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The Creevey Papers
Ch. III: 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 reminiscences were written by Mr. Creevey in 1821, but as they refer chiefly to his doings in 1805, they find their proper sequence in this place. At the time they were written Mr. Creevey’s feelings towards the Prince of Wales had undergone a complete revulsion; but in 1805 he was full of enthusiasm for the Heir Apparent, upon whom the hopes of the whole Whig party were fixed.

“It was in 1804 when I first began to take a part in the House of Commons, at which time the Prince of Wales was a most warm and active partizan of Mr. Fox and the Opposition. It was then that the Prince began first to notice me, and to stop his horse and talk with me when he met me in the streets; but I recollect only one occasion, in that or the succeeding year, that I dined at Carlton House, and that was with a party of the Opposition, to whom he gave various dinners during that spring. On that occasion Lord Dundas and Calcraft sat at the top and bottom of the table, the Prince in the middle at one side, with the Duke of Clarence next to him; Fox, Sheridan and about 30 opposition members of both Houses making the whole party. We walked about the garden before dinner without our hats.

“The only thing that made an impression upon me in favour of the Prince that day (always excepting his excellent manners and appearance of good humour) was his receiving a note during dinner
which he flung across the table to
Fox and asked if he must not answer it, which Fox assented to; and then, without the slightest fuss, the Prince left his place, went into another room and wrote an answer, which he brought to Fox for his approval, and when the latter said it was quite right, the Prince seemed delighted, which I thought very pretty in him, and a striking proof of Fox’s influence over him.

“During dinner he was very gracious, funny and agreeable, but after dinner he took to making speeches, and was very prosy as well as highly injudicious. He made a long harangue in favour of the Catholics and took occasion to tell us that his brother William and himself were the only two of his family who were not Germans—this too in a company which was, most of them, barely known to him. Likewise I remember his halloaing to Sir Charles Bamfyld at the other end of the table, and asking him if he had seen Mother Windsor* lately. I brought Lord Howick† and George Walpole home at night in my coach, and so ended that day.

“At the beginning of September, 1805, Mrs. Creevey and myself with her daughters went to Brighton to spend the autumn there, the Prince then living at the Pavilion. I think it was the first, or at furthest the second, day after our arrival, when my two eldest daughters‡ and myself were walking on the Steyne, and the Prince, who was sitting talking to old Lady Clermont, having perceived me, left her and came up to speak to me, when I presented my daughters to him. He was very gracious to us all and hoped he should see me shortly at dinner. In two or three days from this time I received an invitation to dine at the Pavilion. . . . Mrs. Fitzherbert, whom I had never been in a room with before, sat on one side of the Prince, and the Duke of Clarence on the other. . . . In the course of the evening the Prince took me up to the card table where Mrs. Fitzherbert was playing, and said—‘Mrs. Fitzherbert, I wish you would call upon Mrs. Creevey, and say

* A notorious procuress in King’s Place,

† Afterwards Earl Grey, the Prime Minister.

‡ His step-daughters, the Miss Ords.

from me I shall be happy to see her here.’ Mrs. Fitzherbert did call accordingly, and altho’ she and Mrs. Creevey had never seen each other before, an acquaintance began that soon grew into a very sincere and agreeable friendship, which lasted the remainder of Mrs. Creevey’s life. . . .

“. . . Immediately after this first visit from Mrs. Fitzherbert, Mrs. Creevey and her daughters became invited with myself to the Prince’s parties at the Pavilion, and till the first week in January—a space of about four months—except a few days when the Prince went to see the King at Weymouth, and a short time that I was in London in November, there was not a day we were not at the Pavilion, I dining there always once or twice a week, Mrs. Creevey frequently dining with me likewise, but in the evening we were always there.

“During these four months the Prince behaved with the greatest good humour as well as kindness to us all. He was always merry and full of his jokes, and any one would have said he was really a very happy man. Indeed I have heard him say repeatedly during that time that he never should be so happy when King, as he was then.

“I suppose the Courts or houses of Princes are all alike in one thing, viz., that in attending them you lose your liberty. After one month was gone by, you fell naturally and of course into the ranks, and had to reserve your observations till you were asked for them. These royal invitations are by no means calculated to reconcile one to a Court. To be sent for half an hour before dinner, or perhaps in the middle of one’s own, was a little too humiliating to be very agreeable.

“. . . Lord Hutchinson* was a great feature at the Pavilion. He lived in the house, or rather the one adjoining it, and within the grounds. . . . As a military man he was a great resource at that time, as we were in the midst of expectations about the

* Brother of the 1st Earl of Donoughmore; a general officer, succeeded Sir Ralph Abercromby in command of the army in Egypt, and was raised to the peerage in 1801, with a pension of £2000. Died in 1832.

Austrians and
Buonaparte, and the battle which we all knew would so soon take place between them. It was a funny thing to hear the Prince, when the battle had taken place, express the same opinion as was given in the London Government newspapers, that it was all over with the French—that they were all sent to the devil, and the Lord knows what. Maps were got out to satisfy everybody as to the precise ground where the battle had been fought and the route by which the French had retreated. While these operations were going on in one window of the Pavilion, Lord Hutchinson took me privately to another, when he put into my hand his own private dispatch from Gordon, then Secretary to the Commander-in-Chief, giving him the true account of the battle of Austerlitz, with the complete victory of the French. This news, unaccountable as it may appear, was repeated day after day at the Pavilion for nearly a week; and when the truth began at last to make its appearance in the newspapers, the Prince puts them all in his pockets, so that no paper was forthcoming at the Pavilion, instead of half-a-dozen, the usual number. . . . We used to dine pretty punctually at six, the average number being about sixteen. . . . Mrs. Fitzherbert always dined there, and mostly one other lady—Lady Downshire very often, sometimes Lady Clare or Lady Berkeley or Mrs. Creevey. Mrs. Fitzherbert was a great card-player, and played every night. The Prince never touched a card, but was occupied in talking to his guests, and very much in listening to and giving directions to the band. At 12 o’clock punctually the band stopped, and sandwiches and wine and water handed about, and shortly after the Prince made a bow and we all dispersed.

“I had heard a great deal of the Prince’s drinking, but, during the time that I speak of, I never saw him the least drunk but once, and I was myself pretty much the occasion of it. We were dining at the Pavilion, and poor Fonblanque, a dolorous fop of a lawyer, and a member of Parliament too, was one of the guests. After drinking some wine, I could not resist having some jokes at Fonblanque’s expense, which the Prince encouraged greatly. I went on and invented stories about speeches Fonblanque had
made in Parliament, which were so pathetic as to have affected his audience to tears, all of which inventions of mine Fonblanque denied to be true with such overpowering gravity that the Prince said he should die of it if I did not stop. . . . In the evening, at about ten or eleven o’clock, he said he would go to the ball at the Castle, and said I should go with him. So I went in his coach, and he entered the room with his arm through mine, everybody standing and getting upon benches to see him. He was certainly tipsey, and so, of course, was I, but not much, for I well remember his taking me up to
Mrs. Creevey and her daughters, and telling them he had never spent a pleasanter day in his life, and that ‘Creevey had been very great.’ He used to drink a great quantity of wine at dinner, and was very fond of making any newcomer drunk by drinking wine with him very frequently, always recommending his strongest wines, and at last some remarkably strong old brandy which he called Diabolino.

“It used to be the Duke of Norfolk’s custom to come over every year from Arundel to pay his respects to the Prince and to stay two days at Brighton, both of which he always dined at the Pavilion. In the year 1804, upon this annual visit, the Prince had drunk so much as to be made very seriously ill by it, so that in 1805 (the year that I was there) when the Duke came, Mrs. Fitzherbert, who was always the Prince’s best friend, was very much afraid of his being again made ill, and she persuaded the Prince to adopt different stratagems to avoid drinking with the Duke. I dined there on both days, and letters were brought in each day after dinner to the Prince, which he affected to consider of great importance, and so went out to answer them, while the Duke of Clarence went on drinking with the Duke of Norfolk. But on the second day this joke was carried too far, and in the evening the Duke of Norfolk showed he was affronted. The Prince took me aside and said—‘Stay after everyone is gone tonight. The Jockey’s got sulky, and I must give him a broiled bone to get him in good humour again.’ So of course I stayed, and about one o’clock the Prince of Wales and Duke of Clarence, the Duke of Norfolk
and myself sat down to a supper of broiled bones, the result of which was that, having fallen asleep myself, I was awoke by the sound of the Duke of Norfolk’s snoring. I found the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Clarence in a very animated discussion as to the particular shape and make of the wig worn by
George II.

“Among other visitors to the Pavilion came Sheridan, with whom I was then pretty intimate, though perhaps not so much so as afterwards. I was curious to see him and the Prince daily in this way, considering the very great intimacy there had been between them for so many years. Nothing, certainly, could be more creditable to both parties than their conduct. I never saw Sheridan during the period of three weeks (I think it was) take the least more liberty in the Prince’s presence than if it had been the first day he had ever seen him. On the other hand, the Prince always showed by his manner that he thought Sheridan a man that any prince might be proud of as his friend.

“So much for manners; but I was witness to a kind of altercation between them in which Sheridan could make no impression on the Prince. The latter had just given Sheridan the office of Auditor of the Duchy of Cornwall, worth about £1200 per annum, and Sheridan was most anxious that the Prince should transfer the appointment to his son, Tom Sheridan, who was just then married. What Sheridan’s object in this was, cannot be exactly made out; whether it really was affection for Tom, or whether it was to keep the profit of the office out of the reach of his creditors, or whether it was to have a young life in the patent instead of his own. Whichever of these objects he had in view, he pursued it with the greatest vehemence; so much so, that I saw him cry bitterly one night in making his supplication to the Prince. The latter, however, was not to be shaken . . . he resisted the demand upon the sole ground that Sheridan’s reputation was such, that it made it not only justifiable, but most honourable to him, the Prince, to make such a selection for the office. . . .

“This reminds me of another circumstance relating to the same office when in Sheridan’s
possession. In the year 1810,
Mrs. Creevey, her daughters and myself were spending our summer at Richmond. Sheridan and his wife (who was a relation and particular friend of Mrs. Creevey’s) came down to dine and stay all night with us. There being no other person present after dinner, when the ladies had left the room, Sheridan said:—

“‘A damned odd thing happened to me this morning, and Hester [Mrs. Sheridan] and I have agreed in coming down here to-day that no human being shall ever know of it as long as we live; so that nothing but my firm conviction that Hester is at this moment telling it to Mrs. Creevey could induce me to tell it to you.’

“Then he said that the money belonging to this office of his in the Duchy being always paid into Biddulph’s or Cox’s bank (I think it was) at Charing Cross, it was his habit to look in there. There was one particular clerk who seemed always so fond of him, and so proud of his acquaintance, that he every now and then cajoled him into advancing him £10 or £20 more than his account entitled him to. . . . That morning he thought his friend looked particularly smiling upon him, so he said:—

“‘I looked in to see if you could let me have ten pounds.’

“‘Ten pounds!’ replied the clerk; ‘to be sure I can, Mr. Sheridan. You’ve got my letter, sir, have you not?’

“‘No,’ said Sheridan, ‘what letter?’

“It is literally true that at this time and for many, many years Sheridan never got twopenny-post letters,* because there was no money to pay for them, and the postman would not leave them without payment.

“‘Why, don’t you know what has happened, sir?’ asked the clerk. ‘There is £1300 paid into your account. There has been a very great fine paid for one of the Duchy estates, and this £1300 is your percentage as auditor.’

* The charge at this time for letters sent and delivered within the metropolitan district was only 2d., payable by the recipient; but country letters were charged from 10d. to 1s. 6d. and more, according to distance.

1805.] SHERIDAN. 53

Sheridan was, of course, very much set up with this £1300, and, on the very next day upon leaving us, he took a house at Barnes Terrace, where he spent all his £1300. At the end of two or three months at most, the tradespeople would no longer supply him without being paid, so he was obliged to remove. What made this folly the more striking was that Sheridan had occupied five or six different houses in this neighbourhood at different periods of his life, and on each occasion had been driven away literally by non-payment of his bills and consequent want of food for the house. Yet he was as full of his fun during these two months as ever he could be—gave dinners perpetually and was always on the road between Barnes and London, or Barnes and Oatlands (the Duke of York’s), in a large job coach upon which he would have his family arms painted. . . .

“. . . As I may not have another opportunity of committing to paper what little I have of perfect recollection of what Sheridan told me in our walks at Brighton respecting his early life, and as he certainly was a very extraordinary man, I may as well insert it here.

“He was at school at Harrow, and, as he told me, never had any scholastic fame while he was there, nor did he appear to have formed any friendships there. He said he was a very low-spirited boy, much given to crying when alone, and he attributed this very much to being neglected by his father, to his being left without money, and often not taken home at the regular holidays. From Harrow he went to live in John Street, out of Soho Square, whether with his father or some other instructor, I forget, but he dwelt upon the two years he spent there as those in which he acquired all the reading and learning he had upon any subject.

“At the end of this time his father determined to open a kind of academy at Bath—the masters or instructors to be Sheridan the father, his eldest son Charles, and our Sheridan, who was to be rhetorical usher. According to his account, however, the whole concern was presently laughed off the stage, and then Sheridan described his happiness as beginning. He danced with all the women at Bath, wrote sonnets
and verses in praise of some, satires and lampoons upon others, and in a very short time became the established wit and fashion of the place.

“It was at this period of his life he fell in love with Miss Lindley, whom he afterwards married, but she was carried off by her father at that time to a convent in France, to be kept out of his way. Then it was he became embroiled with Mr. Mathews, who was likewise a lover of Miss Lindley, as well as her libeller. Sheridan fought two duels with Mr. Mathews upon this subject, both times with swords. The first was in some hotel or tavern in Henrietta St., Covent Garden, when Mathews was disarmed and begged his life. Upon Mr. Mathew’s return to Bath, Sheridan used his triumph with so little moderation, that Mr. Mathews left Bath to live in Wales; but soon he was induced to believe that he had compromised his honour by quitting Bath and leaving his reputation at the mercy of Sheridan. Accordingly, a messenger arrived from him to Sheridan, with a written certificate in favour of Mathews’s undoubted honour in the former affair, to be signed by Sheridan, or else the messenger was to deliver him a second challenge.

Sheridan preferred the latter course of proceeding, and the duel was fought at King’s Weston (if I recollect right). According to Sheridan’s account, never was anything so desperate. Sheridan’s sword broke in a point blank thrust into Mathews’s chest; upon this he closed, and they both fell, Mathews uppermost; but, in falling, his sword broke likewise, sticking into the earth and snapping. However, he drew the sharp end out of the ground, and with this he stabbed Sheridan in the face and body, over and over again, till it was thought he must die. Sheridan named both the seconds, but I forget them. He said they were both cut for ever afterwards for not interfering. He said, likewise, there was a regular proceeding before the Mayor of Bristol, on the ground that Mr. Mathews had worn some kind of armour to protect him, which broke Sheridan’s sword. . . . Sheridan was taken to some hotel at Bath, where his life for some time was despaired of, but. . . he rallied and recovered.

“He then lived for some time at Waltham Cross,
and was in bad health, but used to steal up to town to see and hear
Miss Lindley in publick, though he was under an engagement with her family not to pursue her any more in private. At length, however, they met, and eventually were married. Miss Lindley’s reputation at this time was so great, that her engagements for the year were £5000. This resource, however, Sheridan would not listen to her receiving any longer, altho’ he himself had not a single farthing. He said she might sing to oblige the King or Queen, but to receive money while she was his wife was quite out of the question. Upon which old Lindley, her father, said this might do very well for him—Mr. Sheridan—but that for him—Mr. Lindley—it was a very hard case; that his daughter had always been a very good daughter to him, and very generous to him out of the funds she gained by her profession, and that it was very hard upon him to be cut off all at once from this supply. This objection was disposed of by Sheridan in the following manner.

Miss Lindley had £3000 of her own, of which Sheridan gave her father £2000. With the remaining £1000, the only fortune Mr. and Mrs. Sheridan began the world with, he took a cottage at Slough, where they lived, he said, most happily, a gig and horse being their principal luxury, with a man to look after both the master and his horse. But by the end, or before the end, of the year, the £1000 was drawing rapidly to a finish, and then it was that Sheridan thought of play-writing as a pecuniary resource, and he wrote The Rivals. Having got an introduction to the theatre, he took his play there, and finally was present to see it acted, but would not let Mrs. Sheridan come up from Slough for the same purpose. The Rivals, upon its first performance, was damned; when Sheridan got to Slough and told his wife of it she said:

“‘My dear Dick, I am delighted. I always knew it was impossible you could make anything by writing plays; so now there is nothing for it but my beginning to sing publickly again, and we shall have as much money as we like.’

“‘No,’ said Sheridan, ‘that shall never be. I see where the fault was; the play was too long, and the parts were badly cast.’


“So he altered and curtailed the play, and had address or interest enough to get the parts newly cast. At the expiration of six weeks it was acted again, and with unbounded applause. His fame as a dramatick writer was settled from that time. When it was he became proprietor of Drury Lane Theatre, or how it was accomplished, I did not learn from him, but it was the only property he ever possessed, and, with the commonest discretion on his part, would have made him a most affluent man.

Sheridan’s talents, displayed in his plays, procured him very shortly both male and female admirers among the higher orders. The families of Lord Coventry and Lord Harrington he spoke of as his first patrons. When it was he begun with politicks, I don’t recollect, but he was a great parliamentary reformer the latter end of the American war, and one of a committee of either five or seven (I forget which number) who used to sit regularly at the Mansion House upon this subject.

“In 1780, the year of a general election, his object was to get into Parliament if possible, and he was going to make a trial at Wootton-Bassett. The night before he set out, being at Devonshire House and everybody talking about the general election, Lady Cork* asked Sheridan about his plans, which led to her saying that she had often heard her brother Monckton say he thought an opposition man might come in for Stafford, and that if, in the event of Sheridan failing at Wootton, he liked to try his chance at Stafford, she would give him a letter of introduction to her brother.

“This was immediately done. Sheridan went to Wootton-Bassett, where he had not a chance. Then he went to Stafford, produced Lady Cork’s letter, offered himself as a candidate, and was elected. For Stafford he was member till 1806—six-and-twenty years. I remember asking him if he could fix upon any one point of time in his life that was decidedly happier than all the rest, and he said certainly—it was after dinner the day of this first election for Stafford,

* Second wife of the 7th Earl, youngest daughter of the 1st Viscount Galway.

when he stole away by himself to speculate upon those prospects of distinguishing himself which had been opened to him.

“I did not hear any further of his own history from himself than this first getting into parliament. It has been a constant subject of regret to me that I did not put down at the time all he told me, because it was much more than I have stated; but I feel confident my memory is correct in what I have written.

“To return to Sheridan at Brighton in the year 1805. His point of difference with the Prince being at an end, Sheridan entered into whatever fun was going on at the Pavilion as if he had been a boy, tho’ he was then 55 years of age. Upon one occasion he came into the drawing-room disguised as a police officer to take up the Dowager Lady Sefton* for playing at some unlawful game; and at another time, when we had a phantasmagoria at the Pavilion, and were all shut up in perfect darkness, he continued to seat himself upon the lap of Madame Gerobtzoff [?], a haughty Russian dame, who made row enough for the whole town to hear her.

“The Prince, of course, was delighted with all this; but at last Sheridan made himself so ill with drinking, that he came to us soon after breakfast one day, saying he was in a perfect fever, desiring he might have some table beer, and declaring that he would spend that day with us, and send his excuses by Bloomfield for not dining at the Pavilion. I felt his pulse, and found it going tremendously, but instead of beer, we gave him some hot white wine, of which he drank a bottle, I remember, and his pulse subsided almost instantly. . . . After dinner that day he must have drunk at least a bottle and a half of wine. In the evening we were all going to the Pavilion, where there was to be a ball, and Sheridan said he would go home, i.e., to the Pavilion (where he slept) and would go quietly to bed. He desired me to tell the Prince, if he asked me after him, that he was far from well, and was gone to bed.

* Isabella, daughter of 2nd Earl of Harrington, and widow of the 9th Viscount and 1st Earl of Sefton.


“So when supper was served at the Pavilion about 12 o’clock, the Prince came up to me and said:

“‘What the devil have you done with Sheridan to-day, Creevey? I know he has been dining with you, and I have not seen him the whole day.’

“I said he was by no means well and had gone to bed; upon which the Prince laughed heartily, as if he thought it all fudge, and then, taking a bottle of claret and a glass, he put them both in my hands and said:

“‘Now Creevey, go to his bedside and tell him I’ll drink a glass of wine with him, and if he refuses, I admit he must be damned bad indeed.’

“I would willingly have excused myself on the score of his being really ill, but the Prince would not believe a word of it, so go I must. When I entered Sheridan’s bedroom, he was in bed, and, his great fine eyes being instantly fixed upon me, he said:—

“‘Come, I see this is some joke of the Prince, and I am not in a state for it.’

“I excused myself as well as I could, and as he would not touch the wine, I returned without pressing it, and the Prince seemed satisfied he must be ill.

“About two o’clock, however, the supper having been long over, and everybody engaged in dancing, who should I see standing at the door but Sheridan, powdered as white as snow, as smartly dressed as ever he could be from top to toe. . . . I joined him and expressed my infinite surprise at this freak of his. He said:

“‘Will you go with me, my dear fellow, into the kitchen, and let me see if I can find a bit of supper.’

“Having arrived there, he began to play off his cajolery upon the servants, saying if he was the Prince they should have much better accommodation, &c., &c., every one waiting upon him. He ate away and drank a bottle of claret in a minute, returned to the ballroom, and when I left it between three and four he was dancing.

“In the beginning of November, as Sheridan was returning to London, and I was going there for a short time, he proposed our going together, and nothing would serve him but that we must be two days on the road: that nothing was so foolish as
hurrying oneself in such short days, and nothing so pleasant as living at an inn; that the Cock at Sutton was an excellent place to dine and sleep at; that he himself was very well known there, and would write and have a nice little dinner ready for our arrival.

“We set off in a job chaise of his, Edwards the box keeper of Drury Lane being on the dicky box, for he always acted as Sheridan’s valet when he left London. Before we had travelled many miles, having knocked my foot against some earthenware vessel in the chaise, I asked Sheridan what it could be, and he replied he dared say it was something Edwards was taking to his wife. Arriving in the evening at Sutton, I found there was not a soul in the house who had ever seen Sheridan before; that his letter had never arrived, and that no dinner was ready for us. I heard him muttering on about its being an extraordinary mistake, that his particular friend was out of the way, and so forth, but that he knew the house to be an excellent one, and no where that you could have a nicer little dinner. He went fidgetting in and out of the room, without exciting the least suspicion on my part, till dinner was announced. Then I found his fun had been to bring the dinner with him from the Pavilion. The bowl I had kicked contained the soup, and there were the best fish, woodcocks and everything else, with claret and sherry and port all from the same place.

“Among other persons who came to pay their respects to the Prince during the Autumn of 1805 was Mr. Hastings,* whom I had never seen before excepting at his trial in Westminster Hall. He and Mrs. Hastings came to the Pavilion, and I was present when the Prince introduced Sheridan to him, which was curious, considering that Sheridan’s parliamentary fame had been built upon his celebrated speech against Hastings. However, he lost no time in attempting to cajole old Hastings, begging him to believe that any part he had ever taken against him was purely political, and that no one had a greater respect for him than himself, &c., &c., upon which old Hastings said with great gravity that ‘it would be a great consolation to him in his

* Warren Hastings.

declining days if Mr. Sheridan would make that sentence more publick;’ but Sheridan was obliged to mutter and get out of such an engagement as well as he could.

“Another very curious person I saw a great deal of this autumn of 1805, sometimes at the Pavilion, sometimes at Mrs. Clowes’s, was Lord Thurlow, to whom the Prince always behaved with the most marked deference and attention. I had never seen him but once before, and the occasion was an extraordinary one. Lady Oxford, who then had a house at Ealing (it was in 1801) had, by Lord Thurlow’s desire, I believe, at all events with his acquiescence, invited Horne-Tooke to dinner to meet him. Lord Thurlow never had seen him since he had prosecuted him when Attorney-General for a libel in 1774 (I believe it was), when the greatest bitterness was shown on both sides, so that the dinner was a meeting of great curiosity to us who were invited to it. Sheridan was there and Mrs. Sheridan, the late Lord Camelford, Sir Francis Burdett, Charles Warren, with several others and myself. Tooke evidently came prepared for a display, and as I had met him repeatedly, and considered his powers of conversation as surpassing those of any person I had ever seen, in point of skill and dexterity (and, if at all necessary, in lying), I took for granted old grumbling Thurlow would be obliged to lower his topsail to him. But it seemed as if the very look and voice of Thurlow scared him out of his senses, and certainly nothing could be much more formidable. So Tooke tried to recruit himself by wine, and tho’ not a drinker, was very drunk. But all would not do; he was perpetually trying to distinguish himself, and Thurlow constantly laughing at him.

“In the autumn of 1805, Thurlow had declined greatly in energy from the time I refer to. It was the year only before his death. He used to read or ride out in the morning, and his daughter Mrs. Brown, and Mr. Sneyd, the clergyman of Brighton, occupied themselves in procuring any stranger or other person who they thought would be agreeable to the old man to dine with him, the party being thus 10 or 12 every day, or more. I had the good fortune to be occasionally there with Mrs. Creevey. . . . However rough
Thurlow might be with men, he was the politest man in the world to ladies. Two or three hours were occupied by him at dinner in laying wait for any unfortunate slip or ridiculous observation that might be made by any of his male visitors, whom, when caught, he never left hold of, till I have seen the sweat run down their faces from the scrape they had got into.

“Having seen this property of his, I took care, of course, to keep clear of him, and have often enjoyed extremely seeing the figures which men have cut who came with the evident intention of shewing off before him. Curran, the Irish lawyer, was a striking instance of this. I dined with him at Thurlow’s one day, and Thurlow just made as great a fool of him as he did formerly of Tooke.

Thurlow was always dressed in a full suit of cloaths of the old fashion, great cuffs and massy buttons, great wig, long ruffles, &c.; the black eyebrows exceeded in size any I have ever seen, and his voice, tho’ by no means devoid of melody, was a kind of rolling, murmuring thunder. He had great reading, particularly classical, and was a very distinguished, as well as most daring, converser. I never heard of any one but Mr. Hare who had fairly beat him, and this I know from persons who were present, Hare did more than once, at Carlton House and at Woburn.

Sir Philip Francis, whom I knew intimately, and who certainly was a remarkably quick and clever man, was perpetually vowing vengeance against Thurlow, and always fixing his time during this autumn of 1805 for ‘making an example of the old ruffian,’ either at the Pavilion or wherever he met him; but I have seen them meet afterwards, and tho’ Thurlow was always ready for battle, Francis, who on all other occasions was bold as a lion, would never stir.

“The grudge he owed to Thurlow was certainly not slightly grounded. When Francis and Generals Clavering and Manson were sent to India in 1773, to check Hastings in his career, their conduct was extolled to the skies by our party in parliament, while, on the other hand, Lord Thurlow in the House of Lords said that the greatest misfortune to India and to England was that the ship which carried these three gentlemen out had not gone to the bottom. . . .


“. . . During the autumn of 1805 the Prince was a very great politician. He considered himself as the Head of the Whig Party, and was perpetually at work cajoling shabby people, as he thought, into becoming Whigs out of compliment to him, but who ate his dinners and voted with the Ministers just the same. I remember dining with him at George Johnstone’s at Brighton—the Duke of Clarence, old Thurlow, Lord and Lady Bessborough and a very large party, of which Suza, the Portuguese Ambassador was one. After dinner the Prince, addressing himself to Suza, described himself as being the Head of the great Whig party in England, and then entered at great length upon the merit of Whig principles, and the great glory it was to him, the Prince, to be the head of a party who advocated such principles. Finally, he appealed to Suza for his opinion upon that subject; but the Portuguese was much too wary to be taken in. He thanked the Prince with great force, ability and propriety for his condescension in giving him the information he had done, but, as he added, the subject was an entirely new one to him, he prayed his Royal Highness would have the goodness to excuse him giving an opinion upon it, till he had considered it more maturely.

“It seemed at that time the Prince’s politicks were almost always uppermost with him . . . Upon one occasion I remember dining with the Prince at Lady Downshire’s, Lord Winslow and different people being there. After dinner he said to me privately: ‘Creevey, you must go home with me.’ So when he went he took me in his coach, and when we got to the Pavilion he said: ‘Now, Creevey, you and I must go over the House of Commons together, and see who are our friends and who are our enemies.’ Accordingly, he got his own red book, and we went over the House of Commons name by name. He had one mark for a friend and another for an enemy, and of course every member of the Government who was then in the House of Commons had the enemy’s mark put against his name. . . . Having made all these marks himself, he gave me the book, and told me to take it home with me. At this time Lord Castlereagh had just lost his election for the county of Down, entirely from Lady
Downshire’s opposition. She had gone over to Ireland expressly for that purpose.

“When the Prince returned from a visit of two or three days to the King at Weymouth, he was very indiscreet in talking at his table about the Kings infirmities, there being such people as Miles Peter Andrews and Sir George Shee present, in common with other spies and courtiers. So when he described the King as so blind that he had nearly fallen into some hole at Lord Dorchester’s, I said—‘Poor man, Sir!’ in a very audible and serious tone, and he immediately took the hint and stopt.

“Upon another occasion the Duke of York* came to the Pavilion. It was some military occasion—a review of the troops, I believe—and there was a great assemblage of military people there. Nothing could be so cold and formal as the Prince’s manner to the Duke. As he was coming up the room towards the Prince, the Prince said to me in an undertone—‘Do you know the Duke of York.’ On my replying—‘No, sir,’ he said—‘He’s a damned bad politician, but I’ll introduce you to him,’ and this he did, with great form.

“Amongst other things, the Prince took to a violent desire of bringing Romilly into Parliament, and having found that I was well acquainted with him, he commissioned me to write to Romilly, and to offer him a seat in the House of Commons in the Prince’s name. This of course I did, but, in so doing, I did not hesitate to express my own suspicions as to the reality of the thing offered, nor did I withhold my opinion as to Romilly’s doing best to decline it, could it even be accomplished. I begged him, however, to write me two answers, one for the Prince’s inspection, and the other for my own private instruction, if he was desirous the project should be entertained at all. Romilly, however, as I was sure he would, wrote me an answer that was an unequivocal, tho’ of course very grateful, refusal of the favour offered him.†

“Having mentioned a dinner I had at Johnstone’s in Brighton in 1805, I can’t help adverting to what took place that day. The late King (George IV.) and

* Commander-in-chief.

† See p. 40, supra.

the present one (
William IV.) both dined there, and it so happened that there was a great fight on the same day between the Chicken* and Gully,† The Duke of Clarence was present at it, and as the battle, from the interference of Magistrates, was fought at a greater distance from Brighton than was intended, the Duke was very late, and did not arrive till dinner was nearly over. I mention the case on account of the change that has since taken place as to these parties. Gully was then a professional prize-fighter from the ranks, and fighting for money. Since that time, the Duke of Clarence has become Sovereign of the country, and Gully has become one of its representatives in parliament. As Gully always attends at Court, as well as in the House of Commons, it would be curious to know whether the King, with his accurate recollection of all the events of his life, and his passion for adverting to them, has ever given to Gully any hint of that day’s proceedings. There is, to be sure, one reason why he should not, for Gully was beaten that day by the Chicken, as I have reason to remember; for Lord Thurlow and myself being the two first to arrive before dinner, he asked if I had heard any account of the fight. I repeated what I had heard in the streets, viz. that Gully had given the Chicken so tremendous a knock-down blow at starting, that the latter had never answered to him; so when the Duke of Clarence came and told us that Gully was beat, old Thurlow growled out from his end of the table—‘Mr. Creevey, think an action would lie against you by the Chicken for taking away his character.’

Lord Thurlow was a great drinker of port wine, and Johnstone, who was the most ridiculous toady of great men, said to him that evening—‘I am afraid, my lord, the port wine is not so good as I could wish;’

* Henry Pearce, the “Game Chicken,” champion of England.

John Gully [1783-1863], son of a publican and butcher, made his début in the prize-ring in 1805, and was recognised as virtual, though not formal, champion after Pearce, the Game Chicken, retired at the end of that year. In 1808 he became a bookmaker and publican. He made a good deal of money; became a successful owner of racehorses; and, having purchased Ackworth Park, near Pontefract, represented that borough in Parliament from 1832 till 1837.

upon which old Thurlow growled again—‘I have tasted better!’”

The foregoing narrative will enable the reader to understand many of the allusions in the following letters written by Mrs. Creevey from Brighton to her husband while he was attending to his parliamentary duties. It must be understood also that Creevey was quite sensible of the advantage which might be expected in regard to his own political prospects from the favour he had found in the royal leader of the Whigs. The King’s madness might return on any day; the Prince of Wales would become Regent, and nobody doubted that, so soon as he had the power, he would dismiss the Tory Ministers of his father. Mrs. Creevey, therefore, loyally played up to her husband’s hand, and, like her lord, continued charitably blind to the character and habits of their master. Like all who ever made her acquaintance, both Mr. and Mrs. Creevey speak enthusiastically of the unfortunate Mrs. Fitzherbert, whom the Prince had married in 1785.

Mrs. Creevey to Mr. Creevey in London.
“Brighton, Oct. 29th, 1805.

“. . . Oh, this wicked Pavillion! we were there till ½ past one this morng., and it has kept me in bed with the headache till 12 to-day. . . . The invitation did not come to us till 9 o’clock: we went in Lord Thurlow’s carriage, and were in fear of being too late; but the Prince did not come out of the dining-room till 11. Till then our only companions were Lady Downshire and Mr. and Miss Johnstone—the former very good-natured and amiable. . . . When the Prince appeared, I instantly saw he had got more wine than usual, and it was still more evident that the German Baron was extremely drunk. The Prince came up and
sat by me—introduced
McMahon to me, and talked a great deal about Mrs. Fitzherbert—said she had been ‘delighted’ with my note, and wished much to see me. He asked her ‘When?’—and he said her answer was—‘Not till you are gone, and I can see her comfortably.’ I suppose this might be correct, for Mac told me he had been ‘worrying her to death’ all the morning.

“It appears to me I have found a true friend in Mac.* He is even more foolish than I expected; but I shall be disappointed if, even to you, he does not profess himself my devoted admirer.

“Afterwards the Prince led all the party to the table where the maps lie, to see him shoot with an air-gun at a target placed at the end of the room. He did it very skilfully, and wanted all the ladies to attempt it. The girls and I excused ourselves on account of our short sight; but Lady Downshire hit a fiddler in the dining-room, Miss Johnstone a door and Bloomfield the ceiling. . . . I soon had enough of this, and retired to the fire with Mac. . . . At last a waltz was played by the band, and the Prince offered to waltz with Miss Johnstone, but very quietly, and once round the table made him giddy, so of course it was proper for his partner to be giddy too; but he cruelly only thought of supporting himself, so she reclined on the Baron.”

“Sunday, Nov. 3, 1805.

“And so I amuse you by my histories. Well! I am glad of it, and it encourages me to go on; and yet I can tell you I could tire of such horrors as I have had the last 3 evenings. I nevertheless estimate them as you do, and am quite disposed to persevere. The second evening was the worst. We were in the dining-room (a comfortless place except for eating and drinking in), and sat in a circle round the fire, which (to indulge you with ‘detail’) was thus arranged. Mrs. F[itzherbert] in the chimney corner (but not knitting), next to her Lady Downshire—then Mrs. Creevey—then Geoff—then Dr. [erased]—then Savory—then Warner—then Day, vis-a-vis his mistress, and most of the time snoring like a pig and waking for nothing

* The Right Hon. John Macmahon, Private Secretary and Keeper of the Privy Purse to the Prince of Wales. Died in 1817.

better than a glass of water, which he call’d for, hoping, I think, to be offered something better. . . . Last night was better; it was the same party only instead of Savory, a Col. or Major Watley [?] of the Gloster Militia, and the addition of Mrs. Morant, an old card-playing woman. . . . Mrs. Fitz shone last night very much in a sketch she gave me of the history of a very rich Russian woman of quality who is coming to
Lord Berkeley’s house. She has been long in England, and is I suppose generally known in London, though new to me. She was a married woman with children, and of great consequence at the court of Petersburgh when Lord Whitworth was there some years ago. He was poor and handsome—she rich and in love with him, and tired of a very magnificent husband to whom she had been married at 14 years old. In short, she kept my Lord, and spent immense sums in doing so and gratifying his great extravagance. In the midst of all this he return’d to England, but they corresponded, and she left her husband and her country to come to him, expecting to marry him—got as far as Berlin, and there heard he was married to the Duchess of Dorset.

“She was raving mad for some time, and Mrs. F. describes her as being often nearly so now, but at other times most interesting, and most miserable. Her husband and children come to England to visit her, and Mrs. F. says she is an eternal subject of remorse to Lord Whitworth, whom she [Mrs. F] spoke of in warm terms as ‘a monster,’ and said she could tell me far more to make me think so. The story sometimes hit upon points that made her blush and check herself, which was to me not the least interesting part of it. . . . She laughed more last night than ever at the Johnstones—said he was a most vulgar man, but seem’d to give him credit for his good nature to his sister and his generosity. The Baron is preparing a phantasmagoria at the Pavillion, and she [Mrs. F] laughs at what he may do with Miss Johnstone in a dark room.”

“5th Nov., 1805.

“. . . My head is very bad, I suppose with the heat of the Pavillion last night. We were there before
Mrs. Fitzherbert came, and it almost made her faint, but she put on no airs to be interesting and soon recovered, and I had a great deal of comfortable prose with her. It was rather formidable when we arrived: nobody but Mrs. Morant and the Prince and Dr. Fraser, and for at least half-an-hour in this little circle the conversation was all between the Prince and me—first about Sheridan, and about not seeing you, and his determination to make you come (if not bring you) back next week, when he is to have Lord St. Vincent, Markham, Sheridan, Tierney, &c. . . . Lady Downshire soon came, but did not help conversation—then came Geoff and Mrs. Fitz, and soon afterwards the men from the dining-room, consisting of only Day and Warner, Savory, Bloomfield and the Baron. The Prince told Mrs. F. he would not have any more, lest they should disturb her. . . . Before she came, he was talking of the fineness of the day, and said:—‘But I was not out. I went to Mrs. Fitzherbert’s at one o’clock, and stay’d talking with her till past 6, which was certainly very unfashionable.’ Now was he not at that moment thinking of her as his lawful wife? for in no other sense could he call it unfashionable.”

“Wednesday, Nov. 6, 1805.

“I am much flatter’d, dearest Creevey, that you complain when my letters are short. . . . I went to the Pavillion last night quite well, and moreover am well to-day and fit for Johnstone’s ball, which at last is to be. They were at the Pavillion and she [Miss Johnstone] persecuted both the Prince and Mrs. Fitzherbert like a most impudent fool. The former was all complyance and good nature—the latter very civil, but most steady in refusing to go. She said she could not go out, and Miss J. grinned and answer’d—‘Oh! but you are out here’—then urged that it had been put off on purpose for Mrs. F., who said she was sorry for it, but hoped it wd. be put off no longer. All this Mrs. F. told me herself, with further remarks, just before I came away, which I did with Lady Downshire, and left the Johnstones with their affairs in an unsettled state, and with faces of great anxiety and misery. But the attack was renew’d, and the Prince
said:—‘I shall have great pleasure in looking in upon you, but indeed I cannot let this good woman (Mrs. F.) come: she is quite unfit for it.’ And so we shall see the fun of his looking in or staying all the evening, for poor Johnstone has been running about the Steyne with a paper in his hand all the morning and invited us all. . . . When I got to the Pavillion last night the Prince sat down by me directly, and I told him my headache had made me late, and he was very affectionate. . . .
Harry Grey has just come in with news of a great victory at sea and poor Nelson being kill’d. It has come by express to the Prince, and it is said 20 sail are taken or destroyed. What will this do? not, I hope, save Pitt; but both parties may now be humble and make peace. . . .

“I have had new visitors here this morning—Madle. Voeykoff, the niece of the old Russian, and Mde. Pieton, a young friend, daughter of the famous Mrs. Nesbitt and Prince Ferdinand of Wirtemburgh, as is supposed. I talked with her last night, because Mrs. F. praised her as a most amiable creature, and I liked her very much. In short, as usual, the Pavillion amused me, and I wd. rather have been there again to-night than at Johnstone’s nasty ball and fine supper.”

Mrs. Fitzherbert to Mrs. Creevey.
“Nov. 6, 1805.
“Dr. Madam,

“The Prince has this moment recd. an account from the Admiralty of the death of poor Lord Nelson, which has affected him most extremely. I think you may wish to know the news, which, upon any other occasion might be called a glorious victory—twenty out of three and thirty of the enemy’s fleet being entirely destroyed—no English ship being taken or sunk—Capts. Duff and Cook both kill’d, and the French Adl. Villeneuve taken prisoner. Poor Lord Nelson recd. his death by a shot of a musket from the enemy’s ship upon his shoulder, and expir’d two hours after, but not till the ship struck and afterwards sunk, which he had the consolation of hearing, as well
as his compleat victory, before he died. Excuse this hurried scrawl: I am so nervous I scarce can hold my pen. God bless you.

M. Fitzherbert.”
Mrs. Creevey to Mr. Creevey.
“Friday night, 12 o’clock.
“Dearest Creevey,

“. . . I think you will like to hear I have spent a very comfortable evening with my mistress.* We had a long discourse about Lady Wellesley. The folly of men marrying such women led us to Mrs. Fox, and I saw she would have liked to go further than I dared, or than our neighbours would permit. . . . They were all full of Prussians and Swedes and Danes and Russians coming soon with irresistible destruction on Buonaparte. I wonder if there is a chance of it. I don’t believe it. . . .”

“Nov. 7, 1805.

“. . . [The Prince’s] sorrow [for Nelson’s death] might help to prevent his coming to dinner at the Pavillion or to Johnstone’s ball. He did neither, but stayed with Mrs. Fitz; and you may imagine the disappointment of the Johnstones. The girl grin’d it off with the captain, but Johnstone had a face of perfect horror all night, and I think he was very near insane. I once lamented Lord Nelson to him, and he said:—‘Oh shocking: and to come at such an unlucky time!’ . . .”

“8th Nov.

“. . . The first of my visits this morning was to ‘my Mistress.’ . . . I found her alone, and she was excellent—gave me an account of the Prince’s grief about Lord N., and then entered into the domestic failings of the latter in a way infinitely creditable to her, and skilful too. She was all for Lady Nelson and against Lady Hamilton, who, she said (hero as he was) overpower’d him and took possession of him

* Mrs. Fitzherbert.

quite by force. But she ended in a natural, good way, by saying:—‘Poor creature! I am sorry for her now, for I suppose she is in grief.’”

“Past 4 o’clock, Monday.

“. . . Mrs. Fitzherbert came before 12 and has literally only this moment left me. We have been all the time alone, and she has been confidential to a degree that almost frightens me, and that I can hardly think sufficiently accounted for by her professing in the strongest terms to have liked me more and more every time she has seen me, tho’ at first she told Mr. Tierney no person had ever struck her so much at first sight. . . . So much in excuse for her telling me the history of her life, and dwelling more particularly on the explanation of all her feelings and conduct towards the Prince. If she is as true as I think she is wise, she is an extraordinary person, and most worthy to be beloved. It was quite impossible to keep clear of Devonshire House; and there her opinions are all precisely mine and yours, and, what is better, she says they are now the Prince’s; that he knows everything—above all, how money is made by promises, unauthorised by him, in the event of his having power; that he knows how his character is involved in various transactions of that house, and that he only goes into it, from motives of compassion and old friendship, when he is persecuted to do so. In short, he tells Mrs. F. all he sees and hears, shews her all the Duchess’s letters and notes, and she says she knows the Dss. hates her. . . . We talked of her life being written; she said she supposed it would some time or other, but with thousands of lies; but she would be dead and it would not signify. I urged her to write it herself, but she said it would break her heart.”

“Nov. 27, 1805.

“. . . I was very sorry indeed to go to the Pavillion, and ‘my Master’ made me no amends for my exertion—no shaking hands—only a common bow in passing—and not a word all night, except just before came away some artificial stuff about the Baron, and then a little parting shake of the hand with this
interesting observation—‘So
Creevey is gone,’ and the interesting answer of—‘Yes, Sir.’ In short I suspect he was a little affronted by our going away the night before: but I don’t mind it—he will soon come about again; or if he does not, I will make him ashamed by begging his pardon.”

“Nov. 29th.

“. . . Well, I am quite in favor again. When I entered Gerobtzoff’s room last night Prinny* was on a sofa directly opposite the door, and in return for a curtsey, perhaps rather more grave, more low and humble than usual (meaning—‘I beg your pardon dear foolish, beautiful Prinny for making you take the pet’), he put out his hand. . . . We soon went to see the ball at the Pavillion, and Mrs. Fitz selected me to go in the first party in a way that set up the backs of various persons and puzzled even Geoff. . . . We were soon tired of the amusement and sick of the heat and stink. Neither the Prince nor any one stay’d long, and the rest of the evening was horribly dull; but luckily for me, when the Prince returned I was sitting on a little sofa that wd. only hold two, and the other seat was vacant; so he came to it, and never left me or spoke to another person till within 10 minutes of my coming away at ½ past 12. . . . We had the old stories of Mrs. Sheridan, only with some new additions . . . we had Charles Grey too, and he talked of his [Grey’s] dislike to him, because in the Regency he wd. not hear of his being Chancellor of the Exchequer. He talked of his bad temper and his early presumption in overrating his own talents. . . . He told me that when he was king he wd. not give up his private society, and on my saying a little flattering sentence about the good I expected from him, he actually said—‘he hoped I should never have cause to think differently of him.’ This was going his length, so I stopt.”

“Dec. 2, 1805.

“. . . We have been at the Pavillion both Friday and yesterday, and Mrs. F. has desired us to come every night without invitation. . . . Both these parties

* The Prince of Wales.

have been private and the
Prince equally good and attentive to me at both. . . . Last night he took me under his arm through the dark, wet garden into the other house, to shew me a picture of himself. Poor little Lady Downshire push’d herself (tho’ humbly) into our party, but he sent her before with Bloomfield and the lanthorn, and he and I might have gone astray in any way we had liked; but I can assure you (faithless as you are about coming back to me) nothing worse happened than his promise of giving me the best print that ever was done of him, and mine that it shall hang in the best place amongst my friends.”

“Dec. 5, 1805.

“. . . It was a large party at the Pavillion last night, and the Prince was not well . . . and went off to bed. . . . Lord Hutchinson was my chief flirt for the evening, but before Prinny went off he took a seat by me to tell me all this bad news had made him bilious and that he was further overset yesterday by seeing the ship with Lord Nelson’s body on board. . . . None of them knew Pitt was gone to Bath till I told them. I ask’d both Lord H[utchinson] and his Master if they wd. like him to die now, or live a little longer to be turn’d out. They both decidedly prefer instant death. . . . I think Sheridan may probably return with you on Friday if you ask him. On second thoughts—I would not have you ask him, for he will make you wait and sleep at the Cock at Sutton.”