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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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of the motion, which was made by Lord Wicklow in a very good speech, naturally
introduced, as combatants upon the floor, the ministers who have remained in, and
the ministers who have gone out. They talked of their feelings of kindness for each
other, as if they had been sweethearts parted. Lord Grey talked as if he meant that
the Protestant Church of Ireland should divide good things with another church in
Ireland. The ex-ministers insisted against any of the good things of the church, if
there was ever so much too much belonging to it, being taken from it. Grey insisted
that the state had a right to dispose of what the church had too much, as the state
thought proper. There was little opportunity for an old lawyer to speak. I only
therefore said, that I absolutely denied the right right and arbitrary power are too
very different things, but I totally denied that, according to law, the state had any
such right. I did not know whether (if, when hereafter the great debate upon this
important subject should come on, I should not be personally present) the House
would do me the honour to remember that, as an old lawyer, I in my place denied
the right of the state to p xercise any such power of disposing of church property as
was claimed; but that I was determined to take the chance of its being recollected.

"To-morrow evening I go part of the way to Oxford."

" Sunday, (June Sth, 1834.)

" From Maidenhead to-morrow morning I go to Oxford, as the Duke of Wellington
and I are, on that day, to dine with the vice-chancellor, at his house in University
College, where he gives us both beds, and without more company than ourselves, I
believe. I am forced t,o move a little forward to-day, on account of the difficulty of get-
ting horses for the whole journey, if the whole is tried to morrow. The earnest desire


expressed to me by so many of the university, that I should at least make my appear-
ance there on this occasion, and the reasons, of a public nature and with reference to
public interests, are so strong for my doing so, that repairing there has appeared to
me unavoidable ; but, after I have been there enough to satisfy the reasons for my
going at all, I shall quit, and not stay the business throughout.

" What you will have seen in the papers is true enough, that I could not be heard
the other night in the House of Lords. Indeed I made no effort to be heard, but if I
had, I should not have succeeded; for, though my head is as capable of meditating
upon weighty subjects as it ever was, and rny memory as retentive as it ever was,
my voice has become (as at my time of life is natural, I believe always the case)
weaker, and yet I assure you, because I know it will be a comfort so to assure you,
that my general strength and health are a great deal improved: indeed, no attention
to it has been spared by my medical adviser."

In a letter to Lady Frances, written on the 15th of June, the day
of his return to London from the Oxford installation, he gives this
account of his own movements.

" Sunday (Juni5th, 1834; written from London.)


" In my way to Oxford I met with nothing to make my journey difficult, till I arrived
at Hanley, where I found carriages of all descriptions stopped for want of horses,
ladies and gentlemen and noblemen strolling about, till those horses that had been
written for and promised should come back from the next stage towards Oxford, to
which the poor horses had, poor fellows! taken two journeys in the course of the
morning and back again, and should be ready to undertake a third. As I was to dine
at the vice-chancellor's, a Henley man, not an innkeeper, accommodated me with a
pair of his own, and I got to Benson, and from thence to Oxford, with another pair
from the inn at Benson, but so tired, poor fellows ! that it was most distressing to see
them in my progress. I did arrive, however, at the vice-chancellor's in time: and, a
little after, arrived also at the vice-chancellor's the Duke of Wellington. He, as well
as I, was obliged to make his entrance into Oxford with only a pair of poor misera-
bly tired hack post-horses. We were both lodged, throughout the whole time, at the
vice-chancellor's house, and our parties in it were comfortably small.

" The next morning was a fine morning, and the procession from University Col-
lege to the Theatre was all on foot, through countless multitudes in the streets, cheer-
ing and huzzaing as we passed along. In this procession were alrnostall the doctors
in divinity and law, except the bishops ; and in this, as there generally are in such
spectacles, some very well dressed pickpockets, one of whom contrived to empty the
pockets of Lady Sidmouth's maid, who unfortunately had a good deal of cash in it,
I believe about fifteen pounds. This genteel pickpocket was dressed in academical
gown and robes.


" The dinner that day was given, and a very splendid dinner it was, in University
College. I conjecture that we had thirty peers or more at our banquet. The hall of
University College has been put, by repairs, and ornaments, and embellishments, in a
state of perfect beauty. We had some good speeches after dinner, and I did, in that
way, as well as I could. The company sat long, and afterwards most of them went
to the concert, but I did not adventure so to do."

The admission of doctors in the theatre, which had begun on the
Tuesday, was continued on the Wednesday. The following are the
particulars of the ceremonial as far as it regarded Lord Eldon and
his grandson. Lord Eldon, by virtue of his office of high steward,
was seated in the theatre on the right hand of the chancellor. When
it came to Lord Encombe's turn to be presented for receiving his
doctor's degree, there was great applause, and the looks of all were
turned to Lord Eldon, whose eyes were fixed upon his grandson.
Dr. Phillimore, as Law Professor, taking Lord Encombe by the
hand, presented him to the chancellor and convocation with these
words :


" Insignissime Cancellarie, vosque egregii Procuratores, prsesento
vobis preenobilem virum, Johannem Scott, Vice-Comitem En-
combe, e Collegio Novo, Artium Magistrum, et Honoratissimi
Comitis de Eldon " This name had scarcely passed the pro-
fessor's lips, when there arose a universal shout of loud and enthu-
siastic cheering. Lord Eldon had stood up when his grandson
approached, but was quite overcome by this burst of kind feeling
toward himself and his family. Leaning his arm on the cushion of
his desk, he covered his face. When the first applause had subsided,
the professor resumed " Comitis de Eldon" but a second burst
drowned his voice for several minutes longer. Dr. Phillimore found
that it would be quite impossible to get on if he mentioned this name
again, so when silence was obtained he continued "unicum Nepo-
tem, ut admittatur ad gradum Doctoris in Jure Civili, honoris

The Duke of Wellington, as chancellor, rising and taking off his
cap, according to the usage, pronounced the formal admission :
" Vir honoratissime, ego, auctoritate mea et totius Universitatis,
admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Jure Civili, honoris causa."
Upon which Lord Encombe, advancing, ascended the steps of the
chancellor's chair, to receive his hand. The cordiality of the Duke's
manner in welcoming his young friend drew fresh cheers from the
assembly: and when Lord Encombe, instead of proceeding at once
to his place among the doctors, turned aside, and taking Lord
Eldon's hand, bowed himself respectfully aud affectionately upon it,
the expressions of sympathy with the young nobleman were repeated
by the spectators more warmly still, in approbation of the intelligible
acknowledgment thus given by him, of the large measure in which
he felt himself indebted to his grandfather for so popular a reception.
The aged earl, after gazing on his grandson for some moments with
overflowing eyes, again sank his head upon the desk before him
amid continuing peals of applause, and covered his face with his
hands from the view of the enthusiastic multitude. During the
cheers, the Duke of Cumberland reached across Lord Eldon to take
Lord Encombe's hand. Several other noblemen then offered their
greetings, and the Duke of Wellington was so occupied in watching
the heir of his ancient friend, that the professor had actually begun
the presentation of the next candidate, when he perceived the chan-
cellor's back still turned to him ; upon which he stopped, until he
could recover the duke's attention.

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

" Wednesday night, (June lllh, 1834 )

'This has been a very gratifying day I have been quite overcome by the treat-
ment I received in the theatre to-day ; it almost authorizes me to say that I have spent
a life, so as to gain a degree of estimation, which I had no idea I possessed. It
affected me extremely."

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

" Thursday, (June 12th, 1834.)

"It is quite overpowering to have met with the congratulations of multitudes, great
multitudes, here, upon the reception of my name in the theatre yesterday over and


over again. When Encombe had his degree, the manner in which the Duke of Wel-
lington received and handed him up to me, the people calling out 'Eldon,' was affect-
ing beyond any thing I ever met."

" I will tell you," said Lord Eldon, some time afterwards to Mrs.
Forster, " what charmed me very much when I left the theatre, and
was trying to get to my carriage : one man in the crowd shouted
out, ' There is old Eldon cheer him, for he never ratted!' I was
very much delighted, for I never did rat. I will not say I have been
right through life I may have been wrong but I will say that I
have been consistent."

Lord Eldon left Oxford on the Friday, and, taking Earley Court
in his way home, passed Friday evening and Saturday there. Lady
Sidmouth, writing to Mrs. Farrer, says, " My uncle spent two delight-
ful days here, much to my father's satisfaction." On the Sunday,
the 15th, Lord Eldon got back to Hamilton Place and wrote that
letter to Lady Frances Bankes, of which an extract has already been
given. Some further passages of it are now subjoined, in which his
narrative is continued, with reference to Wednesday the llth and to
the remainder of his stay at Oxford.

"During the remainder of my stay at Oxford I moved, wherever and whenever I
went, with the duke in his carriage. The ceremonials* began in the theatre in the
course of the morning, and a large bevy of doctors in civil law were created; some
most loudly cheered, some slightly and some hardly at all, the multitude in the
theatre quite uproarious, ' Down with all Whig pickpockets, Greys, &c. &c. &c. !'
I am told the scene among the multitude before we got there was the most amusing
possible. After we reached the theatre the whole ceremonial was conducted with the
greatest respect to us; and poor Lord Eldon had a large share of it. We dined at
Christ Church.

"The next day we went to church and heard a charity sermon for the benefit of the
Radcliffe Infirmary, preached by the Bishop of Oxford. The sermon was a good one,
and the collection for the charity, I was told, was exactly double what it was when
Grenville was installed as chancellor. We all dined at St. John's College, were most
sumptuously entertained, and had some good speeches.

"The morning when I left Oxford the fellows of the college desired to wait upon
me in a body to take their leave, which they did in a most gratifying manner.

"Deeply as I have been affected by what has passed, and much as I was afraid I
should be fatigued, I really think I am the better for it."

The fellows here mentioned were those of University College,
where he had been educated.

The last parliamentary discussion, in which Lord Eldon took any
prominent part, was originated by himself. The judges had been
summoned to attend the House of Lords on a certain day, and when
they came, neither the chancellor, nor the deputy speaker, nor any
law lord, was present to receive them.

Lord Eldon, on the 20th of June, complained of this omission, as contravening
both the forms and the dignity of the House. He announced his intention to move
that the opinions of the judges should never be delivered in that House, except in the
presence of some one of the lords named in the commission of deputy speaker.

The lord chancellor explained the accident by which this inconvenience had been

Lord Eldon said that he himself, when obliged to be absent, had always taken care
to communicate with the individual who was to sit in his stead.

Several other peers having spoken, and there appearing to be a
Of the Wednesday.


very general feeling, as expressed by the Duke of Cumberland, that
such an occurrence would never again take place,

Lord Eldon said, that after what had fallen from several noble lords, he should
decline making his motion.

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

"Saturday, (June 28lh, 1834.)

"It pleased the Great Ruler of the world on this day, three years ago, to take unto
himself my poor dear Bessy, the partner of my life for so many, many long years.
His will be done. He will pardon sorrow and grief, but not complaint. I will not
complain. In sorrow I may grieve. I wrote this last sentence half an hour ago. I
am relieved by writing it, and by reflection upon my duty."

Of the Poor Law Amendment Bill, Lord Eldon writes thus :

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

" Wednesday, (July 23d, 1834.)

"Heaven grant that this new mode of treating the poor and needy may not bring
forth those fruits, which I for one anticipate. They are to proceed in this hazardous
measure to-night: but 'unto their assembly mine honour shall not be united.' "*

The name of Lord Eldon occurs only three times in the parlia-
mentary reports after the 20th of June in this year, and on none of
these occasions did his speech exceed a few words. On the last of
them, July the 25th, an intimation having been thrown out by Lord
Wharncliffe, that the lords, in rejecting the Great Western Railway
Bill under the circumstances which attended that rejection, had
taken a course likely to injure them in the confidence of the country,

Lord Eldon begged to acquaint the noble lord that he had given his vote upon con-
scientious grounds, and that he was not to be told that such a vote would be injurious
to their lordships in the estimation of the people.

Lord Wharncliffe explained, that having voted conscientiously himself, he did not
mean to charge any one of their lordships with having voted less conscientiously.

Lord Eldon was very popular with children. The following letter
is from the grandfather in his eighty-fourth year, to the grandson
in his fifth, a little boy of Lady Frances's, named Eldon Surtees

" July 10th. 1834.
" My very dear little Eldon,

" Mamma sent me your pretty letter to grandpapa. I was very much pleased with
it indeed, and I send you my most affectionate love in return for it. I understand that
you put the letters together, and that mamma copied the letters so put together in her
own letter to me.

"I hope now soon to see you, and your dear brother and dear sister soon. Be sure
you give my love to them, and accept it yourself.

"I am theirs and yours most affectionately,

"Pincher sends you all his love."

In the beginning of August, Lord Eldon paid another visit to his
Durham estate ; and Miss Forster, who was with him there, says, "In
1834 my venerable uncle was remarkably cheerful, and appeared to
have great pleasure in seeing various relations and friends. Our
party consisted, in addition to my dear uncle, Lord Eldon, of my
brother (Mr. Forster), Mr. and Mrs. Burdon-Sanderson, and Mr.
and Mrs. James Manisty. All passed a couple of days with us at
Rusheyford and at Eldon. ' Well, Ellen,' said Lord Eldon to Miss

* " Unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united." Genesis, chap. xlix. v. 6.


Forster, ' when you and I meet in the Newcastle assembly rooms,
we will open the ball.' Ellen: 'Yes, uncle; remember you are
engaged to me.' Lord Eldon : 'I will not forget; and we will
call for "Jack's alive," that will be the proper tune "Jack's
alive." ' "

Oh his return to Encorobe, about the middle of August, he medi-
tated a visit to Lord Rolle, at Bicton, in Devonshire ; but this design,
becoming known, led to a plan for presenting him with the freedom
of Exeter at a public meeting, to be followed by a dinner : and the
result was, that being unwell and disinclined to appear unnecessarily
in public, he thought it best to give up the Devonshire excursion
altogether. The freedom, however, was unanimously voted and
sent to him ; and to the mayor's letter announcing this tribute of
respect he returned the following answer:

" September, 1834.

"I have had the honour to receive, upon my return home the evening before yes-
terday, the communications which have been made to me respecting the unanimous
resolution in the chamber at Exeter, that the freedom of that loyal and most respect-
able city should be presented to me, in testimony of the high estimation in which the
body regards what they are pleased to consider as a long, useful, public life.

"I deem it a very high honour to have received this testimony, which I humbly
trust I have through a long and laborious life endeavoured to merit, by every effort
in my power to secure for posterity those national blessings in church and state
which I have ever thought to be the duty of all in this country to preserve unim-
paired. Of the earnestness of my endeavours, nobody, I trust, can reasonably doubt.
God grant that, together with the united efforts of others, those endeavours may be

"I have, &c. &c."

Lord Stowell's state of mind was now such that he hardly under-
stood the passing events of the time. Lord Eldon's letter to him,
announcing the birth of Lord Encombe's eldest daughter, is written
with an evident distrust of Lord Stowell's power to apprehend it.

(Aug. 28th, 1834.)
" My dear Brother,

" I learn by letter, that my grandson, Lord Encombe, who is the only son, you
know, of my deceased eldest son, poor John, whose beautiful epitaph you wrote,
has had a daughter born the other day whose birth renders me a great-grandfather,
a title that makes me of venerable years.
" Believe me, from my heart, dear brother,

" Yours most affectionately,

Lord Encombe was now in treaty for the purchase of a residence
at Shirley, near Croydon. He took possession in November, when
Lord Eldon made him a present of the purchase-money for the pro-
perty as it then stood.

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

(Franked, Corfe Casile, Nov. 12th, 1834.)
"Dear Encombe,

"I now and then peep into my old school books. I find Tully abusing his coun-
trymen, as heartily as I am grumbling at mine, for their ruinous practices and pro-
jects, to make the wealthy part of the people change places with the poorer orders,
and to convince the latter that exchange is not robbery, though all is parted with on
one side, and nothing on the other taken. I took up to church on Sunday a little old
Greek Testament, hoping to read in Greek when the clergyman was reading the


second lesson in English, having strong spectacles too; but my eyes are so altered
that I found they would not do, and that I must employ my ears only, for instruction
of this sort."

(Lord Eldm to Miss Forster.) (Extract.)

"Corfe Castle, Nov. 14th, 1834.
" Dear Ellen,

" When I wrote to your dear mother, I at first intended to make it a joint letter to
you and her. But, seeing that all the newspapers, the Newcastle papers among the
rest, represented me to be of the tender age of ninety, I was afraid that she might
suppose that there might be more of a flirtation between two young people than she
might altogether approve. I leave it, therefore, to your good judgment, whether you
will subject this little epistle to her perusal. That I am very fond of you, you must
not dispute.

"I had a very dull journey from Rusheyford: how should it be otherwise 1 ? I had
left those I liked to be with, and I had no company except that of an individual, now
generally spoken of as 'Poor old Eldon.' Here I arrived, however, at last, and got
home to my cottage, which, being situated in a deep valley, is not seen till you reach
the door of the house. I remember Dr. Warren, when he once came here upon a
medical visit, exclaimed, ' Well, I have got to your den at last!' In that den I have
been pretty generally confined since I entered it; I am, however, as well as I can
expect to be."

On the 10th of November in this year, 1834, the death of Earl
Spencer, the father of Lord Althorp, withdrew the latter from the
sphere of the House of Commons, where he had acted as chancellor
of the Exchequer and leader of the government. Lord Melbourne,
in consequence of that change, prepared to submit some new arrange-
ments of office to the king, and presented himself on the 14th for
the purpose of taking his majesty's pleasure respecting them. The
king most unexpectedly declared his intention of referring the re-con-
struction of his ministry to the Duke of Wellington ; who, being
accordingly desired to wait upon his majesty, recommended that the
formation of the government should be committed to Sir Robert Peel.
Sir Robert Peel, then abroad, was instantly summoned home ; and the
government, in the interim, went on provisionally under the Duke of

(Lord Eldon to Lord Encombe.") (Extract.)

" Sunday, (Nov. 23d, 1834; written at Encombe.)

"To the moment I am writing, I have had no letter from those, who would hereto-
fore have courted my advice or been civil enough to pretend to ask it."


"Monday, (Postscript.)

"Since I wrote what precedes this I have had a very civil letter from the Duke of
Wellington. It tells me nothing material ; and, until Peel comes, it could not tell me
any thing material."

Shortly after writing thus, he says in a letter to Lady F. J. Bankes,

"The 'Standard' of yesterday contains, in an article from some other paper, that
the intended arrangement for the Earl of Eldon has failed. No such arrangement
could have failed, for no such was intended; and Lord Eldon is too old, and too wise,
again to mingle in ministerial arrangements. I think nothing will be done, as to any
such, with respect to any body, till Peel comes home."

(Lord Eldon to Lord Encomle.')

( Written at Encombe ; received Dec. 4th, 1834.)
" Dear Encombe,

"Though I have nothing to write about, I send my affections to you, Louisa and
"Here 'the stormy winds do blow' tremendously, and I really thought, in the last


night, between the wind and the rain, the glass in my bed-room windows would have
been demolished. I lost, however, no panes,- but being kept awake through the night,
and often getting out of bed, I lost my sleep : and to-day I have a return of the pains
in my back."

Lord Stowell's faculties were now decaying rapidly. Lord Sid-
mouth, in a letter to Lord Eldon of the same month, speaks of the
invalid state of Lady Sidmouth, in whom, though not until a later
period (April 26th, 1842), the issue of Lord Stowell became extinct.
He also refers to the general state of the country.

" 12th December, 1834.

"The prospect is improving; but the political horizon is not yet clear; nor can it
ever be what it once was. Your niece is at Earley Court:

'As one who, suffering all, yet suffers nothing.'

Her patience and equanimity are equal to her trials, which are indeed severe ; but if
they should be continued much longer, they must, I fear, break her down."

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

"Christmas Day, 1834.

"You may most confidently believe me when I say you have had, and will have,
the grateful feelings of every body in the parish for the charities which you have
shown in the matter of the schools and in other matters here: you deserve those
grateful feelings, and what is really so fully deserved, believe me, will never be with-
held from you.


"Don't, my dear Fan, allow your spirits to be affected by any consideration about
me. I say most conscientiously, that if my life is, as indeed I know, and have
reason to be thankful that it is, in any way dependent upon you, my way long to
preserve it is to see you enjoying that degree of spirits, which, under all circum-
stances, denoting your reasonably good health, will bestow such health, with God's

Online LibraryHorace TwissThe public and private life of Lord Chancellor Eldon, with selections from his correspondence (Volume 2) → online text (page 44 of 65)