'I told you years ago that the people are rotten to the Core.'
EARL GREY, an aristocrat as he described himself 'both by position and by nature', 1 had no difficulty in forming a Government of many political shades, with Lord Melbourne, whose views were unpredictable but whom everyone liked, as Home Secretary, Lord Palmerston as Foreign Secretary, Lord Brougham as Lord Chancellor, Lord Althorp as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Goderich as Secretary of War, Lord Lansdowne as Lord President of the Council, and with seven other peers filling all but two of the remaining places.
In the composition of his ministry, so Grey told Princess Lieven, he was anxious to show 'that in these times of democracy and Jacobinism it is possible to find real capacity in the high aristocracy -- not that I wish to exclude merit if I should meet with it in the commonalty; but, given an equal merit, I admit that I should select the aristocrat, for that class is a guarantee for the security of the state and throne'. 2
Wellington found it far from easy to form an effective opposition to this Cabinet which was bent on Parliamentary Reform. 'We are all commanders,' he complained, 'and there are no troops. Nobody obeys or ever listens to advice but myself. Then I am abused because things do not go right.' 3 Peel was now of little help. 'One can't go on without him,' he later told Lady Salisbury, 'but he is so vacillating and crochety that there's no getting on with him. I did pretty well with him when we were in office, but I can't manage him at all now. He is a wonderful fellow -- has a most correct judgement -- talents almost equal to those of Pitt, but he spoils all by timidity and indecision.' 4
The Duke was still on occasions more than a little crochety himself. The more inevitable Reform began to look, the more harm he saw in it: it would 'destroy the country'; 5 it spelt the 'downfall of the constitution' which had, after all, worked perfectly well, rotten boroughs