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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 1) online

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when by consulting the real interests of Holland and
Belgium, both countries might have been placed on
a footing of sincere peace and good neighbourhood.
This country feels now humbled and desenchante with
its soi-disant political independence, as it pleased the
Conference to settle it. Thev will take a dislike to

J

a political state which wounds their vanity, and will,
in consequence of this, not wish it to continue. Two
things will happen, therefore, on the very first oppor-
tunity, either that this country will be involved in
war to better a position which it thinks too humiliating,
or that it will voluntarily throw up a nominal indepen-
dence in which it is now hemmed in between France
and Holland, which begins on the North Sea, and
ends, of all the things in this world, on the Moselle!
I think old Pirson, who said in the Chamber that
if the treaty was carried into execution I was likely
to be the first and last King of the country, was not
wrong. Whenever this will happen, it will be very
awkward for England, and deservedly so. To see, after
eight years of hard work, blooming and thriving
political plantations cut and maimed, and that by
those who have a real interest to protect them, is



1839] JAMAICA 193

very melancholy. I do not say these things with the
most distant idea of bringing about any change, but
only because in the high and very responsible position
in which Providence has placed you, it is good to
tell you the truth, as you ought to have weight and
influence on the affairs of Europe ; and England, not
being in the possibility of making territorial acquisi-
tion, has a real and permanent interest in the proper
maintenance of a balance of political power in Europe.
Now I will leave you to enjoy the beginning of Spring,
which a mild rain seems to push on prodigiously.
Believe me ever, my dear Victoria, your very attached
Uncle, LEOPOLD R.

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

26th April 1839.

Lord Melbourne presents his humble duty to your
Majesty and begs to inform your Majesty that the
result of the Cabinet has been a decision to stand by
the Bill as we have introduced it, and not to accede
to Sir Robert Peel's proposal. The Bill is for sus-
pending the functions of the Legislative Assembly of
Jamaica, and governing that island for five years by
a Governor and Council. 1 If Sir Robert Peel should
persist in his proposal, and a majority of the House
of Commons should concur with him, it will be such
a mark of want of confidence as it will be impossible
for your Majesty's Government to submit to.

Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 30th April 1839.

MY DEAR UNCLE, I have to thank you for your
last letter, which I received on Sunday. Though you
seem not to dislike my political sparks, I think it is
better not to increase them, as they might finally take
fire, particularly as I see with regret that upon this one
subject we cannot agree. I shall therefore limit myself

1 See Introductory Note, ante, p. 178.
VOL. i. 13



194 JAMAICA [CHAP, vm

to my expressions of very sincere wishes for the welfare
and prosperity of Belgium.

The Grand Duke, 1 after a long delay, is at length
to arrive on Friday night ; I shall put myself out of
my way in order to be very civil to such a great
personage. I am already thinking how I shall lodge
all my relations ; you must prepare Uncle Ferdinand
for its not being very ample, but this Palace, though
large, is not calculated to hold many visitors. . . .

Believe me, always, your very affectionate Niece,

VICTORIA R.

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

1th May 1839.

Lord Melbourne presents his humble duty to your
Majesty, and has to acquaint your Majesty that the
division upon the Jamaica Bill, which took place about
two this morning, was two hundred and ninety-nine
against the measure, and three hundred and four in
favour of it. 2 Lord Melbourne has not heard from
Lord John Russell since this event, but a Cabinet will
of course be summoned early this morning, and Lord
Melbourne cannot conceal from your Majesty that in
his opinion the determination of the Cabinet must be
that the relative numbers upon this vote, joined to
the consideration of no less than nine members of
those who have hitherto invariably supported the
Government having gone against it now, leave your
Majesty's confidential servants no alternative but to
resign their offices into your Majesty's hands. They
cannot give up the Bill either with honour or satisfac-
tion to their own consciences, and in the face of such
an opposition they cannot persevere in it with any
hope of success. Lord Melbourne is certain that your
Majesty will not deem him too presuming if he ex-
presses his fear that this decision will be both painful
and embarrassing to your Majesty, but your Majesty

1 The hereditary Grand Duke of Russia, afterwards the Emperor
Alexander II.

2 The numbers are apparently incorrectly stated. The division was 294
to 289.



1839] CHANGE OF MINISTRY IMMINENT 195

will meet this crisis with that firmness which belongs
to your character, and with that rectitude and sincerity
which will carry your Majesty through all difficulties.
It will also be greatly painful to Lord Melbourne to quit
the service of a Mistress who has treated him with such
unvarying kindness and unlimited confidence ; but in
whatever station he may be placed, he will always feel
the deepest anxiety for your Majesty's interests and
happiness, and will do the utmost in his power to
promote and secure them.

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

7th May 1839.

The present circumstances have been for some time
so probable, or rather so certain, that Lord Melbourne
has naturally been led to weigh and consider maturely
the advice which, if called upon, he should tender to
your Majesty when they did arrive. That advice is,
at once to send for the Duke of Wellington. Your
Majesty appears to Lord Melbourne to have no other
alternative. The Radicals have neither ability, honesty
nor numbers. They have no leaders of any character.
Lord Durham was raised, one hardly knows how, into
something of a factitious importance by his own extreme
opinions, by the panegyrics of those who thought he
would serve them as an instrument, and by the manage-
ment of the Press, but any little public reputation
which he might once have acquired has been entirely
dissipated and destroyed by the continued folly of
his conduct in his Canadian Government. There is
no party in the State to which your Majesty can
now resort, except that great party which calls itself
Conservative, and of that party, his rank, station,
reputation and experience point out the Duke of
Wellington as the person to whom your Majesty
should apply.

Lord Melbourne therefore advises that your Majesty
should send for the Duke of Wellington, and should
acquaint him, provided your Majesty so feels, that you
were entirely satisfied with your late Government,



196 VIGILANCE ADVISED [CHAP, vm

and that you part from them with reluctance ; but
that as he and the party of which he is the head have
been the means of removing them from office, you nat-
urally look to him to advise you as to the means of
supplying their places and carrying on the business of
the country.

If the Duke should be unwilling to form the
Government himself, and should desire to devolve the
task upon Sir Robert Peel, Lord Melbourne would
advise your Majesty to accede to that suggestion ; but
Lord Melbourne would counsel your Majesty to be very
unwilling to suffer the Government to be formed by
Sir Robert Peel without the active assistance in office
of the Duke of AVellington.

With respect both to measures and appointments,
your Majesty should place the fullest confidence in
those to whom you entrust the management of affairs,
exercising at the same time, and fully expressing, your
own judgment upon both.

Your Majesty will do well to be from the beginning
very vigilant that all measures and all appointments are
stated to your Majesty in the first instance, and your
Majesty's pleasure taken thereon previously to any
instruments being drawn out for carrying them into
effect, and submitted to your Majesty's signature. It
is the more necessary to be watchful and active in this
respect, as the extreme confidence which your Majesty
has reposed in me may have led to some omission at
times of these most necessary preliminaries.

The patronage of the Lord Chamberlain's Depart-
ment is of the greatest importance, and may be made
to conduce at once to the beneficial influence of the
Crown, and to the elevation and encouragement of the
professions of the Church and of Medicine. This
patronage, by being left to the uncontrolled exercise
of successive Lord Chamberlains, has been administered
not only wastefully but perniciously. The physicians
to the late King were many of them men of little
eminence; the chaplains are still a sorry set. Your
Majesty should insist with the new Ministers that this



1839] DISTRESS OF THE QUEEN 197

patronage should be disposed of, not by the Lord
Chamberlain, but, as it has hitherto been during your
Majesty's reign, by your Majesty upon consultation
with your Prime Minister.

Queen Victoria to Viscount Melbourne.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 8th May 1839.

The Queen thinks Lord Melbourne may possibly
wish to know how she is this morning ; the Queen is
somewhat calmer ; she was in a wretched state till
nine o'clock last night, when she tried to occupy herself
and try to think less gloomily of this dreadful change,
and she succeeded in calming herself till she went to
bed at twelve, and she slept well ; but on waking this
morning, all all that had happened in one short
eventful day came most forcibly to her mind, and
brought back her grief; the Queen, however, feels
better now ; but she couldn't touch a morsel of food
last night, nor can she this morning. The Queen
trusts Lord Melbourne slept well, and is well this
morning ; and that he will come precisely at eleven
o'clock. The Queen has received no answer from the
Duke, which is very odd, for she knows he got her
letter. The Queen hopes Lord Melbourne received
her letter last night.

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

8th May 1839.

Lord Melbourne presents his humble duty to
your Majesty, and is much grieved that he did not
answer your Majesty's letter yesterday evening, as your
Majesty desired, but he did not get it till late, and he
felt much tired and harassed by all that had passed
during the day. The situation is very painful, but it
is necessary for your Majesty to be prudent and firm.
It is of all things necessary not to be suspected of
any unfair dealing. Whilst Lord Melbourne holds his
office, everything of course may be written to him as
usual ; but still the resolutions for the formation of



198 INTERVIEW WITH WELLINGTON [CHAP, vm

the new Government will now commence, and it will
never do, whilst they are going on, either for
appearance or in reality, that Lord Melbourne should
dine with your Majesty, as he did before this
disturbance. It would create feeling, possibly lead to
remonstrance, and throw a doubt upon the fairness and
integrity of your Majesty's conduct. AH this is very
painful both to do and to say, but it is unavoidable ; it
must be said, and it must be done. Lord Melbourne
will wait upon your Majesty at eleven. 1

Queen Victoria to Viscount Melbourne.

%th May 1839.

The Queen told Lord Melbourne she would give
him an account of what passed, which she is very
anxious to do. She saw the Duke for about twenty
minutes ; the Queen said she supposed he knew why
she sent for him, upon which the Duke said, No, he
had no idea. The Queen then said that she had had the
greatest confidence in her late Ministry, and had parted
with them with the greatest reluctance ; upon which the
Duke observed that he could assure me no one felt
more pain in hearing the announcement of their
resignation than he did, and that he was deeply grieved
at it. The Queen then continued, that as his party had
been instrumental in removing them, that she must
look to him to form a new Government. The Duke
answered that he had no power whatever in the House
of Commons, " that if he was to say black was white, 2
they would say it was not," and that he advised me to
send for Sir Robert Peel, in whom I could place
confidence, and who was a gentleman and a man of

1 Lord Melbourne had made the not unnatural mistake of recommending
to the Queen, as members of her first Household, ladies who were nearly
related to himself and his Whig colleagues. No doubt these were the ladies
whom he knew best, and in whom he had entire confidence ; but he ought to
have had sufficient prescience to see that the Queen would probably form
strong attachments to the ladies who first served her ; and that if the appoint-
ments had not in the first instance a political complexion, yet that the Whig
tendencies which these ladies represented were likely to affect the Queen, in
the direction of allying her closely with a particular party in the State.

a Sic: an obvious mistake, for "black was black."



1839] THE DUKE'S SUPPORT 199

honour and integrity. The Queen then said she hoped
he would at all events have a place in the new Cabinet.
The Duke at first rather refused, and said he was so
deaf, and so old and unfit for any discussion, that if he
were to consult his own feelings he would rather not do
it, and remain quite aloof; but that as he was very
anxious to do anything that would tend to the Queen's
comfort, and would do everything and at all times that
could be of use to the Queen, and therefore if she and
her Prime Minister urged his accepting office, he would.
The Queen said she had more confidence in him than
in any of the others of his party. The Queen then
mentioned the subject of the Household, and of those
who were not in Parliament. The Duke did not give
any decisive answer about it, but advised the Queen not
to begin with conditions of this sort, and wait till the
matter was proposed. The Queen then said that she
felt certain he would understand the great friendship
she had for Lord Melbourne, who had been to her quite
a parent, and the Duke said no one felt and knew
tliat better than he did, and that no one could still be of
greater use to the Queen than Lord Melbourne. The
Duke spoke of his personal friendship for Lord
Melbourne, and that he hoped I knew that he had
often done all he could to help your (Lord Melbourne's)
Government. The Queen then mentioned her inten-
tion to prove her great fairness to her new Gov-
ernment in telling them, that they might know there
was no unfair dealing, that I meant to see you
often as a friend, as I owed so much to you. The Duke
said he quite understood it, and knew I would not
exercise this to weaken the Government, and that he
would take my part about it, and felt for me. He was
very kind, and said he called it " a misfortune " that
you had all left me.

The Queen wrote to Peel, who came after two, em-
barrassed and put out. The Queen repeated what she
had said to the Duke about her former Government,
and asked Sir Robert to form a new Ministry. He does
not seem sanguine ; says entering the Government in a



200 INTERVIEW WITH SIR ROBERT PEEL [CHAP, vm

minority is very difficult ; he felt unequal to the task,
and far from exulting in what had happened, as he
knew what pain it must give me, he quite approved
that the Duke should take office, and saw the
importance of it ; meant to offer him the post of
Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and if he refused, Lord
Aberdeen ; Lord Lyndhurst, Chancellor ; hoped to
secure Stanley and Graham ; Goulburn to be the
candidate for the Speaker's Chair ; he expects a severe
conflict then, and if he should be beat must either
resign or dissolve Parliament. Before this the Queen
said she was against a dissolution, in which he quite
agreed, but of course wished no conditions should be
made ; he felt the task arduous, and that he would
require me to demonstrate (a certain degree, if any I
can only feel) confidence in the Government, and that
my Household would be one of the marks of that. The
Queen mentioned the same thing about her Household,
to which he at present would give no answer, and said
nothing should be done without my knowledge or
approbation. He repeated his surprise at the course
you had all taken in resigning, which he did not expect.
The Queen talked of her great friendship for, and
gratitude to, Lord Melbourne, and repeated what she
had said to the Duke, in which Peel agreed ; but he
is such a cold, odd man she can't make out what he
means. He said he couldn't expect me to have the
confidence in him I had in you (and which he never
can have) as he has not deserved it. My impression is,
he is not happy and sanguine. He comes to me
to-morrow at one to report progress in his formation of
the new Government. The Queen don't like his manner
after oh ! how different, how dreadfully different, to
that frank, open, natural and most kind, warm manner
of Lord Melbourne. 1 The Duke I like by far better to

1 Lady de Grey had written to Peel on 7th May : " The Queen has
always expressed herself much impressed with Lord Melbourne's open manner,
and his truth. The latter quality you possess, the former not.

" Now, dear Peel, the first impression on so young a girl's mind is ot
immense consequence, accustomed as she has been to the open and affectionate
manner of Lord Melbourne, who, entre nous, treats her as a father, and, with
all his faults, feels for her as such." Sir Robert Peel, Parker, vol. ii. p. 389.



1839] LETTER FROM LORD MELBOURNE 201

Peel. The Queen trusts Lord Melbourne will excuse
this long letter, but she was so very anxious he should
know all. The Queen was very much collected, and
betrayed no agitation during these two trying Audiences.
But afterwards again all g-ave way. She feels Lord
Melbourne will understand it, amongst enemies to
those she most relied on and esteemed, and people
who seem to have no heart ; but what is worst of all
is the being deprived of seeing Lord Melbourne as
she used to do.



Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

9th May 1839.

Lord Melbourne presents his humble duty to your
Majesty. He has read with the greatest attention the
very clear and distinct account which your Majesty has
written of that which passed at the Audiences which
your Majesty has given to the Duke of Wellington
and Sir Robert Peel. Nothing could have been more
proper and judicious than your Majesty's conduct, and
they appear to have acted upon their part with propriety
and sincerity. Lord Melbourne has no doubt that
both with respect to him (Lord Melbourne) and to
themselves and their own feelings and position, they
expressed what they really think. The Duke was right
in saying that in general, in affairs of this nature, it is
best not to begin with conditions ; but this matter of
the Household is so personal to yourself, that it was
best to give an intimation of your feelings upon it in
the first instance. Lord Melbourne has little doubt that
if they could have acted from themselves, they would
have acceded to your Majesty's wish at once ; but your
Majesty must recollect that they have others to satisfy,
and must not attribute entirely to them anything that
is harsh and unreasonable. Lord Melbourne advises
your Majesty to urge this question of the Household
strongly as a matter due to yourself and your own



202 MELBOURNE ON PEEL [CHAP,

wishes ; but if Sir Robert is unable to concede it, it will
not do to refuse and to put off the negotiation upon it.
Lord Melbourne would strongly advise your Majesty
to do everything to facilitate the formation of the
Government. Everything is to be done and to be
endured rather than run the risk of getting into the
situation in which they are in France, of no party
being able to form a Government and conduct the
affairs of the country. 1

The Dissolution of Parliament is a matter of
still more importance, and if this should be again
pressed upon your Majesty, Lord Melbourne would
advise your Majesty to reserve your opinion, not
to give a promise that you will dissolve, nor to
say positively that you will not. You may say that
you do not think it right to fetter the Prerogative
of the Crown by previous engagements, that a dis-
solution of Parliament is to be decided according to
the circumstances at the time, that you mean to
give full confidence to the Government that shall
be formed, and to do everything in your power
to support them, and that you will consider whether
Parliament shall be dissolved, when you are advised
to dissolve it and have before you the reasons for
such a measure.

Lord Melbourne earnestly entreats your Majesty
not to suffer yourself to be affected by any faultiness
of manner which you may observe. Depend upon it
there is no personal hostility to Lord Melbourne nor
any bitter feelings against him. Sir Robert is the
most cautious and reserved of mankind. Nobody
seems to Lord Melbourne to know him, but he is
not therefore deceitful or dishonest. Many a very
false man has a very open sincere manner, and vice
versa. . . .

Lord Melbourne earnestly hopes that your Majesty
is better this morning.

1 Alluding to the successive failures of Soult, Tbiers, and Broglie.



1839] LETTER FROM LORD PALMERSTON 203



Queen Victoria to discount Melbourne.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 9th May 1839.

The Queen cannot sufficiently thank Lord Mel-
bourne for his most kind letter, and for his excellent
advice, which is at once the greatest comfort and
of the greatest use to her ; the Queen will follow
it in every respect, and nothing of importance shall
be done without due reflection ; and she trusts Lord
Melbourne will help her and be to her what she told
him he was, and begged him still ever to be a father
to one who never wanted support more than she does
now.

Lord Melbourne shall hear again after she sees
Peel this morning. . . .

The Queen has just now heard Lord Liverpool is
not in town.

The Queen hopes Lord Melbourne is able to
read her letters ; if ever there is anything he cannot
read, he must send them back, and mark what he
can't read.



Viscount Palmerston to Queen Victoria.

STANHOPE STREET, 9th May 1839.

Viscount Palmerston presents his humble duty to
your Majesty, and begs to return your Majesty his
grateful thanks for your Majesty's gracious com-
munication of this morning. It affords Viscount
Palmerston the most heartfelt satisfaction to know
that his humble but zealous endeavours to promote
the interests of his country, and to uphold the honour
of your Majesty's Crown, have had the good fortune
to meet with your Majesty's approbation ; and he
begs most respectfully to assure your Majesty that
the deep impression produced by the condescending
kindness which he has upon all occasions experienced
from your Majesty can never be effaced from his mind.



204 THE HOUSEHOLD [CHAP, vm

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

9th May 1839.

Lord Melbourne presents his humble duty to your
Majesty, and begs to suggest that if Sir Robert Peel
presses for the dismissal of those of your Household
who are not in Parliament, you may observe that in
so doing he is pressing your Majesty more hardly
than any Minister ever pressed a Sovereign before.

When the Government was changed in 1830, the
principal posts of the Household were placed at the
disposal of Lord Grey, but the Grooms and Equerries
were not removed.

When Sir Robert Peel himself became Minister
in 1834, no part of the Household were removed except
those who were in Parliament.

When I became Prime Minister again in 1835, none
of the Grooms or Equerries were removed because
none of them were in Parliament.

They press upon your Majesty, whose personal
feelings ought from your circumstances to be more
consulted, a measure which no Minister before ever
pressed upon a Sovereign.

If this is put to him by your Majesty, Lord
Melbourne does not see how he can resist it.

Queen Victoria to Viscount Melbourne.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 9th May 1839.

The Queen writes one line to prepare Lord
Melbourne for what may happen in a very few hours.
Sir Robert Peel has behaved very ill, and has insisted
on my giving up my Ladies, to which I replied that
I never would consent, and I never saw a man so
frightened. He said he must go to the Duke of
Wellington and consult with him, when both would
return, and he said this must suspend all further pro-
ceedings, and he asked whether I should be ready to



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 1) → online text (page 17 of 52)