LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The “Pope” of Holland House
Chapter VIII: 1820

Chapter I: 1813
Chapter II: 1814
Chapter III: 1815
Chapter IV: 1816
Chapter V: 1817
Chapter VI: 1818
Chapter VII: 1819
‣ Chapter VIII: 1820
Chapter IX: 1821
Chapter X: 1822
Chapter XI: 1824-33
Chapter XII: 1833-35
Chapter XIII: 1806-40
Chapter XIV: Appendix
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The King’s health—Gray’s Inn—Charge against the Queen—Burckhardt’s book—Hobhouse—Hunt—Sir Walter Scott and “The Monastery”—Lord Lansdowne—Brougham—The Queen—Journey to Scotland—Dugald Stewart—Dr. Chalmers—The Queen’s trial—Politics—Warburton and Electricity—Murray’s new books—Canning’s resignation—Bowood—Peel.
From Mr. Whishaw to Mr. Smith.
Jan. 22, 1820.

TWO events occupy our conversation here, the King’s health, which is rapidly declining and which makes it pretty certain that this is to be the last Session of the present Parliament, and the supposed downfall of Lady Hertford. Her successor, Lady Conyngham, is the present reigning favourite; and, as she is tolerant and good-natured, will render the Court much more agreeable. But Lady H. will not yield easily, and is disposed to make a last effort to bring back her lover; and as she is greatly superior to her rival in sense and judgment, she may perhaps ultimately be successful. The divorce, or some parliamentary measure upon that subject, will probably be brought forward immediately.

Gray’s Inn
Jan. 29th.

The King is rapidly declining; and it is confidently said to-day that he cannot live out the night. The new Queen will immediately appoint Brougham and probably Denman her Attorney and Solicitor General; by which they will acquire professional rank and precedence. But these, I am afraid, will be of short duration, for it is determined that she shall be unqueened.

Feb. 14, 1820.

I write a few lines to excuse, or rather to account for, my silence, which has been occasioned partly by business and partly by my having become a Bencher of Gray’s Inn, where I have often dined during term-time, and their hours being early, I am obliged to hurry from the office where I am often kept till near four, and then I have no time to write letters. The society of the Bench table is not particularly good, nor the conversation very enlightened; we are two Whigs (Bell and myself) to about fourteen Tories. But there is great civility and an excellent dinner; and the variety produced by the old customs, the venerable Hall, and the general air of antiquity is altogether very agreeable.

We look shortly for a dissolution of Parliament, which I am afraid will be unfavourable to the Whigs. The country, I am afraid, at present, is in a very different state from what was the case at the last General Election. But the meditated charge against the Queen may perhaps infuse a little spirit into the public. It is expected to be brought forward immediately, as Her Majesty is not to be prayed for in the churches.


Hobhouse is considered as not having been well used by the Judges, but he lost little, probably, by not being heard. His argument, as published in the papers, is a strange mass of ill-digested information, and shows no legal acuteness.

Burckhardt’s book on Africa is far from interesting, and not worth the purchase. The most curious part of his travels (to Mecca and Medina) is withheld for the present—for what reason is not stated. I hope soon to send you an engraving of poor Sir Samuel Romilly, which I hope you will hang up in your breakfast-room.

March 25th.

Hobhouse, I conclude, has been elected to-day, and I hope will conduct himself with reasonable prudence and temper in Parliament, where he will have many enemies; but he has shown great courage and considerable talent during the whole of the election. Lamb’s Government support, on which he principally relied in a great degree, failed him. The King was favourable to his cause, but the Ministers, with the exception of Canning and Huskisson, stood aloof and were indifferent.

Hunt’s trial,1 which will probably terminate to-day,

1 Henry Hunt, the hero of Peterloo, born 1773, died 1835; was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, which he passed in Ilchester Gaol. He had contested Bristol against Sir Samuel Romilly, stood in 1818 unsuccessfully for Westminster, and opposed Hobhouse in 1819 for the same constituency, thereby securing the election of George Lamb. Was elected for Preston in 1830, and presented the first petition for the Rights of Women.

Sir Samuel Romilly called him “a most unprincipled demagogue” (“Dictionary of National Biography”).

“The Monastery”
is very interesting. The case against him, even as stated by
Scarlett, was not a strong one, and was feebly supported by evidence. The result, whatever may be the verdict, cannot but be discreditable to the Manchester magistrates and their panegyrists.

Walter Scott is arrived in town, to be made a baronet. His new novel, “The Monastery,” is just published, and he has now in hand a continuation of it, which is to be called “The Abbot,” or by some such name. He has received for these two novels and “Ivanhoe” 9,000 guineas, and 11,000 for the copyright of the former “Tales of my Landlord.”

April 8, 1820.

You have probably read the new novel of “The Monastery,” and have doubtless been pleased with many parts of it, though it seems generally considered as a failure, and as a whole it has certainly many defects. But it contains many passages which none but Scott could have written. Among these, the two monks, Boniface and Eustace, and the Reformer (Henry Warden) have given me the greatest pleasure. Some of the earlier appearances of the Spirit (provided such supernatural beings are to be allowed) have considerable merit; and several of the subordinate characters, especially Christy of the Clinthill, are very good. But the coxcomb of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, Sir Piercy Shafton (besides being an anachronism), is quite intolerable. On the whole it seems to me to hold a respectable rank in the second class of these remarkable novels.

Their great author, who arrived very lately to
Walter Scott
receive his title, is now here enjoying his honours, and apparently in excellent health and spirits. He is going back to marry his
daughter to Mr. Lockhart, a writer in Blackwood’s Magazine, and the principal author of “Peter’s Letters,” in which he has given a particular account of Playfair, Jeffrey, &c., with none of whom he is acquainted. This work and his connection with Blackwood’s Magazine have fixed a certain stigma on him; and though he is an advocate and sufficiently pleasing in his manners, he is hardly noticed or spoken to by the Whig lawyers, who give the tone at Edinburgh. He will now be the leading wit, next to his father-in-law, of the Tories.

The marriage, Scott says, must necessarily take place this month, on account of the Caledonian superstition relative to marriages solemnized in May. Such a circumstance, he says, would dwell on his daughter’s imagination, and if anything unfortunate occurred would be productive of serious consequences.

July 19, 1820.

You will see by the papers that Lord Lansdowne has gained a great triumph over the Chancellor by the repeal of the capital punishment in the Bills brought up from the Committee on Criminal Law. It is a striking and instructive instance of the effect of public opinion. The Ministers made a wretched figure on the Barracks and Alien Bill. Lord Holland has spoken admirably on the latter subject.

July 28, 1820.

I have received a long and lively letter from
Brougham, who left town very ill, but has recovered his health and come into full business on the circuit, from which he has been absent five or six years. This has delighted him with the profession of the law, which he vows he never will abandon. It is indeed a very extraordinary and flattering kind of success, and an additional proof of the force and versatility of his talents! In the meanwhile he is writing for the Edinburgh Review, and is in constant correspondence with the Queen, and had time to attend the Archbishop’s sermon and the venison feast on Sunday.

Aug. 31, 1820.

The interest taken by the public in the Queen’s cause is apparent from the great number of letters which Vizard1 daily receives, containing information and suggestions on this subject. Notwithstanding the publication of the evidence the zeal of the people does not seem to abate (witness the proceedings of the crowded and unanimous meeting of the parish of Marylebone), and if the same spirit should continue, it will be difficult for the House of Commons to pass the Bill.

Dalquharran Castle, Ayrshire,
Sept. 15, 1820.

I have now been more than a week at Mr. Kennedy’s2 in Ayrshire, and am happy to inform you that I found my friends here very well, and

1 The Queen’s solicitor.

2 The Right Hon. T. Kennedy had married Miss Romilly, Sir Samuel’s daughter.

Journey to Scotland
their place very beautiful, much exceeding my most sanguine expectations. The house is of stone, handsome, warm, and substantial, such as the climate requires, having been built between thirty and forty years ago when labour and materials, then comparatively cheap, were much less thought of than at present.

I had a very pleasant journey, and contrived to see several new and interesting objects on my way, passing through Nottinghamshire to see the series of Dukes’ parks, and afterwards through the West Riding of Yorkshire. I saw Birkstall and Bolton Abbey, the latter of which, with its beautiful grounds kept so well by the Duke of Devonshire, detained me a full day. I passed a day also at Brougham Hall, near Penrith, and was highly gratified by the kindness and good sense of old Mrs. Brougham (the niece of Dr. Robertson), who received me, in her son’s absence, in the most cordial and hospitable manner. At Dumfries I came by a beautiful road, along the vale of the Nith, to Sanquhar, and from thence crossed into Ayrshire.

I have had another good letter from Mallet, which may perhaps be worth sending, after I have shown it to Leonard Horner at Edinburgh. He speaks of the great diffusion of Liberal principles throughout the Continent, and entertains no doubt that France will shortly put herself at the head of a new order of things in Europe, with far greater advantage than she possessed in 1792. Of course this will not be till the termination of the Bourbon Dynasty, an event not supposed to be very distant.

The Queen’s Divorce
Oct. 14, 1820.

Warburton has just called to give me an account of his visit,1 and to desire that I will write to you respecting the proceedings against the Queen and their probable result. I wish it was possible for me to gratify your curiosity; but the aspect of affairs changes so much from day to day that it is impossible to say what will or will not happen. A week ago everything was favourable to the Queen, but the evidence of the two lieutenants, or rather the manner in which it was taken up by the Lords, produced a great reverse of fortune; and it seemed as if the Bill was at last to be carried. Yesterday the affair of Rastelli turned up very opportunely for Her Majesty, and seems to have given a new turn to the proceedings. I have not heard what has been done this morning, upon which a good deal may depend; but as the Bill stands at present it is certainly a good deal damaged, and stands upon very narrow ground. If Lord Liverpool chooses, the Bill may be carried through the House of Lords; but the difficulty in the Commons will be much greater, though probably not insuperable. After what has passed, however, it will be impossible, I apprehend, to satisfy the great mass of the country; and perhaps this circumstance and the continued ferment which the measure is likely to occasion, may perhaps induce the Ministers to withdraw the Bill.

Whatever may be the result of these proceedings, you must not suppose that there is the smallest prospect of a change of Administration. The Sovereign

1 To Easton Grey.

The Whigs
even if favourably disposed to Whig Ministers (which is very questionable) is feeble and timid; and the present men have a strong hold upon Parliament and the country, and could not effectually be displaced without a great effort. For my part, I never expect to see again a Whig Ministry, and I do not know, considering by how frail a tenure they must hold their offices, whether such a thing is desirable.

I hope you will agree with me that the Whig Lords, Grey, Lansdowne, and Holland, have distinguished themselves honourably on the present occasion. Have you seen “Advice to Julia” a poem, and “Essays by a Gentleman who has left his Lodgings”? The former is by Luttrell and the latter by Lord J. Russell; and both of them are well worth looking at.

Oct. 21, 1820.

In your last letter you expressed a wish to know something of what I saw in Scotland. After leaving Mr. Kennedy’s I travelled by the Ayrshire coast, and the shores of the Forth of Clyde to Greenock and Glasgow. Greenock, the port of Glasgow, is a beautiful town which has risen up during the last thirty years, and considering the picturesque country in which it is situated, is one of the most striking seaports in the island. The docks and Custom House are magnificent, and everything appeared to be flourishing. It has no less than twenty-eight steamboats, which go regularly to Glasgow, Inverary and many of the lochs, to several of the different islands, and to Belfast and Liverpool. This new power will change the face of Nature in many parts of the High-
Dugald Stewart
lands. Places at the distance (by land) of perhaps a hundred miles, and hardly accessible before, are now become the residences of Glasgow merchants, who visit them every week or fortnight during the summer.

From Glasgow I went to Mr. Dugald Stewart, who resides at Kinneil, near Linlithgow, a curious old house strikingly situated near the Firth of Forth. It belongs to the Duke of Hamilton, and is one of the most ancient possessions of the family. I passed two days very agreeably and instructively with Mr. and Mrs. Stewart and their daughter. He had just finished the second part of his introduction to the Encyclopedia, and was in excellent health and spirits, and, indeed, in high “Whiggism.” He was very kind, frank, and communicative; and as he has lived in intimacy with some of the most considerable Scotch literati of the last age—Dr. Robertson, Adam Smith, and Ferguson—you may suppose that my time was passed very pleasantly.

From thence I went to Edinburgh, where I could stay only three days, during which I went over into Fife, to Mr. Ferguson, of Raith, a delightful and most hospitable house. Whilst I was there I heard the famous preacher Dr. Chalmers, who happened to be at the neighbouring town of Kirkcaldy, the birthplace of Adam Smith, and his residence when he wrote the “Wealth of Nations.”

Dr. Chalmers did not satisfy my expectations. He has considerable powers, but is exaggerated in manner and matter. He preaches the high Calvinistic doctrines, and is, of course, deficient in good sense,
Lord Liverpool
and probably also in good faith. I greatly doubt his sincerity. But he is an excellent parish priest at Glasgow, very active and judicious in all matters relating to the poor, and he probably considers these violent doctrines as being most popular and efficient.

I returned from Edinburgh by the great North road, making a slight détour by Melrose and Kelso, along the banks of the Tweed, where I saw Abbotsford, Walter Scott’s place, which has nothing remarkable in a beautiful country.

The Queen’s trial is going on very heavily; but it is not certain yet whether it will be carried against her in the House of Lords. Lord Byron has sent Murray a tragedy reported to be very fine, called “Marino Falieri, Doge of Venice.”

Nov. 11, 1820.

Up to yesterday I could have given you no decided opinion as to the ultimate fate of the Bill.1 It was generally thought that the Ministers would carry the measure (if possible) through both Houses; and they have shown themselves so regardless of public opinion during these proceedings and on several occasions, that it seemed probable that they would make the attempt. The conduct of Lord Liverpool yesterday, however obvious and proper, was a great surprise to most of his friends, and the Chancellor amongst others called out, “Not content.” It is now said that he had determined to withdraw the Bill if the majority should be under fifteen. Lord Liverpool has lost character with all parties. He has

1 For the Queen’s divorce.

Lord Liverpool
certainly given great office to the Court, and it is reported to-day that he is to retire from office, and that the rest are to go on with the assistance of
Peel and some of the Grenvilles. No other kind of change is even surmised, and I believe that this report is entirely without foundation. In the present state of affairs Lord Liverpool is very necessary to his colleagues, and after nearly thirty years passed in administration, office is very necessary to Lord Liverpool.

Mrs. Graham1 left London nearly a fortnight ago for Portsmouth. Lord Melville some time since promised Captain Graham the first ship that should be put in commission, but has lately told him he sees no prospect of sending out any ship of war. Now, however, he may perhaps have some chance; for it is reported that as the Ministers cannot accommodate His Majesty by a Bill of Degradation, they will gratify him by sending a small fleet of observation to the Mediterranean, to keep Naples in check and to forward the views of the Holy Alliance in Italy.

I saw Warburton yesterday. He is much interested about an experiment lately made at Copenhagen, tending to show a connection between electricity and magnetism. The paper was read at the Royal Society on Thursday last, but Warburton was unable to attend. It is a most interesting subject, and may lead to very important discoveries.2

I have just seen Lord Lansdowne, who is to go to

1 Afterwards the wife of Sir A. Callcott.

2 “On the Magnetic Phenomena Produced by Electricity,” a letter from Sir H. Davy to Dr. Wollaston, read at the Royal Society on Nov. 16, 1820.

Lord Liverpool
Bowood on Monday or Tuesday. He and
Lord Grey have principally distinguished themselves in the late proceedings, and have materially contributed to the failure of the Bill. The speeches on the other side were very inferior; the Chancellor was thought quite feeble, and Lord Liverpool was very unfair, and, contrary to his usual manner, greatly overstated the facts of the case. Lord Lauderdale was much more ingenious and acute, but he pressed everything into the cause with the indiscriminate vehemence of an eager and unskilful advocate.

Murray says that, in consequence of the Queen’s affair being disposed of, he can now venture to publish. He will shortly produce “Marino Faliero,” Lord Byron’s tragedy, the third and fourth cantos of “Don Juan,” and Horace Walpole’sMemoirs of the Reigns of George II. and III.” He expects a very good book from Captain Parry, with whom, I suppose, you are well acquainted.1

Nov. 18th.

I hear at a distance many political rumours, but have not the slightest expectation of any political change. Lord Liverpool has certainly lost character with the public, but he retains great parliamentary strength, quite sufficient to enable him to carry on the Government; and we shall see everything go on much as usual during the next Session.

Though I sincerely partake of your joy on account

1 Sir William Parry, Arctic explorer, returned from his first expedition in October, 1820. His journal of “A Voyage for the Discovery of the North-West Passage” came out in 1821.

The Queen
of the failure of the Bill, I imagine that we differ somewhat respecting the personal character of the
Queen, which I have never highly valued. I think, at the same time, that her guilt was by no means judicially proved, and should have pronounced her “not guilty” upon the evidence; but the generality of the higher classes seem to be against her on this point. The affair of the Polacre, and the testimony of the two lieutenants (her own witnesses) have produced a great impression against, and one may apply to the Queen and her counsel the French proverb, taken from Molière, “Que diable allez vous faire dans cette galère?”

I have little doubt that some attempts will be made to reduce the Queen’s establishment, or to stigmatise her in some way, upon the verdict found by the House of Lords. It is said that many of the Tory county gentlemen, and several of the “Saints,” will join in the project; but much will depend on the state of public opinion two months hence.

The bishops, unquestionably (as you observe), have suffered both in and out of the House. Lord Eldon was very angry with them for the bad figure they made on the divorce clause, and said to another peer (during his passion), “You, my Lord, are a reformer; I am not, but I sincerely wish you could get those fellows,” pointing at the bishops, “out of the House. They do nothing but disgrace us.”

I am glad you like “Julia,” which is very clever and lively. You know probably, that it is written by Luttrell.

Dec. 21st.

Mr. Canning’s resignation is a considerable political event, and seems to show that the Ministers are determined to persevere in their system of hostility against the Queen. It is doubted, however, whether Huskisson and his other friends will follow him out of office; and it is certain that he will not himself go into opposition. Probably he will assist them on great emergencies not connected with the Queen’s case; and perhaps there may be some understanding with regard to his return to office at a convenient period. It is said that the measure upon which the continuance of the present Ministers is to be tried is the restoration of the Queen to the Liturgy. If they are beat on this question, it is understood they will certainly retire; such at least is the language of several of their friends.

Bowood, Dec. 24, 1820.

We arrived at Bowood yesterday, after a very agreeable journey, about a quarter of an hour after Miss Edgeworth’s departure. I was much mortified to miss her, as well as my friend Hallam, who also left Bowood yesterday. It would give me great pleasure to find Miss Edgeworth at Easton Grey, but I much fear that she will have left you before Thursday, the day on which I propose being with you. I am sorry that the young Romillys cannot avail themselves of your kind invitation. I shall be under the necessity of returning from Easton Grey to Bowood, having engaged to escort Mary Fox,1 Lord

1 Afterwards Lady Lilford.

Holland’s surviving daughter (who has been some time at Bowood), to London.

We have just heard that Peel is to succeed Canning, as was expected.