and a statesman and he illuminated these merits with a sense of humour and a laugh that was "frequent and the most joyous possible." Lord Esher wrote that Lord Melbourne's voice was
"so deep and musical that to hear him say the most ordinary thing was a pleasure."
Fate made its first wise and kind gesture to the eighteen-year-old Queen in bringing Lord Melbourne, then a man of fifty-eight and at the height of his intellectual powers, to advise and encourage her. He was brilliant, but integrity ruled his brilliance. After the audience, on the morning of her accession, she wrote of Lord Melbourne,
"I like him very much, and feel confidence in him. He is very straightforward, honest, clever, and a good man."She wrote later,
"There are not many like him in this world of deceit. ... He is my friend and I know it."
The Duke of Wellington, wise and unselfish, was also "very dear and nice" to the Queen. In September a speaker at a Conservative dinner told the story of the Queen's reply to Lord Melbourne when he asked if there was anyone "she preferred to be associated with in the care of the sovereignty." She answered, "There is one individual for whom I entertain a decided preference, and that individual is the Duke of Wellington. " 2
THE monarchy inherited by Queen Victoria was weak and unpopular. All the fortunes of the British Crown therefore depended on the character of the new sovereign. She was helped by her youth which stirred an immediate feeling of chivalry in all who saw her, whether in audience, or as she drove through the parks.
The country was disturbed and poor, but there was already a healthy demand for change. The first Reform Bill, which had strengthened the electoral power of the middle classes, had inspired hope within the progressive factions. But the bill was still described as a "revolution" in records of the time and men like Lord Melbourne, suspicious of change, resented its attack on their privileges. Nevertheless, the "revolution" was prospering; phrases such as "the force of popular opinion" and "the growing intelligence of the great body of the community" were used in The Annual Register in reviewing the events and spirit of 1837.