The Letters of Queen Victoria, Volume 1 (of 3), 1837-1843)
by Queen Victoria
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One consequence of the propositions of the Ministry is the weakening of the power of the Chartists, who have relied on the misrepresentation that neither Whigs nor Tories would ever do anything for the improvement of the condition of the working classes.

All these circumstances have a bearing on the question of a dissolution of Parliament, and are to be weighed against the risks and inconveniences of so bold a measure.

[Footnote 29: On Lord Sandon's resolution.]

[Footnote 30: Against the Budget, on the ground that it tended to encourage slavery.]

[Footnote 31: Which were opposed to Protection and the Navigation Laws.]

[Footnote 32: Richard Plantagenet (1797-1861), second Duke of the 1822 creation, M.P. for Bucks 1818-1839, and author of the "Chandos clause," became Lord Privy Seal this year, but resigned shortly after. He dissipated his property, and had to sell the contents of Stowe.]

[Pageheading: THE QUEEN'S JOURNAL]

Extract from the Queen's Journal.

Monday, 17th May 1841.

"Lord Melbourne came to me at twenty minutes to three. There were no new news. He gave me a letter from the Duke of Roxburgh,[33] saying he could not support Government on the Corn Laws, and writing an unnecessarily cold letter. Lord Melbourne fears this would lose Roxburgh in case of an election. A great many of the friends of the Government, however, are against any alteration in the Corn Laws. Talked of the excellent accounts from the country with which the papers are full, and I said I couldn't help thinking the Government would gain by a dissolution, and the feeling in the country so strong, and daily increasing. They would lose the counties, Lord Melbourne thinks, and the question is whether their successes in the manufacturing towns would be sufficient to counterbalance that. The debate may last longer, Lord Melbourne says, as J. Russell says he will continue it as long as their friends wish it. Many of their friends would be very angry if we did not dissolve, Lord Melbourne says. 'I say always,' said Lord Melbourne, 'that your Majesty will be in such a much worse position' (if a majority should be returned against us), 'but they say not, for that the others would dissolve.' I said that if that was so we must dissolve, for then that it would come to just the same thing, and that that changed my opinion very much. 'You would like us then to make the attempt?' Lord Melbourne asked. I said 'Almost.' I asked if he really thought they would dissolve. 'I've great reason to believe they would,' he replied. 'Hardinge[34] told Vivian[35] "we shall prevent your dissolving, but we shall dissolve."' ... I asked did Lord Melbourne think they (the Conservatives) would remain in long, and Melbourne said: 'One can't tell beforehand what may happen, but you would find their divisions and dissensions amongst themselves sufficient to prevent their staying in long.' ...

"Saw Lord John Russell, who didn't feel certain if the debate would end to-night. Talked of the very good feeling in the country. He said he understood Sir Edward Knatchbull[36] was exceedingly displeased at what Peel had said concerning Free Trade, and said in that case Peel would be as bad as the present Government. He thinks the Tories, if in power, might try and collect the Sugar duties without Law, which would do them a great deal of harm and be exceedingly unpopular. He does not think the Tories intend certainly to dissolve. He thinks they would not dissolve now, and that they would hereafter get so entangled by their own dissensions, as to render it unfavourable to them."

[Footnote 33: James, sixth Duke. The Duchess was afterwards a Lady of the Bedchamber.]

[Footnote 34: Sir Henry Hardinge (1785-1856) had been Secretary at War, and Chief Secretary for Ireland, under former Tory Governments.]

[Footnote 35: Master-General of the Ordnance.]

[Footnote 36: M.P. for East Kent. He became Paymaster-General in Peel's Cabinet.]

Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

18th May 1841.

... I was sure you would feel for me. Since last Monday, the 10th, we have lived in the daily expectation of a final event taking place, and the debate still continues, and it is not certain whether it will even finish to-night, this being the eighth night, it having begun on Friday the 7th, two Saturdays and two Sundays having intervened! Our plans are so unsettled that I can tell you nothing, only that you may depend upon it nothing will be done without having been duly, properly, and maturely weighed. Lord Melbourne's conduct is as usual perfect; fair, calm, and totally disinterested, and I am certain that in whatever position he is you will treat him just as you have always done.

My dearest Angel is indeed a great comfort to me. He takes the greatest interest in what goes on, feeling with and for me, and yet abstaining as he ought from biassing me either way, though we talk much on the subject, and his judgment is, as you say, good and mild....

P.S.—Pray let me hear soon when you come. You, I know, like me to tell you what I hear, and for me to be frank with you. I therefore tell you that it is believed by some people here, and even by some in the Government, that you wish my Government to be out. Now, I never for an instant can believe such an assertion, as I know your liberal feelings, and your interest in my welfare and in that of the country too well to think you could wish for such a thing, and I immediately said I was sure this was not so; but I think you would do well to say to Seymour something which might imply interest in my present Government.

I know you will understand my anxiety on your account, lest such a mischievous report should be believed. It comes, you see, from the idea that your feelings are very French.

[Pageheading: THE CORN LAWS]

Extract from the Queen's Journal.

Tuesday, 18th May 1841.

"Saw Lord Melbourne.[37] He said Lord John Russell had been to see him, and, 'He now wishes us not to resign, but to give notice immediately of a Motion on the Corn Laws. This, he thinks, will make the others propose a vote of confidence, or make them oppose the Sugar Duties, which, he thinks, will be better for us to resign upon, and when it would be clear to our people that we couldn't dissolve. Everybody says it would be a very bad thing for us to resign now, upon such a question as this, and we must consider the party a little.' I said, of course, this would be agreeable to me as it gave us another chance. I said it would be awkward if they resigned Thursday, on account of the Birthday. Lord Melbourne said I could wait a day and only send for Peel on Saturday, that that wouldn't signify to Peel, as he could come down to Claremont.... I asked, in case they meant to bring on this Corn Law question, when would they do so. 'Perhaps about the 30th,' Lord Melbourne said. It would be a more dangerous question, but it would make them (the Tories) show their colours, which is a great advantage. He said they prevented Sir Edward Knatchbull from speaking last night."

[Footnote 37: After eight days' discussions of Lord Sandon's Motion, the Ministers were defeated by 317 to 281.]


Wednesday, 19th May.

"At twenty minutes to one came Lord Melbourne.... I returned him Lord John Russell's letter, and talked of it, and of John Russell's saying the division and Peel's speech made it absolutely necessary to decide to-day whether to resign or dissolve. I asked what Peel had said in his speech about the Corn Laws. 'I'll tell you, Ma'am, what he said,' Lord Melbourne replied, 'that he was for a sliding duty and not for a fixed duty; but he did not pledge himself as to what rate of duty it should be. I must say,' Lord Melbourne continued, 'I am still against dissolution. I don't think our chances of success are sufficient.' I replied that I couldn't quite believe that, but that I might be wrong. Lord John is for dissolving. 'You wish it?' I said I always did. Talked of the feeling in the City and in the country being so good. Lord Melbourne don't think so much of the feeling in the country. Talked of the majority of thirty-six having not been more than they expected.... Lord Melbourne said people thought the debate was lengthened to please me. I said not at all, but that it was more convenient for me. Anyhow I need do nothing till Saturday. The House of Commons was adjourned to the next day, and the House of Lords to Monday. 'Mr Baring says,' he said, 'if there was only a majority one way or another, it would be better than this state of complete equality.'

"At twenty minutes past four Lord Melbourne returned. 'Well, Ma'am,' he said, 'we've considered this question, and both the sides of it well, and at last we voted upon it; and there were—the Lord Chancellor for dissolution, Lord Minto[38] for it, Lord Normanby against it, but greatly modified; Lord John for, Lord Palmerston for, Lord Clarendon for, Lord Morpeth for, Lord Lansdowne for, Labouchere for, Hobhouse for, Duncannon[39] for, Baring for, Macaulay for; and under those circumstances of course I felt I could not but go with them.[40] Lord Melbourne was much affected in saying all this. 'So we shall go on, bring on the Sugar Duties, and then, if things are in a pretty good state, dissolve. I hope you approve?' I said I did highly ... and that I felt so happy to keep him longer. 'You are aware we may have a majority against us?' he said; he means in our election. The Sugar Duties would probably take a fortnight or three weeks to pass, and they would dissolve in June and meet again in October. He thought they must."

[Footnote 38: Lord Minto was First Lord of the Admiralty.]

[Footnote 39: Then First Commissioner of Land Revenue.]

[Footnote 40: See Sir John Hobhouse's account of this Cabinet meeting, Edinburgh Review, vol. 133, p. 336.]


Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

21st May 1841.

Lord Melbourne thinks that what your Majesty proposes to say will do very well, but it is thought best to say "Church as Reformed" at the Reformation.

If your Majesty could say this, it would be well:

"I am very grateful for your congratulations on the return of this day. I am happy to take this opportunity of again expressing to you my firm determination to maintain the Church of England as settled at the Reformation, and my firm belief in her Articles and Creeds, as hitherto understood and interpreted by her soundest divines."

Nothing could go off better than the dinner. Everybody was much pleased with the Prince.

Lord Melbourne is not conscious of having slept.[41]

[Footnote 41: It seems that some one had told the Queen that Lord Melbourne had fallen asleep at dinner.]

[Pageheading: FEELING IN FRANCE]

The King of the Belgians to Queen Victoria.

BRUSSELS, 20th May 1841.

MY DEAREST VICTORIA,—I receive this very moment your dear letter of the 18th, and without loss of time I begin my answer here, though the messenger can only go to-morrow. I cannot sufficiently express to you my gratitude for the frankness with which you have written to me—and let me entreat you, whenever you have anything sur le c[oe]ur, to do the same. I shall begin with your postscript concerning the idea that I wished your present Ministers to retire, because they had become disagreeable to France. The people who avancent quelque chose de la sorte probably have some ill-natured motive which it is not always easy to guess; perhaps in the present instance does it mean, let us say, that? whatever opinion he may then express we can easily counteract it, representing it as the result of strong partiality to France. Let us therefore examine what France has to gain in a change of Administration. Certainly your present Ministers are not much loved now in France, not so much in consequence of the political events of last year themselves, than for the manner in which they came to pass. Nevertheless, when I was at Paris, King and Council were decided to sign the treaty with the four other Powers, which would put an end to the isolement, though many people are stoutly for the isolement. There end the relations which will exist for some time between the two countries—they will be on decent terms; that is all I wish for the present, and it is matter of moonshine who your Ministers are. No doubt, formerly there existed such a predilection in favour of Lord Grey's[42] Administration and those who continued it, that the coming in of the Tories would have been considered as a great public calamity; but even now, though this affection is gone, the Tories will also be looked on with some suspicion. Lord Melbourne's Administration has had the great merit of being liberal, and at the same time prudent, conservative in the good sense of the word, preserving what was good. Monarchy, by an adherence to this system, was very safe, and the popular liberal cry needless.

[Footnote 42: 1830-1834.]


(Continued at) LAEKEN, 21st May.

I regret that the Corn question was brought forward somewhat abruptly;[43] it is a dangerous one, as it roused the most numerous and poorest classes of society, and may easily degenerate into bloodshed. The dissolution under such circumstances would become still more a source of agitation, as it generally always is in England. Lord Melbourne, I am sure, will think so too.

I am delighted by what you say of Albert; it is just the proper line for him to take, without biassing you either way, to show you honestly the consequences which in his opinion the one or the other may have. As he has really a very clear and logical judgment, his opinion will be valuable for you. I feel very much for you, and these Ministerial complications are of a most painful and perplexing nature, though less in England than on the Continent, as the thing is at least better understood. To amuse you a little, and to prove to you how impartial I must be to be in this way accused by both parties, I must tell you that it is said in France that, conjointly with Lord Melbourne, we artfully ruined the Thiers Administration,[44] to the great detriment of the honour and welfare of France. But what is still stranger is, that the younger branches of the family, seeing that my arrival at Paris was delayed from time to time, became convinced that I would not come at all, and that my intention was to cut them completely, not to compromettre myself with England! Truly people are strange, and the unnecessary suspicions and stories which they love to have, and to tell, a great bore....

Pray have the goodness of giving my kindest regards to Lord Melbourne. I will love him very tenderly in and out of office, as I am really attached to him. Now last, though first, I offer my sincerest wishes on the happy return of your birthday; may every blessing be always bestowed on your beloved head. You possess much, let your warm and honest heart appreciate that. Let me also express the hope that you always will maintain your dear character true and good as it is, and let us also humbly express the hope that our warmth of feeling, a valuable gift, will not be permitted to grow occasionally a little violent, and particularly not against your uncle. You may pull Albertus by the ear, when so inclined, but be never irritated against your uncle. But I have not to complain when other people do not instigate such things; you have always been kind and affectionate, and when you look at my deeds for you, and on behalf of you, these twenty-two years, I think you will not have many hardships to recollect. I am happy to hear of my god-daughter's teeth, and that she is so well. May God keep the whole dear little family well and happy for ever. My dearest Victoria, your devoted Uncle,


[Footnote 43: The Ministerial proposal of a fixed duty instead of a sliding scale.]

[Footnote 44: The Thiers Government had resigned in the preceding October, owing to the King objecting to the warlike speech which they wished him to pronounce to the Chambers. The Soult-Guizot Cabinet was accordingly formed.]

[Pageheading: SIR ROBERT PEEL]

Memorandum of Mr Anson's last secret interview with Sir R. Peel. (No. 4.)

Sunday, 23rd May 1841.

Called upon Sir Robert Peel this morning. I said I could not feel satisfied without seeing him after the very unexpected course which political affairs had taken. I wished to know that he felt assured, though I trusted there could be no doubt upon his mind, that there had been perfect honesty of purpose on my part towards him, and more especially upon the part of those with whose knowledge I had been acting. I assured Sir Robert that H.M. had acted in the most perfect fairness towards him, and I was most anxious that there should be no erroneous impression upon his mind as to the conduct of either H.M. or the Prince.

I said (quoting the Prince's expression), "that the Queen has a natural modesty upon her constitutional views, and when she receives an advice from men like the Lord Chancellor, Lord John Russell, Mr Baring, Mr Labouchere, and Lord Clarendon, and knows that they have been weighing the question through so many days, she concludes that her judgment cannot be better than theirs, and that she would do wrong to reject their advice."

The Prince, I said, however strongly impressed for or against a question, thinks it wrong and impolitic, considering his age and inexperience and his novelty to the country, to press upon the Queen views of his own in opposition to those of experienced statesmen. Sir Robert said he could relieve my mind entirely; that he was convinced that all that had taken place had been with the most perfect honesty; that he had no feeling whatever of annoyance, or of having been ill-used; that, on the contrary, he had the feeling, and should always retain it, of the deepest gratitude to the Queen for the condescension which Her Majesty had been pleased to show him, and that it had only increased his devotion to Her Majesty's person. He said that much of the reserve which he had shown in treating with me was not on his own account, but that he felt from his own experience that events were by no means certain, and he most cautiously abstained from permitting her Majesty in any way to commit herself, or to bind herself by any engagement which unforeseen circumstances might render inconvenient. Sir Robert said it was very natural to try and remove obstacles which had before created so much confusion, and he was convinced that they would have been practically removed by what had passed. He said that neither Lord Stanley nor Sir James Graham knew a word of what had passed. That Mr Greville had asked his friend Mr Arbuthnot whether some understanding had not been entered into between Lord Melbourne and him. That Mr Arbuthnot had replied that he was certain that nothing of the sort could have passed,[45] as, if it had, Sir Robert Peel would have informed him (Mr Arbuthnot) of the fact. Again, Lady de Grey, the night of the ball at the Palace, came up to him and said the Duke of Bedford had been speaking to her about the resignation of the Duchess of Bedford, and asking her whether she thought it necessary. She volunteered to find out from Sir Robert whether he thought it requisite. She asked the question, which Sir Robert tried to evade, but not being able, he said it struck him that if it was a question of doubt the best means of solving it, was for the Duke of Bedford to ask Lord Melbourne for his opinion.

I added that if the dissolution was a failure, which it was generally apprehended would be the case, I felt convinced that Sir Robert would be dealt with in the most perfect fairness by Her Majesty.

[Footnote 45: "After I had been told by the Duke of Bedford that Peel was going to insist on certain terms, which was repeated to me by Clarendon, I went to Arbuthnot, told him Melbourne's impression, and asked him what it all meant. He said it was all false, that he was certain Peel had no such intentions, but, on the contrary, as he had before assured me, was disposed to do everything that would be conciliatory and agreeable to the Queen."—Greville's Journal, 19th May 1841.]


Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

SOUTH STREET, 24th May 1841.

Lord Melbourne presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and has to acquaint your Majesty that in the House of Commons this evening Sir Robert Peel gave notice that on Thursday next he would move a resolution to the following effect: "That Her Majesty's Ministers not possessing power sufficient to carry into effect the measures which they considered necessary, their retention of office was unconstitutional and contrary to usage."[46] These are not the exact words, but they convey the substance. This is a direct vote of want of confidence, and Lord Melbourne would be inclined to doubt whether it will be carried, and if it is, it certainly will not be by so large a majority as the former vote. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer moved the resolution upon the Sugar Duties, Sir Robert Peel seconded the motion, thereby intending to intimate that he did not mean to interfere with the Supplies. This course was determined upon at a meeting held at Sir R. Peel's this morning.

[Footnote 46: The closing words of the resolution were as follows: "... That Her Majesty's Ministers do not sufficiently possess the confidence of the House of Commons to enable them to carry through the House measures which they deem of essential importance to the public welfare, and that their continuance in office under such circumstances is at variance with the spirit of the Constitution."]


Lord John Russell to Queen Victoria.

WILTON CRESCENT, 28th May 1841.

Lord John Russell presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and has the honour to state that Sir Robert Peel yesterday brought forward his motion in a remarkably calm and temperate speech.

Sir John Hobhouse and Mr Macaulay completely exposed the fallacy of his resolution, and successfully vindicated the government. Lord Worsley[47] declared he would oppose the resolution, which declaration excited great anger, and produced much disappointment in the Tory party.

If the debate is carried on till next week, it is probable the Ministers may have a majority of one or two.

The accounts from the country are encouraging.

It does not appear that Sir Robert Peel, even if he carries this motion, intends to obstruct the measures necessary for a dissolution of Parliament.

[Footnote 47: M.P. for Lincolnshire, who had voted for Lord Sandon's motion.]

Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

31st May 1841.

... I beg you not to be alarmed about what is to be done; it is not for a Party triumph that Parliament (the longest that has sat for many years) is to be dissolved; it is the fairest and most constitutional mode of proceeding; and you may trust to the moderation and prudence of my whole Government that nothing will be done without due consideration; if the present Government get a majority by the elections they will go on prosperously; if not, the Tories will come in for a short time. The country is quiet and the people very well disposed. I am happy, dearest Uncle, to give you these quieting news, which I assure you are not partial....


The King of the Belgians to Queen Victoria.

LAEKEN 31st May 1841.

MY DEAREST VICTORIA,—Your Mother[48] is safely arrived, though she was received close to Ostende by a formidable thunderstorm. I had given directions that everywhere great civilities should be shown her. She stood the fatigues better than I had expected, and is less sleepy than in England. She seems to be pleased with her sejour here, and inclined in fact to remain rather than to go on; but I am sure, when once in Germany she will be both pleased and interested by it. It will amuse you to hear from herself her own impressions.

I cannot help to add a few political lines. I regret much, I must confess, that the idea of a dissolution has gained ground, and I will try to show in a very few words why I am against it.

In politics, a great rule ought to be to rule with the things which one knows already, and not to jump into something entirely new of which no one can do more than guess the consequences. The present Parliament has been elected at a moment most favourable to the present Administration after a most popular accession to the throne, everything new and fresh, and with the natural fondness of the great mass of people, a change is always popular; it was known that you were kindly disposed towards your Ministers, everything was therefore a souhait for the election of a new Parliament. In this respect Ministers have nothing like the favourable circumstances which smiled upon them at the last general election. Feeling this, they raise a cry, which may become popular and embarrass their antagonists about cheap bread! I do not think this is quite befitting their dignity; such things do for revolutionaries like Thiers, or my late Ministers.... If the thing rouses the people it may do serious mischief; if not, it will look awkward for the Ministers themselves. If you do not grant a dissolution to your present Ministers you would have, at the coming in of a new Administration, the right to tell them that they must go on with the present Parliament; and I have no doubt that they could do so. The statistics of the present House of Commons are well known to all the men who sit in it, and to keep it a few years longer would be a real advantage.

You know that I have been rather maltreated by the Tories, formerly to please George IV., and since I left the country, because I served, in their opinion, on the revolutionary side of the question. I must say, however, that for your service as well as for the quiet of the country, it would be good to give them a trial. If they could not remain in office it will make them quieter for some time. If by a dissolution the Conservative interest in the House is too much weakened the permanent interests of the country can but suffer from that. If, on the contrary, the Conservatives come in stronger, your position will not be very agreeable, and it may induce them to be perhaps less moderate than they ought to be. I should be very happy if you would discuss these, my hasty views, with Lord Melbourne. I do not give them for more than what they are, mere practical considerations; but, as far as I can judge of the question, if I was myself concerned I should have no dissolution; if even there was but the very banale consideration, qu'on sait ce qu'on a, mais qu'on ne sait nullement ce qu'on aura. The moment is not without importance, and well worthy your earnest consideration, and I feel convinced that Lord Melbourne will agree with me, that, notwithstanding the great political good sense of the people in England, the machine is so complicated that it should be handled with great care and tenderness.

To conclude, I must add that perhaps a permanent duty on corn may be a desirable thing, but that it ought to be sufficiently high to serve as a real protection. It may besides produce this effect, that as it will be necessary, at least at first, to buy a good deal of the to be imported corn with money, the currency will be seriously affected by it. The countries which would have a chance of selling would be chiefly Poland in all its parts, Prussia, Austria, and Russia, the South of Russia on the Black Sea, and maybe Sicily. Germany does not grow a sufficient quantity of wheat to profit by such an arrangement; it will besides not buy more from England for the present than it does now, owing to the Zollverein,[49] which must first be altered. But I will not bore you too long, and conclude with my best love to little Victoria, of whom her Grandmama speaks with raptures. Ever, my dearest Victoria, your devoted Uncle,


[Footnote 48: The Duchess of Kent had left England for a tour on the Continent.]

[Footnote 49: After the fall of Napoleon, the hopes of many Germans for a united national Germany were frustrated by the Congress of Vienna, which perpetuated the practical independence of a number of German States, as well as the predominance within the Germanic confederation of Austria, a Power largely non-German. One of the chief factors in the subsequent unification of Germany was the Zollverein, or Customs Union, by which North Germany was gradually bound together by commercial interest, and thus opposed to Austria. The success of this method of imperial integration has not been without influence on the policies of other lands.]


Lord John Russell to Queen Victoria.

WILTON CRESCENT, 5th June 1841.

Lord John Russell presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and has the honour to state that the House divided about three this morning.

For Sir Robert Peel 312 Against 311 —- Majority 1

The Opposition were greatly elated by this triumph. Lord Stanley, and Sir Robert Peel who spoke last in the debate, did not deny that the Crown might exercise the prerogative of dissolution in the present case. But they insisted that no time should be lost in previous debates, especially on such a subject as the Corn Laws.

Lord John Russell spoke after Lord Stanley, and defended the whole policy of the Administration.

After the division he stated that he would on Monday propose the remaining estimates, and announce the course which he meant to pursue respecting the Corn Laws.


Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

6th June 1841.

... Now, many thanks for two letters of the 31st ult. and 4th June. The former I shall not answer at length, as Albert has done so, and I think has given a very fair view of the state of affairs. Let me only repeat to you again that you need not be alarmed, and that I think you will be pleased and beruhigt when you talk to our friend Lord Melbourne on the subject...

I fear you will again see nothing of the Season, as Parliament will probably be dissolved by the 21st....

As to my letters, dear Uncle, I beg to assure you (for Lord Palmerston was most indignant at the doubt when I once asked) that none of our letters nor any of those coming to us, are ever opened at the Foreign Office. My letters to Brussels and Paris are quite safe, and all those to Germany, which are of any real consequence, I always send through Rothschild, which is perfectly safe and very quick.

We are, and so is everybody here, so charmed with Mme. Rachel;[50] she is perfect, et puis, such a nice modest girl; she is going to declaim at Windsor Castle on Monday evening.

Now adieu in haste. Believe me, always, your very devoted Niece,


Really Leopold must come, or I shall never forgive you.

[Footnote 50: The young French actress, who made her debut in England on 4th May as Hermione in Racine's Andromaque. She was received with great enthusiasm.]

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 8th June 1841.

Lord Melbourne presents his humble duty to your Majesty. He is quite well, and has nothing particular to relate to your Majesty, at least nothing that presses; except that he is commissioned by Lord John Russell respectfully to acquaint your Majesty that his marriage is settled, and will take place shortly.

Queen Victoria to Viscount Melbourne.

Does Lord Melbourne really mean J. Russell's marriage? and to whom?

[Pageheading: VISIT TO NUNEHAM]

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

The Lady Fanny Eliot.[51] Lord Melbourne did not name her before, nor does not now, because he did not remember her Christian name.

[Footnote 51: Daughter of Lord Minto. Lord Melbourne originally wrote The Lady —— Eliot at the head of his letter (spelling the surname wrong, which should be Elliot). The word "Fanny" is written in subsequently to the completion of the letter.]

Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

NUNEHAM,[52] 15th June 1841.

Affairs go on, and all will take some shape or other, but it keeps one in hot water all the time. In the meantime, however, the people are in the best possible humour, and I never was better received at Ascot, which is a great test, and also along the roads yesterday. This is a most lovely place; pleasure grounds in the style of Claremont, only much larger, and with the river Thames winding along beneath them, and Oxford in the distance; a beautiful flower and kitchen garden, and all kept up in perfect order. I followed Albert here, faithful to my word, and he is gone to Oxford[53] for the whole day, to my great grief. And here I am all alone in a strange house, with not even Lehzen as a companion, in Albert's absence, but I thought she and also Lord Gardner,[54] and some gentlemen should remain with little Victoria for the first time. But it is rather a trial for me.

I must take leave, and beg you to believe me always, your most devoted Niece,


[Footnote 52: The house of Edward Vernon Harcourt, Archbishop of York.]

[Footnote 53: To receive an address at Commemoration.]

[Footnote 54: Alan Legge, third and last Lord Gardner (1810-1883) was one of the Queen's first Lords-in-Waiting.]


Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

SOUTH STREET, 16th June 1841.

Lord Melbourne presents his humble duty to your Majesty. He has just received your Majesty's letter, and will wait upon your Majesty at half-past five. Lord Melbourne is sorry to hear that your Majesty has been at all indisposed. It will suit him much better to wait upon your Majesty at dinner to-morrow than to-day, as his hand shows some disposition to gather, and it may be well to take care of it.

Lord Melbourne is very glad to learn that everything went off well at Oxford. Lord Melbourne expected that the Duke of Sutherland[55] would not entirely escape a little public animadversion. Nothing can be more violent or outrageous than the conduct of the students of both Universities upon such occasions; the worst and lowest mobs of Westminster and London are very superior to them in decency and forbearance.

The Archbishop[56] is a very agreeable man; but he is not without cunning, and Lord Melbourne can easily understand his eagerness that the Queen should not prorogue Parliament in person. He knows that it will greatly assist the Tories. It is not true that it is universal for the Sovereign to go down upon such occasions. George III. went himself in 1784; he did not go in 1807, because he had been prevented from doing so by his infirmities for three years before. William IV. went down himself in 1830.[57]

Lord Melbourne sends a note which he has received from Lord Normanby upon this and another subject.

[Footnote 55: Who was, of course, associated with the Whig Ministry.]

[Footnote 56: Archbishop Vernon Harcourt, of York, the Queen's host.]

[Footnote 57: The Queen prorogued Parliament in person on 22nd June.]

Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 17th June 1841.

MY DEAREST UNCLE,—A few lines I must write to you to express to you my very great delight at the certainty, God willing, of seeing you all three next week, and to express a hope, and a great hope, that you will try and arrive a little earlier on Wednesday.... I must again repeat I am so sorry you should come when Society is dispersed and at sixes and sevens, and in such a state that naturally I cannot at the moment of the elections invite many Tories, as that tells so at the elections. But we shall try and do our best to make it as little dull as we can, and you will kindly take the will for the deed.

We came back from Nuneham yesterday afternoon. Albert came back at half-past five on Tuesday from Oxford, where he had been enthusiastically received, but the students ... had the bad taste to show their party feeling in groans and hisses when the name of a Whig was mentioned, which they ought not to have done in my husband's presence.

I must now conclude, begging you ever to believe me, your devoted Niece,


My Coiffeur will be quite at Louise's disposal, and he can coiffer in any way she likes, if her dresser tells him how she wishes it.

[Pageheading: LORD BROUGHAM]


Lord Brougham to Queen Victoria.[58]

GRAFTON STREET, 19th June 1841.

MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN,—I crave leave humbly to approach your Majesty and to state in writing what I should have submitted to your Royal consideration at an Audience, because I conceive that this course will be attended with less inconvenience to your Majesty.

In the counsel which I ventured with great humility, but with an entire conviction of its soundness, to tender, I cannot be biassed by any personal interest, for I am not a candidate for office; nor by any Parliamentary interest, for I have no concern with elections; nor by any factious interest, for I am unconnected with party. My only motive is to discharge the duty which I owe to both the Crown and the country. Nor am I under the influence of any prejudice against your Majesty's servants or their measures; for I charge your Majesty's servants with nothing beyond an error, a great error, in judgment, and I entirely approve of the measures which they have lately propounded (with a single exception partially applicable to one of them), while I lament and disapprove of the time and manner of propounding them, both on account of the Government and of the measures themselves.

I feel myself, Madam, under the necessity of stating that the dissolution of the Parliament appears to me wholly without justification, either from principle or from policy. They who advise it must needs proceed upon the supposition that a majority will be returned favourable to the continuance of the present Administration and favourable to their lately announced policy. On no other ground is it possible that any such advice should be tendered to your Majesty. For no one could ever think of such a proceeding as advising the Crown to dissolve the Parliament in order to increase the force of the Opposition to its own future Ministers, thus perverting to the mere purposes of party the exercise of by far the most eminent of the Royal prerogatives; and I pass over as wholly unworthy of notice the only other supposition which can with any decency be made, when there is no conflict between the two Houses, namely, that of a dissolution in entire ignorance of the national opinion and for the purpose of ascertaining to which side it inclines. Your Majesty's advisers must, therefore, have believed, and they must still believe, that a majority will be returned favourable both to themselves and their late policy. I, on the other hand, have the most entire conviction that there will be a considerable majority against them, and against their policy a majority larger still, many of their supporters having already joined to swell that majority. Whoever examines the details of the case must be satisfied that the very best result which the Government can possibly hope for is a narrow majority against them—an event which must occasion a second dissolution by whatever Ministry may succeed to the confidence of your Majesty. But those best acquainted with the subject have no doubt at all that the majority will be much more considerable.

I beg leave, Madam, humbly to represent to your Majesty, in my own vindication for not having laid my opinion before your Majesty as soon as I returned from the Continent, that when I first heard of the course taken by the Government early in May, I formed the opinion which I now entertain, but conceived that I must have mistaken the facts upon which they were acting; and when I arrived twelve days ago I was confirmed in the belief (seeing the fixed resolution taken to dissolve) that I must have been under an erroneous impression as to the probable results of the elections. But I have since found ample reason for believing that my original conviction was perfectly well founded, and that no grounds whatever exist sufficient to make any one who considers the subject calmly, and without the bias of either interest or prejudice, really believe that this ill-fated proceeding can have any other result than lasting injury to your Majesty's service, to the progress of sound and just views of policy, and to the influence of those in whom the Crown and the country alike should repose confidence.

That a number of short-sighted persons whose judgments are warped by exclusive attention to a single subject, or by personal feelings, or by party views (and these narrow and erroneous), may have been loudly clamorous for the course apparently about to be pursued, is extremely possible, and affords no kind of excuse for it. Many of these will be the slowest to defend what they have so unfortunately called for; some will be among the first to condemn it when a manifest failure shall have taken place, and general discomfiture shall throw a few local successes into the shade.

My advice is humbly offered to your Majesty, as removed far above such confined and factious views; as the parent of all your people; as both bound and willing to watch over their true interests; and as charged by virtue of your exalted office with the preservation of the public peace, the furtherance of the prosperity, and the maintenance of the liberties of your subjects.

I am, with profound respect, Madam, your Majesty's faithful and dutiful Subject,


[Footnote 58: Mention has been made earlier of the resentment which Brougham cherished against his late colleagues, after his exclusion from the Whig Cabinet, and this letter, on the proposal to dissolve Parliament, was, no doubt, prompted by that feeling.]

[Footnote 59: Parliament, however, notwithstanding this rescript of Lord Brougham, was dissolved, and the Ministry went to the country with the cry of a fixed duty on corn, as against a sliding scale, and they attacked, as monopolists, at once the landowner, who enjoyed protection for his wheat, and the West Indian proprietor, who profited by the duty on foreign sugar. The Conservatives impugned the general policy of the Whig Administration. The result, a majority of seventy-six, was an even greater Conservative triumph than the most sanguine of the party anticipated.—See Introductory Note, ante, p. 253. (Intro Note to Ch. X)]

[Pageheading: VISIT TO WOBURN]

Memorandum by Mr Anson.

WOBURN ABBEY, 27th July 1841.

Arrived here last night with the Prince and the Queen; this is now the second expedition (Nuneham being the first) which Her Majesty has taken, and on neither occasion has the Baroness accompanied us.

The Prince went yesterday through a review of the many steps he had made to his present position—all within eighteen months from the marriage. Those who intended to keep him from being useful to the Queen, from the fear that he might ambitiously touch upon her prerogatives, have been completely foiled; they thought they had prevented Her Majesty from yielding anything of importance to him by creating distrust through imaginary alarm. The Queen's good sense, however, has seen that the Prince has no other object in all he seeks but a means to Her Majesty's good. The Court from highest to lowest is brought to a proper sense of the position of the Queen's husband. The country has marked its confidence in his character by passing the Regency Bill nem. con. The Queen finds the value of an active right hand and able head to support her and to resort to for advice in time of need. Cabinet Ministers treat him with deference and respect. Arts and science look up to him as their especial patron, and they find this encouragement supported by a full knowledge of the details of every subject. The good and the wise look up to him with pride and gratitude as giving an example, so rarely shown in such a station, of leading a virtuous and religious life.

Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 3rd August 1841.

... Our little tour was most successful, and we enjoyed it of all things; nothing could be more enthusiastic or affectionate than our reception everywhere, and I am happy to hear that our presence has left a favourable impression, which I think will be of great use. The loyalty in this country is certainly very striking. We enjoyed Panshanger[60] still more than Woburn; the country is quite beautiful, and the house so pretty and wohnlich; the picture-gallery and pictures very splendid. The Cowpers are such good people too. The visit to Brocket naturally interested us very much for our excellent Lord Melbourne's sake. The park and grounds are beautiful.

I can't admit the Duke of Bedford[61] ever was radical; God knows! I wish everybody now was a little so! What is to come hangs over me like a baneful dream, as you will easily understand, and when I am often happy and merry, comes and damps it all![62]

But God's will be done! and it is for our best, we must feel, though we can't feel it. I can't say how much we think of our little visit to you, God willing, next year. You will kindly let our good old Grandmother[63] come there to see her dear Albert once again before she dies, wouldn't you? And you would get the Nemours to come? And you would persuade the dear Queen[64] to come for a little while with Clementine?

Now farewell! Believe me, always, your most devoted Niece,


[Footnote 60: The house of Earl Cowper.]

[Footnote 61: The Duke, who had formerly been M.P. for Bedfordshire, was inclined to go further in the direction of Reform than Lord John, yet he applauded the latter's attitude on the occasion of the speech which earned him the nickname of "Finality Jack."]

[Footnote 62: Alluding to the Ministerial defeat at the polls.]

[Footnote 63: The Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.]

[Footnote 64: Marie Amelie, Queen of the French.]


Memorandum by Mr Anson.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 7th August 1841.

I went to Lord Melbourne this morning in his room as he had desired me. He said: "The Prince has been urging me to accept the Blue Riband before I quit office, and I wished to tell you that I am very anxious that this should not be pressed upon me by the Queen; it may be a foolish weakness on my part, but I wish to quit office without having any honour conferred upon me; the Queen's confidence towards me is sufficiently known without any public mark of this nature. I have always disregarded these honours, and there would be an inconsistency in my accepting this. I feel it to be much better for my reputation that I should not have it forced upon me. Mr Pitt never accepted an order, and only the Cinque Ports on being pressed to do so. Lord Grenville accepted a peerage, but never any other honour or advantage, and I wish to be permitted to retire in like manner. If I was a poor man, I should have no hesitation in receiving money in the shape of place or pension; I only don't wish for place, because I do not want it."

In the course of conversation Lord Melbourne said that he considered it very improbable that he should ever again form a part of any Administration.

He did not think that a violent course was at all to be apprehended from Lord John Russell; he said Lord John had been far more of a "finality" man than he had, and in the Cabinet had always been averse to violent change. He added, "I think you are in error in forming the opinion which you have of him."

Lord Melbourne thought the Queen very much disliked being talked at upon religion; she particularly disliked what Her Majesty termed a Sunday face, but yet that it was a subject far more thought of and reflected upon than was [thought to be?] the case.

[Pageheading: A DREADED MOMENT]

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

SOUTH STREET, 15th August 1841.

... Lord Melbourne well knows the feeling which your Majesty describes. The expectation of an event which is dreaded and deprecated, and yet felt to be certain and imminent, presents itself continually to the mind and recurs at every moment, and particularly in moments of satisfaction and enjoyment. It is perhaps no consolation to be told that events of this nature are necessary and incidental to your Majesty's high situation, but Lord Melbourne anxiously hopes that the change, when it does take place, will not be found so grievous as your Majesty anticipates, and your Majesty may rely that Lord Melbourne will do everything in his power to reconcile it to your Majesty's feelings.

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 17th August 1841.

Lord Melbourne is very glad to hear of the Princess's tooth.

Lord Melbourne is much obliged to your Majesty for informing him about the mourning.

He is quite well and will be ready when your Majesty sends.

Memorandum by Mr Anson.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 23rd August 1841.

Lord John Russell was staying at the Castle, and asked to-day for an audience of Her Majesty, and was closeted for a long time. The Prince asked Her Majesty what Lord John came for. The Queen said he came about several things, but particularly he wished to impress upon the Queen that Her Majesty should not allow Sir Robert Peel to propose any new Grants in Parliament, as they (the Whigs) could not well oppose it, and this being felt, the whole unpopularity would fall upon the Queen's person. An idea existed that the Tories were always jobbing with money, and the grant for the building the new stables at Windsor had shown how suspicious people were.

Lord John did not speak clearly out, but on consultation with Lord Melbourne the Queen thought Lord John must have alluded to Peel having spoken equivocally at the end of his speech relative to the Prince's annuity, and would now probably propose a further grant, and would say the time was now come in order to stand well with the Queen. The Queen replied that she would never allow such a thing to be proposed and that it would be a disgrace to owe any favour to that Party.

The only answer the Prince gave was that these views were very agreeable for him.


Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 24th August 1841.

... Our accident[65] was not so very bad, and considering that it is the very first that had happened in the course of five summers, with so many carriages and horses, one cannot be surprised. I beg leave also to say that I can get out very quick. I am very thankful that you agree to the couriers. I am a little sorry that you have put poor Mamma off so late, as she is very much hurt at it, I fear, by what I hear, and accuses me of it. But that will, I trust, be forgiven. You don't say that you sympathise with me in my present heavy trial,[66] the heaviest I have ever had to endure, and which will be a sad heartbreaking to me—but I know you do feel for me. I am quiet and prepared, but still I fell very sad, and God knows! very wretched at times, for myself and my country, that such a change must take place. But God in His mercy will support and guide me through all. Yet I feel that my constant headaches are caused by annoyance and vexation!

Adieu, dearest Uncle! God bless you! Ever your devoted Niece,


[Footnote 65: The Queen had driven to Virginia Water to see Prince Albert's beagles hunting, when owing to the hounds running between the horses' legs and frightening them, a pony phaeton and four containing Lord Erroll, Lady Ida Hay, and Miss Cavendish was upset. One of the postillions was (not dangerously) hurt.]

[Footnote 66: I.e., Lord Melbourne being succeeded by Sir Robert Peel as Prime Minister.]


Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

SOUTH STREET, 24th August 1841.

Lord Melbourne presents his humble duty to your Majesty. We have just delivered the Speech in the House of Lords, and the debate will commence at five o'clock. We understand that the amendment is to be a repetition of the motion of want of confidence, which Sir Robert Peel made in the House of Commons before the dissolution, and nearly in the same terms. It is to be moved by Lord Ripon[67] in the House of Lords, and by Mr. Stuart Wortley[68] in the House of Commons. It is understood to be their intention to avoid, as much as possible, debate upon the Corn Laws, and upon the other topics in the Speech, and to place the question entirely upon the result of the General Election and the proof which that affords that the Ministry does not possess the confidence of the country. Lord Melbourne thinks that it will not be found easy to repress debate in the House of Commons, but would not be surprised if the course which it is intended to pursue should much shorten it in the House of Lords. Lord Melbourne will write again to your Majesty after the debate, and will certainly come down to-morrow, unless anything unexpected should occur to prevent him.

It will be necessary to receive the address of the Convocation in some manner or another. Lord Melbourne will write confidentially to the Archbishop[69] to learn how it may be received in the quietest manner and with the least trouble. Lord Melbourne has little doubt that the Lords and Commons will send their addresses by the officers of the Household.

Lord Melbourne entreats your Majesty to pick up your spirits.

[Footnote 67: The first Earl (1782-1859) who had, as Lord Goderich, been Premier in 1827-1828.]

[Footnote 68: J. Stuart Wortley (1801-1855), M.P. for the West Riding, afterwards the second Lord Wharncliffe.]

[Footnote 69: Dr Howley.]

[Pageheading: COBDEN'S SPEECH]

Lord John Russell to Queen Victoria.

WILTON CRESCENT, 26th August 1841.

Lord John Russell presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and has the honour to report that nothing remarkable occurred in the debate of yesterday, except a powerful speech from Mr Cobden, a manufacturer.[70]

The debate will probably close this evening. No one of the Tory leaders, except Sir Robert Peel, appears disposed to speak.

Should the Address be voted to-night, and reported to-morrow, it may be presented to your Majesty by Lord Marcus Hill[71] on Saturday.

But should the debate be continued over this night, the report of the Address can hardly take place till Monday. This, however, is not very likely.

[Footnote 70: Cobden had just been elected for the first time for Stockport.]

[Footnote 71: Son of Lord Downshire, and M.P. for Evesham; afterwards (under a special remainder) the third Lord Sandys.]

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

SOUTH STREET, 27th August 1841.

Lord Melbourne presents his humble duty to your Majesty. Upon his arrival he found that there was no precedent of the House meeting again after an Address, without receiving an answer from the Crown. Lord Erroll therefore delivered the answer in the terms which had been submitted by Lord Melbourne to your Majesty, and it appeared to give satisfaction. The debate will probably terminate in the House of Commons to-night; at the same time it may not. If it does we must place our resignation in your Majesty's hands on Saturday, and it must be announced to the Houses of Parliament on Monday. Your Majesty will then do well not to delay sending for some other person beyond Tuesday. Lord Melbourne will write to your Majesty more fully upon all these subjects to-morrow, when he will know the result of the night's debate, and be able more surely to point out the course of events.

Lord Melbourne received the Eau-de-Cologne, and returns your Majesty many thanks for it.

Lord Melbourne understands that the Duke of Wellington is, in fact, very desirous of having the Foreign Seals,[72] and that if your Majesty feels any preference for him in that department the slightest intimation of your Majesty's wish in that respect will fix him in his desire to have it.

[Footnote 72: The Duke had been Foreign Secretary in 1835.]


Lord John Russell to Queen Victoria.

WILTON CRESCENT, 28th August 1841.

Lord John Russell presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and has the honour to report that the Amendment to the Address was carried by 91, the numbers being—

For the Address 269 For the Amendment 360 —- 91 —-

The Tory party proposed that the House should meet this day, and the Speaker signified that he should take the Chair at twelve o'clock. The Address will be carried to Windsor by Lord Marcus Hill this evening if then ready.

Lord John Russell takes this opportunity of closing his Reports again, to express to your Majesty his deep sense of your Majesty's goodness towards him. It is his fervent prayer that your Majesty may enjoy a long and happy reign.

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

SOUTH STREET, 28th August 1841.

... Your Majesty must, of course, consider us as having tendered our resignations immediately after the vote of last night, and your Majesty will probably think it right to request us to continue to hold our offices and transact the current business until our successors are appointed.

Lord Melbourne will have the honour of writing again to your Majesty in the course of the day.

[Pageheading: THE RESIGNATION]

Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 28th August 1841.

... Albert will not stay for the dinner, and I expect him back at about eleven to-night. He went at half-past eleven this morning. It is the first time that we have ever been separated for so long since our marriage, and I am quite melancholy about it.

You will forgive me if I mention it to you, but I understand that the Queen Dowager has been somewhat offended at your not taking leave of her when she came here, and at your not answering her, when she wrote to you. Perhaps you would write to her and soften and smoothen matters. She did not the least expect you to come to her. Believe me always, your most devoted Niece,


Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

SOUTH STREET, 28th August 1841.

Lord Melbourne presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and begs to acknowledge gratefully the communication which he has just received from your Majesty. Lord Melbourne feels certain that your Majesty's sense and firmness will enable your Majesty to bear up under this which your Majesty names a severe trial. The kindness of your Majesty's expressions emboldens Lord Melbourne to say that he also feels deeply the pain of separation from a service, which has now for four years and more been no less his pleasure than his pride.

Lord Melbourne would have been anxious to have waited upon your Majesty to-day, but he feels that his presence is in some degree material at a meeting, at which not only the present situation of your Majesty's servants, but also their future conduct and prospects, will be considered.

Lord Melbourne is sure that your Majesty will at once perceive that it would not have a good appearance if he were to return to Windsor immediately after having announced his resignation to the House of Lords on Monday next.

It is right that there should be no appearance of delay or of unwillingness to carry into effect the wishes of both Houses of Parliament, and, therefore, your Majesty will forgive Lord Melbourne if he suggests that it would be well if your Majesty could make up your mind to appoint Sir R. Peel on Monday next, so that there might be as little delay as possible in the formation of a new Government. On all accounts, and particularly on account of the lateness of the Season, it is desirable that this should be done as speedily as possible.

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

29th August 1841.

Lord Melbourne presents his humble duty to your Majesty. He knows well what that feeling of working under the impression of trouble and annoyance is, but if the first gloom is brushed away, confidence and hope and spirits return, and things begin to appear more cheerful. Lord Melbourne is much obliged by your Majesty's enquiries. He slept well, but waked early, which he always does now, and which is a sure sign of anxiety of mind.

Lord Melbourne will be ready to attend your Majesty at any time.



Memorandum by Mr Anson.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 29th August 1841.

Lord Melbourne is to take his farewell audience of the Queen to-morrow, and Her Majesty has appointed Sir Robert Peel to come down here at three o'clock to-morrow.

I went with Lord Melbourne from luncheon to his room. He seemed in tolerable spirits, though somewhat sad when he alluded to taking leave of the Queen. He said he was anxious that Her Majesty should lose no time in writing to appoint Sir Robert Peel to be here to-morrow, for though he was not afraid of Sir Robert taking affront, his Party would be too ready to construe any delay on the Queen's part into a slight. He said the Prince had been with him just before, and amongst other things had urged him to continue to him and to the Queen his advice and assistance, especially on measures affecting their private concerns and family concerns; he told Lord Melbourne it was on these points that he felt Lord Melbourne's advice had been peculiarly sound, and there was no reason why this should not be continued, and any communication might be made through me. Lord Melbourne said that the Prince had also entered upon the subject of the Baroness, and expressed the constant state of annoyance he was kept in by her interference. Lord Melbourne said to me: "It will be far more difficult to remove her after the change of Government than now, because if pressed to do it by a Tory Minister, the Queen's prejudice would be immediately aroused." I admitted this, but said that though the Prince felt that if he pressed the point against the Baroness remaining, he should be able to carry it, still his good feeling and affection for the Queen prevented him from pressing what he knew would be painful, and what could not be carried without an exciting scene; he must remain on his guard, and patiently abide the result. People were beginning much better to understand that lady's character, and time must surely work its own ends.

On my being sent for by the Prince, Lord Melbourne said, "I shall see you again before I take my leave." I was much affected by the earnestness with which this was said, and said I would certainly be with him before he saw the Queen to-morrow.

The Prince said that Her Majesty was cheerful and in good spirits, and the only part of the approaching scene which he dreaded was the farewell with Lord Melbourne. The Queen had, however, been much relieved by the Prince arranging for her hearing from Lord Melbourne whenever she wished it.

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

30th August 1841.

Lord Melbourne presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and thanks your Majesty much for the very clever and interesting etchings which your Majesty most kindly sent him yesterday evening. Lord Melbourne will ever treasure them as remembrances of your Majesty's kindness and regard, which he prizes beyond measure.

They will, as your Majesty says, certainly recall to recollection a melancholy day, but still Lord Melbourne hopes and trusts that with the divine blessing it will hereafter be looked back upon with less grief and bitterness of feeling, than it must be regarded at present.


Memorandum by Mr Anson.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 30th August 1841.

Directly I got here this morning the Prince sent for me, and said he had been made somewhat uneasy by a conversation he had just had with the Queen. Her Majesty said that after the manner in which the Tories had treated the Prince (relative to annuity) he ought now to keep them at a distance. She said they would try to flatter him, and would all come to see him; this he should resist, and should refuse to see them, at all events for some time.

The Prince wished me to mention this to Lord Melbourne when I went to take leave of him, and to urge Lord Melbourne to set this right with the Queen by his advice before he parted with the Queen, reminding him that his view had always been that from this moment the Prince would take up a new position, and that the Queen, no longer having Lord Melbourne to resort to in case of need, must from this moment consult and advise with the Prince. That Lord Melbourne should urge the Queen to have no scruple in employing the Prince, and showing that unless a proper understanding existed from the first, he in attempting to do good would be easily misrepresented.

I found Lord Melbourne alone in his dressing-room and put this case before him. He said he had always thought that when he left the service of the Queen the Prince would of necessity be brought forward, and must render great assistance to the Queen; and the Queen's confidence in his judgment having so much increased, this consequence was the more natural. The Prince must, however, be very cautious at first, and in a little time he would fall into it. He must be very careful not to alarm the Queen, by Her Majesty for an instant supposing that the Prince was carrying on business with Peel without her cognisance.

If it were possible for any one to advise Peel, he would recommend that he should write fully to Her Majesty, and elementarily, as Her Majesty always liked to have full knowledge upon everything which was going on. He would advise the Queen to be cautious in giving a verbal decision, that she should not allow herself to be driven into a corner, and forced to decide where she felt her mind was not made up and required reflection.

Peel should be very careful that intelligence came first from him direct. King William was very particular upon this point, so was the Queen.

I asked Lord Melbourne if he had considered the future position of himself with the Queen, and also of Peel with the Queen. He said he owned he had not and would avoid entering into any discussion—he felt sure that he should be regarded with extreme jealousy, not so much by Peel as by the party. He would be looked upon as Lord Bute had been in his relation to George III.,—always suspected of secret intercourse and intrigue. He would make me the medium of any written communication.

With regard to Peel's position with the Queen, he thought that circumstances must make it. He thought the Queen must see him oftener than King William did him, as he thought the present state of things would require more frequent intercourse. The late King used to see him once a week after the Levee, seldom oftener; all the rest of the business was transacted by correspondence, but this mode, though it had its merits in some respect, very much impeded the public business.

The less personal objections the Queen took to any one the better, as any such expression is sure to come out and a personal enemy is made. It was also to be recollected that Peel was in a very different position now, backed by a large majority, to when the other overture was made. He had the power now to extort what he pleased, and he fancied he saw the blank faces of the heads of the Party when Peel told them that he had agreed to the dismissal or resignation of only three of the Queen's ladies.

Lord Melbourne said the Queen was afraid she never could be at ease with Peel, because his manner was so embarrassed, and that conveyed embarrassment also to her, which it would be very difficult to get over.

The Queen took leave of Lord Melbourne to-day. Her Majesty was much affected, but soon recovered her calmness.

Peel had his first audience at half-past three o'clock.


Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

30th August 1841 (6 P.M.).

Lord Melbourne presents his humble duty to your Majesty. The announcement has been made in both Houses of Parliament. A few words were said by Lord Stanley[73] in the House of Commons, and nothing in the House of Lords.

Lord Melbourne cannot satisfy himself without again stating to your Majesty in writing what he had the honour of saying to your Majesty respecting his Royal Highness the Prince. Lord Melbourne has formed the highest opinion of His Royal Highness's judgment, temper, and discretion, and he cannot but feel a great consolation and security in the reflection that he leaves your Majesty in a situation in which your Majesty has the inestimable advantage of such advice and assistance. Lord Melbourne feels certain that your Majesty cannot do better than have recourse to it, whenever it is needed, and rely upon it with confidence.

Lord Melbourne will be anxious to hear from your Majesty as to what has passed with Sir R. Peel. Your Majesty will, Lord Melbourne is sure, feel that the same general secrecy which your Majesty has always observed respecting public affairs is more particularly necessary at the present moment.

Lord Melbourne earnestly hopes that your Majesty is well and composed, and with the most anxious wishes for your Majesty's welfare and happiness, remains ever your Majesty's most devoted and attached Servant, and he trusts that he may add, without presumption, your Majesty's faithful and affectionate Friend.

[Footnote 73: Who now became Colonial Secretary.]

[Pageheading: THE HOUSEHOLD]

Memorandum: Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

Your Majesty might say, if to your Majesty it seems good, that in consequence of the Addresses voted by both Houses of Parliament, your Majesty's servants had tendered their resignations, and that for the same reason your Majesty had accepted those resignations. That your Majesty's present servants possessed your Majesty's confidence, and that you only parted with them in deference to the opinion of Parliament.

That your Majesty naturally had recourse to Sir Robert Peel as possessing the confidence of the great Party which constitutes the majority of both Houses, and that you were prepared to empower him to form an Administration.

That your Majesty did not conceive that the giving him this commission of itself empowered him to advise the removal of the officers of your Majesty's Household; that you conceive that all that the Constitution required was that the Sovereign's Household should support the Sovereign's Ministers; but that you were prepared to place at his disposal, and to take his advice upon all the offices of the Household at present filled by members of either House of Parliament, with the exception of those whom your Majesty might think proper to name, i.e., Lord Byron[74]—and it should be understood that this exception was not to extend further than to him.

If Sir Robert Peel should wish that in case of Lord Byron's remaining it should be considered as a fresh appointment made by his advice, this wish might properly be acceded to.

The Ladies.—If any difficulty should arise it may be asked to be stated in writing, and reserved for consideration. But it is of great importance that Sir Robert Peel should return to London with full power to form an Administration. Such must be the final result, and the more readily and graciously it is acquiesced in the better.

Your Majesty must take care not to be driven to the wall, and to be put into a situation in which it is necessary to Aye or No. No positive objection should be taken either to men or measures.

It must be recollected that at the time of the negotiation in 1839 Lord Melbourne and Lord John Russell were still at the head of a majority in the House of Commons. This is not the case now.

[Footnote 74: George Anson, seventh Lord Byron (1789-1868), cousin and successor of the poet.]

[Pageheading: THE NEW CABINET]


As it stood in September 1841.

First Lord of the Treasury VISCOUNT MELBOURNE.

Lord Chancellor LORD (afterwards Earl of) COTTENHAM. Chancellor of the Exchequer Mr FRANCIS BARING (afterwards Lord Northbrook). Lord President of the Council MARQUIS OF LANSDOWNE. Lord Privy Seal EARL OF CLARENDON. Home Secretary MARQUIS OF NORMANBY. Foreign Secretary VISCOUNT PALMERSTON. Colonial Secretary LORD JOHN (afterwards Earl) RUSSELL. First Lord of the Admiralty EARL OF MINTO. President of the Board of Control Sir JOHN CAM HOBHOUSE (afterwards Lord Broughton). Secretary at War Mr T. B. (afterwards Lord) MACAULAY. President of the Board of Trade Mr LABOUCHERE (afterwards Lord Taunton). Chief Secretary for Ireland VISCOUNT MORPETH (afterwards Earl of Carlisle). First Commissioner of Land Revenue VISCOUNT DUNCANNON (afterwards Earl of Bessborough). Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Sir GEORGE GREY.


As formed in September 1841.

First Lord of the Treasury Sir ROBERT PEEL. Lord Chancellor LORD LYNDHURST. Chancellor of the Exchequer Mr. H. GOULBURN. (Without Office) DUKE OF WELLINGTON. Lord President of the Council LORD WHARNCLIFFE. Lord Privy Seal DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM. Home Secretary Sir JAMES GRAHAM. Foreign Secretary EARL OF ABERDEEN. Colonial Secretary LORD STANLEY (afterwards Earl of Derby). First Lord of the Admiralty EARL OF HADDINGTON. President of the Board of Control LORD (afterwards Earl of) ELLENBOROUGH Secretary at War Sir HENRY (afterwards Viscount) HARDINGE. President of the Board of Trade EARL OF RIPON. Paymaster-General. Sir EDWARD KNATCHBULL.

[Footnote 75: The Peel Ministry of 1841 was unique in containing three ex-Premiers: Sir Robert Peel himself, the Earl of Ripon, and the Duke of Wellington, who succeeded Lord Goderich as Premier in 1828. Ripon's career was a curious one; he was a singularly ineffective Prime Minister, and indeed did not, during the course of his Ministry (August 1827-January 1828), ever have to meet Parliament. He was disappointed at not being invited to join the Wellington Ministry, subsequently joined the Reform Ministry of Lord Grey, but followed Lord Stanley, Sir James Graham, and the Duke of Richmond out of it. In August 1841 he moved the vote of want of confidence in the Melbourne Ministry, and became President of the Board of Trade in Peel's Government. In 1846 it fell to him, when President of the Board of Control, to move the Corn Law Repeal Bill in the Lords.

The only later instance of an ex-Premier accepting a subordinate office was in the case of Lord John Russell, who, in 1852, took the Foreign Office under Aberdeen, subsequently vacating the office and sitting in the Cabinet without office. In June 1854, he became Lord President of the Council, and left the Ministry when it was menaced by Roebuck's motion. When Lord Palmerston formed a Ministry in 1855, Lord John, after an interval, became Colonial Secretary, again resigning in five months. Finally, in 1859, he went back to the Foreign Office, where he remained until he succeeded Palmerston as Premier in 1865.

The Government also contained three future Premiers, Aberdeen, Stanley, and Gladstone.]




Queen Victoria to Viscount Melbourne.

WINDSOR CASTLE 30th August 1841.

... The first interview with Sir Robert Peel has gone off well, and only lasted twenty minutes; and he sends the Queen to-morrow, in writing, the proposed arrangements, and will only come down on Wednesday morning. He first wished to come to-morrow, but on the Queen's saying that he need not to do that, but might send it and only come down Wednesday, he thought the Queen might prefer having it to consider a little, which she said she certainly should, though she meant no want of confidence. The Queen, in the first instance, stated that she concluded he was prepared for her sending for him, and then stated exactly what Lord Melbourne wrote, viz., the resignation having taken place in consequence of the Addresses—the Queen's great regret at parting with her present Ministers—the confidence she had in them, and her only acceding in consequence of the Addresses in Parliament, and then that consequently she looked to him (Sir Robert Peel) as possessing the confidence of both Houses of Parliament to form an Administration. He made many protestations of his sorrow, at what must give pain to the Queen (as she said to him it did), but of course said he accepted the task. The Duke of Wellington's health too uncertain, and himself too prone to sleep coming over him—as Peel expressed it—to admit of his taking an office in which he would have much to do, but to be in the Cabinet, which the Queen expressed her wish he should. He named Lord De Grey[76] as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and Lord Eliot[77] as Secretary for Ireland, who, he said, were both moderate people. The Queen said she gave up to him the officers of State and those of her Household who were in Parliament, and he then asked if Lord Liverpool would be agreeable as Lord Steward (the Queen said he would), and if she would object to Lord Jersey as Master of the Horse (she said she would not), as she believed he understood it perfectly. He said he was so anxious to do everything which could be agreeable to the Queen, that he wished her to name whom she should like as Lord Chamberlain; she said he might suggest some one, but as he would not, and pressed the Queen to name whoever she pleased, she said she should like the Duke of Rutland, and he said he would certainly name it to him. The Queen said that Lord Melbourne had always been very particular to name no one who might be disagreeable to her in the Household, and Sir R. Peel said he felt this, and should be most anxious to do what could be agreeable to me and for my comfort, and that he would even sacrifice any advantage to this. The Queen mentioned the three Ladies' resignation, and her wish not to fill up the three Ladies' places immediately. She mentioned Lady Byron,[78] to which he agreed immediately, and then said, as I had alluded to those communications, he hoped that he had been understood respecting the other appointments (meaning the Ladies), that provided I chose some who had a leaning towards the politics of the Administration, I might take any I liked, and that he quite understood that I should notify it to them. The Queen said this was her rule, and that she wished to choose moderate people who should not have scruples to resign in case another Administration should come in, as changing was disagreeable to her. Here it ended, and so far well. He was very anxious the Queen should understand how anxious he was to do everything which was agreeable to the Queen. The Queen wishes to know if Lord Melbourne thinks she should name the Duchess of Buccleuch Mistress of the Robes, on Wednesday, and if she shall ask Sir Robert to sound the Duchess, or some one else, and then write to appoint her? She thinks of proposing Lady de la Warr and Lady Abercorn by and by as the two Ladies, but these she will sound herself through other people, or Lady Canning, or Lady Rosslyn, in case these others should not take it. She should say she meant to sound those, and no more. What the Queen felt when she parted from her dear, kind friend, Lord Melbourne, is better imagined than described; she was dreadfully affected for some time after, but is calm now. It is very, very sad; and she cannot quite believe it yet. The Prince felt it very, very much too, and really the Queen cannot say how kind and affectionate he is to her, and how anxious to do everything to lighten this heavy trial; he was quite affected at this sad parting. We do, and shall, miss you so dreadfully; Lord Melbourne will easily understand what a change it is, after these four years when she had the happiness of having Lord Melbourne always about her. But it will not be so long till we meet again. Happier and brighter times will come again. We anxiously hope Lord Melbourne is well, and got up well and safe. The Queen trusts he will take care of his valuable health, now more than ever.

[Footnote 76: Thomas, Earl de Grey (1781-1859); he was the elder brother of Lord Ripon, who had been previously known as Mr Robinson and Viscount Goderich, and whose son, besides inheriting his father's and uncle's honours, was created Marquis of Ripon.]

[Footnote 77: Afterwards third Earl of St Germans.]

[Footnote 78: Lady Byron had been Miss Elizabeth Chandos-Pole.]

Memorandum by Mr Anson.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 31st August 1841.

I was sent up to Town to-day to see Lord Melbourne and Sir Robert Peel. I found Lord Melbourne as usual up in his bedroom. He had received the account of Her Majesty's first interview with Peel, which he thought very satisfactory. Sir Robert very much regretted that he should have been the instrument of obliging Her Majesty to change her Government. The Queen had said to Sir Robert that though she did not conceive the Minister could demand any of the Household appointments, still it was Her Majesty's intention to give up to him the great offices of State, and all other places in the Household filled by people in Parliament. He was to send his proposed list for offices the next day and be at Windsor the morning after that. Lord Melbourne had written to the Queen the night before, stating his opinion of the Prince—that he had great discretion, temper, and judgment, and that he considered him to be well worthy of Her Majesty's confidence, and that now was the time for Her Majesty to feel comfort and assistance from giving him her fullest confidence. He had just received the Queen's answer to this, saying what "pleasure it had given the Queen to receive his letter with this expression of his opinion of her beloved husband, and that what he said could not fail to increase the confidence which she already felt in him. He was indeed a great comfort to her in this trying moment; at times she was very low indeed though she strove to bear up. It would always be a satisfaction to her to feel secure of Lord Melbourne's faithful and affectionate friendship to her and the Prince. She hoped after a time to see him here again, and it would always be a pleasure to her to hear from him frequently."

From South Steet I went to Sir Robert Peel's. I told him I came to speak to him about Lord Exeter, whom the Prince proposed to make the head of his Household, should it not interfere with any of Sir Robert's arrangements for the Queen. Sir Robert said he was so good a man and one that he felt sure the Prince would like, and he therefore thought he had better propose the situation to him at once.


Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

SOUTH STREET, 31st August 1841.

Lord Melbourne had the pleasure of receiving last night both your Majesty's letters, the one dated four o'clock, and written immediately after your Majesty's interview with Sir R. Peel, the other dated half-past nine. Lord Melbourne thanks your Majesty much for them both, and for the expressions of kindness contained in them. Lord Melbourne will ever consider the time during which your Majesty is good enough to think that he has been of service to your Majesty the proudest as well as the happiest part of his life.

Lord Melbourne has read with great care your Majesty's very clear and full account of what passed. It appears to Lord Melbourne that nothing could be better. Sir Robert Peel seems to have been anxious to act with the utmost respect and consideration for your Majesty, and your Majesty most properly and wisely met him half-way. In the spirit in which the negotiation has been commenced I see the prospect of a termination of it, which will be not so unsatisfactory to your Majesty as your Majesty anticipated, and not, Lord Melbourne trusts, disadvantageous to the country....

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