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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she fears they might irritate Lord Howard very much.

The Queen is induced to copy the following
sentences from a letter she received from her cousin,
the King of Portugal, a few days ago, and which it
may be satisfactory to Lord Aberdeen to see :

" Je dois encore vous dire que nous avons toutcs les
raisons de nous loucr de la manicre dont le Portugal est
traite par votre Ministre dcs Affaires Etrangeres, et
nous ferons de notre cote notre possible pour prouver
notre bonne volonte"

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

SOUTH STREET, 1st November 1841.

. . . Now for his Royal Highness's questions. . . .

How the power of Prime Ministry grew up into
its present form it is difficult to trace precisely, as
well as how it became attached, as it were, to the
office of First Commissioner of the Treasury. But
Lord Melbourne apprehends that Sir Robert Walpole
was the first man in whose person this union of
powers was decidedly established, and that its being
so arose from the very great confidence which both
George I. and George II. reposed in him, and from the
difficulty which they had in transacting business,
particularly George I., from their imperfect knowledge
of the language of the country.

With respect to the Secretary of State, Lord

1 Lord Howard de Walden, Minister Plenipotentiary at Lisbon.


Melbourne is not prepared from memory to state the
dates at which the different arrangements of that
office have taken place. There was originally but one
officer, and at the present the three are but the heads
of the different departments of one office. The
first division was into two, and they were called the
Secretary for the Northern and the Secretary for
the Southern department. They drew a line across the
world, and each transacted the business connected
with the countries within his own portion of the
globe. Another division then took place, and the
Foreign affairs were confided to one Secretary of
State, and the Home and Colonial affairs to the
other ; but the present arrangement was finally
settled in the year 1793, when the junction was
formed between Mr Pitt on the one hand, and
those friends of Mr Fox, who left him because they
differed with him upon the French Revolution. The
Home affairs were placed in the hands of one
Secretary of State, the Foreign of another, and the
Colonial and Military affairs of a third, and this
arrangement has continued ever since. 1 The persons
then appointed were the Duke of Portland , 2 Lord
Grenville, 3 and Mr Dundas, 4 Home, Foreign, and
Colonial Secretaries.

Writing from recollection, it is very possible that
Lord Melbourne may be wrong in some of the dates
which he has ventured to specify. 5

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

SOUTH STREET, kth November 1841.

Lord Melbourne presents his humble duty to your
Majesty. He has this morning had the honour

1 A fourth Secretary of State was added at the time of the Crimean
War, so as to separate Colonial and Military affairs, and a fifth after the
Indian Mutiny to supersede the President of the Board of Control See
Lord Melbourne's letter of 31st December 1837, ante, p. 130.

2 Third Duke (1738-1809).

William Wyndham, Lord GrenviUe (1759-1834).
4 Henry Dundas (1742-1811), afterwards Lord Melville.
, 6 See post, pp. 449, 430, 431.


and pleasure of receiving your Majesty's letter of
yesterday. . . .

Lord Melbourne sends a letter which he has received
from his sister, which may not be unentertaining.
Lady Palmerston is struck, as everybody is who goes
to Ireland, with the candid warmth and vehement
demonstration of feeling. England always appears
cold, heartless and sulky in comparison. . . .

With respect to the questions put to me by your
Majesty at the desire of His Royal Highness, Lord
Melbourne begs leave to assure your Majesty that he
will be at all times most ready and anxious to give any
information in his power upon points of this sort, which
are very curious, very important, very worthy to be
enquired into, and upon which accurate information is
not easily to be found. All the political part of the
English Constitution is fully understood, and distinctly
stated in Blackstone and many other books, but the
Ministerial part, the work of conducting the executive
government, has rested so much on practice, on usage,
on understanding, that there is no publication to which
reference can be made for the explanation and
description of it. It is to be sought in debates, in
protests, in letters, in memoirs, and wherever it can
be picked up. It seems to be stupid not to be able
to say at once when two Secretaries of State were
established ; but Lord Melbourne is not able. He
apprehends that there was but one until the end of
Queen Anne's reign, and that two were instituted
by George I., probably because upon his frequent
journeys to Hanover he wanted the Secretary of State
with him, and at the same time it was necessary that
there should be an officer of the same authority left at
home to transact the domestic affairs.

Prime Minister is a term belonging to the last
century. Lord Melbourne doubts its being to be
found in English Parliamentary language previously.
Sir Robert Walpole was always accused of having
introduced and arrogated to himself an office previously
unknown to the Law and Constitution, that of Prime

VOL. i. 29


or Sole Minister, and we learn from Lady Charlotte
Lindsay's l accounts of her father, that in his own
family Lord North would never suffer himself to
be called prime Minister, because it was an office
unknown to the Constitution. This was a notion
derived from the combined Whig and Tory opposition
to Sir Robert Walpole, to which Lord North and his
family had belonged.

Lord Melbourne is very sorry to hear that the
Princess Royal continues to suffer from some degree of
indisposition. From what your Majesty had said more
than once before, Lord Melbourne had felt anxiety upon
this subject, and he saw the Baron yesterday, who con-
versed with him much upon it, and informed him of
what had taken place. Lord Melbourne hopes that your
Majesty will attribute it only to Lord Melbourne's
anxious desire for the security and increase of your
Majesty's happiness, if he ventures to say that the Baron
appears to him to have much reason in what he urges,
and in the view which he takes. It is absolutely
required that confidence should be reposed in those
who are to have the management and bear the respon-
sibility, and that they should not be too much
interrupted or interfered with.

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

SOUTH STREET, 5th November 1841.

Lord Melbourne presents his humble duty to your
Majesty. Not feeling satisfied of the correctness of
the information which he had given to your Majesty
respecting the office of Secretary of State, he yesterday
evening requested Mr Allen 2 to look into the matter,
and he has just received from him the enclosed short
memorandum, which he has the honour of transmitting

1 Daughter of Lord North (afterwards Earl of Guilford) and wife of
Lieut. -Colonel the Hon. John Lindsay. She lived till 1849 a link with
the past.

a Secretary and Librarian at Holland House.


to your Majesty. This shows that Lord Melbourne was
quite wrong with respect to the period at which two
Secretaries of State were first employed, and that it
was much earlier than he had imagined.

The year 1782, when the third Secretary of State
was abolished, was the period of the adoption of the
great measure of Economical Reform which had been
introduced by Mr Burke in 1780.

The present arrangement was settled in 1794, which
is about the time which Lord Melbourne stated.

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

SOUTH STREET, 7th November 1841.

. . . Your Majesty asks whether Lord Melbourne
thinks that Prince Metternich holds the opinion of Sir
Robert Gordon, which he expresses to Lord Beauvale.
It is difficult to say what Prince Metternich's real sen-
timents are. Lord Melbourne takes him not to have
a very high opinion of the abilities of others in general,
and he is not unlikely to depreciate Sir Robert Gordon
to Lord Beauvale. Sir Robert Gordon is a man of
integrity, but he is tiresome, long and pompous, which
cannot be agreeable to the Prince, who has about him
much of the French vivacity, and also much of their
settled and regular style of argument. . . .

With respect to the latter part of your Majesty's
letter, Lord Melbourne returns for the expressions of
your Majesty's kindness his warm and grateful thanks.
Your Majesty may rest assured that he will always
speak to your Majesty without scruple or reserve, and
that he will never ask anything of your Majesty, or ever
make a suggestion, which he does not consider to be
for your Majesty's service and advantage. Lord
Melbourne is of opinion that his visits to the Palace
should not only avoid exciting suspicion and uneasiness
in your Majesty's present advisers, a result of which he
has very little apprehension, but they should not be


so frequent as to attract public notice, comment and
observation, of which he would be more fearful. A
public rumour, however unfounded and absurd, has
more force in this country than objections which have
in them more of truth and reality. Upon these
grounds, and as your Majesty will probably not see
much company at present, and the parties therefore
will be a good deal confined to the actual Household,
Lord Melbourne thinks it would perhaps be as
well if he were not again to dine at the Palace at

The course which it may be prudent to take here-
after will depend very much upon that which cannot
now be foreseen, namely, upon the general course which
will be taken by politics and political parties. In this
Lord Melbourne does not at present discern his way,
and he will not therefore hazard opinions which would
not be founded upon any certainty, and might be liable
to immediate change and alteration.

Memorandum: Par on Stockmar to Viscount Melbourne.

23rd November 1841.

The apprehension which haunts me since my return
to England is well known to you. It was my inten-
tion to have written to you upon it some time hereafter,
but the contents of a certain letter, sent by you just
before your departure, accelerates the execution of my
design. From your own expressions used some time
back, I was led to expect that you would be glad to
take advantage of any fair opportunity which might
contribute towards that devoutly to be wished for
object, viz., to let a certain correspondence die a
natural death. You may easily conceive how much
I felt disappointed when I heard that you had written
again, without a challenge, and that, without apparent
cause, you had volunteered the promise to write from
time to time. This happens at a moment when ijour
harassing apprehension received new life and strength,


from two incidents which I think it my duty to make
known to you, and of which the one came to pass
before, the other after, your departure from here.
Some weeks back I was walking in the streets with
Dr Prsetorius, 1 when, finding myself opposite the house
of one of my friends, it came across my mind to give
him a call. Praetorius wanted to leave me, on a
conception that, as a stranger, he might obstruct the
freedom of our conversation. I insisted, however, on
his remaining with me, and we were shown into the
drawing-room, where in all there were five of us. For
some minutes the conversation had turned on insignifi-
cant things, when the person talking to me said quite
abruptly : " So I find the Queen is in daily correspon-
dence with Lord Melbourne." I replied, " Who told
you this ? " The answer was, " Mrs Norton ; she told
me the other evening. Don't you believe that Lord
Melbourne has lost his influence over the Queen's
mind ; he daily writes to her, and receives as many
answers, in which she communicates everything to
him." Without betraying much emotion I said, " I
don't believe a word of it ; the Queen may have
written once or twice on private matters, but the
daily correspondence on all matters is certainly the
amplification of a thoughtless and imprudent person,
who is not aware of such exaggerated assertions." My
speech was followed by a general silence, after which
we talked of other things, and soon took our leave.
When we were fairly in the open air, Preetorius
expressed to me his amazement at what he had heard,
and he remained for some time at a loss to compre-
hend the character of the person who, from mere
giddiness, let out so momentous a secret.

The other fact took place the day after you had
left. From the late events at Brussels, it had become
desirable that I should see Sir Robert Peel. From
Belgium we travelled over to Home politics. I
expressed my delight at seeing the Queen so happy,
and added a hope that more and more she would seek
and find her real happiness in her domestic relations

1 Librarian and German Secretary to Prince Albert


only. He evidently caught at this, and assured me
that he should at all times be too happy to have a
share in anything which might be thought conducive
to the welfare of Her Majesty. That no consideration
of personal inconvenience would ever prevent him
from indulging the Queen in all her wishes relating
to matters of a private nature, and that the only return
for his sincere endeavours to please Her Majesty he
looked to, was honesty in public affairs. Becoming
then suddenly emphatic, he continued, " But on this
I must insist, and I do assure you, that that moment
I was to learn that the Queen takes advice upon public
matters in another place, 1 shall throw up ; for such a
thing I conceive the country could not stand, and I
would not remain an hour, whatever the consequences
of my resignation may be."

Fully sensible that he was talking at me, I
received the charge with the calmness of a good
conscience, and our time being exhausted I pre-
pared for retreat. But he did not allow me to do
so, before he had found means to come a second
time to the topic uppermost in his own mind, and
he repeated, it appeared to me with increased force
of tone, his determination to throw up, fearless of
all consequences, that moment he found himself
and the country dishonestly dealt by.

I think I have now reported to you correctly
the two occurrences which of late have added
so much to my antecedent suspicions and fears.
Permit me to join to this a few general considera-
tions which, from the nature of the recited incidents
alone, and without the slightest intervention of any
other cause, must have presented themselves to my
mind. The first is, that I derive from the events
related quite ground enough for concluding that the
danger I dread is great and imminent, and that,
if ill luck is to have its will, no human power can
prevent an explosion for a day, or even for an hour.
The second is the contemplation what state will the
Queen be placed in by such a catastrophe ? That


in my position, portraying to myself all the con-
sequences of such a possibility, I look chiefly to the
Queen, needs hardly, I trust, an excuse. . . . Can you
hope that the Queen's character will ever recover from
a shock received by a collision with Peel, upon such a
cause ? Pray, illustrate to yourself this particular
question by taking a purely political and general
survey of the time and period we live in at this
moment. In doing so must you not admit that all
England is agreed that the Tories must have another
trial, and that there is a decided desire in the nation that
it should be a fair one ? Would you have it said that
Sir Robert Peel failed in his trial, merely because the
Queen alone was not fair to him, and that principally
you had aided her in the game of dishonesty ? And
can you hope that this game can be played with
security, even for a short time only, when a person
has means of looking into your cards whom you your-
self have described to me some years ago as a most
passionate, giddy, imprudent and dangerous woman ?
I am sure beforehand that your loyalty and devotion
has nothing to oppose to the force of my exposition.
There are, however, some other and minor reasons
which ought likewise to be considered before you
come to the determination of trusting entirely to
possibilities and chance. For the results of your
deliberation you will have to come to will in their
working and effects go beyond yourself, and must
affect two other persons. These will have a right to
expect that your decision will not be taken regardless
of that position, which accidental circumstances have
assigned to them, in an affair the fate of which is
placed entirely within your discretion. This is an
additional argument why you should deliberate very
conscientiously. A mistake of yours in this respect
might by itself produce fresh difficulties and have
a complicating and perplexing retro effect upon the
existing ones ; because both, seeing that they must
be sufferers in the end, may begin to look only to
their own safety, and become inclined to refuse that


passive obedience which till now constitutes the
vehicle of your hazardous enterprise.

Approaching the conclusion of this letter, I beg
to remind you of a conversation I had with you
on the same subject in South Street, the 25th of
last month. 1 Though you did not avow it then in
direct words, I could read from your countenance and
manner that you assented in your head and heart to
all I had said, and in particular to the advice 1
volunteered at the end of my speech. At that time I
pointed out to you a period when I thought a decisive
step ought to be taken on your part. This period
seems to me to have arrived. Placing unreserved
confidence into your candour and manliness, I remain,
for ever, very faithfully yours, STOCKMAR.

Viscount Melbourne to Baron Stockmar.

2<Uh November 1841.
(Half-past 10 P.M.)

MY DEAR BARON, I have just received your letter;
I think it unnecessary to detain your messenger. I will
write to you upon the subject and send it through
Anson. Yours faithfully, MELBOURNE.

Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 29th November 1841.

MY DEAREST UNCLE, I have to thank you for
four most kind letters, of the 4th, 6th, 19th and 26th ;
the last I received yesterday. I would have written
sooner, had I not been a little bilious, which made me
very low, and not in spirits to write. The weather has
been so exceedingly relaxing, that it made me at the
end of the fortnight quite bilious, and this, you know,
affects the spirits. I am much better, but they think

1 Ante, p. 442.


that I shall not get my appetite and spirits back till I
can get out of town ; we are therefore going in a week
at latest. I am going for a drive this morning, and am
certain it will do me good. In all essentials, I am
better, if possible, than last year. Our little boy 1 is
a wonderfully strong and large child, with very large
dark blue eyes, a finely formed but somewhat large
nose, and a pretty little mouth ; I hope and pray he
may be like his dearest Papa. He is to be called
Albert, and Edward is to be his second name. Pussy,
dear child, is still the great pet amongst us all, and is
getting so fat and strong again.

I beg my most affectionate love to dearest Louise
and the dear children. The Queen Dowager is
recovering wonderfully.

I beg you to forgive this letter being so badly
written, but my feet are being rubbed, and as I
have got the box on which I am writing on my
knee, it is not easy to write quite straight but you
must not think my hand trembles. Ever your devoted

Pussy is not at all pleased with her brother.

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

TRENTHASI, 1st December 1841.

Lord Melbourne presents his humble duty to
your Majesty, and has had the honour of receiving
here your Majesty's letters of yesterday, by which
he learns with sincere pleasure and satisfaction that
your Majesty is so much recovered as to go to
Windsor on so early a day as your Majesty names.
Lord Melbourne hears with great concern that your
Majesty has been suffering under depression and
lowness of spirits. . . . Lord Melbourne well knows how
to feel for those who suffer under it, especially as he
has lately had much of it himself.

Lord Melbourne is much rejoiced to hear so good

1 His Majesty King Edward VII., born 9th November.


an account of the Heir Apparent and of the Princess
Royal, and feels himself greatly obliged by the
information respecting the intended names and the
sponsors. Lord Melbourne supposes that your Majesty
has determined yourself upon the relative position of
the two names, but Edward is a good English appella-
tion, and has a certain degree of popularity attached
to it from ancient recollections. Albert is also an old
Anglo-Saxon name the same, Lord Melbourne believes,
as Ethelred but it has not been so common nor so
much in use since the Conquest. However, your
Majesty's feelings which Lord Melbourne perfectly
understands, must determine this point. The notion
of the King of Prussia 1 gives great satisfaction here,
and will do so with all but Puseyites and Newmanites
and those who lean to the Roman Catholic faith.
His strong Protestant feelings, and his acting with us
in the matter of the Syrian Bishop, have made the
King of Prussia highly popular in this country, and
particularly with the more religious part of the

Your Majesty cannot offer up for the young Prince
a more safe and judicious prayer than that he may
resemble his father. The character, in Lord Melbourne's
opinion, depends much upon the race, and on both
sides he has a good chance. Be not over solicitous
about education. It may be able to do much, but it
does not do so much as is expected from it. It
may mould and direct the character, but it rarely
alters it. George IV. and the Duke of York were
educated quite like English boys, by English school-
masters, and in the manner and upon the system of
English schools. The consequence was that, whatever
were their faults, they were quite Englishmen. The
others who were sent earlier abroad, and more to
foreign universities, were not quite so much so. The
late king was educated as a sailor, and was a complete
sailor. . . .

Lord Melbourne will tell your Majesty exactly what

1 King Frederick William IV. who was to be a sponsor.


he thinks of John Russell's reply to the Plymouth
address. It is very angry and very bitter, and anger
and bitterness are never very dignified. Lord Melbourne
certainly would not have put in those sarcasms upon
the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel, for their
change of opinion and conduct upon the Roman
Catholic question. But the tone of the rest of the
answer is, in Lord Melbourne's opinion, just and right.
We certainly delivered the affairs of the country into
their hands in a good state, both at home and abroad,
and we should be acting unfairly by ourselves if we did
not maintain and assert this upon every occasion.
Lord Melbourne's notion of the conduct which he has
to pursue is, that it should not be aggressive, but that
it must be defensive. He would oppose no right
measures, but he cannot suffer the course of policy
which has been condemned in him to be adopted by
others without observation upon the inconsistency and
injustice. . . .

Lord Melbourne concludes with again wishing your
Majesty health and happiness, and much enjoyment
of the country.

Sir James G-raham to Queen Victoria.

WHITEHALL, 6th December 1841.

Sir James Graham, with humble duty, begs to
enclose for the Signature of your Majesty the Letters
Patent creating His Royal Highness, the Prince of
the United Kingdom, Prince of Wales and Earl of
Chester. 1

Understanding that it is your Majesty's pleasure

1 His present Majesty had been referred to in letters of the previous month
as the Duke of Cornwall. " Know ye," ran the present letters patent, " that
we have made . . . our most dear son, the Prince of the United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Ireland (Duke of Saxony, Duke of Cornwall . . .) Prince
of Wales and Earl of Chester . . . and him our said most dear son, ... as
has been accustomed, we do ennoble and invest with the said Principality

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 37 of 52)