The Greville Memoirs

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

The Greville Memoirs



Emperor Nicholas's Speech at Warsaw —His respect for Opinion in England — Burdett proposes the Expulsion of O'Connell from Brooks's— Club Law — George Villiers at Madrid — Lord Segrave Lord-Lieutenant of Gloucestershire — Dispute between France and America — Allen's Account of Mackintosh and Melbourne — Prolongation of a Patent — Should Dr. Arnold be made a Bishop? — Frederic Elliot — O'Connell's Mischievous Influence — Bretby — Chesterfield MSS. — The Portfolio — Lord Cottenham and Lord Langdale— Opening of Parliament — The Judicial Committee — Poulett Thomson at the Board of Trade — Mr. Perceval's Interviews with the Ministers — Prospects of the Tories — Lord Stanley's Relations to them — Holland House Anecdotes — Mischievous Effects of the Division on the Address — The Youth of Macaulay — Brougham and Macaulay— Lord William Bentinck — Review of Sir R. Peel's Conduct — Dr. Hampden's Appointment — The Orange Lodges.

November 17th.

Since I have been in London, on my return from the Newmarket meetings, I have had nothing to note. The O'Connell and Raphael wrangle goes on, and will probably come before Parliament. It appears to make a greater sensation at Paris than here ; there, however, all other sensations are absorbed in that which the Emperor of Russia's speech at Warsaw has produced, and which indicates an excitement, or ferocity, very like insanity. [1] Melbourne mentioned at dinner on Sunday that it was not only quite correctly reported — rather understated — but that after he had so delivered himself, the Emperor met the English Consul in the street, took him by the arm, walked about with him for an hour, and begged him not to be too hard upon him in his report

[1] This was the first time the Emperor Nicholas had visited Poland since the Revolution of 1830, and he took the opportunity to express himself in language of excessive severity to the municipality of Warsaw, threatening to lay the city in ruins if the Poles rebelled again.

[320] to his Government. I was not present, but Henry de Ros was, who told it me. I am thus particular from, as it seems to me, the exceeding curiosity of the anecdote, evincing on the part of the autocrat, in the midst of the insolence of unbridled power, a sort of consciousness of responsibility to European opinion, and a deferential dread of that of England in particular.

November 22nd.

My brother Algy showed me a few days ago a letter from the Duke of Wellington to the Duke of Cumberland — a gossiping letter about nothing, but in which there was this which struck me as odd. He said that he was informed that the English who had been to the reviews at Kalisch had been very ill received, and that even those to whom he had given letters of introduction had experienced nothing but incivility, and that he regretted having had the presumption to imagine that any recommendation of his would be attended to by the Sovereigns or their Ministers — a curious exhibition of pique, for what I believe to be an imaginary incivility. It is a strange thing that he is very sensitive, and yet has no strong feelings ; but this is after all only one of the forms of selfishness.

Burdett has written a letter to the managers of Brooks's, to propose the expulsion of O'Connell. It will do no good ; these abortive attempts do nothing towards plucking him down from his bad eminence, and their failure gives him a triumph. So it was in Alvanley's case ; there a great deal of very proper indignation was thrown away, and O'Connell had the satisfaction of baffling his antagonists, and obtaining a sort of recognition of his assumed right to act as he does. It is a case which admits of a good argument either way. On the one side is the perilous example of any club taking cognisance of acts of its members, private or political, which do not concern the club, or have no local reference to it — a principle, if once admitted, of which it would be next to impossible to regulate and control the application, and probably be productive of greater evils than those it would be intended to remedy. On the other hand, the case of O'Connell is altogether peculiar ; it is such a one as can hardly ever occur [321] again, and therefore may be treated as deserving an exception from ordinary rules, because it not only cannot be drawn into a precedent, but the very circumstance of its being so treated must prevent the possibility of its recurrence. There exists a code of social law, which is universally subscribed to, as necessary and indispensable for the preservation of social harmony and decorum. One man has given public notice that he is self-emancipated from its obligations ; that he acknowledges none of the restraints, and will submit to none of the penalties, by which the intercourse of society is regulated and kept in order ; and having thus surrounded himself with all the immunities of irresponsibility, 'out of the reach of danger he is bold, out of the reach of shame he is confident.' Instead of feeling that he is specially bound to guard his language with the most scrupulous care, and to abstain religiously from every offensive expression, he mounts into regions of scurrility and abuse inaccessible to all other men, and he riots in invective and insult with a scornful and ostentatious exhibition of his invulnerability, which renders him an object of execration to all those who cherish the principles and the feelings of honour.

November 29th.

There are gloomy letters from George Villiers at Madrid ; he attributes the Spanish difficulties more to the conduct of Louis Philippe than anything else, who, he says, is playing false diabolically. Mendizabal is very able, but ill surrounded ; no other public man of any merit. Parties are violent and individuals foolish, mischievous, and corrupt ; the country poor, depopulated, ignorant — out of such elements what good can come? Villiers' letters (to his mother and brothers) are very interesting, very well written, clever, lively ; he seems a little carried away by the vanity and the excitement of the part he plays, and I observe a want of steadiness in his opinions and a disposition to waver in his views from day to day ; whereas it does not appear to me as if the state of Spain depended upon diurnal circumstances and events, but more upon the workings of great causes interwoven with, and deeply seated in, the [322] positive state of society and the moral and political condition of the nation.

December 4th.

A letter I wrote the other day about O'Connell appeared on Tuesday in the 'Times' It rather took, for the evening (Tory) papers all copied it, and I heard it was talked of. Yesterday there appeared an answer of O'Connell's to Burdett's letter — very short, but very clever ; and, those who know Burdett say, well calculated to mortify and annoy him. I called on Stanley yesterday, who said that he thought the Raphael case ought to and would be made something of in the House of Commons, and that Spring Rice, whom he had lately seen, had told him he thought it a clear case of bribery. Lord Segrave has got the Gloucestershire Lieutenancy, and this appointment, disgraceful in itself, exhibits all the most objectionable features of the old boroughmongering system, which was supposed to be swept away. (He turned out a good Lord- Lieutenant.) He was in London as soon as the breath was out of the Duke of Beaufort's body, went to Melbourne, and claimed this appointment on the score of having three members, which was more than any other man in England now returned. 'My brothers,' he said, 'the electors do not know by sight ; it is my influence which returns them.' The appeal was irresistible, and ' We are three ' was as imperative with Melbourne as 'We are seven' was with the Duke of Newcastle. The scarcity of the commodity enhances its value, and now that nominations are swept away, the few who are still fortunate enough to possess some remnants are great men; and Segrave's three brothers, thrown (as they would without scruple have been) into the opposite scale, would have nearly turned it. There is a very respectable Whig (Lord Ducie) in the county, whom everybody pointed out as the fittest successor to the late Duke ; but he has not three members, and if he had, he would not shake them in terrorem over Melbourne's head.

December 10th and 11th.

Our Government are in a great alarm lest this dispute between the French and Americans should produce a war, and the way in which we should be [323] affected by it is this : [1] — Our immense manufacturing population is dependent upon America for a supply of cotton, and in case of any obstruction to that supply, multitudes would be thrown out of employment, and incalculable distress would follow. They think that the French would blockade the American ports, and then such obstruction would be inevitable. A system like ours, which resembles a vast piece of machinery, no part of which can be disordered without danger to the whole, must be always liable to interruption or injury from causes over which we have no control ; and this danger must always attend the extension of our manufacturing system to the prejudice of other interests ; so that in case of a stoppage or serious interruption to the current in which it flows the consequences would be appalling ; nor is there in all probability a nation on the Continent (our good ally Louis Philippe included) that would not gladly contribute to the humiliation of the power and diminution of the wealth of this country.

December 16th.

Dined with Sefton the day before yesterday to meet the Hollands ; sat between Allen and Luttrell. Melbourne was there in roaring spirits ; met me very cordially, and after dinner said, ' Well, how are you? I had a great deal to say to you, but I forget what it was now.' To which I replied, ' Oh, never mind now ; we are here to amuse ourselves, and we won't talk of other things.' I could not have settled anything with him there, so there was no use in beginning ; and this put him at his ease, instead of making him hate the sight of me, and fancying wherever he met me that I should begin badgering him about my affairs. [2] In the world men must be dealt with according to what they are, and not to what they ought to be ; and the great art

[1] This dispute arose from the detention of American ships by the Emperor Napoleon under the Continental system. The Americans claimed large damages, and the negotiation lasted twenty years. At length General Jackson, the American President, insisted on payment, and the French Government settled the matter for twenty-five millions of francs ; but the question led to a change in the French Ministry.

[2] This referred to some private affairs of Mr. Greville's which were then under discussion, and on which Lord Melbourne's influence was important.

[324] of life is to find out what they are, and act with them accordingly.

Allen talked of Mackintosh, and of his declaration of religious belief on his deathbed, when he had never believed at all during his life. He said that Mackintosh was not very deeply read in theology. Melbourne, on the contrary, is, and being a very good Greek scholar (which Mackintosh was not), has compared the Evidences and all modern theological works with the writings of the Fathers. He did not believe that Melbourne entertained any doubts, or that his mind was at all distracted and perplexed with much thinking and much reading on the subject, but that his studies and reflections have led him to a perfect conviction of unbelief. [1] He thought if Mackintosh had lived much with Christians he would have been one too. We talked of Middleton, and Allen said that he believed he really died a Christian, but that he was rapidly ceasing to be one, and if he had lived would probably have continued the argument of his free enquiry up to the Apostles themselves. He urged me to read Lardner; said he had never read Paley nor the more recent Evidences, the materials of all of which are, however, taken from Lardner's work. Luttrell was talking of Moore and Rogers — the poetry of the former so licentious, that of the latter so pure ; much of its popularity owing to its being so carefully weeded of everything approaching to indelicacy ; and the contrast between the lives and the works of the two men the former a pattern of conjugal and domestic regularity, the latter of all the men he had ever known the greatest sensualist.

Yesterday Lyndhurst and Brougham both came to the Council Office to hear the first application for the renewal of a patent, and though there was no opposition, they scrutinised the petition and evidence with the utmost jealousy, which they did in order to intimate that the granting a

[1] John Allen was himself so fierce an unbeliever, and so bitter an enemy to the Christian religion, that he was very fond of asserting that other men believed as little as himself. It was almost always Allen who gave an irreligious turn to the conversation at Holland House when these subjects were discussed there.

[325] prolongation of the patent, even when unopposed, was not to be a matter of course. It was a pianoforte invention, and the instrument was introduced into the Council Chamber, and played upon by Madame Dülcken for the edification of their Lordships.

December 18th

Melbourne told me (the other night at Sefton's) that he had been down to Oatlands to consult F. and H. about Dr. Arnold (of Rugby), and to ascertain if he could properly make him a bishop ; but they did not encourage him, which I was surprised at, recollecting the religious correspondence which formerly passed between them and him. Arnold, however, shocks the High Churchmen, and is not considered orthodox ; and Melbourne said it would make a great uproar to put him on the Bench, and was out of the question. He had been reading his sermons, which he thought very able.

December 20th.

The Treasury have sent a proposed draft of a minute in my case. When it is over I shall not much care, for I have long since abandoned all expectation of being rich, and there are none of my expensive pursuits which I could not resign very cheerfully. Up to a certain point riches contribute largely to the happiness of life, but no farther. To be free from the necessity of daily self-denial and continual calculation is indispensable to happiness, but the major luxuries — ostentatious superfluities — contribute little or nothing to rational enjoyment. I have just seen an excellent letter from Frederic Elliot to Taylor, with a description of the state of parties and politics in Lower Canada, which has been shown to the Ministers, who think it the ablest exposé on those heads that has been transmitted from thence. I have very little doubt that he will go far ; he has an admirable talent for business, a clear head, liberal and unprejudiced opinions, and he writes remarkably well. [1]

[1] This prediction was fulfilled. Mr. Frederic Elliot was the youngest son of the Rt. Hon. Hugh Elliot, and nephew of the first Earl of Minto. He went to Canada in 1835 with Lord Gosford, entered the Colonial Office on his return to England, rose to be Assistant-Under-Secretary in that department, and is now (1873) Sir T. Frederic Elliot, K.S.M.G.J.

[326] December 24th.

The Northamptonshire election has greatly elevated the spirits of the Conservatives, and though the Whigs affect to hold it cheap, they are not a little disconcerted by the magnitude of the majority, so unexpected by both parties. Impartial moderate men (such, for example, as the judges who sit in my Court) attribute it to a strong prevailing feeling against O'Connell ; and it would appear to be so, because Hanbury, and even Vernon Smith, were compelled to hold language very adverse to him on the hustings. This O'Connell connexion will, after all, probably end in destroying the Government ; his last letter against the Peers is a very despicable performance, and he will be more injured by his own than by Burdett's productions.

December 26th.

The adherents of Government are certainly alarmed at the present aspect of things. Lord William Bentinck, who is as Radical as need be, wrote to his wife at Paris, ' Tory matters are certainly looking up here ; that senseless cry against O'Connell has produced a great effect.' Nevertheless they affect at Brooks's to hold it all very cheap.

December 30th.

Wednesday at Roehampton — since Monday ; for the first time since Lord Dover's death. Luttrell, Poodle Byng, Baring Wall ; Lady Dover still in weeds. Lord Clifden not a jot altered from his usual gaiety ; such is the difference between the feelings of youth and age.

The exultation of the Tories at the Northamptonshire election has been woefully damped by the result of the Corporation elections, nine out of ten of which have gone for the Radicals, and in many places all the persons elected are of that persuasion. The constituency is certainly different, and a desire to make maison nette of these dens of corruption is not unnatural ; but it affords a plausible subject for triumph on the Radical side, and has a formidable appearance.


[327] Melton Mowbray, January 20th

I went with Henry de Ros from London to Middleton last Saturday fortnight, stayed till the Thursday following, and then to Badminton — eighteen years since I had been there. Last Thursday to Bretby ; slept at Worcester on Thursday night, stopped to see the Cathedrals at Gloucester, Worcester, and Lichfield, and the Church at Tewkesbury — all well worth seeing, and containing curious monuments, especially that of Bishop Hough at Worcester by Roubiliac, exceedingly grand ; and in Lichfield Cathedral a chapter-house of surpassing beauty. At Bretby the Duke of Wellington had been, and Peel still was, but he departed early the next morning. I had been anxious to go there to look over the Chesterfield MSS., but I was disappointed ; there were only three large volumes of letters come-at-able out of thirty, the other twenty-seven being locked up, and the key sent to be mended. These three I ran over hastily, but though they may contain matter that would be useful to the historian of that period (from 1728 to about 1732), there was little in any way attractive, as they consisted wholly of diplomatic letters to Lord Chesterfield during his Embassy at the Hague. As this correspondence occupied twenty volumes (for the three I found were the second, third, and twentieth), I fear the others may not contain anything of greater general interest.

I was desirous of seeing the Duke to hear what he says to the Portfolio, [1] which makes so much noise here. Peel told me that the Duke was not at all annoyed by it, and that he did not see why Matuscewitz need be either ; that

[1] A collection of diplomatic papers and correspondence between the Russian Government and its agents, published about this time by Mr. Urquhart, which was supposed to throw light on the secret policy of the Cabinet of St. Petersburg. They were, in fact, copies of the original documents which had been sent to Warsaw for the information of the Grand Duke Constantine when Viceroy of Poland, and they fell into the hands of the insurgents at the time of the Polish Revolution of 1830. Prince Adam Czartoryski brought them to England, where the publication of them excited great attention.

[328] Matuscewitz wrote what he thought and believed at the time, as he was bound to do, and long before his intimacy with the Duke began. He said that the letters are certainly authentic, though possibly there may be some omissions. But the Duke's women endeavour to stir up his resentment, and to make him think himself ill-used, though he is disposed to treat the matter with great good-humour and indifference. Of politics I have heard little, and learnt nothing ; the Tory houses I have successively been at are all on the alert, and fancy they are to do great things this next session, but I expect it will all end in smoke.

The law appointments of Pepys [l] and Bickersteth are reckoned very good, and they have certainly been made with especial reference to the fitness of the men to preside over their respective Courts. Pepys's is perhaps one of the most curious instances of elevation that ever occurred ; a good sound lawyer, in leading practice at the Bar, never heard of in politics, no orator, a plain undistinguished man, to whom expectation never pointed, and upon whom the Solicitor-Generalship fell as it were by accident, finds himself Master of the Rolls in a few months after his appointment, by the sudden death of Leach, and in little more than one year from that time a peer and Chancellor. I fancy there were considerable difficulties in settling these appointments, and in satisfying disappointed expectants, but of the details of the difficulties I know nothing. They will probably confer some strength on the Government. We came here yesterday, and are comfortably lodged at Wilton's.

London, January 30th.

Dinner yesterday for the Sheriffs. [2]

[1] Sir Christopher Pepys, Master of the Rolls, was raised to the Peerage as Lord Cottenham, and received the Great Seal. Mr. Bickersteth succeeded him as Master of the Rolls, and was raised to the Peerage with 'he title of Lord Langdale. These appointments were much discussed, and at last decided by a vote of the Cabinet, several of the Ministers being in favour of making Bickersteth Lord Chancellor, because he promised more as a Law Reformer.

[2] The Lord President of the Council gives an annual dinner to his colleagues, at which the list of Sheriffs for the ensuing year is settled. The arrangements are made by the Clerk of the Council, after the nomination of the Sheriffs by the Judges.

[329] The plan I had adopted (which was not completely executed, owing to the absence of some of the judges from the Exchequer on 'the morrow of St. Martin's') did very well, and we had few difficulties with the English counties. There was Lord Cottenham, for the first time, and Howick and Poulett Thomson, their first appearances as Cabinet Ministers. Parliament opens on Thursday, and as far as I can judge with a favourable prospect for the present Government. Stanley has openly expressed his opinion that no changes are desirable, and Peel will not be anxious to thrust himself in, with a doubtful chance of keeping his place if he can get it ; so the hot and sanguine Tories, who have been vastly elevated at the prospect they thought was before them, will have to fret and fume and chew the cud of disappointment. There was a great Tory gathering at Drayton the other day, but I have not heard what they resolved upon. Lord Lansdowne told me yesterday that Stanley has declared openly the opinion above stated, and he seems to think they are pretty safe. Tavistock wrote me word that the Government meant to be moderate, and that any concessions would be made by, and not to, the violent section. The great questions likely to be discussed are the appropriation clauses and the Irish Corporation Bill. The Government and O'Connell are not likely to differ on anything but this, and if a strong measure passes the House of Commons, the Lords will throw it out, and probably Government will not in their hearts be sorry for it. In the balanced state of parties, the tranquillity and prosperity that prevail, possession is everything, and I am therefore quite satisfied that nothing but some unforeseen circumstance or event will disturb these people. Brougham is seriously ill at Brougham. Melbourne has been in correspondence with him, and these arrangements are by way of having been made with his concurrence. Nothing whatever is settled as to ulterior law matters ; the Vice-Chancellor told me so yesterday, and the Chancellor told him. They talk of a permanent judge in the Privy Council, which would be a virtual repeal of the principal part of Brougham's famous Bill ; for if there was one [330] permanent judge with a casual quorum, the permanent judge would in point of fact be the real administrator of the law, as he used to be under the old system.

I had a great deal of conversation with Poulett Thomson last night after dinner on one subject or another ; he is very good-humoured, pleasing, and intelligent, but the greatest coxcomb I ever saw, and the vainest dog, though his vanity is not offensive or arrogant ; but he told me that when Lord Grey's Government was formed (at which time he was a junior partner in a mercantile house, and had been at most five years in Parliament) he was averse to take office, but Althorp declared he would not come in unless Thomson did also, and that, knowing the importance of Althorp 's accession to the Government, he sacrificed a large income, and took the Board of Trade ; that when this was offered to him, he was asked whether he cared if he was President or Vice-President, as they wished to make Lord Auckland President if he (Poulett Thomson) had no objection. He said, provided the President was not in the Cabinet, he did not care ; and accordingly he condescended to be Vice-President, knowing that all the business must be done in the House of Commons, and that he must be (as in fact he said he was) the virtual head of the office. All this was told with a good-humoured and smiling complacency, which made me laugh internally. He then descanted on the inefficiency of his subordinates ; that Auckland did not like writing, that nobody else could write, and consequently every paper had been drawn up by himself since he first entered the office. To do him justice I believe he is very industrious. When he got into the Cabinet he said he could no longer go on in this way, and accordingly he has superannuated Lack, and is going to appoint the best man he can find in his place. This operation has led to the removal of Hay, whom Stephen replaces at the Colonial Office.

February 1st.

Howick gave me an account yesterday of Spencer Perceval's communications to the Ministers, and other Privy Councillors. He called on Howick, who received him very civilly. Perceval began, ' You will probably be [331] surprised when you learn what has brought me here.' Howick bowed. ' You are aware that God has been pleased in these latter times to make especial communications of His will to certain chosen instruments, in a language not intelligible to those who hear it, nor always to those by whom it is uttered : I am one of those instruments, to whom it has pleased the Almighty to make known His will, and I am come to declare to you, &c. . . .' and then he went off in a rhapsody about the degeneracy of the times, and the people falling off from God. I asked him what Perceval seemed to be driving at, what was his definite object ? He said it was not discoverable, but that from the printed paper which he had circulated to all Privy Councillors (for to that body he appears to think that his mission is addressed), in which he specifies all the great acts of legislation for the last five years (beginning with the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts), as the evidences of a falling off from God, or as the causes of the divine anger, it may perhaps be inferred that he means they should all be repealed. It is a ridiculous and melancholy exposure. His different receptions by different people are amusing and characteristic. Howick listened to him with patient civility. Melbourne argued with and cross-questioned him. He told him ' that he ought to have gone to the Bishops rather than to him,' to which Perceval replied, that one of the brethren (Henry Drummond) was gone to the Archbishop. Stanley turned him out at once. As soon as he began he said, ' There is no use, Mr. Perceval, in going on this way with me. We had, therefore, better put an end to the subject, and I wish you good morning.' He went to Lord Holland, and Lady Holland was with great difficulty persuaded to allow him to go and receive the Apostles. She desired Lord John Russell (who happened to be in the house) to go with him, but John begged to be excused, alleging that he had already had his interview and did not wish for another. So at last she let Lord Holland be wheeled in, but ordered Edgar and Harold, the two pages, to post themselves outside the door, and rush in if they heard Lord Holland scream. Perceval has been [332] with the King, and went to Drayton after Sir Robert Peel, but he complains that he cannot catch the Duke of Wellington.

February 3rd.

A meeting at the Council Office yesterday on another patent case, a gun — Baron Heurteloup, the famous lithotritic doctor and inventor — which was clicked off for the information of their Lordships. Since this Patent Bill, we have got very noisy between percussion guns and pianofortes. I walked away with Lyndhurst to hear what he had to say. He said that he understood Peel was come to town with the intention of being very active, but that the Duke talked of staying at Stratfieldsaye till after Easter ; and if the Duke did not attend the House of Lords, no more would he ; he said it was impossible to turn out the Government — what could they do ? that it would never do for them to come in again without a considerable majority, and that they had not, nor would have. What would a dissolution do for them ? Not, I said, anything considerable, if the new Corporations were to have the influence he always attributed to them, and I asked him whether the working of the Municipal Bill promised to be as mischievous as he had expected. He said, ' Yes, I think so ; ' but I could see that he does not think so very badly of it as he once told me. However, I gather from him that the leaders are aware that the time is not come for attempting to push out the Government, and that they will not try ; their difficulty will be to deal with their own rash and impatient followers, who are always for desperate courses. Lyndhurst told me that he thought Peel felt very bitterly towards Stanley, and that it must end in their decided opposition to each other. I confess I never had much faith in any union between them which was likely to be durable or satisfactory. Stanley has been living constantly with the Whigs, and probably looks forward to joining them again, when the settlement, or some settlement, of the Church question will allow him ; and it will be much more congenial to his tastes and character to be the rival of Peel than his subordinate. I told Lyndhurst that I hoped the House of Lords would be moderate, confine their opposition to certain great measures, and not thwart the Government without necessity. He said [333] he was desirous so to do, to deal with great measures of legislation as they might see fit, but no more. I asked him why they threw out certain Bills last year, among others the Dublin Police Bill, to which there really had seemed to be no objection. He said, for two reasons ; one was that they did not choose to admit, the practice that after Parliament had been sitting many months, during which Bills might have been sent up, and plenty of time afforded for their consideration, they should be laid upon the table of the House of Lords just at the end of the session, when they were to be hurried over and passed without that mature deliberation which they required; and particularly as to the Dublin Police Bill, that they well knew it was a mere job to provide for certain of O'Connell's friends. He then mentioned a fact in justification of the first of the above reasons — that, in discussing with Duncannon one of the Irish Bills of which he had the management, he alluded to one particular clause. Duncannon asserted that there was no such clause in the Bill. He repeated that there was, when Duncannon went away, and soon afterwards returned and acknowledged that he had been in error, that the clause was there, though he was not aware of it, nor had it been inserted in the copy with which he had been first furnished.

I heard a great deal more about Perceval's proceedings and those of his colleagues yesterday ; they continue to visit the Privy Councillors. Lyndhurst told me he had been with him for an hour, Lord Lansdowne the same. When he gave Lord Lansdowne his book, as he glanced over it, Perceval said, ' I am aware it is not well written ; the composition is not perfect, but I was not permitted to alter it ; I was obliged to write it as I received it.' Drummond went in a chaise and four to the Archbishop of York at Nuneham, who endeavoured to stop his mouth with a good luncheon, but this would not do. He told the Archbishop the end of the world was approaching, and that it was owing to the neglect of himself and his brethren that the nation was in its present awful state. Perceval told Lord Lansdowne that their sect was increasing greatly and rapidly ; they have several congregations in [334] London, two clergymen of the Church of England have joined them, and two men who still occupy their pulpits are only waiting for the call which they daily expect to receive.

February 5th.

Parliament met yesterday ; the King was received with great apathy. The Tories have not begun very well. After boasting of their increased numbers, and of the great things they had accomplished by elections during the recess, they got beaten on a division by 41— a greater number than they were ever beaten by last year on any great question. The speech was a very milk-and-water production, and scarcely afforded a peg to hang an amendment upon. It is true that on the point on which the amendment was made (not pledging the House to adopt the principle of the English Corporation Act in the Irish Bill) the Duke was probably right, but a protest would have done just as well, and there was no need to press an amendment on such a trifle. The other side felt this in the House of Lords, and gave it up, though there were so many Ministerial peers in the House that the division would have been very near ; but in the House of Commons Lord John Russell would not give way, and what is more, Peel never had any intention of moving any amendment, for there was a great meeting in the morning at his house, and there it was resolved that none should be moved ; and certainly very few people expected any. At last he moved it, because it had been moved in the House of Lords, but it seems to have been a foolish, bungling business altogether. The Tories are always hot for dividing, and the silly idle creatures who compose the bulk of the party apologise for their continual absence by saying, 'Oh, you never divide, so what's the use of coming up,' as if divisions must be got up for them when it suits their convenience to quit their hunting and shooting and run up to town. Stanley made a strong speech against the Government, to my great amazement, and, having been ironically cheered by the Treasury bench, he got angry. He sat, too, on the Opposition bench (the same on which Peel sits), nearer the Speaker ; still I do not believe that he will join the Opposition ; however, they are surprised and pleased at the tone he took. Some fancy that the [335] division and majority last night will be useful to the Government, and make it out to be very important, which, however, I think is making much more of it than it deserves. The debate was very bad ; everybody spoke wretchedly.

February 6th.

I only heard last night what passed at Peel's meeting ; for he desired it might not be repeated, and that the meeting should be considered confidential ; he made them a speech, in which he indicated in pretty plain terms, but without mentioning names, that it was of great consequence to shape their proceedings so as to get the support of Stanley, and that they never would be sure what line he would take ; so that he does look to Stanley, notwithstanding what Lyndhurst says of his real sentiments concerning him, which, no doubt, is correct.

February 7th.

Last night I went to Holland House ; found my Lord and my Lady sitting tête-a-tête. About twelve she went to bed, and Standish and I stayed with him till two o'clock, hearing his accounts of speeches and speakers of old times, and anecdotes, some of which I had heard before, and some not, but they bear repeating. He is marvellously entertaining in this way ; the stories so good, so well told, his imitations of the actors in the events which he narrates giving you such a conviction of their fidelity. If Lord Holland has prepared any memoirs, and put down all he remembers, as well as all he has been personally concerned in, it will make a delightful book. I asked him if his uncle and Pitt were in habits of communication in the House of Commons, and on terms of mutual civility and good-humour, and he said, ' Oh yes, very ; I think they had a great respect for each other ; latterly I think my uncle was more bitter against him ' — I enquired whether he thought they would have joined ? He thought they might have done so. He thinks the finest speeches Fox made (if it were possible to select out of so many fine ones) were on the War, on the Scrutiny, and on Bonaparte's overtures. Grattan complimenting him on his speech on the War, he said, ' I don't know if it was good, but I know I can't make a better.' Fox never wrote his speeches, was fond of preparing them in [336] travelling, as he said a postchaise was the best place to arrange his thoughts in. Sheridan wrote and prepared a great deal, and generally in bed, with his books, pen, and ink, on the bed, where he would lie all day. Brougham wrote and re-wrote, over and over again, whole speeches ; he has been known to work fifteen hours a day for six weeks together.

It is inconceivable the effect the division on the address has had. Holland said last night he thought it had given them a new lease, and Hobhouse, whom I met in the morning in high glee, talked with great contempt of the tactics and miserable composition of the Tory party. He said that he knew to a vote what their numbers would be on the Church question, and on everything else they should beat them hollow (he did not mean, of course, to include the Irish Corporation Bill in this). The sensible Tories admit it to have been a great blunder, but the authors of the folly affect to bluster and put a good face on it, though it is easy to see that they are really in doleful dumps. But of all bad hits Stanley certainly made the worst. He went on to the last moment living with the Ministers with the utmost cordiality, and giving them to understand that he was generally friendly to them ; talked strong anti-Tory language, and impressed on them the conviction that he was with them on everything but the Church. (Exactly like his conduct to Peel and his former colleagues on the matter of Free Trade when he separated from them 1847.) If he had contented himself with declaring that he did not mean to be committed to any particular course by the address, and deprecated a division, he would not only have prevented it, but he would have at once placed himself in a respectable position as a sort of mediator and arbiter between the two parties, and would have had the satisfaction of showing the world that both were disposed to treat him with deference and respect. A word from Stanley would have made Peel abstain from moving his amendment or withdraw it. I met Graham the day before yesterday in the Park, but only exchanged a few words with him. He said the division was a very bad business.

[337] February 9th.

I was talking yesterday with Stephen about Brougham and Macaulay. He said he had known Brougham above thirty years, and well remembers walking with him down to Clapham, to dine with old Zachary Macaulay, and telling him he would find a prodigy of a boy there of whom he must take notice. This was Tom Macaulay. Brougham afterwards put himself forward as the monitor and director of the education of Macaulay, and I remember hearing of a letter he wrote to the father on the subject, which made a great noise at the time ; but he was like the man who brought up a young lion, which finished by biting his head off. Brougham and Macaulay disliked each other. Brougham could not forgive his great superiority in many of those accomplishments in which he thought himself unrivalled ; and being at no pains to disguise his jealousy and dislike, the other was not behind him in corresponding feelings of aversion. It was unworthy of both, but most of Brougham, who was the aggressor, and who might have considered the world large enough for both of them, and that a sufficiency of fame was attainable by each. Stephen said that, if ever Macaulay's life was written by a competent biographer, it would appear that he had displayed feats of memory which he believed to be unequalled by any human being. He can repeat all Demosthenes by heart, and all Milton, a great part of the Bible, both in English and (the New Testament) in Greek ; besides this his memory retains passages innumerable of every description of books, which in discussion he pours forth with incredible facility. He is passionately fond of Greek literature ; has not much taste for Latin or French. Old Mill (one of the best Greek scholars of the day) thinks Macaulay has a more extensive and accurate acquaintance with the Greek writers than any man living, and there is no Greek book of any note which he has not read over and over again. In the Bible he takes great delight, and there are few better Biblical scholars. In law he made no proficiency, and mathematics he abominates ; but his great forte is history, especially English [338] history. Here his superhuman memory, which appears to have the faculty of digesting and arranging as well as of retaining, has converted his mind into a mighty magazine of knowledge, from which, with the precision and correctness of a kind of intellectual machine, he pours forth stores of learning, information, precept, example, anecdote, and illustration with a familiarity and facility not less astonishing than delightful. He writes as if he had lived in the times and among the people whose actions and characters he records and delineates. A little reading, too, is enough for Macaulay, for by some process impossible to other men he contrives to transfer as it were, by an impression rapid and indelible, the contents of the books he reads to his own mind, where they are deposited, always accessible, and never either forgotten or confused. Far superior to Brougham in general knowledge, in fancy, imagination, and in the art of composition, he is greatly inferior to him in those qualities which raise men to social and political eminence. Brougham, tall, thin, and commanding in figure, with a face which, however ugly, is full of expression, and a voice of great power, variety, and even melody, notwithstanding his occasional prolixity and tediousness, is an orator in every sense of the word. Macaulay, short, fat, and ungraceful, with a round, thick, unmeaning face, and with rather a lisp, though he has made speeches of great merit, and of a very high style of eloquence in point of composition, has no pretensions to be put in competition with Brougham in the House of Commons. Nor is the difference and the inferiority of Macaulay less marked in society. Macaulay, indeed, is a great talker, and pours forth floods of knowledge on all subjects ; but the gracefulness, lightness, and variety are wanting in his talk which are so conspicuous in his writings ; there is not enough of alloy in the metal of his conversation ; it is too didactic, it is all too good, and not sufficiently flexible, plastic, and diversified for general society. Brougham, on the other hand, is all life, spirit, and gaiety — 'from grave to gay, from lively to severe ' — dashing through every [339] description of folly and fun, dealing in those rapid transitions by which the attention and imagination are arrested and excited ; always amusing, always instructive, never tedious, elevated to the height of the greatest intellect, and familiar with the most abstruse subjects, and at the same moment conciliating the humble pretensions of inferior minds by dropping into the midst of their pursuits and objects with a fervour and intensity of interest which surprises and delights his associates, and, above all, which puts them at their ease.

Quantum mutatus! All this has long ceased to be true of Brougham. Macaulay, without having either the wit or the charm which constitutes the highest kind of colloquial excellence or success, is a marvellous, an unrivalled, and a delightful talker. 1850.]

February 12th.

Lord William Bentinck has published an address to the electors of Glasgow which is remarkable, because he is the first man of high rank and station who has publicly professed the ultra-Radical opinions which he avows in this document. It is by no means well done, and a very silly address in many respects. He is a man whose success in life has been greater than his talents warrant, for he is not right-headed, and has committed some great blunder or other in every public situation in which he has been placed ; but he is simple in his habits, popular in his manners, liberal in his opinions, and magnificently hospitable in his mode of life. These qualities are enough to ensure popularity. Here is the inscription for the column, or whatever it be, that they have erected to his honour in India, written by Macaulay:—



The images are taken from the Victorian Web

[240] February 20th.

I walked home with Lord Sandon last night, and had much talk about the state of parties, particularly about Peel and the events at the close of the last session. He talked upon the usual topic of Peel's coldness, uncommunicative disposition, want of popular qualities, and the consequent indifference of his followers to his person. With respect to last year, he said that Peel had arranged with the Duke of Wellington and Lyndhurst the course that it would be advisable to adopt with regard to the Corporation Bill, and that he was put exceedingly out of humour by the House of Lords adopting a different line ; that the leaders of the Lords found their party impracticable, and they were compelled (or thought themselves so) to give way to the prejudices of the majority. But Peel did not understand this knocking under to violence and folly, and his pride was mortified, because it was a sort of renunciation of his authority as leader and chief of the whole party. Accordingly it was with reference to these proceedings that Peel spoke with great bitterness to Sandon, and said that ' he never would be the tool of the Lords.' He left town in high dudgeon, and was probably not sorry to display his resentment at the same time with his power, when he suddenly returned and made his speech on the Lords' amendments. Sandon confirmed the statement of his having done this without any communication with the Duke and Lyndhurst, in which he thinks he was to blame. I think he ought to have seen the Duke, and have imparted to him his intentions and his motives ; but with Lyndhurst he probably felt very angry for the part he took. He has now, however, put himself more openly and decidedly at the head of the party, and Sandon considers that Stanley already virtually belongs to it, inasmuch as they sit together and consult together, and the other day when he went to Peel's house he found Stanley there.

February 21st.

There is a mighty stir about the appointment of Dr. Hampden to the Regius Professorship of Divinity at Oxford, on the ground of his having put forth doctrines or arguments of a Socinian tendency. The two Archbishops went to Melbourne with a remonstrance, but he told them the appointment was completed, and that he had not been aware of any objections to Dr. Hampden, and had taken pains to ascertain his fitness for the office. It will give the Churchmen a handle for accusing Melbourne of a design to sap the foundations of the Church and poison the fountain of orthodoxy ; but he certainly has no such view.

February 23rd.

Had some conversation with Lord Wharncliffe the other day, who has always been a great alarmist. I asked him if he was so still. He said yes ; that he was convinced the House of Lords and the House of Commons could not go on, that the Lords would not pass their Bills ; a ferment would be produced, which would finish by an open dissension. ' What, then, would be the result ? ' I asked. ' Why, the Lords would be beaten.' He then complained bitterly of the Government, and of their conduct and language, and said he was convinced Lord John Russell had originally [342] introduced that clause for the purpose of effecting a permanent quarrel between the two Houses. I told him I was satisfied there was no danger if their party would act a prudent, temperate, and honourable part ; if they would not aim at office, but be satisfied to exert the strength they possessed not for party, but for Conservative purposes ; and on this I dilated, showing what they ought to do. He said that the Tories never would be contented so to act. ' Then,' I said, ' I certainly won't pretend to answer for the consequences, but I am sure you have a good game enough in your hands, if you choose to play it ; if you will throw it away, that is another thing.' He told me one thing of Melbourne rather droll. Wharncliffe gave notice of a motion which comes on to-night about Lord John Russell's appointment of magistrates under the new Act, which he declares to have been very partially and improperly done ; after speaking to Melbourne about it, Melbourne came over to him (Wharncliffe) and said, ' Now tell me, have we been very bad in our appointments? '

Last night I sat next to Poulett Thomson at dinner, who fold me a great deal about Dr. Hampden's appointment, [1] which makes such an uproar among the Tories and High Churchmen. He declares that Melbourne consulted various authorities, and the Archbishop of Canterbury among the rest, who made no objection to the appointment ; that when the Oxford remonstrance was sent up the Archbishop wrote a very Jesuitical letter, in which he endeavoured to reconcile his former approbation of the appointment with his present concurrence in the remonstrance. Melbourne sent for him, and asked whether he had any charge to make against Hampden ; he replied that he had none ; when Melbourne said that he could not, then, cancel the appointment, which had been already notified to him. [This account of Poulett Thomson's was, however, untrue. William Cowper, Melbourne's private secretary and nephew, gave me another, which I doubt not is more correct, and puts the matter in a

[1] This was the appointment of Dr. Hampden to be Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford. He was raised to the See of Hereford in 1848.

[343] very different point of view. Melbourne sent to the Archbishop and desired him to give him a list of six names, which he accordingly did ; but Melbourne would not take any of them, and without consulting the Archbishop about Hampden, appointed him. He did consult Coplestone and some others, but not the Archbishop. I believe the cry against Hampden to be a senseless cry, and that it is raised by mere bigotry and spite, but I think Melbourne behaved neither prudently nor properly. When he desired the Archbishop to give him a list of six, the latter must certainly have conceived that he would select one out of the number, and could not have divined that he would pass them all over and appoint another man without consulting him at all. —

February 28th

I have read the pamphlet written by Hampden, and though some of his expressions are perhaps imprudent as giving occasion to malicious cavil, it contains no grave matter, and nothing to support an accusation of heterodoxy. If he had been a Tory instead of a Liberal in politics, we should probably have heard nothing of the matter.

I was surprised to hear Poulett Thomson talk in great indignation of Lord William Bentinck's address at Glasgow, which he characterised as very disgraceful, and asserted that such miserable truckling to the will of his constituents would not avail him anything, but rather diminish their respect for him very good sentiments. The Government are very angry at what took place about the Orange Lodge resolutions. Mr. Jervis moves an address to the Crown to-night, and Perceval proposed to Lord John Russell to draw up some resolution condemning these associations, which he said they would agree to if not violent and offensive, and that it was very desirable the sentiments of the House of Commons should be expressed unanimously, or by a very large majority, because in that case the Orangemen would see the necessity of yielding obedience to them, and would do so. Accordingly John Russell sent him the copy of a resolution which he proposed to bring forward, but which he said he had not yet submitted to the Cabinet. This was communicated to Peel and Stanley as

[1] This was a pamphlet advocating the admission of Dissenters to the Universities, published by Dr. Hampden in 1834.

[344] well, and all parties agreed to it ; but John Russell was much surprised and disgusted when this resolution (which was communicated quite privately to Perceval, and which he told him his colleagues had not been as yet consulted about) appeared yesterday morning in the ' Times.'

February 25th.

Lord John Russell immortalised himself on Tuesday night. After a speech from Hume of three hours, in which he produced a variety of the most inconceivable letters from Kenyon, Wynford, Londonderry, and other Orangemen, but made the most miserable hash of his whole case, and instead of working up his ample materials with dexterity and effect stupidly blundering and wasting them all— after this speech John Russell rose, and in a speech far surpassing his usual form, dignified, temperate, and judicious, moved a resolution of a moderate and inoffensive character. The speech actually drew tears from the Orangemen, enthusiastic approbation from Stanley, a colder approval from Peel, and the universal assent of the House. It was a night of harmony ; the Orangemen behaved very well, and declared that after this speech they would abandon their association ; they only objected to the Orange Lodges being mentioned by name, and urged that the resolution should be only general in expression ; and in this Stanley and Peel supported them ; Lord John declined, and properly ; the others would have done better to advise the Orangemen not to cavil at this, but to swallow the whole pill handsomely, and not mar the effect of their really meritorious conduct by making any trivial difficulties. Peel's and Stanley's speeches were characteristic ; the latter with a generous enthusiasm of praise and congratulation to his old friend, which evinced feeling and was sincere ; Peel colder in his expressions, and showing a great interest in the Orangemen, for the purpose evidently of conciliating them towards himself, and even incurring some risk of disturbing the general harmony by his warmth and sympathy towards them ; but I have no doubt that he is as glad as any man at the dissolution of the confederacy, which now appears likely really to take place, for though they will probably not actually dissolve themselves, [345] when the chiefs abandon the lodges their existence will be but a lingering one, and must come to an end or cease to be dangerous. In accomplishing this by moderate and healing counsels, by a conciliatory tone and manner, Lord John Russell deserves the name of a statesman. His speech is worth a thousand flowery harangues which have elicited the shouts of audiences or the admiration of readers, and he has probably conferred a great and permanent benefit upon the country. I do not mean that peace will be by these means restored to Ireland, or rather be bestowed on her, for when was she ever at peace ? but until this object was accomplished, till the way was cleared, peace was unattainable. O'Connell behaved wisely ; he made a short speech, and fell in cordially with the general feeling of the House. This has strengthened the Government in reality, as it ought. So Lord Stanley said, and it is true.

Index Previous Next

Meet the web creator

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

Last modified 6 June, 2017

The Age of George III Home Page

Ministerial Instability 1760-70

Lord North's Ministry 1770-82

American Affairs 1760-83

The period of peace 1783-92

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

Peel Web Home Page

Tory Governments 1812-30

Political Organisations in the Age of Peel

Economic Affairs in the Age of Peel

Popular Movements in the Age of Peel

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