The Greville Memoirs (Second Part) - A Journal of the Reign of Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1852 - (Volume 1 of 3)
by Charles C. F. Greville
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

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 work, monetary pounds were expressed as an italicized "l." after the number. For the text version, I am using the more conventional L100 form for clarity.

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, usually positioned where it seemed most logical but occasionally simply between two paragraphs of the even-odd pair.

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. To make the index easier to use in this work, the page number has been added to each Diary date.

* * * * *

The Greville Memoirs (second part)


from 1837 to 1852

By the Late CHARLES C. F. GREVILLE, Esq. Clerk of the Council






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 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 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]. 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 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 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, a 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 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 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 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.

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'etat 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 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. HENRY REEVE.

.'. 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, note 1, line 2, for Gotto read Goito.



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. Page 1


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 Levee—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. Page 51


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 Page 91


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 Page 130


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 Page 170


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 debut in the House of Lords—Lord Brougham attacks Lord Normanby—His fantastic Conduct—Pauper School at Norwood Page 207


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 Page 231


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 Page 277


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 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 Page 320


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 Page 360


The Royal Precedency Question Page 395


from 1837 to 1852.


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 {p.001}

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 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 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 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 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 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 {p.006}

All the accounts continue to report well of 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.]

[Page Head: LORD DURHAM.]

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 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 {p.008}

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 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.' 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 {p.010}


Tired of doing nothing in London, 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 chateau 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 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 {p.012}


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 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 {p.013}

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 L50,000. 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 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 L3,000 a year; but he has 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 {p.015}

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 {p.015}


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 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'etait 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 {p.016}


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 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 L5,000 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 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 {p.018}

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 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 {p.020}

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 L3,000 a year. She replied that the two first rested with her Ministers, and she could not engage for them, but that the 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 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 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 {p.023}


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 L9,000 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 {p.023}


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 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 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 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 {p.026}

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 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 irae 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 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 curiae 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 republica,' and, in consequence, the 'firma amicitia.' God bless you, and believe me always Yours most sincerely and faithfully, C.C.G.]

* * * * *

November 26th, 1837 {p.028}

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 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 {p.029}


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 L75,000 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 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.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11     Next Part
Home - Random Browse