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 22

The Speaker a Knight of the Bath — Lord Wellesley Lord Lieutenant of Ireland — M.Thiers in England — Prince Esterhazy's Opinion of the State of England — Queen of Portugal at Windsor — The Duke of Leuchtenberg — Macaulay and Sydney Smith — Brougham's Anecdotes of Queen Caroline — Judicial Committee of the Privy Council — Sir Stratford Canning and M. Dedel — Sydney Smith and the 'Siege of Saragossa' — Edward Irving — The Unknown Tongues — Tribute to Lord Eldon — W. J. Fox — Lord Tavistock on the Prospects of his Party — Moore at the State Paper Office — Russia and England — Belvoir Castle — The Duke of Wellington at Belvoir — Visit to Mrs. Arkwright — Sir Thomas Lawrence and the Misses Siddons — A Murder at Runton — Sandon — Lord and Lady Harrowby — Burghley — Railroads talked of — Gloomy Tory Prognostications — State of Spain — Parliament opens — Quarrel of Shell and Lord Althorp — Unpopularity of Lord Palmerston — Mrs. Somerville — O'Connell's Attack on Baron Smith — Lord Althorp's Budget — The Pension List — Lord Althorp as Leader of the House — Sir R. Peel's Position in the House — Meeting of Supporters of Government — Mr. Villiers on the State of Spain — Predicament of Horne, the Attorney-General

[30] September 5th, 1833.

At Court yesterday, the Speaker [1] was made a Knight of the Bath to his great delight. It is a reward for his conduct during the Session, in which he has done Government good and handsome service. He told them before it began that he would undertake to ride the new House, but it must be with a snaffle bridle. Bosanquet and Sir Alexander Johnston were made Privy Councillors to sit in the Chancellor's new Court. [2] The Privy Council is as numerous as a moderate-sized club, and about as well composed. Awful storms these last few days, and enormous damage done, the weather like the middle of winter.

September 6th.

Yesterday the announcement of Lord

[1] Rt. Hon. Manners Sutton, afterwards Viscount Canterbury.
[2] Sir Alexander Johnston sat for some years as an Assessor to the Judicial Committee on Indian Appeals, although he was a Colonial, not an Indian Judge, but he took great interest in Indian affairs.

[31] Wellesley's appointment to be Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland was received with as great astonishment as I ever saw. Once very brilliant, probably never very efficient, he is now worn out and effete. It is astonishing that they should send such a man, and one does not see why, because it is difficult to find a good man, they should select one of the very worst they could hit upon. It is a ridiculous appointment, which is the most objectionable of all. For years past he has lived entirely out of the world. He comes to the House of Lords, and talks of making a speech every now and then, of which he is never delivered, and he comes to Court, where he sits in a corner and talks (as those who know him say) with as much fire and liveliness as ever, and with the same neat, shrewd causticity that formerly distinguished him; but such scintillations as these prove nothing as to his fitness for business and government, and as he was quite unfit for these long ago, it is scarcely to be supposed that retirement and increased age. and infirmities should have made him less so now. [1] They have judiciously waited till Parliament is up before the appointment was made known. Lord Wellesley is said to be in the hands of Blake the Remembrancer, a dangerous Jesuitical fellow.

September 10th.

At Gorhambury on Saturday till Monday. Dined on Friday with Talleyrand, a great dinner to M. Thiers, the French Minister of Commerce, a little man, about as tall as Sheil, and as mean and vulgar looking, wearing spectacles, and with a squeaking voice. He was editor of the 'National,' an able writer, and one of the principal instigators of the Revolution of July. It is said that he is a man of great ability and a good speaker, more in the familiar English than the bombastical French style. Talleyrand has a high opinion of him. He wrote a history of the Revolution, which he now regrets; it is well done, but the doctrine of fatalism which he puts forth in it he thinks calculated to injure his reputation as a statesman. I met him

[1] This opinion of Lord Wellesley was, however, speedily changed by his successful and vigorous administration of Ireland. See infra, November 14th.

[32] again at dinner at Talleyrand's yesterday with another great party, and last night he started on a visit to Birmingham and Liverpool.

After dinner on Friday I had rather a curious conversation with Esterhazy, who said he wanted to know what I thought of the condition of this country. I told him that I thought everything was surprisingly improved, and gave my reasons for thinking so. He then went off and said that these were his opinions also, and he had written home in this strain, that Neumann had deceived his Government, giving them very different accounts, that it was no use telling them what they might wish to hear, but that he was resolved to tell them the truth, and make them understand how greatly they were deceiving themselves if they counted upon the decadence or want of power of this country; a great deal more of the same sort, which proves that the Austrian Court were all on the qui vive to find out that we are paralysed, and that their political conduct is in fact influenced by their notion of our actual position. They probably hardly knew what they would be at, but their hatred and dread of revolutionary principles are so great that they are always on the watch for a good opportunity of striking a blow at them, which they know they can only do through England and France. They would therefore willingly believe that the political power of England is diminished, and Neumann, who wrote in the spirit of a disappointed Tory rather than of an impartial Foreign Minister, no doubt flattered their desires in this respect. Last night I sat by Dedel, the Dutch Minister, who told me he knew Neumann had given very false accounts (not intentionally) to his Government, that Wessenberg took much juster views, and he (Dedel) agreed with Esterhazy, who said that nobody could understand this country who had not had long experience of it, and that he found it impossible to make his Government comprehend it, or give entire credit to what he said. Dedel told me that Holland is ruined, that the day of reckoning will come, when they will discover what a state of bankruptcy they are in, that the spirit of the nation had [33] been kept up by excitement, and that therein lay the dexterity of the King and his Government, but that this factitious enthusiasm was rapidly passing away. They now pay fifty millions of florins interest of debt, about four millions sterling, and their population is not above two millions.

The young Queen of Portugal goes to Windsor today. The King was at first very angry at her coming to England, but when he found that Louis Philippe had treated her with incivility, he changed his mind, and resolved to receive her with great honours. He hates Louis Philippe and the French with a sort of Jack Tar animosity. The other day he gave a dinner to one of the regiments at Windsor, and as usual he made a parcel of foolish speeches, in one of which, after descanting upon their exploits in Spain against the French, he went on: 'Talking of France, I must say that whether at peace or at war with that country, I shall always consider her as our natural enemy, and whoever may be her King or ruler, I shall keep a watchful eye for the purpose of repressing her ambitious encroachments.' If he was not such an ass that nobody does anything but laugh at what he says, this would be very important. Such as he is, it is nothing. 'What can you expect ' (as I forget who said) 'from a man with a head like a pineapple?' His head is just of that shape.

The history of the French King's behaviour is that he wanted the young Queen of Portugal to marry the Duc de Nemours, and when he found that impossible (for we should have opposed it) he proposed Prince Charles of Naples, his nephew. This was likewise rejected. The Emperor Don Pedro wants the Duke of Leuchtenberg, his wife's brother, to marry her. [1] This Duke went to Havre the other day, where the Préfet refused to admit him, though he went with (or to) his sister, pleading the law excluding Napoleon's family.

[1] Queen Donna Maria did eventually marry the young Duke of Leuchtenberg, son of Prince Eugene Beauharnais and a Bavarian Princess. But he survived his marriage only a few months, and died of a fever at Lisbon.

[34] He went to the Préfet to say that he protested against such application of the law, but, as he would not make any disturbance there, desired to have his passports visé for Munich, and off he went. At the same time he wrote a letter to Palmerston, which George Villiers, to whom Palmerston showed it, told me was exceedingly good. He said that though he did not know Palmerston he ventured to address him, as the Minister of the greatest and freest country in the world, for the purpose of explaining what had happened, and to clear himself from the misrepresentations that would be made as to his motives and intentions in joining his sister; that it was true that Don Pedro had wished him to marry his daughter, and that he had written him a letter, of which he enclosed a copy. This was a very well written letter, begging the Emperor to pause and consider of this projected match, and setting forth all the reasons why it might not be advantageous for her; in short, Villiers says, exhibiting a very remarkable degree of disinterestedness, and of long-sighted views with regard to the situation of Portugal and the general politics of Europe.

He told me another anecdote at the same time. Palmerston showed him a letter he had received from Charles Napier, in which, talking of the possible interference of Spain, he said, 'Your Lordship knows that I have only to sail with my fleet (enumerating a respectable squadron of different sizes) to Cadiz, and I can create a revolution in five minutes throughout the whole South of Spain.' Palmerston seems to have been a little amused and a little alarmed at this fanfaronade, in which there is, however, a great deal of truth. He said that of course they should not allow Napier to do any such thing, but as nothing else could prevent him if we did not, the Spaniards may be made to understand that we shall not be at the trouble of muzzling this bull-dog if they do not behave with civility and moderation.

London, November 13th.

Nothing written for nearly two months. I remained in town till the end of September, when I went to Newmarket, and afterwards to Buckenham, where I met Sir Robert Peel. He is very [35] agreeable in society, it is a toss up whether he talks or not, but if he thaws, and is in good humour and spirits, he is lively, entertaining, and abounding in anecdotes, which he tells extremely well. I came back to town on Friday last, the 8th, dined with the Poodle, and found Rogers, Moore, and Westmacott (the son); a very agreeable dinner. On Sunday dined with Rogers, Moore, Sydney Smith, Macaulay. Sydney less vivacious than usual, and somewhat overpowered and talked down by what Moore called the ' flumen sermonis' of Macaulay. Sydney calls Macaulay 'a book in breeches.' All that this latter says, all that he writes, exhibits his great powers and astonishing information, but I don't think he is agreeable. It is more than society requires, and not exactly of the kind; his figure, face, voice, and manner are all bad; he astonishes and instructs, he sometimes entertains, seldom amuses, and still seldomer pleases. He wants variety, elasticity, gracefulness; his is a roaring torrent, and not a meandering stream of talk. I believe we should all of us have been glad to exchange some of his sense for some of Sydney Smith's nonsense. He told me that he had read Sir Charles Grandison fifteen times!

Not a word of news, political or other; the Ministers are all come, Spain and Portugal potter on with their civil contests and create uneasiness, though of a languid kind. I came to town for a meeting at the Council Office, the first under Brougham's new Bill, to make rules and regulations for the proceedings of the Judicial Committee. All the lawyers attended; not much was done, but there do not seem to be any great difficulties. There was Brougham, with Leach next him, and Lyndhurst opposite, all smirks and civility, he and Leach quite fondling one another. Dined yesterday with Stanley, who gave me a commission to bet a hundred for him on Bentley against Berbastes for the Derby, and talked of racing after dinner with as much zest as if he was on the turf. Who (to see him and hear him thus) would take him for the greatest orator and statesman of the day?

November 14th.

Dined with Sefton yesterday; after [36] dinner came in the Chancellor in good humour and spirits; talked of Lord Wellesley, who, since he has been in Ireland, has astonished everybody by his activity and assiduity in business. He appeared, before he went, in the last stage of decrepitude, and they had no idea the energy was in him; but they say he is quite a new man, and it is not merely a splash, but real and bonâ fide business that he does. The Chancellor talked over some of the passages of the Queen's trial, to which he loves to revert. It was about the liturgy. The negotiations which had taken place at Apsley House between the Duke of Wellington and Lord Castlereagh on one part and Brougham and Denman on the other were broken off on that point. It was then agreed to refer the matter to others; the Duke and Castlereagh were to meet Lord Fitzwilliam and Sefton; a queer choice, old Fitzwilliam a driveller, and Sefton, with all his sharpness, totally unfit for the office of negotiator in a grave matter. He can't be grave, life itself is to him a plaything; but the night before they were to meet, Fitzwilliam took fright, and backed out. Notice was sent to the other party, but they did not get it, owing to some mistake. In the morning Brougham came to Sefton and asked him to drive him up to the Queen's house, and as they passed through Grosvenor Square, to their amazement they saw Wellington and Castlereagh alighting (full dressed for the levée) at Lord Fitzwilliam's door. Sefton went into the house, and found them already in the dining-room, the table covered with papers, when an explanation ensued, on which they had to bundle up their papers again and trot off.

When the deputation from the House of Commons went up with the address to the Queen, entreating her to come to terms (Bankes, Wortley, Acland, and Wilberforce), she had got all her Council assembled, and before receiving the deputation from the Commons, she asked their advice. Brougham said that she was disposed to acquiesce, but wanted them to advise her to do so, and that her intention was, if they had, to act on that advice, but to save her popularity by throwing the odium on them, and devoting them to popular execration. He therefore resolved, and his brethren [37] likewise, to give no advice at all; and when she turned to him, and said, 'What do you think I ought to do? ' he replied, in a sort of speech which he gave very comically, 'Your Majesty is undoubtedly the best judge of the answer you ought to give, and I am certain that your own feelings will point out to you the proper course.' 'Well, but what is your opinion?' 'Madam, I certainly have a strong opinion on the subject, but I think there cannot be a shadow of doubt of what your Majesty ought to do, and there can be no doubt your Majesty's admirable sense will suggest to you what that opinion is.' 'Humph,' said she, and flung from him; turning to Denman, 'And Mr. Solicitor, what is your opinion ? ' 'Madam, I concur entirely in that which has been expressed by the Attorney-General;' and so they all repeated. She was furious, and being left to herself she resolved not to agree. Sefton was on horseback among the crowd which was waiting impatiently to hear the result of the interview and her determination. He had agreed with Brougham that as soon as she had made up her mind he should come to the window and make him a sign. He was to stroke his chin if she refused, and do something else, I forget what, if she agreed. Accordingly arrived Brougham at the window, all in gown and wig, and as soon as he caught Sefton's eye began stroking his chin. This was enough for Sefton, who (as he declares) immediately began telling people in the crowd who were wondering and doubting and hoping that they might rely upon it she would 'stand by them,' and not accept the terms.

November 21st

Another meeting at the Council Office the day before yesterday. The Chancellor arranging everything, but proposing many things which meet with opposition, wants people to be allowed to plead in formâ pauperis before the Privy Council, which they object to. I have doubts whether this Court will work well after all, and foresee great difficulty about the rota; everybody had something to prevent their attendance; however, we meet on the 27th for the despatch of business. I have just finished 'Clarissa;' never was so interested or affected by any book.

[38] November 28th.

Yesterday the first meeting under Brougham's new Bill of 'the Judicial Committee,' the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Baron Parke, Justice Bosanquet, and Erskine (Chief Judge in Bankruptcy). I can't perceive that matters are likely to go on a bit better than when one Judge sat there, though the Chancellor endeavours to confer all the importance he can on his Committee, that he may hereafter figure there himself. There has been a lively controversy between the Whig and Tory papers, of which he has been the object, the former lauding his law reforms, the latter attacking his judicial incompetence. It is actually true that hardly any original causes are brought before him, and he has little business except appeals which must come into his Court. He feels himself every day in a more unpleasant predicament, and of course has a growing impatience to get rid of his judicial duties. That he will by a series of tricks wriggle out of them there can be no doubt, for just now he can do whatever he pleases. What he wants is to be Prime Minister; his restless and versatile mind will then find sufficient occupation, and there is no department of Government which he does not think himself capable of presiding over, leaving as he would do all troublesome details to be worked out by others.

November 30th.

A long sitting of our Court yesterday. The Chancellor comes regularly. Jenner (the King's Advocate) told me that he believed the Chancellor's object was to transfer all appeals from the House of Lords to the Privy Council. Lyndhurst (whom I met at Mrs. Fox's) said that it was quite true that he had no business in his own Court, for nobody would plead there, that he wanted to be Prime Minister, retaining the emoluments and patronage of the Great Seal, and getting rid of its duties. There can be no doubt that he does, and if Lord Grey dies, or is ill (in which case he will resign), he probably will succeed. It is amusing to see Brougham's tricks in small things; his present object is to raise the Judicial Committee as much as he can, and bring all the business there he can collect; in order to increase the appeals he proposed to allow of them from the [39] Indian Courts in formâ pauperis. This, however, was strenuously resisted by all the Judges and others present, and as he always takes the lead in all discussions relating to rules and regulations, when he found that the unanimous opinion of the Committee was the other way, he turned himself round and argued against his own proposal, stating or anticipating the objections of the others, just insinuating incidentally counter-arguments, and ending by letting the question remain in abeyance.

Madame de Lieven told me an anecdote of Stratford Canning which highly delighted her, because it justified the resistance which the Court of Russia made to his nomination to that Embassy. The other day Dedel called on Palmerston. When shown into the waiting-room, he said, 'Tell Lord Palmerston that the Dutch Minister will be glad to see him,' when a man who was there, and whom he did not know, jumped up and said, 'And I desire you will tell Lord Palmerston that I have been waiting here these two hours, and that I expect to see him before anybody else;' and then, turning to Dedel, ' Sir, this is too bad; two persons have been already shown in to Lord Palmerston, both of whom came after me, and I expect that you will not go in to his Lordship till after me.' Dedel, who is the mildest and civillest of men, replied, 'Sir, far be it from me to dispute your right, and I assure you I have no desire to go in before you, but I only beg that if Lord Palmerston should send for me first you will understand that I cannot help going;' and then the other, 'Sir, I am Sir Stratford Canning.' ' And I am Mr. Dedel.' This extraordinary scene he told Madame de Lieven, not knowing what had passed about the mission. Touching that affair, there is an understanding that he shall not go there, and no other Ambassador is to be named till it is quite convenient to Palmerston.

The day before yesterday I met Sydney Smith at dinner at Poodle Byng's, when a conversation occurred which produced a curious coincidence. We were talking of Vaughan, the Minister in America, how dull he appeared, and yet how [40] smart and successful had been ' The Siege of Saragossa,' which he published at the time of the Spanish war. Sydney Smith said that the truth was he had not written a word of it, and on being questioned further said that he was himself the author. [1] Vaughan, who was a friend of his, had given him the materials, and he had composed the narrative. He then went on to say that it was not the only instance of the kind, for that the celebrated pamphlet which had been attributed to Lady Canning had not been written by her, not a word of it, that it had been written by Stapleton. I said that I had it in my power to contradict this, for that I had been privy to the composition of it, had seen the manuscript, and had at her request undertaken the task of revising and correcting it. Thus were two mistakes accidentally cleared up, by the circumstance of the only persons who could have explained them being present.

December 2nd.

I went yesterday to Edward Irving's chapel to hear him preach, and witness the exhibition of the tongues. The chapel was formerly West's picture gallery, oblong, with a semicircular recess at one end; it has been fitted up with galleries all round, and in the semicircle there are tiers of benches, in front of which is a platform with an elevated chair for Irving himself, and a sort of desk before it; on each side the chair are three arm-chairs, on which three other preachers sat. The steps from the floor to the platform were occupied by men (whether peculiarly favoured or not I don't know), but the seats behind Irving's chair are evidently appropriated to the higher class of devotees, for they were the best dressed of the congregation. The business was conducted with decency, and the congregation was attentive. It began with a hymn, the words given out by one of the assistant preachers, and sung by the whole flock. This, which seems to be common to all dissenting services, is always very fine, the full swell of human voices producing a grand effect. After this Irving delivered a prayer, in a very slow drawling tone, rather long, and not at all striking in point of language or thought. When he had finished, one of the men sitting beside him arose, read a few verses from

[1] Mr. Henry St. John Halford, as the possessor of the late Sir Charles Vaughan's papers, writes to me to contradict this anecdote, as related by Mr. Sydney Smith. Mr. Halford informs me that in the fourth edition of the pamphlet, Sir Charles speaks of it as written by himself; that he had an interview with General Lefevre to ascertain whether he had treated the French fairly; and that the style of writing agrees with that of his journals and other writings.

[41] the Bible, and discoursed thereon. He was a sorry fellow, and was followed by two others, not much better. After these three Spencer Perceval stood up. He recited the duty to our neighbour in the catechism, and descanted on that text in a style in all respects far superior to the others. He appeared about to touch on politics, and (as well as I recollect) was saying, 'Ye trusted that your institutions were unalterable, ye believed that your loyalty to your King, your respect for your nobility, your -----' when suddenly a low moaning noise was heard, on which he instantly stopped, threw his arm over his breast, and covered his eyes, in an attitude of deep devotion, as if oppressed by the presence of the Spirit. The voice, after ejaculating three 'Oh's,' one rising above the other, in tones very musical, burst into a flow of unintelligible jargon, which, whether it was in English or in gibberish I could not discover. This lasted five or six minutes, and as the voice was silenced, another woman, in more passionate and louder tones, took it up; this last spoke in English, and words, though not sentences, were distinguishable. I had a full view of her sitting exactly behind Irving's chair. She was well dressed, spoke sitting, under great apparent excitement, and screamed on till from exhaustion, as it seemed, her voice gradually died away, and all was still. Then Spencer Perceval, in slow and solemn tones, resumed, not where he had left off, but with an exhortation to hear the voice of the Lord which had just been uttered to the congregation, and after a few more sentences he sat down. Two more men followed him, and then Irving preached. His subject was 'God's love,' upon which he poured forth a mystical incomprehensible rhapsody, with extraordinary vehemence of manner and power of lungs. There was nothing like eloquence in his sermon, no musical periods to captivate the ear, no striking illustrations to charm the imagination; but there is undoubtedly something in his commanding figure and strange, wild countenance, his vehemence, and above all the astonishing power of his voice, its compass, intonation, and variety, which arrests attention, and gives the notion of a great orator. I dare say he can speak well, but [42] to waste real eloquence on such an auditory would be like throwing pearls to swine. 'The bawl of Bellas ' is better adapted for their ears than quiet sense in simpler sounds, and the principle 'omne ignotum pro magnifico,' can scarcely find a happier illustration than amongst a congregation whose admiration is probably in an inverse ratio to their comprehension.

December 6th.

The Vice-Chancellor, Parke, Bosanquet, and Erskine met yesterday to consider a judgement, and took three hours to manage it; business does not go on so quickly with many Judges, as with one, whether it be more satisfactory or not. The Chancellor, the last time we met, announced to the Bar (very oddly) that for the future their Lordships would give judgement in turn. (He had himself delivered the only judgement that had been given.) The Vice-Chancellor, who I thought was his friend, laughed at this yesterday with me, and said that he wanted to throw off from himself as much as he could. I asked him (he had said something, I forget what, about the Chancery Bill) what would be left for the Chancellor to do when that Bill was passed. He said, 'Nothing, that he meant to be Prime Minister and Chancellor, and that it was what he had been driving at all along, that the Bill for regulating the Privy Council was only a part of his own plan, and that all his schemes tended to that end.' Setting political bias aside, it is curious, considering his station, to hear the lawyers talk of him, the contempt they universally have for him professionally, how striking the contrast with the profound respect which is paid to Lord Eldon. The other day, in the action brought against the Chancellor for false imprisonment, Lord Eldon was subpoenaed, and he appeared to give evidence; when he entered the Court, while he was examined, and when he departed, the whole Bar stood up, and the Solicitor-General harangued him, expressed in the name of his brethren the satisfaction they felt at seeing him once more among them, There is something affecting in these reverential testimonials to a man from whom power has passed away, and who is just descending into the grave, and I doubt [43] if, at the close of his career, Brougham will ever obtain the same.

December 9th.

Went yesterday with Frederic Elliot and Luttrell to hear Fox, a celebrated Unitarian preacher, at a chapel in South Place, Finsbury Square. He is very short and thick, dark hair, black eyes, and a countenance intelligent though by no means handsome; his voice is not strong, and his articulation imperfect, he cannot pronounce the s. His sermon was, however, admirable, and amply repaid us for the trouble of going so far. He read the whole of it, the language was beautiful, the argument clear and unembarrassed, the reasoning powerful, and there were occasionally passages of great eloquence. The conclusion, which was a sort of invocation to the Deity, was very fine. I like the simplicity of the service: hymns, a prayer, and the sermon, still I think a short liturgy preferable — our own, much abbreviated, would be the best.

December 13th.

Met Tavistock at dinner the other day, and talked about the Government; from his intimacy with Althorp and connexion with the others he knows their sentiments pretty accurately. He said that Lord Grey had so high an opinion of Althorp that he made his remaining a sine quâ non, and accordingly he does remain. He thought Lord Grey would be glad to retire, but that he will go on as long as he can, because the Government would be placed in such great embarrassment by his retreat. He did not think Brougham could succeed him, though he believed his popularity in the country to be great; that all depended on the part Peel took in the next session, for in the event of Lord Grey's resignation he looked to the King's sending for Peel to form a Government (much as Canning did when Lord Liverpool died), principally composed of course of the purest materials, but not exclusively, and that he did not think the great body of the Liberal party would make any difficulty of accepting office under Peel; that Stanley would not. He (Tavistock) thinks that Peel could not come into office with the Duke of Wellington; the Tories (Irvine, e.g.) think he would not come in without him.

[44] December 18th.

Went with Moore yesterday morning to the State Paper Office, and introduced him to Lemon. [1] It was at the new office, where the documents are in course of arrangement, and for the future they will be accessible and useful. John Allen told Moore the other day that he considered that the history of England had never really been written, so much matter was there in public and private collections, illustrative of it, that had never been made use of. Lemon said he could in great measure confirm that assertion, as his researches had afforded him the means of throwing great light upon modern history, from the time of Henry VIII. The fact is, that the whole thing is conventional; people take the best evidence that has been produced, and give their assent to a certain series of events, until more facts and better evidence supplant the old statements and establish others in their place. They are now printing Irish papers of the time of Henry VIII., but from the folly of Henry Hobhouse, who would not let the volume be indexed, it will be of little service. In the evening dined with Moore at the Poodle's. He told a good story of Sydney Smith and Leslie the Professor. Leslie had written upon the North Pole; something he had said had been attacked in the 'Edinburgh Review' in a way that displeased him. He called on Jeffrey just as he was getting on horseback, and in a great hurry. Leslie began with a grave complaint on the subject, which Jeffrey interrupted with 'O damn the North Pole.' Leslie went off in high dudgeon, and soon after met Sydney, who, seeing him disturbed, asked what was the matter. He told him what he had been to Jeffrey about, and that he had in a very unpleasant way said, 'Damn the North Pole.' 'It was very bad,' said Sydney;' but, do you know, I am not surprised at it, for I have heard him speak very disrespectfully of the Equator.'

December 21st.

There is great talk of war with Russia,

[1] Robert Lemon, Esq., F.S.A., was then the Deputy Keeper of the State Papers. His son, a gentleman of the same name, afterwards held the offices of Chief Clerk in the State Paper Office and Secretary to the Commission for Printing and Publishing State Papers. In this capacity he rendered the greatest services in classifying and indexing the Records, which were at this time but little known, and had not been opened to literary investigation. In justice to Mr. Hobhouse, it should be added that an Index to the Papers of the reign of Henry VIII. was prepared under his direction, and published in 1852.

[45] which I don't believe will take place. I had a long talk with Madame de Lieven the day before yesterday, and was surprised to find her with such a lofty tone about war. She said that it was 'chance égale' that they neither desired nor feared it; that our tone had latterly been so insulting that they had no option but that of replying with corresponding hauteur; that if we sent ships to the Mediterranean they would send ships; that if those measures were pursued, and such language held, it was impossible to say that circumstances might not bring about war, though equally against the wishes and interests of all parties. In such a case we might destroy their fleet and burn their harbours, but we could not exclude them from Turkey, nor once established there get them out again. That we must not fancy we should be able, in conjunction with France, to keep the rest of Europe in check; for it was the opinion of the wisest heads, and of Louis Philippe himself, that a war would infallibly bring about his downfall. (This latter opinion is likewise, I find, that of the French ultra-Radicals; but they think the war must be a war of opinion, and that the extreme Liberals, who would thereby gain the ascendency, would make the King the first victim.) She complained bitterly of the language of our newspapers, and of our orators in Parliament, described the indignation of the Russian Court, and the dignified resentment mixed with contempt of the Emperor; in short, talked very big, but still there will be no war. — I met Dedel afterwards, and he told me that at Broadlands, where they all met, some explanations in a tolerably friendly tone did take place. The truth is that we have divested ourselves of the right of objecting to Russia's measures with regard to Turkey, although we do not dare acknowledge what we have done, nor our motives. We were (and we are) in a false position, and she has played her cards with great dexterity; but the Treaty [1] is another thing, and is justly calculated to excite our jealousy and suspicions. We have held this language to Russia with regard to the Treaty: 'We do not

[1] The Treaty of Unkiar Skelesi.

[46] remonstrate, because we admit your right to make what treaties you think fit; but we give you notice, that if any attempt is made to enforce the stipulations of it against us, we shall not endure it, and you must be prepared for the consequences.'


Belvoir Castle, January 7th, 1834.

After many years of delay, I am here since the 3rd, to assist at the celebration of the Duke of Rutland's birthday. The party is very large, and sufficiently dull : the Duke of Wellington, Esterhazy, Matuscewitz, Rokeby, Miss d'Este (afterwards Lady Truro), and the rest a rabble of fine people, without beauty or wit among them. The place is certainly very magnificent, and the position of the castle unrivalled, though the interior is full of enormous faults, which are wholly irretrievable. This results from the management of the alterations having been entrusted to the Duchess and Sir John Thurston (the former of whom had some taste but no knowledge), and they have consequently made a sad mess of it. There is immense space wasted, and with great splendour and some comfort the Castle has been tumbled about until they have contrived to render it a very indifferent house; no two rooms communicating, nor even (except the drawing-room and dining-room, the former of which is seldom or never inhabited) contiguous. The gallery, though unfinished, is a delightful apartment, and one of the most comfortable I ever saw. The outside of the Castle is faulty, but very grand; so grand as to sink criticism in admiration; and altogether, with its terraces and towers, its woods and hills, and its boundless prospect over a rich and fertile country, it is a very noble possession. The Duke lives here for three or four months, from the end of October till the end of February or March, on and off, and the establishment is kept up with extraordinary splendour. In the morning we are roused by the strains of martial music, and the band (of his regiment of militia) marches round the terrace, awakening or quickening the guests with lively airs. All the men hunt or shoot. At dinner there is a different [47] display of plate every day, and in the evening some play at whist or amuse themselves as they please, and some walk about the staircases and corridors to hear the band, which plays the whole evening in the hall. On the Duke's birthday there was a great feast in the Castle; 200 people dined in the servants' hall alone, without counting the other tables. We were about forty at dinner. When the cloth was removed, Esterhazy proposed His Grace's health, who has always a speech prepared in which he returns thanks. This time it was more simple than usual, and not at all bad. To-night there is a ball for the servants, which could not take place on the real birthday, as it fell on a Saturday.

I have had snatches of talk with the Duke of Wellington, and yesterday morning he retired with Matuscewitz, and had a long conference with him. The absolute Courts have a great hankering after the Duke, though their Ministers here can hardly look for his return to office; nor do I believe that if he was to come back he would be found indulgent to the projects of Russia, though he might be disinclined to continue so very intimate as we now are with France. He told me this morning he thought the French King's speech to his Chambers exceedingly good. He of course disapproves of all our foreign policy, particularly in the Peninsula. He says he sees no daylight whatever through the Portuguese affair. The Spanish may terminate in the success of the Queen, but only by her opposing Liberalism. He is convinced that if she introduces Liberal principles she will be lost. He says that the Spanish Government will be too happy to interfere in the Portuguese contest (as in fact I know that they have offered to do), but that we never can allow this, which besides the consequences of interference (as a principle) would necessarily make Portugal dependent on Spain. Arbuthnot, who is here, told me (and he hears these things from the Duke) that Matuscewitz had expressed the greatest contempt for Palmerston, and not the less for Lord Grey; and that, with regard to the latter, he had been much struck with his ignorance. I do not know on what points he meant, but it must be in history or diplomacy, which I am surprised at, because [48] I thought he was a man of a cultivated mind and general information, who would be found, as far as knowledge goes, competent to any discussion. He likewise said that he found him slow of comprehension.

Belvoir, January 8th.

There was a ball for all the servants and tenants on Monday, which the Duke of Rutland opened with Lady Georgiana Fane, and the Duke of Wellington followed with Lady Brownlow. Yesterday half the people went to Belton; it was nearly impossible to get any talk with the Duke. He told me that the Russians were in no hurry to do any overt act in Turkey, and that their policy was as it had always been to work very gradually. I asked him if he thought they really intended a permanent occupation of Turkey. He said certainly not; that they could not bear the expense of a war, which in that case would ensue; that the difference of the expense between their own and a foreign country was as between 10p. and 4s. a man.

To-day I have been all over this Castle; the arrangements are admirable, and the order and cleanliness of every part of the offices and the magnitude of the establishment are very remarkable, and such as I have never seen elsewhere. This afternoon Gosh [Mr. Arbuthnot] came and sat with me, and talked over all matters, which I have heard from him before, though he has forgotten it, which he well may, for his intellect, never very bright, seems to be almost entirely obscured. I dare say I have put down these things before, but as they are curious scraps of history they may as well go down again. It all relates to the break-up of Lord Grey's Government in '32, and the abortive attempts of the Duke to form an Administration.

The King had given his word that he had never promised to make a single peer. Doubts arose whether he had not told a lie; they pressed him on this point (Wellington and Lyndhurst); he persisted in his denial, upon which they requested Taylor might be sent for, and all the correspondence produced, when they found he was pledged up to the throat, and without reserve. The King then attempted to get out of it by saying he had consented to call up the sons of [49] Scotch peers and give to Irish peers English peerages, which he did not consider a creation of peers!

When the Duke accepted the commission to form a Government, it was resolved to prorogue Parliament, and Lyndhurst was desired by the King to go to Lord Grey and tell him such was his pleasure. Lyndhurst forgot it! In after-times, those who write the history of these days will probably discuss the conduct of the great actors, and it will not fail to be matter of surprise that such an obvious expedient was not resorted to in order to suspend violent discussions. Among the various reasons that will be imagined and suggested, I doubt if it will occur to anybody that the real reason was that it was forgotten.

Arbuthnot says they know that Lyndhurst was intriguing with the Whigs when the Duke was turned out in '30, and that it had been settled that he was to remain their Chancellor; and so he would have been if Brougham would have consented to be Attorney-General, and had not run restive, and given clear indications of his resolution to destroy the Government if he was left out of it. He says that notwithstanding the duplicity of Peel's conduct in 1832, he and the Duke are always on good terms, and no great question is ever agitated without Peel's coming to the Duke and talking it over with him; that Peel is determined to have nothing to do with the Whigs, and told him (Arbuthnot) so very lately, but the High Tories are just as unmanageable as ever. Chandos came to the Duke the other day, and told him he thought they ought to get up petitions against the malt tax. The Duke said he would countenance no such thing; that he thought the revenue of the country should be supported; for if it failed, recourse must be had to a property tax, which would fall on the aristocracy; and so he persuaded him to let the malt tax alone.

January 26th.

I left Belvoir on Friday, the 10th, and went to Mrs. Arkwright's, [1] at Stoke, where I found

[1] Mrs. Arkwright was a Kemble by birth, and had much of the musical and dramatic genius of that gifted family. Her singing was most touching, and some of her musical compositions were full of originality and expression.]

[50] nobody but her own family. I was well enough amused for two days with her original conversation and her singing, and her cousin, Miss Twiss, who, with a face of uncommon plainness and the voice of a man, is sensible and well-informed. Then they both liked to have me, and that is a great charm; a little agreeableness goes a great way in the Peak, and it is not difficult to procure a triumph to one's vanity from people who, with a good deal of power of appreciation, have very little opportunity for comparison, and are therefore easily satisfied. Arkwright told me that it was reported by those who were better informed than himself of his father's circumstances, that he is worth from seven to eight millions. His grandfather began life as a barber, invented some machinery, got a patent, and made a fortune. His son gave him offence by a marriage which he disapproved of, and he quarrelled with him, but gave him a mill. Arkwright, the son, saw nothing of his father for many years, but by industry and ability accumulated great wealth. When Sir Richard served as Sheriff, his son thought it right to go out with the other gentlemen of the county to meet him, and the old gentleman was struck with his handsome equipage, and asked to whom it belonged. Upon being informed, he sought a reconciliation with him, and was astonished to find that his son was as rich as himself. From that time they continued on good terms, and at his death he bequeathed him the bulk of his property.

Mrs. Arkwright told me the curious story of Sir Thomas Lawrence's engagements with her two cousins, the daughters of Mrs. Siddons. They were two sisters, one tall and very handsome, the other little, without remarkable beauty, but very clever and agreeable. He fell in love with the first, and they were engaged to be married. Of course under such circumstances he lived constantly and freely in the house, and after some time the superior intelligence of the clever sister changed the current of his passion, and she supplanted the handsome one in the affection of the artist. They concealed the double treachery, but one day a note which was intended for his new love fell into the hands of the old love, [51] who, never doubting it was for herself, opened it, and discovered the fatal truth. From that time she drooped, sickened, and shortly after died. On her death-bed she exacted a promise from her sister that she would never marry Lawrence, and her sister firmly adhered to it. He continued his relations with her with more or less intimacy up to the period of her death, the date of which I do not recollect.

From Stoke I went on Monday, 13th, to Drakelow, which Sir Roger Gresley has lent to Craufurd, and stayed there two nights. It is a miserable place, with the Trent running under the windows, and Lord Anglesey's land close to the door. Thence on Wednesday to Runton Abbey — Lord Lichfield's — who has added to it a farm-house, and made a residence in the midst of his property, where he has the best shooting in England. He and I went out the day after I got there, and killed 41 pheasants, 74 hares, 24 rabbits, 8 woodcocks, and 8 partridges. He is a fine fellow, with an excellent disposition, liberal, hospitable, frank and gay, quick and intelligent, without cultivation, extravagant and imprudent, with considerable aptitude for business; between spending and speculating, buying property in one place, selling in another, and declining to sell in a third, he has half ruined a noble estate.

Just before I got there a murder had been committed close to his house under very curious circumstances, of which some notice appeared in the newspapers. A soldier in the Artillery got a legacy of £500, with which he bought his discharge, went down to the village near Runton, and took a very pretty girl of indifferent character to live with him. He gave her shawls and trinkets, and spent a good deal of money on her. Having addicted himself immoderately to drink, he soon spent all his money, and, to supply himself with the means of getting drunk, be began robbing his mistress of the articles he had given her. It happened that about this time somebody in the village who had been robbed consulted a cunning man of great repute in the neighbourhood, and so alarmed was the thief at the bare idea of what this oracle might utter, that the stolen property was secretly [52] restored. The girl upon hearing of this restitution resolved to have recourse to the cunning man, and invited her lover to escort her to his abode. After endeavouring in vain to dissuade her they set out together, but he was so overcome with terror as he went along that he stopped short in the road and refused to proceed. On this the girl said that it was easy to see who was the thief, and that the reason he would not face the conjuror was that he was conscious of his own guilt. Upon this they fell to high words, then to blows, and he finished by murdering her. He did not attempt to escape, but repaired to a public-house, where he was soon after taken into custody. He acknowledged the crime, and said he was weary of life, and deserved to be hanged. Here is an example of the miserable effects of good fortune upon a man who was unfit to use it, and of the strange superstition of the common people. The murderer will be tried at the next assizes.

I stayed at Runton till Sunday, 19th, when I came here, [1] where there was nobody but the family and Ralph Sneyd. The place is exceedingly beautiful, and arranged with excellent taste. It has been very agreeable. Lady Harrowby is superior to all the women I have ever known; 'her talk is so crisp,' as Luttrell once said of her. She has no imagination, no invention, no eloquence, no deep reading or retentive memory, but a noble, straightforward, independent character, a sound and vigorous understanding, penetration, judgement, taste. She is perfectly natural, open and sincere, loves conversation and social enjoyment; with her intimate friends there is an abandon and unreserved communion of thoughts, feelings, and opinions which renders her society delightful. Of all the women I ever saw she unites the most masculine mind with the most feminine heart. Lord Harrowby [2] has all the requisites of disagreeableness, a tart, short, provoking manner, with manners at once pert and

[1] This must have been written at Sandon, Lord Harrowby's seat in Staffordshire, but the entry is not dated.
[2] Dudley Ryder, second Baron and first Earl of Harrowby, born in 1762, married in 1795 Susan, a daughter of the Marquis of Stafford.

[53] rigid; but he is full of information, and if made the best of may yield a good deal of desirable knowledge. Though not illiberal in politics, he has fallen into the high Tory despondency about the prospects of the country, and anticipates every evil that the most timid alarmist can suggest. Still, justice should be rendered to Lord Harrowby; a purer and more disinterested statesman never existed. He was always devoid of selfishness and ambition, honourable and conscientious to a degree which rendered him incapable of a sordid or oblique action. Always acute, but sometimes crotchety, he had the same fault in politics which was the reproach of Lord Eldon in law — indecision; and this in no small degree impaired both his efficacy and his authority. His great idol was Pitt, and, after him, he was the friend and admirer of Perceval. Bred in their school, and a Tory by taste, by habit, and in opinion, it is not a little to his honour that he was able to comprehend the mighty changes which time and circumstances had effected, and to perceive that an inflexible adherence to high Tory maxims was dangerous, because their practical operation was no longer possible; but justice must be rendered to him hereafter, for he will never obtain it in his own time. By endeavouring to steer between two great and exasperated factions he became thoroughly obnoxious to both. After having refused the post of Prime Minister, no one can doubt the sincerity of his desire to retire from public life, and in the consciousness of rectitude, the disgust of parties, and a calm and dignified philosophy, he finds ample consolation for all the obloquy with which he has been assailed.

Burghley, January 28th.

Came here yesterday, and found Lady Clinton, Lady Frederic Bentinck, Lyne Stephens and Irby, not amusing. Captain Spencer came to-day. I had almost forgotten the house, which is surprisingly grand in all respects, though the living rooms are not numerous or handsome enough. I just missed Peel, who went to Belvoir yesterday. I heard wonderful things of railroads and steam when I was in Staffordshire, yet by the time anybody reads what I now write (if anybody ever does), how they will [54] smile perhaps at what I gape and stare at, and call wonderful, with such accelerated velocity do we move on. Stephenson, the great engineer, told Lichfield that he had travelled on the Manchester and Liverpool railroad for many miles at the rate of a mile a minute, that his doubt was not how fast his engines could be made to go, but at what pace it would be proper to stop, that he could make them travel with greater speed than any bird can cleave the air, and that he had ascertained that 400 miles an hour was the extreme velocity which the human frame could endure, at which it could move and exist.

February 1st.

Lord Wharncliffe has been here and is gone. He, like Harrowby, is very dismal about the prospects of the country, and thinks we are gravitating towards a revolution. He says that the constituency of the great towns is composed of ultra-Radicals, and that no gentleman with really independent and conservative principles can sit for them, that the great majority of the manufacturers and of the respectable persons of the middle class are moderate, and hostile to subversion and violent measures, but that their influence is overwhelmed by the numerical strength of the low voters, who want to go all lengths. He says that he has received greater marks of deference and respect in his own county, and especially at Sheffield, where a short time ago he would have been in danger of being torn in pieces, than he ever experienced, but that he could no more bring a son in for Sheffield than he could fly in the air. Sir John Beckett is just gone to stand for Leeds, and certainly the catechism to which he was there forced to submit is very ominous. A seat in the House of Commons will cease to be an object of ambition to honourable and independent men, if it can only be obtained by cringing and servility to the rabble of great towns, and when it shall be established that the member is to be a slave, bound hand and foot by pledges, and responsible for every vote he gives to masters who are equally tyrannical and unreasonable. I know nothing more difficult than to form a satisfactory opinion upon the real state and prospects of the country amidst the conflicting [55] prejudices and impressions of individuals of different parties and persuasions, and there are so many circumstances that tell different ways, that at this moment my judgement is entirely suspended on the subject.

George Villiers gave a deplorable account of the state of Spain, but he (unlike the Duke of Wellington) thinks that the only chance of safety for the Queen is to make common cause with the Liberals. He has been greatly instrumental to Zea's removal, having conveyed to the Queen Regent that England by no means considered his continuance in the Ministry indispensable, and this intimation, together with the storm which assailed him from all parts, determined her to dismiss him. Palmerston has never written to George Villiers once since October. I heard the same thing of him in some other case, I forget which.

February 6th.

Returned to town yesterday from Newmarket, which I took in my way from Burghley. Parliament had opened the day before, with a long nothingy (a word I have coined) Speech from the Throne, in which the most remarkable points were a violent declaration against O'Connell, that is, against Irish agitation, and strong expressions of amity with France. It is comical to compare the language of the very silly old gentleman who wears the crown, in his convivial moments, and in the openness of his heart, with that which his Ministers cram into his mouth, each sentiment being uttered with equal energy and apparent sincerity. Lord Grey is said to have made a very good speech on the Address. The House of Commons has commenced with all the dulness imaginable, but it was enlivened last night by a squabble on the Hill and Sheil business [1]

[1] Mr. Hill, a member of Parliament, had stated in a speech that some of the Irish members most vehemently opposed to the Coercion Bill in the House of Commons had nevertheless privately stated to members of the Government that they were glad the Act should be renewed. This charge was denied with great heat by the Irish members in the House when Parliament met. But upon Mr. Sheil's calling upon Lord Althorp to state whether he was one of the members alluded to, Lord Althorp replied that the honourable gentleman was one of them. Sheil immediately denied it in the most solemn and emphatic terms; and as it was feared that a hostile meeting might ensue between him and Lord Althorp, they were both taken into custody by the Sergeant-at-arms. Further explanations ensued, and Lord Althorp subsequently withdrew the charge, stating that he believed Mr. Sheil's asseveration, and that he must himself have been misinformed.

[56] (dragged on by O'Connell), and the ultimate arrest of Althorp and Sheil by the Sergeant-at-arms, a very foolish affair, which must end as it began, in much declaiming and swearing, and no positive conviction, though complete moral certitude. It afforded much amusement, as everything personal does. The present expectation is that the session will go off rather quietly.

February 13th.

It is observed by everybody that there never was a session of Parliament which opened with such an appearance of apathy as this. After the violent excitement which has almost incessantly prevailed for the last two years or more, men's minds seem exhausted, and though the undergrowl of political rancour is still heard, and a feeble cry of the Church in danger, on the whole there is less bitterness and animosity, and a tolerably fair promise that things will go on in a smooth and even course. The storm that impended over Europe has blown off, and there seems to be no danger of any interruption of the peace. Esterhazy and Madame de Lieven both told me last night that they thought so now, and the former that he had told Palmerston that we might rely upon Austria's not being an indifferent spectator of the political conduct of Russia, and if we would place confidence in them, they would not only prevent any dangerous aggression on the part of Russia in Europe, but would take such measures as should contribute largely to the security of our Eastern dominions, though that was no object of immediate interest to them. Madame de Lieven told me that it was impossible to describe the contempt as well as dislike which the whole corps diplomatique had for Palmerston, and pointing to Talleyrand, who was sitting close by, 'surtout lui.' They have the meanest opinion of his capacity, and his manners are the reverse of conciliatory. She cannot imagine how his colleagues bear with him, and Lord Grey supports him vehemently. The only friend he has in the [57] Cabinet is Graham, who has no weight. His unpopularity in his own office is quite as great as it is among the foreign ministers, and he does nothing; so that they do not make up in respect for what they want in inclination. George Villiers complains that for above three months he has not received a single line from him, and he is a young minister unpractised in the profession, to whom is committed the most delicate and difficult mission in Europe. He spends his time in making love to Mrs. P—— , whom he takes to the House of Commons to hear speeches which he does not make, and where he exhibits his conquest, and certainly it is the best of his exploits, but what a successor of Canning, whom by the way he affects to imitate. What would be Canning's indignation if he could look from his grave and see; these new reformers, who ape him in his worst qualities, and who blunder and bluster in the seat which he once filled with such glory and success. It must be owned that we are in a curious condition, and if the character of the Government, moral and intellectual, be analysed, it will exhibit a very astonishing result: with a great deal of loose talent of one sort or another scattered about it, but mixed with so much alloy, that, compounded as it is, the metal seems very base. However, we are not likely to get anything better, and these people will very likely hammer on tolerably well.

Since Parliament met, the foolish business of Sheil and Hill has been the sole topic of discussion, to the unspeakable disgust of every sensible person in and out of the House. All feel the embarrassment, the ridicule, the disgrace of such an occupation, and the members of Parliament are provoked that the affair was not strangled at the outset. The Speaker is now generally blamed for not having prevented Althorp from answering O'Connell's question, which he ought to have done, at least ought to have warned the House of the consequences, when undoubtedly the matter would have been stifled. They say Althorp did what he had to do very well, like a gentleman and man of honour, and in excellent style and taste, though many think he need not have said so much. The committee began to sit yesterday; it was not a secret [58] committee, but they agreed to request members not to come in; however, the tail would go in, and they found it would be a difficult matter to exclude them, for which reason, and because Sheil had no friend on the committee, they unanimously agreed that the House should be invited to add O'Connell to it, and after some difficulty raised by John Russell, this was consented to.

February 14th

Last night at Miss Berry's met Mrs. Somerville, the great mathematician. I had been reading in the morning Sedgwick's sermon on education, in which he talks of Whewell, Airy, and Mrs. Somerville, mentioning her as one of the great luminaries of the present day. The subject of astronomy is so sublime that one shrinks into a sense of nothingness in contemplating it, and can't help regarding those who have mastered the mighty process and advanced the limits of the science as beings of another order. I could not then take my eyes off this woman, with a feeling of surprise and something like incredulity, all involuntary and very foolish; but to see a mincing, smirking person, fan in hand, gliding about the room talking nothings and nonsense, and to know that La Place was her plaything and Newton her acquaintance, was too striking a contrast not to torment the brain. It was Newton's mantle trimmed and flounced by Maradan.

February 17th.

In the House of Commons the Sheil committee came to a sudden termination. It was a silly and discreditable business, and people were glad it ended. The course adopted was this: they took the 'Examiner' newspaper, containing the paragraph inculpatory of Sheil, and they called on Hill to prove his case. Hill called witnesses, one of whom, Macaulay, refused to speak. He said he would not repeat what had passed in private conversation. The committee approved, and Hill threw up his case, held out his hand 'with strong emotion' to Sheil, made ample apologies, and Sheil was acquitted. Then came the apologies in the House of Commons. Peel told me that he was convinced Sheil really had never said what was imputed to him; but that he said something tantamount, though very loosely, [59] is probable, and the people who had told Althorp would not come forward to bear him out, so that he was forced to apologise too, but he did it very reluctantly. The Irishmen, however, had not done, and O'Dwyer (formerly a reporter) attacked Pease, asked for explanations, his card and address. Pease, who is a Quaker, said 'he gave no explanations but on his legs in the House of Commons, had no card and no address.'

But there was a more serious matter than Sheil and Hill's trash — O'Connell's attack upon Baron Smith, the circumstances of which exemplify the way the House of Commons is managed under Althorp's auspices, and the general mode of proceeding of the Government there, O'Connell gave notice of a motion for an address to the Crown to remove the Baron. Government resolved to oppose it. Littleton authorised Shaw to write to him and say so, and that he would say nothing in the debate offensive to him, though he could not but disapprove of his charge. Nobody thought of any support the motion would receive beyond that of the tail. The Ministers came down to the House in this mind. Stanley and Graham went away for some purpose or other, and when they came back they found that O'Connell had altered the terms of his motion, and that Althorp, Littleton, and the Solicitor-General had agreed to support it; in short, that O'Connell had laid a trap for them, and they had gone ding-dong into it. Stanley was very angry and much annoyed, but the thing being done he knocked under, and tried to bolster up the business. Graham would not, and in a maudlin, stupid sort of speech declared his opposition, which was honest enough. All this annoyed the Government very much, and now O'Connell is said to be quite satisfied with what he has done, and does not want to have a committee, but (having thrown a slur on the Judge by the vote of Parliament) to let the matter drop. Spring Rice also voted against the Government, and said that he had never known a worse case since he sat in Parliament, and that nothing could be more mischievous than the effect such a vote would produce in Ireland. Scarlett, Peel, and Spankie made [60] very good speeches; Stanley, John Russell, and Campbell as bad.

The same night Althorp made his financial statement, exhibiting a surplus revenue and reduction of taxation, all very flourishing and promising; but in announcing his intended reduction of the House Tax, he said without any disguise that he did not think it an objectionable tax, but that he took it off on account of the clamour against it. Here are three exhibitions in one week, and this is the Minister of our finances and organ of Government in the House of Commons! No matter how he blunders in word or deed, he smiles in dogged good-humour at ridicule or abuse; his intentions are good, his mind is straightforward, and his conscious rectitude, his personal popularity, enable him to commit his blunders with impunity; but the authority of Government suffers in his hands; maxims get into vogue which are incompatible with good and strong government, and the effects of his weakness and facility may be felt long after the cessation of their immediate operation.

February 19th.

Last night Whittle Harvey's motion on the Pension List came on. He made admirable speeches; but had a majority of nine against him. This division is not a bad exemplification of the state of parties and of the House of Commons. Some of the Tories voted in the majority, many others would not. I asked one of them (Henry Hope, a man of no consequence, certainly) if he was not going to vote. 'No,' he said, 'I shall not vote, the Government must manage their own business as they can.' He would not vote against a proposition he must regard with the greatest aversion, because he would thereby be supporting the Government and prefers the chance of giving a victory to the Radicals, establishing a dangerous principle, and doing a great injury to a host of individuals, the greater part of whom are of his own party or among his own friends, because he thinks that the result may be productive of some embarrassment to Ministers. This is one of the cases in which the conduct of Government has been such as their bitterest enemies must applaud, when they risk their popularity to support a very [61] unsightly list of pensions, not granted by themselves, or to their friends, from a sense of justice; and yet these high Tories will not support them even in fighting such a battle as this. On the other hand, the Government reject their support when they might avail themselves of it against the Radicals and ultra-Whigs, in such a case as that of Baron Smith the other night; and so ill blood is constantly increasing between them, while O'Connell and his tail and the Radical blackguards sit by and chuckle at the evils these mutual jealousies and antipathies produce. Richmond told me yesterday that Stanley was greatly annoyed at Baron Smith's affair; but finding the mischief done, and feeling the embarrassment that would arise from his opposing Althorp, he threw himself into the breach; said he had advised him never to do so again. The conduct of Althorp, Littleton, and Campbell is inconceivable, unless it were to give a fresh triumph to O'Connell (he has just carried Dungarvan, Jacob v. Barren; ' it is the voice of Jacob but the hand of Esau'), who has had his own way hitherto in this Parliament. In this business and in Sheil's he has done just what he pleased, and made the Government appear in as pitiful a light as he could possibly desire. O'Dwyer told the Speaker that O'Connell had never expected or even wished that Ministers should give way to him to the extent they did.

Knatchbull has given notice of a motion to reverse the decision for a committee on the case of Baron Smith, and in conjunction with Peel. It must embarrass the Government, but it is not, I think, judicious, because it is not the same question, and affords them the opportunity of treating it on different grounds. In the division last night the three Lennox's all voted with the minority, brothers of a Cabinet Minister, and all their sisters being on the Pension List. Molyneux was going out, and was forcibly retained by Stanley. It looks as if the whipping-in was very unskilfully managed. Notwithstanding the present prosperity and tranquillity, it is impossible not to be disturbed at the mode in which business is conducted in the House of Commons, and at the state and animus of [62] parties, and above all at Althorp being the leader there. His character is peculiarly fitted to do mischief in these times, and his virtues are unfortunate, for they serve to bolster him up, and to keep him where he is in spite of his blunders. His temper is so admirable, his personal popularity so great, that there is an impression that the House will be led by him more easily than by Stanley, who alone, of the present Government, could aspire to that post. Nobody imputes to Althorp a spark of ambition, and ample credit is given him for the most disinterested motives, and for making a great personal sacrifice in retaining his present situation. The consciousness of this makes him comparatively indifferent to victory or defeat, and careless of that nice management which formerly was indispensable in a leader. He seems totally blind to the consequences of his errors, and the advantage that is taken of them by those who not only meditate mischief to the Administration, but to the great interests they are bound to protect. Occurrences and circumstances that would have filled former leaders with vexation, and their followers with dismay, seem to pass over him without ruffling his serenity or alarming his mind. He acts as if in utter unconsciousness of a restless spirit of popular aggrandisement, as if the House of Commons was an in- noxious and manageable machine, as if it was sufficient to mean well, and he lets matters take their chance, without any of that vigilant and systematic direction which, if guided by a nice discrimination, might regulate the movements and check the eccentricities of this vast and unruly body. Since the opening of this session, all that he has said and done has proved his utter unfitness for the place he occupies. First, his imprudent answers to O'Connell, and the turn he gave to that affair. Then, in bringing forward his financial statement, the naïveté with which he admitted that he had submitted to the clamour against the House Tax, and withdrawn it contrary to his own judgement; then the facility with which he gave in to O'Connell's motion about the Irish Judge, and threw over his colleagues and his party without an apparent reason or motive. It produces a [63] feeling allied to despair, all security is at an end, for that which would be produced by his good intentions is destroyed by reflecting on his miserable judgement; half republican in his principles, and incredulous of any danger to be apprehended from the continual increase of popular influences in the House of Commons, he does not perceive how much the authority of a leader is diminished in his hands, and how difficult it will be for any successor of his to gain that sort of ascendency which is indispensable for the effective conduct of public business, and the moral character of the Government. To effect this, besides great talents, great tact, discretion, sagacity, and temper will be required; more, I fear, than fall to the share of Stanley, who is better qualified to be a debater than a leader. Moderate men, who do not approve of this Government, but who do not desire to turn them out, if they would only act upon tolerably conservative principles, are thrown into despair by the behaviour of Althorp, and regard with consternation the inevitable increase of anarchy in the House of Commons, and consequent prevalence of Radical principles, from the sluggish, inert, vacillating, unforeseeing character he displays. [1].

February 22nd.

Went to the House of Commons last night, where I have not been for many years. A great change, and hardly a human being whose face I knew. I heard the end of the debate on Chandos' motion, when Peel gave O'Connell a severe dressing, and I heard the debate on rescinding the order for a committee on Baron Smith. Shaw, who held the Baron's brief, made a very fine speech, but afforded a memorable example of the danger of saying too much, and of the importance of knowing when to stop. Not contented with a very powerful and eloquent appeal, which he wound up with an energetic peroration, he suffered himself

[1] These remarks made at the time are not altogether just to Lord Althorp, and it is now well known from other sources, equally authentic, that he was more conscious than anyone else was of his own shortcomings, and passionately desirous to be released from office. But it was notorious that the retirement of Lord Althorp from the leadership of the House of Commons would be the signal for the dissolution of Earl Grey's Government, and so within a few months the result proved.

[64] to be led away into a tirade about O'Connell's enmity to religion, and instead of ending as he might have done with shouts of applause, was coughed and 'questioned ' to the close. Stanley made a wretched speech; O'Connell very bad, affecting to be moderate, he was only dull. Peel spoke very shortly, but very well indeed. Peel is an enviable position; in the prime of life, with an immense fortune, facile princeps in the House of Commons, unshackled by party connexions and prejudices, universally regarded as the ablest man, and with (on the whole) a very high character, free from the cares of office, able to devote himself to literature, to politics, or idleness, as the fancy takes him. No matter how unruly the House, how impatient or fatigued, the moment he rises all is silence, and he is sure of being heard with profound attention and respect. This is the enjoyable period of his life, and he must make the most of it, for when time and the hour shall bring about his return to power, his cares and anxieties will begin, and with whatever success his ambition may hereafter be crowned, he will hardly fail to look back with regret to this holiday time of his political career. How free and light he must feel at being liberated from the shackles of his old connexions, and at being able to take any part that his sense of his own interests or of the public exigencies may point out! And then the satisfactory consciousness of being by far the most eminent man in the House of Commons, to see and feel the respect he inspires and the consideration he enjoys. It is a melancholy proof of the decadence of ability and eloquence in that House, when Peel is the first, and, except Stanley, almost the only real orator in it. He speaks with great energy, great dexterity — his language is powerful and easy; he reasons well, hits hard, and replies with remarkable promptitude and effect; but he is at an immense distance below the great models of eloquence, Pitt, Fox, and Canning; his voice is not melodious, and it is a little monotonous; his action is very ungraceful, his person and manner are vulgar, and he has certain tricks in his motions which exhibit that vulgarity in a manner almost offensive, and which is only redeemed [65] by the real power of his speeches. His great merit consists in his judgement, tact, and discretion, his facility, promptitude, thorough knowledge of the assembly he addresses, familiarity with the details of every sort of Parliamentary business, and the great command he has over himself. He never was a great favourite of mine, but I am satisfied that he is the fittest man to be Minister, and I therefore wish to see him return to power. Stanley told me yesterday how very glad they were at having been defeated on Baron Smith's case, and that they were thereby relieved from a great embarrassment. Times are mightily altered, when such defeats and such scrapes produce no effect upon Government, and when they can go on upon two majorities of 4 and 8 and one defeat.

February 25th.

There has been a meeting at Althorp's today, numerously attended, in which he talked with some effect as it is said, the audience having gone away in a humour to support Government. He took occasion, on somebody hinting at the disunion among themselves, to say that though there might exist differences of opinion on some minor points, he believed there never had existed a Cabinet of which the members were more firmly knit together by private friendship and political concurrence.

It was Methuen who harangued, and who said that the meeting was very unsatisfactory. Althorp began by saying that unless gentlemen would more regularly and consistently support the Government it could not be carried on, when Paul [1] rejoined that the Government did not support itself, and that they seemed divided. Moreover, that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself talked with so much doubt and uncertainty about reducing particular taxes, he must not be surprised if everybody tried to get what they could for themselves in the general scramble.

There are letters from George Villiers to-day (not to me, but to his mother), in which he gives a deplorable account of

[1] Paul Methuen, Esq., M.P. for Wiltshire. It was to him that the memorable but somewhat profane retort, 'Paul, Paul, why persecutest thou me?' was addressed by Mr. John Hodson Kearsley, M.P. for Wigan. This retort was erroneously attributed in a former edition to Mr. O'Connell.

[66] Spain, that Carlos has a large party in the north, where the Queen's person is odious, the monks have persuaded the people that she is atheistical and republican, that she has not force enough to crush the rebellion, and what she has is scattered on different points, without being able to make any combined or vigorous efforts, that she has no money. The Cortes is to be assembled, but they (I suppose the Ministers) have rejected all good advice on this subject, and nobody can anticipate the effect that will be produced by 300 or 400 individuals meeting in a legislative capacity. If Miguel had resolved to give effectual aid to Carlos, and dashed into Spain, he might certainly have placed him on the throne, and then secured him as a powerful ally to himself in his own contest. Miguel's own case he (George Villiers) by no means considers hopeless, thinks him much better off than Pedro was when at Oporto. The stories of the Queen's [1] gallantries are true. He does not say so totidem verbis, because he dares not, but he manages to convey as much in answer to a question his mother asked him. He thinks that the great probability is that universal anarchy will convulse that country with civil war of the most destructive character, and that the provinces, kingdoms, and districts will be arrayed against each other. The Carlists of Spain being in the north, and those of France in the south, it is very likely they will endeavour to make common cause, in which case it will be difficult for France not to interfere, so he thinks; so do not I, and am more disposed to believe that Louis Philippe is too prudent to run his head into such a hornets' nest, and that he will content himself with keeping matters quiet in France, without meddling with the Spanish disputes. Villiers had not yet received any letters from Palmerston. [2]

[1] Queen Christina the Regent is here meant Queen Isabella II. was a young child.
[2] Within a few days of the date of this note the Ministry of March let was formed in France, with M. Thiers (for the first time) at the head of it. The avowed object of that Minister was to induce the King to interfere more actively in Spain in conjunction with England, " Nous entrainerons le Roi " was a boast he was heard to utter. But he utterly failed. Mr. Greville's prediction turned out to be correct, and in a few months Thiers was again out of office.

[67] February 26th.

Horne, the late Attorney-General, seems likely to fall between the stools. When Brougham proposed to him to take a puisne judgeship, he said he had been an equity lawyer all his life, and had no mind to enter on a course of common law, for which he was not qualified, but proposed that he should not go the circuits, and be Deputy-Speaker of the House of Lords. Brougham told him there would be no difficulty, and then told Lord Grey he had settled it with Horne, but did not tell him what Horne required. The general movement was made, the Attorney-General resigned, but when Horne desired to see Lord Grey he told him that his terms could not be complied with, so he became a victim to the trickery and shuffling of the Chancellor, who wanted to get him out, and did not care how. I hear that his colleagues are quite aware of all his tricks and his intrigues, and have not the slightest confidence in him. He thinks of nothing but the establishment of political power on the basis of patronage, and accordingly he grasps at all he can. All the commissions of enquiry which are set on foot afford him the means of patronage, but I doubt all will not do. He is emasculated by being in the House of Lords, and he will hardly get anybody to do his business for him in the House of Commons.

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
Primary sources index British Political Personalities British Foreign policy 1815-65 European history
index sitemap advanced
search engine by freefind
9 May, 2017