Greville

The Greville Memoirs

I am happy that you are using this web site and hope that you found it useful. Unfortunately, the cost of making this material freely available is increasing, so if you have found the site useful and would like to contribute towards its continuation, I would greatly appreciate it. Click the button to go to Paypal and make a donation.


The Greville Memoirs

Chapter 18

Debate in the House of Lords — Lord Harrowby's Position — Hopes of a Compromise — Lord Melbourne's View — Disturbances caused by the Cholera — The Disfranchisement Clause — The Number ' 56 ' — Peers contemplated — The King's Hesitation — 'The Hunchback ' — Critical Position of the Waverers — Bill carried by Nine in the Lords — The Cholera in Paris — Moderate Speech of Lord Grey — End of the Secession — Conciliatory Overtures — Negotiations carried on at Newmarket — Hostile Division in the Lords — Lord Wharnclifie's Account of his Failure — Lord Grey resigns — The Duke of Wellington attempts to form a Ministry — Peel declines —Hostility of the Court to the Whigs — A Change of Scene — The Duke fails — History of the Crisis — Lord Grey returns to Office — The King's Excitement — The King writes to the Opposition Peers — Defeat and Disgrace of the Tories — Conversation of the Duke of Wellington — Louis XVHI. — Madame du Cayla — Weakness of the King — Mortality among Great Men — Petition against Lord W. Bentinck's Prohibition of Suttee heard by the Privy Council — O'Connell and the Cholera — Irish Tithe Bill — Irish Difficulties — Mr. Stanley — Concluding Debates of the Parliament Quarrel between Brougham and Sugden — Holland and Belgium — Brougham's Revenge and Apology — Dinner at Holland House — Anecdotes of Johnson — Death of Mr. Greville's Father — Madame de Flahaut's Account of the Princess Charlotte — Prince Augustus of Prussia — Captain Hess — Hostilities in Holland and in Portugal — The Duchesse de Berri — Conversation with Lord Melbourne on the State of the Government.

Chapter 18

1832

[274] March 20th.

There appear to have been as many differences of opinion as of people on the discussion in the House of Lords when the Bill was brought up, and it seems paradoxical, but is true, that though it was on the whole satisfactory, nobody was satisfied. Lord Grey complained to me that Lord Harrowby was too stiff; Lord Harrowby complained that Lord Grey was always beating about the bush of compromise, but never would commit himself fairly to concession. Melbourne complained last night that what was done was done in [275] such an ungracious manner, so niggardly, that he hated the man (Harrowby) who did it. The ultra-Tories are outrageous 'that he gave up everything without reason or cause;' the ultra-Whigs equally furious 'that he had shown how little way he was disposed to go in Committee; his object was to turn out the Government;' and what is comical, neither party will believe that Harrowby really is so obnoxious to the other as he is said to be. Each is convinced that he is acting in the interests of the other. What a position, what injustice, blindness, folly, obstinacy, brought together and exhibited! If ever there was a man whose conduct was exempt from the ordinary motives of ambition, and who made personal sacrifices in what he is doing, it is Lord Harrowby, and yet there is no reproach that is not cast upon him, no term of abuse that is not applied to him, no motive that is not ascribed to him. No wonder a man who has seen much of them is sick of politics and public life. Nothing now is thought of but the lists, and of course everybody has got one. The Tories still pretend to a majority of seven; the Government and Harrowby think they have one of from ten to twenty, and I suspect fifteen will be found about the mark. The unfortunate thing is that neither of our cocks is good for fighting, not from want of courage, but Harrowby is peevish, ungracious and unpopular, and Wharncliffe carries no great weight. To9 May, 2017heir opponents insist upon it that they do, and men shrink from enlisting (or being supposed to enlist) under Wharncliffe's banner. However, notwithstanding the violence of the noisy fools of the party, and of the women, there is a more rational disposition on the part of practical men, for Wharncliffe spoke to Ellenborough yesterday, and told him that though he knew he and Harrowby were regarded as traitors by all of them, he did hope that when the Bill came into Committee they would agree to consult together, and try and come to some understanding as to the best mode of dealing with the question, that it was absurd to be standing aloof at such a moment; to which Ellenborough replied that he perfectly agreed with [276] him, was anxious to do so, and intended to advise his friends to take that course.

April 1st.

Wharncliffe got Lord Grey to put off the second reading for a few days on account of the Quarter Sessions, which drew down a precious attack from Londonderry, and was in fact very foolish and unnecessary, as it looks like a concert between them, of which it is very desirable to avoid any appearance, as in fact none exists. The violence of the Tories continues unabated, and there is no effort they do not make to secure a majority, and they expect either to succeed or to bring it to a near thing. In the meantime the tone of the other party is changed. Dover, who makes lists, manages proxies, and does all the little jobbing, whipping-in, busy work of the party, makes out a clear majority, and told me he now thought the Bill would get through without Peers. The Government, however, are all agreed to make the Peers if it turns out to be necessary, and especially if the Bill should be thrown out, it seems clear that they would by no means go out, but make the Peers and bring it in again; so I gather from Richmond, and he who was the most violently opposed of the whole Cabinet to Peer-making, is now ready to make any number if necessary. There is, however, I hope, a disposition to concession, which, if matters are tolerably well managed, may lead to an arrangement. Still Wharncliffe, who must have a great deal to do in Committee, is neither prudent nor popular. The Tories are obstinate, sulky, and indisposed to agree to anything reasonable. It is the unity of object and the compactness of the party which give the Government strength. Charles Wood told me the other day that they were well disposed to a compromise on two special points, one the exclusion of town voters from the right of voting for counties, the other the metropolitan members. On the first he proposed that no man voting for a town in right of a £10 house should have a vote for the county in right of any freehold in that town. That would be half-way between Wharncliffe's plan and the present. The second, that Marylebone should return two members, and Middlesex two more — very like [277] Grey's proposition which Harrowby rejected but I suggested keeping the whole and varying the qualification, to which he thought no objection would lie.

At the Duchesse de Dino's ball the night before last I had a very anxious conversation with Melbourne about it all. He said that 'he really believed there was no strong feeling in the country for the measure.' We talked of the violence of the Tories, and their notion that they could get rid of the whole thing. I said the notion was absurd now, but that I fully agreed with him about the general feeling. 'Why, then,' said he, 'might it not be thrown out?' a consummation I really believe he would rejoice at, if it could be done. I said because there was a great party which would not let it, which would agitate again, and that the country wished ardently to have it settled; that if it could be disposed of for good and all, it would be a good thing indeed, but that this was now become impossible. I asked him if his colleagues were impressed as he was with this truth, and he said, 'No.' I told him he ought to do everything possible to enforce it, and to make them moderate, and induce them to concede, to which he replied, 'What difficulty can they have in swallowing the rest after they have given up the rotten boroughs? That is, in fact, the essential part of the Bill, and the truth is I do not see how the Government is to be carried on without them. Some means may be found; a remedy may possibly present itself, and it may work in practice better than we now know of, but I am not aware of any, and I do not see how any Government can be carried on when these are swept away.' This was, if not his exact words, the exact sense, and a pretty avowal for a man to make at the eleventh hour who has been a party concerned in this Bill during the other ten. I told him I agreed in every respect, but that it was too late to discuss this now, and that the rotten boroughs were past saving, that as to the minor points, the Waverers thought them of importance, looked upon them as securities, compensations, and moreover as what would save their own honour, and that the less their real importance was the more easily might they be conceded. We had a great deal more [278] talk, but then it is all talk, and à quoi bon with a man who holds these opinions and acts as he does? Let it end as it may, the history of the Bill, and the means by which it has been conceived, brought forward, supported, and opposed, will be most curious and instructive. The division in the Lords must be very close indeed.

Orloff, who was looked for like the Messiah, at last made his appearance a few days ago, a great burly Russian, but no ratification yet. [1]

I have refrained for a long time from writing down anything about the cholera, because the subject is intolerably disgusting to me, and I have been bored past endurance by the perpetual questions of every fool about it. It is not, however, devoid of interest. In the first place, what has happened here proves that 'the people' of this enlightened, reading, thinking, reforming nation are not a whit less barbarous than the serfs in Russia, for precisely the same prejudices have been shown here that were found at St. Petersburg and at Berlin. The disease has undoubtedly appeared (hitherto) in this country in a milder shape than elsewhere, but the alarm at its name was so great that the Government could do no otherwise than take such precautions and means of safety as appeared best to avert the danger or mitigate its consequences. Here it came, and the immediate effect was a great inconvenience to trade and commerce, owing to restrictions, both those imposed by foreigners generally on this country and those we imposed ourselves between the healthy and unhealthy places. This begot complaints and disputes, and professional prejudices and jealousies urged a host of combatants into the field, to fight about the existence or non-existence of cholera, its contagiousness, and any collateral question. The disposition of the public was (and is) to believe that the whole thing was a humbug, and accordingly plenty of people were found to write in that sense, and the press lent itself to propagate the same idea. The disease, however, kept creeping on, the Boards of Health which were everywhere established immediately became odious, and the

[1] Of the Belgian Treaty.

[279] vestries and parishes stoutly resisted all pecuniary demands for the purpose of carrying into effect the recommendations of the Central Board or the orders of the Privy Council. In this town the mob has taken the part of the anti-cholerites, and the most disgraceful scenes have occurred. The other day a Mr. Pope, head of the hospital in Marylebone (Cholera Hospital) came to the Council Office to complain that a patient who was being removed with his own consent had been taken out of his chair by the mob and carried back, the chair broken, and the bearers and surgeon hardly escaping with their lives. Furious contests have taken place about the burials, it having been recommended that bodies should be burned directly after death, and the most violent prejudice opposing itself to this recommendation; in short, there is no end to the scenes of uproar, violence, and brutal ignorance that have gone on, and this on the part of the lower orders, for whose especial benefit all the precautions are taken, and for whose relief large sums have been raised and all the resources of charity called into activity in every part of the town. The awful thing is the vast extent of misery and distress which prevails, and the evidence of the rotten foundation on which the whole fabric of this gorgeous society rests, for I call that rotten which exhibits thousands upon thousands of human beings reduced to the lowest stage of moral and physical degradation, with no more of the necessaries of life than serve to keep body and soul together, whole classes of artisans without the means of subsistence. However complicated and remote the causes of this state of things, the manifestations present themselves in a frightful presence and reality, and those whose ingenuity, and experience, and philosophical views may enable them accurately to point out the causes and the gradual increase of this distress are totally unable to suggest a remedy or to foresee an end to it. Can such a state of things permanently go on? can any reform ameliorate it? Is it possible for any country to be considered in a healthy condition when there is no such thing as a general diffusion of the comforts of life (varying of course with every variety of circumstance which can affect [280] the prosperity of individuals or of classes), but when the extremes prevail of the most unbounded luxury and enjoyment and the most dreadful privation and suffering? To imagine a state of society in which everybody should be well off, or even tolerably well off, would be a mere vision, as long as there is a preponderance of vice and folly in the world. There will always be effects commensurate with their causes, but it has not always been, and it certainly need not be, that the majority of the population should be in great difficulty, struggling to keep themselves afloat, and, what is worse, in uncertainty and in doubt whether they can earn subsistence for themselves and their families. Such is the case at present, and I believe a general uncertainty pervades every class of society, from the highest to the lowest; nobody looks upon any institution as secure, or any interest as safe, and it is only because those universal feelings of alarm which are equally diffused throughout the mass but slightly affect each individual atom of it that we see the world go on as usual, eating, drinking, laughing, and dancing, and not insensible to the danger, though apparently indifferent about it.

April 4th.

Charles Wood [l] came to me yesterday, and brought a paper showing the various effects of a different qualification from £10 to £40 for the metropolitan districts, to talk over the list, but principally to get me to speak to Harrowby about a foreseen difficulty. The first clause in the Bill enacts that fifty-six boroughs be disfranchised. This gave great offence in the House of Commons, was feebly defended, but carried by the majority, which was always ready and required no reason; it was an egregious piece of folly and arrogance there, here it presents a real embarrassment. I told him I knew Harrowby had an invincible repugnance to it, and that the effect would be very bad if they split upon the first point. He said he should not defend it, that all reason was against it, but that there it was, and how was it to be got rid of? I suggested that it should be passed over, and that they should go at once to the boroughs

[1] Mr. Charles Wood, afterwards Viscount Halifax, but at this time private Secretary to Earl Grey, whose daughter he married.

[281] seriatim. He said if that clause was omitted a suspicion would immediately arise that there was an intention of altering Schedule A, and nothing would avert that but getting through a great part of it before Easter, and that this might be difficult, as the longest time they could expect to sit would be three days in Passion Week. He talked a great deal about the country expecting this, and that they would not be satisfied if it was not done, and all the usual jargon of the Reformers, which it was not worth while to dispute, and it ended by my promising to talk to Lord Harrowby about it. This I did last night, and he instantly flew into a rage. He said 'he would not be dragged through the mire by those scoundrels. It was an insolence that was not to be borne; let them make their Peers if they would, not Hell itself should make him vote for fifty-six; he would vote for sixty-six or any number but that, that he would not split with the Tories on the first vote; if indeed they would consent to fifty-six he would, or to anything else they would agree to, but if the Government brought this forward no consideration on earth should prevent his opposing it.' We then discussed the whole matter, with the proposed amendments which Wood and I had talked over with reference to the metropolitan members and town and county voting, and I am to go to-day and propose that after the second reading is carried they should adjourn till after Easter, and give a little time for the excitement (which there must be) to subside, and to see how matters stand, and what probability there is of getting the thing through quietly.

April 6th.

I called on the Duke of Richmond on Wednesday morning, and told him what had passed between Wood and me, and Lord Harrowby and me afterwards. He was aware of the difficulty, and regretted it the more because he might have to defend it in the House of Lords. He wished me very much to go to Downing Street and see Lord Grey himself if possible before the levee, and he suggested that the words fifty-six might be left in blank by Lord Grey's own motion, that this would be in conformity with the forms of the House. I set off, but calling at home on my way found Lord [282] Harrowby at my door. He came in, and was anxious to know if I had said anything; he was more quiet than the night before, but still resolved not to agree to fifty-six, though anxious to have the matter compromised in some way. Lord Harrowby wanted to adjourn after the second reading, but owned that the best effect would be to get through Schedule A before Easter. Yesterday I saw Wood; he harped upon the difficulty and the old strain of the country. I suggested the point of form which Richmond had mentioned, but he said that could not be now in the Bill, as it was sent up from the Commons, that if they were beaten on fifty-six the country would consider it tantamount to throwing out Schedule A, and would highly approve of a creation of Peers, and that, in fact (if they wished it), it would be the best opportunity they could have. I told him that it would heap ridicule upon all the antecedent proceedings, and the pretext must be manifest, as it would appear in the course of the discussions what the real reason was. In the middle of our conversation Ellice came in, and directly asked if my friends would swallow fifty-six, to which I said, 'No.' We had then a vehement dispute, but at last Wood turned him out, and he and I resumed. We finally agreed that I should ask Lord Harrowby whether, if Lord Grey of his own accord proposed to leave out the words fifty-six, but with an expression of his opinion that this must be the number, he (Lord Harrowby) would meet him with a corresponding declaration that he objected to the specifica- tion of the number in the clause, without objecting to the extent of the disfranchisement, it being always understood that what passes between us is unauthorised talk, and to commit nobody — 'without prejudice,' as the lawyers say.

I heard yesterday, however, from Keate, who is attending me (and who is the King's surgeon, and sees him when he is in town), that he saw his Majesty after the levee on Wednesday, and that he was ill, out of sorts, and in considerable agitation; that he enquired of him about his health, when the King said he had much to annoy him, and that 'many things passed there (pointing to the Cabinet, out of which he had just come) which were by no means agreeable, [283] and that he had had more than usual to occupy him that morning.' Keate said he was very sure from his manner that something unpleasant had occurred. This was, I have since discovered, the question of a creation of Peers again brought forward, and to which the King's aversion has returned so much so that it is doubtful if he will after all consent to a large one. It seems that unless the Peers are made (in the event of the necessity arising) Brougham and Althorp will resign; at least so they threaten. I have seen enough of threats, and doubts, and scruples, to be satisfied that there is no certainty that any of them will produce the anticipated effects, but I am resolved I will try, out of these various elements, if I cannot work out something which may be serviceable to the cause itself, though the materials I have to work with are scanty. The Ministers were all day yesterday settling who the new Peers shall be, so seriously are they preparing for the coup. They had already fixed upon Lords Molyneux, Blandford, Kennedy, Ebrington, Cavendish, Brabazon, and Charles Fox, Littleton, Portman, Frederick Lawley, Western, and many others, and this would be what Lord Holland calls assimilating the House of Lords to the spirit of the other House, and making it harmonise with the prevailing sense of the people.

April 8th.

Lord Harrowby was out of town when I called there on Friday, so I wrote to him the substance of my conversation with Wood. Yesterday he returned. In the evening I met Wood at dinner at Lord Holland's, when he told me that he found on the part of his friends more reluctance than he had expected to give up the fifty-six, that he had done all he could to persuade them, but they made great objections. Moreover he had had a conversation with Sandon which he did not quite like, as he talked so much of holding the party together. All this was to make me think they are stouter than they really are, for I am better informed than he thinks for.

Yesterday morning I got more correct information about what had passed with the King. Lord Grey went to him with a minute of Cabinet requiring that he should make [284] Peers in case the second reading was thrown out. [1] To this he demurred, raised difficulties and doubts, which naturally enough alarm the Government very much. However, when he got back to Windsor he wrote two letters, explaining his sentiments, from which it appears that he has great reluctance, that he will do it, but will not give any pledge beforehand, that he objects to increasing the Peerage, and wants to call up eldest sons and make Irish and Scotch Peers, that he did not say positively he would make the Peers, but that he would be in the way, and come up when it was necessary. They think that he has some idea that his pledging himself beforehand (though in fact he did so two months ago) might be drawn into an improper precedent. However this may be, his reluctance is so strong that a great deal may be made of it, as it is probable (if he continues in the same mind, and is not turned by some violence of the Opposition) that he will resist still more making Peers when the Bill is in Committee to carry the details, some of which he himself wishes to see altered, but the difficulty is very great. It is impossible to communicate with the Tory leaders; they will not believe what you tell them, and if they learnt the King's scruples they would immediately imagine that they might presume upon them to any extent, and stand out more obstinately than ever. I went to Harrowby last night, and imparted to him the state of things, which I shall do to nobody else. To Wharncliffe I dare not. He is not indisposed to Wood's compromise, and I trust this will be settled, but he still leans to putting off the second reading till after Easter, and if the Tories also resolve upon that (which they are mightily disposed to do) he will not separate from them on that point, and they are sure to carry it. Unless this was accompanied with some declaration from them that they would be disposed to concede the great principles of the Bill, I think the Government would consider it such an indication of hostility as to call for an immediate creation

[1] This Cabinet minute of the 3rd of April, 1832, and the King's remarks upon it, have been printed in the 'Correspondence of William IV. and Earl Grey,' vol ii. p. 307.

[285] of Peers, and I doubt whether the King could or would resist. There are many reasons why it would be desirable to make the second reading a resting-place, and adjourn then till after Easter, provided all parties consented, but it would be very unwise to make it the subject of a contest, and nobody would ever believe that the real reason was not to get rid of Schedule A by hook or by crook, or of a good deal of it. Harrowby will, I am sure, not divide against them on this, and they will not give it up; that there are means of resistance, if they were judiciously applied, I am sure, and if there were temper, discretion, and cordiality, the Bill might be licked into a very decent shape.

I went to see Sheridan Knowles' new play the other night, 'The Hunchback.' Very good, and a great success. Miss Fanny Kemble acted really well for the first time, in my opinion, great acting. I have not seen anything since Mrs. Siddons (and perhaps Miss O'Neill) so good.

The Duke of Wellington made a very good speech on Irish affairs on Friday, one of his best, and he speaks admirably to points sometimes and on subjects he understands. I wish he had let alone that Irish Education — disgraceful humbug and cant. I don't know that there is anything else particularly new. Orloff is made a great rout with, but he don't ratify. The real truth is that the King of Holland holds out, and the other Powers delay till they see the result of our Reform Bill, thinking that the Duke of Wellington may return to power, and then they may make better terms for Holland and dictate to Belgium and to France. If the Reform Bill is carried, and Government stays in, they will ratify, and not till then. The cholera is disappearing here and in the country.

April 9th.

Saw Lord Harrowby yesterday morning. He can't make up his mind what is best to be done, whether to go into Committee or not. He rather wishes to get through Schedule A, but he won't vote against the Tories if they divide on adjourning. Then went to Wood and told him there would be no difficulty about fifty-six. Lord Grey came in, and talked the whole thing over. He said he [286] was ill — knocked up — that in his speech to-day he should be as moderate and tame as anybody could wish. From what Wood said, and he himself afterwards, I should think they wish to adjourn after the second reading, but to make a merit of it if they do. Duncannon, whom I saw afterwards, seemed to be of the same opinion, that it would be best not to sit in Passion Week. At night Wharncliffe came back from Yorkshire. He is all for getting into Schedule A, and making no difficulties about fifty-six or anything else, and Harrowby, now that he fancies the Government want to adjourn, rather wants not, suspecting some trick. Upon going all over the list, we make out the worst to give a majority of six, and the best of eighteen, but the Tories still count upon getting back some of our people. We had a grand hunt after Lord Gambier's proxy; he sent it to Lord de Saumarez, who is laid up with the gout in Guernsey, and the difficulty was to get at Lord Gambier and procure another. At last I made Harrowby, who does not know him, write to him, and Wood sent a messenger after him, so we hope it will arrive in time.

April 11th.

The day before yesterday Lord Grey introduced the Reform Bill in a speech of extreme moderation; as he promised, it was very 'tame.' The night's debate was dull; yesterday was better. Lord Mansfield made a fine speech against the Bill; Harrowby spoke well, Wharncliffe ill. Nothing can equal the hot water we have been in defections threatened on every side, expectations thwarted and doubts arising, betting nearly even. Even de Ros came to me in the morning and told me he doubted how he should vote; that neither Harrowby nor Wharncliffe had put the question on the proper ground, and his reason for seceding from the Opposition was the menaced creation of Peers. I wrote to Harrowby and begged him to say something to satisfy tender consciences, and moved heaven and earth to keep De Ros and Coventry (who was slippery) right, and I succeeded at least I believe so, for it is not yet over. Nothing can equal the anxiety out of doors and the intensity of the interest in the town, but the debate is far less animated than that of [287] last year. As to our business, it is ' la mer à boire,' with nobody to canvass or whip in, and not being a party. We shall, however, I believe, manage it, and but just.

I saw Keate this morning, who had been with the King. His Majesty talked in high terms of Ellenborough and of Mansfield. It is difficult to count upon such a man, but if the second reading is passed I do not believe he will make Peers to carry any points in Committee, unless it be the very vital ones, but it is very questionable if the Opposition will fight the battle then at all, or, if they do, fight in a way to secure a fair, practical result.

April 14th.

The Reform Bill (second reading) was carried this morning at seven o'clock in the House of Lords by a majority of nine. The House did not sit yesterday. The night before Phillpotts, the Bishop of Exeter, made a grand speech against the Bill, full of fire and venom, very able. It would be an injury to compare this man with Laud; he more resembles Gardiner; had he lived in those days he would have been just such another, boiling with ambition, an ardent temperament, and great talents. He has a desperate and a dreadful countenance, and looks like the man he is. The two last days gave plenty of reports of changes either way, but the majority has always looked like from seven to ten. The House will adjourn on Wednesday, and go into Committee after Easter; and in the meantime what negotiations and what difficulties to get over! The Duke of Wellington and Lord Harrowby have had some good-humoured talk, and the former seems well disposed to join in amending the Bill, but the difficulty will be to bring these extreme and irritated parties to any agreement as to terms. The debate in the Lords, though not so good as last year, has been, as usual, much better than that in the Commons.

The accounts from Paris of the cholera are awful, very different from the disease here. Is it not owing to our superior cleanliness, draining, and precautions? There have been 1,300 sick in a day there, and for some days an average of 1,000; here we have never averaged above fifty, I think, and, except the squabbling in the newspapers, we have seen [288] nothing of it whatever; there many of the upper classes have died of it. Casimir Périer and the Duke of Orleans went to the Hotel Dieu, and the former was seized afterwards, and has been very ill, though they doubt if it really was cholera, as he is subject to attacks with the same symptoms.

April 15th.

The debate in the House of Lords was closed by a remarkable reply from Lord Grey, full of moderation, and such as to hold out the best hopes of an adjustment of the question not that it pacified the ultra-Tories, who were furious. The speech was so ill reported at that late hour that it is not generally known what he did say, and many of those who heard it almost doubt their own accuracy, or suspect that he went farther than he intended, so unlike was it to his former violent and unyielding language. He said, with regard to a creation of Peers, that nothing would justify him in recommending the exercise of that prerogative but a collision between the two Houses of Parliament, and that in such a case (he is reported to have said) he should deem it his duty first to recommend a dissolution, and to ascertain whether the feeling of the country was with the other House (these were not the words, but to this effect). If this be at all correct, it is clear that he cannot make Peers to carry the clauses, for, in fact, the collision between the two Houses will not have arrived unless the Commons should reject any amendments which may be made by the Lords. The tone, however, of the violent supporters of Government is totally changed; at Lord Holland's last night they were singing in a very different note, and, now, if the councils of the Lords are guided by moderation and firmness, they may deal with the Bill almost as they please; but they must swallow Schedule A. The difficulties, however, are great; the High Tories are exasperated and vindictive, and will fiercely fight against any union with the seceders. The Duke is moderate in his tone, ready to act cordially with all parties, but he owes the seceders a grudge, is anxious to preserve his influence with the Tories, and will probably insist upon mutilating the Bill more than will be prudent and feasible. The Harrowby and Wharncliffe party, now that the second [289] reading it over, ceases to be a party. It was a patched-up, miscellaneous concern at best, of men who were half- reasoned, half-frightened over, who could not bear separating from the Duke, long to return to him, and, besides, are ashamed of Wharncliffe as a chief. There never was such a 'chef de circonstance.' He is a very honest man, with a right view of things and a fair and unprejudiced understanding, vain and imprudent, without authority, commanding no respect, and in a false position as the ephemeral leader he is, marching in that capacity pari passu with Harrowby, who is infinitely more looked up to, but whose bilious complexion prevents his mixing with society and engaging and persuading others to follow his opinions; nor has he (Lord Harrowby) any plan or design beyond the object of the moment. He has no thought of mixing again in public life, he does not propose to communicate with anybody on anything further than the middle course to be adopted now, and few people are disposed to sever the ties on which their future political existence depends for the sake of cultivating this short-lived connection. If the Government, therefore, look to the seceders who have carried the question for them to carry other points, they will find it won't do, for their followers will melt into the mass of the anti-Reformers, who, though they will still frown upon the chiefs, will gladly take back the rank and file. A fortnight will elapse, in the course of which opportunities will be found of ascertaining the disposition of the great party and the probability of an arrangement.

The debate was good on Friday, but very inferior to the last. Phillpotts got a terrific dressing from Lord Grey, and was handled not very delicately by Goderich and Durham, though the latter was too coarse. He had laid himself very open, and, able as he is, he has adopted a tone and style inconsistent with his lawn sleeves, and unusual on the Episcopal Bench. He is carried away by his ambition and his alarm, and horrifies his brethren, who feel all the danger (in these times) of such a colleague. The episode of which [290] he was the object was, of course, the most amusing part of the whole.

Newmarket, April 22nd.

Ill and laid up with the gout for this week past. Came here on Friday, the 20th. The carrying of the second reading of the Bill seems to have produced no effect. Everybody is gone out of town, the Tories in high dudgeon. The Duke of Wellington has entered a protest with all the usual objections, which has been signed by a whole rabble of Peers, but not by Lyndhurst, Ellenborough, or Carnarvon, who monopolise the brains of the party; they declined. In the meantime things look better. Wharncliffe, Harrowby, and Haddington have had two interviews with Lyndhurst and Ellenborough, and though they did not go into particulars the result was satisfactory, and a strong disposition evinced to co-operation and moderation. It was agreed they should meet again next week, and see what could be arranged. On Friday Palmerston sent to Wharncliffe and desired to see him. They met, and Palmerston told him that he came from Lord Grey, who was desirous of having an interview with him, adding that Lord Grey had now become convinced that he might make much more extensive concessions than he had ever yet contemplated. He added that Lord Grey would rather see Wharncliffe alone, without Harrowby, whose manner was so snappish and unpleasant that he could not talk so much at his ease as he would to Wharncliffe alone. Wharncliffe replied that he could have no objection to see Lord Grey, but that he must fairly tell him his situation was no longer the same, having put himself in amicable communication with Lyndhurst and Ellenborough; that the concurrence of the Tories was indispensable to him and his friends to effect the alterations they contemplated, and he could not do anything which might have to them the appearance of underhand dealing; that he could tell Lyndhurst and Ellenborough, and if they made no objection he would see Lord Grey. Ellenborough was gone out of town, but he went to Lyndhurst, who immediately advised him to see Lord Grey, and said it was most desirable they should be made acquainted with the [291] views and disposition of Government, and he undertook to write word to the Duke of Wellington of all that had passed. Lord Grey was unable to leave Sheen yesterday, so it was arranged that the meeting should be delayed till Wharncliffe's return to London. The Duke of Richmond has, however, got a letter of four sides from Grey, empowering him to treat here with Wharncliffe, and Stanley and Graham being expected, it is very likely some progress may be made. Nothing can promise better, and if the chiefs of the Tories can be brought to moderation the stupid obstinacy of the mass will not matter, and I do not think they will dare hold out, for when a negotiation on such a conciliatory basis is proposed, a terrible case would be made hereafter against those who should refuse to listen to it. The advantages are so clear that nothing would make them persist in the line of uncompromising opposition but an unconquerable repugnance to afford a triumph to the Waverers, which a successful termination would do; not that they would profit by it, for they are so few, and those who will have been wrong so many, that clamour will silence justice, and a thousand excuses and pretences will be found to deprive them of their rightful credit. It is a long time — not probably since the days of Charles II.— that this place (Newmarket) has been the theatre of a political negotiation, and, conceding the importance of the subject, the actors are amusing — Richmond, Graham, Wharncliffe, and myself. By-the-bye it is perfectly true that (if I have not mentioned it before) the Royal carriages were all ready the morning of the decision of the second reading to take the King to the House of Lords to prorogue Parliament, and on Tuesday the Peers would have appeared in the ' Gazette.'

London, May 12th

Nothing written for a long time, nor had I anything to write till a few days ago. From the time of Wharncliffe's departure I heard nothing, and I bitterly regret now not having been in town last week. [1] The

[1] It was on the 7th of May that the Lords went into Committee on the Bill, and Lord Lyndhurst's motion to postpone the disfranchising clauses until after the enfranchising clauses had been agreed to was carried by a majority of thirty-five against the Government. The seventeen Peers who had assisted to carry the second reading on the 11th of April relapsed into the Conservative ranks, and the result was, for the moment, such as to stop the progress of the Bill and turn out the Government.

[292] Committee stood for Monday; on Friday se'nnight last I was at Buckenham, when the Duke of Rutland told me he was going to London, that they meant to divide on Monday on a proposal to postpone Schedules A and B till after C and D, and expected to beat the Government; I wrote by that post to Lady Harrowby, saying I hoped this was not true, and that if it was it appeared to me most injudicious. On Tuesday I received by the post a letter from Wharncliffe, saying that they had been in frequent communication with Ellenborough and Lyndhurst, that the Opposition were prepared to make great and satisfactory concessions, and he thought all would go off well. The only difficulty he apprehended was from the postponement of the disfranchising clause, which the Tories insisted on, and to which he and Harrowby had thought it right to agree. The next day I received a second letter, with an account of the debate and its consequences, to which I wrote him a trimming reply, and another to Lady Harrowby, expressing my sentiments on their conduct on the occasion. Before all this happened Wharncliffe had had to encounter abuse of every kind, and he has certainly continued to play his cards in such a way, from first to last, as to quarrel with Whigs and Tories in succession. With very good intentions, and very honest, he has exposed himself to every reproach of insincerity, intrigue, and double-dealing.

On arriving in town I found a note from him, desiring I would see him and hear his defence of himself before I expressed elsewhere the opinion I had given to him. Accordingly I went to Boodle's, where I found him, and he immediately began his case. He said that on his return to town he saw Lord Grey, who said that he wished to know what were the intentions of his party, and how far they were disposed to go, and what concessions they looked for. He replied that Lord Grey must understand that he now [293] stood in a very different position, and that, reunited as he was with the Tories, he must act with them much, in short, what he had before said to Palmerston. They then discussed the question, and he said that there was one point for which Lord Grey ought to be prepared, and that he knew the Tories were much bent upon proposing the postponement of Schedules A and B. Lord Grey said this would be productive of the greatest embarrassment, that it would be a thing they could not agree to, and he hoped he would do all in his power to prevent it. Wharncliffe said that he would endeavour, but he believed they were very eager about it, and he added that Lord Grey might be sure he would support nothing calculated to interfere with the essential provisions of the Bill. After this his and Harrowby's communications with Ellenborough and his friends continued, and on the Saturday (I think) Lyndhurst told him that the Tories were so irrevocably bent upon this, and that they were so difficult to manage and so disposed to fly off, that it was absolutely necessary to give way to them, and it must be proposed, though he would gladly have waived it, but that was impossible; upon which Harrowby and Wharncliffe gave in and agreed to support it. One of them (Haddington, I think) suggested that Wharncliffe ought to communicate this intention to Lord Grey, to which, however, Lyndhurst objected, said that the Tories were suspicious, had already taken umbrage at the communications between Wharncliffe and Grey, and that it must not be. To this prohibition Wharncliffe fatally submitted, and accordingly not a word was said by anybody till the afternoon of the debate, when just before it began Wharncliffe told the Duke of Richmond, who of course told Lord Grey. Wharncliffe at the same time had some conversation with John Russell and Stanley, who strongly deprecated this intention, but it was too late to arrange or compromise anything then. The debate came on; the proposition was made in a very aggravating speech by Lyndhurst, and on its being carried Lord Grey threw up the Bill and the Government in a passion. It is the more remarkable that they should have taken this course at once, because [294] they certainly had very strong reason to doubt whether the King would consent to a creation of Peers, though they probably thought he might be bullied upon an occasion which they fancied they could turn to great account; but he was stout and would not hear of it.

The day after the debate Grey and Brougham went down to Windsor and proposed to the King to make fifty Peers. They took with them a minute of Cabinet signed by all the members except the Duke of Richmond. Palmerston proposed it in Cabinet, and Melbourne made no objection. His Majesty took till the next day to consider, when he accepted their resignations, which was the alternative they gave him. At the levee the same day nothing occurred; the King hardly spoke to the Duke, but he afterwards saw Lyndhurst (having sent for him). I do not know what passed between them, but the Duke of Wellington was soon sent for. The Duke and Lyndhurst endeavoured to prevail on Peel to take the Government upon himself, and the former offered to act in any capacity in which he could be useful, but Peel would not. Some communication also took place between Lyndhurst and Harrowby, but the latter declared at once he would support the new Government, but not take office. When Peel finally declined, the Duke accepted, and yesterday at three o'clock he went to St. James's. The King saw Peel and the Speaker. Nothing is known of the formation of the Cabinet, but the reports were first that Alexander Baring was to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and since that he has refused on account of his health, and that Lyndhurst is to go to the King's Bench, Tenterden to retire, and the Great Seal to be put in commission.

The first act of the Duke was to advise the King to reject the address of the Birmingham Union, which he did, and said he knew of no such body. All very proper. In the morning I called upon Wood at the Treasury, to explain to him that I had never been cognisant of the late proceedings in the House of Lords, and that I was far from approving the conduct of my old associates. He said he had never believed [295] that I was any party to it, and regretted that I had not been in town, when it was just possible I might have persuaded them of the unworthiness of the course they were taking. He said that I did not know how bad it was, for that Wharncliffe had distinctly said that if such a thing was proposed he should oppose it, and that Palmerston was present when he said so. This Wharncliffe positively denies, and yesterday he went to Palmerston to endeavour to explain, taking with him. a minute which he said he had drawn up at the time of all that passed, but which he had never before shown or submitted for correction, and which Palmerston told him was incorrect, inasmuch as it omitted that engagement. They are at issue as to the fact. The position of the respective parties is curious. The Waverers undertook a task of great difficulty with slender means, and they accomplished it with complete success. All turned out as they expected and desired, but, after having been in confidential communication with both parties, they have contrived mortally to offend both, and to expose themselves to odium from every quarter, and to an universal imputation of insincerity and double-dealing, and this without any other fault than mismanagement and the false position in which they found themselves, without influence or power, between two mighty parties. The Tories, who have exhibited nothing but obstinacy and unreasonableness, and who thwarted the Waverers by every means they could devise, have reaped all the benefit of their efforts, and that without admitting that they were right or thanking them for bringing matters to this pass. They are triumphant, in spite of all they did to prevent their own triumph, and have had all the spiteful pleasure of abuse and obloquy, all the glory of consistency, and the satisfaction of pertinacity, with all the advantages that an opposite line of conduct promised to give them. [Their triumph was of short duration, and nothing so complete as their final discomfiture.]

The King took leave of his Ministers with a great effusion of tenderness, particularly to Richmond, whom he entreated [296] to remain in office; but I take it that he easily consoles himself, and does not care much more for one Minister than another.

The debate in the House of Commons was not so violent as might have been expected, and the Tories were greatly elated with the divisions on Ebrington's motion, because there was a majority less by fifty-six than on a similar motion when the Bill was rejected in October. The circumstances were, however, different, and some would not vote because they disapprove of creating Peers, which this vote would have committed them to approve of. There is so much of wonder, and curiosity, and expectation abroad that there is less of abuse and exasperation than might have been expected, but it will all burst forth. The town is fearfully quiet. What is odd enough is that the King was hissed as he left London the other day, and the Duke cheered as he came out of the Palace. There have been some meetings, with resolutions to support the Bill, to express approbation of the Ministers, and to protest against the payment of taxes, and there will probably be a good deal of bustle and bluster here and elsewhere; but I do not believe in real tumults, particularly when the rabble and the unions know that there is a Government which will not stand such things, and that they will not be able to bandy compliments with the Duke as they did with Althorp and John Russell, not but what much dissatisfaction and much disquietude must prevail. The funds have not fallen, which is a sign that there is no alarm in the City. At this early period of the business it is difficult to form any opinion of what will happen; the present Government in opposition will again be formidable, but I am disposed to think things will go on and right themselves; we shall avoid a creation of Peers, but we must have a Reform Bill of some sort, and perhaps a harmless one after all, and if the elements of disorder can be resolved into tranquillity and order again, we must not quarrel with the means that have been employed, nor the quantum of moral injustice that has been perpetrated.

The Tories are very indignant with Peel for not taking office, and if, as it is supposed, he is to support Government [297] and the Bill out of office, and when all is over come in, it is hardly worth while for such a farce to deprive the King and the country of his services in the way that they could be most useful, but he is still smarting under Catholic question reminiscences, while the Duke is more thick-skinned. After he had carried the Catholic question the world was prepared for a good deal of versatility on his part, but it was in mere derision that (after his speech on Reform in 1830) it used to be said that he would very likely be found proposing a Bill of Reform, and here he is coming into office for the express purpose of carrying on this very Bill against which the other day he entered a protest which must stare him in the face through the whole progress of it, or, if not, to bring in another of the same character, and probably nearly of the same dimensions. Pretexts are, however, not wanting, and the necessity of supporting the King is made paramount to every other consideration. The Duke's worshippers (a numerous class) call this the finest action of his life, though it is difficult to perceive in what the grandeur of it consists, or the magnitude of the sacrifice. However, it is fair to wait a little, and hear from his own lips his exposition of the mode in which he intends to deal with this measure, and how he will reconcile what he has hitherto said with what he is now about to do. Talleyrand is of course in a state of great consternation, which will be communicated like an electrical shock to the Powers specially favoured and protected by the late Government — Leopold and Don Pedro, for instance. It will be a difficult thing for the Duke to deal with some of the questions on which he has committed himself pretty con- siderably while in opposition, both with respect to foreign politics and especially Irish Education.

Monday, May 14th.

Nothing more was known yesterday, but everybody was congregated at the clubs, asking, discussing, and wondering. There was a great meeting at Apsley House, when it was supposed everything was settled. The Household went yesterday to St. James's to resign their sticks and badges; amongst the rest Lord Foley. The King was very civil to him; made him sit down and said, 'Lord Foley, [298] you are a young man.' 'Sir, I am afraid I cannot flatter myself that I have any right to that appellation.' 'Oh, yes ; you are a young man — at all events in comparison with me and you will probably come into office again; but I am an old man, and I am afraid I shall not have the pleasure of seeing you there.' It is supposed that this coup has been preparing for some time. All the Royal Family, bastards and all, have been incessantly at the King, and he has probably had more difficulty in the long run in resisting the constant importunity of his entourage, and of his womankind particularly, than the dictates of his Ministers; and between this gradual but powerful impression, and his real opinion and fears, he was not sorry to seize the first good opportunity of shaking off the Whigs. When Lord Anglesey went to take leave of him at Windsor he was struck with the change in his sentiments, and told Lady Anglesey so, who repeated it to my brother.

It is gratifying to find that those with whom I used to dispute, and who would hear of nothing but rejecting the second reading, now admit that my view was the correct one, and Vesey Fitzgerald, with whom I had more than one discussion, complimented me very handsomely upon the justification of my view of the question which the event had afforded. The High Tories, of course, will never admit that they could have been wrong, and have no other resource but to insist boldly that the King never would have made Peers at all. [1]

London, May 17th.

The events of the last few days have passed with a rapidity which hardly left time to think upon them such sudden changes and transitions from rage to triumph on one side, and from foolish exultation to mortification and despair on the other. The first impression was that the Duke of Wellington would succeed in forming a Government with or without Peel. The first thing he did was to try

[1] Everyone knows how short-lived were the expectations caused by the temporary resignation of Lord Grey's Government. It will be seen in the following pages how soon the vision passed away; but the foregoing passages are retained precisely because they contain a vivid and faithful picture of the state of opinion at the moment.

[299] and prevail upon Peel to be Prime Minister, but he was inexorable. He then turned to Baring, [1] who, after much hesitation, agreed to be Chancellor of the Exchequer. The work went on, but with difficulty, for neither Peel, Goulburn, nor Croker would take office. They then tried the Speaker, who was mightily tempted to become Secretary of State, but still doubting and fearing, and requiring time to make up his mind. At an interview with the Duke and Lyndhurst at Apsley House he declared his sentiments on the existing state of affairs in a speech of three hours, to the unutterable disgust of Lyndhurst, who returned home, flung himself into a chair, and said that 'he could not endure to have anything to do with such a damned tiresome old bitch.' After these three hours of oratory Manners Sutton desired to have till the next morning (Monday) to make up his mind, which he again begged might be extended till the evening. On that evening (Monday) ensued the memorable night in the House of Commons, which everybody agrees was such a scene of violence and excitement as never had been exhibited within those walls. Tavistock told me he had never heard anything at all like it, and to his dying day should not forget it. The House was crammed to suffocation; every violent sentiment and vituperative expression was received with shouts of approbation, yet the violent speakers were listened to with the greatest attention. [2] Tom Duncombe made one of his blustering Radical harangues, full of every sort of impertinence, which was received with immense applause, but which contrasted with an admirable speech, full of dignity, but also of sarcasm and severity, from John Russell the best he ever made. The conduct of the Duke of Wellington in taking office to carry the Bill, which was not denied, but which his friends feebly attempted to justify, was assailed with the most merciless severity, and (what made the greatest impression) was condemned (though in more measured terms) by moderate men and Tories, such as Inglis and Davies Gilbert. Baring, who spoke four times,

[1] Alexander Baring, afterwards Lord Ashburton.
[2] The debate arose on a petition of the City of London, praying th at the House would refuse supplies until the Reform Bill had become law.

[300] at last proposed that there should be a compromise, and that the ex-Ministers should resume their seats and carry the Bill. This extraordinary proposition was drawn from him by the state of the House, and the impossibility he at once saw of forming a new Government, and without any previous concert with the Duke, who, however, entirely approved of what he said. After the debate Baring and Sutton went to Apsley House, and related to the Duke what had taken place, the former saying he would face a thousand devils rather than such a House of Commons. From that moment the whole thing was at an end, and the next morning (Tuesday) the Duke repaired to the King, and told him that he could not form an Administration. This communication, for which the debate of the previous night had prepared everybody, was speedily known, and the joy and triumph of the Whigs were complete.

The King desired the Duke and Lyndhurst (for they went together) to advise him what he should do. They advised him to write to Lord Grey (which he did), informing him that the Duke had given up the commission to form a Government, that he had heard of what had fallen from Mr. Baring in the House of Commons the night before on the subject of a compromise, and that he wished Lord Grey to return and resume the Government upon that principle. Lord Grey sent an answer full of the usual expressions of zeal and respect, but saying that he could give no answer until he had consulted his colleagues. He assembled his Cabinet, and at five o'clock the answer was sent. [1]

Yesterday morning Lord Grey saw the King; but up to last night nothing was finally settled, everything turning upon the terms to be exacted, some of the violent of the party desiring they should avail themselves of this opportunity to make Peers, both to show their power and increase their strength; the more moderate, including Lord Grey himself and many of the old Peer-makers, were for sparing the King's feelings and using their victory with moderation,

[1] These communications have been published in the 'Correspondence of Earl Grey with William IV.,' vol. ii. pp. 406-411.]

[301] all, however, agreeing that the only condition on which they could return was the certainty of carrying the Reform Bill unaltered, either by a creation of Peers or by the secession of its opponents. Up to the present moment the matter stands thus: the King at the mercy of the Whigs, just as averse as ever to make Peers, the violent wishing to press him, the moderate wishing to spare him, all parties railing at each other, the Tories broken and discomfited, and meditating no further resistance to the Reform Bill. The Duke is to make his exposé tonight.

Peel, who has kept himself out of the scrape, is strongly suspected of being anything but sorry for the dilemma into which the Duke has got himself, and they think that he secretly encouraged him to persevere, with promises of present support and future co-operation, with a shrewd anticipation of the fate that awaited him. I am by no means indisposed to give credit to this, for I well remember the wrath of Peel when the Duke's Government was broken up in 1830, and the various instances of secret dislike and want of real cordiality which have peeped from under a decent appearance of union and friendship. Nothing can be more certain than that he is in high spirits in the midst of it all, and talks with great complacency of its being very well as it is, and that the salvation of character is everything; and this from him, who fancies he has saved his own, and addressed to those who have forfeited theirs, is amusing.

The joy of the King at what he thought was to be his deliverance from the Whigs was unbounded. He lost no time in putting the Duke of Wellington in possession of everything that had taken place between him and them upon the subject of Reform, and with regard to the creation of Peers, admitting that he had consented, but saying he had been subjected to every species of persecution. His ignorance, weakness, and levity put him in a miserable light, and prove him to be one of the silliest old gentlemen in his dominions; but I believe he is mad, for yesterday he gave a great dinner to the Jockey Club, at which (notwithstanding his cares) he seemed in excellent spirits; and after dinner he made a [302] number of speeches, so ridiculous and nonsensical, beyond all belief but to those who heard them, rambling from one subject to another, repeating the same thing over and over again, and altogether such a mass of confusion, trash, and imbecility as made one laugh and blush at the same time.

As soon as the Duke had agreed to try and form a Government he applied to the Tories, who nearly all agreed to support him, and were prepared to go to all lengths, even to that of swallowing the whole Bill if necessary; the Duke of Newcastle particularly would do anything. These were the men who were so squeamish that they could not be brought to support amendments even, unless they were permitted to turn the schedules upside-down, straining at gnats out of office and swallowing camels in. It is remarkable that after the sacrifice Wharncliffe made to re-ingratiate himself with the Tories, incurring the detestation and abuse of the Whigs, and their reproach of bad faith, the former have utterly neglected him, taking no notice of him whatever during the whole of their proceedings from the moment of the division, leaving him in ignorance of their plans and intentions, never inviting him to any of their meetings, and although a communication was made by Lyndhurst to Harrowby (they wanted Harrowby to be Prime Minister), the latter was not at liberty to impart it to Wharncliffe. It is not possible to be more deeply mortified than he is at the treatment he has experienced from these allies after having so committed himself. From the account of the King's levity throughout these proceedings, I strongly suspect that (if he lives) he will go mad. While the Duke and Lyndhurst were with him, at one of the most critical moments (I forget now at which) he said, 'I have been thinking that something is wanting with regard to Hanover. Duke, you are now my Minister, and I beg you will think of this; I should like to have a slice of Belgium, which would be a convenient addition to Hanover. Pray remember this,' and then resumed the subject they were upon.

May 19th.

The night before last the Duke made his statement. It was extremely clear, but very bald, and left [303] his case just where it was, as he did not say anything that everybody did not know before. His friends, however, extolled it as a masterpiece of eloquence and a complete vindication of himself. The Tory Lords who spoke after him bedaubed him with praise, and vied with each other in expressions of admiration. These were Carnarvon, Winchelsea, and Haddington. There was not one word from the Duke (nor from the others) indicative of an intention to secede, which was what the Government expected. His speech contained a sort of covert attack upon Peel; in fact, he could not defend himself without attacking Peel, for if the one was in the right in taking office the other must have been in the wrong in refusing to join him. There was nothing, however, which was meant as a reproach, though out of the House the Duke's friends do not conceal their anger that Peel would not embark with him in his desperate enterprise.

Lyndhurst was exceedingly able, highly excited, very eloquent, and contrived to make his case a good one. It was a fine display and very short. Carnarvon and Mansfield were outrageously violent, but both in their way clever, and parts of the speech of the latter were eloquent. Lord Grey was excellent, short, very temperate and judicious, exactly what was requisite and nothing more. Nobody else spoke on his side, except Mulgrave at the end.

The debate, however interesting, left the whole matter in uncertainty; and the next day the old question began again. What was to be done — Peers or no Peers? A Cabinet sat nearly all day, and Lord Grey went once or twice to the King. He, poor man, was at his wits' end, and tried an experiment (not a very constitutional one) of his own by writing to a number of Peers, entreating them to withdraw their opposition to the Bill. These letters were written (I think) before the debate. On Thursday nothing was settled, and at another meeting of the Cabinet a minute was drawn up agreeing to offer again the same advice to the King. Before this was acted upon Richmond, who had been absent, arrived, and he prevailed upon his colleagues to cancel it. In the meantime the Duke of Wellington, Lyndhurst, and other [304] Peers had given the desired assurances to the King, which he communicated to Lord Grey. These were accepted as sufficient securities, and declarations made accordingly in both Houses of Parliament. If the Ministers had again gone to the King with this advice, it is impossible to say how it would have ended, for he had already been obstinate, and might have continued so on this point, and he told Lord Verulam that he thought it would be contrary to his coronation oath to make Peers. Our princes have strange notions of the obligations imposed by their coronation oath.

On Thursday in the House of Commons Peel made his statement, in which, with great civility and many expressions of esteem and admiration of the Duke, he pronounced as bitter a censure of his conduct, while apparently confining himself to the defence of his own, as it was possible to do, and as such it was taken. I have not the least doubt that he did it con amore, and that he is doubly rejoiced to be out of the scrape himself and to leave others in it.

May 31st.

Since I came back from Newmarket there has not been much to write about. A calm has succeeded the storm. Last night Schedules A and B were galloped through the Committee, and they finished the business. On Thursday next the Bill will probably be read a third time. In the House of Lords some dozen Tories and Waverers have continued to keep up a little skirmish, and a good deal of violent language has been bandied about, in which the Whigs, being the winners, have shown the best temper. In society the excitement has ceased, but the bitterness remains. The Tories are, however, so utterly defeated, and the victory of their opponents is so complete, that the latter can afford to be moderate and decorous in their tone and manner; and the former are exceedingly sulky, cockering up each other with much self-gratulation and praise, but aware that in the opinion of the mass of mankind they are covered with odium, ridicule, and disgrace. Peel and the Duke are ostensibly great friends, and the ridiculous farce is still kept up of each admiring what he would not do himself, but what the other did.

[305] June 1st.

Met the Duke of Wellington at dinner yesterday, and afterwards had a long talk with him, not on politics. I never see and converse with him without reproaching myself for the sort of hostility I feel and express towards his political conduct, for there are a simplicity, a gaiety, and natural urbanity and good-humour in him which are remarkably captivating in so great a man. We talked of Dumont's book and Louis XVIII.'s 'Memoirs.' I said I thought the 'Memoirs ' were not genuine. He said he was sure they were, that they bore the strongest internal evidence of being so, particularly in their accuracy as to dates; that he was the best chronologist in the world, and that he knew the day of the week of every event of importance. He once asked the Duke when he was born, and when he told him the day of the month and year, he at once said it was on a Tuesday; that he (the Duke) had remembered that throughout the book the day of the week was always mentioned, and many of the anecdotes he had himself heard the King tell. He then talked of him, and I was surprised to hear him say that Charles X. was a cleverer man, as far as knowledge of the world went, though Louis XVIII. was much better informed — a most curious remark, considering the history and end of each. [Nothing could be more mistaken and untrue than this opinion.] That Louis XVIII. was always governed, and a favourite indispensable to him. At the Congress of Vienna the Duke was deputed to speak to M. de Blacas, his then favourite, and tell him that his unpopularity was so great in France that it was desirable he should not return there. Blacas replied, 'You don't know the King; he must have a favourite, and he had better have me than another. I shall go; he will have another, and you should take pains to put a gentleman in that situation, for he is capable of taking the first person that finds access to him and the opportunity of pleasing him.' He added that he should not wonder if he took Fouché. He did not take Fouché, who was not aware of the part he might have played, but he took De Cazes, who governed him entirely. This continued till the Royal Family determined to get rid of him, and by threatening [306] to make an esclandre and leave the chateau they at last succeeded, and De Cazes was sent as Ambassador to London. Then the King wrote to him constantly, sending him verses and literary scraps. The place remained vacant till accident threw Madame du Cayla in his way. [1] She was the daughter of Talon, who had been concerned in the affair of the Marquis de Favras, and she sent to the King to say she had some papers of her father's relating to that affair, which she should like to give into his own hands. He saw her and was pleased with her. The Royal Family encouraged this new taste, in order to get rid entirely of De Cazes, and even the Duchesse d'Angoulême promoted her success. It was the same thing to him to have a woman as a man, and there was no sexual question in the matter, as what he wanted was merely some one to whom he could tell everything, consult with on all occasions, and with whom he could bandy literary trifles. Madame du Cayla, who was clever, was speedily installed, and he directly gave up De Cazes. He told the Duke that he was brouillé with De Cazes, who had behaved very ill to him, but he had nothing specific to allege against him, except that his manner to him was not what it ought to have been. The Ministers paid assiduous court to Madame du Cayla, imparted everything to her, and got her to say what they wanted said to the King; she acted all the part of a mistress, except the essential, of which there never was any question. She got great sums of money from him and very valuable presents.

June 18th.

Breakfasted on Thursday with Rogers, and yesterday at the Athenæum with Henry Taylor, and met Mr. Charles Austin, a lawyer, clever man, and Radical. The Bills are jogging on and there is a comparative calm. The Whigs swear that the Reformed Parliament will be the most aristocratic we have ever seen, and Ellice told me that they cannot hear of a single improper person likely to be elected for any of the new places. [Their choice did not correspond with this statement of their disposition.] The metropolitan districts

[1] This lady has already been noticed in a previous portion of these Memoirs, when she visited England. See vol. i. p. 215.

[307] want rank and talent. The Government and their people have now found out what a fool the King is, and it is very amusing to hear them on the subject. Formerly, when they thought they had him fast, he was very honest and rather wise; now they find him rather shuffling and exceedingly silly. When Normanby went to take leave of him on going to Jamaica he pronounced a harangue in favour of the slave trade, of which he has always been a great admirer, and expressed sentiments for which his subjects would tear him to pieces if they heard them. It is one of the great evils of the recent convulsion that the King's imbecility has been exposed to the world, and in his person the regal authority has fallen into contempt; his own personal unpopularity is not of much consequence as long as it does not degrade his office; that of George IV. never did, so little so that he could always as King cancel the bad impressions which he made in his individual capacity, and he frequently did so. Walter Scott is arrived here, dying. A great mortality among great men: Goethe, Périer, Champollion, Cuvier, Scott, Grant, Mackintosh, all died within a few weeks of each other.

June 25th.

At Fern Hill all last week; a great party, nothing but racing and gambling; then to Shepperton, and to town on Saturday. The event of the races was the King's having his head knocked with a stone. It made very little sensation on the spot, for he was not hurt, and the fellow was a miserable-looking ragamuffin. It, however, produced a great burst of loyalty in both Houses, and their Majesties were loudly cheered at Ascot. The Duke of Wellington, who had been the day before mobbed in London, also reaped a little harvest of returning popularity from the assault, and so far the outrages have done rather good than harm.

July 12th.

The suttee case was decided at the Privy Council on Saturday last, and was not uninteresting. The Chancellor, Lord President, Graham, John Russell and Grant, Sir Edward East, the Master of Rolls, Vice-Chancellor, Lord Amherst, and Lord Wellesley were present (the latter not the last day). Lushington was for the appeal, and Horne and [308] Starkie against. The former made two very able and ingenious speeches; when the counsel withdrew the Lords gave their opinions seriatim. Leach made a very short and very neat speech, condemning the order [1] of the Governor-General, but admitting the danger of rescinding it, and recommending, therefore, that the execution of it should be suspended. Sir Edward East, in a long, diffusive harangue, likewise condemned the order, but was against suspension; Sir James Graham was against the order, but against suspension; Lord Amherst the same. The rest approved of the order altogether. John Russell gave his opinion very well. The Chancellor was prolix and confused; he hit upon a bit of metaphysics in one of the cases on which he took pleasure in dilating. The result was that the petition was dismissed.

I know nothing of politics for some time past. The Reform fever having subsided, people are principally occupied with speculations on the next elections. At present there is every appearance of the return of a House of Commons very favourable to the present Government, but the Tory party keeps together in the House of Lords, and they are animated with vague hopes of being able to turn out the Ministry, more from a spirit of hatred and revenge than from any clear view of the practicability of their carrying on the Government. I conceive, however, that as soon as Parliament is up there will be a creation of Peers. In the House of Commons the Irish Tithe question has been the great subject of interest and discussion. O'Connell and the Irish members debate and adjourn just as they please, and Althorp is obliged to give way to them. When Stanley moved for leave to bring in his Bill he detailed his plan in a speech of two hours. They thought fit to oppose this, which is quite unusual, and O'Connell did not arrive till after Stanley had sat down. Not having heard his speech he could not answer him, and he therefore moved the

[1] The order was a decree of the Governor-General of India abolishing the practice of suttee, against which certain Hindoos appealed to the King in Council. Another party, however, were in favour of the order, and the Rajah Rammohun Roy is acting in this country as their agent.

[309] adjournment. Upon a former occasion, during the Reform Bill, when the Tories moved an adjournment after many hours' debate, the Government opposed it, and voted on through the night till seven o'clock in the morning; now the Tories were ready to support Government against the Irish members, but they would not treat the Radicals as they did the Tories, and then on a subsequent occasion they submitted to have the debate adjourned.

O'Connell is supposed to be horridly afraid of the cholera. He has dodged about between London and Dublin, as the disease appeared first at one and then the other place, and now that it is everywhere he shirks the House of Commons from fear of the heat and the atmosphere. The cholera is here, and diffuses a certain degree of alarm. Some servants of people well known have died, and that frightens all other servants out of their wits, and they frighten their masters; the death of any one person they are acquainted with terrifies people much more than that of twenty of whom they knew nothing. As long as they read daily returns of a parcel of deaths here and there of A, B, and C they do not mind, but when they hear that Lady such a one's nurse or Sir somebody's footman is dead, they fancy they see the disease actually at their own door.

July 15th.

I had a good deal of conversation yesterday with Lord and Lord John Russell about Ireland. The debate the night before lasted till four o'clock. O'Connell made a furious speech, and Dawson the other evening another, talking of resistance and of his readiness to join in it. This drew up Peel, who had spoken before, and who, when attacked with cries of 'Spoke!' said, 'Yes, I have spoken, but I will say that no party considerations shall prevent my supporting Government in this measure, and giving them my cordial support.' He was furious with Dawson, and got up in order to throw him over, though he did not address himself to him, or to anything he hDuncannonad said expressly. John Russell spoke out what ought to have been said long ago, that the Church could not stand, but that the present clergymen must be paid. Both he and Duncannon are aware of the [310] false position in which the Government is placed, pretending to legislate with a knowledge that their laws cannot be enforced, and the latter said that, whatever might be done, the Irish would take nothing at the hands of Stanley. It is unfortunate that his attachment to the Church makes him the unfittest man in the country to manage Irish affairs, and he has contrived to make himself so personally unpopular that with the best intentions he could not give satisfaction. Under these circumstances his remaining there is impossible, but what is to be done with him? He is of such importance in the House of Commons that they cannot part with him. I asked John Russell why they did not send Hobhouse to Ireland and make Stanley Secretary of War. He said would he consent to exchange? that he was tired of office, and would be glad to be out. I said I could not suppose in such an emergency that he would allow any personal considerations to influence him, and that he would consent to whatever arrangement would be most beneficial to the Government and conducive to the settlement of Irish affairs. The truth is (as I told him) that they are with respect to Ireland in the situation of a man who has got an old house in which he can no longer live, not tenable; various architects propose this and that alteration, to build a room here and pull down one there, but at last they find that all these alterations will only serve to make the house habitable a little while longer, that the dry rot is in it, and that they had better begin, as they will be obliged to end, by pulling it down and building up a new one. He owned this was true, but said that here another difficulty presented itself with regard to Stanley — whether he would, as a leading member of the Cabinet, consent to any measures which might go so much further than he would be disposed to do. I said that I could not imagine (whatever might be his predilections) that his mind was not awakened to the necessity of giving way to the state of things, and that he might consent to measures which he felt he was not a fit person to introduce and recommend. He assented to this. He then talked of the views of the Protestants, of the Lefroys, &c.; that they began to admit the necessity of [311] a change, but by no means would consent to the alienation of Church property from Protestant uses; that they were willing where there was a large parish consisting entirely of Catholics that the tithes should be taken from the rector of such parish and given to one who had a large Protestant flock an arrangement which would disgust the Catholics as much as or more than any other, and be considered a perfect mockery. The fact is we may shift and change and wriggle about as much as we will, we may examine and report and make laws, but tithe, the tithe system is at an end. The people will not pay them, and there are no means of compelling them. The march of events is just as certain as that of the seasons. The question which is said to be beset with difficulties is in fact very easy — that is, its difficulties arise from conflicting interests and passions, and not from the uncertainty of its operation and end. Those conflicting passions are certainly very great and very embarrassing, and it is no easy matter to deal with them, but it seems to me that the wisest policy is to keep our eyes steadfastly fixed on the end, and, admitting the inevitable conclusion, labour to bring it about with the smallest amount of individual loss, the greatest general benefit, and the best chance of permanence and stability. By casting lingering looks at the old system, and endeavouring to save something here and there, by allowing the Church to remain in the rags and tatters of its old supremacy, we shall foster those hostile feelings which it is essential to put down for ever, and leave the seeds of grievance and hatred to spring up in a future harvest of agitation and confusion.

July 25th.

Nothing of moment has occurred lately; the dread of cholera absorbs everybody. Mrs. Smith, young and beautiful, was dressed to go to church on Sunday morning, when she was seized with the disorder, never had a chance of rallying, and died at eleven at night. This event, shocking enough in itself from its suddenness and the youth and beauty of the person, has created a terrible alarm; many people have taken flight, and others are suspended between their hopes of safety in country air and their dread of being removed from [312] metropolitan aid. The disease spreads gradually in all directions in town and country, but without appearing like an epidemic; it is scattered and uncertain; it brings to light horrible distress. We, who live on the smooth and plausible surface, know little of the frightful appearance of the bowels of society.

Don Pedro has never been heard of since he landed, and nobody seems much to care whether he or Miguel succeed. The Tories are for the latter and the Whigs for the former. In a fourth debate on the Russian Dutch Loan Ministers got a good finale, a large division, and a brilliant speech from Stanley, totally unprepared and prodigiously successful. Nothing could be worse in point of tactics than renewing this contest, neither party having, in fact, a good case. Parliament is going to separate soon, and the cholera will accelerate the prorogation; not a step has been made towards an approximation between the rival parties, who appear to be animated against each other with unabated virulence. The moderate Tories talk of their desire to see the Government discard their Radical friends, but the great body give them no encouragement to do so by evincing any diminished hostility to them as a party. Opinions are so different as to the probable composition of the next Parliament, that it is difficult to arrive at any satisfactory conclusion about it. The Tories evidently expect that they shall reappear in very formidable strength, though in particular places the Tory party is entirely crushed; the sooner it is so altogether the better, for no good can be expected from it, and it would be far better to erect a Conservative party upon a new and broader basis than to try and bolster up this worn-out, prejudiced, obstinate faction. But the times are difficult and men are wanting; the middle classes are pressing on, and there are men enough there of fortune, energy, activity, zeal, and ambition — no Cannings perhaps or Broughams, but a host of fellows of the calibre of the actors in the old French Constituent Assembly.

July 29th.

There has been a great breeze between the Chancellor and Sugden, abusing and retorting upon each [313] other from their respective Houses of Parliament. As all personal matters excite greater interest than any others, so has this. Scott, Lord Eldon's son, died, and his place became vacant. Brougham had recommended their abolition long ago in his evidence before the House of Commons, and both publicly and privately. Some days ago Sugden gave notice to Horne (Solicitor-General) that he meant to put a question to him in the House of Commons as to whether these appointments were to be filled up or not, but before he did so (at four o'clock in the morning) the writ was moved for James Brougham, who had been put by the Chancellor in Scott's place. Accordingly the next day Sugden attacked the appointment in the House of Commons, and though he was by way of only asking a question, he in fact made a long vituperative speech. Nobody was there to reply. Althorp said he knew nothing of the matter, and various speeches were made, all expressive of a desire that the appointment should only be temporary. Horne (it seems) had never told the Chancellor what Sugden said, and Denman, who had no authority from him, did not dare get up and say that it was not to be permanent. Later in the day, having received instructions from the Chancellor, he did get up and say so. The next day Brougham introduced the subject in the House of Lords, and attacked Sugden with all the sarcasm and contumely which he could heap upon him, comparing him to 'a crawling reptile,' &c. Not one of his Tory friends said a word, and, what is curious, the Duke of Wellington praised Brougham for his disinterestedness, and old Eldon defended the place. The following day (Friday) Sugden again brought the matter before the House of Commons, complained bitterly of the Chancellor's speech, was called to order by Stanley, when the Speaker interfered, and, dexterously turning Sugden's attack upon the newspaper report, enabled him to go on. A violent discussion followed rather awkward for the Chancellor, whose friends endeavoured to soften the thing down by denying the accuracy of the report. After much acrimonious debate the matter ended. Yesterday the 'Times,' throwing over Brougham and Sugden, asserted [314] the accuracy of its own reporter, and declared that whether the Chancellor was right or wrong to have uttered them, the words were spoken by him exactly as they had been reported. Both parties are furious, but on the whole the Chancellor seems at present to have the worst of it, for it is worse for a man in his station to be in the wrong, and more indecent to be scurrilous, than for an individual who is nothing. Sugden now declares he will bring on a motion he has long meditated on the subject of the Court of Chancery, in which he will exhibit to the world the whole conduct of Brougham since he has held the Great Seal, his early haste and precipitation, his recent carelessness and delay, his ignorance, inattention, and incompetence for the office he holds. In this he expects to be supported by Wetherell, Knight, and Pemberton, three of the most eminent Chancery lawyers, while Brougham has nobody but Horne (of the profession) to defend him. If this should occur he may thank himself, for he would put Horne there.

Sir Charles Bagot called on me yesterday; told me that he thought the Belgian question was at last on the point of being settled, that the King of Holland had made 'the great concession,' and that the rest must soon follow; that he had never passed two such years amidst such difficulties, the King so obstinate. His view was that by holding out and maintaining a large army events would produce war; and that he would be able to sell himself to some one of the contending parties, getting back Belgium as the price of his aid, that he now only gave in because not a hope was left, that the difficulties were so great that it was not the fault of this Government that matters were not settled before. I asked him how the Dutch had contrived to make such an exertion. He said it was very creditable to them, but that they were very rich and very frugal, and had lugged out their hoards. They had saddled themselves with a debt the interest of which amounts to about £700,000 a year — a good deal for two millions of people.

August 1st.

Here is an anecdote exhibiting the character of Brougham, hot, passionate, and precipitate. He is [315] preparing his Bill for the amendment of the Court of Chancery, by which the patronage is to be done away with. Compensation was to be given to the present interests, but upon this recent affair between Sugden and him, to revenge himself upon men who are all or mostly of Sugden's party, he ordered the compensation clauses to be struck out. Sefton (who is a sort of Sancho to him) came up to dinner quite elated at having heard the order given. 'I wish,' said he, 'you had heard a man treated as I did in the Chancellor's room. He came in to ask him about the Bill he was drawing up. "I suppose the compensation clauses are to be put in? " "Compensation?" said Brougham. "No, by God; no compensation. Leave them out, if you please. They chose to attack me, and they shall have enough of it."' And what will be the end of all this? — that the Chancellor shows his spite and commits himself, shows that he is influenced in legislation by personal feelings, and incurs the suspicion that because he cannot get a compensation for his brother he is resolved nobody else shall have any. Althorp's speech about the pensions on Monday set at rest the question of compensation, and if these offices are abolished the Chancellor cannot prevent their getting it. In the House of Lords the eternal Russian Dutch Loan came on again. The Duke made a speech and Wynford made a speech, and they were opposed to each other; the Duke hit the right nail on the head, and took that course which he frequently does, and which is such a redeeming quality in his political character addressed himself to the question itself, to the real merits of it, without making it a mere vehicle for annoying the Government. Aberdeen sneered, but when the Duke throws over his people they can do nothing.

August 8th.

Pedro's expedition, which always has hobbled along, and never exhibited any of that dash which is essential to the success of such efforts, may be considered hopeless. Palmella arrived here a day or two ago, very low, and the Regency scrip has fallen four per cent. Nobody joins them, and it seems pretty clear that, one coquin for another, the Portuguese think they may as well have Miguel.

The Dutch affair is not yet settled, but on the point of it; for the fiftieth time a ' little hitch ' has again arisen. Last night, in the House of Lords, the Chancellor, in one of his most bungling ways, made what he meant to be a sort of amende to Sugden, making the matter rather worse than it was before, at least for his own credit, for he said that 'he had never intended to give pain, which he of all things abhorred,' and that he had not been at all in a passion — both false, and the latter being in fact his only excuse. I sat next to Melbourne at dinner, who concurred in the judgment of the world on the whole transaction, and said, 'The real truth is, he was in a great rage, for he had forgotten all his own evidence and his own speeches, and he meant to have kept the place.' This evidence from his own colleague and friend is conclusive, and will be a nice morsel for the future biographer of Brougham.

I dined at Holland House yesterday; a good many people, and the Chancellor came in after dinner, looking like an old clothes man and dirty as the ground. We had a true Holland House dinner, two more people arriving (Melbourne and Tom Duncombe) than there was room for, so that Lady Holland had the pleasure of a couple of general squeezes, and of seeing our arms prettily pinioned. Lord Holland sits at table, but does not dine. He proposed to retire (not from the room), but was not allowed, for that would have given us all space and ease. Lord Holland told some stories of Johnson and Garrick which he had heard from Kemble. Johnson loved to bully Garrick, from a recollection of Garrick's former impertinence. When Garrick was in the zenith of his popularity, and grown rich, and lived with the great, and while Johnson was yet obscure, the Doctor used to drink tea with him, and he would say, 'Davy, I do not envy you your money nor your fine acquaintance, but I envy you your power of drinking such tea as this.' 'Yes,' said Garrick, 'it is very good tea, but it is not my best, nor that which I give to my Lord this and Sir somebody t'other.'

Johnson liked Fox because he defended his pension, and said it was only to blame in not being large enough. [317] 'Fox,' he said, 'is a liberal man; he would always be 'aut Csesar aut nullus;' whenever I have seen him he has been nullus.' Lord Holland said Fox made it a rule never to talk in Johnson's presence, because he knew all his conversations were recorded for publication, and he did not choose to figure in them.

August 12th.

The House of Commons has finished (or nearly) its business. Althorp ended with a blunder. He brought in a Bill to extend the time for payment of rates and for voters under the new Bill, and because it was opposed he abandoned it suddenly; his friends are disgusted. Robarts told me that the Bank Committee had executed their laborious duties in a spirit of great cordiality, and witli a general disposition to lay aside all political differences and concur in accomplishing the best results; a good thing, for it is in such transactions as these, which afford an opportunity for laying aside the bitterness of party and the rancorous feelings which animate men against each other, that the only chance can be found of a future amalgamation of public men. He told me that the evidence all went to prove that little improvement could be made in the management of the Bank.

Dined yesterday at Holland House; the Chancellor, Lord Grey, Luttrell, Palmerston, and Macaulay. The Chancellor was sleepy and would not talk; he uttered nothing but yawns and grunts. Macaulay and Allen disputed history, particularly the character of the Emperor Frederick II., and Allen declared himself a Guelph and Macaulay a Ghibelline. Macaulay is a most extraordinary man, and his astonishing knowledge is every moment exhibited, but (as far as I have yet seen of him, which is not sufficient to judge) he is not agreeable. His propositions and his allusions are rather too abrupt; he starts topics not altogether naturally; then he has none of the graces of conversation, none of that exquisite tact and refinement which are the result of a felicitous intuition or a long acquaintance with good society, or more probably a mixture of both. The mighty mass of his knowledge is not animated by that subtle spirit of taste and discretion which [318] alone can give it the qualities of lightness and elasticity, and without which, though he may have the power of instructing and astonishing, he never will attain that of delighting and captivating his hearers. The dinner was agreeable, and enlivened by a squabble between Lady Holland and Allen, at which we were all ready to die of laughing. He jeered at something she said as brutal, and chuckled at his own wit.

Shepperton, August 31st.

I came here last Sunday to see my father, who (my mother wrote me word) had been unwell for a day or two. I got here at four o'clock (having called on Madame de Lieven at Richmond on the way), and when I arrived I found my father at the point of death. He was attacked as he had often been before; medicines afforded him no relief, and nothing would stay on his stomach. On Saturday violent spasms came on, which occasioned him dreadful pain; they continued intermittingly till Sunday afternoon, when, as they took him out of bed to put him in a warm bath, he fainted. From this state of insensibility he never recovered, and at half-past twelve o'clock he expired. My brothers were both here. I sent an express for my sister, who was at Malvern, and she arrived on Tuesday morning. Dr. Dowdeswell was in the house, and he stayed on with us and did all that was required. This morning he was buried in the church of this village, close to the house, in the simplest manner, and was followed to the grave by my brothers and brother-in-law, Dowdeswell, Ives, the doctor who attended him, and the servants. He had long been ailing, and at his age (nearly 70 years) this event was not extraordinary, but it was shocking, because so sudden and unexpected, and no idea of danger was entertained by himself or those about him. My father had some faults and many foibles, but he was exposed to great disadvantages in early youth; his education was neglected and his disposition was spoilt. His father was useless, and worse than useless, as a parent, and his mother (a woman of extraordinary capacity and merit) died while he was a young man, having been previously separated from her husband, and having [319] retired from the world. [1] The circumstances of his marriage, and the incidents of his life, would be interesting to none but his own family, and need not be recorded by me. He was a man of a kind, amiable, and liberal disposition, and what is remarkable, as he advanced in years his temper grew less irritable and more indulgent; he was cheerful, hospitable, and unselfish. He had at all times been a lively companion, and without much instruction, extensive information, or a vigorous understanding, his knowledge of the world in the midst of which he had passed his life, his taste and turn for humour, and his good-nature made him a very agreeable man. He had a few intimate friends to whom he was warmly attached, a host of acquaintances, and I do not know that he had a single enemy. He was an affectionate father, and ready to make any sacrifices for the happiness and welfare of his children in short, he was amiable and blameless in the various relations of life, and he deserved that his memory should be cherished as it is by us with sincere and affectionate regret.

September 18th.

I have been in London, at Shepperton, and twice at Brighton to see Henry de Ros; came back yesterday. The world is half asleep. Lord Howe returns to the Queen as her Chamberlain, and that makes a sensation. I met at Brighton Lady Keith [Madame de Mahaut], who told us a great deal about French politics, which, as she is a partisan, was not worth much, but she also gave us rather an amusing account of the early days of the Princess Charlotte, at the time of her escape from Warwick House in a hackney-coach and taking refuge with her mother, and of the earlier affair of Captain Hess. The former escapade arose from her determination to break off her marriage with the Prince of Orange, and that from her suddenly falling in love with Prince Augustus of Prussia, and her resolving to marry him and

[1] Mr. Charles Greville, senior, was the fifth son of Fulk Greville, of Wilbury, by Frances Macartney, a lady of some literary reputation as the authoress of an 'Ode to Indifference.' She was the daughter of General Macartney. Horace Walpole speaks of her as one of the beauties of his time. She died in 1789. Mr. Greville may have inherited from her his strong literary tastes.

[320] nobody else, not knowing that he was already married de la main guache in Prussia. It seems that she speedily made known her sentiments to the Prince, and he (notwithstanding his marriage) followed the thing up, and had two interviews with her at her own house, which were contrived by Miss Knight) her governess. During one of these Miss Mercer arrived, and Miss Knight told her that Prince Augustus was with the Princess in her room, and what a fright she (Miss Knight) was in. Miss Mercer, who evidently had no mind anybody should conduct such an affair for the Princess but herself, pressed Miss Knight to go and interrupt them, which on her declining she did herself. The King (Regent as he was then) somehow heard of these meetings, and measures of coercion were threatened, and it was just when an approaching visit from him had been announced to the Princess that she went off. Miss Mercer was in the house at the time, and the Regent, when he came, found her there. He accused her of being a party to the Princess's flight, but afterwards either did or pretended to believe her denial, and sent her to fetch the Princess back, which after many pourparlers and the intervention of the Dukes of York and Sussex, Brougham, and the Bishop of Salisbury, her preceptor, was accomplished at two in the morning.

Hess's affair was an atrocity of the Princess of Wales. She employed him to convey letters to her daughter while she used to ride in Windsor Park, which he contrived to deliver, and occasionally to converse with her; and on one occasion, at Kensington, the Princess of Wales brought them together in her own room. The Princess afterwards wrote him some letters, not containing much harm, but idle and improper. When the Duke of York's affair with Mrs. Clark came out, and all the correspondence, she became very much alarmed, told Miss Mercer the whole story, and employed her to get back her letters to Hess. She accordingly wrote to Hess (who was then in Spain), but he evinced a disinclination to give them up. On his return to England she saw him, and on his still demurring she threatened to put the affair into the Duke of York's hands, which frightened him, and then he surrendered them, and signed a paper declaring [321] he had given up everything. The King afterwards heard of this affair, and questioning the Princess, she told him everything. He sent for Miss Mercer, and desired to see the letters, and then to keep them. This she refused. This Captain Hess was a short, plump, vulgar-looking man, afterwards lover to the Queen of Naples, mother of the present King, an amour that was carried on under the auspices of the Margravine at her villa in the Strada Nova at Naples. It was, however, detected, and Hess was sent away from Naples, and never allowed to return. I remember finding him at Turin (married), when he was lamenting his hard fate in being excluded from that Paradiso Naples.

September 28th.

At Stoke from the 22nd to the 26th, then to the Grove, and returned yesterday; at the former place Madame de Lieven, Alvanley, Melbourne; tolerably pleasant; question of war again. The Dutch King makes a stir, and threatens to bombard the town of Antwerp; the French offered to march, and put their troops in motion, but Leopold begged they would not, and chose rather to await the effect of more conferences, which began with great vigour a few days ago. What they find to say to each other for eight or ten hours a day for several consecutive days it is hard to guess, as the question is of the simplest kind. The King of Holland will not give up the citadel of Antwerp, nor consent to the free navigation of the Scheldt; the Belgians insist on these concessions; the Conference says they shall be granted, but Russia. Prussia, and Austria will not coerce the Dutchman; England and France will, if the others don't object. A French army is in motion, and a French fleet is off Spithead; so probably something will come of it. Nothing has damaged this Government more than these protracted and abortive conferences.

Four days ago there was a report that the King of Spain was dead, accompanied with a good many particulars, and all the world began speculating as to the succession, but yesterday came news that he was not dead, but better. Pedro and Miguel are fighting at Oporto with some appearance of spirit; Miguel is the favourite. The French Government is [322] represented to be in a wretched state, squabbling and feeble, and nobody is inclined to be Minister. Dupin was very near it, but refused because Louis Philippe would not make him President of the Council. The King is determined to be his own Minister, and can get nobody to take office on these terms. They think it will end in Dupin. The present Government declares it cannot meet the Chambers until Antwerp is evacuated by the Dutch and the Duchesse de Berri departed out of France or taken. This heroine, much to the annoyance of her family, is dodging about in La Vendée and doing rather harm than good to her cause. The Dauphiness passed through London, when our Queen very politely went to visit her. She has not a shadow of doubt of the restoration of her nephew, and thinks nothing questionable but the time. She told Madame de Lieven this. I talked to Madame de Lieven about war, and added that if any did break out it would be the war of opinion which Canning had predicted. She said yes, and that the monarchical principle (as she calls the absolute principle) would then crush the other.

I came up with Melbourne to London. He is uneasy about the state of the country about the desire for change and the general restlessness that prevails. We discussed the different members of the Government, and he agreed that John Russell had acted unwarrantably in making the speech he did the other day at Torquay about the Ballot, which, though hypothetical, was nothing but an invitation to the advocates of Ballot to agitate for it; this, too, from a Cabinet Minister! Then comes an awkward sort of explanation, that what he said was in his individual capacity, as if he had any right so to speak. Melbourne spoke of Brougham, who he said was tossed about in perpetual caprices, that he was fanciful and sensitive, and actuated by all sorts of littlenesses, even with regard to people so insignificant that it is difficult to conceive how he can ever think about them; that he is conservative, but under the influence of his old connexions, particularly of the Saints. His friends are so often changed that it is not easy to follow him in this respect.

[323] Durham used to be one; now he hates him; he has a high opinion of Sefton! of his judgment!! What is talent, what are great abilities, when one sees the gigantic intellect of Brougham so at fault? Not only does the world manage to go on when little wisdom guides it, but how ill it may go on with a great deal of talent, which, however, is different from wisdom. He asked me what I thought of Richmond, and I told him that he was ignorant and narrow-minded, but a good sort of fellow, only appearing to me, who had known him all my life, in an odd place as a Cabinet Minister. He said he was sharp, quick, the King liked him, and he stood up to Durham more than any other man in the Cabinet, and that altogether he was not unimportant; so that the ingredients of this Cabinet seem to be put there to neutralise one another, and to be good for nothing else; because Durham has an overbearing temper, and his father-in-law is weak, there must be a man without any other merit than spirit to curb that temper. He talked of Ireland, and the difficulty of settling the question there, that the Archbishop of Canterbury was willing to reform the Church, but not to alienate any of its revenues. 'Not,' I asked, 'for the payment of a Catholic clergy?' 'No, not from Protestant uses.' I told him there was nothing to be done but to pull down the edifice and rebuild it. He said you would have all the Protestants against you, but he did not appear to differ. To this things must come at last. Melbourne is exceedingly anxious to keep Lord Hill and Fitzroy Somerset at the head of the army, from which the violent of his party would gladly oust them, but he evidently contemplates the possibility of having occasion for the army, and does not wish to tamper with the service or play any tricks with it. It is curious to see the working and counterworking of his real opinions and principles with his false position, and the mixture of bluntness, facility and shrewdness, discretion, levity and seriousness, which, colouring his mind and character by turns, make up the strange compound of his thoughts and his actions.

Index Previous Next

Meet the web creator

These materials may be freely used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with applicable statutory allowances and distribution to students.
Re-publication in any form is subject to written permission.

Last modified 9 May, 2017

The Age of George III Home Page

Ministerial Instability 1760-70

Lord North's Ministry 1770-82

American Affairs 1760-83

The period of peace 1783-92

The Age of the French Wars 1792-1815 Irish Affairs 1760-89

Peel Web Home Page

Tory Governments 1812-30

Political Organisations in the Age of Peel

Economic Affairs in the Age of Peel

Popular Movements in the Age of Peel

Irish Affairs
1789-1850
 
Primary sources index British Political Personalities British Foreign policy 1815-65 European history
index sitemap advanced
search engine by freefind