Tuesday, September 9, 2008

in this remote corner

Earl Grey to Princess Lieven

Dec. 1st, 1834.

Dearest Princess,
Since my last I have received your letter of the 1st November--No. 9. . .

You would naturally expect from me much information at this interesting moment. I live here, in a great manner, excluded from the world, and the present state of uncertainty* in which we await the return of Sir Robert Peel is likely to last at least ten days longer. In the meantime 'his Highness the Dictator' is himself the Government, concentrating in himself all the power of the State, and uniting in a manner neither constitutional nor legal the appointments of First Lord of the Treasury and Secretary of State. This is producing, according to the best information I can obtain, an effect very unfavourable to his ultimate success; and the formation of a new Ministry will be a work of more difficulty than I at first thought it. The manner, too, in which the late Government was dismissed has greatly affected the public feeling.

Living in this remote corner, and having, as I have already said, little intercourse with the active world, my means of information are necessarily very limited. Add to this that those with whom I communicate are chiefly persons whose opinions are strongly adverse to the change that has taken place. But with all the allowances to be made on these accounts, I see strong reasons for believing that public opinion is receiving a powerful direction against the Duke of Wellington and his supporters, and that a conflict is likely to take place which, whatever party prevails, must produce results very unfortunate for the country. What afflicts me most is the tendency that things have to unite the Moderate Whigs with those whose views would still lead them to very extensive, and, as I think, dangerous changes, which it may become very difficult to prevent. All this is very vague, but I have nothing better to say in the present state of affairs, though if I could have the happiness of seeing you, I might explain more fully the view which I take of these matters, and the reasons on which it is founded.

My time has lately been passed very pleasantly. The whole family of the Seftons, and others, have been here for the last fortnight, and our weather continues very fine. . . . The favourite amusement of our visitors is to pass the morning on the rocks by the sea-shore; and you know Sefton well enough to know that our evenings cannot be otherwise than pleasant. How different the climate which you describe, and for which I really pity you! But I rejoice to hear that you are so well pleased with your new establishment at St. Petersburg, and always pray that every happiness may attend you. God bless you, dearest Princess.

Ever most affectionately yours,

[*Until Sir R. Peel could be communicated with, the Duke of Wellington, by the King's command, temporarily assumed the duties of First Lord of the Treasury, and at the same time, pending the new arrangements, held the seals of the Home Office, and of the two other Secretaries of State. For himself the Duke refused the chief place; the battle would have to be fought out in the House of Commons, and the Prime Minister would have to be personally present at the crisis of the struggle. The news of Lord Melbourne's dismissal reached Sir R. Peel in Rome, November 25; he immediately set out, and reached London on December 9.]

-from the Correspondence of Princess Lieven and Earl Grey edited and translated by Guy le Strange (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1890) vol. 3, pp. 47-48.

No comments: