Monday, September 15, 2008

a house of mourning

Earl Grey to Princess Lieven

No. 25.
Berkeley Square,
June 11th, 1835.

Dearest Princess,

was beginning to think the interval very long since your last letter from Berlin, when your letter of the 6th from Frankfort was brought to me this evening.

In the meantime this has been a house of mourning. Poor Captain Barrington (my son-in-law), after another attack which from the beginning left no hope of recovery, was carried off; and the next day deprived my daughter Mary [Lady Mary Wood] of her only child--a sweet little girl of two years old. . . .

I have seen few people, and have not been out at all, on account of these misfortunes, for the last few days, and have less than usual to tell you. Besides, my feeling of the insecurity of the post by your change of place is stronger than ever, and makes it impossible for me to discuss as freely as I should otherwise be inclined to do the present state of affairs here, and its probable consequences. Nothing, indeed, has occurred since my last to afford better lights as to what is likely to happen, with the exception of the new Corporation Bill brought in by the Ministers. This seems to have been well received, and may give them some popularity in the country, and is in itself, I think, a good measure. Peel has acted, for his own interests, judiciously, and for those of the public usefully, upon it; but not very agreeably, I should think, to his High Tory friends, or very consistently with his former conduct and opinions. It is, as you say, very true that there now appears to be little difference between him and me (with one exception), on the most important question of our internal policy. Why was not this agreement sooner apparent? I certainly have not changed. From the moment of the passing of the Reform Bill my object was to work out its necessary consequences on true Conservative principles. This necessity he now acknowledges, and I have only to add that if this conviction had broken upon him sooner, much difficulty, and perhaps much danger, might have been avoided.

As to foreign politics, I have so little knowledge of what has been lately passing, that I can give no satisfactory opinion upon them. The question of intervention [in Spain]--that is, direct intervention--seems to be settled for the present. Louis Philippe appears to have been decidedly adverse to it, and has been encouraged, it is said, in that opinion by Talleyrand, who on that account is in great favour. What effect our more limited intervention--by suffering troops to be raised here, and officers to enter into the service of the infant Queen [Queen Isabella]--may have, remains to be seen. The Proccs Monstre seems to me the greatest act of political folly that ever was committed. I really have not temper or patience to follow its details. As far as I can judge, I should say that it is involved in insurmountable difficulties, and that if it had been the object of the Government to destroy any little character and consequence that the Chamber of Peers may possess in public opinion, it could not have hit on any measure better calculated for that purpose.

We have now the most delightful weather, everybody complaining of the heat; but this is never a subject of complaint with me. It puts me in mind of former pleasant days at Sheen and Richmond. By the way, Pozzo has been looking at my old house and at Sudbrook, but does not seem inclined to take either.

God bless you, dearest Princess.
Ever yours most affectionately,

P.S.--Brougham has published a book on theology (!!!) which is making a great noise, and has already reached a second edition, but which I do not feel at all inclined to read.

-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. 126-28.

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