never reads over what he has written, but packs it up and despatches it rough from his pen to Macvey Napier. He is in exuberant spirits and full of talk, and certainly marvellously agreeable. His talk (for conversation is not the [66] word for it) is totally unlike that of anybody else I ever heard. It comes forth without the slightest effort, provided he is in spirits and disposed to talk at all. It is the spontaneous outpouring of one of the most fertile and restless of minds, easy, familiar, abundant, and discursive. The qualities and peculiarities of mind which mar his oratorical, give zest and effect to his conversational, powers; for the perpetual bubbling up of fresh ideas, by incapacitating him from condensing his speeches, often makes them tediously digressive and long; but in society he treads the ground with so elastic a step, he touches everything so lightly and so adorns all that he touches, his turns and his breaks are so various, unexpected, and pungent, that he not only interests and amuses, but always exhilarates his audience so as to render weariness and satiety impossible. He is now coquetting a little with the Tories, and especially professes great deference and profound respect for the Duke of Wellington; his sole object in politics, for the moment, is to badger, twit, and torment the Ministry, and in this he cannot contain himself within the bounds of common civility, as he exemplified the other night when he talked of ‘Lord John this and Mr. Spring that’ (on Thursday night), which, however contemptuous, was too undignified to be effective. He calls this ‘the Thomson Government’ from its least considerable member.

February 25th, 1838

Lord John Russell made a very paltry exhibition on Friday night, quite unworthy of the fame he had acquired and of the situation he holds. When Lord Maidstone threatened to bring before the House the language which O’Connell had used (about the perjury in Committees) in a speech at the ‘Crown and Anchor,’[8] and gave notice of a motion for that purpose, John jumped up and said, if he persevered in this motion he would call the attention of the House to an imputation against the Catholic members contained in a charge of the Bishop of Exeter with reference to the oath required of them by the Relief [67] O’CONNELL AT THE CROWN AND ANCHOR. Bill. Whether this was a sally of passion I know not, but it was puerile, imprudent, and undignified. This charge was delivered in 1836, and ought to have been animadverted upon at the time, if at all. It either is, or is not, a proper matter to bring before the House, but that propriety cannot be contingent upon some other proceeding of another person, quite unconnected with it. It was a poor tu quoque which has got him into a scrape, and will contribute to the downhill impulsion of the Government; it is a fresh bit of discredit thrown upon them. John Russell too has been a personal antagonist of the Bishop of Exeter, and should have been the last man to attack him in this irregular way. Out of all this will spring much violence and personality, and that is what interests the members of the House of Commons more than any great political question.

[8] [O’Connell had asserted, at the ‘Crown and Anchor’ tavern, that ‘foul perjury was committed by the Tory Election Committees.’]

February 27th, 1838

It is difficult to conceive a greater quantity of folly crammed into a short space of time than has been displayed by all parties in the last three or four days, and which reached the climax last night in the House of Commons. It began with O’Connell’s speech at the ‘Crown and Anchor,’ when he denounced the perjury of the Tory Election Committees in such terms as he usually employs. To recommend moderate language to O’Connell would, however, be about as reasonable as to advise him to drop his brogue; but as he had ample notice that the matter was coming before the House of Commons, he might have been persuaded, and there should have been somewhere sense and prudence enough to persuade him, to soften his tone, and to make one of those explanations, partly exculpatory and partly apologetic, which are always accepted as a sufficient atonement for rash and violent language; instead of which he brazened it out, and then John Russell came to his rescue in that foolish and unbecoming notice of his which compromised his dignity, committed his party,[9] and [68] complicated all the difficulties in which the House itself was placed. The fools of his party (and on both sides they predominate in noise and numbers) vociferously cheered this ill-judged sally, and lauded it as a fine spirited retort. Not so, however, the more prudent of his friends, who perceived the dilemma in which he had placed himself. Nobody in the meantime had any clear notion of what would be done, what motions would be made or withdrawn, and how the whole thing was to end. But as the debate promised a great deal of personality, it was exceedingly attractive, and 517 members[10] went down to the House. Lord Maidstone moved that O’Connell’s speech was a scandalous libel, and Lord Howick moved the order of the day. O’Connell made a very good speech and then retired; John Russell spoke on one side, and Peel and Follett on the other, and on the division the Tories carried the question by nine: 263 to 254. They were of course in a state of uproarious triumph; the Government people exceedingly mortified, and the tail in a frenzy. The scene which ensued appears to have been something like that which a meeting of Bedlam or Billingsgate might produce. All was uproar, gesticulation, and confusion. The Irishmen started up one after another and proclaimed their participation in O’Connell’s sentiments, and claimed to be joined in his condemnation. They were all the more furious when they found that the conquerors only meant to have him reprimanded by the Speaker, and that there was no chance of his or their being sent to Newgate or the Tower. At last ‘le combat finit faute de combattants,’ for John Russell and his colleagues first, and subsequently Peel and his followers, severally made their exits something like rival potentates and their trains in a tragedy, and when the bellowers found nobody left to bellow to, they too were obliged to move off.

[9] The notice was that if Lord Maidstone persisted in his motion, he would call the attention of the Crown to a charge delivered by the Bishop of Exeter (nearly two years ago), in which he had accused the Catholic members of perjury and treachery.

[10] Many more, I am told, for 517 voted, and several went away who would not vote.

In the House of Lords there had been an early, but very smart skirmish between Melbourne and Lyndhurst,[11] in which [69] LORD LYNDHURST AND LORD MELBOURNE. the former drew a contrast between what would have been the conduct of the Duke (who was absent) and that of Lyndhurst, and said that the Duke was a man of honour and a gentleman in a tone which implied that Lyndhurst was neither. Brougham stepped in and aggravated matters as much as he could by joining Lyndhurst and taunting Melbourne; but when Lyndhurst rose again to call Melbourne to account for his expressions, Brougham held him down with friendly violence, and (as he asseverates) was entirely the cause of preventing a fight between them, first by not letting Lyndhurst proceed to extremities,[12] and next by giving Melbourne time for reflection. However this may be, when Lyndhurst asked him, ‘if he meant to say he was not a man of honour,’ Melbourne made as ample a retractation of the offensive expressions as Lyndhurst could desire, and there the matter ended, not certainly much to the credit or satisfaction of the Ministers in either House. I think, however, that the Opposition have obtained a very mischievous and inconvenient triumph, and that they would have done much better to leave the question alone. O’Connell and John Russell made better speeches than Peel and Follett, and the latter seemed to be oppressed by a consciousness of the narrow, vindictive, and merely party, if not personal grounds on which the question was raised. They have dragged the House of Commons into a vote, which, if it acts consistently, it ought to follow up by an indiscriminate exercise of its authority and resentment upon all the writers and speakers who have denounced the Committee system, and they have procured a resolution declaratory of that being libellous and scandalous which the public universally believes, and every member of the House well knows to be true.

[11] The discussion arose out of a question Lyndhurst put about some young children who had been confined in the penitentiary, in solitary confinement, &c., without notice. Melbourne fired up at this in a very unnecessary rage, though Lyndhurst was clearly wrong in not giving notice. Much more was made of this omission than need have been.

[12] Lyndhurst was going out of the House to write a hostile note, but Brougham forced him down and said, ‘I insist on my noble friend’s sitting down,’ but though he boasts of having been the peacemaker, Lyndhurst told me he thought, but for Brougham, Melbourne would not have said what he did.

February 28th, 1838

[70] I met Lyndhurst yesterday, and had a few minutes’ conversation with him. He told me, as I had conjectured, that Peel was extremely annoyed at all these proceedings. I said, ‘Why then, did not he stop them?’ ‘Because the great misfortune of our party is that he won’t communicate with anybody.’ So that this most inexpedient discussion was forced on by the precipitation and indiscretion of two or three men, against the convictions and the wishes of the wise and the moderate of all parties; and when a few words of prudence and conciliation might have stopped the whole proceeding, pride, or obstinacy, or awkwardness prevented those words being uttered. The only real consequence will be that public attention will be attracted to the Committee system, people will think a great deal about what they scarcely regarded before, and the characters of public men will suffer. If the vote of the House of Commons means anything, it means that these Committees are honourably and fairly conducted, and it will be compelled to follow up this vote by reforming them on the specific ground of enormous and intolerable abuses, the existence of which their vote will have denied; and all these results, the self-stultification of the House, and the damage to the moral reputation of its members, are brought about in order that the Tory geese may cackle, and that men like Jemmy Bradshaw and Sir John Tyrrell may wave their hats and their crutches in triumph.[13] It is curious enough that the Ministers had no notion the Tories really meant to press this matter. John Russell went down (Le Marchant told me so) fully sensible of his own folly on Friday night, resolved to drop his motion about the Bishop, and convinced that, as it was the interest, so it would be the determination, of the leading Tories to quash the discussion.

[13] Bradshaw stood up on the benches, huzzaing and waving his hat, and it was said Sir John Tyrrell (if it was he) did the same, having the gout, with his crutches.

March 1st, 1838

Another night (Tuesday) was wasted in a fresh discussion, brought on by a motion of Pendarves’s to let the matter drop. In the morning Lord Howick told me [71] LORD BROUGHAM COURTS THE TORIES. that the Ministers did not mean to say or do anything more, and that their only object now was to put an end to the business as quickly as possible. But John Russell, who is as little communicative on one side as Peel is on the other, had in the meantime, and without consulting anybody, desired Pendarves to make this useless and abortive motion. This Le Marchant told me yesterday morning, adding how annoyed they all were at it. Yesterday the Speaker delivered the reprimand, and they all admitted that it was extremely well done. O’Connell made a violent speech in reply, but clever.

March 4th, 1838

Brougham again in the House of Lords on Friday night. He attacked Pechell and Codrington for having attacked him[14] because he had abused the Navy in his Slavery speech, and was very violent, tedious, and verbose. He informed the House that he had written a remonstrance to the Speaker for not having called the two sailors to order, and he treated them with great contumely and abuse in his speech. Lyndhurst[15] made him very wroth by asking him ‘if he had any right to write to the Speaker,’ and Melbourne made a short, but very good reply, reminding him that, as he had chosen to publish his speech in the shape of a pamphlet, it was no breach of privilege to comment on its contents. He made a great splutter, but got the worst of this bout. In the meantime he continues to be the great meteor of the day; he has emerged from his seclusion, and is shining a mighty luminary among the Tory ignes minores. The Conservatives are so charmed with him, that they court his society with the liveliest demonstrations of regard, and he meets their advances more than half way. They are very naturally delighted with his unrivalled agreeableness, and they are not sorry to pat him on the back as a flagellifer of the Ministers; but though they talk with expressions of regret of his having radicalised himself, and he would probably, if he saw an opening, try to wriggle himself [72] out of Radicalism and into Toryism, they will take care, in the event of their return to office, not to let such a firebrand in amongst them. He calls his last Anti-slavery speech his περὶ στεφάνου, for he thinks it his greatest effort, and it was such an oration as no other man could have delivered. The Bishop of Exeter spoke for two hours and a half the other night on Catholic oaths, but the whole bench of Bishops, except Llandaff, stayed away, to mark their disapprobation of his agitation on the subject.

[14] [In their speeches in the House of Commons.]

[15] [It was not Lord Lyndhurst who asked this question. Lord Brougham intimated that he had written a private letter on the matter to the Speaker, which he had a right to do.]

Nobody knows what the Tories are going to do on Molesworth’s motion on Tuesday;[16] they have kept an ominous silence, and it is believed that the great body of them are eagerly pressing for a division against the Government, while the leaders want to restrain them, and not meddle with the question. Care, however, has been taken, to abstain from any expression of opinion or declaration of intention, and they are all ordered to be at their posts. The Whigs would desire nothing better, end as it might, than that the Tories should support Molesworth’s motion, or move an amendment upon it, which might bring about the concurrence with themselves of the mover and the few Liberals (some say seven, some eleven) who will vote with him.

[16] [Sir William Molesworth moved a vote of censure on Lord Glenelg, Colonial Secretary of State, on the 6th of March, but withdrew it after two nights’ debate in favour of an amendment moved by Lord Sandon, condemning the Canadian policy of the Government. On the division Ministers had 316, and their opponents 287 votes. The character and purport of this amendment are explained below.]

March 6th, 1838

Great interest yesterday to know the result of the meeting at Peel’s, when it was to be settled what course should be taken to-night. There were meetings at both Peel’s and John Russell’s. The decision of the Tories was deferred till Stanley’s arrival in town, who had been detained by illness at Knowsley. In the morning there was a meeting of the Privy Council about municipal charters, when John Russell and Poulett Thomson told me they did not expect the Tories would give them battle; but if there was a division, they thought Government would carry it by 20, a great majority in these days.

March 8th, 1838

[73] LORD BROUGHAM’S ANTI-SLAVERY SPEECH. Sandon moved the amendment on Tuesday night, but so well had the Tories kept their secret that nobody knew what they were going to do till he got up in the House. As there were above 200 present at the meeting, and nearly 300 must have been in the secret, their discretion was marvellous. I was convinced that no amendment would be moved, and was completely mistaken. The debate on Tuesday was moderate; Labouchere spoke well, Stanley middling, but he was not in force physically. Last night they divided at half-past two, and there was a majority of 29: all things considered, a great one, and which sets the Government on its legs for the present. Fourteen of the Conservatives were absent from illness or the death of relations, so that the strength of the party really amounts to 300 if it would all be mustered. There must always be some casualties, and probably there were some likewise on the other side.

On Tuesday night Brougham made another great Slavery speech in the House of Lords, as usual, very long, eloquent, powerful; but his case overstated, too highly wrought, and too artificial. It was upon the Order in Council by which coolies were brought into Antigua from India. He made out a case of real or probable abuse and injustice, and his complaint was that the Government had not sufficiently guarded against the contingency by regulations accompanying the Order. He was followed by several of the Tory Lords; but the Duke of Wellington refused to support him, provided Melbourne would agree to adopt certain rules which he proposed as a security against future abuses, in which case he said he would move the previous question. Melbourne agreed, and the Duke moved it. As he and the bulk of his followers joined with the Government, they had a large majority, but Ellenborough, Lyndhurst, Wharncliffe, the Bishop of Exeter, and a few more, voted with Brougham, and the whole party would have been very glad to do so if the Duke would have let them. Brougham was exceedingly disconcerted, and threw out all sorts of baits to catch the Duke’s vote and support, but did not succeed, and he said [74] that the Duke had again stepped in to save the Government. The ‘Times’ yesterday morning made a very sulky allusion to what they consider his ill-timed moderation; but he will not be a party to anything that has the semblance of faction, and to worrying and bullying the Government merely to show the power or to have the pleasure of doing so. In the present instance, although Melbourne gave way to the Duke (as he could not do less), it so happens that the Government would have been in a majority of three or four if the Duke had divided against them, for the Tories had taken no pains to bring their people down, and Brougham’s great orations are not so attractive to the Lords as they are popular with the public. He will certainly gain a great deal of reputation and popularity by his agitation of the Anti-slavery question, for it is a favourite topic in the country. Wharncliffe told me he walked away with him from the House after the debate on Tuesday, and some young men who had been below the bar saluted him as he went by with ‘Bravo, Brougham!’

March 9th, 1838

At the Council yesterday everybody was very merry and grinning from ear to ear, mightily elated with their victory, or perhaps rather their escape the night before, and at having got such a timely reprieve. The division has given them a new lease, but whether it will prove a long or a short one depends upon a thousand contingencies. The violent Tories were sulky and disappointed, though in the course of Wednesday they began to find out that Government would have a better division than either party had anticipated. I had been strongly of opinion that Peel would not fight the battle, and I thought it would be bad policy in him to do so; but any opinion contrary to his must be entertained with diffidence, so able as he is, and so versed in parliamentary and party tactics; and in order to form a correct judgement of the course which it was expedient for him to adopt, it was necessary to know both his own views as to office at the present moment and the disposition of the party he leads.

I had no communication with any of the Tories before [75] SIR ROBERT PEEL’S TACTICS. the division, but yesterday I saw George Dawson, Peel’s brother-in-law, and Francis Egerton. From them I learnt, what I had all along supposed to be the case, that Peel was driven with extreme reluctance into fighting this battle; that it was difficult to take no part in the discussion raised by Molesworth’s inconvenient resolution, and that he was continually urged and pressed by his followers to attack the Government, they persisting in the notion that the Ministers might be driven out, and always complaining that the moderation of the Duke and the backwardness of Peel alone kept them in their places. The discontent and clamour were so loud and continued that it became absolutely necessary for Peel, if he meant to keep the party together, to gratify their impatience for action, and he accordingly concocted this amendment in such terms as should make it impossible for the Radicals to concur in it, it being his especial care to avoid the semblance of any union, even momentary, between the Tories and them. Peel certainly never expected to beat the Government, nor did he wish it. There can be no doubt that he saw clearly all the results that would follow his defeat, and thought them on the whole desirable. These results are, that there is an end for the present of any question of the stability of the Government. Peel has complied with the wishes of his party, and has demonstrated to them that they cannot turn the Government out, which will have the effect of moderating their impatience and induce them for the future to acquiesce in his managing matters according to his own discretion. On the other hand, he has exhibited a force of 317 Conservatives[17] in the House of Commons, not only by far the most numerous Opposition that ever was arrayed against a Government, but possessing the peculiar advantage of being united in principle—a compact, cemented body, all animated with one spirit, and not a mass composed of different elements and merely allied and conjoined in hostility to the Government. The relative strength of the two parties [76] has been manifested by this division, and the Government have a majority of twenty votes, which, as their people attend better than the others, may be considered equal to a working majority of thirty.

[17] [The number of Conservatives who took part in the vote was 287; but thirty members of the party either paired or were absent.]

This is sufficient to enable them to go on, but the majority consists of a combination of heterogeneous materials: of O’Connell and the Irish members, of Radicals and Whigs of various shades and degrees of opinions, all with a disposition, greater or less, but with different (and often opposite and inconsistent) views and objects, to support the present Government, and containing in itself all the seeds of dissolution from the variety and incompatibility of its component elements. But while this division has given present security to the Government, it has also made a display of Conservative power which will render it impossible for the Whigs to conduct the Government on any but Conservative principles; and while, on the one hand, Peel can say to the violent Tories that they have seen the impotence of their efforts, and ought to be convinced that by firmness and moderation they may do anything, but by violence nothing, on the other, Melbourne and John Russell may equally admonish the Radicals of the manifest impossibility of carrying out their principles in the teeth of such a Conservative party, besides the resistance that would be offered by all the Conservative leaven which is largely mixed up in the composition of their own. Thus there is a reasonable expectation that from the balance of party power moderate counsels may prevail, and that Conservative principle may extend and consolidate its influence.

The Queen was very nervous at the possibility there seemed to be that the Ministers might be beaten, for Lord John Russell had told her that he could not count upon a majority of more than fifteen, and she looked yesterday as cheerful as anybody else around her. With regard to the measure on the part of the Tories and the case of Canada, they were wholly unjustifiable in moving such a vote of censure, and there is nothing in the case (however in its details objections may be urged against Lord Glenelg’s conduct) to demand so [77] A DINNER AT BUCKINGHAM PALACE. strong a proceeding. The best speeches were Sir George Grey’s on one side, and Peel’s on the other. The casualties in the division were, on the whole, unfavourable to the Tories; fifteen of their people were unavoidably absent, not above half as many of the Government. They contrived to delay the report of the Belfast Committee, unseating both the sitting members, till yesterday morning, by which means the Government got both their votes in the division; and one of them being paired off with Lord Ramsay, who was not there, the pair cancelled by the call of the House, this alone made a difference of five votes.

March 11th, 1838

I dined yesterday at the Palace, much to my surprise, for I had no expectation of an invitation. There was a very numerous party:—the Hanoverian Minister Baron Münchhausen, Lord and Lady Grey, the Chancellor, the Roseberys, Ossulston, Mahon, &c. We assembled in the round room next the gallery, and just before the dinner was ready the Queen entered with the Duchess of Kent, preceded by the Chamberlain, and followed by her six ladies. She shook hands with the women, and made a sweeping bow to the men, and directly went in to dinner, conducted by Münchhausen, who sat next to her, and Lord Conyngham on the other side. The dinner was like any other great dinner. After the eating was over, the Queen’s health was given by Cavendish, who sat at one end of the table, and everybody got up to drink it: a vile, vulgar custom, and, however proper it may be to drink her health elsewhere, it is bad taste to have it given by her own officer at her own table, which, in fact, is the only private table it is ever drunk at. However, this has been customary in the two last reigns. George III. never dined but with his family, never had guests, or a dinner party.

The Queen sat for some time at table, talking away very merrily to her neighbours, and the men remained about a quarter of an hour after the ladies. When we went into the drawing-room, and huddled about the door in the sort of half-shy, half-awkward way people do, the Queen advanced to meet us, and spoke to everybody in succession, and if everybody’s [78] ‘palaver’ was as deeply interesting as mine, it would have been worth while to have had Gurney to take it down in short-hand. The words of kings and queens are precious, but it would be hardly fair to record a Royal after-dinner colloquy.... After a few insignificant questions and answers,—gracious smile and inclination of head on part of Queen, profound bow on mine, she turned again to Lord Grey. Directly after I was (to my satisfaction) deposited at the whist table to make up the Duchess of Kent’s party, and all the rest of the company were arranged about a large round table (the Queen on the sofa by it), where they passed about an hour and a half in what was probably the smallest possible talk, interrupted and enlivened, however, by some songs which Lord Ossulston sang. We had plenty of instrumental music during and after dinner. To form an opinion or the slightest notion of her real character and capacity from such a formal affair as this, is manifestly impossible. Nobody expects from her any clever, amusing, or interesting talk, above all no stranger can expect it. She is very civil to everybody, and there is more of frankness, cordiality, and good-humour in her manner than of dignity. She looks and speaks cheerfully: there was nothing to criticise, nothing particularly to admire. The whole thing seemed to be dull, perhaps unavoidably so, but still so dull that it is a marvel how anybody can like such a life. This was an unusually large party, and therefore more than usually dull and formal; but it is much the same sort of thing every day. Melbourne was not there, which I regretted, as I had some curiosity to see Her Majesty and her Minister together. I had a few words with Lord Grey, and soon found that the Government are in no very good odour with him. He talked disparagingly of them, and said, in reference to the recent debate, that ‘he thought Peel could not have done otherwise than he did.’

March 17th, 1838

Went to the Royal Institution last night in hopes of hearing Faraday lecture, but the lecture was given by Mr. Pereira upon crystals, a subject of which he appeared to be master, to judge by his facility and fluency; [79] MEN OF SCIENCE. but the whole of it was unintelligible to me. Met Dr. Buckland and talked to him for an hour, and he introduced me to Mr. Wheatstone, the inventor of the electric telegraph, of the progress in which he gave us an account. I wish I had turned my attention to these things and sought occupation and amusement in them long ago. I am satisfied that, apart from all considerations of utility, or even of profit, they afford a very pregnant source of pleasure and gratification. There is a cheerfulness, an activity, an appearance of satisfaction in the conversation and demeanour of scientific men that conveys a lively notion of the pleasure they derive from their pursuits. I feel ashamed to go among such people when I compare their lives with my own, their knowledge with my ignorance, their brisk and active intellects with my dull and sluggish mind, become sluggish and feeble for want of exercise and use.

March 20th, 1838

Met Croker on Sunday, who came to speak to me about the picture of the Queen’s First Council on her accession which Wilkie is painting. He is much scandalised because the Lord Mayor is introduced, which he ought not to be, and Croker apprehends that future Mayors will found upon the evidence of this picture claims to be present at the Councils of future sovereigns on similar occasions. I wrote to Lord Lansdowne about it and told him that it so happens that I caused the Lord Mayor to be ejected, who was lingering on in the room after the Proclamation had been read.[18]

[18] [It is a vulgar error, which it would scarcely be necessary to notice here except for the purpose of correcting it, that the Lord Mayor of London has some of the privileges of a Privy Councillor during his year of office. The mistake has probably arisen from his being styled ‘Right Honourable,’ but so are the Lord Mayors of Dublin and of York. But he has none of the rights of a Privy Councillor. He is, however, summoned to attend the Privy Council at which a new Sovereign is proclaimed, but having heard the Proclamation he retires before the business of the Council is commenced. See infra, March 27th.]

It is a very trite observation, that no two people are more different than the same man at different periods of his life, and this was illustrated by an anecdote Lord Holland [80] told us of Tom Grenville last night—Tom Grenville, so mild, so refined, adorned with such an amiable, venerable, and decorous old age. After Lord Keppel’s acquittal there were riots, and his enthusiastic friends with a zealous mob attacked the houses of his enemies; among others they assaulted the Admiralty, the chiefs of which were obnoxious for their supposed ill-usage of him. The Admiralty was taken by storm, and Tom Grenville was the second man who entered at the breach!

March 23rd, 1838

On Wednesday I attended a Levée and Council. The Queen was magnificently dressed, and looked better than I ever saw her. Her complexion is clear and has the brightness of youth; the expression of her eyes is agreeable. Her manner is graceful and dignified and with perfect self-possession. I remarked how very civil she was to Brougham, for she spoke to him as much as to anybody. He was in high good-humour after it.

Yesterday we had a Judicial Committee, with a great judicial attendance: the Chancellor, Lord Lyndhurst, Brougham, the Vice-Chancellor, Lord Abinger, Lord Langdale, and Tom Erskine, with the Lord President. It was to consider a petition of certain apprentices in British Guiana, who wanted to stay execution of the judgement of a Court there. Glenelg had it referred to the Privy Council Committee in order to shift the responsibility from himself. He expected that Brougham would get hold of the case and make a clatter about it; but at the Board Brougham treated it purely upon legal grounds, and was adverse to the prayer of the petition.

They had come (i.e., the Chancellor, Lyndhurst, and Brougham) from the House of Lords, where they had been reversing Lyndhurst’s famous judgement in ‘Small v. Attwood.’ Lyndhurst was very hoarse, having just made a long speech in support of his former judgement; but the Chancellor and Devon had spoken against, and Brougham was prepared to side with them. Sic transit gloria! It was this judgement which was so lauded and admired at the time, and upon which, more than upon any other, or even upon the [81] THE QUEEN’S ATTACHMENT TO WILLIAM IV. general tenor of his decisions, Lyndhurst’s great judicial fame was based; and now it turns out that, although it was admirable in the execution, it was bad in point of law.[19]

[19] [The main question in the celebrated case of Small v. Attwood was whether the sale of certain ironworks in Staffordshire, by Mr. Attwood, to the British Iron Company, should be set aside for what, in the Courts of Equity, is termed fraud. Lord Lyndhurst, as Chief Baron of the Exchequer, held that an amount of misrepresentation had been practised by the vendor, which annulled the sale. The House of Lords was of opinion that if the purchasers had paid too much for the property, it was their own fault. This decision rested, of course, on the special circumstances of the case. It was argued with great ability by Serjeant Wilde and Mr. Sugden, who received fees in this case to an amount previously unknown to the Bar. It is remarkable that Lord Lyndhurst sat on the appeal from his own judgement and supported it; the fifth vote, which decided the case, was that of Lord Devon, who had never held a judicial office.]

March 25th, 1838

Lady Cowper told me yesterday that the Queen said to Lord Melbourne, ‘the first thing which had convinced her he was worthy of her confidence was his conduct in the disputes at Kensington last year about her proposed allowance,’ in which, though he knew that the King’s life was closing, he had taken his part. She considered this to be a proof of his honesty and determination to do what he thought right. Though she took no part, and never declared herself, it is evident that she, in her heart, sided with the King on that occasion. It is difficult to attribute to timidity that command over herself and passive obedience which she showed in her whole conduct up to the moment when she learnt that she was Queen; and from that instant, as if inspired with the genius and the spirit of Sixtus V., she at once asserted her dignity and her will. She now evinces in all she does an attachment to the memory of her uncle, and it is not to be doubted that, in the disputes which took place between him and her mother, her secret sympathies were with the King; and in that celebrated scene at Windsor, when the King made so fierce an attack upon the Duchess’s advisers, and expressed his earnest hope that he might live to see the majority of his niece, Victoria must have inwardly rejoiced at the expression of sentiments so accordant with her own. Her attentions and cordiality to Queen Adelaide, [82] her bounty and civility to the King’s children, and the disgrace of Conroy, amply prove what her sentiments have all along been.

March 27th, 1838

Went yesterday to sit to Wilkie for the picture of the Queen’s First Council. The likenesses are generally pretty good, but it is a very unfaithful representation of what actually took place. It was, of course, impossible to preserve all the details without sacrificing the effect, but the picture has some glaring improprieties, which diminish its interest, and deprive it of all value as an historical piece. There were ninety-seven Privy Councillors present on the occasion, and among them most of the conspicuous men of the time. He has introduced as many figures as he well could, but has made a strange selection, admitting very ordinary men, such as Lord Burghersh and Lord Salisbury, while Brougham and Stanley do not find places. He told me that great anxiety prevailed to be put into this picture, and many pressing applications had been made; and as only vain and silly men would make them, and importunity generally prevails to a great extent, it ends in the sacrifice of the picture by substituting these undistinguished intruders in place of the celebrated persons who are so much better entitled to be there. Then he has painted the Lord Mayor of London and the Attorney-General, who, not being Privy Councillors, could not be present when the Queen was sitting in Council; but they both entreated to be put in the picture, and each asserted that he was actually present. Yesterday I remonstrated with Wilkie, who had no good reason to give; indeed, none, except that they both said they were present, and that the Attorney had described to him what passed. The fact was this: when the Lords assemble they order the Queen to be proclaimed, and when the Proclamation is read the doors are thrown open, and everybody is admitted. The Lord Mayor came in together with several Common Councilmen and a multitude of other persons. When this is over they are all obliged to retire, and I called out from the head of the table that ‘everybody except Privy Councillors would have the goodness to retire.’ [83] WILKIE’S PICTURE OF THE FIRST COUNCIL. It was necessary to clear the room before Her Majesty could hold her Privy Council. The people did retire, slowly and lingeringly, and some time afterwards, espying the fur and scarlet of the Lord Mayor, I requested somebody (I forget whom) to tell him he must retire, and he did leave the room. Shortly after the Queen entered, and the business of the Council commenced. The impossibility of getting the summonses to two hundred and twenty Privy Councillors conveyed in time caused the greatest irregularity in the arrivals, and the door was continually opened to admit fresh comers. In such a scene of bustle and confusion, and in a room so crowded, it is extremely probable that the Lord Mayor and the Attorney-General smuggled themselves back into the apartment, and that they were (very improperly) spectators of what passed; but that forms no reason why they should be represented in an historical picture as actors in a ceremonial with which they had, and could have, no concern. Wilkie was very anxious to have Lord Conyngham in the picture, but both he and Albert Conyngham decided that it would be improper, because not only he was not present, but according to etiquette could not be present, as it was his duty to remain in constant attendance upon the body of the late King up to the moment of his breaking his wand over his coffin.

Yesterday Brougham spoke for four hours and a half in the House of Lords, upon the appeal of ‘Small v. Attwood,’ concurring with the Chancellor in reversing Lyndhurst’s judgement, and evidently bent upon making a display of judicial eloquence which should eclipse that of Lyndhurst himself. This judgement has made a great sensation in the world, especially in the commercial world. I met the Vice-Chancellor, who had come from the House of Lords, and who told me of Brougham’s speech, and the final decree; he said he really knew nothing of the case, but from what he heard he was inclined to believe the reversal was right. Lyndhurst, however, persists in the correctness of his own judgement.

March 30th, 1838

Lord Eliot’s motion about Spain came to a ridiculous end on Wednesday. When the debate was [84] resumed at five o’clock very few people were present; they were chattering and making a noise; nobody heard the Speaker when he put the question; and so they divided 72 to 60, the Ministers (or Minister, for none was present but John Russell) not knowing on which side there would be a majority. The Tories were very angry, and wanted to renew the discussion in another form, but after a little wrangle this project dropped. It was a foolish, useless motion, and deserved no better end.

On Wednesday afternoon I found Downing Street thronged with rival deputations of West Indians and Quakers, which had both been with Melbourne. Out of Brougham’s flaming speeches on Anti-slavery a tempest has arisen, which threatens the West Indians with sudden and unforeseen ruin in the shape of immediate emancipation.[20] It is always easy to get up anti-slavery petitions and to excite a benevolent indignation against slavery in any shape, and Brougham has laid hold of this easy mode of inflaming the public mind in his usual daring, unscrupulous, reckless style, pouring forth a flood of eloquent falsehoods and misrepresentations which he knows will be much more effective than any plain matter-of-fact statements that can be urged on the other side. The West Indians had no notion they were in any danger, and were reposing under the shade of Government protection and in undoubting reliance upon the inviolability of the great arrangement, when they find themselves overtaken all at once with the new question of immediate emancipation which has sprung up into instantaneous life and strength. Their terror is accordingly great. They went to Melbourne, who said he agreed with them, and that the Government was determined to support them, and so they might tell their people, but that he could not promise them to make it so much a Government question as to resign if they were beat upon it. The leaders of the Opposition [85] BIRTHDAY REFLEXIONS. equally took their part, but the question is whether the tails will not beat the heads. I never remember before to have seen any question on which so much uncertainty prevailed as to individual votes. More than one half the members of the House doubted, and probably are at this moment doubting, how they shall vote. The petitions are innumerable, and men are disposed to gratify their constituents by voting as they please on this question, not caring a fig either for the slaves or the West Indians, and reconciling it to their consciences to despoil the latter by assuming that they were overpaid with the twenty millions they got by the Emancipation Act.

[20] [Sir George Strickland moved, on the 30th of March, a resolution in favour of the termination of negro apprenticeship as established by the Emancipation Act of 1834, on the 1st of August of the current year. The motion was defeated by 269 to 205.]

April 2nd, 1838

My birthday. Another year has stolen over me, and finds me, I fear, little better or wiser than at the end of the last. How we wince at our reflexions and still go on in the same courses! how we resolve and break our resolutions! It is a common error to wish we could recall the past and be young again, and swear what things we would do if another opportunity was offered us. All vanity, folly, and falsehood. We should do just the same as before, because we do actually do the same; we linger over and regret the past instead of setting manfully to work to improve the future; we waste present time in vague and useless regrets, and abandon ourselves to inaction in despair instead of gathering up what yet remains of life, and finding a compensation, however inadequate, in resolute industry for our losses. I wonder if anybody has ever done this. Many after damaging their health have become prudent and careful in restoring their shattered constitutions; many more have been extravagant and careless, and ended by being parsimonious and prudent, and so the first have grown strong and the second rich; but has anybody thoroughly wasted his time, frittered away his understanding, weakened the powers of judgement and memory, and let his mind be bare and empty as the shelves of an unfurnished bookcase, and afterwards become diligent, thoughtful, reflective, a hater of idleness, and, what is worse, of indolence, and habitually addicted to worthy and useful pursuits? I do [86] not think I can call to mind any instance of such a reformation.

I went to Newmarket on Saturday. Mutable as this climate is, the greatest variation I ever saw was between Friday and Sunday last. On Friday S.W. wind, balmy air like June, and the trees beginning to bud; on Sunday the ground was completely covered with snow, not a particle of any colour but white to be seen, a bitter N.E. wind, and so it continued till the sun melted away the thin coat of snow, which disappeared as suddenly as if it had been swept away.

The Ministers got a pretty good majority, all things considered, on Friday. Gladstone made a first-rate speech in defence of the planters, which places him in the front rank in the House of Commons, so Fazakerly told me; he converted or determined many adverse or doubtful votes, as did Sir George Grey the day before.

April 5th, 1838

Lord Charles Fitzroy, Vice-Chamberlain, who had voted against Government on the Negro question, was turned out for his vote, not angrily and violently, but it was signified to him that he must go, and yesterday he came to Buckingham House, where there was a Council, to resign his key. They could not do otherwise, for Peel had sent a message to Lord John Russell to know whether Government did mean in earnest to oppose this motion with all their force and influence, because, if they did, he would support them with as many of his friends as he could bring to their aid; and the reply was that such was their intention. After this they could not pass over such a vote in one of their own household.

The night before last Government had the narrowest possible escape of being beaten upon a motion of Lord Chandos’s about Lord Durham’s expenses.[21] They carried it by two, and that only because Lord Villiers (Durham’s first cousin, and whose brother is one of his aides-de-camp) [87] VOTE ON LORD DURHAM’S EXPENSES. stayed away, together with Dawson Damer, from motives of personal friendship; Castlereagh, because Durham and Londonderry are knit together by the closest of all ties,—a community of coal interest; and one of the Hopes, because he is going with his regiment to Canada, and did not choose to incur the personal animosity of the great man there: but for these secessions the question would have been carried. Durham would probably have refused to go, and it is not impossible the Government might have resigned. Nobody expected this close division, and the Secretary of the Treasury was greatly to blame in not securing a larger attendance of the Government people and guarding against all chances. However, in these days a miss is as good as a mile, and such a division, which in former times would have been fatal to a Government, does not signify a straw, except as an additional exhibition of weakness and proof of their precarious tenure of office. Melbourne yesterday looked very grave upon it, and he had an unusually long audience of the Queen before the Council. Palmerston treated the matter with great levity. As generally happens, there is much to blame in the conduct of all parties. In the first place the Colonial Minister should have made some arrangement upon his own responsibility, and not have produced the ridiculous correspondence with Durham, and nobody ever before heard of a Minister asking a Governor what establishment he intended to have. Then Durham might as well have laid aside his ostentation and grandeur, and have shown a determination to apply himself manfully to the work entrusted to him without any desire for pomp and expense. He would have gone out more effectively, have acquired more reputation, and have avoided the odium and the ridicule which now in no small degree attach to his mission. On the other hand, the Opposition had no business to take the matter up in this way. In such a momentous affair it is immaterial whether there is a secretary more or less, and whether an establishment, which is only to exist for one year, costs 2,000ℓ. or 3,000ℓ. more or less, and to declare that the sum actually spent by Lord Gosford shall be the [88] maximum of Lord Durham’s expenditure, is so manifestly absurd that it proves the pitiful and spiteful spirit in which the motion was conceived. Suppose they had succeeded, and that after such a vote Durham (as he well might) had resigned the appointment. This must have been an enormous embarrassment to the public service, incurred without any object of commensurate importance. It is not the least curious part of this matter that the Government were not at all sorry that the question of Durham’s expenses was mooted in the House of Commons in order that his extravagance might be checked; while the Opposition had no expectation, and probably no desire, to carry a vote upon it against the Ministers.

[21] [Lord Chandos moved, on the 3rd of April, that the expenditure on Lord Durham’s mission should be limited to 12,000ℓ., the sum allowed to Lord Gosford. The resolution was rejected by 160 to 158 votes.]

April 8th, 1838

It would have been well for Durham if he had started for Canada the day after he made his speech in the House of Lords, for he made upon that occasion a very favourable impression, and the world was disposed to praise the appointment. Since this his manifestation of a desire for pomp and grandeur and an expensive display has drawn ridicule and odium upon him. His temper has been soured by the attacks both in Parliament and in the press; he has been stung, goaded, and tormented by the diurnal articles in the ‘Times,’ and he has now made himself obnoxious to universal reproach and ridicule by an act which, trifling in itself, exhibits an animus the very reverse of that which is required in the pacificator and legislator of Canada. He was engaged to dine with Bingham Baring on Friday last, but in consequence of his having voted in the minority the other night, on Chandos’s motion, Durham chose to construe this vote into a personal offence towards himself, and sent an excuse saying that ‘he had no alternative.’ He wrote to Lady Harriet Baring a very civil note, and conveyed his motive by implication, but quite clearly. The note was, of course, handed about for the amusement of the company, and the story, subsequently, for that of the town.

April 12th, 1838

Dined with Lord Anglesey yesterday, to meet Wolff, the missionary. I had figured to myself a tall, gaunt, severe, uncouth man; but I found a short, plump, [89] WOLFF THE MISSIONARY. cheerful person, with a considerable resemblance to the Bonaparte family, and with some to old Denon, with one of the most expressive countenances I ever saw, and so agreeable as to compensate for very plain features; eyes that become suddenly illuminated when he is warmed by his subject, and a voice of peculiar sweetness and power of intonation. He came prepared to hold forth, with his Bible in his pocket, and accordingly after dinner we gathered round him in a circle, and he held forth. It would be no easy matter to describe a discourse which lasted a couple of hours, or indeed to say very precisely what it was about. It was a rambling, desultory reference to his travels and adventures in fluent and sometimes eloquent language, and not without an occasional dash of humour and drollery. He illustrated the truth of the Scriptures by examples drawn from his personal observation and the habits, expressions, and belief of the present inhabitants of Palestine, and he spoke with evident sincerity and enthusiasm. He sang two or three hymns as specimens of the psalmody now in use at Jerusalem. The great fault of his discourse was its length and desultory character, leaving no strong and permanent impression on the mind. He subsequently gave us a second lecture upon the Millennium, avowing his belief that it is near at hand; he ‘hoped and believed that it would take place in 1847,’ and he proceeded to show that this was to be inferred from the prophecies of Daniel, and that the numbers in that book, rightly explained, bore this meaning. He told us that he had learnt fourteen languages, and had preached in nine.

May 7th, 1838

For three weeks past entirely engrossed by Newmarket, with the same mixed feelings of disgust at the nature of the occupation, and satisfaction at the success attending it. I won 2,000ℓ. by the two weeks, and if I meet with no reverse am rapidly acquiring the means of paying off my debts. Then I propose to live not for myself alone (as I earnestly hope), but that I may feel the desire of contributing to the enjoyments of others. I hope as I become rich (and if I get out of debt I shall be rich) I may not become grasping and avaricious, and acquire a taste for [90] hoarding money merely for hoarding’s sake. When I see how insensibly, and under what plausible pretexts, this passion steals upon others, I tremble lest I should become a victim to it myself.

I know of nothing, in the world of politics. There has been much foolish chatter about the Coronation, and whether there should be a banquet or no; the Tories calling out for one because the Whig Government have settled that there should not be any. The Duke of Wellington, as usual, sensible, and above such nonsense; says it will all do very well, and that the Palace of Westminster having been destroyed by fire, a banquet and procession would not be feasible, as there exist no apartments in which the arrangements could be made. He rebuked his Tory Lords the other night when they made a foolish attack on Melbourne about M’Hale signing himself John Tuam. Every day he appears a greater man.

I have read hardly anything all this time but two reviews in the ‘Edinburgh’—Brougham’s most remarkable paper upon Lady Charlotte Bury’s book, the composition of which I saw with my own eyes; the other is Stephen’s review of Wilberforce’s Life. Nothing can be more admirable than the characters which Brougham has given of the celebrated people of that day—George III., George IV., Eldon, Perceval, and others; and when I think of the manner in which they were written, with what inconceivable rapidity, and in the midst of what occupation—for his attention was perpetually divided between what he was writing and what the counsel was saying—it is an astonishing exhibition of facility and fertility. Stephen’s review is as good as possible in a very different style, and his description of the end of Wilberforce’s life strikes me as singularly eloquent and pathetic.


[91] A Ball at the Palace — Aspect of Foreign Affairs — Irish Tithe Bill — Debate on Sir T. Acland’s Motion — Death of Prince Talleyrand — Death and Character of Lady Harrowby — Government defeated on Emancipation of Slaves — Dispute of Mr. Handley and Lord Brougham — Dinner at Lambeth — Arrangement of Irish Questions — Settlement of Irish Questions — O’Connell declines the Rolls — Naval Intervention in Spain — Duke of Wellington’s Moderation — Marshal Soult arrives — Preparations for the Coronation of Queen Victoria — The Wellington Statue — The Coronation — Coleridge and John Sterling — Lord Durham’s Mission to Canada — Lord Brougham contrasted with the Duke — Macaulay on his return from India — Soult in London — Duke of Sussex quarrels with Ministers — Lord Burghersh’s Opera — High Church Sermons — Lord Palmerston and Mr. Urquhart — The Ecclesiastical Discipline Bill — The Duke’s Despatches — Macaulay’s Plan of Life — Lord Durham’s Canada Ordinance — Mr. Barnes — Canada Indemnity Bill — Lord Durham’s Ordinance disallowed — Irish Corporation Bill — Review of the Session.

May 11th, 1838

Last night I was at the ball at the Palace—a poor affair in comparison with the Tuileries. Gallery ill-lit; rest of the rooms tolerable. The Queen’s manner and bearing perfect. She danced, first with Prince George, then young Esterhazy, then Lord FitzAlan. Before supper, and after dancing, she sat on a sofa somewhat elevated in the drawing-room, looking at the waltzing; she did not waltz herself. Her mother sat on one side of her, and the Princess Augusta on the other; then the Duchesses of Gloucester and Cambridge and the Princess of Cambridge; her household, with their wands, standing all round; her manners exceedingly graceful, and, blended with dignity and cordiality, a simplicity and good humour, when she talks to people, which are mighty captivating. When supper was announced she moved from her seat, all her officers going before her—she, first, alone, and the Royal Family following; her exceeding youth strikingly contrasted with their mature [92] ages, but she did it well. I was struck last night for the first time with the great change in the Duke of Wellington’s looks; others have noted it before. He is no longer so straight and upright, and old age is taking possession of his features in a way that is distressing to see. He has lived long enough for his own renown, but he cannot live long enough for the good of his country, let what will happen and when it may. It is a fine sight to regard the noble manner in which he is playing the last act of his glorious life.

My brother writes me word from Paris that Leopold is deadly sick of his Belgian crown, and impatient to abdicate, thinking that it is a better thing to be an English Prince, uncle to the Queen, with 50,000ℓ. a year, than to be monarch of a troublesome vulgar little kingdom which all its neighbours regard with an evil or a covetous eye. Louis Philippe is in a mighty fright about it, and he is right, for Leopold’s abdication would be almost sure to disturb the peace of Europe. Stanley thinks the peace of Europe will be disturbed, and that speedily, by the great antagonistic forces of religion growing out of the Prussian disputes between the Court of Berlin and the Archbishop of Cologne; this he told me the other day, and said people were little aware of what a religious storm was brewing; but his opinions are not to be trusted very confidently, especially when religion is concerned in them.

May 13th, 1838

The world was astonished by Sir Thomas Acland giving notice of a motion, which comes on to-morrow, for expunging from the Journals the famous Appropriation Resolution which turned out Peel’s Government.[1] It was doubted at first whether this was a spurt of his own or a concerted project, but it turns out to have been the latter. The Government think it a good thing for them, as they count [93] THE APPROPRIATION CLAUSE MAINTAINED. upon a certain majority, and I am quite unable to see the use of such a motion as this, even as a party move. The Duke of Wellington said, at the end of last Session, that he wished to meet the Government half way, and settle the Tithe question, and nothing can be less likely to promote an adjustment than this attack; but I understand now they do not wish to settle it, and that they prefer trusting to the operation of Stanley’s Bill, and say there is no reason for accepting 75 per cent. for the clergy when they can eventually get the whole. But they had better settle the question if they possibly can, for experience might have shown them that if the spirit of resistance and hostility to the Church is again roused into action, the means of vexing and impoverishing the clergy will not be wanting, and the provisions of Stanley’s Bill will only have the effect of making the landlords parties to the contest, who, if they find their own interests at variance with the interests of the Church, will not hesitate for a moment in sacrificing the latter. It is very surprising that Peel should consent to this motion, and the more so because his speech at the dinner yesterday is said to have been extremely moderate in all respects.

[1] [Upon Lord John Russell bringing in a Bill for settling the Irish Tithe question, Sir Thomas Acland moved, as a preliminary step to this discussion, that the celebrated resolution of the 8th of April, 1835, for the appropriation of the surplus revenues of the Irish Church should be rescinded. Upon a division the Government proposal was carried by 317 to 298 votes.]

May 18th, 1838

At Newmarket all the week past. Since I have been away there was the debate and division on Acland’s motion. The Government talked of 23, and the Opposition of 15 majority, and it turned just between the two. It was a very ill-advised measure, and I have no doubt was forced on Peel against his judgement, and that it was not approved by the Duke; but the fact is, they cannot manage their party. Peel’s speech was anything but good, and smacked of unwillingness; Stanley’s was very poor; John Russell’s was very good in facts, but ill-judged in some respects, and it is neither wise nor dignified, nor in good taste, to keep flinging at the Bishop of Exeter as he does; Morpeth’s was the best, brilliant and effective. Peel said to him, when they were going out to divide, ‘I can appreciate a good speech when made against me as well as when it is for me, and I must tell you that yours was the best speech of the debate.’ This was becoming and judicious, and such courtesies [94] soften the asperities of Parliamentary warfare. The Government had much the best of the argument, and the Tories contrived to afford them a triumph upon the Appropriation Clause, and at the same time enabled them to shake it off (onerous and inconvenient as it was) without further difficulty. There was some ingenuity in doing this. I cannot help thinking Peel likes to see his party defeated in this way. The Government think it has been a very great thing for them, and no doubt it has done them service. Peel’s speech at the banquet was somewhat didactic, and too much in the style of a political sermon; but it was very good, full of excellent sense, couched in excellent language, but it may be doubted if his moderation was palatable to the majority of his hearers.[2]

[2] [A banquet was given to Sir R. Peel on the 12th of May, in Merchant Taylors’ Hall, by 300 Conservative members of the House of Commons.]

May 23rd, 1838

Talleyrand is dead. He died after a short illness some day last week. It would require a nice discrimination of character and intimate knowledge of the man to delineate his, a great deal more of both than I possess, therefore I shall not attempt it. During the period of his embassy in England I lived a good deal with him, his house being always open to me, and I dined there en famille whenever I pleased. Nothing could be more hospitable, nothing more urbane and kind than he was; and it was fine to see, after his stormy youth and middle age, after a life spent in the very tempest and whirlwind of political agitation, how tranquilly and honourably his declining years ebbed away. Still retaining his faculties unimpaired, and his memory stored with the recollections of his extraordinary and eventful career, and an inexhaustible mine of anecdotes, his delight was to narrate, which he used to do with an abundance, a vivacity, and a finesse peculiar to himself, and to the highest degree interesting and attractive. No name was once held in greater detestation in England than that of Talleyrand. He was looked upon universally as a sink of moral and political profligacy. Born at the end of Louis XV.’s reign, and bred up in the social pleasures and corruptions of [95] DEATH OF TALLEYRAND. that polite but vicious aristocracy, he was distinguished in his early youth for his successful gallantries, for the influence he obtained over women, and the dexterity with which he converted it to his advancement. A debauched abbé and bishop, one of the champions and then one of the victims of the Revolution, afterwards (having scrambled through the perilous period of Terrorism) discarding his clerical character, he became the Minister of the Consulate and the Empire, and was looked upon all over Europe as a man of consummate ability, but totally destitute of principle in public or in private life. Disgraced by Napoleon, he reappeared after his fall, and was greatly concerned in the restoration of the Bourbons. For a short time only employed, but always treated by them with consideration and respect, the Revolution of July again brought Talleyrand prominently on the stage, and, to the surprise of all men, he accepted the embassy to London. The years he passed here were probably the most peaceful of his life, and they served to create for him a reputation altogether new, and such as to cancel all former recollections. His age was venerable, his society was delightful, and there was an exhibition of conservative wisdom, ‘of moderate and healing counsels,’ in all his thoughts, words, and actions very becoming to his age and station, vastly influential from his sagacity and experience, and which presented him to the eyes of men as a statesman like Burleigh or Clarendon for prudence, temperance, and discretion. Here therefore he acquired golden opinions, and was regarded by all ranks and all parties with respect, and by many with sincere regard. When he was attacked in the House of Lords the Duke of Wellington rose in his defence, and rebuked the acrimony of his own friends. Talleyrand was deeply affected at this behaviour of the Duke. I regret much not having availed myself of the opportunities I might have had to listen to and record the talk of Talleyrand, but the fact is, he was so inarticulate, and I so deaf, that the labour would have been greater than I could go through for the object. The account which my brother has sent me of the circumstances which preceded his [96] death, and of his reconciliation with the Church, are very curious.[3] He had always desired to die at Valençay, in order to avoid the scandal which he apprehended there might be in Paris from the severity of the Archbishop, but it was contrived to get everything quietly and decently settled, and he died in peace with the Church, and with all the absolutions and benedictions that she could have bestowed upon the most faithful of her sons.

[3] [These particulars are now published in the ‘Leaves from the Journals of Henry Greville,’ selected by his niece, the Viscountess Enfield.]

May 27th, 1838

Yesterday, at two o’clock, died, after a week’s illness, of a low bilious fever, Lady Harrowby,[4] the oldest and most intimate of my friends, and the woman in the world for whom I had the greatest respect and regard. My intercourse with her had been much diminished for many years past; such changes take place in our social habits without any cause except those which the lapse of time, different pursuits, ties, and habits, bring about. There is a melancholy satisfaction in dwelling upon the noble qualities which death has extinguished, and the excellence of Lady Harrowby demands a brief tribute of affection and admiration from those who, having best known her virtues, have the greatest reason to deplore, and are best able to appreciate, her loss. She had a mind of masculine strength united with a heart of feminine softness; for while she was resolute and determined, and had firmness and courage to bear up against the heaviest afflictions, she had no coldness or insensibility in her temperament, but was endowed with the tenderest and warmest affections. She was not by nature imaginative, but her understanding was excellent and utterly devoid of lumber and affectation. She had the sound practical sense of a vigorous and healthy mind, without a particle of vanity or conceit; she never attempted to plunge out of her depth, or to soar beyond the level of her comprehension and her knowledge. Her conversation therefore was [97] CHARACTER OF LADY HARROWBY. happily described by an old and attached friend and very competent judge, when he said of it that ‘her talk was so crisp.[5] She had an even flow of animal spirits, was never capricious or uncertain, full of vivacity, with a constant but temperate enjoyment of society; never fastidious or exclusive, tasting and appreciating excellence without despising or slighting mediocrity; attentive, affable, and obliging to all, and equally delighting all, because her agreeableness was inseparable from her character, and was an habitual and unceasing emanation from it, rather than the exertion of a latent power only drawn forth by the attraction of corresponding intellectual energies; perfectly natural both in manner and character, honest, straightforward, sincere, and true, but with a genuine benevolence which made her sensitively shrink from the infliction of pain. Delivered altogether from ‘envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness,’ she was ever inclined to extenuate the faults, to pardon the errors, and to put the best construction on the motives of others; no mean jealousy ever entered her mind, no repining at the prosperity, however unmerited, of other people. She drew pleasure from the purest of all sources, from the contemplation of the success, the happiness, and the welfare of her friends and acquaintance. With an exquisite tact, without the slightest appearance of art, frank without severity, open without imprudence, always negligent of self and considerate of others, all her thoughts, impulses, and actions were regulated by the united influence of the highest principles, the clearest judgement, and the kindliest feelings. Thus blessed in her own happy disposition, she was a blessing to all around her. She was the ornament and delight of society, the comfort, support, and joy of her own family. The numerous friends who admired and esteemed her will sincerely deplore her loss; the world, in which she never made an enemy, will render its tribute of justice to her merit in a transient but general expression of regret; but to the grief of her children, the bitterness of which time alone [98] can assuage, time itself can afford but an imperfect consolation, for so entirely was she associated with the interests, the habits, and the pursuits of their existence, that every passing day and hour will bring something to remind them of the loss they have sustained. But although it has not been permitted to them to see her days extended to the ordinary term of human life, and to be engaged in the tender office of ‘rocking the cradle of her declining age,’ for herself it is no unhappy or unenviable lot to have closed a useful, an honourable, and a prosperous career in the unimpaired possession of her faculties, without mental disquietude or bodily pain, and surrounded by all the dearest objects of her interest and her love.

[4] [Susan, Countess of Harrowby, daughter of Granville, first Marquis of Stafford, and wife of Dudley Ryder, first Earl of Harrowby, died the 26th of May, 1838.]

[5] Mr. Luttrell.

June 1st, 1838

Nothing has happened of any importance during the last week but the defeat of Government upon the Slave question (Sir E. Wilmot’s motion for immediate emancipation), on Tuesday last, and this happened by an accident. Nobody expected an early division, and people were scattered all over the town. Ben Stanley[6] was dining at the Hollands’. In the meantime Lord Stanley persuaded Rice that it was better to have no debate, and that it was neither necessary nor desirable that they should speak. Rice acquiesced, and so they went to a division, but unfortunately before a sufficient number of their people had arrived. It was embarrassing, but Lord John Russell has taken measures to set the matter right before the West Indian mail goes out. The Abolitionists, however, are determined to do as much mischief as they can, and though they know perfectly well that Government (and Parliament, for the Tories are in the same intention) are resolved not to consent to alter the law, and that the Bill for protecting the apprentices is gone out, they are resolved to agitate as violently as they can, and, if possible, to stir up the negroes to insurrection. These men of peace would prefer a violent commotion in the West Indies, attended with every sort of mischief to the slaves as well as [99] LORD BROUGHAM AND MR. HANDLEY. to the planters, rather than abandon their own schemes and notions, in which there is much more of vanity and the love of meddling than of benevolence and charity. The whole conduct of Sir Eardley Wilmot, who is only the organ of a party, proves this; for, though well aware he could take no advantage of his resolution, and that if nothing was done to correct the effect of it, a great deal of excitement would be produced in the colony, he nevertheless tried to shirk the question when asked by John Russell to say distinctly what he meant to do, and showed that his only object was to create a difficulty, whatever might be the consequences, and to exhibit himself to the country as the successful asserter of a principle.

[6] [The Right Hon. Edward John Stanley, afterwards second Lord Stanley of Alderley, then Secretary of the Treasury. He was familiarly called ‘Ben’ Stanley by his friends.]

On Friday, at Exeter Hall, while engaged in the same cause, Brougham got a severe rap on the knuckles from Mr. Handley—one of those rebuffs to which, with all his talents, he exposes himself, from his tricks and his violence, and, above all, his want of truth. Brougham made a speech, in which he belaboured the Ministry generally, and many of them by name, with his usual acrimony. Handley, who had a resolution to move, said he regretted to see the chairman prostitute the cause for which they were assembled by making it the vehicle of abuse of the Government, and thus venting his spite, disappointed ambition, and mortified vanity; on which Brougham rose in a great rage, and said he did not know who the gentleman was who, coming at the eleventh hour, attacked him, who had been a labourer in the cause for thirty years; to which the other retorted that he did not know what he meant by his coming at the eleventh hour, that he had been for many years in Parliament, and had voted against the grant of twenty millions, and for immediate emancipation, in opposition to the apprenticeship system, both of which Brougham had been a party to proposing.

I dined yesterday at Lambeth, at the Archbishop’s public dinner, the handsomest entertainment I ever saw. There were nearly a hundred people present, all full-dressed or in uniform. Nothing can be more dignified and splendid than [100] the whole arrangement, and the dinner was well served and very good. The Archbishop is a very meek and quiet man, not dignified, but very civil and attentive. It is excessively well worth seeing.[7]

[7] [These archiepiscopal dinners were public: anyone could go who thought proper to put down his name, which, of course, nobody did without some claim to be there. The practice ended with Archbishop Howley.]

On Friday night the Bishop of Norwich (Stanley) stood up and fought the Bishop of Exeter, in the House of Lords, with great success, upon the Irish education question.

June 3rd, 1838

On Tuesday last all was harmony in the House of Commons. Peel made a speech, in which he announced his disposition to come to a compromise, and settle all the Irish questions. Lord John answered in a corresponding strain of conciliation, and it was generally understood that everything should be quietly settled, not, however, to the satisfaction of the Tory tail, much growling being heard, both in the newspapers and among the low retainers of the party. (Stanley told somebody, who told me, that he thought this the best speech he ever heard Peel make.) But on Friday night this serene sky was overcast with clouds, and all is thrown into doubt and difficulty again. They are quarrelling about the qualification, and angry words were bandied about.[8] O’Connell and Sheil were abusive, though Peel and Lord John both kept their tempers. It is supposed that the Tory party have been so urgent, that Peel is obliged to take up this ground. When they have gone so far towards a settlement, it is probable that some mode will be hit upon for arranging the difficulty. The mob of Tories would be rejoiced to see everything fall to the ground. ‘Thank God,’ said one the other night, after the renewal of hostilities, ‘there is an end of compromise.’ I am disposed on the whole (but very imperfectly informed) to think that John Russell is right and Peel wrong, and that the former has made all the concessions that ought to be required of him and that he can afford to make.

[8] [The measure before the House was the Irish Municipal Corporation Bill.]

June 7th, 1838

[101] IRISH CORPORATIONS. Walked with Mulgrave[9] (whom I met at Brooks’s), and asked him to tell me candidly who was in the right about the qualification, John Russell or Peel? He said, ‘talking openly to you, I don’t mind saying both are a little in the wrong; but the fact is, the other party do not know what would be the practical effect of the qualification they require, and when that is made clear to them, in Dublin particularly’ (and he mentioned some numbers and details I don’t exactly recollect), ‘I think they will see the necessity of altering their opinions.’ He then talked of the political effect of settling these questions as clearing away the obstacles which now stand in Peel’s way, and said he thought it would eventually end in some sort of amalgamation of parties. This I was surprised to hear from him, and told him that it appeared to me quite impossible. But it is clear enough that it is the intention of the Government, at all events, to settle the questions, and if the Opposition will not give way, they will. They are quite right, for it is a great thing to get the principle admitted and to have corporations established; and if upon trial it is found that there is an undue preponderance cast into either scale, it will be good ground for proposing an alteration of the law.

[9] [Lord Mulgrave, afterwards Marquis of Normanby, was at this time Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland.]

June 16th, 1838

At Hillingdon, for Ascot races, from Tuesday to Friday. A great concourse of people on Thursday; the Queen tolerably received; some shouting, not a great deal, and few hats taken off. This mark of respect has quite gone out of use, and neither her station nor her sex procures it; we are not the nearer a revolution for this, but it is ugly. All the world went on to the Royal Stand, and Her Majesty was very gracious and civil, speaking to everybody.

June 21st, 1838

O’Connell has declined the Irish Rolls (Mastership of the Rolls). He says that it has been the object of his ambition all his life, but that at this moment he cannot accept it; that the moderate course which the Government is pursuing (the abandonment of the Appropriation Clauses &c.) and his support of that course have already given great [102] umbrage to the violent party in Ireland, and his acceptance of office would be considered as the result of a bargain by which he had bartered the principles he has always maintained in order to obtain this place; that his influence would be entirely lost; a ferment produced in Ireland which he would be unable to suppress, and the Government would be placed in great difficulty. He therefore thinks himself bound to refuse the Rolls, and to continue to exert his influence to keep matters quiet, and enable the Government to accomplish the settlement of the pending questions, hoping that at some future time an opportunity may occur of raising him to the Bench, of which he may be able to avail himself. Lord Tavistock, who told me this, says no one could behave better than he has done about it, and he gives him credit (as the whole party do) for sincerity and purity of motive. Taking his recent conduct generally in connexion, with this refusal, I am disposed to believe that his motives are good, and that he is really desirous of aiding in the compromise which is about to take place, and promoting the great work of Irish pacification, not probably without some personal views and objects; and if the present Government remains in, his present act of self-denial will be ‘reculer pour mieux sauter,’ and find its reward in the Chief Justiceship whenever Lord Chief Justice Bush retires, of which there is already a question.

The debate in the House of Lords the night before last, on Londonderry’s Spanish motion, elicited from Lord Minto a curious fact (that is, the fact was asserted and not denied) that orders had been sent from hence to our ships of war to prevent by force any aid being given to Don Carlos by the ships of other nations, and that a Sardinian frigate had actually been forcibly prevented. It has made a great sensation here among the diplomatists.

Another thing much talked of is the speech which Lord Anglesey made at the Waterloo dinner when he gave the Duke’s health. He said that

‘it was superfluous to talk of his military achievements, but that he must express his admiration of his conduct in civil matters, especially in the [103] MARSHAL SOULT IN LONDON. House of Lords during the present session, when he had shown how superior he was to all party considerations and purposes, and when he had given his support to a Government in which it was well known he placed no confidence, because he thought that the national honour and interest required that they should be supported.’

Of course, a speech reported at second or third hand is not very correctly given, but this was the gist of it, extremely well done by all accounts, not perhaps palatable to all who heard him, but which gave great pleasure to the Duke himself. Anglesey said that the Duke, when he sat down, squeezed his hand hard and long, and said to him, ‘I cannot tell you what pleasure you have given me.’ The Queen sent the Duke a gracious message, desiring he would bring the whole of his party to her ball, which gratified him very much, and he wrote a very grateful and respectful answer. The French were exceedingly annoyed at the ball being given on that particular night (the 18th), and begged to be excused from attending, not angrily however. It was unfortunate that this day was chosen for the ball, but it was accidental, and not intended as a celebration.

Soult arrived yesterday.[10] Croker meets him with an offensive article in the ‘Quarterly,’ brought out on purpose, and emanating from his spiteful and malignant temper, just the reverse of the Duke, who has made Gurwood keep back the eleventh volume of the Despatches, in which the battle of Toulouse appears, because some of the details are calculated to be annoying to Soult—a piece of delicacy which is very becoming. It is a sad thing to see how the Duke is altered in appearance, and what a stride old age has made upon him. He is much deafer than he was, he is whiter, his head is bent, his shoulders are raised, and there [104] are muscular twitches in his face, not altogether new, but of a more marked character.

[10] [The preparations for the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, were now actively going on. Marshal Soult arrived in London as the Ambassador Extraordinary of the King of the French, and was received with the highest distinction and respect, to which Mr. Croker’s article in the ‘Quarterly Review’ on the battle of Toulouse was the solitary and disgraceful exception.]

June 24th, 1838

Lord Anglesey gave me his speech at the Waterloo dinner to read, and very good it is.[11] I wanted him to let me send it to the ‘Times,’ and he told me I might do as I liked. I resolved to consult Tavistock, who was (on the whole) against publishing, for fear it should be displeasing to the Duke, so I give up the idea. What he said about the Duke was this, after alluding to his military glory &c.:—

‘But there is a subject on which I wish to say a word, and it shall be only a word. I allude to the noble, the generous, the disinterested, the truly patriotic conduct of the noble Duke in his Parliamentary course. At the opening of the session the country was involved in difficulty, and under very considerable embarrassment; the spirit of faction had crossed the Atlantic; the demon of discord was abroad; one of the most favoured and interesting of our colonies was in revolt. The noble Duke saw this, and seemed at once to decide that it would require all the energies of the mother country to crush the Hydra at its birth. Accordingly, when any measure was brought forward tending to support the dignity, to uphold the honour, and to secure the integrity of the empire, the noble Duke invariably came forward and nobly supported those measures. But the noble Duke did not stop there: spurning the miserable practices of party spirit, he upon many occasions offered his sage and solid counsel to a Government which he had not been in the habit [105] PREPARATIONS FOR THE CORONATION. of supporting. Gentlemen, I declare to you that this conduct has made a deep impression on me. It appears to me that this is the true character and conduct of a real patriot; such conduct is, in my estimation, beyond all praise.’

[11] The impression which Lord Anglesey’s speech made was not such as his own report of it was calculated to make. A word makes a difference, and he was supposed to have said that the Duke had ‘separated’ himself from faction, which implied censure on others and made it a political speech, and though Anglesey says the Duke was so pleased, Gurwood told me that in reply he merely said ‘He believed every man present would have done, in his place, what he had done,’ and he afterwards asked Gurwood if he had said anything in his reply that could annoy Lord Anglesey, which looks as if he was not so highly pleased as the former supposed him to be. Gurwood said, ‘We were all on thorns when he talked of faction, and the Duke replied, “Poor man, he was suffering very much, and he is not used to public speaking, so that he did not know what he was saying.”’ If Anglesey could hear this!

June 27th, 1838

There never was anything seen like the state of this town; it is as if the population had been on a sudden quintupled; the uproar, the confusion, the crowd, the noise, are indescribable. Horsemen, footmen, carriages squeezed, jammed, intermingled, the pavement blocked up with timbers, hammering and knocking, and falling fragments stunning the ears and threatening the head; not a mob here and there, but the town all mob, thronging, bustling, gaping, and gazing at everything, at anything, or at nothing; the park one vast encampment, with banners floating on the tops of the tents, and still the roads are covered, the railroads loaded with arriving multitudes. From one end of the route of the Royal procession to the other, from the top of Piccadilly to Westminster Abbey, there is a vast line of scaffolding; the noise, the movement, the restlessness are incessant and universal; in short, it is very curious, but uncommonly tiresome, and the sooner it is over the better. There has been a grand bother about the Ambassadors forming part of the Royal Procession. They all detest it, think they ought not to have been called upon to assist, and the poor representatives of the smaller Courts do not at all fancy the expense of fine equipages, or the mortification of exhibiting mean ones. This arrangement was matter of negotiation for several days, and (the Lord knows why) the Government pertinaciously insisted on it. Public opinion has declared against it, and now they begin to see that they have done a very foolish thing, odious to the Corps Diplomatique and unpleasing to the people.

The Duke and Soult have met here with great mutual civilities, and it is very generally known that the former did everything he could to stop the appearance of Croker’s article. Gurwood told me that he begged the Duke to write to Croker and request he would keep it back. The Duke said, ‘I will write because you wish it, but I tell you that [106] he won’t do it. When a man’s vanity or his interest is concerned he minds nobody, and he thinks himself a cleverer fellow than anybody.’ The Duke knew his man, for he flatly refused, and intimated that though the Duke might be a better judge of military matters, he (Croker) was the best of literary.

A great squabble is going on about the Wellington memorial,[12] in which I have so far been concerned that Lord Tavistock got me to write the requisition to the Duke of Rutland to call another meeting of the committee, to reconsider the question of the selection of the artist. It is a gross job of Sir Frederic Trench’s, and has been so from the beginning, the Duke being a mere cat’s-paw of that impudent Irish pretender. The Duke of Wellington himself thinks it a great job, and would be very glad to see it defeated; but he said that ‘his lips were sealed, he could take no part, the Duke of Rutland had been so personally kind to him, but that it was the damnedest job from the beginning.’

[12] [This refers to the subscription for a memorial to the Duke of Wellington, which led eventually to the strange erection of the equestrian statue of the Duke, placed upon the arch at the top of Constitution Hill and in front of Apsley House. Sir Frederic Trench took an active part in the promotion of the affair, in the selection of Wyatt for the artist, and finally in the placing of the statue, which appeared to most people who knew all the facts at the time, to be a scandalous job and an enormous absurdity. In the year 1883 the arch was moved from its former position and the statue taken down, to be transported to the camp at Aldershot and erected there.]

June 29th, 1838

The Coronation (which, thank God, is over) went off very well. The day was fine, without heat or rain—the innumerable multitude which thronged the streets orderly and satisfied. The appearance of the Abbey was beautiful, particularly the benches of the Peeresses, who were blazing with diamonds. The entry of Soult was striking. He was saluted with a murmur of curiosity and applause as he passed through the nave, and nearly the same, as he advanced along the choir. His appearance is that of a veteran warrior, and he walked alone, with his numerous suite following at a respectful distance, preceded by heralds [107] THE CORONATION. and ushers, who received him with marked attention, more certainly than any of the other Ambassadors. The Queen looked very diminutive, and the effect of the procession itself was spoilt by being too crowded; there was not interval enough between the Queen and the Lords and others going before her. The Bishop of London (Blomfield) preached a very good sermon. The different actors in the ceremonial were very imperfect in their parts, and had neglected to rehearse them. Lord John Thynne, who officiated for the Dean of Westminster, told me that nobody knew what was to be done except the Archbishop and himself (who had rehearsed), Lord Willoughby (who is experienced in these matters), and the Duke of Wellington, and consequently there was a continual difficulty and embarrassment, and the Queen never knew what she was to do next. They made her leave her chair and enter into St. Edward’s Chapel before the prayers were concluded, much to the discomfiture of the Archbishop. She said to John Thynne, ‘Pray tell me what I am to do, for they don’t know;’ and at the end, when the orb was put into her hand, she said to him, ‘What am I to do with it?’ ‘Your Majesty is to carry it, if you please, in your hand.’ ‘Am I?’ she said; ‘it is very heavy.’ The ruby ring was made for her little finger instead of the fourth, on which the rubric prescribes that it should be put. When the Archbishop was to put it on, she extended the former, but he said it must be on the latter. She said it was too small, and she could not get it on. He said it was right to put it there, and, as he insisted, she yielded, but had first to take off her other rings, and then this was forced on, but it hurt her very much, and as soon as the ceremony was over she was obliged to bathe her finger in iced water in order to get it off. The noise and confusion were very great when the medals were thrown about by Lord Surrey, everybody scrambling with all their might and main to get them, and none more vigorously than the Maids of Honour. There was a great demonstration of applause when the Duke of Wellington did homage. Lord Rolle, who is between eighty and ninety, fell down as he was getting up [108] the steps of the throne. Her first impulse was to rise, and when afterwards he came again to do homage she said, ‘May I not get up and meet him?’ and then rose from the throne and advanced down one or two of the steps to prevent his coming up, an act of graciousness and kindness which made a great sensation.[13] It is, in fact, the remarkable union of naïveté, kindness, nature, good nature, with propriety and dignity, which makes her so admirable and so endearing to those about her, as she certainly is. I have been repeatedly told that they are all warmly attached to her, but that all feel the impossibility of for a moment losing sight of the respect which they owe her. She never ceases to be a Queen, but is always the most charming, cheerful, obliging, unaffected Queen in the world. The procession was very handsome, and the Extraordinary Ambassadors produced some gorgeous equipages. This sort of procession is incomparably better than the old ceremonial which so much fuss was made about, for the banquet would only have benefited the privileged few and the rich, and for one person who would have witnessed the procession on the platform five hundred enjoyed a sight of this. In fact, the thing best worth seeing was the town itself, and the countless multitudes through which the procession passed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer told me that he had been informed 200,000ℓ. had been paid for seats alone, and the number of people who have flocked into London has been estimated at five hundred thousand. It is said that a million have had a sight of the show in one way or another. These numbers are possibly exaggerated, but they really were prodigious. From Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey, by the way they took, which must be two or three miles in length, there was a dense mass of people; the seats and benches were all full, every window was occupied, the roofs of the houses were covered with spectators, for the most part well dressed, and, from the great space through which they were distributed, there was no extraordinary pressure, and consequently no room for violence or ill-humour. In the evening I met [109] COLERIDGE AND JOHN STERLING. Prince Esterhazy, and asked him what the foreigners said. He replied that they admired it all very much: ‘Strogonoff and the others don’t like you, but they feel it, and it makes a great impression on them; in fact, nothing can be seen like it in any other country.’ I went into the park, where the fair was going on; a vast multitude, but all of the lower orders; not very amusing. The great merit of this Coronation is, that so much has been done for the people: to amuse and interest them seems to have been the principal object.

[13] She sent in the evening to inquire after Lord Rolle.

July 1st, 1838

This morning hit upon this stanza in Coleridge’s ‘Ode to Tranquillity’:—

‘Who late and lingering seeks thy shrine
On him but seldom, power divine,
Thy spirit rests! Satiety
And sloth, poor counterfeits of thee,
Mock the tired worldling. Idle hope
And dire remembrance interlope
To vex the feverish slumbers of the mind:
The bubble floats before, the spectre stalks behind.’

My own thoughts about myself. Mr. Sterling, whom I met at dinner the other day (son of Sterling, of the ‘Times’[14]), said that Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats were all greater poets than Dryden, that they had all finer imaginations. He compared ‘The Vision of Kubla Khan’ to ‘Lycidas’ for harmony of versification!!

[14] [This was Mr. John Sterling, whose life has been written by Thomas Carlyle, and again by Julius Hare, though it was a short and uneventful one. Few men left a deeper mark upon his own contemporaries, not less by the grace and purity of his character than by the vigour of his intellect. It is hard to think that of so bright a promise of life and thought so little remains after him. Sterling was sometimes paradoxical, and he worshipped Coleridge, which may account for the incident related in the text.]

July 3rd, 1838

I was at the ball at Court last night to which hundreds would have given hundreds to go, and from which I would have gladly stayed away: all was very brilliant and very tiresome.

July 4th, 1838

A great exposure of Durham in the House of Lords on Monday night,[15] Brougham chuckling over it [110] yesterday morning. The impression left by Melbourne’s speech was, that Durham had actually assured him he had no intention of appointing Turton, and it was either so, or Melbourne had desired him not to do so, and he went off without sending any answer. The former discussion about Turton took place while Durham was at Portsmouth. Everything blows over, so probably this will, but it is calculated to produce a very bad effect both here and in Canada, and to deprive Durham of all the weight which would attach to him from the notion of his being trusted and trustworthy; besides, the bitter mortification to his pride (by receiving this rap on the knuckles at the outset of his career) will sour his temper and impair his judgement. Brougham says that if he finds his difficulties great and his position disagreeable, he will avail himself of Melbourne’s speech and resign. It is universally thought that he must send Turton home whatever he may do himself.

[15] [Lord Durham took with him to Canada, on his staff, besides Mr. Charles Buller (an unexceptionable appointment), Mr. Turton, of the Calcutta Bar, and Mr. Edward Gibbon Wakefield, gentlemen against whose private character much had been not unjustly said. Some of these appointments were strongly objected to in Parliament.]

July 8th, 1838

Lord Duncannon told me yesterday that Melbourne went to Lord Durham when he heard he was going to take out Turton, and told him that the odium of such an appointment would be so great that it was impossible he could consent to it, and it must not take place. Durham sulked over it for two days, but finally acquiesced, and engaged that Turton should only go out as his private friend. Duncannon added that Durham was much mistaken if he thought Melbourne would endure this disobedience and breach of engagement. Durham had made his entry into Quebec on a white long-tailed charger, in a full general’s uniform, surrounded by his staff, and the first thing he did was to appoint Sir John Doratt (his doctor, whom he had got knighted before he went) Inspector-General of Hospitals, superseding all the people there.

July 14th, 1838

At Newmarket all this past week. Nothing of consequence occurred here except the debate in the House [111] THE NAVAL INSTRUCTIONS. of Lords upon Brougham’s motion for the production of naval instructions about Sardinian ships, which was only lost by the numbers being equal. The Duke of Wellington, according to his custom, refused to be factious, and when Melbourne said that it would be highly inconvenient to produce any instructions, he declared against the motion and left the House. Brougham was furious, and many of the high Tories greatly provoked. Brougham said, ‘Westminster Abbey is yawning for him.’ Ellenborough, Mansfield, and Harewood stayed and voted, Aberdeen went away. After all their fury, however, the Tories are beginning (as I was told last night) to come to their senses. The Duke was quite in the right; there is no doubt that some very unwise and improper instructions have issued from the Admiralty, and their purport has got abroad by the indiscretion of somebody, but we only know, or rather suspect from public rumour, that such is the case; they have never been acted upon if they do exist; no overt act has been done, and the production of this document might be attended with very seriously inconvenient consequences. Brougham cares for nothing but the pleasure of worrying and embarrassing the Ministers, whom he detests with an intense hatred; and the Tories, who are bitter and spiteful, and hate them merely as Ministers and as occupants of the places they covet, and not as men, are provoked to death at being baulked in the occasion that seemed to present itself of putting them into a difficulty. The Duke, whose thoughts are steadily directed to the public good, and to that alone, will lend himself to no such vexatious purposes; he looks at the position of the Government in relation with foreign powers, and deals with it as a national and not as a party question. It is in this spirit that he constantly and inflexibly acts, though not failing to give Ministers a pretty sharp lecture every now and then. His forbearance has annoyed his own supporters to such a degree that they keep up a continual under-growl, and are always lamenting the decay of his faculties, and if they dared and knew how, they would gladly substitute some other leader for him. The ‘ardor prava jubentium’ [112] has, however, no effect whatever on him: it neither ruffles his serenity nor shakes his purpose. The Whigs laud him to the skies, which provokes the Tories all the more, nor does their praise spring in all probability from a purer or more unselfish source than the complaints of their adversaries, for they are more rejoiced at finding so often this plank of safety than struck with admiration at his magnanimity. Wise, moderate, and impartial men of all parties view the Duke’s conduct in its true light, and render him that justice the full measure of which it is reserved for history and posterity to pay. No greater contrast can be displayed than between the minds of the Duke of Wellington and Brougham. It is a curious and an interesting study to examine and compare their powers, faculties, attainments, the moral and intellectual constitutions of the men, their respective careers, their results, and the judgement of the world upon them.

Yesterday morning I met Macaulay,[16] and walked with him for some time. He talked of the necessity of a coalition between the Parliamentary leaders, which might be effected, provided they would lay aside personal feelings and jealousies; that Lyndhurst might be the greatest obstacle; he thought a strong Government ought to be formed, one that should not live as this does from hand to mouth, and by no means but by a coalition could this be effected. The Radicals, he said, were clearly extinct, being reduced, as far as he could learn, ‘to Grote and his wife;’ that he had not been prepared for the tranquillity and contentment that he found on his return to England; that he was as great a Radical as anybody, that is, that if ever the voice of the nation should be as clearly and universally pronounced for reform of the House of Lords, or any other great change, as it had been for the Reform Bill, he should be for it too, but that now he did not think it worth while to give such projects a thought, and it no more occurred to him to entertain them in this country than it would to advocate the establishment of a representative [113] THE RECEPTION OF MARSHAL SOULT. government in Turkey, or a monarchy and hereditary peerage in America. I told him that I did not see how a coalition was feasible, or how conflicting pretensions could be adjusted. He said it seemed to be a matter of course that Peel must lead the House of Commons. I said that the other alternative the Government had was to get rid of some of its lumber, and take in him, Morpeth, and Sir George Grey, and so present a more respectable front—to which he said nothing.

[16] [Mr. Macaulay returned to England from his official residence in India, in June 1838.]

It is really curious to see the manner in which Soult has been received here, not only with every sort of attention and respect by persons in the most respectable ranks in life, members of all the great trading and commercial bodies, but with enthusiasm by the common people; they flock about him, cheer him vociferously, and at the review in the park he was obliged to abandon both his hands to be shaken by those around him. The old soldier is touched to the quick at this generous reception, and has given utterance to his gratitude and his sensibility on several occasions in very apt terms. It is creditable to John Bull, but I am at a loss to understand why he is so desperately fond of Soult; but Johnny is a gentleman who generally does things in excess, and seldom anything by halves. In the present instance it is a very good thing, and must be taken as a national compliment and as evidence of national goodwill towards France, which cannot fail to make a corresponding impression in that country. But the French will not meet us cordially and frankly and with an equally amicable spirit; they are not such good fellows as the English; they have more vanity and jealousy, and are not so hearty; still it will not be without effect.

July 18th, 1838

The Duke of Sussex has quarrelled with the Government on account of their refusal to apply to Parliament for an increased allowance, and his partisans are very angry with Melbourne, and talk of withdrawing their support. The Duke began by requesting Melbourne to bring the matter before the Cabinet, which he did, and the result was that they informed his Royal Highness it could not be done. [114] He was very angry, and the rest of the Royal family (glad to make bad blood between him and the Whigs) fomented his discontent. The Duke of Cambridge went to Melbourne and begged that he might not stand in the way of his brother’s wishes, from its being supposed that if they were complied with, his own claims could likewise be urged. The Duke, finding he could do nothing with the Government, determined to do what he could for himself, and began to canvass and exert all the influence he possessed among Members of Parliament, and (as he thought) with such success, that he counted upon 250 votes in his favour. He then employed Mr. Gillon to move the matter in the House of Commons, having previously conveyed to Melbourne his intention to do what he could for himself, but not making any communication to Lord John Russell, and directing his confidants to conceal from him what it was intended to do. Accordingly John Russell paid very little attention to the motion of Mr. Gillon, which he saw entered on the Order Book, and when it came on, he opposed it. Peel pronounced a very warm eulogium upon John Russell’s conduct, and the motion was rejected by ninety to forty, the Duke’s anticipated supporters having dwindled away to that paltry number. Bitter was his mortification and violent his resentment at this result. He wrote an angry letter to John Russell, to which John sent a temperate and respectful reply, but his Royal Highness has since informed Melbourne that he shall withdraw his support from the Government, and the Duke of Cleveland has likewise given notice that the conduct of Government to the Duke ‘makes the whole difference’ in his disposition to support them. The Duke’s friends generally have expressed so much dissatisfaction, that it is matter of considerable embarrassment and annoyance to the Government, and if this was to be carried to the length of opposition, or even neutrality, it might be productive of serious consequences, weak as they are. But as this session is about to close, means will probably be found of pacifying them before the opening of the next. Much of the mischief has arisen from the want of communication and understanding between the parties. It [115] CLAIM OF THE DUKE OF SUSSEX. seems strange that Lord John Russell should have been ignorant of the Duke’s intentions when Melbourne had been apprised of them, and the latter ought to have imparted to the former all he had learnt with regard to them. Lord John Russell says that they seldom communicate except with regard to matters which come before the Cabinet, and that if he had learnt that Lord Radnor or any other peer was going to make some such motion in the House of Lords, he should not have thought of speaking to Melbourne about it, each managing his matters in his own way in the House to which he belongs. But though he makes this excuse for Melbourne, it was great laches in the latter, after what had passed, not to tell Lord John what was in preparation, when some communication with the Duke’s friends might have prevented the discussion. On the other hand, it was very bad policy in the Duke not to be more open with the leader of the House of Commons and to attempt to carry his object by force. But he had buoyed himself up with the notion that his popularity was so great that there would be a Parliamentary demonstration in his favour sufficient to compel the Ministers to yield, and he now sees how much he overrated it, and miscalculated the support he fancied he had secured. What he complains of with the greatest bitterness is the conduct of Lord Howick in having asked Mr. Hawes to oppose this grant: ‘that the son of the man whose administration I made only a few years ago should have canvassed others to oppose me is the deepest wound that ever was inflicted on me.’ He fancies (it seems) that he made Lord Grey’s administration!

The Duke has some sort of claim, under all the circumstances. When King William came to the throne, he told him he was anxious to do what he could for him, and would therefore give him the best thing at his disposal, the Rangership of Windsor Park, 4,000ℓ. a year; but immediately after came Lord Grey’s economical reforms, which swept this away. The King then gave him Bushey; but it was found necessary to settle a jointure house on the Queen Dowager and Bushey was taken from him for this purpose. At last [116] they gave him the Rangership of Hyde Park, and he had actually drawn for the first quarter’s salary, when the salary was done away with, so that he has been three times disappointed, and he really is over head and ears in debt. It is now more difficult than ever to do anything for him, because all parties are committed, and there is a vote of the House of Commons recorded against the grant. In his dudgeon, he talks of withdrawing from politics, and of selling by public auction all his personal property, library included.

July 23rd, 1838

I went the other night (Friday) to Burghersh’s[17] opera at Braham’s theatre. A vast deal of fine company, and prodigious applause; tolerable music, moderately sung, but a favourable audience. When it was over they insisted upon his appearing, and, after some delay, he thrust his head out from an obscure pit-box in which he had been sitting and bowed and smiled; but this was not enough, and they would have him on the stage; so a great clapping and shouting went on, among the most vociferous being the Duke of Wellington, who enjoyed the fun like a boy, laughing and beckoning to Burghersh, and bawling ‘Maestro! Maestro!’ till at last, vanquished by the enthusiasm of the audience and the encouragement of his friends, he appeared at a corner of the stage; then came a shower of bouquets, which were picked up by Mrs. Bishop and the other women and presented to him, and so ended the triumphant night.

[17] [John, Lord Burghersh, afterwards eleventh Earl of Westmoreland, served in the army with distinction, and afterwards in the diplomatic service of the Crown. He was devotedly fond of music, and composed both for the orchestra and the stage, not without success. He died in 1859.]

July 24th, 1838

High Church has been recently reading lectures to Her Majesty the Queen in the shape of two sermons preached at the Chapel Royal by Mr. Perceval and Mr. Hook.[18] The Bishop of London was cognizant of Mr. Perceval’s intention, and he preached himself for several Sundays, probably for the purpose of keeping him out of the pulpit; but, the Bishop having had a fall from his horse and broken his [117] MR. HOOK’S SERMON. collar-bone, Mr. Perceval found his opportunity. The Bishop, however, previously warned the Queen that she must expect a very strong sermon, which naturally excited her curiosity, and when she heard it it did not appear to her so strong as she had expected. The Bishop’s advice or his own reflexion may have induced Mr. Perceval to soften it. He made an attack upon Peel (that is, upon somebody whom they concluded to be Peel), reproaching him with sacrificing his conscience to political objects in consenting to Catholic emancipation, not totidem verbis, but in words to this effect. Hook’s sermon appears to have been the stronger of the two. He told the Queen that the Church would endure let what would happen to the throne. On her return to Buckingham House, Normanby, who had been at the chapel, said to her, ‘Did not your Majesty find it very hot?’ She said, ‘Yes, and the sermon was very hot too.’

[18] [Afterwards Dean of Chichester, and author of the ‘Lives of the Archbishops.’]

July 28th, 1838

The letters between Lord Palmerston and Mr. Urquhart which appeared two days ago in the ‘Times,’ have made a very great sensation, and thrown the friends of the former into great alarm. Urquhart’s letter is so enormously long, so overlaid with matter, and so stuffed with acrimonious abuse, that it is difficult to seize the points of it; but that to which general attention is directed is the positive assertion of Lord Palmerston that he had nothing to do with the ‘Portfolio,’ and the announcement of Urquhart that in consequence of such denegation he will demonstrate that Palmerston had everything to do with it. He is said to make exceedingly light of it, and asserts that he can clear himself of all the imputations Mr. Urquhart seeks to cast upon him. He has, however, committed a great blunder in entering into a paper war at all. In his letter he correctly lays down the principle of the irresponsibility and omnipotence of a Secretary of State in relation to his agents, and there he ought to have stopped, and, acting on that principle, have declined any controversy; but he entered into it, and descended from his pedestal; and, though his letter is clever and well written, there are some very weak points in it, and some things which incline one to doubt his veracity. [118] Who, for example, can believe that when Strangways[19] gave him a letter from Urquhart containing (as he informed him) a statement of his conduct, which conduct he thought so reprehensible that he had desired Strangways to admonish and caution him, he should have put this letter in his pocket, and not even have broken the seal till a long time after? The Government people are evidently in great consternation, and it is very remarkable that not a line of contradiction has appeared in any of Palmerston’s papers. No less than three men (Labouchere, Morpeth, and Le Marchant) spoke to me about it yesterday, full of doubt and anxiety, and very curious to know ‘what people said.’

[19] [The Hon. William Strangways, afterwards Earl of Ilchester, was at this time Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Mr. Strangways was an old and intimate friend of Prince Adam Czartoryski, by whom the papers were brought to England which afterwards appeared in the ‘Portfolio,’ and it was through this Polish connexion that Mr. Urquhart was introduced to the notice of the Under-Secretary. Lord Palmerston was at that time (about 1834) strongly anti-Russian, and was perfectly cognizant of several undertakings which originated with Prince Adam Czartoryski, and his more energetic nephew, Count Ladislas Zamoyski, who had very much the ear of the English Government at that time. These undertakings were the publication of the ‘Portfolio,’ Mr. George Bell’s expedition to the coast of Circassia in the ‘Vixen,’ which was seized there, and the attempt to establish a Consulate in the then Free-Town of Cracow. But after having encouraged and promoted these objects for some time in conjunction with Mr. Strangways, Lord Palmerston suddenly became violently opposed to them, and disclaimed all knowledge of those whom he had employed. See infra, January 30th, 1839.]

Le Marchant told me that Palmerston was a strange mixture of caution and imprudence; that as long as he did not commit himself on paper he thought himself safe; that he would see any newspaper editor who called on him, and often communicate to such persons matters of great delicacy; yet, at the very time he would do this, he demurred to a request that was made to him to communicate freely with him (Le Marchant) and Drummond, who were managing the press on the part of Government; and this reserve was exercised towards him when he was Brougham’s private secretary, cognisant of all that Brougham knew (which, of course, was everything), and frequently employed to communicate [119] MR. URQUHART AND LORD PALMERSTON. verbally between the Chancellor and his colleagues on the most confidential matters.

The history of Urquhart is this: William IV. was nearly mad upon the subject of Russia, and Sir Herbert Taylor[20] either partook of his opinions or ministered to his prejudices. Urquhart, who had been in the East, published a violent anti-Russian pamphlet, which made some noise and which recommended him to the notice of Taylor, and through him to that of the King. His Majesty took up Urquhart, and recommended him to Palmerston. Palmerston was not sorry to have an opportunity of gratifying the King, with whom the Ministers were never on cordial terms, and probably he was not then disinclined to act (as far as he dared) upon Urquhart’s views. Accordingly he appointed him—a very extraordinary appointment it was thought at the time—Secretary of Embassy at Constantinople. There can be no doubt that Urquhart considered himself appointed to that station on account of the opinions he professed, and for the express purpose of giving them effect. He was very likely told so by the King, and left to infer as much by Palmerston. The letter of Strangways, which has appeared in the course of the correspondence, shows that the communications from the Foreign Office were in this spirit. At the same time Palmerston took care not to commit himself in writing. When the death of the King was approaching, Palmerston foresaw that he would have to change his tone with regard to Eastern politics, and consequently that it would be convenient to throw over Urquhart, which he proceeded to do. This man, first his tool and then his victim, turned out to be bold, unprincipled, and clever, and finding his prospects ruined and his reputation damaged, he turned fiercely upon him whom he considered as his persecutor and betrayer. It is fortunate for Palmerston that the matter has broken out at the end of the Session when people are all on the wing and there is not time to sift anything to the bottom, but still the charges are so grave, and they involve such serious consequences and considerations, that it is absolutely necessary [120] the truth should be manifested one way or another.[21] The Foreign Ministers all believe that Palmerston is guilty. Dedel told me last night that Pozzo had said to him, ‘Quant à moi, je ne dirai pas un mot; mais si tout cela est vrai, il faut aller aux galères pour trouver un pareil forfait.’ Graham said to me that he was sincerely sorry for it, inasmuch as he had personally a regard for Palmerston; that no man was ever a better, more honourable, or kinder colleague, more anxious to smooth differences and adjust disputes; that he could not attack him in the House of Commons, neither would Stanley; that Peel, who hated him, would not dislike doing so, but that he was too cautious to trust implicitly to Urquhart’s assertions, and to commit himself by acting on them; that there was nobody else capable of dealing with the subject well, and that Canning[22] ought not, for the same reasons (only much stronger in his case) that restrained himself and Stanley.

[20] [King William’s Private Secretary.]

[21] The truth never was manifested, the matter blew over, very little ever was said about it in the newspapers, Urquhart’s revelations never appeared, the public forgot it, and the whole affair died a natural death.—January 6th, 1839.

[22] [Sir Stratford Canning, afterwards Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, was at this time a Member of the House of Commons.]

The bishops were at loggerheads in the House of Lords the other night on the Ecclesiastical Discipline Bill. Exeter (Phillpotts), in a most venomous speech, attacked the Archbishop, whose mildness was stimulated into an angry reply; but Exeter gained his point, for both Brougham and the Duke were for postponing the Bill. Phillpotts would have made a great bishop in the days of Bonner and Gardiner, or he would have been a Becket, or, still better, a Pope either in the palmy days of papal power or during the important period of reaction which succeeded the Reformation. He seems cast in the mould of a Sixtus.

August 3rd, 1838

The following panegyric on the sixth volume of the Duke’s Despatches, evidently written by no common hand, was given by Dr. Ferguson to Edward Villiers,[23] the Doctor not knowing the author:—

[121] MACAULAY’S LIFE IN INDIA. ‘The sixth volume appears to me among the most extraordinary of human productions, ancient or modern. It is not the mere power of sagacity, vigilance, acute and comprehensive reasoning, or, in short, the intellectual perfection of the book, various and wonderful as it is, which affects my mind most deeply: it is the love of justice, the love of truth, the love of humanity, the love of country, the fine temper, the tolerance of error, the mildness of reproof, the superb morality of the great and masculine spirit displayed throughout it, which it is impossible for an honest man to observe without affection and admiration.’

[23] [The Hon. Edward Ernest Villiers, a younger brother of Lord Clarendon, filled at this time the office of Clerk of the Clergy Returns to the Privy Council.]

August 8th, 1838

James Stephen yesterday was talking to me about Macaulay. He came to him soon after his return from India, and told him that when there he used to get up at five every morning (as everybody else did), and till nine or ten he read Greek and Latin, and went through the whole range of classical literature of every sort and kind; that one day in the Government library he had met with the works of Chrysostom, fourteen Greek folios, and that he had taken home first one volume and then another, till he had read the whole through, that is, he had not read every word, because he had found that it contained a great deal of stuff not worth reading, but he had carefully looked at every page, and had actually read the greater part. His object now is to devote himself to literature, and his present project, to write a History of England for the last 150 years, in which Stephen says he would give scope to his fine imagination in the delineation of character, and bring his vast stores of knowledge to the composition of the narrative, and would, without doubt, produce a work of astonishing power and interest. Macaulay says if he had the power of recalling everything he has ever written and published and of destroying it all, he would do so, for he thinks that his time has been thrown away upon opuscula unworthy of his talents. This is, however, a very preposterous squeamishness and piece of pride or humility, whichever it may be called, for no man need be [122] ashamed of producing anything perfect in its kind, however the kind may not be the highest, and his reviews are perfect in their way. I asked Stephen by what mental process Macaulay had contrived to accumulate such boundless stores of information, and how it was all so sorted and arranged in his head that it was always producible at will. He said that he had first of all the power of abstraction, of giving his undivided attention to the book and the subject on which he was occupied; then, as other men read by syllables or by words, he had the faculty, acquired by use, of reading by whole sentences, of swallowing, as it were, whole paragraphs at once, and thus he infinitely abbreviated the mere mechanical part of study; that as an educated man would read any number of pages much more quickly than an uneducated man, so much more quickly would Macaulay read than any ordinary man. Therefore it is first and foremost the power of abstraction, that faculty of attention and of rendering up his mind to the matter before him, which makes all his reading profitable, and leaves nothing to be wasted and frittered away. Then the acquired habit of devouring at a glance a vast surface of print, so that, like the dragon of Wantley, to whom

Houses and churches
Were like geese and turkeys,

he can discuss a Greek folio while an ordinary man is dawdling or boggling over a pamphlet or a newspaper.

Nature has certainly cast the mind of Macaulay in a different mould from that of common men. There is no more comparison between his brain and such a one as mine than between a hurdy-gurdy in the street and the great organ at Haarlem; but it is probably not true that nature has made all the difference or the greatest part of it. If the hurdy-gurdy was kept in constant tune and the great instrument was never played upon, and its barrels and tubes allowed to grow rusty, the former would at length discourse the more eloquent music of the two. No care or cultivation indeed could have made me what Macaulay is, but if he had wasted his time and frittered away his intellects as I have [123] LORD DURHAM’S ORDINANCE. done mine, he would only have been an ordinary man; while if I had been carefully trained and subjected to moral discipline, I might have acted a creditable and useful part.

August 10th, 1838

Lord Durham[24] has got into a fine scrape with his Ordinance, which is clearly illegal. Brougham brought it forward on Tuesday night in an exulting speech, or rather in many exulting speeches, one of which contained some eloquent passages. He was transported with joy at having, as he said, ‘got them at last.’ The Duke supported Brougham, but with more temper and dignity; the Ministers made but a poor defence, if defence it could be called. Durham’s appointments cancelled and his proclamations declared illegal will neither sweeten his temper nor exalt his character in Canada.

[24] [Lord Durham had passed an Ordinance enacting that Papineau and the leaders of the Canadian rebellion should be transported to Bermuda, and that if any of them returned to Canada they should suffer death. This was done before trial and without authority or law. It was consequently attacked with great vehemence by Lord Brougham in the House of Lords, on the 30th of July, and again on the 5th of August, and he brought in a Bill declaring the true meaning and intent of the Canada Act. The second reading was carried against the Government by a majority of eighteen, and Ministers were compelled to disallow the Ordinance, the legality of which could not, indeed, be defended.]

August 11th, 1838

Brougham introduced his Bill of Indemnity (a Declaratory Bill) in an admirable speech, dignified, calm, and ably reasoned. Melbourne was imprudent enough to talk of ‘a trap having been laid for Durham,’ at which the Duke was very angry, and made a strong speech. Last night they announced that they mean to let this Bill pass, for that there is a necessity for some such Bill. It certainly admits of a doubt whether Durham’s Ordinance is illegal, except as relates to transporting people to Bermuda, but it is inexcusable that he should not have been better advised and more cautious than to make any such blunder. We were told that Turton’s indifferent moral character was to be overlooked in favour of his great legal capacity, and now it appears that his law is not a jot better than his morals.

Yesterday I met Mr. Barnes at dinner for the purpose of being introduced to him: an agreeable man enough, with [124] evidently a vast deal of information, but his conversation bears no marks of that extraordinary vigour and pungency for which the articles in the ‘Times’ are so distinguished.[25]

[25] [Mr. Barnes was then chief editor of the ‘Times.’ Mr. Greville had long been in correspondence with him, but this was the first time they met.]

August 12th, 1838

Lord Melbourne agreed to the Indemnity Bill, but with many complaints of the bad effect the discussion would have in Canada. Brougham was triumphant, the Duke moderate and conciliatory. No doubt Brougham, in hitting this blot, was animated with nothing but the delight of firing a double shot into Durham there and the Ministry here, and as to the consequences he cared not a straw; but I am unable to perceive how it would have been possible to pass the Ordinance sub silentio, its illegality being clear, and so far from its being dangerous to discuss the matter in Parliament, it is fortunate that the case occurred before Parliament broke up, so that the necessary Acts may pass to secure Durham and all others acting under his authority from the consequences which might have arisen from a later discovery of the irregularity of his proceedings; for what might not have happened if this Ordinance had been published during the recess and pronounced illegal by high legal authority and taken up by the press? The Government must have confirmed it on their own responsibility, or disallowed it by their own authority; they would not have dared do the first, and their disallowance would have been fraught with as serious consequences as a parliamentary condemnation. By Melbourne’s own showing, and for the reasons which he says induced him to agree to the Bill—namely, that one part of the Ordinance is clearly illegal, and that it is impossible to take one part and to reject another—he ought himself to have come to Parliament for an Indemnity Bill and a Declaratory Act. The question resolves itself into this: what power would the Colonial Legislature have had if the Act had not passed by which the constitution was suspended? and would it have been competent to do what Durham has done? Upon this point [125] THE ORDINANCE DISALLOWED. authorities differ, but everybody agrees that, whatever the Colonial Legislature could have done, Durham (with his Council) can do. If, however, Parliament did not think fit to define his power, and great doubts exist as to its extent, the reasonable, indeed the indispensable course seems to be that those doubts should be as speedily as possible removed, and the amount of his authority clearly and expressly ascertained.

August 13th, 1838

At a Council to-day to disallow Durham’s Ordinance. Nothing was sent from the Colonial Office, and I did not know what it was for till I saw Lord Lansdowne. He told me, and then I wrote the Order for the Queen to approve, and he took it in to her. Presently Glenelg arrived, and announced that nothing could be done, for the authenticated copy under the Great Seal of the Colony was not arrived. Then a consultation was held: Lord Lansdowne was for not minding about the Great Seal, and Melbourne chuckled and grunted, and said, ‘Why, you knock over his Ordinances, and he won’t care about the form, will he?’ I said, ‘If there is no precedent, make one,’ and accordingly the Order passed. They are very angry with the House of Lords, and Lord John said they had behaved very ill, and ought to have waited till the whole case was before them: but I think it was all before them.

August 20th, 1838

At Stoke on Saturday, where Lord Sefton is sinking to the grave in a miserable state of depression and mental debility. Up by the railroad and dined at Holland House for the first time for above a year; sat next to Lord FitzGerald at dinner, who lamented to me the loss of the Corporation Bill; he said he would not have consented to the lesser qualification, but would have agreed to all the other clauses if he had had his own way. The continuance of the trusts in the hands of the old Corporation he thought unwise, calculated to offend feelings and prejudices, and inconsistent with their own opinion of the corporators themselves. Wharncliffe, on the other hand, told me some time ago that he did not care about the qualification, but he defended, though feebly, the trusts. This shows how dissatisfied [126] the moderate and sensible of the party are with their own proceedings.

August 23rd, 1838

In looking back at the past Session, unexampled in duration, the first thing that occurs to one is how uneventful it has been, and how precisely the political state of affairs has ended as it began. The characters of certain conspicuous men have manifested themselves in a very striking manner, but that is all; the Government are still in their places, not a jot stronger than they were, and the Opposition maintain their undiminished phalanx without being at all nearer coming into power. The House of Commons uniformly supports the Government, the House of Lords frequently opposes it, but the difference between the two Houses seldom swells to a dispute; it is languidly carried on and carelessly regarded, the country at large not seeming to mind who are in or who are out. The great meteor of the year has been Brougham, who, by common consent, has given proofs of the undiminished force of his wonderful capacity, and who has spoken with as much, if not with greater eloquence than at any previous period of his life. But while he has excited no small degree of wonder and admiration, he has not raised his reputation for wisdom or honesty. He has exhibited such an unbridled rage against the Government, he has appeared to be animated with so much spite and malice, without a particle of public spirit, but only with a vindictive determination to punish them for having rejected him, that the world has only regarded him and his performances as they would look at a great actor on the stage. So bent has he been upon worrying the Ministers, so determined his enmity to them, that he has sought to ally himself with the most extreme sections of opposition, congregating with the Roebucks, Wakleys, and Leaders in the morning, contriving and concocting with them measures of ultra-Radicalism, then hugging Lyndhurst, bowing down to the Duke, courting the Tory lords, and figuring, flirting, and palavering at night at the routs of the Tory ladies. In the House of Lords, Lyndhurst was well content to hunt in couples with him; but the Duke has kept him at arm’s [127] REVIEW OF THE SESSION. length, and though always on civil, would never be on intimate terms with him. Far different has been the Duke’s own career, for he has, throughout the Session, displayed a dignity, candour, and moderation, without any tameness or indifference or inactivity, which raise him to the highest rank as a statesman and a patriot, and show him equally mindful of his own honour and his country’s good. He alone has moderated the rancour of Lyndhurst, kept in check the violence of Brougham, and restrained the impetuosity and impatience of his party. His abstinence from opposition exceedingly provoked his followers, for, with the exception of the question of the appointment of magistrates by the Chancellor, upon which he treated the latter with considerable asperity, and blamed his conduct severely, he displayed uniform leniency and forbearance; at the end of the session, indeed, he supported Brougham in his attack upon Durham, though not by any means joining in it with the same animus. Melbourne, very soon after the commencement of the session, openly, avowedly, and intentionally quarrelled with Brougham and set him at defiance. However unequal to him on the whole, he came off tolerably well in the little skirmishes which constantly took place between them, and he derived a strength and security from the Duke’s forbearance or support, which enabled him to jog on without sustaining any material damage from Brougham’s terrible assaults. None of his colleagues were of much use to him, and Glenelg got so cruelly mauled at first, that he had afterwards no mind to mingle more than he could help in the fray.

In the House of Commons the debates have been much less interesting and exciting than in the House of Lords. John Russell has continued steadily to advance in public estimation as a speaker and political leader, and Morpeth and Sir George Grey have taken higher places, while Rice and Thomson have lost ground, and Hobhouse has sunk into utter insignificance. Peel has, throughout the Session, acted a moderate, cautious part, and Stanley and Graham have said and done little or nothing, both parties, as if by [128] common consent, keeping each other at bay, and alike conscious that their relative strength is too equal to admit of any great triumph on either side. This balance of parties keeps the Ministers in place, but keeps them weak and nearly powerless either for good or for evil. It has not, however, had the effect of exalting the third party (the Radical), which has, on the contrary, sunk in numbers, reputation, and influence. The conduct of the ultra-Radicals in the House of Commons, on the outbreak of the Canadian insurrection, revealed their real disposition and disgusted the country, and, for the present, nothing can be lower than the Radical interest, or more feeble and innocuous than the revolutionary principle. The great mass of the Tories are always fretting and fuming at the Whigs retaining possession of office, and are impatient to assault them in front, and indignant that they do not of their own accord resign, but the wiser and the cooler know that however weak the Whigs may be as a Government, and however insufficient their power to execute all they would like to do, they are fortified in their places by certain barriers which their adversaries are still more powerless to break through; for they have the cordial, undoubted support of the Queen, they are the Ministers of her choice, and they have a majority (a small but a clear and a certain majority) in the House of Commons. A great Tory principle therefore coalesces with a great Whig principle to maintain them in office; for the Tories,—who were indignant at what they considered an invasion of the King’s prerogative in 1835, when the House of Commons would not let him choose his own Ministers, or, which is the same thing, so continually thwarted the Ministers of his choice as to compel them to resign, and left him no alternative but that of taking back those whom he had dismissed—the Tories could not with any consistency deny to the Queen the exercise of the same authority sanctioned by the support of the House of Commons, which they claimed for King William even against the declared opinion of the House. Nothing is left for them, therefore, but a sulky acquiescence in the present state of things; but they indemnify themselves [129] OPPOSITION IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS. by placing the House of Lords in the new position of an assailant of the Queen’s Government, and the Peers, without daring to assert any co-ordinate authority with the House of Commons as to the choice of Ministers, evince their disapprobation of that choice by frequently thwarting their most important measures. It is curious that none of them—not even Lyndhurst himself, perhaps not the Duke of Wellington—seems to perceive that in the midst of their horror of innovation and dread of great constitutional changes, they have themselves made a great practical change in the constitutional functions of the House of Lords; that it is a departure from the character and proper province of that House to array itself in permanent and often bitter hostility to the Government, and to persist in continually rejecting measures recommended by the Crown and passed by the Commons. When the House of Lords opposed and thwarted the Ministers during the last two years of King William’s reign, they may have justified themselves on their own Tory principle, and (assuming as a fact that the King was in the hands of a faction, from whose bondage he could not release himself), that they were only supporting the Crown when they opposed the Ministers whom the House of Commons had forced upon him, and therefore, both as Tories and as Conservatives, they were taking a consistent, constitutional, and prudent course; but even if this was true then, it is certainly not true now, and it is, I believe, the first time that there is no party in the House of Lords supporting the Crown, nor any individual acting upon that principle, but all are either Whigs or Tories arrayed against each other and battling for power.


[130] The Queen and Lord Melbourne — The Battersea Schools — A Council at Windsor — A Humble Hero — Lord Durham’s Resignation — Duke of Wellington’s Campaigns — The Grange — Lord Durham’s Return — Death of Lord Sefton — Lord Durham’s Arrival — His Reception in the Country — Position of the Radicals — A Visit to Windsor Castle — Lord Brougham’s ‘Letter to the Queen’ — Lord Durham repudiates the Radicals — A Lecture at Battersea — Dinner at Holland House — Curran and George Ponsonby — Prospect of the New Year — The Petition of the Serjeants-at-Law — Reconciliation with Lord Durham — Murder of Lord Norbury — The Corn Laws attacked — Lord Palmerston and the ‘Portfolio’ — The Serjeants’ Case — Brougham and Lyndhurst ‘done up’ — Opening of the Session — Resignation of Lord Glenelg — State of Parties — Lord Durham’s Report — Lord Glenelg’s Retirement — Lord Normanby, Colonial Minister — Corn Law Repeal — Sir Francis Bond Head — Gore House — Lady Blessington.

September 7th, 1838

Nothing to record of any sort or kind: London a desert; I went to-day to Windsor for a Council, was invited by the Queen (through Melbourne) to stay and dine, but made an excuse on the score of business, and luckily had a plausible one to make.

September 12th, 1838

George Villiers, who came from Windsor on Monday, told me he had been exceedingly struck with Lord Melbourne’s manner to the Queen, and hers to him: his, so parental and anxious, but always so respectful and deferential; hers, indicative of such entire confidence, such pleasure in his society. She is continually talking to him; let who will be there, he always sits next her at dinner, and evidently by arrangement, because he always takes in the lady-in-waiting, which necessarily places him next her, the etiquette being that the lady-in-waiting sits next but one to the Queen. It is not unnatural, and to him it is peculiarly interesting. I have no doubt he is passionately fond of her as he might be [131] THE QUEEN AND LORD MELBOURNE. of his daughter if he had one, and the more because he is a man with a capacity for loving without having anything in the world to love. It is become his province to educate, instruct, and form the most interesting mind and character in the world. No occupation was ever more engrossing or involved greater responsibility. I have no doubt that Melbourne is both equal to and worthy of the task, and that it is fortunate she has fallen into his hands, and that he discharges this great duty wisely, honourably, and conscientiously. There are, however, or rather may be hereafter, inconveniences in the establishment of such an intimacy, and in a connexion of so close and affectionate a nature between the young Queen and her Minister; for whenever the Government, which hangs by a thread, shall be broken up, the parting will be painful, and their subsequent relations will not be without embarrassment to themselves, nor fail to be the cause of jealousy in others. It is a great proof of the discretion and purity of his conduct and behaviour, that he is admired, respected, and liked by all the Court.

Yesterday I went to Battersea and dined with Robert Eden, the Rector,[1] and he took me before dinner to see his lions, and introduced me to scenes very different from those which I am used to see. We went to different manufactories, a saw-mill, a pottery, to the lunatic asylum, to the workhouse, and we visited several poor people at their cottages, when he enquired into the circumstances of the sick or the indigent; but what struck me most forcibly was the school (upon Bell’s system) and the extraordinary acquirements of the boys. Eden examined them, and invited me to do so, in arithmetic, geography, English history, and the Bible, and their readiness and correctness were really surprising. I doubt whether many of the children of the rich, who are educated at a vast expense at private or public schools, could pass such an examination as these young paupers who are instructed at the cost of about one guinea a year. The greatest punishment that can be inflicted on one of these boys is to banish him from school, such delight do they take [132] in acquiring knowledge. He gave me a curious account of the state of his parish: there is no middle class of tradesmen in good circumstances; they are divided between the extremes of wealth and of poverty, masters and operatives; but amongst the latter there is a considerable amount of knowledge, though their minds are ill-regulated and their principles perverted. When first he came there the place abounded in disciples of Carlile, pure atheists, and when Carlile was in prison he was supported by their contributions; but though totally without religion they were not immoral, and among these men were some of the best husbands and fathers in the place, so much so that when Carlile told them that men might indulge in polygamy and take two wives, they were scandalised and disgusted, and began immediately to abandon him. Some were reclaimed and came to church, but the greater part, who required some powerful excitement, sought it in politics, and became deeply imbued with the most pernicious principles of hatred against all institutions, against the higher orders, and against property. The fountain from which they draw their opinions is a Sunday paper called the ‘Watchman,’ which is universally and greedily read: it is cleverly written, accommodated to their taste, and flatters all their worst propensities. Few people know these things and are aware of the poison that is thus circulating through the veins, and corrupting the blood, of the social mass. The desire for instruction and knowledge seems very general among the lower orders. Eden, with some others, has established evening lectures upon various subjects, which are crowded by anxious and attentive listeners of all ages and callings, who frequently hurry from their daily occupations, impatient to partake of the instruction which Eden and his curates, and often some of the better informed inhabitants of the place, are in the habit of dispensing.

[1] Afterwards Bishop of Bath and Wells.

September 15th, 1838

Yesterday again at Windsor for a Council. I had made up my mind not to stay if invited, and meant to hasten away; but before I could do so Melbourne came after me and said, ‘You will stay here? the Queen desired [133] AN INVITATION TO WINDSOR. me to ask you.’ I said I had no evening dress, had come by the railroad, and walked from Slough; could not assume that I should be asked, and did not know what to do. He said, ‘She meant it as a civility, and thought you would like it.’ There was a sort of reproach conveyed in the tone, and that induced me to say, ‘So I should if I had only known of it, but as it is I can send for my things if you like.’ He ended by desiring I would do what I liked best myself, promised that he would take care the Queen was not offended, and that nobody else would know anything of the matter. I accordingly resolved to go, and went away with Lord Albemarle. My mind misgave me, and I had a great mind to stay, especially as Lord Albemarle told me they did not mean to turn me out after dinner, but that sleeping there was a matter of course. Then I was sorry I had not stayed, which I might just as well have done, for I had nothing else to do. At these Councils we meet in common morning dress, which we used not to do.

London, October 26th, 1838

A blank month: to Newmarket, to Buckenham, back to Newmarket, to Cromer (fine, wild, bleak coast), Buckenham again, Newmarket, London, Norman Court, and here again; heard nothing, learnt nothing, altogether unprofitable, Durham’s resignation[2] the only event, the dénouement of which nobody can guess. The Ministers ought never to have sent him, knowing what he was, and this has not been their only fault. Norman Court[3] is a very enjoyable place; close to it was (for it has lately been pulled down) the house from which Lady Mary eloped with Mr. Wortley. There I met the doctor who attended young Sam Day (who won the St. Leger for me on Mango) after the fall of which he died, and he gave me a striking account of the deathbed scene, the actors in which, albeit of an humble and unpolished class, displayed feelings not the less [134] intense from the simplicity of their expression, and the total absence of that morbid or conventional sensibility which gives a sort of dramatic dignity to the grief of the great ones. The boy himself died like a hero, with a firmness, courage, and cheerfulness which would have been extolled to the skies in some conspicuous character on whom the world has been accustomed to gaze, but which in the poor jockey boy passed unheeded and unknown, and it is only the few as obscure as himself who witnessed his last moments who are aware that, wherever his bones rest—

in that neglected spot is laid
A heart once pregnant with celestial fire.

[2] [Upon the receipt of the intelligence of the Declaratory Act, Lord Durham at once announced in Canada his determination to resign. The disallowance of the Ordinance and his official recall crossed this intimation on the road.]

[3] [Norman Court was at that time the seat of Mr. Baring Wall. After his death it passed to Mr. Thomas Baring.]

November 8th, 1838

At Newmarket, and at Euston for a day (probably for the last time), and to London on Monday. The stillness of the political atmosphere has been rudely broken in upon by Lord Durham’s astounding Proclamation: for once the whole of the press has joined in a full chorus of disapprobation, and this may be considered conclusive as to public opinion. Indeed there can scarcely be two opinions on the subject, for such an appeal to the people of the Colony over whom he is placed from the acts of the Government and the legislature of the mother country is as monstrous as it is unexampled.[4] It seems incredible that he should not have been deterred by the men who are about him, who are not deficient in capacity, from taking this desperate step; but as there is little doubt that Turton advised him not to issue the Ordinances, and got into disgrace with him for so doing, it is possible that they none of them were consulted, or if consulted did not dare, or did not choose, to give him any advice whatever. The dignity of the Government now demands that his insolence and misconduct should be visited with the [135] WELLINGTON IN BATTLE. severest expression of disapprobation and reproof, and the harshest measures, even an impeachment, would be fully warrantable, if harsh measures did not generally defeat their own object. But if the Government mince matters with him, and evince any fear to strike, if they do not vindicate their own authority, and punish his contumacy with dignity and spirit, their characters are gone, and they will merit all the contempt with which their opponents affect to treat them.

[4] [Lord Durham’s conduct was arrogant and highly injudicious. On the 9th October he issued a Proclamation in Canada, in which he censured the conduct of the Home Government. It is printed in the ‘Ann. Reg.’ for 1838, Chron. p. 311. In fact his vanity was wounded, and his mission, of which so much was expected, had failed. But it will be seen further on that the first impression produced by his violence was considerably mitigated. Mr. John Stuart Mill defended his policy in the Westminster Review, and a certain amount of reaction took place in his favour.]

November 18th, 1838, Wolbeding

Came here to-day and brought Lord Fitzroy Somerset[5] with me, who told me a great deal about the Duke and their old campaigns. He never saw a man so cool and indifferent to danger, at the same time without any personal rashness or bravado, never putting himself in unnecessary danger, never avoiding any that was necessary. He was close to the Duke, his left arm touching the Duke’s right, when he was shot in the arm at Waterloo, and so was Lord Anglesey when he received his wound in the leg. When Lord Anglesey was shot he turned to the Duke and said, ‘By G— I have lost my leg.’ The Duke replied, ‘Have you? by G—.’ The only time the Duke ever was hit was at Orthez, by a spent ball, which struck him on the side and knocked him down. He and Alava were standing together having both dismounted, and they were laughing at a Portuguese soldier who had just passed by saying he was ‘offendido’ ... when the Duke was struck down, but he immediately rose and laughed all the more at being ‘offendido’ himself. During the battles of the Pyrenees Cole proposed to the Duke and his staff to go and eat a very good dinner he had ordered for himself at his house in the village he occupied, as he could not leave his division. They went and dined, and then the Duke went into the next room and threw himself upon a bed without a mattress, on the boards of which he presently went to sleep with his despatch-box for a pillow. Fitzroy and the aides-de-camp slept in chairs or on the floor scattered about. Presently arrived, in great haste and alarm, two officers of [136] artillery, Captain Cairne and another, who begged to see the Duke, the former saying that he had just brought up some guns from the rear, and that he had suddenly found himself close to the enemy and did not know what to do. They went and woke the Duke, who desired him to be brought in. The officer entered and told his story, when the Duke said, very composedly, ‘Well, Sir, you are certainly in a very bad position, and you must get out of it in the best way you can,’ turned round, and was asleep again in a moment.

[5] [Afterwards Lord Raglan. He lost his arm at Waterloo, and commanded the British army in the Crimea, where he died in 1855.]

Lord Fitzroy gave me an account of the battle of Salamanca, exactly corresponding with that which the Duke himself gave me last year at Burghley, but with some additional details. They were going to dine in a farmyard, but the shot fell so thick there that the mules carrying the dinner were ordered to go to another place. There the Duke dined, walking about the whole time munching, with his field-glass in his hand, and constantly looking through it. On a sudden, he exclaimed, ‘By G—, they are extending their line; order my horses.’ The horses were brought and he was off in an instant, followed only by his old German dragoon, who went with him everywhere. The aides-de-camp followed as quickly as they could. He galloped straight to Pakenham’s division and desired him immediately to begin the attack. Pakenham said, ‘Give me your hand, and it shall be done.’ The Duke very gravely gave him his hand, Pakenham shook it warmly and then hastened off. The French were attacked directly after.

He also told me another anecdote I had never heard before. During the retreat from Burgos, on this very day twenty-six years ago, when the weather was dreadful and the roads were nearly impassable, the Duke lost his army for several hours. They had to cross a river near a place called Rodrigo, and the Duke had ordered the army to march in three columns, of which one, composed of the Spaniards, was to cross by the only bridge there was, and the other two by fords and by another route. He had assigned the easiest line to the Spaniards because they were likely to have more stragglers than the British. Arthur Upton, the Quartermaster-General [137] AN ARMY LOST. of one of the divisions, had dined at head-quarters the night before, and the Duke had sent by him written orders for the march. The next morning at two o’clock the Duke was on the high road on purpose to see the troops pass by. Cavalry came, but no infantry, and to the enquiries the Duke made, they all replied that they had not seen anything of the infantry. Presently the Duke galloped off, and Fitzroy having missed him soon after, set off to see if he could discover what was become of the infantry. It was not till several hours after that he joined the Duke, who had at last found out the cause of the non-appearance of his infantry. The three Generals commanding the divisions, Clinton, Stewart, and Lord Dalhousie, had thought fit to disobey his orders, and as a great deal of rain had fallen in the night, they had settled that it would be better to direct the whole of the infantry on the bridge instead of moving them by the roads prescribed by the Duke, and though they knew he was only seven or eight miles off, they never advised him of their having made this change in the movements he had ordered. The enemy did not discover what had occurred; if they had, the consequences might have been very serious, and a great loss have ensued. Fitzroy asked the Duke what he had said to them, and he replied, ‘Oh, by G—, it was too serious to say anything.’ It was too late then to restore the original order of march, and the whole army crossed by the bridge. No further allusion was made to what had occurred.

December 2nd, 1838

Went from Wolbeding to the Grange, last Friday week—Henry Taylor and George Cornewall Lewis there—and came to town on Sunday. The Grange is a beautiful specimen of Grecian architecture, bought by Lord Ashburton of that extraordinary man Henry Drummond, a man so able and eccentric as to be treading on the very edge of the partition which divides wit from madness.

Lord Durham arrived at Plymouth some days ago, but was not able to land (on Thursday last) owing to the violence of the storms. Great curiosity prevails to see what sort of a [138] reception he gets from Ministers and the Queen, and what his relations are to be with Government. Nothing they say can exceed the astonishment which he and his court feel, or will feel, at the sensation excited in the country by his conduct. Gibbon Wakefield, the first who arrived, said he had never been so amazed in the course of his life, and owned that they had all expected to make a very different impression, and to be hailed with great applause. Brougham, who is sitting at the Judicial Committee, is in high spirits and looking forward with exceeding zest and eagerness to the fun he is to have in the House of Lords.

While I was in the country, Lord Sefton’s long illness came to a close, but not before he was reduced to a state of deplorable imbecility, so that his death was a release from misery to himself as well as to all about him. He was a man who filled a considerable space in society, and had been more or less conspicuous from the earliest period of his life. He was possessed of an ample fortune, which he endeavoured to convert into a continual source of enjoyment in every mode which fancy, humour, or caprice suggested. His natural parts were excessively lively, but his education had been wholly neglected, and he never attempted to repair in after-life the deficiencies occasioned by that early neglect. He had therefore not the slightest tincture of letters, his mind was barren of information, and he not only took no interest in intellectual pursuits, but he regarded with aversion, and something like contempt, those who were peculiarly devoted to them. On the other hand, he was an acute man of the world, eagerly entering into all the interests, great and small, of his own time, sufficiently acquainted with the mushroom literature of the day for all social purposes, and, partly from the authority which his wealth and position gave him, partly from his own dexterity, he contrived to turn conversation aside from those topics in the discussion of which he was incapable of mixing, and to promote that sort of half-serious, half-ludicrous talk, in which he was not only fitted to play a prominent part, but in which he exhibited a talent quite peculiar to himself. Never was there so great a [139] CHARACTER OF LORD SEFTON. master of what is called persiflage—of that boisterous, droll and pungent banter which, if not the most elevated species of wit, is certainly that which is most exhilarating and provocative of laughter. In this he was unrivalled, and it was heightened by the adjuncts of a voice, face, and manner irresistibly comical. As the most opposite characters owned the fascination of this exciting talent, he was enabled to gratify his inclination for every variety of social excellence, and to number among his friends and companions many of the most eminent and accomplished men of his time. From his earliest youth he had always lived in what was considered the very best society, and as he eschewed the idea of growing old and retiring from the stage, he was continually making new acquaintances, falling into fresh pursuits, and adapting himself to the prevailing tastes and habits of the day. His father had stamped upon him his hideous form, but with it his sharp and caustic wit; he found himself at the outset a member of that brilliant society of which Hatfield and Cashiobury were the temples, and Lady Salisbury, Lady Essex, and Mrs. St. John the presiding divinities. After these had flourished and decayed, Sefton struck into fresh paths of social enjoyment, and having successively sought for amusement in hunting, shooting, racing, gaming, ‘besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking,’ he plunged with ardour into politics, and though he had no opinions or principles but such as resulted from personal predilections, and had none of that judgement which can only be generated by the combination of knowledge with severe mental discipline, he was enabled by the force of circumstances and an energetic will to acquire political intimacies, and to a certain degree to play a political part: of this his friendship with Brougham was the primary cause. Brougham had been his counsel in some important cause at Liverpool, and that professional connexion subsequently ripened into a close alliance, Sefton being naturally delighted with his brilliant conversation, while Brougham was always highly diverted with the peculiar humour and drollery of Sefton. So intimate therefore did they become, and such influence was Sefton [140] supposed to possess over his mind, that he was employed by Lord Grey, on the formation of the Whig Government in 1830, to settle the conditions of Brougham’s accession to office, and to appease the wrath which had been stirred up in his mind by the offer of being made Attorney-General. His addiction to politics had, however, very little influence on his habits, except to extend and diversify the sphere of his occupations and amusements. His Parliamentary attendance never abridged the hours or nights which were devoted to Crockford’s, and his friendships with Brougham, Lord Grey and Lord Holland, Talleyrand, and all the most distinguished people in the country, did not alienate him from the company of the idle, gay, and dissolute frequenters of clubs and race-courses, congenial spirits from whom he extracted their several contributions of entertainment. The one thing needful to him was excitement, and so fixed and rooted was his habit of seeking it, that there was a sort of regularity in the very irregularities of his existence. In regard to his moral attributes he was governed by an intense selfishness, but of that liberal and enlightened character which throws a partial veil over the vice itself and leaves the superficial observer unconscious of its existence. He was a devoted husband, a kind and affectionate father, a despot (though it was a beneficent despotism) in his own family, a courteous, cordial, and obliging host; he cared for money only as a means of enjoyment, but it formed no part of his scheme of happiness to employ it in promoting the pleasures, or relieving the necessities of others, except in so far as such pleasures were connected with his own gratification. He was absolutely devoid of religious belief or opinions, but he left to all others the unquestioned liberty of rendering that homage to religion from which he gave himself a plenary dispensation. His general conduct was stained with no gross immorality, and as he was placed far above the necessity of committing dishonourable actions, his mind was habitually imbued with principles of integrity. They sat, however, lightly and easily upon him as regarded the conduct of others, not so much from indifference as from [141] LORD DURHAM’S RETURN. indulgence in those particular cases where a rigid and severe application of high principle would have interfered with his own convenience or enjoyment. Such was Sefton, a man who acted too conspicuous a part on the stage of the world to be passed over without notice, whom I knew too well to delineate in more flattering terms, but to whom I must acknowledge a debt of gratitude for a long and undeviating course of kind and cordial hospitality experienced for many years.

December 6th, 1838

If notoriety upon any terms could satisfy anybody, Lord Durham would have ample reason for contentment, as his name is in everybody’s mouth, and the chief topic of every newspaper and political periodical. He was detained by the storms on board his ship for a day or two, and met on his landing by a Devonport address, to which he returned a rather mysterious answer (talking of the great disclosures he had to make), with a reference to his Glasgow speech in which in ’34 he announced his Radical tendency. The most interesting question is how he and the Ministers will go on together, what they ought to do, and how he will take their usage of him whatever it may be. He has been in no hurry to come to town, and has reposed himself at Plymouth as long as it suited him; but he is expected to-day. Brougham, who is sitting every day at the Privy Council, is always growling at him sarcastically, and was much pleased when news came of the fresh outbreak in Canada, and his disappointment was equally evident when he heard it was so rapidly quelled. He was reading the newspaper in my room before the Court opened, when Denman came and announced that he had just met Charles Wood, who had told him that young Ellice was released, and the insurrection suppressed. Brougham did not take his eyes off the paper, and merely muttered, ‘It will soon break out again.’ He is all day long working sums in algebra, or extracting cube-roots; and while he pretends to be poring over the great book (the cases of the parties) before him, he is in reality absorbed in his own calculations. Nevertheless, he from time to time starts up, and throws in a question, [142] a dictum, or a lecture, just as if he had been profoundly attentive.

December 10th, 1838

Nothing can exhibit more strikingly the farcical nature of public meetings, and the hollowness, worthlessness, and accidental character of popularity, than the circumstances of Durham’s arrival here. He has done nothing in Canada, he took himself off just as the fighting was going to begin, his whole conduct has been visited with universal disapprobation, and nevertheless his progress to London has been a sort of triumph; and he has been saluted with addresses and noisy receptions at all the great towns through which he passed. His position here is extraordinary enough, and his relations with the Government stand upon a strange footing. They have made no communication to him since his arrival. Upon the receipt of his Proclamation they wrote to him and expressed their disapprobation, but those letters never reached him, as he quitted Canada before they could have arrived. They now, it seems, consider that silence is token sufficient of their displeasure at his abrupt return; but, though no doubt he fully understands them, they ought to have conveyed their sentiments openly and distinctly. There is an appearance of pusillanimity in this reserve which does them great harm, and brings them into discredit. They ought to have told him temperately, but firmly, that they were entirely dissatisfied with his proceedings, and having so done they should have called upon him to afford them all the explanations and all the information he has to give; but they have done none of this, for they have taken no notice of him, nor he of them. He has not seen one of the Ministers, not even his own brother-in-law Howick, nor any of the underlings, except Ben Stanley, who found Durham in high dudgeon, and saying, that ‘as Government attacked him he must defend himself.’ What he means by ‘attacking him’ is, that certain articles reflecting on his conduct have appeared in the ‘Globe,’ for in no way have Government said or done anything about him; on the contrary, they have been only too reserved and forbearing.

The conduct of Durham throughout the whole business, [143] LORD DURHAM BLUNDERS. from his first legislative act in Canada (the Ordinance) down to his arrival in London, is perfectly inexplicable, and presents a series of blunders tricked out in plausible language, invested with the dignity of pompous phraseology, mysterious allusions, threats and promises, and the affecting complaints of injured innocence and ill-requited virtue. But still, such is the effect of notoriety, so dearly do ordinary mortals love to play a part and ‘make the capable,’ that in spite of his blunders and his faults he has contrived to excite a certain amount of interest, to make an impression, though not a very deep or wide one, and to raise a vague expectation as to his promised disclosures. His speeches in reply to the addresses are most extraordinary performances, unbecoming in tone, contradictory, inconsistent, and inflated; for as to disclosures he has none to make of any sort or kind. He had the finest game to play in Canada that could be placed in his hands, for the proceedings here gave him a legitimate grievance, and would have enabled him to claim double credit for success, and exemption from any blame or discredit from failure; but temper, uncontrollable and unreflecting, hurried him into the irretrievable follies he committed, and he is now without any alternative but that of renewing the Radical connexion from which a short time ago he evinced a disposition to keep aloof, and he has nothing left for it but to accept the post that is offered him of leading a party which, in its composition, principles, and objects, is as uncongenial as possible to his real character and disposition. For it is not a little curious that this levelling democratic faction, to whom the aristocracy are an abomination, are not only wild to have a lord for their leader, but must have that lord who is the especial incarnation of all those odious qualities which they ascribe most unjustly to the order of which he is a member: and he who is brimful of pride and arrogance, and of an overweening sense of his greatness and his rank, is content to associate with men whose chief recommendation is the profuseness with which they pander to his vanity, and to seek personal distinction and power by lending himself to the promotion of schemes [144] the success of which no man would more earnestly deprecate than himself. The greatest enigma is how Durham has ever come to be considered of such importance, and what is the cause of the sort of reputation he has acquired; for whatever may be his intrinsic value, he certainly fills a considerable space, attracts a great share of public attention, and is a personage of some consequence in the political world. He is a clever man, can both write and speak well, but he has not been in the habit of saying much, and he has never done anything whatever. He is known to the world by no specific act, and he has taken part very rarely and occasionally in the debates in Parliament. All that is known of his embassy to Russia is, that he was completely bit by the Emperor Nicholas, and gave up the question of the ‘Vixen;’ still, by dint of being perpetually cried up by a particular party, and by doing well the little he has occasionally done in public, he has succeeded in making himself pass for a man of high pretensions and uncommon endowments, and in the present state of parties his arrival may be productive of important effects.

The Radicals, that is, the English ones, are extremely exasperated against the Government, and many of them are anxious to terminate the Whig reign, from which they think it vain to expect anything after John Russell’s declaration, and to try their chance with the Tories: not that they expect to find the Tories squeezable, but they fancy that a Tory Government will fail, and, after its failure, that recourse must be had to them. The wiser heads of the party know that these notions are quite chimerical, and are for trusting to the chapter of accidents and letting the present Cabinet remain in. The consequence is, that there is great dissension and vast difference of opinion among them; they have no leader, and there is no individual who influences the determinations of the whole body. On the other side of the water, O’Connell has likewise threatened to insist upon ballot as the condition of his support to Government; but nobody pays any attention to his harangues or the menaces they contain, and his support may be pretty well depended on. But it [145] IRRITATION OF THE RADICALS. would not be enough for Government that the English Radicals should abstain from going against them in a body, because so slender is the majority on which they can count, that if any considerable number were to oppose Government on some vital question, it would be sufficient to overthrow them. Of this they are aware, as well as of the probability of such defection, and the consequent precariousness of their situation, and many among them are beginning to be very tired and disgusted with such a tenure of office. It is difficult to believe that Melbourne would not be more so than anybody, if it were not that he is bound by every sentiment of duty, gratitude, and attachment to the Queen to retain the Government as long as he can with honour and safety, and to stretch a point even, to spare her the pain and mortification of changes that would be so painful to her. The Tories, who see the accumulating difficulties of the Government, and who are aware of the immense importance of letting it dissolve of itself, or be broken up by the defection and opposition of its own supporters, are disposed to be patient and moderate; that is, the more sagacious of them are; but they are always in danger of being prematurely urged on by the violence and impetuosity of their tail. Such is the state of parties at the present moment, and it would puzzle the most sagacious observer and most experienced actor in political life to predict the result of the ensuing session. There is quite enough, however, in the general aspect of affairs both at home and abroad to moderate the rancour of mere party violence.

December 15th, 1838

Went on Wednesday to a Council at Windsor, and after the Council was invited to stay that night; rode with the Queen, and after riding Melbourne came to me and said Her Majesty wished me to stay the next day also. This was very gracious and very considerate, because it was done for the express purpose of showing that she was not displeased at my not staying when asked on a former occasion, and as she can have no object whatever in being civil to me, it was a proof of her good-nature and thoughtfulness about other people’s little vanities, even those of the [146] most insignificant. Accordingly I remained till Friday morning, when I went with the rest of her suite to see the hounds throw off, which she herself saw for the first time. The Court is certainly not gay, but it is perhaps impossible that any Court should be gay where there is no social equality; where some ceremony, and a continual air of deference and respect must be observed, there can be no ease, and without ease there can be no real pleasure. The Queen is natural, good-humoured, and cheerful, but still she is Queen, and by her must the social habits and the tone of conversation be regulated, and for this she is too young and inexperienced. She sits at a large round table, her guests around it, and Melbourne always in a chair beside her, where two mortal hours are consumed in such conversation as can be found, which appears to be, and really is, very up-hill work. This, however, is the only bad part of the whole; the rest of the day is passed without the slightest constraint, trouble, or annoyance to anybody; each person is at liberty to employ himself or herself as best pleases them, though very little is done in common, and in this respect Windsor is totally unlike any other place. There is none of the sociability which makes the agreeableness of an English country house; there is no room in which the guests assemble, sit, lounge, and talk as they please and when they please; there is a billiard table, but in such a remote corner of the Castle that it might as well be in the town of Windsor; and there is a library well stocked with books, but hardly accessible, imperfectly warmed, and only tenanted by the librarian: it is a mere library, too, unfurnished, and offering none of the comforts and luxuries of a habitable room. There are two breakfast rooms, one for the ladies and the guests, and the other for the equerries, but when the meal is over everybody disperses, and nothing but another meal reunites the company, so that, in fact, there is no society whatever, little trouble, little etiquette, but very little resource or amusement.

The life which the Queen leads is this: she gets up soon after eight o’clock, breakfasts in her own room, and is employed the whole morning in transacting business; she reads [147] LIFE OF THE QUEEN AT WINDSOR. all the despatches, and has every matter of interest and importance in every department laid before her. At eleven or twelve Melbourne comes to her and stays an hour, more or less, according to the business he may have to transact. At two she rides with a large suite (and she likes to have it numerous); Melbourne always rides on her left hand, and the equerry in waiting generally on her right; she rides for two hours along the road, and the greater part of the time at a full gallop; after riding she amuses herself for the rest of the afternoon with music and singing, playing, romping with children, if there are any in the Castle (and she is so fond of them that she generally contrives to have some there), or in any other way she fancies. The hour of dinner is nominally half-past seven o’clock, soon after which time the guests assemble, but she seldom appears till near eight. The lord in waiting comes into the drawing-room and instructs each gentleman which lady he is to take in to dinner. When the guests are all assembled the Queen comes in, preceded by the gentlemen of her household, and followed by the Duchess of Kent and all her ladies; she speaks to each lady, bows to the men, and goes immediately into the dining-room. She generally takes the arm of the man of the highest rank, but on this occasion she went with Mr. Stephenson, the American Minister (though he has no rank), which was very wisely done. Melbourne invariably sits on her left, no matter who may be there; she remains at table the usual time, but does not suffer the men to sit long after her, and we were summoned to coffee in less than a quarter of an hour. In the drawing-room she never sits down till the men make their appearance. Coffee is served to them in the adjoining room, and then they go into the drawing-room, when she goes round and says a few words to each, of the most trivial nature, all however very civil and cordial in manner and expression. When this little ceremony is over the Duchess of Kent’s whist table is arranged, and then the round table is marshalled, Melbourne invariably sitting on the left hand of the Queen and remaining there without moving till the evening is at an end. At about half-past eleven she goes [148] to bed, or whenever the Duchess has played her usual number of rubbers, and the band have performed all the pieces on their list for the night. This is the whole history of her day: she orders and regulates every detail herself, she knows where everybody is lodged in the Castle, settles about the riding or driving, and enters into every particular with minute attention. But while she personally gives her orders to her various attendants, and does everything that is civil to all the inmates of the Castle, she really has nothing to do with anybody but Melbourne, and with him she passes (if not in tête-à-tête yet in intimate communication) more hours than any two people, in any relation of life, perhaps ever do pass together besides.[6] He is at her side for at least six hours every day—an hour in the morning, two on horseback, one at dinner, and two in the evening. This monopoly is certainly not judicious; it is not altogether consistent with social usage, and it leads to an infraction of those rules of etiquette which it is better to observe with regularity at Court. But it is more peculiarly inexpedient with reference to her own future enjoyment, for if Melbourne should be compelled to resign, her privation will be the more bitter on account of the exclusiveness of her intimacy with him. Accordingly, her terror when any danger menaces the Government, her nervous apprehension at any appearance of change, affect her health, and upon one occasion during the last session she actually fretted herself into an illness at the notion of their going out. It must be owned that her feelings are not unnatural, any more than those which Melbourne entertains towards her. His manner to her is perfect, always respectful, and never presuming upon the extraordinary distinction he enjoys; hers to him is simple and natural, indicative of the confidence she reposes in him, and of her lively taste for his society, but not marked by any unbecoming familiarity. [149] BROUGHAM’S LETTER TO THE QUEEN. Interesting as his position is, and flattered, gratified, and touched as he must be by the confiding devotion with which she places herself in his hands, it is still marvellous that he should be able to overcome the force of habit so completely as to endure the life he leads. Month after month he remains at the Castle, submitting to this daily routine: of all men he appeared to be the last to be broken in to the trammels of a Court, and never was such a revolution seen in anybody’s occupations and habits. Instead of indolently sprawling in all the attitudes of luxurious ease, he is always sitting bolt upright; his free and easy language interlarded with ‘damns’ is carefully guarded and regulated with the strictest propriety, and he has exchanged the good talk of Holland House for the trivial, laboured, and wearisome inanities of the Royal circle.

[6] The Duke of Wellington says that Melbourne is quite right to go and stay at the Castle as much he does, and that it is very fit he should instruct the young Queen in the business of government, but he disapproves of his being always at her side, even contrary to the rules of etiquette; for as a Prime Minister has no precedence, he ought not to be placed in the post of honour to the exclusion of those of higher rank than himself.

December 19th, 1838

Dined with Brougham the day before yesterday, with whom I am on mighty intimate terms just now. Sat next to Bellenden Ker (who drew up his Privy Council Bill), who told me that Brougham said he was writing sixteen hours a day, and about to bring out two more volumes of his Paley,[7] and I found the explanation of his calculations at the Council Board in the fact that he was working out some problems for the purpose of proving the form of the structure of honeycombs. In the meantime he has put forth a pamphlet in the shape of a letter to the Queen, which he half acknowledges, and of which nobody doubts that he is the author, as in fact nobody can who is acquainted with the man or his writings. It makes a prodigious noise in the world and is read with avidity, but, though marked with all his cleverness, it is a discreditable production. The tone of it is detestable, the object mischievous, though by no means definite or clear. After stripping it of all its invectives and ribaldry, there is no proposition which can be extracted from it except that of giving universal suffrage, for, although he does not say so, his argument cannot be arrested short of such a consummation. It is a bitter, brilliant, [150] wayward satire and philippic, and, as Johnson said of Junius, ‘if you extract from its wit the vivacity of impudence, and withdraw from its efficacy the sympathetic favour of plebeian malignity, if you leave it only its merit, I know not what will be its praise.’ It is, however, marvellously characteristic of the man, and illustrative of the state of his mind. His present political conduct, if political it can be called, is curious enough, for he is doing all he can to keep up his connexion with the Radicals, and at the same time courting the Tories, his only fixed idea being to worry the Government. It is clear to me that he was jealous and displeased at the notion of Durham’s being put at the head of the Radical party, and it was with evident glee that he told me on Monday how grievously Durham had offended them by his reply to the Westminster Association, which they very correctly took to themselves. Brougham called on Leader on Sunday, where he found Trelawny, and one or two more Radicals whose names I have forgotten, when Leader expressed these sentiments to him: he said there was no sort of necessity for Durham’s writing them such a letter, and that he had evidently seized the opportunity of addressing them in that shape, and of course there was an end of any possibility of a connexion between him and them. This is very true, for the fact is that Durham—who since his arrival has had time and opportunity to find out in what a miserable position he has placed himself, how feeble and inefficient the Radical party is as a party, and how entirely he would destroy himself by becoming their leader, and who moreover has been exceedingly disgusted at the way in which he was taken up by Molesworth, and provoked to death at being taken under his protection at Devonport—desires earnestly to retrace his steps and to disavow the alliance they have offered him, and which they have so prematurely and ostentatiously proclaimed. He now wants to put himself in a neutral and, if he can, a dignified position. Yesterday he had an interview with Lord Wellesley, whom he asked leave to call upon, and it is not at all unlikely that it will end in his meeting Brougham at Lord Wellesley’s as their common friend. Brougham told me that their quarrel [151] A LECTURE AT BATTERSEA. was at an end, and that it was now only a question which should first speak to the other, and that Durham had said he was not at all angry at the part he had taken in the House of Lords, and owned he could not, consistently with the conduct he had pursued with respect to Canada, have acted differently. All this proves that he is ready enough to make it up with Durham; in fact he will ally himself with anybody who is likely to join him in attacking the Government. What Brougham told me about the Radicals was confirmed last night by Fonblanque, who said that Durham’s return had been positively serviceable to Government, for if he had remained in Canada there were fourteen or fifteen of that party who would most certainly have gone into Opposition; but his return having led to the expectation of his joining them, and that having been frustrated, there was every probability of their doing what they had done before and supporting the Government, however sulkily and reluctantly, rather than throw open the door for the return of the Tories. He said the slightest concession to them from the Government would secure them, but I told him none would be made, and he was aware of it.

[7] Paley’s Natural Theology, illustrated by Lord Brougham, was published soon afterwards.

I met Sheil at dinner yesterday at Poulett Thomson’s, who, to my surprise, is a candidate for the office of Judge Advocate, and he expects, if Macaulay refuses it, to be appointed. He begged of me to let him know as soon as Macaulay’s answer came, and he said, Normanby had strongly urged it, and Melbourne was well disposed towards him.

December 24th, 1838

Went on Friday to Battersea to hear Robert Eden deliver a lecture in the school-room—one of a course he is delivering upon anatomy, or rather upon different parts of the human body—and demonstrating the utility of cleanliness, the danger of drunkenness, and mixing precept with information for the benefit of as mixed an audience as ever was assembled, but who seemed much interested and very attentive. There were many of the gentry of Battersea, male and female, the tradespeople, workmen, the boys of the school, and a rough, ragged set of urchins, labourers on the railroad—in all about 300 people. The lecture, which [152] was upon the arm, was very fluently given; the lecturer is not sufficiently master of his subject to make his explanations very lucid and perfectly intelligible, but he conveys good general notions, and introduces such a mixture of anecdote and illustration as makes it sufficiently entertaining. The undertaking is highly laudable; it is carried on with great zeal and spirit, very considerable ability, and, as far as it has gone, with complete success.

Dined yesterday at the Hollands’: Normanby, Melbourne, and Luttrell; pretty good talk. Melbourne, rather paradoxical, asserted that ‘men with quick feelings were always the worst men; that he could not work out the proposition metaphysically then, but that he should do.’ It was the assertion of Brougham’s having quick feelings which elicited the saying, though certainly Brougham is not the worst of men: far from it, nor did he mean to say so. Brougham denies this pamphlet, and says he cannot be the author for this reason: the pamphlet reasserts something about Melbourne which he had asserted in one of his articles in the ‘Edinburgh Review.’ Melbourne, when he read that article, wrote to Brougham, and told him that as he was sure he did not wish to misrepresent him, he informed him that he had never entertained the opinions nor given the vote there ascribed to him. Brougham replied, admitting his error, and promising to correct it, offering to do so at Melbourne’s option in another number of the ‘Edinburgh Review,’ or in some other work (I forget what). Melbourne wrote back, in rather a jocular strain, that he thought it would be preferable to have the correction in the same publication as the statement, to which Brougham sent a good-humoured answer, and there it ended. After this, he says that he could not by possibility repeat the very same thing in another work that he had already engaged to recall, and this is certainly strong. At the same time there are things in it which no other man could have written. Just before it came out he was preparing something for the printer, for he came into my room with a parcel of proof-sheets in his hand, which I fancied were for me to frank to Macvey Napier, and I said so; when [153] ANECDOTES OF CURRAN. he replied, ‘Oh no, they are going to the printer here.’ It is after all not improbable that it was a joint production—his and Roebuck’s—Roebuck making the pudding, and Brougham putting in the plums. Melbourne was talking of Brougham’s indignation and mortification at being deprived of his pre-eminence in the House of Lords, and of a letter he wrote in great bitterness of spirit, in which he said, ‘Do you mean to deprive me of my lead in the House of Lords? Why don’t you say as you did when you took the Great Seal from me, ‘God damn you, I tell you I can’t give you the Great Seal, and there’s an end of it’?’

They spoke of Curran, his wit, and of his quarrel with Ponsonby. When the Whigs came in in 1806, Ponsonby was made Irish Chancellor.[8] There had been some previous communication with Curran, who had assented to Ponsonby’s being promoted to the highest place; but he expressed his expectation that he should have the next, and he wanted to be Attorney-General. Fox was very desirous of making him Attorney, but Lord Grenville would not hear of it; he had been so concerned with the rebels that it was thought impossible, besides that it led directly to the Bench, for which he was disqualified by temper and character. When Ponsonby became Chancellor, Curran wrote to him to know if he was to be Attorney; and Ponsonby sent him a pompous answer, that ‘his lips were sealed with the seals of office;’ which affronted Curran. Eventually, they determined to buy out the Master of the Rolls and put Curran in his place, and they arranged with the Master that he should have 600ℓ. a year out of the place (a monstrous job). Accordingly Curran was informed that he was to be the Master of the Rolls, but after this notification (as he asserted), it was intimated to him that he was to have this rider upon his place. He said, he had been no party to such an agreement and he would not pay it, nor did he. Ponsonby was highly indignant, said Curran was a great rogue, and never would speak to him [154] again; and he paid the 600ℓ. a year out of his own pocket as long as Curran lived. As a specimen of Curran’s wit, one day when Lord Moira had been making a speech in his usual style full of sounding phrases and long words, Curran said, ‘Upon my word his lordship has been airing his vocabulary in a very pretty style to-day.’

[8] [Right Hon. George Ponsonby, who resigned the office in the following year. Curran held the office of Master of the Rolls in Ireland from 1806 to 1814, when he retired on a pension of 3,000ℓ. a year. He died in 1817.]

Lord Holland gave me an account of Fox’s death, with all the details of the operations (he was thrice tapped), and his behaviour; and till then I was not entirely aware that Fox was no believer in religion. Mrs. Fox was very anxious to have prayers read, to which he consented, but paid little attention to the ceremony, remaining quiescent merely, not liking, as Lord Holland said, to refuse any wish of hers, nor to pretend any sentiments he did not entertain.

January 1st, 1839

Another year gone, taking along with it some particles of health, strength, and spirits, but it is to be hoped making us something wiser and better, and giving an increased power of passive resistance to bear up against the accumulating ills or sorrows of life. But I will not—here at least—plunge into a moralising strain. As to public matters the year opens in no small gloom and uncertainty. On the surface all is bright and smooth enough: the country is powerful, peaceful, and prosperous, and all the elements of wealth and power are increasing; but the mind of the mass is disturbed and discontented, and there is a continual fermentation going on, and separate and unconnected causes of agitation and disquiet are in incessant operation, which create great alarm, but which there seems to exist no power of checking or subduing. The Government is in a wretched state of weakness, utterly ignorant whether it can scramble through the session, unable to assume a dignified attitude, to investigate with calm deliberation the moral and political condition of the country, and to act upon its convictions with firmness and resolution, tottering and staggering between one great party and one fierce faction, and just able to keep on its legs because both are, for different reasons, willing to wound but afraid to strike. It does not fulfil the purpose of a Government, and brings the function itself into contempt [155] DISTURBED STATE OF THE COUNTRY. by accustoming men to look at it without any feeling of attachment or respect. Wild notions of political grievances and political rights have been widely disseminated among the masses, and these are not engendered or fostered by the prevalence of distress or that want of employment which not unnaturally turns the thoughts of the idle and unoccupied to the most desperate expedients for bettering their condition, but they are the mere aspirings of a fierce democracy who have been gradually but deeply impregnated with sentiments of hatred and jealousy of the upper classes, and with a determination to ‘level’ all political distinctions and privileges, and when this is accomplished to proceed to a more equal distribution of property, to an agrarian experiment; for it is idle to suppose that men of this stamp care anything for abstract political theories, or have any definite object but that of procuring the means of working less, and eating and drinking more. The accounts of the Chartists (as they are called), at and about Manchester, represent them to be collected in vast bodies, associations of prodigious numbers, meeting in all the public-houses, collecting arms universally, and constantly practising by firing at a mark, openly threatening, if their demands are not complied with, to enforce them by violence. In the mean time there is no military force in the country at all adequate to meet these menacing demonstrations; the yeomanry have been reduced, and the magistracy are worse than useless, without consideration, resolution, or judgement. There is every reason to suppose that they have got into a scrape with their arrest of Stephens, the great Chartist orator, and that there is no case against him sufficient for a conviction.[9] The magistrates completely lost their heads, and between their fears and their folly have blundered and bothered their proceedings miserably, and so as to afford an ultimate triumph to this mischievous fellow and his followers.

[9] [One Stephens, formerly a Wesleyan preacher, and one of the most violent agitators against the New Poor Law, was apprehended near Manchester on December 27. He had used most incendiary language, but was liberated on bail, and soon afterwards addressed a meeting of 5,000 people at Ashton-under-Lyne. There seems to have been no case against him.]

January 11, 1839

[156] A great field-day at the Council Office yesterday to hear the Petition of the Serjeants against the order of the late King opening the Court of Common Pleas to all barristers. It was Brougham’s order.[10] The Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Master of the Rolls, three Chiefs, all the Puisne Judges who are Privy Councillors, Lushington, Wynford, and Brougham sat. Follett and Charles Austin were counsel for the Serjeants, and the Attorney and Solicitor-Generals ordered to attend, and seated at a table in court. Follett spoke for four hours, and Austin for two, and did not finish. A vast deal of historical research was displayed, but it was not amusing nor particularly well done. The Serjeants were present (the five petitioners), and Wilde prompting Follett all the time. There seemed no difference of opinion among the Judges, at least with those I talked to, and the King’s mandate (for such it was to the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and under the sign manual, though countersigned by nobody) will be declared waste paper, and matters be replaced on their ancient footing till Parliament may otherwise determine. Brougham appeared considerably disconcerted, and though he tilted occasionally with the counsel, he was on the whole quieter than usual and than I expected he would have been. This order was one of those things he blurted out in that ‘sic volo sic jubeo’ style which he had assumed, and without consideration, probably without consultation with anybody, or he might easily have avoided the commission of such a blunder.

[10] [The Serjeants-at-Law had enjoyed from time immemorial the exclusive right of practising in the Court of Common Pleas. Upon the advice of Lord Brougham, then Chancellor, King William IV. had issued a written mandate to the court to open their bar to the whole profession. No doubt the act was quite illegal and a nullity. The Serjeants now petitioned the Queen in Council to set it aside. But the court was subsequently opened by Act of Parliament.]

January 18th, 1839

Durham has come down from his high horse, and has at last condescended to see Howick and Duncannon, the latter through the mediation of John Ponsonby, who hopes by bringing them together to pave the way, if not to a reconciliation, to a state of things less hostile and [157] THE MURDER OF LORD NORBURY. bitter in feeling and intention between him and the Government. They are both anxious to avoid blows if possible, but it is so difficult to avoid mutual inculpation and accusation, although only professing exculpation, that it will be very strange if the matter does (as many think it will) blow over lightly. The personal question between Melbourne and Durham about Turton appears the most difficult to settle; but if there is a will there will be a way, and it is easy enough to imagine the sort of civil, complimentary assurances from one to the other, that though there had been a great misunderstanding, it was no doubt unintentional, and all that sort of palaver which is so familiar to old stagers and parliamentary squabblers.

The murder of Lord Norbury[11] has made a great sensation because the man is so conspicuous; for there seems no reason for believing that he was murdered from any religious or political motive, but that it was only another of the many prædial enormities that are from time to time committed in Ireland. At present this event only serves to exasperate angry passions, to call forth loud blasts of the never silent trumpet against Romanism and the Irish population, and it does not lead men’s minds immediately to a conviction of the necessity of calmly investigating, and if possible applying a remedy to, a social condition so full of crime and misery, and so revolting to every feeling of humanity, as that of Ireland. But the death of this poor man will conduce to this end, for it is only through long processes of evil and after much suffering that good is accomplished.

[11] [The Earl of Norbury was shot near his own house at Kilbeggan, in the county of Meath. The assassin was never discovered.]

The case of the Canadian prisoners has been argued before the Court of Queen’s Bench,[12] but it has not excited much interest. They give judgement on Monday. Roebuck is said to have spoken very moderately.

[12] [Twelve Canadian prisoners having landed at Liverpool were brought up on habeas corpus before Lord Denman and the Court of Queen’s Bench. The court upheld the committal of the prisoners.]

January 24th, 1839

Duncannon found Durham in a very complacent mood, and he entered with him fully into the subject [158] of Canada and their quarrels. With respect to Turton’s affairs, Durham denies he ever said, or authorised anybody else to say, that the appointment had Melbourne’s consent, and he admits that Melbourne did put his veto upon Turton’s appointment to office, but says he considered this veto applicable only to offices under Government, and that the place to which he appointed him was not under Government, but one at his own disposal, and for which he was wholly and solely responsible. This is his excuse, and a very bad one it is. It won’t go down in the House of Lords, I imagine.

As the time draws near for the meeting of Parliament the probability of ousting the Government grows fainter; we hear no more of disunion and Radical hostility, and things promise to continue pretty much as they have heretofore been. The question of absorbing interest is now the repeal or alteration of the Corn Laws, and the declaration of war against them on the part of the ‘Times’ has produced a great effect, and is taken as conclusive evidence that they cannot be maintained, from the rare sagacity with which this journal watches the turn of public affairs; besides that, its advocacy will be of the greatest use in advancing the cause which it already had perceived was likely to prevail. The rest of the Conservative press, the ‘Morning Herald,’ ‘Post,’ and ‘Standard,’ support the Corn Laws, and the latter has engaged in a single combat with the ‘Times,’ conducted with a kind of chivalrous courtesy, owing to the concurrence of their general politics, very unusual in newspaper warfare, and with great ability on both sides.

January 30th, 1839

After four months or more from the time when he threatened further disclosures, and when, it appeared as if the whole matter had blown over, how or why nobody could tell, Urquhart has published a fresh set of letters which passed between himself and Backhouse,[13] for the purpose of proving that the latter was a party to the publication of the ‘Portfolio.’ Backhouse, who was at Liverpool when these came out, wrote to desire judgement might be suspended till [159] THE ‘PORTFOLIO’. certain notes omitted by Urquhart had been also published, and to-day they appeared; but instead of making the case better, they have made it rather worse. It is altogether a dirty transaction, and mortifying to those who care about the character of public men, and who have some feeling of national pride and vanity in the super-eminence of English statesmen for integrity and high-mindedness. It is not very difficult to extract the truth from the mass of verbiage and contradictory assertions in which it is involved, and it appears that Urquhart, having got hold of the papers, communicated them to Palmerston, offered to publish them, and was encouraged by him to do so. Urquhart, who was appointed secretary of embassy at Constantinople while this publication was going on, took every opportunity of consulting the Foreign Office, and of trying to make Palmerston and his under-secretaries participes criminis, in order that they might share the responsibility and stand committed with him. Against this they fought, and while they took good care that Urquhart should understand that they wished the publication of the ‘Portfolio’ to be continued, they kept shifting and shirking in hopes of not committing themselves materially. It is pretty clear that Backhouse really disliked the whole thing, had no mind to meddle with the ‘Portfolio,’ or mix himself up with Urquhart, and it was only the official obligation that was imposed upon him by Palmerston’s wishes which induced him very reluctantly to engage in the business even so far as he did, and it is very painful to see his early struggles to keep clear of it, and his present abortive attempts to wriggle out of his concern with the publication. It is Palmerston on whom the blame ought to rest, and on whom it will rest, only nobody seems to take the least interest in the dispute, and he brazens it out in a very unblushing manner. I am more particularly struck with the meanness here exhibited, from having just been reading Lord Chatham’s correspondence, in which his noble and lofty character, so abhorrent of everything like trickery, shabbiness, and underhand dealing, shines forth with peculiar lustre. It is animating and refreshing to turn to the contemplation of this really great and [160] noble mind, even more remarkable I think for dignity of sentiment and purity of motive, than for eloquence and capacity.

[13] [Mr. Backhouse was at this time permanent Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He filled this office from 1827 till 1842.]

February 6th, 1839

Last Friday the Serjeants’ case came on again before the Privy Council. The Attorney and Solicitor made a sort of reply to Austin, but acknowledged that the mandate was not binding on the Court of Common Pleas; in fact, that it was illegal. Brougham was very angry, and kept battling with counsel or with Wynford, Abinger, or others of the Lords, though not violently. They were anxious to get rid of the question if possible, and to avoid making a report to the Queen. The conclusion (pretty nearly unanimous) to which they came was, that the order was illegal, but that it was neither expedient that matters should return to their former, nor remain in their present state; and they agreed to adjourn the consideration of the question. They then separated with an understanding that a Bill should be brought in directly to settle the dispute, and they don’t intend to meet again upon it till this Bill has been passed. Thus they will avoid making any report at all.

Brougham and Lyndhurst came to a Patent case the day before, both in high spirits. After it was over Lyndhurst came into my room, when I said, ‘You look in high force.’ ‘Oh no,’ said he, ‘I am quite passé, entirely done up.’ Just then Brougham came in, when I said to him, pointing to Lyndhurst, ‘He says he is quite passé and done up.’ ‘Just like me,’ he said; ‘I am quite passé too.’ ‘Then,’ I said, ‘there can be no use in two such poor worn-out creatures as you two going to the House of Lords.’ ‘Do you hear him?’ cried out Brougham: ‘A capital suggestion of the Clerk of the Council: we won’t go to the House of Lords at all; let us go together to Hamble.’[14] And then he seized Lyndhurst’s arm, and off they went together chuckling and laughing and brimful of mischief.

[14] Hamble is the country seat of Sir Arthur Paget, who was present with Brougham.

He came out the night of the Address with a very brilliant speech, and with a fierce and bitter philippic against O’Connell for having insinuated that Lord Norbury had [161] RESIGNATION OF LORD GLENELG. been shot by his own son. Last night, O’Connell retaliated in the House of Commons, and denying that he had even thought of, or insinuated any such thing, he hurled back an invective still fiercer, bitterer, more insulting, and very powerful too. Very little discussion grew out of the Queen’s Speech, all parties being agreed to defer the consideration of great questions till brought regularly on. There was a pretty strong demonstration in the House of Commons in favour of the Corn Laws, so as to render it improbable that anything will be done. The only thing which seems to threaten the Government at present is, the hatred that has sprung up between the English Radicals and the Irish, and the animosity which prevails among the former against O’Connell. If this is carried to the length of inducing the English Radicals to keep aloof on some important question, Ministers may find themselves in a minority, and resign thereon; and this is what the Tories are looking to as their best chance.

February 10th, Sunday, 1839

On Friday, Lord Glenelg announced in the House of Lords that he had resigned,[15] though it would have been more correct to have stated that he had been turned out. He said very little, but that little conveyed a sense of ill-usage and a mortified spirit; none of the Ministers uttered a word. Many wonder that they ventured to make any changes in such a rickety concern, and that, if they were resolved to do so, they did not have everything settled before Parliament met. However, the Cabinet appears to have been unanimous in determining that Glenelg could not remain Colonial Minister, and they gave him a sort of hint some time ago, by offering him Sir John Newport’s place (for whom an arrangement was to be made), which he refused; so on Tuesday last the blow was struck, and they proposed to him to be Privy Seal, which he declined in some dudgeon. It certainly was difficult so to gild [162] the pill he was asked to swallow as to disguise its bitterness and make it tolerably palatable, for in whatever polite periphrasis it might be involved, the plain English of the communication was, that he was incompetent to administer Colonial affairs.

[15] [Lord Glenelg had held the office of Secretary of State for the Colonies since the formation of Lord Melbourne’s second Administration in 1835. He was succeeded in the Colonial Office by the Marquis of Normanby, who had filled up to this time the office of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.]

By venturing upon these changes the Government evidently think they can scramble on, and on the whole it is probable that they may, though never did a Government hold office by so frail and uncertain a tenure, and upon such strange terms. A pretty correct analysis of the House of Commons presents the following result: 267 Government people, including the Irish tail; 66 Radicals, 5 doubtful, and 315 Conservatives; 4 vacant seats, and the Speaker. If, therefore, at any time, one half the Radicals should stay away (they need not vote against), when danger threatens the Government, it would be at an end; and if they do not do so, it is because most of them are still unconvinced that it would be better and more conducive to the ultimate success of their objects to let the Tories in, and not from any love to the present Ministers, whom, on the contrary, they hate a good deal and despise a little. The Irish band appear to be dependable, but there is no knowing what might be the consequence of a change, and the withdrawal of all the personal influence which Normanby had obtained over them. It has often happened that a coalition of very opposite parties has turned a Government out; but never before, that I remember, kept one in, and for such a length of time. The Conservatives are completely united, ably led, and count in their ranks the most powerful men in the House of Commons; they are by far the most numerous of any of the parties, one-third more than the Whigs (without the Irish), nearly five times more than the Radicals, and within twenty of all combined; and yet they are as effectually excluded as they were just after the passing of the Reform Bill, for all that appears to the contrary.

Lord Durham’s enormously long Report[16] appeared in the [163] LORD DURHAM’S REPORT. ‘Times’ on Friday last, before being laid on the tables of the two Houses, whereat he rose in his place and expressed much surprise and displeasure, all of which was very ridiculous and superfluous, for he had two thousand copies of it printed, and distributed them to the right and left, to anybody who came to see him, to Foreign Ministers and others, so no wonder that the document found its way into the ‘Times.’[17] He sent a copy to Easthope, proprietor of the ‘Morning Chronicle,’ but with an injunction not to publish it, and Easthope told him he wished he had kept his copy to himself, for he could have obtained one elsewhere which he should have been at liberty to publish if he had not accepted his with the prohibition.

[16] [This was the celebrated Report on the Administration of Canada, which bore the name of Lord Durham, but was in fact written by Mr. Charles Buller, and embodied the opinions of Mr. Gibbon Wakefield and Sir William Molesworth on Colonial policy. It is not too much to say that in the course of the next twenty years this Report changed the Colonial policy of the Empire, and the principles laid down in it certainly converted Canada from a revolted colony into one of the most loyal dependencies of the British Crown. What would have been the result if the Ministers of George III. had treated the complaints of the American colonies in 1774 with equal wisdom?]

[17] [The copy which appeared in the Times was sent to that journal by Mr. Hanson, who was one of the persons attached to Lord Durham’s mission. He afterwards became Sir Richard Davies Hanson, Chief Justice of South Australia. This gentleman gave the following account of the transaction. The whole report was written by Charles Buller, with the exception of two paragraphs on Church or Crown lands, which were composed by Gibbon Wakefield and Mr. Hanson. After the Report was presented to the Colonial Office, the Government wished these last two paragraphs to be modified. This Lord Durham was inclined to do. Wakefield resented this and, in order to prevent any change, he got Hanson to send a copy of the Report to the Times, where it appeared the next day. These particulars have been communicated to me by a gentleman to whom Sir Richard Hanson related them.]

February 14th, 1839

Lord Normanby was not acquainted with the intention of dismissing Glenelg, nor was the thing settled when he was here; on the contrary, he had made every preparation for the Dublin season, and is put to serious inconvenience by being thus suddenly sent for. Glenelg continues to discharge the official duties, but he is deeply hurt at the treatment he has experienced. It is the more remarkable because at this moment his official correspondence with [164] Durham is published, in which he displays firmness, dignity, and sense, so that the world can discern no good cause why he should be so unceremoniously turned off. Melbourne urged him to retire when his brother (Sir Robert Grant) died; but Glenelg thought this was from kindness and consideration, and was so touched, that he deemed it the more incumbent on him to remain at his post. Normanby will probably do much better, for though he has nothing like the natural abilities of his predecessor, he has the knack of succeeding in whatever he undertakes; he has application, courage, and sense, and all this in spite of a frivolous exterior. In Ireland, however obnoxious to the Orangemen, his government has been successful, and I know of no error that he has committed, except that of too often releasing prisoners and commuting punishments without the sanction and concurrence of the Judges. Nothing is so dangerous and imprudent as to tamper with justice, and John Russell himself has upon several occasions been rash and flippant in this respect. It is not long ago that a man was tried and found guilty, at the Sessions, of destroying a will with a fraudulent intent. I forget what the punishment was, but a petition for mercy was handed up to the Secretary of State’s office—got up by the clergyman of the parish, and signed by many names. Without consulting the magistrates who had convicted the man, he reduced the punishment to two months’ imprisonment, and it turned out that the clergyman was himself a man of indifferent character, who had been promoted at the instance of Lord Fitzwilliam, and the rest of the subscribers to the petition were ignorant people who had signed it at his instigation: the object was unworthy of the indulgence which was carelessly and improperly extended. These things exasperate the magistracy, whom Lord John is apt to regard with aversion and suspicion; but the Judges are deeply offended when their sentences are arbitrarily set aside, as they have sometimes been.

The Corn Law question, which appeared so formidable before Parliament met, has lost much of its terrors; and an error committed by one of its champions, Mr. Wood of [165] THE CORN LAW QUESTION. Preston, greatly assisted to damage it. Peel turned against him certain admissions which he made of the prosperity of trade, with extraordinary dexterity and effect. The Anti-Corn-Lawites were so enraged and mortified that they punished their blundering advocate by dismissing him from his post of President of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce; and his constituents invited him to resign. This, and the strong demonstration in favour of the existing system the first night, the divided opinions and indifference of the Government, and the diversion made by the Chartists, have placed the Corn Laws in perfect security for this session at least. It is curious to see the conduct of the ‘Times’: just before Parliament met it thought the time was come when something must be done, and it accordingly took up the cudgels against the Corn Laws; but now that it finds the time is not come, it has dropped the subject altogether, and relapsed into silence.

There seems very little probability of any discussion about Canadian affairs till Government introduces some legislative measure, and the expected personalities and recriminations will silently pass away. Brougham and Durham are reconciled after a fashion; Ministers and Durham mutually desire to sheathe their swords. The correspondence which has just appeared at the tail of the Report exhibits a grand specimen of arrogance and vanity on Durham’s part, not unmixed with talent, albeit his letters are intolerably prolix. Glenelg has, however, much the best of the controversy as soon as they begin to cross their weapons, and his despatch conveying the Queen’s disapprobation of his Proclamation is very dignified and becomingly severe. It is impossible to conceive anything more galling to a man so puffed up with pride and vanity, and who fancied himself to be placed upon a pinnacle far above the sphere of official obligation and responsibility.

It is curious to see the different measure that was dealt out to Durham and to Head,[18] the latter an able, though not always a prudent man, who really did good service in his [166] government, and extricated himself boldly and successfully from a very difficult situation. He had dismissed a Judge for certain reasons, part of which he explained to the Colonial Office, and for the rest he told them that he must, in the difficult position he was in, draw upon their confidence to support and confirm his act. They said this was not enough, and insisted on his restoring the Judge. Upon this he tendered his resignation, which they instantly accepted; and when he came home they took no notice of him whatever, and at the same time they were flattering and lauding and trying to cajole Durham, and begging and praying him to stay, in the midst of his blundering acts and insolent language, and while he was addressing the Government in the most contumelious terms. Head has behaved very well about the publication of his despatches; for when he asked Melbourne’s leave to publish, and the latter refused, he promised that nothing should appear, and that he would discourage any Parliamentary attempt to elicit them. Now that Durham’s Report has come forth, containing strictures on Head’s conduct, he assumes a right to publish, for his own vindication, and he has asserted this in a pettish letter to Melbourne; whereas, if he had again asked for permission on this express ground, it would not have been refused. The motto of this Government, however, seems to be,—

parcere superbis et debellare subjectos,

and their besetting sins are pusillanimity, indifference, and insouciance. On a discussion the other night about speaking on petitions, when the Speaker laid down the practice, which Lord John Russell supported with great earnestness, and which was opposed on Radical grounds by the Radicals, Stewart of the Treasury, and Vernon Smith, marched off and would not vote; and, instead of being reprimanded, Vernon Smith will probably be made Under Secretary of State.

[18] [Right Hon. Sir Francis Bond Head, who was Governor of Upper Canada at the time of the outbreak of the insurrection.]

February 17th, 1839

I dined at Lady Blessington’s yesterday, to meet Durham and Brougham; but, after all, the latter did not come, and the excuse he made was, that it was better not; and as he was taking, or going to take (we shall see), a [167] GORE HOUSE. moderate course about Canada, it would impair his efficacy if the press were to trumpet forth, and comment on, his meeting with Durham. There was that sort of strange omnium gatherum party which is to be met with nowhere else, and which for that reason alone is curious. We had Prince Louis Napoleon and his A.D.C.[19] He is a short, thickish, vulgar-looking man, without the slightest resemblance to his Imperial uncle, or any intelligence in his countenance. Then we had the ex-Governor of Canada, Captain Marriott, the Count Alfred de Vigny (author of ‘Cinq Mars’ &c.), Sir Edward Lytton Bulwer, and a proper sprinkling of ordinary persons to mix up with these celebrities. In the evening, Forster, sub-editor of the ‘Examiner;’ Chorley, editor of the ‘Athenæum;’ Macready, and Charles Buller. Lady Blessington’s existence is a curiosity, and her house and society have at least the merit of being singular, though the latter is not so agreeable as from its composition it ought to be. There is no end to the men of consequence and distinction in the world who go there occasionally—Brougham, Lyndhurst, Abinger, Canterbury, Durham, and many others; all the minor poets, literati, and journalists, without exception, together with some of the highest pretensions. Moore is a sort of friend of hers; she has been very intimate with Byron, and is with Walter Savage Landor. Her house is furnished with a luxury and splendour not to be surpassed; her dinners are frequent and good; and D’Orsay does the honours with a frankness and cordiality which are very successful; but all this does not make society, in the real meaning of the term. There is a vast deal of coming and going, and eating and drinking, and a corresponding amount of noise, but little or no conversation, discussion, easy quiet interchange of ideas and opinions, no regular social foundation of men of intellectual or literary calibre ensuring a perennial flow of conversation, and which, if it existed, would derive strength and assistance from the light superstructure of occasional visitors, [168] with the much or the little they might individually contribute. The reason of this is that the woman herself, who must give the tone to her own society, and influence its character, is ignorant, vulgar, and commonplace.[20] Nothing can be more dull and uninteresting than her conversation, which is never enriched by a particle of knowledge, or enlivened by a ray of genius or imagination. The fact of her existence as an authoress is an enigma, poor as her pretensions are; for while it is very difficult to write good books, it is not easy to compose even bad ones, and volumes have come forth under her name for which hundreds of pounds have been paid, because (Heaven only can tell how) thousands are found who will read them. Her ‘Works’ have been published in America, in one huge folio, where it seems they meet with peculiar success; and this trash goes down, because it is written by a Countess, in a country where rank is eschewed, and equality is the universal passion. They have (or some of them) been likewise translated into German; and if all this is not proof of literary merit, or at least of success, what is? It would be not uninteresting to trace this current of success to its source, and to lay bare all the springs of the machinery which sustains her artificial character as an authoress. The details of course form the mystery of her craft, but the general causes are apparent enough. First and foremost, her magnificent house and luxurious dinners; then the alliance offensive and defensive which she has contrived (principally through the means of said house and dinners) to establish with a host of authors, booksellers, and publishers, and above all with journalists. The first lend [169] GORE HOUSE. her their assistance in composition, correction, or addition; with the second she manages to establish an interest and an interchange of services; and the last everlastingly puff her performances. Her name is eternally before the public; she produces those gorgeous inanities, called ‘Books of Beauty,’ and other trashy things of the same description, to get up which all the fashion and beauty, the taste and talent, of London are laid under contribution. The most distinguished artists and the best engravers supply the portraits of the prettiest women in London; and these are illustrated with poetical effusions of the smallest possible merit, but exciting interest and curiosity from the notoriety of their authors; and so, by all this puffing and stuffing, and untiring industry, and practising on the vanity of some, and the good-nature of others, the end is attained; and though I never met with any individual who had read any of her books, except the ‘Conversations with Byron,’ which are too good to be hers, they are unquestionably a source of considerable profit, and she takes her place confidently and complacently as one of the literary celebrities of her day.

[19] [The first mention of His Imperial Majesty Napoleon III., who was an habitué of Gore House, and well known to all who frequented it. The A.D.C. was M. de Persigny, who accompanied the Prince everywhere.]

[20] [Lady Blessington had a good deal more talent and reading than Mr. Greville gives her credit for. Several years of her agitated life were spent in the country in complete retirement, where she had no resources to fall back upon but a good library. She was well read in the best English authors, and even in translations of the classics; but the talent to which she owed her success in society was her incomparable tact and skill in drawing out the best qualities of her guests. What Mr. Greville terms her vulgarity might be more charitably described as her Irish cordiality and bonhomie. I have no doubt that her ‘Conversations with Lord Byron’ were entirely written by herself. It is true that, writing, as she did, to make money, many of her other books were exceedingly worthless.]


[170] Opening of the Session — Lady Flora Hastings — Bulwer’s ‘Richelieu’ — Changes at the Colonial Office — Attack on Lord Normanby’s Irish Administration in the Lords — General Aspect of Affairs — The ‘Morning Chronicle’ — Death of Lord de Ros — Precarious Position of the Government — Views of Lord John Russell — A doubtful Question — Conciliatory Conversation with Sir James Graham — Attitude of the Whig Party — Peel’s cold Reception of the Proposal — Result of the Debate — Attitude of Lord John Russell — Language of the Radical Party — Conciliation — Change of Feeling in the Country — Duke of Newcastle dismissed from the Lord Lieutenancy — Lord John Russell’s Letter — Jamaica Bill — Defeat of the Jamaica Bill — Resignation of Ministers — The Queen retains the Ladies of her Household — Conduct of the Whigs — End of the Crisis — The Truth of the Story.

London: February 24th, 1839

Hitherto the proceedings in Parliament have been sufficiently languid and uninteresting. The debate on the Corn Laws, which was expected to occupy two or three nights, went off in one, and a great majority against hearing evidence, followed by no sort of sensation, has set the question at rest for the present. Lord Winchilsea brought on the Turton case in the House of Lords, when Durham made a blustering, and Melbourne a prudent, moderate, and satisfactory explanation. He had remonstrated against the appointment, when Durham had replied that his honour was concerned in it and he could not cancel it; and Melbourne said, he did not think he should be justified in hazarding the great objects of Durham’s mission for such an object as Turton’s removal. Durham threatened, if anything more was said on the subject, to bring forward the cases of all those who had been guilty of a similar offence, and had afterwards held office. He did not say what he had to say well, for he might have exposed the cant of all this hubbub, and have asked Winchilsea, who [171] CHANGES AT THE COLONIAL OFFICE. talked of sense of duty and so forth, and that he should have done the same by his dearest friend, whether he had thought it necessary to make a similar stir when Sir George Murray was appointed Secretary of State; and, besides this argumentum ad hominem, he might have asked, whether in point of fact it was an admitted principle that those who had committed heavy offences against the laws of morality should be therefore disqualified from serving in a civil capacity. However the question is at an end, and has gone off smoothly enough all things considered.[1]

[1] [Sir George Murray had run away with Lady Louisa Erskine, whom he afterwards married. But Turton’s breach of morality was of a more serious character. Mr., or as he afterwards became Sir Thomas, Turton had been guilty of an intrigue with his sister-in-law, which led to the dissolution of his marriage. On this ground Lord Melbourne had objected to his going out to Canada with Lord Durham in a public capacity; but Lord Durham, with very bad taste, took him out in what he was pleased to call a private capacity. The public, as this was a question of morals, were slow to accept this distinction.]

After much difficulty about filling up Sir George Grey’s place at the Colonies,[2] Labouchere has very handsomely volunteered to take it, though lower in rank and pay, and far more laborious than that which he before held. They did not venture to ask him, but it was thrown out by Le Marchant that he would be the most eligible successor to Grey; when he said immediately, that if Government thought he could be of use to them and to the public, and he was satisfied the measures to be proposed would be such as he could conscientiously support, he would take the office without hesitation. They took him at his word, and he was installed instanter; had he not taken it, Ben Stanley would have gone there. These changes have so much disconcerted Stephen that he has proposed to resign, and it is still a question whether he does or not; but they will hardly let him go, [172] for his knowledge and powers of wielding the business cannot be dispensed with, particularly by two men perfectly new and inexperienced in Colonial affairs.

[2] [Sir George Grey, who had been Under Secretary for the Colonies, was made Judge Advocate and a Privy Councillor on the 1st of March, 1839. Mr. Labouchere, who had been Vice-President of the Board of Trade and Master of the Mint since 1835, very handsomely consented to take the inferior office at the Colonies. Mr. Labouchere, however, returned to the Board of Trade as President on the 29th of August, 1839. Mr. Stephen was the permanent Under Secretary for the Colonies.]

March 2nd, 1839

The whole town has been engrossed for some days with a scandalous story at Court, and although of course great exaggerations and falsehoods are grafted upon the real case, and it is not easy to ascertain what and how much is true, enough is known and indubitable, to show that it is a very discreditable transaction. It appears that Lady Flora Hastings, the Duchess of Kent’s lady, has been accused of being with child. It was at first whispered about, and at last swelled into a report, and finally into a charge. With whom it originated is not clear; but the Queen appears to have been apprised of the rumour, and so far to have entered into it as to sanction an intimation to the lady that she must not appear at Court till she could clear herself of the imputation. Medical examination was either demanded by her or submitted to, and the result was satisfactory to the virtue of the accused damsel. Then naturally exploded the just indignation of insulted honour. Her brother, Lord Hastings, came up to town, saw Melbourne, who is said to have endeavoured to smother the affair, and to have tried to persuade Lord Hastings to do so; but he was not at all so inclined, and if he had been, it was too late, as all the world had begun to talk of it, and he demanded and obtained an audience of the Queen. I abstain from noticing the various reports of what this or that person did or said, for the truth of which I could not vouch; but it is certain that the Court is plunged in shame and mortification at the exposure, that the palace is full of bickerings and heart-burnings, while the whole proceeding is looked upon by society at large as to the last degree disgusting and disgraceful. It is really an exemplification of the saying, that ‘les Rois et les Valets’ are made of the refuse clay of creation, for though such things sometimes happen in the servants’ hall, and housekeepers charge still-room and kitchen-maids with frailty, they are unprecedented and unheard of in good society, and among people in high or even in respectable stations. It is inconceivable [173] BULWER’S ‘RICHELIEU’. how Melbourne can have permitted this disgraceful and mischievous scandal, which cannot fail to lower the character of the Court in the eyes of the world. There may be objections to Melbourne’s extraordinary domiciliation in the palace; but the compensation ought to be found in his good sense and experience preventing the possibility of such transactions and tracasseries as these.[3]

[3] [I insert this passage on a painful transaction which had better be consigned to oblivion, because it contains nothing which is not to be found in the most ordinary books of reference; but I shall not enter further on this matter.]

At Court yesterday to appoint Ebrington Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland: they all looked busy and affairés, and the Queen seemed very grave.

March 8th, 1839

I went last night to the first representation of Bulwer’s play ‘Richelieu:’ a fine play, admirably got up, and very well acted by Macready, except the last scene, the conception of which was altogether bad. He turned Richelieu into an exaggerated Sixtus V., who completely lost sight of his dignity, and swaggered about the stage, taunting his foes, and hugging his friends with an exultation quite unbecoming and out of character. With this exception it was a fine performance; the success was unbounded, and the audience transported. After Macready had been called on, they found out Bulwer, who was in a small private box next the one I was in with Lady Blessington and D’Orsay, and were vociferous for his appearance to receive their applause. After a long delay, he bowed two or three times, and instantly retreated. Directly after he came into our box, looking very serious and rather agitated; while Lady Blessington burst into floods of tears at his success, which was certainly very brilliant.

March 12th, 1839

The Government have offered Canada to Lord Clarendon,[4] who is coming home to give his answer in person. They are resolved to make maison nette at the Colonial Office, and want to oust Stephen; but the publication [174] of Sir Francis Head’s extraordinary book,[5]—in which he is denounced as a Republican, and as the author of all the mischievous policy by which our Colonial possessions have been endangered, and his dismissal is loudly demanded—makes it impossible for Stephen to retire, or for Government to invite him to do so. Stephen cannot vindicate himself, except by divulging official secrets which he considers it would be a grievous breach of trust and duty to do; but he declares to me that he has abundant means of vindication in his hands if he chose to avail himself of them. The world believes that each Secretary of State (Glenelg particularly) has been a mere puppet in his office, and that it is Stephen who has moved all the strings; but the fact is, there have been three parties—Stephen, Glenelg, and the Cabinet; and though the first may have exercised a great influence over the second, it has often happened, that both have been overruled by the last, and neither Head nor anybody else can do more than conjecture what has really been the secret history of our Colonial policy. Glenelg, however, was evidently feeble, and his faculties seem to have been entirely benumbed ever since the flagellations he got from Brougham in the beginning of last session. His terror of Brougham is so intense that he would submit to any humiliation rather than again expose his back to such a merciless scourge.[6]

[4] [Sir George Villiers, then Minister at Madrid, succeeded to the title of Earl of Clarendon on the 22nd of December, 1838. He shortly afterwards resigned his diplomatic appointment in Spain and returned to England.]

[5] [Whatever credit for discretion Sir Francis Bond Head might previously have enjoyed was more than effaced by the extraordinary indiscretion of ‘A Narrative of Recent Events in Canada,’ which he published at this time.]

[6] They became great friends again at a subsequent period. Brougham has been always throwing off and whistling back his friends.

March 25th, 1839

Laid up with the gout for these ten days, in which time the only occurrences of moment have been the great (and final) debate on the Corn Laws, and the hostile vote in the House of Lords,[7] followed by John Russell’s [175] LORD NORMANBY’S IRISH ADMINISTRATION. declaration in the House of Commons, and appeal to that House from the vote of the Lords. The Corn debate was extremely long and dull, and the House more than usually clamorous and impotent. The only speech was Peel’s, said to have been exceedingly able; the division was better for the Cornites, and worse for their antagonists, than had been expected; the decision received with great indifference, and the question put on the shelf for some time.

[7] [On the 18th of March Mr. Charles Villiers’ motion for a Committee to take into consideration the duties on corn was defeated in the House of Commons by 342 to 195 votes. I know not why Mr. Greville styles it the ‘final’ debate, which it certainly was not.

On the 21st of March Lord Roden carried in the House of Lords, by a majority of five, a motion for a Committee to inquire into the state of Ireland since 1835. This motion was directed against Lord Normanby’s Administration. Shortly afterwards this motion was met by a resolution of Lord John Russell’s in the House of Commons approving the Irish policy of the Government, which was carried by 318 to 296.]

The other affair is much more interesting, because more personal, and involving the existence of the Government. There seems to have been an abundance of angry feeling and a great lack of discretion and judgement on all sides: first of all in the House of Lords thus lightly and somewhat loosely pressing this vote, and going the length of appointing a Committee; and why the Duke of Wellington consented to it is difficult to see, unless it be that his mind is a little enfeebled, and his strong sense no longer exercises the same sway. They hardly seem to have intended what they did, for they made no whip up, and Lord Wicklow went away without voting. As it was, Government had better have rested upon their old declaration, that as long as they were supported by the House of Commons they should disregard the opposition of the House of Lords; and so in fact they would have done, if the next day Normanby had not flared up so violently and insisted on resignation or reparation. At the Cabinet there was a long discussion whether they should resign or not, and the Speaker, Ellice, and others of their friends, were strongly for their taking this opportunity of retiring with all their strength, and upon a question which would have rendered it next to impossible for their successors to go on if they took their places. The result, however, was the declaration of John Russell, and their determination to try their strength in the House of Commons. If the Radicals support them they will get their usual majority [176] of from fifteen to twenty; but it does not appear that they will gain much by that, for the Lords will go on with their Committee and put Normanby on his trial without caring for the vote of the Commons.

With regard to the merits of the case, Normanby’s Government was no doubt on the whole carried on in a very good spirit; but as it was in an Irish spirit, it was of course obnoxious to the old dominant party. There is not the slightest suspicion that in his exercise of the prerogative of mercy he was ever influenced by any improper motives or showed any partiality; though Lord Wellesley said, that ‘he dramatised royalty, and made mercy appear blind instead of justice.’ But the system is of very questionable propriety, and on some occasions he probably was rather too free with it, and went a little further than in strict prudence he ought to have done. Generally speaking, however, on this point as well as on the other grounds on which he has been attacked, he has defended himself with great vigour and success. The night after the debate, he gave Brougham a heavy fall, and exposed his glaring inconsistency and falseness. Brougham is said to have appeared more annoyed and crestfallen than ever he did before. He certainly made a very poor and inefficient reply.

Nothing would be more unfortunate than a change of Government as the result of this blow aimed by the House of Lords, and under the auspices of Roden, the leader of the Orangemen. Ireland is the great strength of the present Government as it is the weak point of the Tories; and if they went out, and Peel came in upon Ireland, and the principle on which he should govern that country, he would never keep his place, and nobody could tell what troubles might not ensue. It is Peel’s interest that Irish questions should assume such a shape, and make such a progress, before he returns to office, as should render their final adjustment inevitable. If things were left alone, and time and the hour permitted us to run through the present rough days, it would be impossible to prevent great changes taking place before long. The country is beset with difficulties on all sides, if [177] WEAKNESS OF THE GOVERNMENT. not with danger; besides the ever rankling thorn of Ireland, there are the Chartists and the Anti-Corn Law agitators, to say nothing of minor reformers in England, and the whole of our Colonial Empire in a most unsettled, precarious, and difficult state, requiring the utmost wisdom and firmness in dealing with Colonial interests, and our relations with America demanding firmness, temper, and sagacity. But, while the country has thus urgent need of all the ability and experience which can be enlisted in her service, from the curious position of parties in the House of Commons, and the mode in which power is distributed, we have at once a Government miserably weak, unable to exercise a will of its own, bolstered up by the interested and uncertain support of men more inimical than friendly to them; while the most distinguished statesmen and the men who are admitted to be the fittest to govern, are effectually excluded from office. While we have a Cabinet in which there is not one man who inspires confidence, and in which, with the exception perhaps of John Russell (who is broken in health and spirits), there is not one deserving to be called a statesman,—to this Cabinet is committed the awful task of solving the many difficult questions of domestic, colonial, and foreign policy which surround and press upon us; while the Duke of Wellington and Peel are compelled ‘to stand like ciphers in the great account.’ The great characteristic of the present time is indifference: nobody appears to care for anything; nobody cares for the Queen, her popularity has sunk to zero, and loyalty is a dead letter; nobody cares for the Government, or for any man or set of men. If there was such a thing as a strong public opinion alive to national interests, intent upon national objects, and deeply sensible to the necessity of calling to the national councils all the wisdom and experience that the crisis demands, its voice would be heard, the two parties would cease to hold each other at bay, there would be either a great change or a fusion in some reasonable spirit of compromise, and we should see a Government with some energy, independence and power, and this is what we want. But Melbourne seems to hold office for no other purpose but that [178] of dining at Buckingham House, and he is content to rub on from day to day, letting all things take their chance. Palmerston, the most enigmatical of Ministers, who is detested by the Corps Diplomatique, abhorred in his own office, unpopular in the House of Commons, liked by nobody, abused by everybody, still reigns in his little kingdom of the Foreign Office, and is impervious to any sense of shame from the obloquy that has been cast upon him, and apparently not troubling himself about the affairs of the Government generally, which he leaves to others to defend and uphold as they best may. The only man besides John Russell in the Cabinet who stands high in estimation is Morpeth, and it is remarkable that in this Government the young ones or subordinates are its chief strength. Morpeth, Labouchere, George Grey, and Francis Baring are better men than almost any in the Cabinet, which is certainly the most second-rate one this country ever saw.

March 28th, 1839

It is amusing to see the nervous consciousness on both the Tory and the Whig side of blunders having been committed by each in this demonstration of the Lords and retort of the Government. The Chancellor of the Exchequer came into my room yesterday, and told me that Lord Spencer had expressed his strenuous approbation of the course they had taken, just the right medium, neither too much nor too little; and this sanction he seemed to think very valuable, though in fact worth nothing, for Lord Spencer lives among oxen, and not among men. On the other hand, I met Graham, and said to him, ‘A pretty scrape you would have been in if Government had resigned upon this vote.’ He shrugged up his shoulders and said, ‘I own I am better pleased as it is.’ No great party should do things by halves and doubtingly: if the leaders thought the case was so grave as to call for the interference of the House, and that they were justified in taking this matter into their own hands, they ought to have brought down all their forces, and have given their vote all the authority it would derive from an imposing majority. No maxim is more clearly understood than that any party having generally a large majority, and [179] DEFECTION OF THE MORNING CHRONICLE. only carrying some particular question by a very small one, suffers something like a defeat, because it implies that they have not the concurrence on such question of many of their usual supporters. This was, therefore, a false move one way or the other. The Government, however, have no doubt of carrying their point by as large a majority as they ever can have.

They are in a great rage, and in no small dismay at the same time, at the conduct of the ‘Morning Chronicle,’ which has turned half against them in a most extraordinary manner, that is, it is urging the Radicals to seize this opportunity of compelling the Government to go their lengths, and to make such compliance the condition of their support. Government are so indignant that they want to break off with the ‘Chronicle’ altogether; but then they will be left in the awkward predicament of having no morning paper whatever in their service. What nettles them the more is, that they made the ‘Chronicle’ what it is, and raised it by their exertions from the lowest ebb to its present very good circulation. Just before Peel’s hundred days it was for sale, and had then fallen to about a thousand a day. Easthope was persuaded by Ellice to buy it, which he did for 15,000ℓ. or 20,000ℓ. The Whigs set to work, and Hobhouse, Normanby, Poulett Thomson, Le Marchant, and several others, wrote day after day a succession of good articles which soon renovated the paper and set it on its legs. The circulation increased daily till it got up to three thousand, and now it has reached six thousand. Easthope makes a clear 10,000ℓ. a year by the speculation; but now, seeing (or thinking he sees) greater advantages to be got by floating down the Radical stream than by assisting in the defence of this Government, he forgets past favours and connexion, and is ready to abandon them to their fate. It is rather an ominous sign and marks strongly their falling estimation. They think it is Durham who has got hold of Easthope, and persuades him to take this course. He declares he is so beset with applications, advice, and threats, that he has no alternative, and must take the line he does, or ruin the sale of his paper.

Newmarket, March 29th, 1839

[180] Poor De Ros[8] expired last night soon after twelve, after a confinement of two or three months from the time he returned to England. His end was enviably tranquil, and he bore his protracted sufferings (more from oppression and annoyance than acute pain) with astonishing fortitude and composure. Nothing ruffled his temper or disturbed his serenity. His faculties were unclouded, his memory retentive, his perceptions clear to the last; no murmur of impatience ever escaped him, no querulous word, no ebullition of anger or peevishness; he was uniformly patient, mild, indulgent, deeply sensible of kindness and attention, exacting nothing, considerate of others and apparently regardless of self, overflowing with affection and kindness of manner and language to all around him, and exerting all his moral and intellectual energies with a spirit and resolution that never flagged till within a few hours of his dissolution, when nature gave way and he sank into a tranquil unconsciousness in which life gently ebbed away. Whatever may have been the error of his life, he closed the scene with a philosophical dignity not unworthy of a sage, and with a serenity and sweetness of disposition of which Christianity itself could afford no more shining or delightful example. In him I have lost (half lost before) the last and greatest of the friends of my youth, and I am left a more solitary and a sadder man.

[8] [Henry William, 19th Baron de Ros, born 12th June 1792; died 29th March 1839.]

London, April 6th, 1839

I saw X. at Newmarket, and had a long conversation with him, in which he gave me an account of the state of affairs. The Government is at its last gasp; the result of the debate next week may possibly prolong its existence, as a cordial does that of a dying man, but it cannot go on. They are disunited, dissatisfied, and disgusted in the Cabinet—Lord John himself deeply so—considerably alarmed at the state of affairs, resolutely bent upon making no further concessions to Radicalism, and no sacrifices for mere party purposes. There is a violent faction in the Cabinet and in the Government, who are indignant [181] LORD JOHN RUSSELL’S FINALITY. with him for his finality speech last year, to which they ascribe the ruin of their cause, and Duncannon at the time, or soon after, abused him openly and loudly for it. This reached Lord John’s ears, who complained of such conduct, and the more because he had summoned a special Cabinet for the purpose of announcing that it was his intention to make this declaration, therefore they were all apprised of it, whereas Duncannon had asserted that he did it without the knowledge of his colleagues. It turned out in the course of the explanation that Duncannon had been laid up at the time, and was not present at this Cabinet, but he could hardly have been ignorant of such an important circumstance, and this shows the animus there was among some of them. The principal object of the more radically-inclined was to let Ballot be an open question, and to this Melbourne had been persuaded to consent, though no doubt quite contrary to his own wishes and opinions. But Melbourne has no strong convictions or opinions founded on political principles deeply engraven on his mind; he is easy, insouciant, persuadable, averse to disputes, and preferring to sacrifice his own convictions to the pertinacity and violence of others, rather than manfully and consistently defend and maintain them; still he looks up to John Russell and defers to him more than to any of his colleagues, both on account of his respect for his character and the station he holds as leader of the House of Commons; and when any struggle occurs, and he must side with one or the other party, he goes with Lord John, and accordingly Ballot was not made an open question.

What Lord John says is this: That when the Reform Bill was introduced, the extent and sweeping character of the measure were hateful and alarming to many members of the Cabinet and supporters of the Government; that the ground on which he urged the adoption of the measure was the expediency of leaving nothing for future agitation, and of giving the country a measure so ample and satisfactory that it might and ought to be final. To this argument many who dreaded its consequences ended by yielding, though reluctantly, and he considers himself, therefore, [182] bound in honour to resist any further changes, and to take his stand where we now are. Besides this he now (as I gather) is seriously alarmed at the state of the country, and deeply impressed with the necessity of opposing all the Radical measures and propositions, which he considers parts of a great system, and a comprehensive scheme of a revolutionary character. Then he is disgusted and mortified at the treatment he has personally experienced both in and out of the House of Commons, and at the clamour and abuse of which he has been the object on account of the firm determination he has evinced to go no further; and this clamour has not been confined to the regular avowed Radicals or the organs of their opinions, but there are old self-styled Whigs—his uncle, Lord William, for example—and others, who are groaning over his obstinacy as they deem it, and attributing to it the ruin of their party; all this superadded to his broken spirits[9] makes him heartily sick of his position; and, seeing the unpopularity and weakness of the Government, denuded of all sympathy and support, and left to be buffeted by the Tories on one side and the Radicals on the other, he is aware, and not sorry to be aware, that the last act is at hand. Of this approaching catastrophe probably all the others are as well aware as himself, but there are some among them who earnestly desire that it should be so brought about as to make it next to impossible for those who may succeed them to carry on the Government. This, however, is not the object of Lord John Russell, who, on the contrary, desires that the next Government may be so formed and so conducted as to enable him to support it, and to bring with him such strength in its aid as may place it beyond the reach of danger. Whether they get a majority or not on the 15th, he knows that they cannot go on much longer. The Queen will do whatever Melbourne advises her, and he will advise her to send for the Duke of Wellington, who, in his turn, [183] LORD JOHN’S FRIENDLINESS TO PEEL. will desire her to send for Peel. Whether or no any attempt would be made towards a coalition, or a wide comprehension, on the formation of the Government, nothing would induce Lord John to take office, but he would be desirous of supporting Peel’s Government, if he could with honour, and if the circumstances attending the change should render it possible for him as well as for others disposed to follow his course, to do so. He thinks that it is of great consequence that there should be no dissolution, which would throw the country into a ferment, lead to violent manifestations and declarations, and to many people being obliged to pledge themselves to measures of a dangerous tendency. He wishes, therefore, to place Peel in such a situation as shall exonerate him from the necessity of a dissolution, by giving him a fair general though independent support; but the power to do this depends much upon the temper that is displayed, and upon the mode in which the change is effected; for if the Tories cannot be restrained from the exhibition of an insulting and triumphant demeanour, the exasperation and desire of revenge in the discomfited party will be too great and general to admit of his aiding the new Government with an imposing force, and he is therefore solicitous that prudence and moderation should govern the Conservative councils. I asked X. whether he thought that there were many others likely to take this view and to follow Lord John’s example and advice, and he said that there were.

[9] [Adelaide, daughter of Thomas Lister, Esquire, and widow of the second Lord Ribblesdale, was the first wife of Lord John Russell: she died on the 1st November 1838, to the great grief of the Minister.]

All this, which is a brief abstract of our two conversations, appeared to me of so much importance, and, above all, that it is so desirable that the sentiments of the Whig leader should be made known to the future Minister, that I asked X. whether there would be any objection to my making known as much as it was desirable to impart of our conversation without committing anybody, and carefully abstaining from giving what I might say the air of a communication between parties in any shape or way. He said that it certainly might be very useful that there should be some such knowledge of these sentiments conveyed to the proper [184] quarter, but he did not think the time was yet come, and that for the present I had better say nothing; to which I replied that, as it might have an important effect upon their deliberations which would be held previously to the debate on the 15th, and upon the conduct of Peel and his party on that occasion, I thought that the sooner the communication took place the better, as there could be no doubt that the temper displayed and the conduct pursued by the different parties on that occasion would have a very material effect upon all future arrangements, and upon the condition, prospects, and necessities of the new administration. I told X. that there was nothing I had such a horror of as repeating things from one party to another, of retailing political gossip, and of the appearance of worming myself into the confidence of individuals of one side, and then betraying it to those of another; that I would not therefore make the slightest use of what he had told me without his entire permission, and whatever I might say, I should faithfully report to him. He, who knows me, was quite satisfied; but others might not be. Then I have the greatest doubt to whom I should speak. The only individuals I can think of are the Duke, Fitzgerald, Graham, Wharncliffe, or Peel himself. Peel himself would be the most direct, but he is so cold, dry, and unsatisfactory, I know not how he would take it, and he would very likely suspect me of some design, some arrière pensée, some purpose of founding on this service a title to his intimacy, or his patronage and assistance—in short, some selfish, personal object. Whereas I hope and believe that I am not actuated by any puerile vanity in this matter, or the ambition of acting a part, however humble and subordinate, but that I have no object but to render my personal position instrumental to a great and good purpose.

April 7th, 1839

I sent for Clarendon, and consulted him what I should do. He advised me to speak to Peel at once, but first to ascertain whether John Russell certainly remained in the same mind, because Ben Stanley reports to the Cabinet that they will have so certain a majority that their drooping spirits have been rather raised, and it will [185] IMPORTANT COMMUNICATION TO GRAHAM. never do for me to run the risk of deceiving Peel in any way. I shall do nothing for the present, but turn it in my mind. There is a moral or religious precept of oriental origin which is applicable to politics as well as to morals and religion, and which should, I think, be ever present to the mind: ‘When you are in doubt whether an action is good or bad, abstain from it.’ I believe this is the safest and wisest maxim with reference to sayings and doings: if you have serious doubts whether it is advisable to do a particular thing, or to say a particular thing, neither do, nor say; do nothing, say nothing. Of course, if you must do or say something, and the only choice is what, it is another thing. I believe, when the mind is disturbed and is oscillating with doubts of this kind, it is that vanity is whispering at one ear and prudence at the other; but then prudence almost always takes the deaf ear, and so vanity persuades.

April 10th, 1839

I wrote to X. on Saturday last, and said that what I heard here of the confidence of Government about their majority made me hesitate about saying anything for fear Lord John should not be in the same mind. He replied that he had no reason to believe he had changed his mind, but that it might be better to say nothing for the present. I had therefore resolved to say nothing, but on Monday John Russell announced the terms of his motion,[10] and Peel gave notice that on Friday he would give out his amendment; therefore, if anything was to be done (as they were thus coming to close quarters), no time was to be lost; and accordingly, after much reflexion, I resolved to speak to Graham, with whom old intimacy enabled me to converse more freely than I could with Peel, whose coldness and reserve, and the doubt how he would take my communication, would certainly have embarrassed me. I called on Graham yesterday, and had a conversation of two hours with him. He began by saying that he could hold no communication with me upon any political subject without telling me that he should feel bound to impart everything to [186] Peel, and I replied that such was my intention. I then told him, without mentioning names, or giving any authority, the reason I had for speaking to him, and the conviction in my own mind that there would be found (in the event of a change of Government) a disposition on the part of John Russell and others of the moderate Whigs to support Peel. I told him that I thought it of such vital importance that such a disposition should be fostered, and not checked or suppressed by any violence in the conduct or language of his party, such as might render it impossible for them to give that support hereafter; that I had resolved to make known to him, for his consideration and that of Peel, this my conviction; at the same time, he must fully understand, I had no authority for saying so, that I might be mistaken, and he must take it for just what he judged it to be worth. I went more at length into the subject, conveying to him much of the information which had been imparted to me.

[10] [This was the motion approving the Irish policy of the Government, above referred to.]

He replied that he was fully aware of the great importance of this communication, and did not doubt that I had very solid grounds for what I said; but at the same time he thought the motion of which John Russell had given notice was in itself a measure of such a violent character that it was inconsistent with the moderation which I ascribed to him, and he feared that, in the event of a change, he might be persuaded to put himself at the head of the Whigs and Radicals, and acquiesce for party purposes in those movement measures to which he was certainly not personally inclined; that as for himself, and Stanley also, they had old feelings of regard, and friendship for Lord John, which would always influence them; and that he had recently had a sort of reconciliation with him (the circumstance of which he detailed), after an alienation on account of his attack upon Lord John in his speech at Glasgow; but that Peel had no such amicable feelings towards him, and thought he had got him at a great disadvantage on the present occasion; that their amendment would be moderate in terms; but they intended to be very strong in debate, and it was a good deal to ask of them to emasculate their speeches for the prospective [187] NEGOTIATION WITH GRAHAM AND PEEL. but uncertain advantage of Lord John’s future support. ‘You say,’ he continued, ‘that you are convinced, on what you deem good and certain ground, that John Russell is disposed to resist the movement, and, in order to do so, to support Peel, if he comes in; and you ask us to place such confidence in this impression of yours, as to shape our conduct in conformity with it. You ask us to adopt a tone so moderate as to give no offence to John Russell, a lower tone than would be naturally expected from us by our friends, who will, and can, know nothing of our reasons for foregoing the advantage which seems to be in our power, and for treating our opponents with such extraordinary and unaccountable lenity and forbearance. This is asking a great deal.’ I owned that it was; but I urged that the paramount importance of winning over the Whig leader, and a part of the Whig party, to a decided opposition to the movement, and the prospect it held out of separating the Whigs from the Radicals, fully justified the sacrifice of any such advantage as that to which he alluded. He said that, ‘supposing such were the views and feelings of John Russell himself, he doubted whether the great Whig families would follow him. He thought the Dukes of Sutherland, Devonshire, Bedford, and others, would throw their influence into the opposite scale, and that the majority of the Whigs would follow Morpeth, who, he believed, was prepared to go any lengths.’ I replied, that this might be so; that I could only speak of what I knew; that it had occurred to me to enquire whether he was likely to be followed by many others, and that to the question I had thus put, the answer had been ‘yes;’ but that I could not pretend to say I knew of any certain instances of support to be expected, though my own belief was, that they would not be wanting. After a long conversation, in which we discussed the state and aspect of affairs in all their bearings, he ended by saying, that what I had said to him had made a great impression upon him, and that he should consider what it would be most advisable to do. He thanked me for the confidence I had reposed in him, and appreciated my motives; he should communicate with Peel [188] about it, but whether he should mention what I had said to him as the impression of his own mind only, or whether he should tell him upon what authority it rested (upon mine), he should hereafter determine. I told him I had rather avoid, but had no objection, if necessary, to have my name brought forward, and, above all things, he must understand and convey to Peel that I had no authority for what I had said, that nobody must be in the slightest degree committed, that my impressions might be mistaken and erroneous, and the event might not correspond with them; but that, such as they were, I had frankly communicated them to him in hopes that the communication might have a salutary effect.

April 13th, 1839

On Thursday morning I saw Graham again. He had spoken to Peel, and told him exactly what I intended him to say, neither more nor less, giving it as given to him by a friend of his own. Peel was not disposed to attach much weight to the communication, and finding how lightly he regarded it, he thought it necessary to inform him that it came from me. The mention of my name (he said) did make a considerable impression on Peel, though much less than the matter had made on Stanley and himself; the former eagerly grasping at the prospect it held out, and believing implicitly in Lord John’s disposition. Still Peel was shaken, but at the same time he was excessively annoyed and put out by it. This (which appeared extraordinary enough) Graham accounted for in this way: that Peel had arranged the whole course of his conduct and the tenour of his speech in his own mind; he thought he had got Lord John at a great disadvantage, and that the debate would afford him the opportunity of a signal triumph; and the notion of being obliged to forego this advantage and triumph, and the perplexity into which he was thrown between doubt whether it really was worth while, and fear of sacrificing a great and permanent, to an accidental and ephemeral interest, threw him into an uncertainty and embarrassment which disturbed his equanimity. It is at all events fortunate that I did not go to him myself, for I should have been met with a cold austerity of manner which would have disconcerted me, and [189] COLD RECEPTION BY PEEL. I should have most certainly quitted him mortified and disappointed, and without having effected any good.

Peel said to Graham that he should express no opinion, make no promise, and would not say whether or how his conduct would be affected by what he had heard. I replied on this, that I did not desire or expect that he should, and that my object was attained when he was made aware of what I knew. I repeated that I had no authority, and he must attach as much or as little importance to my opinion as he thought it was worth. Graham said that, notwithstanding his annoyance, he was in fact fully sensible of the importance of the circumstances, and that he would look with the greatest solicitude for what fell from John Russell himself, considering that his speech would afford the test of the correctness of my impressions, and that if the tenour of that speech confirmed them, their speeches would be of a corresponding character; that he might defend the policy of the Government, and the administration of Ireland, as strenuously as he pleased; but if he attacked the House of Lords, or truckled to the Radicals, they must give a vent to the indignant feelings that such conduct would inevitably excite, and it would be impossible for them to satisfy their followers by a mere milk-and-water debate, and by abstaining from the use of their weapons when the other side were unscrupulous in the use of theirs. I said I did not desire that they should go into action with their swords in their scabbards, while their enemies were to have theirs drawn; that I admitted that this opening speech might be considered a fair test, and that all I desired was, that if they could be moderate they would, and always keep in sight the motives for moderation. This, he assured me, I might depend upon. Peel thinks the motion itself so violent, that it announces violent dispositions; and he says it is moving the Appropriation Clause over again.[11] The only individual to whom [190] all this has been communicated, besides Peel and Stanley, is Arbuthnot, for the purpose of being conveyed to the Duke of Wellington, but without any mention of my name.

[11] [The terms of Lord John’s resolution were these: ‘That it is the opinion of this House that it is expedient to persevere in those principles which have guided the Executive Government of Ireland of late years, and which have tended to the effectual administration of the law and the general improvement of that part of the Kingdom.’ It is difficult to perceive any violence in this language.]

Yesterday I had a long letter from X., to whom I wrote an account of my interview with Graham, approving of what I had done, and I wrote Graham a note saying as much (but not mentioning X.’s name, as I have never done). This he considered of such importance that he showed it to Peel, and he told me that Peel was greatly more sensible of the value of the information, and more disposed to shape his conduct accordingly. He said to Stanley, ‘Why, I must go down to the House of Commons with two speeches.’

April 21st, 1839

At Newmarket all last week, and having heard from nobody, could judge of the debate only from reading the report. Lord John’s speech was admirable, and so skilful, that it satisfied his friends, his foes, and did not dissatisfy the Radicals. Peel was flat and laboured, and did not satisfy his own people, all of which may be attributed to the necessity he was under of making speech number two. The rest of the debate was very moderate, but the Government had an excellent case, nothing being proved against them; and the facts on which the Opposition relied being all explained or rebutted satisfactorily. The division was better, too, than they expected, and some accidents told in their favour; for example, a stupid Tory (Goddard), who was besieged with letters and notes to be present at the division, turned sulky and restive in consequence, and voted with the Government, much to the delight of the Ministerial, and the rage of the Opposition whippers-in, though to the amusement of both. But the moderation, which it was my object to enforce, was manifested on both sides, and nothing fell from John Russell offensive in a constitutional or even in a party sense, and the Opposition leader abstained from attacking him, with a forbearance which, if calculated, was very consistently maintained. Satisfactorily, however, as the whole thing appears to have terminated for the Government, they [191] MODERATION OF THE DEBATE. do not consider it to have given them any permanent strength, or the prospect of a longer tenure of office; for the Radicals, while one and all supported them on this Irish vote, were not sparing of menace and invective, and plainly indicated that, unless concessions were speedily made for them, the Government should lose their support; and consequently, there are many who are hoping and expecting, and many more who are desiring, that concessions should be made, and by these means that the Government concern should be again bolstered up. Some of the Cabinet, more of the subordinates and hangers-on, and many of what are called the old Whigs, are earnestly pressing this, and they are very angry and very sorrowful because John Russell is inflexible on this point. He has to sustain the assaults, not only of the violent of his party, and of Ellice and the out-of-door advisers, monitors and critics, but of his own family, even of his father, who, after announcing that he had given up politics and quitted the stage, has been dragged forward and induced to try his parental rhetoric upon the conservative immobility of his son. To the letter which the Duke wrote him, Lord John merely replied that ‘he would shortly see his opinions in print;’ and to Ellice’s warm remonstrances and entreaties he only dryly said, ‘I have made up my mind.’ His nephew, Lord Russell,[12] who, from some extraordinary crotchet, has thought fit to embrace republican opinions, and is an ultra-movement man, but restrained in the manifestation of his opinions from personal deference to his father and his uncle, with whom he lives on excellent terms—said the other day to Lord Tavistock, ‘Lord John has undertaken a great task; he is endeavouring to arrest the progress of the movement, and if he succeeds he will be a very great man. He may succeed, and if he does it will be a great achievement.’ This Lord Tavistock told Lord John, who replied that ‘he was convinced of the danger which threatened the country from the movement, and of the necessity of opposing its progress; that he considered this duty paramount to [192] all other considerations. He did not desire the dissolution of the Government to which he belonged; on the contrary, he wished to remain in office; but nevertheless he considered the promotion of party objects and the retention of office subordinate to the higher and more imperative duty of opposing principles fraught with danger to the State, and to that end he would devote his best energies.’ (It is impossible to give the exact words, and these are not the words, but it is the exact sense of what he said.)

[12] [William Russell, afterwards eighth Duke of Bedford, born 30th June 1809, died May 1872.]

April 22nd, 1839

The moderate Radicals are now very anxious to come to some amicable understanding with the Government, and, if possible, to prop up the concern. They are very angry with their more violent compeers (Grote, Leader, &c.), and Fonblanque told me last night that they would take the slightest concessions, the least thing that would satisfy their constituencies, but that something they must have, and that something he appeared to think they should get. I asked him what was the minimum of concession that would do, and he said the rate-paying clauses, which would be merely working out the original principle, the demolition of the boroughs under 300 electors, and Ballot an open question. I told him that I was persuaded these things were impossible; that Lord John Russell never would consent to begin again the work of disfranchisement, nor to make Ballot an open question; that he is alarmed, and determined to stop. Clarendon had told me much the same thing in the morning on the authority of his brother Charles,[13] who is a very leading man, and much looked to among them, probably (besides that he really is very clever) on account of that aristocratic origin and connexion which he himself affects to despise, and to consider prejudicial to him. Of course this anxiety on the part of the moderate Radicals to come to terms will increase the eagerness of the violent Whigs to strike a bargain; but Lord John will continue, I believe, to forbid the banns. These things would only be wedges, no sooner conceded than fresh demands [193] THE RADICALS AND THE WHIGS. would be raised upon them; besides, they never could, without abandoning every principle of independence and losing all sense of honour, yield to contumely, menace and the most insulting language, what they have so long and pertinaciously refused to milder appeals and all the means of persuasion and remonstrance. The great body of the Conservatives certainly, and I believe the whole country, will make no distinction between different sections and shades of Radicals, but consider every concession made to one as made to all, and the consequence would be fresh taunts against the Government for being made of such squeezable materials, without its prolonging their Ministerial existence for a very long period. It would, however, prevent the split between the great masses of Whigs and Radicals, and secure a formidable Opposition, together with union at the election whenever it took place. Fonblanque told me that if the Government was broken up by the desertion of the Radicals, the latter would lose all their seats at the next election, for they are scarcely anywhere strong enough to come in without the assistance of the Whigs.

[13] [Right Hon. Charles Pelham Villiers, born 19th January 1802, M.P. for Wolverhampton for very many years.]

April 24th, 1839

Graham called yesterday to ask how my friends were satisfied with their speeches, and to say that they had been entirely so with Lord John’s, and, in consequence, able to express themselves with the reserve and moderation which they had displayed. I told him it had all done very well, plenty of moderation on both sides, and I hoped good had been done. He said that Peel was still suspicious about Lord John, whom he did not know personally as he and Stanley did, and therefore could not bring himself to put the same confidence in the sincerity and integrity of his intentions. Confound the fellow, what a cold feeler and cautious stepper he is! Strange that the two leaders should make themselves so personally obnoxious as they do by their manners and behaviour. Nevertheless John Russell, though frigid and forbidding to strangers, is a more amiable man with his friends; but the other has no friends. I have more than once remonstrated on the impolicy of Lord John’s carelessness in his treatment of people, [194] and I had an instance of the mischief it does the other day. Sheil told me at Brooks’s that one of his Irish members (Macnamara) was close to Lord John in the House, and looked at him in vain for a sign of recognition. Lord John stared, but made no sign; the affronted Milesian frothed up instantly and said, ‘Confound him, I’ll vote against him.’ They pacified him so far as his vote was concerned; but Sheil naturally enough observed that it was a very unwise thing to neglect people’s little vanities and self-love so wantonly and carelessly.

April 30th, 1839

Le Marchant told me yesterday that there is a great change come over the spirit of the Reformers, and undoubted evidence of a reaction. Joe Parkes, who recently went on a tour through the country, and who, before he went, in an interview with Ben Stanley, Gore, Anson, and Le Marchant, was full of menace and big words about the necessity of concession and the strength of the movement, returned quite crestfallen, and has since confessed that he found matters no longer in the same state, and a general lukewarmness, in many cases an aversion to the movement. Le Marchant has since been in communication with the editors of the ‘Sun’ and of the ‘Daily Advertiser,’ both of whom are engaging themselves in the service of Government, and they have owned the same thing, that in the districts in which the Chartists have appeared, their excesses have produced a regular reaction and aversion to reform, and elsewhere that reasonable people, without giving up their principles, are satisfied that the moment is not come for enforcing them, and are for leaving things alone. This information, which appears worthy of credit, is very important as regards the condition of the country, and if it is acted upon by the Radicals in the House of Commons, may still prolong the existence of the Government. Nobody can well make out what Peel is at with his Jamaica amendment, and though he says it is no party question, they are whipping up in all directions to fight another battle.

May 2nd, 1839

The Duke of Newcastle has been dismissed from the Lieutenancy of Nottinghamshire, as he ought to [195] DISMISSAL OF THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE. have been long ago. I met the Duke of Wellington at the Ancient Concert, and asked him the reason, which he told me in these words: ‘Oh, there never was such a fool as he is; the Government have done quite right, quite right, they could not do otherwise.’ There was a correspondence between him and the Chancellor about the appointment of some magistrates: he recommended two gentlemen of Derbyshire as magistrates of Nottinghamshire, and the Chancellor told him he meant to appoint likewise two others, one of whom was a Mr. Paget. The Duke replied that he objected to Mr. Paget—first, because he was a man of violent political opinions; and, secondly, because he was a Dissenter. The Chancellor told him that Mr. Paget was not a man of violent political opinions, and as to his being a Dissenter, he considered that no objection, and that he should therefore appoint him, together with the gentlemen recommended by the Duke. The Duke wrote a most violent answer, in which he said that his lordship had the power of making this appointment if he chose to do so, and if he did, he would have the satisfaction of knowing that he had done very wrong, and he informed him that for the future he should hold no confidential communication with him. The Chancellor (the Duke of Wellington said) behaved in the most gentlemanlike manner possible; nobody could behave better. He sent to the Duke of Newcastle to say that he must be aware, on reflexion, that he ought not to have written such a letter, and he would therefore return it to him, that he might, if he pleased, put it in the fire, and let it be considered as not having been written at all. The Duke replied that he had no objection to withdraw the letter, provided the Chancellor would cancel the appointment. Upon this, Lord John Russell wrote him word that ‘Her Majesty had no further occasion for his services as Lord Lieutenant and Custos Rotulorum of the county of Notts.’ Yesterday morning the Duke of Newcastle went to Apsley House, and said to the Duke of Wellington, ‘You have heard what has happened to me?’ ‘Not I,’ said the Duke, ‘I have heard nothing;’ and then the Duke of Newcastle [196] gave him Lord John’s letter to read. ‘Well,’ said he, ‘but there is a correspondence alluded to in this letter: where is it?’ and then the Duke of Newcastle put into his hands the correspondence with the Chancellor. As soon as the Duke of Wellington had read it, he said, ‘They could not do otherwise; no Government could be carried on if such a letter as this was submitted to.’ ‘What shall I do?’ said the Duke of Newcastle. ‘Do?’ said the Duke: ‘Do nothing.’

May 5th, 1939

Lord John Russell’s letter to the electors of Stroud[14] came out late on Friday evening, and three editions were sold of it yesterday, and not a copy to be had. It is very sound and temperate, will be a bitter pill to the Radicals, and a source of vexation to his own people, but will be hailed with exceeding satisfaction by all moderate and really conservative men of whatever party. I saw Graham yesterday morning, who owned that it had fully answered all the expectations held out by me as to his intentions and opinions.

[14] [This letter appeared in the form of a pamphlet in which Lord John Russell fearlessly stated his moderate Whig opinions to the great disgust of the Radical party.]

The Jamaica Bill is about to produce a fresh crisis much more difficult to get over than the last, and it puzzles me to make out why Peel has chosen this ground on which to fight a great and possibly a decisive battle.[15] The Government, it [197] JAMAICA BILL. is true, have placed themselves by their measure in a false position, because on their own reasoning their Bill does not go far enough, and ought to have extended to the dissolution instead of merely to the suspension of the Assembly, and this was what the Colonial Office authorities recommended. In a paper drawn up by Henry Taylor for the use of the Cabinet, he set forth the incompatibility of the present assembly with the new order of things, and exposed the absurdity of a system falsely called representative; but they did not venture to take so decided a step, and preferred a half measure, which dissatisfies everybody, and which would only defer the difficulty and embarrassment of a final settlement. Still, having adopted this course, and determined to deal with the Colony upon their own responsibility, I cannot understand why Peel did not let them alone. There was no popularity to be gained by taking this course; the country does not care a straw for the constitution of Jamaica, the anti-slavery feeling is all against the Assembly, and nobody will believe that the Tories are animated by any high constitutional scruples, or that they care about the question except as one on which they can fight a battle. Peel (Graham said) ‘offered his plan in the sincere hope and expectation that Government would accept it.’ Perhaps it may be of the two preferable (though there is a serious objection to it, in the lapse of time that would occur before anything could be done), but the Government cannot come down to Parliament with proposals for administering colonial affairs in such a manner as they deem necessary and expedient, and then at the bidding or suggestion of Sir Robert Peel, adopt another plan of which, while he would be the author, they must be the responsible executors. This would not be governing, but handing over the Government to their opponents. If Peel really was of opinion that this Bill was [198] so unwise and inexpedient, that no considerations of a general nature would justify him in consenting to it, or in not opposing it, he was right to take the course he has done; but not otherwise; for, as the Bill can only be carried, if at all, by a small majority, it will go out to Jamaica with diminished moral effect, and it was above all things desirable that an Act so penal should be invested with all the authority derivable from unanimity, or at least the concurrence of an overwhelming majority. Now this is the consideration of which the importance is admitted by both sides, and it might have afforded Peel a good reason for giving way to the Government, when he found they would not give way to him. As it is, the Bill will go up to the Lords with the usual majority, and the Lords will have to determine upon a course full of important consequences. If they throw it out, it seems to me that Ministers must resign, and no question could be devised on which they could resign so advantageously for their own interests as a party, none of which would be less popular for their opponents, and which would afford so good an occasion and such great facilities for keeping together the Whigs and Radicals in a firm and consentient opposition. The great object of Peel’s policy appears to have been to avoid returning to office until he could do so in such strength as to be able to carry on the Government with security, and it was my belief that he never would return until he had some sort of guarantee that this would be in his power. The great desideratum, therefore, of all moderate men, was the dissolution of the connexion between the Whigs and Radicals, and the ultimate establishment of a Government upon the anti-movement principle, and it was with reference to this paramount object that I was so desirous of getting Peel’s course shaped so as to harmonise with John Russell’s sentiments and conduct. But if the Government resign upon this Jamaica question, all this fine plan will be defeated. Great are the effects of party rancour, and if the battle is fought on merely party grounds, and the Lords are to be the instruments of achieving the victory, the Whigs and Radicals will forget their [199] THE CABINET RESIGNS. present bickerings and mutual topics of grievance and discontent, and bury their animosities in a common determination to resist and defeat their political antagonists. With the majority against him unbroken in the Commons, but without an option as to taking or refusing office if tendered to him (because he would have himself compelled the Government to resign), Peel must dissolve, and he would encounter the election with the whole antagonist force united against him, aided by the anti-slavery feeling together with all the jealousy that could be excited against the predominance of the House of Lords. Suppose the general election were to give him a very large majority, even then the great opportunity of separating the Whigs and Radicals would have been lost, and there is every reason to believe that when there is to be a fair fight for power, the Whigs will not be nice as to the banners that are displayed in their front, and that the majority of them will agree to many things of which they do not approve, rather than mar combinations instrumental to the overthrow of the Tory party, and their own restoration to power.

[15] [On the 6th May, Lord John Russell proposed in the House of Commons to suspend the Constitution of Jamaica for five years, because the Assembly of that Island had refused to adopt the Prisons Act passed by the Imperial Legislature. A division was taken on the question, that ‘the Speaker do now leave the Chair,’ and the Government had a majority of five in a House of 583. Upon this grave consequences ensued. Mr. Henry Taylor argued, in the paper he submitted to the Cabinet on this question, that in the existing state of society in the West Indies, the forms of Constitutional Government could only lead to the oppression of the blacks by the whites, or of the whites by the blacks, and that the inveterate feelings by which the Colonists were divided would lead to measures of oppression, and in the end would break out into acts of violence. He therefore proposed the abolition of the Assemblies and the substitution of Legislatures based on the model of those existing in the Crown Colonies. This scheme was approved by Lord Melbourne and by Lord Howick, but it was feebly supported by Lord Glenelg and rejected by the Cabinet. Lord John Russell then brought forward the half-measure on which the division was taken. In the opinion of Mr. Henry Taylor this decision led to twenty-six years of misgovernment in the Colonies, and at length to the outbreak of the negroes in Jamaica in October 1865, which was only suppressed by the energy of Governor Eyre. Government by the Crown, which the Colonial Department had vainly advocated in 1839, was established in 1866, with excellent results to the Colony.]

May 10th, 1839

I left town on Monday, having in the morning seen Le Marchant, who knows better than anybody the numbers and details of divisions; and he told me that they should have a majority of twenty: little, therefore, was I prepared to hear on Tuesday morning that they had been left with only a majority of five. It was not till they were in the House of Commons that they were aware of the defections, and of the probability of a close division, if not of a defeat. About ten of the Radicals voted against them, and ten or a dozen stayed away; six of the Tories voted with Government, but the balance was quite enough to reduce the old majority to an equality. On Tuesday the Cabinet met, and resolved to resign. The Queen had not been prepared for this catastrophe and was completely upset by it. Her agitation and grief were very great. In her interview with Lord John Russell she was all the time dissolved in tears; and she dined in her own room, and never appeared on the Tuesday evening. Melbourne advised her to send for the Duke, and [200] on Wednesday morning she sent for him. By this time she had regained her calmness and self-possession. She told him that she was very sorry for what had occurred, and for having to part with her Ministers, particularly Lord Melbourne, for whom she felt the warmest regard, and who had acted an almost parental part towards her. The Duke was excessively pleased with her behaviour and with her frankness. He told her that his age and his deafness incapacitated him from serving her as efficiently as he could desire, and that the leader of the House of Commons ought to be her Prime Minister, and he advised her to send for Peel. She said, ‘Will you desire him to come to me?’ He told her that he would do anything; but, he thought, under the circumstances, it would be better that she should write to him herself. She said she would, but begged him to go and announce to Peel that he might expect her letter. This the Duke did, and when Peel received it, he went to the Palace (in full dress according to etiquette), and received her commands to form a Government. She received him (though she dislikes him) extremely well, and he was perfectly satisfied.

While the Tories were rejoicing in their victory, the Whigs, greatly exasperated, were already beginning to meditate the organisation of a strong Opposition, and providing the means of carrying on an effectual war against the new Government. They do not choose to look upon their expulsion as attributable to the defection of their allies, but as the work of the Tories upon a mere party question, and that a very unjustifiable one, and treated in a very unjustifiable manner. I met Ellice and Labouchere in the street, and found them full of menace and sinister prediction, and to my assertion that all would go well and easily, they shook their heads, and insisted that the conduct of their opponents entitled them to no forbearance, and that finding none, their difficulties and embarrassments would be very great; and I found in other quarters that there is a disposition to rally and marshal the party, and commence offensive warfare; but others of the Whigs entertained no such views, and looked [201] THE BEDCHAMBER DIFFICULTY. upon the game as quite lost for the present; and in point of fact, nothing is settled, fixed, combined, or arranged as yet; and there has not been time to ascertain the disposition or intentions of the leaders.

While, however, there was yesterday this uncertainty and agitation in the Whig camp, and the Tories were waiting in perfect security for the tranquil arrangement of the new Government, a storm suddenly arose, which threatens to scatter to the winds the new combinations, and the ultimate effects of which it is impossible for anybody to foresee. The Queen insisted upon keeping the ladies of her household, and Peel objected, but without shaking her determination. He begged her to see the Duke of Wellington, and she agreed to see the Duke and him together. He had, however, before this gone to the Palace with Lord Ashley,[16] whom he had taken with him, fancying that because he had been in the habit of seeing a great deal of the Queen, he might have some influence with her—a notion altogether preposterous, and exhibiting the deficiency of Peel in worldly dexterity and tact, and in knowledge of character. Ashley made no impression on the Queen. When the Duke and Peel saw her, and endeavoured to persuade her to yield this point, they found her firm and immoveable, and not only resolved not to give way, but prepared with answers to all they said, and arguments in support of her determination. They told her that she must consider her Ladies in the same light as Lords: she said, ‘No, I have Lords besides, and these I give up to you.’ And when they still pressed her, she said, ‘Now suppose the case had been reversed, that you had been in office when I had come to the Throne, and that Lord Melbourne would not have required this sacrifice of me.’ Finding that she would not give way, Peel informed her that under these circumstances he must consult his friends; and a meeting took place at his house yesterday afternoon.

[16] [Lord Ashley, then a member of the House of Commons, afterwards seventh Earl of Shaftesbury: though a follower of Sir Robert Peel, he was married to Lady Emily Cowper, Lord Melbourne’s niece, and this circumstance probably induced Peel to invoke his assistance.]

[202] In the meantime the old Ministers were apprised of the difficulty that had occurred, and Lord John Russell, who knew that there was a meeting at Peel’s to consider what was to be done, entreated Melbourne, if the thing was broken off upon this difficulty, not to give any advice, but to call the Cabinet and have a general consultation. At nine in the evening he was summoned to a Cabinet at Melbourne’s house, and from this he inferred that negotiations with Peel had closed. The ministers were collected from all quarters: (Hobhouse from dinner at Wilton’s, Morpeth from the opera), and Melbourne laid before them a letter from the Queen,[17] written in a bitter spirit, and in a strain such as Elizabeth might have used. She said, ‘Do not fear that I was not calm and composed. They wanted to deprive me of my Ladies, and I suppose they would deprive me next of my dressers and my housemaids; they wished to treat me like a girl, but I will show them that I am Queen of England!’ They consulted, and a suggestion was thrown out that Lady Normanby (and some other I think) should resign. This was overruled, as was a proposition of John Russell’s, that the Queen should require from Peel a precise statement of the extent of his demands. The end was, that a letter was composed for her, in which she simply declined to place the Ladies of her household at Peel’s discretion. This was sent yesterday morning; when Peel wrote an answer resigning his commission into Her Majesty’s hands; but recapitulating everything that had passed. When the difficulty first arose, Peel asked her to see the Duke; she acquiesced; he fetched him, and the Duke was with her alone. The Duke it was who argued the principle with her—Peel had touched upon its application.

[17] Melbourne, it appears, from his own statement in the House of Lords, was sent for at six o’clock on Thursday.

It was speedily known all over the town that the whole thing was at an end, and nothing could surpass the excitement and amazement that prevailed. The indignant Tories exclaimed against intrigue and preconcerted plans, and asserted that she refused to part with any of her Ladies, and [203] THE WHIGS STAND BY THE QUEEN. that it was only a pretext to break off the Tory Government; while the Whigs cried out against harshness and dictatorial demands, and complained that it was intended to make a thorough clearance, to strip her of all her friends, and destroy her social comfort. The Radicals, who had for the most part been terribly alarmed at the results of their own defection, instantly made overtures to the Whigs; and I heard at Brooks’s that Ward had come over from the Reform Club, and proposed a reconciliation without any concession, except that Ballot should be made an open question. There appeared no disposition to concede anything to the Radicals, who, they were convinced, would join them without any conditions.

In the meantime Lord Melbourne and Lord John Russell went to the Queen, who told them her whole story. I met the latter coming from her; he said, ‘I have just been for an hour with the Queen; she told me her story, and ended by saying, ‘I have stood by you, you must now stand by me.’ They thought her case a good one, and resolved to stand by her. Such was the state of things and such the case as reported to me by several members of the Whig party yesterday morning, and my impression was that Peel had been unreasonable in his demands and impolitic in breaking off the negotiation on such grounds. Nevertheless I had some misgivings, because I thought the Duke of Wellington unlikely to concur in any proceeding harsh towards the Queen, or ill-considered in a political sense; but the assertion was at the same time so positive, that Peel had required the dismissal of all the ladies, and the Tories defended instead of denying this, that I did not doubt the fact to have been so; and moreover I was told that Peel’s behaviour had created a strong sentiment of dislike towards him in the Queen, and from her representations and the language of her letter it was clear the impression on her mind was that no consideration was intended to be shown to her feelings and wishes, but, on the contrary, that they meant to abuse their power to the utmost. At the ball last night I put the question directly to Lord Normanby and [204] Ben Stanley, and they both declared that the Queen’s understanding was that the demand for power to dismiss the Ladies was unqualified by any intimation of an intention not to exercise that power to the utmost extent; that she believed they were all to be taken from her, and under this impression she had sent her ultimatum by which the whole thing was terminated. But I had afterwards a conversation with Lord Wharncliffe, who gave me an account of all that had passed, placed the matter in a very different light, and proved beyond a doubt that there was no lack of deference and consideration on the part of Peel, but, on the contrary, the clearest indication of an intention and desire to consult her wishes and feelings in every respect, and that, instead of a sweeping demand for the dismissal of all her Ladies, he had approached that subject with delicacy and caution, and merely suggested the expediency of some partial changes, for reasons (especially when taken with other things) by no means insufficient. So little disposition was there on the part of Peel to regard her with distrust or to fetter her social habits, that when she said, ‘You must not expect me to give up the society of Lord Melbourne,’ he replied that ‘Nothing could be further from his thoughts than to interfere with Her Majesty’s society in any way, or to object to her receiving Lord Melbourne as she pleased, and that he should always feel perfectly secure in the honour of Lord Melbourne, that he would not avail himself improperly of his intercourse with her.’ When she said that she should like to have Lord Liverpool about her, he immediately acquiesced, and proposed that he should be Lord Steward, and he suggested certain other persons, whom he said he proposed because he believed they were personally agreeable to her; but when he began to talk of ‘some modification of the Ladies of her household,’ she stopped him at once, and declared she would not part with any of them. Thenceforward this became the whole matter in dispute; but there had been some circumstances even in the first interview which Peel and the Duke regarded as ominous and indicative of her having been primed as to the [205] THE TRUE STATE OF THE CASE. part she should play. The principal of these was an intimation of her desire that there should be no dissolution of Parliament. This surprised Peel very much, but he only replied that it was impossible for him to come to any determination on that point, as he might be beaten on one of the first divisions, in which case it would be inevitable. It was indeed the fact of his taking the Government with a minority in the House of Commons which was his principal argument for desiring the power of dismissing the Ladies, or rather of changing the household, that he might not, he said, give to the world the spectacle of a Court entirely hostile to him, consisting of ladies whose husbands were his strongest political opponents, thereby creating an impression that the confidence of the Crown was bestowed on his enemies rather than on himself. In the Duke’s first interview with the Queen, he had entreated her to place her whole confidence in Peel, and had then said that, though some changes might be necessary in her household, she would find him in all the arrangements anxious to meet her wishes and consult her feelings. Notwithstanding her assurance to Melbourne that she was calm, she was greatly excited, though still preserving a becoming dignity in her outward behaviour.

Having satisfied myself that there had been a complete misunderstanding, which I think, as it was, might have been cleared up if there had been less precipitation and more openness and further endeavours to explain what was doubtful or ambiguous, I began to turn in my mind whether something could not be done to avert the impending danger, and renew the negotiation with Peel while it was still time. Labouchere had had a conversation with Graham, who had enlightened him, much as Wharncliffe had me; we came home together, and I found what Graham had told him had made a deep impression on him, and that he was as sensible as I am of the gravity and peril of the circumstances in which affairs are placed. I accordingly urged Lord Tavistock to endeavour to persuade Melbourne to see the Duke of Wellington and talk it over with him; he would at all events learn [206] the exact truth as to what had passed, which it most essentially behoves him to know before he takes upon himself the responsibility of advising the Queen and of meeting Parliament once more with all the necessary explanations how and why he is still Minister, and from the Duke likewise he would learn what really is the animus of Peel and his party, and what the real extent of their intended demands upon the Queen. He, and he alone, can enlighten her and pacify her mind; and if he is satisfied that there has been a misapprehension, and that Peel has required nothing but what she ought to concede, it would be his duty to advise her once more to place herself in Peel’s hands. This is the only solution of the difficulty now possible, and this course, if he has sufficient wisdom, firmness, and virtue to adopt it, may still avert the enormous evils which are threatened by the rupture of the pending arrangements.


[207] The Whigs retain the Government — Motives of the Queen — Decision of Ministers — Lord Brougham’s Excitement — Ministerial Explanations — State of Affairs in Parliament — Lord Brougham’s great Speech on the Crisis — Duke of Wellington’s Wisdom and Moderation — Visit of the Grand Duke Alexander — Macaulay returns to Parliament — Disappointment of the Radicals — The Radicals appeased — Visit to Holland House — Anecdotes of George Selwyn — False Position of the Whigs — Downton Castle — Payne Knight — Malvern — Troy House — Castles on the Wye — Tintern Abbey — Bath — Salisbury Cathedral — Death of Lady Flora Hastings — Violent Speech of the Duke — Conversation with the Duke of Wellington — Lord Clarendon’s début in the House of Lords — Lord Brougham attacks Lord Normanby — His fantastic Conduct — Pauper School at Norwood.

May 12th, 1839

The Cabinet met yesterday, and resolved to take the Government again; they hope to interest the people in the Queen’s quarrel, and having made it up with the Radicals they think they can stand. It is a high trial to our institutions when the wishes of a Princess of nineteen can overturn a great Ministerial combination, and when the most momentous matters of Government and legislation are influenced by her pleasure about her Ladies of the Bedchamber. The Whigs resigned because they had no longer that Parliamentary support for their measures which they deemed necessary, and they consent to hold the Government without the removal of any of the difficulties which compelled them to resign, for the purpose of enabling the Queen to exercise her pleasure without any control or interference in the choice of the Ladies of her household. This is making the private gratification of the Queen paramount to the highest public considerations: somewhat strange Whig doctrine and practice! With respect to the question of unfettered choice, a good deal may be said on both sides; but although it [208] would be wrong and inexpedient for any Minister to exercise the right, unless in a case of great necessity, I think every Minister must have the power of advising the Queen to remove a Lady of her Court, in the same way as he is admitted to have that of removing a man. Notwithstanding the transaction of 1812, and Lord Moira’s protection of George IV. in the retention of his household, it is now perfectly established in practice that the Royal Household is at the discretion of the Minister, and it must be so because he is responsible for the appointments; in like manner he is responsible for every appointment which the Sovereign may make; and should any of the Ladies conduct herself in such a manner as to lead the public to expect or require her dismissal, and the Queen were to refuse to dismiss her, the Minister must be responsible for her remaining about the Royal person.

The pretension of the Queen was not merely personal, pro hâc vice, and one of arrangement, but it went to the establishment of a principle unlimited in its application, for she declared that she had felt bound to make her stand where she did, in order once for all to resist the encroachments which she anticipated, and which would lead, she supposed, at last to their insisting on taking the Baroness Lehzen herself from her. In a constitutional point of view, the case appears to me to be much stronger than in that of a Queen Consort, for the Minister has nothing to do with a Queen Consort; he is not responsible for her appointments, nor for the conduct of her officers, and she is a feme sole possessed of independent rights which she may exercise according to her own pleasure, provided only that she does not transgress the law. It was a great stretch of authority when Lord Grey insisted on the dismissal of Lord Howe, Queen Adelaide’s Chamberlain; but he did so upon an extraordinary occasion, and when circumstances rendered it, as he thought, absolutely necessary that he should make a public demonstration of his influence in a Court notoriously disaffected to the Reform Bill.

The origin of the present mischief may be found in the [209] UNCONSTITUTIONAL COURSE OF THE WHIGS. objectionable composition of the Royal Household at the Accession. The Queen knew nobody, and was ready to take any Ladies that Melbourne recommended to her. He ought to have taken care that the female part of her household should not have a political complexion, instead of making it exclusively Whig as, unfortunately for her, he did; nor is it little matter of wonder that Melbourne should have consented to support her in such a case, and that he and his colleagues should have consented to act the strange, anomalous, unconstitutional part they have done. While they really believed that she had been ill-used, it was natural they should be disposed to vindicate and protect her; but after the reception of Peel’s letter they must have doubted whether there had not been some misapprehension on both sides, and they ought in prudence, and in justice to her, even against her own feelings, to have sifted the matter to the bottom, and have cleared up every existing doubt before they decided on their course. But to have met as a Cabinet, and to have advised her what answer to send to the man who still held her commission for forming a Government, upon points relating to its formation, is utterly anomalous and unprecedented, and a course as dangerous as unconstitutional.[1] The danger has been sufficiently exemplified in the present case; for, having necessarily had no personal cognisance of the facts, they incurred the risk of giving advice upon mistaken grounds, as in this instance has been the case. She might be excused for her ignorance of the exact limits of constitutional propriety, and for her too precipitate recurrence to the counsels to which she had been accustomed; but they ought to have explained to her, that until Sir Robert Peel had formally and finally resigned his [210] commission into her hands, they could tender no advice, and that her replies to him, and her resolutions with regard to his proposals, must emanate solely and spontaneously from herself. As it was, the Queen was in communication with Sir Robert Peel on one side, and Lord Melbourne on the other, at the same time; and through them with both their Cabinets; the unanimous resolutions of the former being by her conveyed to, and her answer being composed by, the latter. The Cabinet of Lord Melbourne discussed the proposals of that of Sir Robert Peel, and they dictated to the Queen the reply in which she refused to consent to the advice tendered to her by the man who was at that moment her Minister, and it was this reply which compelled him to resign the office with which she had entrusted him.

[1] Melbourne explains away this objection by alleging that the negotiation with Peel was over at six on Thursday; that the Queen sent for him to tell him so; that he was again become her Minister; and that he and his colleagues properly advised the terms in which she should convey her final decision. This explanation seems to have gone down, but I can’t imagine how: the decision to persist in refusing Peel’s demands became their decision, when they advised the letter in which it was conveyed. I know not why more was not made of this part of the case.

May 13th, 1839

Lord Tavistock went on Saturday to Buckingham Palace; found Melbourne was not there, and followed him to his house, where the Cabinet was sitting. He wrote him a letter, in which he said that he had seen the Duke, and that his impression was that there had been a misunderstanding between Peel and the Queen; and suggested to Melbourne that he should see the Duke, who was very willing, if he pleased, to talk the matter over with him. This letter was taken in to the Cabinet, and they discussed its contents.[2] Melbourne was not indisposed to see the Duke; but, after a careful consideration of Peel’s letter, they came to the conclusion that there was no difference between the Queen’s statement to them and Peel’s to her, and, therefore, no misconception to correct. The Chancellor accordingly gave his opinion, that there was no ground for an interview between Melbourne and the Duke; so then ended the last hope of a readjustment.

[2] Lord Grey was at Melbourne’s house; Melbourne sent for him, and consulted him, and he remained in another room while the Cabinet was in deliberation. Lord Grey took it up very warmly, and was strongly for supporting the Queen, saying they could not do otherwise.

The question (they say) was all along one of principle, and never of the application of the principle; but the extraordinary part of it is that they admit that the principle is not [211] THE DEBATE ON THIS TRANSACTION. maintainable, yet declare that they were bound as gentlemen, when the Queen had recourse to them, to support her. This is strange doctrine in Whig mouths. They have, in my opinion, abandoned their duty to the country and to the Queen, and they ought to have been impressed with the paramount obligation of instructing her in the nature and scope of her constitutional obligations and duties, and the limits of her constitutional rights, and to have advised her what she ought to do, instead of upholding her in doing that which was agreeable to her taste and inclination.

In the meantime Brougham wrote a violent letter to Lord Tavistock, imploring him, while it was still time, to arrest the perilous course on which his friends had entered, and full of professions of regard for him and his. Tavistock went to him in the evening, found him in a state of furious excitement, abusing the Ministry greatly, and many of them by name in the grossest terms, and pouring forth a torrent of invective against men and things. After a time he became more cool, and half promised that he would not speak at all; but when he learnt, what he was not aware of, that Lord Spencer was come to town and would be in the House of Lords, he broke out again, and said that if they had brought him up to support that miserable rotten concern, he must speak. Lord Spencer was not, however, brought up by them; he knew nothing of passing events till he read them in the ‘Times’ on Saturday, at Barnet, and his reflexion on them was, that if he should be sent for, he should advise the Queen to send for Peel again and concede the point. He is now, however, disposed, in case of need, to defend his friends in the House of Lords; but if they can secure Brougham’s silence as the price of his, the Ministers will be glad enough to pair them off.

May 19th, 1839

At Mickleham (for Epsom) from Tuesday to Friday, and, of course, nothing done, written, heard, or thought of, save and except the Derby. The explanations went off, on the whole, very well, without acrimony, and as satisfactorily as the case allowed. Peel’s speech was excellent (though Lord Grey did not approve of it, and regretted [212] not having the power to answer it), and without any appearance of art or dexterity he contrived to steer through all the difficult points and to justify himself without saying a word offensive to the Queen. Lord John Russell was very nervous, feeble and ineffective. In the other House Melbourne made, as all allow, a capital speech; Clarendon, a good and fair judge, told me that he never heard Melbourne speak so well throughout; while the Duke was painful to hear, exhibiting such undoubted marks of caducity: it did not, however, read ill. Melbourne made one admission, for which Lord John Russell was very angry with him, and that was of the ‘erroneous impression’ on the Queen’s mind, because his argument was that there was ‘no mistake.’ Lord Grey and Lord Spencer would either of them have spoken, but it was deemed better they should not, or Brougham would have been unmuzzled, and as it was he adhered to his engagement to Lord Tavistock and held his peace. He had said, ‘If you let off Althorp or old Grey, I must speak.’

June 1st, 1839

Laid up with the gout and confined to my room for ten days, very ill and utterly disinclined to write. Nothing new of consequence, but little things keep oozing out, throwing light on the recent transaction, and all tending to the same conclusion. In the meantime Parliament met, but nothing has been done. Lord John Russell began by deferring the Education question, which he will be obliged to abandon, for the Church has risen up and put forth all its strength against it, and having been joined by the Wesleyans, will, without difficulty, defeat it. The Bishop of London made a most eloquent philippic against it at Exeter Hall the other day. Government have brought in another Jamaica Bill, not very different from Peel’s proposed measure, and which they will probably contrive to pass.

The Radicals have been again bestirring themselves, and trying to turn the present occasion to account and extract some concessions from the Government. Warburton has been in communication with Lord John Russell, and they [213] LORD BROUGHAM ATTACKS MINISTERS. expect some declarations from him and Melbourne of their future intentions, and some indications of a disposition to give way on some of the favourite Radical measures. Melbourne’s intention was to be elicited by certain questions of which Lord Winchilsea gave notice, and which he actually put last night, as to the principles on which the Government was to be conducted. Melbourne replied in a very guarded and somewhat didactic style, but, so far from evincing any disposition to make Radical concessions, he intimated with sufficient clearness that he was resolved to make none whatever, and that he would not sacrifice his conscientious convictions for any political or party purpose.

After this, up got Brougham, and that boiling torrent of rage, disdain, and hatred, which had been dammed up upon a former occasion when he was so unaccountably muzzled, broke forth with resistless and overwhelming force. He spoke for three hours, and delivered such an oration as no other man in existence is capable of: devilish in spirit and design, but of superhuman eloquence and masterly in execution. He assailed the Ministers with a storm of invective and ridicule; and, while he enveloped his periods in a studied phraseology of pretended loyalty and devotion, he attacked the Queen herself with unsparing severity. He went at length and in minute detail into the whole history of the recent transaction, drew it in its true colours, and exposed its origin, progress, and motives, and thus he laid bare all the arts and falsehoods by which attempts had been made to delude and agitate the country. If it were possible to treat this as a party question, his speech would be a powerful party auxiliary, most valuable to the Tories as a vindication of them, for it was the peculiar merit of this speech that it abounded in truths and in great constitutional principles of undoubted authority and unerring application. The Duke of Wellington rose after Brougham: in a short speech, replete with moderation and dignity, he abstained from entering upon the past, but fastened upon Melbourne’s declaration, and gave him to understand that as long as he adhered to such principles as he had then declared he would [214] be governed by, he might appeal to Parliament confidently for support.

These three speeches have all in their different ways produced a great effect: Melbourne’s will not satisfy the Radicals, though they catch (as dying men at straws) at a vague expression about ‘progressive reforms,’ and try (or pretend) to think that this promises something, though they know not what. Brougham’s speech was received by the Tory Lords with enthusiastic applause, vociferous cheering throughout, and two or three rounds at the conclusion. But the Duke’s assurance of support to Melbourne exasperated his own people to the greatest degree, produced a sulky article in the ‘Times,’ and the usual complaints at White’s and the Carlton of the Duke’s being in his dotage, and so forth. Even some of his real admirers thought he ‘had overdone it,’ and whilst at Brooks’s they did not quite know what to make of it, at the Carlton they were in the same doubt how to interpret Melbourne’s cautious ambiguities. Both, however, were clear enough: Melbourne meant to say he would ‘go no further,’ and the Duke meant to pat him on the back, and promise him that while he adhered to that resolution he should have no vexatious opposition to fear; but his meaning was made still more clear, for he told my brother this afternoon that ‘it was of the greatest importance to nail Melbourne to his declaration, and that they must do what they could to help the Queen out of the difficulty in which she was placed.’ He looks to the Crown of England; he wants to uphold it and not to punish her; and he does not care to achieve a Tory triumph at the expense of the highest Tory principle; he thinks the Monarchy is in danger, and he sees that the danger may be more surely averted by still enduring the existence of the present Government, depriving them of all power to do evil, and converting them into instruments of good, than by accelerating their fall under circumstances calculated to engender violent animosities, irreconcileable enmities, wide separation of parties, and the adoption of extreme measures and dangerous principles by many who have no natural bias that way. I entirely concur [215] MACAULAY ELECTED FOR EDINBURGH. with him, and if it were possible to restore matters to something like the state they were in before the Bedchamber crisis, nothing would be so desirable; nothing so desirable as that the Whigs and the Radicals should be furnished with fresh occasion to fall out, and the dissolution of the Government be the final consequence of their dissensions. Also it is expedient that time should be given for the angry waters to become smooth and calm once more, albeit the smoothness is only on their surface.

Yesterday the Grand Duke Alexander[3] went away after a stay of some three weeks, which has been distinguished by a lavish profusion—perhaps a munificence—perfectly unexampled; he is by no means remarkable in appearance one way or the other, and does not appear to have made any great impression except by the splendour and extent of his presents and benefactions: he has scattered diamond boxes and rings in all directions, subscribed largely to all the charities, to the Wellington and Nelson memorials, and most liberally (and curiously) to the Jockey Club, to which he has sent a sum of 300ℓ., with a promise of its annual repetition.

[3] [Afterwards the Emperor Alexander II. of Russia. He ascended the throne in 1855 and perished by assassination in the streets of St. Petersburgh on the 13th March, 1881.]

Macaulay is gone to Edinburgh to be elected in the room of Abercromby, so he is again about to descend into the arena of politics. He made a very eloquent and, to my surprise, a very Radical speech, declaring himself for Ballot and short Parliaments. I was the more astonished at this, because I knew he had held very moderate language, and I remembered his telling me that he considered the Radical party to be reduced to ‘Grote and his wife,’ after which I did not expect to see him declare himself the advocate of Grote’s favourite measure and the darling object of the Radicals.

June 7th, 1839

Macaulay’s was a very able speech and a good apology for the Whig Government, and as he has always been for Ballot, he is not inconsistent. On Sir H. Fleetwood’s motion the other night (for giving votes for counties [216] to ten-pound householders), John Russell spoke out, though in a reforming tone, and threw the Radicals into a paroxysm of chagrin and disappointment. The Tories had heard he was going to give way, and Peel, who is naturally suspicious and distrustful, believed it; but when he found he would not give way, nor held out any hopes for the future, Peel nailed him to that point and spoke with great force and effect. This debate was considered very damaging to Whigs and Radicals, and likely to lead to a dissolution—first, of Parliament, and then of Government. But the Radicals are now adopting a whining, fawning tone, have dropt that of bluster and menace, and, having before rudely insisted on a mighty slice of the loaf, are now content to put their tails between their legs and swallow such crumbs as they can get. Peel has written and published a very stout letter, in reply to a Shrewsbury declaration presented to him, in which he defends his recent conduct, and declares he will never take office on any other terms.

Notwithstanding Lord John Russell’s speech on Fleetwood’s motion, and Melbourne’s anti-movement declaration in the other House, they have to their eternal disgrace succumbed to the Radicals, and been squeezed into making Ballot an open question. For John Russell I am sorry. I thought he would have been stouter. The Radicals are full of exultation, and the Government underlings, who care not on what terms they can retain their places, are very joyful. I rode with Howick yesterday for a long time and talked it over with him. He pretended it was no concession after Vivian’s being allowed to vote last year, and he owned that he considered the question as virtually carried; he is himself moderate and means still to vote against it, sees all the danger—not so much from Ballot itself as from its inevitable train of consequences—and still consents to abandon the contest. I asked him, if he was not conscious that it was only like buying off the Picts and Scots, and that fresh demands would speedily follow with redoubled confidence; and he owned he was. It may prolong for a brief period the sickly existence of the Government, and if a dissolution comes [217] THE WHIGS SUCCUMB TO THE RADICALS. speedily, Whigs and Radicals may act in concert at the elections; but if they attempt to go on with the present Parliament fresh demands will rapidly ensue, and then there must be fresh concessions or another breach. It is a base and disgusting truckling to allies between whom and themselves there is nothing but mutual hatred and contempt.

June 14th, 1839

At Holland House from Tuesday till Thursday—not particularly agreeable. Melbourne came one day, but was not in spirits. Lord Holland told me some stories of George Selwyn, whom he had known in his younger days, and many of whose good sayings he remembers. He describes him as a man of great gravity and deliberation in speaking, and, after exciting extraordinary mirth by his wit and drollery, gently smiling and saying, ‘I am glad you are pleased.’ The old Lord Foley (father of the last) was much discontented with his father’s will, who, knowing that he was in debt and a spendthrift, had strictly tied up the property: he tried to set aside the will by Act of Parliament, and had a Bill brought into the House of Lords for the purpose. George Selwyn said, ‘Our old friend Foley has worked a miracle, for he has converted the Jews from the Old to the New Testament.’

June 24th, 1839, Ludlow

I left London on Friday last by railroad, went to Wolverhampton (the vilest-looking town I ever saw), and posted in my carriage from thence to this place, where I only arrived at a quarter-past nine. This journey takes (losing no time) about eleven and a half hours—one hundred and fifty miles—of which thirty-four by road. The road from Bridgenorth to Ludlow is very striking and commands exceedingly fine views.

The day before I left town I saw Lord Tavistock, who told me divers things. I asked him what could induce Lord John to consent to making Ballot an open question, and he replied, that nothing else could have prevented the dissolution of the Government, and that three of the Ministers—he did not say which—threatened to resign instanter if this concession was not made. Here then, as I said to him, was another example of the evils of that catastrophe which broke [218] up the embryo Government of Peel and brought them back again: unable to go on independently and as they desire to do, they are obliged to truckle, and are squeezed into compliances they abhor, and all this degradation they think themselves bound to submit to because the principle on which their Government stands, and which predominates over all others, is that of supporting the Queen. No Tory Government ever ventured to dissociate its support of the Queen from its measures and principles as a party, in the way these men do. Macaulay made his first re-appearance in the Ballot debate in a speech of unequal merit, but Peel and Graham complimented him on his return amongst them.

I am greatly delighted with this country, which is of surpassing beauty, and the old Castle of Ludlow, a noble ruin, and in ‘ruinous perfection.’ On Saturday I explored the Castle and walked to Oakley Park, Robert Clive’s, who is also the owner of the Castle, which he bought of the Crown for 1,500ℓ. The gardens at Oakley Park are very pretty and admirably laid out and kept, and the park is full of fine oaks. Yesterday I walked and rode over the hills above Ludlow, commanding a panoramic prospect of the country round, and anything more grand and picturesque I never beheld. But above all, the hills and woods of Downton Castle, with the mountains of Radnorshire in the distance, present a scene of matchless beauty well worth coming from London to see.

June 26th, 1839, Delbury

I rode to Downton Castle on Monday, a gimcrack castle and bad house, built by Payne Knight, an epicurean philosopher, who after building the castle went and lived in a lodge or cottage in the park: there he died, not without suspicion of having put an end to himself, which would have been fully conformable to his notions. He was a sensualist in all ways, but a great and self-educated scholar. His property is now in Chancery, because he chose to make his own will. The prospect from the windows is beautiful, and the walk through the wood, overhanging the river Teme, surpasses anything I have ever seen of the kind. It is as wild as the walk over the hill at Chatsworth, and much [219] LUDLOW, MALVERN, ROSS. more beautiful, because the distant prospect resembles the cheerful hills of Sussex instead of the brown and sombre Derbyshire moors. The path now creeps along the margin, and now rises above the bed of a clear and murmuring stream, and immediately opposite is another hill as lofty and wild, both covered with the finest trees—oaks, ash, and chestnut—which push out their gnarled roots in a thousand fantastic shapes, and grow out of vast masses of rock in the most luxuriant and picturesque manner. Yesterday I came here, a tolerable place with no pretension, but very well kept, not without handsome trees, and surrounded by a very pretty country.

June 28th, 1839, Malvern

Returned to Ludlow yesterday; came here to-day: the road from Ledbury to Malvern wonderfully fine, and nothing grander than the view of Eastnor Castle.

July 3rd, 1839, Troy House

Stayed at Malvern two days, clambering to the top of the hills which overhang the place (for town it is not), from which the views are very fine over a rich but generally flat country; the prospect is grand from its great extent. There is a curious and interesting church there, formerly of some priory, with a handsome gateway. I came through Eastnor Park in the way to Ledbury, exceedingly fine, and the castle something like Belvoir apparently, but I was not permitted to approach it. Nothing particular in the road till Ross, a very pretty town, where I first met the Wye, but, alas, in its muddiest state: this was the abode of ‘The Man of Ross.’ Very pretty road from Ross to Monmouth, through which latter place I walked, and passed by a very old house, which, as I afterwards heard, is said to have been the abode of Geoffrey of Monmouth, and they show his study. Troy, a plain, good-looking house, imperfectly kept up and poorly furnished, as a house is likely to be whose owners never inhabit it. It was built by the Duke of Beaufort in 1689, who came to sulk here on the expulsion of the last of the Stuarts, having a deeply-rooted sentiment of hereditary loyalty. Multa fecerunt and multa tulerunt, certainly, for that unhappy race. Here they [220] show a chair in which a plot was contrived against Charles I.—that is, ‘in which the president of the conspirators is said to have sat.’ The story was obscure, but I did not think it advisable to press the narrator for explanations. Likewise a cradle, which tradition assigns to Henry V. (Harry of Monmouth), which is evidently old enough and was splendid enough in a rude style to justify any such tradition; the only unfortunate thing is, that there is a rival cradle somewhere else with the same claim. Mr. Wyatt, the Duke’s agent, received me with great civility and hospitality, having been enjoined by the Duke to make me his guest and himself my cicerone. Accordingly we set forth on Monday morning and went to Usk Castle, a ruin of which not much is left besides a picturesque round tower; neither the Castle nor the country is very remarkable, but we brought home a crimped salmon, for which Usk is famous (and where the crimping is said to be a secret unattainable even to the vendors of Wye and Severn salmon), which was, without exception, the most dainty fish I ever ate. From Usk we returned to Raglan Castle, a most noble and beautiful ruin; there has often been a notion of restoring it, and an estimate was made of the probable expense, which was calculated at 30,000ℓ.; but the idea and the estimate are equally preposterous: it would be reconstructing a very unmanageable house and destroying the finest ruin in England, and the cost would infallibly be three times 30,000ℓ. As there had been a question of its restoration, I expected to find greater and more perfect remains, but, though some of the apartments may be made out, it is a vast wreck. The strange thing is that the second Marquis of Worcester, when his possessions were restored to him, and when the damage done to the castle might easily have been repaired, should not have done it nor any of his immediate descendants. Great pains are now taken to preserve the beauties of this majestic fabric and to arrest the further progress of decay. Yesterday I rode to Goodrich Castle, stopping to see some remarkable views of the Wye, particularly one called Simmons Yat or Rock, which is very beautiful (and must be [221] GOODRICH CASTLE, TINTERN ABBEY. much more so when the river is clear and transparent); and a curious rock called the Buck-stone, which was probably a Druidical place of worship, but of which nothing is positively known, though conjecture is busy. Goodrich Castle, which was partly battered down by the Cromwellians like Raglan, is more ancient, and was much stronger than the latter; but, though not so beautiful and splendid, it is an equally curious and interesting ruin, with many of its parts still more perfect than anything at Raglan. I was exceedingly delighted with Goodrich, and there was a female custos, zealous and intelligent, whose husband, she told us, was continually occupied in clearing away rubbish and exposing the remains of the old Castle. We then went to Goodrich Court, a strange kind of bastard castle built by Blore, and which the possessor, Sir Samuel Meyrick, has devoted to the exhibition of his collection of armour. There are only a few acres of ground belonging to him, on which he has built this house, but it is admirably situated, overhanging the Wye and facing the Castle, of which it commands a charming view. After being hurried through the armoury, which was all we were invited to inspect, we embarked in a boat we had sent up, and returned to Monmouth down the Wye through some beautiful scenery, but which it was too cold to enjoy.

July 4th, 1839, Clifton

I came here last night, the wind having changed to S.W., and summer having come with it. I left Troy in the morning and went to Tintern Abbey: most glorious, which I could not describe if I would, but which produced on me an impression similar in kind and equal in amount to that which I felt at the sight of St. Peter’s. No description nor any representation of it can do justice, or anything like justice, to this majestic and beautiful ruin, such is its wonderful perfection viewed in every direction, from every spot, and in the minutest detail. That the remains should be so extensive and so uninjured is marvellous, for there can be no doubt that this Abbey might be restored to its former grandeur. Much has been done by Mr. Wyatt, the Duke’s agent, both to preserve the Abbey [222] and to develope its beauties by cutting away the trees and ivy, and clearing away the accumulation of earth; by the latter means several tombs and many detached fragments of beautiful design and workmanship have been found, and I did my best to encourage him to pursue his researches.

Casting many lingering looks behind, I left Tintern and went to Windcliffe, from the summit of which there is a very fine view; but the Wye, instead of being an embellishment, is an eyesore in the midst of such scenery: it looks like a long, slimy snake dragging its foul length through the hills and woods which environ its muddy stream. We dined in a moss-cottage at the foot of Windcliffe, and then proceeded to Chepstow, a very curious and striking ruin, and which I should have seen with much greater interest and admiration if Tintern had not so occupied my thoughts and filled my mind that I had not eyes to do justice to Chepstow. I went all over the ruins, however, and examined them very accurately; for it is one of the great merits of these different castles, Raglan, Goodrich, and Chepstow, that they are wholly dissimilar, and each is therefore a fresh object of curiosity. I crossed the old passage, as it is called, in a ferry, and came on to Clifton.

Bath.—After taking a cursory view of Clifton from the Roman Camp and part of Bristol, I came to Bath, where I have not been these thirty years and more. I walked about the town, and was greatly struck with its handsomeness; thought of all the vicissitudes of custom and fashion which it has seen and undergone, and of the various characters, great and small, who have figured here. Here the great Lord Chatham used to repair devoured by gout, resentment, and disappointment, and leave the Government to its fate, while his colleagues waited his pleasure submissively or caballed against his power, according as circumstances obliged them to do the first or enabled them to do the second. Here my uncle, Harry Greville, the handsomest man of his day, used to dance minuets while all the company got on chairs and benches to look at him, and a few years since he died in poverty at the Mauritius, where he had [223] BATH, SALISBURY CATHEDRAL. gone to end his days, after many unfortunate speculations, in an office obtained from the compassion of Lord Bathurst. Sic transit gloria mundi, and thus its frivolities flourish for their brief hour, and then decay and are forgotten. An old woman showed me the Pump-room and the baths, all unchanged except in the habits and characters of their frequenters; and my mind’s eye peopled them with Tabitha Bramble, Win Jenkins, and Lismahago, and with all the inimitable family of Anstey’s creation, the Ringbones, Cormorants, and Bumfidgets—Tabby and Roger.[4]

[4] Humphrey Clinker and Anstey’s Bath Guide.

July 5th, 1839, Salisbury

I saw the Abbey Church at Bath this morning, which is handsome enough, but not very remarkable, unless for the vast crowds of its tombstones in every part; it has been completely repaired by the corporation at a great expense. I went to Stonehenge, of which no description is necessary; thence to Wilton; very fine place; hurried through the gallery of marbles, but looked longer at the pictures, which I understand and taste better; saw the gardens and the stud, and then came here; went directly to the Cathedral, with which I was exceedingly delighted, having seen nothing like it for extent, lightness, and elegance. There is one modern tomb by Chantrey which is very fine, that of Lord Malmesbury, erected by his sister; but, however skilfully executed or admirably designed, I do not like such monuments so well, nor think them so appropriate to our cathedrals, as the rude effigies of knights and warriors in complete armour, with their feet on couchant hounds, or those stately though sometimes gaudy and fantastic monuments, in which, among crowds of emblematical devices and armorial bearings, the husband and the wife lie side by side in the richest costume of the day, while their children are kneeling around them; these, with the venerable figures of abbots and bishops, however rudely sculptured, give me greater pleasure to look upon than the choicest productions of Roubillac, Nollekens, or Chantrey, which, however fine they may be, seem to have no business there, and to intrude irreverently among the mighty dead of [224] olden time. This cathedral is in perfect repair within and without; the colour of the stone is singularly beautiful, and it is not blocked up with buildings, Bishop Barrington having caused all that were adjacent to be removed. The chapter house and cloisters are exceedingly fine, but the effect is spoilt in the former by great bars of iron which radiate in all directions from a ring attached to the supporting pillar, and which have been put there (probably without any necessity) to relieve it of a portion of the superincumbent weight. It is remarkable that wherever I have gone in my travels, I have found the same complaints of the mischievous propensities of that silly, vulgar, vicious animal, called the public. Amongst the beauties of nature or of art, rocks, caves, or mountains, in ruined castles and abbeys, or ancient but still flourishing cathedrals, the same invariable love of pilfering and mutilating is to be found: some knock off a nose or a finger, others deface a frieze or a mullion from sheer love of havoc, others chip off some unmeaning fragment as a relique or object of curiosity; but the most general taste seems to be that of carving names or initials, and some of the ancient figures are completely tattooed with these barbarous engravings: this propensity I believe to be peculiar to our nation, and not to be found in any part of the Continent, where, indeed, it would probably not be permitted, and where detection and punishment would speedily overtake the offender. It is quite disgusting to see the venerable form of a knight templar or a mitred abbot scarred all over with the base patronymics of Jones and Tomkins, or with a whole alphabet of their initials.

July 7th, 1839

I came to town yesterday from Basingstoke by railroad; found that Lady Flora Hastings was dead, and a great majority in the House of Lords in favour of an Address to the Crown against the proposed Committee of Council on Education, the Bishop of London having made an extraordinarily fine speech.

July 14th, 1839

Nothing new; proceedings in Parliament very languid. The Queen has appointed Lady Sandwich very dexterously, for she gets one of the favoured Paget [225] DUKE OF WELLINGTON’S ANGRY VEIN. race and the wife of a Tory peer, thereby putting an end to the exclusively Whig composition of the Household. This is a concession with regard to the principle.

July 19th, 1839

There have been angry debates in the Lords about the Birmingham riots, chiefly remarkable for the excitement, so unlike his usual manner, exhibited by the Duke of Wellington, who assailed the Government with a fierceness which betrayed him into much exaggeration and some injustice. Lord Tavistock, who, although a partisan, is a fair one, and who has a great esteem and respect for the Duke, told me that he had seen and heard him with great pain, and that his whole tone was alarmingly indicative of a decay of mental power. This is not the first time that such a suspicion has been excited: George Villiers told me, soon after he came over, how much struck he had been with the change he observed in him, and from whatever cause, he is become in speaking much more indistinct and embarrassed, continually repeating and not always intelligible, but his speeches, when reported, present much the same appearance, and the sense and soundness (when the reporters have lopped off the redundancies and trimmed them according to their fashion) seem to be unimpaired. It is, however, a serious and melancholy thing to contemplate the possibly approaching decay of that great mind, and I find he always contemplates it himself, his mother’s mind having failed some years before her death. It will be sad if, after exploits as brilliant as Marlborough’s, and a career far more important, useful, and honourable, he should be destined for an end like Marlborough’s, and it is devoutly to be hoped that his eyes may be closed in death before ‘streams of dotage’ shall begin to flow from them. The Tories, with whom nothing goes down but violence, were delighted with his angry vein, and see proofs of vigour in what his opponents consider as evidence of decay; his bodily health is wonderfully good, which is perhaps rather alarming than reassuring as to the safety of his mind.

July 22nd, 1839

I met the Duke yesterday at dinner and had much talk with him. He is very desponding about the state [226] of the country and the condition in which the Government have placed it. He complains of its defenceless situation from their carrying on a war (Canada) with a peace establishment; consequently that the few troops we have are harassed to death with duty, and in case of a serious outbreak that there is no disposable force to quell it; that the Government are ruled by factions, political and religious. On Saturday they had been beaten on a question relating to the Poor Laws[5] of great importance; and he said that they must be supported in this, and extricated from the difficulty. I was glad to meet him and see (for it is some time since I have talked to him) whether there was any perceptible change in his manner or any symptom indicative of decay. Without there being anything tangible or very remarkable, I received the impression that there was not exactly the same vigour of mind which I have been used to admire in him, and what he said did not appear to me indicative of the strong sense and acuteness which characterise him. If he has no attack, I dare say he will be able to continue to act his part with efficacy for a long time to come. I asked him in what manner Government would prosecute the inquiry they had promised into the conduct of the Birmingham magistrates? He said what they ought to do was to order the Attorney-General to prosecute them for a corrupt neglect of their duty, a thing they would as soon put their hands in the fire as do. Such is their position, so dependent upon bad men, that they are compelled to treat with the utmost tenderness all the enemies of the Constitution. There can be no doubt that the appointments to the magistracy have been fraught with danger, and made on a very monstrous principle. When Lord John Russell resolved and avowed his resolution to neutralise the provision of the Act which gave the appointment of magistrates to the Crown instead of to the Town Council (as they had proposed) by taking the recommendations of the Council, he incurred the deepest [227] RADICAL MAGISTRATES. responsibility that any Minister ever did, for he took on himself to adopt a course practically inconsistent with the law, for the express purpose of placing political power in particular hands, to which the law intended it should not be confided; and on him, therefore, rested all the responsibility of such power being wisely and safely exercised by the hands to which he determined to entrust it; and when he appoints such a man as Muntz,[6] ex-Chartist and ex-Delegate, what must be the impression produced on all denominations of men as to his bias, and of what use is it to make professions, and deliver speeches condemnatory of the principles and conduct of Chartists and associators, if his acts and appointments are not in conformity with those professions? Mr. Muntz, he says, has abandoned Chartism, and is no longer the man he was: but who knows that? For one man who knows what Muntz is, a hundred know what he was, and in the insertion of his name in the list the bulk of the world will and can only see, if not approbation of, at least indifference to the doctrines such men have professed, and the conduct they have exhibited to the world. It is the frightful anomaly of being a Government divesting itself of all conservative character, which constitutes the danger of our day. As the ‘Times,’ in one of its spirited articles, says, this very morning, ‘that it cares not to see the Monarchy broken in pieces so that they may hurl its fragments at the heads of their opponents.’

[5] An instruction to the Committee to introduce a clause allowing out-door relief in all cases of able-bodied paupers married previously to the passing of the Act.

[6] [Whatever the antecedents of Mr. Muntz may have been, he lived to justify Lord John Russell’s choice. He was not only a good magistrate, but member for Birmingham for many years, and a useful member. He was the first man who, in our time, wore a long beard in the House.]

July 25th, 1839

Lord Clarendon made his first appearance in the House of Lords the night before last in reply to Lord Londonderry on Spanish affairs, with great success and excellent effect, and has completely landed himself as a Parliamentary speaker, in which, as he is certain to improve with time and practice, he will eventually acquire considerable eminence; and nothing can prevent his arriving at the highest posts. He is already marked out by the public voice for the [228] Foreign Office, for which he is peculiarly well fitted, and there is no reason why he should not look forward to being Prime Minister in some future combination of parties, a post which he would fill better than any of the statesmen who now play the principal parts in the political drama. The Government have at last taken fright, and have proposed troops and police to afford the country some sort of security during the recess and the winter. They have sent down Maule (the Solicitor to the Treasury) to Birmingham to investigate the evidence adducible against the magistrates, but I do not much expect that they will proceed to any extremities against them. It is too probable that ‘silebitur toto judicio de maximis et notissimis injuriis,’ for ‘non potest in accusando socios verè defendere is, qui cum reo criminum societate conjunctus est.’

August 9th, 1839

Brougham brought on his motion on Tuesday,[7] in spite of various attempts to dissuade him; but he could not resist the temptation of making a speech, which he said he expected would be the best he had ever delivered. He spoke for three hours in opening, and an hour and a quarter in reply, and a great performance by all accounts it was. The Duke of Wellington said it was the finest speech he had ever heard in Parliament. Normanby was miserably feeble in reply, and exhibited, by common consent, a sad failure, both on this occasion and on that of the Canada Bill. He is quite unequal to the office which has been thrust upon him, and he cannot speak upon great subjects, having no oratorical art or power of dealing skilfully and forcibly with a question. It was a very damaging night to the Government as far as reputation[8] is concerned, but in no other [229] FREAKS OF LORD BROUGHAM. way, for they are perfectly callous, and the public entirely apathetic. Melbourne was very smart in reply to Brougham, but did not attempt to deal with the question. The case, after all, is not a very strong one, and, though Normanby was much to blame in releasing prisoners and commuting sentences in the manner and to the extent he did, the principle on which he acted was sound, and it has proved beneficial. Had he known how, and been equal to the task, he might have made a fine defence by taking a high instead of a deprecatory line, and by a confident appeal to results; but it required more of an orator and a statesman than he is to handle his case with sufficient effect, and to stand up against such a master of his art as Brougham, backed by a favourable audience. This curious and versatile creature is in the highest spirits, and finds in the admiration which his eloquence, and the delight which his mischievousness excite on the Tory benches and in Tory society, a compensation for old mortifications and disappointments. After acting Jupiter one day in the House of Lords, he is ready to act Scapin anywhere else the next; and the day after this great display he went to dine at Greenwich with the Duchess of Cambridge and a great party, where he danced with Lady Jersey, while Lyndhurst capered also with the Dowager Lady Cowper. After dinner they drank, among other toasts, Lady Jersey’s health, and when she said she could not return thanks, Brougham undertook to do it for her, speaking in her person. He said, that ‘She was very sorry to return thanks in such a dress, but unfortunately she had quarrelled in the morning with her maid, who was a very cross, crabbed person, and consequently had not been able to put on the attire she would have wished, and in the difficulty she had had recourse to her old friend Lord Brougham, who had kindly lent her his best wig and the coat which he wore upon state occasions.’ After more nonsense of this kind, that ‘she was very sorry she could not say more, but that in the peculiar situation she then was in, she could not venture to remain any longer on her legs.’

[7] [Lord Brougham moved on the 6th August five resolutions censuring the Irish policy of the Government: they were carried in the House of Lords by 86 votes to 52.]

[8] ‘L’une des qualités indispensables d’un Gouvernement c’est d’avoir cette bonne renommée qui repousse l’injustice. Quand il l’a perdue et qu’on lui impute tous les crimes, les torts des autres et ceux même de la fortune, il n’a plus la faculté de gouverner, et cette impuissance doit le condamner ... à se retirer.’ (Thiers, t. x. p. 276.) Applicable to our Government now.

August 10th, 1839

I went to Norwood yesterday to see Dr. [230] Kay’s[9] Poor Law School, supposed to be very well managed, and very successful. As I looked at the class to whom a lesson was then being read, all the urchins from eight to eleven or twelve years old, I thought I had never seen a congregation of more unpromising and ungainly heads, and accordingly they are the worst and lowest specimens of humanity; starved, ill-used children of poor and vicious parents, generally arriving at the school weak and squalid, with a tendency to every vice, and without having received any moral or intellectual cultivation whatever; but the system, under able and zealous teachers, acts with rapid and beneficial effect on these rude materials, and soon elicits manifestations of intelligence, and improves and developes the moral faculties. When one sees what is done by such small means, it is impossible not to reflect with shame and sorrow upon the little, or rather the nothingness, that is accomplished when the material is of the best description, and the means are unlimited,—upon the total absence of any system throughout places of education, either public or private, and consequently at the imperfect and defective education which is given to the highest and richest class of society, who are brought up thus stupidly at an enormous expense, acquiring little knowledge, and what they do acquire, so loosely and incompletely as to be of the smallest possible use. When one sees what is done here, it makes one think what ought to be done elsewhere, and then contrast the possible with the actual state of the case.

[9] [Afterwards Sir James Kay Shuttleworth, Bart. Dr. Kay was a zealous promoter of national education, and had recently been appointed to the Education Department of the Privy Council Office, then in its infancy.]


[231] Review of the Session — Ministerial Changes — Effect of Changes in the Government — A Greenwich Dinner — Dover Dinner to the Duke of Wellington — A Toast from Ovid — Decay of Tory Loyalty — Unpopularity of Government — Brougham’s Letter to the Duke of Bedford — Character of John, Duke of Bedford — Brougham at the Dover Dinner — Brougham and Macaulay — The Duke’s Decline — Duke of Wellington consulted on Indian and Spanish Affairs — Baron Brunnow arrives in England — False Reports of Lord Brougham’s Death — Insulting Speeches of the Tories — Holland House — Lord Brougham and Lord Holland — The Queen’s Marriage is announced — Remarkable Anecdote of the Duke of Wellington — The Mayor of Newport at Windsor — Ampthill — Lord John Russell’s Borough Magistrates — Lord Clarendon’s Advice to his Colleagues — Prospects of the Government — Opening of the Session — Duel of Mr. Bradshaw and Mr. Horsman — Lord Lyndhurst’s View of Affairs — Prince Albert’s Household — The Privilege Question — Prince Albert’s Allowance — Precedence of Prince Albert — Lord John Russell and Sir Robert Peel — Judgement on the Newport Prisoners — A Vote of Want of Confidence moved — The Newport Prisoners — Prince Albert’s Precedency — Sir Robert Peel and his Party — Sir Robert Peel’s Speech and Declaration — Precedence Question — The Queen’s Marriage — Illness of the Duke of Wellington — The Precedence Question settled — The Duke opposed to Peel on the Privilege Question — Change in the Health of the Duke — Prince Albert’s Name in the Liturgy — Success of Pamphlet on Precedence — Judicial Committee Bill — Lord Dudley’s Letters — Amendment of Judicial Committee — King’s Sons born Privy Councillors, other Princes sworn — The Duke returns to London — Lord Melbourne’s Opinion on Journals.

August 15th, 1839

This eventful Session and season has at length closed, Lyndhurst having wound up by a résumé of the acts of the Government, in one of those ‘exercitations,’ as Melbourne calls them, which are equally pungent for their severity, and admirable for their lucidity. Melbourne made a bitter reply, full of personalities, against Lyndhurst, but offering a meagre defence for himself and his colleagues. Those who watch the course of events, and who occasionally peep behind the curtain, have but a sorry spectacle to contemplate:—a [232] Government miserably weak, dragging on a sickly existence, now endeavouring to curry a little favour with one party, now with another; so unused to stand, and so incapable of standing, on any great principles, that at last they have, or appear to have, none to stand on. Buffeted by their antagonists, and often by their supporters in Parliament, despised by the country at large, clinging to office merely to gratify the Queen, while they are just sufficiently supported in the House of Commons to keep their places, and not enough to carry their measures; for so meagre are their majorities, and so little do the public care for those majorities, or for the Ministers or their measures, that the Lords do not scruple to treat the Ministerial Bills with undisguised contempt. At the beginning of this Session, the weakness of the Government, and the impossibility of their going on, were so obvious, that the more wise and moderate of them began to prepare for their retirement, and Lord John Russell, by the publication of his Stroud letter, and the expression of those opinions which I was the means of conveying to Peel, evinced his determination to make the dissolution of the Government ancillary to the ascendency of true Conservative principles. The break-up came sooner than had been expected, and when Ministers resigned, on the majority of five on the Jamaica Bill (which they need not have done), they acted wisely, for they were enabled to retire with dignity, Peel and the Opposition having been clearly and flagrantly in the wrong upon this particular measure—so wrong, that it has been, and still is, matter of astonishment to me why they gave battle upon it, and I suspect that Peel was by no means elated at his own success on that occasion. However, out they went upon the Jamaica question, and though they fancy Peel did not really wish to form a Government, and that the difficulties he made were only a pretext for escaping from his position, this is not the case; he had no misgivings or fears, and was quite ready to undertake the task. However, Diis aliter visum: the Queen kept Lord Melbourne, and they came back to accumulated difficulties, and without any augmentation of parliamentary [233] A SINKING MINISTRY. strength or popular sympathy to sustain them. They made one miserable effort, and tossed a sop to the Radicals, by making the Ballot an open question, the grace and utility of which were entirely marred by Lord Howick’s speech, so that they got all the discredit of this concession without any compensatory advantage. They had begun the campaign by the abrupt expulsion of Glenelg (nobody has ever made out exactly why) and by bringing over Normanby in breathless haste to supersede him, without any reasonable probability of his giving such an accession of vigour and capacity to the Government as would justify this operation, and accordingly as more than ordinary success was requisite for a man promoted under such circumstances, the deeper were the mortification and disappointment at his failure. The Irish Committee, which put him on the defence of his administration there, distracted his attention and disturbed his mind, and he turned out to be unequal to his situation. His defence of himself upon Ireland was very weak, and his whole parliamentary conduct of colonial affairs lamentably inefficient. Then Mr. Spring Rice kept falling into continual discredit by his financial incompetence, so that day after day, from one cause or another, the Ministry sank in estimation, and got more weak and ridiculous. Of this they were not at all unconscious, and it was settled that something was to be done, though the difficulty both as to the manner and the matter was exceedingly great. Rice himself was eager to escape, and tried hard to be Speaker; but though the Cabinet had resolved he should be the Government candidate, it was found that no adequate support could be depended upon for him, and he was obliged, and they were obliged, to let Lefevre stand instead; at which Rice himself was so sulky that he showed his spite by contriving to arrive too late from Tunbridge for the division. They scrambled on till the end of the Session, when the changes which had long been discussed and battled were to take place, and then, naturally, came into play all the vanity, selfishness, and rival pretensions, which a sense of common danger could not silence. In the arrangement of all these things, Melbourne [234] is said to have severely suffered, so repugnant is it to his nature and habits to be the arbiter and adjuster of rival claims and pretensions.

It seems to have been arranged long ago that Normanby and John Russell should change places, ostensibly that the Colonial Minister might be in the House of Commons, and really because Normanby broke down, so that it was necessary to harness Lord John to the Colonial machine. Then they determined to send Poulett Thomson to Canada, without any consideration of the effect such an appointment would produce, either here or there, and his vacancy opened a fresh embarrassment about the Board of Trade. Labouchere having quitted the Vice-Presidency, and gone to the Colonial Office to work for them when they were in difficulty, was considered to have made a sacrifice, and he demanded as its reward that he should step into Poulett Thomson’s place, and his seat in the Cabinet. Melbourne wanted to offer the Board of Trade to Clarendon, and wrote to him to beg he would not go abroad without seeing him, and intimated that he had something to propose to him. On the other hand, Howick put in a claim for Charles Wood, and argued that as he had long taken a labouring oar in the boat, and in this Session, when they had got into a scrape about the Navy, Wood had successfully defended the Government in the House of Commons in a very good speech,—this eminent service, together with a long career of usefulness, gave him a superior claim to promotion. The details of the contest between these various candidates I do not know, but the result was that Labouchere got the place, Howick and Charles Wood both resigned, and Clarendon had a conversation with Melbourne, in which the latter informed him, not without embarrassment, that he had been in hopes he should have had the Board of Trade to offer him, but that Labouchere’s claim had been deemed not postponable, and all he had to offer him was the Mint without the Cabinet. Clarendon refused this with perfect good humour, though certainly not much flattered at the offer, and he took the opportunity of putting Melbourne in possession of his thoughts, [235] POULETT THOMSON SENT TO CANADA. both as to his own position and intentions, and the condition and prospects of the Government, with respect to which he did not mince matters, or fail to paint them in their true colours. He explained his own desire to try himself more in debate than he had been yet enabled to do, to see what he was fit for, and in the meantime owned that he had no particular desire to associate himself with such a rickety concern. The conversation was frank and characteristic, and must have been amusing. Melbourne acknowledged that he was quite right, and that the position of his Government was such as Clarendon described it.

Nothing strikes one more forcibly in the contemplation of these things, than the manner in which the public interests are complimented away for the sake of individual pretensions, and even in this there is an apparent caprice which is inexplicable. Glenelg, an honourable and accomplished man, is thrust out under very humiliating circumstances. Poulett Thomson, we are told, ‘must have been’ Chancellor of the Exchequer, if not Governor of Canada (a post he is by way of taking as a favour to his colleagues), ‘he could not be passed over.’ Why he could not, and in what his right consisted, it is difficult to say, nor why he is entitled to such amazing deference, while poor Glenelg was so unceremoniously treated. Poulett Thomson is clever and industrious, but his elevation, when compared with that of others, and with his own merit, as well as original means of raising himself, exhibits a very remarkable phenomenon, and as Lord Spencer, his early patron, has pretty well withdrawn from public affairs, it is not very obvious how or why Poulett Thomson is enabled to render his small pretensions so largely available. The Duke would not believe they meant to send him to Canada, and said they had much better leave Colborne there; but this is what they fancy they can’t do, and that they must send out somebody who is to solve the political problem of settling the future form of government, and so Poulett goes to finish what Durham began.

September 4th, 1839

The changes in the Government have been received with considerable indifference, nobody much [236] caring, and the generality of people finding fault with some or all of them. Normanby told me yesterday that he was fully sensible of the inconvenience of such changes, and of the bad effect they are calculated to produce, but that the appointment of Poulett Thomson was John Russell’s doing, that he had been bent upon it, and had carried it, and as he (Normanby) could not consent to it, and would not be immediately responsible for it, nothing was left but to change offices, and let the appointment of Poulett Thomson to Canada be Lord John’s own doing, who would thus administer the affairs of the Colony with a Governor of his own choice. He added, that it had been originally intended (when he left Ireland) that he should take his present office, but other circumstances had obliged him at that time to go to the Colonies. While Normanby quits the Colonies, because Thomson goes to Canada (as he says), Howick (as he says) resigns, because Normanby goes to the Home Office. But the world believes that the change of the one takes place, because Normanby is unequal to the work of the Colonies, and the resignation of the other, because Howick was not himself appointed Colonial Secretary. The ostensible ground for the change is, that the Minister who brings forward the Canada question in the House of Commons may be well versed in all the official details, and have immediate personal control over the local administration; and the excuse for sending out Thomson, and accepting Colborne’s resignation, is the necessity of appointing a Governor thoroughly acquainted with all that has passed both abroad and at home, cognisant of the intentions, and possessed of the confidence of the Cabinet. All this will appear to furnish inadequate grounds for recalling Colborne, who has acted with sense and vigour, albeit not pretending to be a statesman or a legislator. A story is told, which shows the levity of the Government people, and how they make game of what might be thought matter of anything but pleasantry to them. At the end of the season there is always a fish dinner at Greenwich, the whipper-in (Secretary of Treasury), Ben Stanley, in the chair; and this is on the plan of the Beefsteak Club, everybody [237] A GREENWICH DINNER. saying what he pleases, and dealing out gibes and jests upon his friends and colleagues according to the measure of his humour and capacity. Normanby, still smarting from the attacks of Brougham, was made the mark for these jocularities, after his health being drunk thus: ‘Lord Normanby and the liberation of the Prisoners.’ At a subsequent period, Rutherford, the Lord Advocate, attacked the Attorney-General, and said he had long known his learned friend as the advocate of liberty, but he had lately seen him in quite a new capacity, prosecuting in the Tory fashion, and having people shut up in jail in all parts of the country. Campbell said it was very true that he had lately had a very unpleasant duty to perform, and that he had been the unwilling instrument of incarcerating many of Her Majesty’s subjects, but that he had all along been consoled by the reflexion that there was every probability of his noble friend Lord Normanby making a progress, during the recess, and letting them all out again. Normanby, however, did not like the witticism, and complained afterwards that the dinner was very dull, and the jokes exceedingly heavy.

The Dover dinner to the Duke of Wellington,[1] which took place the other day, did not present an agreeable spectacle. Brougham, who had thrust himself in among the party, was pitched upon, as having the best gift of the gab, to propose the Duke’s health, which he did in a very tawdry speech, stuffed with claptraps and commonplaces. It was a piece of bad taste to select Brougham (who had nothing to do with Dover) for the performance of this office, which would have been more appropriately discharged by the local authority in the chair, although he might not have been able to make such a flourish as the practised orator favoured the company with. The Duke himself hates to be thus bepraised, and it is painful to see Brougham and him in any way connected, though for so ephemeral a purpose. The Duke’s health might be proposed in three lines of Ovid, [238] which express the position he fills more, and probably better, than the most studied oration could do:—

Si titulos, annosque tuos numerare velimus,
Facta premant annos. Pro te, fortissime, vota
Publica suscipimus, Bacchi tibi sumimus haustus.

It turned out a complete Tory celebration. There was an almost unmixed array of Tory names at the banquet, and one Whig lord (Poltimore), who happened to be at Dover declined attending.

[1] [A great entertainment was given to the Duke of Wellington as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports on the 30th August. Lord Brougham attended it, and delivered an oration of the most hyperbolical panegyric.]

September 5th, 1839

Among other bad signs of these times, one is the decay of loyalty in the Tory party; the Tory principle is completely destroyed by party rage. No Opposition was ever more rabid than this is, no people ever treated or spoke of the Sovereign with such marked disrespect. They seem not to care one straw for the Crown, its dignity, or its authority, because the head on which it is placed does not nod with benignity to them. An example of this took place the other day, when at a dinner at Shrewsbury the company refused to drink the health of the new Lord Lieutenant, the Duke of Sutherland (a man not personally obnoxious), because the Duchess of Sutherland is at the head of the Queen’s female household. This reproach does not apply to the leaders of the party, who are too wise and too decorous to hold such language or to approve of such conduct;[2] but is the animus which distinguishes the tail and the body, and they take no pains to conceal it.

[2] This was before the Bradshaw and Roby exhibitions.

September 7th, 1839

The result of the Cambridge and Manchester elections proves (if any proof was wanting), how utterly the cause of Government is lost in the country, and fully confirms the report of their universal unpopularity: Cambridge lost by one hundred, and Manchester barely won. Poulett Thomson told me just before that the Liberals had a certain majority (for any candidate) of several hundreds.

September 14th, 1839

Brougham has sent to the press a letter to the Duke of Bedford on Education, of which he thus speaks in a letter to Lord Tavistock:... ‘I have sent my letter to [239] BROUGHAM’S LETTER ON EDUCATION. the Duke to the press at Edinburgh. I wrote it in eight and a half hours the day I came here; but if I am to judge, who should not, it is by far the best thing I ever did, and the only eloquent. My whole heart was in it, both from affection to your excellent father, and to the subject. I hope it will do good, for the time is going away under me, and I shall be called to my great account before I have done any good on earth. Therefore I must make a new attempt at having something to show.’ The production will be probably very good in its way and very eloquent, but the note is characteristic—a mixture of pride and humility, humbugging and self-deceitful. What cares he for the Duke of Bedford, whom he scarcely sees from one end of the year to the other, and why should he care? They have very little in common—neither the idem velle nor idem nolle; and a more uninteresting, weak-minded, selfish character does not exist than the Duke of Bedford.[3] He is a good-natured, plausible man, without enemies, and really (though he does not think so) without friends; and naturally enough he does not think so, because there are many who pretend, like Brougham, a strong affection for him, and some who imagine they feel it. Vast property, rank, influence, and station always attract a sentiment which is dignified with the name of friendship, which assumes all its outward appearance, complies with its conditions, but which is really hollow and unsubstantial. The Duke of Bedford thinks of nothing but his own personal enjoyments, and it has long been a part of his system not to allow himself to be disturbed by the necessities of others, or be ruffled by the slightest self-denial. He is affable, bland, and of easy intercourse, making rather a favourable impression on superficial observers; caring little, if at all, for the wants or wishes of others, but grudging nobody anything that does not interfere with his own pursuits, and seeing with complacency those who surround him [240] lap up the superfluities which may chance to bubble over from his cup of pleasure and happiness. It is a farce to talk of friendship with such a man, on whom, if he were not Duke of Bedford, Brougham would never waste a thought.

[3] [These remarks relate to John, sixth Duke of Bedford, born 6th July, 1766, died 29th October, 1839. He was the father of the Lord Tavistock often mentioned in these Journals, and of Lord William and Lord John Russell.]

September 17th, 1839

Finding the Duke of Wellington was in town yesterday, I called on him. He talked to me a great deal about Brougham and the Dover dinner, and told me a comical anecdote with reference to his giving the toast of the Duke’s health at the dinner. The Committee invited him and, as the chairman was a man who could not speak at all, they, thinking it a catch to get so great an orator to do the office, proposed to Brougham to give the toast of the night. He accepted, and then they found that Lord Guilford, a man of the first rank and consequence in the county, and therefore entitled to this distinction, was highly affronted at the preference of Brougham to him. They got embarrassed, and desired to take the toast from Brougham and give it to Lord Guilford, and when he got down there this was suggested to him; but he said ‘it could not be, for he had not only written his speech beforehand, but had already sent it to be published, so that no alteration was then possible.’ The consequence was, Lord Guilford would not come to the dinner, and he was only pacified afterwards by the Duke himself, who went to call upon him for the purpose of soothing down his ruffled plumage; this he succeeded in doing by telling him this story, and nothing the Duke said reconciled him so much to what had passed, as the fact of Brougham’s having written his speech beforehand.

He told me what Brougham had said of Macaulay (whom he hates with much cordiality), when somebody asked if he was to be Secretary at War. ‘No, Melbourne would not consent to it: he would not have him in the Cabinet, and could not endure to sit with ten parrots, a chime of bells, and Lady W——.’

The more I see of the Duke, the more am I struck with the impression that he is declining; that he is not what he was a year or two ago. He is vigorous and hearty, cheerful, lively; his memory does not seem to be impaired; he talks [241] THE AFGHAN EXPEDITION. with sense and energy. If anybody asserted that they saw symptoms of mental decay, it would be easy to deny the fact, and to support the denial by ready and numerous examples of his force and sagacity in discussion, or in the transaction of business; but nevertheless I am persuaded that a change has come over him, that it is gradually spreading more and sinking deeper, and that we must begin to make up our minds to the deprivation of his noble spirit, full of honesty, wisdom, and patriotism as it is.[4]

[4] [The Duke, however, lived and flourished for thirteen years after this prediction.]

September 21st, 1839

I dined at Holland House last night, where, among others, were General Alava, and Sir John Hobhouse, the first in high glee at the termination of the war in Spain, and the last at the success of the Indian expedition.[5] Hobhouse told me that Auckland had displayed extraordinary qualities, and was the ablest Governor India had seen for a great length of time. Alava said that the last transactions in Spain and the mediation of Lord John Hay had reflected the highest honour on our Government, and that we had acted with a discretion, a delicacy, and a disinterestedness beyond all praise. But both Alava and Hobhouse told me what is very remarkable as showing the great reliance which even his political opponents place in the wisdom and patriotism of the Duke. Hobhouse said that he had had some time ago a very long conversation with the Duke, in which he had made him acquainted with all the means employed for the accomplishment of their Indian objects, and that the Duke, who had previously anticipated their failure, had, after hearing all these details, expressed himself perfectly satisfied, and admitted that they had every assurance of success. He did not go into the policy of the measure, which it would not have been proper or advisable [242] to do, but merely treated the question of military resources and their employment.

[5] [This was the expedition to replace Shah Sooja on the throne of Afghanistan, which was so auspiciously commenced and so deplorably terminated. Sir John Hobhouse was greatly elated at the enterprise and very confident of the result. He said to me soon afterwards that we must encounter the policy of Russia, and that the theatre of the struggle was Central Asia. I replied that I should have preferred the Baltic.—H.R.]

So, too, Alava, as soon as intelligence reached him and Palmerston of the overtures of Maroto, asked leave to communicate it to the Duke, which was immediately conceded. He was therefore informed of all that was going on, and it met with his fullest approbation; and yet all this time the great organ of the Tories is raving against the Government in the most frantic manner, for having been instrumental to this happy termination of the most frightful and revolting civil war that ever afflicted any country.[6]

[6] [The active support given to Espartero by the British Government under the Quadruple Treaty, and the operations of Lord John Hay on the northern coast of Spain, which stopped the supplies of the Carlists, contributed to bring the contest for the Crown of Spain to an end, and on the 15th August Don Carlos surrendered himself to the French Government at Bayonne.]

September 23rd, 1839

Lady Holland asked me the other night what I thought of their prospects, and I told her I thought them very bad. She said, ‘The fact is, we have nothing to rely upon but the Queen and Paddy.’ This has since struck me as being an epigrammatic but very correct description of their position.

Last night there came to Holland House after dinner Brunnow and Nesselrode’s son, the first (not unlike Brougham, and would be very like if his nose moved about), a very able man, and said to be ‘la pensée intime de l’Empereur,’ sent over to see what can be done about the Eastern Question, which I take to be a very difficult matter.[7] I had much talk with Dedel (who told me this) about Palmerston. I said it was well known he was very able with his pen, but I did not know how he was in Conference. He replied: ‘Palmerston comes to any Conference so fully and completely [243] LORD BROUGHAM’S PRETENDED DEATH. master of the subject of it in all the minutest details, that this capacity is a peculiar talent with him; it is so great, that he is apt sometimes to lose himself in the details.’

[7] [Baron Brunnow was sent to England at this time by the Emperor Nicholas to make the first overtures for the intervention of the Great Powers in the quarrel between the Sultan and the Pasha of Egypt. This overture was rejected by the Cabinet in 1839, but accepted on the Baron’s return to England in the following year, and it led to the celebrated treaty of the 15th July, 1840, and the quarrel with France, the true object of Nicholas having been the severance of the Western Powers. M. de Brunnow remained in England as Minister or Ambassador for nearly thirty-five years.]

London, November 8th, 1839

Six weeks nearly of an absolute blank. Left town October 1, Newmarket, then Cromer for ten days, Newmarket, London, Riddlesworth, Newmarket again, Euston, and back on Monday last. Nothing very remarkable has happened in this interval. Lord Clarendon[8] accepted the Privy Seal, not very willingly, but feeling that he could not, with decency, refuse it. They consider his accession to the Government a matter of great importance, and the Tories own it to be so, such a reputation has he acquired by the brilliant manner in which he conducted the mission in Spain, and by his popular and engaging qualities.

[8] [George William Frederic Villiers, fourth Earl of Clarendon, succeeded his uncle in the title in December, 1838. He had filled for some years with distinguished ability the office of British Minister at Madrid. He now returned to England; married Lady Katharine Barham, eldest daughter of the Earl of Verulam and widow of John Forster-Barham, Esq., in June 1839, and entered the Cabinet for the first time as Lord Privy Seal.]

Nothing has excited so much interest as the hoax of Brougham’s pretended death,[9] which was generally believed for twenty-four hours, and the report elicited a host of criticisms and panegyrics on his life and character, for the most part flattering, except that in the ‘Times,’ which was very able but very severe, and not less severe than true. As soon as it was discovered that he was not dead, the liveliest indignation was testified at the joke that had been played off, and the utmost anxiety to discover its origin. General suspicion immediately fixed itself on Brougham himself, [244] who, finding the bad impression produced, hastened to remove it by a vehement but indirect denial of having had any share in, or knowledge of, the hoax. But so little reliance is placed upon his word, that everybody laughs at his denials, and hardly anybody has a shadow of a doubt that he was himself at the bottom of it. He has taken the trouble to write to all sorts of people, old friends and new, to exonerate himself from the charge; but never was trouble more thrown away. D’Orsay says that he carefully compared the (supposed) letter of Shafto with one of Brougham’s to him, and that they were evidently written by the same hand. The paper, with all its marks, was the same, together with various other minute resemblances, leaving no doubt of the fact.

[9] [A letter from Brougham purporting to be from Mr. Shafto was received by Mr. Alfred Montgomery, which contained the particulars of Lord Brougham’s death by a carriage accident. Mr. Montgomery brought the letter to Lady Blessington’s at Gore House, where I happened to be, and I confess we were all taken in by the hoax. Montgomery went off in a post-chaise to break the news to Lord Wellesley at Fernhill; and meeting Lord Alfred Paget in Windsor Park, he sent the news to the Castle. The trick was kept up for twenty-four hours, but the next day I received a note from Brougham himself, full of his usual spirits and vitality.—H.R.]

Next to this episode, Jemmy Bradshaw’s speech at Canterbury has attracted the greatest attention, and he has been for many days the hero of newspaper discussion. This speech, which was a tissue of folly and impertinence, but principally remarkable for a personal attack of the most violent and indecent kind upon the Queen, was received with shouts of applause at a Conservative dinner, and reported with many compliments, and some gentle reprehension by the Tory press. His example has since been followed in a less offensive style by two others calling themselves Tories—a Mr. Roby and a Mr. Escott. Of these rabid and disloyal effusions, the Government papers have not failed to make the most, by pointing out the disaffected and almost treasonable character of modern Toryism when embittered by exclusion from office; and there is no doubt that, contemptible as the authors are, their senseless and disgusting exhibitions are calculated to do great mischief; for, if no other evil ensued, it is one of no small consequence to sour the mind of the Queen still more against the whole Tory party, and fasten upon her an impression which it will be difficult to efface, that she is odious and her authority contemptible in their eyes, so long as she is unfavourable to them, and commits herself to other hands than theirs. Peel is to be pitied for having to lead such an unruly and unprincipled faction. [245] VIOLENCE OF THE TORIES. Everything seems disjointed, all is confusion; moderate men, desirous of good government, stability, security, and safe amendment of political evils or errors, can find no resting-place. The Tories, the professors and protectors of Conservative principles, the abhorrers of changes, who would not have so much as a finger laid upon the integrity of the Constitution, are ready to roll the Crown in the dirt, and trample it under their feet; and the Government, to whom the maintenance of the Constitution is entrusted, whose especial duty it is to uphold the authority of the laws, are openly allied with, and continually truckling to, those factions, or sections of factions, which make no secret of their desire and determination to effect changes which nobody denies to be equivalent to revolution; and then we have the weight of the Crown thrown into the scale of this unholy alliance, from the mere influence of personal predilections and antipathies. To such a degree is principle dormant, or so entirely is it thrust into the background by passion, prejudice, or the interest of the passing hour.

November 13th, 1839

At Holland House for three days last week. Lord Holland told many stories of Lord Chatham, some of which I had heard before, and some not. His stories are always excellent, and excellently told, and those who have heard them before can very well bear to hear them again. I think I have somewhere inserted the ‘Sugar’ story, which Lord Harrowby told me many years ago, but without the vivacity and good acting of Lord Holland. Another of his sayings was in the House of Lords, when, on I forget what question, he was unsupported: ‘My Lords, I stand like our First Parents—alone, naked, but not ashamed.’ This was fine. Lord Holland said there was nothing like real oratory in Parliament before the American war.

He had received several letters from Brougham in a most strange, incoherent style, avowedly for the purpose of thanking Lady Holland for the interest he heard she had shown about him when his death was reported, and at the same time to explain that he had no hand in the report, which he [246] did with the utmost solemnity of asseveration;[10] but he took this opportunity to descant on the conduct of the party towards him, of the press, of the people, and of the leading Whigs, talked of the flags of truce he had held out, and how they had been fired on, and that he must again arm himself for another fight. All this in a curious, disjointed style. As these letters were considered flags of truce, Lady Holland fired upon them an invitation to dinner, but he would not come. I met him on Sunday, and asked him why he did not come, but he would not give any answer whatever. On that occasion he talked for two hours without stopping, abusing one person after another, particularly Fonblanque, and then telling the whole history of the Reform Bill and of the famous dissolution, and of all his own exploits on that occasion. It was amusing enough, but he talks too much, and his talk has the grand fault of not impressing his hearers with an idea of its truth; it is lively, energetic, vivacious, abundant, but it is artificial and unsatisfactory, because liable to suspicion and doubt.

[10] It was well known, eventually, that the hoax was entirely his own, and the letter dictated by himself.

Windsor Castle, November 15th, 1839

Here for a Council. I sat next to Baroness Lehzen at dinner—a clever, agreeable woman. She complained of Peel’s having said in the House of Commons that he did not mean to turn her out, and says he ought to have said he could not, and that he had nothing to do with her, as she is not in the public service. I defended Peel. In the evening, Lord Melbourne told me to search the Council books and see what was the form of declaration of the Sovereign’s marriage, so that matter is pretty clearly settled.

November 23rd, 1839

At Wolbeding for three days. Then news came of the Duke’s illness, which, though it turned out to be exaggerated, will, I fear, prove to have given him a shake. The Council being summoned to declare the Queen’s marriage to-day, I have come up to town for it, and am just returned from the declaration, which took place in the lower apartments of the palace. About eighty Privy Councillors [247] THE QUEEN’S BETROTHAL. present, all who were within call having attended. Peel, Lyndhurst, and the Duke. The Duke arrived last night for the purpose; he looked very old, very feeble, and decrepit. I thought a great change was observable in him, but he was cheerful as usual, and evidently tried to make the best of it. The Queen had sent in the morning to enquire after him, and the answer was, ‘He had had a restless night.’ All the Privy Councillors seated themselves, when the folding-doors were thrown open, and the Queen came in, attired in a plain morning-gown, but wearing a bracelet containing Prince Albert’s picture. She read the declaration in a clear, sonorous, sweet-toned voice, but her hands trembled so excessively that I wonder she was able to read the paper which she held. Lord Lansdowne made a little speech, asking her permission to have the declaration made public. She bowed assent, placed the paper in his hands, and then retired.

November 26th, 1839

The Queen wrote to all her family and announced her marriage to them. When she saw the Duchess of Gloucester in town, and told her she was to make her declaration the next day, the Duchess asked her if it was not a nervous thing to do. She said, ‘Yes; but I did a much more nervous thing a little while ago.’ ‘What was that?’ ‘I proposed to Prince Albert.’

The Duke of Cambridge hunted Brougham round the room, saying, ‘Oh, by God, you wrote the letter; by God, you did it yourself.’[11] Brougham is in a state of prodigious excitement. He has had a reconciliation with Normanby, and another with Durham—the first at Lady Clanricarde’s, the other at Lady Tankerville’s, where they casually met. He was overflowing with sentiment and eagerness to be friends with both.

[11] [Meaning the letter to Alfred Montgomery which announced Lord Brougham’s death.]

November 27th, 1839

The Queen settled everything about her marriage herself, and without consulting Melbourne at all on the subject, not even communicating to him her intentions. The reports were already rife, while he was in ignorance; and at last he spoke to her, told her that he could not [248] be ignorant of the reports, nor could she; that he did not presume to enquire what her intentions were, but that it was his duty to tell her, that if she had any, it was necessary that her Ministers should be apprised of them. She said she had nothing to tell him, and about a fortnight afterwards she informed him that the whole thing was settled. A curious exhibition of her independence, and explains the apprehensions which Lady Cowper has recently expressed to me of the serious consequences which her determined character is likely to produce. If she has already shaken off her dependence on Melbourne, and begins to fly with her own wings, what will she not do when she is older, and has to deal with Ministers whom she does not care for, or whom she dislikes?

December 14th, 1839

I was at Oatlands a fortnight ago, where I met Croker—not overbearing, and rather agreeable, though without having said much that was peculiarly interesting. Two things struck me. He said he dined and passed the evening tête-à-tête with the Duke of Wellington (then Sir Arthur Wellesley) before his departure for Portugal to take the command of the army. He was then Irish Secretary, and had committed to Croker’s management the bills he had to carry through Parliament. After dinner he was very thoughtful, and did not speak. Croker said, ‘Sir Arthur, you don’t talk; what is it you are thinking about?’ He said, ‘Of the French. I have never seen them; they have beaten all Europe. I think I shall beat them, but I can’t help thinking about them.’

Another tête-à-tête he had with the Duke was at the time of the Reform Bill, when he went down with him for a week to Strathfieldsaye, during which time he was more low-spirited and silent than Croker said he ever saw him before or since. He reproached himself for what he had done, particularly about Catholic Emancipation, the repeal of the Test Act, and his resignation in ’30. Very curious this, not alluding among the topics of self-reproach to his persevering and mischievous opposition to the Emancipation, which he at length conceded in a manner so fraught with future evil, however inevitable; nor to his famous Anti-reform declaration, [249] THE MAYOR OF NEWPORT AT COURT. which, though containing little if anything that was untrue, was so imprudent that its effects were enormous and irretrievable. Such is the blindness, the obstinate reluctance to the admission of error, which besets even the wisest and the best men; for if the Duke of Wellington could have divested his mind of prejudice, and reflected calmly on the past, or looked over the political map of bygone events with the practical sagacity he usually displayed, he never could have failed to perceive the true causes of them. People often take to themselves unmerited blame, to screen themselves from that which they are conscious they deserve.

On Monday last I went to Windsor for a Council. There we had Sir Thomas Phillips, the Mayor of Newport, who came to be knighted. They were going to knight him, and then dismiss him, but I persuaded Normanby that it would be a wise and popular thing to keep him there and load him with civilities—do good to the Queen, encourage others to do their duty—and send him back rejoicing to his province, to spread far and wide the fame of his gracious reception. He said, that etiquette would not permit one of his rank in life to be invited to the Royal table. I said, that this was all nonsense: if he was good enough to come and be knighted, he was good enough to dine there, and that it was a little outlay for a large return. He was convinced; spoke to Melbourne, who settled it, and Phillips stayed. Nothing could answer better, everybody approved of it, and the man behaved as if his whole life had been spent in Courts, perfectly at his ease without rudeness or forwardness, quiet, unobtrusive, but with complete self-possession, and a nil admirari manner which had something distinguished in it. The Queen was very civil to him, and he was delighted. The next morning he went to Normanby, and expressed his apprehension that he might not have conducted himself as he ought, together with his grateful sense of his reception; but the apology was quite needless.[12]

[12] [On the 4th November a Chartist riot occurred at Newport in Monmouthshire. The leaders were John Frost and Zephaniah Williams. The Mayor, Mr. T. Phillips, behaved with great gallantry, and ordered the troops to load. The mob, said to be 20,000 strong, first fired on the troops, who then returned the fire with effect and dispersed the assemblage. John Frost, the leader of this disturbance, had unluckily been made a magistrate by Lord John Russell some time before. His trial is subsequently adverted to.]

December 25th, 1839

[250] At Ampthill (Baron Parke’s) last Friday. Took down with me David Dundas, a Whig lawyer, and a very agreeable accomplished man, plenty of pleasant talk. Went over to Wrest, Lord de Grey’s new house—built, decorated, and furnished by himself—and very perfect in all ways. Heard on Sunday a Mr. Howorth preach—an admirable preacher, who ought to be promoted in the Church, just as Dundas ought in the State.[13]

[13] [Sir David Dundas afterwards became Solicitor-General and declined a judgeship.]

December 31st, 1839

We are arrived at the end of the year, and the next will begin with the Chartist trials. Parliament is about to meet. Parties are violent, Government weak, everybody wondering what will happen, nobody seeing their way clearly before them. The general opinion is, that the Opposition mean to take the Government if they can by storm, and will assault every weak point. The weakest, to my mind, is John Russell’s appointment of Frost to the magistracy, which, if skilfully handled, may be brought against him with great effect. Frost was appointed in pursuance of a system Lord John chose to establish, for the purpose of defeating the intentions of Parliament; and he did it upon his own responsibility in spite of warnings against it, and now we see some of the fruits of this policy. I told Normanby this, and he owned the truth of it, and moreover he told me that the system he found established by Lord John had proved very embarrassing to him, as it was very difficult for him to throw it over, and unless he did so he should be compelled to make, or sanction, objectionable appointments. Such have been the consequences of Lord John’s unstatesmanlike and perhaps unconstitutional conduct, adopted under the influence of resentment.

Lord Clarendon, who has just joined the Government with a lively sense of the tottering character of the concern he has entered, is resolved, as far as his influence may avail, [251] LORD CLARENDON TAKES OFFICE. to urge them to cast aside all attempts to catch votes, and cajole supporters, by partial concessions and half-and-half measures, to look the condition of affairs steadily in the face, and act in all things according to the best of their minds and consciences, as if they were as strong a Government as Pitt’s, and without any regard to consequences, so that they may either live usefully or die honourably. This is the true course, and that which I have urged him to enforce with all his credit. We had some talk about foreign affairs. He thinks there is danger of Palmerston’s getting too closely connected with Russia, while keeping France in check upon the complicated Eastern Question. He also spoke of a curious pamphlet, just published by Marliani, a Spaniard, who went in 1838 with Zea Bermudez on a mission to Berlin and Vienna, stating that a proposal had been made to Austria for a marriage between the young Queen of Spain and a son of the Archduke Charles, by which the Austrian alliance and influence would again be substituted for the French, and the object of the Family Compact defeated; and that Metternich would have listened eagerly to this if he had dared, and was only prevented and induced to entreat the Spaniards to go away by his overwhelming dread of Russian indignation.

January 14th, 1840

At Wrest for the last week. It is a new house built by Lord de Grey, without architects or any professional aid, and a great work for an amateur to have accomplished. Returned yesterday, and found London beginning to fill for Parliament. Everybody asks his neighbour, will the Government be able to go on—a question which nobody pretends to answer on any good grounds of probability. Electioneering casualties during the recess have brought the two parties (supposing all the Whig alliance to cohere) nearer to an equality than they were before, and they are so bitter against each other, that the Tories will certainly drive the Ministry out if they can, and take the chance of being themselves able to govern. But with reference to the state of public affairs and the composition of the Government, the Ministry presents a much more respectable [252] appearance than it has heretofore done; the Cabinet contains men of character, of experience, and of great acquirements, and Clarendon, who has just taken his seat among them and has added to it a good diplomatic reputation, tells me that they are not only very united, agreed in general principles, and only differing to an extent that any thirteen men must occasionally differ on particular points; but that they are as Conservative a Cabinet as possible. And so, no doubt, they are in their hearts and wishes, and so they would be, if the Conservatives would allow them to keep their places, and give them strength enough to maintain Conservative interests. It is impossible to doubt that the best thing that could happen in the present situation of the country would be the continuance in office of the present Government, with the consent and acquiescence of the Tories, so long as they administered the government on just, moderate, and constitutional principles, and with a full understanding that any departure therefrom would be followed by their unrelenting hostility. But this would require a large amount of patriotism and self-denial from a great party, who, besides a consciousness of strength, have their minds full of bitter animosity, and an impatience for party victory, and the acquisition of official power; and in their eager desire for revenge and triumph, they overlook all considerations, and are ready to incur any risk and take all consequences.

As far as the state of public affairs is concerned, Ministers have not at all a bad case to bring before the country. The great interests, on which the eyes of the world have been fixed, are prosperous and ably administered. Ebrington in Ireland, Auckland in India, and now Poulett Thomson in Canada, have contributed in their different ways to the favourable exposé of the Government, nor is there any point on which they are particularly vulnerable, or any grave reproach to which they have rendered themselves obnoxious. But all this will not avail to make them strong, or render their tenure of office secure and permanent. They are not popular, all parties distrust them, none believe that they have any fixed principles from which no considerations would [253] OPENING OF PARLIAMENT. induce them to swerve, and the unfortunate circumstances under which they so improperly took office again in March last, and their apparent wavering between antagonist principles, and readiness to yield to pressure when they could not escape it, have given a worse opinion of their character than they really deserve.

January 17th, 1840

Parliament met yesterday. The Queen was well enough received—much better than usual—as she went to the House. The Speech was harmless. Some had wished to have something about the Corn Laws in it, but this was overruled by the majority. They said nothing about Prince Albert’s Protestantism, and very properly, for though they might as well have done so in the Speech to the Privy Council (merely not to give a handle to their opponents for cavilling and clamouring), it would have been an acknowledgement of error, and a knocking under to clamour, to do so now. The Duke, however, moved an amendment, and foisted in the word Protestant,—a sop to the silly. I was grieved to see him descend to such miserable humbug, and was in hopes he was superior to it, and would have rather put down the nonsense than have lent his sanction to it. He is said to be very well, strong in body and clear in mind, but I fully expect that he will give, in the course of this Session, evident proofs of the falling-off of his mind.

In the House of Commons they are bent upon mischief, and speedy mischief; for Sir J. Yarde Buller gave notice directly of a motion of want of confidence, so that the strength of the two parties will be tested forthwith. This was a regular concerted party move, and took their opponents completely by surprise. It proceeds from the boiling impatience of the party, indoors and out. The Tory masses complain that nothing is done; and so, to gratify them, an immediate assault is resolved upon. Lord Wharncliffe said to me yesterday morning that the real obstacle to the Tories coming into office was the Queen. This was the only difficulty; but her antipathy to Peel rendered him exceedingly reluctant to take office, and there were many among the party who felt scruples in forcing an obnoxious Ministry upon [254] her. This is, in fact, the real Tory principle, but I doubt many of the Tories being influenced by it.

Bradshaw[14] and Horsman went out yesterday morning. The former called out the latter on account of a speech at Cockermouth, in which, in allusion to the famous Canterbury Victorippick, he had said that Bradshaw had the tongue of a traitor and the heart of a coward. Though six weeks had elapsed between the speech and the challenge, Horsman did go out, and they exchanged shots; after which Bradshaw made a sort of stingy apology for his insults to the Queen, and the other an apology for his offensive expressions. Gurwood went out with Bradshaw, which he had better not have done.[15] He said, ‘he had never read Bradshaw’s speech, and was ignorant what he had said.’ As Gurwood is a man of honour and veracity, this must be true; but it is passing strange that he alone should not have read what everybody else has been talking about for the last two months, and that he should go out with a man as his second on account of words spoken, and not enquire what they were.

[14] [Mr. Bradshaw had used very unbecoming and disloyal language in speaking of the Queen at a public dinner or meeting at Canterbury some weeks before. Mr. Horsman, a strong Whig, and Member for Cockermouth, had censured Bradshaw for his disloyalty—hence this strange duel.]

[15] [Colonel Gurwood, the Duke of Wellington’s confidential friend, and editor of his Despatches, had just been appointed to the Governorship of the Tower.]

January 18th, 1840

Everybody talks of this duel, and the Whigs abuse Gurwood, and accuse him of ingratitude, for having acted for Bradshaw in such a quarrel, when he has just been loaded with favours—a pension and a place; for, though the latter was given by the Duke of Wellington, it was with the concurrence of Government, who might either have reduced his salary or taken away his pension, and did neither. Gurwood has acquired a title to public gratitude by being instrumental to the publication of the Wellington Despatches; but he is a silly fellow; his conduct in this duel shows it. He certainly ought to have declined to meddle; but he told George Anson (who was Horsman’s second) he never did decline when asked; and he not only said he had [255] HORSMAN AND BRADSHAW DUEL. never read Bradshaw’s speech, but when George Anson offered to show it to him he refused to read it. I should have declined discussing the matter with him unless he did read it. Bradshaw behaved very well. After the shots, Gurwood asked if Horsman would retract. Anson said, ‘No, not till Bradshaw did, or apologised.’ Gurwood then said to Anson, ‘Will you propose to him to do so? I cannot.’ So he did. Bradshaw was deeply affected; owned he had been miserable ever since; said he could not live without honour, but would say anything that Anson and Gurwood (and he felt his honour as safe with the former as the latter) would agree that he could and ought to say; and George Anson drew up his apology, and did not make it stronger, because he would not press him hard. The fact is, he is much indebted to Horsman for getting him out, in some measure, of a very bad scrape.

The Queen has been attacked for going down in person to Parliament, just after the news arriving of the Landgravine’s death; but she consulted her relations, the Princess Augusta particularly, who advised her to go, said it was a public duty, and that they had all been brought up in the doctrine that the discharge of the duties of their station was to supersede everything. So she went.

I met Burge[16] this morning, who is very much disgusted at no mention being made of Jamaica in the Speech, and at the speech of John Russell; who, in alluding to the omission, spoke very disparagingly of the Assembly, or at least, what will there appear so. But he admits, nevertheless, that Lord John Russell is by far the best Secretary of State he ever had to deal with, and that in his general conduct towards the island they have ample cause for satisfaction.

[16] [William Burge, Esq., Q.C., for many years agent for the island of Jamaica, and author of a valuable work entitled ‘Commentaries on Colonial Law.’]

January 22nd, 1840

Dined at Lady Blessington’s the day before yesterday: a queer omnium gatherum party—Prince Louis Napoleon, General Montholon, Lord Lyndhurst, Brougham, Sir Robert Wilson, Leader, and Roebuck. Droll [256] to see Lyndhurst, the most execrated of the Tories, hand-and-glove, and cracking his jokes, with the two Radicals. After dinner I had a talk with him. He said the Duke had been all against the motion on the 28th, but that unless they had agreed to it, the party would have been broken up; said he did not care about coming in. If they did, a dissolution would give them a majority of sixty, but that this would not enable them to stand against the Queen’s hostility and determination to trip up their heels whenever she could;[17] that the Opposition would become more Radical, the Queen herself Radical; they should be driven out, and the country ruined. He thought the Duke strong in body and clear in mind, but more excitable. I said I thought that to those who knew him a change was perceptible; that it was impossible to cite any particular thing in proof of it; but that conversation with him left such an impression. Lyndhurst replied that this was exactly his own opinion, but that the Duke’s authority with the party was undiminished, and indispensably necessary to keep them together. The Tories are very angry with Peel for taking such a strong part as he has done on the Privilege question, which nothing but his influence prevents their turning into a regular party debate. The House has gone floundering on upon it, wasting a great deal of time and ingenious speaking, and having got into a difficulty from which there is no convenient extrication.

[17] [A very erroneous prediction. They did come in in the following year, and the Queen gave her entire confidence and support to Sir Robert Peel’s Government.]

The Judges are much censured for their behaviour at Newport:[18] first, for not themselves deciding the point that was raised; next, for not asking the jury for the reasons of their recommending the criminals to mercy; and the Chief Justice’s charge to the jury was thought a very weak and poor performance.

[18] [This relates to the trial of Frost and others by a Special Commission at Newport for the riots of the preceding year.]

Yesterday morning[19] the Duke of Bedford came to me, to [257] THE PRIVILEGE QUESTION. beg I would suggest some Lord for the situation of Chief of Prince Albert’s establishment, for they can get none who is eligible. They want a Peer, a Whig, and a man of good sense, character and education, something rather better than common, and such an one willing to put on Court trappings they find not easily to be had. We made out a list, to be shown to Melbourne, who had consulted the Duke of Bedford, and asked him for a man. We talked over the bitter hostility between the Queen and the Tories, and he said, that Melbourne did everything he could to mitigate her feelings, and to make her understand that she must not involve the whole party in the reproach which justly attaches to a few foolish or mischievous zealots, so much so that lately when the Queen was inveighing against the Tories to somebody (he would not say to whom), and complaining of their behaviour to her, she added, ‘It is very odd, but I cannot get Lord Melbourne to see it in that light.’

[19] John, sixth Duke of Bedford, had died on the 20th October, 1839, and my friend Tavistock had become Duke of Bedford.

January 24th, 1840

The Privilege question[20] occupies everybody’s thoughts, and there is much interest and curiosity to see the sequel of it. The state of the House of Commons upon it is curious: all the Whigs for Privilege, and the chiefs of the Tories with them; with some of the lawyers (except Sugden) the same way; but Follett, who at first was heartily with Peel, has latterly taken no part, though he has voted with the majority. On the other side are the great bulk of the Tories and all the second-rate lawyers—the only eminent ones that way being Sugden, Pemberton, and Kelly. The debates have elicited some admirable speeches on both sides, of which Peel’s three nights ago, when he explained the law [258] better than the lawyers could, has been the most remarkable. The Tories are very angry with him for taking it up so warmly, and they will not be the more pleased at the complimentary speech of John Russell, in which he told him that nothing but his taking the course he had done had enabled the House to assert its privilege at all, as it could not have been made a mere party question. The Government are getting into better spirits about their prospects, and so many of the Tories acknowledge that there would be danger and difficulty in changes just now, that there will probably be none. Mr. Walter was beaten hollow in Southwark in spite of an Anti-Poor Law cry, by the help of which his friends were very sanguine about his success.

[20] [The Privilege question arose out of a prosecution of Messrs. Hansard by one Stockdale, for the publication of a libel on himself in the Parliamentary Debates. Hansard pleaded the authority of Parliament, but the Court of Queen’s Bench rejected the plea and gave judgement against Hansard. The House of Commons, on the motion of Lord John Russell, who was supported by Sir R. Peel, defended their printers, and committed the Sheriffs of London for levying damages on Hansard. Peel afterwards acknowledged that he had been misled by the advice of Sir F. Pollock and had gone too far; in fact, it appears from the text that the weight of legal authority was against him. The dispute was settled at last by legislation. See infra, February 21st, 1840.]

January 26th, 1840

The Government are triumphant at all their elections, and raised to the skies by their success, which they construe into an indication of reaction in their favour. It is certainly a great thing for them, for it produces a good moral effect, besides the influence it will have on the division next week, and it tends to show that if a dissolution were to take place, the Conservatives would not be in so much better, nor the Whigs in so much worse a position, as the former have been for some time boasting of, and the latter apprehending. Everybody (except those who have an interest in defending it) thinks the allowance proposed for Prince Albert very exorbitant: 50,000ℓ. a year given for pocket money is quite monstrous, and it would have been prudent to propose a more moderate grant for the sake of his popularity. Prince George of Denmark had 50,000ℓ. a year (as it is said), but the Queen gave it him, and he had a household four times more numerous than is intended for Prince Albert.

January 29th, 1840

On Monday night Government were beaten by 104 on the question of reducing the Prince’s allowance from 50,000ℓ. to 30,000ℓ. a year. They knew they should be beaten, but nevertheless John Russell would go doggedly on and encounter this mortifying defeat, instead of giving way with the best grace he could. He lost his temper, and flung dirt at Peel, like a sulky boy flinging rotten eggs; in [259] NATURALISATION OF PRINCE ALBERT. short, exposed himself sadly. His friends were much annoyed that he did not give way, as soon as he found that there was no chance of carrying it, and that many Government supporters would vote against it; besides the mortification to the Prince, there was something mean and sordid in squabbling for all the money they could get, and the sum given him is satis superque for all his wants.

In the Lords, they introduced the Naturalisation Bill in such a slovenly and objectionable form, that the Duke desired it might be put off, which (although he pledged and committed himself in no manner) they immediately construed into a resolution to oppose the Precedence part of it. The Queen is bent upon giving him precedence of the whole Royal Family. The Dukes of Sussex and Cambridge, who each want some additions to their incomes, have signified their consent; the King of Hanover (whom it does not immediately concern) has refused his. On this they brought in their Bill. Her Majesty was, however, more provoked at what passed in the House of Lords, than at the defeat in the Commons.

I asked Charles Gore why John Russell did not avail himself of the momentary connexion he had with Peel on the Privilege question, to ask him what his views were about the allowance, and tell him that it was so desirable to avoid any division on such a question that he wished to propose nothing that was likely to be objected to. Gore said that upon a former occasion, when Lord John had spoken in such a spirit to Peel, he had been met by him in such an ungracious manner that it was impossible for him ever to do so again. This was about the Speakership, when he wrote a private note to Peel, beginning ‘My dear Sir,’ and asking him to tell him what the intentions of his party were about opposing the Government Speaker, because he was anxious if possible not to bring people up to town without necessity; to which he replied in the coldest and driest terms, ‘Sir Robert Peel presents his compliments to Lord John Russell,’ expressing his surprise at his letter, saying he had no right to call upon him for any explanation of his intentions, and refusing to [260] give any information whatever. I do not think John Russell had any right to make such a communication to him, and it was, I fancy, very unusual, but Peel might as well have answered it good-humouredly.

The judges have given their decision upon the two points raised for the Newport prisoners,[21] and their fate now rests with the Government. They decided, by a majority of nine to six, that the objection was valid, and by nine to six that it was not taken in time. Upon such accidents do the lives of men depend. It is well known that the law can have no certainty, because so much must always be left to the discretion of those who administer it; but such striking illustrations of its uncertainty, and of the extent to which the chapter of accidents is concerned in it, seldom occur, and make one shudder when they do.[22] No doubt, however, is cast over the guilt of the men, and the Government may very properly leave them to their fate, if they are not afraid of shocking public opinion by doing so. The world at large does not distinguish accurately or reason justly, swallows facts in gross, and jumps to conclusions. Many will say it is hard to put men to death when the judges are nearly equally divided on their case, the majority admitting that the law would save them if it had been urged soon enough in their favour. It rather seems to turn the tables on the prosecution; and whereas the prisoners are availing themselves of a mere quibble, of a technical objection, strained to its extremest point, the effect may be that of exhibiting the Government as availing itself of the technicality in point of time to overthrow the more important legal objection. The case appears to have been very ably argued, especially by Kelly.

[21] [The ringleaders in the Newport riots were convicted and might have been hanged; but two technical objections to the sentence having been taken, though not allowed by the judges, the Government remitted the capital sentence. They had a narrow escape.]

[22] Parke said, that if the objection had been decided on the spot they would have escaped, as he and Williams were for it, while the Chief Justice was against it.

January 30th, 1840

The great debate in the House of Commons [261] THE MONMOUTH CONVICTS. has now lasted two nights,[23] without being very interesting. Sir George Grey made a brisk, dashing speech quite at the beginning, which was very effective, but when read, disappoints, as there does not seem a great deal in it. Last night Macaulay failed. He delivered an essay, not without merit, but inapplicable, and not the sort of thing that is wanted in such a debate. He had said he should not be of use to them, and he appears to have judged correctly. The Tories affected to treat his speech with contempt, and to talk and laugh, which was a rudeness worthy of the noisy and ignorant knot that constitutes the tail of that party. Howick attacked everybody all round, and explained his own motive for leaving office, not alluding to the Secretary of State’s office; and Graham made one of his usual speeches.

[23] [Sir John Yarde Buller moved a resolution that ‘Her Majesty’s Government, as at present constituted, does not possess the confidence of this House,’ which was defeated after a long debate by 308 votes to 287.]

January 31st, 1840

Macaulay’s speech, which was said to be a failure, reads better than Sir George Grey’s, which met with the greatest success—the one fell flat upon the audience, while the other was singularly effective. So great is the difference between good manner and bad, and between the effect produced by a dashing, vivacious, light, and active style, and a ponderous didactic eloquence, full of matter, but not suited in arrangement or delivery, and in all its accessory parts, to the taste of the House.

The question of sparing the lives of the Monmouth prisoners or not is everywhere discussed, with an almost general opinion that, under all the circumstances, the Government cannot let the law take its course. It is impossible for any reasoning to be more fallacious, because, if pushed to its just conclusion, it must result that they ought to escape altogether, which nobody expects or desires. The case has been very curious from the beginning; and end how it may, no criminals ever had so many chances afforded them of escape; never were there nicer points for the decision of different people or different stages of the business, or [262] more blunders committed by almost all concerned. In the first place, Maule, the Crown solicitor, failed to comply with the letter of the Act, and did not furnish the prisoners with lists of the jury and the witnesses at the same time ten days before the trial. He gave them one list ten days before, and the other fifteen days before. The Attorney-General was aware of the fact, and aware that a question would arise upon it; the judges appointed to the special Commission were apprised of it by their Associates, and they communicated with each other upon it. They considered whether they should convey the expression of their doubts upon this point to the Government, so that the difficulty might be rectified; but they agreed that their duty was to try the cause, and not to interfere in any way whatever, and they accordingly held their peace. It was in the power of the Attorney-General to postpone the trial for ten days, which would have removed every difficulty and objection, but he was so certain that the objection could not be maintained, that he would not do so, and chose to run the risk, unwisely, as it has turned out. The trial came on, and the counsel for the prisoners, instead of urging the objection in limine, suffered them to plead; whereas, if they had refused to plead, they would have escaped altogether.[24] The trial proceeded; they were found guilty, and recommended to mercy, but the Chief Justice never asked the jury upon what grounds, leaving it doubtful whether the jury thought that there were any extenuating circumstances, or whether they were actuated by terror, or mere repugnance to the infliction of capital punishment. It was probably the great importance of the case, and the fact of the Chief of the Commission being against the objection, which induced the other two who were in its favour to agree to refer it to the other judges; for if it had been settled on the spot the trials would have ended at once. Moreover it was believed that the judges thought very lightly of the objection, and [263] THE PRECEDENCE OF PRINCE ALBERT. Brougham told me they were unanimous, so ill-informed was he of their real opinions.

[24] This is not so. If they had raised the objection before the prisoners pleaded, the Attorney-General could have put the trial off, and of course if the judges thought the objection valid, he would have done so.

Yesterday morning I met Lord FitzGerald, when we walked together, and I begged him to find some expedient for settling à l’amiable the question of Precedence, so as to pacify the Queen if possible, who was much excited about it. He spoke very despondingly of the general state of affairs, but said that he was as anxious as anybody to avoid unpleasant discussions upon it, and to satisfy her if possible, but that the House of Lords were running breast high upon it. I begged him to see the Duke of Wellington, to tell him what her feeling was, and entreat him to take measures to settle it quietly. He said he would see him, and that he was convinced if the Duke had his own way, he would be disposed to do this; but that if it was left to Lyndhurst and Ellenborough, it was impossible to answer for what they might do. His own impression was, that they might and ought to give him precedence for her life over the rest of the Royal Family (though it was very awkward with regard to the King of Hanover, when he refused his consent), but not over a Prince of Wales, to which, he thought, they never would consent. We talked the matter over in all its bearings, and the result was, that he undertook to go to the Duke and tell him what I had said. I had (not an hour ago) a confirmation of what he said as to Ellenborough, for I met him at his own door (next mine), when I said to him, ‘What are you going to do about the precedence?’ To which he said, ‘Oh, give him the same which Prince George of Denmark had: place him next before the Archbishop of Canterbury.’ I said, ‘That will by no means satisfy the Queen;’ at which he tossed up his head, and said, ‘What does that signify?’

FitzGerald afterwards talked to me of Peel and his party, of their violent language on account of his conduct in the Privilege question, and of his annoyance at their separation from him—not the lawyers, or those really competent to form an opinion, but the great mass destitute of the knowledge or understanding necessary to form an opinion—and only opposing him because he supported John Russell. [264] Amongst other things, when we were talking of the event of May last, and of the Queen’s antipathy to Peel, he said that it was altogether unaccountable, for even from his last interview he had come away not dissatisfied with her manner, and he owned that he had no doubt Melbourne did his best honestly to drive out of her mind the prejudices which have so great an influence upon her; and at that very crisis, he told me as a proof of it, that at the ball at Court, Melbourne went up to Peel and whispered to him with the greatest earnestness, ‘For God’s sake, go and speak to the Queen.’ Peel did not go, but the entreaty and the refusal were both characteristic. FitzGerald said, that nothing would induce Peel to continue (after this fight) a worrying war with the Government; and added, what is very true, that though a weak Opposition was a very bad thing, there was no small danger and difficulty in leading a strong one.

February 4th, 1840

After four nights’ debate and division, at five in the morning, Government got a majority of twenty-one, just what was (at last) expected. Peel spoke for three hours, and so elaborately as to fatigue the House, so that his speech probably seems much better to the reader than to the hearer of it. The Opposition all along abstained from attacking the Government upon their measures, and Peel directed his artillery against their compromise of principle in making Ballot an open question, and the general laxity of their political morality. But the most important part of his speech was his declaration of the principles by which he meant to be governed in office or out; and his manly and distinct announcement to his followers, that they must support him on his own terms, and that if they did not like them, he was sorry for it, and they might look elsewhere for a leader if they chose it. There can be no doubt that it was wise and bold thus to cast himself on public opinion, and to put forth a manifesto, which leaves no doubt of his future conduct, and from which there is no retreat for him, and by which all his adherents must be equally bound. On the other hand, Lord John, considering he rose at three in the morning, when he and the House must have been pretty [265] ROYAL PRECEDENCE REFUSED. well exhausted, made a very good and honourable speech, and ended with a declaration quite as Conservative as Peel’s was on the other hand Liberal, so much so that it is really difficult to say what difference there now is between them, nor does there appear any reason why (circumstances permitting) they should not act together to-morrow. As far as the two parties are concerned, taking debate and division, perhaps no great advantage has been gained by either, but I think the discussion has been beneficial by eliciting the above declaration from the respective leaders.

The Precedence Question has fallen to the ground, and is left unsettled, in a manner much to be regretted. After my interview with FitzGerald, I went to Clarendon and told him what had passed. He went to the Cabinet, and prevailed on Duncannon to speak to Melbourne and get him to communicate with the Duke, for the purpose of settling the question if possible amicably. Melbourne said he would, but did not. On Friday the Cabinet agreed to give up the precedence over the Prince of Wales; but to a question of Brougham’s the Chancellor said, he had no other concession to offer. It was then agreed that the discussion should be taken on Monday. On Saturday Clarendon spoke to Melbourne himself, and urged him to consider seriously the inconvenience of a battle on this point, and prevailed upon him to go to the Duke of Wellington and talk it over with him. He wrote to the Duke, who immediately agreed to receive him; when he went to Apsley House, and they had an hour’s conversation. Melbourne found him with one of his very stiffest crotchets in his head, determined only to give the Prince precedence after the Royal Family; and all he could get from him was, that it would be unjust to do more. All argument was unavailing, and he left him on Saturday evening without having been able to make any impression on him, or to move him by a representation of the Queen’s feelings to make concessions to meet those the Government were prepared to make; for the Queen would have been content to accept precedence for her life, and saving the rights of the Prince of Wales. This, however, they would [266] not consent to; and so determined were they to carry their point, that they made a grand whip up, and brought Lord Clare all the way from Grimsthorpe, to vote upon it. Under these circumstances the Government resolved to withdraw the clause, and they did so, thus leaving the Prince without any specific place assigned by Parliament, and it remains with the Queen to do what she can for him, or for courtesy, tacit consent, and deference for her Consort to give him the precedence virtually which the House of Lords refuses to bestow formally. I think the Duke has acted strangely in this matter, and the Conservatives generally very unwisely. Volentibus non fit injuria, and the Dukes of Sussex and Cambridge, who alone were concerned, had consented to the Prince’s precedence. The King of Hanover, it seems, was never applied to because they knew he would have refused; and they did not deem his consent necessary. There is no great sympathy for the lucky Coburgs in this country, but there is still less for King Ernest, and it will have all the effect of being a slight to the Queen out of a desire to gratify him. There certainly was not room for much more dislike in her mind of the Tories; but it was useless to give the Prince so ungracious and uncordial a reception, and to render him as inimical to them as she already is. As an abstract question, I think his precedence unnecessary; but under all the circumstances it would have been expedient and not at all unjust to grant it.

February 13th, 1840

The discussion about the Precedence question induced me to look into the authorities and the ancient practice, and to give the subject some consideration. I came to the conclusion that she has the power to give him precedence everywhere but in Parliament and in Council, and on the whole that her husband ought to have precedence. So I wrote a pamphlet upon it, setting forth the result of my enquiry and my opinion. I have been in many minds about publishing it, and I believe I shall, though it is certainly not worth much.

The wedding on Monday went off tolerably well.[25] The [267] THE QUEEN’S MARRIAGE. week before was fine, and Albert drove about the town with a mob shouting at his heels. Tuesday, Wednesday, and to-day, all beautiful days; but Monday, as if by a malignant influence, was a dreadful day—torrents of rain, and violent gusts of wind. Nevertheless a countless multitude thronged the park, and was scattered over the town. I never beheld such a congregation as there was, in spite of the weather. The Queen proceeded in state from Buckingham House to St. James’s without any cheering, but then it was raining enough to damp warmer loyalty than that of a London mob. The procession in the Palace was pretty enough by all accounts, and she went through the ceremony with much grace and propriety, not without emotion, though sufficiently subdued, and her manner to her family was very pretty and becoming. Upon leaving the Palace for Windsor she and her young husband were pretty well received; but they went off in a very poor and shabby style. Instead of the new chariot in which most married people are accustomed to dash along, they were in one of the old travelling coaches, the postilions in undress liveries, and with a small escort, three other coaches with post-horses following. The crowds on the road were so great that they did not reach the Castle till eight o’clock.

[25] [Queen Victoria was married to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha on the 10th February, 1840.]

February 15th (Saturday), 1840

The Duke of Wellington had a serious seizure on Thursday.[26] He dines early, and he rode out after dinner. The first symptom of something wrong was, that he could not make out the numbers on the doors of the houses he wanted to call at. He went to Lady Burghersh, and when he came away, the footman told his groom he was sure his Grace was not well, and advised him to be very attentive to him. Many people were struck with the odd way he sat on his horse. As he went home this got more apparent. When not far from Apsley House he dropped the reins out of his left hand, but took them up with the other, [268] and when he got to his own door, he found he could not get off his horse. He felt his hand chilled. This has been the first symptom in each of his three attacks. He was helped off. Hume was sent for, came directly, and got him to bed. He had a succession of violent convulsions, was speechless, and his arm was affected. They thought he would have died in the night. The doctors came, physicked but did not bleed him, and yesterday morning he was better. He has continued to mend ever since, but it was a desperate blow, and offers a sad prospect. He will probably again rally, but these things must be always impending, and his mind must be affected, and will be thought to be so. Lyndhurst asked me last night what could be done. He said, ‘The Duke ought now to retire from public life, and not expose himself to any appearance of an enfeebled understanding. Above all things to be deprecated is, that he should ever become a dotard like Marlborough, or a driveller like Swift.’ ‘How,’ he said, ‘would Aberdeen do?’ He owned that nobody could replace the Duke or keep the party in order, and he said that the consequence would be it would break up, that ‘there are many who would be glad of an opportunity to leave it.’ This I told him I did not believe, but it certainly is impossible to calculate on the consequences of the Duke’s death, or, what is nearly the same thing, his withdrawal from the lead of the party.

[26] [The Duke was seventy when he had this seizure, supposed at the time to be fatal, at least to his faculties. But he lived for twelve years after it and continued during the greater part of that time to render great public services and to lead the Tory party.]

February 16th, 1840

The Duke of Wellington, although his life was in such danger on Thursday night, that the chances were he would die, has thrown off his attack in a marvellous manner, and is now rapidly approaching to convalescence, all dangerous symptoms subsiding. The doctors, both Astley Cooper and Chambers, declare that they have never seen such an extraordinary power of rallying in anybody before in the whole course of their practice, and they expect that he will be quite as well again as he was before. It is remarkable that he has an accurate recollection of all the steps of his illness from the first perception of uneasy sensations to the moment of being seized with convulsions. He first felt a chillness in his hand, and he was surprised to [269] PAMPHLET ON ROYAL PRECEDENCE. find himself passing and repassing Lady Burghersh’s house without knowing which it was. He called, however, and went up; and to her enquiry—for she was struck with his manner—he replied that he was quite well. Going home he dropped the rein, but caught it up with the other hand. When he arrived at his door, the servants saw he could not get off his horse, and helped him, and one of them ran off instantly for Hume. The Duke walked into his sitting-room, where Hume found him groaning, and standing by the chimney-piece. He got him to bed directly, and soon after the convulsions came on.

I have sent forth my pamphlet, and there seems a chance of its being read. Lord Melbourne said to me, ‘What is to be done about this Precedence?’ I said, ‘I have told you[27] what I think is to be done. Have you sent my pamphlet to the Queen?’ ‘I have sent it her, and desired her to show it to Prince Albert; and I have sent it to the Chancellor, and desired him to give me his opinion on the law, as it requires great consideration and great care.’[28] I asked him, ‘if he had any doubt about the law, that is, about my law.’ He said, ‘he had doubts whether the Act of Henry VIII. was not more stringent.’ I told him I had consulted Parke, Bosanquet, and Erskine, that we had read the Act together, and they were all clear that the Prerogative was not limited except as to Parliament and the Council. At all events, I said, he ought not to be made a Privy Councillor till after this matter was settled, and to that he agreed; and it was settled that he should not be sworn at the Council to-morrow. [270] So thus it stands, and if the Chancellor sees no objection, my plan will be adopted, and I shall have settled for them, having no earthly thing to do with it, what they ought to have settled for themselves long ago, and have avoided all the squabbling and bad blood which have been the result of their unlucky Bill. In the meantime the Duke read my pamphlet yesterday, and to-day I went there to hear what he said to it, and found that he agreed with me entirely, and that he is all for the adoption of my suggestion. This I forthwith despatched to Clarendon, who was gone to the Levée, and desired him to tell Melbourne of it.

[27] I had already sent my pamphlet to Melbourne and to a few other people.

[28] [Mr. Greville contended in his pamphlet that the Act of Henry VIII. for ‘Placing the Lords’ applied only to their precedence in the House of Lords and in the Privy Council, which being statutory could not be changed; but that it was competent to the Crown to confer any precedence elsewhere. Prince Albert was not a Peer, and he was not at this time a Privy Councillor; therefore, the provisions of the statutes of Henry VIII. did not apply to him. He was subsequently introduced into the Privy Council, where by courtesy rank was given him next the Queen when no other member of the Royal Family was present. As this pamphlet has some legal and historical interest, it is reprinted in the Appendix to this volume.]

February 21st, 1840

On Thursday morning I got a note from Arbuthnot, desiring I would call at Apsley House. When I got there, he told me that the Duke of Cambridge had sent for Lord Lyndhurst to consult him; that they were invited to meet the Queen on Friday at the Queen Dowager’s, and he wanted to know what he was to do about giving precedence to Prince Albert. Lord Lyndhurst came to Apsley House and saw the Duke about it, and they agreed to report to the Duke of Cambridge their joint opinion that the Queen had an unquestionable right to give him any precedence she pleased, and that he had better concede it without making any difficulty. The Duke acquiesced, and accepted the invitation. Melbourne told me the Queen was well satisfied with my pamphlet, but ‘she remarked that there was a very high compliment to the Duke of Wellington at the end of it.’ I asked if she had said it was a just one. He said, ‘No, she did not say that.’

I heard from Arbuthnot this morning that the Duke has set his face resolutely against any Bill in the House of Lords to settle the Privilege question; and that Lyndhurst, though not so strong in his opinion as the Duke, is resolved to abide by his determination, and to go with him. The Duke, in fact, goes as far as any of the opponents of the Privilege, for he not only thinks that the dicta of the Judges are not to be questioned, but that the House of Commons ought not to have the Privilege at all—that is, that their papers ought not to be sold, and that they ought not to be circulated [271] BILL ON THE PRIVILEGE QUESTION. without anything being previously weeded out of them which the law would consider libellous. This strong opinion of his renders the question exceedingly difficult and embarrassing, for it was become very clear that nothing but the intervention of the House of Lords could untie so ravelled a knot. All the Tories are in a state of mingled rage and despair at the impetuosity with which Peel has plunged into this matter, and at the irretrievable manner in which he has identified himself with Lord John Russell upon it. Stanley and Graham have always voted with him, but have never once opened their lips, from which it is sufficiently clear that they don’t go nearly so far as he does, and now Graham is acting as a sort of mediator and negotiator, to try and effect some compromise or arrangement, but the case seems nearly hopeless. Peel, on the other hand, is evidently as much annoyed and provoked with his party as his party with him. The other day, Arbuthnot, Peel, and Graham met at Apsley House, and talked upon every subject, Arbuthnot told me, but that of Privilege, on which none of them touched—a pretty clear proof how tender the ground is become. The Tory press has grown very violent, and treats Peel with no more forbearance for his conduct on this question than the Whig and Radical did John Russell for his speech about Church rates; so rabid and unscrupulous are all Ultras of whatever opinion. I told Melbourne how matters stood, at which he seemed mightily disconcerted.

February 25th, 1840

Yesterday I saw the Duke of Wellington, whom I had not seen for above six months, except for a moment at the Council just after his first illness. He looked better than I expected—very thin, and his clothes hanging about him, but strong on his legs, and his head erect. The great alteration I remarked was in his voice, which was hollow, though loud, and his utterance, which, though not indistinct, was very slow. He is certainly now only a ruin. He is gone to receive the Judges at Strathfieldsaye, and he will go on again when he comes back to town, and hold on while he can. It is his desire to die with the harness on his back, and he cannot endure the notion of retirement and [272] care of his life, which is only valuable to him while he can exert it in active pursuits. I doubt if he could live in retirement and inactivity—the life of a valetudinarian.

Besides the Precedence question, another is now raised about the Liturgy. The Queen wants to insert the Prince’s name in it; they sent to me to know if Prince George’s (of Denmark) had been inserted, and I found it had not. There was a division of opinion, but the majority of the Cabinet were disposed to put in Prince Albert’s. Before deciding anything they consulted the Archbishop of Canterbury. Yesterday, however, on looking into the Act of Uniformity, I satisfied myself that the Queen has not the power to insert his name; and I believe that the insertion, on former occasions, of Princesses of Wales was illegal, and could not have been sustained if it ever had been questioned. This I imparted to Lords Lansdowne and Clarendon, to deal with the fact as they pleased; and I asked the opinions of Parke, Bosanquet, and Lushington, who were sitting at the Judicial Committee, and they all agreed that she had not the power, under the 25th sec. of the Act of Uniformity.

March 5th, 1840

The Duke of Wellington returned to town; went up with the Oxford address, and dines at the Palace on Monday. So he is again in harness; but he is a broken man, and I fear we shall see him show himself in eclipse, which will be a sorry sight. He has consented to waive his objections to the settlement by Bill of the Privilege question, so it probably will be settled; and high time it is that it should be. It is curious to see how little interest the public takes in it, not caring a straw for the House of Commons, or the sheriffs, and regarding the squabble with extreme apathy. There has been a great delay in getting ready the patent of precedence for Prince Albert, because the law officers can’t make up their minds as to the terms of it, and whether exceptional words should be introduced or not. My pamphlet has succeeded far beyond my hopes or expectations, and got me many compliments, which I never looked for from such a trifle. Peel said civil things to FitzGerald about it; only the Royal Family and the Cambridges [273] JUDICIAL COMMITTEE BILL. don’t like it, on account of my having explained the status of Prince George (of Cambridge); and they fancy, in the event of his going to Germany, it might be injurious to him, which seems very fanciful; but their pride is hurt.

March 6th, 1840

The Chancellor spoke to me at the Council on Thursday about his Judicial Committee[29] Amendment Bill, and begged to have any information about practice, and any suggestions, I could give him. Some of the provisions of his Bill appeared objectionable, and I consulted Dr. Lushington about it. He agreed, particularly as to the plan of making the Master of the Rolls (as Vice-President) the organ of the court, and making it imperative on him to give judgement in all cases. Yesterday I went to the Chancellor and told him the objections to which I thought his plan was liable, which he received very candidly and thankfully, and seemed only anxious to hear and consider anything that could be suggested. He is very different from Brougham, who, when he framed the original Bill, was full of tricks and mystery, and tried to make a job of it and create patronage for himself, besides being very obstinate about the details which were then objected to. The Chancellor said he would send me the Bill, which he wished me to examine, and return with any observations I thought fit.

[29] [This Bill with reference to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council did not pass. It would have made the Master of the Rolls head of the Court, and its chief organ.]

Prince Albert was gazetted last night. His precedence is not fixed by patent under the Great Seal, but by Warrant (I suppose, under the Sign Manual).

Copleston has got 1,000ℓ. for the little volume of Dudley’s letters[30] which he has just published. They are very well in their way—clever, neatly written, not very amusing, rather artificial, such as everybody reads because [274] they were Dudley’s, but which nobody would think worth reading if they were anonymous. A mighty proof of the value of a name.

[30] [Copleston, Bishop of Llandaff and Dean of St. Paul’s, was an intimate friend of the late Lord Dudley, and published part of their correspondence; but the executors of Lord Dudley, who were the Bishop of Exeter and Lord Hatherton, caused part of it to be suppressed.]

March 12th, 1840

The Chancellor sent me his Bill, after which I called on him, and told him all my objections, and made several suggestions, which he received very well, and begged me to put in writing what I had said to him. This I did, and sent the paper to him, which he said he would send to Lushington, whom I had begged him to consult. I met Lyndhurst at Lady Glengall’s, and had some talk with him about it, and found he agreed pretty well with me, and that he is strongly in favour of appointing a permanent Chief of our court, for ministerial purposes. The Chancellor has himself been very unwillingly compelled to propose this scheme of reform, for he hates all alterations, and does not like to begin cleansing the Augean stable of the Court of Chancery.

When I was with the Chancellor the other day, he said a difficulty had been started about making Prince Albert a Privy Councillor before he was of age, and asked me if there was anything in it. I found, on looking into the books, that the Royal Dukes had not been brought into Council till they were of age, but probably that was because they could not take their seats in the House of Lords before; but I also found very clear proofs that George III.’s sons had not been sworn but introduced in his reign, and this puzzled me, for I remembered to have sworn several of them at different times, during the present and two last reigns. I therefore wrote to the Duke of Sussex, and asked him what had occurred in his case. His reply cleared the matter up. He said the King’s sons are born Privy Councillors, and that they are declared sworn by the King whenever he pleases; that accordingly he was merely introduced into Council in 1807; but after the death of George III., when he stood in a different relation to the reigning Sovereign, he was sworn; and again at the accessions of King William IV. and Queen Victoria. I found an account in the Council Books of the form with which the Prince of Wales was introduced [275] CREEVEY’S JOURNAL. into Council in 1784, and this I sent to Melbourne to show to the Queen, suggesting that Prince Albert should be introduced upon the same terms as Prince George of Denmark had been, and with the same ceremonies as the Prince of Wales in 1784.

The Duke of Wellington has reappeared in the House of Lords, goes about, and works as usual, but everybody is shocked and grieved at his appearance. Lyndhurst expressed his alarm to me, lest he should go on until it became desirable that he should retire, and his regret that his friends could not prevail upon him to do so while he still can with dignity. He dined at the Palace on Monday, and was treated with the greatest civility by the Queen. Indeed, she has endeavoured to repair her former coldness by every sort of attention and graciousness, to which he is by no means insensible.

Her Majesty went last night to the Ancient Concert (which she particularly dislikes), so I got Melbourne to dine with me, and he stayed talking till twelve o’clock. He told us, among other things, that he had seen Dudley’s Diary (now said to be destroyed), which contained very little that was interesting upon public matters, but the most ample and detailed disclosures about women in society, with their names at full length. Melbourne expressed his surprise that anybody should write a journal, and said that he had never written anything, except for a short time when he was very young, and that he had soon put in the fire all that he had written. He talked of Creevey’s Journal, and of that which Dover is supposed to have left behind him; both of whom, at different times and in different ways, knew a good deal of what was going on. Melbourne said Creevey had been very shrewd, but exceedingly bitter and malignant; and I was rather surprised to hear him talk of Lord Dover as having been very bitter also, an underhand dealer and restless intriguer. I knew very well that he had ambition and vanity, which were constantly urging him to play a part more than commensurate with his capacity, and that he delighted in that sort of political commérage which gave him importance (and [276] this was the great cause of his friendship with Brougham, who was just the man for him, and he for Brougham), but I did not think it was his nature to be bitter, or that he ever intended to be mischievous—only busy and bustling, within the bounds of honour and fairness.


[277] JEROME BONAPARTE. The ex-King of Westphalia — The Duke of Wellington at Court — Failure of the Duke’s Memory — Dinner at Devonshire House to Royalties — Government defeated on Irish Registration Bill — The King of Hanover’s Apartments — Rank of Foreign Ministers — The Duchess of Inverness — War with China — Murder of Lord William Russell — Duke of Wellington on the China War — Weakness of Government — Duke of Wellington’s Conduct towards the Government — The Queen shot at — Examination of the Culprit — Retrospect of Affairs — Conciliatory Policy — Advantages of a Weak Government — The Eastern Question — Lord Palmerston’s Daring and Confidence — M. Guizot and Mr. Greville — Pacific Views of Louis Philippe — M. Guizot’s Statement of the Policy of France — Growing Alarm of Ministers — Alarm of Prince Metternich — Lord John Russell disposed to resist Palmerston — History of the Eastern Negotiation — A Blunder of M. Guizot — Important Conversation with Guizot — Conflict between Lord John Russell and Lord Palmerston — Energetic Resolution of Lord John — Lord Palmerston holds out — Conciliatory Proposals of France — Interview of Lord Palmerston and Lord John.

March 13th, 1840

I met Jérome Bonaparte yesterday at dinner at Lady Blessington’s, Count de Montfort, as he is called. He is a polite, urbane gentleman, not giving himself any airs, and said nothing royal except that he was going to Stuttgard, ‘pour passer quelques jours avec mon beau-frère le Roi de Würtemberg.’ But these brothers of Napoleon were nothing remarkable in their palmy days, and one’s sympathies are not much excited for them now. They rose and fell with him, and, besides their brief enjoyment of a wonderful prosperity, they have retired upon far better conditions than they were born to. They are free and rich, and are treated with no inconsiderable respect.

March 14th, 1840

Went to the House of Lords, and saw the Chancellor, who told me he had forwarded the paper I sent him to Dr. Lushington, who concurred in my suggestions, and he had ordered the Privy Council Bill to be altered [278] accordingly. Fell in with the Duke of Wellington, who took my arm, told his cabriolet to follow, and walked the whole way back to Apsley House, quite firm and strong. He looks very old and worn, and speaks very slowly, but quite distinctly; talked about the China question and other things, and seemed clear enough. He was pleased with his reception at Court, and told me particularly how civil Prince Albert had been to him, and indeed to everybody else; said he never saw better manners, or anybody more generally attentive. The Duchess of Kent talked to him, and in a strain of satisfaction, so that there is something like sunshine in the Palace just now.

March 18th, 1840

The first symptom of a failure in the Duke of Wellington’s memory came under my notice the day before yesterday. I had been employed by Gurwood to negotiate with Dr. Lushington about some papers written by the Duke when in Spain, which had fallen into the Doctor’s hands, and I spoke twice to the Duke on the subject, the last time on Friday last, when I walked home with him from the House of Lords. It was settled that the Doctor should write to the Duke about them, who was to write an answer, after which they were to be given up. But when the Doctor’s letter arrived, the Duke had forgotten the whole thing, and could not remember what Lushington it was, and actually wrote a reply (which was not sent, because my brother set him right) to Stephen Lushington, the ex-Secretary to the Treasury. This is so remarkable in a man so accurate, and whose memory is generally so retentive, that I can’t help noticing it, as the first clear and undoubted proof of his failure in a particular faculty.

I dined yesterday at Devonshire House, a dinner of forty people to feast the Royalties of Sussex and Capua with their quasi-Consorts, for I know not whether the Princess of Capua is according to Neapolitan law a real Princess any more than our Cecilia is a real Duchess,[1] which she certainly [279] DINNER AT DEVONSHIRE HOUSE. is not, nor takes the title, though every now and then somebody gives it her. However, there they were yesterday in full possession of all the dignities of their husbands. The Duke made a mystery of the order in which he meant them to go out to dinner, and would let nobody know how it was all to be till the moment came. He then made the Duke of Sussex go out first with the Princess of Capua, next the Prince with Lady Cecilia, and he himself followed with the Duchess of Somerset, and so on. After dinner the Duke of Sussex discoursed to me about the oath and other matters. He is dissatisfied on account of the banners of the Knights of the Garter having been moved in St. George’s Chapel, to make room for Prince Albert’s, I suppose; but I could not quite make out what it was he complained of, only he said when such a disposition had been shown in all quarters to meet Her Majesty’s wishes, and render to the Prince all honour, they ought not to push matters farther than they can properly do, &c. ... something to this effect. He is not altogether pleased with the Court; that is evident.

[1] [The Duke of Sussex was married to Lady Cecilia Underwood, though not according to the provisions of the Royal Marriage Act. But the marriage was recognised, and his lady was shortly afterwards created by the Queen Duchess of Inverness.]

March 26th, 1840

Ministers were defeated by sixteen on Stanley’s motion about Irish Registration.[2] O’Connell made a most blackguard speech, alluding with wretched ribaldry to the deathbed of Stanley’s mother-in-law, from which he had come to urge his motion, out of deference to those whom he had brought up for it. One of the worst of those disgraceful and stupid brutalities, which will obliterate (if possible) the fame of the great things O’Connell has done in the course of his career. What will Government do upon this? It is impossible for anything to be more embarrassing. It is humiliating to go on, after another great defeat, and it is a bad question for them to dissolve upon. Weak in itself, and with all the moral deformity of its O’Connellism, it will [280] produce no sympathy in this country, and not even a cry to stand upon at a general election.

[2] [Lord Stanley’s Irish Registration Bill, providing for an annual revision of the lists by revising barristers, was carried against the Government by 250 to 234 votes. The Bill made considerable progress, and was warmly supported by the Opposition, but eventually Lord Stanley saw reason to abandon it. See infra, August 13, 1840.]

March 29th, 1840

They did not care about this division, but made very light of it. However, it adds an item to the account against them, and is (say what they will) a bad thing. It is bad too, to establish as a principle that no defeats, nor any number of them, signify, as long as they are not upon vital questions; it produces not only a laxity of opinion and feeling upon public matters, but an indifference and insouciance on the part of their supporters, which may some day prove very mischievous; for if they once are permitted to assume that defeats do not signify, they will not be at the trouble of attending when inconvenient, nor will they encounter unpopularity for the sake of Government, and they will very soon begin to judge for themselves, or to mistake what are and what are not vital questions. Upon this occasion, Lord Charles Russell went away the morning of the division without a pair.

Yesterday, at dinner at Normanby’s, I met Lord Duncannon,[3] who showed me the correspondence between him and the King of Hanover about the apartments at St. James’s. The case is this: When the Queen was going to be married, the Duchess of Kent told Duncannon that she must have a house,[4] and that she could not afford to pay for one (the greater part of her income being appropriated to the payment of her debts). Duncannon told her that there were no royal apartments unoccupied, except the King of Hanover’s at St. James’s; and it was settled that he should be apprised that the Queen had occasion for them, and be requested to give them up. Duncannon accordingly wrote a note to Sir F. Watson, who manages the King’s affairs here, and told him that he had such a communication to make to his Majesty, which he was desirous of bringing before him in the most respectful manner, and that the arrangement [281] THE KING OF HANOVER’S APARTMENTS. should be made in whatever way would be most convenient to him. Watson informed him that he had forwarded his note to the King, and shortly after Duncannon received an answer from the King himself, which was neither more nor less than a flat refusal to give up the apartments. Another communication then took place between Duncannon and Watson, when the latter said that it would be very inconvenient to the King to remove his things from the apartments without coming over in person, as the library particularly was full of papers of importance. Duncannon then proposed that the library and the adjoining room, in which it was said that his papers were deposited, should not be touched, but remain in his possession; that they should be walled off and separated from the rest of the suite, which might be given up to the Duchess for her occupation. This proposal was sent to the King, who refused to agree to it, or to give up the apartments at all. Accordingly the Queen was obliged to hire a house for her mother at a rent of 2,000ℓ. a year. I told Duncannon that they were all very much to blame for submitting to the domineering insolence of the King, and that when they thought it right to require the apartments, they ought to have gone through with it, and have taken no denial. It was a gross insult to the Queen to refuse to give up to her an apartment in her own palace, which she desired to dispose of; and they were very wrong in permitting such an affront to be offered to her. So Duncannon was himself of opinion; but Melbourne, who is all for quietness, would not allow matters to proceed to extremities, and preferred knocking under—a mode of proceeding which is always as contemptible as it is useless. The first thing is to be in the right, to do nothing unbecoming or unjust, but with right and propriety clearly on your side, to be as firm as a rock, and, above all things, never to succumb to insolence and presumption.

[3] [Lord Duncannon was at this time First Commissioner of Works, and the arrangements with reference to the Royal Palaces fell within his department.]

[4] The Duchess, for particular reasons, objected to going back to Kensington.

We had M. Guizot at dinner.[5] They all say he is agreeable, [282] but I have not been in the way of his talk. He is enchanted and elated with his position, and it is amusing to see his apprehension lest anybody should, either by design or inadvertence, rob him of his precedence; and the alacrity with which he seizes on the arm of the lady of the house on going out to dinner, so demonstrative of the uneasy grandeur of a man who has not yet learnt to be familiar with his own position. With reference to diplomatic rank, I only heard last night, for the first time, that the Duke of Sutherland had, some time ago, addressed a formal remonstrance to Palmerston, against Foreign Ministers (not Ambassadors) having place given them at the Palace (which means going first out to dinner over himself et suos pares), a most extraordinary thing for a sensible man to have done, especially in such high favour as his wife and her whole family are. He got for answer, that Her Majesty exercised her own pleasure in this respect in her own palace. The rule always has been that Ambassadors (who represent the persons of their Sovereigns) have precedence of everybody; Ministers (who are only agents) have not; but the Queen, it appears, has given the pas to Ministers Plenipotentiaries, as well as to Ambassadors, and ordered them to go out at her dinners before her own subjects of the highest rank.[6]

[5] [M. Guizot had just been appointed French Ambassador in London under the Government of M. Thiers, who took office on the 1st March of this year.]

[6] [It was afterwards settled by Her Majesty that Foreign Ministers should take precedence after Dukes and before Marquesses.]

April 3rd, 1840

They have made Lady Cecilia Underwood a duchess. Everybody considers it a very ridiculous affair, but she and the Duke are, or affect to be, enchanted, though nobody can tell why. She is Duchess of Inverness, though there would have been more meaning in her being Countess of Inverness, since Earl of Inverness is his second title. However, there she was last night at the ball at Lansdowne House, tucked under the Duke’s arm, all smiles, and shaking hands vehemently in all directions in acknowledgement of congratulations. I was curious (as others were) to see what it would all come to, and what, in fact, she was to take (in the way of royalty) by her motion, and, as I thought, this was just nothing. The Queen sat at the end of the room, [283] WAR WITH CHINA. with the Duchess of Cambridge on one side of her, and a chair (for Prince Albert) on the other. The Duke of Sussex took the Duchess of Inverness half way up the room, deposited her amidst a cluster of people, and then went alone to pay his respects to the Queen. Lady Lansdowne wrote to the Queen to ask her pleasure whether the Duchess of Inverness should be asked to sup at her table. Her Majesty replied that she could not object to the Duchess of Inverness supping there, provided care was taken that she did not go out or take place before any other duchess. I saw Prince Albert for the first time. He is exactly like the drawing of him: a handsome face without much expression; but without speaking to him and hearing him speak, it is difficult to judge of his looks. Everybody speaks well of him.

April 13th, 1840

The China debate[7] went off on the whole well enough for the Government, though they only got a majority of ten, owing in great measure to the number of casualties on their side. Poyntz died the night before the division, and the breath was hardly out of his body before an express was despatched by the Tory whipper-in, to desire that nobody would on any account pair with Captain Spencer (his son-in-law). In this nice balance of parties, human life seemed only to be of interest as votes are influenced by it. Macaulay recovered his reputation on this occasion, and made a good speech. Palmerston closed the debate with a capital speech, but neither side appears to me to have really hit the right nail on the head, or to have worked out the strong parts of the case. Follett did more than anybody. Thesiger made his first appearance, but not with any great success. We had on the Friday a Council for the Order to seize Chinese ships, &c., and on the Saturday another for completing the forms. There was a considerable discussion as to whether the Order (being of a warlike nature) should be signed by the Privy Councillors, and there was no case exactly [284] in point. However, they decided, after much enquiry and examination into precedent, that it should not be.[8]

[7] [On April 7 Sir James Graham moved a Vote of Censure on Ministers for the measures which had plunged the country in hostilities with China. Mr. Macaulay followed him, and made an able speech. The Resolution was rejected after three nights’ debate by 271 to 261 votes.]

[8] [Orders in Council for Reprisals and Capture of Ships constitute a Declaration of War, and are signed by all the Privy Councillors present. This course was taken in 1854 on the Declaration of War against Russia.]

May 15th, 1840

A month, and nothing written here, or written, read, or done, elsewhere. Went to Newmarket for the Craven meeting, then to Bretby for a week, then Newmarket again, and back to London on Friday.

Just after I got back to Newmarket, the intelligence arrived of the extraordinary murder of Lord William Russell, which has excited a prodigious interest, and frightened all London out of its wits. Visionary servants and air-drawn razors or carving-knives dance before everybody’s imagination, and half the world go to sleep expecting to have their throats cut before morning. The circumstances of the case are certainly most extraordinary, and though every day produces some fresh cause for suspecting the man Courvoisier, both the fact and the motives are still enveloped in great mystery. People are always ready to jump to a conclusion, and having made up their minds, as most have, that he must have done the deed, they would willingly hang him up at once. I had the curiosity to go the day before yesterday to Tothill Fields Prison to see the man, who had just been sent there. He is rather ill-looking, a baddish countenance, but his manner was calm though dejected, and he was civil and respectful, and not sulky. The people there said he was very restless, and had not slept, and that he was a man of great bodily strength. I did not converse with him.

May 17th, 1840

Just after writing the above, I went to the house in Norfolk Street, to look at the premises, and the places where the watch and other things were found hidden. It was impossible not to be morally convinced that the house had not been broken into, that the indications of such violence were fabricated, and that the goods must have been secreted by Courvoisier, consequently, that by him the murder was committed; but there is as yet no evidence to convict him of the actual commission of the deed, and though [285] NARROW ESCAPE OF A CULPRIT. I believe him to be guilty, I could not, on such a case as there is as yet, find him so if placed on a jury. I am very sceptical about evidence, and know how strangely circumstances sometimes combine to produce appearances of guilt where there may be none. There is a curious case of this mentioned in Romilly’s Memoirs, of a man hanged for mutiny upon the evidence of a witness who swore to his person, and upon his own confession after conviction, and yet it was satisfactorily proved afterwards that he had been mistaken for another man, and was really innocent. He had been induced to confess at the instigation of a fellow-prisoner, who told him it was his best chance of escaping.

Lord Ashburton, when we were talking of this, told me an anecdote of General Maitland (Sir Thomas), which happened at some place in the West Indies or South America. He had taken some town, and the soldiers were restrained from committing violence on the inhabitants, when a shot was fired from a window, and one of his men killed. They entered the house, went to the room from the window of which the shot had been fired, and found a number of men playing at billiards. They insisted on the culprit being given up, when a man was pointed out as the one who had fired the shot. They all agreed as to the culprit, and he was carried off. Sir Thomas considering that a severe example was necessary, ordered the man to be tied to the mouth of a cannon, and shot away. He was present, but turned his head away when the signal was given for blowing this wretch’s body to atoms. The explosion took place, when to his amazement the man appeared alive, but with his hair literally standing ‘like quills upon the fretful porcupine,’ with terror. In the agony of the moment he had contrived to squeeze himself through the ropes, which were loosely tied, and get on one side of the cannon’s mouth, so that the ball missed him. He approached Maitland and said, ‘You see, General, that it was the will of Heaven my life should be spared; and I solemnly assure you that I am innocent.’ Maitland would not allow him to be executed after this miraculous escape, and it turned out, upon further enquiry, [286] that he was innocent, and it was some other man who had fired the shot.

For the last month there has been something like a cessation of political warfare, not from any diminished desire on the part of the Opposition to harass the Government, but from want of means to do so. In the House of Lords the other night, Lord Stanhope brought on the China Question; when the Duke of Wellington got up, and to the delight of the Government, and the dismay and vexation of the Tories, threw over Stanhope (in a very good speech), asserted the justice of our quarrel with China, refused to discuss the question of policy at all, warmly defended and eulogised Elliot, moved the previous question, and then quitted the House, without waiting to hear Stanhope’s reply. It was gratifying to see his energy and vigour, and to see them exerted on one of those occasions when his great mind and patriotic spirit never fail to show themselves. Whenever a question has, in his view, assumed a national character, he scatters to the wind all party considerations; such he now considers the Chinese war to be. We are involved with China, nation against nation, and he will not by word or deed put in jeopardy the smallest of the mighty interests at stake, for the sake of advancing some party purpose, and damaging the Government. In like manner, he thinks that Elliot has bravely, faithfully, and to the best of his ability, done his duty; that if he has committed errors of judgement they should be overlooked, and that he should be supported, encouraged, and defended. This is the real greatness which raises him so far above all the ordinary politicians of his day, and which will confer on his memory imperishable renown. It is rendered the more striking by his conduct on Friday on the Irish Municipal Bill, which is a mere party question, where he showed that he could be as violent as any Tory could desire. I called on Barnes[9] on Saturday, and found him much disgusted at the Duke’s China speech, and anxious to know how it could have happened. When I told him that it was always so with him, and that he never would be [287] DUKE OF WELLINGTON SUPPORTS GOVERNMENT. merely factious, Barnes said (which, is true enough) that it is extraordinary, if he had intended to adopt such a tone in the House of Lords, that he should have allowed Graham to bring forward his motion in the House of Commons, and it certainly does place Graham in a mortifying position, for the Duke’s speech is a complete answer to Graham’s motion.

[9] [The editor of the ‘Times’ newspaper.]

May 26th, 1840

At Newmarket last week. While there the debate took place on the Registration Bill, carried by a majority of only three, by the defection of Howick and Charles Wood, which was caused, as is said, entirely by the influence of Lord Grey, who is always out of humour with the Government, glad to give them a knock, though ostensibly their friend. However this may be, there was nothing inconsistent in their conduct, and Wood accounted for his vote very fairly. The Tories were triumphant for a moment, but these defeats are now so common and so unproductive of any consequences, that after the first shouting was over nobody seemed to attach much importance to it. The Cambridge and Ludlow elections having gone against them is of greater consequence, because they show that the tide is running that way, and that a dissolution must in all probability be ruinous to them. The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s budget seems to have been very successful, and all agree that he did his part exceedingly well.

Yesterday I met the Duke of Wellington. He was walking in the garden of the park adjoining his own, promenading two young ladies—Lord Salisbury’s daughters—arm in arm. He left them and took me to walk with him to Lansdowne House. He began discoursing about the state of affairs, and lamenting that there was, and could be, no strong Government, and that there never would be till people were convinced by experience of the necessity of having one. He then said, ‘If other people would do as I do, support the Government when they can, and when the Government ought to be supported, it would be much better.’ I said I agreed with him, and that it had given me the greatest pleasure to read his speech on China. He said, ‘All I know is, that it is absolutely necessary that question [288] should be settled, and the justice of our cause be made manifest.’ I said, I was sure it was what he would feel, and that he had done just what I expected, but that he must be aware there were many of his own people who were by no means so well pleased, but, on the contrary, to the last degree annoyed and provoked at his speech. He replied, ‘I know that well enough, and I don’t care one damn. I was afraid Lord Stanhope would have a majority, and I have not time not to do what is right.’

June 12th, 1840

On Wednesday afternoon, as the Queen and Prince Albert were driving in a low carriage up Constitution Hill, about four or five in the afternoon, they were shot at by a lad of eighteen years old, who fired two pistols at them successively, neither shots taking effect. He was in the Green Park without the rails, and as he was only a few yards from the carriage, and, moreover, very cool and collected, it is marvellous he should have missed his aim. In a few moments the young man was seized, without any attempt on his part to escape or to deny the deed, and was carried off to prison. The Queen, who appeared perfectly cool, and not the least alarmed, instantly drove to the Duchess of Kent’s, to anticipate any report that might reach her mother, and, having done so, she continued her drive and went to the Park. By this time the attempt upon her life had become generally known, and she was received with the utmost enthusiasm by the immense crowd that was congregated in carriages, on horseback, and on foot. All the equestrians formed themselves into an escort, and attended her back to the Palace, cheering vehemently, while she acknowledged, with great appearance of feeling, these loyal manifestations. She behaved on this occasion with perfect courage and self-possession, and exceeding propriety; and the assembled multitude, being a high-class mob, evinced a lively and spontaneous feeling for her—a depth of interest which, however natural under such circumstances, must be very gratifying to her, and was satisfactory to witness.

Yesterday morning the culprit was brought to the Home Office, when Normanby examined him, and a Council was [289] THE QUEEN SHOT AT. summoned for a more personal examination at two o’clock. A question then arose as to the nature of the proceeding, and the conduct of the examination, whether it should be before the Privy Council or the Secretary of State. We searched for precedents, and the result was this: The three last cases of high treason were those of Margaret Nicholson, in 1786; of Hatfield, in 1800 (both for attempts on the life of the Sovereign); and of Watson (the Cato Street affair), for an attempt on the Ministers in 1820. Margaret Nicholson was brought before the Privy Council, and the whole proceeding was set forth at great length in the Council Register. There appeared no entry of any sort or kind in the case of Hatfield; and in that of Watson there was a minute in the Home Office, setting forth that the examination had taken place there by Lord Sidmouth, assisted by certain Lords and others of the Privy Council. There was, therefore, no uniform course of precedents, and Ministers had to determine whether the culprit should be brought before the Privy Council, or whether he should be examined by the Cabinet only—that is, by Normanby as Secretary of State, assisted by his colleagues, as had been done in Watson’s case. After some discussion, they determined that the examination should be before the Cabinet only, and consequently I was not present at it, much to my disappointment, as I wished to hear what passed, and see the manner and bearing of the perpetrator of so strange and unaccountable an act. Up to the present time there is no appearance of insanity in the youth’s behaviour, and he is said to have conducted himself during the examination with acuteness, and cross-examined the witnesses (a good many of whom were produced) with some talent. All this, however, is not incompatible with a lurking insanity. His answers to the questions put to him were mysterious, and calculated to produce the impression that he was instigated or employed by a society, with which the crime had originated, but I expect that it will turn out that he had no accomplices, and is only a crackbrained enthusiast, whose madness has taken the turn of vanity and desire for notoriety. No other conjecture [290] presents any tolerable probability. However it may turn out—here is the strange fact—that a half-crazy potboy was on the point of influencing the destiny of the Empire, and of producing effects the magnitude and importance of which no human mind can guess at. It is remarkable how seldom attempts like these are successful, and yet the life of any individual is at the mercy of any other, provided this other is prepared to sacrifice his own life, which, in the present instance, the culprit evidently was.

August 13th, 1840

Two months have elapsed since I have written anything in this book, owing to an unaccountable repugnance, which daily grew stronger, to take up my pen for that purpose. It is true that I had nothing of great interest to note down, but I could frequently have found something worth recollecting if I had not been too idle, too occupied with other things, or paralysed by the disgust I had taken to the task of journalising. It is now too late to record things as I was told them, or events as they occurred, and all is confusion in my recollections. If I were now to begin to describe the transactions of the late two months, I should be writing history, for which I am in no way qualified. However, as I must make up my mind to begin again, and write something, or give up the practice altogether, and as I don’t choose (just yet, at least) to do the latter, I will scribble what occurs to me, and take a short survey of the Parliamentary campaign that is just over. The danger, whether real or supposed, which the Queen ran from the attempt of the half-witted coxcomb who fired at her, elicited whatever there was of dormant loyalty in her lieges, and made her extremely popular. Nothing could be more enthusiastic than her reception at Ascot, where dense multitudes testified their attachment to her person, and their joy at her recent escape by more than usual demonstrations. Partly, perhaps, from the universality of the interest evinced, and partly from a judicious influence or more impartial reflection, she began about this time to make her Court much less exclusive, and all these circumstances produced a better state of feeling between the [291] REVIEW OF THE SESSION. Court and the Tories, and helped to soften the acrimony of political warfare.

Throughout the Session the Ministerial majorities continued to be small and uncertain; but it was all along evident that the Government would not be turned out, that the leaders of the Opposition did not wish to turn them out, and that the differences which prevailed in the Tory party rendered it anything but desirable a change should take place. Consequently, for one reason or other, the Government were never pressed hard upon any points on which defeat would have compelled them to resign. The greatest, most hard-fought, and lengthened contest was upon Stanley’s Irish Registration Bill, which was admirably devised as a party measure, very ably worked, and in support of which the whole body of the Tories came down, night after night, with a constancy, zeal, and unanimity, really remarkable. Their repeated majorities elated them to such a pitch that they were ready, one and all, to relinquish everything else, to come and vote on these questions. It was evident, however, that all their exertions would be foiled by the determination of their opponents to interpose such delays and obstacles as must prove fatal to the measure; and it was not the least judicious part of Stanley’s management when he came down to the House, and, after his long series of victories, announced that he had abandoned his Bill for this year. It was an extremely embarrassing question to Government, and one upon which they could not appear in a favourable point of view. On one hand they were compelled to aid and abet their Irish allies in their opposition to this Bill, so fatal as it would have been to their influence in all the vexatious and unfair modes which they adopted; and on the other hand it showed how little this self-called Reform Ministry cared for any measure of Reform, or rather how heartily they were opposed to any of which the tendency would be injurious to their own political influence. There never was a simpler question of Reform than this, a clearer case of wrong, or one which more loudly demanded a remedy; but the wrong was one by which they largely benefited, and [292] the correction of it would have the effect of augmenting the power of their opponents. Accordingly, by every species of sophistry, by falsehoods of all kinds, by vehement denunciations and endeavours to arouse the passions of the Irish people, they moved Heaven and earth to thwart and defeat the measure. There was, however, only one moment at which the Government were in any jeopardy, for they very early resolved not to let the majorities against them shake them out of their seats. But when Stanley, complaining of the unfair means which had been employed to prevent his bringing on his measure in its different stages, announced that he would invade the days reserved for Government business, Lord John Russell began darkly to hint at the impossibility of the Government conducting the public business if the House sanctioned such an encroachment, and much irritation was exhibited for a short time. Both parties, however, got calm, and a compromise was the result. The Government offered Stanley certain days, which he immediately accepted, acknowledging that nothing but an extreme provocation would justify the course he had threatened to adopt, and so the storm blew over; and this question was nearly the only one which produced any violent debates and close divisions. Besides the usual light skirmishing and the taunts, accusations, and reproaches, here and there thrown out against the Government, there were no serious attacks upon their policy and measures, either domestic or foreign; and upon the whole, setting apart the smallest of their dependable majority, they got through the Session with remarkable success, and have closed it apparently stronger, and with more of public confidence and approbation by many degrees than they enjoyed at the opening. And I believe this to be the truth, notwithstanding the fact that almost all the elections occurring during the Session (in which there have been contests) have been carried by the Tories.

August 18th, 1840 (continued at the Grove)

This improved condition of the Ministry is attributable partly to the success of their measures and the efficient manner in which the [293] LORD JOHN RUSSELL AS LEADER. most important offices have been filled, and partly to the dissensions which prevailed among their adversaries, some striking symptoms of which were exhibited to the public. At the end of the Session, Sir Robert Inglis said to one of the Government people: ‘Well, you have managed to get through the Session very successfully.’ ‘Yes,’ said the other, ‘thanks to your dissensions among yourselves.’ ‘No,’ said Sir Robert, ‘it is not that, but it is the conduct of your leader, his honesty, courage, and ability, which has enabled you to do so.’ Ley, the Clerk of the House of Commons, and a man of great experience, said he had never seen the business so well conducted as by John Russell. Besides this, his reputation in his office is immense, where all his subordinates admit that Colonial affairs never were so well administered. But there can be no doubt that the ill-humour, which on several occasions broke out, sometimes between the leaders and sometimes among the masses of the party—‘The Tory Democracy,’ as the ‘Standard’ calls them—was of essential service to the Government. This first began at the end of last year upon the Privilege question, which Peel took up vehemently, and at once identified himself with John Russell in support of the privileges of the House of Commons. The moment Parliament opened, this matter came under discussion, and for some time exclusively occupied the attention of the House of Commons. There could be no doubt that if Peel had changed his mind and taken the adverse side, he would have thrown the Government into great difficulty and embarrassment, but instead of doing so he took the Privilege side still more warmly than before, threw himself into the van of the contest, and was the most strenuous and the ablest advocate in the cause. Nothing could exceed the disappointment and annoyance of the great body of the Tories at his conduct. Many of them opposed him, and though Graham, Stanley, and others of the principal men voted with him, they did so very reluctantly, and maintained an invincible silence throughout all the discussions. When at last it was settled that a Bill should be introduced, [294] and that Bill had passed the House of Commons, considerable doubt existed whether it would pass the Lords, the Duke of Wellington’s opinion being decidedly at variance with Peel’s on the question. Nothing could have gratified his party more than the rejection of this Bill by the Lords, but however well inclined the Duke was to reject it, he knew that this would be too desperate a game to play, and while it might lead to the dissolution of the Government, it would entail that of the Tory party also. Many conferences took place between Graham and Arbuthnot and Lyndhurst, the result of which was, that the Duke was persuaded to let the Bill pass, but this was not accomplished without much murmuring against the obstinacy of Peel.

Soon afterwards the China question was brought forward by Graham, but whatever benefit they expected to derive from this attack on the Government was entirely marred by the Duke’s speech in the House of Lords, in which he completely threw over Graham, as well as all who supported him; and while this vexed and offended the Tory leaders in the Commons, the ‘Democracy’ were as indignant with the Duke as they had lately been with Peel. After this, a sort of running fight went on (Stanley’s battles presenting the only important results) up to the period of the introduction of the Canada Bill.[10] To this Peel offered no opposition whatever, and it passed the House of Commons with his concurrence, and consequently without difficulties or even divisions. But as soon as it got into the Lords, the Duke broke out in fierce hostility against it, denounced its provisions in the most unmeasured terms, and for a considerable time nobody knew whether they would throw it out or not. Peel (it appeared) had taken his line and supported the Bill, without any previous concert with the Duke, and the latter, as well as all the Tory Lords, were exceedingly indignant at finding themselves so far committed by his conduct that it became absolutely impossible for them to throw it out. Why Peel did not communicate with the Duke, I cannot divine, [295] THE DUKE CONTROLS THE TORIES. or why it was not made a great party measure, and a resolution taken to act in concert. Lyndhurst spoke to me (one day that I met him) with great bitterness against Peel. I asked him, ‘What do you mean to do?’ ‘Oh, God knows; pass the Bill, I suppose, there’s nothing else left for us to do.’ Wharncliffe, while bewailing the schism, and the bad effect of its manifestation, attributed Peel’s reserve to temper, and some remains of pique at what had previously passed about the Privilege and China questions. But whatever was the cause, Peel was quite right not to oppose this Bill, unless he was prepared with a better measure, and to take office with the intention of acting upon a different principle, and he distinctly said that he had nothing better to suggest. The subsequent conduct of the Duke throughout the whole proceeding in the House of Lords was curiously indicative of the actual state of his mind, of his disposition, and his faculties. His disposition is become excessively excitable and irritable, his faculties sometimes apparently weakened, and at others giving signs of all their accustomed vigour. He came down to the House and attacked this Bill with an asperity quite inconsistent with his abstaining from throwing it out. He loaded it with every sort of abuse, but allowed it to pass almost without any alteration. In thus doing to the measure all the moral damage he could, he gave way to his passion, and acted a part which I am convinced he would not have done in his better days, and which was quite at variance with the patriotic spirit by which he is usually animated. His violence not unnaturally encouraged his equally ardent but less prudent followers, to a more practical attack, and Hardwicke gave notice of his motion. The Duke, however, was fully alive to all the consequences that would result from the rejection of a Bill to which Peel had given an unqualified support in the House of Commons, and he resolved to exert all his great authority to restrain the zeal that his own speeches had so highly inflamed. He accordingly summoned the Lords to Apsley House, and made them a speech in which he stated all the reasons for which it was desirable not to throw out the Bill; and Aberdeen told Clarendon that [296] in his life he had never heard a more admirable statement. It required, however, all his great influence to restrain them, and though they acquiesced (as they always do at his bidding) with surprising docility, they did so with the greatest reluctance.

[10] [This was a Bill for dealing with the Canada Clergy Reserves.]

London, August 19th, 1840

In the conversation at which Aberdeen told Clarendon this, he dilated upon the marvellous influence of the Duke, and the manner in which he treated his followers, and the language they endured from him. Clarendon asked him whether, when the Duke retired, he had any hopes of being able to govern them as well; to which he replied that he had not the slightest idea of it; on the contrary, that it would be impossible, that nobody else could govern them, and when his influence was withdrawn, they would split into every variety of opinion according to their several biases and dispositions. He said he did not think the Duke of Wellington had ever rendered greater service in his whole life than he had done this session in moderating violence and keeping his own party together and in order, and that he could still do the most essential service in the same way, and much more than by active leading in Parliament.

Out of this state of things a practical consequence has ensued of no slight importance, and one which has shown that if there are evils and disadvantages incident to a weak Government, these are not without some counterbalancing good. Both parties began to feel the necessity of dealing with certain questions of pressing importance in a spirit of compromise and mutual concession. Neither were strong enough to go on insisting upon having everything their own way, and each was conscious that the other had a fair right to require some sacrifice, so far as it could be made without compromising on either side any vital principle. Accordingly several questions were amicably and quietly settled, in all probability in a more just, expedient, and satisfactory way than they would have been by either party uncontrolled and unrestrained. The Irish Corporation Bill, which for years has been a topic of bitter contention, has at last been carried [297] ADVANTAGES OF A WEAK GOVERNMENT. with very little difficulty and discussion. The alterations of the Lords were quietly accepted by the Commons, and the ultras on both sides were alone dissatisfied at the consummation. Then the Education Question, which last year raised a regular storm, both in Parliament and out, has been arranged between the Government and the heads of the Church, and the system is permanently established in such a manner as to allay all fears and jealousies. In the same spirit, I expect that next year some mode will be found of conciliating Stanley’s Bill with the Government Bill of Irish Registration, and that some measure not quite but tolerably satisfactory to all parties will be devised, and the evil complained of, to a certain degree, be checked. These are advantages of no small moment, and it is very questionable whether the work of government and legislation is not more wisely and beneficially done by this concurrence of antagonistic parties, and compromise and fusion of antagonistic opinions, than it could be in any other way. All strong Governments become to a certain degree careless and insolent in the confidence of their strength, but their weakness renders them circumspect and conscientious. Governments with great majorities at their back can afford to do gross jobs, or take strong party measures; but when their opponents are as strong as themselves, and their majorities are never secure, they can venture upon nothing of the kind. All oppositions must affect a prodigious show of political virtue, and must be vigilant and economical, no matter how lax may have been their political morality when in power. But no politician, or party man, has any tenderness for an abuse the profit of which is to accrue to his adversary, and in this way good government may happen to be the result of a weak Ministry and a strong Opposition.

August 24th, 1840

Passed the greatest part of last week at the Grove, where Clarendon talked to me a great deal about the Eastern Question, and Palmerston’s policy in that quarter. Palmerston, it seems, has had for many years as his fixed idea the project of humbling the Pasha of Egypt.[11] In the [298] Cabinet he has carried everything his own way; all his colleagues either really concurring with him, or being too ignorant and too indifferent to fight the battle against his strong determination, except Lord Holland and Clarendon, who did oppose with all their strength Palmerston’s recent treaty; but quite ineffectually. They had for their only ally, Lord Granville at Paris, and nothing can exceed the contempt with which the Palmerstonians treat this little knot of dissentients, at least the two elder ones, who (they say) are become quite imbecile, and they wonder Lord Granville does not resign. Palmerston, in fact, appears to exercise an absolute despotism at the Foreign Office, and deals with all our vast and complicated questions of diplomacy according to his own views and opinions, without the slightest control, and scarcely any interference on the part of his colleagues. This apathy is mainly attributable to that which appears in Parliament and in the country upon all foreign questions. Nobody understands and nobody cares for them, and when any rare and occasional notice is taken of a particular point, or of some question on which a slight and evanescent interest is manifested, Palmerston has little difficulty in dealing with the matter, which he always meets with a consummate impudence and, it must be allowed, a skill and resolution, which invariably carry him through. Whether the policy which he has adopted upon the Eastern Question be the soundest and most judicious, events must determine; but I never was more amazed than at reading his letters, so dashing, bold, and confident in their tone. Considering the immensity of the stake for which he is playing, that he may be about to plunge all Europe into a war, and that if war does ensue it will be entirely his doing, it is utterly astonishing he should not be more seriously affected than he appears to be with the gravity of the circumstances, and should not [299] THE TREATY OF JULY. look with more anxiety (if not apprehension) to the possible results; but he talks in the most off-hand way of the clamour that broke out at Paris, of his entire conviction that the French Cabinet have no thoughts of going to war, and that if they were to do so, their fleets would be instantly swept from the sea, and their armies everywhere defeated. That if they were to try and make it a war of opinion and stir up the elements of revolution in other countries, a more fatal retaliation could and would be effected in France, where Carlist or Napoleonist interest, aided by foreign intervention, would shake the throne of Louis Philippe, while taxation and conscription would very soon disgust the French with a war in which he did not anticipate the possibility of their gaining any military successes. Everything may possibly turn out according to his expectations. He is a man blessed with extraordinary good fortune, and his motto seems to be that of Danton, ‘De l’audace, encore de l’audace, et toujours de l’audace.’ But there is a flippancy in his tone, an undoubting self-sufficiency, and a levity in discussing interests of such tremendous magnitude, which satisfies me that he is a very dangerous man to be entrusted with the uncontrolled management of our foreign relations. But our Cabinet is a complete republic, and Melbourne, their ostensible head, has no overruling authority, and is too indolent and too averse to energetic measures to think of having any, or to desire it. Any man of resolution and obstinacy does what he will with Melbourne. Nothing was ever so peremptory and determined as John Russell about Poulett Thomson’s peerage, which the others did not at all like, but which he not only insisted upon, but actually threatened to resign unless it was done by a given day. It was with the greatest difficulty they could prevail on him to defer its being gazetted till Parliament was up, Duncannon and others dreading that it would excite the choler of the Duke of Wellington, and very likely provoke him to fall foul of some of their Bills.

[11] [The Treaty between England, Russia, Austria, and Prussia for the settlement of the affairs of the East, by compelling the Pasha of Egypt to relinquish Syria, and to restrict his dominion in Egypt, was signed in London on July 15, 1840. France having declined to concur in this policy, the Treaty was signed without her, and without her knowledge. This event was of the gravest consequence, and brought Europe to the brink of war.]

M. Dedel[12] told me the other day that he thought, without [300] reference to his policy, Palmerston had conducted himself with a légèreté quite unaccountable; that the Duke of Wellington, when he was at Windsor, had talked over the state of affairs with Melbourne, and said to him, ‘I do not say that I disapprove of your policy as far as regards Mehemet Ali; perhaps I do not think that you go far enough; not only would I not leave him in possession of a foot of ground in Syria, but I should have no scruple in expelling him from Egypt too. But what is Mehemet Ali or the Turk in comparison with the immeasurable importance of preserving peace in Europe? this is the thing alone to be regarded, and I give you notice that you must not expect our support in Parliament of the policy which you have chosen to adopt.’[13] In the meantime there is an increasing impression here that no war will take place; public opinion is not yet much excited, and is nothing like so excitable as it is in France upon questions of foreign policy, where everybody thinks and talks on the subject; but if it ever is effectually roused, it will be much stronger and probably more consistent here than there. My brother writes me word that the King is most anxious to preserve peace, and is now feeling the pulse of the country, and doing his utmost to ascertain what the state of public opinion is, for his own guidance in the approaching crisis. Though now acting in apparent unison with Thiers, he would have no scruple in resisting the course of policy in which Thiers is embarked, if he found he could count upon the support of the country in his own pacific views; and it is the possibility of such a contest occurring in France which renders the question so very delicate and difficult, and makes the issue dependent on contingencies which no sagacity can foresee or provide for. Out of this complication Palmerston’s wonderful luck may possibly extricate him, though it must be owned that he is playing a very desperate game.

[12] [Dutch Minister at the Court of St. James.]

[13] Clarendon, to whom I told this, said it was not true: he had said nothing about their support, but had said, ‘I approve of your policy, but you must have no war.’

September 5th, 1840

I have been more in the way of hearing about the Eastern Question during the last week than at [301] OPPOSITION TO LORD PALMERSTON. any previous time, though my informants and associates have been all of the anti-Palmerston interest—Holland House, and Clarendon, Dedel (who objects to the form more than the fond), and Madame de Lieven, who is all with Guizot, because he is devoted to her, and she feels the greatest interest where she gets the most information. Clarendon showed me the other day a long letter which he wrote to Palmerston in March last, in which he discussed the whole question, stating the objections to which he thought Palmerston’s policy liable, and suggesting what he would have done instead. It was a well-written and well-reasoned document enough.

Those who are opposed to Palmerston’s policy, and even some who do not object to the policy itself so much as to the manner in which it has been worked out, feel confident that the means will fall very short of accomplishing the end, and that peace will be preserved by their very impotence at a great expense of the diplomatic reputation of the parties concerned; and they are confirmed in this notion by the failure of some of the anticipations in which Palmerston so confidently indulged, especially the conduct of the Pasha and the Syrian insurrection. Clarendon says that, ‘whatever his opinions may have been, now that they are fairly embarked in Palmerston’s course, he must as earnestly desire its success as if he had been its original advocate.’ But both he and Lord Holland have been so vehemently committed in opposition to it, that, without any imputation of unpatriotic feelings, it is not in human nature they should not find a sort of satisfaction in the frustration of those measures which they so strenuously resisted, and this clearly appears in all Lord Holland said to me, and in Lady Holland’s tone about Palmerston and his daring disposition.

September 6th, 1840

On arriving in town this morning, I found a note from M. Guizot, begging I would call on him, as he wanted to have a few minutes’ conversation with me. Accordingly I went, and am just returned. His object was to put me in possession of the actual state of affairs, and to read me a letter he had just received from Thiers, together [302] with one (either to Thiers or to him) from their Consul-General at Alexandria.

Thiers’ letter expressed considerable alarm. After describing the failure of Walewski and the other French agents, and enlarging upon the efforts they had made, and were still making, to restrain the Pasha, and prevent his making any offensive movement, he said that this was the Pasha’s ultimatum. He offered, if France would join him and make common cause with him, to place his fleets and armies at her disposal, and to be governed in all things by her advice and wishes, a thing utterly impossible for France to listen to. Upon the impossibility of this alliance being represented to him, the prudence of keeping quiet strenuously urged upon him, and the utmost endeavours made to convince him that a defensive policy was the only wise and safe course for him, he had engaged not to move forward, or take any offensive course unless compelled to do so, by violence offered to him; his army was concentrated at the foot of the Taurus, and there (but in a menacing attitude) he would consent to its remaining; but if any European troops were to advance against him, or be transported to Syria, any attempt made to foment another insurrection in Syria, or any attack made upon his fleet, or any violence offered to his commerce, then he would cross the Taurus, and, taking all consequences, commence offensive operations. In that case, said Guizot, Constantinople might be occupied by the Russians, and the British fleet enter the Sea of Marmora; and if that happened, he could not answer for the result in France, and he owned that he (and Thiers expressed the same in his letter) was in the greatest alarm at all these dangers and complications. He had seen Palmerston this morning, and read Thiers’ letter to him. I asked him if it had made any impression on Palmerston. He said, ‘Not the slightest;’ that he had said, ‘Oh! Mehemet Ali cédera; il ne faut pas s’attendre qu’il cède à la première sommation; mais donnez-lui quinze jours, et il finira par céder.’ Guizot said that the failure of so many of his predictions and expectations had not in the slightest degree diminished Palmerston’s [303] THE POLICY OF FRANCE. confidence, and that there was in fact no use whatever in speaking to him on the subject. Guizot is evidently in great alarm, and well he may be, for there can be no doubt that his Government are in a position of the greatest embarrassment, far from inclined to war, the King especially abhorring the very thoughts of it, and at the same time so far committed that if the four allies act with any vigour and drive Mehemet Ali to desperation, France must either kindle the flames of war, or, after all her loud and threatening tone, succumb in a manner not only intolerably galling to the national pride, but which really would be very discreditable in itself.

Guizot dwelt very much upon their long-continued and earnest efforts to make the Pasha moderate and prudent, and on the offers he had made to join the allies, and unite the authority of France to that of all the others for the purpose of preventing the Pasha from advancing a step further, provided they would leave him in his present possessions. I certainly never saw a man more seriously or sincerely alarmed, and I think (now that it is so near) that the French Government would avoid war at almost any cost; but the great evil of the present state of affairs is, that the conduct of the question has escaped out of the hands of the Ministers and statesmen by whom it has hitherto been handled, and henceforward must depend upon the passions or caprice of the Pasha, and the discretion of the numerous commanders in any of the fleets now gathered in the Mediterranean, and even upon the thousand accidents to which, with the most prudent and moderate instructions from home, and the best intentions in executing them, the course of events is exposed. As Guizot said, Europe is at the mercy ‘des incidents et des subalternes.’ He promised to keep me informed of everything that might occur of interest.

September 10th, 1840

The day after I saw Guizot I related to Clarendon all that had passed, when he told me that Melbourne was now become seriously alarmed, so much so that he had written to John Russell, ‘he could neither eat, nor drink, nor sleep,’ so great was his disturbance. Lord John [304] was also extremely alarmed, and both he and Melbourne had been considerably moved by a letter the former had received from the Duke of Bedford, enclosing one from Lord Spencer, in which he entered into the whole Eastern Question; and said that it was his earnest desire to give his support to the Government in all their measures, but that it would be contrary to his judgement and his conscience to support them in their policy on this question. This appears to have made a great impression upon them, but not the least upon Palmerston, who is quite impenetrable, and who always continues more or less to influence his colleagues; for Lord John, after meeting Palmerston at Windsor, came back easier in his mind, and, as he said, with a conviction (not apparently founded on any solid reason), ‘that they should pull through.’ Palmerston, so far from being at all shaken by anything Guizot said to him, told him that the only fault he had committed was not taking Lord Ponsonby’s advice and proceeding to action long ago. The second edition of the ‘Times’ mentions a violent note delivered by Pontois to the Porte. I thought this of such consequence that I sent the paper to Guizot, and begged him, if he could, to afford the means of contradicting it. He wrote me word he would, as soon as he had des renseignements plus précis. In the meantime, I find Metternich has protested against the tone of Pontois’ communication, which was verbal and not written. His own account of it to Thiers exhibited strong, but not indecent language.

In the evening (day before yesterday), Guizot dined at Holland House, and met Clarendon and Lord John Russell, with the latter of whom he had a long talk, and he hoped that he had made an impression on him. Yesterday morning I was enabled to read the Cabinet minute, submitting to the Queen the expediency of making the Treaty, to which was appended the dissent of Clarendon and Holland, with their reasons assigned in a short but well-written and well-reasoned paper. The Queen desired to keep it, and there can be little doubt that in her heart she coincides with them, for Leopold is frightened out of his senses, and is sure to have [305] ADMIRAL NAPIER’S PROCLAMATION. made her in some degree partake of his alarm. She told Melbourne that, of all things, what astonished her most was the coolness and indifference of Palmerston. It is remarkable that Clarendon, who expresses himself with energy, was never asked to Windsor while Leopold was there, Palmerston being there the whole time; and the day that Leopold departed, Clarendon was invited.

Yesterday morning arrived a fresh budget of alarming news, amongst the rest a proclamation of Admiral Napier, which people are disposed to consider a forgery and an impossibility, but which was believed at Paris and by Guizot here, and consequently raised a storm there, and put the Ambassador in despair. Clarendon went to him in the afternoon, when he broke out: ‘Mon cher Comte, I appeal to you, as representing the Government, to tell me what I am to think of such a proceeding as this, and how is it possible that I can continue to ‘gérer les affaires de mon gouvernement’ here, if such provocations as this proclamation are to occur.’ Clarendon acknowledged that if this proclamation was authentic, nothing was to be said in its defence, but urged that no definite judgement should be formed till they had some conclusive information; but he told me, that he should not be surprised to find that it was authentic and in virtue of instruction from Ponsonby, and he fully expected Palmerston would highly approve of it. When it was suggested to Palmerston that it might with every effort be impossible to prevent the Pasha from crossing the Taurus, he said, ‘So much the better if he did, that he would not be able to retreat, his communication be cut off, and his ruin the more certainly accomplished.’

September 12th, 1840

Yesterday at Windsor for a Council, when Prince Albert was introduced. The Ministers who were there had a sort of Cabinet afterwards, and a discussion about increasing the naval force, which Lord Minto thought they could not venture to do without calling Parliament together; but they agreed that this was to be avoided, and would be on every account objectionable. They might incur any expense for naval affairs on their own responsibility, and [306] Parliament would be sure to bear them out. After dinner, a messenger came, and Melbourne went out to read the contents of his box. I remarked that nobody occupied his chair next the Queen; it was left vacant, like Banquo’s, till he came back, so that it was established as exclusively his. I heard this morning what this box contained: letters from Sir F. Lamb,[14] to Palmerston, in which he told him that he wished him every success in his present undertaking, would do everything that he could to assist him, but acknowledged that he had not the least notion what he could do, or how anything could be done by anybody; intimating his conviction, in short, that their Convention was not executable. As for Metternich, he is at his wit’s end, and occupied night and day in thinking how he can se tirer d’affaire. He tells Lamb that as to contributing a guinea or a soldier towards the operation, it is quite out of the question, and begs him never to mention such a thing, and that if the Treaty could quietly fall to the ground it would be a very good thing. It is, however, entirely contemplated by the other Powers that Russia shall occupy Constantinople, and march to the assistance of the Sultan if necessary; but it is quite clear that Metternich is resolved to prevent a war by any means, and that he would not care for his share of humiliation or the object of the Convention being baffled. All this, however, does not damp the ardour or diminish the confidence of Palmerston, who says, ‘Everything is going on as well as possible.’

[14] [Sir Frederic Lamb, afterwards Lord Beauvale, was at this time ambassador at the Court of Austria.]

When I got to town I found a note from Guizot begging I would call on him. I went, and he read me a letter from Thiers about ‘the note’ of M. de Pontois at Constantinople, in which he explained that it was a verbal communication, and not a note, and that it had been grossly exaggerated; and he read me Pontois’ despatch to Thiers. I then asked him if he knew anything of Metternich and his disposition; and when he said, no, and asked me very anxiously if I could tell him anything, I told him that I [307] ALARM OF LORD MELBOURNE AND LORD JOHN. thought it was so strongly turned towards peace, and he was so anxious to relieve himself from the embarrassment in which he was placed, that they might turn it to good account, if they were to set about it.

September 13th, 1840

All last week at Doncaster; nothing new, but a considerable rise in the funds, indicating a reviving confidence in peace. Have seen nobody since I came back.

September 22nd, 1840

Came from Gorhambury yesterday. Got a letter from the Duke of Bedford, in which he says, ‘John has been here for the last week and has spoken very freely and openly to me on the state of our foreign relations. Matters are very serious, and may produce events both at home and abroad which neither you nor I can calculate upon. John is very uneasy and talks of going to town. You are aware that he came up from Scotland unexpectedly. Between ourselves, I think he is disposed to make a stand, and to act, if occasion requires it, a great part—whether for good or evil, God alone knows. Nobody, not even his colleagues, except Melbourne, knows what is passing.’ In a postscript he said that Lord John had urged Melbourne to summon a Cabinet, and, accordingly, one is summoned to meet next Monday. This is mysterious, but it can only mean one thing. Lord John, already alarmed by Lord Spencer’s letter, and dreading the possibility of a war, is resolved to oppose Palmerston’s headlong policy, and, if it be necessary, to risk a rupture in the Cabinet, and take upon himself the administration of Foreign affairs. The Foreign Office was originally that which he wished to have, and when Melbourne returned to office, they proposed to Palmerston to take either the Home or Colonial, but he would not hear of anything but the Foreign department.

I talked over this letter with Clarendon last night (from whom I have no secrets), and he, while fully agreeing in the propriety of calling the Cabinet together, and making the future transaction of foreign affairs a matter for the Government and not for the Foreign Office only, and of course well disposed to buckle on his armour on this question, acknowledged [308] that Palmerston would have very good reason to complain of any strong opposition from that quarter, inasmuch as he had been all along encouraged to proceed in his present line of policy by the concurrence and support of John Russell, who was in fact just as much responsible as Palmerston himself for the present state of affairs.

The beginning of the business may be traced to a Cabinet held at Windsor last autumn, when the general line of policy, since acted upon by Palmerston, was settled. From that time, however, the rest of the Ministers seem never to have interfered, or taken any interest in the matter, and Palmerston conducted it all just as he thought fit. This year Cabinet after Cabinet passed over, and no mention was ever made of the affairs of the East, till one day, at the end of a Cabinet, Palmerston, in the most easy nonchalant way imaginable, said that he thought it right to mention that he had been for a long time engaged in negotiation upon the principles agreed upon at the Cabinet at Windsor, and that he had drawn up a Treaty, with which it was fit the Cabinet should be acquainted. At this sudden announcement his colleagues looked very serious, but nobody said a word, except Lord Holland, who said, ‘that he could be no party to any measure which might be likely to occasion a breach between this country and France.’ No discussion, however, took place at that time, and it was agreed that the further consideration of the matter should be postponed till the next Cabinet. The following day, Palmerston wrote a letter to Melbourne, in which he said that he saw some hesitation and some disapprobation in the Cabinet at the course which he had recommended for adoption, and as he could only hope to succeed by obtaining unanimous support, he thought it better at once to place his office at Melbourne’s disposal. Melbourne wrote an answer begging he would not think of resigning, and reminding him that the matter stood over for discussion, and then sent the whole correspondence to Clarendon. Clarendon immediately wrote word that he felt under so much obligation to Palmerston that it was painful to him to oppose him; but as he could not support him in his Eastern [309] THE EASTERN QUESTION. policy, it was much better that he should resign, and begged Melbourne would accept his resignation. Melbourne however said, ‘For God’s sake, let there be no resignations at all,’[15] that his and Lord Holland’s retirement would have the effect of breaking up the Government; and then it was suggested that they might guard themselves by a minute of Cabinet (that which they subsequently drew up and gave the Queen) from any participation in the measures they objected to. After this, Palmerston continued to do just as he pleased, his colleagues consentientibus or at least non dissentientibus, except Holland and Clarendon, with whom nevertheless he seems (especially the latter) to have gone on upon very good terms. Latterly, however, since the affair has got so hot and critical, though their social relations have been uninterrupted, and the Palmerstons have been constantly dining at Holland House, Palmerston has never said one word to Lord Holland on the subject, and he is unquestionably very sore at the undisguised manner in which Lord Holland has signified his dislike of Palmerston’s foreign policy, and the great civilities that Lord and Lady Holland have shown to Guizot for some time past.

[15] I own I cannot see why. Their retirement would have proved the unanimity of the rest, and would rather have strengthened Palmerston than not.

The manner in which business is conducted and the independence of the Foreign Office are curiously displayed by the following fact. Last Wednesday a Protocol was signed (very proper in itself), in which the four Powers disclaimed any intention of aggrandising themselves in any way. The fact of this Protocol was told to Clarendon by Dr. Bowring, who had heard it in the City, and to Lord Holland by Dedel, neither of these Ministers having the slightest notion of its existence. In the meantime, while the apprehensions of Melbourne and John Russell, thus tardily aroused, have urged them to the adoption of a measure which may possibly break up the Government, or at all events bring about some important changes of one sort or another, the French are making vigorous preparations for war, and, having persuaded [310] the Pasha to send a new proposal to Constantinople, Thiers has intimated that, if this be rejected, France will give him active support, and then war will be inevitable. The crisis, therefore, seems actually on the point of arriving, and while all the world here fancies that war is impossible, it appears to be nearer than ever it was.

Guizot committed a great gaucherie the other day (the last time he was at Windsor), which he never could have done if he had had more experience of Courts, or been born and had lived in that society. The first day, the Queen desired he would sit next to her at dinner, which he did; the second day the Lord-in-waiting (Headfort) came as usual with his list, and told Guizot he was to take out the Queen of the Belgians, and sit somewhere else; when he drew up and said, ‘Milord, ma place est auprès de la Reine.’ Headfort, quite frightened, hastened back to report what had happened; when the Queen as wisely altered, as the Ambassador had foolishly objected to, the disposition of places, and desired him to sit next herself, as he had done the day before.

September 23rd, 1840

I called on Guizot yesterday morning, found him apprised of the meeting of the Cabinet on Monday next, when I told him that I could not help thinking he might materially contribute to the adoption of some resolution conducive to peace, that I had no doubt there would be very lively discussions at this Cabinet, and it was of great importance he should, if he could, afford an appui to the peace party. He said he would willingly do anything he could. I said, ‘for example, could he say on the part of his Government, that, in the event of the new terms proposed by Mehemet Ali being accepted, France would guarantee their due performance on the part of the Pasha, and that she would join in coercive measures against him if he attempted to infringe them, or commit any act of aggression against the Porte?’ He said, ‘that he was not authorised to make such a declaration, but he had no doubt he could engage so far, and that France would not hesitate to pledge herself to join the other Allies and act against Mehemet Ali in such a [311] DIFFERENCES IN THE CABINET. case as I had supposed.’ I asked him if he would write to his Government forthwith, as there was still time to get an answer before the Cabinet met, and he promised he would; but, he added, that with every desire to say what might furnish an argument for those in the Cabinet who are disposed to accept the proffered arrangement, he did not know how to hold any communications—for with Palmerston he could not, and Melbourne and John Russell were out of town. I told him, however, that Lord John would be in town on Thursday, and he promised he would call on him on Friday and talk to him; adding that he thought the last time he saw him he was well disposed. I told him that Lord John was not a man who said much, and that I could not answer for his opinions, but that I was quite convinced Palmerston would find some of his colleagues seriously alarmed, and no longer disposed to submit quietly to whatever he might be pleased to settle and to dictate. He asked me who were the Ministers with the greatest influence, and whose opinions would sway the Cabinet; and I told him Melbourne and John Russell, without a doubt, and whatever they resolved upon, the rest would agree to. But it is most extraordinary that while all reflecting people are amazed at the Government being scattered all abroad at such a momentous crisis, and instead of being collected together for the purpose of considering in concert every measure that is taken, as well as the whole course of policy, with any changes and modifications that may be called for, the Ministers themselves, such of them at least as are here, cannot discover any occasion for any Cabinets or meetings, and seem to think it quite natural and proper to leave the great question of peace or war to be dealt with by Palmerston as a mere matter of official routine. Lord Minto and Labouchere could not imagine why a Cabinet was called, nor by whom, and Palmerston still less. The day before the summons, he told Labouchere he might safely go into the country, as there was no chance of a Cabinet; and now Minto can only imagine that they are summoned to discuss the time to be fixed for the prorogation or the meeting of Parliament.

September 26th, 1840

[312] On Wednesday I went to Woburn, and, as soon as I arrived, the Duke carried me off to his room and told me everything that had taken place, and the exact present posture of affairs. John Russell has for some time past been impressed with the necessity of bringing the Eastern Question to a settlement, to avert all possibility of a war with France, and he has repeatedly urged Melbourne in the strongest terms to do something to prevent the danger into which the policy of the Treaty is hurrying us. None of the Ministers, except Melbourne himself, and Palmerston, have been apprised of these remonstrances, nor are any of them at this moment aware of what has been and is passing. Palmerston has been indignant at the opposition thus suddenly put forward by Lord John, and complains (not, I think, without very good cause), that after supporting and sanctioning his policy, and approving of the Treaty, he abandons him midway, and refuses to give that policy a fair trial. This he considers unjust and unreasonable, and it must be owned he is entitled to complain. Lord John, however, as far as I can learn, not very successfully justifies himself by saying that it was one thing to defend the treaty, of which he approved and does still, and another to approve the measures which are apparently leading us into a war. Between the urgent remonstrances of Lord John and the indignant complaints of Palmerston, Melbourne has been at his wit’s end. So melancholy a picture of indecision, weakness, and pusillanimity as his conduct has exhibited, I never heard of. The Queen is all this time in a great state of nervousness and alarm, on account of Leopold; terrified at Palmerston’s audacity, amazed at his confidence, and trembling lest her uncle should be exposed to all the dangers and difficulties in which he would be placed by a war between his niece and his father-in-law. All these sources of solicitude, pressure from without, and doubt and hesitation within, have raised that perplexity in Melbourne’s mind which has robbed him (as he told Lord John) of appetite and sleep. At length, after going on in this way for some time, matters becoming so bad between Palmerston and Lord John that Palmerston [313] LORD JOHN CALLS A CABINET. refused to have any communication with him, Lord Spencer’s letter, the continued state of danger, and the prospect of some arrangement growing out of the new propositions, made Lord John determine to take a decided course, and he accordingly requested Melbourne to call a Cabinet, which was done, and this important meeting is to take place on Monday next. At this Cabinet, Lord John is prepared to make a stand, and to propose that measures shall be taken for bringing about a settlement on the basis of mutual concession, and he is in fact disposed to accept the terms now offered by the Pasha with the consent and by the advice of France. He anticipates Palmerston’s opposition to this, and his insisting upon a continuance of our present course; but he is resolved in such a case to bring matters to an issue, and if he is overruled by a majority of the Cabinet, not only to resign, but to take a decisive part in Parliament against Palmerston’s policy, and to do his utmost there, with the support which he expects to obtain, to prevent a war. He is aware that his conduct might not only break up the Whig Government and party, but that it may bring about an entirely new arrangement and combination of parties, all of which he is willing to encounter rather than the evils and hazards of war. On the other hand, if Palmerston refuses to accede to his terms, and if unsupported by the Cabinet he tenders his resignation, Lord John is ready to urge its acceptance, and himself to undertake the administration of our foreign affairs. In short, he has made up his mind, and that so strongly, that I do not think it possible he can fail either to carry his point or to break up the Government, or at least bring about very material changes in it.

Prepared as I was, by the Duke of Bedford’s letter, for something of this sort, I was not prepared for anything so strong and decisive; and while I expressed my satisfaction at it, I did not conceal my opinion that Lord John’s course had not been at all consistent, and that Palmerston, when the moment of discussion came, would have a good case against his antagonist colleague. While I was at Woburn, I had constant running talk about this matter with the [314] Duke, but not a word with Lord John, to whom I never uttered, nor he to me.

Yesterday I returned to town, when I found that Lord John had written both to Lord Holland and Clarendon, shortly, but saying that he thought the new proposals made the matter stand very differently. I dined at Holland House, where the Palmerstons dined also. My own opinion from the first moment was, that Palmerston never would agree to any arrangement, but I thought it just possible, if he became impressed with the magnitude of the danger, that he might anticipate Lord John, by himself suggesting some attempt to profit by the disposition of the Pasha to make concessions. But any such possibility was speedily dissipated, by a conversation which I had with Lady Palmerston, who spoke with the utmost bitterness and contempt of these proposals, as totally out of the question, not worth a moment’s attention, and such as the other Powers would not listen to, even if we were disposed to accept them; and that we were now bound to those Powers, and must act in concert with them. She told me a great deal, which I knew (from other sources) not to be true, about Metternich’s resolution not to make the slightest concession to France and the Pasha; and her brother Frederic’s strenuous advice and opinion to that effect. She complained, and said that Frederic complained, of the mischief which was done by Cabinets which only bred difficulties, intrigues, and underhand proceedings, and plainly intimated her opinion that all powers ought to be centred in, and all action proceed from, the Foreign Office alone. I told her that I could not see the proposals in the same light as she did, that some mutual concessions in all affairs must be expected, and that she was so accustomed to look at the matter only in a diplomatic point of view that she was not sufficiently alive to the storm of wrath and indignation which would burst upon the Government, if war did ensue upon the rejection of such terms as these, which, as far as I had been able to gather opinions, appeared to moderate impartial men fair and reasonable in themselves, and such as we might accept without dishonour. We had [315] COUNT WALEWSKI’S MISSION TO EGYPT. a very long talk, which was principally of importance as showing the state of her husband’s mind, and I told Lord Holland afterwards what I had said to her, at which he expressed great satisfaction. I found afterwards that there has been a correspondence between Palmerston and Holland, begun by the former, and the object of it to vent his complaints at the undisguised hostility of Holland House to the Treaty and its policy. It ended by Holland’s refusing to continue it, and referring Palmerston to the Cabinet on Monday, when the whole question would come under consideration.

This morning I received a note from Guizot, begging I would call on him as soon as I could. I went almost directly, when he produced a letter from Thiers, in which he desired Guizot to go immediately to Palmerston, and in the most formal and solemn manner to deny, in his name and in the name of France, that the mission of Walewski[16] had had any such object as that which had been imputed to it; that he had not endeavoured to persuade the Pasha not to accede to the terms imposed upon him, and that if he was disposed to accept them, ‘La France ne se montrerait pas plus ambitieuse pour lui qu’il ne l’était pour lui-même,’ and would certainly not interfere to prevent the execution of the Treaty. Moreover, he was to say that Walewski had not gone to Constantinople as the agent of the Pasha, but only to convey to M. de Pontois the intelligence of the communication which the Pasha had made to the Sultan through Rifat Bey, Rifat Bey having been despatched on the 6th with a very submissive letter from Mehemet Ali to the Sultan, in which he asked him to grant certain terms, the substance of which has been already made known. Guizot then said that [316] he had likewise received authority to declare that if the Sultan accepted the terms proposed by Mehemet Ali, or even some modification of them (such as France could approve of), with the consent and concurrence of his Allies, and if he invited France to be a party to the new arrangement, and to join in guaranteeing a due execution of its provisions, France would accept such invitation, and would join the other Allies in compelling Mehemet Ali to a strict observance of the arrangement, and would, if necessary, use measures of coercion and hostility against him if he failed in a due performance, or infringed the limits assigned to him. I told M. Guizot that nothing could be more satisfactory than these communications, and he said that he had already asked for an interview with Palmerston, in order to impart the same to him. He then wanted to know if he might speak to Lord John if he met him at Holland House or elsewhere; but I advised him not, and told him that Palmerston was suspicious and jealous, and would take umbrage at any of his colleagues holding communications upon affairs which were his peculiar concern. He acquiesced altogether, and it was agreed that I should call on him to-morrow morning and hear what had passed between Palmerston and him. I took the opportunity of telling him on that occasion that the great evil, and that which rendered all negotiation and arrangement so difficult, was the absence of all reciprocal confidence, that we had none in his Minister (Thiers), and that the national pride and vanity (of which we, like themselves, had a share) were wounded by the ostentatious preparations for war, and the menacing and blustering tone of the press. He acknowledged these evils and their bad effects, and only shrugged up his shoulders at what I said about Thiers, of whom he has no good opinion himself, as is well known.

[16] [Count Walewski had been despatched to Alexandria with a mission from M. Thiers, and one of the grievances of Lord Palmerston against France was that this emissary was supposed to have been sent either to encourage Mehemet Ali in his resistance to the Allied Powers, or to negotiate a separate arrangement between the Pasha and the Sultan, under the auspices of France, so as to cut the ground from under the other Powers. This M. Thiers stoutly denied in his correspondence, and he denied it to me with equal energy when I dined with him at Auteuil on October 8.]

When I left him, I wrote a long letter to the Duke of Bedford, detailing all that had passed, and as I cannot now doubt that Lord John knows his brother communicates with me, and it was of importance that he should be apprised immediately of what had passed, I resolved to send him my [317] CONCILIATORY PROPOSALS. letter to read, and desired him to forward it to Woburn. He afterwards dined with me, and when he came to dinner, he said he had read my letter, and that it was very important.

September 27th, 1840

Went to Guizot, who began by telling me he had been with Palmerston yesterday, who had acknowledged très loyalement that there was not and could not be any truth in the report (about Walewski), said his manner to him (as it had always been) was excellent. Guizot then complained of the facility with which he gave ear to reports like these and to all that was said against France; but he left him well enough satisfied with his reception. He then asked in what state the question was, and I told him that it was in such a state that I had no hesitation in saying war was impossible, and that if the ‘transaction’ was such as we could in honour accept, we should accept it; that the best thing to be hoped was, that Palmerston would make up his mind to a ‘transaction’ in the Cabinet, and would himself take the initiative; but that at all events there were others who were resolved not to pursue any longer this course of policy, and that if he was inexorable it must end in his resignation.

Before I went to Guizot I saw Clarendon, who had had a good deal of talk with Lord John, who spoke to him just in the strain which the Duke of Bedford had already described to me. Melbourne is to be in town to-day, and what Lord John expected and hoped was, that he would be able to persuade Palmerston to give way, and himself propose to acquiesce in Mehemet Ali’s proposals. In that case, Lord John said, he should not say a word. If Palmerston would not do so, then it would be for him to take his own course, and he and Clarendon have both agreed to resign if they should be overruled; and the latter said he thought he could answer for Lord Holland doing the same. While returning home I was overtaken by Palmerston, who was on his way to Lord John’s house; and they are now closeted together, so that at least they will have it all out before the Cabinet to-morrow. Guizot gave me a copy of Cochelet’s despatch, with an account of what had passed between [318] Mehemet Ali, himself, Walewski, and the four Consuls-General, which ended in the transmission of his new proposal to the Porte.

September 28th, 1840

Lord John and Palmerston had a long conversation, amicable enough in tone, but unsatisfactory in result. However, Lord John did not appear to be shaken in his determination, but rather inclined to an opinion that Palmerston would himself be disposed to give way. Any such expectation ought to have been dissipated by a letter which Lord John received meanwhile from Palmerston, in which he talked with his usual confidence and levity of ‘the certainty of success,’ the ‘hopeless condition of the Pasha,’ and the facility with which the Treaty would be carried into effect.[17]

[17] Everything turned out according to his anticipations.

In the morning, after I had been with Guizot (and after Palmerston’s interview with Lord John), he went to Palmerston and communicated fully the offer of France, saying he would not enter into the details of the question, but he could not help reminding him of the failure of so many of his confident expectations. Palmerston said that there would be no sort of difficulty in enforcing the Treaty, and that then France might join if she pleased. Guizot replied that this was out of the question, that France was now ready to join in a transaction fair and honourable to both parties, but she would not stand by, see the question settled without her, and then come in to bolster up an arrangement made by others, and with which she had had no concern. In the evening he went to Holland House, where he told Melbourne what he had communicated to Palmerston; found him in a satisfactory disposition, but Melbourne said that there was a danger greatly to be feared, and that was, that our ambassador at Constantinople, who was very violent against Mehemet Ali, and not afraid of war, might and probably would urge the immediate rejection of the Pacha’s proposal and every sort of violent measure.[18] Guizot, naturally enough, expressed (to me) his astonishment that the [319] LORD PALMERSTON’S RESOLUTION. Prime Minister should hold such language, and that, if he had an ambassador who was likely to act in such a manner so much at variance with his political views, he did not recall him or supersede him by a special mission. This, however, was very characteristic of Melbourne; and I told Clarendon, urging him to insist that some positive understanding should be come to, upon the conduct to be adopted by Ponsonby. There can be no doubt that Palmerston and Ponsonby between them will do all they can to embroil matters, and to make a transaction impossible, and Palmerston writes just what he pleases without any of his colleagues having the least idea what he says. The result of the whole then is, that the Cabinet meet at three to-day, and that Lord John will have to stand forth in opposition to Palmerston’s policy, and to propose the adoption of measures leading to an amicable arrangement. A few hours will show how the rest are disposed to take it.

[18] As he did.


[320] The Cabinet meets — The Government on the verge of Dissolution — The Second Cabinet — Palmerston lowers his Tone in the Cabinet — But continues to bully in the Press — Taking of Beyrout — Deposition of Mehemet Ali — Lord John acquiesces — Total Defeat of Peace Party — Lord John Russell’s False Position — His Views — Lord Granville’s Dissatisfaction — Further Attempts at Conciliation — Prevarication of Lord Ponsonby — Newspaper Hostilities — Discussion of the French Note of the 8th October — Guizot’s Opinion of the Note of the 8th October — Louis Philippe’s Influence on the Crisis — Summary of Events — Death of Lord Holland — Lord Clarendon’s Regret for Lord Holland — M. Guizot’s Intentions as to France — Effects of the Queen’s Partiality for Melbourne — Resignation to Thiers — Bickerings in the Ministry — Lord John Russell’s Dissatisfaction with Lord Palmerston — Lord John resigns — Lord John demands the Recall of Lord Ponsonby — Lord Palmerston defends Lord Ponsonby — M. Guizot’s Policy — Conciliatory Propositions fail — Attitude of Austria — Asperity of Lord Palmerston — Operations in Syria — Success of Lord Palmerston and his Policy — Baron Mounier’s Mission to London — Birth of the Princess Royal — Results of the Success of Lord Palmerston’s Measures — The Tories divided in Opinion as to the Treaty — Retrospect of the Year — Lord Holland.

September 29th, 1840: Wednesday

The Cabinet met on Monday evening and sat till seven o’clock. The account of the proceedings which has reached me is to the last degree amusing, but at the same time pitoyable. It must have been à payer les places to see. They met, and as if all were conscious of something unpleasant in prospect, and all shy, there was for some time a dead silence. At length Melbourne, trying to shuffle off the discussion, but aware that he must say something, began: ‘We must consider about the time to which Parliament should be prorogued.’ Upon this Lord John took it up and said, ‘I presume we must consider whether Parliament should be called together or not, because, as matters are now going on, it seems to me that we may at [321] A CABINET ON THE EASTERN QUESTION. any moment find ourselves at war, and it is high time to consider the very serious state of affairs. I should like,’ he added, turning to Melbourne, ‘to know what is your opinion upon the subject.’ Nothing, however, could be got from Melbourne, and there was another long pause, which was not broken till somebody asked Palmerston, ‘What are your last accounts?’ On this Palmerston pulled out of his pocket a whole parcel of letters and reports from Ponsonby, Hodges, and others, and began reading them through, in the middle of which operation someone happened to look up, and perceived Melbourne fast asleep in his armchair. At length Palmerston got through his papers, when there was another pause; and at last Lord John, finding that Melbourne would not take the lead or say a word, went at once into the whole subject. He stated both sides of the case with great precision, and in an admirable, though very artful speech, a statement which, if elaborated into a Parliamentary speech and completed as it would be in the House of Commons, was calculated to produce the greatest effect. He delivered this, speaking for about a quarter of an hour, and then threw himself back in his chair, waiting for what anybody else would say. After some little talk, Palmerston delivered his sentiments the other way, made a violent philippic against France, talked of her weakness and want of preparation, of the union of all the Powers of Europe against her, said that Prussia had 200,000 men on the Rhine, and (as Lord Holland said) exhibited all the violence of ’93. Lord John was then asked, since such were his opinions, what course he would advise? He said he had formed his opinion as to what it would be advisable to do, and he produced a slip of paper on which he had written two or three things. The first was, that we should immediately make a communication to the French Government, expressing our thanks for the efforts France had made to induce the Pasha to make concessions for the purpose of bringing about a settlement; and next, to call together the Ministers of the other Powers, and express to them our opinion that it would be desirable to re-open negotiations for a settlement of the dispute in consequence of [322] the effects produced by the mediation of France. There then ensued a good deal of talk (in which, however, the Prime Minister took no part), Lord Minto espousing Palmerston’s side, and saying (which was true enough), that though Lord Holland and Clarendon, who had all along opposed the Treaty, might very consistently take this course, he did not see how any of those could do so who had originally supported and approved of it; to which Lord John quietly and briefly said, ‘The events at Alexandria have made all the difference.’ This was in fact no answer; and Minto was quite right, especially as Lord John had taken his line before the events at Alexandria were known. Of the Ministers present besides Minto, Macaulay seemed rather disposed to go with Palmerston, and talked blusteringly about France, as he probably thought a Secretary of War should. Labouchere was first one way and then the other, and neither the Chancellor nor the Chancellor of the Exchequer said one word. The result was an agreement, that it would be disrespectful to Lord Lansdowne, considering his position, to come to any resolution in his absence; and as he could not arrive before this day, that the discussion should be adjourned till Thursday (to-morrow) by which time he and Morpeth would be here. They were all to dine with Palmerston, and a queer dinner it must have been.

October 1st, 1840

No progress made, everything in statu quo. The dinner at Palmerston’s on Monday after the Cabinet, went off well enough. In the evening Clarendon had a long conversation with Lady Palmerston, who repeated to him everything she had said to me, and seemed confident enough that Palmerston would carry his point at last. He told her, however, that if he persisted, the Government must be broken up, as at least half a dozen would resign, and that she must be aware Government could not go on if either Palmerston or John Russell resigned (putting in Palmerston out of civility). He thought he had made some impression on her. The next day they all dined at Holland House. There he had again some talk with Palmerston himself, amicable enough, but leading to nothing; to what Clarendon [323] LORD JOHN’S PACIFIC SENTIMENTS. said about breaking up the Government, Palmerston did not reply a word. Afterwards Palmerston had a long talk with Lord Holland, but not satisfactory. Morpeth has arrived, and naturally enough was extremely embarrassed. He had supported Palmerston originally, and was not aware of any impending change of policy, or any change in anybody’s opinion, and he felt that it was an extraordinary whisk round. Melbourne, of course, hopped off to Windsor the moment the Cabinet was over, and instead of remaining here, trying to conciliate people and arrange matters, he left everything to shift for itself. Having shown the Queen a letter of John Russell’s, which she was not intended to see, he sent to Lord John a letter of hers, which probably she did not mean him to see either. She said, among other things, that she thought it was rather hard that Lord Palmerston and Lord John could not settle these matters amicably, without introducing their own personal objects, and raising such difficulties. She added one thing in her letter which may lead to some important consequences. She said that it was her wish that some attempt should be made to open communications with the French Government. If Palmerston chooses to give way, he may make her wishes the pretext for doing so, and yield to them what he refuses to everybody else.

I saw Guizot, who showed me a letter he had written to Thiers, telling him as far as he knew how matters stood, of the difficulties there were, and entreating him to moderate the French press. He also showed me a note from John Russell, in which, after thanking him for not speaking to him at Holland House, as it was better he should only talk to Palmerston or Melbourne, he added that he begged he would not consider that the articles which had lately appeared in the ‘Morning Chronicle’ and ‘Observer’ were approved of by the Government, and repudiated any connexion or concurrence with them. He had pronounced in the Cabinet a violent philippic against the newspapers, which was entirely directed at Palmerston, who, he knows very well, writes constantly in them, and Guizot knows this also. Guizot, therefore, [324] if he had any doubt before of Lord John’s sentiments, can have none now. An article appeared in the ‘Times’ on Tuesday strongly in favour of peace and harmony with France and the acceptance of the Pasha’s offers. Guizot, of course, was delighted with it; but I found it had taken in other quarters, for Dedel asked me if I had read it, and said it was the true view of the question, and Ben Stanley said the same thing to me at dinner, and that he had found at Manchester and elsewhere a strong public opinion, of which he was sure Palmerston was not aware, and would not believe in if told. Dedel showed me a letter from Fagel, giving an account of a conversation he had with Louis Philippe, in which the King disclaimed any ambitious design or desire for war, but said he was determined to put France in a respectable state of preparation; very firm language. Dedel had been at Peel’s, but got nothing out of him except that he did not know whether he should have made such a treaty, but as it was made we ought to abide by it. The Tories will turn this business to good account, end as it may; they have beau jeu. But what Neumann said to Dedel is anything but confirmatory of Palmerston’s stories of Austrian stoutness, for he told him it would be a very fortunate thing if the Sultan would accept Mehemet Ali’s new proposals.[1]

[1] [M. Neumann was the Austrian Minister in London; M. Fagel the Dutch Minister in Paris.]

Evening.—The Cabinet went off far better than could have been expected; indeed, as well as possible under all the circumstances. Lord John had previously intimated to Melbourne that he should expect him to take the lead upon this occasion, and it seems pretty clear that Melbourne had contrived to effect some arrangement with Palmerston. Accordingly Melbourne (very nervous) began, said that the question was in the same state as when they last met, pronounced a few commonplaces, such as that the success or failure of the coercive means might by this time have been proved, only they could not yet know the event, but ended with referring to a paper delivered some time ago by Metternich, in which he had made certain contingent suggestions, [325] PRINCE METTERNICH’S SUGGESTION. of which the last and most important was, that in the event of ‘inefficacité des moyens’ becoming apparent some communication should be made to France for the purpose of drawing her again into the alliance (or something to that effect; I cannot recollect the exact words, but it was a peg on which a communication might be hung), and asking Palmerston if he had not got this paper.[2] Palmerston pulled it, all cut and dry, out of his pocket and read it. A good deal of talk then ensued, and some doubts and suspicions were expressed about France, which drew out Lord Holland, who said, ‘For God’s sake, if you are so full of distrust of France, if you suspect all her acts and all her words, put the worst construction on all she does, and are resolved to be on bad terms with her, call Parliament together, ask for men and money, and fight it out with her manfully. Do this or meet her in a friendly and conciliatory spirit, and cast aside all those suspicions which make such bad blood between the two countries.’ This appeal (of which I only give the spirit) was very well received, and, after some more talk, Palmerston said that though he was still convinced success would crown the efforts now making in the East, and that it was unnecessary to take any other step, yet, if it was the wish and opinion of the Cabinet that some communication should be made to France, he was ready to make it. This was, of course, very well taken, and was a prodigious concession and change from his former tone. A great deal more discussion then ensued, and the result was that Palmerston is to see the Ministers of the Conference, either separately or together, to-morrow, and to propose to them that he should make a communication to France on the basis of Metternich’s suggestion. There can be no doubt of Neumann’s acquiescence, and the Prussian will go with the Austrian; the only doubt is Brunnow. They all agreed that nothing could be done but with the [326] common consent of all, and as Russia has behaved exceedingly well since the signature of the Treaty, it would be wholly unjustifiable not to treat her with perfect good faith and every sort of consideration. If Brunnow objects, and will not consent to the communication being made, another Cabinet is to be summoned to-morrow afternoon; if he acquiesces, Palmerston is to speak to Guizot immediately. If Brunnow is not consenting, Palmerston will equally speak to Guizot, but, instead of making a proposition, will say that Brunnow will apply for instructions, and that we have requested him to do so, to enable us, with the consent of all the three parties to the treaty, to make the communication to France. Such is the substance and result of this important Cabinet, which I have very roughly and imperfectly put down, and I am conscious that I have forgotten some of the details which reached me; however, I have preserved the essential parts. Lord John (to whom it is all due) said very little, Lansdowne not much; Hobhouse was talkative, but nobody listened to him; Melbourne, when it was over, swaggering like any Bobadil, and talking about ‘fellows being frightened at their own shadows,’ and a deal of bravery when he began to breathe freely from the danger.

[2] Metternich’s paper was a suggestion which he put into the mouth of the French Minister, and which he gave Leopold, who sent it here. He said, ‘If I were the French Minister, I would say so and so,’ to the effect that if the means of coercion did not prove efficacious, the Allies had better consider the matter afresh in conjunction with France, who would assist in settling it.

October 2nd, 1840

Last night it was decided that Palmerston should call the Conference together, and propose to them to make a conciliatory advance to France. All Europe is looking with anxiety for the result of the Cabinet held yesterday; and this morning the ‘Morning Chronicle’ puts forth an article having every appearance of being written by Palmerston himself (as I have no doubt it was), most violent, declamatory, and insulting to France.

October 4th, 1840

I was obliged to break off, and now resume the narrative. It was resolved at the Cabinet that Palmerston should summon the Ministers of the Conference and ask their consent to his making some communication to Guizot. The Austrian and the Prussian said they would consent to whatever Brunnow agreed to. Brunnow said he could say nothing till he had consulted his Court; and he added that England could do what she pleased, but that he [327] LORD PALMERSTON DEFEATS CONCILIATION. would not conceal from Palmerston that the Emperor would be exceedingly hurt if any step of the kind was taken without his knowledge or consent.[4] On this the Cabinet again met on Friday afternoon to hear the report; but it must have been clear enough what the result of Palmerston’s interview with the Ministers would be, after the appearance of the article in the ‘Chronicle.’ I made the Duke of Bedford go to Lord John and tell him this ought not to be endured; and that if I were he I would not sit for one hour in the Cabinet with a man who could agree to take a certain line (with his colleagues) over night, and publish a furious attack upon the same the next morning. Lord John said he had already written to Melbourne about it, that Palmerston had positively denied having anything to do with the ‘Morning Chronicle,’ and he did not see what more he could do; but he owned that all his confidence in him was gone.

[4] [It is obvious that when Lord Palmerston agreed to make a conciliatory overture to France, in order to allay the storm in the Cabinet, and prevent the threatened dissolution of the Ministry, he was perfectly aware that Brunnow and the Emperor of Russia would not concur in the proposal, or would, at least, delay it so long that it would be useless. Moreover, Lord Palmerston confidently relied, and in this it turned out he was right, on the success of his naval measures against the Pasha, and of the Pasha’s inability to resist them. It was this prompt success—prompt beyond all conception and belief—that averted the catastrophe of a dissolution of the Ministry or a breach with France.]

I received a note in the morning from Guizot desiring to see me, and I went. I told him that the article was abominable, but that so far from its being a true exposition of the intentions of the Cabinet, they had resolved upon the attempt at conciliation which Palmerston had himself agreed to make. I begged him to make allowance for the difficulties of the case, and be contented with a small advance; and I told him that the Cabinet were unanimously agreed upon the necessity of adhering to their engagements with their Allies, and at the same time endeavouring to bring about a rapprochement to France. He promised to make the best of it with his Government, and, making them comprehend that there was a strong peace party in the Cabinet, work in conjunction with that party here to keep matters quiet.

[328] In the morning I went to Claremont for a Council, where the principal Ministers met; and after the Council they held a Cabinet in Melbourne’s bed-room. It was not, however, till this morning that I knew the subject of their discussion. On arriving in town, indeed, I heard that Beyrout had been bombarded and taken by the English fleet, and a body of Turkish troops been landed; but this was not known at Claremont, and not believed in London. Before I was dressed, however, this morning, Guizot arrived at my house in a great state of excitement, said it was useless our attempting to manage matters in the sense of peace here while Ponsonby was driving them to extremities at Constantinople, and causing the Treaty to be executed à l’outrance. He then produced his whole budget of intelligence, being the bombardment of Beyrout, the landing of 12,000 Turks, and the deposition of Mehemet Ali and appointment of Izzar Pasha to succeed him. He also showed me a letter from Thiers in which he told him of all this, said he would not answer for what might come of it, that he had had one meeting of the Cabinet and should have another; but Guizot said he thought he would very likely end by convoking the Chambers.

I went immediately to John Russell and told him what a state Guizot was in, and showed him the papers. He said they were aware yesterday of the Constantinople news; that on receiving the propositions of the Pasha by Rifat Bey, the Conference, considering them as a refusal, had immediately proposed to Redschid Pasha to pronounce his deposition;[5] he agreed, and proposed to name a successor; they objected to this, but ultimately consented to the appointment of a provisional successor in the person of the Seraskier commanding the Turkish troops in Syria; that it was not intended really to deprive Mehemet Ali of Egypt, and the sentence of deposition was only fulminated as a means of intimidation, and to further the object of the treaty; Palmerston wrote to Lord Granville, and desired him to make [329] LORD HOLLAND’S VIEW OF THE CASE. an immediate communication to Thiers to this effect. Lord John admitted that it was all very bad, but seemed to think he could do nothing more, and that nothing was left but to wait and to preach patience. I went from him to Guizot, and told him what had passed; but he said, with truth, that this resolution to drive matters to extremity, and to go even beyond the Treaty, made it very difficult to do any good here, and that the public would not be able to draw those fine diplomatic lines and comprehend the difference between a provisional and an actual successor to Mehemet Ali. He was going to Palmerston, and I told him Palmerston would no doubt tell him what had been conveyed to Lord Granville.

[5] [The Conference of the Ambassadors of the Four Powers at Constantinople, in which Lord Ponsonby played the most prominent part, and laboured to drive matters to the last extremity.]

I then went to Holland House, found Lord Holland alone, and he entered fully, and without reserve, into the whole question. From him I learned that Metternich has expressed his strong disapprobation of the violent steps that have been taken, and that he wrote as much to Stürmer. Holland seemed to think that there had been a great difference of opinion among the Ministers of the Conference at Constantinople, but that Ponsonby had ultimately prevailed in persuading them to depose the Pasha; that he had concealed the fact of the division of opinion which had been revealed here by Lord Beauvale’s letter from Vienna. Lord Holland went over the whole case, and told me everything that had occurred in great detail, the whole, or certainly the greatest part, of which I was already apprised of. Just now I saw Dedel, who told me again that Neumann had said to him, ‘Plût à Dieu que le Sultan acceptât les dernières propositions de Mehemet Ali, car cela nous tirerait d’un grand embarras.’ Neumann is a time-serving dog, for he holds quite different language to the Palmerstons, and to them complains of Holland House, and talks of firmness, resolution, &c.

October 7th, 1840

Dined at Holland House on Sunday. Palmerstons, John Russell, and Morpeth, all very merry, with sundry jokes about Beyrout, and what not. At night Lady Holland was plaintive to Palmerston about an article in the [330] ‘Examiner,’ in which Fonblanque had said something about Holland House taking a part against the foreign policy, and they talked together amicably enough. Lady Palmerston and I had another colloquy, much the same as before. I told her what Neumann had said, but nothing would make her believe it. They have a marvellous facility in believing anything they wish, and disbelieving whatever they don’t like. In fact, Lord John evidently has completely knocked under; he is unprepared to do anything more, and so ready now to go on that he had himself proposed to Palmerston that Stopford should be ordered to attack Acre. Of course, Palmerston desired no better; and it seems to have been agreed that conditional orders shall be sent to him—that is, he is to attack if he is strong enough, and the season is not too far advanced.

I dined again to-day at Holland House, and in the evening Guizot came. He told me that nothing could be more unsatisfactory than his interview with Palmerston; very civil to himself personally as he always was, but ‘de Ministre à Ministre’ as bad as possible. He had told him of the communication Lord Granville was desired to make to Thiers, but had not said one syllable of the disposition of the Cabinet to make an overture, nor held out the slightest expectation of the possibility of any modification. Guizot repeated how much he is alarmed, and talked of the probability of war. It is now quite clear that Palmerston has completely gained his point. The peace party in the Cabinet are silenced, their efforts paralysed. In fact, Palmerston has triumphed, and Lord John succumbed. The Cabinet are again dispersed, Palmerston reigns without let or hindrance at the Foreign Office. No attempt is made to conciliate France; the war on the coast of Syria will go on with redoubled vigour; Ponsonby will urge matters to the last extremities at Constantinople; and there is no longer a possibility of saying or doing any one thing, for the whole question of reconciliation has been suffered to rest upon the result of a communication which Brunnow undertook to make to his Court, to which no [331] LORD PALMERSTON TRIUMPHS. answer can be received for several weeks, and none definite will probably ever be received at all. Palmerston’s policy, therefore, will receive a complete trial, and its full and unimpeded development, and even those of his colleagues who are most opposed to it, and who are destitute of all confidence in him, are compelled to go along with him his whole length, share all his responsibility, and will, after all, very likely be obliged to combat in Parliament the very same arguments that they have employed in the Cabinet, and vice versâ.

Lord John has disappointed me; and when I contrast the vigour of his original resolutions with the feebleness of his subsequent efforts, the tameness with which he has submitted to be overruled and thwarted, and to endure the treachery, and almost the insult of Palmerston’s newspaper tricks, I am bound to acknowledge that he is not the man I took him for. The fact is, that his position has been one of the greatest embarrassment—but of embarrassment of his own making. He consented to the Treaty of July, without due consideration of the consequences it was almost sure to entail. When those consequences burst upon him in a very dangerous and alarming shape, he seems suddenly to have awakened from his dream of security, and to have bestirred himself to avert the impending evils; but while the magnitude of the peril pressed him on one side, on the other he was hampered by the consciousness of his own inconsistency, and that he could not do anything without giving Palmerston a good case against him. And when at last he did resolve to take a decisive step, he never calculated upon the means at his disposal to bring about the change of policy which he advocated. He moved, accordingly, like a man in chains. He distrusted Palmerston, and did not dare tell him so; Melbourne would not help him; he dreaded a breach partly official, partly domestic, with Palmerston, and only thought of keeping the rickety machine of Government together as long as possible, by any means he could, and was content to leave the issues of peace or war to the chapter of accidents. The rest of the Cabinet seem to have been pretty evenly balanced, feeling (as was very natural) that they had no [332] good case for opposing Palmerston, conscious that Lord John’s alarms were not without foundation, and that his position gave him a right to take a decisive lead in the Cabinet; still they were not inclined to act cordially and decisively with him, and hence vacillation and uncertainty in their councils. Palmerston alone was resolute; entrenched in a strong position, with unity and determination of purpose, quite unscrupulous, very artful, and in possession of the Foreign Office, and therefore able to communicate in whatever manner and with whomsoever he pleased, and to give exactly the turn he chose to any negotiation or communication, without the possibility of being controlled by any of his colleagues. From the beginning, Lord John seems never to have seen his way clearly, or to have been able to make up his mind how to act. My own opinion is, that if there had been a will, there might have been found a way, to do something; but Palmerston had no such will. On the contrary, he was resolved to defeat the intentions of his colleagues, and he has effectually done so.

October 8th, 1840

Lord John Russell called on me yesterday morning, more to talk the matter over than for any particular purpose. He was, as usual, very calm about it all. I told him all I thought, and asked him why Guizot’s offer had not been made use of; when he said that it had been considered, but for three reasons, which he gave me, it had been judged impossible to make it the foundation of a communication, and that Metternich’s paper had been taken instead. Two of the reasons were, 1st. That the Viceroy’s offers would probably have been already rejected at Constantinople; 2ndly. That the insurrection in Syria would have been organised, and it might entail consequences on the Syrians that it would be unjust to expose them to; 3rdly. The necessity of the previous concurrence of the Allies. They all seemed to me very bad reasons.

I told him that Palmerston had gained his point, and that the whole thing turned upon the success of the insurrection. He admitted that it did, and stated the grounds there were for hoping that it would succeed. He owned to me [333] LORD JOHN’S LAST EFFORT. that his reason for consenting to the Treaty was the refusal of France to join in coercive measures; which I told him was in my opinion the strong point of Palmerston’s case. The fact is, the offer of France is come too late; the machine has been set in motion, and now there is no stopping it. But I shall ever think that if the advances of France had been met in another way, much might have been done. Lord John said the Queen had talked to him, and had expressed her anxiety for some settlement, but at the same time was quite determined to make no unworthy concession.

My brother writes me word that Lord Granville is so disgusted at his position, and at being kept entirely in the dark as to the real position of affairs, that he is seriously thinking of resigning. Bulwer[6] has, however, done his utmost to prevent him, and advised him to write instead and earnestly recommend that, if they meditate any change, whatever they mean to do should be done immediately.

[6] [Mr. Henry Bulwer (afterwards Lord Dalling) was at that time First Secretary of the Embassy in Paris, and an ardent supporter of Lord Palmerston’s policy—much more so than the Ambassador, Lord Granville.]

I went to Lord John this morning, and read to him my brother Henry’s letter. He is alarmed, and says that no doubt much might have been done in the way of conciliation that has not been done; admits that Palmerston (through whom everything must necessarily pass) will do nothing; and that the fact is he does not believe in war, and does not care if it happens. He showed me a paper he wrote with the project of making certain tranquillising communications to the French Government; one of which was, that if the Allies resolved to attack Egypt, they would first give notice to France and try and arrange matters with her. The Emperor of Russia, it appears, is all for attacking Egypt; but no intention exists of taking Egypt from the Pasha in any case. I told him again that I thought an opportunity had been lost of responding to the last offer of France in a conciliatory way, and Lord John said he thought so too; he had written a paper on the subject, showed it to Melbourne—who highly approved of it, left it with him, never heard [334] more about it, and nothing was done. Palmerston’s extinguisher was, of course, put upon it. Lord John said he was tired of attempting to do anything; and he now appears to have resolved to wait patiently, and meet his destiny with the stoical resignation of a Turk.

October 9th, 1840

Everything looking black these last two days, funds falling, and general alarm. Lord Granville has written to Palmerston both publicly and privately; in the former enforcing the necessity of some speedy arrangement, if any there is to be; in the latter remonstrating upon his own situation vis-à-vis of the Government. Lord John has again screwed his courage up to summon the Cabinet, with the determination of making another attempt at accommodation with France. He proposed this to Melbourne, who said ‘it was too late.’ This is what he always does: entreats people to wait when they first want to move, and then when they have waited, and will wait no longer, he says, ‘it is too late.’ Lord John’s design is to have a despatch written to Granville, with which he is to go to Thiers, inviting a frank explanation de part et d’autre, asking what France desires and expects, saying what England intends and does not intend, entering into the position in which all parties are placed, and expressing a readiness to conciliate France in any way that we honourably and consistently can, communicating to our Allies exactly what we say.

But what he would principally desire, and I perceive will not be able to effect, is the supersession in some shape of Lord Ponsonby, against whom grave charges do certainly lie. The other day (the day before the Council at Claremont), Palmerston produced at the Cabinet Ponsonby’s despatch announcing the deposition of Mehemet Ali, which he read aloud. Melbourne asked if there was not something said indicative of some differences of opinion among the Ambassadors (probably something grave struck him), to which Palmerston responded that there was nothing. The next day Beauvale’s despatch arrived with the report of the Austrian Internuncio to Metternich, who said that Ponsonby had assembled the Ministers at his house on Rifat [335] NOTE FROM THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT. Bey’s arrival, and proposed the immediate déchéance of the Pasha, to which he had made no objection, but that his Russian colleague had objected. His objections were, however, overruled by Ponsonby, who had taken upon himself to say that he would make England responsible for the whole and sole execution of the sentence of deposition. Nothing of this was hinted in Ponsonby’s own despatch, and the false account therefore which it conveyed of what had passed raised a general and strong feeling of indignation.

In the afternoon I saw Guizot, whom I found very reasonable, full of regret for the violence at Paris, and admitting that it was not only mad but ridiculous; said he had urged as forcibly as he could that they should do nothing for several days, and pay no attention to any events that might occur on the Syrian coast; that he had written to the Duc de Broglie and entreated him to exert all his influence to keep matters quiet; and then he said that he still did not despair of peace if we would only do something to pacify and conciliate France; that some concession in return for hers she must have, and without which her Government had not the power to maintain peace; that his conviction was, that if we would give Mehemet Ali Candia, or a little more of Syria—two out of the four Pashaliks—that this would be accepted, and that surely the alliance and concurrence of France were worth as much as this. I went from him to John Russell, and told him what he had said.

October 10th, 1840

The Cabinet met this afternoon. Lord John Russell was to have taken the lead and developed his conciliatory notions, but a new turn was given to affairs by a note which Guizot placed in Palmerston’s hands just before the Cabinet, which he only received from Paris this morning.[7] He called on Palmerston and gave it him; but [336] without any observations. Palmerston brought it to the Cabinet, where it was read, and, to the extreme surprise of everybody, it was to the last degree moderate, and evincing a disposition to be very easily satisfied. This note is ill written, ill put together, and very tame. What a difficult task a French Minister must have, to defend at once such a note and such an expense as had been incurred! Probably Guizot did not much admire the production. The consequence was that the discussion turned on this document, and Palmerston immediately showed a disposition to haggle and bargain, and make it a pretext for extorting from France the best terms she could be got to yield, and all this in the spirit of a pedlar rather than of a statesman. This was, however, overruled. A better and more liberal disposition pervaded the majority, and it was settled that Palmerston should see Guizot and speak to him in a conciliatory tone, and that a note, in a corresponding spirit, should be drawn up and sent to the French Government. This note is, however, to be first submitted for the approbation, and, if necessary, alteration of the Cabinet, so that care will be taken to make it what it ought to be. It would now appear that the French Government would be well enough satisfied if the original terms offered to Mehemet Ali were still held out to him, and if it is made clear that he will in no case be molested in the hereditary possession of Egypt; but Palmerston began talking of leaving him Egypt for his life, which was, however, instantly put down by the majority. A more decided disposition appeared in the majority of the Cabinet to adopt the conciliatory policy; whereas they exhibited at the previous meetings rather a doubtful manner, without, however, on any occasion saying much either way. Palmerston displayed the same overweening confidence, and the same desire to conceal whatever militated against his opinion. Besides talking of the success they had already obtained (which after all amounts to very little), he said he had seen somebody, who had seen somebody else, who knew [337] RECEPTION OF THE FRENCH NOTE. that Louis Philippe was absolutely determined against war under any circumstances. It turned out that there was a despatch from Sir Charles Smith (between whom and Napier there is some jealousy or misunderstanding), in which he says that the position they occupy is of no use whatever, but is purely defensive, and if Ibrahim does not attack the Turks, and expose himself to a defeat, they can do nothing against him. This, however, Palmerston held cheap, because it did not square with his wishes. On the whole the result was satisfactory; and if anybody but Palmerston was at the Foreign Office, everything must be settled at once; but he is so little to be trusted that there is always danger while he is there.

[7] [This was the celebrated Note of which Thiers gave me a printed copy when I dined with him on the 8th October at Auteuil. I came back to Paris, sat up all night with a friend to translate it, and despatched it to England next morning. My translation appeared in the ‘Times’ on the same day the Note was given to Lord Palmerston—which was another grievance. It was a very lengthy document, recapitulating the whole conduct of France in this affair, but ending in a very tame conclusion. Unfortunately Lord Palmerston did not display the same moderation, and his Notes continued to be as acrimonious as ever.—H.R.]

I went almost immediately to Guizot, and told him that the reception of his note had given a new turn to the discussion, but that it had given the greatest satisfaction, and they were certainly not prepared for such a moderate communication. He laughed, shrugged his shoulders, and said, ‘He should think they were not,’ any more than he was, that nothing could equal his surprise at receiving it, that it was very ill written, ill arranged, and he owned to me, in confidence, that he thought it went even farther than it ought; farther than he (much as he desired peace) could ever have consented to go. He did not disguise from me, and almost said in terms, that he thought it very discreditable, and strikingly inconsistent with their previous language and ostentatious preparations. I said that I could not comprehend how such a note could emanate from the same quarter as all the denunciations and threats we had lately heard, and that though Thiers had, as everybody knew, a great deal of savoir faire, he would have some difficulty in defending both the note and the preparations. He seemed by no means sorry at the idea of Thiers having got into a scrape and dilemma, but not at all satisfied at the figure which France is made to act in the affair, and not much liking to play any part in the transaction. It is for this reason that he gave Palmerston the note without any remarks on its contents. When I asked him how it was [338] all to be accounted for, he told me that the truth was, it was owing to the dissensions in the French Cabinet, and the determination of the King; and that it was the only mode by which an entire rupture in the Cabinet could be avoided. He said, however, that he would have preferred the rupture rather than a violent difference of opinion ending in such a measure. (At least as I understood him, but I am not quite clear as to his meaning on this point.) I told him that Palmerston would see him, and would (or ought at least to) speak to him in a very conciliatory tone; but that if he did not do so, if he was wanting in any proper expression of the sense of our Government of the conduct of that of France, and if he evinced any disposition to haggle and drive a bargain, he was not to believe that he expressed the sentiments of the Cabinet, but merely gave utterance to his own. We agreed that at all events the road to peace was still open, and could hardly be missed. He said, it depended on us, and only entreated that the communication we made to the French Government might be full, cordial, and satisfactory, giving them all the assurances they could require, setting their minds at rest as to Egypt, and generally in a tone as conciliatory and moderate as theirs to us. He earnestly deprecated the idea of any bargaining, and said that if Palmerston hinted at such a thing with him he must make his proposals directly to Paris, for he would listen to none such here. On the whole, he is well satisfied at the prospect of the preservation of peace, but very much dissatisfied, and even disgusted, at the manner in which this consummation is likely to be brought about; conscious and ashamed of the false position in which the Government of France is placed, probably by their own conduct from the beginning, but certainly by their violent and declamatory language, so full of invective and menace, their expensive and ostentatious preparations, and now their tame (and if it were possible they could be afraid), pusillanimous conclusion. He did not say a great deal, but what he did say was with energy and strong feeling, and these I am certain are his sentiments.

[339] POLICY OF LOUIS PHILIPPE. The real truth I take to be that the King is the cause of the whole thing. With that wonderful sagacity which renders him the ablest man in France, and enables him sooner or later to carry all his points, and that tact and discernment with which he knows when to yield and when to stand, he allowed Thiers to have his fall swing; and to commit himself with the nation, the King himself all the time consenting to put the country in a formidable attitude, but making no secret of his desire for peace; and then at the decisive moment, when he found there was a division in the Cabinet, throwing all his influence into the pacific scale, and eventually reducing Thiers to the alternative of making a very moderate overture or breaking up the Government. The King in all probability knew that in the latter event Thiers would no longer be so formidable, and that there would be the same division in the party as in the Cabinet, and that he should be able to turn the scale in the Chamber in favour of peace. It is probable that His Majesty looks beyond the present crisis, and sees in the transaction the means of emancipating himself from the domination of Thiers, and either getting rid of him, or, what would probably be more convenient and safe, reducing him to a dependence on himself.

Livermere, October 17th, 1840

All this week at Newmarket, where I received regular information of all that went on. Before I left town I saw Lord Holland and Lord John Russell. The latter expressed himself better satisfied than he had yet been, but was still doubtful how far Palmerston could be trusted. Palmerston made no communication to Guizot, and seemed resolved to interpose every delay, though everybody kept on urging that something should be done without loss of time. But he assured Melbourne that in a few days we should hear of the total evacuation of Syria, and that then we should be in a better condition to treat. His colleagues, however, began to get alarmed at these delays, and none more than Melbourne, who would not say or do anything to accelerate Palmerston’s movements, though he acknowledged to others that, so far from partaking of his [340] confidence in the success of the operations in Syria, he expected no good news from that quarter. Palmerston went to Windsor, and there the Queen herself began to urge him more strongly than she had ever done, for she hears constantly from Leopold, who is mad with fright, and who imparts all his fears to her. All this did at last produce something, for there was a Cabinet the day before yesterday, at which a despatch to Ponsonby was read, in which he was desired to move the Sultan to reinstate the Pasha in the hereditary government of Egypt, and this had been shown to Guizot, who had expressed himself satisfied with it. This, it may be hoped, will be sufficient, for the Note requires no more than this, and it may be taken as an earnest of our desire to meet the wishes of France. If it only produces a pacific paragraph in the King’s speech the crisis will be over.

I do not quite understand how we can consistently send such an instruction to our Ambassador separately. The Sultan pronounced the deposition of Mehemet Ali by the advice of the Four Powers (that is, by that of the four Ambassadors), and I know not how we are entitled to do this act rather than any other without the concurrence of the rest. It was admitted that we could make no overture to France, no pacific communication even, without the consent of all. The Pasha has been solemnly deposed, all the Powers advised this measure, and now we are alone and separately recommending that he should be again restored to the government of Egypt. Russia may not coincide in this recommendation; his deposition from Egypt is now a part of the Treaty. Whatever was the secret intention of the parties, we are now bound,[8] if the Porte insists on it, to exert all our power to expel the Pasha from Egypt as well as from Syria. Such are the inconsistencies into which the precipitate violence of Ponsonby has plunged us.

[8] It is held (though this seems a nice point) that we are not bound.

Downham, October 23rd, 1840

From Livermere to Riddlesworth last Monday, and home to-day. This morning I learnt (by reading it in the ‘Globe’) the sudden death of Lord [341] DEATH OF LORD HOLLAND. Holland, after a few hours’ illness, whom I left not a fortnight ago in his usual health, and likely to live many years.[9] There did not, probably, exist an individual whose loss will be more sincerely lamented and severely felt than his. Never was popularity so great and so general, and his death will produce a social revolution, utterly extinguishing not only the most brilliant, but the only great house of reception and constant society in England. His marvellous social qualities, imperturbable temper, unflagging vivacity and spirit, his inexhaustible fund of anecdote, extensive information, sprightly wit, with universal toleration and urbanity, inspired all who approached him with the keenest taste for his company, and those who lived with him in intimacy with the warmest regard for his person. This event may be said with perfect truth to ‘eclipse the gaiety of nations,’ for besides being an irreparable loss to the world at large, it turns adrift, as it were, the innumerable habitués who, according to their different degrees of intimacy, or the accidents of their social habits, made Holland House their regular and constant resort. It is impossible to overrate the privation, the blank, which it will make to the old friends and associates, political and personal, to whom Holland House has always been open like a home, and there cannot be a sadder sight than to see the curtain suddenly fall upon a scene so brilliant and apparently prosperous, and the light which for nearly half a century has adorned and cheered the world, thus suddenly and for ever extinguished. Although I did not rank among the old and intimate friends of Holland House, I came among the first of the second class of those who were always welcome, passed much of my time there, and have been continually treated with the greatest cordiality and kindness, and I partake largely and sincerely of the regret that must be so deep and universal.

[9] Lord Holland said, just before he died, to the page, ‘Edgar, these Syrian affairs will be too much for me. Mehemet Ali will kill me.’

Downham, October 24th, 1840

I have a letter from Clarendon this morning from Windsor, overwhelmed with the news of Lord Holland’s death (which he had just received)

‘when [342] his mind was as vigorous and his perceptions as clear as ever, and when his advice, and the weight of his experience, were more necessary to his country than at any period of his life. To myself I feel that the loss is irreparable. He was the only one in the Cabinet with whom I had any real sympathy, and upon the great question now in dispute I feel almost powerless, for, with the anility of Melbourne, the vacillation of John, and the indifference of all the rest, Palmerston is now more completely master of the ground than ever.’

He goes on to say:

‘Guizot came down here last night; he goes to Paris on Sunday, to be present at the opening of the Chambers, and to defend himself. More, however, than that is in his mind, I am sure, and his feelings towards Thiers are anything but friendly. Thiers, it seems, means to put up Odillon Barrot (Guizot’s favourite aversion) for the presidency of the Chamber, and, it is said, to resign if he is beaten. This, Guizot told me, was an inconceivable faiblesse, or an unpardonable légèreté; but that whichever it was, he should oppose it, and had written to tell the Duke de Broglie so, in order that he might not be accused of taking the Government by surprise. He said to me, “Donnez-moi quelque chose à dire, let it be ever so small, provided it is satisfactory. I will impose it on Thiers, or break up his administration; but unless I can have something of the kind, and, above all, something wherewith to resserrer les liens entre les deux pays, which is my great ambition, I shall neither be able to calmer les esprits nor to take on myself the government.”’

He then goes on to say that Guizot tells him—and his own letters confirm it—that the late attentat on the King had made a much stronger impression, and excited more alarm, than any former one, and he had proposed to Melbourne to send a special ambassador to congratulate the King on his escape, who should also be instructed to peace-make; and suggested that the Duke of Bedford, Lord Spencer, or himself, should go. Melbourne admitted it would be a very good thing to establish some direct communication with the King and Thiers, as well as the truth of all the reasons by which he supported this proposal; but the following day [343] M. GUIZOT SUCCEEDS M. THIERS. he came down with a whole host of petty objections, ‘which seemed to prevail in his perplexed and unserviceable mind.’ The Duke of Bedford writes to me that he expects this state of things will lead to a fresh combination of parties, and the breaking-up of this Government.

This is what, in my opinion, it ought to lead to; for, having now been behind the scenes for some time, I have satisfied myself of the danger of the interests of such a country as this being committed to such men as our Ministers. How astonished the world would be!—even the bitterest and most contemptuous of their political opponents—if they could be apprised of all that has passed under my observation during the last two months.

Newmarket, October 27th, 1840

At Downham laid up with the gout, and now here. Heard of Thiers’ resignation on Sunday, and nothing since; but Lady Palmerston writes me word Guizot went to take leave of them in high spirits, and that there was no doubt he would accept the Foreign Office. Thiers had promised not to oppose the new Government.[10]

[10] [I breakfasted with M. Guizot at Hertford House on the 24th October, having arrived in London on the 21st from Paris, where I had spent the preceding fortnight, and had learned from Thiers, and other friends there, the French side of these curious transactions. A courier arrived in London on the morning of the 24th, bringing a letter from the King to M. Guizot, which he showed me. It was written in his own bold hand, and contained the words, ‘Je compte sur vous, mon cher Ministre, pour m’aider dans ma lutte tenace contre l’anarchie!’

Whilst I was in Paris, where the greatest irritation and alarm prevailed, my old friend and master, Count Rossi, retained his composure, and said to me, tapping a sheet of paper as he spoke, ‘When it comes to the Draft of the Speech from the Throne to be delivered to the Chambers, this will break up. The King will not consent to adopt Thiers’ warlike language.’ This is exactly what occurred some ten days later. Rossi had a deeper insight into political causes and events than any other man whom I have known.—H. R.]

Guizot left London pretty well determined to take the Government; and after some little discussion everything was settled, and the new Cabinet proclaimed. The Press instantly fell upon him with the greatest bitterness, and the first impression was that he had no chance of standing, but the last accounts held out a better prospect. I have had no communication with him but a short note he wrote [344] me on his departure, expressing his regret not to have seen me, and begging I would communicate with Bourqueney, and let him call upon and converse with me. I wrote to him yesterday a long letter, in which I told him how matters stood here, and expressed my desire to know what we could do that would be of use to him. In the meantime there has been a fresh course of wrangling, and a fresh set of remonstrances on the part of the peace advocates here, and lively altercations, both by letter and vivâ voce, between Lord John and Melbourne, and Lord John and Palmerston. Clarendon, in a visit of six days at Windsor, worked away at the impenetrable Viscount, and Lord Lansdowne battered him with a stringent letter, pressing for the adoption of some immediate measure of a pacific tendency; and in a conversation which Clarendon had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he found him well inclined to the same policy, so that there is an important section of the Cabinet disposed to take an active part in this direction. But Palmerston at the same time wrote to Melbourne in a tone of the greatest contempt for all that was saying and doing in France, and, of course, elated by the recent successes in Syria, which, with his usual luck, have happened at this critical moment, and certainly do appear to be decisive.[11]

[11] [Lord Palmerston’s object in all these critical discussions with his colleagues had simply been to gain time for the operations in Syria against the Pasha to take effect, for he had never ceased to maintain that they would be completely successful, and in this, whether by superior information, by clearer judgment, or by extreme good fortune, he proved to be in the right, which ensured his ultimate triumph. But if there had been the slightest failure, or check, or delay in any part of the operations, it must have proved fatal to the Government.]

But just before the news came of the surrender of the Emir Beschir, Lord John had taken up the question in a much more serious and decisive tone than he ever did before; and in correspondence with Melbourne, and vivâ voce with Palmerston, had announced his determination to quit the Government altogether. The occasion for this vigorous outbreak was the arrival of a box of Foreign Office papers, in which, besides some long rigmaroles of Metternich’s, [345] LORD JOHN THREATENS TO RESIGN. there was a proposal (transmitted by Beauvale) for a congress for the settlement of all disputes, together with the draft of a short answer which Palmerston had written and sent, declining the offer. This Lord John considered to pass all endurance, no matter whether the congress was advisable or not; but that such an important suggestion should be received and rejected without any communication of it to the other members of the Government, especially to him who was their leader in the House of Commons, was so outrageous that he was resolved not to pass it over, and he accordingly wrote his opinion upon it to Melbourne in the strongest terms, recommending him to transfer the lead of the House of Commons to Palmerston, and to dispose of his office as he pleased, as he would no longer go on; and he said that though there must be a Cabinet in a few days to settle about Parliament, he should not attend any more of them. To this Melbourne wrote a curious answer, because it was indicative of no approbation of, or confidence in, his brother-in-law and colleague. He said he thought Lord John had taken this up too strongly (he thinks everything is too strong), but that he had sent his letter to Palmerston, who would, no doubt, see him or write to him on the subject. He then went on to say that he presumed Lord John had well considered his determination, which would be, ipso facto, the dissolution of the Government, as he would not consent to carry it on with Palmerston as leader of the House of Commons; that the retirement of Lord John, and the substitution of Palmerston in such a post, would be such an announcement to all Europe of the intentions of the British Government to persevere in the extreme line of his policy, that he could not for a moment contemplate such a thing. Therefore, if Lord John persisted, the Government was at an end. Shortly after, Palmerston called on Lord John. He admitted that he had done wrong—that he ought to have consulted him, and have made him privy to his answer, but that he had attached so little importance to the proposal, and had considered it so totally out of the question, that he had replied offhand.

[346] They then went into the question itself, when Palmerston took that advantageous ground which he has always held and asked him how he reconciled his present opinions with his strenuous support of the Treaty itself, and complained again of his acting as he had done, while success was attending the coalition. They seem to have parted much as they met, with mutual dissatisfaction, but without any quarrel. Lord John, however, resolved upon action, and ultimately determined to propose the recall of Ponsonby as the sine quâ non of his continuance in office. The violence of these disputes, and the peril in which the existence of the Government seemed to be placed, brought Melbourne up to town, and Lord John came to meet him, and imparted to him his intentions. Just in the nick of time, however, arrived the news of the Emir’s flight, which seemed to be almost conclusive of the Syrian question. On this, Palmerston took courage, and, no longer insisting upon supporting Ponsonby à tort et à travers, entreated that a damp might not be cast upon the enterprise just as the final success was at hand; and employed the argument ad misericordiam with regard to Ponsonby by saying, that he would be entitled to a pension if he was left there till December, and it would be hard to recall him before that term was accomplished. Lord John (never sufficiently firm of purpose) at last agreed to wait for the receipt of the official accounts of recent events in Syria which was expected in a few days, and to defer his demand for Ponsonby’s recall till then, and Palmerston seems to have satisfied him that he is not at all desirous of quarrelling with France. Indeed, Palmerston himself threw out, that it might be expedient to find a provision for the family of the Pasha, and render the grant of some appointments to his sons instrumental to the settlement of the question. There was a strange article, too, in the ‘Morning Chronicle’ the other day, which talked of the probability of Ibrahim’s being driven out of Northern Syria, and his entrenching himself within the Pashalik of Acre, which would then prevent the accomplishment of the Treaty of July. All this looks as if Palmerston was beginning to think he was driving [347] LORD PALMERSTON DEFENDS LORD PONSONBY. matters too far, and that it was necessary to lower his tone and modify his policy, unless he was prepared to retire from office. At all events, Lord John was pacified for the moment by this indication of more moderate intentions, and began to hope better things for the future. To-morrow the Cabinet is to meet again.

While all these wranglings are going on here, and nothing is done, but a great deal contemplated, Bourqueney presses for something on our part and keeps repeating that every minute is precious. On the other hand, the Emperor of Russia is highly satisfied with the state of things as it is, and he intimated to Bloomfield that he should be extremely indisposed to consent to any scheme for a fresh arrangement in which France should participate, while our vague notion is, that the coalition should fall to the ground as soon as its object is attained, and that we should bring in France as a party to some final settlement of the East, and dotation of the sons of Mehemet Ali. In the meantime the Chambers met yesterday, and all depends upon their proceedings.

November 7th, 1840

Lord Palmerston has written a long and able letter, setting forth all the reasons why no special mission should be sent to Constantinople, and why Ponsonby should not be recalled; a skilful defence of Ponsonby showing how right he had been about Syria; what unprecedented influence he had obtained, having got both the Turkish fleet and army placed under the command of Englishmen, and how he had infused such spirit into the Turkish councils that they had made exertions of which nobody thought they were capable, and manifested a vigour it was not imagined they possessed. This letter must have been a very good one, for it entirely brought over Lord John to his opinion, and even convinced Clarendon himself; and the former had already written to Palmerston to say that he gave up his demand for Ponsonby’s recall. There is, however, still too much reason to believe, that Palmerston is bent upon quarrelling with France,[12] and that he is now fighting to gain [348] time in hopes of some commotion in Egypt itself, which might lead to the complete ruin of the Pasha.

[12] [This was the real charge against Lord Palmerston and his policy, and it is impossible to doubt that he was actuated in the whole of this affair, not so much by a desire to support the Sultan and to ruin the Pasha of Egypt, as by the passionate wish to humble France, and to revenge himself on King Louis Philippe and his Ministers for their previous conduct in the affairs of Spain. At this very moment, far from wishing to strengthen M. Guizot in his efforts to maintain peace, Lord Palmerston addressed to him a most offensive despatch, and published it, with a view to weaken and injure the French Ministry.—H.R.]

This evening Bourqueney called on me, and brought me a letter which he had received the day before from Guizot, which I shall copy here.

M. Guizot’s Letter to Baron Bourqueney.

Mon Cher Baron,—Le discours de la Couronne est définitivement arrêté. Je crois que vous le trouverez conforme à la vérité des choses et aux convenances de la situation. Vous recevrez une circulaire que j’adresse à tous mes agents. J’y ai essayé de marquer avec précision l’attitude que le Cabinet veut prendre et qu’il gardera. Mais ce ne sont là que des paroles: il faut des résultats. On les attend du Cabinet. Il s’est formé pour maintenir la paix, et pour trouver aux embarras de la question d’Orient quelque issue; pour vivre il faut qu’il satisfasse aux causes qui l’ont fait naître. La difficulté est extrême. L’exaltation du pays n’a pas diminué, la formation du Cabinet donne aux amis de la paix plus de confiance, mais elle redouble l’ardeur des hommes qui poussent, ou qui se laissent pousser, à la guerre; les malveillants et les rivaux exploiteront, fomenteront les préjugés nationaux, les passions nationales. La lutte sera très-vive et le péril toujours imminent. Je dirai la vérité. Je m’applique à éclaircir les esprits et à contenir les passions: je ne puis que cela. Ce n’est pas assez; pour que le succès vienne à la raison, il faut qu’on m’aide. Deux sentiments sont ici en présence, le désir de la paix et l’honneur national. Je l’ai souvent dit à Londres, je le répète de Paris. Le sentiment de la France—je dis de la France, et non pas des brouillons et des factions—est qu’elle a été traitée légèrement, qu’on a sacrifié légèrement, sans motif suffisant, pour un intérêt secondaire son alliance, son amitié, son concours. Là est le grand mal qu’a fait la Convention du 15 Juillet, là est le grand obstacle à la politique et à la paix. Pour guérir ce mal, pour lever cet obstacle, il faut prouver à la France qu’elle se trompe, il faut lui prouver qu’on attache à son alliance, à son amitié, à son concours, beaucoup de prix, assez de prix pour lui faire quelque sacrifice. Ce [349] M. GUIZOT’S LETTER. n’est pas l’etendue, c’est le fait même du sacrifice qui importe, qu’indépendamment de la Convention du 15 Juillet quelque chose soit donné, évidemment donné, au désir de rentrer en bonne intelligence avec la France, et de la voir rentier dans l’affaire, la paix pourra être maintenue et l’harmonie générale rétablie en Europe. Si on vous dit cela se peut, je suis prêt à faire les démarches nécessaires pour atteindre à ce but, et à en accepter la responsabilité, mais je ne veux pas me mettre en mouvement sans savoir si le but est possible à atteindre. Si on vous dit que cela ne se peut pas, qu’on entend s’en tenir rigoureusement aux premières stipulations du traité, et ne rien accorder, ne rien faire qui soit pour la France une preuve qu’on désire se rapprocher d’elle, pour le Cabinet une force dans la lutte qu’il a à soutenir, la situation restera violente et précaire, le Cabinet se tiendra immobile, dans l’isolement et l’attente. Je ne réponds pas de l’avenir. Dites cela à Lord Palmerston, c’est de lui que l’issue dépend. Il vous parlera de l’état de la Syrie, de l’insurrection du Liban, des progrès que font les Alliés. Répondez simplement que c’est là pour la France une raison de se montrer plus facile à satisfaire, mais que ce n’est pas pour l’Angleterre une raison de ne rien faire en considération de la France. Je n’ai encore rien dit, rien écrit nulle part. J’attends ce qu’on vous dira à Londres....

Nothing can be better, more serious, or better calculated to produce an effect, if anything can, upon our impenetrable Cabinet. Bourqueney showed it in the first instance to Melbourne, who told him to show it to Palmerston; but he said he had scruples in doing that lest Palmerston should make him an answer calculated to exclude all hope of accommodation; but Melbourne hinted that he would take care of this, and accordingly he took it to Palmerston this morning. He read it, said it was very moderate, and praised the tone and language. But when Bourqueney began to ask what he had to say to the fond, he only talked of the practical difficulties, and ended without saying anything the least promising or satisfactory, though nothing decidedly the reverse. Bourqueney had previously been with Billow, who is just come back, and who desires no better on the part of his Government than to join in any conciliatory measure we may adopt; and Esterhazy, who is expected every hour, will, he doubts not, be equally well disposed. But although such is the disposition both of Austria and [350] Prussia, though the Queen is earnestly desirous of seeing tranquillity and security restored, and almost all, if not quite all, the Cabinet, are in favour of an accommodation with France, and France herself is prepared to accept the slightest advance offered in a conciliatory spirit, the personal determination of Palmerston will probably predominate over all these opinions and inclinations. He will put down or adjourn every proposal that is made, and if any should be adopted in spite of him, he will take care to mar it in the execution, to remove no difficulties, and create them where they don’t already exist. The most extraordinary part of the whole affair is, that a set of men should consent to go on with another in whom they have not only no confidence, but whom they believe to be politically dishonest and treacherous, and that they should keep gravely discussing the adoption of measures with a full conviction that he will not fairly carry them out. It is like Jonathan Wild and his companions playing together in Newgate. I understand the last decision of the Cabinet is that Guizot is to be invited to say what would suit his case. There would be a difficulty in specifying what concessions we should make, either for Mehemet Ali or his sons, because events are proceeding rapidly in Syria, and we might be offering what we have already restored to the Sultan, and what the Porte has assisted to recover for itself. It is settled that all this shall be fairly stated to Guizot, with an assurance that we are desirous of assisting him, together with our willingness to concert with him the means. This may do, if honestly and truly carried out.

Friday, November 13th, 1840

The day before yesterday Bourqueney called on me, and brought me a letter from Guizot in reply to the one I had written him. He then proceeded to tell me all that had occurred since I had before seen him, and to this effect: On Saturday the Cabinet had resolved upon an invitation to Guizot to announce his wishes and ideas, and proposed a frank explanation de part et d’autre on the whole question. On Sunday, Palmerston communicated this to Bourqueney, and very faithfully. On Sunday or [351] TERMS OF CONCILIATION. Monday arrived a despatch from Metternich, first of all confirming Neumann as sole Minister to the Conference, and secondly announcing that any concession in Syria was now quite out of the question. This he told Bourqueney, and conveyed to Palmerston, to whom it was a great accession of force, and by this the disposition of Austria, and with it that of Bülow, became entirely changed, and very unfavourable to any transaction. On Monday morning Bourqueney received a letter from Guizot saying that he had had a conference with Lord Granville, to whom he had suggested various alternatives for a settlement on the basis of a concession, which Granville was by the same post to transmit to Palmerston, and he at the same time told Bourqueney what they were: Egypt hereditary, St. Jean d’Acre for life, and either Tripoli or Candia for one of his sons; or the hereditary Pashalik of Acre instead. On Monday night Bourqueney met Palmerston at dinner at the Mansion House, when he said to him, ‘You have heard from Lord Granville, and he has transmitted to you M. Guizot’s proposals (or suggestions).’ ‘No,’ said Palmerston, ‘I have heard from Lord Granville, but he sent me nothing specific on the part of Guizot. But come to Lady Palmerston’s to-night from hence, and we will talk it over.’ He went there, and Palmerston read to him a long despatch from Granville, but which, to his surprise, did not contain any of the specific propositions which Guizot had notified to him, and, conceiving that Granville must have certain good reasons for this reticence, he resolved to say nothing of them either, and confined himself to mere general inquiries as to what could be done, to which he obtained no satisfactory reply, not a hope being held out of any concession. In this condition of affairs he came to me to tell me what passed and consult me as to the future. I told him that though there was the same desire for a reconciliation with France, and the same anxiety to assist M. Guizot on the part of my friends, when they came to consider what was possible and would be safe and justifiable, they were unable to find any expedient to meet the immense practical difficulties of the case; that events had proceeded with such celerity, and placed the [352] question in so different a position, that concessions formerly contemplated as reasonable and possible were now out of the question. They all felt that they could offer nothing in Syria; that it was possible the Sultan might be actually in possession of any town or territory at the moment they were offering it, and that now justice to the people, honour and fidelity to our allies, especially to the Sultan himself, forbade us to make any concession whatever in that quarter. Bourqueney did not deny the force of this, but he said Guizot was sanguine as to the acceptance of some such terms as he had suggested, and it was of the last importance he should be undeceived, and made acquainted with the real truth, and know what he had to rely on. He said he would write, but he entreated me to write to him too, and to tell him the substance of what I had imparted to him. Accordingly I did write to Guizot at great length, setting forth in terms as strong as I could, and without any disguise, the difficulties of the case, and the utter unreasonableness of the French public in requiring, as a salve to their vanity, terms which we could neither in good policy or good faith concede. We both agreed that under existing circumstances it was not desirable that Guizot should make any proposal to our Government, and so we both of us told him. Such was the result of a conversation which when reported to Guizot will be a bitter disappointment to him; but I concur with the rest, that we could not now make any of the concessions he was disposed to ask. Bourqueney suggested that if the chances of war should be hereafter favourable to the Pasha, if the Allies should make no impression upon Acre or the south-west part of Syria, then possibly some transaction on such a basis might be possible. This, however, it was useless to discuss. Yesterday I saw Dedel, who has lately been at Walmer, and he told me the Duke of Wellington’s opinion exactly coincided with ours, coincided both as to the impossibility of our making any concession in Syria, and to its perfect inutility if we did. We might degrade ourselves, weaken our own cause, but we should neither strengthen Guizot nor satisfy the cravings of French vanity and insolence, still less silence [353] LORD PALMERSTON’S IRRITATING LANGUAGE. that revolutionary spirit which, not strong enough in itself, seeks to become formidable by stimulating the passions and allying itself with all the vanity, pride, and restlessness, besides desire for plunder, which are largely scattered throughout the country.

It is curious that Austria, hitherto so timid, should all of a sudden become so bold, for besides this notification to Neumann, Metternich has said that, though we have instructed Ponsonby to move the Sultan to restore Mehemet Ali to Egypt, he has not given the same instructions to Stürmer, and that he wants to see the progress of events and the conduct of the Pasha before he does so.

Events have so befriended Palmerston that he is now in the right, and has got his colleagues with him; but where he is and always has been wrong is in his neglect of forms; the more fortiter he is in re, the more suaviter he ought to be in modo. But while defending his policy or attacking that of France, he has never said what he might have done to conciliate, to soften, and to destroy those impressions of intended affronts and secret designs which have produced such violent effects on the French public. On the contrary, he has constantly, in his State papers, and still more in his newspapers, said what is calculated to irritate and provoke them to the greatest degree; but Dedel says this has always been his fault, in all times and in all his diplomatic dealings, and this is the reason he is so detested by all the Corps Diplomatique, and has made such enemies all over Europe. Guizot will now be cast on his own resources, and must try whether the language of truth and reason will be listened to in France; whether he can, by plain statements of facts, and reasonable deductions therefrom, dissipate those senseless prejudices and extravagant delusions which have excited such a tempest in the public mind. It is clear enough to me that if he cannot, if vanity and resentment are too strong for sober reason and sound policy, no concessions we could make would save him from downfall, or save Europe from the consequences of this moral deluge.

November 15th, 1840

Two days ago, Lord John Russell called [354] on me. We had some talk, but nothing very conclusive. He said the operations in Syria could not go on much longer, and we are threatened with the greatest of all evils, the hanging over of the question for another year. This he thought the worst thing of all. It is curious that he told me Stopford wrote word he must send his ships into port, and all the authorities, military and naval, say nothing can be done after the 20th. Palmerston keeps telling Bourqueney they can go on all the winter, and that the operations will not be suspended at all. I asked Lord John, if the campaign did close, leaving the Pasha in possession of all the south-west of Syria from Damascus to the Desert, and Acre unattacked, whether on such a status an agreement could not be concluded, terminating the contest by the concession of the original terms of the treaty. He said Melbourne would like that very well, but that there would be difficulties, and France would not come into the treaty on those terms. I told him I was pretty sure France would, though I did not tell him what had passed between Bourqueney and me. However, I sent for Bourqueney, and told him to propose nothing new, but to wait till the campaign was over, and in the meantime to prepare the way for some specific proposition which France might make in a spirit of amicable intervention to put an end to the contest.

December 4th, 1840

In the course of the last three weeks, and since I last wrote, a mighty change has taken place; we have had the capture of St. Jean d’Acre and the debate in the French Chambers.[13] Palmerston is triumphant; everything has turned out well for him. He is justified by the success of his operations and by the revelations in the speeches of Thiers and Rémusat. So, at least, the world will consider it, which does not examine deeply and compare curiously in order to form its judgements; and it must be acknowledged that he has a fair right to plume himself on [355] DEBATE IN THE FRENCH CHAMBER. his success. His colleagues have nothing more to say; and as Guizot makes a sort of common cause with him in the Chamber, and Thiers makes out a case for himself by declaring objects and designs which justify Palmerston’s policy and acts, and as the Pasha is now reduced to the necessity of submission, the contest is at an end. Guizot continued up to the eve of the discussion to press us to do or say something to assist him; but when he found we could or would do nothing, he took the only line that was left him, and the best after all, and threw himself on the sense and reason of the country. He told the truth, and justified himself by vindicating us. He has done very well, and shown himself a good debater; but the discussion has been disgracefully personal, and with all the talent displayed they have not an idea how a deliberating assembly ought to conduct its debates, and the disclosures and revelations of official secrecy and confidence have been monstrous. Thiers has all along been playing a false, shuffling, tricky part, and at last he got so entangled in the meshes of his own policy, and so confused by the consequences of his double dealing, that he evidently did not know what to do; and the King had no difficulty in getting him out of a Government that he could no longer conduct. He says now that he meant to make war by and by; but though these menaces and the reasons he gives afford Palmerston his best justification, and are appealed to triumphantly by him and his friends, my own conviction is that Thiers would gladly have closed the account by a transaction, and that at last he would have come into the Treaty—if Palmerston would have let him in—upon terms much worse for the Pasha than those to which he would not have consented before July. Nothing that has occurred shakes my conviction that Palmerston was very wrong not to endeavour to bring France into the Treaty and to offer the status quo, though it is very possible France would have refused it. If the French Government were on the one hand resolved to agree to nothing, and under no circumstances to join in coercing the Pasha, Palmerston on the other was as obstinately determined to settle the business [356] his own way, and not to make any proposal to France which she would or could accept. They both stood aloof, and both were immensely to blame. Palmerston has taken his success without any appearance of triumph or a desire to boast over those who doubted or opposed him; whatever may be said or thought of his policy, it is impossible not to do justice to the vigour of his execution. Mr. Pitt (Chatham) could not have manifested more decision and resource. He would not hear of delays and difficulties, sent out peremptory orders to attack Acre, and he provided in his instructions with great care and foresight for every contingency. There can be no doubt that it was the capture of Acre which decided the campaign; and the success is much more attributable to Palmerston than to our naval and military commanders, and probably solely to him.

[13] [The bombardment and capture of St. Jean d’Acre by the allied fleet took place on the 3rd November, whilst these diplomatic troubles were going on in London and Paris. The French Chambers opened on the 6th November.]

Yesterday I saw the Baron Mounier, who is come over here, on a sort of mission, to talk about possible arrangements, from Guizot. He still pertinaciously urges our doing or saying something demonstrative of a disposition to be reconciled with France, and that, in the ultimate settlement of the Eastern Question, we wish to show her some deference. He wants (Syria being gone) that we should make out that it is from consideration for France that Egypt is left to the Pasha. I told him the only difficulty appeared to be that, as we had already announced we had no intention to strip him of Egypt, and had signified long ago that we had advised the Sultan to restore him to that Government, I did not see how we could now make any such declaration available, and that it would go for nothing. But he said he thought by a not difficult employment of diplomatic phraseology much might be done; and he suggested that there must be some definite settlement of the whole question, including stipulations and guarantees for the Syrian population (of the mountains, I presume), and to this France might be invited to accede. In short, nothing will satisfy her but having a finger in the pie upon any terms. What Guizot now wants is to renew the English alliance. So he said when he went away; but it may well be doubted whether [357] LORD MELBOURNE IN HIGH SPIRITS. the French are not too sulky with us and too deeply mortified not to make this an unpopular attempt just now. Mounier is the son of Mounier the Constitutionalist, entirely in Guizot’s confidence, a talkative man not seemingly brilliant, but he is well versed in affairs, an active member of the Chamber of Peers, and considered indispensable there as a rédacteur and transactor of Parliamentary business.

December 13th, 1840

For the last week at Norman Court, during which little or nothing has happened; but I heard one or two things before I left town. Guizot had made a direct application to Palmerston for his permission to attribute the leaving of Egypt to Mehemet Ali, to the influence of France, and to a desire to gratify her. This Palmerston (through Lord Granville) refused; but Guizot had not waited for the answer, and in his speech he said so, and it was not without its use. But while everything was on the point of being settled, Metternich (who is always in hot or cold fits of courage or cowardice) sends over a proposal that Egypt shall only be granted to Mehemet Ali for his own and his son’s lives, and not hereditary. For what possible reason this absurd proposition was made, unless to create embarrassment and rekindle animosities, nobody can conceive; though probably the real solution is that Metternich is in his dotage, has no policy in his brain, and acts from foolish impulses. I have heard no more of it; and though Palmerston would not be at all averse to the proposal as a matter of inclination, I do not suspect him of the folly of listening to it, and, if he did, his colleagues would not.

December 29th, 1840

Went on Thursday last to the Grange, and returned yesterday. Just before I went, the Duke of Bedford called on me; he was just come from Woburn, where he had had a great party—Melbourne, like a boy escaped from school, in roaring spirits. They anticipate an easy session, and all Melbourne’s alarm and despondency are quickly succeeded by joy at having got out of a scrape, and confidence that all difficulties are surmounted and all opposition will be silenced. But it now comes out that of all who were opposed to Palmerston’s policy, not one—not even [358] Lord Holland—was in his heart so averse to, and so afraid of it, as Melbourne himself; and, nevertheless, he would say nothing and do nothing to impede or alter it. Palmerston is now doing his best to flatter Lord John out of any remains of sourness or soreness that their recent disputes may have left in his mind; and (passing over all that subsequently occurred) he writes to him to invite him to Broadlands, and says that while their recent successes have far exceeded the most sanguine expectations, he never shall forget how much of them is owing to the powerful support which he (Lord John) gave to him (Palmerston) in the Treaty. There is, it must be owned, astuteness in this; for Lord John’s original support of the Treaty, and Palmerston’s success in the operations, bind them indissolubly together, and it is very wise to put this prominently forward and cancel the recollection of all the rest.

But while public opinion appears to be universally pronounced in Palmerston’s favour, and the concurrent applause of all the Tory papers indicates the satisfaction of that party, some circumstances lead me to believe that their approbation of the Treaty of July, and of all Palmerston’s proceedings under it, is by no means so certain as the Government believe. At the Grange I found Lord Ashburton loud in his condemnation of the whole thing, talking exactly as we have all been talking and writing for many weeks past; and what surprised me much more was, that, in a conversation which I had with Granville Somerset yesterday, he expressed precisely the same opinions; and when I expressed my surprise at his language, and said that I had fancied all the Tories were enraptured with Palmerston, he replied that he had no reason to believe any such thing; that he had not met (among the many with whom he had conversed) with any such general and unqualified approbation; and he believed both the Duke and Peel had carefully abstained from pronouncing any opinion whatever on the subject, leaving themselves entire liberty to deal with the whole question as they might think fit. The notion is, that the Tories are charmed with a transaction which separates us [359] TORY OPINION OF LORD PALMERSTON’S POLICY. from France, but Lord Ashburton and Granville Somerset—a bigoted Tory, if ever there was one—inveighed against the Treaty precisely because it had produced that consequence. It is the approbation expressed by Aberdeen, both before and since our successes, which has led to the general belief that the Tories are with the Government on this matter, for Aberdeen is regarded as their mouthpiece upon all questions of foreign policy. I had another conversation with Mounier just before he went. He had been to Strathfieldsaye, and was delighted with his reception by the Duke, and with the tone and tenor of his talk, anxious for a reconciliation with France, and entering into the whole history of our mutual relations from the Restoration to the present day, as he said, with the greatest clearness, precision, and solidity. He admitted that Guizot’s was a very difficult situation, and the restoration of amicable feelings between the two countries very difficult also, but a thing earnestly to be desired.

December 31st, 1840

The end of the year is a point from which, as from a sort of eminence, one looks back over the past, happy if the prospect is not gloomy, and if the retrospect carries with it no feelings of regret and self-reproach. The past year has been full (as what year is not?) of events, of which that which has made the deepest impression on society is the death of Lord Holland. I doubt, from all I see, whether anybody (except his own family, including Allen) had really a very warm affection for Lord Holland, and the reason probably is that he had none for anybody. He was a man with an inexhaustible good humour, and an ever-flowing nature, but not of strong feelings; and there are men whose society is always enjoyed but who never inspire deep and strong attachment. I remember to have heard good observers say that Lady Holland had more feeling than Lord Holland—would regret with livelier grief the loss of a friend than this equable philosopher was capable of feeling. The truth is social qualities—merely social and intellectual—are not those which inspire affection. A man may be steeped in faults and vices, nay, in odious qualities, and yet be the object of passionate attachment, if he is only what the Italians term ‘simpatico.’


[360] Successes in India, China, and Syria — The Hereditary Pashalik of Egypt — Lord Palmerston’s Hostility to France — Lord Palmerston and the Tories — His extraordinary Position — A Communication from M. Guizot — Death of the Duchess of Cannizzaro — Her History — Dinner with Lady Holland — Macaulay’s Conversation — Opening of the Session — A Sheriffs’ Dinner — Hullah’s Music Lecture — Tory Successes — Duke of Wellington ill — Irish Registration Bill — Opposed by the Conservatives — Conservative Government of Ireland — Petulance of Lord Palmerston — Double Dealing of Lord Palmerston — Ill Temper of the French — M. Dedel’s account of the State of Affairs — M. Dedel’s account corrected — Termination of the Disputes with France — Bad News from China — Hostility of the United States — The Sultan’s Hatti-sherif — The Hatti-sherif disapproved by some Ministers — Peel’s Liberality — The Hatti-sherif disavowed — The Bishop of Exeter left in the lurch — Poor Law Amendment Bill — Lord Granville’s Illness — Death of Mrs. Algernon Greville — Loss of ‘The President’ — Government defeated — China Troubles — Danger of the Government.

January 7th, 1841

Yesterday arrived (through the French telegraph) the news of the death of the King of Lahore, the surrender of Dost Mahomed, and the settlement of the Chinese quarrel, all coming just in time to swell out the catalogue of successes to be announced in the Queen’s Speech. In France the aspect of affairs is improving, the King has given answers on New Year’s Day which he would not have ventured to make a short time ago, and His Majesty assures Lord Granville that the war fever is rapidly diminishing. The French hardly trouble themselves now (except in an occasional undergrowl in some Liberal paper) about Syria, and the Government considering Mehemet Ali’s destiny decided, only desire to be re-admitted into the great European Council, for the purpose of participating in the measures to be adopted for determining the condition of the Christian population of Syria, and for securing Constantinople from any exclusive protection or influence.

[361] LORD PONSONBY’S VIOLENCE. At this moment, however, everything is unsettled with regard to Egypt, and Lord Ponsonby has been acting in his usual furious style with such effect that it is not at all certain the question will be settled without a good deal of trouble. Upon the receipt, at Constantinople, of Napier’s unauthorised Convention with the Pasha, Ponsonby instantly assembled the ambassadors, moved that it should be rejected and disavowed, and signified the same to the Ministers of the Porte, who, of course, desired no better than to acquiesce. At Ponsonby’s instigation, Redschid Pasha wrote to say that the Sultan utterly disavowed this Convention; that he might be disposed, out of deference to his allies, and at their request, to grant some temporary favour and indulgence to the family of the Pasha, but as to the hereditary possession of Egypt, he had never heard of, or contemplated, any such thing, nor would ever listen to it; and he reminded the Allied Powers that such a grant would be in direct contravention of the principle of the Treaty itself, which had for its object the maintenance of the integrity of the Ottoman Empire. It remains to be seen what will be done at Constantinople when the intelligence of Stopford’s Convention (so to call it) arrives there, which, in fact, differs in no respect from that of Napier; but it is very extraordinary that Ponsonby should write word that the Sultan had never heard any question of the hereditary grant of Egypt, when, in the middle of October, a despatch was written to him (which was at the same time communicated to the French Government) ordering him to propose to the Sultan this restitution. Unless, therefore, this despatch was not sent, or he took upon himself to disobey his instruction, it must be false that the Turkish Government never heard of such a question. Lord John Russell, who went to Broadlands the other day, wrote to Melbourne that he found Bülow, Neumann, and Esterhazy there, and there seemed to be a great deal of discussion going on between them all, and much doubt as to the question of hérédité, but that he was of opinion that this question admitted of no doubt, and that we were bound to insist upon it after the assurances we had [362] given to France. Of Palmerston’s opinions he did not say a word. However, whether Palmerston wishes to push matters to further extremities against the Viceroy or not, he will hardly attempt it, for, easy as he has hitherto found it, with the opportune aid of events, to baffle all opposition in the Cabinet, he would certainly meet with a resistance to any such design that he would not be able to overcome. His successes have not made him more moderate and conciliatory towards France, and I have no doubt that if he had the drawing up of the Queen’s Speech, he would take an insulting and triumphant tone in it, which would fan the expiring flame of passion and hostility, and widen the breach between the two countries.

The other day Lord Clarendon wrote to him, sending a sort of message from the French Court (through Madame de Montjoie) expressive of a hope that a conciliatory disposition would prevail; to which he responded in a strain of insolent invective against France and her designs, saying that her object was to extort concessions from us which we should never make, and that now we were strong in our alliance with the other Powers we might defy her to injure us. This letter Clarendon showed to Melbourne, who had asked him if he knew what Palmerston’s feelings were (he himself knowing nothing), and he was, of course, struck with the bitterness and asperity of his tone. Melbourne told Clarendon that Palmerston was still very sore at the articles which had appeared in the ‘Times,’ and at the communications that had taken place between parties here and their French correspondents, and he particularly mentioned Reeve’s with Tocqueville—Lord Lansdowne having probably shown Palmerston the letter which Tocqueville wrote to Reeve[1] just [363] LORD PALMERSTON AND THE TORIES. before the great debate in the Chamber. Clarendon said he could not imagine what Palmerston had to complain of in the ‘Times,’ as, though there had been some articles attacking him, the far greater number had been in his favour. Melbourne said there had been a great deal the other way, and that Palmerston and his Tory friends with whom he had communicated had been constantly surprised to find that there was an influence stronger than their own in that quarter.

[1] [This was a very remarkable letter M. de Tocqueville wrote to me in November, showing the danger of driving France to extremities, which might involve the overthrow of the Government in that country. Tocqueville was always penetrated with the conviction that the throne of Louis Philippe rested on no solid foundation; and undoubtedly the Treaty of July 1840 was a severe blow to its stability, and led to further disputes, and more fatal consequences. The letter in question was shown by me to Lord Lansdowne, and I was told it was read to the Cabinet. At any rate, it was read by Lord Melbourne, who attached great importance to it.—H.R.]

January 9th, 1841

The other day at Windsor, when Clarendon was sitting talking with Melbourne, the latter in his lounging way, as if thinking aloud, said, ‘In all my experience, I never remember such a state of things as the present; I never remember, in the course of my political life, anything at all like it; it can’t last—it’s impossible this Government can go on; Palmerston in communication with the Tories—Palmerston and Ashley—’ and then he stopped. Clarendon said, ‘What! you think Palmerston and the Tories will come together?’ To which Melbourne nodded assent. ‘And which,’ Clarendon persevered, ‘will come to the other: will Palmerston go to Ashley, or will Ashley come to Palmerston?’ To which Melbourne chuckled and grunted, laughed and rubbed his hands, and only said, ‘Oh, I don’t know.’ These are the sentiments of the Prime Minister about his own Government—a strange state of things: while Palmerston is in confidential communication with the Tories, or some of them, for the purpose of obtaining their support to his policy, half of his own colleagues, though committed, being adverse to it, and regarded by him as his worst adversaries. He and John Russell, the two Secretaries of State—the latter leader of the House of Commons—pass some days together in the house of the former, without exchanging one word upon the subject of foreign policy, and Lord John is reduced to the necessity of gathering in conversation from Neumann and Esterhazy what Palmerston’s views and opinions are. These two diplomats expressed the greatest indignation at Ponsonby’s proceedings, and Palmerston himself has renewed to Bourqueney the assurances of his [364] resolution to adhere to the engagements he had already made to France with regard to Egypt. Melbourne, however, acknowledged that he was entirely in the dark as to Palmerston’s real views and opinions, as he believed was every one of his colleagues. He has no intimacy, no interchange of thought and complete openness with anybody, and all they know is (and that only as soon as he thinks fit to impart it) his notions with regard to each particular question as its exigencies become pressing. His position, however, is now a very remarkable one. Belonging to a Government almost every member of which dislikes or distrusts him, he has acquired, by recent events, a great reputation, and is looked upon generally as a bold, able, and successful statesman. In the event of a dislocation of parties, he is free to adopt any course, and to join with any party.[2] Almost all the domestic questions which have hitherto excited interest have been settled, compromised, or thrown aside, and a sudden interest has been awakened, and attention generally drawn to our foreign policy and international relations. All that has recently occurred—our treaties and our warlike operations—are not looked upon as the work of the Government, but as that of Palmerston alone—Palmerston, in some degree, as contradistinguished from the Government. All this confers upon him a vast importance, and enables him, neither unreasonably nor improbably, to aspire to head and direct any Government that may hereafter be formed by a dissolution and fresh combination of parties.

[2] [I believe at this time, Lord Palmerston, irritated by the opposition and distrust of his own colleagues, and encouraged by the applause of the Tories, who were delighted at the rupture of the alliance with France, and eager to bully that country, did contemplate a junction with the Tory party. But to this there was an insurmountable obstacle, the deep distrust and dislike of Sir Robert Peel, who thought Palmerston a dangerous and mischievous Foreign Minister, and the hostility of Lord Aberdeen. In fact, when these statesmen came into office a few months later, they applied themselves mainly to obliterate the traces of Palmerston’s quarrels. Nothing would have induced Sir Robert Peel to take Palmerston into his Cabinet. It was otherwise, some years later, when Lord Stanley had succeeded to the leadership of the Conservative Party, and at that time the negotiations between him and Lord Palmerston were renewed, though without any result.—H.R.]

January 13th, 1841

[365] THE DUCHESS OF CANNIZZARO. Notwithstanding the comparative tranquillity which now prevails in France, the madness of that people having taken another turn, and venting itself upon a reckless expenditure, and the extravagant project of fortifying Paris, Guizot is evidently aware of, and alarmed at, certain intrigues now at work, for the purpose of his ejection. Of these Molé is the object or the agent, or both. Guizot sent over the other day to Reeve a paper, cleverly done, in which Molé’s position was discussed, and the morality as well as possibility of his coming into office with the aid of a coalition.

The other day died the Duchess of Cannizzaro, a woman of rather amusing notoriety, whom the world laughed with and laughed at, while she was alive, and will regret a little because she contributed in some degree to their entertainment. She was a Miss Johnstone, and got from her brother a large fortune; she was very short and fat, with rather a handsome face, totally uneducated, but full of humour, vivacity, and natural drollery, at the same time passionate and capricious. Her all-absorbing interest and taste was music, to which all her faculties and time were devoted. She was eternally surrounded with musical artists, was their great patroness, and at her house the world was regaled with the best music that art could supply. Soon after her brother’s death, she married the Count St. Antonio (who was afterwards made Duke of Cannizzaro), a good-looking, intelligent, but penniless Sicilian of high birth, who was pretty successful in all ways in society here. He became disgusted with her, however, and went off to Italy, on a separate allowance which she made him. After a few years he returned to England, and they lived together again; he not only became more disgusted than before, but he had in the meantime formed a liaison at Milan with a very distinguished woman there, once a magnificent beauty, but now as old and as large as his own wife, and to her he was very anxious to return. This was Madame Visconti (mother of the notorious Princess Belgioso), who, though no longer young, had fine remains of good looks, and was eminently pleasing and [366] attractive. Accordingly, St. Antonio took occasion to elope (by himself) from some party of pleasure at which he was present with his spouse, and when she found that he had gone off without notice or warning, she first fell into violent fits of grief, which were rather ludicrous than affecting, and then set off in pursuit of her faithless lord. She got to Dover, where the sight of the rolling billows terrified her so much, that, after three days of doubt whether she should cross the water or not, she resolved to return, and weep away her vexation in London. Not long afterwards, however, she plucked up courage, and taking advantage of a smooth sea she ventured over the Straits, and set off for Milan, if not to recover her fugitive better half, at all events to terrify her rival and disturb their joys. The advent of the Cannizzaro woman was to the Visconti like the irruption of the Huns of old. She fled to a villa near Milan, which she proceeded to garrison and fortify, but finding that the other was not provided with any implements for a siege, and did not stir from Milan, she ventured to return to the city, and for some time these ancient heroines drove about the town glaring defiance and hate at each other, which was the whole amount of the hostilities that took place between them. Finding her husband was irrecoverable, she at length got tired of the hopeless pursuit, and resolved to return home, and console herself with her music and whatever other gratifications she could command. Not long after, she fell in love with a fiddler at a second-rate theatre in Milan, and carried him off to England, which he found, if not the most agreeable, the most profitable business he could engage in. The affair was singular and curious, as showing what society may be induced to put up with. There was not the slightest attempt to conceal this connexion; on the contrary it was most ostentatiously exhibited to the world, but the world agreed to treat it as a joke, and do nothing but laugh at it. The only difference ‘the Duchesse’ ever found was, that her Sunday parties were less well attended; but this was because the world (which often grows religious, but never grows moral) had begun to take it into its head that [367] MACAULAY’S CONVERSATION. it would keep holy the Sabbath night. The worst part of the story was, that this profligate blackguard bullied and plundered her without mercy or shame, and she had managed very nearly to ruin herself before her death. What she had left, she bequeathed to her husband, notwithstanding his infidelities and his absence.

January 21st, 1841

I dined with Lady Holland yesterday. Everything there is exactly the same as it used to be, excepting only the person of Lord Holland, who seems to be pretty well forgotten.[3] The same talk went merrily round, the laugh rang loudly and frequently, and, but for the black and the mob-cap of the lady, one might have fancied he had never lived or had died half a century ago. Such are, however, affections and friendships, and such is the world. Macaulay dined there, and I never was more struck than upon this occasion by the inexhaustible variety and extent of his information. He is not so agreeable as such powers and resources ought to make any man, because the vessel out of which it is all poured forth is so ungraceful and uncouth; his voice unmusical and monotonous, his face not merely inexpressive but positively heavy and dull, no fire in his eye, no intelligence playing round his mouth, nothing which bespeaks the genius and learning stored within and which burst out with such extraordinary force. It is impossible to mention any book in any language with which he is not familiar; to touch upon any subject, whether relating to persons or things, on which he does not know everything that is to be known. And if he could tread less heavily on the ground, if he could touch the subjects he handles with a lighter hand, if he knew when to stop as well as he knows what to say, his talk would be as attractive as it is wonderful. What Henry Taylor said of him is epigrammatic and true, ‘that his memory has swamped his mind;’ and though I do not think, as some people say, that his own opinions are completely suppressed by the load of his learning so that you know nothing of his mind, it appears to me true that there is less of originality in him, less exhibition of his own [368] character, than there probably would be if he was less abundantly stored with the riches of the minds of others. We had yesterday a party well composed for talk, for there were listeners of intelligence and a good specimen of the sort of society of this house—Macaulay, Melbourne, Morpeth, Duncannon, Baron Rolfe, Allen and Lady Holland, and John Russell came in the evening. I wish that a shorthand writer could have been there to take down all the conversation, or that I could have carried it away in my head; because it was curious in itself, and curiously illustrative of the characters of the performers. Before dinner some mention was made of the portraits of the Speakers in the Speaker’s House, and I asked how far they went back. Macaulay said he was not sure, but certainly as far as Sir Thomas More. ‘Sir Thomas More,’ said Lady Holland, ‘I did not know he had been Speaker.’ ‘Oh, yes,’ said Macaulay, ‘don’t you remember when Cardinal Wolsey came down to the House of Commons and More was in the chair?’ and then he told the whole of that well-known transaction, and all More had said. At dinner, amongst a variety of persons and subjects, principally ecclesiastical, which were discussed—for Melbourne loves all sorts of theological talk—we got upon India and Indian men of eminence, proceeding from Gleig’s ‘Life of Warren Hastings,’ which Macaulay said was the worst book that ever was written; and then the name of Sir Thomas Munro came uppermost. Lady Holland did not know why Sir Thomas Munro was so distinguished; when Macaulay explained all that he had ever said, done, written, or thought, and vindicated his claim to the title of a great man, till Lady Holland got bored with Sir Thomas, told Macaulay she had had enough of him, and would have no more. This would have dashed and silenced an ordinary talker, but to Macaulay it was no more than replacing a book on its shelf, and he was as ready as ever to open on any other topic. It would be impossible to follow and describe the various mazes of conversation, all of which he threaded with an ease that was always astonishing and instructive, and generally interesting and amusing. When we went upstairs we got upon [369] MACAULAY’S MEMORY. the Fathers of the Church. Allen asked Macaulay if he had read much of the Fathers. He said, not a great deal. He had read Chrysostom when he was in India; that is, he had turned over the leaves and for a few months had read him for two or three hours every morning before breakfast; and he had read some of Athanasius. ‘I remember a sermon,’ he said, ‘of Chrysostom’s in praise of the Bishop of Antioch;’ and then he proceeded to give us the substance of this sermon till Lady Holland got tired of the Fathers, again put her extinguisher on Chrysostom as she had done on Munro, and with a sort of derision, and as if to have the pleasure of puzzling Macaulay, she turned to him and said, ‘Pray, Macaulay, what was the origin of a doll? when were dolls first mentioned in history?’ Macaulay was, however, just as much up to the dolls as he was to the Fathers, and instantly replied that the Roman children had their dolls, which they offered up to Venus when they grew older; and quoted Persius for

‘Veneri donatæ a virgine puppæ,’

and I have not the least doubt, if he had been allowed to proceed, he would have told us who was the Chenevix of ancient Rome, and the name of the first baby that ever handled a doll.

[3] [He had been dead three months.]

The conversation then ran upon Milman’s ‘History of Christianity,’ which Melbourne praised, the religious opinions of Locke, of Milman himself, the opinion of the world thereupon, and so on to Strauss’s book and his mythical system, and what he meant by mythical. Macaulay began illustrating and explaining the meaning of a myth by examples from remote antiquity, when I observed that in order to explain the meaning of ‘mythical’ it was not necessary to go so far back; that, for instance, we might take the case of Wm. Huntington, S.S.: that the account of his life was historical, but the story of his praying to God for a new pair of leather breeches and finding them under a hedge was mythical. Now, I had just a general superficial recollection of this story in Huntington’s ‘Life,’ but my farthing rushlight [370] was instantly extinguished by the blaze of Macaulay’s all-grasping and all-retaining memory, for he at once came in with the whole minute account of this transaction: how Huntington had prayed, what he had found, and where, and all he had said to the tailor by whom this miraculous nether garment was made.

January 30th, 1841

Parliament opened on Tuesday last with a very meagre speech, on which no amendment could be hung. The Duke spoke extremely well in the House of Lords, and Peel the same in the House of Commons. Both approved (the Duke without any qualification, Peel more guardedly) of the foreign policy of the Government, and both said everything that was conciliatory, nattering, and cordial to France. John Russell and Palmerston both spoke in the same tone, the latter especially, and his speech was totally free from anything like triumph or exultation; in short, nothing could be more favourable for Government than what passed, and nothing more creditable to the country. It was temperate and dignified, and exhibited a strong contrast to the fury and bluster of the French debates and the Press, and consequently displayed the superiority in every respect of our national character over theirs. At present everything promises a very easy session, and the Conservatives are confessedly reduced to look to the chapter of accidents for some event which may help them to turn out the Government and get hold of their places.[4] Lord John said something about Lord Holland in the House of Commons, but Melbourne could not be prevailed upon to say anything in the House of Lords. Lady Holland was satisfied with Lord John’s speech, but though it was a prettily turned compliment, it was of no great service in relieving him from the charges which have been levelled at him in some of the newspapers.[5]

[4] [It is curious that a session which was destined to witness the important proposals of the Whigs in the direction of free trade, and to end so disastrously for the Liberal party, and so well for the Conservatives, should have begun thus tamely.]

[5] [Lord Holland had been attacked for the part he took in opposition to the Treaty of July in the preceding year, and for his earnest endeavours to avert a rupture with France. The best answer to these aspersions on the conduct of a most excellent man and true patriot occurs in a letter from M. Guizot to Lady Holland of January 3, 1841, which has recently been published. I transcribe the following sentences:—

‘J’ai ressenti un vrai, un vif chagrin quand j’ai vu le nom qui vous est cher compromis d’une façon si inconvenante dans nos débats. J’aurais voulu raconter moi-même, à tout le monde, sa bienveillance si sincère pour la France, son désir si persévérant de maintenir entre nos deux pays une amitié qu’il regardait comme excellente pour tous les deux, et en même temps sa constante préoccupation pour son propre pays, son dévouement si tendre pour la Reine, son attachement si fidèle pour ses collègues. Je n’ai rencontré personne qui sût concilier à ce point tous les devoirs, tous les sentiments, toutes les ideés. Dans la confiance de nos entretiens j’ai bien souvent regretté que tout le monde ne fût pas là pour l’entendre, tout le monde, Anglais, Français, ceux dont il ne partageait pas les opinions comme ceux qui étaient de son avis. Il aurait exercé sur tout le monde une influence bien salutaire, et les absurdes propos qui out été tenus, depuis qu’il n’est plus là, auraient été complètement impossibles.’]

February 1st, 1841

[371] M. GUIZOT’S ESTIMATE OF LORD HOLLAND. The Sheriffs’ dinner at the Lord President’s on Saturday.[6] It must be owned they decide very conscientiously. One man asked for exemption because he had, by keeping away Conservative votes, decided an election in favour of a Whig candidate, and, though otherwise disposed to let him off, they made him Sheriff directly on reading this excuse. I sat next to Palmerston. It was amusing to see how everything is blown over, and how success and the necessity of making common cause has reconciled all jarring sentiments; and it was amusing to hear Melbourne in one house and John Russell in the other vigorously defending and praising Palmerston’s policy. It must be owned that Palmerston has conducted himself well under the circumstances, without any air of triumph or boasting either over his colleagues or his opponents or the French. He has deserved his success by the moderation with which he has taken it. I saw Bourqueney last night, delighted with all that was said in Parliament, especially, of course, by the Duke and Peel, but well satisfied with John Russell and Palmerston, and he owned the tone of the latter was unexceptionable.

[6] [The list of Sheriffs for the ensuing year is settled at an annual dinner attended by the Cabinet Ministers, when the three names designated by the judges for each county are passed in review, excuses considered, and one of the number chosen to be submitted to the Queen.]

February 4th, 1841

[372] Went the night before last to Exeter Hall, to hear Mr. Hullah[7] give a lecture on the teaching of vocal music in the Poor Law schools (and elsewhere). Very interesting, well done, and the illustration of his plan by the boys of Dr. Kay’s school and other (adult) pupils of Hullah’s was excellent. The plan has been tried with great success in France, Germany, and Switzerland, and the Education Committee are disposed to assist in giving it a trial here. These plans, which are founded in benevolence and a sincere desire for the diffusion of good among the people, merit every encouragement, and will in the end get it, for there is, in the midst of much indifference and prejudice, a growing disposition to ameliorate the condition of the masses, both morally and physically.

[7] [I had myself put Mr. Hullah in relation with the Government, and with Mr. Eden, who tried his system of musical instruction (based on Wilhem’s plan) at the schools at Battersea. Indeed, I persuaded Hullah to go to France to study Wilhem’s system, which was in operation there. Lord Lansdowne saw that musical education was a neutral ground on which all parties (those most divided) might agree; and he took up this idea with success. Sydney Smith went to this lecture, to Hullah’s great delight, and it was very successful. Mr. Hullah, after a long and useful career, died in 1884.—H.R.]

Yesterday all the Tories were in high glee at their success at the Canterbury and Walsall elections, the former not having been expected by either party, and nevertheless they had a majority of 165 votes. It is certainly curious, for the Government have a right to be popular, or, at least, to expect that no tide of unpopularity should rise against them; and after all their successes, and the declared inability of their opponents to find fault with them, it is strange that they should lose ground to the extent that they have. The Government see all the danger of their position, and how very probable it is that they may be reduced to the necessity of resignation or dissolution, and, though they have no hopes of bettering themselves by the latter, they have made up their minds to try the experiment, in order that they may give the Queen no reason to accuse them of unnecessarily deserting her, and not exhausting every expedient to retain [373] IRISH REGISTRATION BILL. their places before they give them up. They are, however, very much divided upon the question of what to dissolve upon, some being for so doing on Stanley’s Irish Registration Bill, if then defeated, while others (more judiciously, meâ sententiâ) are against going to the country on any Irish question.[8]

[8] [The Irish system for the registration of voters differed materially from that of England. In Ireland, every person claiming to vote for the first time was obliged to prove his title; in England, all claims were admitted that were not objected to, and other abuses had crept in. Attempts had been made by the Government to remedy this evil, but in vain; and in 1840 Lord Stanley, then in Opposition, took it in hand, and brought in an Irish Registration Bill, which was opposed by O’Connell and by Lord Morpeth, then Irish Secretary, but on two successive divisions Ministers were beaten. This Bill was, however, withdrawn. In 1841 Lord Stanley and Lord Morpeth both brought in Irish Registration Bills; the former was meant to clear the Register of fictitious voters, the latter was a Reform Bill in disguise, for it extended the franchise to leaseholders rated at 5ℓ. a year. The contest between these two rival Bills occupied the early parts of the session. The second reading of Lord Morpeth’s Bill was carried by 299 to 294, but eventually the qualification clause was struck out of the Bill in Committee by a division of 300 to 294 on April 29. (See Walpole’s History of England, vol. iii. p. 520.)]

February 9th, 1841

The Duke of Wellington had an attack the other night in the House of Lords, and was taken home speechless, but not senseless. It was severe, but short, and after the stomach was relieved, he rapidly recovered, and in a day or two pronounced himself as well as ever. Of course the alarm was very great. He is very eager about politics, and the Tory language is that of exceeding gloom about the general aspect of affairs, while their own affairs, as far as elections are concerned, flourish. In Monmouthshire the Whig has resigned without a contest; the Tories affect to consider Morpeth’s Registration Bill as a revolution, while the Whigs pretend that Stanley’s will make every county in Ireland a close Orange borough. Perhaps the debates may strike out something approaching to the truth. Great disquietude at the French armaments, considerable uneasiness at the dispute with America, and much disgust at our having been apparently bamboozled by the Chinese, form the principal topics of political grievance and complaint.

February 12th, 1841

The other day I met Lord Howick, and [374] had a talk with him about the Irish questions now pending. The Government are much pleased with his support of Morpeth’s Bill. As he stands, as it were, midway between the two Bills, I asked him to explain to me the merits of the question, which he did, as it seemed to me, fairly enough. He approves of the machinery of Stanley’s registration, and of Morpeth’s definition of the franchise, not binding himself to amount, but not objecting to that proposed. He showed me a letter he wrote to Stanley, in a very amicable strain, setting forth the danger which he thought would attend any settlement of the question which did not embrace a definition of the franchise, and entreating him to reconsider the question, for the purpose of coming to some arrangement. The answer was not encouraging, for it consisted of a note from Lady Stanley to Lady Howick, in which she said that Stanley had got the gout in his hand, and could not write, but desired her to say that he entirely disagreed with Howick. Howick talked sensibly enough about it, and asked me if I could not do anything to bring about a compromise, his notion being that there should be a committee above stairs to take evidence as to the effect of the 5ℓ. franchise, and that only the principle of definition should be admitted. I told him I had no means whatever, had no access to any of the leaders, that the only men to whom I could talk were Graham or Fitzgerald, and that if I fell in with either, I would see if any possibility presented itself.

February 14th, 1841

The day before yesterday I met Graham by accident at Boodle’s, so I took the opportunity of talking to him about these Bills, and I soon found that there is no possibility of any compromise. He expressed the greatest alarm and disgust at Morpeth’s measure; said that he had never seen Stanley so determined, and that he and Peel both entirely agreed with him; that he could not understand how John Russell, or indeed any member of Lord Grey’s Government, could consent to such a violation of the principle of the Reform Bill, and to the formation of a new franchise, which, if granted, must entail similar concessions in England and Scotland; that the intention of the framers of the [375] SIR JAMES GRAHAM ON IRISH AFFAIRS. Reform Bill was that, in the counties, property and not numbers should have influence, and the effect of this Bill would be to transfer influence from property to numbers. He spoke much of the unpopularity of the Government, which he attributed to the Irish connexion, and thought that this Bill would do them great harm in England. When I urged the importance of settling affairs in Ireland, and not leaving such a question as this to unite all the country against them, if they came in again, and to revive the great power of O’Connell, which had for some time been waning, and I pointed out the great danger that might arise from Ireland in the present unsettled state of Europe, he said, rather than consent to such a measure as this, he was prepared to encounter every difficulty and danger; he would never consent to transfer power from the landed interest to the multitude; and as long as the priests interfered in Irish elections, it could not be expected that landlords would not counteract that influence by diminishing as much as they could the numbers of those who were made to act under it; that the old saying that Cromwell had confiscated too much, or exterminated too little, was the truth; he saw no way of pacifying that country, and as to concessions they must have a limit, every concession had been made that could be reasonably desired, and he would do no more. If they came into power, he would be prepared to govern equitably, without fear or favour, encouraging, without reference to political or religious opinions, all those who supported the British connexion, and with a determination to uphold without flinching the national institutions. I asked him if he thought no transaction could be effected with the Irish priests, so as to reconcile them to Government; but he said that none was, he thought, now feasible. He had been for the measure, but now England would not grant an establishment to the Catholic clergy, and if she would, they would not accept it, for they never would abandon the advantages they enjoyed under the present system of voluntary contributions, which was in most cases more profitable than any provision which could possibly be held out to them.

[376] The result of all this presents very serious matter for reflexion, for this Irish question will probably draw a broad line of separation between parties, afford respective rallying-points, and secure a formidable and united opposition if the Tories come in; and one cannot regard without the greatest apprehension the prospect of a systematic determined hostility on the part of the Irish masses towards this country with the certainty almost that the ground on which the battle will be fought will be that of maintaining the Irish Church. This is in point of fact the interest which the Tory or English party regard. Ireland is denied her share in representation, hers is made an exceptional case, because she is under Catholic influence, and because that Catholic influence will, they suspect, if ever it is strong enough, exert its strength in overturning the English Church. I do not think anybody of sense and information believes that the Irish Catholic clergy or laity have any disinclination to British connexion, except so far as they are in their own eyes degraded or injured by it. There exists, and there ever will exist, that one deep feeling, constantly kept burning in the minds of the laity by the undying zeal of the clergy, that Catholic Ireland is insulted and impoverished by the vast Protestant ecclesiastical establishment, that in the most important, the most heart-stirring of all interests, an interest at once temporal and spiritual, they are stripped of those equal and essential rights which are possessed by England and Scotland. I have never doubted that sooner or later this contest would arise, and that the end of it will be, however long in coming, the downfall of the Church of England in Ireland, as fall it ought.[9]

[9] [This prediction was fulfilled in 1868. But the measure was not followed by that cessation of discord which Mr. Greville hopefully anticipated from it.]

February 27th, 1841

The debate lasted four nights on Morpeth’s Bill, and Ministers got a majority of five, both sides bringing down the sick and the dying without remorse. A close division and parties nicely balanced, extinguish all feelings of humanity. The best speeches were Charles Buller’s, [377] SETTLEMENT OF THE EASTERN QUESTION. Sheil’s, Follett’s, Peel’s, and John Russell’s. It is supposed this will bolster them up for the Session, but something still depends on Stanley’s Bill.

Foreign affairs have assumed a better aspect. A negotiation is going on here for the purpose of inviting France to join the alliance, and take part in the final settlement of the Eastern Question, which she desires no better than to accept, and then to disarm; indeed, she has already begun to do so. The delay is occasioned by some difficulty as to the forms to be adopted. The French want some phrases, which don’t seem unreasonable in themselves, but about which the Russian makes a difficulty. There is to be a Note, and in this Note Bourqueney wishes it to be expressly stated that the integrity of the Ottoman Empire is now secured, but Brunnow makes this strange objection, that they should thereby be admitting the de jure occupation of Algiers by the French. This seems such a frivolous objection that it is difficult to conceive it can be the real one. The wonder is that Palmerston, who carries everything with so high a hand, does not overrule it auctoritate suâ. He has been showing off his flippancy lately not only to France, but to Austria, writing despatches to Lord Granville, which are in such a tone that he complains bitterly of being instructed to read them to Guizot; and, with regard to Austria, this occurred: Metternich wrote some letter complaining of delay in settling the question of Mehemet Ali’s hereditary possession of Egypt, which, it seems, nettled Palmerston, and he wrote a remarkably clever but very insolent answer, in which he reviewed the vacillations and inconsistencies of the Austrian Cabinet in a very offensive style. This despatch was read by the Cabinet; and I fancy generally disapproved, very much so by Melbourne, who however did not interfere, and let it go. But Frederick Lamb, who has all the confidence and courage which Melbourne wants, very quietly put it in his drawer, and wrote word to Palmerston that circumstances were changed and he should not give it to Metternich. Melbourne was very much pleased at this, and said it was very judicious; but he forgot that it was his business to stop it in [378] the first instance, and that, thinking it imprudent, as Prime Minister he ought to have put his veto on it. But he is only Prime Minister in name, and has no authority. He is all in all at Buckingham Palace, but very little in Downing Street.

March 2nd, 1841, Tuesday

On Sunday I met Bourqueney at dinner. He was very gloomy, talked of the debate in the Chamber and the declarations in favour of keeping up the isolement as ‘très-grave,’ and then complained bitterly, but obscurely, of the difficulties he encountered here, and how hard it was, after the unanimous expressions in both Houses of Parliament, that such obstacles should be cast in the way of a settlement, hinting at Palmerston as the cause, but without being explicit; indeed, it was in the carriage going to Lady Holland’s, and there was not time for more. To-day, however, I have heard more; and it seems that Palmerston has been at his tricks again, though I don’t yet know precisely what he has done. My brother keeps writing me word that his tone in his communications to the French Government, through Lord Granville, is very offensive; but here he appeared to be really anxious to conciliate. It is, however, quite impossible to make out what he is at. He has contributed more than anybody to give this Government a federal character; for in the Foreign Office he has resolved to be, and he is, wholly independent of his colleagues. He tells them as much or as little of his proceedings as it suits his purpose or his fancy to do; and they are now so well aware of this, and have so little confidence in him, that when he does tell the Cabinet anything they feel no security that they are acquainted with the truth or, at least, the whole truth. In the pending matter, Esterhazy and Bülow have been vehemently urging the completion of an arrangement, but the Cabinet settled that no overture should be made to France without previously ascertaining that she would accept it when made. All very proper! It was settled that the other Powers should beg Palmerston to invite France in all their names to join in a Convention for securing the free navigation of the Bosphorus; and this Convention was [379] THE PROTOCOL DELAYED. arranged at a Conference some day last week, and at the same time a Protocol—which was to precede it—stating that, the objects of the July alliance being completed, the alliance was at an end. All this was agreed to, and on Saturday at the Cabinet the Convention was read and approved of; but objections were made to the Protocol on the ground that questions might still arise requiring the intervention of the alliance, that no certain intelligence had yet arrived either of the evacuation of Syria by Ibrahim or the publication of the firman by the Sultan, and, therefore, it would be imprudent to break up the alliance just at this moment, and this operation might as well be deferred for a brief space. Such was the general sentiment. Melbourne said, ‘Are you sure France will take the Convention?’ to which Palmerston replied, he had no doubt she would, as it had been put into his hands by Esterhazy, who had probably already communicated it to Bourqueney. But he did not tell the Cabinet that he had agreed at the Conference to the Protocol likewise, and had left his foreign colleagues under the impression that it would be agreed to by the Cabinet.

On Sunday night Bülow and Bourqueney met Normanby at Lady Holland’s, when they both spoke to him in the strongest terms, more especially Bülow; who said it was very painful to him to complain to Normanby of the conduct of Palmerston, and he would not repeat what had passed at the Conference, but he must tell him if Palmerston continued to conduct himself as he did, the most fatal consequences would ensue, and the affairs of Europe would become more embroiled and be in a more perilous state than they had ever been yet. He frightened Normanby so much that the next morning he went off to Melbourne, told him what had passed, and entreated him to interfere. Melbourne promised he would, but of course he will not; and Palmerston will probably not care a straw what he says, or be in the slightest degree biassed by any opinion he may express. As far as I can guess, Bourqueney’s excessive discontent arises from this: He very naturally wants this Protocol, and Bülow and Esterhazy, no doubt, told him that Palmerston [380] had consented to it and would propose it to him; whereas, in their conference on Sunday, Palmerston probably offered him the Convention but did not say a word about the Protocol, and this both he and Bülow consider a great breach of faith. Notwithstanding the good reason which there really is for not formally dissolving the alliance till all the arrangements concerning Egypt and Syria are completed, it is easy to understand that in the present temper of France it would be impossible for Guizot to enter into any relations with the other Powers till their separate and exclusive alliance is at an end. It is no wonder, therefore, that Bourqueney looks upon the Protocol as an essential condition of his acceptance of the Convention; and if he has been first given to understand that the Protocol was admitted, and then told by Palmerston that it could not be, he might naturally be indignant. One never knows what else Palmerston may have said nor what tone he may have taken.

While these difficulties are obstructing a pacific arrangement here, they are rendered much more serious by the discussions in the French Chamber on the Secret Service money, when the insolent and extravagant speeches in favour of keeping up the isolement and the state of armed observation were hailed with vociferous applause; and this frantic violence is the Parliamentary response to the calm and dignified expression of peace and goodwill to France which marked our first Parliamentary night, and in which the leaders of all parties joined with equal cordiality. If this goes on, and if Guizot is not strong enough to give effect to his pacific disposition and to venture upon a reconciliation, all amicable feelings towards France will be swallowed up in a general sentiment of indignation at her insolence; and instead of wasting any more time in fruitless endeavours to bring her back into the councils of Europe, we shall begin to think of the means of securing ourselves against any possible effects of her ill-will and obstinate resentment. Those who have most strongly advocated the French alliance will be soon ready to cement that of the four great Powers, to curb the extravagant pretensions and mischievous designs [381] A MISREPORTED SPEECH. of France, if the latter does not come to her senses and descend from her high horse very soon.

March 4th, 1841

Yesterday morning Dedel, who was pretty accurately acquainted with all that has lately passed, called on me. His account confirmed my notions. The other Ministers of the Conference had told Bourqueney what he was to expect at his conference with Palmerston. When, therefore, the latter tendered him the draft of the Convention, he said, ‘This is very well, but have you nothing else to give me?’ ‘No,’ said Palmerston; ‘what do you mean? I know of nothing else.’ ‘Have you not also a Protocol, announcing the clôture to propose to me?’ ‘Oh no; that is impossible. There has been a question of such a Protocol, but great difficulties have arisen. Chekib says he cannot agree to such a Protocol without previous application to his Court and receiving a specific authority.’ On this, Bourqueney very indignantly said, ‘he must know it was quite useless to offer him the one without the other, as the formal termination of the alliance of July was an indispensable preliminary of any convention to which France could be a party.’ A warm conversation followed, in the course of which (as Dedel says), Bourqueney saying, ‘Nous ne sommes pas pressés,’ Palmerston replied in his most insolent tone, ‘Et nous ne sommes pas pressés non plus; si vous ne craignez pas les bâtiments anglais, vous sentez bien que nous ne craignons pas les bâtiments français....’[10]

[10] [This was untrue, as appears by the next entry.]

March 5th, 1841

At the Cabinet dinner the day before yesterday, Palmerston announced that ‘everything was going on well, everybody satisfied,’ and as this rose-coloured aspect of affairs was so inconsistent with the gloom and discontent of Bourqueney and Bülow, and the account given me by Dedel, I resolved to call on Bourqueney, and find out from him in what position the affair stood. I did so, and the result proved with what caution one ought to listen to the reports of persons the best informed, and who relate what they have heard with the most veracious intentions. Instead of correcting or expunging what I have said above, I shall put [382] down the substance of what Bourqueney said to me, which agrees with much of Dedel’s account, but differs in some very important particulars. I told him that I had (as he would be sure) no desire to fourrer myself into his affairs, but that I thought a little conversation between us might be useful in promoting the object we had in common—that of restoring amicable relations between the two countries; and having seen how annoyed he was on Sunday last, and knowing what had passed, I wished to know if he was not now better satisfied than he was then; and that as I, and those with whom I communicated, only knew what passed between him and Palmerston, or at the conferences, from Palmerston’s own reports, when he told his colleagues just what he pleased and no more, and as I had heard from other quarters an account of his interview on Sunday with Palmerston, I wished to know what had really passed. He had, he said, been extremely annoyed and disappointed, after being told that he was to have the Protocol (by Bülow and Esterhazy, of course), when Palmerston told him this was out of the question, as Chekib refused to sign it without orders. He then gave me the conversation between himself and Palmerston, which does not appear to have been acrimonious, and instead of Palmerston’s having made that insolent speech which was put in his mouth when Bourqueney said, ‘Mais nous ne sommes pas pressés,’ he only said, ‘Ni nous non plus, c’est l’Autriche et la Prusse qui sont pressées;’ so that all the offensive part was a fabricated addition, and I have no doubt of this by Bourqueney’s way of speaking of it. He said, moreover, ‘Il faut rendre justice à Lord Palmerston, son ton a été excellent, et jamais il n’a prononcé le mot de désarmement;’ that if he had, or had attempted to impose any condition, he should at once have rejected all overtures; but nothing of the kind had been attempted, and he admitted that every respect had been shown to France, and a sincere desire evinced to renew relations with her. He said, ‘Enfin vous êtes triomphants, et nous sommes humiliés,’ and you can well afford to treat us ‘avec des égards;’ but he seemed to think that in point [383] PROTOCOL AND CONVENTION SIGNED. of fact the Conference was already practically dissolved, for both Bülow and Esterhazy had declared (in their anxiety for the clôture, as an indispensable preliminary to the Convention, for which their eagerness is intense), that, happen what might, they would take no farther part in Eastern affairs. On the whole, the prospect is good, and it is but just to Palmerston to say that he does not seem to have acted unfairly or insolently, or to be obnoxious to any reproach in his relations with Bourqueney.

March 12th, 1841

The Protocols were duly signed and the Convention sent to Paris. They were well received by Guizot, who returned them for some verbal alterations which have been agreed to, and if no new difficulties arise in the East to prevent a settlement, our relations with France will be restored. But within these few days a whole budget of bad news has poured in—from China, where the admiral has resigned on the plea of ill-health, having done nothing but lose half the troops he took out, and leaving affairs in a very uncertain and unsatisfactory state. I had a letter from Emily Eden[11] yesterday, in great disgust at the waste of time, money, and life, and the failure hitherto of all the objects we had in view. The Chinese have bamboozled and baffled us, that is the plain truth.

[11] [Miss Emily Eden had accompanied her brother, Lord Auckland, to India, where he was Governor-General. This impression of the state of our relations with China appears to have been erroneous. On February 1st, Captain Elliot annexed the island of Hong Kong, which has been permanently united to the British Empire, and on April 18th Her Majesty’s forces occupied Canton.]

Then the violence and bad spirit displayed in America have produced no small consternation here, though everybody goes on saying that a war between the two countries, and for so little cause, is impossible.[12] It does seem impossible, [384] and the manifest interest of both nations is opposed to it; but when a country is so mob-governed as America, and the Executive is so destitute of power, there must be great danger. However, the general conviction is, that the present exhibition of violence is attributable to the malignity of the outgoing party, which is desirous of embarrassing their successors, and casting on them the perils of a war or the odium of a reconciliation with this country, and strong hopes are entertained that the new Government will be too wise to fall into the snare that is laid for them, and strong enough to check and master the bad spirit which is rife in the Northern States. The real difficulty arises from the conviction here, that in the case of M’Leod we are in the right, and the equally strong conviction there, that we are not, and the actual doubt on which side the truth lies. Senior, whom I met the other day, expressed great uncertainty, and he proposes, and has written to Government on the subject, that the question of International Law shall be submitted to the decision of a German University—that of Berlin, he thinks, would be the best. This idea he submitted to Stevenson, who approved of it, but the great difficulty would be to agree upon a statement of facts. Yesterday Lord Lyndhurst was at the Council Office, talking over the matter with Sir Herbert Jenner and Justice Littledale, and he said it was very questionable if the Americans had not right on their side; and that he thought, in a similar case here, we should be obliged to try the man, and if convicted, nothing but a pardon could save him. These opinions casting such serious doubts on the question of right, are at least enough to restrain indignation and beget caution.

[12] [This refers to the case of one M’Leod, who had been engaged as a member of the Colonial forces in repelling the attack made upon Canada from United States territory, and who had consequently acted as an agent of the British Government. But M’Leod was arrested at New York in 1841 upon a charge of the murder of one Durfee, who was killed during the capture of the ‘Caroline.’ The American authorities refused to give him up on the demand of the British Minister, who alleged that M’Leod’s deed was a legitimate act, done in obedience to his superior officers. He was tried, and fortunately acquitted; but Mr. Webster, the American Secretary of State, subsequently admitted that individuals concerned in a public transaction under the orders of their Government could not be held responsible to the ordinary tribunals of law for their participation in it. See Halleck’s International Law, vol. i., p. 430; and Hale’s International Law, p. 261.]

Besides China and America, two days ago appeared the Sultan’s firman restoring the Pasha, but on terms which he was certain not to accept. This document, which arrives [385] BAD EFFECT OF THE HATTI-SHERIF. just as we are renewing our relations with France, and which carries on the face of it the strongest marks of Lord Ponsonby’s interference and influence, is well calculated to obstruct the arrangement, and so it appeared to Clarendon, to Lord Lansdowne, to Melbourne, and to John Russell. Clarendon immediately appealed to Lord John, who, however, took it very quietly, and was averse to saying or doing anything; and when he spoke to Melbourne, the latter said Palmerston had shown him Ponsonby’s private letter, in which he said that he had nothing to do with it, that it was all Stürmer’s[13] doing, and that for some time past he had not been able to make Redschid Pasha mind a word he said. On the other hand, Lord John also spoke to Palmerston, when Palmerston said not a word of Ponsonby’s letter, but told him it was the best possible arrangement; that Mehemet Ali had not understood it at first, but that he would in the end be quite satisfied with it, and that it was the only way of preventing confusion. Of course Melbourne and Lord John were quite content, and fully partake of Palmerston’s entire satisfaction. Yesterday morning, however, I found that Francis Egerton was full of indignation at this fresh outrage, as he considered it, of Ponsonby’s, and had taken a resolution to bring the matter forward in the House of Commons, but previously to speak to the Duke and Peel. Nothing was done last night, and this morning he came and told me that they both agreed with him, but that the Duke urged the necessity of extreme caution, and of previously ascertaining the sentiments of the other Allies, as we must not do or say anything which might disturb our harmony with them. This caution, and not any indisposition to take the matter up, was the reason no notice was taken in the House of Commons last night, and they are now waiting for further information to determine what course to take.

[13] [M. Stürmer was the Austrian Internuncio at Constantinople.]

March 14th, 1841

On Friday, Francis Egerton put questions to Palmerston, and Peel took a part. He told me that he was much surprised at the way in which Palmerston received [386] as well as answered them, as they had intended nothing hostile and thought it was doing him a service, and affording him an opportunity of explaining away the bad effect of the Hatti-sherif, but that he took it very ill, and answered with evident embarrassment. From his manner, and the way in which Labouchere cheered when Palmerston said that their intention had been to give a bonâ fide hérédité to Mehemet Ali, he inferred there was some disagreement in the Cabinet.

Yesterday Reeve went off to Paris, having had a conference with Lord Lansdowne, who not only expressed his dissatisfaction with the firman, but authorised him to say so to M. Guizot, and to assure him that this was the sentiment of the Government, and that it was quite inconsistent with any instructions to Ponsonby which he had ever seen or heard of.

The Tories were extremely dissatisfied with Palmerston’s answers the other night, but they have an extraordinary reluctance to provoke any discussion on foreign affairs, though he is so vulnerable on all points. It is, however, highly probable that the matter will not be suffered to rest here. In such a manner does one bold, unscrupulous, and able man predominate over his colleagues, one of whom is John Russell, not less bold at times, and as able as himself; but of a quiet disposition, shrinking from contest, controversy, and above all, I take it, from the labyrinth of underhand dealing which he must thread and disentangle, if he insists upon a regular settlement of accounts with Palmerston. There is no other way of accounting for his acquiescence in the latter’s proceedings. As for the rest, Melbourne is too indolent, Lansdowne too timid, and the others too indifferent to interfere. Clarendon has the will and the courage, but he can do nothing alone, and he cannot rouse anybody else to take part with him. If Lord Holland were still alive, something might now be done.

The other night Peel, who has been a good deal nettled by the attacks on him in a series of letters, signed ‘Catholicus,’ in the ‘Times,’ made a very striking speech upon the [387] FRESH OBSTACLES. education and recreation of the people, which was enthusiastically cheered by the Whigs, but received in silence by the Tories. He made a sort of reply in this speech to the charges of irreligion insinuated in these letters, and took the opportunity of expressing those liberal sentiments which mark his own identification with the progress of society, and which render him, from their liberality and wisdom, the object of such suspicion, fear, and dislike with the Tory democracy who reluctantly own him for their leader.

March 16th, 1841

On Friday last, after the House of Lords was over, the Ministerial Lords gathered on the bench and had a sort of Cabinet, a practice in which Melbourne takes pleasure. Clarendon held forth about the state of the Eastern Question, and said all he thought without reserve. He worked up Lansdowne to a considerable amount of zeal and resolution to bestir himself. The next day Lansdowne called on Melbourne, and he owned to Clarendon that he was shocked and surprised to find that Melbourne had never had any communication with Palmerston on the subject, and, in point of fact, knew very little about what was going on. The next day there was a Cabinet, when both Lansdowne and Clarendon expressed their opinion with vivacity, complaining of the proceeding at Constantinople, and urging the necessity of some decisive step being taken here to correct its effects. Palmerston knocked under; that is, he made no defence and no resistance, and ostensibly acquiesced in the opinions expressed, and promised to act in conformity with them. Though no reliance can be placed on him, and none is placed, it would appear as if he was become aware of the necessity of making his actions correspond with his professions and with the opinions which have been so strongly expressed in all quarters; for I met Bourqueney last night, who told me that he really did think they were at last making progress towards a satisfactory conclusion, that he had received his instructions (which I already knew were to say the French Government would hear of nothing till this Hatti-sherif was disavowed) and had instantly got the Conference convened, and that a formal notification had been made by [388] the Four Powers to the Turkish Ministers of their disapprobation of the firman, and this seems to have been done in a way he considers satisfactory.

March 19th, 1841

The Bishop of Exeter got a heavy fall in the House of Lords the other night on the St. Sulpice question.[14] He brought it forward in an elaborate speech the week before, with his usual ability and cunning; and he took the Duke of Wellington in; for, after hearing the Bishop protest, and apparently make out, that ‘a great blow had been struck at the Reformation,’ he got up, and, in total ignorance of the subject, committed his potential voice and opinion to an agreement with the Bishop’s dictum. The truth, however, was that there was no case at all; the Government had not only done what they were justified in doing, but they had acted in precise conformity with the conduct held by all their Tory predecessors, colonial secretaries, and with that of the Duke of Wellington himself, who had forgotten all that had occurred and the part he had previously taken. The consequence was that the Tories resolved to throw the Bishop over, and so they did, greatly to his rage and disgust and to the satisfaction of all the bigots; not even a solitary Bishop or high Tory had a word to say in his favour. He was detected in the course of the debate of having sent a report to the ‘Times’ of his former speech containing a very essential paragraph which he had omitted in the speech itself. He tried to back out of it, and brought the ‘Times’ reporter as his witness; but he stood convicted in general opinion.

[14] [This related to the Catholic foundation of St. Sulpice in Canada.]

Reeve is gone to Paris. He saw Guizot on his arrival, who announced to him what he meant to do. He waits till the Four Powers have settled the Eastern Question, in which he will not meddle in the slightest degree; and when it is settled, he will be ready to join in the Convention. Bourqueney has signed the document de bene esse; this is his wisest and most dignified course.

March 30th, 1841

Nothing new for the last fortnight, the Eastern Question apparently progressing to a settlement [389] DEBATE ON THE POOR LAW. through some not very important obstacles, and, what is of much greater consequence, a fair prospect of an amicable arrangement with America. The new President’s inaugural speech, pedantic and ridiculous as it was, had the merit of being temperate; and Webster had already written to Evelyn Denison, desiring him not to judge of the real sentiments of America by the trash spoken and the violence exhibited in Congress, or by the mob of New York. John Bull, too, who had begun to put himself into a superfine passion, and to bluster a good deal in the French vein, is getting more tranquil, and begins to see the propriety of going to work moderately and without insisting on having everything his own way.

In Parliament there has been nothing of interest but the Poor Law Bill, debated with great heat, and the several clauses carried by majorities very little indicative of the real opinion of the majority of the House. But the truth is that the Tories are (generally) behaving very ill on this question, and their shabbiness is the more striking because the Government have behaved so well. The Tories are just as anxious for the passing of the Bill as their opponents, or more so, nevertheless they stay away or abuse and oppose the clauses, in order to curry favour with their own constituencies and to cast odium on their opponents, by which they may profit in the event of a general election. There is probably not a man of them who would not be annoyed and disappointed to the greatest degree if the Bill should be impaired in its leading principles and material provisions. The Government might, if they had chosen it, have proposed the law as an experimental measure for a short period, so as to cast upon their opponents the ultimate responsibility of the measure, but they dealt with it liberally and wisely, and without reference to temporary interests or party purposes, which, so far from eliciting a corresponding spirit from their opponents, only afforded them the opportunity (of which, without shame or decency, they are availing themselves) to convert it into a source of unpopularity against the Government who bring it forward.

April 5th, 1841

[390] While the American question looks well, the affairs of the East are all unsettled again. The Pasha has, with all humility, declined the conditions of the Sultan’s Hatti-sherif, and the whole thing remains still to be adjusted. Nobody, however, cares or thinks much about it at all, for the Eastern business is become as tedious as a twice-told tale. No more danger to the peace of Europe is apprehended from it; nobody cares a straw for Sultan or Pasha, and still less for the repose of the countries they misgovern or the happiness of the people they oppress.

Sir Robert Peel has dined at the Palace for the first time since the Bedchamber quarrel, and this is deemed important. All domestic interest is absorbed in the blow which has fallen upon Lord Granville at Paris, in the shape of a paralytic stroke, which, from the character of the man, his social position, and the important and unhappy consequences of this affliction to a numerous class of people, excites a very deep and general interest.

May 2nd, 1841

The approach of the Newmarket meetings usually absorbs my thoughts, oppresses me with its complicated interests, and destroys all my journalising energies. After a month’s interval, I take up my pen to note down the events that have occurred in it. I went to Newmarket on Saturday before the Craven Meeting, and on Sunday morning received a letter informing me of the sudden death of my sister-in-law (Mrs. Algernon Greville), which obliged me to return to town. This grievous affliction, so heavy and irreparable to those whom it immediately concerns, matters but little to the mass of society, who for the most part good-naturedly sympathised with the sufferers; but the object, so precious to the narrow circle of her own family, was too unimportant to the world at large to be entitled to anything more than a passing expression of regret. I went down to the funeral, and was unutterably disgusted with the ceremony, with the bustling business of the undertaker, mixing so irreverently with the profound grief of the brothers and other relations who attended, the decking us out in the paraphernalia of woe, and thus dragging us in mourning coaches through [391] LOSS OF THE ‘PRESIDENT.’ crowds of curious people, by a circuitous route, that as much of us as possible might be exhibited to vulgar curiosity. These are things monstrous in themselves, but to which all-reconciling custom makes us submit.

This is not the only misfortune which has fallen upon individual heads; but of all occurrences that which has excited the greatest interest has been the loss, as it must now be concluded, of the ‘President’ steamer, with, among others, the Duke of Richmond’s young son on board. Day after day people have watched and enquired with the most intense interest for the arrival or for news of this vessel, and are only now slowly and reluctantly abandoning all hope, while the wretched parents have been for weeks past agitated with all the alternations of hope and despair, and suffering a protracted torture worse than any certainty. So much for private woes.

In the world of politics we have had an interval of repose till after the recess, when Government sustained two defeats on the Irish Registration Bill,[15] and Walter came in for Nottingham on an Anti-Poor-Law cry, and by the union of Chartists and Tories to defeat the Whig candidate. After the first division, Clarendon wrote to me as follows: ‘The defeat last night was a signal one. We have had a Cabinet about it, and I went there fully expecting that resignation would be the order of the day—the word never crossed the lips of anyone! Various expedients were suggested, but, except by me, the thought of going out was not entertained. The result is, that another trial of strength is to be had, and if we are beaten the Bill is to be withdrawn for the year. How Stanley’s is afterwards to be opposed remains to be seen, but for that we trust to luck and O’Connell’s ingenuity in devising delays—not very creditable or satisfactory, but as John has to defend his course, he is the best judge of what he should do. He quite scouted to me afterwards the [392] idea of resigning, though he admitted the Tory chances had advanced prodigiously, and that Peel’s language was quite that of determination, and of a man ready to take the government.’ Nobody has a guess what will happen—whether Government will try and go on, dissolve or resign; and a thousand speculations, and, of course, lies, are afloat.

[15] [Lord Morpeth’s Irish Registration Bill was withdrawn, two amendments having been carried by the Opposition by 291 to 270 votes. Mr. Walter was elected at Nottingham by a majority of 296 over the Government candidate.]

The affairs of the East are still unsettled, but there seems a chance of their being patched up, though not in a way very creditable or consistent. Metternich is now threatening the Porte, that unless she consents to what the Conference shall suggest he will quit the concern. Palmerston, meanwhile, talks of again licking Mehemet Ali, while Ponsonby is as furious as ever at Constantinople, and would blow up the coals again if he knew how. The manner in which things are mystified, and facts perverted from the truth, is curiously exemplified in the matter of the recent Hatti-sherif. It was affirmed, when the severity of its terms was objected to and Ponsonby blamed, that Ponsonby had had no hand in it whatever. This was true, but how? He insisted upon a much more severe clause being inserted, on the Pasha’s being made a mere stipendiary of the Porte, and his revenue being levied by Turkish officers; and because the Turkish Minister would not go this length, Ponsonby flew into a rage, and refused to sanction the Hatti-sherif with his approval unless this clause was added, so that he had nothing to do with it, only because it was not so stringent and violent as he wished to make it.

May 3rd, 1841

Great agitation yesterday at the clubs, and excessive interest and curiosity about coming events, on which hang the existence of the Government. The Tories are talking of a vote of want of confidence, and wish to follow up their successes by this decisive blow. There is the greatest difference of opinion among the Whigs as to the necessity of resigning, and, above all, as to a dissolution. The event of the day was the resignation of Gordon, Secretary of the Treasury, who could not stand the Corn alteration that is threatened. Nobody thinks Ministers will [393] DEFEAT OF THE MINISTRY. carry their Budget, and that will probably be their coup de grâce.[16]

[16] [It turned out to be so. On April 30th the Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced his Budget. He proposed to meet the deficiency in the revenue of 2,421,000ℓ. by an increase of the duty on Colonial timber and a reduction of the duty on Baltic timber, and by a reduction of duty on foreign sugar. The debate lasted eight nights, and on May 18th Ministers were defeated on the sugar question by a majority of 36. On May 7th Lord John Russell had given notice of a resolution to reduce the duties on corn to a fixed sum. On May 24th Sir Robert Peel gave notice of a vote of want of confidence in the Government, on which the House divided on June 4th, Ministers being beaten by a majority of one.]


The Royal Precedency Question.

[395] [As Mr. Greville’s pamphlet on the Precedency Question is now rarely to be met with, it may be convenient to reprint it in this place. It is a tract of considerable originality and research, and it was carefully revised and approved by Lord Wensleydale and some of the most eminent lawyers of the time when it was written. This essay has therefore a substantial legal and historical value. Moreover, its application is not exclusively retrospective or confined to the peculiar case of the precedency of the late Prince Consort at the time of his marriage, which gave rise to warm debates, for it deals with the precedency of the members of the Royal Family, not being sons or daughters of a sovereign, or standing in close propinquity to the throne. In the course of years these personages have become numerous, and for the first time in our history (at least, since the reign of James I.), between twenty and thirty grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the reigning sovereign are in existence, whose claims to precedency will have to be considered. By the 31st Henry VIII., which assigns places in Parliament and Council to the sons, brothers, uncles, and nephews of the king, after these degrees are past, peers or others of the blood royal are entitled to no place or precedence, except what belongs to them by their personal rank or dignity. The mere fact of their descent, in a more remote degree, from the sovereign, gives them in law no precedency at all, although it may be conceded to them by custom, and the respect willingly paid to members of the Royal Family. Nor are they entitled to bear the title of ‘Royal Highness’ unless it be conferred upon them by the Crown. Thus, if I am not mistaken, the late Duke of Gloucester, who was a nephew of George III., was not a ‘Royal Highness’ until he married the Princess Mary, the king’s daughter, when that distinction was conferred upon him. In two or three generations from the present time it is not improbable that the descendants of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert will exceed a [396] hundred persons, and, although they will doubtless all look back with pride to their illustrious ancestry, they will have no rank or precedency, in the strict sense of the term, except such as may be conferred upon them personally by the Crown. For these reasons, it appears to me that Mr. Greville’s remarks on the subject may have some future interest.—H.R.]

In the House of Lords on Tuesday, 4th February, when Prince Albert’s Naturalisation Bill was under discussion, Lord Brougham said:—

‘That these questions of precedence were of a very difficult and doubtful nature. It was therefore a great convenience to submit them to the House, because it enabled Parliament to make that quite certain, which, if dealt with under the common law of the country, might be open to objection.’

The interest which has been excited by this question, and the doubts which prevail, even among the learned in the law, as to the actual extent of the Royal prerogative in the matter of granting precedence, are sufficient to provoke an enquiry into the opinions of writers upon constitutional law, an examination of the ancient practice, and of some of the cases which seem to bear immediately upon the point, in order, if possible, to arrive at something like a reasonable conclusion as to the power actually possessed by the crown, and the manner in which, and extent to which, it might be just and expedient to exercise it upon the present occasion.

The first question which presents itself is, What have been the ancient prerogatives of the Crown in granting dignities or pre-eminencies of any description; and, secondly, In what respect, if at all, these prerogatives have been limited or restrained by any Parliamentary enactment. By the laws of England, the Sovereign is considered the fountain of honour and of privilege, and the constitution has entrusted to him the sole power of conferring dignities and honours, in confidence that he will bestow them on none but such as deserve them.[1]

[1] Blackstone, vol. i. p. 271.

The King may create new titles, and has the prerogative of conferring privileges upon private persons,[2] such as granting place or precedence to any of his subjects. He may make an Arch-duke, who would not, however, take place of any duke his ancient.[3]

[2] Ibid. i. 272, 4th Inst. 361.

[3] 4th Inst 363.

The King could create a peer, and give him precedence over all other peers of the same rank,[4] a prerogative which was not unfrequently exercised in ancient times. Henry VI. created Henry Beauchamp Earl of Warwick and Præcomes totius Angliæ, and afterwards Duke of Warwick, with a right to sit in Parliament after the Duke of Norfolk, but before the Duke of Buckingham; the same King created Edmund of Hadham Earl of Richmond, and gave him precedence over all other earls, and Jasper of Hatfield Earl [397] of Pembroke with precedence next to the said Earl of Richmond.[5] There appears to have been no limit to the authority of the Crown in granting honours, titles, dignities, and offices, excepting only that it could not grant new offices with fees annexed, because that would be a tax upon the subject, which can only be imposed by Act of Parliament. Assuming, then, that such was the extent of the prerogative previously to the 31st of Henry VIII., the next question is, Whether it was restrained by that statute; and if it was, within what limits it was thenceforward confined? The preamble asserts the prerogative of the Crown in the strongest terms; probably for the express purpose of guarding against any inference that it was thereby abridged or restrained. It is difficult to believe that, in passing the Act entitled ‘for placing the Lords,’ Henry VIII. felt any doubt as to the possession, or scruple as to the exercise, of the prerogative of his progenitors, and still less that he had the remotest idea of divesting himself of an iota of his own. The despotic temper of the King, the subservient character of his Parliaments, and his habitual employment of them as the most obsequious instrument of his will, make it probable that he adopted this, merely as the easiest and most convenient mode of settling a difficult and complex question, but without the slightest misgiving as to his own power, or any notion of restraining himself from granting any privilege or precedence it might at any subsequent period be his pleasure to bestow. The circumstances under which the provisions of this Act were carried into operation were remarkable, and give it much more the appearance of a decree of the King, or a resolution of the Lords, than of an Act of the Three Estates. The assent of the Commons seems to have been assumed as a matter of course, and as soon as it had passed the Lords (which it did very hastily), it was immediately put in force, ‘Concerning the passing it, it is observable, that on Monday, 1st May, the Lord Chancellor quandam introduxit billam concernentem assignationem locorum, &c., which was that day read twice; the next day it had a third reading, and on Friday a fourth; on the morrow, the Lord Cromwell is placed before the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the others are placed according to the Act, being before placed without regard to their offices, but it was not returned from the House of Commons with their assent till the Monday following.’[6]

[4] Ibid.

[5] 4th Inst 361.

[6] Selden, Titles of Honour, p. 117.

The preamble of the Act is in the following terms:—

‘For in as much as in all great councils, or congregations of men, having sundry degrees and offices in the commonwealth, it is very requisite and convenient that an order should be had and taken for the sitting of such persons, that they knowing their places may use the same without displeasure, or let of the council, therefore the King’s Most Royal Majesty, tho’ it appertaineth unto his prerogative Royal, to give such honour, reputation, and placing to his counsellors, and other his subjects as shall be seeming to his most excellent wisdom, is, nevertheless, pleased and contented for an order to be had and taken in this his Most High Court of Parliament, that it shall be enacted by the authority of the same, in manner and form as hereafter followeth:—’

[398] Then come nine sections settling the places in which the Royal Family, great officers of state, and others, are to sit in the Parliament Chamber, and the tenth section enacts that, ‘as well in all Parliaments as in the Star Chamber, and in all other assemblies and conferences of council, the Chancellor, Lord President, Privy Seal (that is the Chancellor, President, and Privy Seal, above all dukes, not being the king’s sons, &c., and the Great Chamberlain, Marshal, Lord Steward, Chamberlain, and Chief Secretary, being a Baron above all others of the same degree), shall sit and be placed in such order and fashion as is above rehearsed, and not in other place by authority of this present Act.’

There exists what may be deemed very fair evidence to show that in those days the Royal prerogative as to precedence was never supposed to be abridged by this Act, but on the contrary that it still continued to flourish in undiminished force. Only two months afterwards Henry was divorced from Anne of Cleves, when, as is well known, he bribed her into compliance with his wishes by a liberal grant of money and of honours. By his letters patent he declared her his adopted sister, and gave her precedence before all the ladies in England, next his queen and daughters, and therefore before his nieces[7] and their children, who were directly in the succession to the crown.[8] On the 3rd November, 1547, Edward VI. granted to his uncle, the Duke of Somerset, immediately after his victory in Scotland, letters patent of precedence, in the following terms:—

[7] The Duchess of Suffolk, and the Countess of Cumberland, daughter of Charles Brandon and Mary, Queen Dowager of France.

[8] Burnet, Hist. Ref. vol. i. p. 565.

‘As our most dear uncle Edward, Duke of Somerset, by the advice of the Lords, we have named ... to be governor of our person and protector of our realm ... during our minority, hath no such place appropriated and appointed to him in our High Court of Parliament, as is convenient and necessary, as well as in proximity of blood unto us, being our uncle ... as well as for the better maintaining and conducting of our affairs. We have, therefore, as well by the consent of our said uncle, as by the advice of other the Lords and the rest of the Privy Council, willed, ordained, and appointed, that our said uncle shall sit alone, and be placed at all times ... in our said Court of Parliament, upon the bench or stole standing next our seat royal, in our Parliament Chamber.... And further, that he do enjoy all such other privileges, pre-eminences, &c. &c. The statute concerning the placing of the Lords in the Parliament Chamber and other assemblies of council, made in the thirty-first year of our most dear father, of famous memory, King Henry VIII.; notwithstanding.’[9]

[9] Rymer 15.—Collins’ Peerage.

This instrument must, under the circumstances, be taken as the act of Somerset himself; and it is inconceivable that he should have had the audacity to attempt in his own behalf, that for which the plenitude of Henry VIII.’s power had been deemed insufficient, or to have perpetrated in the name of a minor king, a direct and useless violation of a recent statute—more especially when the same object might have been as easily accomplished by the authority of Parliament, where the Protector’s popularity [399] would have ensured a ready compliance with his wishes. This view of the case receives confirmation from the total absence of any allusion to this grant in the charges which were soon afterwards urged against him—everything that malice could devise was raked together for the purpose of swelling the articles of impeachment; but neither when he was degraded from the Protectorate, nor afterwards when he was deprived of life, was any accusation brought against him, tending to show that these letters patent were considered illegal or unconstitutional. Nearly a century later, Lord Coke lays it down that no Act of Parliament can bind the king from any prerogative which is inseparable from his person, ‘but that’ (Mr. Hallam adds) ‘was before he had learned the bolder tone of his declining years.’[10]

[10] Const. Hist. vol. iii. p. 84.

The order of Baronets was a new creation by James I., but his decision of the controversy which arose touching a point of precedency thereupon, shows the prevailing notions of the royal prerogative.

‘The King’s most excellent Majesty, having taken into his royal audience and censure a certain controversy, touching place and precedence, between the younger sons of viscounts and barons, and the baronets, being a degree by His Majesty recently created, which controversy did arise out of some dark words contained in the letters patent of the said baronets. His Majesty well weighing that the letters patent of the Baronets have no special clause or express words to give them the said precedence, and being a witness unto himself, which is a testimony above all exception, that his princely meaning was only to give and advance the new dignity of His Majesty’s creation, but never therewithal tacitly and obscurely to injure a third party.’[11] ... And then he goes on to give precedency to Knights of the Garter, Privy Councillors, Judges, &c.; over the younger sons of Viscounts and Barons, ‘in all places, and upon all occasions, any constitution, order, degree, office, service, place, employment, custom, use, or other thing to the contrary notwithstanding.’ From Henry VIII. to James I. were the high and palmy days of prerogative, when the authority of the Crown was something even more transcendental than that of Parliament itself, and when it was no doubt held that, while the Crown could dispense with the provisions of an Act of Parliament, an Act of Parliament could never bind the prerogative of the Crown; but when Lord Coke began to adopt his ‘bolder tone’ he laid down very different law, and he says expressly, in speaking of the Act of Henry VIII., ‘But Henry, though standing as much upon his prerogative, as any of his progenitors, finding how vexatious it was to himself, and distasteful to his ancient nobility, to have new raised degrees, raised to precedency of them, and finding that this kind of controversy for precedency was of that nature, that it had many partakers, spent long time, and hindered the arduous, urgent, and weighty affairs of the Parliament, was content to bind and limit his prerogative by Act of Parliament, concerning the precedency of his great officers, and his nobility.’[12]

[11] Titles of Honour, p. 119.

[12] 4th Inst. 362.

Whatever may have been the constitutional notions of the sixteenth or [400] the seventeenth century, there can be no doubt that the lawyers of the nineteenth would hold, according to Lord Coke’s latter dictum, that the prerogative of the Crown is limited and restrained by the 31st Henry VIII., and it is only worth while to ascertain what it previously was, in so far as such an enquiry can assist in the solution of the present question; for the same lawyers would probably be unanimous in declaring that, except so far as it was expressly limited and restrained by that statute, the prerogative still remains undiminished and in all its pristine vigour—that Queen Victoria possesses all the power which Henry VIII. enjoyed, saving that of which he was specifically divested by this Act.

The Act ‘for placing the Lords’ restrains the Queen from granting any precedence in Parliament or in the Council, over any of the Royal and official personages and others, who have places assigned to them therein. She may make any man a Privy Councillor, but she cannot authorise him to sit in a higher place than that to which he is by law entitled, or above those whose places are marked out by the statute. If Prince Albert, for example, was to be made a Privy Councillor, not being a peer, he would, of absolute right, be entitled to no place but that of a junior Privy Councillor, or to such as a Knight of the Garter might claim; and all the persons specified in the Act would have an absolute right to take precedence of him in Council. And it is worth while to consider in what a curious predicament he might have been placed, if the Bill for his naturalisation had passed with those amendments as to his precedence which are said to have been contemplated by the Opposition Lords—that is, supposing always the rule of precedence established by law to be carried inflexibly into operation.

If the status of Prince Albert had been fixed immediately after all the members of the Royal Family, and immediately before the Archbishop of Canterbury, and if Her Majesty should be hereafter pleased to make both Prince George of Cambridge and Prince Albert members of her Most Honourable Privy Council, in what order of precedence would these princes be obliged to take their respective seats at the board? In order clearly to comprehend this point, it is necessary to explain the ancient usage as to Royal precedence, and the manner in which it has been affected by the 31st Henry VIII. The Royal Family are to be considered in two lights, according to the different senses in which the term Royal Family is used—the larger sense includes all who may possibly inherit the Crown; the confined sense, those within a certain degree of propinquity to the reigning Prince, and to whom the law pays an extraordinary respect; but, after that degree is past, they fall into the rank of ordinary subjects. The younger sons of the king, and other branches of the Royal Family, not in the immediate line of succession, were only so far regarded by the ancient law as to give them a certain degree of precedence over peers and other officers, ecclesiastical and temporal. This was done by the 31st of Henry VIII., which assigns places in the Parliament Chamber and Council to the king’s sons, brothers, uncles, and nephews, &c.—‘therefore, after these degrees are past, peers, or others of the blood royal, are entitled to no place or precedence, except what belongs to them by their personal rank or dignity, which made Sir Edward Walker complain that, by the creation of Prince Rupert to be Duke of [401] Cumberland, and of the Earl of Lennox to be duke of that name, previous to the creation of James to be Duke of York, it might happen that their grandsons would have precedence of the grandsons of the Duke of York.’[13]

[13] Blackstone, vol. i. p. 226.

Prince George of Cambridge, then, being neither son, brother, uncle, or nephew to the Queen, and having no personal dignity, is not entitled to any precedence over the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the great officers of state; the 31st Henry VIII. would place him below them all; but the 3rd Victoria (supposing such an Act to have passed) would have placed Prince Albert below Prince George, but above the Archbishop, who is himself above Prince George, thus giving to the Master of the Ceremonies the solution of a somewhat difficult problem of precedence—namely, how to place A above B, B above C, and C above A. This reductio ad absurdum at least proves that the amended Act would not only not have settled the question of precedence satisfactorily, but would not have settled it at all.

It may seem surprising or paradoxical to assert, and many may with difficulty believe, that Prince George of Cambridge is entitled to no precedence of his own, inseparable from his royal birth, but such, nevertheless, is undoubtedly the fact. By law, he can only take royal rank as the son, brother, uncle, or nephew, of the reigning sovereign, none of which he is, and he derives none whatever from having been nephew of William IV. and George IV., and grandson of George III. The princes of the Blood Royal have, as to precedence, a moveable and not a fixed status, constantly shifting, with their greater or less propinquity to the actual sovereign; and in the event of Prince George’s succession to his father’s dukedom, he would only be entitled to a place in Parliament and in the Council, according to the ancienty of his peerage.

The practice, however, does not wait upon the right, and is regulated by the universal sense and feeling of the respect and deference which is due to the Blood Royal of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury does not take a legal opinion or pore over the 31st of Henry VIII. to discover whether he has a right to jostle for that precedence with the cousin, which he knows he is bound to concede to the uncle, of the Queen; but he yields it as a matter of course, and so uniform and unquestionable is the custom, that in all probability neither the Prince nor the Prelate are conscious that it is in the slightest degree at variance with the right.

The obscurity which involves the question of precedence, and the prevailing doubts as to the extent of the Royal prerogative, proceed, in a great measure, from the intermixture of law and custom, by which the practice is regulated and enforced. The table of precedence, the authority of which is recognised for all social and ceremonial purposes, rests upon statutory enactments, ancient usages, and the king’s letters patent; usage creeping in to disarrange the order, and break the links of the chain forged by the law; for, while the 31st of Henry VIII. places earls after marquises, custom interposes and postpones the former to the eldest sons of dukes (and so of Marquis’s eldest sons and viscounts), though these are only commoners in the eye of the law. Now, as no custom (unless expressly saved) can [402] prevail against the force of a statute, this renders it still more clear, that nothing was intended by the 31st Henry VIII. but ‘the placing the Lords’ in Parliament,[14] and that the question of general precedence (with all the prerogatives of the Crown thereunto appertaining) was left untouched by it.[15] In point of fact, the royal prerogative always has been, and still continually is exercised, in violation of the order of the established table; for when the King, by his Royal warrant, gives to one of his subjects, having neither rank nor dignity, the place and precedence of a duke’s or an earl’s son, the individual thus elevated supersedes all those (below that rank) whose place and precedence is determined either by law or custom.

[14] Lord Herbert, in his Life of Henry VIII, says, in allusion to this statute, ‘it was declared also how the Lords in Parliament should be placed,’ p. 218.

[15] Lord Coke clearly distinguishes between precedence in Parliament and Council and general precedence:—Thus far for avoiding contention about precedency in Parliament, Star Chamber, and all other assemblies, Council, &c. Now, they that desire to know the places and precedency of the nobility and subjects of the realm, as well men as women, and of their children (which we have added the rather, for that the contention about precedency between persons of that sex is even fiery, furious, and sometimes fatal), we will refer you to a record of great authority in the reign of Henry VII., entitled.’—4th Inst. 363.

The result, then, appears to be that, in the olden time, the king had unlimited power in matters of honour and precedence, and could confer whatever dignity or pre-eminence he thought fit, upon any of his subjects. That this power has been expressly restrained, quoad the Parliament Chamber and the Council, but exists unfettered in all other respects.

In Parliament (should Prince Albert be created a peer), he would only be entitled to a seat at the bottom of the degree to which he might belong, and he would be expressly prohibited from sitting nearer to the throne. In the Privy Council likewise (if made a Privy Councillor) he would be entitled to no especial place, but everywhere else, at ceremonials of every description, at royal marriages, christenings or funerals, at banquets, processions, and courtly receptions, at installations and investitures, at all religious, civil, or military celebrations, upon all occasions, formal or social, public or private, the Queen may grant to her husband an indisputable precedence and pre-eminence over every other subject in the realm. It will probably be less difficult to obtain a concurrence of opinion as to the extent of the Queen’s constitutional right in granting precedence, than as to the manner in which it would be morally fit, and just to others, that this right should be exercised.

The bill, as originally introduced in the House of Lords, was undoubtedly liable to serious objections; but it is difficult to discover any valid reason why the Prince, Consort to the Queen, should not be invested for his own life with the highest personal dignity which it is in the power of the Crown to confer.

It has been said, that to place Prince Albert before the princes of the blood royal would be an invasion of the birth right of these illustrious persons. This seems to be the result of a confused notion, that a privilege of precedence is identical with a beneficial interest—it may be a man’s birth right to succeed in some contingency to the throne, or to a title or to [403] an estate, and it would be injurious, and therefore unjust, to thrust any interloper between him and his chance, however remote it might be, of such succession. But the same Act which limits the prerogative of the Crown, confers on the Royal Dukes and Great Officers of State the only right of precedence which they possess, and while they can claim no more than was given to them, the Crown is as surely entitled to all that was left to it by that Act. No individual can insist upon an indefeasible right never to be preceded, under any circumstances, by any other individual not having a status defined by this Act, and as the uncles of the Queen, and the hereditary Earl Marshal of England, occupy their respective steps in the ladder of precedence, by the self-same title, there would be no greater violation of birthright in placing an individual without a status before the Duke of Sussex, than there would in placing him before the Duke of Norfolk; if there be any injustice at all, the difference would not be in the principle, but in its local or personal application.

The question, then, is one of expediency, and of propriety, to be determined with reference to its own special circumstances, and according to the analogies which can be brought to bear upon it; there is not only no case exactly in point to refer to, but there is none sufficiently analogous to be taken as a precedent. When Queen Anne came to the throne, Prince George of Denmark was the only prince in England (all his children being dead), and no new Act was necessary to give him precedence, if the Queen had desired it, inasmuch as there was nobody for him to precede. The condition of a Queen Consort is certainly very different from that of a Prince Consort; but upon the broad principle of moral fitness, there seems no reason why the husband of the Queen regnant should not be invested, by virtue of his consortium, with the highest dignity, over other men, just as the wife of the king is participant by virtue of her marriage of divers prerogatives over other women. For the prerogatives with which the law invests her are allotted to her not upon her own account, but upon that of the king; she is considered as a feme sole, and has certain capacities and rights, ‘in order that the king whose continual care and study is for the public, should not be troubled and disquieted on account of his wife’s domestic affairs.’ And the law, which out of respect to the king makes it high treason to compass or imagine the death of his wife, when she becomes a widow ceases to surround her with this protection. It is the king alone, his dignity and his comfort, which the law regards, and the privileges and pre-eminences of his family are conferred or established in such modes and proportions as may be most conducive thereto.

The principle on which precedence is established is that of propinquity to the sovereign, and no propinquity can be so close as that of the husband to the wife, nor does it seem unreasonable that all other subjects should be required to yield the outward forms of honour and respect to the man who is elevated to a station so far above them, whom she is herself bound to ‘love, honour, serve, and obey,’ and who is superior to her in their natural, while still subordinate in their civil and political relations. Many people who are not unwilling to concede a high degree of precedence to the Prince, are very sensitive about the dignity of the heir apparent, and while they are [404] content that he should precede his other children, would on no account allow him to be superior in rank to a Prince of Wales. The difficulty in these cases is to establish a principle; but that difficulty is rendered much greater if, when the principle is once admitted, it is not taken with all its legitimate and necessary consequences. If the Prince is entitled to claim precedency over any of the blood-royal of England, above all others, he may claim it upon every moral ground over his own children, nor is there any civil or political consideration in reference to the heir apparent, requiring that an exception should be made in his behalf. There seem to exist confused notions of something very extraordinary and transcendant in the status of a Prince of Wales, but the difference between him and his younger brother is not very great; and the only positive privilege with which the law certainly and exclusively invests the heir apparent, is that of making it high treason to attempt his life.[16]

[16] It is also treason to kill certain judicial officers when in actual execution of their offices.—Hale, P. C. 13.

The heir apparent is Prince of Wales, and Duke of Cornwall, but he is not necessarily either the one or the other, and except on a certain condition he cannot be the latter.[17] For as the king creates his elder son, or heir apparent, Prince of Wales, he has the power of withholding such creation, and though the eldest son of the king is Duke of Cornwall by inheritance, the dukedom is limited to the first begotten son of the king.[18]

[17] Two months elapsed between the death of Frederick Prince of Wales, and the creation of his son, George III., Prince of Wales.

[18] If, for example, George IV. had died in his youth, his next brother might have been heir apparent, with no other title than that of Bishop of Osnaburgh. Henry VIII. after the death of Prince Arthur, and Charles I. after that of Prince Henry, were Dukes of Cornwall, but by special new creation.—H., P.C. 13.

The Prince of Wales has no right or privilege beyond those of any other subject; he owes the same faith and allegiance to the sovereign; and since 1789 none have ever ventured to assert that he could claim the regency rather than any other subject. His political condition, therefore, is little if at all different from that of the rest of the Royal Family. His personal propinquity to the sovereign must be less than that of his father, and the question is, whether there is anything so peculiar in his status as to supersede those natural relations of father and son, which, according to all human custom, as well as divine injunction, involve the duty of honour from the latter to the former.

The son’s enfranchisement from parental rule when he arrives at years of discretion does not exempt him from the honour he is bound by the law of God and nature to pay to his parents.[19] The son is under a perpetual obligation to honour his father by all outward expressions, and from this obligation no state can absolve him. ‘The honour due to parents’ (says Locke) ‘a monarch on his throne owes his mother, and yet this lessens not his authority, nor subjects him to her government.’[20] The monarchical theory ascribes to the King of England two bodies or capacities, a natural body, and a politic or mystical body, and ‘from this mystical union of the [405] ideal with the real king, the enquirer after constitutional information is led through childish reasoning and unintelligible jargon, to practical consequences founded on expediency.’[21] These practical consequences are the complete subordination of the natural to the politic capacity of the sovereign, and that moral revolution which supersedes the duty of the son to the father by the superior duty of the subject to the sovereign. Nothing less transcendental seems sufficient to cancel the force of this natural obligation, and while father and son are both in the condition of subjects, the filial and parental relations need not be outwardly reversed.

[19] Locke, vol. iv. p. 347.

[20] Ibid. vol. iv. p. 376.

[21] Allen on the Royal Prerogative, p. 29.

If the Queen, therefore, should be advised to grant to her Royal Consort letters patent of precedence immediately next to her own person, and at the same time make him a Privy Councillor, there would be no practical difficulty with regard to his place at the Council Board, notwithstanding the legal exception; there custom has in a great measure superseded law. The occasions are very rare when any of the Royal Dukes are present; and upon all others, the Prince would sit upon the right hand of Her Majesty, and precedence would be conceded to him as a matter of course. The Council Board is no longer what it was in the days of Henry VIII., at which time the King sat there regularly in person. The greater part of the Privy Councillors were in constant attendance upon him.[22] They resided in the Court, and accompanied him wherever he went; much (though far from all) of the most important business of the State was transacted there, and the order of sitting, when the members had to deliver their opinions seriatim, beginning with the lowest, was not unimportant. Councils are now merely formal assemblies, for the expedition of certain orders, which must emanate from the sovereign in person.

[22] Sir H. Nicholas’ Preface to Council Register, vol. i. p. 13.

When any of the Royal Dukes are present, they sit next the Queen on her right hand, the Lord President always next her on her left. And, although the Lord President and the Chancellor (when present) sit on either side of the Queen, all the other officers are indiscriminately placed. It would not probably be deemed advisable to go back to the end of the seventeenth century for a precedent, or it would be found that Prince George of Denmark sat in council, without taking any oaths; not, therefore, as a Privy Councillor, but pro honoris causâ. He always, however, occupied the place of honour, and his attendance was very regular, though there is no record of his having ever taken the oaths; and, at the accession of King William, when all the other Privy Councillors were sworn, it is expressly stated that Prince George was not.[23]

[23] He was first brought into Council by James II. in person, and placed on his right hand, but not sworn.

It is much to be regretted that such heat and irritation have been manifested in the discussion of this question, and certainly between the proceedings in both Houses of Parliament. Prince Albert may well have thought his reception neither cordial nor flattering; but the truth is, that any mortification which either the Prince or the Queen may have felt (and in her it is only natural, whether just or not) is at least as attributable to [406] the really objectionable nature of the propositions which were made, as to the opposition which they encountered.

Nothing herein is more to be deplored than that any mistaken zeal should misrepresent the conduct, or any hasty impression misconstrue the motives, of the Duke of Wellington. His whole life has been a continual manifestation of loyalty and of superiority to petty purposes, and unworthy inducements; but his notions of loyalty are of a nature which mere courtiers are unable to comprehend, because he always considers the honour and the interests of the Crown, in preference to the personal inclination of the sovereign.

Of all men who ever lived he has sought the least the popularity he has so largely acquired—the tide of which, sometimes diverted by transient causes, has always returned with accumulated force. With him it is no ’echo of folly, and shadow of renown,’ but a deep, affecting, almost sublime national feeling, which exults in him as the living representative of national glory. If there be an exception in any place to this universal sentiment, let us hope that the impression will not endure, that the cloud of momentary error will be dispersed, and that justice, ample and not tardy, will be rendered to

‘The noblest man
That ever lived in the tide of time.’