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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as a dissolution of the Parliament.

Lord Melbourne will wait upon your Majesty after
the Levee. It signifies not how late, as there is no
House of Lords.

Lord John Russell to Queen Victoria.

WILTON CRESCENT, 1st May 1841.

Lord John Russell presents his humble duty
to your Majesty, and has the honour to report that
Mr Baring yesterday brought forward the Budget in
a remarkably clear and forcible speech.

The changes in the duties on Sugar and Timber, 1
and the announcement made by Lord John Russell of
a proposal for a fixed duty on Corn, seemed to surprise
and irritate the Opposition.

Sir Robert Peel refused to give any opinion on
these propositions, and satisfied himself with attacking
the Government on the state of the finances.

The supporters of Government were greatly pleased
with Mr Baring's plan, and loud in their cheers.

It is the general opinion that Lord Stanley will not
proceed with his Bill, 2 and there seems little doubt of
this fact.

But the two parties are now evenly balanced, and
the absence or defection of some two or three of the
Ministerial party may at any time leave the Govern-
ment in a minority.

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

3rd May 1841.

Lord Melbourne presents his humble duty to your
Majesty. We decided at the Cabinet on Friday that
we could not sanction the agreement which Captain

1 The proposals were to increase the duty on colonial timber from 10s.
to 20s. a load, reducing it on foreign timber from 55s. to 50s., to leave the
duty on colonial sugar unloaded at 24s. a cwt, reducing that on foreign
sugar from 63s. to 36s. a cwt,

2 On Irish Registration.


Elliot has probably by this time concluded with the
Government of China, but that it would be necessary
to demand a larger amount of indemnity for the past
injury, and also a more complete security for our trade
in future. For this purpose it was determined to send
out instructions, in case the armament should not have
left the Chinese coasts and have been dispersed, to
reoccupy the Island of Chusan, 1 a measure which
appears to have had a great effect upon the minds of
the Chinese Government. It was also determined to
recall Captain Elliot, and to send out as soon as
possible another officer with full instructions from
hence as to the views and intentions of your Majesty's
Government. Sir Henry Pottinger, 2 an officer in the
East India Company's Service, much distinguished in
the recent operations in Afghanistan, is designated with
your Majesty's approbation for this service, which he
has signified his willingness to undertake. It was also
thought that it would be proper to entrust Lord
Auckland 3 with general discretionary powers as to the
further conduct of the expedition. These determinations
Lord Melbourne hopes that your Majesty will approve.

Lord John Russell informed Lord Melbourne
yesterday that he knew that it was not the intention
of the Opposition to press Lord Stanley's Bill ; but it
is not to be expected in the present position of affairs
that they will not determine upon taking some decisive
and united measure in advance.

In the present state of public measures and of
public feeling, when debate may arise at any moment,
it would not be fitting for Lord Melbourne to absent
himself on any sitting day from the House of Lords.
But unless there should be anything so urgent as to
prevent him, he will come down after the House on
Tuesday evening and stay until Thursday morning.

Fanny is highly delighted and immeasurably grateful

1 The Island of Chusan, off the coast of China, had been occupied in July
1840 as a base of operations, but evacuated by Elliot in 1841. It was retaken
in September 1841, after Elliot's recall, by Sir Henry Pottinger.

2 He had served in the Mahratta War, and been political agent in Scinde.
8 Governor-General of India.


for your Majesty's offer of the Lodge in Richmond Park,
and most desirous to avail herself of your Majesty's
kindness, and so is Jocelyn. Lord Melbourne has
little doubt that they will thankfully accept it. 1

The Queen of the Belgians to Queen Victoria.

PARIS, 3rd May 1841.

MY BELOVED VICTORIA, As you know surely already
the day of yesterday went off very well. The christen-
ing 2 was very splendid, the weather beautiful, and
everything extremely well managed. . . . The arrival
at Notre Dame, and the coup d'ceil of the old church,
all hung interiorly with crimson velvet draperies and
trophies of flags, was very splendid. There was in the
church three rows de tribunes all full of well-dressed
people. Les grands corps de lEtat etaient ranges de
chaque cote et dans le chceur ; VAutel etait place au
centra de teglise. Les cardinaux et tout le clcrge
etaient alentour. When my father arrived, the Arch-
bishop of Paris received him at the door of the church,
and we all walked in state. My father [? ouvraif]
la marche with the Queen. Prie-dieu and chairs were
disposed for us en demi-cercle before the altar, or rather
before the baptismal font, which was placed in front of
it, in the very middle of the Church. My father and
mother stood in the centre of the row near each other.
Your uncle, Chartres, and all the Princes followed on
the side of my father, and the Princesses on the side of
my mother. Paris remained with Helene till the
moment of the christening. When the ceremony
began he advanced near the font with my father
and mother (sponsors), and was taken up in the arms
of his nurse. After the christening a Mass and Te
Deum were read, and when we came back to the
Tuileries the corps municipal brought the sword which
the City of Paris has given to the Comte de Paris.

1 Lady Fanny Cowper, Lord Melbourne's niece, was married to Lord
Jocelyn on 27th April.

2 Of the Corate de Paris, at this time nearly three years old, son of the Due


Lord John Russell to Queen Victoria.

WILTON CRESCENT, tth May 1841.

Lord John Russell presents his humble duty to
your Majesty, and has the honour to report that Lord
Stanley yesterday postponed his Bill for a fortnight,
which at this period of the year is equivalent to its

On the other hand Lord Sandon gave a notice
for Friday for a Resolution on Sugar Duties.

If, as is probable, this Motion is made as a party
movement, it is probable that, with the addition of
those on the Ministerial side who have an interest in
the West Indies, the Motion will be successful.

The whole scheme of finance for the year will thus
be overturned.

The Tory party seem to expect a dissolution of
Parliament, but your Majesty's advisers will hardly
be able to recommend to your Majesty such a step.

The cry against the Poor Law is sure to be taken
up by the worst politicians of the Tory party, and, as
at Nottingham, may be successful against that most
useful law.

The friends of Government who represent counties
will be taunted with the proposal to alter the Corn

Bribery is sure to be resorted to beyond anything
yet seen.

A defeat of the Ministry on a dissolution would be
final and irreparable.

On the other hand their successors in the Govern-
ment would have to provide for the excess in the
expenditure pledged against the best measures that
could be resorted to for the purpose. It would be
a difficulty of their own seeking, and their want of
candour and justice to their opponents would be the
cause of their own embarrassments.

The moment is a very important one, and the con-
sequences of the vote of Friday, or probably Monday,
cannot fail to be serious.


Memorandum by Mr Anson.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 4th May 1841.

" The Ministry in jeopardy" (Heading in the .-
Prince Alberts hand.}

Lord Melbourne came down from town after the
House of Lords. I went with him to his room for
an hour after the Queen had retired. He said the
main struggle would take place on the Sugar duties
on Friday. His impression was that the Government
would be beat, and he must then decide whether to
go out or dissolve. He leaned to the former. I said,
" I trusted he would not dissolve unless he thought
there was some prospect of increasing his strength, and
begged him to remember what was done would not
be considered the act of the Government but that
of himself and the Queen, and that he individually
would be held as the responsible person.

He said he had not written to the Queen to prepare
H.M. for coming events and the course that it
would be incumbent upon her to take, for he felt
it extremely difficult and delicate, especially as to
the use she should make of the Prince, and of her
mode of communication when she required it with
Lord Melbourne. He thought she ought never to ask
his advice direct, but if she required his opinion there
would be no objection to her obtaining it through
the Prince.

He said H.M. had relied so implicitly upon him
upon all affairs, that he felt that she required in this
emergency advice upon almost every subject. That he
would tell H.M. that she must carefully abstain from
playing the same part she did, again, on Sir R. Peel's
attempt to form a Ministry, for that nothing but the
forbearance of the Tories had enabled himself and
his colleagues to support H.M. at that time. He
feared Peel's doggedness and pertinacity might make
him insist, as a point of honour, on having all
discretion granted to him in regard to the removal

VOL. i. 22


of Ladies. I told him of the Prince's suggestion that
before the Queen saw Sir R. Peel some negotiation
might be entered into with Sir Robert, so that
the subject might be avoided by mutual consent,
the terms of which might be that Sir Robert
should give up his demand to extort the principle.
The Queen, on the other hand, should require
the resignation of those Ladies objected to by
Sir Robert. Lord Melbourne said, however, that the
Prince must not have personal communication with
Sir Robert on this subject, but he thought that I
might through the medium of a common friend.

Memorandum by Mr Anson.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 5th May 1841.

Saw Lord Melbourne after his interview this
morning with the Queen. He says her Majesty was
perfectly calm and reasonable and seemed quite
prepared for the resignation of the Government. He
said she was prepared to give way upon the ladies if
required, but much wished that that point might be
previously settled by negotiation with Sir R. Peel, to
avoid any discussion or difference. Lord Melbourne
thinks I might do this. He would also like Peel to
be cautioned not to press her Majesty to decide hastily,
but to give her Majesty time, and that he should feel
that if he acted fairly he would be met in the same
spirit by the Queen.

With regard to future communication with Lord
Melbourne, the Queen said she did not mean that a
change should exclude her from Lord Melbourne's
society, and when Lord Melbourne said that in society
Her Majesty could not procure Lord Melbourne's
opinion upon any subject, and suggested that that
should be obtained through the Prince, Her Majesty
said that that could pass in writing under cover to me,
but that she must communicate direct.

The Queen, he says, leans to sending for the Duke
of Wellington. Lord Melbourne advised that Her



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Majesty should make up her mind at once to send
for Sir Robert. He told me that it would not be
without precedent to send for both at once ; this it
appears to me would obviate every objection. The
Queen, he thinks, has a perfect right to exercise her
judgment upon the selection of all persons recom-
mended to Her Majesty for Household appointments,
both as to liking, but chiefly as to their character and
as to the character of the husband or wife of the person
selected. He would advise the Queen to adopt the
course which King William did with Lord Melbourne
in 1835, viz. desiring Lord Melbourne, before His
Majesty approved of any appointments, to send a list
of those proposed even to the members of every Board,
and the King having them all before him expressed
his objections to certain persons, which Lord Melbourne
yielded to.

Told Lord Melbourne that the Prince wished him
to impress upon the Queen's mind not to act upon the
approaching crisis without the Prince, because she
would not be able to go through difficulties by herself,
and the Prince would not be able to help her when
he was ignorant of the considerations which had
influenced her actions. He would wish Lord
Melbourne when with the Queen to call in the Prince
in order that they might both be set right upon Lord
Melbourne's opinions, that he might express in the
presence of each other his views, in order that he should
not convey different impressions by speaking to them
separately, so that they might act in concert.

The Prince says the Queen always sees what is
right at a glance, but if her feelings run contrary, she
avoids the Prince's arguments, which she feels sure
agree with her own, and seeks arguments to support
her wishes against her convictions from other people.

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

SOUTH STREET, 1th May 1841.

Lord Melbourne presents his humble duty to your
Majesty, and laments much the prospect that lies


before us, more especially as it is so repugnant to
your Majesty's feelings. Your Majesty has often
observed that these events must come in the course
of affairs at some moment or another, but Lord
Melbourne knows not whether it is much consolation
to reflect, that what is very disagreeable is also
natural and unavoidable. Lord Melbourne feels certain
that your Majesty will consider the situation calmly
and impartially, will do that which shall appear the
best for your own interests and those of the country,
which are identical.

Everything shall be done that can be ; the questions
which may arise shall be considered well, and upon
as full information as can be obtained. But Lord
Melbourne has little to add to what he wrote to your
Majesty yesterday. So many interests are affected
by this Sugar question, the AVest Indian, the East
Indian, the opponents of Slavery and others, that
no small number of our supporters will be induced
either to stay away or to vote against us, and this
must place us in a minority upon the main points of
our Budget. In this we can hardly acquiesce, nor
can we adopt a different policy and propose other
taxes, when in our opinion the necessary revenue
can be raised without imposing them. This state of
things imposes upon us the alternative of dissolution
or of resignation and to try the former without
succeeding in it would be to place both your Majesty
and ourselves in a worse situation than that in which
we are at present.

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

SOUTH STREET, Slh May 1841.

Lord Melbourne presents his humble duty to your
Majesty. We have been considering this question
of dissolution at the Cabinet, and we have had before
us a general statement of the public returns for
England and Wales. It is not very favourable, but
Lord Melbourne fears that it is more favourable than


the reality would prove. The Chancellor, 1 Palmerston,
and Hothouse are strongly for dissolution, but the
opinion of the majority is the other way, and in
that opinion Lord Melbourne is strongly inclined to

Lord Melbourne will have the honour of waiting
upon your Majesty to-morrow at three.

Memorandum by Mr Anson.


9th May 1841.

Told Sir Robert that I had wished to have sought
him through the medium of a common friend, which
would have given him a greater confidence than I had
now a right to expect at his hands, but I felt upon so
delicate a mission it was safer, and would be more in
accordance with his wishes, to come direct.

That the Prince had sent me to him, with the object
of removing difficulties upon his coming into office.

That Her Majesjty was anxious that the question of
the removal of the Ladies of the Bedchamber should
not be revived, and would wish that in any personal
communication with Sir Robert this question might
be avoided.

That it might be arranged that if Sir Robert would
not insist upon carrying out his principle, Her Majesty
might procure the resignation of any Ladies whom Sir
Robert might object to ; that I thought there might be
a disposition to yield to the removal of the Mistress
of the Robes, Lady Normanby, and the Duchess of
Bedford, as being connected with leading political
persons in Government.

Endeavoured to impress upon Sir Robert that if he

1 The Earl of Cottenham.

2 See Parker's Sir Robert Peel, vol. ii. p. 455 et eq., where Peel's
memorandum of the interview is set out


acts fairly and kindly towards the Queen, he will be
met in the same spirit.

Sir Robert said he had considered the probable
object of my interview, and thought, from my former
position with Lord Melbourne, that Lord Melbourne
would be aware of my coming. He must be assured
of this before he could speak confidentially to me.

Upon this I admitted that Lord Melbourne had
knowledge of my intention, but that I was not
authorised to say that he had.

Sir Robert said. " I shall put aside all form, and
treat you frankly and confidentially. You may depend
upon every word you say being held as sacred. No
part, without further permission, shall be mentioned
even to the Duke, much less to any of my other

" / would waive every pretension to office, I declare
to God! sooner than that my acceptance of it should be
attended with any personal humiliation to the Queen."

He thought that giving in the names of those
Ladies whom he considered obnoxious was an offensive
course towards the Queen.

For the sake of office, which he did not covet, he
could not concede any constitutional principle, but it
was not necessary that that principle should be mooted.

" It w T ould be repulsive to my feelings that Her
Majesty should part with any of her Ladies, as the
result of a forced stipulation on my part ; in a party
sense it would doubtless be advantageous to me to say
that I had demanded from the Queen, and the Queen
had conceded to me the appointments of these three

The mode he would like, and which he considered as
least objectionable for Her Majesty, was for Her Majesty
to say to him, "There is no occasion to revive this
constitutional question as those ladies immediately
connected with prominent members of the Admini-
stration have sent in their resignation."

The vacancies existing before Sir Robert Peel sees
Her Majesty, there is no necessity for discussion.


On the one hand, by this means, there was less
appearance of insult to the Queen, and on the other,
there was no appearance of concession of principle
upon his.

Sir Robert was ready to make any personal sacrifice
for Her Majesty's comfort, except that of his honour.
" Can the Queen for an instant suppose that I would
permit my party to urge me on to insist upon anything
incompatible with Her Majesty's dignity, which it
would be my great aim and honour to defend ? "

[This was his indignant reply to my remark upon
the rumours that his party would press him to coerce
and subdue Her Majesty.]

Sir Robert thinks it better for the Queen to avoid
anything in the shape of a stipulation. He would like
what he would have done upon a former occasion (and
upon which, on the honour of a gentleman, his views
had undergone no change) to be taken as a test of
what he would be ready to concede to.

Nothing but misconception, he said, could in his
opinion have led to failure before. "Had the Queen told
me" (after the- question was mooted, which it never need
have been) " that those three Ladies immediately connected
with the Government had tendered their resignation, 1
should have been perfectly satisfied, and should have
consulted the Queen's feelings in replacing them."

Sir Robert said this conversation shall remain sacred,
and to all effect, as if it had never happened, until he
saw me again to-morrow morning.

There is nothing said, he added, which in any way
pledges or compromises the Queen, Prince or Lord

Memorandum by Mr Anson.

\0th May 1841.

Peel said : " It is essential to my position with the
Queen that her Majesty should understand that I
have the feelings of a gentleman, and where my duty


does not interfere, I cannot act against her wishes.
Her Majesty doubtless knows how pressed I am as the
head of a powerful party, but the impression I wish
to create in Her Majesty's mind is, that I am bound
to defend her against their encroachments."

In regard to Household appointments the holders
of which are not in Parliament, he had not considered
the question, but in the meantime he would in no way
commit himself to anyone, or to any understanding
upon the subject, without previous communication.
He had no personal objects to serve, and the Queen's
wishes would always be consulted.

He again repeated, that if the Queen's personal
feelings would suffer less by forming an Administration
to his exclusion, he should not be offended. Private
life satisfied him, and he had no ambition beyond it.

Lord Melbourne might rest assured that he fully
appreciated his aim, that his only object was to do
that which was most for Her Majesty's advantage, and
no human being should know that he was privy to this
overture. Lord Melbourne might depend upon his
honour. If Lord Melbourne was pressed to a dissolu-
tion he should still feel the same impression of Lord
Melbourne's conduct, that it was honourable and

He wished the Prince to send him a list of those
Ladies whom it would be agreeable to Her Majesty to
have in her Household. Sir Robert must propose it
to the Ladies, but will be entirely guided by Her
Majesty's wishes. There should be no appearance
that Her Majesty has any understanding, as he was
bound to his party to make it appear that the appoint-
ments emanated from himself. 1

Memorandum by the Queen.

Uth May 1841.

The Queen considers it her right (and is aware that
her predecessors were peculiarly tenacious of this right)

1 There was a further interview on the following day at which various
detailed points were arranged.


to appoint her Household. She, however, gives up the
great officers of State and those of her Lords-in-
Waiting, Equerries, and Grooms-in- Waiting, who are
in Parliament, to the appointment of the Prime
Minister, subject to her approval.

The Queen has always appointed her Ladies of the
Bedchamber herself, but has generally mentioned their
names to the Prime Minister before appointing them,
in order to leave him room for objection in case he
should deem their appointment injurious to his Govern-
ment, when the Queen would probably not appoint
the Lady.

The Maids of Honour and Women of the Bed-
chamber are of course not included amongst those who
are mentioned to the Prime Minister before their
appointment, but are at once appointed by the Queen.

Extract from the Queens Journal.

Wednesday, \2th May 1841.

"At seven minutes to five Lord Melbourne came
to me and stayed till half-past five. He gave me the
copies of Anson's conversations with Peel. Lord
Melbourne then gave me a letter from the Chancellor
to read, strongly advocating a dissolution, and wishing
that there should be a division also on Lord John
Russell's amendment. 1

" Lord Melbourne left the letter with me. The first
part of the letter, relative to Lord John's amendment,
we think good, but the other part we can't quite agree
in. * There is to be a Cabinet to-morrow to consider
what is to be done,' said Lord Melbourne, ' for the
Chancellor's opinion must be considered. There is a
preferment amongst our people for dissolution,' Lord M.
added. The feeling in the country good. I asked Lord
M., * Must they resign directly, the next day, after the
division (if they intended resigning) ?' ' Why,' he said,
' it was awkward not to do so if Parliament was sitting ;
if the division were only to take place on Friday, then

1 To Lord Sandon's resolution on the Sugar duties.


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 28 of 52)