Horace Twiss.

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

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the names of the chancellors who have succeeded you on the woolsack. I send you
the state of the poll at its close; and begging you to offer, to all with you, my most
affectionate love, and to accept the same yourself, believe me,

" My dear grandfather,

" Your very affectionate grandson,


" In the latter end of August, 1837," relates Miss Forster, " my
dear uncle, Lord Eldon, again came to Rusheyford, and again my
mother and I had the happiness of spending a few days with him ;
but we feared, we greatly feared, that it would be the last time, for
he was altered from the preceding year. He received us as usual
with warm affection ; but a painful event had occurred in his own
family,* and his conversation was at times dejected. At other times,
he was not only cheerful but lively, and entered into a joke with
great fun, carrying it on from day to day. He frequently, also,
repeated many of his anecdotes, though not so much in detail as in
former years. He again spent and enjoyed a day at Eldon ; and he
again had all his tenants to dine at Rusheyford. The following was
his speech after dinner, the last which he addressed to them, proba-
bly the last that he ever delivered:

" August 31st, 1837.

"'My first acknowledgments are due to that Great Being, whose pleasure it has been
to afflict me with a painful illness, and to continue th?.i infliction for a lengthened
period, insomuch that I did not hope to have been aule to have seen you all again.
So long as it shall please God to allow me, it will ever be my happiness, as it is my
duty, thus to come among you.'

" After adverting to the advantages of the leasing system as com-
pared with that of yearly holdings, he continued :

"'Gentlemen, since last we met, there has been a contest for part of this county in
electing members to serve in Parliament. Lord William Powlett, the second son of
the Duke of Cleveland, was spoken of for this division of the county, and I was ap-
plied to to use my influence in his behalf. The answer I gave was, that I considered
it of the greatest importance that, in a county like this, where there is so large a body
of opulent landed proprietors, and so highly respectable a tenantry, a conservative
member should be returned to represent them; that my sentiments were known; but
that I should leave it to my tenants to exercise the franchise which Parliament had
given them in such manner as should appear to them to be right and according to
good conscience, and,as most likely to uphold that church in which the purest doc-
trines of our religion are taught in the best manner.

"' Gentlemen, I repeat the great thankfulness I feel in having been allowed once
more to come among you. In taking leave of you, gentlemen, I say from my heart,
may God bless you and your families ! '

" The above was written down by Mr. A. Bell. My uncle knew
and approved of my wish of preserving a copy of it, and he desired
me to get Mr. Bell to do it."

The following memoranda by Miss Forster are from Lord Eldon's
own mouth.

" I will tell you what I did one day: I really was in a great deal
of pain, and I wished to beguile the time, and divert my attention, if
possible, by any nonsense I could ; so as I sat at my window, looking
into Piccadilly towards St. James's Park, I counted all the long pet-

* The separation of Mr. and Lady Frances Bankes.


ticoats that went past, and all the short ones ; short petticoats beat
long hollow."

" ' I have heard some very extraordinary cases of murder tried. I
remember, in one where I was counsel, for a long time the evidence
did not appear to touch the prisoner at all, and he looked about him
with the most perfect unconcern, seeming to think himself quite safe.
At last, the surgeon was called, who stated deceased had been killed
by a shot, a gun-shot, in the head, and he produced the matted hair
and stuff cut from and taken out of the wound. It was all hardened
with blood. A basin of warm water was brought into court, and, as
the blood was gradually softened, a piece of printed paper appeared,
the wadding of the gun, which proved to be half of a ballad. The
other half had been found in the man's pocket when he was taken.
He was hanged.'

" Ellen (Miss Forster.) 'I have always thought it very extraor-
dinary, uncle, the discovery of murders many years after the deed
had been committed.

" Lord Eldon. l Yes, very. I remember one man taken up
twelve years after the deed. He had made his escape ; and, though
every search was made, he could not be found. Twelve years after-
wards, the brother of the murdered man was at Liverpool in a public
house. He fell asleep, and was awoke by some one picking his
pocket: he started, exclaiming, ' Good God! the man that killed my
brother twelve years ago!' Assistance came to him: the man was
secured, tried and condemned. He had enlisted as a soldier and
gone to India, immediately after the deed was committed, and he
had just landed at Liverpool on his return, where his first act was to
pick the pocket of the brother of the man he had murdered twelve
years before. It was very extraordinary that the man waking out of
his sleep should so instantly know him. But the most extraordinary
case was at Knaresborough, Eugene Aram : he was hanged twenty
years after, and had been living very respectably as a schoolmas-
ter.' "

" ' lean assure you, that all the honours that have been heaped upon
me, always came unsought by me. I may safely say, that I never
stepped across the kennel out of my way to secure preferment.' '

' There are two of my sermons tossing about the world some-
where, that I wrote before I married. I sometimes hear of their
being preached. I should think no clergyman ever wrote as many
sermons as Lord Stowell. I advised him to burn all his manuscripts
of that kind. It is not fair to the clergymen to have it known he
wrote them. They asked for sermons for particular occasions, to be
preached before this or that person ; he complied with their requests,
and he should not let it be known that he did so.' "

" Speaking of stalls and valuable pieces of preferment in the
church, Lord Eldon said, ' There is one view of the subject which I
take, and I cannot help persuading myself it has a good deal in it.
The most valuable works in divinity which we have, have been
written by men who held stalls, or some good preferment : and if


they had not done so, those works could not have been given to the
public on account of expense. Now I argue that a man who pub-
lishes a learned work, at an expense of probably five hundred pounds,
benefits the whole of the clergy : for, immediately there is a cheap
edition, and that which cost five hundred pounds in the first instance,
can be had for three-and-sixpence, and thus is sound learning dif-
fused over all.' '

" ' Religion is a natural feeling of the human mind ; and if rulers
do not provide proper instructors and proper places to receive in-
struction in, the people will provide schism-shops for themselves.' "

" Sept. 1st, 1837. We bade my honoured and revered uncle
farewell. We saw him no more ; but our intercourse with him bj
letter continued until the 6th January, 1838. Ellen Forster."

After his return to Encombe, he wrote thus to Lord Sidmouth, in
answer to a letter communicating bad tidings of Lady Sidmouth's

(LordEMon to Lord Sidmouth.') (Extract.)

' Wednesday, (Sept. 27th, 18-27.)

"I have received here to-day your letter: and gladdened indeed would have been
my heart if it had contained a better account of my niece, to whom present my love
and warmest good wishes.


"Though I have been moving through a long journey and return from it, I am in
precisely the same state of actual constant weakness and pain, which I have now-
undergone for nearly two long years. I cannot stir without help, and from the moment I
am helped into my carriage in a morning, I never stir out of it till evening. Pray give
my dear niece my most affectionate regard and good wishes. Accept the same your-
self. I shall, if God pleases, return to town very soon, and to that as probably my
last earthly place of abode. God bless with his choicest blessings my niece and
yourself, and believe me, Hers and yours most affectionately,


This was a prophetic letter. On Monday, the 16th of October,
Lord Eldon left Encombe, to see it no more. He proceeded slowly
to London, which he reached on the 18th: and though apprised by
Mr. Pennington that the country, and the " long columns of air" of
which that gentleman had often advised him to try the effect, had
failed to produce any improvement of health from which it could be
hoped that life had much longer to last, Lord Eldon was so little
depressed, that Mr. Pennington, who dined and spent four hours
with him on the day after his return to town, described him as
having never been more cheerful, or more abundant in anecdote and
other pleasant conversation.




Mr. Farrer's recollections of Lord Eldon in November. Alterations in will. Visit
and letter of Bishop of Exeter. Mr. Farrer's recollections of Lord Eldon in De-
cember. His religious exercises. His final decay: his death-bed: his death.
Letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the present earl. Funeral proces-
sion : burial in Kingston chapel: funeral sermons at the churches on his estates
in Durham. Monuments of Lord and Lady Eldon, Mr. W. H. J. Scott and Lord
Stowell. Portraits of Lord Eldon and Lord Stowell. Lord Eldon's fortune: and

THE new Parliament met in November; and, " on the 16th," says
Mr. Farrer, " Lord Eldon went down in his chariot to the House of
Lords to take his seat. I met him as he got out of his carriage. Mr.
Butt, who had been Lord Eldon's mace-bearer, and Smith, his butler,
assisted him up the stairs. About half way up, Mr. Butt had a bottle
of sherry, and persuaded his old master to take a glass of it. When
we came to the door of the House, Smith requested me to support
Lord Eldon into the body of the House, which I did. He went up
to the woolsack, and said to the lord chancellor (Lord Cottenham),
* My lord, I am happy to take this opportunity of assuring you that
every thing I hear of you entitles you to my sincere respect.' He
then went to the table, took the oaths, and signed the roll, c."

The following are Mr. Farrer's memoranda of several conversa-
tions held with Lord Eldon, in this advanced period of his life:

" Speaking of public men, Lord Eldon said, ' The ablest man I
ever knew in the cabinet, was Lord Chatham. He sat apparently
inattentive to what was going on ; but when his turn came to deliver
his opinion, he toppled over all the others.' (I particularly observed
his use of the word toppled.")

" * The chief commissioner, Adam,' said Lord Eldon, < sent to
ask my opinion as to the law upon some point, and referred to a case
in Vesey decided by me. I returned for answer, I do not know
what the law is now, but I am sure, that if I so decided, the law was
so at that time.'

"Another day, when I sat above an hour with Lord Eldon, he
told me a variety of anecdotes, political and professional. He
inquired whether I had seen the tablet which he had lately put up in
St. Nicholas Church at Newcastle. I answered that I ha'd not been
there since he put it up. I never could persuade my brother,' he
said, ' to join me in putting up a tablet. It is not in All Saints,
where my father is buried, because they won't permit monuments to
be fixed against the walls of that church. It is a great mistake to


suppose my father the poor man of low station, stated in some life of
my brother. He was one of the first tradesmen in Newcastle.'
Lord Eldon then repeated the inscription, which I imperfectly
remember :




" He laid great stress upon the word freeman as he pronounced it,
and he described the hoastmen to be ' a company of the first tradesmen
in Newcastle.'

" Lord Eldon," continues Mr. Farrer, " related that Lord Thurlow,
after he had concluded an argument, once said to him, ' I was with
you, Mr. Scott, till I heard your argument.' "* Perhaps it was the
recollection of this result that gave Lord Eldon the habit of hearing
out the counsel on the side to which his own judgment inclined.

" I asked Lord Eldon," writes Mr. Farrer, " whether he remem-
bered going over to my father's at Clapham,f to shoot grouse on
Ingleborough ? ' I remember it as if it was yesterday,' was his reply.
' I finished a long cause at Lancaster late one night, and started off
on horseback very early the next morning, and got to Clapham before
they went out upon the moors. When we had got upon the moors,
before separating into different parties, I called upon all the gentle-
men sportsmen then and there present to prove their right in law to
wage war upon the grouse, and produced my license or certificate,
read it with much solemnity, and then protested against any other
gentleman daring to shoot who could not prove equal authority with
myself. Not one of them could produce his certificate.' ' I have
heard my father say that you made the whole party laugh so heartily,
that they could kill nothing all that day.' ' I believe,' said Lord
Eldon, ' they did very little in the way of killing game, and perhaps
I might be in some degree the cause ; at least they were pleased to
say so. I remember we had a very pleasant day of it.'

" ' I know, Lord Eldon, that you were a great walker, and fond of
shooting: did you ever hunt ? ' ' Oh yes! to be sure I did. I left
off' hunting because I had a fall one day when I was out hunting on
Newcastle moor. I wished to leap into an adjoining field, my horse fell
into the ditch, and I tumbled over him. I never hunted afterwards.'

" One day, after dinner, when Mr. Alfred Bell and I were left alone
with Lord Eldon, the conversation turned upon his Eldon estate. ' I
passed by Eldon,' I said, ' last year: the plantations looked well.'
Lord Eldon took up the subject. * I can tell you how I became a great
planter. After I bought that estate at Eldon, Sir John Eden, whose
estate joins the Eldon estate, and from whose house you see my hills,
came up to me one night in the House of Commons, and said to me,
" Mr. Attorney-General, you are rich and I am poor ; you are making
a large income, and I am spending a small one ; you have no time to
spare for looking after your estate, and I have abundance of time.

See Chap. VI. p. 135. -j- In Yorkshire.


Now if you will agree to plant your hills at Eldon, and will find the
money, I will find the time to superintend the planting, and will at-
tend to it to the best of my judgment." So upon these terms we set
to work ; and in that way have sprung up those plantations, which
are a great improvement to my estate, and a great ornament to Sir
John Eden's residence. Sir John Eden had his picture taken in the
dress of a planter, with his spade and other tools.' '

It was not till some weeks after Lord Eldon's last return to town,
and when the approaching confinement of Lady Encombe made a
removal to London impracticable, that the increasing extent of Lord
Eldon's annoyance about the Shirley residence became known to his
grandson. Had the actual state of his feelings, and of his health, been
communicated in time to Lord and Lady Encombe, they would cheer-
fully have fixed themselves in London, at whatever inconvenience.
His dissatisfaction on this subject may, perhaps, have been one of his
motives for revoking a power which, by will, he had given to Lord
Encombe, of charging his estates with a sum of 50,OOOZ. for the por-
tions of daughters. It was a motive, however, which he seems not
to have acknowledged to himself; for he left among his papers an
explanatory paper on this subject, endorsed " Memorandum, not tes-
tamentary," which was in these words:

"Memorandum. On consideration, I have thought myself perfectly justified, in
case of a failure of Lord Encombe's issue male, in preferring, to the fullest exlenf,
my own daughters to the daughters of Lord Encombe, and, therefore, I have revoked
the power of charging which I had given to Lord Encombe by my will, considering
also that his daughters are otherwise provided for. Eldon, 6. Dec r , 1837. This is
not testamentary."

This, and other minor alterations by codicil, he was very anxious
about completing, and did actually complete, before the 1st of January,
1838, because, on that day, the new act " for the Amendment of the
Laws with respect to Wills" (7 W. 4. & 1 Viet. c. 26) was to come
into operation : of the effects of which change he entertained great
apprehension. " It was his habit," says his solicitor, Mr. Alfred Bell,
" to have his testamentary papers under constant consideration with

As respects the foregoing memorandum, the truth seems to be, that
his powers of mind were now failing with' his bodily strength ; and
that thus, as the evening of his life closed in, there were mists of pre-
judice beginning to rise upon him, which his judgment, when nearer
to its meridian, would at once have dispelled. He became more
jealous of personal attentions to himself: and he viewed with less
indulgence the holders of opinions adverse to his own upon subjects
in which he took an interest, especially in the case of those members
of the church establishment, whom he regarded as having been acces-
sary to the weakening of it. This feeling was never exhibited with
asperity; but it was perceptible to those who intimately knew him.
It subsisted to some extent, in the instance of Dr. Phillpotts, the Bishop
of Exeter, who was connected with Lord Eldon's family by having
married a relative of his lady. The bishop, hearing, in November,
1837, of Lord Eldon's declining health, called upon him, conversed


with him on the subject of his approaching end, and entered into
prayer. Thus far, the bishop's ministration appears to have been
highly acceptable ; for Mr. Pennington said afterwards to Mr. Farrer :
" When I called, Lord Eldon, before we had any other conversa-
tion, said, ' I have had another doctor since I saw you.' ' I am glad
of it,' I answered. ' Oh! but he was a spiritual doctor, not a medical.
The Bishop of Exeter paid me a visit, and after sitting a little by me
and observing me look very ill, he got up and bolted the door, and
knelt down by me " Let us pray," he said. He did pray, and such
a prayer! I never heard such a prayer!' Lord Eldon spoke of it in
the warmest terms." A few days afterwards the bishop had the kind-
ness to repeat his visit : and, under the impression that Lord Eldon,
in his view of salvation, had an undue reliance on the efficacy of a
well-spent life, pressed upon him the necessity of fixing his hopes
exclusively upon the merits of our Saviour. But on this occasion
Lord Eldon was in a mood of mind less favourable to his visitor, and
evinced an indisposition to enter with him upon a subject to which in
general he readily addressed himself. The bishop, with his usual
judgment and taste, desisted from urging such an object at such a
disadvantage ; but very shortly afterwards renewed his communica-
tions respecting it, by the following beautiful letter.

" Lord Carrington's, Whitehall, 27th Nov., 183~
" My dear Lord,

"I take blame to myself for having, as I fear, obtruded on you some important
matters of consideration, at a time when you were not prepared to admit them ; or
in a manner which may have been deemed too earnest and importunate. That you
pardon the intrusion, I have no doubt, and that you ascribe what may have been ill-
timed, or ill-considered, to the true cause an anxious wish to lead a highly gifted
mind like yours, to those thoughts which alone can satisfy it.

" Before I leave this place, instead of again trespassing on you in person, I have
resolved to commit to paper a few considerations which your own powerful mind
will know how to improve, and which I humbly pray the Holy Spirit of God to im-
press, so far as they accord with His Truth, on the hearts of both of us. I contem-
plate in you, my dear lord, an object of no ordinary interest. I see a man full of years
and honours, honours richly earned (aye, were they tenfold greater than they are,)
by a life which, protracted long beyond the ordinary age of man, has been employed,
during all the period of service, in promoting, strengthening, and securing the best
and most sacred interests of your country. I see in you the faithful, zealous and most
able advocate of the connection of true religion with the constitution and government
of England. I see in you one who has largely benefited the generation of which
you have been among the most distinguished ornaments. Seeing and feeling this,
I am sure you will pardon me, if I exhibit a little even of undue eagerness to per-
form to you the only service which I can hope to render that of exciting such a
mind to those reflections, by which, after serving others, it can now do the best and
surest service to itself. In truth, those reflections are few and brief, but most preg-
nant. In short, my dear lord, I would seek most earnestly to guard yon against the
danger which arises from the very qualities which we most admire in you, and from
the actions for which we are most grateful to you. That danger is, lest you contem-
plate these matters with too much satisfaction lest you rest upon them as the grounds
of your hope of final acceptance with God. Oh ! my dear lord, the best of the sons
of men must be content, or rather must be most anxious, to look out of themselves,
and above themselves, for any sure hope I will not say of justification, but of mercy.
Consider the infinite holiness and purity of God, and then say whether any man was
ever fit to appear at His tribunal. Consider the demands of His Law, extending to
the most secret thoughts, and wishes, and imaginations, of the heart, and then say,
whether you, or any one, can stand before Him in your own strength when He
cometh to judgment. No: it is as sinners, as grievous sinners, we shall, we must


appear; and the only plea which will be admitted for us, is the righteousness and
the merits of our crucified Redeemer. If we place any reliance on our own poor doings
or fancied virtues, those very virtues will be our snares, our downfall. Above all
things, therefore, it is our duty, and pre-eminently the duty of the purest and best
among us, to cast off all confidence in ourselves, and thankfully to embrace Christ's
most precious offer on the terms on which He offers it; He will be our Saviour, only
if we know and feel and humbly acknowledge that we need His Salvation. He will
be more and more our Saviour in proportion as we more and more love and rely
upon Him. But surely the more we feel and deplore our own sinfulness, the more
earnest will be our love, the firmer our reliance on Him who alone is mighty to
save. Therefore it is, that, in preparing ourselves to appear before Him, the less we
think of what we may fondly deem our good deeds and good qualities, and the more
rigidly we scrutinize our hearts, and detect and deplore our manifold sinfulness,
the fitter shall we be, because the more deeply sensible of the absolute necessity
and of the incalculable value of His blessed undertaking and suffering for us.
One word on\y more of ourselves we cannot come to this due sense of our
own worthlessness: and the devil is always ready to tempt our weak hearts with the
bait which is most taking to many among us confidence in ourselves. It is the
Holy Spirit who alone can give us that only knowledge which will be useful to us at
the last the knowledge of our own hearts, of their weakness, their wickedness
and of the way of God's salvation, pardon of the faithful and confiding penitent for
His dear Son's sake. Oh ! my dear lord, may you and I be found among the truly
penitent, and then we shall have our perfect consummation and bliss among the truly
blessed. I am, my dear lord,

" With true veneration and regard,

"Your lordship's most faithful servant,

"And affectionate Brother in Christ,

" H. ElETEK.


It may well be hoped that the bishop, probably from the already
explained coldness of Lord Eldon's manner toward him, had under-
estimated the real nature of his fath ; for Lord Eldon, though he may
have too much inclined to look on his own good works with com-
placency, appears nevertheless to have been sensible of the insuffi-

Online LibraryHorace TwissThe public and private life of Lord Chancellor Eldon, with selections from his correspondence (Volume 2) → online text (page 48 of 65)