Charles Greville.

The Greville memoirs : a journal of the reigns of King George IV and King William IV : in three volumes (Volume 3) online

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of Wharncliffe and Harrowby for joining in that fatal post-
ponement of Schedule A), and if after Peel's speech they
were to refuse to accept the fair compromise which is tendered
to them, it is impossible to suppose that he would consider
himself as belonging to them, or that they could pretend to



acknowledge him as their leader, and the Tory party would
by this schism be effectually broken up.

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

September 3rd. Nothing could be better than the temper
and disposition of the House on Tuesday night, as well as
on Monday, nothing more flattering to Peel. John Russell
said ' he was anxious that the clause (I forget which) should


go forth with the sanction of the right honourable baronet's
approbation.' Peel said he spoke only for himself ; Lord John
said that made no difference, indicating in fact that his opinion
was worth more than those of all his followers put together.
The Lords in the meantime are tremendously sulky, and
though it is impossible to believe they will have the frantic
folly to refuse the accommodation that by God's mercy is
offered to them, it is not quite safe, and they are now in
grand conclave at Apsley House to determine upon their
course. Lord Lansdowne told me ai/ Court yesterday that the
day before he went up to Lynclhurst in the House of Lords,
to speak to him about some Bill, when Lyndhurst said, ' I
was in hopes you were coming to speak to me about the
amendments.' ' No ; it will be time enough to talk about
them when they are again before the House.' ' Well, and
what do they say now ? J ' They say that the lives of your
aldermen are not at a premium.* ' Do they ? But they
will rise in the market to-niorrow, I can tell you.' What
satisfies me most in all this is /the conduct of the Govern-
ment, and even that of many of the Radicals of Hume, for
instance and the general temper and disposition evinced by
the House, symptomatic of a more healthy feeling than I
ever expected to see displayed. In the division the Eadical
numbers were contemptible, showing that the Conservative
interest, if not broken up by party divisions, and if ever it
was roused and connected by the acknowledgment of a
common danger, would crush the Eadical force in an instant.
These are valuable manifestations, and worth a hundred
clauses in the Corporation Bill ; for what matters it .'whether
aldermen and town clerks are perpetuated or suppressed?
and it really is grotesque to fight for these puerilities as if
it was a contest pro aris et focis, and to hesitate one instant
whether a collision should be provoked between the two
Houses of Parliament, and the advantages both direct and
collateral flowing from Peel's mediation be thrown away,
for the sake of maintaining these secondary and questionable

September 6th. On Thursday there was a great meeting

x 2


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

The debate at night was carried on with extraordinary
temper and calmness ; Brougham complimented Lyndlmrst
in very glowing terms. The matter now stands over till
Monday, when the Commons must determine whether to
accept the Bill with these alterations or reject it on account
of them. There is great division of opinion as to the
result, but I cannot bring myself to believe that they will
let the Bill drop for such trifles. I asked Wharncliffe last
night to explain to me in what manner these things would
operate politically, and he owned that he thought their
political importance was greatly overrated, but that the
division proposed by Government/ gave greater influence to
numbers, while that substituted by the Peers gave more to pro-
perty, and that the constitution of the town councils, whether
they were more or less Radical or Conservative, would have
a political effect in this way ; that in every borough little
democracies would be established, which would be con-
tinually exercising a democratic influence and extending
democratic principles, and that the greater the infusion of
Conservative interest you could make in these new bodies
the more that tendency would be counteracted. In my
opinion a fallacy lurks under this argument ; they assume
the certain democratic, even revolutionary, y character of the
new town councils without any sufficient reason, but if this
be so, and if they are correct in their anticipations, I doubt
whether the guards and drawbacks with which they are
endeavouring to counteract the pernicious influence they
dread will be found efficacious. I do not despair of the


prevalence of sound Conservative principles upon a Liberal
basis, and it appears to me that the Peers have committed
a great blunder in expressing such violent suspicion and
distrust of the new corporations ; that nothing is so likely
to make them Radical as to insist that they must and will be
so, or to render them inimical to the aristocracy and to aristo-
cratic institutions as to exhibit a violent hostility on the part
of the aristocracy towards them. I apply this observation
generally to their way of dealing with the question rather than
to the particular words of the disputed (clause, which is pro-
bably 011 the whole fairer and better as the Peers amended it
than as the Commons framed it, so much so that I do not
understand the tenacity with which the Government cling
to it. One thing is very clear, that neither for this nor for
the justices clause is it worth while (to either party) that the
prevailing harmony should be broken and the Bill be lost. If
both parties were sincerely desirous of an accommodation,
and there was any common interest, any common ground on
which they could meet, there would be no difficulty in jan ad-
justment ; but this is not the case. Not only are the interests
and wishes of the two parties at variance, but the desires of
the moderate and the violent in each party are so too. The
moderate in both probably do wish for an accommodation.
The Bill is the Bill of the Whigs, and with all the amend-
ments it does in point of fact accomplish their object,
though not, as Lyiidhurst said, so completely as without
them. They wish the Bill to pass, therefore, but the Tories
detest the Bill even as it is, and it is no concern/ of theirs
quoad Bill that it should pass ; on the contrary, they would
rejoice at its failure, but its failure would place the two
Houses in a state of collision, and though each party would
throw the blame on the other (on very plausible grounds
either way), it is more the interest of the Lords than of the
Commons to avert this, because the danger of collision attaches
exclusively to the Lords. The violent of the Commons would
rather like it ; the violent of the Lords would doggedly en-
counter it. There are many who desire that the dispute
should not (be settled, in order to push matters to extremities


and involve the Houses in a contest, in order to extirpate
the House of Lords. What renders it more desirable on
account of the Lords that the Bill should not be lost, and
a cry got up against them, is the circumstance of their
having thrown out so many other Bills, and some on very
unjustifiable grounds the Dublin Police Bill, for example.
Not a word was said against its merits ; 011 the contrary, it
was not denied that the case was urgent, and it was only
thrown out because the Lord Mayor and Corporation of
Dublin had not been ^consulted. Now it might have been
very proper to consult these functionaries ; it may even be
a culpable omission to have neglected them ; but this is not
a time, nor is the House of Lords in circumstances, to be so
fastidious and to stickle for such formalities. Their cha-
racter with the nation is at stake, and it is of far greater
consequence that they should do nothing calculated to throw
suspicion on their motives, or odium on their proceedings,
than to provide for a punctilious observance of respect and
deference to the Dublin Corporation. They seem to me to
havei made a great mistake in throwing out this Bill, and
I am much deceived if they do not hear more of it hereafter.
September 8th. Lord John called another meeting at the
Foreign Office yesterday morning, when he proposed, and
they agreed, to take the Lords' amendments and finish the
business ; so this famous Corporation Bill has got through
at last. O'Connell and Warburton concurred in accepting
it. The only man who violently opposed its being accepted
was Tom Duncombe, who made a furious harangue, and
boldly asserted that he knew to a positive certainty that if
the Commons would/hold out the Peers would abandon the
justices and wards, and he offered privately to give John
Eussell a list of Peers sufficient to carry this, and who, he
would answer for it, were ready to make the concession.
Lord John, however, was too wise to listen to such impudent
nonsense, and, though very reluctantly, it was settled that
the Commons should give way. Both parties probably over-
rate the value of the disputed clauses, and it is to be regretted
that the two Houses will not part amicably. Government


takes the Bill under a sort of engagement to consider it as
an instalment, and that they shall try and get the difference
next year. This is mere humbug, and a poor sop thrown
to the Radicals, but as it answers the immediate purpose it
is very well.

September 9th. To-day at Court, when his Majesty made
one of his most extraordinary harangues, and much more
lengthy than usual. It was evidently got up with great care
and previous determination. The last article on the Council
list was one for the reduction of the militia, and it was upon/
this that he descanted with great vehemence. He gave a his-
torical account of the militia from the year 1756, when he
said it was increased against the inclination of George II.,
who was not so well acquainted with the country as his
successors have been, ' when there was a Whig Adminis-
tration, as there is now.' He declared his conviction that
the safety of the country demanded a numerous and effective
militia, that nothing should have induced him to consent to
the present reduction but the necessity of making some
changes which had become indispensable owing to the culp-
able conduct ofycolonels of the militia who had neglected
their duty, but whose names he would not expose ; that
agitators in Ireland and political economists here wished to
reduce this force, in order, under the pretext of economy, to
leave the country defenceless ; but he never would consent
to this, and only agreed to the present measure upon a clear
understanding that early in the next session the matter was
to be brought forward in Parliament with a view to render
the militia more efficient ; that nothing but the militia
justified the smallness of our military establishments as
compared with those oft other nations ; and he finished by
saying that the state of our relations with Russia made the
maintenance of this force of paramount importance, as it
was impossible to say what dangers we might not be menaced
with from that quarter, or how soon we might be called
upon to face them, and that the advisers of the Crown would
incur a deep responsibility if any mischief arose from the
undue reduction of this force. He ended a very long speech


(of \vliicli I can only put down an outline) with this strange
denunciation against Eussia, and then said, ' One word
more. I have spoken thus in the presence of many
Lords who are connected with the militia, either immediately
or through their friends, because I wish that my sentiments
should be thoroughly and extensively promulgated.' This
is a very brief outline of his oration, which was delivered
with great energy.

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

Lord Howick, who is the bitterest of all that party, and ex-
presses himself with astonishing acrimony, talked in his
usual strain, and I could not refrain from giving him a bit
of my mind. He talked of ' the Lords having played their
last trump,' of ' the impossibility of their going on, of the
hostility towards them in. the country, and the manner in
which suggestions of reforming the House of Lords were
received in the House of Commons,' and expressed his con-
viction that ' that House as an institution was in imminent
danger.' I told him I did not believe that such sentiments
pervaded the country, that I had not yet seen sufficient evi-
dence of it, and asked if such a spirit really was in activity,
did he not think he was bound to set about resisting and
counteracting it ? He talked of ' its not being resistible ; ' he
said that ' the Lords must give way or a collision would be the
consequence,' and ' he knew who would go to the wall.' I
said that ' it was such sentiments as those, uttered by such
men as himself, which most contributed to create the danger
the existence of which he deplored.' To this he made no
answer ; but who can feel secure when a Minister of the
Crown, in the palace of the King, within three yards of his


person, while lie is there present exercising the functions of
royalty, holds language the most revolutionary, and such as
might more naturally be uttered at some low meeting in
St. Giles's or St. Pancras than in such a place? In spite of
my disposition to be sanguine, it is impossible to shake off
all alarm when I hear the opinions of men of different
parties (opinions founded on different data and biassed by
opposite wishes) meeting at the same point, and arriving by
different roads at the same conclusion.

Lyndhurst (who called on me the day before yesterday
about some business) talked over the Corporation Bill, which
he considers to be nearly as important as the Reform Bill.
He says it must give them all the corporate boroughs, for he
assumes as an undoubted fact that the new councils will be
Radical, and that their influence will radicalise the boroughs*
He said there was no chance of the House of Lords surviving
ten years, that power must reside in the House of Commons,
as it always had, and that the House of Commons would not
endure the independent authority of the other House ; so that
Howick and Lyndhurst are not ffar apart in their calculations.
It is certainly true, what Lyndhurst said to me the other day
in George Street, that 'they know the Bill accomplishes
their purpose.' Melbourne said to me at Court that ( it was
a great bouleversement, a great experiment, and we must see
how it worked.' I met him in St. James's Park afterwards,
and walked with him to the Palace. He told me the Kiiier


was in a state of great excitement, especially about this
militia question, but that the thing which affected him most
was the conduct of the Duchess of Kent her popularity-/
hunting, her progresses, and above all the addresses which
she received and replied to. He told me what the King
had said at dinner on his birthday about her. ' I cannot
expect to live very long, but I hope that my successor may
be of full age when she mounts the throne. I have great
respect for the person upon whom, in the event of my death,
the Regency would devolve, but I have great distrust of the
persons by whom she is surrounded. I know that everything
which falls from my lips is reported again, and I say this


thus candidly and publicly because it is my desire and in-
tention that these my sentiments should be made known.'
Melbourne told me that he believed Lord Durham is not in
favour with the Duchess of Kent, who has discovered that
he had made use of her for his own ends, and she has now
withdrawn her confidence from him. I asked him who her
confidants were, but he either did not know or would not
tell me.

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

We dined at Burghley on the way, and got here at two on
Sunday ; read Macintosh's Life in the carriage, which made
me dreadfully disgusted with my racing metier. What a life
as compared with mine ! passed among great and wise men,
and intent on high thoughts and honourable aspirations,
existing amidst interests far more pungent even than those
which engage me, and of the futility of which I am for ever
reminded. I am struck with the coincidence of the tastes
and/ dispositions of Burke and Macintosh, and of something
in the mind of the one which bears an affinity to that of the
other ; but their characters how different ! their abilities
how unequal ! yet both, how superior, even the weakest of
the two, to almost all other men, and the success of each so
little corresponding with his powers, neither having ever
attained any object of ambition beyond that of fame. All
their talents, therefore, and all their requirements, did not


procure them content, and probably Burke was a very un-
happy, and Macintosh not a very happy, man. The suavity,
the indolent temperament, the * mitis sapientia ' of Macintosh
may have warded off sorrow and mitigated disappointment,
but the stern and vindictive energies of Burke must have
kept up a storm of conflicting passions in his breast. But I
turn from Macintosh and Burke to all that is vilest and
foolishest on earth, and among such I now pass my unprofit-
able hours. There seems to me less gaiety and bustle here
than formerly, but as much villany as ever. From want o.
money or of enterprise, or from greater distrust and a paucity
of spectators, there is very little betting, and what there is,
spiritless and dull. There are vast crowds of people to see
the Princess Victoria, who comes over from Weiitworth to-
day, and the Due de Nemours is here. I am going to run
for the St. Leger, which I shall probably not win, and
though I am nervous and excited, I shall not care much if I
lose, and I doubt whether I should care very much if I won ;
but this latter sensation will probably be for ever.| doubtful.
There is something in it all which displeases me, and I often
wish I was well out of it.

Burghley, September 2,1st. I did lose the St. Leger,
and did not care ; idled on at Doncaster to the end of the
week, and came here on Saturday to meet the Duchess of
Kent. They arrived from Belvoir at three o'clock in a heavy
rain, the civic authorities having turned out at Stamford to
escort them, and a procession of different people all very
loyal. When they had launched, and the Mayor and his
brethren had got dry, the Duchess ) received the address,
which was read by Lord Exeter as Recorder. It talked of
the Princess as ' destined to mount the throne of these
realms.' Conroy handed the answer, just as the Prime
Minister does to the King. They are splendidly lodged,
and great preparations have been made for theii^ reception.

London, September 27th. The dinner at Burghley was
very handsome ; hall well lit ; and all went off well, except
that a pail of ice was landed in the Duchess's lap, which made
a great bustle. Three hundred people at the ball, which was


opened by Lord Exeter and the Princess, who, after dancing
one dance, went to bed. They appeared at breakfast the
next morning at nine o'clock, and at ten set off to Holkham.
Went to Newmarket on Tuesday and came to town on
Wednesday ; found it very empty and no news. Lord Chat-
ham died the day before yesterday, which is of no other
importance than that of giving some honours and emolu-
ments to Melbourne to distribute.

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

I have finished Macintosh's Life with great delight, and
many painful sensations, together with wonder and amaze-
ment. His account of his reading is utterly/ incomprehen-
sible to me ; he must have been endowed with some super-
human faculty of transferring the contents of books to his

Online LibraryCharles GrevilleThe Greville memoirs : a journal of the reigns of King George IV and King William IV : in three volumes (Volume 3) → online text (page 29 of 41)