2. [Add. Ms. 27789, f. 189] Copy
Whitehall Nov. 7 1830
I am commanded by the King to inform your lordship, that his majesty's
confidential servants have felt it to be their duty to advise the king to postpone the visit which their majesties intended to pay to the City of London
on Tuesday next.
From information which has been recently received, there is reason to
apprehend that, notwithstanding the devoted loyalty and affection born to
his majesty by the citizens of London, advantage would be taken of an
occasion which must necessarily assemble a vast number of persons by
right to create tumult and confusion, and thereby to endanger the property
and lives of his majesty's subjects.
It would be a source of deep and lasting concern to their majesties were
any calamity to occur on the occasion of their visit to the City of London,
and their majesties have therefore resolved, though not without the greatest
reluctance and regret, to forgo for the present the gratification which that
visit would have afforded to their majesties.
I have the honour to be my lord,
Your obedient servant,
The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor.
3. [Add. Ms. 35148, ff. 69-70]
To John Cam Hobhouse, Esq.,
Nov. 8 1830
My Dear Sir,
'Miracles never will cease'. Here am I, 'the furious republican' whose
opinions have induced many to fear and more to hate him become a
moderé, writing to you not to accelerate an instant, but to retard it, not a
mere reform, but an actual change.
The folly of the King and his ministers have [sic] precipitated matters.
The paltry contemptible procession to Guildhall so sillily agreed to by
the King could do nothing but mischief, and was sure to put an end to his
popularity if it had done nothing else. The refusal to go even at the eleventh
hour is the best course which could have been taken. I hope he has not been
persuaded to it by ministers, but that he has peremptorily refused to go,
and not withstanding his refusal will on any ground, mark his folly, it is
much less foolish to stay away than to go.
Now comes the rub, opposition will observe no bounds. I do not desire
that they should if they would take the proper course, and instead of endeavouring at once to turn out Ministers, they would rather try to keep
them in office as long as they can, it would not be long. Their efforts should
now be fully to expose the ministerial absurdities, especially that of the
Kings intended visit to the Lord Mayor, thus encouraging the vile corporation to spend a considerable sum of the peoples money extorted from them
under false pretences by these corrupt Corporators, the whole of the City
Government being from the top to the bottom a burlesque on the human
understanding more contemptible than the most paltry farce played in a
booth at Bartholomew fair, and more mischievous than any man living is
perhaps prepared to believe.
The King refuses to make a procession along the streets, and the Play
Houses are from very fear to be shut up tomorrow. This is the first time,
observe that apprehension of violence by the people against an administration as to induce them openly to change their plan of proceeding.
Put these matters in any way you please. Let them do all they can to
reconcile themselves to the conduct of ministers, let them excuse it how they
may, let them deprecate it as much as they please, let them practice selfdeception to the greatest possible extent to persuade themselves that no
material consequences can result from it, its nature cannot be changed,
neither can they make it other than the first step in the British Revolution.
You know my opinion of the weakness of the present Government, you
know my opinion that there never can be a strong government again in
England until there has been a change even in its very form, and neither you
nor any one else will argue the contrary against me. I then want no instant
change of ministers. I am as certain as a man can be who is not desirous to
cheat himself or to be deceived by others, that a present change of ministers
would do more towards producing, or rather accelerating a revolution than
all the other circumstances of the times taken together, and the time is not
yet come when a radical change can be made either so effectually as to prevent other similar changes, or so beneficially as to answer the purposes of
any class of reformers. Critically as ministers are circumstanced I doubt
their courage to continue in office, if opposition within and without were
to be ever so little countenanced by the King, and if they were to be ousted
at once who are to come in. Not another Tory set. There are not tory
materials of sufficient importance to build up an Administration which
could continue in office to the end of the session. Not a whig administration,
for spite of the wishes of their friends, here is hardly any thing but imbecility.
Who would be minister, Earl Grey, look at him is he competent to the duty?
No man will say he is. Are these the times when such a man however good
his intention can advantageously be minister. The answer must be NO. The
power would soon fall from his hands to light on some one,—who can say
whom? The Marquess of Lansdown, why should the fact be concealed that
he is in no way competent to the duties of the office. If he were minister he
must be led by others, must be a hesitating, vacillating irregular and consequently mischievous minister. He would either be driven away or driven
mad in six months. Lord Holland he has gone by, or rather circumstances
have gone by and left him behind. He might have done in quiet times, he
will not do now. If I am mistaken in these matters you will really do me a
favour and some service by shewing me that I am mistaken, and you shall
have my thanks.
If on the contrary I am not mistaken, do pray do all you can to prevent
the unwise conduct of your friends in resisting ministers in such a way as to
compel them to resign at once. Abuse their proceedings as much as you
please, but beyond this do nothing to prevent them sinking gradually as low
as possible, and there leave them to work themselves out of office, which
will happen quite soon enough.
I do not fear any change however great it may be, I think the more
complete the better, but I do both fear and abhor a premature change.
A letter was written on saturday last, by a fellow named Chubb, a
vagabond pamphlet seller in Holy-well Street to Mr. Hume. This Chubb
knows as well as any man can know how the vulgarity feel, he is acquainted
with a multitude of vagabonds who are fit for any mischief. In his letter he
says there is an intention among many to seize the Palace of St. James's as
soon as the King's party have left it. The doing as he says is absurd and
improbable, but you may depend upon it, some such project has been
talked of to a considerable extent.
Information was given to the Police Commissioners that Henry Hunt
was to lead 20,000 men from the Surrey side of the Thames over Black
Friars Bridge to Ludgate Hill to pay their respects to the King, and to let
him hear the sentiments of the people. That Hunt could collect and lead
twice that number I have no doubt, but I do not believe that any such a
procession would have taken place.
It has been said by some respectable persons that if the Duke went in the
procession he would be shot, and I know well enough that if in the opinion
of vast numbers of persons, shooting the Duke would lead to a fight with
the Government there would be many willing enough to shoot at him.
I have seen a letter from the man, whom I consider the most influential
man in England, Thomas Attwood of Birmingham, proposing an association to collect the names of persons in London who will pledge themselves
to pay no more taxes, if ministerial interference should produce the probability of a war with Belgium, and I believe something of the kind will be
done. There has long been growing a disposition to refuse paying taxes, but
it [is] only now that rich men who have any influence have countenanced it.
Now there are many such willing to take part in it.
Now mark the consequence. If any considerable portion of the housekeepers were to refuse paying taxes, and especially if this were to happen in
London a revolution would be effected in a week spite of the Government
and the Army. If taxes were refused it would instantly produce a panic.
Bank of England notes would no longer circulate, and Government would
be powerless. No one would bring a sack of flour, a bullock or a sheep to
the London Markets. The moment taxes were really refused the shops
would be all closed, decent people would remain at home, until the populace and the soldiers had fought and were reconciled; a provisional government would then be formed.
No man can tell what fortuitous circumstances may produce a revolution. A revolution when a very large body of the people shall desire one may
easily be produced. If no other circumstance shall precipitate it here refusing to pay taxes whenever it may happen will certainly produce it. That it
will happen before many years have passed away seems to me a reasonable
expectation. You know my opinion, that when men ought to act, they
should act promptly, and go through with the business be it whatever it
may. You know that I have a great dislike to undertake any matter unless
circumstances seem to warrant the conclusion, that it can be wholly and not
partially accomplished. I have always held that when action becomes
necessary, it is much better to risk doing wrong, than doing nothing, and if
opposition had no choice I should say go on, don't hesitate a moment, oust
the ministers as soon as possible, but they have a choice and may do mischief
if they refuse, or neglect to take that choice.
4. [Add. Ms. 27789, ff. 187-90]
Nothing under the circumstances of the time could have been so ill
advised as was that of ministers respecting the visit of the King to the Lord
Mayor [9 November 1830]. If a protest had been wanted as an excuse to
attack the people similar to the Manchester Massacre in 1819—it might have
been found in such a proceeding, but this was not intended. Ministers were
silly enough to suppose it would be a grand fete, and such they intended it
should be, they saw nothing in it but the popularity of the King and their
own glory; the feelings, and the power of the people when called upon to
act for a specific purpose was wholly unknown to them. Of their disposition
to resist whatever they might consider agression [sic] no matter by what
means produced they had no knowledge, and saw in them nothing but
mere mobs—and yet were [where] paltry assemblies had to a considerable
extent benumbed them, they seem to have been in a curious state of contradiction each man with himself and with each other. Had the procession
been persevered in there would have been a riot and much blood would
have been shed, it is even probable that very serious consequences beyond
this would have taken place. The 9 of November which always calls an
immense number of silly people into the streets would have been a grand
holiday for all sorts of people, all the working people would have gone
forth, and with the notions they entertained, that they could fight, and the
desire to prove themselves as valiant as the Parisians, and could beat the
soldiers as they had done, might have led to a temporary defeat of them,
and this by the extinction of trade—and the refusal to take Bank Paper
might have produced a revolution. Even under any termination to a riot so
general, as could not have failed to have taken place, the procession was a
matter to be deprecated and if possible prevented. I did all I could, in every
way I could, to convince every man I saw who had any influence of any
kind, that it was his duty to use it to prevent the procession. I wrote to
Ministers and laid my notions before them, without advising anything, but
merely as suggestions for consideration. I still further explained to three
different gentlemen who came to me from three different departments why
the proceeding was absurd and dangerous, I advised and cautioned them
and I believe convinced them of the absurdity of advising and the evil consequences which could not fail, to be the result of the procession, and I
induced Mr. Thomas the inspector of police to represent the matter in its
true light to every gentleman he might have an opportunity of speaking to
whom he might think at all likely to influence others.
The weakness and foolishness of ministers became more and more
conspicuous not only from day to day, but from hour to hour, and was
condemned by every body. Their folly was indeed perfect, for at the very
time they were making arrangements for the procession which they intended
should increase the popularity of the King and strengthen their own
government, at the very moment when they were getting up a grand
cavalcade from the western end of Pall Mall to the eastern end of Cheapside,
in which the King, the Queen, the Foreign Embassaders [sic]—themselves,
and others were to form the principal part, they put into the Kings mouth,
words which were sure to alarm and offend the people from one end of the
Kingdom to the other, and they permitted the Duke of Wellington, to make
his insulting declaration, without in the least anticipating the consequences
of such conduct.
As their eyes were opened to the consequences of their conduct, they
became alarmed, and at length succeeded in frightening themselves completely and in the blindness of their fear they proceeded to fortify the Tower
of London. The Tower ditch had not been cleaned out for many years, and
was choaked [sic] with mud, this was now to be cleaned away in a hurry.
Fear is usually as ridiculous as it is blind, and so it proved in this instance,
it hurried them on with such rapidity, that they let the water into the ditch
without giving time to the labourers to remove their carts, barrows and
planks and other implements, and all were therefore either swamped or
floated about in the ditch.
One good resulted from their fears which would never have been
accomplished by their wisdom, and that was giving up the intended visit to
the Mansion House.
On Sunday the 7 November a letter signed by the Home Secretary Mr
Peel was sent to the Lord Mayor postponing the intended visit. This letter
was immediately published by the Lord Mayor under the sanction of the
committee appointed to conduct the entertainment. It appeared in all the
newspapers of the next day.
The Lord Mayor elect had written a letter to the Duke of Wellington,
most probably a concerted letter, in which he advised the Duke, 'to come
strongly and sufficiently guarded'. Strange advice this from a Lord Mayor
elect to the Premier—Guarded—like the King. The modest Duke could not
take advantage of the honour suggested. Inflamatory hand bills had been
distributed, probably at the expense of some ministerial tool to enable
ministers to take advantage of them, as was proved to have been done on a
famous occasion, but be this as it may, these things furnished an excuse for
the letter to the Lord Mayor postponing the visit, a measure so proper in
itself as not to have needed any such pitiful manouvres [sic].
Thus ended the monstrous absurdity and with it much of the recently
acquired popularity of William the fourth.
5. [Add. Ms. 27789, ff. 265-6]
On the first of March , the day on which Lord John Russell was to
make his motion [on reform of the House of Commons], much anxiety was
generally felt by the people in the metropolis, they were excited by the hope
that a real reform would be proposed, but they were also disturbed by the
fear that they might be disappointed. Persons who were usually neutral in
respect to political matters had now become eager to obtain information
and desirous that enough should be done at once to satisfy everybody.
I saw several members of parliament and a great many others respectable
well informed well judging men, the feeling in all of them was alike and in
all hope prevailed that a very considerable measure of reform would be
I was alone in the evening anxiously expecting some one to come from
the house to tell me what had occurred, at length a friend who had taken a
report of about half of Lord John Russells speech for the Morning Chronicle
came in and told me the particulars of the ministerial plan. It was so very
much beyond any thing which I had expected; that had it been told to me
by a person unused to proceedings in the house I should have supposed
that he had made a mistake. Both I and my informant were delighted, and
we at once took measures to cause it to be known in the coffee houses in the
neighbourhood where it spread like wild fire, to great distances, and other
persons being equally desirous as ourselves to spread the information left
the house of commons to communicate the earliest news to their friends.
One of these came to me as soon as Lord John Russell had concluded his
speech, and in less than an hour from that time the intelligence was spread
all over the metropolis. The next morning the joy of the reformers was
excessive, the newspapers were bought in immense numbers and read with
avidity, every body seemed well pleased and the exhiliration [sic] was very
general. Nothing within my memory had ever before produced such general
exultation and the conviction appeared to be as general that there needed
only a determined unremitted vigilant course of conduct on the part of
ministers to carry the measure through the house triumphantly.
6. [Add. Ms. 27789, ff. 276-8]
A great many people came to me, and urged me to call a public meeting
of the electors of Westminster without waiting for the formality of applying
to the High Bailiff to convene it, in the usual manner. . . .
The persons who met to prepare the resolutions were more than usually
numerous about 40 attended—they agreed to do all that I proposed and I
made out a business sheet, for the government of the proceedings in the
public room when the time of the meeting was nearly arrived there being
then, upwards of sixty persons in the room, an objection was made by some
one to the resolutions respecting the duration of parliament and voting by
ballot and some of the usual common place sayings about unanimity and
embarrasment [sic] were used, but as Sir Francis Burdett took no notice of
them, and very few of those present took part in the opposition the whole
body went into the public room with the resolutions and petition as I had
drawn them. The room was filled the proceedings went on with equal spirit
and unanimity, and the resolutions respecting parliaments and the ballot
were about to be put when Mr Hobhouse who had not only concurred in
the resolutions and the petition but had voluntarily given five pounds
towards the expenses of the meeting, after talking for some time with some
gentlemanly looking men who had never before been seen at a Westminster
meeting and have I believe never attended since, got upon the table at the
call of the room, raised first by those near him, and told the company a tale
of what had passed and of what was likely to pass at the house, insinuated
first and then unequivocally asserted, that the resolutions and petition
would have a bad effect in destroying unanimity—the word was echoed
from many persons in the room, the mad man Pitt of the Adelphi, who had
been averse from the beginning to the resolutions, had spoken against them
but with no effect, vociferated unanimity and a clamour ensued which for a
short time interrupted the proceedings—Sir Francis Burdett then repeated
in part what Hobhouse had said amidst shouts of unanimity—and the
resolutions and petition were withdrawn. Some one at the table who had
been active in urging on and in supporting Hobhouse tore the petition into
bits and threw it under the table. These were true whig tactics, they had
been expected and no one of those with whom I had acted was at all surprised at the proceeding. The whigs as well as Hobhouse and his especial
friends knew these were times, when in some respects, they might presume
to go great lengths without inducing the reformers to come to any open
quarrel, and the matter dropped. But Hobhouse did himself serious injury
in the opinion of many of those who had worked hard to secure his return
for Westminster, as was soon seen at the next election when scarcely any of
them came forward in his behalf, as they had done on former occasions.
1. That this meeting calling to mind the long continued exertions of the
Inhabitants of this City and Liberty, to procure a reform in the Commons
House of Parliament, are highly gratified at finding, that the Kings
Ministers with the consent and approbation of his Majesty have proposed considerable and greatly beneficial alterations in the mode of
electing members to serve in that house.—In cutting off several sources
of corruption, and in extending the right of suffrage to many places
which have not hitherto enjoyed that right.
2. That the following address be adopted by this meeting, congratulating
his Majesty on the good feelings he has evinced towards his people by his
sanction of the plan of reform proposed by his ministers, and that it be
presented to his Majesty by Sir Francis Burdett and John Cam Hobhouse
3. That to make the plan of reform proposed by his Majesty's Ministers
effectual, and to prevent further changes, it is necessary, that the duration
of Parliaments be limited to a period not exceeding three years.
4. That to secure to the electors of the United Kingdom the power to choose
representatives freely—without being unduly influenced by the wealthy
—and without being in dread of the powerful, it is necessary that their
votes should be taken by Ballot.
5. That the following petition embodying these resolutions be adopted by
the meeting signed by twenty one electors and be presented to the
house of Commons by our representatives Sir Francis Burdett Bart and
John Cam Hobhouse Esq.
To the honourable the commons of the United Kingdom in Parliament
assembled. The petition of the undersigned inhabitants of the City and
Liberty of Westminster on the behalf of themselves and their fellow citizens
in public meeting assembled this 4th day of March 1831.
That anticipating many of the evils which have fallen on the people from
the want of their being duly represented in your honourable house, the
inhabitants of Westminster have during the last fifty years repeatedly
petitioned your honourable house to restore to their fellow subjects their
share in the legislature, and have as repeatedly called on their fellow countrymen to aid them in this the most important of all proceedings for the honour
the prosperity and the happiness of the nation.
That the people in many places have from time to time petitioned your
honourable house for a reform in parliament, but your honourable house
has all along disregarded the prayers of the people until their grievances
have become all but insupportable, and have at last compelled them to
demand, as with one voice, the reform they have so often prayed for, and
which has as often been denied them, when they were less unanimous than
they now are in their requests.
That your petitioners have heard with great pleasure that the Kings
Ministers, with the consent and approbation of his Majesty, have at length
resolved to attend to the request of the people, for a reform in your
Your petitioners therefore conclude by praying that in any plan of
Reform which may be submitted to your honourable house, you will please
to provide for the shortening of the duration of parliaments to a period not
exceeding three years—and for taking of the votes of the electors by ballot.
Francis Place, Charing Cross—Thomas De Veare, Lisle Street—John
Dean, Regent Street—T. Erskine Perry, Piccadilly—Wm a Beckett, Golden
Square—Geo. Harper, Piccadilly—D. L. Evans, 12 Regent Street—Thos.
King, Hanover Street—Joseph Cowell, Brydges Street—Wm. Adams, Long
Acre—James Pitt, Piccadilly—Henry Ledwick Stephenson—Thomas
Wakley, Bedford Street—Wm. Pigou, Greek Street—Geo. Eliot, Maclesfield Street—John Paget—G. W. Lynden—Edward Evans, Jermyn Street—
John Harding, 14 Beak Street—Thomas Evans, Beak Street—Robert Kemp,
6 Leicester Street.