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blessing, upon me. My reflections, since I came down here, upon what I have
observed with reference to you, my dear Fan, have worked such a change in my
health for the better, that we have now a very reasonable prospect of continuance of
it, under Providence, for a time, of which there was, in my own judgment, very little
prospect. You, under God's blessing, may prolong my life, even as long as the
medical men comfortably told me it would be prolonged. God bless you ever bless
you ever bless you."

The two great political parties had been anxiously preparing for the
expected dissolution of Parliament, and a number of respectable and
influential magistrates and clergymen of the Southern division of the
county of Durham had solicited Lord Encombe to stand for that
district. This he declined, in an obliging letter to Mr. Cartwright
of Norton, through whom the invitation had been communicated.

Sir Robert Peel, who on the 9th of December had arrived in Lon-
don and accepted the office of first lord of the treasury, completed
the composition of his ministry about the end of December. The
duke, Lord Aberdeen and Mr. Goulburn, were the secretaries of
state respectively for the foreign, the colonial and the home depart-
ments; Sir Henry Hardinge, Mr. Herries and Mr. Alexander Baring
had seats in the cabinet, the first as secretary for Ireland, the second
as secretary at war, and the third as president of the Board of Trade ;
and Lord Lyndhurst was again lord chancellor.


1835, 1836.

Letter of Sir R. Peel to Lord Eldon : draft of Lord Eldon's answer. Letters from
Lord Eldon to Lord Encombe and Lady F. J. Bankes. Resignation of Sir R. Peel,
and return of Melbourne ministry. Fourth visit of Lord Eldon to Durham: his
advice against resignations. Corporation Bill : letter from Lord Eldon to Lord
Encombe. Autumn in Dorsetshire: monuments and inscriptions. Letter of Lord
Eldon to Lord Kenyon: to Lord Encombe. Letters from Lord Sidmouth to Lord
Eldon: death, monument and character of Lord Stowell.

IN the formation of the government, Sir Robert Peel felt as did
Lord Eldon himself, that from the great age of the venerable earl,
any tender of office to him would be an unmeaning compliment ; but,
as a mark of his respect, the first minister communicated an outline
of his own political views to Lord Eldon in a letter, of which some
extracts are subjoined.

(Sir Robert Peel to the Earl of Eldon.) (Extract.)

" Whitehall Gardens, Jan 1st, 1835.
"Dear Lord Eldon,

"Your long experience in public life and devotion to your public duties will, I hope,
have found an excuse for me, if, under the circumstances under which I was called
to England, and the incessant and most harassing occupation in which I have been
since engaged both night and day, I have appeared deficient, through my silence, in
that respect which I most sincerely entertain for you, and which, but for the circum-
stances to which I have referred, ought to have, and would have dictated a much
earlier communication to you on the subject of the position of public affairs, and the
course which I proposed, as the king's minister to pursue.

" That course has been now sufficiently indicated by the public declarations which
I have been called upon to make, and by the appointments which have taken place,
on my advice, to the chief offices of the king's government. It only remains for me,
therefore, to apologize to you for a seeming inadvertence and inattention which would
be wholly at variance with my real feelings, and to express an earnest hope that the
administration over which I preside will entitle itself by its acts to your support and


"Believe me, my dear lord, with the sincerest respect, and best wishes for your
continued health and happiness, Most faithfully yours,


" The Right Hon. the Earl of Eldon, &c."

The rough draft of Lord Eldon's answer, found among his papers,
is as follows :

(Jan. 1833.)
" Dear Sir Robert Peel,

"I don't delay acknowledging the receipt of your kind letter, which, being directed
to Encombe, did not reach that place till after I had left it, and has been returned

" If I forbear to enter into any statements respecting the subjects mentioned in
that letter, I might be thought disrespectful in delaying my acknowledgments for the
kindness and respect you have been pleased to express towards me, a delay which


might not be thought sufficiently apologized for, by observations which could only
apply to subjects which I understand you to have been already fully determined

(Lord Eldon fo Lord Encombe.') (Extract.)

(Franked, Jan. 21st, 1835.)


"There is come out a print of Diogenes with his lanthorn searching the world for
an honest man. He appears highly delighted in finding poor Lord Eldon, whose
image he is holding forth in a stronger likeness of that poor old gentleman than I have
yet seen."


The session, which was opened by the king in person on the 24th
of February, commenced with a full attendance of peers, among whom
Lord Eldon was in his place. He wrote next day to Lord Encombe
as follows :

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

" Wednesday, (Feb. 25th, 1835.)
" My dear Encombe,

" As I shall see. you soon, I shall not trouble you scarcely with mention of what
has been passing in Parliament. A few days ago it was expected that there would
be a great majority in the House of Lords against the ministers. By extreme dili-
gence, by peers beginning to feel that, if they expect their descendants to succeed to
their property,* the House was such last night, that the discontented did not venture
even to divide against the address. Let anybody read the notices of motion, given in
the Commons last night, and avoid seeing, if it be possible, the danger of negligence
about their political duties. I sat last night in the House of Lords till between twelve
and one till all in that House was over. I certainly would much rather have sat by
my fireside, quietly, and enjoying the comforts of conversation ; but, as one individual,
I will not belong to the assembly of those, who look only to personal ease, enjoyment,
and comfort, and will not see to what the intentions of some appear to be, as affecting
their posterity, and it may be themselves ere long."

Lord Eldon's last judicial sitting in the House of Lords was on
the case of White v. Baugh, 9th of March, 1835.

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

(March, 1835 )

"The House of Commons seems to be more like a bear-garden than a meeting of
gentlemen, and when I remember the gentlemanly conduct that there was observable
in that House, on both sides, and read what the nature of conduct now is there, I look
forward as to the public, with very gloomy apprehensions indeed, and with astonish-
ment how little those apprehensions affect others.

" I hear the church commissioners have made one report, but I have not yet been
able to see it. The new ministers certainly have the credit, if that be creditable, of
being inclined to get as much popularity by what are called reforms as their prede-
cessors ; and, if they do not, at present, go to the full length to which the others were
going, they will, at least, make so many important changes in church and state, that
nobody can guess how far the precedents they establish may lead to changes of a very
formidable kind hereafter.

" My ever dearest Fan, you will soon be the best politician in the country, if I am
not the very worst in London; but I must not plague you every day with snch dull
epistles as those must be which relate to such subjects.

" I have got a curiosity a very neat inkstand, made out of the remains of a very
old beam of oak, which, I suppose for centuries, had formed part of one of the Houses
of Parliament lately burnt."

(March, 1835.)

" The Dissenters are pleased, but they seem not to disguise that they are not satis-
fied. I take it that the true friends of the church are neither pleased nor satisfied. As
to the Dissenters, it is their nature not to be satisfied, as I can judge from very long

* Sic in orig.


The new government, though strongly supported in the House of
Lords, was bitterly opposed in the House of Commons ; where the
majority against ministers, small as it was, (for it amounted not to a
balance of thirty) was regarded by Sir Robert Peel as constituting,
under all the circumstances of the time, a force too considerable to
allow his retention of office with any public advantage. On the 8th
of April, therefore, he acquainted the House that he and his colleagues
had on that morning placed their offices at the king's disposal. Lord
Melbourne then returned to the head of the government, Lord John
Russel leading the House of Commons with the office of secretary for
the home department. The other members of the cabinet were prin-
cipally those who had belonged to Lord Melbourne's former ministry,
with the very material exception, however, of Lord Brougham, who
did not return to office. The great seal remained for some time in
commission ; but was finally committed to the single keeping of Sir
Charles Christopher Pepys, the master of the rolls, who became lord
chancellor, with the title of Lord Cottenham. This was the last
change in the custody of the great seal which Lord Eldon lived to
see. The ministers were unable to finish the session of 1835 until
the 10th of September, when the king prorogued Parliament in

Early in August, Lord Eldon renewed his visits to his estates in
Durham, and passed a few days at Rusheyford, where he was again
joined by Mrs. and Miss Forster and some others of his connections.
On one of his excursions, in passing with his solicitor, Mr. Alfred
Bell, by the church at Sedgefield, he looked up at it for some minutes,
and then, turning round, said to him with great emotion, that it was
in that church he had first seen his late countess.

Miss Forster has preserved a little piece of advice, pleasantly
given by Lord Eldon to Mr. Hoult, the landlord of the inn at Rushey-
ford. " I hear, Mr. Hoult, that you are talking of retiring from busi-
ness ; but let me advise you not to do so. Busy people are very apt
to think a life of leisure is a life of happiness ; but believe me, for I
speak from experience, when a man, who has been much occupied
through life, arrives at having nothing to do, he is very apt not to
know what to do with himself. I am interested in this advice, Mr.
Hoult, for I intend to come here every year for the next thirty years,
and I hope to find you still the landlord. And now good day ; and
I trust, if God spares me, we shall all meet again next summer."

About the close of 1837, Lord Eldon, relating this to Mr. Farrer,

J 1 1


" Next year, when I again visited Rusheyford, the landlord told me
he had taken my advice, and determined not to give up his inn. It
was advice given by me in the spirit of that principle of Brasenose,
who, when he took leave of young men quitting college, used to say
to them, ' Let me give you one piece of advice : Cave de resigna-
tionibus.' And very good advice too."

His visit to Durham in August, 1835, had been without notice to
any of his friends in London. Indeed, from the time of Lady Eldon's


death, his movements were not infrequently abrupt. One reason for
the concealment of his plans was his wish to avoid visiting country
houses, to which he had numerous invitations whenever it was under-
stood in what direction he proposed to travel. This year he returned
from the north to Encombe towards the end of August.

He had left London, much discontented with the conduct of the
Conservatives in not offering a stronger resistance to the Corporation
Bill. Against this measure, says the Law Magazine, No. XLIV.,

" He protested loudly in private, with feverish alarm, as leading directly to confu-
sion. Its interference with vested rights shocked his sense of equity even more than
the sweeping clauses of the reform act. To set at nought ancient charters as so many
bits of decayed parchment, and destroy the archives of town-halls, seemed in the eyes
of the old magistrate, for so many years the guardian of corporate rights, a crowning
iniquity. Pale as a marble statue, and confined to his house in Hamilton Place by
infirmity, he would deprecate equally the temerity of ministers and the madness of
the people; and his vaticinations, like the prophet's scroll, were full to overflowing
with lamentations and woe. His correspondence, for some years previously, had
borne marks of the troubled gloom with which he viewed the changes gradually dark-
ening over all he had loved and venerated, till he felt almost a stranger to the insti-
tutions of his native land."

(Lord Eldon to Lord Encombe) (Extract.)

(Franked, August 31st, 1835.)

" I found, with hardly any exceptions, that the House of Lords, notwithstanding all
I could say for the information of those who formerly would have listened to my
humble advice, were determined to pass the bill such as it has now become: and
though I admit that Lyndhurst's amendments do him great credit, to the shame of
the House of Lords, the bill finishes as one of the worst precedents, and as dangerous
at least a precedent as any to be found in the journals of the proceedings of that
House. They may call it, if they please, a bill for the improvement of corporations.
I must maintain that it is no other than a bill of pains and penalties passed by the
House of Lords in its judicial and legislative character, without any evidence before it,
whether we consider the king's commission appointing commissioners of inquiry into
corporations as legal or illegal. If the commission was illegal, evidence taken before
commissioners under an illegal commission could never, according to law, be con-
sidered as legal testimony anywhere. If the commission was legal, and the exami-
nation of witnesses under it produced a crop of lawful evidence, the House had not
the evidence before it, so acquired, for not only did not the commissioners annex
evidence or the testimony of witnesses examined, but, as I understand, if there was
any such testimony on examination, the production of it was refused to the House of
Lords. And it is whimsical enough to see that House beginning with the examination
by Charley Wetherell in defence of his clients, before there was one single word of evi-
dence against them before the House, or, as I believe, there yet is. That the House
should allow this, that some lords, of whom I hoped for better things, should agree
to this, that I should be unable to go down to the House, from infirmily, to grapple
with such proceedings, has destroyed that quiet of mind with me, which is so essen-
tial to health. Save my country, Heaven! is my morning and evening prayer; but
that it can be saved it cannot be hoped. ' Quos vult perdere dementat pnus.' "

In the following month he had a visit from Mr. and Lady Eliza-
beth Repton ; and during the greater part of October, Lord and Lady
Encombe were there with their eldest daughter, a little girl who won
Lord Eldon's especial favour by her fondness for Pincher. He speaks
of the child in one of his letters as the " Pincher-loving little one."

In the course of this autumn, Lord Eldon and his daughter, Lady
Elizabeth, erected a stone seat at Encombe, on a spot of rising
ground near the sea, to the south of his house, on which he caused
the following inscriptions to be placed, east, north, and west respect-
ively :






On the south there is no inscription.

Some months previously, he had built an obelisk, on high ground,
to the north of his house. It was inscribed as follows :
On the north-east side,




On the south-east side,









On the other two sides there is nothing inscribed.

One more inscription, from the pen of Lord Eldon, humble as its
subject may be thought, deserves to be added, for its great simpli-
city and beauty. It was designed by him for the grave-stone of a
Newfoundland dog, named Caesar, who was buried at Encombe ; but
the stone was never actually erected.

" You, who wander hither,

Pass not unheeded
The spot where poor Caesar
Is deposited.

He was born of Newfoundland parents,

His vigilance, during many years,

Was the safeguard of Encombe House :

His talents and manners were long

The amusement and delight

Of those who resorted to it.

Of his unshaken fidelity,


Of his cordial attachment

To his master and his family,

A just conception cannot

Be conveyed by language,

Or formed, but by those
Who intimately knew him.

To his rank among created beings,
The power of reasoning is denied.

Cassar manifested joy,

For days before his master

Arrived at Encombe;

Caesar manifested grief,

For days before his master left it.

What name shall be given

To that faculty,
Which thus made expectation

A source of joy,

Which thus made expectation

A source of grief! "

(Lord Eldon to Lord Kenyan.') (Extract.)

"Saturday, (Nov. 14th, 1835.)
" My very dear Lord,

" I ought long ago to have thanked you for the comfort I received from my daughter
Elizabeth reading a letter, which I think you sent, respecting the velocity, the compa-
rative volodty, of Brougham and Eldon in chancery and in appeals. It is quite
obvious that the number of decisions, in a given time, proves nothing of ihe sort
which Lord B. and the present attorney* suppose it to prove. In making a compari-
son, you must, necessarily, not merely advert to the number of decisions, but the
nature of the cases in which the decisions were pronounced. There have been no
such matters, since my time, as a queen's trial, the trial of a Berkeley Peerage, or of
the various questions in the great Roxburghe Peerage and estates, in the last of which
I think three days were employed in delivering my judgment: cum multis aliis. On
a subject of this nature, however, my mind is at rest, though a very fidgetty mind. I
am mistaken, if, after I am gone, the chancery records do not prove I decided more
than any of my predecessors in the same periods of time. Sir Lloyd Kenyon beat us
all. Your faithful and affectionate,


" For the country's welfare, my hopes are gone. I see leaders of all parties sacri-
ficing principle to expediency. They create the expediency, and then they sacrifice
all principle to it. Surely it is difficult to support a denial, that all sides, as to leaders,
have gone too far in acting on this most mischievous doctrine." ,

After the departure of Lord and Lady Encombe, in October, from
Dorsetshire, Lord Eldon paid a visit of a few days to his brother, the
health of whose only son was now in a hopeless state. Lord Stowell's
faculties were so much impaired by age, that he was unconscious of
his son's condition ; but Lord Eldon felt it painfully, both during his
visit at Earley Court, and on his return to Encombe in the beginning
of November.

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

(Received Nov. 23d, 1835.)

"The intelligence I receive from town and Richmond Parkf is, that W. S. (William
Scott) may linger a little longer: but the worst may be looked for, and soon. Hopes
are not entertained. It is impossible to say how this distresses me. If the worst does
happen, and soon, I could be of no comfort in such a state as Earley Court would be
in. Not to go, however, might be very distressing to myself, and painful to those to
whom I ought, if possible, to avoid giving pain. Contemplation on this subject is to
me torture."

Sir John Campbell. f The residence of Lord Sidmouth.

VOL. ii. 20


The succeeding extracts of letters from Lord Sidmouth, who, as
the husband of Lord Stowell's only daughter, was now in constant
attendance at Earley Court, record the last particulars respecting
Mr. W. Scott, and respecting the venerable Lord Stowell himself:

(Extracts of Letters from Lord Sidmouth to Lord Eldon.')

" Earley Court, Nov. 25th, 1835.
" My dear Lord,

"The vital powers* are nearly exhausted, and not likely, it is thought, to hold out
another day. Lord Stowell is unconscious of what is passing and impending, but in
bodily health is as well as when you last saw him."

"Earley Court, Dec. 2d, 1335.
" My dear Lord,

"The ceremony of this day, and all the arrangements connected with it, were con-
ducted with the utmost propriety. Lord Encombe was chief mourner. He was re-
ceived yesterday by Lord Stowell in a manner that was extremely affecting; and it
was evident that Lord S. continued pleased with his guest till they parted, at half-past
six; though I am confident that all consciousness of who he was did not last many
minutes after their first meeting.


"My dear wife maintains her 'incomparable equanimity. Lord Stowell remains
unconscious of what has passed; and is quite as well, and as free from irritation, as
he has been for a long time past.

"AH matters of business have been consigned to the management and care of Mr.
Chisholme, whom I saw in town on Saturday last.

"A most kind letter from you is this moment arrived, for which accept our cordial
thanks. Under other circumstances, your presence and advice would have been
most welcome and acceptable to us; but under the present, such a journey would
have been highly imprudent and hazardous, and such a risk would have added greatly
to our distress. My eldest daughter is a great comfort to us.

****** *

"Affectionately yours, SIDMOUTH."

Lord Stowell survived but a few weeks. The intelligence of his
death is thus briefly communicated by Lord Sidmouth to Lord
Eldon :

" Earley Court, Jan. 28lh, 1936.
" My dear Lord,

"The scene is closed : at half-past two this afternoon I was called to the bed-cham-
ber, and witnessed the last sigh (for it was no more) of your beloved brother, and of
my highly-valued and respected friend. Lady Sidmouth is perfectly composed, though
in a state of extreme debility. Mrs. Gaskell happily is with her. I will write again

" Ever yours, S.

"Earl of Eldon, &c. &c. &c."

The remains of Lord Stowell lie buried in Sonning church, near
Reading ; and the wall above his grave bears a monument, placed
there by his son-in-law, Lord Sidmouth, with the following inscrip-
tion :

" Sacred

To the memory of

The Right Honourable


Of Stowell in the County of Gloucester,

D. C. L., F. R. S.
Born October 28thf, 1745,
Died January 28th, 1836.

* Of William Scott, who died the following day.

f NOTK BY THE PRESENT EARL. Oct. 28th, according to the New Style, but Oct.
17th, according to the Old.


He was one of his Majesty's
Most Honourable Privy Council:

Many years Judge of

The High Court of Admiralty of England,

Chancellor of the Diocese of London;

And one of
The Representatives in Parliament

For the University of Oxford,

From the year 1796*, to the year 1821,

When he was raised to the Peerage.

This eminent person
Was universally and most justly regarded

As one of

The principal ornaments of the country
And age in which he lived.

In him were combined

All the talents and acquirements

Of a profound and accomplished scholar;

All the qualities of a wise and upright judge;

Together with an ardent attachment
To the civil and ecclesiastical institutions

Of his country,

Of which institutions he was

The firm and uncompromising supporter,

Throughout his long and

Exemplary life."

In addition to the offices of Judge of the High Court of Admiralty,
and Chancellor of the Diocese of London, Lord Stowell had held
those of Vicar-General and of Master of the Court of Faculties of the
Archbishop of Canterbury ; but it was in the Admiralty Court, and in
the Court of the Chancellor of London, commonly called the Consis-
tory Court of London, that he gave the judgments on which his
fame is founded. In February, 1828, he resigned the office of
Judge of the Admiralty, which he had then held for a period of
twenty-nine years, having been appointed to it on the 26th of Octo-
ber, 1798.

Online LibraryHorace TwissThe public and private life of Lord Chancellor Eldon, with selections from his correspondence (Volume 2) → online text (page 45 of 65)