Memoirs of the Court of George IV. 1820-1830 (Vol 1) - From the Original Family Documents
by Duke of Buckingham and Chandos
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The right of Translation is reserved.



CHAPTER I. [1820.]

Alarming Illness of the Heir-Apparent at the Death of George the Third. Disturbed State of Public Opinion. Projected Assassination of Ministers. Cato-street Conspiracy. Death of the Princess Elizabeth. Rumoured Ministerial Changes and threatened Return of Queen Caroline. Elements of Discord. Libels and Libellers. Order of the Garter conferred on the Marquis of Buckingham pp. 3-25

CHAPTER II. [1820.]

Arrival of Queen Caroline at St. Omer. Her Demands. Abortive Negotiations. Interposition of Mr. Wilberforce to avert the threatened Scandal. Queen Caroline in London. She refuses the Concessions proposed by the Government and the Proposals of the House of Commons. Unpopularity of Mr. Wilberforce. Policy of the Queen's Advisers. Public Excitement. Mob round the Queen's Residence. Dissatisfaction of the King pp. 27-61

CHAPTER III. [1820.]

Evidence against Queen Caroline. Divided Opinions respecting her in the House of Lords. Declaration of Lord Grenville. The Bill of Pains and Penalties abandoned. The King dissatisfied with his Ministers. Conversation of Lord Grenville with the King. Ministerial Management of the Queen's Case. Her Conduct after the Conclusion of Proceedings against her. Reaction in the Public Mind. The Queen loses ground in Popular Estimation. Returning Popularity of the King pp. 63-103

CHAPTER IV. [1821.]

Letter from the King to Lord Eldon on Libellous Publications. Claims of the Queen. Lord Castlereagh's Attack on Lord Erskine. Position of the Government. Catholic Emancipation. Family Quarrels. Suggested Junction of the Grenvilles with the Government. Marquis of Buckingham proposed by the Duke of Wellington as Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. Preparations for the Coronation. Negotiations. Influence of "the Lady". Queen Caroline at the Coronation pp. 105-186

CHAPTER V. [1821.]

Effect of Queen Caroline's Illness and Death on the King. His Narrow Escape in the Royal Yacht. His Visit to Ireland. Entry into Dublin. Position of the King's Ministers. George IV. on the Field of Waterloo. The King's visit to his Hanoverian Dominions. Coalitions and Double Negotiation. Political Gossip. A New Club. Dismissal of Sir Robert Wilson from the Army. Public Subscription for him pp. 187-219

CHAPTER VI. [1821.]

The Government. Rumoured Changes. Proposals. Mr. Canning. Negotiations commenced by the Duke of Wellington for the Junction of the Grenvilles with the Ministry. Report of Conversation with Lord Liverpool on the Subject. Proposal of the Government to raise Lord Buckingham to a Duke. Marquis Wellesley as Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. His Opinions on the Catholic Question. Mr. W. C. Plunket on Irish Affairs. Lord Grenville on the proposed Arrangements. Negotiations respecting the Catholic Question. The Marquis of Hastings pp. 221-266

CHAPTER VII. [1822.]

Changes in the Government. Lord Eldon's Dissatisfaction. Mr. Charles Williams Wynn appointed President of the Board of Control. Other Ministerial Arrangements. The King's Speech. Troubles in Ireland. Threatened Attack in Parliament on Mr. Henry Williams Wynn. Lord Grenville on the Finances of the Country. Dean Buckland. Discontent of the Country Gentlemen. Threatened Dissolution of the Government. Dismissal of Sir Benjamin Bloomfield pp. 267-300


Sir William Knighton. Mr. Canning brings forward the Catholic Question. Opinions respecting Catholic Relief. State of the King's Health. Political Meeting to consider a new Catholic Measure. Marquis Wellesley at the Phoenix Park. Complaints of his Inattention to his Duties as Lord-Lieutenant. Speech of Dr. Phillimore on the Catholic Question. Motion on the Appointment of Mr. Henry W. Wynn. Conduct of Mr. Robert Peel. Libels. Anti-Catholicism in Wales. Ball for the Relief of the Irish. Projected Visit of the King to Scotland pp. 301-344

CHAPTER IX. [1822.]

Sir William Knighton appointed Keeper of the King's Privy Purse. His Sense of Duty sometimes opposed to the King's Instructions. His important Services in lessening the Royal Expenditure. Arrests in Ireland. Canning and Peel. Lamentable Death of the Marquis of Londonderry. Estimate of this Distinguished Statesman. Letter from the King on the Subject. The Royal Visit to Scotland. Sir Walter Scott's Relic. Prospects of the Government. Their Negotiations with Mr. Canning. His Speech at Liverpool. He succeeds the Marquis of Londonderry as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs pp. 345-376

CHAPTER X. [1822.]

Mr. Canning again in the Cabinet. Rumoured Ministerial Arrangements. Mr. Canning offers Mr. Williams Wynn the Speakership of the House of Commons. A Political Ruse. The King at Windsor. The Speaker. Foreign Affairs. Proceedings of the Congress of Verona respecting Spain. Mr. Henry Williams Wynn's proposed Diplomatic Change. Mr. Canning's Under-Secretary of State. Condition of Ireland. M. Villele pp. 377-402

CHAPTER XI. [1823.]

Continental Affairs. Diplomatic Posts. Proposed Ministerial Changes. Mission of Lord Fitzroy Somerset to Spain. State of Ireland. Objects of France. Appointment of Reginald Heber. Increasing Popularity of Mr. Canning. The King's Speech. Trials in Ireland. Mr. Plunket. The Beefsteak Club in Dublin. Objectionable Toast. The Duke of Clarence. Imprudence of Lord Wellesley. The Lord-Lieutenant's Explanation pp. 403-436

CHAPTER XII. [1823.]

New Appointments. Lord Wellesley's Representations respecting the State of Ireland. The Government support the Lord-Lieutenant. Mr. Plunket's Explanations. Illness of the King. The Duke of Wellington's Suggestion. An Irish Question. Triumph of Mr. Plunket. Parliamentary Debates. Quarrel between Mr. Charles W. Wynn and Mr. Peel. The Duke of Wellington's Opinion of Mr. Canning. His Grace a Peace-maker. Boastful Speech attributed to Mr. Pitt pp. 437-461


Important Debates. Expenses of the Coronation. State of the Peninsula. Mr. Plunket's Disappointment. Condition of Ireland. Despatch from the Lord-Lieutenant. The King of Spain and the Cortes. Mr. Canning in the House of Commons. Lord Nugent's Bill for Restoring the Franchise. Festivities at Carlton House. The Marquis of Hastings. The French in Spain. Lord Eldon. Canning. Peel and Robinson. The Press in India. The King at "The Cottage". Irving and the Heavenly Pavilion. Policy of Austria. The King in Council. Schisms in the French Cabinet pp. 463-480






A little before the decease of George III., the heir apparent was in a state of health that made his chance of succession problematical—of long possession of the crown more doubtful still. He was attended by Sir William Knighton, who was in his chamber when intelligence arrived from Windsor of his venerable parent's demise; and we are assured that "The fatal tidings were received by the Prince with a burst of grief that was very affecting."[1] He was quite unable to be present at the funeral, and the Duke of York acted as chief mourner.[2]

[1] Knighton's "Memoirs," p. 88. Edited by his Widow.

[2] Alison's "History of Europe, from the Fall of Napoleon," vol. ii. p. 421.

The skill and solicitude of George IV.'s confidential physician were rewarded, and the new Sovereign recovered sufficiently to apply himself to the business of government with his customary attention; but from that time Sir William so completely fixed himself in the affections of his patron, that the latter was uneasy if he remained away from the Palace, and was sure to send pressing messages for his return. A letter has been preserved,[3] which indicates that services were rendered by him that were not strictly professional. Indeed, he was often employed as an adviser in affairs of peculiar delicacy and importance, and his judgment and tact in their arrangement were invariably acknowledged and appreciated.

[3] Knighton's "Memoirs," p. 86.

This conclusion of the Regency, though for some time anticipated as a mere matter of course, was accompanied by events of so startling a nature as to cause considerable disquietude in the minds of many good citizens and earnest politicians. A feverish excitement existed among the lower classes, that continually threatened to break out in violent manifestations against the Government; but though the Ministers of the Crown were the principal objects of this ill feeling, it was directed with equal animosity against all wealth and influence; and there can be no doubt that, had the designs of their more enterprizing leaders been realized, a complete revolution little less violent than that which had swept over France more than thirty years before, would have overturned law, property, and order through the length and breadth of the land.

"The expectation and the fear of change" kept the public mind in a state of violent agitation; and a great political party was on the alert to take advantage of any popular movement this effervescence might create. It was well known to various influential partizans that events of unusual gravity were "looming in the distance,"[4] by which they hoped to be able to raise themselves to power. Rumours of a sinister import were in constant circulation; the more alarmed looked hourly for some mischievous demonstration, and the more reckless displayed increasing confidence and audacity. That reports should be circulated of an immediate change of Government, must have been only natural under such circumstances; the wide-spread discontent of the masses of the population, swelling and surging like a storm-driven sea, had nothing else sufficiently prominent to direct itself against, but the authorities who appeared to them responsible for the evils under which they laboured; and those persons who feared, or pretended to fear, the threatened storm, caught at the idea of removing the unpopular Ministers as affording the only chance of re-establishing the public tranquillity. Such, however, had long before been the tactics of opposition, and such, we are afraid, they are likely to remain.

[4] "The Government," writes a Cabinet Minister to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, "is in a very strange and, I must acknowledge, in a precarious state."—Lord Sidmouth to Earl Talbot, Pellew's "Life of Lord Sidmouth," vol. iii. p. 310.


Whitehall, Feb. 15, 1820.


As your Lordship desired me to write if there was any news of any description in circulation, I take up my pen merely to inform you that there is a report most generally disseminated both throughout the West-end of the town and the City, that the Ministers have resigned. Sir W. Scott [Lord Stowell] yesterday, in expressing his apprehension (to an acquaintance of mine) that such an event was in contemplation, said it would not be a partial change, "but a general sweep." Excuse haste.

Ever your obliged and faithful servant,


P.S.—The Cabinet sat thirteen hours on Sunday.

The sweeping change so confidently anticipated did not take place; and probably when it became evident to some of the most daring of the political speculators of the time, that this was not so imminent as they desired, they resolved to expedite it in a fashion that should leave no necessity for a second experiment of the kind.

On the 23rd of February, the loyal citizens of the metropolis were startled by the intelligence of the timely discovery of a plot to assassinate his Majesty's Ministers while they were at dinner in the house of the Earl of Harrowby, Grosvenor Square, and of a sanguinary conflict of the police and military with the conspirators, when attempting to seize the latter at their place of rendezvous, in an obscure thoroughfare near Paddington, called Cato Street. The history of the Thistlewood Conspiracy,[5] as related in the criminal annals of the period, illustrates in a remarkable manner the diseased state of political feeling then existing in England. It was a small copy of the Irish rebellion,—marked by the same cut-throat policy,—having in view a similar overwhelming revolution, with the same absurdly inadequate means. Fortunately for the United Kingdom, the chief actors in both succeeded only in bringing upon themselves the destruction with which they had menaced a powerful Government.

[5] A good account of it may be found in Pellew's "Life of Lord Sidmouth," vol. iii. p. 312.

Thistlewood proposed to slaughter the entire Cabinet at once, when assembled at Lord Harrowby's, which was assented to; "for," said he, "as there has not been a dinner for so long, there will no doubt be fourteen or sixteen there; and it will be a rare haul to murder them all together."[6]

[6] Thistlewood's Trial, p. 37. Alison's "Europe," vol. ii. p. 425.

The next communication refers to the same incident, as well as to the various rumours then in circulation:—


Richmond, Tuesday, Feb. 29, 1820.


Not having received any commands from you, and having nothing to communicate beyond the rumours of the day, without any authentic information, I have not lately troubled your Lordship with any letter.

It was unnecessary to state that the stories of my being summoned to the King, &c. &c., were all absolutely false. If I had received any such summons, your Lordship would have been fully acquainted with the whole transaction by express from me at the earliest moment.

I believe an attempt was made to confirm the rumours by the circumstance of his Majesty's gracious kindness in answering my inquiries at the moment of his greatest danger, by expresses from Carlton House. My carriage also was in town one day in the highest paroxysm of the supposed squabble; but I happened not to be in it, being confined at home by a cold.

I have not been in town, except to collect some account of the late horrible plot, on the day after the discovery (when I was in the House of Lords about half an hour), for a considerable time, the weather and a cold having concurred to keep me at home.

I know nothing authentic of the quarrel, so much the subject of rumour and noise, nor do I know more of the present designs or future plans. I am at all times at your Lordship's orders, to wait on you whenever you please; the weather is now so much improved, that I can attend you in London any morning that may suit you; but I really have nothing yet to state beyond the contents of my former letters.

Always, my dear Lord,

Yours most sincerely,


In the spring of the year 1821, their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Clarence lost their only child, the infant Princess Elizabeth. Of this long-forgotten branch of the Royal Family, one who was present at her birth says:—"She is christened by the name of Elizabeth Georgiana. I hope the bairn will live. It came a little too early, and is a very small one at present, but the doctors seem to think it will thrive; and to the ears of your humble servant it appears to be noisy enough to show it has great strength."[7] Her loss affected the King, between whom and the Duke the most lively affection existed; and he wrote to his confidential attendant in the following terms:—

[7] Twiss's "Life of Lord Eldon," vol. ii. p. 37.


Brighton, March 4, 1821.


For God's sake come down to me to-morrow morning. The melancholy tidings of the almost sudden death of my poor little niece have just reached me, and have overset me beyond all I can express to you. Poor William's[8] letter, which is all affection, and especially towards you, refers me to you for all the particulars; therefore pray come to me with as little delay as possible. I have not time to add a word more about myself. You will be a great consolation to me.

Ever your most affectionate friend,

G. R.[9]

[8] The Duke of Clarence.

[9] Knighton's "Memoirs," p. 88.

The first report of the intention of Queen Caroline, as the Princess of Wales was now styled, to return to England, appears to have taken both the King and the Government by surprise; but the latter, in the conviction that they had an overwhelming case against her, would not believe that she was serious, and took no steps towards putting the result of the Milan investigations into shape.[10]

[10] "Every one," the Duke of Wellington acknowledged, "had his secret persuasion and his wish, that with such a case against her she would never come here."—R. Plumer Ward's "Diary," vol. ii. p. 65.

That everything did not run smoothly between his Majesty and his Ministers, may be inferred from a memorandum made (April 26, 1820) by one of the most influential of them:—

"Our Royal master seems to have got into temper again, as far as I could judge from his conversation with me this morning. He has been pretty well disposed to part with us all, because we would not make additions to his revenue. This we thought conscientiously we could not do in the present state of the country, and of the distresses of the middle and lower orders of the people,—to which we might add, too, that of the higher orders. My own individual opinion was such that I could not bring myself to oppress the country at present by additional taxation for that purpose, and I strictly and firmly acted upon that opinion, when I had every reason to believe that, adhering to it, I should no longer write the letter C. after the name Eldon. I think now the speech, in which he will disavow wishing for any increase, will make him popular, and if times mend, will give him a better chance of fair increase of income than anything else could give him."[11]

[11] Twiss's "Life of Lord Eldon," vol. ii. p. 3.

The Lord Chancellor, who has not been held in great estimation for disinterestedness or patriotism, is here represented as very nearly making himself a martyr to his sense of public duty; but the cause of Lord Eldon's unusual dissatisfaction with his Sovereign may be gathered from another cotemporary memorandum, dated the following day:—

"The Vice-Chancellor Leach has been trying to root out the Ministry; he has been telling the King that his present Ministers are not standing by him; that he ought to have a divorce. There is a flirtation between Tierney and the King."[12]

[12] "Wilberforce's Life," by his Sons, vol. v. p. 54.

The Opposition lost no time in endeavouring to take advantage of the difficulty presented by the apprehended return of the Queen; and the "flirtation" not proceeding favourably, their hostility became more earnest. Public opinion, indeed, was showing itself in many curious ways. "The town here is employed," writes the Lord Chancellor, "in nothing but speculation whether her Majesty will or will not come. Great bets are laid about it. Some people have taken fifty guineas, undertaking in lieu of them to pay a guinea a-day till she comes, so sure are these that she will come within fifty days; others, again, are taking less than fifty guineas, undertaking to pay a guinea a-day till she comes, so sure are they that she will not come; others assert that they know she will come, and that she will find her way into Westminster Abbey and Westminster Hall on the Coronation, in spite of all opposition. I retain my old opinion that she will not come, unless she is insane."[13]

[13] Twiss's "Life of Eldon," vol. ii. p. 5.

A change of Ministry, Lord Dudley[14] assures us, was talked about more than usual; but, as the Opposition were obliged to confess that they would find great difficulty in establishing a Government, the existing Administration held a tolerably secure tenancy.

[14] "Letters," p. 251. Alison states that attempts were made to form a new Ministry, with Lord Wellesley at the head—"History of Europe," vol. ii. p. 457. This, however, as has been shown (ante p. 9), is incorrect.

An Order in Council was issued for omitting the Queen's name from the Church Service, and other signs appeared, indicating a desire to withhold from her her queenly title. This made a temper, never remarkably tractable, not to be controlled by the dictates of prudence; the old spirit manifested itself in its most spirited form; and she lost no time in letting the world know that she was returning to England to obtain justice for her wrongs. Those who thought they knew her best, considered that vindictive feelings influenced her resolution, and that, with a full knowledge of the inflammable state of public opinion in the British Empire, she had determined on some great work of mischief against the peace of the kingdom and the security of its ruler.

At this period there were many elements of discord in the social community that were acting upon a large and dangerous portion of it, to the prejudice of the Government.[15] Besides the Thistlewood gang, justice was about to dispose of Mr. Orator Hunt and his myrmidons, then awaiting their trial. Sir Charles Wolseley, a baronet, and Joseph Harrison, a preacher, were under prosecution for uttering seditious speeches.[16] Sir Francis Burdett—a more popular tribune—was also at variance with the laws for a scandalous attack on Ministers; in short, every day seemed to bring to light some source of mischief which could not fail to add to the uneasiness of the responsible servants of the Crown. A general election stirred up other noxious ingredients, and during the spring of the year everything seemed to betoken a coming convulsion. At this time the following communication was written:—

[15] Lord Sidmouth's intelligence led him to expect daily a revolutionary movement.—"Life," by Dean Pellew, vol. iii. p. 325.

[16] The minister of religion exceeded the democratic baronet in the violence of his denunciations of the ruling powers, a fair example of which may be found in the following morceau:—"Kings, princes, dukes, lords, commons, parliaments, archbishops, bishops, prelates, rectors, high-constables, constables, sheriffs, deputy-constables and bailiffs, are all corrupt, and the time is near at hand when they will be upset. The people should rise en masse to suppress such a tyrannical Government as the one of this country, and it will not be long, but very soon, that it shall be overturned, and many a bloody battle may be fought, and many a one incarcerated in prison, before it shall be accomplished."


March 29, 1820.

Hunt's conviction is beyond my hope, though it would certainly have been no easy matter for any jury to acquit him, even under the charge such as it is. His motion for a new trial is, I imagine, nothing more than the sort of last resource at which defeated men, whether at elections or trials, always love to catch. It would have been a dreadful thing indeed if it had been established by the result of that trial that the Manchester meeting was, under all its circumstances, a legal assembly.

Alarming as might be considered the aspect of domestic affairs, the Government, so far from betraying apprehension, carried on the business of the country with untiring vigilance and decision. Hunt and five of his associates, after a long trial, were on the 23rd of March, at York, found guilty of unlawfully assembling and inciting to hatred of the Government. On the same day, Sir Francis Burdett was found guilty of uttering a seditious libel. On the 10th of April, Sir Charles Wolseley and Mr. Joseph Harrison were also found guilty of sedition. The most guilty of the Cato Street heroes made their last public appearance at the Old Bailey on the 1st of May; the remainder were expatriated to New South Wales. Thus the supremacy of the law was vindicated; but there still existed in the more populous districts feelings inimical to the authorities, that might be restrained by coercive demonstrations, but which only waited a favourable season for bursting through all control: and as, on the 20th of April, Mr. Denman and Mr. Brougham had been acknowledged by the Lord Chancellor, from his seat in the Court of Chancery, the Queen's Solicitor and Attorney-General, the discontented took heart, and saw in this admission of the Queen's position, a prognostication of the struggle that was to create for them the opportunity for which they were waiting.

The Court of the Monarch did not appear more apprehensive than his Ministers. A day was fixed for the Coronation; and among those who would have to assist in the ceremonial, no one ventured to hint on the possibility of the Queen having any position in it. On the 3rd of May, the King received addresses at Carlton House; and on the 10th, his Majesty held his first Levee since his accession to the throne, at which nearly 1800 persons of distinction were present, who testified their attachment to his person in a manner that must have left him little to desire. It was known that his consort intended to agitate the empire from end to end, and her arrival was looked for in a few weeks; but the families of the great political party that formed and supported the Government, betrayed no uneasiness—indeed, the most influential regarded, or affected to regard, the coming struggle with a quiet disdain, that evinced their confidence in the loyalty and good sense of the nation. "His Majesty's Opposition," however, talked and looked very differently;—the Democratic party were vehement in their denunciations of the Queen's wrongs, and the leading Whigs began to come forward prominently as champions of her rights. This is about the date of the following communications:—


Cleveland Square, May 4, 1820.


I have but little news to tell you. The general arrangement of the Civil List, by replacing it as it stood in 1816, is so much better a bargain for the public than I had expected, that I for one am well contented with it; and if report be true, it was obtained by nothing but the most determined refusal of the Ministers to do more. Still, however, I understand that the Admiralty Droits are unpopular enough to threaten the Government with a good deal of embarrassment; for undoubtedly, if they have bargained with the King for the statement of 1816, when he had the Admiralty Droits, they cannot in equity deprive him of that part of his bargain. Brougham seems by his speech to have conceived the notion of giving the King compensation for them; but it seems to me to be but a bad bargain for the public, to make them, under the present pressure, purchase out a remote contingent future revenue, which can arise only out of a war that no Power in Europe is rich enough to make, any more than ourselves.

Nobody knows what Brougham's motion will be to-morrow, or what course the Opposition will take on Monday. I hope none of our friends will disturb an arrangement which I believe the Government had some merit and great difficulty in reducing to its present form.

The Coronation, which Lord G. Seymour told me ten days ago was suspended, is now again in expectation, according to general belief; it has revived in common report, because I fancy the Earl Marshal has just been ordered to have an estimate made of the necessary expenses attending it in his department; but it does not follow from that estimate that the ceremony will take place, I think it more probable that it will be put off, because the King will not like it unless it be expensive, and Van knows not how to pay for it if it is. Clive told me yesterday, that three naval peers are about to be made—Sir W. Young, Warren, and Saumarez. This looks as if an Accession List was preparing; but I have heard of no others. It seems now understood that the whole Militia will be called out. Manchester, as Lady Grosvenor tells me, is quieter; as Harriet writes, is as bad as ever. Scotland is still only quiet from the military force there, but the temper is said to be as bad as ever.


Stanhope Street, May 8, 1820.


We had a heavy debate last night,—Tierney very able, and Huskisson good,—but an evident indisposition of the House to the subject; and the division on the part of Government very bad—only 99 majority. They cannot get attendance, and the report of dissension on the part of the King and his Ministers is no doubt the cause of this; notwithstanding, however, I am quite sure there can be no change, and a very short time must commit the Opposition with the King on the subject of the Queen. Tierney last night touched upon it, and complained that she was not recognised by the Bill or Civil List, and yet acknowledged by the Lord Chancellor of England. You will see hardly any addition of names to the Opposition, or any increased numbers, but the feature is the want of attendance of the Government friends. Everybody believes the report of Denison having stated to his nephew his determination to disinherit him if he accepts the new situation. We must see the result of this in a very short time, should it be the case.—The ladies are not to walk at the Coronation, and it is to be on the cheapest scale. No dinner. The estimate is called 150,000l. All your members were present yesterday, and if we had voted against the Government, only see how we would have diminished their numbers.—Mr. Chard is in a peck of troubles. He has not got the address, without which it is useless to go to the Levee.—I was glad of Brougham's mention of Lady Grenville's pension (it certainly was not an attack), because it produced an authorized declaration of its surrender, which was received with great applause.

You have no conception with what attention Baring was heard in a full house last night, when for an hour or so he described the commercial state of England in the most lamentable terms. It had great effect—The King never shows himself. He has never been out of Carlton House.—Lady C——[17] goes to him of an evening, and he has had his usual dinners of Sir Carnaby Haggerston, Forester, and two or three of this description. His language is only about the Coronation and Lady C——: very little of the state of the country.

I will keep this open, in case anything occurs.

Ever, &c.,

W. H. F.

P.S.—I have just seen Chard, who is in despair about the address; but he has determined, by my advice, to defer his presentation to Wednesday se'nnight, in case we hear nothing of the address to-morrow morning.

[17] Lady Conyngham.


Cleveland Square, May 9, 1820.


The Opposition, you see, continues to muster in their original force of 160 upon their great questions, and though they do not increase, it seems to me that there is either an indifference or a disinclination in many to give any active support to Government; for while the Ministers produce only their ordinary numbers, their antagonists always are able to command their full force,—and if that disproportion continues, it will not do, particularly under the alarmed, and restless, and fearful circumstances of the country. You see, by the loud cheering of Baring, how strongly the impression prevails in the House that the present evils demand great and vigorous remedies; and though, perhaps, I may be less sanguine in the application of these theories, I see plainly that the House and country are so alarmed as to call for great talents and great vigour in their Ministers—much greater than they are likely to find—for the only new feature of yesterday's debate on the part of the Administration was to show that, upon a commercial question, the head of the Board of Trade is in opinion with Baring, while that of his colleagues is against him. This is a wretched beginning on a topic of such overruling importance.—The Coronation stands for the 1st August I hear of no more new peers yet. I think the less you hear of the man the better: you should only have to do with the master. Lord Arundel told me yesterday that they do not go yet, if at all. Sir Francis[18] at Lillies is really the ne plus ultra!!!

[18] Sir Francis Burdett.


Cleveland Square, May 11, 1820.


I met my brother this morning, to take our new oaths at the Council Office, and showed him your letter. I was glad to see in it that you are gradually getting strength, and was surprised to see that the two old uncles had both written to you at the same time, on the same subject, without any previous communication had between us.

Lord Harrowby told my brother that it was the intention in every respect to follow the same ceremonial at this Coronation that took place at the last, and this should be good authority; but, on the other hand, so general a rumour and expectation prevails of the banquet being curtailed, that one scarce knows what to believe. But my own, opinion is, that Lord H. is correct, and that it will be neither more nor less than the last. Public conversation supposes four Dukes—viz., my neighbour, yourself, Lord Hastings, and Lord Winchester. The only Commoner, I hear, is Sir —— Liddell, who, I am well assured, says that it is promised to him. The other names, I presume, grow out of public talk only; at least, my neighbours told me they had heard nothing of it two or three days ago.

To give the reader an idea of the state of our public streets in the metropolis at this period from turbulent mobs, we quote the following anecdote:—"A very large family party happened to be assembled in the house, and the garrison being thus strong, it sallied forth, headed by Lord Exmouth, and attacked the assailants, who, disconcerted possibly by this unusual system of tactics, instantly dispersed. One prisoner was taken—a juvenile printer—who, by his insolence, which was consummate, obtained for himself the glory of a night's imprisonment instead of a lecture." The third attack occurred on a Wednesday ensuing, while Lord Sidmouth was attending the Cabinet dinner. It was feeble, and of brief duration; and as no further annoyance was anticipated by the police officers, the narrator, who had been left in charge, retired to his lodgings in the same street. Shortly afterwards he heard the mob returning, and hastened back to his Lordship's door, against which the watchman had placed himself. Before, however, they could gain admittance, the Philistines were upon them, filling the whole doorway, and hemming them up in the entrance. At this moment a carriage dashed rapidly down the street, drew up at the door, and Lord Sidmouth exclaimed from within it, "Let me out—I must get out!" But another and a commanding voice replied, "You shall not alight—drive on!" and instantly the carriage bounded forward and disappeared, but not before the glass of the window nearest the speaker had been shivered to atoms by a stick or stone. In a moment afterwards, at a signal given, the mob dispersed, leaving the watchman and his companion the only occupants of the street. In a few minutes the same carriage returned, escorted by a small party of the Life Guards. It was that of the Duke of Wellington, and contained his Grace, Lord Eldon, and Lord Sidmouth.[19]

[19] Pellew's "Life of Lord Sidmouth," vol. iii. p. 328.

The next communication, from a member of the Royal Family, refers to a much-valued distinction which was conferred on his Royal Highness's correspondent. It shows also the kind feelings which this amiable Prince entertained for him:—


Gloucester House, Sunday Evening, May 28.


I hasten to return your Lordship my best thanks for your friendly attention in immediately notifying to me an event that, I trust, you are well assured must afford me the truest gratification. To the Garter you are so justly entitled that I have real satisfaction in seeing you receive that Order; but it is particularly gratifying to me to know that it comes direct to you from the King, and that this distinction is conferred upon you unsolicited, the spontaneous act of his Majesty. Of my sentiments towards yourself I hope you are so well convinced that I need not add that I shall attend the Chapter to-morrow with the sincerest pleasure.

In offering to you my warmest congratulations, I am happy to renew to you an assurance of the very great regard and high esteem with which

I am always, my dear Lord,

Very sincerely yours,


The following refers to the same subject, and is equally creditable to the writer:—


Richmond, Monday, May 29, 1820.


I went to Carlton House to-day to attend a Chapter of the Garter, at which I understood that I should have had the satisfaction of seeing the King invest your Lordship with his own Garter, vacated by his accession to the Crown.

Upon my arrival, I found that the Chapter had been postponed; and as the King goes to Windsor this evening for the Ascot races, I suppose some days will elapse before the Chapter can take place. I was informed, however, from good authority, that the King will offer the Garter to your Lordship.

Sincerely hoping that you will not decline the offer, I shall be anxious to attend on the day of your investiture; and I should be much obliged to you if you would apprise me of it as soon as you know it. I shall, of course, receive the usual summons; but I should grieve to be out of the way when it might reach this place.

Always, my dear Lord,

Yours most sincerely,






On the 1st of June, Caroline of Brunswick arrived at St. Omer, intending to embark at Calais without delay for England. At once she showed her disposition to carry matters with a high hand. She wrote an imperious letter to the Earl of Liverpool, to prepare a palace in London for her reception; another to Lord Melville, to send a yacht to carry her across the Channel to Dover; and a third to the Duke of York, repeating both demands, and complaining of the treatment she had received. Two days later, Mr. Brougham, her chief legal adviser, arrived, and at the same time Lord Hutchinson, with a proposition from the King, offering her 50,000l. a year for life if she would remain on the Continent, and surrender the title of Queen of England. She was in no mood to listen to reason, and indignantly rejected the offer.

The rumour of the Queen's approach created extraordinary excitement among all classes in every part of the kingdom. The Lord Chancellor prophetically says, "If she can venture, she is the most courageous lady I ever heard of. The mischief, if she does come, will be infinite. At first, she will have extensive popularity with the multitude; in a few short months or weeks, she will be ruined in the opinion of all the world."[20] "One can't help admiring her spirit," observes the moral Wilberforce, "though I fear she has been very profligate."[21] From such a man there might have been expected a severer judgment on her immorality, and a more subdued appreciation of her daring; but this evidence of "spirit" was an appeal to the English people which many a grave father of a family found it impossible to resist. Mr. Wilberforce, however, much to his credit, was earnestly desirous of lessening the threatened scandal, and diminishing the public commotion it was likely to create. He writes in his Diary,—"When, therefore, Lord Castlereagh had made a motion to refer the papers to the consideration of a Secret Committee, I endeavoured to interpose a pause, during which the two parties might have an opportunity of contemplating coolly the prospect before them. Accordingly I sounded the House; my proposition was immediately adopted, and a pause was made, with a declaration that its purpose was to give opportunity for a private settlement."[22]

[20] Twiss's "Life of Lord Eldon," vol. ii. p. 3.

[21] "Wilberforce's Life," by his Sons, vol. v. p. 55.

[22] Ibid.

As no Royal yacht was likely to be at her disposal, Queen Caroline lost no time in embarking, crossed the sea safely, pursued her route to the metropolis through Canterbury, and, passing through vociferous crowds, on the 7th, in default of the palace she had ordered, took up her residence with a City alderman, who had placed himself among the foremost of her champions. From this time the agitation in the public mind hourly increased, till it began to assume a most threatening aspect. Nothing was left undone by the Queen to ingratiate herself with the people; and, as a natural result, she never appeared publicly without creating intense excitement. When in the streets, her horses were taken from her carriage, and she was drawn in triumph, by scores of shouting adherents, through a clamorous mob. Before the alderman's house in South Audley Street stood hour after hour a shouting myriad, excited to a pitch of frenzy to which no description can do justice, by the appearance on the balcony of a stout lady, in a large hat surmounted by a plume of feathers.

On the day of her arrival in town, the King sent a message to the Houses of Lords and Commons, to the effect that the step taken by the Queen had forced him to bring before the consideration of Parliament, certain papers detailing her conduct since her departure from England. The Queen, on the same day, sent a message by Mr. Brougham, in her usual high tone, expressing a desire for an open investigation. The friends of both parties were striving to spare the country the threatened exposure; and on the 9th, the Queen so far complied with the suggestions of her most sensible advisers as to write a moderate letter to Lord Liverpool, expressing her inclination to consider any proposition the Government were disposed to make in behalf of their Sovereign. Communications were exchanged; the Ministers repeated their liberal offer, and the Queen repeated her indignant refusal. How this sad business was felt at the period may be gathered from the letters that follow. But the first expresses a belief, then generally gaining ground, of a change in the Government in favour of the Grenville party. It would appear as if a proposal of the kind had been submitted to the head of the family, but the sensible advice here given must at once have put an end to such a negotiation:—


Dropmore, 12 at night, June 11.

We have both talked this thing over as fully as our materials enabled us to do, and it is our decided opinion that the King has, and can have in the present moment, only the alternative of putting himself fairly and fully into the hands of one or other of the two great parties; and that it would be deceiving him, and trifling with a most awful state of things, if anybody undertook to be useful to him on any other footing, or even gave rise to the delay of an hour in deciding on that alternative by countenancing hopes of any third arrangement.

The House of Commons is totally unmanageable in any such view. The whole weight of the Ministers there, combining their aid as they now do, is, as you see, hardly sufficient to carry on the ordinary public business from day to day. I very much question whether all the weight that the Opposition could unite for the same purpose, if the task were committed into their hands, would be much, if at all, more adequate to it. What hopes, then, could a third party entertain of doing this in opposition to both?

I can easily see in what course your assistance and support might be very useful indeed to strengthen his Government, into whatever hands he may finally determine to commit it; and in the present state of things I should, as far as my own wishes went, be most anxious that, in whatever hands it shall be vested, it should possess whatever of strength and efficiency it can receive. But as for undertaking any principal or leading part in the formation of a new Government, to the exclusion of the most considerable persons in this, and of the whole of the other party (who will doubtless on this occasion act with perfect union and concurrence among themselves), I hold the success impossible, and the undertaking much too desperate to be reconciled to any just sense of prudence or duty. And if the fact be so, it is most important that he should be as speedily, and as distinctly as possible, apprized that so it is. And you and Charles would much injure your own reputation and weight by appearing to tamper with a case in which you cannot be of any real use.

I do not wonder that he feels hurt at Canning's speech, such as it is reported; but this is not the first occasion, nor will it be the last, in which the Sovereign of this country must suppress such feelings, and bear with the faults of those who, on the whole, taking all things together, can serve him most usefully; and the manner in which the Opposition have of late years, most unfortunately for themselves and for the country, been drawn on to mix themselves up with projects of reform, and with the countenance and defence of reformers of the wildest description, seems to me, I regret to say it, to throw that balance at this time wholly on the side of their opponents.

I do not know that I can add more. My brother returns to town early to-morrow morning; and you will not wonder, knowing my feelings, that all that is now passing is with me a decisive reason for not coming near it unless commanded so to do, and then it would only be for the purpose of expressing these opinions.

Paris at this period, it is evident, was scarcely in a less excitable state than London:—


Hotel Meurice, June 11, 1820.


Paris is in a strange state,—more resembling a town in a state of siege than the most gadding capital; but, as far as the exterior appearance can be the guide, I cannot see why the Government should have assembled nearly 25,000 troops round Paris, the riots having been confined to the students of the ecoles and the gardes de corps, the people, proprement dit, taking no part and showing no interest. The violence of the Chambers is sufficiently seen in the papers, and their whole time is occupied in hearing different members relate their own adventures on the preceding day. The ultra-Ultras have returned to their foolish language, which ruined them in '14 and '15, about having a general tax to reimburse them for their lost property. They might as well think of dividing France. The other party, of course, keep pace. Two days ago, some French ladies on the Boulevards were obliged, by a body of men looking like le bourgeoisie, to get out of their carriages and cry "Vive l'egalite." One of the worst circumstances is the distinction which has been made between Le Roi et la Charte, which last year was the watchword of the Royalists, and is now divided into the mots de ralliement of the two parties; and when the one cries A bas la Charte, others have been found rash enough to answer A bas les Bourbons. The Royalists are universally anxious for the double electoral colleges; their opponents will not give up the direct election; and the amendment which was carried the other day is a sort of mezzo termine, as the 170 new members are to be elected by the double colleges, and the remplacants by the old law. There was a considerable riot on Friday night, in which Oudinot was rode over, and several people badly wounded; one only killed. The troops have shown the greatest steadiness, and evince rather an anxiety than an unwillingness to act. The Jacobins are, I am told, as much depressed by this as the Ultras are elated. Madame de Flahaut is here, acting the French Lady J——; and to you I need say no more.

I am in a great fright about the Queen. What could make the Government employ Lord H——, who seems to have committed himself and employers most lamentably? She will, I fear, have a tremendous party of many well-disposed, good, moral men, as well as of all those who hate the King and the Government. If you have leisure, I should be very grateful for a word or two on this.

Ever affectionately yours,


The negotiation between the King's Ministers and the Queen's legal advisers was not rendered fruitless by any fault of the former. Wilberforce acknowledges that "The concessions made by the King's servants, as Mr. Brougham afterwards declared in the House of Commons, were various and great. The name and rights of a Queen were granted to her Majesty without reserve—any recognition of which had formerly been carefully avoided. A Royal yacht, a frigate, &c., were offered. It was agreed that her name and rank should be notified at the Court either of Rome or Milan, the capitals of the countries in which she had expressed her intention to reside; and that an address should be presented to the Queen, no less than another to the King, to thank her Majesty for having acceded to the wish of the House of Commons."[23]

[23] "Life," vol. v. p. 56.

Wilberforce was very earnest, sending his son with a letter to the King, in which he entreated him to restore the Queen's name to the Liturgy,[24] and venturing to prophesy something very like a civil war should this concession be refused. On this point, however, his Majesty was intractable, and the negotiator met with anything but cordial co-operation from his own party, of whom he says: "Opposition seem all disposed to take up the Queen's cause on party principles. Alas!"[25] Subsequently he implies where he met with obstacles; "Tierney, &c., ill-natured, yet Castlereagh gave way."

[24] The Queen perpetrated one of her characteristic jests when this question was being furiously debated: "The praying," she observed, "makes me very hungry, and when I am in the Liturgy I shall be famished."

[25] Ibid. p. 58.

In a discussion on the subject in the House of Commons, he thus refers to the principal speakers: "Burdett, violent and bitter, but very able; Tierney, mischievous; Denman, strong and straightforward; Brougham, able; Canning, clever, but not letting himself out."

A deputation, of which Wilberforce was the head, proceeded from the House of Commons to the Queen, dressed in full Court costume; but her Majesty's turbulent admirers did not appreciate their good intentions, and they were roughly greeted by the mob. The reception they met with from the Queen was not much more courteous. Her answer was a refusal. "Her manner was extremely dignified," observes the principal negotiator, "but very stern and haughty." In a letter which he wrote at the time, he gives all the details of the question,[26] from which it is clear that the members of Government had agreed to resign their offices if the restoration of the Queen's name to the Liturgy was carried against them in the House of Commons; and that, seeing the improbability of obtaining this demand, the Queen would have accepted an equivalent proposed by the Government, had not some sinister influence been exercised which brought about her refusal. Mr. Wilberforce shared the general fate of peace-makers in getting terribly abused; but he evidently had the authority of the Queen's most able counsellor for the steps he took. "She will accede to your address," he wrote on the 22nd of June, "I pledge myself."[27]

[26] Letter to Samuel Roberts, Esq., "Life," vol. v. p. 62.

[27] Letter to Samuel Roberts, Esq., "Life," vol. v. p. 65.

Cobbett published a letter addressed to Mr. Wilberforce, made up of declamation and invective, in the style that then took the public taste. This composition is described as "very clever, but very mischievous, and full of falsehoods." He was attacked so frequently, and with such violence, by the Queen's partisans, that it forced him to exclaim, "What a lesson it is to a man not to set his heart on low popularity, when, after forty years' disinterested public service, I am believed to be a perfect rascal!"[28]

[28] "Wilberforce's Life," vol. v. p. 68.

He complained bitterly of the conduct of the leaders of Opposition. Their language to the Queen, especially that of Lord Grey, Mr. Tierney, and Sir Francis Burdett, was, "Oh! you may be sure you never can be prosecuted,"—thereby, as he acknowledges, "taking away what must doubtless have most powerfully enforced her consent. Then no sooner had she refused, and the prosecution goes forward, than they say, Government never should have admitted a compromise at all, but have prosecuted without hesitation."[29]

[29] Ibid. p. 69.

"She seems," writes Lord Dudley, "to have been advised by persons that are resolved to play the deepest possible game, and care little to what risk they expose her, provided they have a chance of turning out the Government, or perhaps of over-throwing the monarchy. I do not think that it is Brougham's doing."[30] "The people," confesses Cobbett, "as far as related to the question of guilt or innocence, did not care a straw."[31] Their leaders cared still less:

"Careless of fate, they took their way, Scarce caring who might win the day; Their booty was secure."

[30] "Letters," p. 255.

[31] "Life of George IV.," p. 425.

"If her innocence were proved," observes a popular historian, "they would gain a triumph over the King, force upon him a wife whom he could not endure, overturn his Ministers, and perhaps shake the monarchy; if her guilt, they would gain the best possible ground for declaiming on the corruption which prevailed in high places, and the monstrous nature of those institutions which gave persons of such character the lead in society."[32]

[32] Alison's "Europe," vol. ii. p. 549.

The excitement increased as the arrangements for the Queen's trial became known. Lord John Russell published a letter addressed to Mr. Wilberforce, on the subject, urging him again to attempt an arrangement; but he had had enough of interfering in such a business, and declined to take the post assigned him, though the writer expressed his opinion that in his hands was perhaps the fate of the country. He was as anxious as ever to do good, but did not see how it could be done. His opinion of the Queen did not improve, in consequence of the "spirit" she continued to display, which he now felt inclined to describe in more appropriate language:—"I feel deeply the evil," he writes in his Diary, "that so bad a woman as I fear she is, should carry the victory by sheer impudence (if she is guilty), and assume the part of a person deeply injured."[33]

[33] "Life," vol. v. p. 77.

Other well-meaning persons were equally anxious for an interposition; indeed, the King was obliged to send a message to one who desired an audience, with this object in view, "that he never talked on political subjects with any but his Ministers."[34]

[34] Ibid. p. 78.

Another cotemporary Diarist goes to the root of the evil:—"Had some conversation with Tierney, who looked serious and down. He said everything was worse and worse out of doors, and he saw no remedy. I observed, the only remedy, the only possibility of things returning to their former state was a rebellion, and the troops standing by us, and quelling it with a high hand. He replied, that was the disease. I said, neither he nor I should live to see society where it had been and ought to be; to which he assented. I have no doubt he is sincere, yet he and his party are the real authors of the spirit we deplore."[35]

[35] Phipps's "Memoirs of R. P. Ward," vol. ii. p. 61.

"Alas!" writes Wilberforce in his Diary, "surely we never were in such a scrape. The bulk of the people, I grant, are run mad; but then it was a species of insanity on which we might have reckoned, because we know their prejudices against foreigners; their being easily led away by appeals to their generous feelings; and then the doses with which they are plied, are enough to intoxicate much stronger heads than most of theirs."[36]

[36] "Life," vol. v. p. 78.

"The middling as well as the higher orders," says another observer, "are pretty well acquainted with her present Majesty's conduct in foreign countries; but I am told that the common people are still in the dark, and disposed to espouse her cause; more, however, out of hatred to the King than out of regard for her."[37]

[37] Lord Dudley's "Letters," p 242.

Attempts were made to gain over the military, which were not entirely unsuccessful; one of the regiments of Foot Guards, quartered in the Mews Barracks, Charing Cross, exhibited such decided symptoms of having been tampered with, that the Duke of Wellington was sent for, and he at once ordered them off to Portsmouth. "The night before the last division marched," says a respectable authority, "a formidable mob assembled round the barracks at Charing Cross, calling the soldiers within to come out and join them."[38] They were only subsequently dispersed by a troop of the 2nd Life Guards.

[38] "Sidmouth's Life," by Pellew, vol. iii. p. 330. Alison's "Europe," vol. ii. p. 461.

Some of the more respectable leaders of Opposition, though, they supported the Queen, had no heart in the cause.

"Lord ——" (we learn from another authority), "whom I always look upon as a most honest man, said it was rather hard upon him to have to present her petitions, but he could not refuse, being so intimate with Brougham. But they were brought to him at a minute's notice, and he knew nothing about, consequently could not support them. In the present instance, he thought she was taken in, in pressing for trial within four-and-twenty hours. She thought we would not take her at her word, and might bully, as she had done before; that she was a bold, dangerous, impudent woman, as full of revenge as careless of crime, and that if we did not take care, might play the part of Catherine the Second, who, by means of the Guards, murdered her husband and usurped the throne."[39]

[39] Phipps's "Memoirs of Robert Plumer Ward," vol. ii. p. 56.

The nobleman whose opinions have here been preserved was most probably Lord Dacre, who, in his place in the House of Lords, presented more than one petition from the Queen. One also was presented by Lord Auckland. Another of the Queen's partisans in the other House appears to have entertained similar sentiments:—"Walked with Sir —— ——. He said he had no doubt that the Queen was guilty, but would never vote for the Bill, as unconstitutional; at the same time, ready to admit that Ministers had proved such a case as perfectly justified them in bringing it forward."[40]

[40] Phipps's "Memoirs of Robert Plumer Ward," vol. ii. p. 58.

A description of the sort of satellites that followed the Queen's movements when she went abroad, or surrounded her dwelling while she remained at home, is preserved in the postscript of a letter from Mr. Wilberforce to Hannah More, repeating the observations of a friend who had ventured to approach the Queen's residence. He describes her retainers as "a most shabby assemblage of quite the lowest of the people, about fifty in number, who every now and then kept calling out 'Queen, Queen!' and several times, once in about a quarter of an hour, she came out of one window of a balcony and Alderman Wood at the other, and she bowed to them; her obeisance, of course, being met by augmented acclamations. My friend," adds Mr. Wilberforce, "entered into conversation with a person present who argued for the natural equality of man, and that any other of the people present had as good right to be King as George the Fourth."[41]

[41] "Life," vol. v. p. 72.

The Duke of Wellington at this period took an anxious share in the proceedings against the Queen. "We fell upon the general situation of things," relates a confidential friend of his Grace, "which the Duke allowed was almost as bad as could be; nor could he see the remedy, if the upper and middle ranks would not stir. But all," he continued, with some sadness as well as indignation, "seem struck with panic—ourselves and all; and if the country is lost, it will be through our own cowardice. Everything," said he—"audacity and insolence on one side, and tameness on ours. We go to the House seemingly on purpose to be insulted; the Opposition know it, and act accordingly." I said, "I feared it was particularly so in the House of Commons, where the Ministerial bench, with the exception of Lord Castlereagh, seemed like victims."[42]

[42] Phipps's "Memoirs of Ward," vol. ii. p. 63.

The principal Ministers went in daily danger of their lives. Lord Sidmouth never drove out without a case of loaded pistols on the seat of the carriage, ready for instant use;[43] and when either of them was recognised in the public streets, he was sure to be greeted by groans and hisses, and sometimes with more formidable missiles.

[43] "Life," by Dean Pellew, vol. iii. p. 330.

The attempt to induce the Queen to adopt a more rational course, is here referred to:—


Carlton House, June 20, 1820.


As yet there is no certain information of the precise course to be taken by Mr. Wilberforce. I, however, collect that he has no intention to weaken the position of the Government, nor the basis, on the part of the King, upon which the late negotiation has broken off. The object, therefore, is to maintain that basis which was considered as the only safeguard to the preservation of all that's dear to man. To attain this there seems, under the present state of the public mind, no alternative but investigation, with as much publicity as the House can be induced to give to the question.

I need not reiterate to your Lordship the sense which is entertained of the affectionate attachment manifested by your Lordship in this most painful transaction.

With great respect, I have the honour to be,

My dear Lord,

Your Lordship's obliged and obedient humble Servant,


But Caroline of Brunswick would not have been Caroline of Brunswick had she suffered this well-meant intervention to influence her purpose. The sad business, therefore, proceeded in the saddest possible way:—


June 27, 1820.

All speculation is at fault in attempting to follow these daily changes of plans and operations.

Certainly, it is far more convenient and more becoming to let this matter be first investigated in the House of Lords. But how this is to be reconciled to the present state of the business in the House of Commons, it seems difficult to imagine; but by this time that difficulty will have been solved in one way or another, and I need not trouble myself about it.

As to popular impressions, the only way by which they can now be counteracted, is by bringing the matter as soon as possible into some regular form of proceeding.

What is to result from all this, it is impossible to conjecture; but he must be sanguine indeed who can hope that it will turn to good.


Dropmore, June 28, 1820.


When I came here I found an entire concurrence of opinion as to the extreme folly of Ministers pressing on the Secret Committee in the House of Lords, after they had pledged themselves in the House of Commons to bring forward a charge upon their own responsibility; I was therefore much gratified to see in your letter, just received, that if there was a question upon that subject, you should vote against the Secret Committee, though if the Committee were appointed, you might in that case continue your name upon it. The proceeding is become so odious and unpopular, that the general prejudice against it is in itself great ground of objection to it; and as the Ministers have already taken the charge upon their own responsibility, it seems now likely to answer no other end than that of furnishing to their adversaries a fund of clamour and of invective, on a topic by which, while Ministers gain nothing, they must lose much. But by this time the question must be already decided, and therefore it is useless to pursue it If the Committee is appointed, and if you do attend it, I am sure you will in that case feel the absolute necessity of your declining any confidential communication, either on foot or on horseback, with any person not upon that Commission, in reference to the business of it. Even the conversation of the table, and the ears of those who sit at it with you, must on every account be most cautiously guarded upon this peculiar topic. You must not start at these suggestions; you know the affectionate motives that prompt them; and nothing but the extreme importance of the nicest attention to them, under your particular position, could have called for them both from Lord G—— and me.

I would not unnecessarily prolong this letter, because you have enough to think of; but I feel confident that the more you reflect upon your own position, the more you must be confirmed in the persuasion that while, on the one hand, you have thought it necessary to withdraw from the Opposition, on the other hand, you will most effectually be enabled to support the constitutional principles of the Monarchy by maintaining an absolute independence, and by taking care not to put yourself within the reach of the imputation of favouritism, which, once established against you, will render your means of real and effectual assistance useless, by discrediting your station in the country, and by depriving it of its best recommendation, its absolute independence.

It will be seen from the foregoing communication how extremely anxious were Lord Buckingham's uncles, at this crisis, that he should act with the utmost circumspection on every possible contingency.



Many thanks for your note by Lord Cassilis; I do not credit any of the rumours to which you refer. I believe that all is now quiet in those quarters. I understand that the Secret Committee is to meet in our House on Wednesday, and on its Report a Bill is to be introduced; in the Commons, a delay of ten days is to be proposed, for the purpose of waiting for our Bill. You have heard of the proceedings in our House to-night: a petition from the Queen, praying against a Secret Committee, and for a delay of any proceedings, in order to enable her to collect her witnesses; Brougham and Denman called in and heard in support of the petition, and the House adjourned until to-morrow, when Lord Grey is to make his motion for rescinding the order respecting the Secret Committee. When this motion is disposed of, Lord Liverpool will move that the Secret Committee shall meet on Wednesday. I cannot ascertain the temper of the House positively, but I perceive no alteration in it of any description.

Yours, my dear Lord, sincerely,



Dropmore, July 2, 1820.

I am glad you are so near the end of your labours, though that end is to be the beginning of a fresh and very painful scene. I am clear, however, that in the state to which the matter is now brought, the course at last adopted was the only one which affords any hope of concluding it without the most alarming consequences. And if the House of Lords manifests, as I trust it will, a temperate and truly judicial spirit in the conduct of the trial, I am sanguine enough to believe that much lost ground may still be recovered.

I am utterly at variance with Charles's notion, that such proceedings ought to commence in the House of Commons; and I am sure in this case it was of unspeakable importance that the matter should first undergo a judicial investigation, before it was brought any more under the cognizance of a body so liable to act on momentary impressions, in place of the settled rules and permanent principles of legal proceeding.


Dropmore, July 5, 1820.


I cannot help writing a line to say how well satisfied I am with the result which this post has brought us, and how glad I am that no secondary matter has been tacked on to that which is of primary interest. We neither of us can as yet collect by what precise course the matter is to be so charged as to give the proper notice so as to enable the party concerned to provide a reply. I should, of course, suppose that by this time the whole march of all the proceedings is foreseen and determined upon, if there was not such frequent occasion to remark that foresight and decision are much more frequently to be desired than to be found.

I should suppose that the Bill must contain specific charges, or that those charges must be communicated by a resolution of the House. What is most to be apprehended is that dexterous advocates may awaken new questions in so novel a proceeding, and may thereby prolong the discussion to a most inconvenient and dangerous length, by which this state of hazardous agitation of the public mind will be continued, and a feeling of commiseration will be excited by the length of the proceeding, although the prolongation of it will be owing more to the accused than to the accusers. You see every hour of every day that "the mountain" is dragging all that side of the house into an avowed party-protection, to be afforded before trial; that the answers to addresses are so many appeals made to the "soldiers and sailors;" and that the hypocritical lamentations over the ill-judged time of the Coronation, are indulged in for the obvious purpose of exciting the tumults which they affect to deprecate. All this is very disgusting, and not without real danger. I suppose your Committee, being now dissolved by its Report, you have nothing more to do in these odious abominations, which the Vice-Chancellor will probably have to manage.


Dropmore, July 5, 1820.

I see nothing prima facie to object to in the Report, and I am very glad that the doubt was decided negatively.

I imagine, however, that there may still be some difficulty in the course of the proceeding, if she requires, as I suppose she will be advised to do, that the facts of both descriptions should be more precisely specified as to time and place, before she is called upon to answer them in any judicial form.


Stanhope Street, July 19, 1820.


I am passing through town in my way to E. Green, and find it not only greatly thinned, but those remaining in a much more melancholy mood than when I left it. The language even of the Government is most croaking, and you may be assured the Queen's party is far from diminishing. The City is completely with her,—not the Common Council, but the shopkeepers and merchants,—and I have great doubts if the troops are not infected. The press is paid for her abundantly, and there are some ale-houses open where the soldiers may go and drink and eat for nothing, provided they will drink "Prosperity and health to the Queen." The K—— grows daily more unpopular, and is the only individual in the kingdom insensible to it. He sees Lady C—— daily, and had a party of his family at dinner this week, she the only exception. You may think, perhaps, this letter gloomy; but I assure you I write much less desponding than the general language and feeling would authorize me.

The peerages are eight, and hourly expected:—Lord Conyngham, Roden, Sir W. Scott, Forester, Cholmondeley, Liddel, W. Pole, Lord James Murray.

I don't hear a word of the Dukedoms. The King reviews the Guards on Friday, and then goes to the cottage at Windsor, to meet the Conynghams. Boats are gone from Chatham and Staines for the Virginia Lake, where he is to have water-parties. Probably or possibly we shall participate in these. If so, you shall hear from me.—It is said the Lords meet the 17th; begin immediately the witnesses for the prosecutor: finish this in a fortnight; then the Queen asks for two months (at least) before she commences her defence, if she makes any. But there is a strong report she means to make none in the Lords, but reserve herself for the Commons; if so, it is no great compliment to us, who examine not on oath. These, however, are only the rumours of the day.—Lushington got a most handsome and proper dressing from Castlereagh, who, I am told, did it remarkably well.

Ever truly yours,

W. H. F.


Cleveland Square, July 22, 1820.


Lord G—— wrote to me last night, and tells me that he must, however reluctantly, attend on the 17th, the Chancellor being, as it is said, determined to go all lengths to enforce attendance. He is, in my mind, quite right in doing so. You will be much rejoiced to hear that on the 20th Lord G—— received a letter from Lord Liverpool, offering through him, in the K——'s name and in his, and in the most flattering terms from both, the situation of Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, with the Canonship of Christ Church, to Dr. Hodgson, as a thing proper in itself, and also as what was wished to be done on account of his connexion with Lord G——.

Nothing could be more gratifying to Lord G——, who has always felt mortified at observing that hitherto his connexion with Hodgson had been rather prejudicial than serviceable to him.—I write this the rather because my brother adds that the post being in the moment of going, he has not time to write you word of it then.

St. Paul's is given to Llandaff. The dandy Pelham is gone sulkily down to look at Bugden, and to see whether he will condescend to take that after his disappointment, at which there seems to be a very general feeling of satisfaction.

Vague reports of negotiation with the Queen through Lady Cholmondeley; but I do not hear them from any sort of authority, and therefore I know not how to believe them. I hope you observe the Morning Chronicle's congratulations on the Naples revolution without loss of life, "in consequence of its being achieved by the soldiery, since wherever they raise their voice, it is imperative." And this is the Whig and Opposition printer!!! The K—— was prevented by gout from attending the cavalry review.


Cleveland Square, July 26, 1820.


The little that I hear is not worth sending you, either in quality or in quantity. The rumours about the military increase daily and frightfully. How much of these rumours is true, and how much is invented, and how much is exaggerated, I have no means to judge; but the prevalence of that topic of conversation, while it shews the generality of the apprehension, is itself but too much calculated to bring on the evil of which it treats. Tierney yesterday told us he had heard Wood say the day before that the Q—— had irrevocably determined to come down every day to the trial in her "coach-and-six in a high style;" if so, she will very likely be attended by all the idle populace between Hammersmith and London, besides a host of radicals, who will not let go by such an auspicious opportunity. How the peace of the metropolis or the safety of the Parliament is to be secured under all these circumstances, might puzzle wiser heads than those whose business it will be to decide upon it. T—— admits himself to be considerably alarmed, and describes the appearance of the Ministers in these latter days as betraying more anxiety and apprehension than vigour or decision. He said that the Attorney-General, in his speech yesterday in the House of Commons, was almost in tears, and used the expression that "there was no doubt that a revolution was in contemplation." Whether it is prudent to use such an expression in order to excite sufficient means of resistance, or dangerous from awakening such a topic may be a question; but of the extent of alarm which he must have felt to have led him to that expression, there can be no doubt.

One of the rumours is, that the D—— of W—— was earnest for disbanding one of the regiments of Guards, but that the D—— of Y—— would not consent; another is, that the D—— of G——, apprised some time back of the state of his regiment, forbid his Adjutant to communicate it to the D—— of Y——. But these are only rumours.

Reports continue of doubts about the Household Troops; probably some mere inventions, and others exaggerated; but the mischief of these reports is incalculable, because they promote distrust and suspicion on the one side, and agitation and restlessness on the other; and if one wished to create the evil, there could be no readier way than by the unremitted discussions which prevail everywhere upon this subject.

The 71st and 85th Light Infantry regiments, now under Sir J. Byng, are ordered up to Uxbridge and to the neighbourhood of London; I trust, therefore, and indeed I hear, that in Byng's district things are tolerably quiet; but if the Q—— goes to Manchester, as she threatens, the two regiments will perhaps have to march back again.

What you hear about Canning is true. He attends no Cabinets, and is going to Italy.

The Q—— is sending what she calls her Commissioners to Milan. There are among them, as I hear, two respectable lawyers.

The Attorney-General said two days ago that the prosecutor's case would take a month.

I am glad to hear you have good accounts from every part of the Bucks Yeomanry. Everything looks too fearful to allow me the expression of anything but the most heartfelt regret, that on a question which in three weeks may decide upon the fate of the country, there should be a single Grenville found among those whom we may have to fear and (dreadful to think) to resist! I shall return with you to town, for if there is danger where my brother and you are, there will I be.


Malvern Wells, July 24, 1820.

You will, perhaps, have heard from my brother, to whom I wrote the day I knew it, of the very handsome and kind manner in which the Divinity Professorship at Oxford has been offered to Hodgson through me, and I am sure it will have given you pleasure both on his account and mine.

Lord Liverpool could hardly have found a more delicate or a more effectual way of gratifying me, and I must say he has done so very much indeed.

The appointment is, in all other respects, one that must do him credit, and I trust it may lead to still further prospects for Hodgson. It has long been a matter of deep mortification to me to think how much Hodgson's universally acknowledged merits had been put by on the account of the part he had taken in my support, and I delight now in thinking that he will ultimately not be a loser by that circumstance.

We shall, of course, meet on the 17th, if indeed that day is adhered to; but, after so many delays, one hardly knows how to reckon on any fixed time for this unpleasant business.

The revolution at Naples was wholly unexpected. Had it been looked for, there was the ready resource of Austrian troops, which I still hope may be effective in preserving tranquillity in the rest of Italy.


Whitehall, July 26, 1820.


I have to return your Lordship many thanks for the proxy, though, owing to my bad writing, it took such a circuit that it would have been too late here for any good purpose had proxies been called for, which they were not. Lord Ellenborough, to propitiate the Chancellor, materially altered the form of the Bill, which enabled that wily adversary to throw it out altogether, which I doubt very much whether he could have done had the alterations made in it not given a fair pretext of want of more time to consider them. A great point was, however, gained by the discussion, for Lord Liverpool admitted that a considerable alteration must be made in the existing law, and guarded his vote by this statement. Ministers certainly appear low, and I have no doubt are under great alarm. Dr. Lushington has given Lord Liverpool formal notice that the Queen will attend all the discussions on the Bill in the House of Lords. It is said she is daily to come from Barnes in a coach-and-six. This must all be for stage effect, or rather for intimidation; and really it is impossible to look forward to the result without apprehension, especially knowing, as we do, that the Ministers delight in half measures, and never take any decided line if they can avoid it. In the House of Commons their authority is decidedly at a low ebb. Canning has not been in the House for some time. It is said he is going to join his family in Italy; and people now contrast his conduct with that of the Chancellor who co-operated with him in 1808 to whitewash the Queen, much to the disadvantage of the latter (i.e., the Chancellor).

One idea very prevalent is, that the Queen will address the House of Lords in a speech at the opening of the proceedings against her.

If any occurrence likely to interest you comes to my knowledge, you may depend upon hearing from me; but I am thinking of making my escape somewhere to the sea-side in the course of the next week, for a short time at least.

Believe me, my dear Lord,

Your Lordship's obliged and faithful,



Barmouth, July 27, 1820.


During the interval which elapsed between the time of your leaving town and my setting off for Wales, not a single event took place—not even a fresh report was circulated—which might afford me the materials for a letter. My newspaper now speaks of a fresh attempt at a compromise, accompanied with a proposal for restoring the Queen's name to the Liturgy, which has been refused on her part. Surely, notwithstanding all the absurdity and mismanagement which we have seen, this must be impossible. The only way of accounting for it would be some panic of personal alarm; but even then, lowly as I think of his advisers, I cannot conceive that they could consent to a measure of such inevitable and wholly useless disgrace.

The eagerness of popular feeling, even in this Tory tranquil part of the country—where there has not, since the extinction of Jacobitism, been an opinion ever expressed on general politics, but that all measures adopted by the King must be right—is inconceivable. I was stopped in this little village the first day of my arrival, by the master of a fishing-boat, to ask me whether I thought the House of Commons would take care that justice was done to the Queen. My wife, also, has met with two or three equally strong proofs of the interest taken in this question. Pray tell me what you hear of the disposition of the army. I have seen some allusions to fresh discontents among the Guards on the subject of some stoppage for breakfasts. The cause does not signify a pin, for if the spirit once exists, occasions for manifesting it will never be wanting.

Henry writes me word that he heard of scarcely anything at Milan, or in the neighbourhood of the Lake of Como, but the Queen's conduct, of which everybody seemed ready to give evidence. The witnesses had all been placed on an allowance of thirty francs per diem, which seems as good a device to invalidate their evidence as could have been adopted, and many are supposed to have come forward only per chiappar il denaro. The most material are said to be some bricklayers, who must have peeped, he concludes, through the windows.

Ever most affectionately yours,

C. W. W.

In the manner indicated in the preceding portion of this correspondence, the great contest was carried on. The Queen had evidently not miscalculated her power of dangerously exciting public opinion; she had moved from the Alderman's house to the residence of one of the ladies of her suite, and from thence had gone to a more Queen-like abode, at a convenient distance from town, known as Brandenburg House, Hammersmith; but wherever she went, the popular hopes and wishes went with her,—and knowing the excitement she produced, she redoubled her efforts to increase it, and direct it to the advancement of her interests. The moderation of the Government she regarded with studied contempt, and every indication they put forth of a desire to treat her with as much respect as was consistent with their duty to their Royal master, produced a more violent display of her resolve to ride down all opposition. There is little doubt that the King was now as much alarmed as annoyed; was often dissatisfied with his Ministers, and quite ready to accept the services of any set of men capable of relieving him from this serious embarrassment; but the task was full of danger, and prudent statesmen like Lord Grenville and his brother were not to be tempted into accepting it. The Coronation was postponed, and the Court participated in their Sovereign's fears and anxieties.


E. Green, Friday, August 11, 1820.


The K—— has been in this neighbourhood for the last fortnight, living in the greatest retirement; his party consisting of very few—the principal object of course the Lady C——, who is here. They ride every day, or go on the water, or drive in a barouche; the K—— and her always together, separated from the rest, and in the evening sitting alone apart. I have heard of the Esterhazys (who called on a friend here, and said the evenings were triste a mourir), no cards, no books, no amusement or employment of any kind; Sir Benjamin and Lady Bloomfield, Lord C——, Nagle, Thornton, Keppel, and one or two more; I believe the Warwicks, for two days; the Duke of Dorset. The secrecy that is preserved as to their pursuits is beyond all idea; no servant is permitted to say who is there; no one of the party calls on anybody, or goes near Windsor; and when they ride, a groom is in advance, ordering everybody to retire, for "the K—— is coming." The private rides are of course avoided by the neighbours, so that in fact you know almost as much of what is going on as I do, excepting that the excess of his attentions and enjouement is beyond belief.

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