Greville

The Greville Memoirs

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The Greville Memoirs

1835

CHAPTER XXIX.

Resistance of the Lords — Duke of Richmond — Happiness — Struggle between Lords and Commons — Peel keeps aloof — Inconsistency of the Whigs on the Irish Church Bill — Violent Language in the Lords — Lord John Russell and Peel pass the Corporation Bill — Dissolution of the Tory Party foreseen — Meeting of Peeers to consider the Amendments — King's Speech in Council on the Militia — Lord Howick's Bitterness against the Lords — Lord Lyndhurst's Opinion of the Corporation Bill — The King's Language on the Regency — Talleyrand's View of the English Alliance — Comparison of Burke and Mackintosh — The St. Leger — Visit of Princess Victoria to Burghley — O'Connell's Progress through Scotland — Mackintosh's Life

[290] August 19th

Yesterday the Lords finished the Committee on the Corporation Bill. Their last amendment (which I do not very well understand at present), by which certain aldermen elected for life are to be taken in the first instance from the present aldermen, has disgusted the authors of the Bill more than all the rest. In the morning I met Duncannon and Howick, both open-mouthed against the amendments, and this one in particular, and declaring that though the others might have been stomached, this could not go down, as it was in direct opposition to the principle of the Bill. Howick talked of 'the Lords being swept away like chaff' and of 'the serious times that were approaching.' Duncannon said there would be a conference, and if the Lords insisted on these amendments the Bill would be lost. I asked if a compromise was not feasible, the Lords abandoning this and the Commons taking the other amendments, which he said would not be undesirable, but difficult to effect. The continual discussions about this Bill have made me perforce understand something of it towards the end of them. I am too ignorant of the details and of the tendency of the [291] Bill to have an opinion of the comparative merits of its present and its original shape, but I am sure the Lords are bound in prudence not to mutilate it more than is absolutely necessary to make it a safe measure, and to have a good, and moreover a popular, case to go to the country with, if eventually such an appeal is to be made. On the other hand the House of Commons, powerful as it is, must not assert its power too peremptorily, and before the Ministers determine to resign, for the purpose of making their resignation instrumental to the consolidation of their power and the destruction of the House of Lords; they also must have a good case, and be able to show that the amendments made by the Lords are incompatible with the object proposed, that they were made in a factious spirit and for the express purpose of thwarting the principle contended for, and that their conduct in this matter forms part of a general system, which can only be counteracted by some fundamental change in the constitution of the Upper House itself. These are violent conclusions to come to, and when one reflects calmly upon the possible and probable consequences of a collision, and the manner in which the interests of the antagonistic parties collectively and individually are blended together, it is difficult to believe that both will not pause on the brink of the precipice and be influenced by a simultaneous desire to come to a decent and practicable compromise. This would probably be easy if both parties were actuated by a sincere desire to enact a law to reform corporations in the safest, best, and most satisfactory manner; but the reformation of the corporations is not the first object in the minds of either. One wants to save as much as possible of the Tory influence, which is menaced by the Bill, and the other wants to court the democratic spirit, which vivifies its party, and erect a new and auxiliary influence on the ruins of the ancient establishments. Any mere looker-on must perceive through all their wranglings that these are the arrière-pensées of the two antagonistic parties.

Brougham made a very clever speech on [292] Monday night, and the contest between him and Lyndhurst through the whole Committee has been remarkable for talent and for a striking display of the different qualities of the two men. The Duke of Richmond had a squabble with Lyndhurst last night, 'impar congressus,' and he has wriggled himself almost back among the Whigs; nothing but the appropriation clause in the Church Bill prevents his being First Lord of the Admiralty, and he may be considered as having dropped off the Dilly with so many others. The Whigs are dying to have him back among them. I must confess I do not see why, but it is impossible to deny that he contrives to make himself desired by those with whom he has acted, and as they must know best what they are about and what he is capable of, it is reasonable to suppose that he has some talents or some qualities which are developed in the graver affairs of life, but which do not appear in its ordinary relations and habitudes. I thought what he said to me the other night looked like a severance of his Stanley connexion, and his strenuous support of this Bill and his pettish attacks upon Lyndhurst show that he at least is not likely to ally himself with the Conservatives.

August 21st.

Yesterday I fell in with Lyndhurst, just getting out of his carriage at his door in George Street. He asked me to come in and look at his house, which I did. I asked him what would happen about the Bill. He said, 'Oh, they will take it. What can they do? If they choose to throw it out, let them do so, I don't care whether they do or not. But they will take it, because they know it does their business, though not so completely as they desire.' He said he would alter the qualification, though he did not think it objectionable. I told him I hoped there might be some compromise, and that he and his friends would give way on some of their amendments, and that the Commons would take the rest. Even the 'Times,'which goes the whole hog with the Opposition, won't swallow this (the aldermen), and suggests that it should be withdrawn. Nothing ever was like the outrageous indecency of the attacks upon the House of Lords in the Ministerial papers, and it is not clear that they [293] won't overdo the thing ; this kind of fury generally defeats its own object.

August 25th.

At Hillingdon from Saturday till Monday last; began the Life of Mackintosh, and was delighted with Sydney Smith's letter which is prefixed to it; read and walked all day on Sunday the two things I do least, viz. exercise my mind and body; therefore both grow gross and heavy. Shakespeare says fat paunches make lean pates, but this is taken from a Greek proverb. I admire this family of Cox's at Hillingdon, and after casting my eyes in every direction, and thinking much and often of the theory of happiness, I am convinced that it is principally to be found in contented mediocrity, accompanied with an equable temperament and warm though not excitable feelings. When I read such books as Mackintosh's Life, and see what other men have done, how they have read and thought, a sort of despair comes over me, a deep and bitter sensation of regret 'for time misspent and talents misapplied,'not the less bitter from being coupled with a hopelessness of remedial industry and of doing better things. Nor do I know that such men as these were happy; that they possessed sources of enjoyment inaccessible to less gifted minds is not to be doubted, but whether knowledge and conscious ability and superiority generally bring with them content of mind and the sunshine of self-satisfaction to the possessors is anything but certain. I wonder the inductive process has not been more systematically applied to the solution of this great philosophical problem, what is happiness, and in what it consists, for the practical purpose of directing the human mind into the right road for reaching this goal of all human wishes. Why are not innumerable instances collected, examined, analysed, and the results expanded, explained, and reasoned upon for the benefit and instruction of mankind? Who can tell but what these results may lead at last to some simple conclusions such as it requires no vast range of intellect to discover, no subtle philosophy to teach — conclusions mortifying to the pride and vanity of man, but calculated to mitigate the evils of life by softening mutual asperities, and by the [294] establishment of the doctrine of humility, from which all charity, forbearance, toleration, and benevolence must flow as from their source? These simple conclusions may amount to no more than a simple maxim that happiness is to be found 'in the pursuit of truth and the practice of virtue.'

Semita certe
Tranquillae per virtutem patet unica vitce.

The end of the Tenth Satire of Juvenal (which is one of the finest sermons that ever was composed, and worth all the homilies of all the Fathers of the Church) teaches us what to pray for —

Orandum est ut sit metis sana in corpore sano.

Healthy body, healthy appetite, healthy feelings, though accompanied by mediocrity of talent, unadorned with wit and imagination, and unpolished by learning and science, will outstrip in the race for happiness the splendid irregularities of genius and the most dazzling successes of ambition. At the same time this general view of the probabilities of happiness must be qualified by the admission that mere vegetation scarcely deserves the name of happiness, and that the highest enjoyment which humanity is capable of may be said to consist in the pleasures of reason and imagination of a mind expatiating among the wonders of nature, and ranging through all the 'changes of many-coloured life, 'without being shaken from its equilibrium by the disturbing causes of jealousy, envy, and the evil passions of our nature. The most galling of all conditions is that of him whose conscience and consciousness whisper to him perpetual reproaches, who reflects on what he might have been and who feels and sees what he is. When such a man as Mackintosh, fraught with all learning, whose mind, if not kindled into a steady blaze, is perpetually throwing out sparks and coruscations of exceeding brightness, is stung with these self-upbraidings, what must be the reflections of those, the utmost reach of whose industry is far below the value of his most self-accused idleness, who have no [295] self-consolation, are plunged in entire darkness, and have not only to lament the years of omission, but those of commission, not only the opportunities neglected, but the positive mischief done by the debasement of the faculties, the deterioration of the understanding, the impairing of the power of exertion consequent upon a long devotion to low, despicable, unprofitable habits and pursuits?

August 27th.

Melbourne has thrown up the Tithe Bill in the Lords, because the Opposition expunged the appropriation clauses. In the Corporation Bill Lyndhurst made still further alterations, such as the Commons will not take (the town clerks and the exclusion of Dissenters from the disposal of ecclesiastical patronage), and as it is the general opinion that they will make no compromise and surrender none of their amendments, that Bill will probably be lost too. What then? asks everybody, and nobody can tell what then, but there is a sort of vague apprehension that something must come of it, and that this collision (for collision it is) between the Lords and the Commons will not be terminated without some violent measures or important changes; if such do take place, they will have been most wantonly and wickedly brought about, but it is a lamentable thing to see the two great parties in the country, equally possessed of wealth and influence, and having the same interest in general tranquillity, tearing each other to pieces while the Radicals stand laughing and chuckling by, only waiting for the proper moment to avail themselves of these senseless divisions. There is something inconceivable, a sort of political absurdity, in the notion of a country like this being on the eve of a convulsion, when it is tranquil, prosperous, and without any grievance; universal liberty prevails, every man's property and person are safe, the laws are well administered and duly obeyed; so far from there being any unredressed grievances, the imagination of man cannot devise the fiction or semblance of a grievance without there being a rush to correct it. The only real evil is that the rage for correction is too violent, and sweeps all before it. What is it, then, which menaces the existence of the Constitution we [296] live under? It is the fury of parties, it is the broad line of separation which the Reform Bill has drawn, the antagonist positions into which the two Houses of Parliament have been thrown, and the Whigs having identified themselves with the democratic principle in one House, in order to preserve their places, and the Conservative principle having taken refuge in the other House, where it is really endangered by the obstinate and frantic violence of its supporters. What was the loud and eternal cry of the Lords, and of all the Conservatives, when the Reform Bill was in agitation? That it was a revolution, that it would place all political power in the hands of the people, that it would establish an irresistible democratic force; and the great body of them justified their refusal to go into Committee on the ground that the Bill was so vicious in principle, so irremediably mischievous, that no alterations could diminish its evil tendency. It is now as clear as daylight that if they had gone into Committee and amended the Bill, they might have obviated all or nearly all the evils they apprehended, for even after the passing of the 'whole Bill,'with all its clauses perfect and untouched, parties are so nearly balanced that the smallest difference would turn the scale the other way. They would, however, listen to nothing, and now they feel the consequences of their ruat cœlum policy; but what I complain of is, that after the verification of their predictions, and the realisation of their fears, in the establishment of a democratic power of formidable strength, they do not act consistently with their own declared opinions; for if it be true, as they assert, that their legitimate authority and influence have been transferred to other hands, and that the just equilibrium of the Constitution has been shaken, it is mad and preposterous in them to act just as if no such disturbing causes had occurred, as if they were still in the plenitude of their constitutional power, and to provoke a collision which, if their own assertions be true, they are no longer in a condition to sustain. The answer to such arguments as this invariably is, Are the Lords, then, to be content to yield everything, and must they pass every Bill which the [297] House of Commons thinks fit to send to them purely and simply? Certainly they are not; no such thing is expected of them by any man or any set of men, but common prudence and a sense of their own condition and their own relative strength under the new dispensation demand that they should exercise their undoubted rights with circumspection and calmness, desisting from all opposition for opposition's sake, standing out firmly on questions involving great and important principles, and yielding with a good grace, without ill-humour, and without subserviency on minor points. They ought, for example, to have followed in the footsteps of Peel in this Irish Corporation Bill, and to have satisfied themselves with making those amendments which he strove for without success in the House of Commons, and no more. As it is, he wholly disapproves of the course they have taken, and so I believe did the Duke of Wellington in the beginning of the discussions, but Lyndhurst took the lead with the violent part, overruled the Duke, neglected Peel, and dealt with the Bill in the slashing manner we have seen.

I was talking to Lord John Russell yesterday at Court on this subject, and he said that he had no doubt Peel highly disapproved of their proceedings, and that it was evident he did not pretend to guide them; for one day in the House of Commons he went over to Peel, and said that he meant to recommit (or some such thing, no matter what the particular course was) the Bill that night, and he supposed he would not object. Peel said, 'Oh, no, I don't object,'and as he was going away Peel called him back and said, 'Remember I speak only for myself; I can answer for no other individual in the House.' He went out of town about a fortnight ago, has never returned, and will not; his own friends think he ought, but it is evident that he prefers to wash his hands of the matter. He knows well enough that the Conservatives hate him in their hearts ; besides having never cordially forgiven him for his conduct on the Catholic question, they are indignant at his Liberal views and opinions, and when they adopted him as their leader it was in the fond hope that he would restore the good old days of Tory Government, than [298] which nothing could be farther from his thoughts. John Russell said of him yesterday 'that he was, in fact, a great lover of changes and innovations '; and so he is. It often occurs to me that he would not care very much if the House of Lords did go to the wall, and that though he is the acknowledged head of the Conservative party, he doesn't in his heart care much for Conservative principles. He may possibly calculate that no change can take place in this country by which property will be menaced; that personally he is safe, and politically his vast superiority in all the requisites for public life must, under all possible circumstances, make him the most eminent performer on the great stage. I do not know that he has any such thoughts as these, but it appears to me far from improbable, and the more so from his keeping aloof at this moment and abstaining (as far as we know) from any attempt to restrain the indiscretion and impetuosity of his party.

But if on the one hand the conduct of the Tories with respect to the Corporation Bill has been violent and rash, that of the Government with respect to the Tithe Bill has been unspeakably wicked. I cannot recollect an instance of so complete a sacrifice of the interests of others, of their own principles, and of national tranquillity to mere party objects, and the more I reflect upon the course they have taken the more profligate and disgraceful it appears. These Ministers have recorded their opinion that the question of appropriation ought not to be mixed up with that of commutation; that they are essentially distinct, and ought to remain so. At the beginning of this session the united Whigs and Radicals considered only one thing — how to drive Peel out; and though they had a choice of means to accomplish this end, the famous resolution about appropriation was the one which they finally selected for the purpose. In so doing they were altogether regardless of future consequences, [1] and never stopped to calculate what would be the

[1] The Whigs were not, probably the Radicals were. O'Connell, without doubt, had very good reasons for pinning the Government to this, and foresaw all the consequences of the compact by which he bound them.

[299] effect of saddling the measure of relief (in which all parties concurred) with this impossible condition. Now how stands the case? They declare that Ireland (as all the world knows) is a scene of disorder and bloodshed, of which the Tithe system is the principal cause, and that the Tithe Bill will afford an effectual remedy to the evil. It is therefore their imperative and paramount duty, as it ought to be their earnest and engrossing desire, to secure the application of their remedy, and, whether in office or out of office (with the expectation and intention of coming in), to take care that nothing should be mixed up with it by which it can be endangered, and that it should be proposed merely for what it is, and not made subservient to any object but that for which it has been professedly framed. Having committed the first error of employing this resolution to drive out the Government, they then considered themselves obliged to adopt it as an integral part of the Bill, and accordingly they did so, with a full knowledge that by so doing they should ensure the rejection of the Bill itself and that Ireland would continue in the same state of anarchy and confusion, only aggravated by the furious contests of parties here and by the failure of all schemes of remedial legislation. Nothing can be more certain than this, that if the state of Ireland had been taken into consideration with the simple, straightforward view of tranquillising the country, and that no party object had been mixed up with it, the framers of the Tithe Bill would sedulously have avoided introducing the appropriation clause; but during the great battle with Peel the establishment of this principle (not only the principle of appropriation, but that no relief should be afforded without its recognition) was made the condition of Radical support and the bond of Radical connexion, and having as the result of this compact pledged the House of Commons to the principle, they refuse to retrace their steps, and offer the House of Lords the alternative of its recognition (knowing that they cannot in sincerity, honour, or conscience recognise it) or that of an irreparable injury to the Irish Church, which it is the grand object of the Lords to uphold. But [300] the question must not be considered as one merely affecting the interests of the clergy of Ireland. If that were all, there might be no such great harm in these proceedings. Entertaining very strong (and as I think very sound) opinions with respect to the expediency of dealing with its revenues, for purposes ultimately to be effected which they cannot yet venture to avow, they might be justified, or think themselves justified, in coping with the difficulties which embarrass this question in the best mode that is open to them, and deem it better that the Irish clergy should suffer the temporary privations they undergo than that the final settlement of the ecclesiastical question should be indefinitely postponed. But they do not pretend to be actuated by any such considerations; their declared object is to restore peace to Ireland, to terminate the Tithe quarrel, to raise the Protestant clergy from their fallen state, and to assert the authority of the law by taking away the inducements which now exist for setting the law at defiance. Those who undertake to govern the country are above all things bound to see that the laws are obeyed, and they do not deserve the name of a Government if they submit to, much less if they connive at, a permanent state of anarchy in any part of the country. They know that the law in Ireland is a dead letter, that neither to statute nor common law do the lower orders of Irish Catholics (the bulk of the nation) pay the slightest obedience, and that they are countenanced and urged on in their disobedience by those agitators with whom the Government act in political fellowship, and in deference to whom their measures have been shaped. Granting that after the adoption of the resolution by the House of Commons they were bound to insert it in their Bill, what justification is there for their refusal to receive the Bill back from the Lords with no other alteration than the omission of the appropriation clause? In so refusing they destroy their own measure; they publish to the world that it is the principle of appropriation, and not the Tithe composition, that they really care for; and in thus strangling their own Bill, because they cannot tack that principle on to it, they make [301] themselves accomplices of the outrages and violence which are perpetrated in the Tithe warfare, and abettors of the regular and systematic violation of the law. The King's Government exhibits itself in a conspiracy with Catholic agitators and Protestant republicans against the clergy of the Established Church and against the laws of the land. If they are sincere in their own statements and declarations they must of necessity deem no object commensurate with this in point of urgency and importance; and what is the object to which this is postponed ? That of maintaining their own consistency; because they turned the late Government out on this question they must now adhere to it with desperate tenacity; their interests as a party demand that they should; O'Connell and the Radicals will not forgive them if they give it up. They might if they would declare their unchanged opinion in favour of the principle of appropriation, and their determination to press the adoption of it at all times and by all means, and never to desist till they -had accomplished its recognition, but at the same time announce that the perilous state of Ireland — the magnitude of the evil resulting from the Tithe system — would not allow them to reject the Tithe Bill though denuded of the appropriation clauses, as all the rest of its provisions (all those by which the Tithe system was to be determined) had been passed by the Lords. I cannot conceive how a conscientious Minister can take upon himself the responsibility of quashing this measure, and contentedly look forward to the probability — almost certainty — of a fresh course of outrage and disorder, and a new catalogue of miseries and privations, which he all the time believes it is in his power to avert. But these Ministers think that they could not avert these evils (by accepting the Bill) without giving umbrage to their task-masters and allies, and they do not scruple to sacrifice the mighty interests at stake in Ireland to the paltry and ephemeral interests of their party interests which cannot outlive the present hour and party, which the slightest change in the political atmosphere may sweep away in an instant. There is also another reason by which they are [302] determined; they cannot face the accusation of inconsistency — the question that would be put, Why did you turn out Peel's Government? You turned him out on this very principle which you are now ready to abandon. There is no doubt that this question would be put with a very triumphant air by their opponents, but they might easily answer it, without admitting in so many words — what everybody well knows without any admission — that the resolution was brought forward for the express purpose of turning Peel out. They might say that they moved that resolution because it is a principle that they wished to establish, and that they still think ought to be established; that Peel's resignation on that particular question was of his own choice, and that if they are not irrevocably bound by the resolution itself, they are not the more bound by that circumstance; that they sent the Bill to the House of Lords in what they consider the best form, but that after the Lords had agreed to the whole measure, with the exception of the appropriation clauses, it was their duty to take the matter again into their serious consideration, and to determine whether it was on the whole more advantageous to Ireland and to the Empire that the Bill should be rejected (with all the consequences of its rejection apparent) or that it should be passed without these clauses. There was no necessity for their abandonment of any opinion or principle, nor any obstacle to the appropriation clauses being brought forward again and again in a substantive independent shape. Besides this, it is not pretended that these clauses were to produce any immediate, perhaps not even any remote, effect, and they not only acknowledge that the state of Ireland calls for an immediate remedy, but they assert that unless the remedy is applied without loss of time it will come too late; that the Tithe Bill, which this year would accomplish its object, will in all probability next year be wholly inoperative. To my mind this reasoning is so conclusive that I can come to no other than the harsh judgement which I have passed upon their conduct, and I think I have made good my charges against both Whigs and Tories.

[303] August 29th.

The House of Lords has become a beargarden since Brougham has been in it; there is no night that is not distinguished by some violent squabble between him and the Tories. Lord Winchilsea directly accused him of cowardice the night before last, to which he replied, 'As to my being afraid to say elsewhere what I say here, oh, that is too absurd to require an answer.' It is nevertheless true. Melbourne does very well; his memory served him happily on this night. Brougham had lashed the Lords into a fury by calling them a mob, and Melbourne quoted Lord Chesterfield, who said that all deliberative assemblies were mobs. The other day Lord Howick was inveighing passionately against the Lords for their mutilations of the Corporation Bill, when Melbourne said, with his characteristic nonchalance, 'Why, what does it matter? We have gone on tolerably well for 500 years with these corporations, and we may contrive to go on with them for another year or so.'

On the King's birthday his Majesty had Lord Lansdowne and Lord Melbourne to dine with him at Windsor, and he made some extraordinary speeches, of which various versions are about the town. By-the-bye, I was turning over the 'Annual Register' the other day, and hit upon his speech last year to the bishops, and I was astonished at the eloquence of it. It is said that Phillpotts composed it for him, but there are some internal marks of its emanating from himself. It is certainly remarkably good of the kind, and I think it more probable that he spoke what he thought and felt, and that Phillpotts reported it and made the best of it.

September1st.

Lord John Russell assembled his Whigs and Radicals at the Foreign Office yesterday morning, and announced to them the course he proposed to adopt with regard to the Corporation Bill, the amendments he would accept, those he would modify, and those he would decline. Hume made a violent speech, deprecating any concessions, but O'Connell made a very moderate one, recommending a compromise, and saying that great alarm prevailed among many well-meaning and conscientious persons lest Reform should proceed too far; that it was highly expedient to quiet [304] these apprehensions, and upon every account therefore he recommended a moderate and conciliatory course. There were between two and three hundred present at this meeting. Accordingly in the afternoon John Russell stated over again in the House of Commons pretty much what he had said in the morning, and made a very temperate and conciliatory speech. Peel, who had arrived suddenly and unexpectedly in town, [1] rose after him, and, as everybody said (some with joy, others with rage), 'threw over the Lords.' He declared his concurrence in those amendments which John Russell agreed to, and his acquiescence in most of the other provisions without the amendments of the Lords; to the aldermen for life he objected, and to some other particulars, as his speech shows. The only amendment to which he subscribed (and that was objected to by Government) was the exclusion of Dissenters from the disposal of Church patronage, and I was very much surprised to hear him stand out for this upon very insufficient grounds. Nothing could exceed the dismay and the rage (though suppressed) of the Conservatives at his speech. He was not a bit cheered by those behind him, but very heartily by those opposite. One silly, noisy fellow, whose principal vocation in the House of Commons is to bellow, came near me under the gallery, and I asked him why they did not cheer, when he sulkily answered, 'he was so well cheered by the other side that it was not necessary.' Lord Harrowby was under the gallery. I asked him what he said to Peel's speech. 'I did not hear it,' he tartly replied, 'but he seems to have given up the aldermen. I have a great affection for the aldermen.' At the 'Travellers' I met Strangford, and asked him the same question. He said, 'I say, Not content.' 'But,' said I, ' you must take the Bill.' 'Not I, for one; the Lords cannot take it, and if we are to be ruined I think we had better be ruined by real Radicals

[1] Peel gave no notice of his intention to come to town. Hardinge, who is more intimate with him than most of his political associates, was so sure he would not come that he told Bradshaw, who asked him, that he certainly would not be here, and that he (Bradshaw) might go into the country when he pleased.

[305] than by sham Tories. 'Afterwards I saw Lord Londonderry, who talked in the same strain, not denying that the Duke of Wellington had unwillingly come into the measures which Lyndhurst had adopted, but talking of Lyndhurst's Conservative scruples as a constitutional lawyer, and such stuff as this. The manner in which the Duke has been ousted from the leadership, and the alacrity with which the Lords have followed Lyndhurst, because he led them into violent courses, is not the least curious part of this business. (It seems they only meant to make Lyndhurst their leader pro hac vice.)

Bingham Baring and I walked away together, and I went with him to Lord Ashburton's house, who was not a little astonished at what we told him, and asserted that Peel was quite wrong about the aldermen. The violent Whigs were rather provoked at the turn things took, and Howick, whom I saw under the gallery, said with great bitterness (mixed with pleasure at Peel's abandonment of the Lords) that he, for one, 'only consented to these alterations, which made the Bill so much worse, with a view to obtain future compensation, and with interest.' 'The English Radicals were very indignant, and Hume, Grote, and Roebuck spoke one after another against the Government concessions, but there was no disposition to listen to them, and an evident satisfaction at the prospect of an amicable termination of the rising dispute. Nobody apprehends any other termination, for though the Lords will bluster, and fume, and fret, and there will be no small fermentation of mortified pride and vanity, there must be some difference of opinion at least, and the Duke of Wellington is quite sure to exert his influence to bring the majority to adopt Peel's views. It has always been considered by the Tories an object of paramount importance to keep their party together (this was the pretext of Wharncliffe and Harrowby for joining in that fatal postponement of Schedule A), and if after Peel's speech they were to refuse to accept the fair compromise which is tendered to them, it is impossible to suppose that he would consider himself as belonging to them, or that they could pretend to [306] acknowledge him as their leader, and the Tory party would by this schism be effectually broken up.

I have long considered the breaking up of the Tory party as a grand desideratum, and though I earnestly desire to see a powerful Conservative party in the country and in Parliament, it must be one reconstructed out of materials more various and more Liberal than that which now calls itself Conservative, but which in its heart clings to the narrow notions and loves the exclusive system of bygone days. The dissolution of the Tory party in the House of Lords, by a division of them into a high and a low section, would in itself be a reform of that House, and it is to such a dissolution and fresh modification of parties that we must look for a reform, which without any violent change will redress the balance and enable the machine of Government to move without obstruction. I sat next to Senior in the House of Lords, and he was talking of the necessity of a reform of the House of Peers, and he said, 'I can see the steps of it very plainly.' 'What, by making Peers for life, as you suggest in your pamphlet?' 'No, it is too late for that now, but by the election of representatives. When Scotland was united she sent representative Peers elected from the body; Ireland the same. Now fifty years of Tory rule have given such a preponderance to the Tory interest in the House of Lords, that the balance cannot be redressed but by a creation which would make the House of Peers too numerous for a legislative assembly. I would therefore begin by creating, in order to equalise the strength of the opposite parties, and then the Peers should elect representatives. 'I said, 'All this will be unnecessary, for the Tory party will be broken up, and without a change so startling and extensive the balance will be quietly redressed, and in the natural order of things.' The Due de Nemours was under the gallery in the House of Commons, but he soon went away, and in the middle of Peel's speech.

September 3rd.

Nothing could be better than the temper and disposition of the House on Tuesday night, as well as on Monday, nothing more flattering to Peel. John Russell said 'he was anxious that the clause (I forget which) should [307] go forth with the sanction of the right honourable baronet's approbation.' Peel said he spoke only for himself; Lord John said that made no difference, indicating in fact that his opinion was worth more than those of all his followers put together. The Lords in the meantime are tremendously sulky, and though it is impossible to believe they will have the frantic folly to refuse the accommodation that by God's mercy is offered to them, it is not quite safe, and they are now in grand conclave at Apsley House to determine upon their course. Lord Lansdowne told me at Court yesterday that the day before he went up to Lyndhurst in the House of Lords, to speak to him about some Bill, when Lyndhurst said, 'I was in hopes you were coming to speak to me about the amendments.' 'No; it will be time enough to talk about them when they are again before the House.' 'Well, and what do they say now? ' 'They say that the lives of your aldermen are not at a premium.' 'Do they ? But they will rise in the market to-morrow, I can tell you.' What satisfies me most in all this is the conduct of the Government, and even that of many of the Radicals — of Hume, for instance — and the general temper and disposition evinced by the House, symptomatic of a more healthy feeling than I ever expected to see displayed. In the division the Radical numbers were contemptible, showing that the Conservative interest, if not broken up by party divisions, and if ever it was roused and connected by the acknowledgement of a common danger, would crush the Radical force in an instant. These are valuable manifestations, and worth a hundred clauses in the Corporation Bill; for what matters it whether aldermen and town clerks are perpetuated or suppressed? and it really is grotesque to light for these puerilities as if it was a contest pro aris et focis, and to hesitate one instant whether a collision should be provoked between the two Houses of Parliament, and the advantages both direct and collateral flowing from Peel's mediation be thrown away, for the sake of maintaining these secondary and questionable objects.

September 6th

On Thursday there was a great meeting [308] at Apsley House; eighty Peers present, and four hours' deliberation. They kept their resolutions a profound secret, but as I knew what they were on Friday morning, I went to Melbourne and told him, in order that the Government might be prepared, and turn over in their minds how matters might be accommodated. The Tories adhered to the justices and wards, and abandoned the rest. I found Melbourne and Lord John together; the latter said there would be no difficulty about the iustices, but the amendment about the wards was impossible.

The debate at night was carried on with extraordinary temper and calmness; Brougham complimented Lyndhurst in very glowing terms. The matter now stands over till Monday, when the Commons must determine whether to accept the Bill with these alterations or reject it on account of them. There is great division of opinion as to the result, but I cannot bring myself to believe that they will let the Bill drop for such trifles. I asked Wharncliffe last night to explain to me in what manner these things would operate politically, and he owned that he thought their political importance was greatly overrated, but that the division proposed by Government gave greater influence to numbers, while that substituted by the Peers gave more to property, and that the constitution of the town councils, whether they were more or less Radical or Conservative, would have a political effect in this way; that in every borough little democracies would be established, which would be continually exercising a democratic influence and extending democratic principles, and that the greater the infusion of Conservative interest you could make in these new bodies the more that tendency would be counteracted. In my opinion a fallacy lurks under this argument; they assume the certain democratic, even revolutionary, character of the new town councils without any sufficient reason, but if this be so, and if they are correct in their anticipations, I doubt whether the guards and drawbacks with which they are endeavouring to counteract the pernicious influence they dread will be found efficacious. I do not despair of the [309] prevalence of sound Conservative principles upon a Liberal basis, and it appears to me that the Peers have committed a great blunder in expressing such violent suspicion and distrust of the new corporations; that nothing is so likely to make them Radical as to insist that they must and will be so, or to render them inimical to the aristocracy and to aristocratic institutions as to exhibit a violent hostility on the part of the aristocracy towards them. I apply this observation generally to their way of dealing with the question rather than to the particular words of the disputed clause, which is probably on the whole fairer and better as the Peers amended it than as the Commons framed it, so much so that I do not understand the tenacity with which the Government cling to it. One thing is very clear, that neither for this nor for the justices clause is it worth while (to either party) that the prevailing harmony should be broken and the Bill be lost. If both parties were sincerely desirous of an accommodation, and there was any common interest, any common ground on which they could meet, there would be no difficulty in an adjustment; but this is not the case. Not only are the interests and wishes of the two parties at variance, but the desires of the moderate and the violent in each party are so too. The moderate in both probably do wish for an accommodation. The Bill is the Bill of the Whigs, and with all the amendments it does in paint of fact accomplish their object, though not, as Lyndhurst said, so completely as without them. They wish the Bill to pass, therefore, but the Tories detest the Bill even as it is, and it is no concern of theirs, quoad Bill, that it should pass; on the contrary, they would rejoice at its failure, but its failure would place the two Houses in a state of collision, and though each party would throw the blame on the other (on very plausible grounds either way), it is more the interest of the Lords than of the Commons to avert this, because the danger of collision attaches exclusively to the Lords. The violent of the Commons would rather like it; the violent of the Lords would doggedly encounter it. There are many who desire that the dispute should not be settled, to push matters to extremities [310] and involve the Houses in a contest, in order to extirpate the House of Lords. What renders it more desirable on account of the Lords that the Bill should not be lost, and a cry got up against them, is the circumstance of their having thrown out so many other Bills, and some on very unjustifiable grounds — the Dublin Police Bill, for example. Not a word was said against its merits; on the contrary, it was not denied that the case was urgent, and it was only thrown out because the Lord Mayor and Corporation of Dublin had not been consulted. Now it might have been very proper to consult these functionaries; it may even be a culpable omission to have neglected them; but this is not a time, nor is the House of Lords in circumstances, to be so fastidious and to stickle for such formalities. Their character with the nation is at stake, and it is of far greater consequence that they should do nothing calculated to throw suspicion on their motives, or odium on their proceedings, than to provide for a punctilious observance of respect and deference to the Dublin Corporation. They seem to me to have made a great mistake in throwing out this Bill, and I am much deceived if they do not hear more of it hereafter.

September 8th.

Lord John called another meeting at the Foreign Office yesterday morning, when he proposed, and they agreed, to take the Lords' amendments and finish the business; so this famous Corporation Bill has got through at last. O'Connell and Warburton concurred in accepting it. The only man who violently opposed its being accepted was Tom Duncombe, who made a furious harangue, and boldly asserted that he knew to a positive certainty that if the Commons would hold out the Peers would abandon the justices and wards, and he offered privately to give John Russell a list of Peers sufficient to carry this, and who, he would answer for it, were ready to make the concession. Lord John, however, was too wise to listen to such impudent nonsense, and, though very reluctantly, it was settled that the Commons should give way. Both parties probably overrate the value of the disputed clauses, and it is to be regretted that the two Houses will not part amicably. Government [311] takes the Bill under a sort of engagement to consider it as an instalment, and that they shall try and get the difference next year. This is mere humbug, and a poor sop thrown to the Radicals, but as it answers the immediate purpose it is very well.

September 9th.

To-day at Court, when his Majesty made one of his most extraordinary harangues, and much more lengthy than usual. It was evidently got up with great care and previous determination. The last article on the Council list was one for the reduction of the militia, and it was upon this that he descanted with great vehemence. He gave an historical account of the militia from the year 1756, when he said it was increased against the inclination of George II., who was not so well acquainted with the country as his successors have been, 'when there was a Whig Administration, as there is now.' He declared his conviction that the safety of the country demanded a numerous and effective militia, that nothing should have induced him to consent to the present reduction but the necessity of making some changes which had become indispensable owing to the culpable conduct of colonels of the militia who had neglected their duty, but whose names he would not expose; that agitators in Ireland and political economists here wished to reduce this force, in order, under the pretext of economy, to leave the country defenceless; but he never would consent to this, and only agreed to the present measure upon a clear understanding that early in the next session the matter was to be brought forward in Parliament with a view to render the militia more efficient; that nothing but the militia justified the smallness of our military establishments as compared with those of other nations; and he finished by saying that the state of our relations with Russia made the maintenance of this force of paramount importance, as it was impossible to say what dangers we might not be menaced with from that quarter, or how soon we might be called upon to face them, and that the advisers of the Crown would incur a deep responsibility if any mischief arose from the undue reduction of this force. He ended a very long speech [312] (of which I can only put down an outline) with this strange denunciation against Russia, and then said, 'One word more. I have spoken thus in the presence of many Lords who are connected with the militia, either immediately or through their friends, because I wish that my sentiments should be thoroughly and extensively promulgated.' This is a very brief outline of his oration, which was delivered with great energy.

At the levee I had some talk with Hobhouse, who expressed himself well satisfied with the termination of the Corporation contest; he said that the King was delighted, and added (in which I think he flatters himself) that he was in high good-humour in consequence, and that though he disliked them politically, he liked them very well personally, and that if the Irish Church question could be arranged, he would be quite content with them, and they should be excellent friends.

Lord Howick, who is the bitterest of all that party, and expresses himself with astonishing acrimony, talked in his usual strain, and I could not refrain from giving him a bit of my mind. He talked of 'the Lords having played their last trump,' of 'the impossibility of their going on, of the hostility towards them in the country, and the manner in which suggestions of reforming the House of Lords were received in the House of Commons,' and expressed his conviction that 'that House as an institution was in imminent danger.' I told him I did not believe that such sentiments pervaded the country, that I had not yet seen sufficient evidence of it, and asked if such a spirit really was in activity, did he not think he was bound to set about resisting and counteracting it? He talked of 'its not being resistible '; he said that 'the Lords must give way or a collision would be the consequence,' and 'he knew who would go to the wall.' I said that 'it was such sentiments as those, uttered by such men as himself, which most contributed to create the danger the existence of which he deplored. 'To this he made no answer; but who can feel secure when a Minister of the Crown, in the palace of the King, within three yards of his [313] person, while he is there present exercising the functions of royalty, holds language the most revolutionary, and such as might more naturally be uttered at some low meeting in St. Giles or St. Pancras than in such a place? In spite of my disposition to be sanguine, it is impossible to shake off all alarm when I hear the opinions of men of different parties (opinions founded on different data and biassed by opposite wishes) meeting at the same point, and arriving by different roads at the same conclusion.

Lyndhurst (who called on me the day before yesterday about some business) talked over the Corporation Bill, which he considers to be nearly as important as the Reform Bill. He says it must give them all the corporate boroughs, for he assumes as an undoubted fact that the new councils will be Radical, and that their influence will radicalise the boroughs. He said there was no chance of the House of Lords surviving ten years, that power must reside in the House of Commons, as it always had, and that the House of Commons would not endure the independent authority of the other House; so that Howick and Lyndhurst are not far apart in their calculations. It is certainly true, what Lyndhurst said to me the other day in George Street, that 'they know the Bill accomplishes their purpose.' Melbourne said to me at Court that 'it was a great bouleversement, a great experiment, and we must see how it worked.' I met him in St. James's Park afterwards, and walked with him to the Palace. He told me the King was in a state of great excitement, especially about this militia question, but that the thing which affected him most was the conduct of the Duchess of Kent — her popularity-hunting, her progresses, and above all the addresses which she received and replied to. He told me what the King had said at dinner on his birthday about her. 'I cannot expect to live very long, but I hope that my successor may be of full age when she mounts the throne. I have great respect for the person upon whom, in the event of my death, the Regency would devolve, but I have great distrust of the persons by whom she is surrounded. I know that everything which falls from my lips is reported again, and I say this [314] thus candidly and publicly because it is my desire and intention that these my sentiments should be made known.' Melbourne told me that he believed Lord Durham is not in favour with the Duchess of Kent, who has discovered that he had made use of her for his own ends, and she has now withdrawn her confidence from him. I asked him who her confidants were, but he either did not know or would not tell me.

Doncaster, September 15th.

Left London on Saturday morning with Matuscewitz; I had a good deal of conversation with him about the state and prospects of this country, in the course of which he told me that Louis Philippe had consulted Talleyrand about the maintenance of his intimate connexion with England, and that Talleyrand had replied, 'When you came to the throne four years ago, I advised you to cultivate your relations with England as the best security you could obtain. I now advise you to relinquish that connexion, for in the present state of English politics it can only be productive of danger or embarrassment to you.' Having omitted to put it down at the time, I can't recollect the exact words, but this was the sense, and I think Matuscewitz said that Louis Philippe had told him this himself.

We dined at Burghley on the way, and got here at two on Sunday; read Mackintosh's Life in the carriage, which made me dreadfully disgusted with my racing metier. What a life as compared with mine! — passed among great and wise men, and intent on high thoughts and honourable aspirations, existing amidst interests far more pungent even than those which engage me, and of the futility of which I am for ever reminded. I am struck with the coincidence of the tastes and dispositions of Burke and Mackintosh, and of something in the mind of the one which bears an affinity to that of the other; but their characters — how different! their abilities — how unequal! yet both, how superior, even the weakest of the two, to almost all other men, and the success of each so little corresponding with his powers, neither having ever attained any object of ambition beyond that of fame. All their talents, therefore, and all their requirements, did not [315] procure them content, and probably Burke was a very unhappy, and Mackintosh not a very happy, man. The suavity, the indolent temperament, the 'mitis sapientia' of Mackintosh may have warded off sorrow and mitigated disappointment, but the stern and vindictive energies of Burke must have kept up a storm of conflicting passions in his breast. But I turn from Mackintosh and Burke to all that is vilest and foolishest on earth, and among such I now pass my unprofitable hours. There seems to me less gaiety and bustle here than formerly, but as much villany as ever. From want of money or of enterprise, or from greater distrust and a paucity of spectators, there is very little betting, and what there is, spiritless and dull. There are vast crowds of people to see the Princess Victoria, who comes over from Wentworth to-day, and the Due de Nemours is here. I am going to run for the St. Leger, which I shall probably not win, and though I am nervous and excited, I shall not care much if I lose, and I doubt whether I should care very much if I won; but this latter sensation will probably be for ever doubtful. There is something in it all which displeases me, and I often wish I was well out of it.

Burghley, September 21st.

I did lose the St. Leger, and did not care; idled on at Doncaster to the end of the week, and came here on Saturday to meet the Duchess of Kent. They arrived from Belvoir at three o'clock in a heavy rain, the civic authorities having turned out at Stamford to escort them, and a procession of different people all very loyal. When they had lunched, and the Mayor and his brethren had got dry, the Duchess received the address, which was read by Lord Exeter as Recorder. It talked of the Princess as 'destined to mount the throne of these realms.' Conroy handed the answer, just as the Prime Minister does to the King. They are splendidly lodged, and great preparations have been made for their reception.

London, September 27th.

The dinner at Burghley was very handsome; hall well lit; and all went off well, except that a pail of ice was landed in the Duchess's lap, which made a great bustle. Three hundred people at the ball, which was [316] opened by Lord Exeter and the Princess, who, after dancing one dance, went to bed. They appeared at breakfast the next morning at nine o'clock, and at ten set off to Holkham. Went to Newmarket on Tuesday and came to town on Wednesday; found it very empty and no news. Lord Chatham died the day before yesterday, which is of no other importance than that of giving some honours and emoluments to Melbourne to distribute.

The papers are full of nothing but O'Connel's progress in Scotland, where he is received with unbounded enthusiasm by enormous crowds, but by no people of rank, property, or character. It is a rabble triumph altogether, but it is made the most of by all the Ministerial papers. The Opposition papers pour torrents of invective upon him, and he in his speeches is not behind-hand with the most virulent and scurrilous of them; he is exalted to the bad eminence at which he has arrived more by the assaults of his enemies than by the efforts of his friends. It is the Tories who are ever insisting upon the immensity of his power, and whose excess of hatred and fear make him of such vast account that 'he draws the rabble after him as a monster makes a show.' However mean may be his audiences in Scotland, he has numbers to boast of, and that will serve his purpose; he will no doubt render this reception instrumental to the increase of his authority in Ireland. He now avows that he has abandoned Repeal, and all other projects, in order to devote himself to the great task of reforming the House of Lords.

I have finished Mackintosh's Life with great delight, and many painful sensations, together with wonder and amazement. His account of his reading is utterly incomprehensible to me; he must have been endowed with some superhuman faculty of transferring the contents of books to his own mind. He talks in his journals of reading volumes in a few hours which would seem to demand many days even from the most rapid reader. I have heard of Southey, who would read a book through as he stood in a bookseller's shop; that is, his eye would glance down the page, and by a process [317] partly mechanical, partly intellectual, formed by long habit, he would extract in his synoptical passage all that he required to know. (Macaulay was, and George Lewis is, just as wonderful in this respect.) Some of the books that Mackintosh talks of, philosophical and metaphysical works, could not be so disposed of, and I should like much to know what his system or his secret was. I met Sydney Smith yesterday, and asked him why more of the journals had not been given. He said because the editors had been ill advised, but that in another edition more should be given; that Mackintosh was the most agreeable man he had ever known, that he had been shamefully used by his friends, and by none more than by Brougham. So, I said, it would appear by what you say in your letter. 'Oh, no,' he said, laughing and chuckling, and shaking his great belly, 'you don't really think I meant to allude to Brougham? ' 'Mackintosh's son,' he said, 'is a man of no talents, the composition (what there is of it) belongs to Erskine, his son-in-law, a sensible man.' To be sure there are some strange things said by Mackintosh here and there; among others, that Lord Holland only wanted voice — not to be impeded in his utterance — to be a greater orator than Canning or Brougham! If he had not been a man 'whom no sense of wrongs could rouse to vengeance, 'he would have flung the India Board in Lord Grey's face when he was insulted with the offer of it. [1] What are we to think of the necessary connexion between intellectual superiority and official eminence, when we have seen the Duke of Richmond invited to be a member of the Cabinet, while Mackintosh was thrust into an obscure and subordinate office — Mackintosh placed under the orders of Charles Grant! Well might he regret that he had not been a professor, and, 'with safer pride content,' adorned with unusual glory some academical chair. Then while he was instructing and delighting the world, there would have been many regrets and lamentations that such mighty talents were confined to such a narrow sphere, and innumerable speculations of the

[1] Sir James Mackintosh was a member of the Board of Control under Lord Grey's Government. He never held any other office in England.

[318] greatness he would have achieved in political life, and how the irresistible force of his genius and his eloquence must have raised him to the pinnacle of Parliamentary fame and political power. Perhaps he would have partaken in this delusion, and have bitterly lamented the success which had deprived him of a more brilliant fortune and a loftier fame; for it may reasonably be doubted whether all his laborious investigations of the deepest recesses of the human mind, and his extensive acquaintance with the theory of mental phenomena, would have enabled him accurately to ascertain the practical capabilities of his own mind, and to arrive at those just conclusions which should indicate to him that path of life on which it was most expedient for him to travel, with reference to the strength of his understanding, and the softness, not to say feebleness, of his character.

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