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The public and private life of Lord Chancellor Eldon, with selections from his correspondence (Volume 2) online

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said Honourable John Scott."

The college unanimously resolved,

" That the grandson and heir-apparent of the Earl of Eldon, in
such case, may, by the established courtesy of the realm, take and
use the second title of his grandfather, which his father, if living,
and in whose place he stands, would have been entitled by the same
courtesy to take and use."

This decision was founded upon two precedents. The first was
that of Wriothesly Russel, son of the Lord Russel who was beheaded
in 1683, and grandson of the Earl of Bedford. In 1694, after the
execution of Lord Russel, and the reversal of his attainder, the Earl
of Bedford, Lord Russel's father, was created Duke of Bedford and
Marquis of Tavistock, to hold those dignities to him and the heirs
male of his body: whereupon his grandson Wriothesly, the son of
the deceased Lord Russel, took the title of Marquis of Tavistock,
and was so designated in a subsequent patent under the great seal,
dated the 13th of June, 7 W. & M., granting to the Duke of Bedford
the barony of Rowland for life, with remainder to " Wriothesly Russel,
commonly called Marquis of Tavistock, grandson of the said duke,
and the heirs male, &c."

The other precedent, which was a little more modern, did not, like
the former, carry the sanction of the great seal, but it showed the
usage. It was in the case of Robert Shirley, grandson of Lord Fer-
rers. Before Lord Ferrers was created Earl Ferrers and Viscount
Tamworth, his son, the father of Robert, was dead; and Robert, who
died before the earl, bore in his own lifetime the title of Viscount
Tamworth, and was so described not only by himself in his will, but
by his family on his monument in the church of Stanton Harold.

In a few days after the resolution of the Heralds' College was com-
municated to Lord Eldon, he wrote a letter on the subject of it to
Mrs. Farrer, the mother of his grandson. In that letter, after adverting
to the two precedents, he proceeds thus :


"This last instance would not be of great weight, as it might be represented as the
unauthorized act of a family, if it stood otherwise unsanctioned. But the case of the
person commonly called Marquis of Tavistock was probably the precedent, which
was deemed the authority for what was done in the Ferrers family: and it is certainly
a very weighty authority, because the Tavistock case gives the title by courtesy in a
grant of the crown itself, which could not have been made, but with the sanction of
the attorney or solicitor-general and the person holding the great seal at the time.
The view I take of my duty is, that my duty to the crown is such, as would neither
induce me to permit dear John to use this name of courtesy if he was not entitled to
it, nor to decline to use it, if he is, as he seems to be, entitled to it.

"It appears to me that, with this unanimous resolution, if nothing occurs to induce
a dissent from what it asserts, (and probably nothing of that nature will occur,) that
John should use the courtesy title, which it states that he may use. The manner of
communicating this to him is what I am very anxiously thinking about, for, though I
have the utmost confidence in his good principles, at his time of life this sort of dis-
tinction cannot have a neutral effect upon his mind : it may either he received with
more of indifference about it than it ought to be received with, or it may be received
with feelings of a very different kind, and, perhaps, not less hurtful in their effects.
I shall not disguise from you who take so great an interest in him, that on this very
account I had some reluctance, if I had had any choice, about accepting promotion
in the peerage; being apprehensive that John's succeeding to a title, when I ceased
to exist, would probably be (according to what observation as to the conduct of most
young titled persons would teach one) the safest period at which he could use it. I
came down here without passing through Winchester, and, therefore, without seeing
John. I doubted, in truth, whether, in conversation, I could express myself to him as
correctly, carefully and usefully, upon this subject, as I might be able to do in a letter
addressed to him. That letter I propose to address to him with the best advice that
my judgment and extreme affection for him can dictate. I shall feel much obliged
to you if you will not mention this subject to him till I shall have informed you, by
another letter, that I have communicated with him. After you have received that
other letter, I am sure, when you write to him, you will also convey to him all that
good advice which your excellent sense and great affection for him will necessarily
render such as must be eminently useful. He is very well, was much delighted with
his visit to Fanny, and those I have here conversed with appear to have been much
pleased with him."
" Sunday, Sept. 23d, 1821."

After reflecting a few days longer, he addressed his grandson as
follows :

" Encombe, Oct. 4th, 1821.
"My dear John,

" When his majesty was lately pleased to require my acceptance of the dignities
of an earl and viscount, it was in obedience to his will, overruling my own feelings
and wishes, that I consented to become the object of so much distinction. The first
title, bestowed upon me more than twenty years ago, that of Baron Eldon, I deemed
to be more, much more, than an adequate remuneration for any services which, to
the present day, I have been able to render to the king and the country: and if the
state of my fortune had been more adequate than it really is, or ever will be, to the
support of these higher dignities, I could have wished that they should rather have
been acquired by my descendants, as a reward for their own exertions in the service
of the public, than have devolved upon them from me without efforts on their part to
obtain them. But as his majesty has been pleased otherwise to regulate this matter, '
let me imprint in your mind some most important truths (and never, my dear John,
forget my anxiety there to imprint them, as forming weighty mementos ever and
always to influence your actions, if it pleases God, that, after my removal from this
world, you succeed to these dignities), viz., that if a peer does not do credit to his
titles, his titles will confer no credit upon him; that honours are received by him
upon whom they are at first bestowed, and transmilted through him to those who
afterwards succeed to them, upon a most sacred trust, that he and they will alike
faithfully discharge the great duties which, from their rank and station in society,
they owe and must ever continue to owe to their country; that if it is a blessing to
receive distinctions which furnish the opportunities and means of doing public good,
he is altogether inexcusable who, possessing those distinctions, disgraces them and
himself by neglecting to promote the interests of the public, by availing himself of


such means and such opportunities. Believe me. high rank is a great evil to him
who possesses it, and to others connected and not connected with him, if it is not
rendered valuable to him and them, by conduct throughout his life distinguished by
that virtue which you know has been said to be ' the true and only nobility;' of which
certainly it may most justly be said, that without it there may be nominal nobility,
but honourable nobility without it there cannot be.

"These sentiments, my dear John, (and let me beseech you never to forget them,)
would apply, indeed, more aptly to your situation, if no title was to devolve upon you
either by right or by courtesy, whilst I continue to exist, than to the state in which I
mean by this letter to inform you that I am assured you are now placed ; but even to
that state you will see that they are by no means inapplicable.

"If your excellent and most dear father had been in life when I was created Earl
of Eldon and Viscount Encombe, he, during my life, would unquestionably have
used, not as of right, but the courtesy of the realm, his father's second title, instead
of the name of Mr. Scott. It was, however, matter of much doubt, as he was then
no more, whelher you, my grandson and not my son, would, by the like courtesy, be
commonly called by the name used in the second title ; and the general opinion was,
that you ought not to be so called. I felt it to be my duty to the crown not to allow
you to be so called, if the courtesy of the realm did not authorize it: I thought it also
my duty to the crown to take care that you should be commonly so called, if that
courtesy did authorize it. It, therefore, became my duty to have the question fully
considered by those who best understand the subject. I, therefore, required the
opinion of the College of Heralds, who, after very long consideration of the subject,
have at length certified to me their unanimous opinion, that you, according to the
courtesy of the realm, may use the name, and be commonly called by the name, of

" You are, therefore, my dear John, now in some sense, in my lifetime, a partaker
of one of the dignities lately conferred upon me, not, indeed, as of right having any
claim to it, but as being allowed, by what is called the courtesy of the realm, to be
commonly designated by the name in which that dignity has been granted to me.
Your present state, therefore, in a degree, calls for your serious attention to the im-
portant truths which I have pointed out as those which must be the ruling principles
of your conduct when I am removed from this scene. Even now, you must never
forget that, if you do not do credit to the name of Encombe, it will be a dishonour to
you; every time that you are, even now, addressed by that name, that address should
operate as a stimulus to increase of exertion and to good conduct. Your time, my
dear John, must be well spent and carefully husbanded. Dissipation of every kind
must be anxiously avoided. If the change in my situation, thus operating a change
in yours, should produce any evil effects if additional rank, instead of producing
and inciting to additional merit in conduct, should ever be considered by you as dis-
pensing with the necessity for continual virtuous exertion in your youth then, indeed,
my dear John, my sovereign may have lavished his honours upon me, but my happi-
ness his good intentions will have utterly destroyed. But I will not entertain, I don't
allow myself to entertain, such apprehensions. In the past good conduct of Scott I
find the firmest grounds for confidence, that good and exemplary will be the future
conduct of him who is to be commonly called Encombe. In his good principles, in
his affection for those to whom he must perceive he is an object of the warmest
affection and the most anxious concern, I will look for, and I am confident I shall
find, Jiis security and my own against all evil. Upon his recollection that increased
rank calls for increase of diligence to acquire those mental attainments which are
absolutely necessary to make rank respectable, upon his recollection that those
whom rank distinguishes should be more and more distinguished by their virtues,
I can and do confidently rely for good. My dear John, acquire knowledge and prac-
tise virtue. These are the leading points to be attended to. There are others of
minor importance, but yet of considerable importance. Among others, if rank en-
genders pride, if it produces haughtiness in conduct to those with whom we have
associated and do associate, if it considers well-regulated condescension and kind-
ness of manners as what needs not anxiously to be attended to, it becomes inexpress-
ibly odious. That happy temper, that even-mindedness, which is the ornament of
rank, will, of course, I know, lead you to prefer, greatly to prefer, in your youth, being
addressed only by the name of Encombe simply, to being addressed as of favour and
not as of right as a lord, by the folly and flattery of those who, being foolish, can do
you no good, and if flatterers, will not intend to do you any good.

"And now, dear John, may God Almighty bless and preserve you! Accept my


love, grandmamma's, William Henry's, Mr. Bankes's and Aunt Fan's, and believe
me to be Your ever affectionate grandfather,


"I should not do justice to my opinion of your sense and judgment, if I did not
believe that they would have suggested to you all that I have written, and much more
than I have written ; but I could not satisfy my anxious affection for you without thus
addressing you. With the contents of this letter I can't mix a detail of what is pass-
ing here : that I reserve for another. I enclose a letter for you, received here iu a
cover from your mamma.

"My next letter will be addressed to you by the name of Encombe."

Mrs. Fairer, having enclosed to Lord Eldon a letter from herself
to her son upon the same subject, which, after a further communica-
tion from Lord Eldon, she now proposed that he should forward to
Lord Encombe, the answer of Lord Eldon was as follows :

(Lord Eldon to Mrs. Farm-.) (Extract.)

"Oct. 23d, 1821.

"I did not receive your letter till last night; it having been mis-sent by the post to

"For that which it enclosed, and which I shall by this post send to dear John, I beg
you to accept my most cordial thanks, and I feel very gratefully your most kind,
though unnecessary condescension, in submitting it to my consideration before it
should be received by him. I received from John a letter last night in answer to mine
to him upon the subject which has lately engrossed our attention, and nothing did ever
give me greater satisfaction than that letter. I think it probable that he has preserved
my letter; and, if so, he can show you what I wrote to him. Our thoughts, as ex-
pressed in our respective letters, are much alike, but comparison will prove what
has been so often remarked, that female correspondence has a charm in it of which
that of my sex is always devoid."

Lord Redesdale, on the accession of the Whigs to power in 1806,
had quitted the chancellorship of Ireland ; but he continued to take a
lively interest in the affairs of that country, and made them the fre-
quent subject of his correspondence with Lord Eldon. The results
of his experience are not unimportant in reference to our own times.

(Lord Redesdale to Lord Eldon.}

"Batsford, Sept. loth, 1821.


" It is rumoured that Lord Talbot is to be the last Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. I do
not think that Ireland is ripe for such a change.

* * * # * * *

"If the court of the lord lieutenant were removed, few of the Irish gentlemen who
remain in Ireland would continue there. The court at Dublin also contributes to the
civilization of Ireland, by introducing something of good manners among those who
frequent it."

(Lord Redesdale to Lord Eldon.}

"Batsford, Dec. 19th, 1821.


"The visit (of George IV.) to Ireland I always thought imprudent; and the conduct
there very imprudent. It was to me ridiculous to find O'Connell a flaming courtier;
and I had no doubt of the sequel. Ministers have fancied that Ireland would do better
without a lord lieutenant, and some of them have called his office a useless pageant.
But, under the present circumstances, they would govern the colonies as well without
governors as they can govern Ireland without that pageant. If the pageant is useless,
it is because they make it useless; because they give him a secretary to thwart him,
or to be a viceroy over him. The office of lord lieutenant requires, in my opinion, a
considerable portion of ability, sound judgment, discretion, firmness, good temper and
conciliating manners. Such a lord lieutenant ought to be supreme. If ministers think
fit to appoint to such an office a man wholly unqualified for it, they must put him in


leading strings and give him a secretary with all the qualities which the lord lieute-
nant ought to have, and, moreover, with a disposition to conceal rather than to display
his power over his superior to lead and not to command the lord lieutenant.

"In England the machine goes on almost of itself; and therefore a very bad driver
may manage it tolerably well. It is not so in Ireland. That country requires great exer-
tion to bring it to a state of order and submission to law. The whole population, high
and low, rich and poor, Catholic and Protestant, must all be brought to obedience
to law: all must be taught to look up to the law for protection and to treat it with
reverence. The character of the gentry, as well as of the peasantry, must be changed :
the magistracy must be reformed. There must be no such sheriff as Sir V.C., whose
letters you may remember to have seen in an appeal case in the Lords; no such justices
of the peace; and the principal nobility and gentry must be prevailed upon to act as
justices of the peace, as they do in England and to attend the Quarter Sessions. The
gentry are ready enough to attend grand juries to obtain presentments for their own
benefit, but they desert the Quarter Sessions of the peace. The first act of a consta-
ble in arrest must not be to knock down his prisoner ; and many, many reforms must
be made, which can only be effected by a judicious and able government on the spot.-
Ireland, in its present state, cannot be governed in England. The final administration
may be controlled here ; but the general executive government must be under the
immediate control of an administration on the spot, seeing and knowing accurately
and minutely all the exigences of such a government, the means of effecting changes
which must be operated gradually, by persuasion, by the workings of the minds of the
people, and with a prompt and ready hand to control and instantly to put down
every obstacle to the course of reform.


"If insubordination compels you to give, how are you to retain by law what you
propose to retain, whilst insubordination remains 1 It can only be by establishing
completely the empire of the law that you can retain what the law authorizes you to
retain. The physical force is with those who will disobey the laws : it is only by
supplying the defect of physical force by political power that you can retain men in
obedience to law, who are disposed to break it and have the physical force necessary
to support them in disobedience."


The last week of December, 1821, brought a very pleasant letter
from the king, indicating any thing but an intent to change his chan-

(King George IV. to Lord Eldon.)

" Brighton, Dec. 26th, 1821.
" My dear friend,

" You flattered me that when you had relaxation from business you would make
me a short visit. It strikes me that next Monday and Tuesday are the two most
probable days to afford you such an opportunity; therefore, if this should be so, and
unless you have formed any pleasanter scheme for yourself, pray come to me then. I
believe it will be necessary for you to swear in one or two of my state servants, the
most of whom you will find assembled here ; therefore pray be properly prepared. I
hope it is not necessary for me to add how truly happy I should be, if our dear and
good friend Lord Stowell would accompany you. A hearty welcome, good and warm
beds, turkey and chine, and last, though not least in love, liver and crow, are the order
of the day. Ever, my dear lord,

" Most sincerely yours,

G. R.
"P. S. N. B. No church preferment will be requested upon the present occasion."

The distress of the agriculturists, and the temporary inconveniences
of the return to a metallic currency, had produced so strong a feeling
of discontent among various classes of the nation, that the ministry
now found it necessary to take some steps for strengthening their
position in Parliament. The leaders of the Whig opposition were
most of them men of more reputation for brilliancy and boldness than


for the judgment, the experience, the firmness, the forbearance, and
the application, which are requisite in office: from their rivalry,
therefore, the ministers apprehended very little; but there was a
section of their allies, the immediate followers of Lord Grenville, of
whom several, having held political employments and possessing
habits of general business, had considerable practical usefulness.
Without some coadjutors so qualified, it was conceived that the
Whigs, if office should at any time be offered to them, could hardly
manage to construct an administration steady and serviceable enough
to be tolerated by the country : and thus it was judged that the most
effectual way to disable that party from supplanting the then ministry
would be to detach their working men. The Grenvilles, whose
general principles were not materially different from those of the
majority of the cabinet, (except upon the Catholic question, on which,
however, they had the concurrence and countenance of Lord Lon-
donderry,) accepted the proposal of office : and their adhesion, though
it brought but little of positive strength to the ministers, produced,
perhaps, the effect which Lord Liverpool had expected from it, of in-
creasing the disadvantages of the opposition.

The enrolment of the Grenville party in the ministerial ranks was,
however, extremely unacceptable to the friends of the government in
general ; especially as the new recruits were not enlisted without a
smart bounty, of which it was thought that the old and stanch sup-
porters of the ministry would have been much more deserving recipi-
ents. To see a section who had done nothing for the interest of the
party, nay, had usually thwarted those interests, invested with a vari-
ety of offices and honours to the exclusion of many who had borne
the heat and burthen of the day, was matter of annoyance, not only to
the feelings of disappointed individuals, but to the general sense of
justice throughout the party. To Lord Eldon, as a personal question,
the subject was of course indifferent ; but it was distasteful to him
upon broad grounds of principle and prudence.

(Lord Eldon to Lady F. J. Bankes.} (Extract)

"Jan. 14th, 1822.

"This coalition, I think, will have consequences very different from those expected
by the members of the administration who have brought it about. I hate coalitions."*

The ministry, however, had obtained, before the opening of Par-
liament, a most important addition to the strength of their cabinet, in
the person of Sir Robert, then Mr. Peel, who had accepted the office
of secretary for the home department in the room of Lord Sidmouth ;
that nobleman retaining a seat in the cabinet without any political office.
Thus reinforced, the ministers met Parliament on the 5th of February,
1822, when the session was opened by the king in person.

(Lord Eldon to Lady F. J. Bankes.) (Extract of two letters.)

" Feb. 21gt, 1822.
" Lord Holland says all articles are now to be had at low prices, except Grenvilles

* See his letter to Mr. Perceval, Chap. XXXIII.
VOL. II. 7


Lord Erskine, alluding to Charles Wynn's voice, 1 says, ministers are hard run, but
they still have a squeak for it."

" March IGth, 1822.

"I am not aware what they were ahout in the Commons last night. In the Lords
we passed the 5 per Cent. Bill, and some petitions were presented about Irish tithes:
one was presented by the Duke of Devonshire, making a speech, which, for its ele-
gance, in sentiment and language, surprised me very much as it did the whole House."

The Catholic question, as usual, was among the most prominent
matters of the season. Mr. Canning having given notice in the House
of Commons, for the 30th of April, of a bill reinstating the Catholic
peers in their legislative privileges, the lord chancellor writes thus to
his brother :

(Lard Eldon to Lord Slowell.) (Extract.)

(Probably April, 1822.)

" Dear Brother,

" Nothing new to-day.

" Peel is studying much the objections to Canning's motion. Canning says the
peers should be first restored, because they were last excluded. The Papist king was
the last excluded.

"I understand that Elstree has made some families happy. It is a most dreadful
set-off' against that, that the disposal of it has rendered pretty nearly thirty most mise-
rable. My applying clergy may be divided into two classes applicants who have
begot twelve children, and applicants who are most anxious to marry in order to beget
twelve; and every man of each class thinks the chancellor bound to provide for him
and his, that are and are to be. My present situation demands that I put a stop to all
future applications to me: seventy-one on the 4th of June as an individual; twenty

Online LibraryHorace TwissThe public and private life of Lord Chancellor Eldon, with selections from his correspondence (Volume 2) → online text (page 13 of 65)