LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The “Pope” of Holland House
Chapter XII: 1833-35

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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Produced by CATH
1833 to 1835
Grote and the Bank Charter—Society at Lansdowne and Holland Houses—Miss Aikin’s Book—The Irish Church Temporalities Bill—Lord Grey—The Factory Bill—Politics—Corporations—The Government—Archbishop Whately—Swedenborg—Scarlett—Lines of Walter Scott.
From Mr. Whishaw to Charles and Henry Romilly.
April 23, 1833.

GROTE acted a very manly part in opposing the Bank of England last night,1 which, as a banker, must have been contrary to his wishes and interests. Abercromby considers him as the only rising man of that party, and one of the most rising in the whole House. I conjecture that Edward voted with him and John in the majority. The

1 Mr. Attwood, M.P. for Whitehaven, brought forward a motion for a committee to inquire into the state of general distress—how far the same had been occasioned by the operation of our present monetary system. Lord Althorp moved an amendment, and Mr. Grote rose immediately to second it. In the division that the words proposed by Mr. Attwood should stand, Grote, John Romilly, and Edward Romilly all voted with the noes in the majority.

Lansdowne House
Bentham school, with Ricardo and Mill, are lovers of cheap currency, and in my opinion too favourable to paper.

June, 1833.

On Friday I dined at Lansdowne House, where I met Malthus, Mr. Fazackerly, and the youngest Villiers1 (an evident aspirant for Ministerial favours) and Dr. Holland. The conversation turned chiefly upon the scientific gala to be held at Cambridge next week, which it is generally thought will be overdone, and made too elaborate and expensive. In addition to philosophical papers and lectures, there are to be great dinners in the College halls, besides breakfasts, and evening parties, concerts, &c. I have been urged to go, but considering the doubtful nature of the entertainment, the certain heat and bustle, and the probable ennui, I have steadily declined to be of the party. In the evening I talked with Lord Lansdowne about politics, and could see that he was very anxious respecting the conduct of the Tory Lords. On Saturday I went to Holland House and met a small but agreeable party. Lord Carlisle and his youngest son, Lord Duncannon,2 and Dr. Woolryche, formerly an army physician, afterwards medical attendant to the Duke of Bedford, and lately colleague of Leonard Horner, as one of the Factory

1 Right Hon. Charles Villiers.

2 John William Ponsonby, Lord Duncannon, afterwards 4th Earl of Bessborough, b. 1781, d. 1847, M.P. for Kilkenny, 1826-1831; acted as Chief Whip of the Whig party. In 1830 helped to prepare the Reform Bill. Was called to the House of Lords as Lord Duncannon, 1834; retired from office when Peel became Prime Minister. Was Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland 1844-46.

Holland House
Commissioners. He is a pleasing, sensible man, and gave a most satisfactory account of the state of the manufactures at Birmingham, and in the clothing district of Wiltshire, Somersetshire, and Gloucestershire, and of the judicious and humane treatment of the children. He is quite clear that any attempt at legislating on the subject would be very mischievous.

Sunday morning was very wet, but the weather cleared up, and I had enjoyment of the garden, which was fresh, fragrant, and delicious. At dinner we had a splendid party, Lord and Lady Grey, the Chancellor,1 Duke of Richmond, Lord John Russell, Lord and Lady Stafford, Lady Coventry and Miss Fox, John Murray of Edinburgh, and Admiral Adam.2 All went off very well, and the talk was of indifferent and insignificant subjects. Politics were a good deal avoided, but it was clear that they were uneasy about the prospect of the debate in the Lords this evening, in which they expect to be beaten.

Altogether I found my visit very agreeable—more so, indeed, than I quite expected; but these occasional glimpses of high political and fashionable life are pleasant and interesting to one in my humble situation.

There was one drawback to my pleasure, the finding poor Lady Holland much altered in her looks, and I fear certainly ill, but thinking herself much worse than she is. Lord Holland, except the infirmity of his limbs, I never saw better, or more active or entertaining.

I have received from my friend, Miss Aikin, her

1 Brougham. 2 Sir Charles Adam.

Church Temporalities Bill
new book, “
The Memoirs of Charles I.,” in two pretty thick volumes. From what I have seen, I expect it to be very successful, but I will give you my opinion hereafter.

Tuesday, July 16, 1833.

At this critical period it will be interesting to you to know that the aspect of public affairs has changed in some degree ever since you left London. The Tories, it is understood, have taken fright. They have ascertained that the Irish Church Bill is deemed of greater importance by the public (at least as a beginning of ecclesiastical reform) than they supposed, that the House of Commons would stand by the present Ministers, and that a dissolution of Parliament, if it would diminish the Whig Members, would increase the Radicals in a much greater proportion. Such is the opinion of a certain number of the Conservative Lords, who are afraid of going to extremities, and it seems to be settled that they will suffer the Bill to be read a second time. Strong words will be used in the Committee, and attempts will be made, with some success, to mangle and mutilate the principal provisions, but the probability is at present that, in some shape or other, the Bill will finally pass. So far all is well, but now comes the unfortunate part of the story. The Ministers, who had encouraged Sir John Wrottesley to move for a call of the House, desert him when he makes his motion, giving way to the suggestion of Peel that the Peers ought not to be menaced; and by this act of political cowardice, amounting almost to treachery, they disgust many
Church Temporalities Bill
of their friends and the great body of Liberals, who had determined, somewhat reluctantly, to give them their support. It was a true sequel to their giving up the 147th clause. The consequence was that several of their most respectable adherents,
Abercromby, Lord Ebrington, Lord Duncannon (a Minister), and others, thought themselves bound as men of honour to support Wrottesley in his motion, and voted with the minority. In this was Kennedy1 whom I saw at Abercromby’s after the vote.

I have had no opportunity of seeing people this morning, but have no doubt that the general impression is very unfavourable to Ministers.

Of those members whom I saw last night, Abercromby was the most indignant, and with good reason, for he had taken great pains to conciliate the Liberals, and to induce them to join in a resolution favourable to the present Government in the event of the Irish Church Bill being thrown out.2 In that case he (Abercromby) had undertaken to make the motion, which was to have been seconded

1 Right Hon. T. Kennedy, of Dalquhharran.

2 The Bill was the “Church Temporalities (Ireland) Bill,” which Earl Grey moved the second reading of on July 17, 1833. It was read a second time on July 19th and carried by 157 votes to 98 votes.

Sir John Wrottesley on July 15th brought forward a motion for a call of the House of Commons on July 18th. It was defeated by 125 votes to 160, Abercromby, Lords Duncannon and Ebrington, Kennedy, Lieut.-Col. Grey and Sir G. Grey, and C. Tennyson voting in the minority.

The 147th clause in the “Church Temporalities (Ireland) Bill,” which placed the surplus fund at the disposal of Parliament, was struck out by 280 votes to 149 (June 21, 1833).

Church Temporalities Bill
Grote. But under the present circumstance he seems to have determined against giving them any support, and has signified as much to Lord Althorp. Knowing what we do of the opinion entertained of the former backslidings of the Ministers by Abercromby, and the Radicals, one cannot be surprised at the sacrifice of opinion, which they were prepared to make (and, as I think, very properly) to defeat a Tory Administration. But in proportion to the intended sacrifice must be their present resentment.

On the whole, however, it seems as if the Ministers may not improbably maintain a frail and tottering existence; but if they survive till the next session, they will meet a formidable and probably fatal Opposition.

Friday, July 19, 1833.

You will be glad to hear that the little storm of which I told you in my last note is almost entirely blown over; and the Ministers appear to be reinstated in their former position. Such are the changes and chances of political life! The members of the Government are so much at cross purposes with each other that Lord Grey openly disapproves of what was done by Lords Althorp and Stanley on Monday evening, and praises Lord Duncannon, Kennedy, &c., for voting against them. Of course, therefore, any tender of resignation1 is entirely out of the question. It is to be observed that his lordship’s son, Charles Grey, voted in the minority.

There seems to be no doubt that the Irish Church

1 Of Lord Duncannon and Kennedy.

Lord Grey
Bill will obtain a second reading in the Lords, and will probably pass without any material alteration in the Committee. The Tories are happily frightened and divided among themselves; and the present Ministers will owe their continuance in office not to their own skill or popularity, but to the dissensions of their opponents. There seems, indeed, good reason to believe that the latter, upon mustering their forces, find it impracticable, as they did last year, to form a Government that has any chance of standing.
Peel, their best hand, keeps quite aloof from them, and is the object of their violent abuse. There are, indeed, vague rumours of negotiation between him and the present Cabinet for a junction; but so many difficulties stand in the way of such an arrangement that I cannot yet give it any credit. It is more probable (what is asserted by some) that the Administration will be remodelled after the present Session, and that Lord Grey will be succeeded by Lord Brougham as Premier. Of this I can say nothing. There are obvious reasons for the retirement of Lord Grey, though he has just distinguished himself by a very good speech on the Church Bill, and there is no one in the Cabinet who has sufficient vigour to supply his place, except the Chancellor. Lord Althorp might have been thought of last year; but he has been greatly damaged during the Session, and seems to be quite worn out and exhausted. Yet he has done a great deal by his good sense and spirit of conciliation; and Stanley as ministerial leader of the Commons would encounter a violent opposition. The Ministers have gained a great additional triumph last night by
their majority on the Factory Bill,1 which has exceeded their expectation, so that after having been in despair at the beginning of the week, they are now much elated, and treat the Radicals with their accustomed disdain.

Tuesday, July 23, 1833.

Nothing decisive has occurred in the political world since my last note to you. The storm raised by the Lords has not yet subsided; but I am inclined to think that the Ministers, with their usual good fortune, will weather it in the end. They have been far from confident, however; and when I was at Holland House two days ago, all was doubt and anxiety as to the result of the contest. The Opposition, too, have been very undecided, and have had their hot and cold fits. A certain number of them are bent upon throwing out the Bill,2 and endeavouring to form a new Government at all hazards; but their zeal is happily tempered by the prudence or pusillanimity of their associates, especially Peel, who keeps aloof, and will not embark in the adventure of a Tory Administration.

There is reason to believe that the King, though not violently attached to the present Ministers, thinks it his safest policy to adhere to them, and is very averse to dissolving the Parliament, which might be the necessary consequence of the change.

I told you, I think, of the Commission for Inquiry into Corporations, in which so many of our friends

1 The division on the Factories Regulations Bill was carried by Ministers by 238 votes to 93.

2 The Irish Church Bill.

are engaged.1 Whatever may have been said of the indecision and feebleness of the Government in many other of their measures, this surely is a very radical proceeding.

Corporations are naturally the strongholds of intolerance, corruption, and Toryism; and the inquiries into them now intended (considering the persons by whom they are to be conducted) cannot fail of producing very important efforts. Next to the Reform Bill itself, I consider it as the most important measure of Lord Grey’s Government.

July 27, 1833.

The newspapers will tell almost all that can be said upon politics since I last wrote to you. The Ministers have been more frightened than hurt, for they fully expected during the last fortnight to be out of office before this time. Such was the impression I received at Holland House last week, when all seemed on their part to be doubt and anxiety; and their opinion is confirmed by Mr. Rogers, who says that they were in great alarm, and that their apprehensions were marked by increasing affability and attention to old friends!

Their danger, certainly, was much less than they imagined; and the bystanders, as you may judge from my former notes, were more correct in their opinions. Still it must be admitted that the Ministers hold their

1 The names of the Commissioners of Inquiry for England and Wales were John Blackburne, Sir Francis Palgrave, George Long, Sir Fortunatus Dwarris, S. A. Rumball, G. H. Wilkinson, T. J. Hogg, Peregrine Bingham, David Jardine, R. Whitcombe, John Elliot Drinkwater, Edward John Gambier, T. F. Ellis, James Booth, Henry Roscoe, Charles Austin, Edward Rushton, Alexander Cockburn, John Buckle, Daniel Maude; Secretary, Joseph Parkes.

The Duke of Wellington
offices by a most frail and precarious tenure; and several of the late votes of the House of Commons show that there are adverse elements in that quarter, and that it is chiefly by the fear of what may be effected by the Lords that the majority of the House is kept right. There is reason also to believe that the King, though not personally attached to the present Ministers, and repenting probably of Reform, is still convinced that any material change would be dangerous, and is judiciously averse to anything which might lead to the dissolution of Parliament.

July 31, 1833.

The Church Bill, you see, has passed by a great majority, owing to the Duke of Wellington and his immediate followers partly withdrawing and partly voting for the Bill. The Duke seems, in fact, to hold the balance, and to possess the power of negativing any Government measure. He is expected on other occasions to rejoin the ultra Tories, and throw out some important Bills before the end of the Session. Meanwhile the Ministers continue to totter on, and seem likely to maintain a frail and feverish existence for some six or eight months longer, when, if they do not change their course, they will encounter a much more serious opposition than they have hitherto experienced.

From Mr. Whishaw to Henry Romilly.
Aug. 2, 1833.

Charles will give you our general view of politics, in which there is a great agreement between your
Lord Grey’s Administration
brothers and me. From personal feelings and ancient habits, I am perhaps more attached to the present Administration than they are; though I am not blind to the errors into which they have fallen. But their principles in the main are good, and their continuance in office for the present is essential to the tranquillity and well-being of the country. I hope you agree with me as to the importance of their late Commission of Inquiry into Municipal Corporations, and other great measures in train. It is melancholy to think that, with such measures in view, their feebleness and vacillation are such as render their existence very doubtful and precarious. I trust, however, that they may still last for some time longer.

From Mr. Whishaw to Charles Romilly.
July 14, 1835.

The party at Mr. Spring Rice’s yesterday was large and miscellaneous. The Archbishop of Dublin, Lord Kerry, Sir Geo. Philips, Senior, Peacock, the tutor of Trinity, Babbage, Lieut. Drummond, Macculloch, and two or three others.

The Archbishop of Dublin (Whately) is, as you know, a singular person, with much out-of-the-way knowledge which he produces “in season and out of season,” one of those whom it is always pleasant to meet. Yesterday he chose to talk about metaphysics, on which he was neither satisfactory nor amusing. Upon mention being made of Emanuel Swedenborg, the founder of the New Jerusalem sect, he observed that he was a man of some merit as a Professor of
Archbishop Whately
some Swedish University, and composed some good philosophical treatises, and that if he had died under sixty he would never have been heard of; but that after attaining that age he became a “dreamer of dreams,” and published works in his dotage so eminently nonsensical as to procure him a never-dying reputation in the Christian world.

In telling you of my interview with my old friend Scarlett1 yesterday morning, and of his pleasant and affecting allusions to our intercourse of former times, I ought to have repeated a favourite passage from Scott’sLady of the Lake,” in the vision at the end (if I recollect) of the first canto:—

“Again return’d the scenes of youth,
Of confident, undoubting truth,
Again his soul he interchanged
With friends whose hearts were long estranged.
They come in dim procession led
The cold, the faithless, and the dead,
As warm each hand, each brow as gay,
As if they parted yesterday.”

I daresay you will agree as to the merit of these lines, but their beauty cannot be fully felt except in advanced life.

1 Sir James Scarlett—afterwards first Lord Abinger—had been originally a Whig, but eventually became a Tory.