George Nugent Grenville Nugent.

Some memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times online

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whatever view to his own ultimate position, was based, as there
appears no reason to doubt, on fair and independent convictions
of his own. Nor is there occasion to question the perfect
sincerity of his present assurances to Lord Nugent as in any
degree incompatible with the misunderstanding that after-
wards arose. When a point of departure in opinions is once
taken, everything tends to make the severance wider, and the
progress in opposite directions more rapid and complete, than
either party originally contemplated. The speech which has
been quoted appears to have shaken the good understanding
between the brothers, and subsequent occurrences had no
tendency in any way to contribute to its restoration.

It so fell out that in the short interval of four years between
the present date and that of 1822, when the Marquis received

c 2


his Dukedom, and a formal adherence of the other members of
his family completed that ' coalition with the Grenvilles ' which,
seeing that Lord Nugent was so strongly committed against
it, and Lord Grenville had left public life, need not so mightily
have alarmed Chancellor Eldon * for its horrible approxima-
tion to Whiggery, there were no less than two general
elections ; when the fact of Lord Nugent having carried his
return on both occasions, against bitter ministerial opposition,
seemed no longer doubtfully to connect the strength of his
position at Aylesbury, rather with personal popularity and the
approval of political conduct, than with family claims. But
what we are not unwilling to concede as a favour, we do not
like to see taken as a right; and notwithstanding any former
promises, it was really not unnatural that Lord Buckingham,
on the eve of his formal junction with the Ministry, and acting
only on the ordinary acceptations of political morality both then
and since, should have sought to deprive the Opposition of at
least that element of strength in his family borough which was
supplied by his family name. The subject need not be pursued.
Lord Nugent remained the member for Aylesbury, but not
without a sacrifice that tested the sincerity of the line he had
taken in public life ; and by the interference of Lord Grenville,
with whose letter to his younger nephew on the close of the
family misunderstanding all further allusion to it may most
properly cease, cordiality between the brothers was resumed.

' My DEAR GEORGE, ' Dropmore, Dec. 8, 1822.

' I am too sincerely and affectionately attached to your brother
' and to yourself, not to feel the warmest and most cordial satisfaction
' in what you tell me of your being again together on that footing
c on which brothers ought to live with each other, and which I
' earnestly hope will ever remain unchanged between you. My

* ' This coalition, I think, will have consequences very different from
'those expected by the members of administration who brought it about.
' I hate coalitions.' Twiss's Life, ii. 446.


c experience enables me to say confidently, that there is nothing
' else in this world that can supply the want of such intercourse
' between persons so connected ; it remains to us, when everything
' fails us ; and I know you will not mistake the motives which lead
' me earnestly to address the same exhortation to you, as I should
' to him, to beseech you to cultivate and preserve it now it is reco-
' vered, as that, the loss of which nothing else can compensate to you.
' Do not expect to find him faultless ; we are none of us so ; but
' make allowance for his failings as you hope he will for yours, and
' be assured that the friendship of a brother is a thing of far more
' value than any of those for which it is sometimes too lightly
' hazarded or sacrificed.

' Excuse this preaching, but I feel too earnestly for the happiness
' of both not to say with freedom what I think may contribute to it.

' It will be a very great pleasure to us to receive you and Lady
' Nugent here at the time you mention. She will be here in a
' house where she knows she need put no restraint whatever upon
' herself, but do just as much or as little as her own strength and
c spirits incline her to ; and it would be a sincere delight to Lady
' Grenville, as well as to myself, to think that her being here could
' contribute to the restoration of either.

' Ever, my dear George,

' Most affectionately yours,


The year when this letter was written was that in which
Canning took the seals of the Foreign Office after the death of
Castlereagh, and, upon oppressed peoples and nationalities
under the heel of the Holy Alliance, there again broke forth
from England gleams of hope and liberation. In the excite-
ment which followed the French invasion of Spain, the
withdrawal of the Duke of Wellington from the Congress of
Verona, and that expression of sympathy on behalf of the
Spanish Constitutionalists to which such noble utterance
was given by the English Foreign Secretary, Lord Nugent
shared largely; and, as in the former struggle against the
French, his personal exertions were not wanting. He repaired,


in the summer of 1823, to the scene of conflict,* and took
prominent part in such help as an Englishman might afford
to Riego, Quiroga, the pure minded and true Arguelles,
and their friends. In common with many other members of
the opposition, however, his expectations had been lifted too
high by the eloquence of the new Foreign Secretary ; he too
readily supposed that the sympathy for Spanish Constitu-
tionalism which Canning so heartily expressed, would never
utterly desert its defenders and heroes in their last extremity ;
and when, by the sudden withdrawal of the British minister
from Seville after the seizure of the person of the King, the
fixed neutrality of England was declared, he bitterly felt the
disappointment. But he did not quit Spain till near the very
last. He was in Cadiz during the last attempt to rally the
liberals ; and, not many weeks before the final surrender, was
suggested as the successor to Sir Robert Wilson when the
latter ceased to hold the powers with which the Cortes had
entrusted him. ' Knowing no person/ "Wilson writes to Lord
Nugent, ' more capable than yourself of carrying into execution
' with zeal and effect what in my opinion is more than ever
' important to the Spanish nation, I am very anxious that you
' should propose yourself as my successor, and shall be very
' happy to hear, for the public interest, that the Spanish
' government has accepted you in that character/ Unhappily
it was too late. This letter was written in the middle of
September : on the 1st of October, Ferdinand was released by
the Constitutionalists ; on the 3rd they surrendered ; and within

* Sir John Hobhouse (Lord Broughton), who took a generous interest
in the Spanish struggle, and corresponded with Lord Nugent by cipher,
in his absence, thus closes a long letter of friendly and patriotic sugges-
tion written from Brighton before his departure. ' I have no individual
' injunction to pray you to attend to, except the care of yourself, and

< that not only in a military but a medical way ; as you will be in Spain
' during the season of pestilence.' In another letter, when the struggle
was nearing its close, he says : ' Urge no compromise. All friends of
' liberty here would regard it as a complete surrender. You are authorised

< to say so on the part of all those who have been working for Spain here.'


a month Biego, basely delivered over to his enemies by the Duke
of Angoule'me, was hanged at Madrid. His brother, the
Canon Biego, in his subsequent English exile, found no
friendship more affectionate, no hospitality more constant or
unwearying, than Lord Nugent' s ; for that family, and for the
Quirogas, his services, in co-operation with those of Lord
Holland, were active and incessant; and it was his house
which the patriot Arguelles first sought on his arrival in London
in November, and where he found afterwards a second home.*
In the middle of October, Lord Nugent had himself reached
London, and it would seem, from a letter of his brother's, that
even at the time when he left Cadiz, he had not altogether
abandoned hope that the patriots might yet hold out. The
Duke writes from Wotton.


' I received your welcome and affectionate letter this

* In the following year Mr. Wilberforce very earnestly sought an intro-
duction to Arguelles, for whose virtues and patriotism he entertained the
highest esteem ; and, on a particular day fixed by Lord Nugent, came up
from Great Missenden, though labouring at the time with severe illness,
to meet the Spanish leader. One of the many letters addressed by
Arguelles to Lord Nugent, as characteristic of himself as of the meanness
of the tyranny he had passed his life in opposing, may perhaps be quoted
here. Unlike the majority of his letters, it is in English ; and is here
printed exactly as it is written. ' Wednesday, April 28. My dear : I am so
' vexed by this confounded cough, particularly in the night, and early in
' the morning, that nothing could be more troublesome and ungovernable
' than such a guest as myself; presantly I am an invalid. Let me get well,
' and, since kind Ferdinand is so much in your interest of detaining me in
' England, I promise to force you to repent of your kind invitation. When
' you will return to Lillies for the season I will stay there a whole fort-
' night. Dout be alarmed; something may be substracted if properly
' desired. No more nonsenses.

' From Spain nothing but confirmations of the dreadful state of the
' country. I do not recollect if I told you that a very old, and faithful
' servant of mine, whom I left hi Madrid, charged with all my things, after
' having been concealed five months, was at last discovered, and forced to
' deliver all my property. I don't care but for the pictures, half-dozen of
' which were of the first rate. Present my compliment to Lady Nugent,
' and believe me ever truly yours,

'My Lord Nugent A. DE ARGUELLES.'


' morning at this old place, where we have been rejoicing and
c making merry. Most deeply do I feel the affectionate interest
' which you take in my happiness. I thank God all is going
' on as well as possible. On Tuesday I shall be at the
' Quarter Sessions, on Thursday at Sir George Nugent's at the
e coming of age of young George. Then I return to Stowe, where
' on the 22nd we have beef-eating, and beer-drinking, and ox-
' roasting, in honour of the young John Knox, as Mary calls him ;
' and there we shall remain until the first week in November, when
' we go to Avington, where we remain until Christmas, which is
' spent at Stowe. Such is the outline of my plan. Now pray act
' upon it so as to give us as much of your time as you can.

' Your Cadiz speculations are addled by the news which has
' arrived since you left it, so I say nothing thereon, except
' that I sincerely rejoice that you are out of that patriotic city,
' where the Cortez at last dwindled to five individuals, who met
' for safety in a cellar, and sent the king out to negociate for them.
' God bless you, my dear George,

1 Yours most affectionately,

' B." & C.

' All here join in love to you and joy that you are again in

The patriotic failure on which the Duke, not perhaps with-
out some hope that it might help to abate his brother's
patriotic zeal, jests so pleasantly, but which did not strike
graver people, editors of leading journals and such like,* in

* From many letters of public men congratulating Lord Nugent on his
safe return, some of them (as Lord Essex's) enquiring with deep anxiety as
to the fate of Sir Robert Wilson, I may print the following, which is in
the handwriting of Mr. Barnes. ' Times Office, Sunday, Oct. 12, 1823.
' The Editor of the Times presents his respects to Lord Nugent, and with
' many apologies for this intrusion (which he trusts will be ascribed to its
' only cause the anxiety to furnish the public with accurate information
' from the best sources), hopes his lordship will have the goodness to
' communicate such facts relative to the fall of Cadiz as appear in his
' lordship's judgment to account for that disastrous event.

' If Mr. Brougham, or indeed any of his lordship's parliamentary friends
' had been in town, the Editor would have had the advantage of an intro-


quite so jocose a light, had nevertheless no perceptible effect
on the foreign politics of the Member for Aylesbury. On the
reassembling of parliament in February, 1824, in what Mr.
Canning afterwards described as ' a most unreasonable and
' untenable proposition, conveyed in a most temperate and
' eloquent speech/ * he characterised as it merited the wicked-
ness of that French invasion ; eloquently deplored the fate of
the despised leaders at Cadiz; named Ferdinand, amid the
cheers of the house, as a ' wretch, the scourge and abhorrence of
' his people, who afforded the most finished specimen that
' perhaps ever existed in human nature, of all that was base
' and grovelling, perfidious, bloody, and tyrannical, and was
' therefore a fit object for the tender sympathy of those powers
' who venerated divine right and adored legitimacy ; ' and
denounced Mr. Canning's policy in sanctioning Sir William
A'Court's withdrawal from Seville, as practically an expression
of sympathy with Ferdinand, because an irreparable blow dealt
against the Constitutionalist cause in its most critical time,
and directly leading to the treachery which ultimately betrayed
and overthrew it. In the division he was of course defeated,
a hundred and forty members voting against him, and only
thirty voting on his side : but among the latter will be found
the names of Baring, Burdett, Brougham, Cavendish, Denison,
Denman, Ellice, Hume, Hobhouse, Mackintosh, John Russell,
Wood, and Wilson ; and on the whole, perhaps, Canning had
not so much reason to be proud of this victory as he professed
himself, in replying to a similar motion brought forward in
the following month by Lord John Russell.

As this latter was the occasion when some celebrated jokes
were fired off against Lord Nugent by the witty and eloquent
Secretary, it may be expected that some account should here
be given of it. Lord John had made a speech remarkable for

' duction to his lordship, and would not have been compelled to this very
' abrupt application, for which he once more begs to apologise.'
* Hansard (Second Series), x. 1266.


the courage with which it denounced the iniquity of the Holy
Alliance, the infamy of Ferdinand's government, and the
treachery of the French Expedition; characterising the per-
mitted success of the latter as an abandonment of the ancient
policy of England in regard to oppressed States,* and invoking

* At a subsequent period, in an ever-famous speech, Canning himself
admitted that the French occupation of Spain, thus brought before the
house, was in a certain sense a disparagement, an affront to the pride as
well as a blow to the feelings of England ; but he vindicated himself by
declaring, that he had obtained reparation for such disparagement by
means better adapted to the present time than any direct interference
would have been. He had resolved at the time that France should never
be permitted to attack or reconquer the Spanish American colonies, should
the latter be able to assert their freedom. ' I sought materials of compensa-
' tion in another hemisphere. Contemplating Spain such as our ancestors
' had known her, I resolved, that if France had Spain, it should not be
' Spain " with the Indies." I called the New World into existence to
' redress the balance of the old.' The comment of Arguelles on this
celebrated avowal will doubtless interest the reader. Writing to Lord
Nugent on the 1st December, 1826, he says :

' Do not be angry with me, my dear friend ; my heart bleeds and is
' half broken since I saw Mr. Canning, after exulting in his sublime con-
' ception of compensating his country with the New World, to which he
' looked at the very moment of the French invasion, assert with a perfect
'serenity, the result of previous deliberation, that you now ought to rivet
' France's chains. He makes it his point of honour to continue the occupa-
' tion of Spain. Good heavens ! a statesman in a public assembly exclaim-
' ing thus, overwhelmed by the very cheerings of the audience, and forcing
' that unfortunate country to curse the moment it was generous enough as
' to contribute to its own ruin ! Buonaparte, it is true, invaded her, but
' delivered her of the Inquisition, the monkish influence, and of all
' the mischievous institutions she laboured under. What a retribution !
' . . . My dearest of friends ; I have no consolation left ; therefore do not
' resent my indiscreet letter. Spain once more condemned to become the
' field of battle between two nations who aim at nobody knows. . . . and
' the only object that could be honourable, glorious, even useful in political
' morality, to put an end to that scandal of posterity (I see that it is not
' so, to contemporaries), the butchering one party by anotiier, this, I say,
' is out of the question. The liberal party is never spoken of but to vilify,
' to disgrace, to ruin them in the public opinion of this country. Mr.
' Canning loses all moderation, all circumspection as a stateman whenever
' he alludes to them ; is he so certain of his friends as never to be in the
' case of having once more resource to their assistance ? The enemies of
' England, are they all, and for ever buried in St. Helena ? What are the


the heroes of the short but noble struggle against it, 'the
' virtuous and eloquent Arguelles, the courageous and patriotic
' Mina, the brave and heroic Alava/ as men worthy of the
freedom for which they contended, and whose names would
never be forgotten until patriotism itself should die out of the
world. Sir Robert Wilson had followed Lord John, and made

' means of inspiring the confidence forfeited in every part of the liberal world
' by an uninterrupted series of the most unwarrantable attacks upon the
' friends of rational liberty, on the part of a man who presumes to be the
' abettor and protector of civilisation and enlightened policy ? France really
' is now in chains ; but I think her present state is transitory ; and perhaps
' it will be a great error to rely so much on the Bourbon perpetuity.
' Thousand and thousand events may produce a change of dynasty, or
' destroy the bonds which keep them under your subserviency. And a more
' enlightened policy at the Tuilleries would be sufficient to collect round
' the French in the Peninsula all liberal minds to obtain a rational mode of
' administering the country. Everybody there is tired,oppressed with the
' weight of calamities, disabused, and convinced that no protection is to be
' expected from your cabinet for the planning of a sound and permanent
' government ; and the ministry of France must be very stupid if they do
' not profit by the disposition of public mind there. To trust in mere
' efforts of men actuated by desperation, as Mr. Canning seenis to do, to
' think that he will always find everywhere powers in sufficient number
' ready to be the tools of ephemeral plans and transitory combinations, is
' an error. I do not presume to tell what may be with respect to other
' countries, but in Spain no honest man, no person of value, will engage
' himself in any enterprise that should not be represented as useful and
' permanently useful to his country, after the cruel lesson of the year 14.
' Even in London, where the horrors of emigration are beyond what any
' think, you may conceive the unfortunate refugees bear testimony to this
' observation. Enough of this sad subject. You see, my dear friend, how
' candidly Mr. Canning has justified what you thought to be merely
' suspicion of mine. Confessing that his political conduct towards Spain
' in the 1823 was regulated by South America, is to say that the
' Peninsula fell a victim to the separation of her colonies. Although I am
' totally ignorant of Parliamentary conservances, I dare say this
' is a triumph to more than one of your enemies in Europe. I hope you
' will take the letter in a favourable sense, and make great allowance to
' my dreadfull situation. My health is so far from mending that I cannot
' have the pleasure of going down to you. I have a very disagreeable
' continual noise in the ear that increases infinitely my indisposition. Tell
' thousand things to Mi lady, and believe me most sincerely yours. Mi lord,



a striking statement of his personal experiences in Spain, very
damning to the government, because proving that their profes-
sions of strict neutrality had not been kept. Then, unable to
contradict AVilson's facts, Canning had resorted to the argu-
ment that if the maintenance of neutrality had been difficult,
it was because the most ardent sticklers for it in all its strict-
ness were precisely those who had created the difficulty ; and
out of this his opportunity arose to weaken the impression
made in favour of the Spanish heroes, by humourous comment
on the auxiliaries who had gone out from England to their
relief. He availed himself of it to the utmost, with undoubted
success, and for a considerable time kept the house in such a
state of enjoyment as had not been witnessed for many a

' Seeing as he did, over the way, a victim who on a former
' night had been completely deserted,' was the allusion with
which, indicating Lord Nugent on the opposite bench, he
began. Then he insinuated a pleasant contrast between the
spare figure of Sir Robert Wilson, and the stout and portly
person of Lord Nugent, by remarking that if Sir Robert, by
his conduct, ' formed in himself no small breach of neutrality,
1 he could assure the house that the noble lord opposite was a
' most enormous breach of neutrality/ Here there were roars
of laughter, of course, but nothing to those that followed
at the rising of the full tide of his humour. After dwelling for
some time on Sir Robert "V^ilson's participation in the war, he
proceeded to say, that while Sir Robert was paying the penalty of
^his gallantry and courage in one quarter, there arose in another
^quarter of that country another luminary, who, though lie
might not have addressed himself to the state of the conflict
with as much military effect as Sir Robert had done, certainly
did not fall behind him in military intention. He did not
wish, Mr. Canning continued, to pry further into matters
than was necessary, and by some it might be thought that in
what he was about to say he was going too far ; but in cases


of this nature, it was the duty of government to know what
was going on ; else, by giving way to too much secrecy in
respect to the conduct of individuals, they might, before they
could be sufficiently aware of it, become involved in hostilities
by the warlike conduct of their own subjects.

All this preparation was in Canning's most exquisite ironical
style, and at the words 'warlike conduct/ the house broke
into a general laugh, no one yet knew why. But, says
Wilberforce,* who was present, Canning was ' invincibly
'comic' on this occasion, and his drollery of voice and manner
were inimitable. TWp wns a 1ig]itin^ up of the features,

and a humorous play about the mouth, when the full fun of


an approaching witticism struck his own mind, which always
prepared his listeners for the burst that was to follow. In
this case it soon came. ' Then, sir/ continued Mr. Canning
(1 quote Hansard] t

' About the middle of the month of last July, the heavy
' Falmouth coach (roars of laughter), yes, sir, the heavy Falmouth
' coach, in the month of last July, was observed to proceed to its
' destination with more than its wonted celerity. The coach con-
e tained two passengers ; the one a fair lady of considerable di-
' mensions, the other a gentleman who was about to carry the
' succour of his person to the struggling patriots in Spain. I am
' further informed and this interesting fact, sir, can also be
' authenticated that the heavy Falmouth van, which gentlemen,
' doubtless, are aware is constructed for the conveyance of more
' cumbrous articles, was laden on the same memorable occasion
' with a box of most portentous magnitude. Now, sir, whether

Online LibraryGeorge Nugent Grenville NugentSome memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times → online text (page 3 of 45)