Horace Twiss.

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

. (page 47 of 65)
Online LibraryHorace TwissThe public and private life of Lord Chancellor Eldon, with selections from his correspondence (Volume 2) → online text (page 47 of 65)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

memory :

" I suffered much when I believed him to be irrecoverably lost.
There was no danger of losing him in daylight, though he would
roam about with great activity. In travelling, when we let him out
of the carriage, he never turned the brow of a hill till he saw the
carriage near him. Once, unfortunately, a servant kept him out till
after dark, and when the servant came to Hamilton Place the dog
was not with him. I immediately advertised, offering five guineas
reward to any one who would bring the dog to me, or give such
information as would lead to his recovery and the conviction of
whoever detained him. Well, in a day or two I received a letter by
the post, to let me know I had put a very foolish advertisement into
the newspaper; for, in the first place, no dog-stealer would ever give
up an animal for the reward that might be first named, as they
always waited in expectation that a larger sum would be offered : I
should, therefore, my correspondent said, have first mentioned two


guineas, then three, and then come up to five. Then the second
part of my advertisement was as foolish as the first ; for that if I
talked of the conviction of the offender, I might depend upon it I
never would see the dog again: and this letter was signed 'An
Amateur Dog Fancier.' I thought perhaps the advice might be
very good, so I advertised again, stating that no further reward
would be offered ; and as to the second piece of folly, I left it out
altogether. Still nothing was heard of poor Pincher, and I was in
great distress; for from the circumstances connected with the animal,
I would far rather have lost a thousand pounds than have lost him.
One thing, however, could not but be gratifying to me, such a
number of gentlemen, personally unknown to me, exerted themselves
to the utmost to recover my dog for me. Not fewer than ten were
occupied ; but some time had elapsed without our gaining any intel-

" On the Monday week an intimation was sent to my man Smith,
that if he would call at a house in a street at a distant part of the town,
named Cow Cross Street, he might hear of the dog: and the day and
the hour were mentioned. Well, I sent Smith, and with him the
five guineas, and a Bow Street officer. When they got to the place,
no one was to be seen, and they walked about some time. At last a
man whispered into Smith's ear, ' Dismiss the officer with you,' and
instantly disappeared. Smith thought he had better comply; and
when the officer was fairly gone, the man returned and demanded
the five pound note. Now poor Smith was in a complete dilemma,
for he thought he would cut a pretty figure if he returned without
either the dog or the money; but the man assured him that he
always dealt upon honour, and that if the money was not instantly
paid the dog should be dead in five minutes. Smith thought, and
thought very rightly, that I would rather lose the five pounds than
risk the life of the dog : so he pulled out his pocket-book and deli-
livered the note to the man. ' Now,' said the man, ' you have
treated me honourably, so I will be upon honour with you,' and he
went into a high building, and brought down (observe, brought
down) poor Pincher, with a rope round his neck, very thin, poor
beast, but extravagantly overjoyed to see Smith. The man then
offered to accompany Smith, till he saw him and Pincher into a
hackney coach ; ' for,' said he, ' I can tell you that without my assist-
ance, I defy you to get that dog through these streets. We keep in
our pockets that, which will tempt any dog to leave his master : they
can't resist it: but I am upon honour with you, and I will see you
safe to a coach." Well, as they went along, Smith remonstrated
with this honourable gentleman that it was a great pity he could not
find a better mode of gaining his bread than by dog-stealing. l Why,'
said the man, 'what can we do? Now that Parliament has put a
stop to our trade of procuring bodies for the surgeons, we are obliged
to turn to this to gain an honest livelihood.' An honest livelihood!
this honourable gentleman gained an honest livelihood by stealing
dogs!!! Then he told Smith, that in our advertisement we had


called the dog a poodle, but in that we were wrong, for it was a
German spaniel, a much more valuable dog, and that they had a
great demand for them ; and he added that if the reward had not
been punctually sent, the dog would have been out of the kingdom
in a few hours. Smith and Pincher arrived safe home, and truly
happy was I to see the poor animal. He had always been accus-
tomed to go up every night with me, when I went to bed ; but after
his return he showed the greatest horror at the sight of the stairs, and
it was many weeks before we could induce him to mount a single
step: he had evidently been ill-used and starved. Poor Pincher,
poor fellow! Pincher is painted with me in the picture that has
been done for the Merchant Tailors' Hall. Chantrey attended, to
see that they preserved a proper attitude. Poor fellow (patting him),
he has a right to be painted, for when my man Smith took him the
other day to my stationer's, the bookseller patted him, and exclaimed,
' How very like he is to old Eldon, particularly when he wore a
wig ;' but indeed many people say he is the better looking chap of
the two.

" Poor Pincher (caressing his dog), a most affecting circumstance
as ever I knew, occurred with this dog: he belonged to poor Wil-
liam Henry, and after I last took the sacrament with him when he
was dying, he called me back as I was leaving the room, and said,
1 Father, you will take care of poor Pincher.' The dog was brought
home to me when all was over : and in a short time he was missed.
He was immediately sought for, and he was found lying on the bed
beside his dead master. Poor Pincher! I would not lose him on
any account."

Pincher's name occurs even in Lord Eldon's will, a small sum
being left to his daughter, Lady Frances, specifically for the dog's
maintenance. After the death of Lady Frances in 1838, Pincher
was transferred by Mr. Edward Bankes into the family of the present
Earl of Eldon, who, mindful of his grandfather's affection for the
animal, proposed him as a subject for the pencil of Mr. Edwin
Landseer. Mr. Landseer, a consummate judge of such matters,
writes, November, 1838, that he has had " the pleasure of making
Pincher's acquaintance," adding, "he is a very picturesque old dog,
with a great look of cleverness in his face." Accordingly, the fol-
lowing year, Mr. Landseer represented him listening to the ticking
of the watch given to the chancellor by George III., and likewise
painted him in a groupe of the present earl's children, executed by
Mr. Briggs. Pincher had been introduced also into the picture of
the chancellor painted by Pickersgill for Merchant Tailors' Hall,
and into that by Briggs for Lady Frances Bankes. He continued to
be an object of interest with the friends of the family till he died
at a great age, in May, 1840, when the present earl had him buried
at the foot of the Eldon Seat at Encombe, with an inscription com-
memorating him as the chancellor's favourite dog.

Miss Forster thus continues: "Though kindly, affectionately,
urged to stay longer, it was necessary to think of bending our course


homewards. November was commencing, and Encombe was far
from Newcastle. We reluctantly quitted the ' happy valley,' after
receiving from our honoured uncle strict injunctions to write to him
from Salisbury, where we were to see the cathedral, from Oxford
when we had seen the Old College, and from every place we stopped
at, and after making us give him a willing promise that, if he lived
and was tolerably well, we would again visit him the following
spring or summer at Rusheyford, and in the autumn at Encombe."

Here ends the narrative of Miss Forster for the year 1836.

Lord Encombe, whose increasing family now made it difficult for
his grandfather to quarter them in his country house, did not visit
Dorsetshire this autumn ; and the approach of winter brought Lord
Eldon as usual to London. Mr. Farrer has preserved the following
memorandum of a conversation with him in December.

" I mentioned that there was a report that Parliament was to be
called together before the day fixed by the last prorogation. Lord
Eldon said, l Parliament cannot be called together before the day
appointed by the prorogation, unless under particular circumstances.
This is regulated by act of Parliament. When I was in office, we
wished that Parliament should meet before the day fixed by the pro-
rogation. We felt great difficulty about it. I then explained the
law to the cabinet,* and told them that, unless there was some strong
ground for it, such as a disturbance or riots of the people, it could

not be done. "Oh!" said Henry Dundas, afterwards Lord ,

(I forget his name, but never mind that;) "If that's all, I can soon
get up a very pretty riot in Scotland."

" ' In arguing before Lord Thurlow,' said Lord Eldon, ' Ambler
cited a case, from one of the old abridgments, and which he observed
the compiler thought so important, that at the foot of it he put Quod
nota. In my argument on the other side, I cited a case from a later
abridgment, and observed, that the compiler of that abridgment
added at the end of the case, Quod nota beneS ' Which did Lord
Thurlow treat as the best authority?' ' Oh, the bene prevailed.'

" ' Lord Thurlow made a Welch counsel very angry by franking a
letter for him,

Price, Esquire,

Near Chester.'

" ( In my time, on the northern circuit, the first toast, after " The
King," was "The Schoolmasters." In those days they made wills,
&c., which furnished frequent employment to the lawyers.' "

* This explanation must have been given by him, attending before the cabinet as
attorney-general. Until the 37th of George III., the king had no power to convene
Parliament before the day for which it stood appointed, except where, by reason of
insurrection, or rebellion, or invasion, or the danger of it, the king had ordered out
the militia. (See the Militia Acts, particularly 26 Geo. 3. c. 107. sects. 96, 97.)
Before Lord Eldon became himself a cabinet minister, the law on this head had been
altered by 37 Geo. 3. c. 127, and 39 & 40 Geo, 3. c. 14.; under which enactments the
king can now call Parliament, by his proclamation, to meet at any time not less than
fourteen days from the date thereof, though such time be earlier than the day to which
Parliament may then stand prorogued or adjourned.




Mr. and Lady F. J. Bankes. Lord Encombe's presidency at Pitt Clnb : letter to him
from Lord Eldon. Family parties at Lord Eldon's, Portraits : installation pic-
ture. Demise of the Crown. Breaking-up of Lord Eldon's constitution. Wiltshire
election: letter from Lord Encombe to Lord Eldon. Last visit of Lord Eldon to
Durham: Miss Forster's recollection of it. Letter from Lord Eldon to Lord Sid-
mouth. Medical warning to Lord Eldon of his approaching end.

THE marriage between Mr. Bankes and Lady Frances had not been
eventually a happy one. Disagreements had occurred, and they
became more and more estranged from one another, until the early
part of 1837, when it was finally resolved that they should separate.
On the 6th of March, Lord Eldon announced this decision by a letter
to each member of his family. The cause was merely incompatibility
of temper, neither party having any specific charge to allege against
the other. Lord Eldon naturally sided with his daughter. She was
with him in London at the time of the separation, and Hamilton
Place continued to be her home until his death.

(Lard Eldon to G. W. J. Replon, Esq.')

" My dear George, (Franked. Feb. 15th, 1837.)

"I hope you arrived safe and well at Abbotsbury, and suffered no pain on yonr
journey or since, in the face or elsewhere.

"Heaven grant you freedom from all bodily pain, and all the enjoyment that good
health can bestow. I believe it will prove a great blessing that yonr good father
placed you for a time under such excellent care as has been bestowed upon you by
Mr. and Mrs. Forster.

" The time is now not distant not very distant when you will be transplanted to
Oxford, and, from the nature of the institutions in our universities, it will much de-
pend upon yourself what degree of benefit can be reaped there. Of the young it has
been said, ' Gaudent equis, canibusque, et aprici gramine campi,' or something to that
effect. Of extravagant gratification of that passion in young men, I well remember
the pains which were taken in Oxford to restrain it. What are precisely the rules of
the university in this respect now, I cannot say: but so much I can say. that after
long and great experience, I never knew a young man who had indulged too much
in these amusements at Oxford to the neglect of very diligent, if not severe duty, who
ever afterwards in life graced his friends, family, or country, as I hope and pray you
may hereafter grace them; and I never knew one who signally devoted his time at
Oxford to study, who did not in after life become a blessing and ornament to his
family and country. Happy I am to hope and believe that you, dear George, will use
to the best advantage the constant paternal care which your excellent father has be-
stowed and is bestowing upon his son. Be very select in the company you keep at
Oxford, and never forget, what so many forget, that the university is not a place of
amusement, but of constant study, to be interrupted only by necessary attention to
health. I neither have, nor can have, any motive in addressing you thus, but what
is founded upon parental anxiety for your good, and for the happiness of yourself,
your father, and mother; and I add for my own, as long as God may please to continue
me in life.


" My very, very dear Fan, sends you her warm affection and all good wishes.
"Yours, dear George, with the most anxious affection,


At the anniversary of the Pitt Club in May, 1837, Lord Encombe
was in the chair. What follows is his narrative of the honours paid
on that occasion to his grandfather.

" The respect and attachment shown to Lord Eldon at the Pitt
Club was extreme. Even after he had, from inability, ceased to
attend the annual meetings, his health continued uniformly to be
proposed from the chair, and this duty, when performed for the last
time, devolved on myself, who had engaged, at the request of the
Club, and in conformity with the wish of Lord Eldon, to preside at
the anniversary on the 27th of May, 1837. In the course of that
evening the Duke of Wellington, on proposing my health, which he
did in most kind terms, referred to my grandfather with these strong
expressions of regard : ' We have all of us the most respectful and
affectionate recollections of Lord Eldon. Attachment to him, I
may say, is almost a part of the constitution of the country.' '

Lord Eldon was highly delighted with the report of the anniver-
sary, particularly with the praise, which had been acquired by his
grandson in the chair, and on which the Duke of Wellington and other
friends came next day to pay him their congratulations. The following
is the note which he wrote to Lord Encombe on this gratifying occasion.

(Lord Eldon to Lord Encombe.")

(May28lh, 1827.)
" Dear Encombe,

"I have received, and read with difficulty, your letter, and another from Lord
Kenyon, whilst tears are flowing from old eyes, and trickling down my cheeks.

"I congratulate you, and thank you. Fan, dear Fan, joins me, and we both affec-
tionately congratulate you upon your fame as raised yesterday, and also offer our
congratulations to Lady Encombe.

" Hers and yours affectionately, ELDON."

Lord Eldon, though now very feeble, continued to receive pleasure
from the society of those to whom he was attached. In 1834, 1835
and 1836, he had a family party on each 4th of June, to keep his
birth-day. In 1837, the 4th being a Sunday, he confined his invita-
tions to Lord and Lady Encombe and two or three other persons :
but on Wednesday the 7th, he assembled a somewhat larger circle of
relations and friends, to celebrate the recent completion of his 86th
year. " This party," says Mr. Farrer, " consisted of Lord and Lady
Encombe, Mr. and Lady Elizabeth Repton and their son, Lady
Frances Bankes, Mr. and Mrs. Farrer, Lord Kenyon, Captain and
Mrs. Best, Mr. and Mrs. Thurlow, Mr. Pennington, Mr. Alfred Bell
and one or two other persons. Lord Encombe, being at the bottom
of the table when the cloth was removed, told Lord Eldon that ' the
ladies and gentleman had drunk his health.' Lord Eldon replied to
Lord Encombe, ' I desire that you will in my name return my most
sincere thanks to the ladies and gentlemen who have been so kind as
to drink my health, and that you will do it in as able a manner as
that with which you acquitted yourself at the Pitt Club.'


"During this dinner Lord Eldon kept up a delightful run of plea-
sant humorous conversation, proposing too the healths of different
persons at the table, with neat allusions to their professions. Giving
the health of Captain Best, R. N., and wishing he might soon have
a ship and go to sea, he took Mrs. Best's hand, and said to her gaily,
'Depend upon it, when he goes to sea, I shall stay on shore.' '

Mr. Farrer adds: "21st June, 1837. Mrs. Farrer and I, with
our sons Matt, and Oliver, went to dine with Lord Eldon. We met
Mr. Thurlow and his son, George W. J. Repton, and Lady Frances
Bankes. Lord Eldon had that morning been down to the House of
Lords to take the oaths, &c., on the queen's accession. He was
highly pleased with the reception he had there met with. He said,
1 The kindness they showed me affected me to tears ; the peers, the
officers of the House, all were kind.' He was very kind and atten-
tive to the young ones at his table, joking with them about college,
Oxford and Cambridge, inviting Oxford to drink wine with Cam-
bridge, &c. When we left, at ten o'clock, he said to our boys, 'You
must come soon again to dine with me : we'll be all boys next time.' "

In the summer of 1836, about two years after the gratifying ex-
hibition of public feeling at the Oxford installation, Lord Eldon had
offered, that a repetition of the portrait of himself, in Mr. Thurlow's
possession,* painted by Mr. Briggs, should be executed by the same
artist, as a present to Lord Encombe. "Upon this intimation," says
the latter, " I tolcl him that if he were kind enough to give me his
portrait at all, I should trouble him but little if he would permit Mr.
Briggs, now familiar with his features, to paint him for me as he sat
in the theatre at Oxford, on the occasion of the Duke of Wellington's
installation in June, 1834. He seemed gratified by the feeling which
had induced me to ask it, and spoke as disposed to consent."

Afterwards, probably from dislike to the tedium of sitting, he bought
one of Mr. Owen's portraits of him as chancellor, and gave it to his
grandson in substitution for the proposed installation picture.

"However," says the latter, "I would not be disappointed if I
could help it. I desired Mr. Briggs to prepare the picture, so as to
require as little as possible of Lord Eldon's attendance. This being
accordingly done, he sat in July, 1837, to Mr. Briggs, who, on the
7th of that month, completed his portrait as High Steward of the
University of Oxford, in his doctor's gown, as he appeared when I
went up to him upon my own degree being conferred by the duke.
In having this picture thus executed, I indulged the natural desire of
commemorating the only public occasion which ever brought me to
his side."

This picture, which was in the exhibition of the Royal Academy
in the year 1838, and is now at the present earl's residence in
Hamilton Place, is the last for which Lord Eldon ever sat.

The death of King William IV. had taken place on the 20th of
June, 1837 ; and her present majesty, who on that day succeeded to
the throne, dissolved Parliament on the 17th of July.

* See Chap. LX.
VOL. II. 21


Before Lord Eldon quitted London for the summer of 1837, he held
another confidential communication with his medical adviser, Mr.
Pennington, upon the state and prospects of his own health. Mr.
Pennine-ton recommended country travelling, but did not conceal
from him that his constitution was broken, and that his life was
drawing towards a close. This intelligence in no degree abated his
cheerfulness. He pressed Mr. Pennington to spend the vacation with
him at Encombe, offering to that gentleman his own terms for the
visit; but Mr. Pennington answered that the case was one in which
he could do no good ; and that he must not withdraw himself from
others of his old friends who honoured him with the same confidence
as Lord Eldon. The aged earl therefore took his way to Encombe,
unaccompanied by any medical attendant. Lord and Lady Encombe
were engaged this autumn to pay various visits in the north ; but
Lord Encombe, at Lord Eldon's particular request, passed a few days
of the first week in August with him, and then set off for Inglebo-
rough, the seat of Mr. Farrer, in Yorkshire.

The latter part of July, and the beginning of August, were occu-
pied with the new elections. Lord Encombe, on the evening of the
day on which he quitted Dorsetshire for the north, sent his grand-
father this lively sketch of the popular feeling at the close of the poll
in Wiltshire.

"Chippenham, 11 o'clock, Tuesday night, August Stl , 1827.
"My dear Grandfather,

"Although I have only just stopped at the end of to-day's travelling at eleven o'clock,
I must not go to bed without writing a few lines to repeat my thanks to you, for your
kindness to me, and for my pleasant visit to you at Encombe. You were right enough
in supposing that I should fall in with some electioneering; but little did you or I
expect that I should be haranguing at ten o'clock to-night, some fifleen or twenty
Whigs and Radicals from my carriage. The fact was, I arrived at Melksham, but
found no accommodation, it being a polling day for North Wiltshire. After driving
from one inn to the other, and back again, in vain search after a bed, or a fresh pair
of horses, I was forced to wait while the Warminster boy baited his; this took about
half an hour. Meanwhile I asked to see the state of the poll, which finally closed to-
day. The landlord, whom my servant asked for it, brought it in person, and said he
was sorry to tell me Methuen was beat, and Burden was at the head of the poll. I
said, that my principles being the other way, I could not share in his regret. He
stated that he was aware of it: and several of the persons standing about, finding who
I was, (for Methuen's committee were dining and drinking noisy toasts there at the
time,) took the opportunity of entering into conversation, and although every one
present differed from our politics, yet they volunteered to express great admiration of
you as a consistent Tory, and told me that if I, though a stranger, were elected mem-
ber for North Wiltshire, it would be a credit to them, as I was a consistent politician ;
but that Sir Francis Burden was a disgrace to them. I defended (as far as it is pos-
sible to defend) Sir Francis Burden's conduct, and enough to put them to a loss to
answer me; and ihis amusing scene, in the most perfect good humour, went on by
the light of the hostler's lamp, which I perceived their curiosity induced them to throw
full on my countenance, and it elicited from some of them an expression I overheard,
that I much resembled you. At last, I had conducted so successfully my single-
handed discussion with my assemblage, (about four or five of whom only were the
principal speakers,) that one of them requested, as a favour, to be permitted to shake
hands with me before the carriage started, and when I shook hands with him, about
six others instantly seized my hand. I then drove off amid a salutation of cheering
at parting, of which, I think, Mr. Methuen, the Whig-Radical, whose friends they all
were, might have been jealous. Now do not suppose I mention all this as any merit
of mine, but I like you to see as a set-off to the occasional ingratitude of the world,
which is apt to annoy one, that in a place where, perhaps, you never were, and where


I certainly never was, your character still lives (though you have ceased to attend the
Houses of Parliament) among a class of persons who, probably, do not even know

Online LibraryHorace TwissThe public and private life of Lord Chancellor Eldon, with selections from his correspondence (Volume 2) → online text (page 47 of 65)