The Age of George III

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An assessment of Lord Eldon: contemporary and subsequent

Lord Eldon was the Lord Chancellor in the ministry of Lord Liverpool. He was the man responsible for the repressive legislation passed by parliament during Pitt's ministry; Eldon was a reactionary. The following description of him appeared in 1825.

Lord Eldon has one of the best-natured faces in the world; it is pleasant to meet him in the street, plodding along with an umbrella under his arm, without one trace of pride, of spleen, or discontent in his whole demeanour, void of offence, with almost rustic simplicity and honesty of appearance - a man that makes friends at first sight, and could hardly make enemies, if he would; and whose only fault is that he cannot say Nay to power, or subject himself to an unkind word or look from a King or a Minister. He is a thoroughbred Tory... There has been no stretch of power attempted in his time that he has not seconded: no existing abuse so odious or so absurd, that he has not sanctioned it. He has gone the whole length of the most unpopular designs of Ministers ...

On all the great questions that have divided party opinion or agitated the public mind, the Chancellor has been found uniformly and without a single exception on the side of prerogative and power, and against every proposal for the advancement of freedom. [William Hazlitt, Spirit of the Age (Collins, 1969), pp.236-237. First published in 1825]

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Last modified 12 January, 2016

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