Notes of Conversations with the Duke of Wellington, 1831- 1851

Notes of Conversations with the Duke of Wellington, 1831- 1851

Notes of Conversations with the Duke of Wellington, 1831- 1851

Notes of Conversations with the Duke of Wellington, 1831- 1851

Excerpt

It was a great occasion for young Lord Mahon, heir to the fourth Earl Stanhope, when favourable notice of a speech that he had made in the House of Commons one M0arch day in 1831 was taken by no less a person than the Duke himself. Not that it was a particularly good speech, although it fills nine columns of Hansard and began hopefully by being rude to Daniel O'Connell. The topic was Reform, the tone a heartfelt condemnation of the Bill by which the speaker's own constituency was threatened with destruction. But his defence of rotten or (as he more elegantly termed them) close boroughs and his repudiation of French theory were warm; and it was felt upon the Tory benches that his attack on democracy was worthy of an older head. So some one told the Duke, now gloomily convinced that the Reform Bill would, 'by due course of law, destroy the country'; and the Duke approved.

The speaker was a promising young gentleman of twenty-six, painted a few years later by Lucas as large-eyed and slightly aquiline presence with fair, wavy hair, ennobled by an ample stock, slight but sufficient whiskers, and a considerable cloak. His ancestry, though noble, was a shade unaccountable and in no sense a guarantee of sound opinions on the leading question of the day. For Lord Mahon's grandfather had startled Mr. Pitt by presiding in the Revolutionary Society while Sheridan proposed congratulatory messages to Paris of the most shocking character. In that imperilled age a rousing air of hostile mobs and Crown and Anchor meetings buzzed hearteningly in the happy ears of a sansculotte . . .

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