The letters of Queen Victoria : a selection from Her Majesty's correspondence between the years 1837 and 1861 : published by authority of His Majesty the king (Volume 2) online

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and soldiers who served in the armies in the Peninsula

1 Mr (who a few weeks later became Sir) Charles Wood.

2 Montem, the triennial Eton ceremony, the chief part of which took place
at Salt Hill (ad montem), near Slough, was abolished in 1847.

1846] THE DUKKS VIEW 131

under the command of the Duke are anxious to receive
and wear a medal, struck by command of the Sovereign,
to commemorate the services performed in that seat of
the late war.

Many of them have, upon more than one occasion,
expressed such desire, in their letters addressed to the
Duke in their petitions to Parliament, and, as the
Duke has reason to believe,. in petitions presented to
your Majesty.

Although the Duke has never omitted to avail
himself of every occasion which offered to express
his deep sense of the meritorious services of the officers
and soldiers of the Army which served in the Peninsula,
he did not consider it his duty to suggest to the
Sovereign, under whose auspices, or the Minister under
whose direction the services in question were per-
formed, any particular mode in which those services
of the Army should be recognised by the State.

Neither has he considered it his duty to submit
such suggestion, since the period at which the services
were performed, bearing in mind the various important
considerations which must have an influence upon
the decision on such a question, which it was and is
the duty of your Majesty's confidential servants alone
to take into consideration, and to decide.

Neither can the Duke of Wellington now venture
to submit to your Majesty his sense of a comparison
of the services of the Army which served in the
Peninsula, with those of other armies in other parts
of the world, whose recent services your Majesty has
been most graciously pleased to recognise by ordering
that medals should be struck, to commemorate each
of such services, one of which to be delivered to each
officer and soldier present, which your Majesty was
graciously pleased to permit him to wear.

Field-Marshal the Duke of Wellington humbly
solicits your Majesty, in grateful submission to your
Majesty, upon the subject of the last paragraph of your
Majesty's most gracious letter, that, considering the
favour with which his services were received and


rewarded by the gracious Sovereign, under whose
auspices they were performed ; the professional rank
and the dignity in the State to which he was raised,
and the favour with which his services were then and
have been ever since received, that your Majesty would
be graciously pleased to consider upon this occasion
only the well-founded claims upon your Majesty's
attention of the officers and soldiers who served in the
Army in the Peninsula ; and to consider him, as he con-
siders himself, amply rewarded for any service which
he might have been instrumental in rendering ; and
desirous only of opportunities of manifesting his
gratitude for the favour and honour with which he
has been treated by his Sovereign.

All of which is humbly submitted to your Majesty
by your Majesty's most dutiful and devoted Subject
and Servant, WELLINGTON.

Queen Victoria to Viscount Palmerston.

OSBORNE, 28th November 1846.

The Queen has just received Lord Palmerston's
draft to Mr Southern, 1 and must observe that she
does not quite approve the tone of it, as it will be
likely only to irritate without producing any effect.
If our advice is to be taken, it must be given in a
spirit of impartiality and fairness. Lord Palmerston's
despatch must give the impression that we entirely
espouse the cause of the rebels, whose conduct is, to
say the least, illegal and very reprehensible. Lord
Palmerston likewise takes the nation and the opposition
to be one and the same thing. What we must insist
upon is a return to Constitutional Government. And
what we may advise is a compromise with the opposi-
tion. What Ministry is to be formed ought to be
left to the Portuguese themselves. It being the 28th
to-day, the Queen is afraid the despatch went already
yesterday. The Queen hopes in future that Lord
Palmerston will not put it out of her power to state
her opinion in good time.

i Secretary of Legation at Lisbon, and Charge d'Affaires in the absence of
Lord Howard de Walden.


Queen Victoria to the Duke of Wellington.

ARUNDEL CASTLE, 1st December 1846.

The Queen has not yet acknowledged the Duke of
Wellington's last letter.

She fully appreciates the delicacy of the Duke in
not wishing to propose himself a step having reference
to his own achievements, but the Queen will not on
that account forego the satisfaction of granting this
medal as an acknowledgment on her part of those
brilliant achievements.

The Queen has been assured by Lord John Russell
that her confidential servants will be ready to assume
the responsibility of advising such a measure.

The Duke of Wellington to Queen Victoria.

ARUNDEL CASTLE, 2nd December 1846.
(Morning. )

Field-Marshal the Duke of Wellington presents his
humble duty to your Majesty. He did not receive your
Majesty's commands, dated the 1st instant, in this Castle,
till seven o'clock in the afternoon ; and being under the
necessity of attending at [? Dover] in the evening,
he has not had it in his power till this time to express
his acknowledgment of the receipt of them.

He submits to your Majesty that he has always
been aware that it would be impolitic to confer upon
the officers and soldiers who served in the Peninsula
the wished-for distinction without the concurrence
of your Majesty's confidential servants.

They alone can give the orders to carry into execu-
tion the measure, and can adopt means to remedy any
inconvenience which may result from it ; and it is
satisfactory to him to learn, from the perusal of your
Majesty's note, that Lord John Russell is disposed to
adopt it, notwithstanding that the Duke has no
personal wish or feeling in the adoption of the measure,
excepting to see gratified the wishes of so many gallant
officers and brave soldiers, who have so well served.

The few words which he addressed your Majesty
in his last letter of the 27th of November in relation


to himself, referred to the expressions in that of your
Majesty of the 2Gth November, to the Duke ; from
which it appeared to be your Majesty's intention "to
empower many a brave soldier to wear this token, in
remembrance of the Duke."

Having stated to your Majesty that he would serve
your Majesty, and would promote the objects of your
Majesty's Government, to the utmost of his power,
he has faithfully performed his engagement, as he
believes, to the satisfaction of your Majesty's servants.

His whole life being devoted to your Majesty's
service, he is most anxious to deserve and receive
your Majesty's approbation.

But he wishes that it should be conveyed only
when it may be convenient to your Majesty's Govern-
ment. Your Majesty and your Majesty's servants
must be the best judges upon this point, as well as
w r hether the medal in question shall be struck and
granted at all or not.

If granted, or whatever may be the mode in which
granted, or whether the Duke's name is recalled to
recollection or not, the Duke will be equally satisfied,
and grateful for your Majesty's gracious favour, and
desirous to merit a continuance of it, by his devotion
to your Majesty's service.

All of which is humbly submitted by your Majesty's
most dutiful Subject and most devoted Servant,


Queen Victoria to Lord John Russell.

OSBORNE, Hth December 184-6.

The Queen has still to acknowledge Lord John
Russell's letter of the llth. She has carefully read
the Duke of Wellington's letter to Lord John, which
evinces all the Duke's honourable feelings. He should
certainly be relieved from the appearance of having
refused honours to others, but agreed to the granting
of them the moment it was intended to couple the
measure with an honour conferred upon himself. On
the other hand, the Queen still wishes the step to be
taken as a means of doing honour to the Duke.

1846] CRACOW 135

His name should, therefore, certainly be connected
with it. The introduction of the names of other
commanders, even of that of Sir John Moore, the
Queen does not think advisable. She does not quite
understand from Lord John's letter whether he
proposes to adopt the Duke's recommendation to
re-issue all the medals formerly granted, or to adhere
to the original idea of striking a new one. In the
latter case, which appears the most natural, the word
" Peninsula " would cover all the campaigns, and in
these the Duke of Wellington had by far so much
the greatest share that his name being introduced on
all the medals cannot be considered as anomalous.

Queen Victoria to Viscount Palmerston.

OSBORNE, 14-th December 1846.

The Queen returns the enclosed private letters. 1
The view Lord Palmerston takes of the affair of
Cracow appears to the Queen a very sound one, and
she would much wish to see the plan of a conference
realised against which Lord Ponsonby does not bring
any very relevant reasons. Prince Metternich's plan
of a declaration "that the case is to be considered
an exceptional one and not to afford a precedent to
other powers " is too absurd. The Prince very justly
compared it to the case of a person giving another a
box on the ear and declaring at the same time that
he is to consider it as exceptional, and that it is in
no way to afford him a precedent for returning it.
The Queen hopes the Cabinet will well consider the
question, and contrive to find means to prevent the
evil consequences of the unjustifiable step against
Cracow by speaking out in time, before Russia or
France may have decided on acts of further infraction
of the Treaty of Vienna. It seems quite clear that
Russia was at the bottom of the measure relative to
Cracow, and it is therefore but reasonable to expect
that she has an ulterior object in view.

1 The first ill fruits of the disruption of the entente between England and
France were seen in the active co-operation of Russia, Prussia, and Austria to
destroy Polish independence.


DURING the year 1847 the Parliament which had been elected in
1841 with a great Tory majority was dissolved, and, as a result,
the position of the Whig Ministry was slightly improved ; but
they were still dependent on the support of Sir Robert Peel.
A Factory Act limiting the labour of women and children to ten
hours a day was passed. An autumn session was rendered necessary
by an acute financial crisis, the Ministry having authorised the
Bank of England to infringe the provisions of the recent Bank
Charter Act, and as a consequence being compelled to ask Parlia-
ment for an indemnity. The knowledge of the Bank's authority
to issue notes beyond the prescribed limits was of itself sufficient
to allay the panic. The Church of England was convulsed by the
promotion of Dr Hampden, whom Lord Melbourne had made
Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, to the See of Hereford ;
his orthodoxy was impugned in a memorial presented by thirteen
bishops to the Prime Minister, and an unsuccessful application
was made to the Queen's Bench (the Court being divided in
opinion) to compel the Primate to hear objections to Dr
Hampden's consecration. The new House of Lords was used for
the first time this year.

Perhaps the most important event in France was the cold-
blooded murder of the Duchesse de Praslin (daughter of Count
Sebastiani, formerly French Ambassador in England) by her
husband, an incident which, like the Spanish intrigue of 1846,
contributed subsequently to the downfall of the Orleanist dynastv.

Switzerland was torn by internecine strife, partly owing to
the existence, side by side, of Catholic and Protestant cantons ;
the proposed expulsion of Jesuits and the formation of the
" Sonderbund " were the questions of the day. The latter was
an offensive and defensive confederation of seven cantons, and civil
war raged round the question of its legality.

In Italy the death of Pope Gregory XVI. and the election of a
more liberal successor induced Lord John Russell to send his father-
in-law, Lord Minto, the Lord Privy Seal, on a special mission to
the new Pope Pius IX., to encourage him in the path of Reform.
But more violent measures were in progress, and it was soon
clear that Lombardy and Venetia were rising against Austria,
and the way being paved for the Unity of Italy.

Spain was in a ferment, frequent changes of Ministry taking
place, and the miserable marriage of the Queen having all the
evil results anticipated in England. Portugal continued in a
state of civil war, the British attempting to mediate, but the
revolutionary Junta refused to abide by their terms, and ultimately
armed intervention became necessary.




Queen Victoria to' Lord John Russell.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 1th January 1847.

The turn which the Portuguese affairs are now
likely to take is really very satisfactory. The Queen
is sure that the Court will not allow violent measures
of revenge to be taken against the vanquished party nor
the overthrow of a Constitutional Government ; but the
Queen of Portugal will have to punish those who have
broken their oath of allegiance, and will have to remove
from the country those who would infallibly ere long
plunge the country afresh into those horrors from which
it is just emerging. The further infusion of democracy
into the Charter would at this moment be quite mis-
placed, but this opportunity should be taken by the
Queen of Portugal to establish a state of legality and
security, by compelling any new Ministry to lay the
accounts every year before the Cortes (which has not
been done for the last ten years, either by Progressistas,
Septembristas, or others) by establishing irremovable
judges and appointing thereto incorruptible persons,
by honestly and fairly distributing the patronage in the
army apart from the party which will now be possible,
as the King has the command himself, and by adopting
such measures of internal improvement as will promote
the material welfare of the people.

These are the principles which the Queen would



wish to see her representative urge upon the Portuguese
Court and Government, and she has no doubt that they
are in perfect conformity with Lord John Russell's own
views. The Queen cannot help repeating that the
tone and bearing of Mr Southern are more those
of a Portuguese Demagogue than of an English

The King of the Belgians to Queen Victoria.

TUILERIES, 15th January 1847.

MY DEAREST VICTORIA, I am truly happy to learn
what you say about your feelings on those troublesome
politics ; I can assure you that many people who are, in
fact, quite indifferent to politics, rencherissent in expres-
sions of dislike and contempt settlement, because they
believe that you have those opinions. Many wise
people repeat sayings which they assume to come from
your own mouth, such, for instance, " that Louis
Philippe could never be trusted, being, after all, an old
fox," etc.

The King's Speech was as unobjectionable as
possible. I trust that there will be no bitterness in
yours. It is as much, if not more, in the interest of
Great Britain to keep France quiet and continuing a
peaceable policy than in that of France. France, as
the old Duke once said with great truth, has been
already under water several times, what could be spoiled
has been spoiled, what remains is pretty solid. To
attack France in France would lead to the most
dangerous consequences. In general, if we get once a
great war again you will be sure to have everywhere
revolutions, and to imagine that you will escape in
England all reactions would be a grievous mistake.
When one looks to the changes brought about in
England in consequence of the Revolution of July,
one is quite astounded. Here they changed nothing
but the dynasty, in England the very spi?it of the old
monarchy has been abolished, and what will be, in the
course of time, the consequences, it is not easy to tell.


A bad Constitution acts strongly on the people.
Look to America, even to Belgium. Ever, my dearest
Victoria, your devoted Uncle, LEOPOLD R.

Queen Victoria to Lord John Russell.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 14th February 1847.

Lord John Russell's memorandum contains two
different questions. The one is this : how far the
interests of England require an interference in the
affairs of Portugal for the restoration of peace in that
country and the preservation of its Throne, and how
far England is bound by existing treaties to interfere.

As to this question, it appears from Lord John's
memorandum that the ancient treaties having reference
to foreign invasion only are inapplicable to the present
case, that the Quadruple Treaty would revive on the
appearance of Don Miguel in Portugal, that an under-
standing with Spain ought to be come to for its
execution, but Lord John does not make any specific

The other question is, what wrongs the Queen,
the Ministers, and the rebels may have done to bring
about the present state of affairs. This the Queen con-
ceives can only be decided by a most minute, impartial,
and anxious scrutiny. She indignantly rejects the
notion to leave this decision to Mr Southern. . . .
Lord John's statement contains, however, nothing but
the echo of his reports.

Lord John will upon reflection admit that to say
"that recent events exhibit a spirit of tyranny and
cruelty in the Portuguese Government without a
parallel in any part of Europe," there, where not one
execution has taken place, is rather a strong expression.

That the cruelties and miseries inseparable from
a Civil War are to be deplored, there can be no doubt
of, and it is in order to stop a further continuance
and perhaps aggravation of these horrors, that the
Queen is so anxious to see the struggle brought to
an early termination.


The Queen hopes to see Lord John to-morrow
at three o'clock, when she hopes that he will be
able to submit a definitive step.

Queen Victoria to Lord John Russell.

Uth March.

The Queen wishes again to call Lord John Russell's
serious attention to the state of Spain and Portugal,
and to the policy which has been pursued with regard
to them, and the result of this policy. In Spain we
have taken up the cause of the Progressistas, and what
has been the consequence ? They desert us.

We have no longer the slightest influence in that
country ; France has it all her own way, and we shall
see the Cortes confirm the succession of the Infanta
and her children without being able to prevent it. Of
the Progressistas, on whom Lord Palmerston, Lord
Clarendon, and others always placed their hopes, Mr
Bulwer says now : " The fact is, that though they are
the party least servile to France, they are the most
impracticable party, and belonging to a lower class of
society, who have not the same feelings of honourable
and gentleman-like conduct which sometimes guide a
portion, though a very small one, of their opponents."

In Spain therefore it is, the Queen fears, too late ;
but let us not throw away this lesson, and, if it is
still possible, not also lose Portugal. Our influence
there is fast going, and Sir H. Seymour 1 confirms
what every one but Mr Southern has stated for the
last two months, viz. that we are believed to be
favourable to the rebels ; consequently, that no advice
of ours will be listened to. Sir H. Seymour further
says : " I should have been glad to have gained a
little time, and not at the outset of my mission to
be obliged to call the Government to account upon
various scores. Your orders, however, leave me no
option, and I shall be obliged to administer a series
of reproofs which will, I fear, confirm the notion as

1 Envoy Extraordinary at Lisbon.


to our unfriendly feelings." This is the course the
Queen thinks so very unfortunate ; trifles about two
horses, the beating of a gardener of Lord Howard's
by some soldiers on a march in times of Civil War,
etc., are made topics of serious complaint. Most
peremptory notes are written, threatening the Govern-
ment with our men-of-war, whilst it is held to be
unwise to threaten the insurgents.

Then the Court is told to believe our feelings of
attachment for them !

Sir H. Seymour says that his position is rendered
very difficult in consequence. We have now the
results before us. Let us, therefore, before Portugal,
our ancient ally, turns also away from us, and leans
to France or Spain in preference, as she must, if we
give her such doubtful support, try to pursue a more
conciliatory course ; these peremptory and dictatory
notes, these constant complaints, produce the worst
and most unfortunate effect.

These very Septembristas have been always the
greatest enemies of England, and would be the first
to turn against us should they succeed.

There should more latitude be given to the resident
Minister not to press things at moments when they
produce embarrassment to a Government already
tottering, but to give him the option of waiting for
a fit opportunity, and for the manner in which it is
to be done, which a person on the spot can be a
better judge of than we can in England.

Once more the Queen earnestly warns Lord John
of the imminent danger of England losing all legitimate
influence in Portugal, which ought now, more than
ever, to be of the greatest importance to us.

The Queen has in all this spoken solely of English
influence, but this influence becomes of still greater
importance to her when the Sovereigns of that country
are her near and dear relations. 1

1 This important letter at once bore fruit, a conference being held in
London between the representatives of Great Britain, Spain, France, and
Portugal, and armed co-operation to enforce the acceptance of certain terms
by the Revolutiouary Junta being decided upon.


Loj'd John Russell to Queen Victoria.

CHESHAM PLACE, 19th March 1847.

Lord John Russell presents his humble duty to
your Majesty. Lord John Russell thinks it right to
state to your Majesty that the prevailing opinion in
the Cabinet is that when the necessary business in the
House of Commons has been finished, a dissolution
of Parliament should take place.

This course would be conformable to the usage
from the passing of the Septennial Act till 1830.
From 1830 to the present year no House of Commons
has been allowed to continue six years. The dissolu-
tions of Lord Grey in 1831 and 1832, of Sir Robert
Peel in 1834, and death of William the Fourth in
1837, Lord Melbourne's dissolution in 1841, have all
interrupted the natural life of Parliaments. But all
Governments since the accession of the House of
Hanover have been of opinion (with one or two
exceptions) that it is hazardous to allow a Parliament
to continue seven years, as circumstances may arise
making a dissolution very detrimental to the public

These being general considerations, Lord John
Russell would reserve any decision on the subject
till the moment shall arrive when a dissolution may
appear to your Majesty's advisers to be the course
most likely to secure moderate and fair elections.

Queen Victoria to Lord John Russell.

25th March 1847.

The Queen with pleasure approves the appointment
of Lord Clarendon's brother to the vacant stall at St
Paul's. The Queen would, however, draw Lord John's
attention generally to the mode of filling up those
Church sinecures. She is quite aware how necessary
it is for a Minister to be able to recommend to such
places persons of political connections, but she thinks
that where it can be done, it would be of great use


both to the Church and the country to give these
places of emolument to Churchmen distinguished for
their scientific attainments, who have neither the means
nor the time to prosecute their researches, whilst their
labours might be of the greatest importance to the
country. Such person of this kind, for instance, the
Prince thinks, is a Mr Cureton, who has just published
the real epistles of St Ignatius, which he translated
from the Syriac, and is about to produce a Gospel of
St Matthew which is considered the undoubted original
in the Coptic dialect, and other most important docu-
ments lately acquired for the British Museum.

Online LibraryUnknownThe letters of Queen Victoria : a selection from Her Majesty's correspondence between the years 1837 and 1861 : published by authority of His Majesty the king (Volume 2) → online text (page 12 of 47)