Horace Twiss.

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

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in which neither Protestant nor Catholic could know what could be done. That diffi-
culty the absence of all definite proposals of security would alone justify him in
refusing his consent to the present motion. There was one other point to which he
was desirous to advert; he alluded to the language and sentiments promulgated by the
Catholic Association. He should pass totally over the indiscriminate virulence of
their invectives, as great allowance was to be made for the feelings of persons con-
tinually speaking on such popular and inflammatory topics. What he wished par-
ticularly to notice on this occasion was, a recent proscription, by their chief orator, of
twenty-eight county and borough members. From the tone of confidence in which


the speaker calculated on removing those obnoxious representatives, it appeared that
the Roman Catholics had already sufficient elective power in their hands, and ought
not to require that it should be increased. The noble and learned earl concluded by
conjuring their lordships, by what they owed to their king, their country, and to the
Protestant Church, to refuse their assent to this resolution.

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

(June 30ih, 1828.)

"The multitude are flowing fast out of town, and they would be flowing faster if
Queen Elizabeth's Fete was not to take place to-night in Park Lane, at Lady London-
derry's, junior's. You would see in your newspaper the names of the performers,
and the several parts they are to act.* Queen Elizabeth's dress, without her diamonds,
is said to cost 2000/. She is not to cutoff Queen Mary of Scots's head: but her majesty
Elizabeth has sent her commands to her majesty Mary to leave all herproposed maids
of honour at home, because she has not room to receive them. It is much doubted
among the fashionables whether the modern Mary bears this command of the rival
queen, as the former Mary did the order to have her head chopped off, with reason able


" Somebody is to be Earl of Essex ; whether Queen Elizabeth, like the former
queen of that name, will sign a warrant for cutting off his head, I have not learnt, but
it is said that the individual, who is to represent Essex, has not much of an head! I
declined my invitation.

" His majesty, on Saturday, gave a good dinner, in his palace here, to 'The Jockey
Club,' which venerable society comprehends some individuals who are scarcely fit
visitors at a royal mansion in a king's palace. These things are topsyturvy doings."

" July 2d, 1328.

" You'll see in the papers all the particulars of the congress between Queen Eliza-
beth and Queen Mary so I need say no more as to that, save to observe, that to keep
Mary in good humour, her maids of honour were finally allowed to enter the presence
of Queen Bess. I hear the appearance of all was very splendid the characters but
so so performed.

(July 3d, 1828.)

"I should have sent you a better scrap to-day, if two causes had not prevented it:
the one, the most excessive heat of the day, which makes one quite idle; the other
(who could believe it?) that, having last night received a message from the sovereign
intimating that I should, as a friend, call upon him, I have had a conversazione with
him of some length this morning. It had, however, no matter in it, but civil speeches
and professions of friendship and regard; but no word to account for what I don't
think very consistent with such speeches and professions. So much for that, which
I mention, because it is not unlikely that the papers may make mention of my visit,
with many conjectures and guesses what it could be about."

"July 9lh,1828.

"I am again shut up in the House of Lords, amidst the noise and brawl of counsel.

"Nothing is talked of now, which interests any body the least in the world, except
the election of Mr. O'Connell,f and the mischief it will produce among debaters in the
House of Commons, and the more serious mischief which it will, in all human pro-
bability, excite in Ireland. As O'Connell will not, though elected, be allowed to take
his seat in the House of Commons, unless he will take the oaths, &c., (and that he
won't do, unless he can get absolution,) his rejection from the Commons may excite
rebellion in Ireland. At all events, this business must bring the Roman Catholic
question, which has been so often discussed, to a crisis and a conclusion. The nature
of that conclusion I don't think likely to be favourable to Protestantism.

The Dissenters, who got the Test and Corporation Acts lately in effect repealed, have
subscribed, as appears in an Irish publication, handsomely, to support O'Connell's
election as likely to give the Roman Catholics the same benefits as the Dissenters
have received by the late act here: and the Roman Catholics in Ireland publicly avow
their determination to overset the Established Church. We shall see whether our
present rulers have the courage with which a Mr. Pitt would have acted under present
circumstances. I don't expect it of them."

* Queen Elizabeth was represented by Lady Londonderry, and Queen Mary by
Lady Ellenborongh.
f For the county of Clare.


"July I4th, 1828.

"The world affords little of novelty. The great Irish agitator, O'Connell, it is un-
derstood, is not to make his appearance this session, it being manifest that he can do
more mischief by prolonging his existence as a pretended M. P. than he could do, if
he was now to appear and be turned out of the House of Commons : and, indeed, if he
was now so to be turned out, unless Parliament passed at the same time an act to
oblige candidates at elections to take oaths and make the declaration against transub-
staniiation, which they are now obliged to take when they take, their seats in the House,
the only consequence would be, that the same force and scene of riot and confusion
would be acted over again during the recess of Parliament."

" Saturday, (probably July 19th, 1828.)

O'Connell's proceedings in Ireland, which you'll see in the papers, and the supposed
or real ambiguity which marked the D. of W.'s speech, have led to a very general
persuasion, that ministry intend, or at least that the duke intends, next session, to
emancipate the Roman Catholics, as he has the Dissenters ; and the world is uneasy."

(End of July or beginning of August, IS28.)

"Give my respects to your bishop, if he will be pleased to accept them, from one
somewhat less friendly than he is to the pope. Diversity of sentiment, honestly enter-
tained on both sides, does not weaken mutual regard and good will, where there is
real worth in the character, the whole of the man being taken together.

****** *

" The king gives a grand dinner on the 12th at Windsor Castle. He has not, as one
of his guests, invited a person of whom I can be bold enough to say that the K. is
more indebted to him than he is to any other subject he ever had in a civil department,
adding, by way of showing a little modesty, the old expression, ' though I say it who
should not say it.' "

The autumn was passed by Lord Eldon and his family as usual, at
Encombe, whence, about the beginning of September, he wrote to his
grandson, inviting him thither, and adding,
" We are living in seclusion, and mamma's state renders that matter of necessity. "

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

(Probably beginning of Sept., 1828.)

" I should be glad to comply with your request as to sending political news; but, as
the time is past in which any person corresponds with me upon political subjects, I
have neither any such news nor any person to whom I can apply for such. The
newspapers tell me that Ellenborough goes to the India Board, Melville removing to
the Admiralty, and it is intimated that Westmoreland will succeed Ellenborough. I
rather take Westmoreland to have relaxed as to the Catholic question somewhat,
but I don't know that to be the fact. If this appointment of Westmoreland takes
place, Lord Eldon seems to be the only person, in our cabinet formerly working
with the present minister, totally set aside. These things naturally make London
very disagreeable and irksome to me. You mention a person you have seen at
Worthing very shy as to talking politics. That forms a sample of the uncomfort-
ably cold treatment one meets with from persons, all over attachment and love, as it
were some little time ago. I love grumbling here in solitude, when my own mind
happens to turn to the contemplation of these things at least I prefer it to having
that grumbling called forth in every street where one meets an old political brother

" I look on the Roman Catholic question as, bit by bit, here a little and there a little,
to be ultimately, and at no distant day, carried. I have no conception that even Oxford
will struggle effectually against the great church interests which will patronize that
question, and those who support it in Parliament."

(Lord Redesdale to Lord Eldon.}

"Ratsford Park, Sept. 6ih, 1828.

" Catholics and Protestants are now openly preparing for personal contest. If the
former should gain the victory, it seems to me absurd to suppose that they will be
content without obtaining the church establishment. In those foreign countries where
Catholics and Protestants are said to live together in unity, the Catholics have their


church establishment. Such is the case in the Russian and Prussian dominions in
Poland, Silesia, &c. But the government is supreme over all; they have no Catholic
members of Parliament. Catherine of Russia and Frederick of Prussia gave the law
to all, and suffered no interference of the court of Rome but under the sanction of
their authority. In this country the limit to the power of the crown does not admit of
the same control. It is impossible to put the Catholics and Protestants of Great
Britain and Ireland on the same footing with Catholics, Protestants, and Greeks in
Russian or Prussian Poland, or in Silesia and other countries where both religions
have, in separate districts, distinct establishments. There is no resemblance between
the state of religion in Great Britain and Ireland, and the state of religion in the Rus-
sian or Prussian or Austrian dominions; or in the Netherlands, or now in France.
The example of those countries is, therefore, no example to us.


"In Ireland the Catholic clergy are independent of the laity of their own church, to
a degree which never existed in any country except, perhaps, the pope's temporal do-
minions; and I believe that even there the clergy are not so wholly independent of the
laity as the Catholic clergy of Ireland are independent of the Catholic laity. And
even in the patrimony of St. Peter, the clergy are dependent on the government of the
country, though that government is in the hands of ecclesiastics. The court of Rome
is jealous of its temporal power over its immediate subjects, and distinguishes its
temporal from its spiritual power, and is not disposed to allow its priests, as such, to
interfere with its temporal authority."


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

"Monday, (Sept. 22d, 182S.)


" Farmer Eldon has sent some sheep to Woodbury Hill. The farmer hopes they
may be fancied and bought, as we agriculturists are in but a piteous condition as
such. Our wool is a perfect drug an unsaleable commodity."

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

(End of Sept., 1S2S.)

"Have you seen the Duke of Newcastle's letter to Lord Kenyon in the ' Morning
Post?' It is well worth reading. He must expect that, whilst many people will ad-
mire his spirit and think his observations very just, multitudes of Radicals and
Liberals will abuse him unsparingly; whilst the friends and foes of ministers will
praise him and blame him with all zeal and earnestness. He is a fellow, at all
events, of good spirit, and no flmcher he speaks out most boldly. Whatever one
party may think of him as a politician, no party can refuse to him the character of a
most excellent and virtuous man in private life. If, in these times, it is a fault to be
much attached to the Established Church, as some seem to think, he is certainly as
much attached as any body living to it. Whether he will persuade his countrymen
to rally round that church, as he desires to persuade them, is another matter. I, who
think that the state is as much aimed at by the enemies of the church, as the church
itself, am afraid that his countrymen have been so long fast asleep, that it will be no
easy matter to awaken them."

The following extracts are from a letter of Lord Eldon to Lord
Howe, in answer to a request of the latter for some advice from Lord
Eldon respecting the expediency of forming Brunswick Clubs :

(Lord Eldon to Lord Howe.} (Extracts.)

(Probably Oct., 1828.)
" My dear Lord,

" Your lordship's letter, which I received yesterday, asks my opinion upon a sub-
ject, under present circumstances, of very great difficulty. But if the difficulty was
tenfold greater than it is, I shall feel it to be duty to you from me to attempt to state
that opinion.

" Whilst I was in town, it was proposed that the friends of Protestant interest, who
voted against the Roman Catholics, should, in some manner, be more in a state of
union and connection than they had hitherto been, and that they should form a club
in town, occasionally dining with each other. It was proposed that this club should
be denominated the Protestant Club; to which I objected, after expressing my perfect
willingness to be one of those who should occasionally dine togelher, not adopting that
VOL. II. 14


name of distinction, the prudence and propriety of which I doubted. I doubted the
prudence, because it appeared to me that it might provoke others to the institution of
counter institutions, which, in number of members, might be such as to found an
argument that majorities were in favour of the Catholics: I doubled the propriety of
it, because, without great deliberation antecedently exercised upon the subject, and
fixing the principles upon which the body should act, arid so fixing them that there
should be no danger of adopting measures which those principles would not sanc-
tion, there could not but be danger that measures might be adopted, which it might
not be very easy to prove to be perfectly constitutional, as completely clear of ob-
jections as might be wished."

* *****

"Already very inconvenient questions seem to have been stated, whether the calls
upon the people of the country have not, some of them, been expressed in such terms,
as make it questionable whether those, who, in such terms, make such calls, act as
legally as they ought. It is true, those who may so complain may most justly be told
that they have not so objected to the shamefully illegal proceedings of the Roman
Catholic Association; and I think it not impossible that we may hear some abusing
in Parliament the proceedings of Protestant Associations, who have mainly encou-
raged the proceedings of the Roman Catholic Association; but this is an example
not to be followed.


"I think an association of persons, formed for the purpose of representing to their
fellow-subjects the necessity, under present circumstances, of their informing Parlia-
ment, in due and respective language, of their feelings regarding the Catholic claims,
and of not continuing to leave Parliament uninformed, or under mistake as to their
feelings upon that important subject, may be very justifiable, provided such repre-
sentation is made in the terms in which Parliament ought to be mentioned, of course,
respectful terms.

"If your club, proposed Brunswick Club, is an association going beyond this, I am
afraid, my dear lord, I cannot give you any advice upon the subject, without very
precise and particular information how it is to be formed, and what are the objects
and purposes of it, and how those objects and purposes precisely are to be sought to
be obtained.

" I write this most hastily if any thing further occurs to me, I will write again or,
if I hear farther from you, I will immediately answer your letter.
" I am, very dear lord,

" Yours most faithfully,

(Lard Eldon to Lord Stowell.') (Extract.)

(Postmark November 28ih, 1828 )
* # * * * *

" If, as the Liberals say, religious opinions ought to have no influence on the exer-
cise of political power, why should the sovereign's professing the Roman Catholic
religion, or marrying a Roman Catholic princess, be, as by law it is, a forfeiture of
the crown 1 If this be a just principle, how can opposition to restoring to the Roman
Catholics that establishment which formerly belonged to them and their priesthood
be justified? If, on the otherhand,you say that religious opinions ought to have such
influence where the religious opinions may lead persons to do what is wrong, (still,) if
making both Houses of Parliament replete with Roman Catholics (nothing religious
opinions withstanding) would not lead them to do wrong, why is it to be taken for granted
that a king, being of the same religious persuasion as his Parliament, will do wrong]
The project of emancipation seems to me to be founded on assumptions, which, if
just, render much which was done in 1688, and the Act of Settlement on the Princess
Sophia and the heirs of her body being Protestants, the forfeiture of the crown by
conversion or marriage, altogether unjust; and that, if the ministers of the crown
advise his majesty to consent to emancipation as it is asked, they advise him to give
his assent to a libel on his title to the throne. But, notwithstanding all this, I cannot
forbear to think that the strong language used in many of the clubs is most mischie-
vous, and deters many from meeting to express in sober and temperate petitions their
feelings. My language in town, to those who talked to me, was to do nothing more
than, as individuals, in different parts of the country, to endeavour to convince their
neighbours that it was dangerous to leave Parliament, by not respectfully petitioning,
to act upon what was there so often and so confidently said, that the country did not
care what became of the question."




Recommendation of Catholic Relief in the king's speech : opposition of Lord Eldon in
the House of Lords : petitions. Mr. Peel's resignation of his seat for Oxford : Lord
Encombe suggested as his successor: his correspondence on that subject with Lord
Eldon : proposal withdrawn in favour of Sir R. H. Inglis : election of Lord Encombe
for Truro. Letter of Lord Eldon to Lady F. J. Bankes. Petitions respecting the
Catholic Claims: second reading of Relief Bill: committee: third reading: pro-
test. LordEldon's memorandum of two conversations with George IV. respecting
the royal assent to the Relief Bill. Letters of Lord Eldon to Lady F. J. Bankes.
Business of Equity Courts : bill to constitute new judge. Eldon law scholarships:
Vauxhall School. Changes in cabinet: Letter of Lord Eldon to LadyF. J. Bankes.
Letter forged in Lord Eldon's name: letters of Lord Eldon to Lord Encombe, to
Lord Stowell, and Lady F. J. Bankes. Illness of Lady Eldon. Illustration of
Sayers's Caricatures. Close of Lord Eldon's field sports. Diversion of a road:
letter of Lord Eldon to Lady F. J. Bankes. Testimonies of respect from clergy and

LORD ELDON had not been deceived in his anticipations of a change
in the laws affecting the Roman Catholics. Two or three days before
the meeting of Parliament, which was fixed for the 5th of February,
1829, a whisper was heard in the interior circles of political society,
that the concession of the Roman Catholic claims had been resolved
upon by the government. And upon the 4th of February, the king's
speech, which, as is usual on the day preceding the commencement
of the session, was read by the ministerial leader of each branch of
the legislature to a party of the immediate parliamentary connections
of the government assembled at his own house, was found to contain
a paragraph recommending it to Parliament " to review the laws
which impose civil disabilities on his majesty's Roman Catholic sub-

On the following night, when the address in answer to his majes-
ty's speech was debated in the House of Lords, the Earl of Eldon
was at his post. He spoke early, and declared his resolution of
opposing to the utmost the removal of the Roman Catholic disabilities.

If he had a voice that would sound to the remotest corner of the empire, he would
re-echo the principle, which he most firmly believed, that if ever a Roman Catholic
was permitted to form part of the legislature of this country, or to hold any of the great
executive offices of the government, from that moment the sun of Great Britain would
beset. [A laugh.} His opinions might be received with laughter and contempt:
opprobrium might be heaped upon their author: he nevertheless was prepared to
contend that they were correct, but trusted they would never be realized. A noble
lord (Lord Holland), than whom no man had ever argued the Roman .Catholic ques-
tion with greater fairness or moderation, had said upon one occasion, that " toleration
was a word which he one day hoped to find forming no par of the English language."


He would say of his noble friend, that no individual could be found that had paid
greater or more careful attention to the subject of Catholic disqualification. That
noble lord had expressed the wish already alluded to, and had advocated his side of
the question on the ground that "religious opinions had nothing to do with politics."
Now, if that were true if that principle were correct the king had no right to be
upon the throne of these realms. The fact was, that his majesty sat upon that throne
by*virtue and in consequence of peculiar religious opinions. The present line had
been called thither expressly for the purpose of guarding the Protestant establishment
of this country. No man had any abstract right to political office; his eligibility must
depend upon the public voice, and embraced various questions of fitness, expediency,
or otherwise. He granted, and he did so readily, that no man ought to be incapaci-
tated from serving the state, except on grounds of state policy strong, cogent, and
paramount reasons of state unless, in fact, his enjoyment of office were considered
as likely to prove injurious to the general interest. But this, he contended, was pre-
cisely the situation of the Roman Catholics ; and he challenged his opponents to prove
the converse of the proposition. Had he not felt this question to be a question of vital
importance to the state generally to his sovereign to his fellow-subjects and to
religion too which, in his opinion, had been too much neglected during the last ses-
sion, and precisely by those persons who ought to have taken more care of it [hear.']
if he had not felt this to be the case, he should not have taken the active part he had
hitherto done, and was still prepared to do, with regard to this subject. As matters
then stood, and influenced by his present feelings and conviction, no consideration
on this side of the grave could induce him to give his consent to the introduction of a
single Roman Catholic into either House of Parliament or to any political office what-
soever. What had the Roman Catholic Association done! What were they doing
daily? They were taxing the king's subjects, and assuming the powers of Parliament;
they governed the country more absolutely than the sovereign or the laws; nay, they
governed the government itself. If, instead of putting down the association, the im-
perial legislature proceeded to strengthen its hands by granting the Catholics addi-
tional privileges, it would be neither more nor less than a surrender of the throne and
the constitution into the hands of those persons. When he heard the Catholic leaders
talk of universal suffrage when he saw the association acting the part of government,
and screwing from the pockets of the wretched inhabitants of Ireland their miserable
pittances, as contributions to the Catholic rent when he observed them obtaining
the assistance of France and America he could not but feel that such an association
ought to be put down. But this could only be done by making the leaders of the asso-
ciation answerable to the common law for their acts. There was no use in dissolving
the association, except it were prevented from ever again rising into existence. The
members of it had threatened to take the field if the 40s. freeholds were put an end to.

Online LibraryHorace TwissThe public and private life of Lord Chancellor Eldon, with selections from his correspondence (Volume 2) → online text (page 31 of 65)