The Letters of Queen Victoria, Volume III (of 3), 1854-1861
by Queen of Great Britain Victoria
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

To render it possible to salute the Emperor[30] when he comes here, the old St Vincent has been brought out of the harbour, but has been manned chiefly by the men of the Excellent gunnery ship; and we have been warned by the Admiralty not to visit the Excellent in consequence. This does not show a very brilliant condition! But what is still more worthy of consideration is, that our new fleet, which had been completed at the end of the Russian War, was a steam fleet; when it was broken up at the Peace the dockyard expenses were also cut down, and men discharged at the very moment when totally new and extensive arrangements became necessary to repair and keep in a state of efficiency the valuable steam machinery, and to house our gunboat flotilla on shore. To render any of these steamships fit for sea, now that they are dismantled, with our small means as to basins and docks, must necessarily cost much time.

The Queen wishes accordingly to have a report sent to her as to the force of screw-ships of the Line and of other classes which can be got ready at the different dockyards, and the time required to get them to sea for actual service; and also the time required to launch and get ready the gunboats. She does not wish for a mere general answer from the Lords of the Admiralty, but for detailed reports from the Admirals commanding at the different ports, and particularly the Captains in command of the Steam Reserve. She would only add that she wishes no unnecessary time to be lost in the preparation of these reports. She requests Lord Palmerston to have these, her wishes, carried out.

[Footnote 30: The Emperor and Empress of the French arrived at Osborne on the 6th of August on a visit to the Queen and Prince, lasting for four days, during which time much discussion took place between the Prince and Emperor on affairs in Eastern Europe.]


Queen Victoria to Viscount Palmerston.

OSBORNE, 22nd August 1857.

The Queen is afraid from the telegram of this morning that affairs in India have not yet taken a favourable turn. Delhi seems still to hold out, and the death of Sir H. Lawrence[31] is a great loss. The Queen must repeat to Lord Palmerston that the measures hitherto taken by the Government are not commensurate with the magnitude of the crisis.

We have given nearly all we have in reinforcements, and if new efforts should become necessary, by the joining of the Madras and Bombay Armies in the Revolt, for instance, it will take months to prepare Reserves which ought now to be ready. Ten Battalions of Militia to be called out is quite inadequate; forty, at least, ought to be the number, for these also exist only on paper. The augmentation of the Cavalry and the Guards has not yet been ordered.

Financial difficulties don't exist; the 14,000 men sent to India are taken over by the Indian Government, and their expense saved to us; and this appears hardly the moment to make savings on the Army estimates.

[Footnote 31: On the previous day, the Queen and Prince had returned from a visit to Cherbourg, and found very disquieting news from India. Sir Henry Lawrence was the Military Administrator and Chief Commissioner of Oudh; on the 30th of May, the 71st N.I. mutinied at Lucknow, but Sir Henry drove them from their position and fortified the Residency. Some weeks later, on sallying out to reconnoitre, the English were driven back and besieged in the Residency; Sir Henry dying from the effects of a wound caused by a shell.]

[Pageheading: RECRUITING]

Viscount Palmerston to Queen Victoria.

DOWNING STREET, 22nd August 1857.

Viscount Palmerston presents his humble duty to your Majesty.... Viscount Palmerston has had the honour of receiving your Majesty's communication of this morning. It is, no doubt, true that the telegraphic account received yesterday evening does not show, that at the dates mentioned from India, any improvement had taken place in the state of affairs, and the loss of Sir Henry Lawrence and of General Barnard,[32] but especially of the former, is deeply to be lamented.

With regard, however, to the measures now taking to raise a force to supply the place of the troops sent to India, and to enlist recruits to fill up vacancies in the Regiments in India, Viscount Palmerston would beg to submit that the steps now taking seem to be well calculated for their purpose. The recruiting for the Army has gone on more rapidly than could have been expected at this particular time of year, and in a fortnight or three weeks from this time will proceed still more rapidly; the ten thousand Militia to be immediately embodied will be as much as could probably be got together at the present moment without much local inconvenience; but if that number should be found insufficient, it would be easy afterwards to embody more. But, if the recruiting should go on successfully, that number of Militiamen in addition to the Regulars may be found sufficient. Viscount Palmerston begs to assure your Majesty that there is no wish to make savings on the amount voted for Army Services, but, on the other hand, it would be very inconvenient and embarrassing to exceed that amount without some urgent and adequate necessity....

[Footnote 32: He died of cholera at Delhi, on the 5th of July.]

Queen Victoria to Viscount Palmerston.

OSBORNE, 22nd August 1857.

In answer to Lord Palmerston's observations on our Military preparations, the Queen must reply that, although Lord Palmerston disclaims, on the part of the Government, the intention of making a saving on the Army estimates out of the fearful exigencies caused by the Indian Revolt, the facts still remain. The Government have sent fourteen Battalions out of the country and transferred them to the East India Company, and they mean to replace them only by ten new ones, whose organisation has been ordered; but even in these, they mean for the present to save four Companies out of every twelve. The Queen, the House of Lords, the House of Commons, and the Press, all call out for vigorous exertion, and the Government alone take an apologetic line, anxious to do as little as possible, to wait for further news, to reduce as low as possible even what they do grant, and reason as if we had at most only to replace what was sent out; whilst if new demands should come upon us, the Reserves which ought now to be decided upon and organised, are only then to be discussed. The Queen can the less reconcile herself to the system, of "letting out a little sail at a time," as Lord Palmerston called it the other day, as she feels convinced that, if vigour and determination to get what will be eventually wanted is shown by the Cabinet, it will pervade the whole Government machinery and attain its object; but that if, on the other hand, people don't see what the Government really require, and find them satisfied with a little at a time, even that little will not be got, as the subordinates naturally take the tone from their superiors. Ten Militia Regiments would not even represent the 10,000 men whom Parliament has voted the supplies for. A Battalion will probably not reach 600 for a time, and from these we hope to draw volunteers again!

The Queen hopes the Cabinet will yet look the whole question in the face, and decide while there is time what they must know will become necessary, and what must in the hurry at the end be done less well and at, probably, double the cost. The Queen can speak by very recent experience, having seen exactly the same course followed in the late War.

Queen Victoria to Viscount Palmerston.

OSBORNE, 23rd August 1857.

The Queen approves of Lord Fife[33] and Lord R. Grosvenor being made Peers, and of an offer being made to Mr Macaulay, although she believes he will decline the honour....

[Footnote 33: James, fifth Viscount Macduff and Earl of Fife in the peerage of Ireland, was, on the 1st of October, created a Baron of the United Kingdom; he was the father of the present Duke of Fife. Lord Robert Grosvenor became Lord Ebury, and Mr Macaulay Lord Macaulay of Rothley Temple (his birthplace), in the county of Leicester.]

[Pageheading: THE ARMY RESERVES]

Queen Victoria to Viscount Palmerston.

OSBORNE, 25th August 1857.

The Queen has received Lord Palmerston's letter of yesterday, and must say that she is deeply grieved at her want of success in impressing upon him the importance of meeting the present dangers by agreeing on, and maturing a general plan by which to replace in kind the troops sent out of the country, and for which the money has been voted by Parliament.[34] To the formation of the full number of Battalions, and their full strength in Companies, Lord Palmerston objects that the men will not be found to fill them, and therefore it is left undone; to the calling-out of more Militia, he objects that they ought not to be used as Recruiting Depots, and if many were called out the speed with which the recruiting for the Army went on, would oblige them to be disbanded again. The War Office pride themselves upon having got 1,000 men since the recruiting began; this is equal to 1,000 a month or 12,000 a year, the ordinary wear and tear of the Army!! Where will the Reserves for India be to be found? It does not suffice merely to get recruits, as Lord Palmerston says; they will not become soldiers for six months when got, and in the meantime a sufficient number of Militia Regiments ought to be drilled, and made efficient to relieve the Line Regiments already sent, or yet to be sent, for these also are at present necessarily good for nothing.

The Queen must say that the Government incur a fearful responsibility towards their country by their apparent indifference. God grant that no unforeseen European complication fall upon this country—but we are really tempting Providence.

The Queen hopes Lord Palmerston has communicated to the Cabinet her views on the subject.

[Footnote 34: After referring to the necessity for supplying by fresh drafts the gaps created in the regiments in India, Lord Palmerston had written:—

"If the Militia officers were to find that they were considered merely as drill sergeants for the Line, they would grow careless and indifferent, and many whom it is desirable to keep in the Service would leave it.

"With regard to the number of Militiamen to be embodied, the question seems to be, What is the number which will be wanted for the whole period to the 31st of March, because it would be undesirable to call out and embody now Militia Regiments which would become unnecessary during the winter by the progress of recruiting, and which, from there being no funds applicable to their maintenance, it would become necessary to disembody. The men would be now taken from industrial employment at a time when labour is wanted, and would be turned adrift in the winter when there is less demand for labour.

"With respect to recruiting for the Army, every practicable means has been adopted to hasten its success. Recruiting parties have been scattered over the whole of the United Kingdom, and the permanent staff of the disembodied Militia have been furnished with Beating Warrants enabling them to enlist recruits for the Line; and the recruiting has been hitherto very successful. The only thing to be done is to raise men as fast as possible, and to post them as they are raised to the Regiments and Battalions for which they engage. The standard, moreover, has been lowered...."]

[Pageheading: LORD LANSDOWNE]

Viscount Palmerston to Queen Victoria.

PICCADILLY, 31st August 1857.

... Viscount Palmerston would beg to submit for your Majesty's consideration whether he might be authorised by your Majesty to offer to Lord Lansdowne promotion to the title of Duke. Your Majesty may possibly not have in the course of your Majesty's reign, long as it is to be hoped that reign will be, any subject whose private and public character will during so long a course of years as those which have been the period of Lord Lansdowne's career, have more entitled him to the esteem and respect of his fellow-countrymen, and to the approbation of his Sovereign.

Lord Lansdowne has now for several years given your Majesty's Government the great and valuable support of his advice in council, his assistance in debate, and the weight of his character in the country, without any office. His health and strength, Viscount Palmerston cannot disguise from himself, have not been this year such as they had been; and if your Majesty should contemplate marking at any time your Majesty's sense of Lord Lansdowne's public services, there could not be a better moment for doing so than the present; and Viscount Palmerston has reason to believe that such an act of grace would be very gratifying to the Liberal Party, and would be deemed well bestowed even by those who are of opposite politics.[35]

Mr Macaulay accepts the Peerage with much gratitude to your Majesty.

[Footnote 35: Lord Lansdowne declined the honour.]

[Pageheading: THE INDIAN MUTINY]

Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

BALMORAL CASTLE, 2nd September 1857.

DEAREST UNCLE,—... We are in sad anxiety about India, which engrosses all our attention.[36] Troops cannot be raised fast or largely enough. And the horrors committed on the poor ladies—women and children—are unknown in these ages, and make one's blood run cold. Altogether, the whole is so much more distressing than the Crimea—where there was glory and honourable warfare, and where the poor women and children were safe. Then the distance and the difficulty of communication is such an additional suffering to us all. I know you will feel much for us all. There is not a family hardly who is not in sorrow and anxiety about their children, and in all ranks—India being the place where every one was anxious to place a son!

We hear from our people (not Fritz) from Berlin, that the King is in a very unsatisfactory state. What have you heard?...

Now, with Albert's love, ever your devoted Niece,


[Footnote 36: At Balmoral the Queen learned in greater detail of the atrocities which had been committed upon the garrison at Cawnpore.]

Viscount Palmerston to Queen Victoria.

BROCKET, 10th September 1857.

Viscount Palmerston presents his humble duty to your Majesty and begs to submit that an impression is beginning to prevail that it would be a proper thing that a day should be set apart for National Prayer and Humiliation with reference to the present calamitous state of affairs in India, upon the same principle on which a similar step was taken during the Crimean War; and if your Majesty should approve, Viscount Palmerston would communicate on the subject with the Archbishop of Canterbury.... It is usual on such occasions that the Archbishop of Canterbury should attend,[37] but in consideration of the distance his attendance might well be dispensed with on the present occasion.

[Footnote 37: I.e. at the meeting of the Council which was to be summoned.]


Queen Victoria to Viscount Palmerston.

BALMORAL, 11th September 1857.

Lord Palmerston knows what the Queen's feelings are with regard to Fast-days, which she thinks do not produce the desired effect—from the manner in which they are appointed, and the selections made for the Service—but she will not oppose the natural feeling which any one must partake in, of a desire to pray for our fellow-countrymen and women who are exposed to such imminent danger, and therefore sanctions his consulting the Archbishop on the subject. She would, however, suggest its being more appropriately called a day of prayer and intercession for our suffering countrymen, than of fast and humiliation, and of its being on a Sunday, and not on a week-day: on the last Fast-day, the Queen heard it generally remarked, that it produced more harm than good, and that, if it were on a Sunday, it would be much more generally observed. However, she will sanction whatever is proper, but thinks it ought to be as soon as possible[38] (in a fortnight or three weeks) if it is to be done at all.

She will hold a Council whenever it is wished.[39]

[Footnote 38: It was kept on the 7th of October (a Wednesday).]

[Footnote 39: Shortly after the date of this letter came the intelligence from India that Delhi had not fallen, and that the Lucknow garrison was not yet relieved. This news, coupled with the tidings of fresh outbreaks, and the details of the horrors of Cawnpore, generated deep feelings of resentment in the country.]

Queen Victoria to the Earl of Clarendon.

BALMORAL CASTLE, 23rd September 1857.

The Queen hopes that the arrival of troops and ships with Lord Elgin will be of material assistance, but still it does not alter the state of affairs described by the Queen in her letter, which she wrote to Lord Palmerston, and which she is glad to see Lord Clarendon agrees in. Though we might have perhaps wished the Maharajah[40] to express his feelings on the subject of the late atrocities in India, it was hardly to be expected that he (naturally of a negative, though gentle and very amiable disposition) should pronounce an opinion on so painful a subject, attached as he is to his country, and naturally still possessing, with all his amiability and goodness, an Eastern nature; he can also hardly, a deposed Indian Sovereign, not very fond of the British rule as represented by the East India Company, and, above all, impatient of Sir John Login's[41] tutorship, be expected to like to hear his country-people called fiends and monsters, and to see them brought in hundreds, if not thousands, to be executed.

His best course is to say nothing, she must think.

It is a great mercy he, poor boy, is not there.

[Footnote 40: Lord Clarendon had written that he was "sorry to learn that the Maharajah (Dhuleep Singh) had shown little or no regret for the atrocities which have been committed, or sympathy with the sufferers."]

[Footnote 41: Sir John Spencer Login, formerly surgeon at the British Residency, Lucknow, guardian of the Maharajah Dhuleep Singh, 1849-1858.]



[Pageheading: INDIA]


Viscount Canning to Queen Victoria.

CALCUTTA, 25th September 1857.

Lord Canning presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and asks leave again to address your Majesty, although the desire which he has felt that his next letter should announce to your Majesty the fall of Delhi, and the first steps towards a restoration of your Majesty's Authority throughout the revolted Districts, cannot as yet be accomplished. But although it is not in Lord Canning's power to report any very marked success over the Rebels, he can confidently assure your Majesty that a change in the aspect of affairs is gradually taking place, which gives hope that the contest is drawing to a close, and the day of punishment at hand....

Another ground for good hopes is the appearance of things at Lucknow. News just received from Sir James Outram announces that he has joined General Havelock's force at Cawnpore, and that the Troops crossed the Ganges into Oudh on the 19th, with hardly any opposition. The European force now advancing on Lucknow is about [....][42] strong, well provided with Artillery. The beleaguered Garrison was in good spirits on the 16th of September, and had provisions enough to last to the end of the month. They had lately inflicted severe losses on their assailants, and some of the latter had dispersed. The influential proprietors and chiefs of the country had begun to show symptoms of siding with us.

This is a very different state of things from that which existed when General Havelock's force retired across the Ganges in July; and Lord Canning prays and believes that your Majesty will be spared the pain and horror of hearing that the atrocities of Cawnpore have been re-enacted upon the brave and enduring garrison of Lucknow. Every English soldier who could be made to reach Cawnpore has been pushed on to General Outram, even to the denuding of some points of danger in the intervening country, and General Outram's instructions are to consider the rescue of the garrison as the one paramount object to which everything else is to give way. The garrison (which, after all, is nothing more than the House of the Resident, with defences hastily thrown up) contains about three hundred and fifty European men, four hundred and fifty women and children, and one hundred and twenty sick, besides three hundred natives, hitherto faithful. The city, and even the province, may be abandoned and recovered again, but these lives must be saved now or never; and to escape the sorrow and humiliation of such barbarities as have already been endured elsewhere is worth any sacrifice. It is in consideration of the state of things at these two most critical points, Delhi and Lucknow, that Lord Canning ventures to ask your Majesty to look hopefully to the events of the next few weeks; notwithstanding that he is unable to announce any signal success....

Sir Colin Campbell has been in a state of delight ever since his favourite 93rd landed five days ago.[43] He went to see them on board their transport before they disembarked, and when Lord Canning asked how he found them, replied that the only thing amiss was that they had become too fat on the voyage, and could not button their coats. But, indeed, all the troops of the China force have been landed in the highest possible condition of health and vigour. The 23rd, from its large proportion of young soldiers, is perhaps the one most likely to suffer from the climate and the hardships of the Service—for, although no care or cost will be spared to keep them in health and comfort, Lord Canning fears that hardships there must be, seeing how vast an extent of usually productive country will be barren for a time, and that the districts from which some of our most valuable supplies, especially the supply of carriage animals, are drawn, have been stripped bare, or are still in revolt. As it is, the Commander-in-Chief has most wisely reduced the amount of tent accommodation for officers and men far below the ordinary luxurious Indian allowance.

The presence of the ships of the Royal Navy has been of the greatest service. At least eleven thousand seamen and marines have been contributed by them for duty on shore, and the broadsides of the Sanspareil, Shannon, and Pearl, as they lie along the esplanade, have had a very reassuring effect upon the inhabitants of Calcutta, who, until lately, have insisted pertinaciously that their lives and property were in hourly danger.[44]

No line-of-battle ship has been seen in the Hooghly since Admiral Watson sailed up to Chandernagore just a hundred years ago;[45] and certainly nothing in his fleet was equal to the Sanspareil. The natives stare at her, and call her "the four-storied boat."

For the future, if Delhi should fall and Lucknow be secured, the work of pacification will go forward steadily. Many points will have to be watched, and there may be occasional resistance; but nothing like an organised contest against authority is probable. The greatest difficulties will be in the civil work of re-settlement. The recent death of Mr Colvin,[46] the Lieutenant-Governor of the North-Western Provinces, has removed an officer whose experience would there have been most valuable. He has died, fairly exhausted; and is the fourth officer of high trust whose life has given way in the last four months.

One of the greatest difficulties which lie ahead—and Lord Canning grieves to say so to your Majesty—will be the violent rancour of a very large proportion of the English community against every native Indian of every class. There is a rabid and indiscriminate vindictiveness abroad, even amongst many who ought to set a better example, which it is impossible to contemplate without something like a feeling of shame for one's fellow-countrymen. Not one man in ten seems to think that the hanging and shooting of forty or fifty thousand mutineers, besides other Rebels, can be otherwise than practicable and right; nor does it occur to those who talk and write most upon the matter that for the Sovereign of England to hold and govern India without employing, and, to a great degree, trusting natives, both in civil and military service, is simply impossible. It is no exaggeration to say that a vast number of the European community would hear with pleasure and approval that every Hindoo and Mohammedan had been proscribed, and that none would be admitted to serve the Government except in a menial office. That which they desire is to see a broad line of separation, and of declared distrust drawn between us Englishmen and every subject of your Majesty who is not a Christian, and who has a dark skin; and there are some who entirely refuse to believe in the fidelity or goodwill of any native towards any European; although many instances of the kindness and generosity of both Hindoos and Mohammedans have come upon record during these troubles.

To those whose hearts have been torn by the foul barbarities inflicted upon those dear to them any degree of bitterness against the natives may be excused. No man will dare to judge them for it. But the cry is raised loudest by those who have been sitting quietly in their homes from the beginning and have suffered little from the convulsions around them unless it be in pocket. It is to be feared that this feeling of exasperation will be a great impediment in the way of restoring tranquillity and good order, even after signal retribution shall have been deliberately measured out to all chief offenders.[47]

Lord Canning is ashamed of having trespassed upon your Majesty's indulgence at such length. He will only add that he has taken the liberty of sending to your Majesty by this mail a map which has just been finished, showing the distribution of the Army throughout India at the time of the outbreak of the Mutiny. It also shows the Regiments of the Bengal Army which have mutinied, and those which have been disarmed, the number of European troops arrived in Calcutta up to the 19th of September, and whence they came; with some few other points of information.

There may be some slight inaccuracies, as the first copies of the map have only just been struck off, and have not been corrected; but Lord Canning believes that it will be interesting to your Majesty at the present moment.

Lord Canning begs to be allowed to express his earnest wishes for the health of your Majesty, and of His Royal Highness Prince Albert, and to offer to your Majesty the humble assurance of his sincere and dutiful devotion.

[Footnote 42: Word omitted in the original.]

[Footnote 43: At the battle of the Alma, Sir Colin Campbell, in command of the 2nd or Highland Brigade of the 1st Division, had, with his Highlanders in line, routed the last compact column of the Russians. On the 11th of July 1857, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief in India, and started literally at one day's notice, reaching Calcutta on the 14th of August.]

[Footnote 44: The services of the Naval Brigade, at the relief of Lucknow, were warmly recognised by Sir Colin Campbell, and especially the gallantry of Captain Peel of the Shannon.]

[Footnote 45: In retribution for the atrocity of the Black Hole of Calcutta, Watson, under instructions from Clive, reduced Chandernagore on the 23rd of March 1757; the battle of Plassey was fought on the 23rd of June.]

[Footnote 46: John Russell Colvin, formerly Private Secretary to Lord Auckland, had been Lieutenant-Governor since 1853.]

Queen Victoria to the Earl of Clarendon.

BALMORAL, 28th September 1857.

The Queen is much surprised at Lord Clarendon's observing that "from what he hears the Maharajah was either from nature or early education cruel."[48] He must have changed very suddenly if this be true, for if there was a thing for which he was remarkable, it was his extreme gentleness and kindness of disposition. We have known him for three years (our two boys intimately), and he always shuddered at hurting anything, and was peculiarly gentle and kind towards children and animals, and if anything rather timid; so that all who knew him said he never could have had a chance in his own country. His valet, who is a very respectable Englishman, and has been with him ever since his twelfth year, says that he never knew a kinder or more amiable disposition. The Queen fears that people who do not know him well have been led away by their present very natural feelings of hatred and distrust of all Indians to slander him. What he might turn out, if left in the hands of unscrupulous Indians in his own country, of course no one can foresee.

[Footnote 48: See ante, 23rd September, 1857, note 40.]

Queen Victoria to Viscount Palmerston.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 17th October 1857.

The Queen has received yesterday evening the box with the Dockyard Returns. It will take her some time to peruse and study them; she wishes, however, to remark upon two points, and to have them pointed out also to Sir Charles Wood,[49] viz. first, that they are dated some as early as the 27th August, and none later than the 10th September, and that she received them, only on the 17th October; and then that there is not one original Return amongst them, but they are all copies! When the Queen asks for Returns, to which she attaches great importance, she expects at least to see them in original.

[Footnote 49: First Lord of the Admiralty.]


Queen Victoria to the Earl of Clarendon.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 25th October 1857.

The Queen returns these letters. It would be well if Lord Clarendon would tell Lord Bloomfield not to entertain the possibility of such a question as the Princess Royal's marriage taking place at Berlin.[50] The Queen never could consent to it, both for public and private reasons, and the assumption of its being too much for a Prince Royal of Prussia to come over to marry the Princess Royal of Great Britain IN England is too absurd, to say the least. The Queen must say that there never was even the shadow of a doubt on Prince Frederick William's part as to where the marriage should take place, and she suspects this to be the mere gossip of the Berliners. Whatever may be the usual practice of Prussian Princes, it is not every day that one marries the eldest daughter of the Queen of England. The question therefore must be considered as settled and closed....

[Footnote 50: The marriage took place at the Chapel Royal, St James's.]


Queen Victoria to the Earl of Clarendon.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 12th November 1857.

The Queen thanks Lord Clarendon much for his kind and sympathising letter, and is much gratified at Count Persigny's kind note. He is a good, honest, warm-hearted man, for whom we have sincere esteem. The news from India was a great relief and a ray of sunshine in our great affliction.[51] The Queen had the happiness of informing poor Sir George Couper of the relief of Lucknow, in which for four months his son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren were shut up. The loss of two such distinguished officers as Generals Nicholson and Neill, and alas! of many inferior ones, is, however, very sad.

We visited the house of mourning yesterday, and no words can describe the scene of woe.[52] There was the venerable Queen with the motherless children, admirable in her deep grief, and her pious resignation to the Will of God! yet even now the support, the comfort of all, thinking but of others and ready to devote her last remaining strength and her declining years to her children and grandchildren. There was the broken-hearted, almost distracted widower—her son—and lastly, there was in one room the lifeless, but oh! even in its ghostliness, most beautiful form of his young, lovely, and angelic wife, lying in her bed with her splendid hair covering her shoulders, and a heavenly expression of peace; and in the next room, the dear little pink infant sleeping in its cradle.

The Queen leaves to Lord Clarendon's kind heart to imagine what this spectacle of woe must be, and how deeply afflicted and impressed we must be—who have only so lately had a child born to us and have been so fortunate! The Prince has been completely upset by this; and she was besides like a dear sister to us. God's will be done! But it seems too dreadful almost to believe it—too hard to bear. The dear Duchess's death must have been caused by some affection of the heart, for she was perfectly well, having her hair combed, suddenly exclaimed to the Nurse, "Oh! mon Dieu, Madame"—her head fell on one side—and before the Duke could run upstairs her hand was cold! The Queen had visited her on Saturday—looking well—and yesterday saw her lifeless form in the very same spot!

If Lord Clarendon could give a slight hint to the Times to say a few words of sympathy on the awful and unparalleled misfortune of these poor exiles, she is sure it would be very soothing to their bleeding hearts.... The sad event at Claremont took place just five days later than the death of poor Princess Charlotte under very similar circumstances forty years ago; and the poor Duchess was the niece of Princess Charlotte's husband.

[Footnote 51: Havelock, in consequence of the strength of the rebels in Oudh, had been unable to march to the assistance of Lucknow immediately after the relief of Cawnpore. He joined hands with Outram on the 10th of September, and reinforced the Lucknow garrison on the 25th.]

[Footnote 52: In a pathetic letter, just received, the Duc de Nemours (second son of Louis Philippe) had announced the death of his wife, Queen Victoria's beloved cousin and friend. She was only thirty-five years of age, and had been married at eighteen. She had seemed to make a good recovery after the birth of a child on the 28th of October, but died quite suddenly on the 10th of November, while at her toilette.]

[Pageheading: CRISIS IN THE CITY]


Viscount Palmerston to Queen Victoria.

DOWNING STREET, 12th November 1857.

Viscount Palmerston presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and begs to state that the condition of financial affairs became worse to-day than it was yesterday.[53] The Governor of the bank represented that almost all private firms have ceased to discount bills, and that the Reserve Fund of the Bank of England, out of which discounts are made and liabilities satisfied, had been reduced last night to L1,400,000, and that if that fund should become exhausted the bank would have to suspend its operations. Under these circumstances it appeared to Viscount Palmerston, and to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that a case had arisen for doing the same thing which was done under somewhat similar circumstances in 1847—that is to say, that a letter should be written by the first Lord of the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the Governor of the Bank of England, saying that if under the pressure of the emergency the bank should deem it necessary to issue more notes than the amount to which they are at present confined by law, the Government would apply to Parliament to grant them an indemnity.

This Measure, in 1847, had the effect of stopping the then existing panic, and the necessity for making such an issue did not arise; on the present occasion this announcement will, no doubt, have a salutary effect in allaying the present panic, but as the bank had to discount to-day bills to the amount of L2,000,000, which they could not have done out of a fund of L1,400,000, unless deposits and payments in, to a considerable amount, had been made, the probability is that the issue thus authorised will actually be made. The Governor and Deputy-Governor of the bank represented that the communication, in order to be effectual and to save from ruin firms which were in imminent danger, ought to be made forthwith, so that they might be enabled to announce it on the Stock Exchange before the closing of business at four o'clock. Viscount Palmerston and Sir George Lewis therefore signed at once, and gave to the Governor of the bank the letter of which the accompanying paper is a copy, the pressure of the matter not allowing time to take your Majesty's pleasure beforehand.

The state of things now is more urgent than that which existed in 1847, when the similar step was taken; at that time the Reserve Fund was about L1,900,000, last night it was only L1,400,000; at that time the bullion in the bank was above L8,000,000, it is now somewhat less than L8,000,000; at that time things were mending, they are now getting worse.

But however necessary this Measure has been considered, and however useful it may be expected to be, it inevitably entails one very inconvenient consequence. The Government have authorised the bank to break the law, and whether the law shall actually be broken or not, it would be highly unconstitutional for the Government not to take the earliest opportunity of submitting the matter to the knowledge of Parliament. This course was pursued in 1847. The letter from Lord John Russell and Sir Charles Wood to the Governor of the bank was dated on the 25th October, Parliament then stood prorogued in the usual way to the 11th November, but a council was held on the 31st October, at which your Majesty summoned Parliament to meet for the despatch of business on the 18th November; and on that day the session was opened in the usual way by a Speech from the Throne. It would be impossible under present circumstances to put off till the beginning of February a communication to Parliament of the step taken to-day.

Viscount Palmerston therefore would beg to submit for your Majesty's approval that a Council might be held at Windsor on Monday next, and that Parliament might then be summoned to meet in fourteen days. This would bring Parliament together in the first days of December, and after sitting ten days, or a fortnight, if necessary, it might be adjourned till the first week in February.[54]

Viscount Palmerston submits an explanatory Memorandum which he has just received for your Majesty's information from the Chancellor of the Exchequer....

[Footnote 53: The financial crisis had originated in numerous stoppages of banks in the United States, where premature schemes of railway extension had involved countless investors in ruin; in consequence, the pressure on firms and financial houses became even more acute than in 1847; see ante, vol. ii., 14th October, 1847. The bank rate now rose to 10 per cent. as against 9 per cent. in that year, and the bank reserve of bullion was alarmingly depleted.]

[Footnote 54: Parliament accordingly met on the 3rd of December, and the Session was opened by the Queen in person. The Act of Indemnity was passed without serious opposition, and a select committee re-appointed to enquire into the operation of the Bank Charter Act.]


Queen Victoria to Lord Panmure.

OSBORNE, 18th December 1857.

The Queen has had some correspondence with Lord Panmure upon the Establishment of the Army for the next financial year.[55] She wishes now to lay down the principle which she thinks ought to guide our decision, and asks Lord Palmerston to consider it with his colleagues in Cabinet. Last year we reduced our Army suddenly to a low peace establishment to meet the demand for reduction of taxation raised in the House of Commons. With this peace establishment we had to meet the extraordinary demands of India, we have sent almost every available regiment, battalion, and battery, and are forced to contemplate the certainty of a large increase of our force in India as a permanent necessity. What the Queen requires is, that a well-considered and digested estimate should be made of the additional regiments, etc., etc., so required, and that after deducting this number from our establishment of 1857-1858, that for the next year should be brought up again to the same condition as if the Indian demand, which is foreign to our ordinary consideration, had not arisen. If this be done it will still leave us militarily weaker than we were at the beginning of the year, for the larger English Army maintained in India will require proportionally more reliefs and larger depots.

As the Indian finances pay for the troops employed in India, the Force at home and in the colonies will, when raised to its old strength, not cost a shilling more than the peace establishment of 1857 settled under a pressure of financial reduction.

Anything less than this will not leave this country in a safe condition. The Queen does not ask only for the same number of men as in 1857-1858, but particularly for Regiments of Cavalry, Battalions of Infantry and Batteries of Artillery, which alone would enable us in case of a war to effect the increase to a war establishment.

The Queen encloses her answer to Lord Panmure's last letter.

[Footnote 55: On the 14th of December, the Queen had pressed the immediate formation of two new Cavalry Regiments.]


Queen Victoria to Viscount Palmerston.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 24th December 1857.

The Queen only now returns to Lord Palmerston the Memorandum containing the Heads of an arrangement for the future Government of India, which the Committee of Cabinet have agreed to recommend. She will have an opportunity of seeing Lord Palmerston before the Cabinet meet again, and to hear a little more in detail the reasons which influenced the Committee in their several decisions. She wishes only to recommend two points to Lord Palmerston's consideration: 1st, the mode of communication between the Queen and the new Government which it is intended to establish. As long as the Government was that of the Company, the Sovereign was generally left quite ignorant of decisions and despatches; now that the Government is to be that of the Sovereign, and the direction will, she presumes, be given in her name, a direct official responsibility to her will have to be established. She doubts whether any one but a Secretary of State could speak in the Queen's name, like the Foreign Secretary to Foreign Courts, the Colonial Secretary to the Governors of the Colonies, and the Home Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland and the Lieutenants of the Counties of Great Britain, the Judges, Convocations, Mayors, etc., etc. On the other hand, would the position of a Secretary of State be compatible with his being President of a Council? The Treasury and Admiralty act as "My Lords," but they only administer special departments, and do not direct the policy of a country in the Queen's name. The mixture of supreme direction, and also of the conduct of the administration of the department to be directed, has in practice been found as inconvenient in the War Department as it is wrong in principle.

The other point is the importance of having only one Army, whether native, local, or general, with one discipline and one command, that of the Commander-in-Chief. This is quite compatible with first appointments to the native Army, being vested as a point of patronage in the members of the Council, but it ought to be distinctly recognised in order to do away with those miserable jealousies between the different military services, which have done more harm to us in India than, perhaps, any other circumstance.

Perhaps Lord Palmerston would circulate this letter amongst the members of the Committee who agreed upon the proposed scheme?

[Pageheading: DEATH OF HAVELOCK]

Viscount Canning to Queen Victoria.


Lord Canning presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and begs permission to express to your Majesty at the earliest opportunity the respectful gratitude with which he has received your Majesty's most gracious letter of the 9th of November.

However certain Lord Canning might have been as to the sentiments with which your Majesty would view the spirit of bitter and unreasoning vengeance against your Majesty's Indian subjects with which too many minds are imbued in England as well as in this country, it has been an indescribable pleasure to him to read what your Majesty has condescended to write to him upon this painful topic. Your Majesty's gracious kindness in the reference made by your Majesty to what is said by the newspapers is also deeply felt by Lord Canning. He can truly and conscientiously assure your Majesty of his indifference to all such attacks—an indifference so complete indeed as to surprise himself.

Lord Canning fears that the satisfaction which your Majesty will have experienced very shortly after the date of your Majesty's letter, upon receiving the news of Sir Henry Havelock's entry into Lucknow, will have been painfully checked by the long and apparently blank interval which followed, and during which your Majesty's anxieties for the ultimate safety of the garrison, largely increased by many precious lives, must have become more intense than ever. Happily, this suspense is over; and the real rescue effected by a glorious combination of skill and intrepidity on the part of Sir Colin Campbell and his troops must have been truly gratifying to your Majesty.[56] The defence of Lucknow and the relief of the defenders are two exploits which, each in their kind, will stand out brightly in the history of these terrible times.

... Lord Canning has not failed to transmit your Majesty's gracious message to Sir Colin Campbell, and has taken the liberty to add your Majesty's words respecting his favourite 93rd, which will not be less grateful to the brave old soldier than the expression of your Majesty's consideration for himself.

Your Majesty has lost two most valuable officers in Sir Henry Havelock and Brigadier-General Neill. They were very different, however. The first was quite of the old school—severe and precise with his men, and very cautious in his movements and plans—but in action bold as well as skilful. The second very open and impetuous, but full of resources; and to his soldiers as kind and thoughtful of their comfort as if they had been his children.

With earnest wishes for the health and happiness of your Majesty and the Prince, Lord Canning begs permission to lay at your Majesty's feet the assurance of his most dutiful and devoted attachment.

[Footnote 56: Sir Colin Campbell had relieved Lucknow on the 17th of November, but Sir Henry Havelock (as he had now become) died from illness and exhaustion. General Neill had been killed on the occasion of the reinforcement in September, ante, 12th November, 1857.]


Queen Victoria to Lord Panmure.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 29th December 1857.

The Queen has received Lord Panmure's letter and Memorandum of the 24th. She must say that she still adheres to her views as formerly expressed. Lord Panmure admits that the two plans don't differ materially in expense. It becomes, then, a mere question of organisation and of policy. As to the first, all military authorities of all countries and times agree upon the point that numerous cadres with fewer men give the readiest means of increasing an army on short notice, the main point to be attended to in a constitutional and democratic country like England. As to the second, a system of organisation will always be easier defended than mere numbers arbitrarily fixed, and Parliament ought to have the possibility of voting more or voting fewer men, according to their views of the exigencies of the country, or the pressure of finance at different times, and to be able to do so without deranging the organisation.

The Queen hopes Lord Panmure will look at our position, as if the Indian demands had not arisen, and he will find that to come to Parliament with the Cavalry borne on the estimates reduced by three regiments (as will be the case even after two shall have returned from India, and the two new ones shall have been formed), will certainly not prove too little anxiety on the part of the Government to cut down our military establishments.



On the 25th of January of the new year (1858) Prince Frederick William of Prussia (afterwards the Emperor Frederick) was married, with brilliant ceremonial, to the Princess Royal, at the Chapel Royal, St James's, an event marked by general national rejoicings; another event in the private life of the Queen, but one of a melancholy character, was the death of the Duchess of Orleans at the age of forty-four.

A determined attempt was made by Orsini, Pierri, and others, members of the Carbonari Society, to assassinate the Emperor and Empress of the French by throwing grenades filled with detonating powder under their carriage. The Emperor was only slightly hurt, but several bystanders were killed, and very many more wounded. The plot had been conceived, and the grenades manufactured in England, and a violently hostile feeling was engendered in France against this country, owing to the prescriptive right of asylum enjoyed by foreign refugees. The French militaires were particularly vehement in their language, and Lord Palmerston so far bowed to the demands of the French Foreign Minister as to introduce a Bill to make the offence of conspiracy to murder, a felony instead of, as it had previously been, a misdemeanour. The Conservative Party supported the introduction of the Bill, but, on the second reading, joined with eighty-four Liberals and four Peelites in supporting an Amendment by Mr Milner Gibson, postponing the reform of the Criminal Law till the peremptory demands of Count Walewski had been formally answered. The Ministry was defeated and resigned, and Lord Derby and Mr Disraeli returned to Office. Orsini and Pierri were executed in Paris, but the state trial in London of a Dr Bernard, a resident of Bayswater, for complicity, ended, mainly owing to the menacing attitude of France over the whole question, in an acquittal. The Italian nationality of the chief conspirators endangered, but only temporarily, the important entente between France and Sardinia.

Before the resignation of the Ministry, the thanks of both Houses of Parliament were voted to the civil and military officers of India for their exertions in suppressing the Mutiny; the Opposition endeavoured to obtain the omission of the name of Lord Canning from the address, till his conduct of affairs had been discussed. The difficulties in India were not at an end, for Sir Colin Campbell had been unable to hold Lucknow, and had transferred the rescued garrison to Cawnpore, which he re-occupied. It was not till the end of March that Lucknow was captured by the Commander-in-Chief, who was raised to the peerage as Lord Clyde, after the taking of Jhansi and of Gwalior in Central India, by Sir Hugh Rose, had virtually terminated the revolt.

In anticipation of the capture of Lucknow, the Governor-General had prepared a proclamation for promulgation in Oudh, announcing that, except in the case of certain loyal Rajahs, proprietary rights in the soil of the province would be confiscated. One copy of the draft was sent home, and another shown to Sir James Outram, Chief Commissioner of Oudh, and, in consequence of the latter's protest against its severity, as making confiscation the rule and not the exception, an exemption was inserted in favour of such landowners as should actively co-operate in restoring order. On receiving the draft in its unaltered form, Lord Ellenborough, the new President of the Board of Control, forwarded a despatch to Lord Canning, strongly condemning his action, and, on the publication of this despatch, the Ministry narrowly escaped Parliamentary censure. Lord Ellenborough himself resigned, and was succeeded by Lord Stanley. Attempts had been made by both Lord Palmerston and Lord Derby to pass measures for the better government of India. After two Bills had been introduced and withdrawn, the procedure by resolution was resorted to, and a measure was ultimately passed transferring the Government of India to the Crown.

The China War terminated on the 26th of June, by the treaty of Tien-tsin, which renewed the treaty of 1842, and further opened up China to British commerce. A dispute with Japan led to a treaty signed at Yeddo by Lord Elgin and the representatives of the Tycoon, enlarging British diplomatic and trade privileges in that country.

The Budget of Mr Disraeli imposed for the first time a penny stamp on bankers' cheques; a compromise was arrived at on the Oaths question, the words "on the true faith of a Christian" having hitherto prevented Jews from sitting in Parliament. They were now enabled to take the oath with the omission of these words, and Baron Rothschild took his seat for the City of London accordingly.

Among the other events of importance in the year were the satisfactory termination of a dispute with the Neapolitan Government arising out of the seizure of the Cagliari; a modified union, under a central Commission, of Moldavia and Wallachia; the despatch of Mr Gladstone by the Conservative Government as High Commissioner to the Ionian Islands; and the selection of Ottawa, formerly known as Bytown, for the capital of the Dominion of Canada.



Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 12th January 1858.

MY DEAREST UNCLE,—Accept my warmest thanks for your kind and affectionate letter of the 8th. I hope and trust to hear that your cold has left you, and that on Monday I shall have the immense happiness of embracing you.

It is a time of immense bustle and agitation; I feel it is terrible to give up one's poor child, and feel very nervous for the coming time, and for the departure. But I am glad to see Vicky is quite well again and unberufen has got over her cold and is very well. But she has had ever since January '57 a succession of emotions and leave-takings—most trying to any one, but particularly to so young a girl with such very powerful feelings. She is so much improved in self-control and is so clever (I may say wonderfully so), and so sensible that we can talk to her of anything—and therefore shall miss her sadly. But we try not to dwell on or to think of that, as I am sure it is much better not to do so and not get ourselves emus beforehand, or she will break down as well as we, and that never would do.

To-day arrive (on a visit here) her Court—which is a very good thing, so that she will get acquainted with them....

The affection for her, and the loyalty shown by the country at large on this occasion is most truly gratifying—and for so young a child really very, very pleasing to our feelings. The Nation look upon her, as Cobden said, as "England's daughter," and as if they married a child of their own, which is very satisfactory, and shows, in spite of a few newspaper follies and absurdities, how really sound and monarchical everything is in this country. Now, with Albert's love, ever your devoted Niece,



Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 9th February 1858.

MY DEAREST UNCLE,—Accept my warmest thanks for your very kind and affectionate letter of the 4th, with such kind accounts of our dear child, who was so thankful for your kindness and affection, and of whose immense and universal success and admirable behaviour—natural yet dignified—we have the most charming accounts. I send you a letter from Augusta[1] (Mecklenburg), which will give you an idea of the impression produced, begging you to let me have it back soon. She is quite well and not tired. But the separation was awful, and the poor child was quite broken-hearted, particularly at parting from her dearest beloved papa, whom she idolises. How we miss her, I can't say, and never having been separated from her since thirteen years above a fortnight, I am in a constant fidget and impatience to know everything about everything. It is a great, great trial for a Mother who has watched over her child with such anxiety day after day, to see her far away—dependent on herself! But I have great confidence in her good sense, clever head, kind and good heart, in Fritz's excellent character and devotion to her, and in faithful E. Stockmar, who possesses her entire confidence.

The blank she has left behind is very great indeed....

To-morrow is the eighteenth anniversary of my blessed marriage, which has brought such universal blessings on this country and Europe! For what has not my beloved and perfect Albert done? Raised monarchy to the highest pinnacle of respect, and rendered it popular beyond what it ever was in this country!

The Bill proposed by the Government to improve the law respecting conspiracy and assassination will pass, and Lord Derby has been most useful about it.[2] But people are very indignant here at the conduct of the French officers, and at the offensive insinuations against this country.[3]....

Hoping to hear that you are quite well, and begging to thank Leopold very much for his very kind letter, believe me, your devoted Niece,


[Footnote 1: Elder daughter of Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, and now Grand Duchess-Dowager of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.]

[Footnote 2: Lord Derby and his party, however, changed their attitude in the next few days, and succeeded in putting the Government in a minority.]

[Footnote 3: On the 14th of January, the assassination of the French Emperor, which had been planned in England by Felice Orsini and other refugees, was attempted. On the arrival of the Imperial carriage at the Opera House in the Rue Lepelletier, explosive hand-grenades were thrown at it, and though the Emperor and Empress were unhurt, ten people were either killed outright or died of their wounds, and over one hundred and fifty were injured. Notwithstanding the scene of carnage, their Majesties maintained their composure and sat through the performance of the Opera. In the addresses of congratulation to the Emperor on his escape (published, some of them inadvertently, in the official Moniteur), officers commanding French regiments used language of the most insulting character to England, and Count Walewski, the French Foreign Minister, in a despatch, recommended the British Government to take steps to prevent the right of asylum being abused.]


Viscount Palmerston to Queen Victoria.

PICCADILLY, 19th February 1858.

Viscount Palmerston presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and is sorry to have to inform your Majesty that the Government were beat this evening on Mr Milner Gibson's[4] Amendment by a majority of 19,[5] the numbers being for his Amendment, 234, and against it 215.

Mr Milner Gibson began the Debate by moving his Amendment in a speech of considerable ability, but abounding in misrepresentation, which nevertheless produced a marked effect upon the House. Mr Baines followed, but only argued the Bill without replying to Mr Gibson's speech. This was remarked upon by Mr Walpole, who followed him, and who said that though he approved of the Bill he could not vote for reading it a second time until Count Walewski's despatch had been answered. Mr MacMahon supported the Amendment, as did Mr Byng. Sir George Grey, who followed Mr Walpole, defended the Bill and the course pursued by the Government in not having answered Count Walewski's despatch until after the House of Commons should have affirmed the Bill by a Second Reading. Mr Spooner remained steady to his purpose, and would vote against the Amendment, though in doing so he should differ from his friends. Lord Harry Vane opposed the Amendment, as interfering with the passing of the Bill, and Mr Bentinck took the same line, and replied to some of the arguments of Mr Milner Gibson. Mr Henley said he should vote for the Amendment. The Lord Advocate made a good speech against it. Mr Gladstone spoke with his usual talent in favour of the Amendment, and was answered by the Attorney-General in a speech which would have convinced men who had not taken a previous determination. He was followed by Mr Disraeli, who seemed confident of success, and he was replied to by Viscount Palmerston, and the House then divided.

It seems that Lord Derby had caught at an opportunity of putting the Government in a minority. He saw that there were ninety-nine Members who were chiefly of the Liberal Party, who had voted against the Bill when it was first proposed, and who were determined to oppose it in all its stages. He calculated that if his own followers were to join those ninety-nine, the Government might be run hard, or perhaps be beaten, and he desired all his friends[6] to support Mr Milner Gibson; on the other hand, many of the supporters of the Government, relying upon the majority of 200, by which the leave to bring the Bill in had been carried, and upon the majority of 145 of last night, had gone out of town for a few days, not anticipating any danger to the Government from Mr Gibson's Motion, and thus an adverse division was obtained. Moreover, Count Walewski's despatch, the tone and tenor of which had been much misrepresented, had produced a very unfavourable effect on the mind of members in general, and there was a prevailing feeling very difficult to overcome, that the proposed Bill was somehow or other a concession to the demand of a Foreign Government. The Cabinet will have to consider at its meeting at three o'clock to-morrow what course the Government will have to pursue.

[Footnote 4: Mr Milner Gibson had found a seat at Ashton-under-Lyne.]

[Footnote 5: The Conspiracy Bill aimed at making conspiracy to murder a felony, instead of, as it had previously been, a misdemeanour, and leave had been given by a large majority to introduce it; but when Count Walewski's despatch to Count de Persigny came to be published, the feeling gained ground that the Government had shown undue subservience in meeting the representations of the French Ambassador. The despatch had not actually been answered, although verbal communications had taken place. The opposition to the Bill was concerted by Lord John Russell and Sir James Graham; see Parker's Sir James Graham, vol. ii. p. 236, and the observation of the Prince, post, 21st February, 1858. The purport of the Amendment was to postpone any reform in the criminal law till the French despatch had been replied to.]

[Footnote 6: See Ashley's Life of Lord Palmerston, vol. ii. p. 146.]



[Pageheading: OFFER TO LORD DERBY]

Memorandum by the Prince Albert.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 21st February 1858.

Lord Palmerston came at five o'clock from the Cabinet, and tendered his resignation in his own name, and that of his Colleagues. The Cabinet had well considered their position and found that, as the vote passed by the House, although the result of an accidental combination of parties, was virtually a vote of censure upon their conduct, they could not with honour or with any advantage to the public service carry on the Government.

The combination was the whole of the Conservative Party (Lord Derby's followers), Lord John Russell, the Peelites, with Mr Gladstone and the whole of the Radicals; but the Liberal Party generally is just now very angry with Lord Palmerston personally, chiefly on account of his apparent submission to French dictation, and the late appointment of Lord Clanricarde as Privy Seal, who is looked upon as a reprobate.[7] Lord Clanricarde's presence in the House of Commons during the Debate, and in a conspicuous place, enraged many supporters of Lord Palmerston to that degree that they voted at once with the Opposition.

[Footnote 7: Since his triumph at the polls in 1857, Lord Palmerston had been somewhat arbitrary in his demeanour, and had defied public opinion by taking Lord Clanricarde into the Government, after some unpleasant disclosures in the Irish Courts. While walking home on the 18th, after obtaining an immense majority on the India Bill, he was told by Sir Joseph Bethell that he ought, like the Roman Consuls in a triumph, to have some one to remind him that he was, as a minister, not immortal. Next day he was defeated.]

The Queen wrote to Lord Derby the letter here following;[8] he came a little after six o'clock. He stated that nobody was more surprised in his life than he had been at the result of the Debate, after the Government had only a few days before had a majority of more than 100 on the introduction of their Bill. He did not know how it came about, but thought it was the work of Lord John Russell and Sir James Graham in the interest of the Radicals; Mr Gladstone's junction must have been accidental. As to his own people, they had, owing to his own personal exertions, as the Queen was aware, though many very unwillingly, supported the Bill; but the amendment of Mr Milner Gibson was so skilfully worded, that it was difficult for them not to vote for it; he had to admit this when they came to him to ask what they should do, merely warning them to save the Measure itself, which the Amendment did. He then blamed the Government very much for leaving Count Walewski's despatch unanswered before coming before Parliament, which he could hardly understand.

[Footnote 8: Summoning him to advise her.]

On the Queen telling him that the Government had resigned, and that she commissioned him to form a new Administration, he begged that this offer might not be made to him without further consideration, and would state clearly his own position. After what had happened in 1851 and 1855, if the Queen made the offer he must accept it, for if he refused, the Conservative Party would be broken up for ever. Yet he would find a majority of two to one against him in the House of Commons, would have difficulty in well filling the important offices, found the external and internal relations of the country in a most delicate and complicated position, war in India and in China, difficulties with France, the Indian Bill introduced and a Reform Bill promised; nothing but the forbearance and support of some of his opponents would make it possible for him to carry on any Government. The person who was asked first by the Sovereign had always a great disadvantage; perhaps other combinations were possible, which, if found not to answer, would make him more readily accepted by the country. The position of Lord Palmerston was a most curious one, the House of Commons had been returned chiefly for the purpose of supporting him personally, and he had obtained a working majority of 100 (unheard of since the Reform Bill), yet his supporters had no principles in common and they generally suspected him; the question of the Reform Bill had made him and Lord John run a race for popularity which might lead to disastrous consequences. Lord Derby did not at all know what support he would be able to obtain in Parliament.

The Queen agreed to deferring her offer, and to take further time for consideration on the understanding that if she made it it would at once be accepted. Lord Derby expressed, however, his fear that the resignation of the Palmerston Cabinet might only be for the purpose of going through a crisis in order to come back again with new strength, for there existed different kinds of resignations, some for this purpose, others really for abandoning office.

A conversation which I had with Lord Clarendon after dinner, convinced me that the Cabinet had sent in their resignations from the real conviction of the impossibility to go on with honour and success; all offers of the friends of the Government to pass a vote of confidence, etc., etc., had been rejected. Lord Derby was the only man who could form a Government; Mr Gladstone would probably join him. The whole move had been planned, and most dexterously, by Sir James Graham.


Queen Victoria to the Earl of Derby.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 21st February 1858.

The Queen has reconsidered the question of the formation of a new Government as she had settled with Lord Derby yesterday, and now writes to him to tell him that further reflection has only confirmed her in her former resolution to offer the task to Lord Derby. The resignation of the present Government is the result of a conscientious conviction on their part, that, damaged by the censure passed upon them in the House of Commons, they cannot with honour to themselves, or usefulness to the country, carry on public affairs, and Lord Derby is at the head of the only Party which affords the materials of forming a new Government, is sufficiently organised to secure a certain support, and which the country would accept as an alternative for that hitherto in power. Before actually offering any specific office to anybody, Lord Derby would perhaps have another interview with the Queen; but it would be right that he should have satisfied himself a little as to his chances of strengthening his hands before she sees him. With regard to the position of the India Bill, the Queen must also have a further conversation with him.

[Pageheading: LORD DERBY'S VIEW]

The Earl of Derby to Queen Victoria.

ST JAMES'S SQUARE, 21st February 1858.

Lord Derby, with his humble duty, begs your Majesty to accept his grateful acknowledgment of the signal mark of your Majesty's favour, with which he has this morning been honoured. Encouraged by your Majesty's gracious confidence, he does not hesitate to submit himself to your Majesty's pleasure, and will address himself at once to the difficult task which your Majesty has been pleased to entrust to him. He fears that he can hardly hope, in the formation of a Government, for much extrinsic aid; as almost all the men of eminence in either House of Parliament are more or less associated with other parties, whose co-operation it would be impossible to obtain. Lord Derby will not, however, hesitate to make the attempt in any quarters, in which he may think he has any chance of success. With regard to the filling up of particular offices, Lord Derby would humbly beg your Majesty to bear in mind that, although among his own personal friends there will be every desire to make individual convenience subservient to the public interest, yet among those who are not now politically connected with him, there may be some, whose co-operation or refusal might be greatly influenced by the office which it was proposed that they should hold; and, in such cases, Lord Derby must venture to bespeak your Majesty's indulgence should he make a definite offer, subject, of course, to your Majesty's ultimate approval.

As soon as Lord Derby has made any progress in his proposed arrangements, he will avail himself of your Majesty's gracious permission to solicit another Audience.

Queen Victoria to the Earl of Derby.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 21st February 1858.

The Queen has just received Lord Derby's letter, and would wish under all circumstances to see him at six this evening, in order to hear what progress he has made in his plans. The two offices the Queen is most anxious should not be prejudged in any way, before the Queen has seen Lord Derby again, are the Foreign and the War Departments.


The Earl of Derby to Queen Victoria.

ST JAMES'S SQUARE, 21st February 1858.

Lord Derby, with his humble duty, submits to your Majesty the two letters which he has this evening received from Lord Grey and Mr Gladstone.[9] The reasons contained in the latter do not appear to Lord Derby to be very conclusive; but he fears the result must be that he cannot look, in the attempt to form a Cabinet, to much extraneous assistance. With deep regret Lord Derby is compelled to add that he finds he cannot rely with certainty on the support of his son as a member of his proposed Cabinet.[10] Still, having undertaken the task he has in obedience to your Majesty's commands, Lord Derby will not relax in his efforts to frame such a Government as may be honoured with your Majesty's gracious approval, and prove itself equal to the emergency which calls it together.

While in the very act of putting up this letter, Lord Derby has received one, which he also presumes to enclose to your Majesty, from Lord St Leonards, alleging his advanced age as a reason for not accepting the Great Seal which he formerly held. This reply has been wholly unexpected; and it is yet possible that Lord St Leonards may be induced, at least temporarily, to withdraw his resignation. Should it, however, prove otherwise, and Lord Derby should succeed in making his other arrangements, he would humbly ask your Majesty's permission to endeavour to persuade Mr Pemberton Leigh to accept that high office, of course accompanied by the honour of the Peerage, which he is aware has been already on more than one occasion offered to him. Lord Derby begs to add that he has not had the slightest communication with Mr Pemberton Leigh on the subject, nor has the least idea as to his feelings upon it.

[Footnote 9: Lord Grey wrote—"I am much obliged to you for the manner in which you have asked my assistance in performing the task confided to you by Her Majesty.

"I am not insensible to the danger of the present crisis, or to the duty it imposes on public men, of giving any aid in their power towards forming an Administration which may command respect. I am also aware that the settlement of the important political questions, on which we have differed, has removed many of the obstacles which would formerly have rendered my acting with you impracticable. Upon the other hand, upon carefully considering the present state of affairs and the materials at your disposal (especially in the House of Commons) for forming an Administration, and that all the political friends with whom I have been connected, would probably be opposed to it, I do not think it would be either useful to you or honourable to myself that I should singly join your Government."

Mr Gladstone wrote—"I am very sensible of the importance of the vote taken on Friday, and I should deeply lament to see the House of Commons trampled on in consequence of that vote. The honour of the House is materially involved in giving it full effect. It would therefore be my first wish to aid, if possible, in such a task; and remembering the years when we were colleagues, I may be permitted to say that there is nothing in the fact of your being the Head of a Ministry, which would avail to deter me from forming part of it.

"Among the first questions I have had to put to myself in consequence of the offer, which you have conveyed to me in such friendly and flattering terms, has been the question, whether it would be in my power by accepting it, either alone, or in concert with others, to render you material service.

"After the long years, during which we have been separated, there would be various matters of public interest requiring to be noticed between us; but the question I have mentioned is a needful preliminary.

"Upon the best consideration which the moment allows, I think it plain that alone, as I must be, I could not render you service worth your having.

"The dissolution of last year excluded from Parliament men with whom I had sympathies, and it in some degree affected the position of those political friends with whom I have now for many years been united, through evil and (much more rarely) good report.

"Those who lament the rupture of old traditions may well desire the reconstruction of a Party; but the reconstitution of a Party can only be effected, if at all, by the return of the old influences to their places, and not by the junction of one isolated person.

"The difficulty is now enhanced in my case by the fact that in your party, reduced as it is at the present moment in numbers, there is a small but active and not unimportant section, who avowedly regard me as the representative of the most dangerous ideas. I should thus, unfortunately, be to you a source of weakness in the heart of your own adherents, while I should bring you no Party or group of friends to make up for their defection or discontent.

"For the reasons which I have thus stated or glanced at, my reply to your letter must be in the negative.

"I must, however, add that a Government formed by you at this time will in my opinion have strong claims upon me, and upon any one situated as I am, for favourable presumptions, and in the absence of conscientious difference on important questions, for support.

"I have had an opportunity of seeing Lord Aberdeen and Sidney Herbert, and they fully concur in the sentiment I have just expressed."]

[Footnote 10: See ante, 31st October, 1855, note 87.]


Queen Victoria to the Earl of Derby.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 22nd February 1858.

The Queen acknowledges Lord Derby's letter of yesterday, and returns him these three letters. She much regrets that he cannot reckon on the support and assistance in the Government, which he is about to form, of such able men. The Queen authorises Lord Derby to offer the office of Lord Chancellor with a Peerage to Mr Pemberton Leigh; but she fears from what passed on previous occasions that he is not likely to accept it.[11]

[Footnote 11: He declined the office, and the Great Seal was offered to and accepted by Sir Frederick Thesiger, who was created Lord Chelmsford.]

Queen Victoria to the Earl of Derby.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 22nd February 1858.

The Queen has had a long conversation with the Duke of Newcastle, which however ended, as Lord Derby will have expected from what the Duke must have told him, in his declaring his conviction that he could be of no use to the new Government by joining it, or in persuading his friends to change their minds as to joining. The Duke was evidently much pleased by the offer, but from all he said of his position, the Queen could gather that it was in vain to press him further.

[Pageheading: THE NEW CABINET]

The Earl of Derby to Queen Victoria.

ST JAMES'S SQUARE, 25th February 1858.

Lord Derby presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and fears that after your Majesty's most gracious acceptance of the propositions which he has made, he may appear to your Majesty very vacillating, in having at the last moment to submit to your Majesty another change.... But he finds that Lord John Manners, though he consented to take the Colonial Department, would infinitely prefer resuming his seat at the Board of Works; and on the urgent representation of his Colleagues that the Government would be strengthened by such a step, Lord Stanley has consented to accept office; and the arrangement which he would now venture humbly to submit to your Majesty would be the appointment of Lord Stanley to the Colonial Secretaryship, and Lord John Manners to the Board of Works....

The Ministry as it The Ministry as formed stood on the 1st of by the Earl of Derby January 1858. in February 1858.






Sir GEORGE GREY Home Secretary Mr WALPOLE.


MR LABOUCHERE Colonial Secretary LORD STANLEY (afterwards LORD (afterwards EARL TAUNTON) OF DERBY).


Sir G. C. LEWIS Chancellor of the Mr DISRAELI Exchequer (afterwards EARL OF BEACONSFIELD)

Sir CHARLES WOOD First Lord of the Sir JOHN PAKINGTON (afterwards VISCOUNT Admiralty (afterwards LORD HALIFAX) HAMPTON).

Mr VERNON SMITH President of the EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH. (afterwards LORD Board of Control LYVEDEN)

LORD STANLEY OF President of the Mr HENLEY. ALDERLEY Board of Trade

Mr M. T. BAINES Chancellor of the (Not in the Cabinet.) Duchy of Lancaster

DUKE OF ARGYLL Postmaster-General (Not in the Cabinet.)

(Not in the Cabinet) First Commissioner LORD JOHN MANNERS of Works and (afterwards Public Buildings DUKE OF RUTLAND).

[Pageheading: THE ORSINI PLOT]


The Earl of Malmesbury to Queen Victoria.

WHITEHALL, 7th March 1858.

The Earl of Malmesbury presents his humble duty to the Queen, and has the honour to thank your Majesty for the interesting letter[12] sent to him by your Majesty, and which he returns to your Majesty by this messenger. Lord Malmesbury hopes and believes that much of the excitement that prevailed on the other side the water is subsiding. All his letters from private sources, and the account of Colonel Claremont, agree on this point. In this country, if our differences with France are settled, it is probable that the popular jealousy of foreign interference will be killed; but at least for some time it will show foreign Courts how dangerous it is even to criticise our domestic Institutions. Lord Malmesbury has carefully abstained from giving Lord Cowley or M. de Persigny the slightest hope that we could alter the law, but has confined himself to saying that the law was itself as much on its trial as the prisoners Bernard and Truelove.[13] If, therefore, the law should prove to be a phantom of justice, or anomalous in its action, whatever measures your Majesty's Government may hereafter take to reform it, it will be received by France as an unexpected boon and a proof of good faith and amity.

In attending to the idea referred to by your Majesty that the Emperor took the oath of the Assassins' Society, Lord Malmesbury can almost assure your Majesty that such is not the case.[14] Lord Malmesbury first made His Majesty's acquaintance in Italy when they were both very young men (twenty years of age). They were both under the influence of those romantic feelings which the former history and the present degradation of Italy may naturally inspire even at a more advanced time of life—and the Prince Louis Napoleon, to the knowledge of Lord Malmesbury, certainly engaged himself in the conspiracies of the time—but it was with the higher class of the Carbonari, men like General Sercognani and General Pepe. The Prince used to talk to Lord Malmesbury upon these men and their ideas and plans with all the openness that exists between two youths, and Lord Malmesbury has many times heard him condemn with disgust the societies of villains which hung on the flank of the conspirators, and which deterred many of the best families and ablest gentlemen in Romagna from joining them. Lord Malmesbury believes the report therefore to be a fable, and at some future period will, if it should interest your Majesty, relate to your Majesty some details respecting the Emperor's share in the conspiracies of 1828-1829....

[Footnote 12: This was a letter from the Prince de Chimay to the King of the Belgians in reference to the Orsini plot.]

[Footnote 13: Before Lord Palmerston's Government had retired, Simon Bernard, a resident of Bayswater, was committed for trial for complicity in the Orsini attentat. He was committed for conspiracy only, but, at the instance of the new Government, the charge was altered to one of feloniously slaying one of the persons killed by the explosion. As this constructive murder was actually committed on French soil, Bernard's trial had, under the existing law, to be held before a Special Commission, over which Lord Campbell presided. The evidence overwhelmingly established the prisoner's guilt, but, carried away by the eloquent, if irrelevant, speech of Mr Edwin James for the defence, the jury acquitted him. Truelove was charged with criminal libel, for openly approving, in a published pamphlet, Orsini's attempt, and regretting its failure. The Government threw up the prosecution, pusillanimously in the judgment of Lord Campbell, who records that he carefuly studied, with a view to his own hearing of the case, the proceedings against Lord George Gordon for libelling Marie Antoinette, against Vint for libelling the Emperor Paul, and against Peltier for libelling Napoleon I.]

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16     Next Part
Home - Random Browse