'I feel no want of confidence in my own powers
. . . to provide for the general safety without
requiring the assistance of French Officers.'
WHEN LORD JOHN RUSSELL had become Prime Minister in July 1846, the Duke was seventy-six years old. Most of his army contemporaries were dead or were soon to die; and, except Lord Goderich, by now Earl of Ripon, few of his erstwhile leading political colleagues were left. Lord Liverpool had never recovered from the stroke that had incapacitated him. Peel was soon to die, having fallen from his horse as he rode up Constitution Hill; and, although he had never been intimate with him, the Duke, close to tears, his voice breaking, spoke movingly in the House of Lords of Peel's great qualities. He had never known a man in whose 'truth and justice' he had a 'more lively confidence' or in whom he saw 'a more invariable desire to promote the public service'. 1 John Cam Hobhouse, who saw the Duke at a levee the day after Peel's death, found him 'sitting alone in a window seat, leaning on his hands and looking pensively into the garden'. 'He was more than usually grave, and when I went up to speak to him, he held my hand for some time in his and spoke with great kindness. He was evidently much affected.' 2
Like Liverpool, Melbourne also had suffered from a stroke and had had to concede that he was not capable of accepting it anyway when Russell declined to offer him a place in his ministry. All the Duke's brothers, as well as his sister Anne, died in the 1840s, his eldest brother Richard being the first to go in 1842. His quarrel with the Duke had been made up some years before with the help of Lady Wellesley who, having received a call from her brother-in-law, had told her husband that he would like to go to see him. 'I write this to prepare you to do as you may like,' Lady Wellesley had written. 'But I am sure peace with him is the wisest thing. He is most anxious for it.' 3
The meeting had been a success and, having seen the Duke after