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The Creevey Papers
Ch. II: 1805

Vol. I. Contents
Ch. I: 1793-1804
‣ Ch. II: 1805
Ch. III: 1805
Ch. IV: 1806-08
Ch. V: 1809
Ch. VI: 1810
Ch. VII: 1811
Ch. VIII: 1812
Ch. IX: 1813-14
Ch X: 1814-15
Ch XI: 1815-16
Ch XII: 1817-18
Ch XIII: 1819-20
Vol. II. Contents
Ch I: 1821
Ch. II: 1822
Ch. III: 1823-24
Ch. IV: 1825-26
Ch. V: 1827
Ch. VI: 1827-28
Ch. VII: 1828
Ch. VIII: 1829
Ch. IX: 1830-31
Ch. X: 1832-33
Ch. XI: 1833
Ch. XII: 1834
Ch XIII: 1835-36
Ch XIV: 1837-38
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The following holograph note, without date, probably belongs to the year 1805, and is interesting as being written by the future William IV. on behalf of the future George IV.:—

H.R.H. the Duke of Clarence to Mr. Creevey
“St. James’s, Friday night.
“Dear Sir,

“The Prince desires you will meet at dinner here on Saturday the Eighteenth instant at six o’Clock Lord [illegible] and Sheridan. I hope I need not add how happy your presence will make me. I remain

“Yours sincerely,

Foreign politics during these years absorbed all the energies of Ministers, and diverted Pitt from those schemes of reform which undoubtedly lay near his heart. But the spirit of reform was awake, though it was crushed out of the plans of the Cabinet by stress of circumstance. The Opposition enjoyed more freedom and less responsibility. Creevey attached himself to that section of it which was foremost in hunting out abuses and proposing drastic measures of redress. At this time Henry Dundas, Viscount Melville, was
First Lord of the Admiralty. The 10th Report of the Commission appointed “to inquire into frauds and abuses in the Royal Navy” contained grave charges against Melville, who was accused in the House of Commons of malversation in his office of Treasurer of the Navy, committed in years subsequent to 1782. The division on 8th April showed 216 votes in each lobby, when the Speaker gave his casting vote in favour of
Whitbread’s motion. Melville at once resigned, and his name was erased from the list of Privy Councillors. He was impeached before the House of Lords and acquitted, but not till 12th June, 1806, six months after Pitt’s death.

“I have ever thought,” wrote Lord Fitzharris, “that an aiding cause in Pitt’s death, certainly one that tended to shorten his existence, was the result of the proceedings against his old friend and colleague Lord Melville.”

Mr. Creevey to Dr. Currie.
“13th March, 1805.

“. . . I am trying to learn my lesson as a future under-secretary or Secretary of the Treasury. . . . We had a famous debate on Sheridan’s motion: never anything was so hollow as the argument on our side. Sherry’s speech and reply were both excellent. In that part of his reply when he fired upon Pitt for his treachery to the Catholics, Pitt’s eyes started with defiance from their sockets, and seemed to tell him if he advanced an atom further he would have his life. Sherry left him a little alone and tickled him about the greatness of his mind and the good temper of Melville; and then he turned upon him again with redoubled fury. . . . Never has it fallen to my lot to hear such words before in publick or in private used by man to man.”

“April 13, 1805.

“. . . We have had indeed most famous sport with this same Leviathan, Lord Melville. His tumbling so soon was as unexpected by all of us as it was by himself or you. It was clear from the first that he was ruined sooner or later, but no one anticipated his defeat upon the first Attack, and supported as he was by the Addingtons as well as Pitts, and with the nostrum held out, too, of further enquiry by a secret Committee. The history of that celebrated night presents a wide field of attack upon Pitt under all the infinite difficulties of his situation; a clamour for reform in the expenditure of the publick money is at last found to be the touchstone of the House of Commons and of the publick. . . . Grey is to give notice immediately when we meet to bring in a bill appointing Commissioners to examine into abuses in the Army, in the Barracks—the Ordnance—the Commissariat Departments. This plan, if it is worth anything . . . must place Pitt in the cursedest dilemma possible. Can he refuse enquiry when it is so loudly called for? or, if he grants it, what must become of the Duke of York and the Greenwoods and Hammersleys and Delaneys, &c., &c., &c., whose tricks with money in these departments would whitewash those of Trotter by comparison. . . . I have no hesitation in saying that Pitt must be more than man to stand it. . . . You can form no notion of his fallen crest in the House of Commons—of his dolorous, distracted air. He betrayed Melville only to save himself, and so the Dundas’s think and say. His own ruin must come next, and that, I think, at no great distance. You may have perceived I have not deserted from my enquiries into less important jobs, although old Fordyce* got such assistance from Fox. The latter, I have reason to believe, repents most cursedly of that business. Grey and Whitbread have acted with unparalleled kindness to me. I mean to have another touch at Fordyce when we meet again. . . . At our

* John Fordyce, Esq., of Ayton, Berwickshire, Receiver-General of Land Tax in Scotland. He married Miss Catherine Maxwell of Monreith, sister of Jane, Duchess of Gordon.

first dinner after my motion about Fordyce, about three days after, there were, I daresay, fifty or sixty people, Fox in the chair. I was sulky and getting pretty drunk, when Fox call’d upon me for a toast—a publick man—and so I gave ‘Fordyce.’ This brought on a jaw, during which I got more and more drunk, but never departed from my creed that I was a betrayed man. However, say nothing of this, I beg. With reference to my own interest, I am sure I have been a gainer by all this.”

“London, May 11, 1805.

“Upon my soul I don’t know what to say for myself in vindication of my apparently abominable neglect of you; but these are really tempestuous times, and I bother myself with too many things and too many thoughts, and I get irritable, and I believe I eat and drink too much. The upshot of the thing is, that day after day passes and my intentions to write to you, and to do other good things, pass too.

“Our campaign for the last six weeks has been a marvellous one. . . . The country has surprised me as much as the votes of the 8th and 10th, and these meetings and resolutions have brought us safe into port, as far, at least, as relates to Melville. Pitt, too, is greatly, if not irreparably damaged by Melville’s defeat and by certain irregularities of his own. Whitbread’s select committee has done great additional injury to Melville, and has got sufficient matter established for a resolution against Pitt. The latter has confessed that he lent £40,000 to Boyd, Benfield and Co. out of money voted for Navy services, in order to enable them to make good their instalments upon Omnium. He has admitted, too, that he advanced them £100,000 in order to enable them to make a purchase for Government, at a time that he was informed by the Bank of their approaching ruin. A great part of that sum is now a debt to Government in consequence of their bankruptcy. This is a damned unpopular business—to advance publick money to two members of Parliament, who are bankrupts, too. It is a damned thing, too, for the friends and admirers of this once great man, to see him sent for by
Whitbread, and to hear him examined for anything like money irregularities. He is, I am certain, infinitely injured in the estimation of the House of Commons; and then think of his situation in other respects—his right hand, Melville, lopped off—a superannuated Methodist at the head of the Admiralty, in order to catch the votes of
Wilberforce and Co. now and then—all the fleets of France and Spain in motion—the finances at their utmost stretch—not an official person but Huskisson and Rose to do anything at their respective offices—publick business multiplied by opposition beyond all former example—and himself more averse to business daily—disunited with Addington—having quite lost his own character and with a King perfectly mad and involving his ministry in the damnedest scrapes upon the subject of expense. . . . I know Pitt’s friends think he can’t go on, and they all wish him not to try it. You may guess how the matter is when I tell you that Abercromby, the member for Edinburgh, and Hope, the member for your county, have struck and fled, declaring they won’t support Pitt any longer, whom they both pronounce to be a damned rascal. My authority is James Abercomby,* and I will answer for the truth of these facts.

“. . . Bennet† has been here, and is now returned to Bath. He is most desirous to know you, and I promised I would write to you and mention him by way of introduction. He is most amiable, occasionally most boring, but at all times most upright and honorable. Make him introduce you to Lord and Lady Tankerville. The former is very fond of me; he is a haughty, honorable man—has lived at one time in the heart of political leaders—was the friend of Lansdowne—has been in office several times, and is now a misanthrope, but very communicative and entertaining when he likes his man. His only remaining passion is for clever men, of which description he considers himself as one, tho’ certainly unjustly. Lady Tankerville has perhaps as much merit as any

* Hon. James Abercromby: Speaker 1835-9: created Lord Dunfermline 1839: died 1858.

Hon. H. G. Bennet, M.P., 2nd son of 4th Earl of Tankerville.

woman in England.* She is, too, very clever, and has great wit; but she, like her Lord, is depress’d and unhappy. They compose together the most striking libel upon the blessing of Fortune; they are rich much beyond their desires or expenditure, they have the most elevated rank of their country, I know of nothing to disturb their happiness, and they are apparently the most miserable people I ever saw.”

“Thorndon [Lord Petre’s], 28th July, 1805.

“. . . You must know that I came out of the battle of the session] very sick of it and of my leaders. It appears to me we had Pitt upon his very last legs, and might have destroyed him upon the spot; instead of which, every opportunity for so doing was either lost or converted to a contrary purpose. Could the most inveterate enemy of Pitt have wished for anything better than to find him lending £40,000, appropriated by law to particular publick purposes, to two bankrupt merchant members of parliament who voted always with him?† and could the most pertinacious derider of Fox’s political folly have dared to conceive that Fox on such an occasion should acquit Pitt of all corruption, and should add likewise this sentiment to his opinion, that to have so detected him in corruption would have made him (Fox) the most miserable of men? . . . In short, between ourselves, my dear Doctor, I believe that Fox has no principle about publick money, and that he would give it away, if he had the power, in any way or for any job quite as disgusting as the worst of Pitt’s. It is a painful conclusion this to come to, and dreadfully diminishes one’s parliamentary amusement. You can have no conception how feverish I became about Fox’s conduct during this damned Athol business‡ I talked at him

* She was Emma, daughter and co-heiress of Sir James Colebrooke, Bart.

Boyd, Benfield and Co., to whom Pitt advanced the sum named out of money voted for Navy services. They were Government agents, and shortly afterwards went bankrupt.

‡ The 3rd Duke of Athol having inherited the sovereignty of the Isle of Man through his wife, daughter and heiress of his uncle, the

in private, and no doubt vexed him infernally; but this you’ll say is but poor work, to be making myself enemies in the persons whose jobs I oppose, and to quarrel with my own friends for not opposing the jobs too. I must have some discussion with my conscience and my temper before the next campaign, to see whether I can’t go on a little more smoothly, and without prejudice to my interest. . . . I see a great deal of
Windham. He has dined with me, but my opinion of him is not at all improved by my acquaintance with him. He is, at the same time, decidedly the most agreeable and witty in conversation of all these great men. . . .”

The following notes are without date, but the allusion to Tom Sheridan’s bride shows that they belong to the summer of 1805.

R. B. Sheridan, M.P., to Mr. Creevey.
“Richmond Hill,
“Monday—the third day of Peace and Tranquillity.
“My dear Creevey,

“You must make my excuse to the Lord Mayor. Pray vouch that you should have brought me, but my cold is really so bad that I should infallibly lay myself up if I attempted to go. Here are pure air, quiet and innocence, and everything that suits me.

“Pray let me caution you not to expose yourself to the air after Dinner, as I find malicious people disposed to attribute to wine what was clearly the mere effect of the atmosphere. My last hour to your Ladies, as I am certainly going to die; till when, however,

“Yours truly,
R. B. S.

2nd Duke, sold the same in 1765 to the Government for £70,000 and a pension of £2000 for their joint lives, but reserving their land rents. The 4th Duke, after two failures, succeeded in getting a bill through Parliament in 1805, settling one-fourth of the customs of the island upon him and the heirs general of James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby. The bill was vigorously opposed, and Creevey denounced it as a job. The fourth of the customs was subsequently commuted for £409,000.

1805.] THE SHERIDANS. 39
“Thursday evening.
“My dear Creevey,

“If you don’t leave town to-morrow, come and eat your mutton with me in George St. and meet Adam and McMahon, and more than all, my Son and Daughter.

Mrs. Creevey will excuse you at my request, and you will be a Piece of a Lion to have seen so early Mrs. T. S.,* whom I think lovely and engaging and interesting beyond measure, and, as far as I can judge, with a most superior understanding.

“Yours ever,
R. B. S.
“Grosvenor Place, Saturday morning.
“My dear Mrs. Creevey,

“I left Hester about two hours ago: she violently expects you. Remember we have a bed for you, a fishing rod for Creevey on Monday morning. If you will stay over Monday, Hester and Richmond Hill will make you quite well, and there are, not cockney, but classical Lions for Creevey to see. . . .”

It is difficult in these later days to realise the degree in which Royal personages were allowed, and even expected, to interfere with politics and the work of Parliament under the Hanoverian dynasty. It is notorious that, George III. having evinced his determination to have a Tory Cabinet, the Heir Apparent chose his friends and counsellors from the Whig Opposition, trafficking in seats in Parliament as keenly as any boroughmonger of them all. Among others whom he sought to enlist in his Parliamentary party

* Sheridan’s only son, Tom [1775-1817], married Caroline Henrietta Callander in 1805. She was a celebrated beauty, wrote three novels which had some popularity, and was the mother of four sons and three beautiful daughters—Mrs. Blackwood, afterwards Lady Dufferin, and lastly, Countess of Gifford; The Hon. Mrs. Norton, afterwards Lady Stirling-Maxwell of Keir; and the youngest, the Duchess of Somerset, Queen of Beauty at the Eglinton Tournament.

was the gentle and erudite
Samuel Romilly, whose name must ever be associated with the unwearying efforts he made to reform and mitigate the atrociously sanguinary penal code of England. Measured by the extent of the immediate success of these efforts, Romilly’s influence upon the statute-book may be reckoned trifling, seeing that all he was able to effect against Lord Ellenborough and the House of Lords was the repeal, in 1812, of the law which prescribed the death penalty upon any soldier or mariner who should presume to beg, without permission from his commanding officer or a magistrate. Nevertheless the fruits of his life-work ripened after his untimely death by his own hand in 1818, and although he cannot be reckoned among the noisiest nor among the most profusely munificent philanthropists, the influence of Samuel Romilly was indeed one of the most powerful and beneficent ever exerted in the cause of humanity.

Samuel Romilly, K.C., to Mr. Creevey.
“Little Ealing, Sept. 23rd, 1805.
“Dear Creevey,

“I have just received your letter. . . . It has indeed very much surprised me, and I am afraid my answer to it will occasion as much surprise in you. I cannot express to you how much flattered I am by the honor which the Prince of Wales does me. No event in the whole course of my life has been so gratifying to me. . . . I have formed no resolution to keep out of Parliament; on the contrary, it has long been my intention and is still my wish, to obtain a seat in the House, though not immediately.* If I had been a member from the beginning of the

* He was elected member for Queenborough in 1806, on taking office as Solicitor-General in “All the Talents.”

present Parliament, my vote would have been uniformly given in a way which I presume would have been agreeable to the Prince of Wales. . . . Upon all questions I should have voted with
Mr. Fox; and yet, with all this, I feel myself obliged to decline the offer which his Royal Highness has the great condescension to make me. . . . When I was a young man, a seat in Parliament was offered me. It was offered in the handsomest manner imaginable: no condition whatever was annexed to it: I was told that I was to be quite independent, and was to vote and act just as I thought proper. I could not, however, relieve myself from the apprehension that . . . the person to whom I owed the seat would consider me, without perhaps being quite conscious of it himself, as his representative in Parliament . . . and that I should have some other than my own reason and conscience to account to for my public conduct. . . . In other respects, the offer was to me a most tempting one. I had then no professional business with which it would interfere. . . . As a young man, I was vain and foolish enough to imagine that I might distinguish myself as a public speaker. I weighed the offer very maturely, and in the end I rejected it. I persuaded myself that (altho’ that were not the case with others) it was impossible that the little talents which I possessed could ever be exerted with any advantage to the public, or any credit to myself, unless I came into Parliament quite independent, and answerable for my conduct to God and to my country alone. I had felt the temptation so strong that, in order to fortify myself against any others of the same kind, I formed to myself the unalterable resolution never, unless I held a public office, to come into Parliament but by a popular election, or by paying the common price for my seat. It is true that, when I formed this resolution, the possibility of a seat being offered me by the Prince of Wales had never entered into my thoughts, and that the rules which I had laid down to regulate my conduct ought perhaps to yield to such a circumstance as this. But yet I have so long acted on this resolution—the principles on which I formed it have become so much a part of the system of my life, and that life is now so far advanced, that I cannot
convince myself—proud as I am of the distinction which his Royal Highness is willing to confer upon me, that I ought to accept it. The answer that I should wish to give to his Royal Highness is to express in the strongest terms my gratitude for the offer, but in the most respectful possible way to decline it; and at the same time to say that, if his R. H. thinks that my being in Parliament can be at all useful to the public, I shall be very glad to procure myself a seat the first opportunity that I can find. But the difficulty is to know how to give such an answer with propriety. I am fearful that it may be thought, in every way that it occurs to me to convey it, not sufficiently respectful to his R. H., and from this embarrassment I know not how to relieve myself. My only recourse is to trust that you will be able to do for me what I cannot do for myself. . . .”

Lord Henry Petty* to Mr. Creevey.
“Dublin, Sept. 15th, 1805.
“Dear Creevey,

“I have for some time meditated writing to you, more, I confess, in the hope of procuring an answer, than with that of being able to communicate anything that can interest you from this country, altho’ it affords me a great deal of amusement as a traveller.

“The town of Dublin is full of fine buildings, fine streets, &c., but so ill placed and imperfectly finished as to give it the appearance of a great piece of patchwork, made up without skill and without attention. The Custom House is, however, an exception, and in every respect a noble edifice, in which there is no fault to be found except that old Beresford† is sumptuously lodged in it.

“The Union is become generally unpopular—more

* Chancellor of the Exchequer in “All the Talents,” 1806-7, and afterwards 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne.

† The Right Hon. John Beresford [1737-1805], for many years chairman of the Revenue Board of Ireland, greatly relied on by Pitt in affairs of Irish administration. He died 5th November, 1805.

so, I think, than it deserves; but the Irish pride is wounded with the hauteur and neglect of the English Govt.
Castlereagh’s defeat was received with acclamation by all classes here, and the city would have been illuminated if the Mayor had not prevented it, giving rather awkwardly as an excuse that he did not think the occasion of sufficient magnitude.* . . .”

“Belfast, Oct. 24th, 1805.

“Many thanks for your letter, which it would have given me pleasure to receive anywhere, but particularly in the remote district of Munster where it found me, meditating upon the means of converting bogs into fields, rocks into quarries, and (not the least difficult of metamorphoses) Irish peasants into efficient labourers. We have, at the other extremity of the island, got into a more civilised region. Downshire is the Yorkshire of Ireland—the same universal appearance of wealth and industry, and even of neatness and comfort, prevails.

“The shops here are full of prints and songs against Castlereagh, the leavings of the election, which has produced a general effect throughout Ireland. I am far from thinking the elections here will be so completely under the controll of Govt. as many of their adversaries, as well as friends, suppose. There is in most counties a rising spirit of independence, and the weight of the Catholic interest will be strongly felt. I have been myself strongly sollicited by a number of freeholders of the Co. of Kerry to offer myself at the gen. election, nor should I have the least doubt of success, if I had not other views,

* Viscount Castlereagh [1769-1822] had been returned as Whig member for county Down in 1790, the election costing his father the almost incredible sum of £60,000. He joined the Tories in 1795, became Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1797, and incurred the hatred of many of his countrymen by the ardour and success with which he forwarded Pitt’s project of the Union, by buying up borough-mongers. But he was a strong advocate of Roman Catholic emancipation, and retired with Pitt when George III. set his veto upon the measure to which Pitt was pledged. He took office under Addington as President of the Board of Controul in 1802, and lost his seat on seeking re-election in 1805 when he was appointed War Minister under Pitt.

and could bring myself to face the tumult of an Irish contest, which would not be, I think, the most amusing of recreations.

“What great events are passing on the Continent. It is terrible to think that Pitt has so much of the fate of England and of Europe in his hands. I understand there has been some disagreement with Russia in consequence of the D. of Y. being intended for the command of a combined army of Russians and English, against which the Court of Petersburgh remonstrated. How disgracefull to be indebted to a foreign court for teaching us commonsense and our own interest at such a crisis!”

At Christmastide, 1805, Pitt received his deathblow. He had staked the existence of his country and the freedom of Europe upon the coalition of Austria, Russia, and England against Bonaparte and the destructive energies of France. But before these formidable allies could come into line, even before the British force had embarked for Germany, Napoleon swept through the Black Forest with 100,000 men. The Austrian commander Mack, posted on the Iller from Ulm to Memmingen, was surprised, taken in rear, and laid down his arms on 19th October, Werneck’s corps having done the like the day before to Murat. By the end of the month the Austrian field force of 80,000 was no more. When rumours reached Pitt of the capitulation of Ulm—“Don’t believe it,” he exclaimed; “it is all a fiction.” Next day the terrible news received confirmation; the shock could not be repaired, even by the glorious intelligence which arrived four days later of the destruction of the French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar. That, indeed, revived shattered hopes for the moment, but it was followed closely by the news of Austerlitz, where the second partner in the coalition had been crushed with
a loss of 26,000 men. Not only was the coalition at an end, but its author passed quickly into the shadow of death.

Hon. Charles Grey, M.P. (afterwards 2nd Earl Grey), to Mr. Creevey.
“Howick, Dec. 29th, 1805.

“. . . Your details, which I had received from no other person, have left no doubt upon my mind. Of the delay of fresh intelligence I think nothing. I remember the same thing happened after the battle of Ulm, when the same inferences were drawn from it, and the opportunity taken to circulate the same reports of the defeat of the French. It seems Robert Ward sent to all the newspapers the paragraphs which you wd. see, asserting the Russian capitulation and Count Palfy’s letters to be forgeries; and this, I am assured, without the least authority for doing so, except his own foolish belief. All this, I agree with you, is as much calculated to hurt Pitt, when it is completely exposed, as the disasters themselves, and the folly of doing it is inconceivable. If the defeat of the 2nd* was as calamitous as I believe it to have been, it is nonsense to talk any more of Continental confederacies. The game is too desperate even for Pitt himself, desperate as he is; and the King of Prussia certainly would not expose himself alone, which in the first instance he must do, to all the power and vengeance of France. I am more inclined to think that they [Pitt’s Cabinet] really do flatter themselves against all evidence into a belief in these renewed battles and consequent changes of fortune. There is nothing too absurd for them in a military view. They are naturally confident and sanguine, and this is their last hope.”

* At Austerlitz.