Commentary Explorer Results
Commentary for Volume 2, Chapter 20: Domestic Difficulties, 1829–30
Palmer Police and Protest p 289 states that the government was prompted to create the police by ever-rising crime and the continuation of popular radicalism – but the timing seems wrong for radicalism to have been much of a factor: the middle and late 1820s were quiet, especially in London, and the resurgence of popular radicalism began after the new police was established. Of course, both Peel and Wellington may have been (probably were) influenced by their experience of the earlier wave of radicalism and a consciousness of the few tools available to government to deal with it; but it is unlikely that this was the immediate impulse in 1828-29 when the decision was taken.
Palmer discusses the reasons the bill met so little opposition:
But apart from Peel’s political sagacity, the principal reason for the ease of the passage of the bill was the change in attitude among the ruling classes. The Whig Morning Chronicle, now pro-police, noted in 1828 that only ‘seven or eight years ago’ any respectable person who favoured a strong police uttered ‘a heresy deserving little less than the stake’. The Tory Quarterly Review pronounced that ‘police, in our view of the subject, when rightly understood, … is the base on which men’s liberties, properties, and social existence repose.’ It now condemned the ‘mis-called watchmen’ of the metropolis, berated ‘the deteriorated and imbecile condition’ of the existing civil authorities, and demanded the creation of ‘a vigorous … well-organized… regular police force.’ A civil force of ‘despicable apparatus, which, in cases of the slightest importance, can do nothing without the backing of red coats and bayonets, ought to be struck to the ground.’ The journal concluded by editorialising: ‘It should not be forgotten that the public good … is entitled to some weight in the scale.’ (Palmer Police and Protest p 293)
Peel’s plan took Wellington’s 1808 reform of the Dublin police as its starting point, and built extensively upon it. And it seems reasonable to assume his personal experience of the issue made Wellington more supportive of Peel’s proposals. (Palmer Police and Protest p 291-3 details use of the Dublin model).
The 1828 Parliamentary committee had actually recommended that the central government cover some of the cost of the force; no doubt this was not done at first because the government was so intent on reducing spending, and was mindful of probable opposition to the establishment of the police, which might have come largely from country MPs. (Palmer Police and Protest p 291).
Discontented Tories drift back to the government
Aspinall in his introduction to Three Nineteenth Diaries p xxv states that of 202 Tory MPs who voted against Catholic Emancipation, 145 were re-elected in 1830 and of these 34 voted against the government on the vote on the Civil List on 15 November 1830, but 54 voted with the ministers. (Still the fact that so many as 57 were absent points to the problem of getting disillusioned supporters to turn up, as well as many who were probably hostile to the government.)
Wellington and the King:
Wellington’s relations with the King throughout the second half of 1829 were marked with much acrimony and a series of petty disputes, for example over the King’s desire to make his favourite architect, John Nash, a baronet while Parliament was in the middle of an enquiry into the cost of his work for the King. The combination of Cumberland’s virulence and the King’s hostility left Wellington exasperated and disillusioned. He complained to Mrs Arbuthnot:
The Duke then enlarged upon all the disadvantages arising from the King’s conduct & pointed out that the reason he had no power was that he conducted himself in a manner to deprive his Minister of all power. The Duke said that nothing but a sense of the duty he owed to the country, which had placed such confidence in him, induced him to remain; that he wd not quit his situation in any dishonorable manner, but he felt that he had been so shamefully treated that he wd take the very first opportunity of quitting, that either a fit of illness, being defeated in Parliament or finding the public confidence withdrawn from him, wd each of them be reason sufficient but that the King wd find that he had thrown the affairs of the country into such a state by his conduct that he wd end by getting no govt at all; that for himself he was so completely disgusted that he shd quite rejoice in a fit of illness that enabled him to resign honourably. (Journal of Mrs Arbuthnot 26 June 1829 vol 2 p 289).
It was nothing new for Wellington to grumble in the most exaggerated language, but the talk of resignation and quitting office was novel and out of character.
Ellenborough noted in his diary in late September: ‘The Duke of Wellington gives the King up as a bad job. He sees him very seldom. At first he liked seeing him and setting things to rights; but he says he found what he did one day was undone the next, and he is in despair. The King has no constancy. There is no depending upon him from one day to another.’ (Political Diary 24 Sept 1829 vol 2 p 100).
And again, in early January 1830 in the midst of the crisis over the nomination of Leopold to the Greek throne:
… The Duke thinks the King will yield to Aberdeen; to avoid seeing him – if he is obliged to go down, he will declare distinctly to the King that his Majesty had better name whatever Minister he may wish to give his confidence to; but that to whatever Minister he may choose to have, he ought to give his confidence.
Certainly nothing can have been more scandalous that the King’s conduct to the Duke. He has never given his Government the fair support. Say what the Duke will, he of Cumberland is believed. (Ellenborough Political Dairy 11 January 1830 vol 2 p 165)
And the next day ‘The mischief is that these sécousses make a weak Government.’ (ibid 12 January 1830 vol 2 p 166).
The Prosecution of the Morning Journal:
Wellington felt goaded by Cumberland in particular, resenting his attacks far more than those of Lord Holland or Grey or any of the other Whigs or liberals who had frequently abused him in the most unmeasured terms. In July he wrote to Scarlett, the Attorney General, proposing the prosecution of two leading High Tory papers, The Standard and The Morning Journal, and made it clear that he blamed Cumberland for their attacks:
there is a personage in England who has little to fear, and nothing to lose, who possesses the means of mischief, who is very hostile to the government; very bitter and active, and who misleads the editors of these newspapers by the communication, as from authority, of falsehoods and calumnies. The extent of the mischief done in this way is inconceivable; and it is really necessary to incur some risk and inconvenience in order to deprive this personage of the instruments which he applies to such bad purposes. (Wellington to Scarlett, 27 July 1829, WND vol 6 p 51).
In the event the government prosecuted The Morning Journal but ignored The Standard. One libel was highly specific, claiming that the Solicitor-General Edward Sugden had been appointed by the Lord Chancellor in exchange for a loan of £30,000; others were more general: ‘Dragoon-officers direct civil affairs. Troops are our law-givers.’ And ‘As for our revered Sovereign … we pity him. He is the worst-used man in his extensive dominions, and in his ripe old age is openly defied, derided, held in chains.’ Wellington was personally attacked in an open letter which, it emerged, was written by Cumberland’s private chaplain: ‘The Most Noble Arthur D. of Wellington is proud, overbearing, grasping, dishonest & unprincipled, & capable of a design to overturn the Crown and prostrate the laws & liberties of the Country.’ He was also accused of ‘despicable cant’, gross treachery, affected moderation, or ‘treachery, cowardice and artifice united’. (Passages quoted in Newcastle Unrepentant Tory 12 September 1829 p 95 and Wickwar The Struggle for the Freedom of the Press p 285-7).
The case was tried in December and the defendants found guilty on all but one part of one charge. The editor, Robert Alexander, was sentenced to a year in prison and fined £300, while the proprietors were let off with bonds or, in one case, a small fine. The prosecutions were much criticised at the time: other newspapers, even those that were violently opposed to the High Tories, felt that their own freedom was threatened. A number of caricatures appeared on the subject, and most observers felt that it would have been more dignified for Wellington to have ignored attacks from such a contemptible quarter. High Tories rallied to the defence of the paper and raised sufficient funds to keep it in business until the following May, while The Standard does not seems to have been intimidated into moderating its tone. Lord Lonsdale, who had begun to forgive the government for Catholic Emancipation, took umbrage at the prosecution and felt sympathy for ‘this persecuted editor’, and again distanced himself from the ministry. Against this, there is Wellington’s argument that ‘a lie perseveringly told passes with the world for truth, if not contradicted.’ If the stories in The Morning Journal and The Standard were not confronted, they might take root and undermine support for the government among country gentlemen and other Tories whose natural inclination was to support the King’s ministers, but who had disliked Catholic Emancipation and had been unsettled by reports of friction between George IV and Wellington. Even so the prosecutions were probably a mistake, doing little to silence High Tory criticism and alienating some moderate liberal support. (Wickwar The Struggle for the Freedom of the Press p 285-7; Aspinall Politics and the Press p 342-44 (includes quote from Lonsdale); George BM Catalogue of Satires vol 11 nos 15,860; 15,901; 15,910; 16,009 and 16,120; Jupp British Politics on the Eve of Reform p 62; Wellington to Planta, 20 Dec 1829 WND vol 6 p 329. It is worth pointing out that any newspaper today which printed such allegations would expect to be sued for defamation, and that while the editor might not risk prison the sums awarded in damages would probably be eye-watering. Whether or not Wellington’s decision to prosecute was wise, it was certainly not an assault upon any reasonable notion of the freedom of the press).
According to James Sack (‘Wellington and the Tory Press, 1828-30’ p 166) Wellington appeared in person at the Old Bailey to give evidence in the case.
Wellington and the Press:
The evidence in Aspinall’s Politics and the Press and Wellington’s own correspondence makes it quite clear that his government, like all other British governments of the day, ‘meddled’ actively with the press, and that he was closely involved in this. Little weight should therefore be placed on his letter of 28 December 1830 to Mrs Arbuthnot in which he says:
The truth is that, with a thorough Contempt for the Press as far as regarded myself which I think was perfectly justified, I carried that feeling too far in respect to others, and in respect to the publick Institutions and to others. In my time nothing was done upon the Press by the Government. We ended consequently by having the whole of it against us, and against the solid Institutions of the Country. I see my Error… (Wellington to Mrs Arbuthnot, Winchester, 28 December 1830, Wellington and His Friends p 92; see also Wellington to G. R. Gleig 6 April 1831 Personal Reminiscences p 59-61 where he takes much the same line).
In May 1830 Ellenborough, rather surprisingly believed that “The press is generally with us or quiescent…’ (Political Diary 15 May 1830 vol 2 p 248). But by November he thought that: ‘We have neglected the Press too much. The Duke relies upon the support of “respectable people”, and despises the rabble; but the rabble read newspapers and gradually carry along with them the “respectable people” they outnumber.’ (Political Diary vol 2 p 429). This, and Wellington’s statement to Mrs Arbuthnot, have too often been accepted at face value, even after the publication of Aspinall’s account.
State of Politics in late 1829 and early 1830:
Wellington described the state of politics to the Duke of Northumberland in the spring of 1830:
The truth is, that there are at present five distinct parties in Parliament. The Whigs are in two parties, those attached to Lord Grey, and those attached to Lord Holland and Lord Lansdowne. Both these are more or less hostile to the government; the latter the most so. Mr Huskisson’s party is likewise decidedly hostile to the government; as likewise a party of Brunswickers, kept together principally by the manoeuvres of the Duke of Cumberland and his supposed influence with the King.
Against all these is the party of government, which is stronger than them all; and as these parties prefer the government to any other (excepting possibly the two first which might easily unite, and the third which would unite with any of the others against the government), I conceive that we are more than a match for the whole united. (Wellington to the Duke of Northumberland, 16 March 1830 WND vol 6 p 532-3).
And after the government had fallen, Wellington told Maurice Fitzgerald that:
But they [the Whigs] wanted to be admitted to power as a party. They forget that I was, as I am still, at the head of the most numerous and powerful party in the State. That this party (putting the King out of the question) would not hear of any junction with the Whigs as a party, however they might submit to their introduction into office as individuals; and that the attempt would have ended, as that of Mr Canning did, and would even if he had lived, by a total failure. (Wellington to Maurice Fitzgerald, 26 Dec 1830 WND vol 7 p 382-5).
In September 1830 Ellenborough wrote in his diary:
Aberdeen says the accession of Rosslyn has not produced the effect we anticipated – that Lord Grey is very hostile. What we shall do for a majority next session I know not, but I think we shall stand, although we shall not, I fear, be a strong Government. The Catholic Relief Bill has destroyed our unity and the spirit of party. It has likewise destroyed that of the Opposition, who have no longer any rallying point. Thus the formation of a strong Government is difficult. The Brunswickers cannot form one, and the King cannot be persuaded to make one of the Opposition. Indeed, that the Duke of Cumberland would never advise. The Brunswickers will endeavour to make terms with us as a body – to make martyrs of some of the old Protestants, particularly of the Duke and Peel, and placing themselves at the head to go on as well as they could with the rest of us. This will not do. (Ellenborough Political Diary 24 September 1830 p 100-101).
Objections to a junction with the Canningites:
Charles Arbuthnot wrote to Wellington on 28 October 1829 (WND vol 6 p 265-7):
If ever I had a right to be certain of anything, I have at present good ground for being convinced that nothing would lower you so much as the seeing you again embarked with Huskisson. It may suit Fitzgerald’s views. It may even suit Peel’s views, for it would not be his character, but yours, that would suffer; but it would give me a mournfulness beyond expression if I lived to hear people say that you had cast off Huskisson in your strength, and that you had sought him again in your weakness. But you are not weak, and will not be weak unless the return of Huskisson to office should proclaim weakness to the world….
See also Journal of Mrs Arbuthnot 24 October and 3 November 1829 vol 2 p 311-12, 312-13. Ellenborough also objected:
Had some talk with Vernon at Lady Jersey’s. He has the Canning venom about him still, and said we should still regret having lost Huskisson, &c.
I said NEVER. He was an able man, but he would never do as a member of a Cabinet in which he was not chief. The Government would not have lived if he had continued in. I told him I had become satisfied from my short experience that a coalition Government could not conduct the affairs of the country with advantage – especially where the difference was … [blank in printed diary]. (Ellenborough Political Diary 12 April 1829 vol 2 p 12).
But Ellenborough was not consistent in his objections to coalitions, writing in his diary at the end of June:
I think all will turn out well. We have six months before us, but certainly at present we are weak in the House of Commons, though I believe gathering strength in the country, and already very strong there. If we play the great game, striking at the mass, we must succeed. It would never do to go picking up individuals. We must do our best for the country, and we shall have it with us. The worst of it is, the King is the most faithless of men, and Cumberland is at work. (Ellenborough Political Diary 30 June 1829 vol 2 p 60).
Attempts to strengthen the Government:
In the autumn Wellington sent Planta on a mission to Sir Edward Knatchbull, one of the most prominent High Tories, to see if he could be brought to support the government. Planta reported that, ‘Sir Edward looks up wholly to your Grace, and that if anything could be done to propitiate the Ultras, he will hail it with great joy – and cheerfully assist in the operation.’ This amounted to a refusal to be detached from the High Tory party, but it also showed a far more conciliatory spirit than other High Tories had expressed. In January 1830 Wellington offered Lord Chandos the Mint, but this too was declined even though Chandos and his father, the Duke of Buckingham, both professed to support the government. Chandos had been a prominent opponent of Catholic Emancipation, causing much consternation in his family which had steadily supported it for forty years, and his recruitment would have been a valuable gesture to the High Tories, although liberals would have shuddered with disdain. Wellington then considered offering the Mint to Sir John Beckett, but seems to have been dissuaded by Mrs Arbuthnot who observed that although Beckett was a member of the government (as Judge Advocate) he and his wife ‘pass their time in abusing the Duke, running down his Govt. & saying that it cannot last, to the infinite disgust and indignation of all his friends.’ (Planta to Wellington, 8 September 1829 quoted in Bradfield ‘Sir Richard Vyvyan and the Fall of Wellington’s Government’ p 148. On the overture to Chandos see: Fisher History of Parliament, 1820-1832 vol 7 p 402; Journal of Mrs Arbuthnot 31 January 1830 vol 2 p 329. Beckett was one of Lowther connection, and in sentiment and outlook close to the High Tories, although officially he was a loyal member of the government).
Wellington had more success in his approaches to individuals belonging to other parties. James Abercromby, a long serving and highly regarded lawyer, one of the Lansdowne Whigs, was offered the lucrative and professionally eminent position of Chief Baron of the Exchequer in Scotland and, after an internal struggle, accepted it in early February. Another old Whig, and old acquaintance of Wellington’s, Maurice Fitzgerald, the Knight of Kerry, was made Vice Treasurer of Ireland at the end of March with Lansdowne’s blessing. And the young John Stuart Wortley, a Canningite, and son-in-law of Lord Harrowby, was made Secretary of the Board of Control rather to the dismay of Huskisson and his friends. (Fisher History of Parliament, 1820-1832 vol 4 p 14, vol 5 p 133-4 and vol 7 p 336-7).
Weakness of the Government in the Commons:
At the end of June 1829 Ellenborough wrote in his diary that,
The Duke asked Hardinge the other day what he thought of the Government. He said he thought that by losing Canningites and Brunswickers it was fifty weaker than Lord Liverpool’s, and these fifty go the other way, making a difference of one hundred on a division. Lord Camden thought if the Brunswickers would not come in we must get a few Whigs – Abercromby, Sir James Graham, the Althorpe people. Stanley would come for anything good, and Brougham too. (Ellenborough Political Diary 30 June 1829 vol 2 p 60).
A few weeks later, at dinner ‘Hardinge seems to think we may not have a majority when Parliament meets. I think he is wrong. I trust to the Duke’s good fortune and to ‘the being a Government,’ which is much, and to the others not being able to form a Government, which is more.’ (ibid 19 July 1829 vol 2 p 73).
Peel’s dominance of the Commons, discourages colleagues:
In April 1830 Hardinge complained to Ellenborough that Peel was cold and never encouraged anyone: Ellenborough Political Diary 16 April 1830 vol 2 p 221. Croker told Vesey Fitzgerald in May 1830:
You may depend upon it that, whether the King lives or not, there must be some political changes. We are incapable of doing our business in the House of Commons, and whence we are to get the needful help I cannot even guess…
I am quite aware of the extreme difficulty of going on in the House of Commons without help, but I much doubt whether Peel wishes for any. I say this advisedly, and I do not think he will change that feeling – for such it is, rather than an opinion – till he shall begin to feel the personal pressure of adverse debate. He has not yet been attacked, and his single speech has, every night, supported the whole debate on our side. This is a high and palmy state – resembling that of Mr Pitt of yore – but when Brougham shall have lost all hope, and Huskisson all patience, Peel will find that he alone will not suffice, and that he must have people about him to take share in the risk and the responsibility. (Croker to Vesey Fitzgerald, 3 May 1830 Croker Papers vol 2 p 57-59).
And in October 1830 Greville reported that Arbuthnot
began to talk of Peel, lamenting that there was nothing like intimate confidence between the Duke and him, and that the Duke was in fact perfectly ignorant of his real and secret feelings and opinions; that to such a degree did Peel carry his reserve, that when they were out of office, and it had been a question of their returning to it, he had gone to meet Peel at Lord Chandos’s for the express purpose of finding out what his opinions were upon the then state of affairs, and that after many conversations he had come away knowing no more of his sentiments and dispositions than before they met. … [He] then complained of Peel’s indisposition to encourage other men in the House of Commons, or to suffer the transaction of business to pass through any hands but his own; that the Duke had been accused of a grasping ambition and a desire to do everything himself, whereas such an accusation would be much more applicable to Peel. (Greville Memoirs 25 October 1830 vol 2 p 51).
The weakness of the government in the Commons in early 1828, when the front bench included Huskisson, Palmerston, Lamb and the other Canningites, tends to support the view that Peel’s leadership had a deadening effect on his colleagues.
Wellington’s relations with his Ministers:
At the beginning of 1829 Wellington discussed his colleagues with Mrs Arbuthnot:
The Duke talked to us a good deal of his colleagues as we came here yesterday. The two that please him most are Ld Aberdeen & Mr Goulburn of the new ones. He thinks Sir Geo: Murray a failure because he is so indolent & allows the Under Secretaries to do all the business & govern him; he is, however, a gentlemanlike, honourable man, very desirous of serving the Duke and will, I dare say, improve. He thinks Ld Ellenboro’ very clever and much improved by having an office of business. He can’t bear Mr FitzGerald who, he says, is an illtempered, ill conditioned blackguard with whom it is quite disagreeable to him to be in society with. I think, if the consideration of the Catholic question is put off, it will be a great consolation to the Duke if it frees him of Mr FitzGerald, who is always dissatisfied, always wanting to change his office & always talking of going. He says now he must go if the Catholics are not satisfied this session; but, when the time comes, he won’t go, I’ll answer for it. The Duke dislikes Mr Peel for his ill temper & the difficulties he makes upon every subject. Herries, I believe, he considers a nonentity for he never mentions him. (Journal of Mrs Arbuthnot 5 January 1829 vol 2 p 229-30).
And in June 1830 he wrote to Murray, a line which deserves to be remembered: ‘I am always very sorry to differ in opinion with any of my Colleagues particularly when I know that I am right.’ (Wellington to Sir George Murray, 17 June 1830 NLS Adv 46.8.10 f 132-4)
In April 1829 Ellenborough had the idea of proposing Herries as Governor of Bombay, commenting ‘He is useless to us, and a discredit. Besides, we want his place.’ (Political Diary vol 2 p 11-12) He raised this with Wellington, who had not considered the possibility and quite liked it but thought that Herries would not go (ibid p 19).
Sir George Murray:
Ellenborough’s impression in January 1830 was that ‘He is a very sensible man, but he is overawed by the Duke, having been under him so long.’ (Political Diary 26 Jan 1830 vol 2 p 176).
‘I took home Sir George Murray. He expressed his surprise the Duke should cling to the hope of reclaiming the ultra-Tories, whom he would not get, and who were not worth having.’ (ibid 7 Feb 1830 vol 2 p 187).
‘Hardinge thinks Sir G. Murray would be very well satisfied to be Master-General, that he feels the Colonial Office is above him. I doubt, however, if he would like leaving it. If Peel was Minister he would have all the Ministers he could in the House of Commons.’ (ibid 12 April 1830 vol 2 p 220).
And on 16 April Ellenborough wrote: ‘I think Hardinge rather looks to the Colonial Office. He thinks Sir G. Murray does not do the business well, and that he would be perfectly satisfied with the Ordnance. Hardinge does not like Ireland, yet, I think, he will find he goes to Ireland. The Duke certainly wishes it.’ (ibid 16 April 1830 vol 2 p 221).
In June 1830: ‘He [Rosslyn] thinks Sir G. Murray would make an excellent Governor General. I fear he would be too indolent.’ (Ellenborough Political Diary 29 June 1830 vol 2 p 289-90).
And in July Fitzgerald told Greville that Murray’s appointment ‘was a mistake … and no personal consideration should induce the Duke to sacrifice the interests of the country by keeping him; it may be disagreeable to dismiss him, but he must do it. Hay told me that for the many years he had been in office he had never met with any public officer so totally inefficient as he, not even Warrender at the Admiralty Board.’ (Greville Memoirs 24 July 1830 vol 2 p 11).
Hardinge and Lord Francis Leveson Gower :
Ellenborough wrote on 2 August 1829: ‘It seems to me that Lord Francis is unequal to his situation. I wish we had Hardinge there. He would never go wrong.’ (Political Diary 2 August 1829 vol 2 p 79). In December Ellenborough asked Hardinge if he would be interested in replacing Lord William Bentinck as Governor-General of India if Bentinck was recalled (as then seemed likely). Hardinge hestitated, but was inclined to decline, because of his family. Ellenborough commented to himself, ‘I wish we had him as secretary in Ireland, but he is wanted everywhere. He is so useful. He would be most useful in Ireland.’ (Political Diary 4 Dec 1830 vol 2 p 143). By contrast ‘Lord F. Gower seems to me to be only a clever boy. He has as yet proposed nothing worthy of adoption, and he has often been near the commission of errors from which he has been saved only by Peel’s advice.’ (ibid 8 Jan 1830 vol 2 p 160).
In March the idea of sending Hardinge to India came up again,
The Duke said we really must look out for a new Governor-General. I suggested Hardinge. He said Hardinge had not as yet station enough in the opinion of the public, in the army, or in Parliament. He wished him to be Secretary in Ireland. It would have been much better if he had gone there instead of Lord F. Gower, and Lord F. to the War Office. To be sure, then we should not have had the reductions Hardinge had effected. He had, as I knew, always wished Hardinge to go to Ireland.
I observed that Hardinge was rising every day in public estimation, which the Duke acknowledged, and I added that I was sure none would do the duty better, for he had firmness and habits of business. (Ellenborough Political Diary 8 March 1830 vol 2 p 207).
On 1 July Bathurst suggested that Hardinge be Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Ellenborough thought ‘He would be an excellent one.” (Ellenborough Political Diary 1 July 1830 vol 2 p 295).
Wellington is overworked:
When Wellington was staying with the Arbuthnot’s at Woodford in September 1829, Mrs Arbuthnot wrote in her journal,
I cd not help feeling, while he was here, that the Duke has really too much to do, & more to think of than is possible for one man. The day he came from London, after this conference upon Russian & Turkish affairs, he sat down with a parcel of maps, &c., to write to Lord Ellenboro’ & give him advice upon the best plan for making military roads & communications between our old & new settlements in the Burmese neighbourhood and, as soon as that was done, he wrote a long letter to Sir George Murray upon a dispute pending with the Colonial Legislature in Canada, and ended with one to Ld Aberdeen upon the evil consequences of a notion entertained by the French Govt. of applying to Don Miguel for the pardon of some Portuguese traitors …. I saw all these letters & copied some of them & cd not but be struck not merely at his general knowledge upon all these subjects, but at the particular & intimate manner in which they all appeared to be familiar to his mind. I remarked upon it to him & he said he shd be killed by it, for he was obliged to think of everything, that the persons in office had no experience &, if he did not attend in this manner, he found they got into difficulties which it was afterwards still more difficult to get them out of. (Journal of Mrs Arbuthnot 15 September 1829 vol 2 p 305).
Wellington’s bad temper and irritability:
In January 1830 he is said to have been so rude to a West Indian deputation that they declared that they would never go near him again, while in May Mrs Arbuthnot recorded that:
Mr Arbuthnot saw Hardinge last night, & it vexes me to find that the Duke is really very harsh & ill-tempered with the official people. Hardinge told Mr A. that the Duke has mortally offended Sir Herbert Taylor by rudeness in matters of business, & Sir Henry said that to himself he is sometimes so harsh & so offensive it is all he can do to bear it, notwithstanding the warm affection he entertains for him. It is a thousand pities, for no one can be more amiable and attractive than the Duke is when he chooses it. (Journal of Mrs Arbuthnot 12 May 1830 vol 2 p 357).
It is worth mentioning two contrary pieces of evidence: in July 1830 young Wortley announced his intention of resigning from the government because it had not introduced a regency bill. Ellenborough and Wellington both tried to talk him out of it, and succeeded. Ellenborough then ‘asked him whether he did not find the Duke of Wellington very kind. He really had the kindest heart of any man I ever knew. When I looked up I saw the tears in his eyes.’ (Political Diary 2 July 1830 vol 2 p 302). And Lord Francis Leveson Gower wrote: ‘I can easily understand why the Duke’s old military subordinates were shy of him; I must say that in civil matters the reserve of his colleagues was misplaced. I have combated his views and maintained my own with him over and over again, and never could detect in him the slightest trace of obstinacy of conviction or impatience of discussion.’ (Ellesmere Personal Reminiscences of the Duke of Wellington p 72).
Government reactive, doesn’t have many positive policies:
Ellenborough recorded a cabinet meeting on 4 July 1829:
The Duke read a list of several points to be considered before the next Session. I cannot remember half of them. East India Charter; Bank Charter; Usury Laws; East Retford; Duties on Sugar; Duties on Tobacco; Canada; West Indies; Education in Ireland; Irish and English Churches; Poor in Ireland; Public Works; Commission on Ecclesiastical Courts; Reform of English Courts; Reform of Welsh Judicature; Reform of Courts of Equity; Scotch Law of Entail; Salaries of Scotch Judges – increase; Salaries of English Judges – reduction; Grand Juries, Ireland; Militia Laws; Stamp Duties, &c., &. (Ellenborough Political Diary 4 July 1830 vol 2 p 63-64).
But some of these came to nothing (the East India Charter and the Bank Charter and probably others), and some were ‘rats and mice’ – the very number of topics shows that none was of overwhelming importance, especially compared to the previous year. Nothing the government proposed to Parliament in 1830 distracted the Opposition from their main line of attack, or seized the public imagination. This was not surprising, but it gave the Opposition the initiative.
Wellington and the National Finances:
The careful management of the nation’s finances was the cornerstone of Wellington’s economic policy. Politicians of all shades, but particularly Whigs and radicals, were convinced that despite all the cuts made since the end of the war, government remained too large and that further reductions were necessary to reduce the burden of taxation and create prosperity. The National Debt remained enormous, the interest on it alone consumed a large slice of the government’s annual income and there seemed little scope for fresh borrowings if Britain was forced, however reluctantly, into another war. As First Lord of the Treasury Wellington played a central role in the annual search for savings, along with Henry Goulburn, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Much of the budget was sacroscant: the interest on the National Debt had to be paid, as did the Civil List, pensions and half pay. In 1830 Goulburn told Parliament that this left only £12 million from a budget of £55 million on which reductions could be effected, although Opposition spokesmen argued that this was an exaggeration and that the true figure was £20 million or even £25 million (Smart Economic Annals vol 2 p 536n). Most of the discretionary spending was on the army and navy, and easy savings were few and far between. Wellington rejected Goulburn’s proposal to abandon plans to build new barracks for the Guards in London (he had not forgotten their unrest in 1820) and also protected the Ordnance works in Canada, but other painful economies were made. (Jenkins Henry Goulburn p 200). Perhaps the most unfortunate of these was in the naval dockyards where Sir Thomas Byam Martin, Comptroller of the Navy, had carefully preserved a large skilled workforce by giving them permanent part time employment, enabling a rapid increase in activity in time of need. This was misrepresented as wasteful inefficiency and orders were given limiting the staff to 6,000 men who were all to work full time. Not without reason Martin fumed that ‘we yield much too easily to a set of noisy blockheads who make no discrimination between foolish and needless extravagance & objects of vital importance to the interest and credit of the country.’ (Andrew Lambert ‘Preparing for the Long Peace: the Reconstruction of the Royal Navy, 1815-1830’ p 43, 46-47. However compare this with Andrew Lambert ‘Politics, administration and decision-making: Wellington and the Navy, 1828-30’ p 185-243 which puts Martin’s comments in the context of serious tensions between the Navy Board (led by Martin) and the Admiralty, owing to the latter’s determined introduction of greater accountability into the Board’s administration).
However the total effect of all these savings was impressive: over the three years of Wellington’s government the estimates were trimmed by almost £3 million. This produced some murmurs of approval, but most critics, in parliament, the press and the wider public, remained unappeased. Every reduction was met with calls for larger reductions, and it took another decade of cheese-paring by a predominantly Whig government before the public began to be convinced that no further savings of significance could be found, and that a modest increase in the size and functions of government might be beneficial. (The Times 19 February and 15 March 1830; Mitchell Whigs in Opposition p 223-4).
Reaction to cuts in Government spending:
Mitchell The Whigs in Opposition p 223-4 has a good account of this:
Everything now depended on the government’s reductions of expenditure, announced on 19 February, and on the budget, introduced on 15 March. Some welcomed both, but Althorp was far more cautious, commenting that the reductions were good ‘as far as they went’ and expressing the wish that ministers had run risks by reducing more taxes. Public pressure brought the after-thoughts round to this point of view: Howick thought the remissions less than the country required, and his father, Grey, argued that they would offer little relief. In earlier years such extensive concessions would have been welcomed with incredulity. Now they were received with ingratitude. A campaign for further economy soon gathered pace and motions became more frequent.
The Times wrote on 15 March: ‘The people unanimously call out for a reduction of taxes – not to the extent of one million only, as proposed by the estimates already before the House of Commons: they require a bold, and liberal, and heart-cheering diminution of the burdens which press upon all the great springs of the community.’ And on 19 February it singled out the Civil List for particular attack.
Expectations of the new Session of Parliament:
Wellington told Maurice Fitzgerald:
We shall have a troublesome session, but I think that the gentlemen of the country will come to view matters in their true light, and will not seriously endeavour to break down the establishments of the country, because the getting in of the harvest has been expensive to their tenants, or because their tenants paid last year large prices for lean cattle, for which they cannot now obtain adequate prices after they have been fattened.
In all other respects we have reason to believe that the country is improving slowly, as all great countries must improve; but certainly. (Wellington to Maurice Fitzgerald, 19 January 1830 WND vol 6 p 424).
Ellenborough noted on 20 January: ‘Cabinet dinner. Lord Bathurst not there. We had very little talk upon public matters. The Duke had a bad cold. The opinion seemed to be that the press of the session would be upon domestic matters, for the reduction of establishments and taxation.’ (Political Diary 20 January 1830 vol 2 p 174)
The Ultra assault on the Government loses momentum:
Government spending and the state of the economy proved the main subjects of debate in 1830 with Whig attacks on foreign policy gaining little ground. Ministers were embarrassed when an Opposition measure extending the right to sit in Parliament to Jews unexpectedly passed its first reading while Peel was away attending his dying father, but the second reading was defeated on his return, and the legislature would remain, nominally at least, exclusively Christian until 1858. The High Tories struggled to sustain their early onslaught on the government. In the Commons the Marquess of Blandford (the Duke of Marlborough’s eldest son) was indefatigable in proposing measures of Parliamentary reform, a subject on which he was happy to find common ground with Daniel O’Connell; but the extreme nature of his ideas, his inept tactics, and his lack of personal weight in the House, meant that his activity probably did the ultras more harm than good. (He and some but not all of the High Tories had come to support Parliamentary reform, arguing that if Parliament had more accurately reflected public opinion it would not have passed Catholic Emancipation.) The Duke of Richmond who, as Lord March, had been a favoured member of Wellington’s staff in the Peninsula, was much more effective in the Lords. Before the session began he had been named by the High Tory Standard as Prime Minister if the High Tories ever managed to form a government; while Greville, (admittedly not the most reliable source), claims that Wellington resented Richmond’s hostility and that some of his friends regarded it as ‘a sort of political parricide’. On 18 March Richmond pressed the government hard for an enquiry into the state of the labouring poor, securing a respectable minority of 61 to 141. But there was no follow up, and Richmond does not appear to have spoken again in Parliament until June, possibly due to ill health. (For Blandford see Fisher History of Parliament vol 7 p 239 (entry under Spencer Churchill). For Richmond: Greville Memoirs vol 1 p 376, 26 February 1830 and Parliamentary Debates ns vol 23 col 476-540. Mrs Arbuthnot believed that Richmond had been incapacitated by a broken blood vessel, but that was on 8 March, ten days before his speech in the Lords on the state of the poor, Journal of Mrs Arbuthnot 8 March 1830 vol 2 p 342. In the debate the Duke of Buckingham commented on the fact that Richmond had been indisposed, Parliamentary Debates ns vol 23 col 505).
At the same time the Duke of Cumberland was embroiled in yet another scandal relating to his private life. He had already been accused of making unwanted advances, falling not far short of attempted rape, towards Lady Lyndhurst in her own home – something which cannot have increased the regard with which the Lord Chancellor and the rest of the cabinet viewed him. Now his affair with Lady Graves received extensive coverage in the press and from the caricaturists, and Lord Graves felt so humiliated that he killed himself on 7 February. The catastrophe provoked ‘universal horror’ in society and Cumberland was shunned with the ultras hurrying to distance themselves from him. It was obvious that the High Tories could not hope to dominate a new administration if Wellington’s government fell, and this probably encouraged some wavering Tories to support the ministers; but in the long run the decline of Cumberland’s influence, and more realistic pretensions, made it easier for the ultras to take a subordinate role in a coalition with the other opposition groups. (Greville Memoirs 10 February 1830 vol 1 p 371 (passage deleted in Reeve’s edition); Newcastle Unrepentant Tory 8 & 14 February 1830 p 103-5; Journal of Mrs Arbuthnot 9 February and 8 March 1830 vol 2 p 333, 342. Diary of Sir William Knighton 8 and 9 February 1830 in Letters of King George IV vol 3 p 470-1 and note on ‘The Duke of Cumberland and the Lady Graves Scandal’ [by A. Aspinall] ibid p 505-8; George English Political Caricature vol 2 p 231-2).
The Duke of Richmond in 1829-30:
Greville appears to be the only source that suggests that Wellington felt any particular hurt at Richmond’s opposition (Greville Memoirs 26 February and 6 March 1830 vol 1 p 376 and 379).
Ellenborough thought quite highly of Richmond, praising him in April 1829 as the best Tory candidate to become Privy Seal: ‘He is the most popular man in the House of Lords, and a good debater. The Duke and Lord Bathurst say he is cunning; but as far as I can judge he acts fairly.’ And again: ‘Every one who knows him says he is very cunning. There is a mixture of good and bad taste about him. He is popular, and he would make a good man of business.’ But that idea was scotched by the hostility of his protest against Catholic Emancipation: ‘His time is now gone by.’ (Ellenborough Political Journal 5th, 12th and 16 April 1829 vol 2 p 7, 12 and 20).
Richmond was named as Prime Minister in the Standard on 8 January 1830, in the article claiming that the King had commissioned him to from a purely protestant administration. (Journal of Mrs Arbuthnot 9 Jan 1830 vol 2 p 324-5).
Newcastle praised his performance on 18 March: ‘The D. of R. spoke well & his reply was manly, eloquent, Spirited, clever & most galling – he quite overthrew by facts the assertions of his opposers – he has acquitted himself most worthily & promisingly.’ (20 March 1830, Unrepentant Tory p 108). Ellenborough thought it ‘A most dull debate, till Lord Holland spoke. I answered him. Lord Lansdowne next, then the Duke.’ (Ellenborough Political Diary 18 March 1830 vol 2 p 214).
Greville’s opinion of Richmond was not high:
He happens to have his wits, such as they are, about him, and has been quick and neat in one or two little speeches, though he spoke too often, and particularly in his attack on the B[isho]p of Oxford the other night. Last year , on the Wool question, he did very well, but all the details were got up for him by George Bentinck, who took the trouble… Besides, his fortune consists in great measure of wool, he lives in the country, is well versed in rural affairs and the business of quarter sessions, has a certain calibre of understanding, is prejudiced, narrow-minded, illiterate, and ignorant, good-looking, good-humoured, and unaffected, tedious, prolix, unassuming, and a Duke. There would not have been so much to say about him if an idea had not existed in the minds of some people of making him Prime Minister and successor to the D. of Wellington. (Greville Memoirs 5 April 1829 vol 1 p 284).
Interesting that he was being talked of as a possible ultra Prime Minister as early as that early, eight months before the article in the Standard.
Government weakness encourages the Opposition:
Lord Grey wrote to Ellice on 16 March: ‘the amount of the majorities on questions directly attacking the government is very small; and the numbers in the house show so little power in the ministers to procure attendance, that they can only be considered as dragging on a precarious existence from day to day.’ (Quoted in Mitchell Whigs in Opposition p 226).
Wellington’s objections to the Property Tax:
We are very anxious to prevail upon the Duke to consider of some scheme for repealing the taxes which are most run at, such as malt & beer, sugar & tea, & imposing, in lieu of it, a small property tax which wd catch fund holders, absentees & especially Ireland, which at present is not taxed at all. At first the Duke wd not hear of it and said that a property tax wd press still more heavily than any other upon the landed interest. This perhaps is true; but, as the country gentlemen think fit to encourage & exaggerate the cry of distress, I shall be very glad if they are made to pay for their cowardice & folly. It is a great merit, too, that such a tax wd. catch misers & absentees. I think the Duke & Mr Peel are beginning to feel that some measure of this kind will be necessary, & I am in hopes they will seriously consider the subject. (Journal of Mrs Arbuthnot 16 Feb 1830 vol 2 p 335).
But four weeks later she had completely come round to Wellington’s point of view:
He is disputing now with Mr Peel about a property tax which Mr Peel, to court the popular cry, wants now to impose & to take off what he calls taxes on consumption. The Duke very justly feels that taking off a tax does not relieve to the full amount of the tax, while any that is put on is paid to the full amount, & that a property tax wd press heaviest upon that class which most need relief, the landed proprietor. I hope he will succeed in prevailing upon Mr Peel to give up the notion, for we shall be able to do perfectly well without it, and to take off the beer tax about which such a rout has been made. (Journal of Mrs Arbuthnot 12 March 1830 vol 2 p 343).
Wellington told Ellenborough that reductions could be made without an income tax, and that introducing one ‘would be to weaken ourselves in the opinion of all foreign powers.’ He also said that ‘he was sure we could not carry an income tax while we had a million surplus.’ (Ellenborough Political Diary 6 March 1830 p 206-7) A week later, in cabinet ‘The Duke was strongly against it. He apprehended the reduction of establishments [i.e. private servants &c], and particularly the pressure of the tax on men of £1,200 a year and under.’ (ibid 13 March 1830 p 210).
Cabinet discussion of the tax:
The Duke, Rosslyn, and I were decidedly against income tax. Lord Bathurst and Lord Melville, as well as the Chancellor, less decidedly so, but still in favour of abiding by the reduction of the beer and leather tax. Aberdeen said nothing, neither did Sir G. Murray, so they were understood to go with the majority.
Goulburn acknowledged the discussion had to a great extent changed his opinion, and that he was not then prepared to propose the tax.
Herries seemed much in its favour; but more, as it seemed to me, because he wished to maintain a large surplus according to the decision of the Finance Committee than for any good reason. Peel was decidedly for a property tax. He wished to reach such men as Baring, his father, Rothschild, and others, as well as absentees and Ireland. He thought too it was expedient to reconcile the lower with the higher classes, and to diminish the burthen of taxation on the poor man….
After this matter was decided, Peel behaving most fairly, and declaring he would support the decision of the Cabinet whatever it might be, and that in this case the decision of the Treasury was to be principally looked to, we talked of Queen Donna Maria… (Ellenborough Political Diary 14 March 1830 vol 2 p 212-13).
The King’s illness and the prospect of an election unsettles the Commons:
‘The Speaker says the House of Commons is like a school two days before the holidays. They do not know what mischief to be at.’ (Ellenborough Political Diary 10 May 1830 vol 2 p 243).
‘His illness creates great embarrassment. It is doubtful whether the Government can command majorities on questions on which a defeat under ordinary circumstances would lead them to resign; but it is known that now they cannot resign and cannot dissolve, and the Opposition has no other effect than that of interfering with the conduct of public business.’ (ibid 13 June 1830 vol 2 p 269).
Wellington on George IV:
Many years later George Gleig recalled a conversation at Stratfield Saye in 1832 in which Wellington,
He was not sparing in his remarks on George IV, to whose lack of fidelity to his ministers he attributed most of the difficulties which he had been called upon to meet when in office. “And there is no excuse for him as there really is for his successor. George IV was naturally an able man, and was by no means wanting in knowledge on all subjects, and especially on politics. But there was a moral twist in him which made it impossible quite to believe what he said at the moment, and still less to depend upon his promises. The Duke of Cumberland, though neither as clever as he, nor possessing a tittle of his general knowledge, had enormous influence over him, simply because he had, while the King had not, a strong will, and he exercised it while he was First Lord of the Treasury in the most mischievous manner. But for him the King never, after consenting to the Catholic Relief Bill, would have gone about complaining that he had been coerced, and thus blown the flame of anger among the ultra-Tories which destroyed me. (Gleig Personal Reminscences of the First Duke of Wellington p 107).
Mrs Arbuthnot and the Times on George IV:
Mrs Arbuthnot had known the King well at one time, and her assessment is proof of the mixed feelings he provoked even in those most predisposed in his favour:
The late King was a strange creature, certainly very clever but he never made any use of his talents, occasionally doing remarkably good natured things but generally contriving to do away the effect by something ill natured, fond of the fine arts but with the most infamous taste, extravagant & stingy. He was made up of opposite qualities. I am afraid the bad preponderated & consequently he had few real friends, & yet he never did much real harm. (Journal of Mrs Arbuthnot 29 June 1830 vol 2 p 365).
The Times was unrestrained in its criticism, abusing the late King in terms hardly decent: ‘an habit of prodigality the most reckless, unceasing and unbounded …an indifference to the sufferings of others, little creditable to him who so frequently aggravated or produced them.’ ‘[T]he tawdry childishness of Carlton House and the mountebank Pavilion, or cluster of pagodas at Brighton.’ (The Times 28 June and 16 July 1830; Smith George IV p 272-3).
Wellington contemplates resignation, May 1830:
Another factor influencing Wellington may well have been an apprehension of serving Clarence when he became King: either a dislike of working with him, or a suspicion that Clarence had not forgiven him for forcing his resignation as Lord High Admiral. There is no mention of this in Wellington’s draft letter to Peel, which is perhaps not surprising, nor in Mrs Arbuthnot’s record of his conversation, where he was frequently far from guarded. And the talk of resignation came after Clarence’s indiscreet letter to Wellington, virtually announcing his intention of asking him to remain in office; so while this may have been a consideration, the evidence does not support the idea.
Hardinge on Wellington and Peel, April 1830:
‘Had some conversation with Hardinge. He thinks the Duke will not remain in office above a year more, and that Peel will then be Minister, and that Peel looks forward to that now. I said I feared he would be a very Radical Minister.’ (Ellenborough Political Diary 12 April 1830 vol 2 p 220).
‘Called on Hardinge. We had some conversation respecting the state of the Government. His idea is that the strength of the Government in the House of Commons is much injured by Peel’s being in a subordinate situation to the Duke. That if he was Chancellor of the Exchequer and First Lord of the Treasury, things would go on better, the Duke taking a secretaryship of State, This would do very well in the House of Commons, but very ill in the Cabinet.’ (Ellenborough Political Diary 29 June 1830 vol 2 p 289-90).
Other ideas for strengthening the Government, June-July 1830:
As well as making Peel Prime Minister, Hardinge told Ellenborough:
… He is for getting Mr Stanley, and suggests (or Rosslyn did, or both, for having talked to both on the same subject I may confound them) that Lord F. Leveson should be made a peer. I think that a good idea. He is of no use in the Commons, and his peerage would open a place which Mr Stanley could fill.
Rosslyn thinks Aberdeen’s notions upon foreign politics have, together with his assumption of independence which is of recent date, made the Duke rather sore, and that he would not be sorry to have another Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Lord Rosslyn wants to have Lord Grey in, and says he would as soon be First Lord of the Admiralty as Foreign Secretary. Rosslyn would, I think, like to go to Ireland as Lord Lieutenant. He would willingly give up the Privy Seal to Aberdeen. He thinks Sir G. Murray would make an excellent Governor General. I fear he would be too indolent. He said he knew, if there was a vacancy, the Duke would be glad to make him Master General.
I had said I believed Lord Beresford would go to Portugal as Minister, if Miguel would be on good terms with us. It seems Goulburn would be glad to be Speaker. That would open a proper office for Herries, and his offices might be divided, Lord Althorpe having the Board of Trade.
I really think some arrangement must be made to give us strength in the House of Commons… (Ellenborough Political Diary 29 June 1830 vol 2 p 289-90)
A few days later Ellenborough saw young Wortley who told him that ‘the Government could not be conducted in the House of Commons unless some more Ministers would speak – that there must be a change.’
I called at Hardinge’s. He told me the same thing, and that he had talked about it to the Duke yesterday and made him promise to place the ministerial seats in the House of Commons at Peel’s disposal. Hardinge is for having Edward Stanley. He spoke of Wilmot Horton, but he is not of Cabinet calibre. I think Hardinge is disposed to displace Murray rather than either of the others. He talked again of making Peel First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Duke Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs – Aberdeen going to Ireland. Aberdeen would not go there, I think. I told Hardinge Lord Bathurst had suggested him as Chancellor of the Exchequer. He would not hear of it.
In the House spoke to the Chancellor and Lord Bathurst, and told them I had heard we must have an addition of strength to the Treasury Bench. They both said they believed so too. Lord Bathurst again mentioned Hardinge. (Political Diary 2 July 1830 vol 2 p 297-8).
Hardinge thinks many men are disposed to support the Duke’s Government under the idea that all sorts of calamities would attend the weak Government which must succeed it. He thinks Palmerston the best man to have in Goulburn’s place, Goulburn going to the Speakership. He thinks W. Horton would be better than Frankland Lewis as his successor at the War Office, it being necessary in either case to get Lord F. Leveson into the House of Lords. Fitzgerald has written to Hardinge, and seems eager about politics. I wish he was well and could come into office again.
I do not know that the Duke or anybody would have any objection to Palmerston coming in by himself; but I doubt Huskisson’s ever being in office again while the Duke lives. Neither will the Grants come in – indeed it is to be hoped they will both be turned out of their seats. (Political Diary 10 July 1830 vol 2 p 305-6).
Huskisson and Palmerston were there [at the funeral of George IV]. Huskisson very sulky and sour. Palmerston very cordial, as if he thought he might come in. I should be glad if he did. (Political Diary 15 July 1830 vol 2 p 312).
The Duke asked Hardinge what he thought as to taking Huskisson and Palmerston back again? Hardinge declared against having Huskisson, but recommended Palmerston. I dare say as soon as the elections are over something will be done, and that Palmerston will be offered the Chancellorship of the Exchequer.
Peel once wanted Edward Stanley, but it seems he has wavered a good deal. Unless his manner should change it would be impossible to go on with him as Minister; but I trust in God we shall never lose the Duke. (Political Diary 17 July 1830 vol 2 p 316).
Bourne’s Palmerston (p 312-13) describes an indirect overture to Melbourne at the end of June or early July, the offer to include Palmerston and possibly Grant, but not Huskisson. The whole story looks a little doubtful – the approach came through a Lady Burghersh to Fred Lamb, and it may have been little more than idle talk. Allegedly Melbourne consulted his friends and replied that the government needed not only Huskisson but also Grey!
Grey and Brougham attack the Government:
Ellenborough wrote of Brougham’s attack on 28 June: ‘He is evidently mad with disappointment. He could not well be wooed in such a temper, even if he were to be wooed at all.’ (Political Diary 28 June 1830 vol 2 p 287).
‘Peel thinks Brougham really rather mad, and would not be surprised to hear he was confined. Last year he was melancholy, and his friends and he himself feared he might commit suicide. Now he is in an excited state. Peel speaks of him as a most wonderful man in ability.’ (Political Diary 3 July 1830 vol 2 p 301).
King William supports the Government:
‘He [Colonel Thomas Wood, intimate of William IV] told me all the King said of the late King’s error in not frankly supporting his Government, and of his own determination to do so.’ (Ellenborough Political Diary 28 June 1830 vol 2 p 287).
In May 1830, before George IV died, Lord Anglesey visited the Duke of Clarence and had an extraordinary interview in which he roundly instructed the heir to the throne on his duties (for a detailed account see Aspinall’s introduction to Three Nineteenth Century Diaries p xvi-xix). While the Duke was quite discreet and restrained in his responses, Anglesey concluded that,
‘He thought, indeed, Lord Holland was a wild politician, but he spoke very favourably of Lord Grey.’ Anglesey nevertheless, detected some ‘pretty strong prejudices’ and regretfully found that the Duke had no very favourable opinion either of Huskisson or of Charles Grant. What was even more important, the Duke was ‘violently anti-Reform and a bitter enemy to free trade’. (Aspinall’s introduction to Three Nineteenth Century Diaries p xviii-xix).
© Rory Muir