Greville

The Greville Memoirs

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The Greville Memoirs

1834

[143] CHAPTER XXV.

Fall of Lord Melbourne's Government — History and Causes of this Event — An Intrigue — Effect of the Coup at Holland House — The Change of Government — The two Camps — The King's Address to the New Ministers — The Duke's Account of the Transaction — And Lord Lyndhurst's — Difficult Position of the Tories — Their Policy — The Duke in all the Offices — Negotiation with Mr. Barnes — Power of the 'Times' — Another Address of the King — Brougham offers to be Lord Chief Baron — Mr. Barnes dines with Lord Lyndhurst — Whig View of the Recent Change — Liberal Views of the Tory Ministers — The King resolved to support them — Another Account of the Interview between the King and Lord Melbourne — Lord Stanley's Position — Sydney Smith's Preaching at St. Paul's — Lord Duncannon and Lord Melbourne — Relations of the four Seceders to Peel — Young Disraeli — Lord Melbourne's Speeches at Derby — Lord John Russell's Speech at Totness — The Duke of Wellington's Inconsistencies and Conduct.

[143] November 16th

Yesterday morning the town was electrified by the news that Melbourne's Government was at an end. Nobody had the slightest suspicion of such an impending catastrophe; the Ministers themselves reposed in perfect security. I never saw astonishment so great on every side; nobody pretended to have prophesied or expected such an event. Thus it befell: — On Thursday Melbourne went to Brighton to make the arrangements necessary on Lord Spencer's death. He had previously received a letter from the King, which contained nothing indicative of the fate that awaited him. He had his audience on Thursday afternoon, and offered his Majesty the choice of Spring Rice, Lord John Russell, or Abercromby to lead the House of Commons and fill the vacant office. The King made some objections, and said he must take time to consider it. Nothing more passed that night, and the next day, when Melbourne saw the King, his Majesty placed [144] in his hands a letter containing his determination. It was couched in terms personally complimentary to Melbourne, but he said that, having lost the services of Lord Althorp as leader of the House of Commons, he could feel no confidence in the stability of his Government when led by any other member of it; that they were already in a minority in the House of Peers, and he had every reason to believe the removal of Lord Althorp would speedily put them in the same situation in the other House; that under such circumstances he felt other arrangements to be necessary, and that it was his intention to send for the Duke of Wellington. Nothing could be more peremptory and decisive, and not a loophole was left for explanation or arrangements, or endeavour to patch the thing up. The King wrote to the Duke, and, what is rather droll, the letter was despatched by Melbourne's carriage, which returned to town. It is very evident that the King has long determined to seize the first plausible pretext he could find for getting rid of these people, whom he dislikes and fears, and that he thinks (justly or not remains to be proved) the translation of Althorp affords him a good opportunity, and such a one perhaps as may not speedily occur again. It is long since a Government has been so summarily dismissed — regularly kicked out, in the simplest sense of that phrase. Melbourne's colleagues expected his return without a shadow of apprehension, or doubt. He got back late, and wrote to none of them. The Chancellor, who had dined at Holland House, called on him and heard the news; the others (except Duncannon, who went to him, and I believe Palmerston) remained in happy ignorance till yesterday morning, when they were saluted at their rising with the astounding intelligence. All the Ministers (except Brougham) read the account of their dismissal in the 'Times' the next morning, and this was the first they heard of it. Melbourne resolved to say nothing that night, but summoned an early Cabinet, when he meant to impart it. Brougham called on him on his way from Holland House. Melbourne told him, but made him promise not to say a word of it to anybody. He promised, and the moment he quitted the [145] house sent to the 'Times' office and told them what had occurred, with the well-known addition that 'the Queen had done it all.'

They attribute their fall to the influence of the Queen, and fancy that it is the result of a preconcerted scheme and intrigue with the Tories, neither of which do I believe to be true. With regard to the latter notion, the absence of Sir Robert Peel, who is travelling in Italy, is a conclusive proof of its falseness. He never would have been absent if he had foreseen the remotest possibility of a crisis, and the death of Lord Spencer has been imminent and expected for some time past. I am convinced that it is the execution of a project which the King has long nourished of delivering himself from the Whigs whenever he could. His original dislike has been exasperated to a great pitch by the mountebank exhibitions of Brougham, and he is so alarmed and disgusted at the Radical propensities which the Durham dinner has manifested, that he is resolved to try whether the Government cannot be conducted upon principles which are called Conservative, but which shall really be bonâ fide opposed to the ultra doctrines and wild schemes which he knows are not distasteful to at least one-half of his late Cabinet.

His resentment against these people has been considerably increased by the discovery (which he believes he has made) of his having been grossly deceived at the period of Lord Grey's retirement and the formation of Melbourne's Administration. The circumstances of this part of the business I know only imperfectly, so much so as to leave a good deal that requires explanation in order to make it intelligible; but I was told on good authority yesterday that at that time Sir Robert Peel and the Duke of Wellington were quite prepared to undertake the formation of a Government if it had been proposed to them, and that he had every reason to believe they had been betrayed by 'that scoundrel H — — ,' who had been employed by some of the other party to find out what their intentions and dispositions were upon that point; that H — — had gone to them and [146] asked them the question, and having at that time entire confidence in him, they had told him if it was offered to them they certainly would undertake it; that he had never told them or given them any reason to believe that he was commissioned to find out their resolution, and they think he returned to his employer and told him that they must take care how such an offer was made to the Tories, as they would certainly accept it if it was offered. Melbourne was no party to this transaction, but the consequence of it was that the King was given to understand that it would be useless to propose to them to form a Government, for they were not prepared to do so, and he was advised to make the proposal of a coalition, which was made, and which they of course rejected. The King, it appears, subsequently discovered what their disposition had been at the time, and that he had been misled and deceived, and this made him very indignant.

I should like to know this story more in detail, for it would be curious to learn who were the agents in the intrigue, and, above all, what could induce H — — to sacrifice the interests of the Duke of Wellington (with whom he had great influence and to whom he had great obligations) and of the party from which alone he could expect any solid advantages to those of the Whigs, from whom he could derive no benefit sufficient to compensate him for the danger as well as treachery of the transaction. I never liked this fellow, and always thought him a low blackguard, and, however shrewd and active, a bad confidant and 'fidus Achates' for the Duke to have taken up; but the folly and shortsightedness of this proceeding seem so obvious (to say nothing of its villany) that I cannot without strong proofs yield my belief to the story, though Peel is not a man to harbour such strong suspicions on slight grounds.

This morning Lord Lansdowne wrote me word that the Duke had accepted, but it is probable that nothing can be done till Peel returns from Italy. He will accept no post but that of Prime Minister, though the King would prefer to put the Duke there if he would take it.

[147] November 17th

It is only bit by bit that one ascertains the truth in affairs like these. It is true that the King imparted his resolution to Melbourne in a letter, but not true in the sense in which that fact is intended to be taken. I went to Holland House yesterday, but my Lord and my Lady were gone to town. I met the heavy chariot slowly moving back through Kensington, and stopped to talk to them. They seemed in tolerably good spirits, all things considered; like the rest, they had not a suspicion of what was going to happen. Melbourne was to have dined there on Friday, but did not arrive. At eleven o'clock everybody went away, without any tidings having come of Melbourne; the next morning Lord Holland read in the 'Times' that the Government was at an end. Allen swore that it must be a hoax, and it was only upon receiving a summons to the Cabinet at twelve instead of two that Holland began to think there was something in it. He told me that the King had two long conversations with Melbourne, in which he explained his opinions, motives, and intentions, and finally gave him the letter, that he might show it to his colleagues. It would now appear that no definite arrangements were proposed to him at all; nothing, in fact, could be settled till it was ascertained what Althorp would do — whether he would continue in office, and what office he would take — but they intended that Lord John Russell should be the leader in the House of Commons, or what they call 'try it.' This must have been peculiarly distasteful to the King, who dislikes Lord John, and thinks him a dangerous little Radical, and Melbourne is well aware of this antipathy. On the Friday night Melbourne, with a party of his colleagues — Mulgrave, Ben Stanley, Poulett Thompson, and one or two more — were at the play just opposite to me; the piece was the 'Regent,' and it was full of jokes about dismissing Ministers and other things very applicable, at which Melbourne at least (who does not care a button about office, whatever he may do about power) was heartily amused. To-day the King came to town to receive the resignations, for he is resolved to finish off the whole affair at once and make maison nette; [148] they have been ordered therefore to attend at St. James's and give up their seals.

Five o'clock.

Just returned from St. James's. In the outer room I found assembled the Duke of Wellington, Lyndhurst, Rosslyn, Goulburn, Hardinge, the Speaker, Jersey, Maryborough, Cowley, whom the Duke had collected in order to form a Privy Council; in the Throne Room the ex-Cabinet congregated, and it was amusing to watch them as they passed through the camp of their enemies, and to see their different greetings and bows; all interchanged some slight civility except Brougham, who stalked through looking as black as thunder and took no notice of anybody. The first question that arose was, What was to be done about the prorogation? The Duke thought they might as well finish that business to-day, and I went on an embassy into the other room to propose it; but they declined to have anything to say to it and evinced great anxiety to take no part in any proceedings of this day. Accordingly Lord Lansdowne explained to the King that the presence of a Lord President was not necessary, and that there was a sufficiency of Tory Lords to form a Council, so his Majesty consented to the late Ministers going away. As I thought the company of those who were coming in would be more cheerful and agreeable than that of those who were going out, I passed my time in the outer room, and had a good deal of conversation with the Duke and Lyndhurst, from whom I gathered everything that I did not know before. After the Whigs had made their exit we went into the Throne Room, and the King sent for Lyndhurst, who only stayed with him a few minutes, and then the Duke and all the Privy Councillors were summoned. After greeting them all, and desiring them to sit down, he began a speech nearly as follows: — 'Having thought proper to make a change in my Government, at the present moment I have directed a new commission to be issued for executing the office of Lord High Treasurer, at the head of which I have placed the Duke of Wellington, and his Grace has kissed hands accordingly upon that appointment. As by the Constitution [149] of this country the King can do no wrong, but those persons are responsible for his acts in whom he places his confidence — as I do in the Lords now present — it is necessary to place the seals of the Secretary of State for the Home Department in those hands in which I can best confide, and I have therefore thought proper to confer that office likewise on his Grace, who will be sworn in accordingly.' Here the Duke came round, and, after much fumbling for his spectacles, took the oath of Secretary of State. The King then resumed, 'It is likewise necessary for me to dispose of the seals of the other two Secretaries of State, and I therefore place them likewise for the present in the same hands, as he is already First Lord of the Treasury and Secretary of State for the Home Office.' Then, turning to me, he asked if there was any business, and being told there was none, desired me to retire. When I was gone he began another harangue, to the effect that he had endeavoured, since he had been upon the throne, to do for the best, and that he could not fill up any of the other offices at present.

Now for what I learned from the Duke and Lyndhurst. The former told me that he was just going out hunting when the messenger arrived; that the letter merely said that the King wished to see him, to consult with him as to the steps he should take with regard to the formation of another Government. He went off directly, and at once told the King that the best thing he could do was to send for Sir Robert Peel, and that until he arrived he would undertake to carry on the Government by a provisional arrangement, and would do nothing more until Peel's return. So the matter accordingly stands, and no other appointment will be made except that the Great Seal will be transferred to Lyndhurst, without, however (at present), his becoming Chancellor. He talked a great deal about the state of the late Government, and what passed between Melbourne and the King, but I heard this still more in detail from Lyndhurst afterwards.

I asked the Duke if he had seen the 'Times' this morning. He said 'No,' and I told him there appeared in it a considerable disposition to support the new Government, and I thought [150] it would be very advisable to obtain that support if it could be done. He said he was aware that he had formerly too much neglected the press, but he did not think the 'Times' could be influenced. I urged him to avail himself of any opportunity to try, and he seemed very well disposed to do so. Lyndhurst, whom I afterwards talked to for a long time, went into the whole business. He said that it was very desirable that the public should know the truth of what had taken place between the King and Melbourne, both in conversation and by letter, because it would be seen that the former was in no way to blame. [This case, such as Lyndhurst described it to me, was afterwards put hypothetically in the 'Times,' to which it was furnished probably by Scarlett, but the Whigs emphatically declare that it is not correct, and that it will be found, when Melbourne states the truth (as he will require the King's permission to do), that his Majesty had no case at all. In the midst of these conflicting assertions time must show. — November 26th.] Melbourne told him that, as he had only undertaken to carry on the Government in consideration of having the assistance of Althorp in the House of Commons, his removal made it necessary to adopt a new organisation altogether, that some considerable concessions to the principle of Reform were judged to be necessary, and the appointment of a successor to Althorp, who should carry them into effect; that he was of opinion that without these the Government could not go on, and at the same time it was necessary to state that there were members of the Cabinet who did not coincide with these views, and who would retire when Parliament met if they were adopted. These were Lord Lansdowne and Spring Rice; Lord John Russell was to lead in the House of Commons, but the loss of Rice would be a severe blow to them. The concessions related principally to Church reform. The disunion of the Cabinet being thus exhibited, it was clear the Government could not go on without some material alteration in its composition. The King urged this and asked Melbourne from what quarter the necessary accession of strength was to be procured, and whether he could hope for it from the [151] Conservative interest. He owned that nothing was to be expected from that quarter. It remained, then, that it was only from the more extreme party that their ranks could be recruited. To this the King would not consent, and he therefore imparted to him his resolution of placing the Government in other hands.[1]

Lyndhurst then went off upon the difficulties of their position. I told him that the Duke had said to me, 'If the King had been a very clever man, he would probably have played a more adroit game, by letting them go on till Parliament met, and then taking the opportunity which would soon present itself of breaking them up;' that I disagreed with the Duke, and thought it infinitely more convenient that this change should take place while Parliament was not sitting, to which Lyndhurst fully agreed. He said that they must dissolve as soon as Peel came home, that they had no alternative; that it would not do to try this Parliament, to run the chance of a failure and dissolve after having experienced it, that this would be too great a risk. He said that they had several seats quite safe in consequence of their superior management about the registration, such as Leeds and Ripon, where they were sure of both members. He then talked of the tactics to be used, and said they must direct their hostility against the Whigs rather than the Radicals, and make it their principal object to diminish the number of the former. I said I thought this a very perilous game to play, and that if it was avowed and acted upon, it would infallibly produce a reunion between the Whigs and Radicals, who would coalesce to crush their Government; that the Radicals were now very angry with the Whigs, who they thought had deserted the principles they professed, and it should rather be their care to keep Whigs and Radicals asunder than provoke a fresh alliance between them. He said the Whigs were certain to join the Radicals. I asked

[1] This account of the transaction is confirmed in almost every particular by the statement drawn up by King William himself (or by his directions) for the information of Sir Robert Peel, and first published in Baron Stockmar's 'Memoirs' in 1872.

[152] him if he had seen the 'Times,' said what had passed between the Duke and me, and told him he would do well to endeavour to obtain its support. He said he desired nothing so much, but in his situation he did not like personally to interfere, nor to place himself in their power. I told him I had some acquaintance with Barnes, the editor of the paper, and would find out what he was disposed to do, and would let him know, which he entreated I would. The Duke had said, laughing, 'I hear they call me a Reformer.' I said, 'They think you will make as good a Reformer as the present men, if, as Brougham said in Scotland, they would have done less this session than they did the last.' I asked Lyndhurst if he had seen or heard of the Duke's letter to the Oxford people, and told him that it was very desirable that credit should be given them for intending to carry on their government upon principles as liberal as that letter evinced, that I hoped there would be no foolish declarations fulminated against Reform, and that they would all be convinced now that matters had been brought to such a state (no matter how and by whom) that the old principle of hostility to all reforms must be abandoned. He said that Peel would, he trusted, be flexible, that if such declarations were made, and such principles announced, they must be upset, but the Tories would be difficult to manage, and discontented if there was not a sufficient infusion of their party; and, on the other hand, the agricultural interest had assembled a force under Lord Chandos, a sort of confederation of several counties, and that Chandos had told him that he and the representatives of their counties would not support any Ministry that would not pledge itself to repeal the malt tax; that they would agree to re-enact the beer tax, but the malt tax must cease.

Brougham had written to Lyndhurst saying he should be ready to resign the Great Seal in a few days, and only wished first to give some judgments, that he was rejoiced at retiring from office and at the prospect of being able to do what was his great delight — devote himself to State affairs without being trammelled and having to fear the imputation of imprudence and indiscretion. 'He will be,' Lyndhurst said, 'the [153] most troublesome fellow that ever existed, and do all the mischief he can.' I said, 'What can he do? he was emasculated when he left the House of Commons.' 'Yes,' he said, 'he knows that, but he will come down night after night and produce plans of Reform upon any subject; he will make speeches two or three hours long to very thin Houses, which will be printed in all the newspapers or published by himself and circulated — in fact, a series of pamphlets.' I said that he had damaged himself so much that I did not think he could do a great deal of harm, with all his speeches and pamphlets. He said he had damaged himself in more ways than one. He then went off upon his admirable social qualities and his generous conduct to his family, both of which may most justly be praised, and said what a melancholy thing it was to see a man with such fine talents mar their effect by his enormous errors in judgment.

Lord Holland, who came out last of all his colleagues, upon his crutches, stopped in great good-humour and said to the Duke, 'You can't get me out, I can tell you, without going into Lancashire, for my seal is there.' The Duke told me that he did not mean to make the slightest alteration in the transaction of the current business in the different offices, which would go on as usual through the under-secretaries, whom he should request to continue at their posts for the purpose. As, however, a disposition was evinced on the part of the late Cabinet not to afford him any facilities, he began to think that this might not impossibly extend to the subordinates, and he said that at all events he would have two people ready to put into the Treasury to transact the business there. I told him if he was in any difficulty he might make any use he pleased of me. There can hardly be any difficulty, however, when there are permanent under-secretaries in all the offices.

Thus ended this eventful day; just four years ago I witnessed the reverse of the picture. I think the Whigs upon this occasion were much more angry and dejected than the Tories were upon that. They had perhaps some reason, for their case is one of rare occurrence — unceremoniously kicked out, [154] not resignations following ineffectual negotiations or baffled attempts at arrangement, but in the plenitude of their fancied strength, and utterly unconscious of danger, they were discarded in the most positive, summary, and peremptory manner. Great, therefore, is their indignation, mortification, and chagrin, and bitter will no doubt be their opposition. They think that the new Government have no chance of getting a House of Commons that will support them, and certainly if they do not, and if the Tories are compelled after a fruitless struggle to resign, miserable will be the condition of the King and the House of Lords, and not very enviable that of any Government that may succeed them.

To speculate upon probabilities is impossible; the new Government at present consists of the Duke, Lyndhurst, and Peel, and till it shall be seen of what materials the complete structure is composed, and what principles they enunciate, it is idle to discuss the matter. Lyndhurst and I agreed cordially that all the evils of the last four years — the breaking up of their Government, and the Reform Bill that was the consequence of that catastrophe — were attributable to the High Tories. Whatever may be their wishes now, they can hardly play the same game over again; they must support this Government, even though it shall not act upon the highflying principles which they so fondly and obstinately cherish. Their salvation and that of all the institutions to which they cling require that they should support the Duke and Peel in carrying on the government upon those principles on which, from the circumstances of the times and the events which have occurred, an Administration must act in order to have a shadow of a chance of being tolerated by the House of Commons and the country. Lyndhurst is sensible of this; I wish Peel may be so likewise. If they both are I have little fear for the Duke.

November 19th

Laid up these two days with the gout in my knee, so could not go out to hear what is going on. The Duke, I find, after the Council on Monday (losing no time), repaired to the Home Office and ordered the Irish [155] papers to be brought to him, then to the Foreign Office, where he asked for the last despatches from Spain and Portugal, and so on to the Colonial Office, where he required information as to the state of their department. I have no doubt he liked this, to play the part of Richelieu for a brief period, to exercise all the functions of administration. They complain, however, and not without reason, of the unceremonious and somewhat uncourteous mode in which without previous notice he entered into the vacant offices, taking actual possession, without any of the usual preliminary civilities to the old occupants. Duncannon, who had been in the Home Office up to the time of the Council on Monday, and whose papers were unremoved, if he had returned after it, would have found the Duke seated in his still warm chair, issuing directions to Phillips, the under-secretary, while Macdonald, Duncannon's private secretary, was still at his vocation in the adjoining room. Pretty much the same thing he did in the other three offices. He has fixed his head-quarters at the Home Office, and occasionally roves over the rest. All this is unavoidable under existing circumstances, but it is enough to excite merriment, or censure, or suspicion, according to different tastes and tempers. The King offered to make Melbourne an earl and to give him the Garter, but he declined, and begged it might be given to the Duke of Grafton.

In consequence of what passed between Lyndhurst and me concerning the 'Times' (at St. James's) I made Henry de Ros send for Barnes (who had already at his suggestion adopted a conciliatory and amicable tone towards the embryo Government), who came and put on paper the terms on which he would support the Duke. These were: no mutilation of the Reform Bill, and the adoption of those measures of reform which had been already sanctioned by votes of the House of Commons last session with regard to Church and corporations, and no change in our foreign policy. I have sent his note to Lyndhurst, and begged him to call here to talk the matter over.

Powell, a Tory solicitor and âme damnée of the Speaker's, [156] has just been here; he declares that the Tories will be 420 strong in the new Parliament, which I mention for the purpose of recording their expectations and being able to compare them hereafter with the event. They have already put themselves in motion, despatched messengers to Lord Hertford and Lowther, and probably if ever these men could be induced to open their purse strings, and make sacrifices and exertions, they will do it now.

Six o'clock.

Lyndhurst has just been here; he had seen the Duke, who had already opened a negotiation with Barnes through Scarlett. I offered to get any statement inserted of the causes of the late break-up, and he will again see the Duke and consider the propriety of inserting one. He said, 'Why Barnes is the most powerful man in the country.' The 'Standard' has sent to offer its support; the Duke said he should be very happy, but they must understand that the Government was not yet formed.

November 21st

To-day there was a Council at St. James's, at which Lyndhurst was sworn in Chancellor. Brougham took leave of the Bar this morning, and I hear did it well. The King speechified as usual, and gave them a couple of harangues; he said it was just four years since he had very unwillingly taken the Seal from Lord Lyndhurst, and he now had great pleasure in restoring it to him. He was all King to-day — talked of having 'commanded the ex-Ministers to retire;' 'desired Lord Brougham to give up the Seal,' which is true, for the Duke wrote to him for it, and instead of surrendering it in person Brougham sent it to Sir Henry Taylor. The King compared this crisis with that which befell his father in 1784, when he had placed the government in the hands of the Marquis of Rockingham; he said that the present was only a provisional arrangement, but that there was this difference, that the country was now in a state of excitement and disquiet, which it was free from then, but that he had full reliance on the great firmness of the Duke (here the Duke bowed); that the Administration which was then formed had lasted seventeen years (of course he meant that of Pitt, which succeeded the coalition), and [157] he hoped that this which was about to be formed would last as long, although at his time of life if it did he could not expect to see the end of it.

November 22nd

I read Brougham's speech on quitting the Court of Chancery this morning, and admirable it is — not a syllable about himself, but with reference to the appointment of Pepys, brief, dignified, and appropriate. Si sic omnia, what a man he would be.

November 23rd

This morning I received a note from Henry de Ros enclosing one from Barnes, who was evidently much nettled at not having received any specific answer to his note stating the terms on which he would support the Duke. Henry was disconcerted also, and entreated me to have an explanation with Lyndhurst. I accordingly went to the Court of Exchequer, where he was sitting, and waited till he came out, when I gave him these notes to read. He took me away with him, and stopped at the Home Office to see the Duke and talk to him on the subject, for he was evidently a little alarmed, so great and dangerous a potentate is the wielder of the thunders of the press. After a long conference he came out and gave me a note the Duke had written, saying he could not pledge himself nor Sir Robert Peel (who was to be the Minister) before he arrived, and eventually I agreed to draw up a paper explanatory of the position of the Duke, and his expectations and views with regard to the 'Times' and its support. This I sent to him, and he is to return it to me with such corrections as he may think it requires, and it is to be shown to Barnes to-morrow.

On the way Lyndhurst told me an incredible thing — that Brougham had written to him proposing that he should be made Chief Baron, which would be a great saving to the country, as he was content to take it with no higher salary than his retiring pension and some provision for the expense of the circuit. He said he would show me the letter, but that he had left it with the Duke, so could not then. He knows well enough that, whatever may be the fate of this Government, he has no chance of recovering the Great Seal, [158] but I own I do not comprehend what object he can have in taking this appointment, or what there is of importance enough to induce him to apply for it to his political opponents, and incur all the odium that would be heaped upon him if the fact were generally known. He would not consider himself tongue-tied in the House of Lords any more than Lyndhurst was, for though the former took the situation under a sort of condition, either positive or implied, that he was to observe something like a neutrality, he considered himself entirely emancipated from the engagement when the great Reform battle began, and the consequence was that the secret article in the treaty was also cancelled, and Denman got the Chief Justiceship instead of him. I imagine that the King would not agree to Brougham's being Chief Baron even though the Duke and Lyndhurst should be disposed to place him on the bench. There might be some convenience in it. He must cut fewer capers in ermine than in plaid trousers. [As might have been expected, this intended stroke of Brougham's was a total failure. Friends and foes condemn him; Duncannon tried to dissuade him; the rest of his colleagues only knew of it after it was done. Duncannon told me he neither desired nor expected that his offer would be accepted. — November 30th.]

November 24th

I sent Lyndhurst a paper to be read to Barnes, which he returned to me with another he had written instead, which certainly was much better. The Duke's note and this paper were read to him, and he expressed himself quite satisfied, was much gratified by an offer Lyndhurst made to see him, and proposed a meeting; so, then, I leave the affair. I took a copy of Lyndhurst's paper, and then returned it and the note to him.

At night I went to Holland House, where I found Brougham, Lord John Russell, and Lord Lansdowne. Lady Holland told me that she had been the channel of communication by which the arrangement of giving the Chief Baronship to Lyndhurst had been carried on, and she declared that there was no secret article in it. I believe, however, that there was one concluded between Brougham and Lyndhurst, [159] when they met to settle it in Burlington street. Leach brought the original message from Alexander, who offered to resign in favour of Lyndhurst. I hear of nothing but the indignation of the ex-Ministers at the uncourteousness of the Duke's conduct towards them; but though there is too much truth, there is also some exaggeration in the complaints. It is necessary to be on one's guard against what one hears, as I verified yesterday in a particular case.

November 26th

Barnes is to dine with Lord Lyndhurst, and a gastronomic ratification will wind up the treaty between these high contracting parties. I walked home with Duncannon last night; he declared to me that though he could not tell me what did pass between the King and Melbourne, what is stated to have passed is not the truth. I heard elsewhere that the Whigs insist upon it there was no disunion in the Cabinet, and that Lord Lansdowne and Rice had seen the Irish Tithe Bill (the Irish Chancellor being the supposed subject of disunion), and that they both agreed to its provisions. Duncannon said that if the King had insisted upon the dismissal of Brougham, and had consented to go on with the rest, he would have put them in a grand dilemma, for that such a requisition would have met the concurrence of many of their friends and of the public. He thinks Brougham would not have resigned even then, and that it would have been very dangerous to turn him out. All this speculation matters little now. He is thoroughly convinced that the present appearances of indifference and tranquillity in the country are delusive, and that the elections will rouse a dormant spirit, and that the minor differences of Reformers and Liberals of all denominations will be sunk in a determined hostility to the Government of Peel and the Duke. He says that the Irish Church must bring the question between the two parties to an immediate and decisive test; that if the new Government are beaten upon it, as he thinks inevitable, out they must go; that the return of the Government just broken up will be out of the question, and the King must submit to receive one of still stronger measures. Duncannon does not conceal the ultra-Liberal nature [160] of his opinions, and he would not regret the accomplishment of his predictions. It cannot be concealed that there is nothing very improbable in them, although I am far from regarding the event as so certain as he does; still less can I partake of the blind confidence and sanguine hopes of the Tories. One thing is, however, very clear, that the Whigs and the Radicals will join (as Lyndhurst said they were sure to do), and that they will both declare war to the knife against the Tory Government. The best hope and chance is that a number of really independent men, unpledged, may be returned, who will hold something like a balance between the extreme parties, resist all violent propositions, protect the King from insult and peremptory dictation, and afford the new Government a fair trial, and on the other hand declare at once and without reserve their determination to continue without interruption the course of rational and effectual reform, making a virtual abandonment of High Tory maxims and acquiescence in the desires of the country with respect to the correction of abuses the indispensable conditions of the present Government's retention of office.

November 27th

Yesterday Lord Wharncliffe came to me. He had just been with the Duke, who received him very cordially, and showed him the correspondence and minutes of conversations between the King and Melbourne. He says that it is evident that Melbourne despaired of being able to carry on the Government, and that the gist of the King's objection was the nomination of Lord John Russell to lead the Government in the House of Commons, which His Majesty said he could not agree to, because he had already declared his sentiments with regard to the Church and his resolution of supporting it to the bishops and on other occasions, and that Lord John Russell had signalised himself in the House of Commons by his destructive opinions with regard to the Establishment. I should be glad to see this correspondence and judge for myself, but I can't go to the Duke on purpose. Wharncliffe says that he is quite satisfied from his conversation that the Duke is thoroughly convinced of the necessity of adopting a line of conduct in conformity with the [161] state of public opinion and determination in the country, and that he is prepared to abandon (as far as he is concerned) the old Tory maxims. So far so good; but there is no concealing that, however this may (if Peel concurs) facilitate the formation and secure the duration of the new Government, there is a revolting inconsistency in it all, involving considerable loss of character. He gave no indication of such a disposition during the last session; it is all reserved for the period when he is possessed of power. It is, however, at present all very vague, and we shall see what his notion is of a Liberal course of policy. I fear that he and Peel are both too deeply committed on the Irish Church question to suffer them to propose any compromise likely to be satisfactory with regard to it, and then the difficulties of the question are so enormous that it seems next to impossible to compose them. The respective parties drive at different objects; one wants to appropriate the surplus revenue, the other wants to secure to the parsons their tithes, and while they are quarrelling with unmitigable fierceness upon these points, the Irish settle the question by refusing to pay any tithe, and by evading every attempt that is made to procure the payment in some other shape or under some other denomination.

The Duke told Wharncliffe that both he and the King were fully aware of the importance of the step that his Majesty had taken — that this is, in fact, the Conservatives' last cast — and that he (the King) is resolved neither to flinch nor falter, but having embarked with them, to nail his flag to the mast and put forth all the constitutional authority of the Crown in support of the Government he is about to form. I am strongly inclined to think that this determination, when properly ascertained, will have considerable influence, and that, provided a respectable and presentable Cabinet be formed and Liberal measures adopted, they will succeed. Though the Crown is not so powerful as it was, there probably still remains a great deal of attachment and respect to it, and if the King can show a fair case to the country, there will be found both in Parliament and out of it a vast number of persons who will reflect deeply upon the consequences of [162] coming to a serious collision with the Throne, and consider whether the exigency is such as to justify such extremities. It may be very desirable to purify the Irish Church, to remodel corporations, and to relieve the Dissenters in various ways, and nobody can entertain a shadow of doubt that all these things must and will be done; but the several cases are not of great and pressing urgency. The fate of the nation does not depend upon their being all accomplished and arranged off-hand, and if the Government which the King may form exhibits no spirit uncongenial to the public feeling generally, and wars not with the genius of Reform, which is dear to the people, it is my belief that a great majority of the nation will shrink from the mere possibility of a direct breach with the King, and from offering him an insult in the shape of dictation and peremptory demand, which he would consider himself bound in honour and in conscience to resist.

I walked home with Duncannon at night, and I told him this; he seemed struck by it, but still maintained that Parliament would, in his opinion, not accept the new Ministry on any terms. If Peel makes a High Tory Government, and holds High Tory language, I think so too, and I can scarcely hope that it should be otherwise. My mind, I own, misgives me about Peel; I hope everything from his capacity and dread everything from his character.

November 28th

This morning I got a letter from my uncle the Duke of Portland, complaining of the Weights and Measures Bill, and begging that, if possible, an Order in Council might be passed suspending the operation of the Act. I availed myself of this opportunity to see the Duke of Wellington, and went to the Home Office to consult him on the contents of this letter. After settling this business I began about the recent negotiation between Lyndhurst and Barnes, and this led to a discussion of the circumstances and situation of affairs, in the course of which he told me everything that had occurred. I asked him if he had sent the 'Statement' which appeared in the 'Times.' He said no, and that he was utterly at a loss to guess how they had got [163] it, but that by whatever means it was as near as possible to the truth. I said that this was utterly and peremptorily denied by the other side, on which he called Algy, [1] and desired him to bring a letter which he had written to certain Peers of his party — a circular — which he read to me. In this he explained in general terms (without going into particulars) the causes of the break-up of the late Government and the advice he had given the King, and he told me that he had got papers and letters in confirmation of every word that he had written (Melbourne's correspondence with the King and the minute of the conversation), all which he said he would show me then, but that it would take up too much time. However, as we proceeded to talk it over he told me all that these papers contained, or at least all that was material. The substance as I gathered it and as I remember it was this: — Lord Melbourne had written to the King and descanted on the great difficulty in which the Government was placed in consequence of Lord Spencer's death, and had intimated that the measures which he should find it necessary to propose to him would produce a difference of opinion in the Cabinet — in point of fact that it was, to say the least, probable that Rice and Lansdowne would retire. When he went down to Brighton, and they talked it over, Lord Melbourne put it to his Majesty whether under existing circumstances he would go on, placing himself in their hands, or whether he would dispense with their services, only recommending that if he resolved not to endeavour to go on with this Government (with such modifications as circumstances demanded) he would declare such resolution as speedily as possible.[2] The Duke says he did not actually tender his or their resignations, did not throw up the

[1] Mr. Algernon Greville, brother of Mr. Charles Greville, was private secretary to the Duke of Wellington both in and out of office.
[2] This statement has certainly not been confirmed by the subsequent publication of papers or by the narrative of the King himself. It is very extraordinary that the Duke of Wellington should have been led to believe it; but this is only another proof of the extreme difficulty of arriving at an exact knowledge of what passes in conversation between two persons, even when both of them are acting in perfect good faith.

[164] Government, but very near it. The King suggested the difficulty of his situation, and Melbourne told him 'he had better send for the Duke of Wellington, and depend upon it he would get him out of it.' 'In fact,' said the Duke, 'Melbourne told him I should do just what I did.' Accordingly the King did send for the Duke, and it is true that Melbourne offered to be the bearer of his Majesty's letter. When some question was asked about the messenger, Melbourne said, 'No messenger will go so quick as I shall; you had better give it to me.' The Duke said that no man could have acted more like a gentleman and a man of honour than Melbourne did, and that his opinion of him was greatly raised. I told him that I thought Melbourne could not have given his colleagues an exact and correct account of what had passed, for that they could not conceive themselves to have been so ill-treated if it was so, and that if he had told them all they would probably have thought he had abandoned their interests. He said that it was evident Melbourne was very happy to disengage himself from the concern. (As all this case will probably be discussed in Parliament, we shall see that the debate will turn principally upon the fact of disunion, and I have little doubt that Rice and Lansdowne will declare that they had no intention of quitting. So much depends upon verbal niceties, and the bounds between truth and falsehood are so narrow, the partition so thin, that they will, I expect, try to back up their party without any absolute breach of veracity.) When the King was reading the papers to him (the Duke), and telling him all that had passed, he was in a great fright lest the Duke should think he had acted imprudently, and should decline to accept the Government. Then the Duke said, 'Sir, I see at once how it all is. Your Majesty has not been left by your Ministers, but something very like it;' and His Majesty was rejoiced when the Duke at once acquiesced in taking office.

The Duke said he had received very satisfactory letters from all (or many) of the Peers to whom he had written — from the Duke of Newcastle and Lord Mansfield, the most violent of the Tories. I said, 'Are they ready to place themselves [165] in your hands, and agree to whatever you may think it necessary to do?' He said, 'I think they are; I think they will do anything.' He told me that affairs were left in a wretched state in the Treasury, that the late Ministers were no men of business, and minutes had been proposed to him finding fault with various things; but he had refused to do any such thing, and he would repair any error he could without casting any blame on others. On the whole he thought everything looked well, and that he should, when Peel arrived, put the concern into his hands in a satisfactory state.

It is perfectly clear, in the midst of assertion on one side and contradiction on the other, that in the first instance there was neither plot nor plan on the part of the King or anybody else. The death of Lord Spencer really did create an enormous embarrassment, which Melbourne felt much more than any of his colleagues; and though he told the King 'that he was ready to go on with the Government if such was his pleasure,' he felt no desire to be taken at his word, and no confidence or expectation that the arrangements he proposed would be palatable to the King or of a permanent nature. He seems to have been candid and straightforward in all that he said, and to have contemplated his dismissal as a very probable result of his correspondence and conversations with his Majesty. The Irish Church has evidently caused the split; the intended reforms in it and the elevation of Lord John Russell to the post of leader were more than the King could digest. I wish I had seen the papers, for the sake of knowing what it is they proposed to the King, and how far he was disposed to go.

November 29th

I told the Duke yesterday what I had learnt from George Bentinck (and he from the Duke of Richmond) of Lord Stanley's [1] disposition. He is not at all desirous to be mixed up in the new concern, but has no objection to take office under Peel, and he is ready to listen to any proposition that may be made to him; but he is very much afraid of being accused of dereliction of principle by his old colleagues and friends. It is clear, therefore, that he would reject any

[1] Edward, 12th Earl of Derby, died on October 21, 1834, from which date his grandson, afterwards 14th Earl of Derby, assumed the courtesy title of Lord Stanley.

[166] overture unless it included an agreement that the Government should be conducted upon Liberal principles, and unless his friends were invited to join the Government with him. The Duke took very little notice of this.

December 1st

Went to St. Paul's yesterday evening, to hear Sydney Smith preach. He is very good; manner impressive, voice sonorous and agreeable, rather familiar, but not offensively so, language simple and unadorned, sermon clever and illustrative. The service is exceedingly grand, performed with all the pomp of a cathedral and chanted with beautiful voices; the lamps scattered few and far between throughout the vast space under the dome, making darkness visible, and dimly revealing the immensity of the building, were exceedingly striking. The Cathedral service thus chanted and performed is my beau idéal of religious worship — simple, intelligible, and grand, appealing at the same time to the reason and the imagination. I prefer it infinitely to the Catholic service, for though I am fond of the bursts of music and the clouds of incense, I can't endure the undistinguishable sounds with which the priest mumbles over the prayers. I heard yesterday that there has been a breeze between Duncannon and Melbourne, arising out of his speech at Derby. This was in answer to an address they voted him, and it was exceedingly temperate and reserved. In the course of it he said that 'he had no personal cause of complaint.' A warfare has been raging between the 'Standard' and the 'Chronicle' about what passed, and the articles in the latter have been supplied by Duncannon or some of them; these are at variance with Melbourne's avowal, and they are very angry with him for what he said, and want him to make some statement (or to authorise one) of a different kind and more corresponding with their own declarations and complaints. This he refuses to do, and they have been squabbling about it with some vivacity. All this induces me the more to think that Melbourne has never told his colleagues how very easily and contentedly he gave up the reins of Government, not intending to deceive them, but [167] from a desire to avoid exasperating people whom he found so much disturbed and so bitter.

December 2nd

Dined with Lord Lyndhurst yesterday; the dinner for Mr. Barnes. He had collected a miscellaneous party, droll enough — Mrs. Fox, Baron Bolland, Follett, Hardinge, &c. The Duke and Lord Chandos were to have been there. Barnes told Hardinge there was a great cry getting up in the country against the Duke. After dinner I had a long conversation with Hardinge, on the whole satisfactory. He said that he had been instrumental in bringing the Duke and Peel together again, after a considerable coldness and estrangement had existed between them; that after the failure in May 1832, when Peel refused to have anything to do with the concern, he had called upon him and insisted upon taking him to Apsley House and spontaneously consulting with the Duke how he should withdraw from the business; that with great difficulty he had persuaded him, and together they went, from which time the Duke and he have again become friends. He is convinced that Peel will at once make a fair and cordial overture to Stanley, and thinks it of the greatest importance that Stanley's disposition and probable demands should be ascertained before Peel arrives. I told him what I had before told the Duke, and what I had reason to believe were Stanley's sentiments. He asked whether Stanley would insist upon Richmond and Ripon coming in with him; he said that for the former he (Hardinge) was sure Peel would never admit him without the Duke's full and especial consent, which, however, he has no doubt the Duke would give without hesitation, and overlook any personal cause of offence, to facilitate a desirable arrangement; that there was some dispute among his friends whether it would be better that Stanley should join now or only support (if he would) at first and join afterwards. I said, 'Unquestionably it is better he should join at once,' to which Hardinge assented, though he added that many thought otherwise, that if Stanley made difficulties and declined the junction, he was persuaded Peel would keep nothing open, and would not make provisional arrangements [168] to admit him and his party when they should think it more safe and convenient to unite their future to his. What they would like evidently is to take Stanley and Graham and wash their hands of Ripon and Richmond, but I think they will be forced to admit them all, for Lyndhurst owned to me that he did not think they could stand without Stanley; and the King is so anxious for it that if Stanley insists on terms which are not very unreasonable (under the circumstances) they will not be refused. Hardinge said that four seats in the Cabinet would be a large share, but that the best men among them were prepared to make every sacrifice of their own just expectations or claims to render any arrangement feasible that circumstances might require, that 'all was right with the Speaker,' and as for the High Tories, the sooner they cut the connection with them the better, but that they (the High Tories) were now at their feet.

He then went into the details of the King's case with his late Ministers — much to the same effect as I had before heard from the Duke and Lyndhurst, but perhaps rather more clearly. He said that Melbourne had stated to the King that questions must soon be brought under the consideration of the Cabinet relating to the Irish Church on which a considerable difference of opinion prevailed, and that if the opinion of the majority of the Cabinet should be acquiesced in by his Majesty, the secession of two or more members of it would in all probability follow; that if the desire of his Majesty to compromise these differences of opinion and prevent any separation should have the effect of preventing such discussions in the Cabinet as should lead to any disunion for the time, it was only fair and right to own to him that it would be in the power of any member of the House of Commons who should become acquainted with the difference of opinion which prevailed to bring the question to an issue; and if such a thing should occur, the resignations, he apprehended, would only be retarded. The King, under these circumstances, asked how he proposed to fill up the vacancies that would thus occur, whether from any but what is called [169] the extreme party, and whether he (Melbourne), with a knowledge of the King's sentiments, could advise him to have recourse to Lord Durham and others of the same opinions. Melbourne acknowledged that he could look nowhere else, and that he certainly could not give the King such advice, upon which he said that as the breach sooner or latter appeared inevitable, he thought it better that the dissolution of the Government should take place at once, and he preferred making the change during the recess, when he should have time to form other arrangements, rather than have it forced upon him during all the excitement of the session of Parliament. This, I think, was the pith of the thing, and in my opinion it forms a good case. Hardinge said that if the King had been a clever man he would have postponed his decision and spun out the correspondence, in the course of which he would have acquired pretexts sufficient. This, however, explains what the other side means by insisting that there was no difference of opinion in the Cabinet; there was none actual, but it was on the prospective disunion so clearly announced to the King, and impending at such an indefinite and probably inconvenient time, that he took his resolution. Melbourne appears to have been bullied into a sort of exculpatory letter on account of his speech at Derby, saying that he spoke of having no personal cause of complaint because the King was very civil to him.

December 5th

The dinner that Lyndhurst gave to Barnes has made a great uproar, as I thought it would. I never could understand the Chancellor's making such a display of this connexion, but whatever he may be as a lawyer, and how great soever in his wig, I suspect that he is deficient in knowledge of the world and those nice calculations of public taste and opinion which are only to be acquired by intuitive sagacity exercised in the daily communion of social life.

Melbourne has had to make another speech, which smells of the recent reproaches of his colleagues; without exactly recanting what he had said, he has amplified, modified, and [170] explained, so as to chime in to a certain degree with their assertions. Brougham has been made to recall his letter offering to be Chief Baron. It matters not what he does for the present; his star is totally eclipsed, but not, I think, for ever quenched; his vast abilities must find scope and produce effect. It is true he can never thoroughly inspire confidence, but if adversity teaches him wisdom, and cools the effervescence of his temper and imagination, nothing can prevent his political resurrection, thought not in 'all his original brightness.'

December 6th

The Chancellor called on me yesterday about getting young Disraeli into Parliament (through the means of George Bentinck) [1] for Lynn. I had told him George wanted a good man to assist in turning out William Lennox, and he suggested the above-named gentleman, whom he called a friend of Chandos. His political principles must, however, be in abeyance, for he said that Durham was doing all he could to get him by the offer of a seat, and so forth; if, therefore, he is undecided and wavering between Chandos and Durham, he must be a mighty impartial personage. I don't think such a man will do, though just such as Lyndhurst would be connected with.Melbourne's two speeches at Derby, and the history connected with them, exhibit him in a very discreditable and lamentable point of view — compelled by the menaces and reproaches of Duncannon and the rest to eat his words; and all this transacted by a sort of negotiation and through the mediation of his vulgar secretary, Tom Young, and Mrs. Lane Fox. Such a thing it is to be without firmness and decision of character. Melbourne is a gentleman, liberal and straightforward, with no meanness, and incapable of selfish trickery and intrigue, but he is habitually careless and insouciant, loves ease, and hates contests and squabbles, and though he would never tell a lie, he has probably not that

[1] Lord George Bentinck was member for Lynn Regis. It is curious that this, the first mention of Mr. Disraeli in political life, should have originated with the man who afterwards became his most powerful coadjutor and ally.

[171] stern and rigid regard for truth which would make him run any risk rather than that of concealing anything or suffering a false impression to be formed or conveyed with respect to any matter he might be concerned in.

Lyndhurst told me that Peel's letter was short and cautious, but satisfactory. He (Lyndhurst) is doing all he can to draw closer the connexion between the 'Times' and the Government, and communicates constantly with Barnes. He said they must make a liberal and comprehensive Government, and sketched an outline of such a Cabinet as he would like — four Stanleys, six of their own people, and two High Tories, Chandos certainly, and Knatchbull probably; but even if Stanley's other scruples can be got over, how he is to be induced to unite with Chandos and Knatchbull or any such men I guess not. However, the time is drawing very near.

December 7th

In a letter from the Duke of Portland to George Bentinck yesterday he says that the Duke of Newcastle had been there the day before, had talked politics, and declared that in his opinion the leaders of his party ought not to give way upon any one point. This is so different from what the Duke of Wellington understood from his letter to him that I sent the letter to the Duke, and afterwards I met him. He said he thought the Duke of Portland must be mistaken, for the Duke of Newcastle's letter to him was quite in another sense. This is one of the silliest of the High Tories, but there will yet be some trouble with the tribe. John Russell, in a speech somewhere, has made assertions still more positive and unqualified than Melbourne's, which, if correct, throw over the King and his case. There is a fearful lie somewhere, which I suppose will come out in time. It is impossible to make up one's mind in the midst of statements so different and yet so positive. George Bentinck sent to Sturges Bourne to know if he would come in for Lynn, but he declined. Disraeli he won't hear of.

December 8th

I read John Russell's speech at Totness last night; it was a very masterly performance, suitable to the occasion, and effective. He endeavoured to establish these points: first, that the Duke of Wellington had [172] continually opposed all Reform measures and been the enemy of all Reform principles; secondly, that they (the late Government) had done a great deal, without doing too much; and thirdly, that there really had occurred no circumstances in the Cabinet, or with the King, sufficient to account for their summary dismissal. There is no denying that his first position is incontrovertible, that he makes out a very fair case for his second, and his argument on the third throws great doubt upon the matter in my mind, having previously had no doubt that the King had a good case to show to the world. It is not so much the Duke's opposition to this or that particular measure, but the whole tenor of his conduct and opinions, which it puts one in despair to look at. There would be no gross inconsistency in his maintaining our foreign relations in their present state, notwithstanding his repeated attacks upon Palmerston's policy. He need not refuse to suffer any legislative interference with the Church, English or Irish, merely because he opposed the Tithe Bill last year (great, by the way, as I always thought that blunder was, and as events will prove it to have been), but in his opposition to the one or the other we look in vain for some saving declaration to prove that it is to the specific measure he is hostile, and not to the principles from which it emanates. If he now comes into office with a resolution to carry on the investigations that have been set on foot, and to propose various measures of reform in consequence of them, however wisely he may act in bending to circumstances, there is no escaping from the fact that his conduct in opposition and in office is as different as light from darkness, and that he adopts when in office those principles in the gross which he utterly repudiates and opposes with all his might when he is out. I should like much to have a conversation with the Duke, and (if it were possible to speak so freely to him) to set before him all the apparent inconsistencies of his conduct, to trace his political career step by step, and tell him concisely all that he may have read scattered through a hundred newspapers, and then hear what he would say, what his notions are of political honour and consistency, and how he [173] reconciles his general conduct with these maxims. I am persuaded that he deludes himself by some process of extraordinary false reasoning, and that the habits of intense volition, jumbled up with party prejudices, old associations, and exposure to never-ceasing flattery, have produced the remarkable result we see in his conduct; notwithstanding the enormous blunders he has committed, and his numerous and flagrant inconsistencies, he has never lost his confidence in himself, and what is more curious, has contrived to retain that of a host of followers. In each particular act, and on every fresh occasion, there appear in him a decision, singleness of purpose, and straightforwardness which are inseparable from a conviction of being in the right, and he never seems to apprehend for a moment that he can be liable to the imputation of any selfish or dishonourable motive. And strange and paradoxical as it may appear, I do not think he is justly liable to it except when he is under the influence of some strong personal feeling. Such was his jealousy and dislike of Canning, and this led him into perhaps the most enormous of all his political misdeeds, the overthrow of the Corn Bill of 1827. Upon other occasions I attribute his conduct to the circumstance of his being governed by one leading idea, and to his incapability of taking enlarged and comprehensive views of political affairs, such as embrace not only the complex relations of the present, but the ostensible probabilities of the future. His judgment, instead of being determined by profound habits of reflection, an extensive knowledge of history, and accurate acquaintance with human nature, seems to be wholly influenced by his own wishes and his own conception of what the exigencies of the moment require. It would not be difficult, I think, and perhaps I may hereafter attempt to apply this delineation of his disposition to the events of his life, and to show how the leading idea in his mind has been the constant guide which he has followed, sometimes to the detriment of the best interests of the country and sometimes to that of his own reputation.
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