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

. (page 26 of 52)
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 26 of 52)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

conclusion. It is probable, though I know nothing
about it in any positive way, that the efforts of getting
possession of Syria will fail, if the country itself does
not take up arms on a large scale, which seems not
to be believed.

To conclude then my somewhat hurried argumenta-
tion, the greatest thing is to negotiate. The negotiation
cannot now have the effect of weakening the execution
as that goes on, and it may have the advantage of
covering the non-success if that should take place, which
is at all events possible if not probable. May I beg you
to read these few confused words to Lord Melbourne
as a supplement of my letter to him. Darmes says
that if Chartres had been with the King, he would
not have fired, but that his reason for wishing to kill
the King was his conviction that one could not hope
for war till he was dead.

It is really melancholy to see the poor King taking
this acharnement very much to heart, and upon my
word, the other Powers of Europe owe it to themselves
and to him, to do everything to ease and strengthen
his awful task.

What do you say to poor Christina's departure ? l
I am sorry for it, and for the poor children. She is
believed to be very rich.

Now I must conclude, but not without thanking
you once more for your great and most laudable

1 Queen Christina abdicated the Regency of Spain, and went to Paris.
In the following May General Espartero, Duke of Vittoria, was appointed
sole Regent.


exertions, and wishing you every happiness, which you
so much deserve. Ever, my most beloved Victoria, your
devoted Uncle, LEOPOLD R.

Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 23rd October 1840.

MY DEAREST UNCLE, Many thanks for your two
kind letters of the 17th and 20th. I have very little
time to-day, and it being besides not my regular day,
I must beg you to excuse this letter being very
short. I return you the King's letters with bien des
remerciments. It is a horrid business. We have had
accounts of successes on the Syrian coast. Guizot
is here since Wednesday, and goes this morning.
Albert (who desires me to thank you for your kind
letter) has been talking to him, and so have I, and
he promised in return for my expressions of sincere
anxiety to see matters raccommodees, to do all in his
power to do so. " Je ne vais que pour cela" he said.

We were much shocked yesterday at the sudden
death of poor, good, old Lord Holland. 1 I send you
Dr Holland's letter to Lord Melbourne about it.
He is a great loss, and to Society an irreparable one.
I'm sure you will be sorry for it.

Mamma comes back sooner than the 31st. She is
in great distress at poor Polly's death. You will regret
him. Ever your devoted Niece, VICTORIA R.

Pray do try and get the King's speech to be pacific,
else Parliament must meet here in November which
would be dreadful for me.

The Queen of the Belgians to Queen Victoria.

LAEKEN, 26th October 1840.

. . . The Duke of Cambridge arrived, as you know,
before yesterday evening, at Brussels. Your Uncle
visited him yesterday, and at six he came to Laeken
to dine with us. I found him looking well, and he

1 Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who, by reason of his social
influence, great wealth, and high intellectual endowments, was one of the
most efficient supporters of the Whig party.


was as usual very good-natured and kind. I need
not tell you that conversation did not flag between
us, and that I thought of you almost the whole time.
In the course of the evening he took leave. He left
Brussels this morning early, on his way to Calais,
and I suppose you will hear of him before this letter
reaches you. He took charge of all my love and
hommages for you, dear Albert, and all the Royal
Family. Before dinner the children were presented to
him (that is Leopold and Philippe), but I am sorry
to say that poor Lippchen was so much frightened
with his appearance, loud voice, and black gloves,
that he burst out crying, and that we were obliged
to send him away. The Duke took his shyness very
kindly ; but I am still ashamed with his behaviour.

Viscount Palmerston to Queen Victoria.

CAHLTON TERRACE, Sth November 1840.

Viscount Palmerston presents his humble duty to
your Majesty, and in addition to the good news from
Syria, which confirms the defeat and dispersion of the
forces, both of Ibrahim and of Solyman Pasha, with
the loss of 8000 prisoners, 24 pieces of cannon, the
whole of their camp, baggage, and stores, followed by
the flight of those two Generals with a small escort, 1
he has the satisfaction of informing your Majesty that
the new French Ministers had a majority of 68, upon
the vote for the election of the President of the
Chamber. 2

This majority, so far exceeding any previous calcula-
tion, seems to place the stability of the Government
beyond a doubt, though it must, of course, be expected
that upon other questions their majority will not be
so overwhelming.

1 See ante, p. 300.

2 M. Sauzet was elected in preference to M. Odillon Barrot. Thiers
resigned the Premiership on 14th October; in the new Ministry Soult was
President of the Council, Guizot Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Duchatel
Minister of the Interior.


Viscount Palmerston to Queen Victoria.

WINDSOR CASTLE, llth November 1840.

Viscount Palmerston presents his humble duty to
your Majesty, and with reference to your Majesty's
memorandum of the 9th inst., he entreats your Majesty
not to believe that there exists at present in France
that danger of internal revolution and of external war
which the French Government, to serve its own
diplomatic purposes, endeavours to represent.

There is no doubt a large Party among the leading
politicians in France, who have long contemplated the
establishment of a virtually, if not actually, independent
State in Egypt and Syria, under the direct protection
and influence of France, and that Party feel great dis-
appointment and resentment at finding their schemes
in this respect baffled. But that Party will not
revenge themselves on the Four Powers by making
a revolution in France, and they are enlightened
enough to see that France cannot revenge herself by
making war against the Four Powers, who are much
stronger than she is.

. . . But your Majesty may be assured that there
is in France an immense mass of persons, possessed of
property, and engaged in pursuits of industry, who are
decidedly adverse to unnecessary war, and determined
to oppose revolution. And although those persons have
not hitherto come prominently forward, yet their voice
would have made itself heard, when the question of peace
or unprovoked war came practically to be discussed.

With regard to internal revolution, there is
undoubtedly in France a large floating mass of
Republicans and Anarchists, ready at any moment
to make a disturbance if there was no strong power
to resist them ; but the persons who would lose by
convulsion are infinitely more numerous, and the
National Guard of Paris, consisting of nearly 60,000
men, are chiefly persons of this description, and are
understood to be decidedly for internal order, and for
external peace.

It is very natural that the French Government,


after having failed to extort concessions upon the
Turkish Question, by menaces of foreign war,
should now endeavour to obtain those concessions,
by appealing to fears of another kind, and should
say that such concessions are necessary in order to
prevent revolution in France ; but \ r iscount Palmerston
would submit to your Majesty his deep conviction
that this appeal is not better founded than the other,
and that a firm and resolute perseverance on the part
of the Four Powers, in the measures which they have
taken in hand, will effect a settlement of the affairs
of Turkey, which will afford great additional security
for the future peace of Europe, without producing in
the meantime either war with France, or revolution
in France.

France and the rest of Europe are entirely different
now from what they were in 1792. The French nation
is as much interested now to avoid further revolution,
as it was interested then in ridding itself, by any means,
of the enormous and intolerable abuses which then
existed. France then imagined she had much to gain
by foreign war ; France now knows she has every-
thing to lose by foreign war.

Europe then (at least the Continental States), had
also a strong desire to get rid of innumerable abuses
which pressed heavily upon the people of all countries.
Those abuses have now in general been removed ; the
people in many parts of Germany have been admitted,
more or less, to a share in the management of their
own affairs. A German feeling and a spirit of nation-
ality has sprung up among all the German people,
and the Germans, instead of receiving the French as
Liberators, as many of them did in 1792-93, would now
rise as one man to repel a hateful invasion. Upon
all these grounds Viscount Palmerston deems it his
duty to your Majesty to express his strong conviction
that the appeals made to your Majesty's good feelings
by the King of the French, upon the score of the
danger of revolution in France, unless concessions
are made to the French Government, have no founda-


tion in truth, and are only exertions of skilful

Viscount Palmerston has to apologise to your
Majesty for having inadvertently written a part of
this memorandum upon a half sheet of paper. And he
would be glad if, without inconvenience to your
Majesty, he could be enabled to read to the Cabinet
to-morrow the accompanying despatches from Lord

Queen Victoria to Viscount Palmerston. 1

WINDSOR CASTLE, llth November 1840.

The Queen has to acknowledge the receipt of
Lord Palmerston's letter of this morning, which she
has read with great attention. The Queen will just
make a few observations upon various points in it,
to which she would wish to draw Lord Palmerston's
attention. The Queen does so with strict impartiality,
having had ample opportunities of hearing both sides
of this intricate and highly-important question.

First of all, it strikes the Queen that, even if M.
Thiers did raise the cry, which was so loud, for war
in France (but which the Queen cannot believe he did
to the extent Lord Palmerston does), that such an
excitement once raised in a country like France,
where the people are more excitable than almost any
other nation, it cannot be so easily controuled and
stopped again, and the Queen thinks this will be seen
in time.

Secondly, the Queen cannot either quite agree
in Lord Palmerston's observation, that the French
Government state the danger of internal revolution, if
not supported, merely to extract further concessions
for Mehernet Ali. The Queen does not pretend to
say that this danger is not exaggerated, but depend
upon it, a certain degree of danger does exist, and
that the situation of the King of the French and

1 A copy of this letter was sent at the same time to Lord Melbourne.


the present French Government is not an easy
one. The majority, too, cannot be depended upon,
as many would vote against Odillon Barrot, 1 who
would not vote on other occasions with the Soult-
Guizot Ministry.

Thirdly, the danger of war is also doubtless greatly
exaggerated, as also the numbers of the French troops.
But Lord Palmerston must recollect how very warlike
the French are, and that if once roused, they will not
listen to the calm reasoning of those who wish for
peace, or think of the great risk they run of losing
by war, but only of the glory and of revenging insult
as they call it.

Fourthly, the Queen sees the difficulty there
exists at the present moment of making any specific
offer to France, but she must at the same time
repeat how highly and exceedingly important she
considers it that some sort of conciliatory agree-
ment should be come to with France, for she cannot
believe that the appeals made to her by the King
of the French are only exertions of skilful diplomacy.
The Queen's earnest and only wish is peace, and
a maintenance of friendly relations with her allies,
consistent with the honour and dignity of her
country. She does not think, however, that the last
would be compromised by * attempts to soften the
irritation still existing in France, or by attempts to
bring France back to her former position in the
Oriental Question.

She earnestly hopes that Lord Palmerston will
consider this, will reflect upon the importance of not
driving France to extremities, and of conciliatory
measures, without showing fear (for our successes
on the coast of Syria show our power), or without
yielding to threats. France has been humbled, and
France is in the wrong, but, therefore, it is easier
than if we had failed, to do something to bring
matters right again. The Queen has thus frankly
stated her own opinion which she thought it right

1 The unsuccessful candidate for the Presidency of the Chamber.


Lord Palmerston should know, and she is sure he will
see it is only dictated by an earnest desire to see all as
much united as possible on this important subject.

Baron Stockmar to Viscount Melbourne.

2lst November 1840.

MY DEAR LORD, I have just received Her Majesty's
order to express to you her great desire to have from
this day the Prince's name introduced into the Church
Prayer. Her own words were : " that I should press
it with Lord Melbourne as the wish she had most at
heart at this moment." Ever yours most sincerely,


The King of the Belgians to the Prince Albert


LAEKEN, 26th November 1840.

... As to politics, I do not wish to say much to-day.
Palmerston, rex and autocrat, is, for a Minister finding
himself in such fortunate circumstances, far too irritable
and violent. One does not understand the use of
showing so much hatred and anger. What he says
about the appeal to the personal feeling of tlie
Queen, on the part of the King of the French, is
childlike and malicious, for it has never existed.

The King was for many years the great friend of
the Duke of Kent, after whose death he remained a
friend to Victoria. His relations with the latter have,
up to 1837, passed through very varied phases ; she
was for a long time an object of hatred in the family,
who had not treated the Duke of Kent over-amicably,
and a proof of this is the fact that the Regent, from
the year 1819, forbade the Duke his house and presence
which was probably another nail in the Duke's
coffin. Many of these things are quite unknown to
Victoria, or forgotten by her. Still it is only fair
not to forget the people who were her friends before
1837; after that date there was a violent outbreak
of affection among people who in the year 1836


would still not go near Victoria. October 183G, when
he sat next her at dinner, was the first time that
Palmerston himself had ever seen Victoria except at
a distance. As you have the best means of knowing,
the King has not even dreamt of applying to Victoria.

As to danger, it was very great in September, on
the occasion of the ouvrier riot for a Paris mob fires
at once, a thing which Heaven be thanked I English
mobs rarely do. Towards the end of October, when
Thiers withdrew, there was a possibility of a revolution,
and it was only the fear of people of wealth that kept
them together, and drew them towards Guizot.

A revolution, at once democratic and bellicose,
could not but become most dangerous. That was on
the cards, and only a fairly fortunate combination
of circumstances saved matters. The King and my
poor mother-in-law were terribly low on both occasions,
and I confess that I looked every day with the greatest
anxiety for the news. If the poor King had been
murdered, or even if he were now to be murdered,
what danger, what confusion would follow ! All these
things were met by Palmerston with the excessively
nonchalante declaration, it was not so, and it is not so !
Those are absolutely baseless assertions and totally
valueless. At least I could estimate the danger as well
as he and Bulwer and, indeed, it was an anxious crisis.
I should think the Revolution of 1790 et ce qui sen est
suivi had done a brisk enough business in Europe, and
to risk a new one of the same kind would really be
somewhat scandalous.

What, however, may be the future fruit of the
seed of Palmerston 's sowing, we do not in the least
know as yet ; it may, however, prove sufficiently full of
misfortune for the future of innocent people. The
Eastern affairs will be put on an intelligible footing
only when, after these differences with Mehemet Ali,
something is done for the poor Porte, which is now so
much out of repair. Otherwise there remains a little
place which is called Sebastopol, and from which, as
the wind is almost constantly favourable, one can


get very quickly to Constantinople and Constanti-
nople is always the one place which exercises the
greatest influence, and all the more because the ducats
come from that quarter, with results which the marked
economy of England is hardly likely to effect. . . .

Victoria has borne herself bravely and properly in
the matter, and deserves to be greatly praised. . . .

The Queen of the Belgians to Queen Victoria.

LAEKEN, 30th November 1840.

; MY MOST BELOVED VICTORIA, I have been longing
to write to you ever since we got the joyful tidings, 1
but I would not do so before the nine days were at an
end. Now that they are over, I hope as you are, thank
God, so well, I may venture a few lines to express a part
of my feelings, and to wish you joy on the happy birth
of your dear little girl. I need not tell you the deep,
deep share I took in this most happy evc?it, and all I felt
for you, for dear Albert, when I heard of it, and since
we last met. You know my affection for you, and I
will not trouble you with the repetition of what you
know. All I will say is that I thanked God with all
my heart, and as I have scarcely thanked Him for
any other favour. . .

Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

15th December 1840.

MY DEAREST UNCLE, Many thanks for your kind
little letter of the 10th from Ardenne. I am very
prosperous, walking about the house like myself again,
and we go to Windsor on the 22nd or 23rd which will
quite set me up. I am very prudent and careful, you
may rely upon it. Your little grand-niece is most
flourishing ; she gains daily in health, strength and,
I may add, beauty ; I think she will be very like her
dearest father ; she grows amazingly ; I shall be proud
to present her to you.

1 The Princess Royal, afterwards the Empress Frederick of Germany,
was born 21st November 1840.


The denouement of the Oriental affair is most
fortunate is it not ? 1

I see Stockmar often, who is very kind about me
and the Princess Royal. . . .

Albert sends his affectionate love, and pray, believe
me always, your devoted Niece, VICTORIA R.

Tlie King of the Belgians to Queen Victoria.

LAEKEN, 26th December 1840.

. . . T can well understand that you feel quite
astonished at finding yourself within a year of your
marriage a very respectable mother of a nice little girl,
but let us thank Heaven that it is so. Any illness to
which, unfortunately, we poor human creatures are very
subject, would almost have kept you longer in bed,
and make you longer weak and uncomfortable, than
an event which in your position as Sovereign is of a
very great importance.

Because there is no doubt that a Sovereign without
heirs direct, or brothers and sisters, which by their attach-
ment may stand in lieu of them, is much to be pitied,
viz., Queen Anne's later years. Moreover, children of
our own, besides the affection which one feels for them,
have also for their parents sentiments which one rarely
obtains from strangers. I flatter myself therefore that
you will be a delighted and delightful Maman au miiieu
dune belle et nombreuse famille. . . .

1 On the 3rd of November St Jean d'Acre was captured by the allied
fleet, Admiral Sir Robert Stopford commanding the British contingent ; the
battle is said to have been the first to test the advantages of steam. Admiral
Napier proceeded to Alexandria, and threatened bombardment, unless the
Pasha came to terms. On 25th November a Convention was signed, by which
Mehemet Ali resigned his claims to Syria, and bound himself to restore the
Ottoman Fleet, while the Powers undertook to procure for him undisturbed
possession of the Pashalik of Egypt


AT the beginning of the year the Ministry were confronted with
monetary difficulties and bad trade ; their special weakness in
finance, contrasted with Sir Robert Peel's great ability, in addition
to their many reverses, indicated that a change was at hand ; and
confidential communications were, with Lord Melbourne's full
approval, opened up by the Prince with Sir Robert Peel, to avert
the recurrence of a Bedchamber dispute. The Ministry were
defeated on their Budget, but did not resign. A vote of want of
confidence was then carried against them by a majority of one,
and Parliament was dissolved ; the Ministers appealing to the
country on the cry of a fixed duty on corn. The Conservative
and Protectionist victory was a decisive one, the most significant
successes being in the city of London, Northumberland, and the
West Riding. Somewhat improving their position in Scotland
and Ireland, and just holding their own in the English boroughs,
the Whigs were absolutely overwhelmed in the counties, and in
the result three hundred and sixty-eight Conservatives and only
two hundred and ninety-two Liberals were returned. The modern
practice of resigning before meeting Parliament had not then been
introduced, and Ministers were defeated in both Houses on amend-
ments to the address, the Duke of Wellington taking the
opportunity of eulogising Lord Melbourne's great services to the
Queen. A powerful Protectionist ministry was formed by Sir
Robert Peel, including the Duke of Wellington, Lord Aberdeen,
Sir James Graham, and Lord Lyndhurst.

Great national rejoicings took place when, on the 9th of
November, a male heir to the throne, now His Majesty King
Edward VII., was born.

In France the bitter feeling against England, arising out of
the Syrian expedition, still continued, but Thiers's supersession by
the more pacific Guizot, and the satisfaction with which both the
latter and his Sovereign regarded the displacement of Palmerston
by Aberdeen began to lead to a better entente. The scheme of
fortifying Paris continued, however, to be debated, while the
Orleanist family were still the subjects of futile attentats.

Spain was disturbed, the question of the guardianship of the
young Queen giving rise to dissension : insurrections in the interests
of the Queen mother took place at Pampeluna and Vittoria, and
her pension was suspended by Espartero, the Regent.

In the East Mehemet Ali surrendered the whole of the
Turkish Fleet, and he was subsequently guaranteed the hereditary
Pashalik of Egypt by the four European powers who had intervened
in the affairs of the Levant.



In Afghanistan an insurrection broke out, and Sir Alexander
Burnes was murdered ; our envoy at Cabul, Sir William
Macnaghten, in an unfortunate moment entered into negotiations
with Akbar Khan, a son of Dost Mahommed, who treacherously
assassinated him. Somewhat humiliating terms were arranged,
and the English force of 4,000 soldiers, with 12,000 camp-followers,
proceeded to withdraw from Cabul, harassed by the enemy ; after
endless casualties, General Elphinstone, who was in command,
with the women and children, became captives, and one man alone,
of the 16,000, Dr Brydon, reached Jellalabad to tell the tale.

In China, operations were continued, Sir Henry Pottinger
superseding Captain Elliot, and Canton soon lying at the mercy
of the British arms ; the new Superintendent co-operated with
Sir Hugh Gough and Admiral Sir William Parker, in the capture
of Amoy, Chusan, Chintu, and Ningpo.

In America, the union of the two Canadas was carried into
effect, but a sharp dispute with the United States arose out of
the Upper Canada disturbances of 1837. Some Canadian loyalists
had then resented the interference of a few individual Americans

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 26 of 52)