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The Creevey Papers
Ch. V: 1809

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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Canning and Castlereagh, hitherto at one in maintaining the Continental policy of Pitt, fell at issue in 1809 as to the best means of carrying the same into effect. The seeds of their difference had been sown in the dispute about the Convention of Cintra. Canning, as Foreign Secretary, advocated a concentration of the whole military forces of Britain upon the liberation of Spain; Castlereagh, at the War Office, listened to expert advisers who had been damped by the retreat and death of Sir John Moore, and was urgent for creating diversions in other parts of Europe. Castlereagh had his way, with the result, among others, that the most powerful expedition that had ever sailed from England—40,000 troops and a splendid fleet with as many seamen and marines—were lamentably sacrificed in the swamps of Walcheren Island through the incompetence of their general; while Sir Arthur Wellesley sailed in April to assume command in a second Peninsular campaign. Great was the fury of the anti-war party in Parliament by reason of this resuscitation of the hated Wellesleys, but not greater than their rage at Lord Grenville, who, although he had acted with the Opposition until now, refused to be drawn into an unpatriotic line of
conduct, or at
Grey, Tierney, and other Whigs who showed scruples at embarrassing the Government in their operations.

Samuel Whitbread, M.P., to Mr. Creevey.
“Southill, Jan. 11, 1809.
“Dear Creevey,

“Your letter reached me at Woburn Abbey amidst rows, festivities and masquerades. . . . By all I can collect from the Duke of Bedford and FitzPatrick it is not the desire of Ponsonby and the wise heads in London that any great effort should be made for an attendance. . . . I have heard from Tierney since I saw you. He seems in flat despair about any effect to be produced by our exertions in Parlt. the ensuing session, and I am told that he wishes to abstain from active attendance altogether. I do not believe that any persons join with him in this feeling. I am sure I do not. It would be as unwise as impracticable to be seen and not heard in the House of Commons; and as his plan does not go the whole length of secession, it will amount in practice to nothing at all. . . . Lord Grenville intends to come down on the first day and make a general attack: after that, he does not at present mean to follow the matter up with the assiduity he displayed last year in the House of Lords, nor, indeed, in the absence of Grey and Holland, could it be expected. . . . I will only add for myself, that I have the greatest respect for Ld. Grenville, but that that respect would in no way prevent my taking any line I thought the right one. . . .”

“Southill, March 31, 1809.

“. . . Do pray tell me what is said about things in general, and in particular about myself, for I fear I am but roughly handled in a part of the world just now. . . . What do you think of the Westminster meeting? I cannot say how much I was surprized by Burdett’s unprovoked attack upon the great agriculturists, who are, almost without exception, real friends of Liberty and Reform—none more so
than the head of them, the
Duke of Bedford, who thinks parliamentary reform indispensably necessary to our existence. . . . I am to-day working hard at the local Militia; to-morrow I intend to go foxhunting, and on Sunday I hope to be regaled by an answer from you. . . .”

Capt. Graham Moore, R.N., to Mr. Creevey.
“London, July 18th, 1809.

“. . . The [Walcheren] expedition is expected to sail this week. The Naval part of it is well commanded. Strachan is one of those in our service whom I estimate the highest. I do not believe he has his fellow among the Admirals, unless it be Pellew, for ability, and it is not possible to have more zeal and gallantry.”

“Brook Farm, Cobham, Surrey, Sept. 19th, 1809.

“I go back to my ship on the 21st at Portsmouth, where she arrived from the Scheldt with a cargo of sick. I expect to go with her there, as we are to continue under the command of Sir Richard Strachan,* and as there are 200 of her seamen still there in the gunboats, &c. It is my wish to serve with Strachan, as I know him to be extremely brave and full of zeal and ardour, at the same time that he is an excellent seaman, and, tho’ an irregular, impetuous fellow, possessing very quick parts and an uncommon share of sagacity and strong sense. I hope Walcheren will be evacuated before we lose any more of our invaluable men. . . . The Cannings are in a damned dilemma with this expedition and the victory of Talavera. They mean, I understand, to saddle poor Lord Chatham with the first, but who can they saddle the victory with? They dare not attack the Wellesleys as they did my poor brother.† What a cursed set you all are! I certainly far prefer your set, but your set bungled miserably. However you are a more manly and gentlemanly set of bunglers and

* Moore, as a Scot, spells Sir Richard’s name more Scotico.

Sir John Moore.

jobbers than the self-sufficient, chattering, intriguing Cannings. . . . I wish Parliament were met, for I long to see these fellows forced from their seats. As to peace, I can see no prospect of it as long as
Bonoparte exists; and I believe, for our comfort, he is a cursed temperate, hardy knave, in mind and body. . . .”

On 21st September the quarrel between Castlereagh and Canning culminated in a duel, involving the resignation of both Ministers. Lord Wellesley was recalled from Spain to succeed Canning at the Foreign Office, and Lord Liverpool took Castlereagh’s place at the War Office. Another change shortly afterwards was the replacement of the Duke of Portland at the head of the Government by Mr. Perceval.

Lord Folkestone, M.P., to Mr. Creevey.
“Brooks’s, Sept. 21, 1809.
“Dear Creevey,

“I cannot help writing to tell you what a curious scene is going on here. Old Portland is going both out of the Ministry and out of the world—both very soon, and it is doubtful which first; but the doubt arises from the difficulty of finding a new Premier, though both Perceval and Canning have offered themselves. Mulgrave is going too, they say—Castlereagh is quite gone, and Canning too, and the latter well nigh this morning quitted this sublunary globe, as well as the Foreign Office, for his friend Castlereagh on Wimbledon Common about 7 o’clock this morning as neatly as possible sent a pistol bullet through the fleshy part of his thigh. These heroes have quarrelled and fought about the Walcheren affair—Castlereagh damning the execution* of Lord Chatham, and Canning the plan of the planner, and being Lord Chatham’s champion. Lord Chatham’s friends, too, say that he is not at all to blame, that he

* I.e. the performance.

has a complete case against Castlereagh, and further, that
Sir Richard Strahan has made him amende honorable, saying that he meant by his letter to insinuate no blame against him, and that he is ready to say so whenever and wherever called upon to do so.* On the other hand, Castlereagh’s friends are furious too—say that never man was so ill-used, and that he never will have any more connexion with his present colleagues.

Lord Yarmouth was Castlereagh’s second—Charles EllisCanning’s. Castlereagh was not touched; Canning’s wound is likely to be very tedious—not dangerous. In the meantime, every official arrangement is at a stand, or at least quite unknown and the whole thing appears in utter confusion. Mother Cole‡ in vain shows himself all day long in St. James’s Street; the Whigs are thought of by no one; the Doctor§ cries ‘off,’ and the King has not yet sent for Wardle‖ or Burdett. I really think that any one might be a minister for asking for it—Mr. Lee (the spokesman at Covent Garden) as well as another; and if they do not take care, it will come to this. If Nobbs¶ does not, the Mob will, name the Minister, and then—why not Mr. Lee? The scene would be diverting, if it did not look so serious; but, I protest, I begin to think it alarming, considering that guineas at Winchester have passed for 22s. in paper.

“In the meantime, the diversions of Covent Garden go on bravely. The people behave well, and I hope they will beat the damned Managers. The Magistrates there, as usual, behaved shamefully, and endeavoured to excite a riot, but did not succeed.
* “The Earl of Chatham, with sword drawn,
Stood waiting for Sir Richard Strahan;
Sir Richard, longing to be at ’em,
Stood waiting for the Earl of Chatham.”

Charles Rose Ellis, M.P. [1771-1845],created Lord Seaford in 1826.

Mr. Tierney.

§. Lord Sidmouth.

Colonel Wardle, M.P., who led the attack upon the Duke of York in the affair of Mrs. Clarke, which cost His Royal Highness his office as Commander-in-Chief.

George III.

Princess Amelia* is dying at Weymouth, and the Prince is not likely (I hear) to live long.

“I think I have exhausted my budget of news. Remember me to the ladies and believe me—

“Truly yours,
C. C. Western, M.P.,† to Mr. Creevey.
“Felix Hall, Sept. 24, 1809.

“. . . I wish that you may persist in your literary pursuits and particularly directed as they have to a comparative view of the conduct and character of modern statesmen with men of better times. By Heavens! the contrast is too disgusting. I know as little of history, even of my own country, as any gentleman need do, but it is impossible not to pick up enough to see and admire to an excess the sense and spirit of the old patriots, and certainly we have proof enough of the present men to make one dead sick at the very thoughts of them. . . . The duel! by the Lord, this surpasses everything. I have no doubt Canning was the aggressor, for the fellow is mad—evinced his insanity more than once last year. I delight in this duel. It is demonstration of the efficiency of our Councils. Here is an Administration—the King’s Own; the entire army is their sacrifice—the national character and safety too—and yet the Country quite passive. It is really too much to bear. And we are to have a Jubilee! It surpasses all imagination. I am expecting this loyal County to proclaim a subscription to illuminate, &c. I cannot really submit to it, though I shall be branded as a traitor. Do you think it could be morally justifiable to carry one s hypocrisy and acquiescence so far as to concurr in ever so cold a manner on such a diabolical measure. Let me hear from you in these extraordinary events. . . .”

* Youngest and favourite daughter of George III., whose madness was finally confirmed by sorrow for her death in 1810.

Charles Callis Western [1767-1844], commonly known as Squire Western, was 42 years in Parliament, a staunch Protectionist, though a Whig, and champion of the agricultural interest. In 1833 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Western of Rivenhall.

Samuel Whitbread, M.P., to Mr. Creevey.
“Southill, Nov. 8, 1809.

“. . . I am not surprised at people shaping towards Canning, because, as our friend Wilberforce shrewdly observes, he and I have been long enough in the political world not to be surprised at anything; but I know that those who shall trust a politician of that stamp, deserve to be betrayed and will have their deserts. I hope at least I shall so conduct myself as to deserve the approbation and support of the worthy part of the community. . . . The Earl of Essex, Lord Carrington and Mr. Giles are here, and the D. of Bedford, and the above-named noblesse approve Southill. . . . Mr. Adkin is in good health and trying ever and anon to repeat the stories he heard from you when shooting together, in which he does not always succeed. Owen Williams is come to Bedford, is invited to Southill and has accepted the invitation. I am not a little amused with the liberty given to the Emperor of Austria to cut brushwood in certain forests which are taken from him, together with other large territories, and I should very much have liked to have been at the stag hunt at Fontainebleau. . . .”

“Southill, Nov. 10, 1809.

“. . . Tom Adkin, who went to Bedford yesterday to meet his friend Williams at Palmer’s, was the first person who told us of the King’s letter to Perceval. Notwithstanding the awful presence of the Duke and the other Lords, he had got very drunk, and in his drunkenness he related this story, which he prefaced, as usual, by saying he had a fact to relate; which fact everybody laughed at; but the next morning Lord Carrington showed me a letter from Horner, in which the same story is told very circumstantially, and his lordship was very much surprized that what was said by Mr. Adkin ‘in that wild way’ should turn out to be true. I have no doubt that it is so, but the madness and folly of Perceval is inconceivable. Does he quite forget the narrow escape his administration had at starting from the mess made of Canning’s trial?
Tierney had not seen the letter when he was here, or, if he had, he was silent about it. Neither did he mention to us Perceval’s letter to the D. of Northumberland, altho’ there was some discussion about the Earl Percy’s taking a seat at the Treasury Board.

“. . . I delight in the stoutness of Lord Holland: I believe him to have principles and to be capable of conduct worthy of his name: but he is hampered. It is a most fortunate circumstance that Canning has given mortal offence at Holland House. The wounds are deep, and I hope incurable. . . . You will hear Martyn’s language from many mouths—great lamentation at our not hanging together. I shall be still the person blamed; but do you think in the present state of affairs that if either Lord Henry Petty or Lord George Cavendish were to be acknowledged by me as leader in the House of Commons there would be a chance of keeping a party together? Should I not lose all power in one way and gain nothing in the other? Should I not bind myself to a compact I could not keep? Should I not at every turn be said to be endeavouring to outstrip my leader? and would it not be confusion worse confounded? Yet I suppose these are the only nostrums recommended. I cannot take them—this is between ourselves. . . . Pray tell me what Lord Derby says and pray tell me whether the report be true or false respecting Burdett’s declaration against the Catholick Question. . . .”

“Southill, Nov. 16, 1809.

“Many thanks for your letter, which contained the first information I have received of Lord Lansdowne’s death. It certainly very much changes the plans laid down by Tierney. You may be sure that my views as to my own personal conduct are the same as those stated in your letter to be the correct ones, and that I shall keep myself as quiet as if there was a leader in whom I confided and could act under. I shall not stir hand or foot. It is my intention to be prepared with such an amendment [to the Address] as you have described, and I told Tierney that such an amendment alone could satisfy the publick, or be consistent with the duty of a Member of Parliament.”


The following correspondence refers to Sir Arthur Wellesley’s passage of the Douro in the face of Soult’s army—one of the most brilliant and dashing operations of the third Peninsular campaign, 1809-14, of which it was the first act. Wellesley, having landed at Lisbon, in April, with 21,500 men, found himself near the centre of a vast semi-circle of French corps numbering upwards of 200,000. He decided to strike before his enemies could concentrate upon him, and marched straight upon Oporto, 170 miles to the north, where Soult lay with 24,000 men. The French Generals Franceschi and Mermet, falling back before his advance, retreated into Oporto, destroying the pontoon bridge across the deep and rapid Douro. The romantic episode of the barber of Oporto and his skiff, the resource and daring which Colonel Waters displayed in using these humble instruments to bring barges over from the enemy’s shore, the nerve of Wellesley and the splendid courage of his soldiers which seized and clinched the slender opportunity, can never be better described than they have been in Napier’s glowing narrative.

Major-Genl. R. C. Ferguson* to Samuel Whitbread, M.P.
“Tickhill, Bantry, 21 July, 1809.
“My dear Sir,

“. . . I last night got a letter from Sir Arthur Wellesley and think it best to send you the original without making any comment on it. He is a very fine manly fellow, and I am sure (whatever

* [Sir] Ronald Crawfurd Ferguson [1773-1841], 2nd son of William Ferguson, of Raith, was M.P. for Kirkcaldy burghs 1806-1830; commanded the Highland Brigade of 42nd and 78th regiments at Vimeiro.

were the misrepresentations of the Ministers) you shd. not mean to say anything personally disrespectful to him. I know that in many points you like him, and I shd. be very sorry that anything shd. occur which shd. remove the mutual good opinion you have of each other. It is one of those things in which no advice can be given, and it must be left entirely to yourself, but I trust you will pardon me if I express a hope that you will either write a few lines to him or to me, such as I can send to him, which will do away any unpleasant impression that the newspaper reports may have occasioned.

“I desire, &c.,
R. C. Ferguson.”
Lieut-Gen. Sir Arthur Wellesley to Major-Gen. R. C. Ferguson (enclosed in the above).
“Abrantes, 22nd June, 1809.
“My dear Ferguson,

“I am in general callous to the observations of party and to the remarks of writers in the newspapers, but I acknowledge that I have been a little disturbed by a statement which it appears was made in the House of Commons by Mr. Whitbread—viz.: that I had exaggerated the success of the Army under my command, or, in other words, that I had lyed.

“I complain that Mr. Whitbread before he made this statement in the House did not read my letter with attention; if he had, he would have seen, first, that we were engaged on the 10th only with cavalry and a small body of infantry, with some guns; secondly, on the 11th with about 4000 infantry and some squadrons of cavalry; and on the 12th I stated nothing of numbers, but that the French were under command of Soult.

“From the nature of the action it was impossible for me to see the numbers engaged, so as to form an estimate of them in a dispatch; but I saw Soult, and knew when I was writing, not only that he was in the action, but that he was either wounded or had a
fall from his horse; and I saw a very large body of troops march out of Oporto to the attack. I have since heard that the whole of the French infantry in Portugal, with the exception of Loison’s Corps, which might amount to 4000 men, were in this attack, and this [illegible] estimated to be 10,000 men. We took two pieces more cannon in action than I stated in my dispatch, and I believe the return of cannon which the French were obliged to leave on that day was not less than 50 pieces.

“After that, I don’t think it quite fair that I should, in my absence, be accused of exaggeration, or, in other words, lying. I believe you know that I am not in the habit of sending exaggerated accounts of transactions of this kind. In the first place, I don’t see what purpose accounts of that description are to answer; and in the second place, the Army must eventually see them; they are most accurate criticks: I should certainly forfeit their good opinion most justly if I wrote a false account even of their actions, and nothing should induce me to take any step which should with justice deprive me of that advantage. As you are well acquainted with Mr. Whitbread, I shall be obliged to you if you will mention these circumstances to him. I have thought it better to set him right in this way than to get any friend of mine in the House of Commons to have a wrangle with him on the subject.

“Believe me, Yours most sincerely,
Arthur Wellesley.

“I’ll tell you what I might have said without exaggeration—that, whenever we were engaged, we had fewer numbers than the enemy.”

Samuel Whitbread, M.P., to Sir Arthur Wellesley.
“Southill, July 30, 1809.
“Dear Sir,

“I am very much concern’d to find by a letter I have received from Genl. Ferguson, inclosing one from you to him, that a report in some of the newspapers of what I am supposed to have said in
the House of Commons relative to the operations of the army under your command at Oporto has been the cause of any uneasiness to you. You know full well that the newspapers very commonly misrepresent what falls from members of Parliament, and that it is impossible to answer for what is put in by the reporters. In this case I really don’t know what I have been made to say, but I can venture to assure you that nothing disrespectful towards yourself ever fell from my mouth, because all the feelings of my mind are of a nature so entirely the reverse. I have upon all occasions expressed my real opinion of you, and I trust that political differences have never led me, even in public, to underrate your past services, or my hopes of your future ones. I daresay I did express my opinion that the rejoicings of your friends in power upon the receipt of your Dispatch was greater than the occasion call’d for, in which was not to be included any sentiment derogatory to you. I am sorry that your very important occupations should be interrupted, even for the short time necessary to read this letter, by any circumstance relating to me; but I could not help writing to you, and I must detain you one moment longer to assure you that I wish you all possible success, and that I expect from an army commanded by you every happy result that its strength can possibly effect.

“I am, My dear Sir, Your very faithful servant,
S. Whitbread.”
Lieut.-Gen. Sir Arthur Wellesley to Samuel Whitbread, M.P.
“Badajos, Sep. 4, 1809.*
“Dear Sir,

“I am very much obliged to you for your letter of the 10th of August [sic] which I received yesterday. As I had more than once received from you those marks of your attention and of your good opinion which you have been pleased to repeat in

* The date of Wellesley’s patent as Viscount Wellington of Talavera.

your letter, and as it indeed appeared by the report of your speech which I read that you had expressed the same sentiments on that occasion, I was anxious to remove from your mind an impression which it appeared had been made upon it, and which must have been injurious to me—that I had made an exaggerated statement of the operations of the troops under my command. In fact, I did not state with what numbers of the enemy the army was engaged when it passed the Douro, as I did not know them when I wrote my dispatch; and that was what I wanted to explain to you. I will not enter into any statement of our affairs in this part of the world; I daresay that you will hear and read enough, and speak more upon them than some of us will like. I rather think, however, that between numbers on the side of the enemy and strength of position on ours, we are so equally balanced that neither party will do the other much mischief. It will be satisfactory, however, for you to hear that the French begin to be convinced ‘que les Francois ne seront jamais les maitres des Anglois.’

“Ever, dear Sir, Yours most faithfully,
Arthur Wellesley.”
General Ferguson to Samuel Whitbread, M.P.
“Raith, Oct. 1, 1809.
“My dear Sir,

“I have to thank you for your letter of the 25th ulto. accompanied by Sir Arthur’s to you. With respect to his rashness in advancing so far into Spain, I fear something may be said; but I should fain hope that in his account of the battle of Talavera he will be acquitted of the charge of exaggeration. Twenty pieces of cannon and 5 standards taken from the enemy will be strong evidence in his favour. I have had a long letter from him, in which he gives a melancholy picture of the Spanish army and of the Government. Indeed he seems to have no hopes of the ultimate success of the Spaniards. He tells me not to think of having think of having anything to do with him or his army, so my trip to Spain is at an
end. We shall probably have fighting enough at home, beginning with a war of words, which (if the system of Government is not compleatly chang’d) will end in blows. If any of our friends come in, I hope they will not put the convenience of one individual in competition with the existence of the country. If they do, I hope that no honest man will support them. If Parlt. meets in Novr. I shall go to town, and should you be at Southill I shall not pass your door.”

Creevey resembled many of us in that he often began to keep a journal, and as often left off doing so. His diary during the autumn of 1809 was rather more continuous than usual.


“25th Sept, 1809.—Left Whitfield for Gosforth on our way to Howick, and learnt there that a King’s Messenger had passed thro’ Newcastle in the morning on his way to Howick to Lord Grey.

“26th.—Sent on to Newcastle from Gosforth and ascertained the Messenger had been at Howick, and was returned with letters from Lord Grey, but that he himself was not gone to London, so we proceed to Howick.

“Nothing said before dinner of the Messenger, but after dinner Lord Grey mentioned that a Messenger had brought offers from the Ministers to him, and that similar ones had been sent to Lord Grenville, and that he (Lord Grey) had sent a refusal. Does not mention what the offers were, but that the Ministers talked of an extended administration. Conversation about Castlereagh’s duel with Canning. Lord Grey thinks Castlereagh in the right: that his cause of complaint against Canning was the latter having told the King and Duke of Portland three months ago he could not remain in the Cabinet with Castlereagh, and yet never mentioning this to Castlereagh, but living apparently well with him. Then the cause of the duel—Lord Grey considers Canning’s resignation owing
to his not being able to succeed Duke of Portland as Prime Minister.
Curran the Irish Master of the Rolls, Geo. Ponsonby and Frederic Ponsonby (Lady Grey’s two brothers), Lord Grey and myself the party after dinner. . . . Lord Grey decidedly against the plan of the campaign in Holland, and acquits Lord Chatham of all blame in the execution of it, and still more decided in reprobation of Lord Wellington’s Spanish campaign and of the conduct of Ministers about the battle of Talavera.

Lord Grey very shy and artificial with me about politicks—makes frequent mention of Sir Francis Burdett and the No-Party men, and says, in answer to an observation of mine that the present Government can never last, however patched up, that in the present state of the House of Commons any Government may stand. I consider these observations as meant at my conduct last session, for doing all I could to expose what I thought the meanness and folly of his (Lord Grey’s) party, of which I had till then been one. I take, however, no notice of these observations, as it is not necessary I should apply them to myself; and I am more convinced than ever that I was right last session, and that the leaders of Whig party were to the last degree contemptible. I am in no way committed with Sir Francis Burdett or any views of his. I know him well, and think upon the whole unfavorably of him, but will not say so to Lord Grey without his giving me a fair and proper occasion for so doing.

Wednesday, 27th.—. . . Nothing passed material after dinner. Some hit at my newspaper the Statesman as a no-party paper. Curran gone.

Thursday, 28th, till Oct. 5th.—. . . Conversation after dinner and after supper always as artificial as the devil, Lord Grey shewing his spite at my conduct the last session, and his own folly by the following observations made by him—‘The Duke of York’s business last session in the House of Commons never gave the King a moment’s uneasiness.’—‘The Duke of York was the best Commander-in-chief the army ever had, except in the field!’—‘Adam was used shamefully in the House of C. last session.’—‘Lord Castlereagh’s business in the House of Commons last session about
the writership did not do him the slightest injury.’—‘
Canning calling Coke of Norfolk a landed grandee was damned good.’—‘Romilly had entirely failed in the House of Commons.’—‘The first man this country has seen since Burke’s time is Brougham.’—‘Piggott was the best speaker in the House next to Canning.’ . . . Lord Grey says tho’ he is against proscription in forming an administration, yet Canning is the last man he would unite with.

Mrs. Creevey receives a letter from Lady Petre begging her and me to write letters of introduction in Edinburgh for her son, young Lord Petre, who is going there. Mrs. Creevey asks Lord Grey to let her send a note to Alnwick to bring him and his tutor over here. Lord and Lady Grey make such difficulty about beds, and, in short, fling such cold water upon the proposal, that we drop the subject. Take notice, there was room in the house—plenty. Lord Petre’s family have spent £15,000 at least in supporting Lord Grey’s party in elections, &c., &c., besides great intimacy between the families. So much for gratitude in political leaders to their supporters!. . .

Friday, Oct. 6th.—Sir Chas. Monk and Loch the counsel came over from Alnwick sessions to dine at Howick, and as they were both very free-spoken and honest politicians, Lord Grey seemed devilishly frightened after dinner least anything should be said upon the subject. It was stupid enough. Loch and I had a good walk before dinner, and gave the Whigs their deserts.

Saty., 7th.—We leave Howick with all kinds of civilities—squeezing of hands, &c., as if all parties were as pleased as Punch; and so, in fact, it was—they to get quit of us, and we to regain our liberty. Get to Gosforth, Charles Brandling’s, Mrs. Creevey’s brother and member for Newcastle, an inveterate Pittite, but who is quite stunned with the figure the Government has made.

Sat., Oct. 14th.—We leave Gosforth for Low Gosforth. Little done or said at Gosforth during our stay about politicks. Charles Brandling all for Canning against Castlereagh, but evidently shook in his attachment to Canning from Castlereagh’s letter and statement in the papers, and Canning’s reply. Damns
Perceval, Eldon and above all the Grenvilles—in favor of Lord Grey.

Monday, Oct. 23.—Leave Low Gosforth for Shotton, Ralph Brandling’s, county of Durham. At Low Gosforth nothing but eating and drinking. . . . We receive a very kind letter from Lord Milton, inviting us to his father Ld. Fitzwilliam’s at Wentworth, which we are sorry we can’t accept.

“27th,—We leave Shotton on our way south. Terrible dull work at Shotton. . . .

“30th.—Arrive at Whitbread’s—Southill, Bedfordshire—Whitbread and Lady Elizabeth Whitbread (sister to Lord Grey) quite delighted to see us. Nothing but politicks between Whitbread and me from the moment we meet just before dinner till bedtime. Quite against Canning and the whole Government—approves Lord Grey’s letter to Perceval very much, but agrees with me that in the general sentiments he delivers upon all publick subjects, he talks like a madman. I tell him everything that has passed at Howick, about which he just thinks with me.

Sunday, 31st.—Whitbread shows me a letter written to him by Grey upon his receiving Perceval’s offer, containing a copy of Perceval’s letter and Grey’s answer. I take copies of them. The writing on such an occasion very right in Grey, and the letter in many parts kind, but in many others very arrogant, and just treating Whitbread as a person entirely separated from Grey in politicks. Whitbread in his answer very affectionate to Grey, and very stout in the support of his own conduct at the same time.

“Same day, he shews me a correspondence between Sir Arthur Wellesley (Lord Wellington) and himself, occasioned by a speech of Whitbread’s in the House of Commons, stating that Wellesley’s account of the battle of the Douro in Spain* was an exaggeration. This was brought about by General Ferguson, a friend of both, a member of the House of Commons and a most admirable man. . . . I hate Wellesley, but there are passages in his letter that made me think better of him. . . .

* It was fought, of course, in Portugal.


“On the same day, Whitbread shews me a correspondence between Tierney and him. . . . Tierney, thinking Grenville and Grey are coming in, writes a letter to Whitbread offering his services to set everything to right that may be wrong, and, in short, meaning to bring Grey and Whitbread together again in politicks, and to procure for Whitbread any place in the supposed new government he may wish. . . . Whitbread, considering this very friendly in Tierney, returns him a very kind answer, shewing clearly he has no disinclination to office, but at the same time, stating he will not relinquish an atom of his political principles or make the least compromise.

Whitbread evidently quite taken in by Tierney in this proceeding. Tierney finds out that Lord Grey’s party, if they come into office, can’t carry on the Government in the House of Commons against Whitbread; so now, instead of abusing him as was done all last session, he is to be cajoled.

Saty., Nov. 4.—We leave Whitbread’s for London, having spent a very happy time at Southill, and with a most firm conviction that Whitbread—tho’ rough in his manners—tho’ entirely destitute of all taste or talent for conversation, and tho’ apparently almost tyrannical in his deportment to his inferiors—is a man of the very strictest integrity, with the most generous, kind and feeling heart.

Lord and Lady Ponsonby pass us on the road to Southill. The Whitbreads wanted us to stay to meet them, but we would not, because Lord Ponsonby had been always just of opinion with Whitbread and me about politicks, till some months past, when he became quite against us, as I think, not only without reason, but against all reason; and as I know he is hard pressed for money, I suppose he is after a place, and cut him as a shabby politician.

Sunday, Nov. 5.—Arrived in London. The first person I see is McMahon M.P. and Prince of Wales’s Secretary. I go in with him to Carlton House and write my name for the Prince. McMahon shows me a copy of a most mean letter from Perceval to the Duke of Northumberland, imploring his support of the Government, tho’ a stranger to the Duke, and offering Earl Percy a seat at the Treasury Board. I saw the
Duke’s answer—a dry refusal, with thanks for all Perceval’s compliments.

McMahon tells me a letter is certainly shewn about by Perceval, written to him by the King, threatening to dissolve the parliament if they don’t support his Ministry.

Monday, Nov. 6.—I learn from Whishaw—a particular friend of mine, who lives almost entirely at Holland House—that the language now held there is that Grey and Whitbread are become quite united again in politicks—that all differences are at an end—that Lord Ponsonby (Lady Grey’s brother) is gone to Southill to confirm the union, and that Tierney and the Duke of Bedford are to go from Woburn to Southill on Tuesday, and Lord Carrington, Lord Essex, and Giles of the House of Commons [illegible] the same day, and all this visiting is represented at Holland House as a political mission to Whitbread to confirm him in his reported reconciliation with Grey. All this evidently got up by Tierney. There is no foundation whatever for saying Grey and Whitbread are more alike in politicks than they have been these two years. Tierney used to tell everybody, as he has often done me, that Grey and Whitbread were more separated than they actually were, because he then thought he could do without Whitbread; and the sooner he was flung off the better. Now he finds he can’t do without him, and he states, without an atom of foundation, that Grey and Whitbread are the same, and tries to cajole Whitbread into thinking so. I write to Whitbread and tell him all I hear from Holland House.

Tuesday, 7th.—Lord Kensington and Ward dine with us, both full of their jokes at the expense of our political leaders.

Wedy., 8th.—I have a letter from Whitbread. He says Lord Ponsonby never said a word upon politicks, Saturday, all the evening—that Whitbread was ill on Sunday and did not appear, and that my Lord was off on Monday before Whitbread. So much for his ‘mission.’ He says Tierney and the Duke and other Lords are there.

“I meet in the streets several politicians, tho’ the town is very empty—Owen Williams, Lord Kensington, Cavendish, Bradshaw, Maxwell, Lord Ossulston,
Horner, Martin, Ward—all in the House of Commons—all, except Horner, inclined to talk very contemptuously of our political leaders. Horner is for doing nothing in the House of Commons this approaching session—damns the people as rank Tories—I defend them, as having been betrayed by political leaders, and am myself all for impeachment.* Martin is all for attacking the Ministers, but is affraid we shan’t hang together. . . .

Friday, Nov. 10th.—Lord Kensington and Sir Philip Francis dine with us. Wardle’s motion for a new trial against Mr. Clarke and the Wrights had taken place the day before in the King’s Bench, and rule nisi granted. . . . Wardle shews me a correspondence between him and Lord Folkestone upon the subject of a communication made to Folkestone by Sir Rd. Philips for Wardle’s use in his legal proceedings against Mrs. Clarke, which Folkestone had withheld from Wardle and shewn to Mrs. Clarke. Folkestone appears to have acted wrong under some blind attachment to Mrs. Clarke. Wardle had thought at one time of calling him out, but now means to subpoena him on the approaching trial. I must prevent this if possible: it will produce a quarrel between the two, and do great mischief with the publick to have these two quarrel who have hitherto been so well together in the same pursuit.

Saturday, 11th.—I find by a letter from Whitbread this day that Tierney has been proposing Lord Henry Petty or Lord George Cavendish as leader of our party in the House of Commons! Whitbread says he never can submit to it. Was there ever anything so contemptible! but the reason is obvious—Tierney wants Lord George to be the nominal leader, and himself the real one.

“We dine at Lord Derby’s—nobody but us. Lord Derby excellent in every respect, as he always is, and my Lady still out of spirits for the loss of her child, but surpassing even in her depressed state all your hereditary nobility I have ever seen, tho’ she came from the stage to her title.†

* Of the Duke of York.

Eliza Farren, a well-known actress, became the 2nd countess of the 12th Earl of Derby.

1809.] JOURNAL. 113

Sunday, 12th.—I meet Abercromby in my walk. He is as artificial as the devil—will scarcely touch politicks—thinks, however, the Wellesleys will now be beat if they are attacked properly; upon which I fire into our leaders for their meanness in not having attacked them long ago. He is very sore at such observation, and when I tell him that Wardle is on his legs again, all he can say is—‘Wardle is the agent of the Duke of Kent.’ Was there ever such nonsense? C. Warren the lawyer dines with us, and, as usual, full of sensible observations. He predicts the present reign will end quietly from the popularity of the King, but that when it ends, the profligacy and unpopularity of all the Princes, with the situation of the country as to financial difficulties, and the rapidly and widely extended growth of Methodism, will produce a storm.

Monday, 13th.—Calcraft, Wardle and Payne dine with us. . . . Wardle says he is quite sure of succeeding both in gaining a new trial against Wright and in his prosecution of Mrs. Clarke and Wright for perjury, and he takes the whole business, as he has done throughout, with the most perfect composure. I can’t bring myself to think there is anything bad in him, and I have looked at him in all ways in order to be sure of him. I know he is in distress for money, but all the men from his part of the country dine with him and speak well of him. . . . In his approaching prosecution he means to subpoena the Duke of York and Lord Moira and Lord Chichester about the £10,000 given to Mrs. Clarke for suppressing the publication of the Duke of York’s letters to her. Warren has seen these letters: they were laid before him by counsel to advise whether they might be printed with safety to the publisher, and he told me such stuff was never seen. They consist of the Duke of York’s observations or information to Mrs. Clarke concerning the Royal family—his hatred of the Prince of Wales—his jokes about the Queen and the intrigues and accouchement of the Princess—all in the coarsest and most licentious language. What a damnable piece of work the examination of these Lords and Princes will be.

Tuesday, 14th.—I find in the streets Lord Lansdowne is dead, and Lord Henry Petty of course
succeeds him, so he leaves the House of Commons, and his being leader is at an end. I write to tell
Whitbread. . . .

Wednesday, 15th.—Sir John Sebright, Ld. Kensington, Western and [illegible] all dined with us. . . .

Thursday, 16th.—We dine at Lord Derby’s: present—Lord Holland, Lord Grenville, Tierney, Lord Kinnaird and young Eden (Lord Auckland’s second son). One should have thought at such a time the conversation of such a party might have been worth hearing, but nothing could be lower—imitations of old Lansdowne and Lord Thurlow by Lord Holland, and such like things. The only political thing was—Lord Derby says, from all he hears, he thinks the appointment of so young a man as Manners Sutton* to Judge Advocate has given such offence, that a motion upon that subject would be a good one for the House of Commons at the opening of the session; upon which Tierney shrugs his head and says—‘Personal questions never answer.’ Was there ever such contemptible stuff at such a crisis? But this is the judicious leader, or rather adviser behind the curtain of the Whigs and Grenvilles. What is there that relates to all or any of the present Government that is not a personal question?

Saturday, 18th.—We come down to Brighton. Walk all the morning with different people, but Sir Charles Pole is the only politician: shews me a letter from Tierney, saying Parliament does not meet till 20th January, and that therefore the Ministers were sure of another quarter’s salary. This a Privy Councillor too! what a low blackguard. He evidently is writing to Pole and others to coax them into voting as he does. Pole tells me the way in which Perceval has sollicited the assistance of N. Vansittart, Addington (Lord Sidmouth), Bragge Bathurst and others of that party, and of their answers; by which it appears to me they turn out, as they always have been—shabby fellows, and Sir Charles himself, I believe, is not much better.

Grattan here, with whom I have frequent long walks. It is impossible to meet with anyone more

* He was then 27, and became Speaker in 1817.

amiable and unaffected; and considering his successful and brilliant publick life, his absence of all vanity is quite miraculous. His opinions upon present political persons in this country are worth nothing. He is a kind of stranger in a new country—has no longer any object of ambition—seems to consider his day as past, and to be perfectly satisfied with his lot. . . .

“This trial of Wardle’s indictment against Mrs. Clarke and the Wrights being to come on the first week in December, Western and I correspond upon the necessity of getting Lord Folkestone to London, and trying to set everything to right between him and Wardle before the trial comes on, as well for both their sakes as for the general cause.* . . .

Monday, December 11.—Folkestone had been induced by Mrs. Clarke to think Wardle was an agent of the Duke of Kent, and that in that capacity he had bound himself by promises of great service to her which he had afterwards forfeited. He is now perfectly convinced that the whole of Mrs. Clarke’s account to him was fabrication, and he tells both Wardle, Western and myself that he has a higher opinion of Wardle than ever.”

Creevey goes on to state, in terms too little equivocal for modern taste, that Lord Folkestone admitted that he had a liaison with Mrs. Clarke while she was under the protection of the Duke of York—a circumstance only worthy of record as throwing light upon the character of the woman who cost His Royal Highness so dearly.

* Mrs. Clarke, the Duke of York’s mistress, used her influence to secure the promotion of officers, who paid her handsomely for her assistance. Colonel Wardle brought the matter before the House of Commons in January, 1809; it was referred to a Select Committee, which, while it acquitted His Royal Highness of having made any pecuniary advantage himself, reported very unfavourably upon his discretion, and he was removed from the command-in-chief. He was, however, restored in 1811.


“This discovery again frightens Western and myself to the greatest degree, considering, as we do, that should this fact appear upon the trial, it will be fatal to Folkestone’s character. Folkestone not sensible of this at first, but we frighten him to death by telling him of his danger.

October 30, 1811.—As for poor Wardle, he is ruined since I last mentioned him—ruined by his excessive folly, and being so full of himself from his former success that it was no longer safe to advise him, and so he foundered last session upon a motion about the punishment of some soldier.”