Greville

The Greville Memoirs

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The Greville Memoirs

Chapter 14

Introduction of the Reform Bill — Attitude of the Opposition — Reform Debates — Peel — Wilberforce and Canning — Old Sir Robert Peel — The City Address — Agitation for Reform —Effects of the Reform Bill — Brougham as Chancellor — Brougham at the Horse Guards — Miss Kemble — Vote on the Timber Duties — Lord Lansdowne's Opinion of the Bill — Reform Bill carried by one Vote — The King in Mourning — The Prince of Orange — Peel's Reserve — Ministers beaten — Parliament dissolved by the King in Person — Tumult in both Houses — Failure of the Whig Ministry — The King in their Hands — The Elections — Illumination in the City — The Queen alarmed — Lord Lyndhurst 's View of the Bill — Lord Grey takes the Garter — The King at Ascot — Windsor under William IV. — Brougham at Whitbread's Brewery and at the British Museum — Breakfast at Rogers' — The Cholera — Quarantine — Meeting of Peers —New Parliament meets — Opened by the King — 'Hernani ' at Bridgewater House — The Second Reform Bill — The King's Coronation — Cobbett's Trial — Prince Leopold accepts the Crown of Belgium — Peel and the Tories — A Rabble Opposition — A Council for the Coronation.

1831

[121] March 2nd.

The great day at length arrived, and yesterday Lord John Russell moved for leave to bring in his Reform Bill. To describe the curiosity, the intensity of the expectation and excitement, would be impossible, and the secret had been so well kept that not a soul knew what the measure was (though most people guessed pretty well) till they heard it. He rose at six o'clock, and spoke for two hours and a quarter a sweeping measure indeed, much more so than anyone had imagined, because the Ministers had said it was one which would give general satisfaction, whereas this must dissatisfy all the moderate and will probably just stop short enough not to satisfy the Radicals. They say it was ludicrous to see the faces of the members for those places which are to be disfranchised as they were [122] severally announced, and Wetherell, who began to take notes, as the plan was gradually developed, after sundry contortions and grimaces and flinging about his arms and legs, threw down his notes with a mixture of despair and ridicule and horror. Not many people spoke last night: Inglis followed John Russell, and Francis Leveson closed the debate in the best speech he has ever made, though rather too flowery. Everything is easy in these days, otherwise how Palmerston, Goderich, and Grant can have joined in a measure of this sweeping, violent, and speculative character it is difficult to conceive, they who were the disciples of Castlereagh and the adherents of Canning; but after the Duke of Wellington and Peel carrying the Catholic question, Canning's friends advocating Radical Reform, and Eldon living to see Brougham on the Woolsack, what may one not expect?

What everybody enquires is what line Peel will take, and though each party is confident of success in this question, it is thought to depend mainly upon the course he adopts and the sentiments he expresses. Hitherto he has cautiously abstained from committing himself in any way, and he is free to act as he thinks best, but he certainly occupies a grand position when he has omnium oculos in se converses, and the whole House of Commons looking with unutterable anxiety to his opinions and conduct. Such has the course of events and circumstances made this man, who is probably yet destined to play a great part, and it may be a very useful one. God knows how this plan may be received in the country, and what may be its fate in Parliament. The Duke of Wellington, however, is right enough when he says that the great present danger is lest people should be too much afraid, for anything like the panic that prevails I never saw, the apprehension that enough will not be done to satiate the demon of popular opinion, and the disposition to submit implicitly to the universal bellow that pervades this country for what they call Reform without knowing what it is. As to this measure, the greatest evil of it is that it is a pure speculation, and may be productive of the best [123] consequences, or the worst, or even of none at all, for all that its authors and abettors can explain to us or to themselves.

O'Connell made his explanation the other night, which was wretched, and Stanley's was very good, but it matters not; he will tell the people in Ireland that he had a victory, and they will believe him. Nevertheless his defeat in Kilkenny is an excellent thing, and will contribute greatly to destroy the prestige of his power.

March 3rd.

Last night the debate went on, nobody remarkably speaking but Macaulay and Wetherell; the former very brilliant, the latter long, rambling, and amusing, and he sat down with such loud and long cheering as everybody agreed they had never heard before in the House of Commons, and which was taken not so much as a test of the merits of the speech as of an indication of the disposition of the majority of the House. Wetherell was very good fun in a conversation he imagined at Cockermouth between Sir James Graham and one of his constituents. It is thought very strange that none of the Ministers have spoken, except Althorp the first night. The general opinion is that the Bill will be lost in the House of Commons, and that then Parliament will be dissolved, unless the King should take fright and prefer to change his Ministers.

March 5th.

On Thursday night [i.e. 3 March] the great speeches were those of Hobhouse on one side and Peel on the other, which last was received with the greatest enthusiasm, and some said (as usual) that it was the finest oration they had ever heard within the walls of Parliament; it seems by the report of it to have been very able and very eloquent. The people come into the 'Travellers' after the debate, and bring their different accounts all tinctured by their particular opinions and prejudices, so that the exact truth of the relative merits of the speakers is only attainable by the newspaper reports, imperfect as they are, the next day. The excitement is beyond anything I ever saw. Last night Stanley answered Peel in an excellent speech and one which is likely to raise his reputation very high. He is evidently desirous of pitting himself against Peel, whom he dislikes; and it is probable [124 ]that they are destined to be the rival leaders of two great Parliamentary parties, if things settle down into the ancient practices of Parliamentary warfare. The other events of last night were the resignation of Charles Wynne and his opposition to the Bill, and the unexpected defection from Government of Lord Seymour, the Duke of Somerset's son, and Jeffrey's speech, which was very able, but somewhat tedious.

March 7th.

Nothing talked of, thought of, dreamt of, but Reform. Every creature one meets asks, "What is said now? How will it go? What is the last news? What do you think? and so it is from morning till night, in the streets, in the clubs, and in private houses. Yesterday morning met Hobhouse; told him how well I heard he had spoken, and asked him what he thought of Peel's speech; he said it was brilliant, imposing, but not much in it. Everybody cries up (more than usual) the speeches on their own side, and despises those on the other, which is peculiarly absurd, because the speaking has been very good, and there is so much to be said on both sides that the speech of an adversary may be applauded without any admission of his being in the right. Hobhouse told me he had at first been afraid that his constituents would disapprove this measure, as so many of them would be disfranchised, but that they had behaved nobly and were quite content and ready to make any sacrifices for such an object. I asked him if he thought it would be carried; he said he did not like to think it would not, for he was desirous of keeping what he had, and he was persuaded he should lose it if the Bill were rejected. I said it was an unlucky dilemma when one-half of the world thought like him and the other half were equally convinced that if it be carried they shall lose everything.

Dined at Boodle's with the Master of the Rolls and Charles Grant, who talked about Peel and the reconstruction of the Tory party; that Peel and Wetherell do not yet speak, but that the parties have joined, and at the meeting at Wetherell's Herries went to represent Peel with sixteen or eighteen of his friends. Ross, another of Peel's âmes [125] damnées, told me the same thing, and that they would soon come together again. Grant said he knew that the Duke of Wellington had expressed his readiness to take any part in which it was thought he could render service, either a prominent or a subordinate one or none at all. If so he will be a greater man than he has ever been yet.

Grant talked long and pathetically about the West Indies, and told me a curious anecdote on the authority of Scarlett, who was present. When Wilberforce went out of Parliament he went to Canning and offered him the lead and direction of his party (the Saints), urging him to accept it, and assuring him that their support would give him a strength which to an ambitious man like him was invaluable. Canning took three days to consider it, but finally declined, and then the party elected Brougham as their chief; hence the representation of Yorkshire and many other incidents in Brougham's career.

Grant gave me a curious account of old Sir Robert Peel. He was the younger son of a merchant, his fortune (very small) left to him in the house, and he was not to take it out. He gave up the fortune and started in business without a shilling, but as the active partner in a concern with two other men Yates (whose daughter he afterwards married) and another who between them made up £6,000; from this beginning he left £250,000 apiece to his five younger sons, £6,000 to his three daughters each, and £22,000 a year in land and £450,000 in the funds to Peel. In his lifetime he gave Peel £12,000 a year, the others £3,000, and spent £3,000 himself. He was always giving them money, and for objects which it might have been thought he would have undervalued. He paid for Peel's house when he built it, and for the Chapeau de Paille (2,700 guineas) when he bought it.

March 10th.

The debate has gone on, and is to be over to-night; everybody heartily sick of it, but the excitement as great as ever. Last night O'Connell was very good, and vehemently cheered by the Government, Stanley, Duncannon, and all, all differences giving way to their zeal; Attwood, the other way, good; Graham, a total failure, got into [126] nautical terms and a simile about a ship, in which he floundered and sank. Sir J. Yorke quizzed him with great effect. To-day the City went up with their address, to which the King gave a very general answer. There was great curiosity to know what his answer would be. I rather think this address was got up by Government. Brougham had written to Liverpool to encourage the Reformers there, as he owned to George Villiers last night; and Pearson was with Ellice at the Treasury for an hour the day before this address was moved in the City. They have gone so far that they certainly wish for agitation here. The Duke of Wellington is alarmed; nobody guesses how the question will go. Went to Lady Jersey the day before yesterday to read her correspondence with Brougham, who flummeried her over with notes full of affection and praise, to which she responded in the same strain, and so they are friends again. While I was reading her reply the Duke of Wellington came in, on which she huddled it up, and I conclude he has not seen her effusion. News arrived that the Poles have been beaten and have submitted. There is a great fall in the French funds, as they are expected not to pay their dividends. Europe is in a nice mess. The events of a quarter of a century would hardly be food for a week now-a-days.

March 11th.

It is curious to see the change of opinion as to the passing of this Bill. The other day nobody would hear of the possibility of it, now everybody is beginning to think it will be carried. The tactics of the Opposition have been very bad, for they ought to have come to a division immediately, when I think Government would have been beaten, but it was pretty certain that if they gave time to the country to declare itself the meetings and addresses would fix the wavering and decide the doubtful. There certainly never was anything like the unanimity which pervades the country on the subject; and though I do not think they will break out into rebellion if it is lost, it is impossible not to see that the feeling for it (kept alive as it will be by every sort of excitement) must prevail, and that if this particular Bill is not carried some other must very like it, [127] and which, if it is much short of this, will only leave a peg to hang fresh discussions upon. The Government is desperate and sees no chance of safety but from their success in the measure, but I have my doubts whether they will render themselves immortal by it. It is quite impossible to guess at its effects at present upon the House of Commons in the first return which may be made under it, but if a vast difference is not made, and if it shall still leave to property and personal influence any great extent of power, the Tory party, which is sure to be revived, will in all probability be too strong for the Reforming Whigs. The Duke of Wellington expected to gain strength by passing the Catholic question, whereas he was ruined by it.

March 15th.

It is universally believed that this Bill will pass, except by some of the ultras against it, or by the fools. But what next ? That nobody can tell, though to see the exultation of the Government one would imagine they saw their way clearly to a result of wonderful good. I have little doubt that it will be read a second time, and be a good deal battled in Committee. Although they are determined to carry it through the Committee with a high hand, and not to suffer any alterations, probably some sort of compromise in matters of inferior moment will be made. But when it comes into operation how disappointed everybody will be, and first of all the people! Their imaginations are raised to the highest pitch, but they will open their eyes very wide when they find no sort of advantage accruing to them, when they are deprived of much of the expense and more of the excitement of elections, and see a House of Commons constructed after their own hearts, which will probably be an assembly in all respects inferior to the present. Then they will not be satisfied, and as it will be impossible to go back, there will be plenty of agitators who will preach that we have not gone far enough; and if a Reformed Parliament does not do all that popular clamour shall demand, it will be treated with very little ceremony. If, however, it be true that the tendency of this Bill will be to throw power into the hands of the landed interest, we shall have a great Tory [128] party, which will be selfish, bigoted, and ignorant, and a Radical party, while the Whig party, who will have carried the measure, will sink into insignificance. Such present themselves to my mind as possible alternatives, as far as it is practicable to take anything like a view of probabilities in the chaos and confusion that mighty alterations like these produce.

I dined with Lord Grey on Sunday; they are all in high spirits. Howick told his father that he had received a letter from some merchant in the North praising the Bill, and saying he approved of the whole Government except of Poulett Thomson. In the evening Brougham, John Russell, and others arrived. I hear of Brougham from Sefton, with whom he passes most of his spare time, to relieve his mind by small talk, persiflage, and the gossip of the day. He tells Sefton 'that he likes his office, but that it is a mere plaything, and there is nothing to do; his life is too idle, and when he has cleared off the arrears, which he shall do forthwith, that he really does not know how he shall get rid of his time;' that ' he does not suffer the prolixity of counsel, and when they wander from the point he brings them back and says, "You need not say anything on that point; what I want to be informed upon is so and so."' He is a wonderful man, the most extraordinary I ever saw, but there is more of the mountebank than of greatness in all this. It may do well enough for Sefton, who is as ignorant as he is sharp and shrewd, and captivated with his congenial offhandism, but it requires something more than Brougham's flippant ipse dixit to convince me that the office of Chancellor is such a sinecure and bagatelle. He had a levee the other night, which was brilliantly attended the Archbishops, Duke of Wellington, Lord Grey, a host of people. Sefton goes and sits in his private room and sees his receptions of people, and gives very amusing accounts of his extreme politeness to the Lord Mayor and his cool insouciance with the Archbishop of Canterbury. The stories of him as told by Sefton would be invaluable to his future biographer, and never was a life more sure to be written hereafter.

[129] March 17th.

The night before last Wynford attacked Brougham's Bill, and got lashed in return with prodigious severity. He is resolved to press it, though George Villiers told me he had promised Lyndhurst to wait for his return to town. Notwithstanding his vapouring about the Court of Chancery, and treating it as such child's play, Leach affirms (but he is disappointed and hates him) that he is a very bad judge and knows nothing of his business. 'He was a very bad advocate; why should he make a good judge? '

The Reform Bill is just printed, and already are the various objections raised against different parts of it sufficient to show that it will be pulled to pieces in Committee. Both parties confident of success on the second reading, but the country will have it; there is a determination on the subject, and a unanimity perfectly marvellous, and no demonstration of the unfitness of any of its parts will be of any avail; some of its details may be corrected and amended, but substantially it must pass pretty much as it is.

Brougham has been getting into a squabble with the military. At the drawing-room on Thursday they refused to let his carriage pass through the Horse Guards, when he ordered his coachman to force his way through, which he did. He was quite wrong, and it was very unbecoming and undignified. Lord Londonderry called for an explanation in the House of Lords, when Brougham made a speech, and a very lame one. He said he ordered his coachman to go back, who did not hear him and went on, and when he had got through he thought it was not worth while to turn back. The Lords laughed. A few days after he drove over the soldiers in Downing Street, who were relieving guard; but this time he did no great harm to the men, and it was not his fault, but these things are talked of.

Dined yesterday with General Macdonald to meet the Kembles. Miss Fanny is near being very handsome from the extraordinary expression of her countenance and fine eyes, but her figure is not good. She is short, hands and [130] feet large, arms handsome, skin dark and coarse, and her manner wants ease and repose. Her mother is a very agreeable woman. I did not sit next to Fanny, and had no talk with her afterwards.

March 18th.

Met Robert Clive yesterday morning; very low about the Bill, which he thinks so sure to be carried that he questions the expediency of dividing on the second reading; complained bitterly of the bad tactics and want of union of the party, and especially of Peel's inactivity and backwardness in not having rallied and taken the lead more than he has; he is in fact so cold, phlegmatic, and calculating that he disgusts those who can't do without him as a leader; he will always have political but never personal influence.

March 20th.

On Friday night, after not a long but an angry and noisy debate, there was a division on the timber duties, and Government was beaten by forty-three, all the Saints, West Indians, and anti-Free-traders voting with the great body of Opposition. Their satisfaction was tumultuous. They have long been desirous of bringing Ministers to a trial of strength, and they did not care much upon what; they wanted to let the world see the weakness of Government, and besides on this occasion they hoped that a defeat might be prejudicial to the Reform Bill, so that this matter of commercial and fiscal policy is not decided on its own merits, but is influenced by passion, violence, party tactics, and its remote bearing upon another question with which it has no immediate relation. Althorp was obliged to abandon his original proposition of taking off 5s. from the duty on Baltic timber, which is 55s. (and 45s. on deals), and adding 10s. to the Canadian, which is already 10s. He proposed instead to take off 6s. from the former this year, 6s. next, and 3s. next, so as to give plenty of time for the withdrawal of capital, and to meet all contingencies. The proposal was not unfair, and in other times would have been carried. Poulett Thomson made a very good speech, clear and satisfactory. Peel was what is called very factious that is, in opposition just what the others were, violent and unreasonable as far as the [131] question is concerned, but acting upon a system having for its object to embarrass the Government.

I still think the second reading of the Reform Bill will pass, and, all things considered, that it would be the best thing that could happen; it is better to capitulate than to be taken by storm. The people are unanimous, good-humoured, and determined; if the Bill is thrown out, their good humour will disappear, the country will be a scene of violence and uproar, and a most ferocious Parliament will be returned, which will not only carry the question of Reform, but possibly do so in a very different form. We should see the iræ leonum vincla recusantum, and this proposition is so evident, this state of things is so indisputable, that it is marvellous to me how anybody can triumph and exult in the anticipation of a victory the consequences of which would be more unfortunate than a defeat. If indeed a victory could set the matter at rest, confirm our present institutions, and pacify the people, it would be very well; but Reform the people will have, and no human power, moral or physical, can now arrest its career. It would be better, then, to concede with a good grace, and to modify the. measure in Committee, which may still be practicable, than to oppose it point-blank without a prospect of success.

March 22nd.

The debate began again last night, and was adjourned. It was dull, and the House impatient. To-night they will divide, and after a thousand fluctuations of opinion it is thought the Bill will be thrown out by a small majority. Then will come the question of a dissolution, which one side affirms will take place directly, and the other that the King will not consent to it, knowing, as 'the man in the street' (as we call him at Newmarket) always does, the greatest secrets of kings, and being the confidant of their most hidden thoughts. As for me, I see nothing but a choice of difficulties either way, and victory or defeat would be equally bad. It is odd enough, but I believe Lord Lansdowne thinks just the same, for he asked me yesterday morning what I expected would be the result, and I told him my opinion on the whole question, and he replied, 'I can add nothing to what you [132] have said; that is exactly my own opinion,' and I have very little doubt that more than half the Cabinet in their hearts abhor the measure. Knatchbull was taken ill in the morning, and could not go to the House at all.

March 23rd.

The House divided at three o'clock this morning, and the second reading was carried by a majority of one in the fullest House that ever was known — 303 to 302 — both parties confident up to the moment of division; but the Opposition most so, and at last the Government expected to be beaten. Denman told somebody as they were going to divide that the question would be lost; Calcraft and the Wynnes' going over at the eleventh hour did the business. I believe that this division is the best thing that could happen, and so I told the Duke in the morning, and that I had wished it to be carried by a small majority; I met him walking with Arbuthnot in the Park. He said, 'I could not take such a course' (that was in answer to my saying I wished it to be read a second time, to be lost in the Committee). I said, 'But you would have nothing to do with it personally.' 'No; but as belonging to the party I could not recommend such a course,' which seemed as if he did not altogether disagree with my view of it. I stopped at the 'Travellers' till past three, when a man came in and told, me the news. I walked home, and found the streets swarming with members of Parliament coming from the House. My belief is (if they manage well and are active and determined) that the Bill will be lost in Committee, and then this will be the best thing that could have occurred.

March 24th.

The agitation the other night on the division was prodigious. The Government, who stayed in the House, thought they had lost it by ten, and the Opposition, who were crowded in the lobby, fancied from their numbers that they were sure of winning. There was betting going on all night long, and large sums have been won and lost. The people in the lobby were miscounted, and they thought they had 303. At the levee yesterday and Council; the Government are by way of being satisfied, but hardly can be. I met the Duke of Wellington afterwards, who owned to me that he [133] thought this small majority for the Bill was on the whole the best thing that could have occurred, and that seems to be the opinion generally of its opponents.

Nothing particularly at the levee; Brougham very good fun. The King, who had put off going to the Opera on account of the death of his son-in-law Kennedy, appeared in mourning (crape, that is), which is reckoned bad taste; the public allow natural feeling to supersede law and etiquette, but it is too much to extend that courtesy to a 'son-in-law' and his daughter is not in England. Somebody said that 'it was the first time a King of England had appeared in mourning that his subjects did not wear.' In the evening to the Ancient Concert, where the Queen was, and by-the-bye in mourning, and the Margravine and Duchess of Gloucester too, but they (the two latter) could hardly be mourning for Lord Cassilis's son. Horace Seymour, Meynell, and Calvert were all turned out of their places in the Lord Chamberlain's department on account of their votes the other night.

The change of Ministers at Paris and Casimir Périer's speech have restored something like confidence about French affairs. The Prince of Orange is gone back to Holland, to his infinite disgust; he was escorted by Lady Dudley Stewart and Mrs. Fox as far as Gravesend, I believe, where they were found the next day in their white satin shoes and evening dresses. He made a great fool of himself here, and destroyed any sympathy there might have been for his political misfortunes; supping, dancing, and acting, and little (rather innocent) orgies at these ladies' houses formed his habitual occupation.

A sort of repose from the cursed Bill for a moment, but it is said that many who opposed it before are going to support it in Committee; nobody knows. When the Speaker put the question, each party roared 'Aye' and 'No' totis viribus. He said he did not know, and put it again. After that he said, 'I am not sure, but I think the ayes have it.' Then the noes went out into the lobby, and the others thought they never would have done filing out, and the House looked so empty when they were gone that the Government was in [134] despair. They say the excitement was beyond anything. I continue to hear great complaints of Peel of his coldness, incommunicativeness, and deficiency in all the qualities requisite for a leader, particularly at such a time. There is nobody else, or he would be deserted for any man who had talents enough to take a prominent part, so much does he disgust his adherents. Nobody knows what are his opinions, feelings, wishes, or intentions; he will not go en avant, and nobody feels any dependence upon him. There is no help for it and the man's nature can't be altered. I said all this to Ross yesterday, his devoted adherent, and he was obliged to own it, with all kinds of regrets and endeavours to soften the picture.

April 14th

The Reform campaign has reopened with a violent speech from Hunt denouncing the whole thing as a delusion; that the people begin to find out how they are humbugged, and that as it will make nothing cheaper they don't care about it. The man's drift is not very clear whether the Bill is really unpalatable at Preston or whether he wants to go further directly. At the same time John Russell announced some alterations in the Bill, not, as he asserted, trenching upon its principle, but, as the Opposition declares, altering it altogether. On the whole, these things have inspirited its opponents, and, as they must produce delay, are in so far bad for the Reform cause. Besides, though the opinion of the country is universally in its favour, people are beginning to think that it may be rejected without any apprehension of such dreadful consequences ensuing as have been predicted. Then the state of Ireland is such that it is thought the Ministers cannot encounter a dissolution, not that I feel any security on that head, for I believe the Cabinet is ruled by two or three men reckless of everything provided they can prolong their own power.

April 24th.

At Newmarket all last week, and returned to town last night to hear from those who saw them the extraordinary scenes in both Houses of Parliament (the day before) which closed the eventful week. The Reform battle began again on Monday last. The night before I went out of town [135] I met Duncannon, and walked with him up Regent Street, when he told me that he did not believe the Ministers would be beaten, but if they were they should certainly dissolve instantly; that he should have liked to dissolve long ago, but they owed it to their friends not to have recourse to a dissolution if they could help it. On Monday [i.e. 18 April] General Gascoyne moved that the Committee should be instructed not to reduce the members of the House of Commons, and this was carried after two nights' debate by eight. The dissolution was then decided upon. Meanwhile Lord Wharncliffe gave notice of a motion to address the King not to dissolve Parliament, and this was to have come on on Friday. On Thursday the Ministers were again beaten in the House of Commons on a question of adjournment, and on Friday morning they got the King to go down and prorogue Parliament in person the same day. This coup d'etat was so sudden that nobody was aware of it till within two or three hours of the time, and many not at all. They told him that the cream-coloured horses could not be got ready, when he said, 'Then I will go with anybody else's horses.' Somebody went off in a carriage to the Tower, to fetch the crown, and they collected such attendants as they could find to go with his Majesty. The Houses met at one or two o'clock. In the House of Commons Sir R. Vyvyan made a furious speech, attacking the Government on every point, and (excited as he was) it was very well done. The Ministers made no reply, but Sir Francis Burdett and Tennyson endeavoured to interrupt with calls to order, and when the Speaker decided that Vyvyan was not out of order Tennyson disputed his opinion, which enraged the Speaker, and soon after called up Peel, for whom he was resolved to procure a hearing. The scene then resembled that which took place on Lord North's resignation in 1782, for Althorp (I think) moved that Burdett should be heard, and the Speaker said that 'Peel was in possession of the House to speak on that motion.' He made a very violent speech, attacking the Government for their incompetence, folly, and recklessness, and treated them with the utmost asperity and contempt. In the midst of his [136] speech the guns announced the arrival of the King, and at each explosion the Government gave a loud cheer, and Peel was still speaking in the midst of every sort of noise and tumult when the Usher of the Black Rod knocked at the door to summon the Commons to the House of Peers. There the proceedings were if possible still more violent and outrageous; those who were present tell me it resembled nothing but what we read of the 'Serment du Jeu de Paume,' and the whole scene was as much like the preparatory days of a revolution as can well be imagined. Wharncliffe was to have moved an address to the Crown against dissolving Parliament, and this motion the Ministers were resolved should not come on, but he contrived to bring it on so far as to get it put upon the Journals. The Duke of Richmond endeavoured to prevent any speaking by raising points of order, and moving that the Lords should take their regular places (in separate ranks), which, however, is impossible at a royal sitting, because the cross benches are removed; this put Lord Londonderry in such a fury that he rose, roared, gesticulated, held up his whip, and four or five Lords held him down by the tail of his coat to prevent his flying on somebody. Lord Lyndhurst was equally furious, and some sharp words passed which were not distinctly heard. In the midst of all the din Lord Mansfield rose and obtained a hearing. Wharncliife said to him, 'For God's sake, Mansfield, take care what you are about, and don't disgrace us more in the state we are in.' 'Don't be afraid,' he said; 'I will say nothing that will alarm you;' and accordingly he pronounced a trimming philippic on the Government, which, delivered as it was in an imposing manner, attired in his robes, and with the greatest energy and excitation, was prodigiously effective. While he was still speaking, the King arrived, but he did not desist even while his Majesty [l] was

[1] When Lord Mansfield sat down he said, 'I have spoken English to them at least.' Lord Lyndhurst told me that Lord Mansfield stopped speaking as soon as the door opened to admit the King. He said he never saw him so excited before, and in his robes he looked very grand. He also told me that he was at Lady Holland's giving an account of the scene when Brougham came in. He said, 'I was telling them what passed the other day in our house,' when Brougham explained his part by saying that the Usher of the Black Rod (Tyrwhit) was at his elbow saying, 'My Lord Chancellor, you must come; the King is waiting for you: come along; you must come,' and that he was thus dragged out of the House in this hurry and without having time to sit down or say any more.

[137] entering the House of Lords, nor till he approached the throne; and while the King was ascending the steps the hoarse voice of Lord Londonderry was heard crying 'Hear, hear, hear!' The King from the robing-room heard the noise, and asked what it all meant. The conduct of the Chancellor was most extraordinary, skipping in and out of the House and making most extraordinary speeches. In the midst of the uproar he went out of the House, when Lord Shaftesbury was moved into the chair. In the middle of the debate Brougham again came in and said, 'it was most extraordinary that the King's undoubted right to dissolve Parliament should be questioned at a moment when the House of Commons had taken the unprecedented course of stopping the supplies,' and having so said (which was a lie) he flounced out of the House to receive the King on his arrival. The King ought not properly to have worn the crown, never having been crowned; but when he was in the robing-room he said to Lord Hastings, 'Lord Hastings, I wear the crown; where is it?' It was brought to him, and when Lord Hastings was going to put it on his head he said, 'Nobody shall put the crown on my head but myself.' He put it on, and then turned to Lord Grey and said, 'Now, my Lord, the coronation is over.' George Villiers said that in his life he never saw such a scene, and as he looked at the King upon the throne with the crown loose upon his head, and the tall, grim figure of Lord Grey close beside him, with the sword of state in his hand, it was as if the King had got his executioner by his side, and the whole picture looked strikingly typical of his and our future destinies.

Such has been the termination of this Parliament and of the first act of the new Ministerial drama; there never was a Government ousted with more ignominy than the last, nor a Ministry that came in with higher pretensions, greater professions, and better prospects than the present, but [138] nothing ever corresponded less than their performances with their pretensions. The composition of the Government was radically defective, and with a good deal of loose talent there was so much of passion, folly, violence, and knavery, together with inexperience and ignorance mixed up with it, that from the very beginning they cut the sorriest possible figure. Such men as Richmond, Durham, Althorp, and Graham, in their different ways, were enough to spoil any Cabinet, and consequently their course has been marked by a series of blunders and defeats. Up to the moment of the dissolution few people expected it would happen, some thinking the King would not consent, others that the Government would never venture upon it, but the King is weak and the Ministry reckless. That disposition, which at first appeared so laudable, of putting himself implicitly into the hands of his Ministers, and which seemed the more so from the contrast it afforded to the conduct of the late King, who was always thwarting his Ministers, throwing difficulties in their way, and playing a double part, becomes vicious when carried to the extent of paralysing all free action and free opinion on his part, and of suffering himself to be made the instrument of any measures, however violent. It may be said, indeed, that he cordially agrees with these men, and has opinions coincident with theirs, but this is not probable; and when we remember his unlimited confidence in the Duke up to the moment of his resignation, it is impossible to believe that he can have so rapidly imbibed principles the very reverse of those which the Duke maintained. [1] It is more likely that he has no opinions, and is really a mere puppet in the hands into which he may happen to fall. Lord Mansfield had an audience, and gave him his sentiments upon the state of affairs. He will not say what passed between them, but it is clear that it was of no use.

The Queen and the Royal Family are extremely unhappy at all these things, but the former has no influence whatever

[1] The King was extremely opposed to the dissolution, and had remonstrated against it ever since it was first proposed to him in March. See Lord Grey's letter in the 'Times' of March 26, 1866.

[139] with the King. In the meantime there are very different opinions as to the result of the elections, some thinking that Government will not gain much by the dissolution, others that they (or at least Reform) will win everything. It seems to me quite impossible that they should not win everything, but time is gained to the other side. The census of 1831 will be out, and the chapter of accidents may and must make much difference; still I see no possibility of arresting the progress of Reform, and whether this Bill or another like it passes is much the same thing. The Government have made it up with O'Connell, which is one mouthful of the dirty pudding they have had to swallow, as one of their own friends said of them.

April 26th.

Last night at the Queen's ball; heaps of people of all sorts; everybody talking of the elections. Both parties pretend to be confident, but the Government with the best reason. The county members, as Sefton says, are tumbling about like nine-pins, and though it seems not improbable that the Opposition will gain in the boroughs, they must lose greatly in the counties; and we must not only look to the relative numbers, but to the composition of the respective parties. A large minority composed of borough nominees, corporation members, and only a sprinkling of what is called independence would not look well. Large sums have been subscribed on both sides, but on that of the Opposition there is a want of candidates more than of places to send them to.

I met Lyndhurst last night, and asked him what it was he said in the House of Lords. He said it was nothing very violent, but that it was not heard. The Duke of Richmond had spoken to the point of order, and said in a very marked way 'he saw a noble Earl sitting by a junior Baron.' This was Lyndhurst, who was offended at the sneer upon his want of ancienneté, and who retorted that before the noble Duke made such speeches on points of order he would do well to make himself acquainted with the orders of the House, of which it was obvious he knew nothing. The Duke of Devonshire told Lady Lyndhurst that her husband ought to resign [140] his judicial situation because he had displayed hostility to Government the other night, but it would be a new maxim to establish that the Judges were to be amenable to the Minister for their political opinions and Parliamentary conduct.

April 29th.

The night before last there was an illumination, got up by the foolish Lord Mayor, which of course produced an uproar and a general breaking of obnoxious windows. Lord Mansfield and the Duke of Buccleuch went to Melbourne in the morning and remonstrated, asking what protection he meant to afford to their properties. A gun (with powder only) was fired over the heads of the mob from Apsley House, and they did not go there again. The Government might have discouraged this manifestation of triumph, but they wished for it for the purpose of increasing the popular excitement. They don't care what they do, or what others do, so long as they can keep the people in a ferment. It is disgusting to the last degree to hear their joy and exultation at the success of their measures and the good prospects held out to them by the elections; all of which may turn out very well, but if it does not 'who shall set hoddy-doddy up again?' Lord Cleveland has subscribed £10,000 to the election fund.

Lord Yarborough, by a very questionable piece of political morality, has given the Holmes boroughs in the Isle of Wight to Government; they are the property of Sir L. Holmes's daughter, whose guardian he is as well as executor under the will. In this capacity he has the disposal of the boroughs, and he gives them to the Ministers to fill with men who are to vote for their disfranchisement. A large price is paid for them — £ 4,000 — but it makes a difference of eight votes, and if the Bill is carried they will be worth nothing. The elections promise well for Government even in the boroughs, as I was persuaded they would. O'Connell has put forth a proclamation entreating, commanding peace, order, and support of the Bill's supporters. Tom Moore called on me yesterday morning. He said that he was a Reformer and liked the Bill, but he was fully aware of all that it might produce of evil to the [141] present system. He owned frankly that he felt like an Irishman, and that the wrongs of Ireland and the obstinacy of the faction who had oppressed her still rankled in his heart, and that he should not be sorry at any vengeance which might overtake them at last. I hear renewed complaints of Peel, of his selfish, cold, calculating, cowardly policy; that we are indebted to him principally for our present condition I have no doubt — to his obstinacy and to his conduct in the Catholic question first, to his opposition and then to his support of it. Opposing all and every sort of Reform totis viribus while he dared, now he makes a death-bed profession of acquiescence in something which should be more moderate than this. All these things disgust people inconceivably, and it is not the less melancholy that he is our only resource, and his capacity for business and power in the House of Commons places him so far above all his competitors that if we are to have a Conservative party we must look to him alone to lead it.

May 7th.

Nothing could go on worse than the elections — Reformers returned everywhere, so much so that the contest is over, and we have only to await the event and see what the House of Lords will do. In the House of Commons the Bill is already carried. It is supposed that the Ministers themselves begin to be alarmed at the devil they have let loose, and well they may; but he is out, and stop him who can. The King has put off his visit to the City because he is ill, as the Government would have it believed, but really because he is furious with the Lord Mayor at all the riots and uproar on the night of the illumination. That night the Queen went to the Ancient Concert, and on her return the mob surrounded the carriage; she had no guards, and the footmen were obliged to beat the people off with their canes to prevent their thrusting their heads into the coach. She was frightened and the King very much annoyed. He heard the noise and tumult, and paced backwards and forwards in his room waiting for her return. When she came back Lord Howe, her chamberlain, as usual preceded her, when the King said, 'How is the Queen?' and went [142] down to meet her. Howe, who is an eager anti-Reformer, said, 'Very much frightened, sir,' and made the worst of it. She was in fact terrified, and as she detests the whole of these proceedings, the more distressed and disgusted. The King was very angry, and immediately declared he would not go to the City at all. It is supposed that Government will make a large batch of Peers to secure the Bill in the House of Lords, but the press have already begun to attack that House, declaring that if they pass the Bill it will be from compulsion, and if they do not that they are the enemies of the people.

May 11th.

The elections are going on universally in favour of Reform; the great interests in the counties are everywhere broken, and old connections dissevered. In Worcestershire Captain Spencer, who has nothing to do with the county, and was brought there by his brother-in-law, Lord Lyttelton, has beaten Lygon, backed by all the wealth of his family; the Manners have withdrawn from Leicestershire and Cambridgeshire, and Lord E. Somerset from Gloucestershire; Lord Worcester too is beaten at Monmouth. Everywhere the tide is irresistible; all considerations are sacrificed to the success of the measure. At the last Essex election Colonel Tyrrell saved Western, who would have been beaten by Long Wellesley, and now Western has coalesced with Wellesley against Tyrrell, and will throw him out. In Northamptonshire Althorp had pledged himself to Cartwright not to bring forward another candidate on his side, and Milton joins him and stands. The state of excitement, doubt, and apprehension which prevails will not quickly subside, for the battle is only beginning; when the Bill is carried we must prepare for the second act.

May 14th.

The elections are still going for Reform. They count upon a majority of 140 in the House of Commons, but the Tories meditate resistance in the House of Lords, which it is to be hoped will be fruitless, and it is probable the Peers will trot round as they did about the Catholic question when it comes to the point. There is a great hubbub at Northampton about a pledge which Althorp is supposed to have [143] given not to bring forward another candidate against Cartwright, which the anti-Reformers say he has violated in putting up Milton, and moreover that such conduct is very dishonest; and as his honesty was his principal recommendation, if he should have forfeited that what would remain to him? On the contrary his friends say that he gave no such pledge, that he expressed a hope there might be no contest, but the people would have Milton; and though Althorp regretted his standing, as he did stand they were obliged to join for their common safety. So much for this electioneering squabble, of which time will elicit the truth. Last night I went to Prince Leopold's, where was George Fitzclarence receiving congratulations on his new dignity (Earl of Munster). He told me everybody had been very kind about it the King, Lord Grey, his friends, and the public. He had told Lord Grey he was anxious his brothers and sisters should have the rank of marquis's sons and daughters (to give them titles). Grey had only objected that their titles would then represent a higher rank than his own, [1] but that he laid no stress on that objection, and it would be done directly. Melbourne has written a letter to the Lord Mayor assuring him that ill health is the only obstacle to the King's visit to the City, and that there is no foundation for the report of his displeasure, the Lord Mayor's explanation having proved quite satisfactory. This is not true, I believe, but they make him say so.

May 22nd.

At Epsom all last week for the races at a house which Lord Chesterfield took; nobody there but the three sisters [2] and their two husbands. Rode out on the downs every morning, and enjoyed the fine country, as beautiful as any I have seen of the kind. After the races on Friday I went to Richmond to dine with Lord and Lady Lyndhurst, and was refreshed by his vigorous mind after the three or four days I had passed. He thinks the state of things very bad, has a great contempt for this Government, is very

1 If Lord Grey said this it was a mistake. The younger sons and daughters of marquises take rank after earls.
2 Lady Chesterfield, Mrs. Anson, and Miss Forester.

[144] doubtful what will happen, thinks Lord Grey will not stand, and that Brougham will be Chancellor and Prime Minister, like Clarendon; he talked of the late Government, the Duke of Wellington and Peel; he said that the former meddled with no department but that of Foreign Affairs, which he conducted entirely; that he understood them better than anything else, and if he came into office again would be Foreign Secretary; that in the Cabinet he was always candid, reasonable, and ready to discuss fairly every subject, but not so Peel. He, if his opinion was not adopted, would take up a newspaper and sulk. Lyndhurst agreed with me about his manners, his coldness, and how he disgusted instead of conciliating people; he said that when any of his friends in Parliament proposed to speak in any debate, he never encouraged or assisted them, but answered with a dry "Do you?" to their notification of a wish or intention. He said that this Bill was drawn up by Lambton himself, but so ill done, so ignorantly and inefficiently, that they were obliged to send for Harrison, who, in conjunction with the Attorney-General, drew it up afresh; that when John Russell brought it forward the Bill was still undrawn.[1] He says that there is not the least doubt they never had an idea of bringing forward any such measure as this till they found themselves so weak in the House of Commons that nothing but a popular cry and Radical support could possibly save them. It is very remarkable when we look back to the moment of the dissolution of the late Government, when Brougham was in the House of Commons armed with his Bill, which, though unknown, was so dreaded, and which turns out to have been mere milk and water compared with this. He said Brougham was offered the Attorney-Generalship by a note, which he tore in pieces and stamped upon, and sent word that there was no answer; that he has long aspired to be Chancellor, and wished to get into the House of Lords. He ridicules his pretensions to

[1] Compare the details of the preparation of the Reform Bill published by Lord Russell in the last edition of his ' Essay on the British Constitution.' Much of this conversation of Lord Lyndhurst's is extremely wide of the truth, but it is retained to show what was said and believed by competent persons at the time.

[145] such wonderful doings in his Court and in the Bills he has announced; says that he has decided no bankruptcy cases, and, except some Scotch appeals in the House of Lords, has got rid of hardly any arrears.; and as to his Bills, the Bankruptcy Bill was objectionable and the Chancery Bill he has never brought on at all; that he knows he affects a short cut to judicial eminence, but that without labour and reading he cannot administer justice in that Court, although no doubt his great acuteness and rapid perception may often enable him at once to see the merits of a case and hit upon the important points. This he said in reply to what I told him of Brougham's trumpeter Sefton, who echoes from his own lips that 'the Court of Chancery is such a sinecure and mere child's play.'

In the meantime the elections have been going languidly on, and are now nearly over; contrary to the prognostications of the Tories, they have gone off very quietly, even in Ireland not many contests, the anti-Reformers being unable to make any fight at all; except in Shropshire they are dead-beat everywhere. Northamptonshire the sharpest contest, and the one which has made the most ill blood; this particular election has produced a good deal of violence; elsewhere the Reformers have it hollow, no matter what the characters of the candidates, if they are only for the Bill. Calcraft and Wellesley, the former not respected, the latter covered with disgrace, have beat Bankes and Tyrrell. Lowther had not a chance in Cumberland, where Sir James Graham got into another scrape, for in an impertinent speech he made an attack upon Scarlett, which drew upon him a message and from him an apology. Formerly, when a man made use of offensive expressions and was called to account, he thought it right to go out and stand a shot before he ate his words, but now-a-days that piece of chivalry is dispensed with, and politicians make nothing of being scurrilous one day and humble the next. Hyde Villiers has been appointed to succeed Sandon at the Board of Control as a Whig and a Reformer. He was in a hundred minds what line he should take, and had written a pamphlet to prove the necessity of [146] giving Ministers seats in both Houses (as in France), which he has probably put in the fire. I am very glad he has got the place; and though his opinions were not very decided before, he has always been anti-Tory, and has done nothing discreditable to get it, and it was offered to him in a very flattering manner.

May 28th.

Yesterday Lord Grey was invested with the blue riband, though there is no vacancy; the only precedent is that of Lords Liverpool and Castlereagh (which was thought wrong), but it was on the occasion of the peace after Buonaparte's overthrow and when Castlereagh returned with such éclat from Paris that the whole House of Commons rose and cheered him as he entered it.

I met Alexander Baring the other night, who said it was certain that the King was full of regrets at the extent of the measures into which he had been hurried, when I told him of Lord Grey's Garter, and asked him what he said to that, and how that bore out the assertion of the King's regrets. The fact is that although on one side a most indecent though effectual use of the King's name has been made, on the other there is nothing that is not asserted with equal confidence about ' his difficulties and his scruples.' Sefton told me that it was the sort of things that were said that made the King write to Lord Grey (he saw the letter) and tell him that he thought it of the greatest importance at the present moment to confer upon him a signal mark of his regard and of his satisfaction with the whole of his conduct. It is, I believe, true that the King felt some alarm and some doubt about the dissolution, but I do not believe that he has any doubts or fears at present. Indeed, how should he not have suffered himself to be led away by these people and to become identified with their measure? They have given him an ample share of the praise of it; they assure him it will be eminently successful; he sees himself popular and applauded to the skies, and as far as things have gone it has been successful, for the elections have gone on and gone off very peaceably, and the country in expectation of the passing of the Bill is in a state of profound tranquillity.

[147] June 5th.

All last week at Fern Hill for the Ascot races; the Chesterfields, Tavistocks, Belfasts, George Ansons, Montague, Stradbroke, and Brooke Greville were there. The Royal Family came to the course the first day with a great cortége — eight coaches-and-four, two phaetons, pony sociables, and led horses — Munster riding on horseback behind the King's carriage, Augustus (the parson) and Frederick driving phaetons. The Duke of Richmond was in the King's calèche and Lord Grey in one of the coaches. The reception was strikingly cold and indifferent, not half so good as that which the late King used to receive. William was bored to death with the races, and his own horse broke down. On Wednesday he did not come; on Thursday they came again. Beautiful weather and unprecedented multitudes. The King was much more cheered than the first day, or the greater number of people made a greater noise. A few cheers were given to Lord Grey as he returned, which he just acknowledged and no more. On Friday we dined at the Castle; each day the King asked a crowd of people from the neighbourhood. We arrived at a little before seven; the Queen was only just come in from riding, so we had to wait till near eight. Above forty people at dinner, for which the room is not nearly large enough; the dinner was not bad, but the room insufferably hot. The Queen was taken out by the Duke of Richmond, and the King followed with the Duchess of Saxe Weimar, the Queen's sister. He drinks wine with everybody, asking seven or eight at a time. After dinner he drops asleep. We sat for a short time. Directly after coffee the band began to play; a good band, not numerous, and principally of violins and stringed instruments. The Queen and the whole party sat there all the evening, so that it was, in fact, a concert of instrumental music. The King took Lady Tavistock to St. George's Hall and the ball-room, where we walked about, with two or three servants carrying lamps to show the proportions, for it was not lit up. The whole thing is exceedingly magnificent, and the manner of life does not appear to be very formal, and need not be disagreeable but for the bore of never dining [148] without twenty strangers. The Castle holds very few people, and with the King's and Queen's immediate suite and toute la bâtardise it was quite full. The King's four sons were there, signoreggianti tutti, and the whole thing 'donnait a penser' to those who looked back a little and had seen other days. We sat in that room in which Lyndhurst has often talked to me of the famous five hours' discussion with the late King, when the Catholic Bill hung upon his caprice. Palmerston told me he had never been in the Castle since the eventful day of Herries' appointment and non-appointment; and how many things have happened since! What a changement de decoration; no longer George IV., capricious, luxurious, and misanthropic, liking nothing but the society of listeners and flatterers, with the Conyngham tribe and one or two Tory Ministers and foreign Ambassadors; but a plain, vulgar, hospitable gentleman, opening his doors to all the world, with a numerous family and suite, a Whig Ministry, no foreigners, and no toad-eaters at all. Nothing can be more different, and looking at him one sees how soon this act will be finished, and the same be changed for another probably not less dissimilar. Queen, bastards, Whigs, [1] all will disappear, and God knows what replaces them. Came to town yesterday, and found a quarrel between Henry Bentinck and Sir Roger Gresley, which I had to settle, and did settle amicably in the course of the evening.

June 7th.

Dined with Sefton yesterday, who gave me an account of a dinner at Fowell Buxton's on Saturday to see the brewery, at which Brougham was the 'magnus Apollo.' Sefton is excellent as a commentator on Brougham; he says that he watches him incessantly, never listens to anybody else when he is there, and rows him unmercifully afterwards for all the humbug, nonsense, and palaver he hears him talk to people. They were twenty-seven at dinner. Talleyrand was to have gone, but was frightened by being told that he would get nothing but beefsteaks and porter, so he stayed

[1] Not Whigs — they are les bienvenus, which they were not before. July 1838.

[149] away. They dined in the brewhouse and visited the whole establishment. Lord Grey was there in star, garter, and riband. There were people ready to show and explain everything, but not a bit — Brougham took the explanation of everything into his own hands — the mode of brewing, the machinery, down to the feeding of the cart-horses. After dinner the account-books were brought, and the young Buxtons were beckoned up to the top of the table by their father to hear the words of wisdom that flowed from the lips of my Lord Chancellor. He affected to study the ledger, and made various pertinent remarks on the manner of book-keeping. There was a man whom Brougham called 'Cornelius' (Sefton did not know who he was) with whom he seemed very familiar. While Brougham was talking he dropped his voice, on which 'Cornelius' said, 'Earl Grey is listening,' that he might speak louder and so nothing be lost. He was talking of Paley, and said that 'although he did not always understand his own meaning, he always contrived to make it intelligible to others,' on which 'Cornelius' said, 'My good friend, if he made it so clear to others he must have had some comprehension of it himself; ' on which Sefton attacked him afterwards, and swore that 'he was a mere child in the hands of "Cornelius,"' that 'he never saw anybody so put down.' These people are all subscribers to the London University, and Sefton swears he overheard Brougham tell them that 'Sir Isaac Newton was nothing compared to some of the present professors,' or something to that effect. I put down all this nonsense because it amused me in the recital, and is excessively characteristic of the man, one of the most remarkable who ever existed. Lady Sefton told me that he went with them to the British Museum, where all the officers of the Museum were in attendance to receive them. He would not let anybody explain anything, but did all the honours himself. At last they came to the collection of minerals, when she thought he must be brought to a standstill. Their conductor began to describe them, when Brougham took the words out of his mouth, and dashed off with [150] as much, ease and familiarity as if he had been a Buckland or a Cuvier. Such is the man, a grand mixture of moral, political, and intellectual incongruities.

June 10th.

Breakfasted the day before yesterday with Rogers, Sydney Smith, Luttrell, John Russell, and Moore; excessively agreeable. I never heard anything more entertaining than Sydney Smith; such bursts of merriment and so dramatic. Breakfasts are the meals for poets. I met Wordsworth and Southey at breakfast. Rogers' are always agreeable.

June 15th.

Five new peerages came out yesterday Sefton, Kinnaird, Fingall, Leitrim, and Agar Ellis; John Russell and Stanley are to be in the Cabinet. At the ball at St. James's the other night George Dawson told me that they had 270 people in the House of Commons on the side of the Opposition, if they could command their attendance; that he did not mean to say no Reform Bill would pass, but that the details of this Bill had never yet been discussed, and when they were it would be so clearly shown that it is impracticable that this identical measure never could pass. The Opposition are beginning to recover from their discouragement; there is to be a meeting at Lord Mansfield's on Friday, and they do, I believe, mean to fight it out.

June 19th.

The last few days I have been completely taken up with quarantine, and taking means to prevent the cholera coming here. That disease made great ravages in Russia last year, and in the winter the attention of Government was called to it, and the question was raised whether we should have to purify goods coming here in case it broke out again, and if so how it was to be done. Government was thinking of Reform and other matters, and would not bestow much attention upon this subject, and accordingly neither regulations nor preparations were made. All that was done was to commission a Dr. Walker, a physician residing at St. Petersburg, to go to Moscow and elsewhere and make enquiries into the nature and progress of the disease, and report the result of his investigation to us. He turned out, however, to be a very useless and inefficient [151] agent. In the meantime as the warm weather returned the cholera again appeared in Russia, but still we took no further measures until intelligence arrived that it had reached Riga, at which place 700 or 800 sail of English vessels, loaded principally with hemp and flax, were waiting to come to this country. This report soon diffused a general alarm, and for many days past the newspapers have been full of letters and full of lies, and every sort of representation is made to Government or through the press, as fear or interest happens to dictate. The Consuls and Ministers abroad had been for some time supplying us with such information as they could obtain, so that we were in possession of a great deal of documentary evidence regarding the nature, character, and progress of the disease. The first thing we did was to issue two successive Orders in Council placing all vessels coming from the Baltic in quarantine, and we sent for Sir Henry Halford and placed all the papers we had in his hands, desiring that he would associate with himself some other practitioners, and report their opinion as speedily as possible whether the disease was contagious and whether it could be conveyed by goods. They reported the next day yes to the first question, no to the second. In 1804, on the occasion of the yellow fever at Gibraltar, Government formed a Board of Health, and took the opinion of the College of Physicians, and it was intended to pursue the same course in this instance, but Lords Lansdowne and Auckland chose to take Halford's preliminary opinion, contrary to my advice, for I foresaw that there would be a great embarrassment if he and the College did not agree. Just so it turned out, for when the case was submitted, with all the papers, to the College, they would not adopt his opinion, much to his annoyance, and, as I believe, because they did not like to be merely called on to confirm, what he had already said, and that they thought their independence required a show of dissent. The report they sent was very short and very unsatisfactory, and entirely against all the evidence they had before them; they advised precautionary measures. I immediately wrote back an answer saying that their report [152] was not satisfactory, and desiring a more detailed opinion, and the reasons which had dictated their conclusion; but in the meantime we set to work in earnest to adopt measures against any emergency. The only way of performing quarantine (with goods), it was found, would be by the employment of men-of-war, and we accordingly asked the Admiralty to supply ships for the purpose. This Lord Grey, Sir James Graham, and Sir Byam Martin objected to, but Sir Thomas Hardy and Captain Elliot did not. We proved that the ships would sustain no injury, so after a battle they agreed to give them. We made a variety of regulations, and gave strict orders for the due performance of quarantine, and tomorrow a proclamation is to be issued for constituting a Board of Health and enjoining obedience to the quarantine laws, so that everything has been done that can be done, and if the cholera comes here it is not our fault. Most of the authorities think it will come, but I doubt it. If indeed it is wafted through the air it may, but I don't think it will if it is only to be communicated by contact. All the evidence proves that goods cannot convey it; nevertheless we have placed merchandise under a discretionary quarantine, and though we have not promulgated any gener9 May, 2017nfected places, or that have got enumerated goods on board. Poulett Thomson, who is a trader as well as Privy Councillor, is very much disgusted in his former capacity at the measures he is obliged to concur in in his latter. This topic has now occupied for some days a good deal of the attention even of the fine fools of this town, and the Tories would even make it a matter of party accusation against the Government, only they don't know exactly how. It is always safe to deal in generalities, so they say that 'Government ought to be impeached if the disease comes here.'

There was a meeting of Peers to the amount of nearly seventy at Lord Mansfield's the other day, which went off greatly to their satisfaction. They unanimously agreed to determine upon nothing in the way of amendment until they had seen the King's Speech, to which, however, they will [153] consider themselves bound to move an amendment, provided it contains anything laudatory of the Reform Bill. The Duke of Wellington was not at the meeting, having been taken ill. I met him the day before at dinner, and had a good deal of conversation with him. He is in pretty good spirits, and thinks they may make a good fight of it yet; told me that Lyndhurst would certainly go thoroughly with them, praised him largely, said he was the best colleague that any man ever had, and that he should be very sorry ever to go into any Cabinet of which he was not a member. The King dined with the Duke yesterday, and was to give him a very fine sword. Aubin, who was to have acted in 'Hernani' before the Queen on Wednesday next, is suddenly gone off to Rome as attaché to Brook Taylor, who is there negotiating. Taylor happened to be in Italy, and they sent him there, some doubts existing whether they could by law send a diplomatic agent to negotiate with the Pope; but it was referred to Denman, who said there was no danger. He is not accredited, and bears no official character, but it is a regular mission. Lord Lansdowne told me that Leopold is inconceivably anxious to be King of Belgium, that short of going in direct opposition to the wishes and advice of all the Royal Family and of the Government he would do anything to be beking'd, and, what is equally absurd, that the others cannot bear that he should be thus elevated.

June 23rd.

The King opened Parliament on Tuesday, with a greater crowd assembled to see him pass than was ever congregated before, and the House of Lords was so full of ladies that the Peers could not find places. The Speech was long, but good, and such as to preclude the possibility of an amendment. There was, however, a long discussion in each House, and the greatest bitterness and violence evinced in both every promise of a stormy session. Lord Lansdowne said to the King, 'I am afraid, sir, you won't be able to see the Commons.' ' Never mind,' said he; ' they shall hear me, I promise you,' and accordingly he thundered forth the Speech so that not a word was lost.

There has been a reconciliation between the Wellingtonians [154] and the old Tories, and they are now firmly knit in opposition to the present Government. Winchilsea, who was the last Tory who stuck to Lord Grey, renounced him in a hot speech, which evidently annoyed Lord Grey very much, for he made a long one in reply to him. Winchilsea is a silly, blustering, but good-natured and well-meaning man. Last night 'Hernani' was acted at Bridgewater House before the Queen and all the Royal Family. Aubin, who had acted Don Ruy, was sent to Rome, so Francis Leveson took the part. I was disappointed, though all the company were or pretended to be in ecstasies. The rhyme does not do, the room is not good for hearing, and with the exception of Miss Kemble (who was not so effective as I expected) and Craven, the actors were execrable.

News came the day before yesterday that Marshal Diebitsch had died of the cholera. It was suspected that he had made away with himself, for he has failed so signally in his campaign against the Poles that his military reputation is tarnished; and it is known that his recall had been decreed, and that Count Paskiewitch was to succeed him. The alarm about the cholera still continues, but the Government are thrown into great perplexity by the danger on one hand of the cholera and the loss to trade on the other. A Board of Health has been formed, composed of certain members of the College of Physicians, Sir William Pym, Sir William Burnet, Sir Byam Martin, Sir James M'Grigor and Mr. Stewart; and they in their first sitting advised that all the precautions established by our Orders in Council against the plague should be adopted against the cholera. This opinion was given under the authority of Dr. Warren, who, it appears, exercises the same ascendency in this Board that he had previously done in the College of Physicians on the same subject. The fact is that he takes the safe side. They have nothing to do with trade and commerce, which must shift for themselves, and probably the other members will not take upon themselves the responsibility of opposing measures which, if the disease ever [155] appears here, and should they be relaxed, will expose the physicians to the odium and reproach of having been instrumental to its introduction. We, however (Auckland, Poulett Thomson, and I), are resolved to make the Cabinet take upon themselves the responsibility of framing the permanent rules which are to guide us during the continuance of the malady. It is remarkable that there never was more sickness than there is at present, without its being epidemic, but thousands of colds, sore throats, fevers, and such like; and a man at Blackwall has died of the English cholera, and another is ill of it, but their disorders seem to have nothing to do with the Indian cholera, though some of the symptoms are similar. These men cannot have got their cholera from Russia, but their cases spread alarm.

June 25th.

John Russell brought his Bill in last night, in a good speech as his friends, and a dull one as his enemies, say. In the Lords Aberdeen attacked Lord Grey's foreign policy in a poor speech, which just did to show his bitterness and as a peg for Grey to hang a very good reply upon. The Duke of Wellington spoke afterwards; not much of a speech, but gentlemanlike and anti-factious, and approving of all Lord Grey had done about Belgium. Lord Grey passed a very fine eulogium upon Lord Ponsonby. However, this was necessary, for he is going as Minister to Naples, not having a guinea. The Emperor Don Pedro is coming here, and Henry Webster is to be his conductor.

June 20th.

At Court yesterday to swear in the Duke of Leinster, Mr. Justice Vaughan, and Sir E. Hyde East. Lord Ponsonby was there, just returned from Brussels. The first time of Stanley's and John Russell's being at a Council since they came into the Cabinet.

July 3rd.

Went to Oatlands on Saturday, returned on Monday; nobody there but Emily Eden. Many revolutions that place has undergone in my time, from the days of the Duke of York and its gaieties (well remembered and much regretted) to its present quiet state. The Belgians have not yet made up their mind about Leopold, who does not know [156] whether he is king or no king. The Reform Bill came on again last night, but it no longer excites so much interest. Nobody spoke well but Lord Porchester.

July 5th.

The night before last Lord Harewood attacked Brougham in the House of Lords about the appointment of a magistrate without consulting him as Lord-Lieutenant. As usual his own party say he made out a good case, and the others that he made none. They say (and I believe with truth) that Brougham does not dislike such scrapes, and is so confident in his own ingenuity that he never doubts of getting out of them. Lyndhurst attacked him sharply. In the House of Commons last night the debate went on languidly, except a splendid speech from Macaulay and an answer (not bad, they say) from Murray. Lord Grey sent for me yesterday morning to talk over the coronation, for in consequence of what the Duke of Wellington said in the House the night before he thinks there must be one. The object is to make it shorter and cheaper than the last, which occupied the whole day and cost £240,000.

July 8th.

The second reading of the Reform Bill was carried at five in the morning by 136 majority, somewhat greater than the Opposition had reckoned on. Peel made a powerful speech, but not so good as either of his others on Reform. Goulburn told me that the speech in answer to the Lord Advocate on the Irish Bill, when not 100 people were in the House, was his best. The coronation fixed for the 23rd. Breakfasted with Rogers; went afterwards to the Duchess of Bedford's, where I met Lady Lyndhurst. I desired her to tell Lyndhurst all the Duke had said to me about him, for in these times it is as well they should draw together. He will be a match for Brougham in the House of Lords, for he can be concise, which the other cannot, and the Lords in the long run will prefer brevity to art, sarcasm, and anything else.

People are beginning to recover from their terror of the cholera, seeing that it does not come, and we are now beset with alarms of a different kind, which are those of the Scotch merchants for their cargoes. We have a most [157] disagreeable business on our hands, very troublesome, odious, and expensive. The public requires that we should take care of its health, the mercantile world that we should not injure their trade. All evidence proves that goods are not capable of bringing in the disorder, but we have appointed a Board of Health, which is contagionist, and we can't get them to subscribe to that opinion. We dare not act without its sanction, and so we are obliged to air goods. This airing requires more ships and lazarets than we have, and the result is a perpetual squabbling, disputing, and complaining between the Privy Council, the Admiralty, the Board of Health, and the merchants. We have gone on pretty well hitherto, but more ships arrive every day; the complaints will grow louder, and the disease rather spreads than diminishes on the Continent. This cholera has afforded strong proofs of the partiality of the Prussians in the contest between the Russians and the Poles. The quarantine restrictions are always dispensed with for officers passing through the Prussian territory to join the Russian army. Count Paskiewitch was allowed to pass without performing any quarantine at all, and stores and provisions are suffered to be conveyed to the army, with every facility afforded by the Prussian authorities, and every relaxation of the sanitary laws. The Duke of Wellington says that the contest will very soon be over, that the Russian army could not act before June, and that between February and June the country is not practicable for military operations. They have now so many months before them that the weight of their numerical superiority will crush the Poles. Austria and Prussia, too, do their utmost by affording every sort of indirect assistance to the Russians and thwarting the Poles as much as they can.

July 10th.

The last two or three days I have been settling everything for the coronation, [1] which is to be confined to the ceremony in the Abbey and cost as little money and as little trouble as possible; and yesterday I was the medium

[1] The arrangements for coronations are made by a Committee of the Privy Council, -which sits as a Court of Claims.

[158] of great civilities from Lord Grey to the Duke. He desired me to go to the Duke and show him the course of proceeding we mean to adopt, and request him to make any suggestion that occurred to him, and to enquire if he would have any objection to attend the Council at which it is to be formally settled on Wednesday, to which Peel and Rosslyn are likewise invited. I spoke to the Duke and Peel, and they will both come. All this is mighty polite.

They have made a fine business of Cobbett's trial; his insolence and violence were past endurance, but he made an able speech. The Chief Justice was very timid, and favoured and complimented him throughout; very unlike what Ellenborough would have done. The jury were shut up the whole night, and in the morning the Chief Justice, without consulting either party, discharged them, which was probably on the whole the best that could be done. Denman told me that he expected they would have acquitted him without leaving the box, and this principally on account of Brougham's evidence, for Cobbett brought the Chancellor forward and made him prove that after these very writings, and while this prosecution was hanging over him, Brougham wrote to his son ('Dear Sir,' and requesting he would ask his father for some former publications of his, which he thought would be of great use on the present occasion in quieting the labourers. This made a great impression, and the Attorney-General never knew one word of the letter till he heard it in evidence, the Chancellor having flourished it off, as is his custom, and then quite forgotten it. The Attorney told me that Gurney overheard one juryman say to another, ' Don't you think we had better stop the case? It is useless to go on.' The other, however, declared for hearing it out, so on the whole it ended as well as it might, just better than an acquittal, and that is all.

July 11th

Dined with Lord Grey yesterday. In the middle of dinner Talleyrand got a letter announcing that Leopold's conditional acceptance of the Belgian throne had been agreed to by a great majority of the Chamber; and a Mr. Walker, who brought the news (and left Brussels at five [159] o'clock the day before), came to Lord Grey and told him with what enthusiasm it had been received there. Lord Grey wrote to the Chancellor, with whom Leopold was dining, to tell him of the event.

This morning I got a note from the Duke of Wellington declining to attend the Council on Wednesday, and desiring I would impart the same to Lord Grey and the King. He says that it would give rise to misrepresentations, and so it would. He is right to decline. It is, however, Peel who has prevented him, I am certain. When I told Peel on Saturday he looked very grave, did not seem to like it, and said he must confer with the Duke first, as he should be sorry to do otherwise than he did. Yesterday I know the Duke dined with Peel, who I have no doubt persuaded him to send this excuse. The Government are in exceeding delight at the Duke's conduct ever since he has been in opposition, which certainly has been very noble, straightforward, gentlemanlike, and without an atom of faction or mischief about it. He has done himself great honour; he threw over Aberdeen completely on that business about foreign policy which he introduced soon after the meeting of Parliament, and now he is assisting the Government in their Lieutenancy Bill, and he is in constant communication with Melbourne on the subject.

July 13th.

I took the Duke's note to Lord Grey, who seemed annoyed, and repeated that he had only intended the invitation as a mark of attention, and never thought of shifting any responsibility from his own shoulders; that as there was a deviation from the old ceremonial, he thought the Duke's sanction would have satisfied those who might otherwise have disputed the propriety of such a change. 'Does he then,' he asked, 'mean to attend the Committee?' I did not then know; but yesterday in the House of Lords I asked the Duke, and he said 'No, for the same reasons,' that upon consideration he was sure he had better not go, that by so doing he might give umbrage to his own party, and he could only do good by exercising a powerful influence over them and restraining them, and that his means of doing good would be [160] impaired by any appearance of approximating himself to Government, that when the general plan of the arrangements was settled he should have no objection to lend a helping hand, if wanted, to the details with which he was very conversant. I wrote on a slip of paper that he would not come, and gave it to Lord Grey, who said nothing. Peel did not write to me, but he and Rosslyn do the same as the Duke.

The Belgian deputation came yesterday, and Lebeau and his colleagues were in the House of Lords. We had been promised a good day there between Londonderry and Brougham and Plunket, but the former made a tiresome, long speech; the latter spoke civilly and dully; and Brougham not at all, so it ended in smoke. In the other House on Monday the Ministers got a good majority (102) on the wine duties, to their great delight, but the Opposition were not only mortified at the defeat, but disgusted and enraged at the conduct of Peel (their leader, as they considered him), who came into the House, got up in the middle of Herries' speech, walked out, and was heard of no more that night; never voted, nor gave any notice of his intention not to vote. The moral effect of this upon his party is immense, and has served to destroy the very little confidence they had in him before. It is impossible to conceive by what motives he is actuated, because if they were purely selfish it would seem that he defeats his own object; for what can he gain by disgusting and alienating his party, when although they cannot do without him, it is equally true that he cannot do without them? I walked home with William Banks, who went largely into the whole question of Peel's extraordinary disposition and conduct, and said how disheartening it was, and what a blow to those who looked to him as a leader in these troublous times. Henry Currey (no important person, but whose opinion is that of fifty others like him) told me that his conduct had been atrocious, and that he had himself voted in the minority against his opinion because he thought it right to sacrifice that opinion to the interests of his party. The fact is, if Peel had imparted his sentiments to his party he [161] might have prevented their dividing on this question with the greatest ease. There is nothing they are not ready to do at his bidding, but his coldness and reserve are so impenetrable that nobody can ascertain his sentiments or divine his intentions, and thus he leaves his party in the lurch without vouchsafing to give them any reason or explanation of his conduct. In the meantime the other party (as if each was destined to suffer more from the folly of its friends than the hostility of its foes) has been thrown into great confusion by Lord Milton's notice to propose an alteration in the franchise, and a meeting was called of all the friends of Government at Althorp, when Milton made a speech just such as any opponent of the Bill might make in the House of Commons, going over the old ground of Fox, Pitt, Burke, and others having sat for rotten boroughs. They were annoyed to the last degree, and the more provoked when reflecting that it was for him Althorp had been led to spend an immense sum of money, and compromise his character besides, in the Northamptonshire election. His obstinacy and impracticability are so extreme that nobody can move him, and Sefton told me that nothing could be more unsatisfactory than the termination of the meeting. I guess, however, that they will find some means or other of quieting him.

The Opposition divided last night 187 against 284 on the question of hearing counsel for the condemned boroughs not so good a division for the minority as they expected, and after a very powerful speech of Attwood's, to which nobody listened.

There is a fresh access of alarm on account of the cholera, which has broken out at St. Petersburg, and will probably spread over Germany. The cordon of troops which kept it off last year from St. Petersburg appears to have been withdrawn, which is no doubt the cause of its appearance there. We have constant reports of supposed cases of disease and death, but up to this period it does not appear to have shown itself here, though a case was transmitted to us from Glasgow exceedingly like it. The sick man had not come from [162] any infected place. The Board of Health are, however, in great alarm, and the authorities generally think we shall have it. From all I can observe from the facts of the case I am convinced that the liability to contagion is greatly diminished by the influence of sea air, for which reason I doubt that it will be brought here across the water. If it does come it will pass through France first. The King of Prussia has at last insisted upon a rigid execution of the quarantine laws in his dominions. Marshal Paskiewitch was detained on his road to take the command of the army, and sent a courier to the King to request he might be released forthwith, urging the importance of the Emperor to have his report of the state of the army; but the King refused, and sent word that the Emperor himself had submitted to quarantine, and so his aide-de-camp might do the same.

July 14th.

The effects of Peel's leaving the party to shift for itself were exhibited the night before last. He went away (there was no reason why he should not, except that he should have stayed to manage the debate and keep his people in order), and the consequence was that they went on in a vexatious squabble of repeated adjournments till eight o'clock in the morning, when Government at last beat them. The Opposition gradually dwindled down to twenty-five people headed by Stormont, Tullamore, and Brudenell, while the Government kept 180 together to the last; between parties so animated and so led there can be no doubt on which side will be the success. The Government were in high spirits at the result, and thought the fatigue well repaid by the display of devotion on the part of their friends and of factious obstinacy on that of their enemies. After these two nights it is impossible not to consider the Tory party as having ceased to exist for all the practical and legitimate ends of political association that is, as far as the House of Commons is concerned, where after all the battle must be fought. There is still a rabble of Opposition, tossed about by every wind of folly and passion, and left to the vagaries and eccentricities of Wetherell, or Attwood, or Sadler, or the [163] intemperate zeal of such weak fanatics as the three Lords above mentioned; but for a grave, deliberative, efficient Opposition there seem to be no longer the elements, or they are so scattered and disunited that they never can come together, and the only man who might have collected, and formed, and directed them begs leave to be excused. It is a wretched state of things and can portend no good. If there had not been prognostications of ruin and destruction to the State in all times, proceeding from all parties, which the event has universally falsified, I should believe that the consummation of evil was really at hand; as it is I cannot feel that certainty of destruction that many do, though I think we are more seriously menaced than ever we were before, because the danger is of a very different description. But there is an elasticity in the institutions of this country, which may rise up for the purpose of checking these proceedings, and in the very uncertainty of what may be produced and engendered by such measures there is hope of salvation.

Yesterday a Council was held at St. James's for the coronation; the Princes, Ministers, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Bishop of London were present. The King read an address to the Lords desiring that his coronation might be short, and that all the ceremonies might be dispensed with except those in the church. Lord Grey had composed a paper in which he had made the King say that these ceremonies were at variance with the genius of the age we live in, and suited to another period of society; but the Archbishop objected to these expressions, and thought it better to give the injunction without the comments; so Lord Grey wrote another and shorter paper, but he showed the first to Lord Lansdowne and me, and we both told him that we thought the Archbishop was right and that the second paper was the best. The Duke of Gloucester was very indignant at not having been summoned in a more respectful way than by a common circular, and complained to the Lord President. [1]

[1] It is customary to summon the Royal Dukes to a Council by a letter. This formality seems to have been overlooked in this instance.

[164] I told him to throw it all on me. He had been grumbling to the Duke of Sussex before, who did not care. Leopold was too much of a king to attend, so he came to the levee (but en prince only) and not to the Council. Lieven told me it was true that the Grand Duke Constantine was dead, and that it was a very good thing.

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