The Greville Memoirs

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The Greville Memoirs



Crisis in the City — The Chancellor of the Exchequer — A Journey to Paris — Lord Lyndhurst in Paris — Princess Lieven — Parties in France — Berryer — The Strasburg Conspirators — Rotten State of France — Presentation at the Tuileries — Ball at the Tuileries — Bal Musard — Lord Granville —The Due de Broglie — Position of the Due d'Orleans — Return to England — Conservative Reaction— Sheil's Tirade against Lord Lyndhurst — Lyndhurst as a Tory Leader — Angry Debates on Church Rates — The Government on the Brink of Resignation — Sir R. Peel's Prospects — The King and Lord Aylmer — Death of Mrs. Fitzherbert — Ministerial Compromise — Westminster Election — Majority of the Princess Victoria — The King's Illness — The King's Letter to the Princess — Preparations for the Council — Sir R. Peel on the Prospects of the New Reign — Prayers ordered for the King's Recovery — Affairs of Lord Ponsonby — Death of King William IV. — First Council of Queen Victoria — The Queen proclaimed — Character of William IV.

January 6th

I met Robarts at dinner yesterday, who gave me an account of the alarm which has recently pervaded the City about monetary matters, from the low state of the exchanges, the efflux of gold, and the confusion produced by the embarrassments of the Great Northern and Central Bank. These financial details are not peculiarly interesting in themselves, and are only worth noticing from the light they throw upon the capacity of our rulers, and the estimation in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is held among the great moneyed authorities. [1] Nothing can in fact be lower than it is. Robarts, a staunch Whig and thick and

[1] Mr. Spring Rice was Chancellor of the Exchequer in Lord Melbourne's Second Administration until 1839, when he was raised to the peerage under the title of Lord Monteagle of Brandon.

[377] thin supporter of Government, told me that he was quite unequal to the situation he held ; that these embarrassments had been predicted to him, and the remedy pointed out long ago by practical men; that the most eminent bankers in the City — Patterson the Governor of the Bank, Grote, Glyn, himself, and others — had successively been consulted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and they had all expressed the same opinion and given the same advice ; but that he had met their conclusions with a long chain of reasoning founded upon the most fallacious premises, columns of prices of stocks and exchequer-bills in former years, and calculations and conjectures upon these data, which the keen view and sagacious foresight of these men (whose wits are sharpened by the magnitude of their immediate interest in the results, and whose long habits make them so familiar with the details) detected and exposed, not without some feelings both of resentment and contempt for the Minister who clung to his own theories in preference to their practical conclusions. What they originally advised Rice to do was to raise the interest on exchequer-bills, which he refused, and afterwards was compelled to do. Robarts said he had no doubt that if Peel had been in office he would have shown himself equal to cope with the difficulty which Rice had proved himself so incompetent to meet. The raising of the siege of Bilbao will have given Palmerston a lift, but between our foreign and our financial affairs the Ministers will not have an easy session of the next.

Dover, January 12th.

Having resolved, after many struggles, to go to Paris, here I am on my way, and on arriving find that it blows a hurricane, and there is little or no chance of being able to cross to-morrow ; for all I know I may be kept here for the next three days.

January 13th

I might have gone very well this morning, but was persuaded not to start by the mate of the Government packet, and, like a fool, I listened to him. It was a fine calm morning.

Paris, January 17th.

Arrived here last night at five, [378] having left Dover at a quarter to one the day before ; three hours to Boulogne, twenty-two to Paris.

I made a very prosperous journey; went to the Embassy in the evening, and found a heap of people — Molé, Montalivet, Lyndhurst, Madame de Lieven, Madame de Dino, Talleyrand, &c.

Paris, January 19th.

On Tuesday went about visiting; found nobody but Madame Alfred de Noailles and Raikes ; was to have gone to the Chamber, but the ticket did not arrive in time ; dined at the Embassy. Wednesday, in the morning, to the gallery of the Louvre; dined with Talleyrand; to Madame de Lieven's and Madame Graham's. Talleyrand as well as ever, except weaker on his legs ; asked me to dine there whenever I was not engaged. In the morning called at the Tuileries, and left a note for the Duke of Orleans's aide-de-camp, asking to be presented to his Royal Highness ; and at night my mother went to Court, and begged leave to bring me there to present me to the Royal Family. Lyndhurst sets off to London this morning, and I had only an opportunity of exchanging a few words with him. He told me he had never passed such an agreeable time as the last four months ; not a moment of ennui ; had become acquainted with a host of remarkable people of all sorts, political characters of all parties, and the litterateurs, such as Victor Hugo, Balzac, &c., the latter of whom, he says, is a very agreeable man. He told me that ' Le Pere Goriot' is a true story, and that since its publication he had become acquainted with some more circumstances which would have made it still more striking. He has been leading here ' une vie de garçon,' and making himself rather ridiculous in some respects. He said to me, ' I suppose the Government will get on ; I'm sure I shall not go on in the House of Lords this year as I did the last. I was induced by circumstances and some little excitement to take a more prominent part than usual last session ; but I don't see what I got by it except abuse. I thought I should not hear any of the abuse that was poured upon me when I came here, and got out of the reach of the English [379] newspapers, but, on the contrary. I find it all concentrated in Galignani.' Lyndhurst and Ellice have been great friends here. Madame de Lieven seems to have a very agreeable position at Paris. She receives every night, and opens her house to all comers. Being neutral ground, men of all parties meet there, and some of the most violent antagonists have occasionally joined in amicable and curious discussion. It is probably convenient to her Court that she should be here under such circumstances, for a woman of her talents cannot fail to pick up a good deal of interesting, and perhaps useful, information ; and as she is not subject to the operation of the same passions and prejudices which complicated and disturbed her position in England, she is able to form a juster estimate of the characters and the objects of public men. She says Paris is a very agreeable place to live at, but expresses an unbounded contempt for the French character, and her lively sense of the moral superiority of England. I asked her who were the men whom she was best inclined to praise. She likes Molé, as pleasing, intelligent, and gentlemanlike ; Thiers the most brilliant, very lively and amusing ; Guizot and Berryer, both very remarkable. She talked freely enough of Ellice, who is her dear friend, and from whom she draws all she can of English politics ; that he had come here for the purpose of intriguing against the present Government, and trying to set up Thiers again, and that he had fancied he should manage it. Molé [1[ was fully aware of it, and felt towards him accordingly. Lord Granville, who was attached to the Due de Broglie, and therefore violently opposed to Thiers, when he became Minister, soon became even more partial to Thiers, which sudden turn was the more curious, because such had been their original antipathy that Lady Granville had been personally uncivil to

[1] M. Molé was then Prime Minister. The overthrow of M. Thiers on the Spanish question had been regarded as a check by the English Government, and Mr. Ellice was a cordial friend and supporter of Thiers. The resentment of Lord Palmerston at the refusal of the King to support the cause of the Queen in Spain by a direct intervention, was the commencement of that coolness which is noticed further on, and which led eventually to most important results.

[380] Madame Thiers, so much so that Thiers had said to Madame de Lieven, that ' he would have her to know it was not to be endured that an Ambassadress should behave with such marked incivility to the wife of the Prime Minister, and if she chose to continue so to do, she might get her husband sent away.' The other replied, ' Monsieur Thiers, if you say this to me with the intention of its being repeated to Lady Granville, I tell you you must go elsewhere for the purpose, for I do not intend to do so.' I asked her whether it had been repeated, and she said she thought probably it had been through Ellice, for soon after all was smiles and civility between them. She talked a great deal about England, and of the ignorance of the French about it ; that Molé, for example, had said, ' It is true that we are not in an agreeable state, but England is in a still worse.' The King, however, is of a different opinion, and appears better to understand the nature of our system. She described him (Molé) as not the cleverest and most brilliant, but by far the most sensible, sound, and well-judging man of them all.

Peel's Glasgow speeches arrived yesterday, that is, were in general circulation, for the King received on the 16th a newspaper containing the speech made there on the 13th, an instance (as it seems to me) of unexampled rapidity. Lord Granville, who praises anything against his own party very reluctantly, told me he thought Peel's speech at dinner very dexterous, and Ellice said, though there was nothing new in it, he thought it \vould produce a great effect.

January 20th.

Yesterday went about visiting, found Montrond ill. Sat a long time with Lady Granville, who was very amusing, and told me a great deal about the characters of the people and the tracasseries in society ; dined at the Club, and at night to Madame de Lieven's, where I found Berryer, a remarkable-looking man, but not like what I expected : dark, stout, countenance very intelligent, with a cheerful, cunning, and rather leering look, such as a clever Irish priest might have, neither in look nor manner very [381] refined. He soon went away, so I heard nothing of his conversation. Everybody I have met has been very civil and obliging, and I ought to be and am grateful for my reception, but I wish myself back again, and ask myself a hundred times why I came. It is tiresome to go through introductions to a parcel of people whom I shall probably never see again, whose names I can scarcely remember, and with whom, be they ever so agreeable, I have not time to form any intimacy. They all ask the same question, ' Do you make a long stay here? ' to which I universally reply, ' As long as I can,' which, being interpreted, means, I shall be off as soon as I can find a decent pretext. It may be a very delightful place to live at, but for a flying visit (as at present inclined), I don't think it answers.

January 21st and 22nd.

Walked about and rejoiced in the Madeleine, which is alone worth coming to Paris to see. Greece and Rome in the days of their glory never erected a grander temple. I find Paris tolerable, and that is all. Dined with Madame de Noailles at the Hotel de Poix, then to the Opera. On the 22nd, I walked to the Arc de Triomphe, wonderfully fine, and clambered to the top. The view is well worth the trouble, and above all the Madeleine is seen to great advantage from the elevation ; all its fine proportions strikingly developed, and bringing to my mind the temple of Neptune at Paestum. Dined at the Embassy, where was nobody of note but M. de Broglie, and then to Madame de Lieven's.

January 23rd.

Rained all day, dined at the Grahams, with Madame de Lieven and many people of no note, and went afterwards to Madame da Flahault's beautiful house, where was all the fashion of France of the Liberal and Royal faction ; no Carlists. Some very handsome women, particularly the Duchesse d'Istria.

Ellice told me that his letters from England announced smooth water between Whigs and Radicals, and that the latter were coming up to support the Government in good-humour. The event here in these last days has been the acquittal of the Strasburg prisoners, of military men taken [382] in the commission of overt acts of mutiny and high treason. [1] By the law, when military men and civilians are indicted for the same offence, the former cannot be brought before a court-martial, but must be tried by a jury ; the jury decide according to their feelings or their prejudices, and appear to care nothing for the law, and an Alsatian jury is said to be republican. These men were therefore acquitted against the clearest and most undoubted evidence, and their acquittal was hailed as a triumph. It produces considerable annoyance and surprise, but not so great a sensation as I should have expected.

There appears to be something rotten in the state of this country ; the system stands on unstable foundations, the people are demoralised, in vain we look for fixed principles or deep convictions. Some are indifferent to the fate of the monarchy because they hate the monarch, others rejoice at attempts on the monarch from aversion to monarchy, and as far as my cursory observation instructs me, I see only a confusion and caprice of passions, prejudices, and opinions, which are only reduced to anything like order by the strong sober sense and the firmness of the King, who is by far the ablest man among them.

January 25th.

On the 24th I walked about Paris, dined at the Embassy, and went to Court at night ; about fifty English, forty Americans, and several other foreigners were presented. The Palace is very magnificent ; the present King has built a new staircase, which makes the suite of rooms continuous, and the whole has been regilt and painted. We were arranged in the throne-room by nations, the English first, and at a quarter before nine the doors of the Royal apartments were opened, and the Royal Family came forth. We all stood in a long line (single file) reaching through the

[1] These were the accomplices of Prince Louis Napoleon Bonaparte in his first attempt made at Strasburg on the 30th of November, 1836. The Prince himself was sent off to the United States in a French frigate. His accomplices were tried at Colmar in the ordinary course of law, and acquitted by the jury, who refused to convict them when the head of the conspiracy was not brought to trial.

[283] two rooms, beginning and ending again at the door of the King's apartment. The King walked down the line attended by Lord Granville, then the Queen with the eldest Princess under her arm, then Madame Adelaide with the other, and then the Duke of Orleans. Aston [1] attended the Queen, and the attaches the others. They all speak to each individual, and by some strange stretch of invention find something to say. The King is too civil ; he has a fine head, and closely resembles the pictures of Louis XIV. The Queen is very gracious and dignified, Adelaide very good- humoured, and the Duke of Orleans extremely princely in his. manners. This morning I went to the Tuileries by appointment, when he received me, kept me for a quarter of an hour talking about race-horses, and invited me to breakfast on Saturday, and to go with him to Meudon to see his stud.

Then I went sight-seeing; to the Invalides, the Pantheon, and the Madeleine. The former is very well worth seeing, and nothing is more remarkable than the kitchen, which is the sweetest and the cleanest I ever saw. The Chapel is fine, with no remarkable tombs except those of Turenne and Vauban. The Pantheon is under repair ; there are the tombs of Voltaire and Rousseau. The interior of the Madeleine is very rich, but it is inferior to the outside ; the simple grandeur of the latter is somewhat frittered away in the minute ornaments and the numerous patches of coloured marble of the church. However, it will be with all its faults a magnificent building.

I ended my day (the 25th) by going to a ball at the Tuileries, one of the great balls, and a magnificent spectacle indeed. The long line of light gleaming through the whole length of the palace is striking as it is approached, and the interior, with the whole suite of apartments brilliantly illuminated, and glittering from one end to the other with diamonds and feathers and uniforms, and dancing in all the several rooms, made a splendid display. The supper in the theatre was the finest thing I ever saw of the kind ; all the women sup

[1] The British Secretary of Embassy, afterwards Sir Arthur Aston.

[384] first and afterwards the men, the tables being renewed over and over again. There was an array of servants in gorgeous liveries, and the apartment was lit by thousands of candles (no lamps) and as light as day. The company amounted to between 3,000 and 4,000, from all the great people down to national guards, and even private soldiers. None of the Carlists were there, as they none of them choose to go to Court. The King retired before eleven ; it was said that he had received anonymous letters warning him of some intended attempt on his person, and extraordinary precautions were taken to guard against the entrance of any improper people.

January 26th.

Having seen all the high society the night before, I resolved to see all the low to-night, and went to Musard's ball — a most curious scene ; two large rooms in the rue St. Honore almost thrown into one, a numerous and excellent orchestra, a prodigious crowd of people, most of them in costume, and all the women masked. There was every description of costume, but that which was the most general was the dress of a French post-boy, in which both males and females seemed to delight. It was well-regulated uproar and orderly confusion. When the music struck up they began dancing all over the rooms ; the whole mass was in motion, but though with gestures the most vehement and grotesque, and a licence almost unbounded, the figure of the dance never seemed to be confused, and the dancers were both expert in their capers and perfect in their evolutions. Nothing could be more licentious than the movements of the dancers, and they only seemed to be restrained within limits of common decency by the cocked hats and burnished helmets of the police and gendarmes which towered in the midst of them. After quadrilling and waltzing away, at a signal given they began galloping round the room ; then they rushed pellmell, couple after couple, like Bedlamites broke loose, but not the slightest accident occurred. I amused myself with this strange and grotesque sight for an hour or more, and then came home.

January 27th

Called on Talleyrand and sat with him [385] for an hour. He talked of England in a very Conservative strain. I called on the Due de Broglie, Mesdames de Marescalchi and Durazzo, dined at the Embassy, then to Madame de Lieven's and Pembroke's concert. Not a profitable life, but not dull, and the day glides away.

February 2nd.

Nothing worth noticing for the last three or four days. Dined the day before yesterday with the Due de Poix, and went to Hope's ball ; his house is a sumptuous palace in miniature, all furnished and decorated with inconceivable luxury and recherche ; one room hung with cachemires. Last night to a small ball at Court. Supper in the gallery de Diane — round tables, all the ladies supping first ; the whole thing as beautiful and magnificent as possible, and making all our fetes look pitiful and mean after it.

Our King's Speech was here before seven o'clock yesterday evening, about twenty-nine hours after it was delivered; a rapidity of transmission almost incredible. Lord Granville had predicted to me in the morning that they would be very angry here at no mention being made of France, and so it was. I heard the same thing from other quarters, and he told me that he had found himself not deceived in his expectations, and that the King had himself complained. The French Government had taken such pains latterly to conciliate ours, by their speeches in the Chambers, and by applying for votes of money to enable them to employ more custom-house officers for the express purpose of preventing the transmission of arms and stores to the Spanish Pretender ; in short, giving us every proof of goodwill ; that Lord Granville was desirous of having some expressions of corresponding goodwill and civility inserted in the Speech, and said as much to Lord Palmerston ; but he refused, and replied that as they could not speak of France with praise, it was better not to mention her at all. I have been riding with Lord Granville the last two days, when he talked a good deal about France and French affairs. His own position here is wonderfully agreeable, because all the business of the two countries is transacted by him here, and Sebastiani's is little more than a nominal embassy. This has long been the case, [386] having begun in Canning's time ; then the great intimacy which subsisted between the Due de Broglie and Lord Granville confirmed it during his Ministry, and the principal cause of Talleyrand's hatred to Palmerston was the refusal of the latter to alter the practice when he was in England, and his mortification at finding the part he played in London to be secondary to that of the British Ambassador in Paris.

The Due de Broglie seems to have been the most high-minded and independent of all the Ministers who have been in place, and the only one who kicked against the personal supremacy of the King in the conduct of affairs. He looked to constitutional analogies, and thought it incompatible with Ministerial responsibility. The King appealed to the example of William III., and said to Lord Granville, ' King William presided in person at his council board, after your revolution ? ' It was Broglie's scruple (for it hardly ever amounted to resistance) on this head that made the King dislike him so much. It is certainly true that the present state of things is an anomaly, but France is in its infancy as to constitutional practice, and the doctrine of Ministerial responsibility, with all its indispensable consequences, is not understood. Nothing can exemplify this more than the recent case of a man which was agitated in the Chambers, and passed off so easily. He was one of the French refugees in Switzerland, and Montalivet, Minister of the Interior, the man most in the King's confidence, engaged him in his service to act as a spy on the other refugees, but without letting Thiers (President of the Council and Minister for Foreign Affairs) know that he had done so. Accordingly Thiers demanded, through the French Ambassador, the Due de Montebello, that this man (with the rest) should be expelled from Switzerland, he being at the time the agent of Thiers' own colleague. In the course of the subsequent discussions this fact came out, when Thiers declared he had been ignorant of his employment, and Montalivet merely said that he had acted as he deemed best for the interest of the country, and this excuse was taken and nothing more said. Thiers took it more [387] quietly than he would otherwise have done, because he had committed himself in his correspondence with Montebello, and it would not have suited him to have hi s letters published. At that time the Duke of Orleans was gone to Vienna, and Thiers was in all the fervour of his hopes of obtaining one of the Archduchesses for the Prince, and he was therefore the humble servant of Austria, and endeavouring to court her favour in all ways, especially by truckling to her views in the affair of the refugees.

I asked Madame de Lieven what was the reason that the great Powers would not let the Duke of Orleans find a wife, and why especially the Emperor Nicholas (who, it was to be presumed, desired the continuance of peace and order in France, and therefore of this dynasty) took every opportunity of showing his contempt and aversion for the King, being the only Sovereign who had never congratulated him by letter on his various escapes from assassination. She replied that it was not surprising that Sovereigns and their families should be indisposed to send their daughters to a country which they looked upon as always liable to a revolution, and to marry them to a prince always in danger of being expelled from France, and perhaps from Europe ; and that the Emperor (whom she did not excuse in this respect) could not bring himself to write Monsieur mon Frère to Louis Philippe, and for that reason would never compliment him but through his ambassador ; au reste, that the Duke of Orleans would find a wife among the German princesses. It is, however, very ridiculous that second and third-rate royalties should give themselves all sorts of airs, and affect to hold cheap the King of France's eldest son, and talk of his alliance as a degradation. There are two Würtemberg princesses, daughters of the Duchess of Oldenburg, who talk in this strain ; one of them is good-looking, and the Duke of Orleans in his recent expedition in Germany had the curiosity to travel incognito out of his way to take a look at them. The King their father, who heard of it, complained to Madame de Lieven of the impertinence of such conduct ; but the girls were enchanted, and with all their pretended [388] aversion and contempt for the Orleans family, were in a flutter of excited vanity at his having come to look at them, and in despair at not having seen him themselves.

London, February 7th.

Left Paris on Friday at five o'clock, and got to Boulogne at half-past one on Saturday ; passed the day with my cousin Richard, and walked all over Boulogne, the ramparts and the pier.

February 22nd.

An unhappy business not to be recorded here has so completely absorbed my attention that I could not think of politics or of anything else that is passing in the world. The Session had opened (before I arrived) with a reconciliation, as usual, between the Whigs and Radicals, but with a general opinion that the Government was nevertheless in considerable danger. In a long correspondence which I had with Tavistock I urged that his friends ought to give up the appropriation clause, and propose poor laws and payment of the Catholic clergy. The first two they have done, and the last probably they really cannot do. As I have all along thought, it will be reserved for Peel to carry this great measure into effect. Caring much for the measure and nothing for men of either party, I shall rejoice to take it from anybody's hands.

February 25th.

I was interrupted while writing, and since I began, the division of eighty in favour of the Irish Corporation Bill appears to have settled that question, and at the same time those of dissolution and change. At the beginning of the Session the Tories were (as they are always ready to be) in high spirits, and the Government people in no small alarm. The elections had generally gone against them, and there were various symptoms of a reaction. In Scotland the Renfrewshire election was attributed to Peel's visit and speech, and old Lauderdale wrote word that it was the most remarkable proof of a change there which had occurred since the Reform Bill. Nothing was talked of but a dissolution, of Peel's taking office, and many people confidently predicted that new elections would produce a Tory majority. Besides, it was argued that the same spirit which turned out Peel in 1835 could not be roused again and that [389] several moderate Whigs would give him their support if he endeavoured to go on with this Parliament. In the midst of all these speculations this debate came on. It was exceedingly feeble on the part of the Opposition. Stanley, Graham, and Peel successively spoke, and none of them well ; the latter was unusually heavy. The best speeches on the other side were Charles Buller's and Roebuck's (Radicals), and Howick's. Sheil made a grand declamatory tirade, chiefly remarkable for the scene it produced, which was unexampled in the House, and for its credit may be hoped such as never will occur again. There was a blackguard ferocity in it which would have disgraced the National Convention or the Jacobin Club. Lyndhurst was sitting under the gallery, and Sheil, turning to him as he said it, uttered one of his vehement sentences against the celebrated and unlucky expression of 'aliens.' The attack was direct, and it was taken up by his adherents, already excited by his speech. Then arose a din and tumultuous and vociferous cheering, such as the walls never echoed to before ; they stood up, all turning to Lyndhurst, and they hooted and shouted at him with every possible gesture and intonation of insult. It lasted ten minutes, the Speaker in vain endeavouring to moderate the clamour. All this time Lyndhurst sat totally unmoved ; he neither attempted to stir, nor changed a muscle of his countenance. At length they divided, and there was a majority of eighty ; sixteen more than on the same question last year.

The next morning (yesterday) Wharncliffe called on me, and I found that they were prodigiously depressed at this defeat. He said that they had suffered from many unusual casualties, sicknesses, and deaths, and that their people could not be made to attend. He instanced three cases of lukewarmness and indifference. Sir G. Noel remained in the House till twelve o'clock, and then went to bed ; Lord John Scott went out of town in the morning of the division, because he was engaged to dine somewhere ; and young Lefroy, who had paired with Sheil until this question, set off with him to embark for England from [390] Dublin, and turned back from the steamboat because it blew hard, and he said his mother would be alarmed for his safety. Wharncliffe told me that Peel is very much disgusted at such coolness, and that, while he is slaving body and mind in the cause, he cannot even depend upon the corporeal presence of his idle and luxurious followers, who will sacrifice none of their amusements for the cause which they pretend to think is in such danger. On the other hand, the rash and foolish (no small proportion) are dissatisfied with his caution, and the prudence which they call timidity ; they are always for doing something desperate. Lyndhurst last year in the House of Lords was the man after their own hearts, and they were quite willing to depose the Duke from his leadership of the party, and put themselves under the guidance of Lyndhurst. When we recollect who and what Lyndhurst was and is, it is curious to see the aristocracy of England adopting him for their chief ; scarcely an Englishman (for his father was an American painter [1] ), a lawyer of fortune, in the sense in which we say a soldier of fortune, without any fixed principles, and only conspicuous for his extraordinary capacity, he has no interest but what centres in himself, and is utterly destitute of those associations which naturally belong to an aristocracy. There is probably not a man of the party who is not fully aware of Lyndhurst's character, and they have already experienced the results of his political daring in his famous attempt to interrupt the Reform Bill by the postponement of Schedule A ; and with this knowledge and experience they follow him blindly, lead them where he will. Wharncliffe owned to me that he saw no alternative but the compromise, but that he did not know whether his party would be brought to consent to it. I told him that they could not help themselves, and must consent ; besides that, if the Tithe Bill is passed they will have got the security for the Church which they require, and the ground of objection to the Corporation Bill would be cut

[1] He was entirely an Englishman, for he was born at Boston before America was separated from England, and his whole family came to this country when the war broke out.

[391] from under their feet. It is remarkable, and rather amusing to a neutral like me, to hear what each party says of the concessions of the other. I see in the ' Examiner' this day that ' the Lords cannot now pass the Bill if they would, without disgracing their party in the House of Commons,' and Wharncliffe said that ' the Government could not give up the appropriation clause in the Tithe Bill without covering themselves with disgrace.' In my opinion the disgrace is not in making concessions which reason and expediency demand, and which are indispensable to the peace and tranquillity of the country, but in ever having pledged themselves to measures for party purposes, or to accomplish particular ends, without calculating the consequences of such pledges, or estimating the degree of power that they would possess of giving effect to the principles they avowed. This applies more strongly a great deal to the Whigs about the Tithe Bill than to the Tories about the Corporations ; but it does apply to both, and it is a national misfortune when two great parties so commit themselves that no adjustment of the question at issue between them is possible without some detriment to the credit and character of both.

March 18th.

Three weeks, and nothing written. The dejection of the Tories at the division on the Corporation Bill has been since relieved by that on the Church-rates, which they consider equivalent to a victory ; and so it is, for the probability is that the Bill will not pass the House of Commons. The debates have been good upon both these matters. Just before the question came on, the Bishops made a grand flare-up in the House of Lords. The Archbishop of Canterbury (Howley), with as much venom as so mild a man can muster, attacked the Bill. Melbourne replied with some asperity, and the Bishop of London (Blomnfeld) retorted fiercely upon him. The Tories lauded and the Whigs abused the Bishops, both vehemently. I don't admire their conduct, either as to temper or discretion. The Church had better not be militant, and to see the Bench of Bishops in direct and angry collision with the King's Prime Minister is a sorry sight.

[392] The angry debate which took place was not contemplated by the Bishops. It had been settled that the Archbishop should make his declaration against the measure in the name of his brethren, which he did in a speech (for him) remarkably good, for he is a miserable speaker at all times. Melbourne's severe remarks provoked the Bishop of London (Blomfield), who had not intended to speak, and he said to the Archbishop, ' I must answer this,' who replied, ' Do.' His abrupt and animated exordium, ' And so, my Lords,' was very much admired.

This Church-rate Bill, however, is a bad Bill ; it gives little satisfaction to anybody except to the Dissenters, who have no right to require such a concession to what they absurdly call their scruples of conscience. One of the underwhippers of Government dropped the truth as to the real cause of such a measure, when he said that, ' if they had proposed Althorp's plan, they should have had all the Dissenters against them at the next elections.' The question, originally one of considerable difficulty, is now doubly so, and its solution will not be easy, especially by this Government ; but nothing can prevent its being settled. It is strange that no experience can open the eyes of inveterate Tories and High Churchmen, and that successive defeats have not demonstrated to them the futility of their expectations of being able to resist the passing of measures which great interests support, and which are congenial to public opinion. There is, however, something discreditable in the conduct of Government, and which shows the compromising, half-cunning, hand-to-mouth way in which they are compelled to scramble on. Upon the Ballot the ' Times ' published a list of at least twenty members of the Government who stayed away, leaving the Tories to fight the Radicals and make the majority, and such a measure as this Church-rate Bill is utterly inconsistent with Lord John Russell's declarations last year. This division has again revived the question of dissolution and change of Government, and made a great deal of speculation. If the Lords dare throw out the Corporation Bill, the Government must [393] go out, though not else ; but it is next to impossible they should venture on this.

March 31st

So I thought upon the 18th of March, but so I do not think now. In the first place, I hear from those who are well informed that the Lords have made up their minds to throw out this Bill. Lord John Russell has made up his to resign if they do, and in that case Peel has made up his to come in. It does not appear, however, that the great body of the Whigs are at all prepared to go out. Some doubt the Lords rejecting the Bill, others that the Tories would take office, or that Melbourne and his friends would so certainly resign it. Lord Spencer wrote to John Russell, and told him that if the Lords did throw out the Bill, he thought that (being still supported by a majority of the Commons) he ought not to resign, but Lord John wrote him back decisive and convincing reasons why his retention of office under such circumstances would be impossible. The fact is that there is a great change in the face of affairs. The small majority on the Church-rate Bill, the unpopularity of the measure, and the discredit which attends our foreign relations (since Evans's defeat in Spain more especially), have had a material effect upon the moral efficacy of the Government. It is now known that Government have abandoned the appropriation clauses in the Tithe Bill, and this has grievously offended many of their violent, thick and thin supporters, more especially as it was the particular question on which they turned Peel out ; and the grand principle, therefore, on which the Government was bound in honour and consistency to stand. The Ministers none of them possess any public confidence in their individual or official capacities ; the King detests them, the country does not care for them, and the House of Commons supports them in a lukewarm spirit. If they do resign there will be no repetition of the scenes of their former expulsion and triumphant return to power. The same enthusiasm could not be raised, nor the same union brought about. I hear men in office talk of Peel going on without a dissolution, and the most interested adherents of Government (Tavistock for example) of a fair [394] trial, and of his having a better right to it now than he had on the former occasion. Peel's undoubted fitness for office, his vast superiority to all the other public men of the day, will be more readily acknowledged, and I doubt very much whether he would experience any such factious and uncompromising opposition as would seriously obstruct the march of his Government, particularly if its composition should be tolerable, and his measures judicious and liberal. It is very remarkable that when he wanted to take in Stanley and Graham formerly, he desired them more particularly because they would have strengthened his hands in the establishment of liberal principles against the great body of his Tory supporters, and they refused upon the pretext that they had no security for his being liberal enough ; and now, when of course he must and will place whatever offices they please at their disposal, so far from being of the same assistance to him, they only bring an addition of bigotry and illiberality which will perpetually cast difficulties and embarrassments in his way. It is a curious matter for speculation how he will go on with these men, how his coldness, prudence, and reserve will suit the intemperate and often injudicious vivacity of Stanley. With Graham there would not be so much difficulty, and his principles would not be found too inflexible. Nothing shocks his old Whig associates more than the contrast between his present conduct and opinions, and the extreme violence which he displayed at the period of his accession to office in 1831 ; he was in fact the most ultra Liberal of Lord Grey's Cabinet, and now he is little better than a Tory.

The King, who is a thorough party man, will be overjoyed at any change ; he never loses an opportunity of showing his antipathy to his confidential servants. The other day at the reception of the Bath, when Lord Aylmer was introduced, he made him a speech to which he gave that sort of dramatic effect which he is so fond of doing. Aylmer had been recalled from Canada by this Government, but when he approached the throne, the King called out to Lord Minto and Lord Palmerston (the only two Ministers who are [395] Knights of the Bath), and made them come up, and stand one on each side of Aylmer, that they might not lose a word of his oration, and then he began. He told them that he wished to take that, the most public opportunity he could find, of telling him that he approved most entirely of his conduct in Canada, that he had acted like a true and loyal subject towards a set of traitors and conspirators, and behaved as it became a British officer to do under such circumstances. I forget the exact expressions, but it was to this effect, to the unspeakable satisfaction of Aylmer, and to inflict all the mortification he could upon the Ministers whom he had lugged up to witness this ebullition.

Another circumstance will facilitate the change of Ministry, which is, that the question is not argued as if it were a struggle for authority between the Lords and the Commons, for the notion of such a struggle would be well calculated to excite a constitutional jealousy. The Lords, however, pretend that their support of the Protestant interest is not only in itself constitutional, but more in accordance with the sentiments of the nation than the measures of the Government are. The two parties are pretty evenly balanced, but the strength of the Opposition lies in the Lords, and it is altogether a question of party tactics, and not of constitutional principle. Of all men, Peel is the last to favour any attempt to question the virtual supremacy of the House of Commons, and if he becomes Minister, and has a majority (as of course he must, to stay in), the high tide of the Lords will begin to ebb, and everything will be seen to settle down into the usual practice. If a victory is achieved, it will not be that of the Lords over the Commons but of the Conservatives over the Whigs and Radicals.

The fierce dispute between Sydney Smith and the Bishop of London, which gave birth to his pamphlet, [1] has terminated in an interview sought by Sydney and accorded by the Bishop, when they are said to have discussed the matter in dispute with temper and candour, and to have parted amicably. It will probably prevent the appearance of Sydney's second pamphlet, which was ready. He speaks in terms of great admiration of the capacity of the Bishop, and owned that he had convinced him upon some of the points which they had to discuss. I did not hear what the Bishop said of the Prebend.

Among the many old people who have been cut off by this severe weather, one of the most remarkable is Mrs. Fitzherbert, who died at Brighton at above eighty years of age. She was not a clever woman, but of a very noble spirit, disinterested, generous, honest, and affectionate, greatly beloved by her friends and relations popular in the world, and treated with uniform distinction and respect by the Royal Family. The late King, who was a despicable creature, grudged her the allowance he was bound to make her, and he was always afraid lest she should make use of some of the documents in her possession to annoy or injure him. This mean and selfish apprehension led him to make various efforts to obtain possession of those the appearance of which he most dreaded, and among others, one remarkable attempt was made by Sir William Knighton some years ago. Although a stranger to Mrs. Fitzherbert, he called one day at her house, when she was ill in bed, insisted upon seeing her, and forced his way into her bedroom. She contrived (I forget how) to get rid of him without his getting anything out of her, but this domiciliary visit determined her to make a final disposition of all the papers she possessed, that in the event of her death no advantage might be taken of them either against her own memory or the interests of any other person. She accordingly selected those papers which she resolved to preserve, and which are supposed to be the documents and correspondence relating to her marriage with George IV., and made a packet of them which was deposited at her banker's, and all other letters and papers she condemned to the flames. For this purpose she sent for the Duke of Wellington and Lord Albemarle, told them her determination, and in their presence had these papers burnt ; she assured them that everything was destroyed, and if after

[1] The well-known letter of Sydney Smith to Archdeacon Singleton in defence of Deans and Chapters.

[397] her death any pretended letters or documents were produced, they might give the most authoritative contradiction to their authenticity.

May 13th.

I have been six weeks without writing a line, and though no great events have occurred, the aspect of affairs has been continually shifting and changing. About a month ago it was supposed the fall of the Government was at hand, and when the crisis was over it was found that they had really been in danger. The Duke of Wellington called a meeting at Apsley House just before the Corporation Bill came on in the House of Lords, and a great point was made of the resolution of the Tory Lords being kept secret till the last moment. The mystery excited some curiosity, but after all it only turned out to be what everybody had long before talked about, the postponement of the Committee. This was done by the Duke in a very bad speech, so bad that Fitzgerald and others were obliged to try and do away its effect by making out that he did not mean what he said. On the division the Government had greater numbers than usual. It then remained to be seen what Lord John Russell would do, and it was reported that he meant to retaliate by postponing the Tithe Bill, but he did no such thing. He came down and declared that they would regularly go on with all their bills, and moreover, that while they retained the confidence of the House of Commons they would not resign ; so again it seems likely that the compromise originally anticipated will take place at last, and there will be no change. This declaration of Lord John is at variance with his former resolution, and so I told Tavistock it would appear to be. He admitted that it would, but said that John claimed for himself to judge of the fit moment for his resignation ; that whenever he was satisfied that he had no reasonable prospect of carrying his measures, he should retire, but not till then ; and that one defeat ought not to make him throw up the game. However, he owned that this qualification ought to have formed part of his original declaration, in order to obviate all misrepresentation.

[398] During the last week the Westminster election [1] has absorbed everything else. Though the Government were by way of taking no part, all Brooks's moved heaven and earth for Leader, and until the day of nomination they were confident of his success. Bets were two to one in his favour, and a great deal was lost and won. On the other hand the Tories worked hard for Burdett. He appeared on the hustings at the nomination, and was received quite as well as his opponent, and the show of hands was in his favour. This reduced the betting to even, but nobody was prepared for the great majority by which Burdett won. It was certainly a great triumph to the Conservative cause, and a great disappointment to the violent Whigs, and still more to the Radicals. The Government affect to make light of it. Melbourne is probably sincere when he says he is very glad of it, and for this reason, 'that the Radicals are very difficult to manage as it is, and if they had carried this election there would be no doing anything with them.' A great many people on both sides would not vote. I would not, for one. I hate Leader's politics, and don't like Burdett's ; nobody can tell what he is, for his answers and explanations are of a shuffling, ambiguous character, and he disgusted me by throwing over the new Poor Law, which was a base compliance. However, though I would not vote, I was rather glad he came in, and somewhat like Lord Grey, who said last night, ' he was glad at Leader's defeat, and sorry for Burdett's success.'

May 23rd.

There was great triumph among the Conservatives at Burdett's success, raised to a higher pitch by that of Broadwood at Bridgewater, which makes the whole thing very complete, Leader having fallen between the two stools, and now they expect to get Glasgow, if they succeed in which there will be no bounds to their exultation. Then

[1] A contested election in Westminster between Mr. Leader (Radical) and Sir Francis Burdett (Conservative). Burdett was returned by a majority of 515. It was a chivalrous contest. Burdett had resigned his seat voluntarily to test the feeling of his constituents, and Leader resigned a seat for Bridgewater solely to meet Burdett in Westminster.

[399] it is suspected that there have been difficulties and divisions in the Cabinet. There was a meeting at Lord Grey's of Ministers and Ministerial adherents, it was supposed for the purpose of his patching up matters, but I know nothing of what occurred. The Duke of Wellington, too, had an audience of the King on Wednesday last, and all these things set surmises afloat. At another time I should probably have bestirred myself and found out what all this meant, but I have been so occupied and absorbed with the Derby that I could think of nothing else.

The King prayed that he might live till the Princess Victoria was of age, and he was very nearly dying just as the event arrived. He is better, but supposed to be in a very precarious state. There has been a fresh squabble between Windsor and Kensington about a proposed allowance to the Princess.

June 2nd.

The King has been desperately ill, his pulse down at thirty ; they think he will now get over it for this time. His recovery will not have been accelerated by the Duchess of Kent's answer to the City of London's address, in which she went into the history of her life, and talked of her ' friendless state ' on arriving in this country, the gist of it being that, having been abandoned or neglected by the Royal Family, she had thrown herself on the country.

June 11th.

At Buckhurst last week for Ascot; went on Monday and returned on Friday. On Tuesday the Queen came to the course, but only stayed an hour. They had an immense party at the Castle notwithstanding the King's illness. I met Adolphus Fitzclarence at the course, who gave me an account of the King's state, which was bad enough, though not for the moment alarming; no disease, but excessive weakness without power of rallying. He also gave me an account of the late Kensington quarrel. The King wrote a letter to the Princess offering her £10,000 a year (not out of his privy purse), which he proposed should be at her own disposal and independent of her mother. He sent this letter by Lord Conyngham, with orders to deliver it into the Princess's own hands. Conyngham accordingly went to [400] Kensington (where Conroy received him) and asked to be admitted to the Princess. Conroy asked by what authority. He said by his Majesty's orders. Conroy went away, and shortly after Conyngham was ushered into the presence of the Duchess and Princess, when he said that he had waited on her Royal Highness by the King's commands to present to her a letter with which he had been charged by his Majesty. The Duchess put out her hand to take it, when he said he begged her Royal Highness's pardon, but he was expressly commanded by the King to deliver the letter into the Princess's own hands. Her mother then drew back and the Princess took the letter, when Conyngham made his bow and retired. Victoria wrote to the King, thanking him and accepting his offer. He then sent to say that it was his wish to name the person who should receive this money for her, and he proposed to name Stephenson. Then began the dispute. The Duchess of Kent objected to the arrangement, and she put forth her claim, which was that she should have £6,000 of the money and the Princess £4,000. How the matter had ended Adolphus did not know when I saw him. [It never was settled.]

The Duchess of Northumberland had been to Windsor and resigned her office of governess a few days before.

On Wednesday it was announced for the first time that the King was alarmingly ill, on Thursday the account was no better, and in the course of Wednesday and Thursday his immediate dissolution appeared so probable that I concerted with Errol that I should send to the Castle at nine o'clock on Thursday evening for the last report, that I might know whether to go to London directly or not. On Wednesday the physicians wanted to issue a bulletin, but the King would not hear of it. He said as long as he was able to transact public business he would not have the public alarmed on his account ; but on Friday, nevertheless, the first bulletin was issued.

It is in this state of things, with the prospect of a new reign and a dissolution, and in complete uncertainty of the direction which affairs would take under a new influence, [401] when it is peculiarly desirable that moderate and healing counsels should prevail, that Lyndhurst comes down to the House of Lords and fires off one of his violent speeches, and at his bidding the Irish Municipal Corporation Bill has been again postponed. All this is very disgusting to me, and I am at a loss to comprehend why such men as the Duke and Peel lend themselves to such courses. In the House of Commons John Russell took a very different line, for he made a "strong Conservative speech in answer to an omnium gatherum Radical tirade of Roebuck's ; just such a speech as a Minister ought to make. Denman was persuaded to give up his design of bringing before the House of Lords the question of privilege, on which he is at issue with the House of Commons, and there seems luckily a disposition to deal with it calmly ; in fact, it is no party question. The Judges are all with their colleagues, but Peel has taken a strong part with the House of Commons, and made a very good speech upon it the other night.

I met Melbourne in the Park, who told me he thought the King would not recover. Lord Harrowby was very much astonished as well as annoyed at Lyndhurst's speech the other night, it having been previously agreed upon that all violence and everything offensive should be avoided. They had resolved to postpone the Committee on the Bill as before, but it was to have been done in the most conciliatory way, and they were not prepared for this outbreak of Lyndhurst's.

June 13th.

Bad accounts of the King yesterday. Melbourne desired I would get everything ready quietly for a Council. He has been busily occupied in examining the precedents in order to conduct the first ceremonies properly, and the first questions have been whether the Duchess of Kent could come into Council with her daughter, and whether the Duke of Cumberland (King of Hanover as he will be) should be summoned to it.

June 16th.

On Wednesday the King was desperately bad, yesterday he was better, but not so as to afford any hope, though Chambers says his recovery is not impossible. Although the bulletins tell so little, everybody is now aware [402] of his Majesty's state. He dictates these reports himself, and will not allow more to be said ; he continues to do business, and his orders are taken as usual, so he is resolved to die with harness on his back. Yesterday Lord Lansdowne sent for me to beg in the first place that everything might be ready, and in the next to say that they were perplexed to know what steps, if any, they ought to take to ascertain whether the Queen is with child, and to beg me to search in our books if any precedent could be found at the accession of James II. But they had forgotten that the case had been provided for in the Regency Bill, and that in the event of the King's death without children, the Queen is to be proclaimed, but the oath of allegiance taken with a saving of the rights of any posthumous child to King William. They ought to have known this, but it is odd enough that there is nobody in office who has any personal knowledge of the usual forms at the first Council, for not one of these Ministers was in office at the accession of William IV. My colleague, Buller, who was present as Clerk of the Council, is dead, and I was abroad.

In the morning I met Sir Robert Peel in the Park, and talked with him about the beginning of the new reign. He said that it was very desirable that the young Queen should appear as much as possible emancipated from all restraint, and exhibit a capacity for the discharge of her high functions ; that the most probable as well as the most expedient course she could adopt, would be to rely entirely upon the advice of Melbourne, and she might with great propriety say that she thought it incumbent on her to follow the example which had been set by her two uncles, her predecessors, William IV. having retained in office the Ministers of his brother, and George IV., although his political predilections were known to lean another way, having also declined to dismiss the Government of his father. Peel said that he concluded King Leopold would be her great adviser. If Leopold is prudent, however, he will not hurry over here at the very first moment, which would look like an impatience to establish his influence, and if he does, the first result will be every sort of jealousy and [403] discord between him and the Duchess of Kent. The elements of intrigue do not seem wanting in this embryo Court. Besides the Duchess of Kent and Leopold, and Conroy of course, Caradoc [1] is suspected of a design and an expectation to become a personage ; and Lord Durham is on his way home, and his return is regarded with no little curiosity, because he may endeavour to play a great political part, and materially to influence the opinions, or at least the councils, of the Queen. What renders speculation so easy, and events uncertain, is the absolute ignorance of everybody, without exception, of the character, disposition, and capacity of the Princess. She has been kept in such jealous seclusion by her mother (never having slept out of her bedroom, nor been alone with anybody but herself and the Baroness Lehzen), that not one of her acquaintance, none of the attendants at Kensington, not even the Duchess of Northumberland, her governess, have any idea what she is, or what she promises to be. It is therefore no difficult matter to form and utter conjectures which nobody can contradict or gainsay but by other conjectures equally uncertain and fallacious. The Tories are in great consternation at the King's approaching death, from the advantage which they foresee their opponents must derive from it as far as the extension of their term of power is concerned, and they prognosticate, according to their custom, all sorts of dismal consequences, none of which, of course, will come to pass. Nothing will happen, because, in this country, nothing ever does. The Whigs, to do them justice, behave with great decency ; whatever they may really feel, they express a very proper concern, and I have no doubt Melbourne really feels the concern he expresses. The public in general don't seem to care much, and only wonder what will happen.

June 17th

Yesterday the King was better, so as to promise a prolongation of his existence, though not his recovery. An intimation came from Windsor, that it was desired prayers should be offered up in the churches for him ; so the Privy

[1] Colonel Caradoc, afterwards Lord Howden: died in 1873.

[404] Council assembled to order this, but on assembling the Bishop of London objected to the form which had been used upon the last and other occasions (an order made by the Lords to the Archbishop of Canterbury to prepare a form of prayer), asserting that the Lords had no power to make such an order, and it was even doubted by lawyers whether the King himself had power to order alterations in the Liturgy, or the use of the particular prayers ; and admitting that he had, it was in virtue of his prerogative, and as Head of the Church, but that the Lords of the Council had no power whatever of the kind. They admitted that he was correct in this view of the case, and consequently, instead of an order to the Archbishop, his Majesty's pleasure that prayers should be offered up was conveyed to the Council, and a communication to that effect was directed to be made to the Archbishop. The King's pleasure being thus conveyed, it is his duty to obey, and the Bishops have power to direct their clergy to pray for the King. The Bishop of London would have preferred that a prayer for his recovery as for a sick person, but mentioning him by name, should have been adopted, but the Archbishop was prepared with his form of prayer, and it was directed to be used.

June 18th.

The King lingers on ; yesterday he sent for the Archbishop of Canterbury to administer the Sacrament to him.

An attack (but a feeble one) was made upon Palmerston the other night, about Sir Charles Vaughan's appointment to relieve Lord Ponsonby at Constantinople, to which he made, as usual, a feeble and inefficient answer, but the real story did not come out. The whole history of Lord Ponsonby is a remarkable example of what a man in favour or with powerful protection may do with impunity, and it is the more striking because Palmerston is the most imperious of official despots, and yet has invariably truckled to Lord Grey's brother-in-law. When Ponsonby was appointed Ambassador at Constantinople, the affairs of the East were in a most critical state, not-withstanding which nothing would induce him to repair to his post, and he loitered away several months at Naples, while [405] Russia was maturing her designs upon Turkey, and when the presence of an English Ambassador was of vital importance. This was overlooked, because to Lord Grey's brother-in-law everything was permitted. The appointment of Mr. Urquhart as Secretary of the Embassy at Constantinople greatly displeased Lord Ponsonby, who resolved to hold no communication with him, and accordingly the Chancellerie at Constantinople has presented the amusing spectacle of an Ambassador and Secretary of Embassy who do not speak to each other, and the latter of whom has had no functions whatever to discharge. A short time ago Lord Ponsonby applied for leave of absence, which was given to him, and the Government here hoped that when he came home he would not think of returning, and secretly resolved that if they could help it he should not. But as Mr. Urquhart had been placed in this strange position, and besides, since his appointment, they had found reason to doubt whether he was altogether fit for such a trust, it was impossible to leave him at Constantinople as chargé d'affaires during his chief's absence, so they got Sir Charles Vaughan to go out on what was called a special mission, though there was nothing more in it than to meet this difficulty. Sir Charles was directed to proceed to Malta, and from thence to send a steamer to Constantinople, which was to announce his arrival and bring back Lord Ponsonby. Sir Charles, accordingly, sent his Secretary of Embassy to announce him, who, when he arrived off Constantinople, was met by an absolute prohibition from Ponsonby to land at all, and a flat refusal on his part to stir. The Secretary had nothing to do but to return to his principal and report his reception, and he in his turn had nothing to do but report his ridiculous position to his employers at home, and await their orders. The result has been that Sir Charles is ordered home, and Lord Ponsonby remains, so that Palmerston has knocked under. Ponsonby has carried his point, and Vaughan has had a giro to Malta and back, for which the public has to pay.

June 19th

Yesterday the King was sinking fast ; the Sacrament was administered to him by the Archbishop of [406] Canterbury. He said, ' This is the 18th of June ; I should like to live to see the sun of Waterloo set.' Last night I met the Duke, and dined at the Duchess of Cannizzaro's, who after dinner crowned him with a crown of laurel (in joke of course), when they all stood up and drank his health, and at night they sang a hymn in honour of the day. He asked me whether Melbourne had had any communication with the Princess Victoria. I said I did not know, but thought not. He said, ' He ought. I was in constant communication with the present King for a month before George IV. died. George IV. was for a month quite as bad as this King, and I sent the Duke of Clarence the bulletins every day, and besides wrote to him the private accounts I received, and what is very odd, I had a quarrel with him in the course of this. He constantly wrote to me, and in one of his letters he told me he meant to make me his Minister. I felt this was a very awkward subject for me to enter upon, and that I could not, being the Minister of the King, with any propriety treat with his successor, so I resolved to take no notice whatever of this part of his letter, and I did not. He was very indignant at this, and complained to his friends (to Lord Cassilis for instance) that I had behaved very rudely to him. When I met him for I met him constantly at Windsor, and in the King's room he was very cold in his manner, but I took no notice, and went on as before.'

June 21st.

The King died at twenty minutes after two yesterday morning, and the young Queen met the Council at Kensington Palace at eleven. Never was anything like the first impression she produced, or the chorus of praise and admiration which is raised about her manner and behaviour, and certainly not without justice. It was very extraordinary, and something far beyond what was looked for. Her extreme youth and inexperience, and the ignorance of the world concerning her, naturally excited intense curiosity to see how she would act on this trying occasion, and there was a considerable assemblage at the Palace, notwithstanding the short notice which was given. The first thing to be done was to teach her her lesson, which for this purpose [407] Melbourne had himself to learn. I gave him the Council papers, and explained all that was to be done, and he went and explained all this to her. He asked her if she would enter the room accompanied by the Great Officers of State, but she said she would come in alone. When the Lords were assembled the Lord President informed them of the King's death, and suggested, as they were so numerous, that a few of them should repair to the presence of the Queen and inform her of the event, and that their Lordships were assembled in consequence ; and accordingly, the two Royal Dukes, the two Archbishops, the Chancellor, and Melbourne went with him. The Queen received them in the adjoining room alone. As soon as they had returned the proclamation was read and the usual order passed, when the doors were thrown open and the Queen entered, accompanied by her two uncles, who advanced to meet her. She bowed to the Lords, took her seat, and then read her speech in a clear, distinct, and audible voice, and without any appearance of fear or embarrassment. She was quite plainly dressed, and in mourning. After she had read her speech and taken and signed the oath for the security of the Church of Scotland, the Privy Councillors were sworn, the two Royal Dukes [l] first, by themselves ; and as these two old men, her uncles, knelt before her, swearing allegiance and kissing her hand, I saw her blush up to the eyes, as if she felt the contrast between their civil and their natural relations, and this was the only sign of emotion which she evinced. Her manner to them was very graceful and engaging ; she kissed them both, and rose from her chair and moved towards the Duke of Sussex, who was farthest from her and too infirm to reach her. She seemed rather bewildered at the multitude of men who were sworn and who came one after another to kiss her hand, but she did not speak to anybody, nor did she make the slightest difference in her manner, or show any in her countenance, to any individual of any rank, station, or party. I particularly watched her when Melbourne and the Ministers

[1] The Dukes of Cumberland and Sussex. The Duke of Cambridge was in Hanover.

[408] and the Duke of Wellington and Peel approached her. She went through the whole ceremony, occasionally looking at Melbourne for instruction when she had any doubt what to do, which hardly ever occurred, and with perfect calmness and self-possession, but at the same time with a graceful modesty and propriety particularly interesting and ingratiating. When the business was done she retired as she had entered, and I could see that nobody was in the adjoining room. Lord Lansdowne insisted upon being declared President of the Council (and I was obliged to write a declaration for him to read to that effect), though it was not usual. The speech was admired, except by Brougham, who appeared in a considerable state of excitement. He said to Peel (whom he was standing near, and with whom he is not in the habit of communicating), ' Amelioration, that is not English ; you might perhaps say melioration, but improvement is the proper word.' ' Oh,' said Peel, ' I see no harm in the word ; it is generally used.' ' You object,' said Brougham, ' to the sentiment, I object to the grammar.' ' No,' said Peel, ' I don't object to the sentiment.' ' Well, then, she pledges herself to the policy of our Government,' said Brougham. Peel told me this, which passed in the room and near to the Queen. He likewise said how amazed he was at her manner and behaviour, at her apparent deep sense of her situation, her modesty, and at the same time her firmness. She appeared, in fact, to be awed, but not daunted, and afterwards the Duke of Wellington told me the same thing, and added that if she had been his own daughter he could not have desired to see her perform her part better. It was settled that she was to hold a Council at St. James's this day, and be proclaimed there at ten o'clock, and she expressed a wish to see Lord Albemarle, who went to her and told her he was come to take her orders. She said, ' I have no orders to give ; you know all this so much better than I do, that I leave it all to you. I am to be at St. James's at ten to-morrow, and must beg you to find me a conveyance proper for the occasion.' Accordingly, he went and fetched her in state with a great escort. The Duchess of Kent was [409] in the carriage with her, but I was surprised to hear so little shouting, and to see so few hats off as she went by. I rode down the Park, and saw her appear at the window when she was proclaimed. The Duchess of Kent was there, but not prominent ; the Queen was surrounded by her Ministers, and curtsied repeatedly to the people, who did not, however, hurrah till Lord Lansdowne gave them the signal from the window. At twelve she held a Council, at which she presided with as much ease as if she had been doing nothing else all her life, and though Lord Lansdowne and my colleague had contrived between them to make some confusion with the Council papers, she was not put out by it. She looked very well, and though so small in stature, and without much pretension to beauty, the gracefulness of her manner and the good expression of her countenance give her on the whole a very agreeable appearance, and with her youth inspire an excessive interest in all who approach her, and which I can't help feeling myself. After the Council she received the Archbishops and Bishops, and after them the Judges. They all kissed her hand, but she said nothing to any of them, very different in this from her predecessor, who used to harangue them all, and had a speech ready for everybody.

Conyngham, when he came to her with the intelligence of the King's death, brought a request from the Queen Dowager that she might be permitted to remain at Windsor till after the funeral, and she has written her a letter couched in the kindest terms, begging her to consult nothing but her own health and convenience, and to remain at Windsor just as long as she pleases. In short, she appears to act with every sort of good taste and good feeling, as well as good sense, and as far as it has gone nothing can be more favourable than the impression she has made, and nothing can promise better than her manner and conduct do, though it would be rash to count too confi- dently upon her judgement and discretion in more weighty matters. No contrast can be greater than that between the personal demeanour of the present and the late sovereigns at their respective accessions.

William IV. was a man who, coming to the throne at the mature age of sixty-five, was so excited by the exaltation, that he nearly went mad, and distinguished himself by a thousand extravagances of language and conduct, to the alarm or amusement of all who witnessed his strange freaks; and though he was shortly afterwards sobered down into more becoming habits, he always continued to be something of a blackguard and something more of a buffoon. It is but fair to his memory at the same time to say that he was a good-natured, kind-hearted, and well-meaning man and he always acted an honourable and straightforward, if not always a sound and discreet, part. The two principal Ministers of his reign, the Duke of Wellington and Lord Grey (though the former was only his Minister for a few months), have both spoken of him to me with strong expressions of personal regard and esteem. The young Queen, who might well be either dazzled or confounded with the grandeur and novelty of her situation, seems neither the one nor the other, and behaves with a decorum and propriety beyond her years, and with all the sedateness and dignity the want of which was so conspicuous in her uncle.

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