Horace Twiss.

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

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brought the subject before the House of Lords, complaining of the
protest, Lord Eldon himself spoke a few words in favour of the mea-

He said that after a bill had once passed, the sense of the House must be consi-
dered as having been distinctly pronounced on it. If the House were supposed to
have acted hastily, the course was to move for the repeal of the bill. He was far,
however, from insinuating that such a course would be proper in the present case :
his opinion was decidedly otherwise. With respect to the oath of allegiance, he must
say, as a lawyer, that it contained in it every thing included in the oath of supremacy:
and that the oath of supremacy was in fact added as an explanation of the oath of
allegiance, or, as Lord Hale had expressed it, was passed to unravel the errors that
had crept in.*

The bill having thus cleared its way through the House of Lords,
went unopposed through the House of Commons, and became law as
the 5th Geo. 4. c. 109.

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

(June, 1821.)

" Yesterday we had our party: all went off very well. The whole in good, or rather
high, humour.

" 1. Self. 2. Duke of York. 3. Duke of Wellington. 4. Duke of Montrose. 5.
Marquis of Hertford. 6. Lauderdale. 7. Gifford. 8. Shaftesbury. 9. Gwydir. 10.
Redesdale. 11. Stowell. 12. Lonsdale. 13. W. H. J. Scott.
"The king gone out of town yesterday evening. He sent me a message by the

* It does not appear on what ground Lord Eldon consented to dispense with the
declaration against transubstantiation.


Duke of York, that he would have dined if he had been asked. He should certainly
have been asked if I had been aware that he would have condescended to permit me
to send him an invitation. I have not heard, however, of his dining out since the
crown descended upon him. Perhaps it is better, great as the honour would have
been, that I did not know that he would "have conferred it: for as to these things, such
a condescension would have excited a good deal of jealousy in some men's minds;
for there are such feelings in the minds of some (notwithstanding all the prayers they
offer up to be delivered therefrom) as feelings of malice, hatred, envy and unchari-
tableness ; and that, too, where there is no ground or excuse for harbouring such

"To do mamma justice, she gave us what W. H. J. S. would call, and did call, a
most handsome set out. And she is very well, and pleased with the whole a little
fatigued, perhaps, for you know her anxieties will not let her devolve these things
upon others in relief of herself."

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

"Friday (June 25th, 1824.)

"Yesterday the Duke of Wellington's dinner. Did not get there till past eight
all the turtle gone, alas! Ditto, all the fish very splendid; open window on my
left side got a cold thereby. In the evening hundreds came one in fifty was as
many as I knew. The king went in great state with an escort of horse. I think that
job and prorogation to-day will lay him up.


"At dinner yesterday, 1. The king. 2. Duke of York. 3. The lady ! 4, 5. Duke
and Duchess of Wellington. 6, 7. Count Lieven and lady. 8. Prince Polignac. 9.
Dutch ambassador. 10. Chancellor. 11. Marquis Conyngham. 12. His son. 13.
His daughter. 14. Liverpool. 15. Bathurst. 16. Melville. 17,18. Lord and Lady
Warwick. 19, 20. Lord and Lady Gwydir. 21. Lord Glenlyon. 22. Mr. Canning.
23. Mr. Robinson. 24. Lord Maryborough. 25. Lord Westmoreland. 26. Mr. Peel.
And two more, I forget who."

In the afternoon of the day on which the last letter was written,
the session was closed by the king in person.

(Lord Eldon to Lady F. J. Sanies.) (Extract.)

" June 2Gih, 1824; Saturday.

"Parliament's last day is over, and well over. The king went to the House and
was amazingly well received in going and returning.


Mamma took a view of the show in her carriage. The king espied her, and, bowing
to her in going, gave her no less than three acknowledgments of the same kind in

(Extracts of Letters from Lord Eldon to Lady F. J. Banlces.')

"July 6th, 1824.

"I forgot to tell you any particulars of Hertford-house warming.
" We had Lady Hertford, who still looks blooming.

We had also Emily, Lady Londonderry. She informs me that my friend Catalani,
who has been delighting the lovers of music at Cambridge, is now not much better
at an Italian air than I fancy myself to be; that Rossini is the very thing, but, as he
will not display his powers, even at a private concert, for less than 80 guineas, few
people can afford to be enraptured by his semi-demi-quavers.

"I have given Gaselee his patent as a judge to-day, to make him ready for the
Norfolk circuit. There being three Serjeants, three of my fingers are beautified by
gold rings. They have all the same motto, and it does not seem to me to be a very
well-chosen one. ' Bonis legibus, judiciis gravibus,' which, being interpreted, is, ' By
good laws and weighty judgments.' Rather flat this."

"July 7th, 1824.

" Dined yesterday with Lord and Lady Londonderry. We had a christening.


"After the ceremony, a grand dinner in a grand house: 42 at dinner, about 30
servants, about 100 candles.


IV! any fine ladies there Mrs. Littleton* the handsomest. The house is in Park Lane,
and has been altered and altered till it is magnificent ; very full of fine pictures.


Dine at the Duke of York's to-day, after a great review of cavalry by him at Houns-
low-heath, to which Johnf and my lady are hurrying."

(Evening of same day.)

"The commander-in-chief, the field marshals, the generals, the lieutenant-generals,
&c. &c., were all drenched with torrents of rain at the review yesterday ; and the
ladies, who were in open carriages, came to town, dripping and wet, as if they had
been amusing themselves in the Thames.

" I dined with the Duke of York, who spoke of the conduct of the artillery at this
review in terms which it would have delighted the Dyneleys to hear. Our sovereign
lord the king did not attend. No weather would have prevented George III. from
being at the head of his troops."

"Sunday (July llth, 1824)

"There was what is called a grand review in Hyde Park yesterday. They who
understand such exhibitions speak well of it. To me it seemed to consist of nothing
but noise and smoke. The Duke of York was, 1 hear, very popular, and prodigiously
cheered. My royal master was in Carlton House, i. e., within half a mile of this
scene, but did not approach it. It is astonishing what is lost by this sort of dealing,
and it is grievous that the popularity which might be so easily earned, and acquired
at so small an expenditure of time and trouble, should not only not be secured, but a
feeling of disgust and reproach be engendered towards a person with respect to whom
a very different feeling most easily might and ought to be created."

" Sunday (August 1st, 1824.)

"I have some, and no small comfort, to-day, in having my organs of hearing re-
lieved from the eternal din of the tongues of counsel. I am sometimes tormented by
the noise of Lady Gwydir's Scotchmen playing under my windows upon the Scotch
instrument vulgarly called the bagpipes; but there is music in that droning instru-
ment compared to the battle of lawyers' tongues. This, however, I must get through,
somewhat more, before they can be silenced.

"My royal master is amusing himself, and I am sorry to add, amusing some others,
pretty publicly, at Windsor. In the overturn there the other day, in sight of the party
of ladies and gentlemen, Admiral Sir E. Nagle fell on Sir A. Barnard, and hurt him.
The admiral was only distressed by his small clothes being rent in pieces in the view
of those who should not have beheld that spectacle."

It was a common complaint against Lord Eldon that his dislike to
changes indisposed him even to improvements. It is not to be denied
that his apprehension of unknown evils did sometimes restrain him
from securing an attainable good ; but, where he saw his way clearly,
he sometimes (even in matters of legal administration, from which he
was supposed to be especially averse,) amended with no less decision
than skill. The following resolution, found among Lord Eldon's
papers, will show the value set upon his legal reforms by the people
of Scotland :

(October 13th, 1824 )

"In a general meeting of the freeholders, commissioners of supply and justices of
the peace, of the county of Ross, held in Tain upon the thirteenth day of October
eighteen hundred and twenty-four years,

"It was unanimously resolved, that the thanks of this county be respectfully ten-
dered to the Right Honourable John, Earl of Eldon, Lord High Chancellor of England,
for the eminent service he has rendered Scotland, by applying his great talents and
extensive legal knowledge to the improvement of the forms under which the law is

The present Lady Hatherton. } John Bull.


administered in our courts of justice a service forming a worthy sequel to that un-
bounded labour and painful anxiety, bestowed by him on the decision of cases in the
supreme appellate jurisdiction, which have justly endeared his name to the people
of Scotland : and that Sir James Wemyss Mackenzie, Baronet, member of Parliament
for this county and Presses of this meeting, be requested to communicate the senti-
ments of the county to his lordship.

"Extracted from the minutes,

" By order of the county, by

"H. J. CAMERON, joint county clerk."

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

"November 15th, 1824.

"At about eleven Sir William Knighton called upon me, ordered, as he said, to
give me the king's affectionate regards; and, if all Sir William said is Gospel truth,
very affectionate, indeed, they must be. He still remains with too much gout to come
to town, but hopes to manage it by Saturday, to have the recorder's report. I shall
be glad, for his sake and every body's sake, when that is over, because, whether Mr.
Fauntleroy is to suffer or not had best be a point disposed of, instead of the passions
of people being so much agitated by publications, petitions, &c. Even 'John Bull,'
to my astonishment, writes rather for Fauntleroy yesterday.

** *

"How people's property is to be protected, how the persons, who are existing in
comfort and happiness to-day, are to hope to have any thing to live upon to-morrow,
how it is to be said that all who have been executed for forgery have not been
murdered, if example is not made of Mr. F., is beyond my conception.
***** * *

"News from Lulworth: viz., that the Duke of Gloucester, walking out, met an old
woman, who begged pardon of him for having stolen some pheasants' eggs, but,
having set them under hens, she had about thirty young pheasants: and, as she was
in want and had confessed, she hoped he would bestow his charity upon her, and if
he would send next day to where she lived, the pheasants should be sent to Lul worth.
He gave her half a s'overeign; but, on sending next day, neither the place, the woman,
nor the pheasants were to be found."

As a set-off to this piece of Dorsetshire roguery, it is but fair to
subjoin some stories which Lord Eldon used to tell of Dorsetshire
simplicity :

" Our old woman Betty, at the lodge at Encombe, complained that
people came into the place and stole wood, and that she did not
know what to do about them. ' Well,' said I, ' Betty, we must have
them apprehended, and sent to Dorchester jail, and tried before the
judges there.' 'Oh,' said Betty, 'that will never do, for they will
send the judges a little money, as they always do, and then they are
quite sure to get away.' 'Surely,' said I, 'Betty, you don't think so
ill of us judges ?' ' Not of your lordship,' said Betty, ' but all the rest
will take a little money.' "

" When out shooting at Encombe, we went through a field, where
a boy was employed to drive off the crows and rooks from new-sown
wheat. I perceived the boy following us in our sport, at least a mile
from that field. ' My boy,' said I, ' how came you to leave your
work? the birds will get all the wheat.' 'Oh no, my lord,' said
the boy, ' they saw your lordship in the field, and they won't dare
come again now they know your lordship has been there.' "

" I found another boy very busy in pelting down walnuts. I asked
him what he was about. He said he was only keeping sheep. I
asked him if the sheep were at the top of the walnut tree. 'I do not
see them there now, please your lordship,' answered the boy."


(Lord Eldon to Lady F. Banfces.) (Extract.)

(November, 1824.)

"Lord Stowell seems hearty; the vice-chancellor, I think, very so so. Lord Gifford
is grown fat. The lord chancellor beats them all, out and out, he is so strong and

( Lord Redesdale to Lord Eldon.} (Extract.)

"Batsford, December 31st, 1824.

* * *

"Lord C.'s letter also refers to a subject of some importance the difference be-
tween the law of England and the law of Ireland, on the subject of landlord and ten-
ant: I will not trouble you with it now.


"No one reads impartially the history of Ireland. Read impartially, it cannot be
denied that the mere Irish had, at all times, much ground for complaint. They were
savages, and ought to have been civilized by the English government. But it was for
the advantage of individuals to keep them savage, and to plunder them of their lands,
by driving them, by oppression, into rebellion; and the English, settled amongst the
mere Irish, became Irish in civilization and conduct, and were treated as mere Irish.

"I learn that Lord Fingall and others, Catholics of English blood, are alarmed at
the present state of things; and they may be well alarmed. If a revolution were to
happen in Ireland, it would be in the end an Irish revolution, and no Catholic of Eng-
lish blood would fare better than a Protestant of English blood. So said Lord Castle-
haven, an Irish Catholic general of English blood, 170 years ago; and so said a R. C.
of Irish blood, cum fid mil ally to me, above twenty years ago. The question is, not
simply Protestant and Catholic, but English and Irish: and the great motive of action
will be hatred of the Sasenugh, inflamed by the priests, who will be considered as
priests, whether of Irish, or English, or any foreign blood; as the priests, in England,
as well as in Ireland, were formerly, in many parts, Italians, or other foreigners. The
country of the priest is not considered. He can have no legitimate progeny. He has,
as priests, no landed property to convey to his relations. He is an isolated being, not
regarded as one of the Irish nation, but merely as spriest.


"That the separation of Ireland from England is the object of the Irish Roman
Catholics, I have no doubt. Without that separation, they can neither make the
Catholic religion the established religion of Ireland, nor give to the mere Irish the for-
feited lands in Ireland. The priests must have that object in view ; as it would imme-
diately give them, as they hope, the establishment, with all its revenues. Perhaps
they are deceived in that hope. A revolution in Ireland would be like the French
revolution, and would apply the revenues of the church to the wants of the state. So
it was in Spain and Portugal, and so I think it would be in Ireland. But the Irish
priests do not see so far.

"I have now troubled you with a long letter: but the subject is important, and you
are almost the only person standing in the gap.

"Affectionately yours,


(Lord Redesdale to Lord Eldon.}

"Batsford, Jan. llth, 1825.

"Great pains have been taken by the present government of Ireland to make those
whom they call Orangemen (formerly called Williamites in opposition to those called
Jacobites) odious in England, and then to include Protestants, generally, under the
denomination of Orangemen. When I was in Ireland, Orangemen were scarcely
heard of, and little considered. The Irish government has made them considerable
by persecution.

* * * . * * * *

"The priests, and the lower orders of Catholics, are urged by hopes and by expec-
tation of plunder. The higher orders, I have no doubt, secretly dread the conse-
quences; and especially those who are of English blood. The Irish families, who
have embraced the Protestant religion, know that they are considered as renegades,
and that they have as little mercy to expect as the Protestants of English blood. They
know, that if the Catholics should prevail, the marriage of their parents, if solemnized
by a Protestant clergyman, and the legitimacy of their birth, will be denied. The


titles to their lands will not be disputed by claimants of forfeited estates, but by their
own Catholic relations, claiming as the legitimate heirs of their families. They are,
perhaps, more agitated than those whose titles depend on the strength of forfeitures.
But there are many Catholic as well as Protestant families, of Irish blood, who tremble
for the consequences of any explosion. All the lower orders, bearing the names of
their ancient septs, O'Donoghues, O'Sullivans, O'Sheas, O'Tooles, &c., &c., conceive
that the land which formerly belonged to the sept is justly the property of the whole,
and that each ought to have a share."




Letters of Lord Eldon to Lady F. J. Barikes. Mr. Brougham's invective against Lord
Eldon: letters of Lord Eldon to Lady F. J.Bankes and Mr. Surtees. Speeches
of Lord Eldon: Irish Associations: Game Laws. Assertion of the right of the
clergy to petition Parliament. Duke of York's declaration against the Roman
Catholics : Lord Eldon's version of it. Letters of Lord Eldon tc Lady F. J. Bankes.
Catholic question: wings. Letters of Lord Eldon to Lady F. J. Bankes. Cor-
ruption of blood. Arrears in chancery. Letters of Lord Eldon to Lady F. J.
Bankes. Sir Francis Burdett's motion for evidence taken by chancery commis-
sion. Judges' Salaries Bill: emoluments of the great seal. Letters of Lord Eldon
to Lord Encombe and the Rev. H. J. Ridley. Motion of Sir F. Burdett respecting
chancery arrears : letters from Lord Eldon to Lord Liverpool, and from Lord Liver-
pool to Lord Eldon.

(Lord Eldon to Lady F. J. Bankes.~) (Extracts.)

(Probably Feb. 2d, 1825.)

" HATID working days are now approaching and all that I observe, upon which I
can form conjectures and estimate probabilities, I think, warrants me in thinking that,
however cold it may be out of the Houses of Parliament, there will be no want of
warmth in them. However, my temper has been so often tried there, that I defy any
who shall be there, be they few or be they many, who shall attempt it, to infuse any
heat into my temper or my words, though the latter, in matters in which I think the
country deeply interested, will not be wanting in evincing determination and firm-
ness. Consistency, too, they will manifest, and, as I think that change of opinion from,
wrong to right is much to be preferred to obstinacy in adhering to what is wrong, it
is no small consolation to me to be sure that I can walk in the path in which I have
been accustomed to walk in public matters, under a full conviction that I have been
in the right way.

" To-day we have cabinet in Downing Street, and council at Carlton House, to try
if we can make a good speech for the king. But there are too many hands at work
to make a good thing of it, and so you will think, I believe, when you read it."

"Thursday, (1825.)

"The king's speech was settled yesterday, in the ante-room to his bed-room, he
having too much gout to come down stairs. His arm, in which part of the disorder
is, was slung in a black handkerchief, and he seemed to be in a good deal of pain. I
don't much admire the composition or the matter of the speech. My old master, the
late king, would have said that it required to be set off by good reading. It falls to
my lot to read it, and I should read it better if I liked it better."

With this speech, the chancellor opened the session of 1825, on
the 3d of February. Among other matters of importance, it noticed
the existence of associations in Ireland, whose proceedings were irre-
concilable with the spirit of the constitution and dangerous to the
public peace ; and it called upon Parliament to consider the means
of applying a remedy. The scope of this passage fairly included both
Catholic and Orange associations ; but was represented as really in-
cluding only the former. In the Commons' debate on the address in


answer to the speech, Mr. Brougham, after urging the pro-Catholic
section of the cabinet to press their colleagues for emancipation, pro-
ceeded thus :

"Of what are they afraid? What is their ground of alarm? Are they apprehen-
sive that the result would be the resignalion of any of their colleagues? Do they
think that any one of their coadjutors, some man of splendid talents, of profound
learning, of unwearied industry, would give up his place? Do they think he would
resign his office? that he wouldquit the great seal? Prince Hohenloe is nothing to the
man who could effect such a miracle \Jtrar! and a laugh}. A more chimerical appre-
hension never entered the brain of a distempered poet. Any thing but that. Many
things may surprise me; but nothing would so much surprise me as that the noble
and learned individual to whom I allude should quit his hold of office while life
remains. A more superfluous fear than that of such an event never crossed the
wildest visionary in his dreams. Indeed, sir, I cannot refrain from saying, that I
think the right hon. gentlemen opposite greatly underrate the steadiness of mind of
the noble and learned individual in question. I think they greatly underrate the
firmness and courage with which he bears, and will continue to bear, the burthens
of his high and important station. In these qualities the noble and learned lord has
never been excelled has never, perhaps, been paralleled. Nothing can equal the
forbearance which he has manifested. Nothing can equal the constancy with which
he has borne the thwarts that he has lately received on the questions of trade. His
patience, under such painful circumstances, can be rivaled only by the fortitude
with which he bears the prolonged distress of the suitors in his own court; but, to
apprehend that any defeat would induce him to quit office, is one of the vainest fears
one of the most fantastic apprehensions that was ever entertained by man. Let
him be tried. In his generous mind, expanded as it has been by his long official cha-
racter, there is no propensity so strong as a love of the service of his country. He
is no doubt convinced that the higher an office the more unjustifiable it is to abandon
it. The more splendid the emoluments of a situation, the more ex tensive its patron-
age, the more he is persuaded that it is not allowed to a wise and good man to tear
himself from it. I contend, therefore, that the right hon. gentlemen opposite under-
rate the firmness of their noble and learned colleague. Let them make the experi-
ment; and if they succeed in wrenching power from his gripe, I shall thencefor-
ward estimate them as nothing short of miracle-mongers. His present station the
noble and learned lord holds as an estate for life. That is universally admitted. The
only question is, whether he is to appoint his successor. By some it is supposed
that he has actually appointed him, and I own I have observed several symptoms of
such being the case. If it be so, I warn that successor, that he will be exceedingly
disappointed, if he expects to step into the office a single moment before the decease
of its present holder [a laugh]. However, I do entreat, that the perseverance of this
eminent person may be put to the test. Let the right hon. gentlemen say he will
resign, if the Catholic question is not carried in the cabinet: let the noble and learned
lord say that he will resign if it is carried. I am quite sure of the result. The
Catholic question would be carried; but the noble and learned lord would retain his
place. He would behave with the fortitude which has distinguished him in the other
instances in which he has been defeated; and the country would not be deprived, for
a single hour, of the inestimable benefit of his services [ laugh]. To return, how-
ever, to the state of Ireland.

"The speech talks of associations in the plural. That is not wilhont an object. I
warn the House, however, not to be taken in by the contrivance That little letters is
one of the slyest introductions that Belial ever resorted to, in any of those speeches

Online LibraryHorace TwissThe public and private life of Lord Chancellor Eldon, with selections from his correspondence (Volume 2) → online text (page 20 of 65)