HOBHOUSE, John Cam (1786-1869).
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Family and Educationb. 27 June 1786, 1st s. of Sir Benjamin Hobhouse†, 1st bt., of Westbury College, Glos., Cottles House, Wilts. and Whitton Park, Twickenham, Mdx. and 1st w. Charlotte (d. 25 Nov. 1791), da. of Samuel Cam of Chantry House, Bradford, Wilts. educ. at Lewin’s Mead, Bristol by Dr. John Prior Estlin; Westminster 1800; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1803. m. 28 July 1828, Lady Julia Tomlinson Hay, da. of George, 7th mq. of Tweedddale [S], 3da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. as 2nd bt. 14 Aug. 1831; cr. Bar. Broughton 26 Feb. 1851; GCB 23 Feb. 1852. d. 3 June 1869.
Sec. at war Feb. 1832-Mar. 1833; PC 6 Feb. 1832; chief sec. to ld. lt [I] Mar.-May 1833; chief commr. of woods and forests July-Dec. 1834; pres. bd. of control Apr. 1835-Sept. 1841, July 1846-Feb. 1852.
Capt. R. Cornw. and Devon Miners 1812-13.
Hobhouse’s father, the younger son of a prosperous Bristol merchant, acquired from the father of his first wife a stake in a Bath bank and in 1800 bought a £33,000 share in the London porter brewery of Whitbread’s. After his marriage he became a Unitarian. As Member for Bletchingley, 1797-1802, Grampound, 1802-6, and Hindon, 1806-18, he was initially a moderate Foxite reformer, but subsequently attached himself in office and opposition to his close friend Henry Addington† (Lord Sidmouth), whose appointment as home secretary in 1812 confirmed his support of the Liverpool ministry, from whom he received a baronetcy. He was appointed to the non-profit making office of first commissioner for liquidating the Carnatic debts in 1806, and held the post until 1829.1 John Cam Hobhouse, the eldest son of what became a large family, lost his mother when he was five and never warmed to his father’s second wife, a stern and penny-pinching Unitarian. He was raised and initially educated in that faith, but he subsequently conformed. His five years at Westminster School introduced him to the House of Commons as an observer of debates. At Cambridge, where he resented being a ‘humble’ pensioner, he founded a Whig Club and the Amicable Society and formed an intimate friendship with Byron, which dominated and shaped much of his life for the next 20 years.2 He accompanied Byron on his tour to Portugal, Spain, Albania, Greece and Turkey, 1809-10, some of which he described in his Journey through Albania (1813). After a brief period at home, when his father paid off his £5,000 debts on condition that he applied for a militia captaincy (he served briefly in Ireland, 1812-13), he followed the track of the French and German armies through Germany. An ardent admirer of Buonaparte, he witnessed the restoration of the Bourbons in Paris in May 1814. He was best man at Byron’s ill-fated marriage in January 1815, returned to Paris when Buonaparte escaped from Elba and, after the Hundred Days, learned that his soldier brother Benjamin had been killed at Quatre Bras. His hastily written book on the Hundred Days, in the form of The Substance of Some Letters written by an Englishman resident at Paris, criticized the Bourbons and the threat to liberty posed by the Holy Alliance. It was savaged by John Wilson Croker* in the Quarterly Review and landed its French printer and translator in jail. In the summer of 1816 he rejoined Byron at Villa Diodati, on Lake Geneva. They subsequently went to Venice and Rome, where Hobhouse stayed for over a year, researching for his companion volume (Historical Illustrations) to Canto IV of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, which was published in the spring of 1818.3
Hobhouse was by now a familiar figure in high Whig society, but his political sympathies, though rooted in the Foxite tradition, were with the liberal ‘Young Whigs’ rather than the tired and cynical older generation of grandees. He was particularly friendly with Lord Tavistock*, the heir of the duke of Bedford, who introduced him to his Russell brothers, John George Lambton* and Edward Ellice*. He was also on close terms with the lawyer Henry Bickersteth, one of the Westminster reform activists. He first showed evidence of political ambitions by canvassing Cambridge University in 1814, but he was warned off by the Whigs and withdrew his pretensions in 1817. He joined Brooks’s Club on 11 May 1816,4 but also belonged to the Rota Club of gentleman reformers. By 1818 he knew Sir Francis Burdett, the patrician radical Member for Westminster, who, with Bickersteth, initially encouraged him to harbour hopes of standing for the second seat there at the general election if he would declare for annual parliaments and universal suffrage. He was willing to do so, but he received no further backing, possibly because his father’s Tory politics and office were anathema to the radical tailor Francis Place, the prime mover of the Westminster reformers. Hobhouse served on the committee for Burdett and his friend Douglas Kinnaird†, the radical aristocratic banker, in the bitter contest with a ministerialist and the Whig legal reformer Sir Samuel Romilly†. Kinnaird had to retire on the third day, and Romilly beat Burdett into second place. To Byron, Hobhouse, who believed that he might have come in without undue trouble, condemned the ‘iniquity on the part both of Tories and Whigs’, and reported that by canvassing for single votes for Burdett ‘I am on the list of proscribed made out by Tierney, Brougham and Co. and the other cubs at H[olland] House’. He reckoned that had he secured ‘a seat in the den’ he would have abjured his ‘Whig principles altogether’, as it was ‘impossible to bear the arrogance, selfishness and surliness of a party that has elected Bruffam for their bully’.5 When Romilly’s suicide in November 1818 threw Westminster open again, Hobhouse, who was still on good terms with Tavistock and the younger Whigs, ranged himself behind Kinnaird, the choice of Place and the reformers, knowing that he was so unpopular with the Whigs that he could hardly hope to come in quietly. He discovered that the Whigs would not tolerate Kinnaird, but that if he himself stood half would back him and half stay neutral. He seems to have acted honourably by Kinnaird, who eventually and reluctantly stood down, and was taken up by the reformers. During the two months which elapsed before the election in February 1819, Hobhouse had to steer a careful course between Whigs and reformers. He had a few scrapes, but by the first week in February seemed assured of success. On the 9th, however, he was betrayed by overconfidence, and probably by a genuine desire to distinguish himself from the Whig hacks, into condemning the party’s insipid reform views in a speech at the Crown and Anchor. He might have got away with this indiscretion, but it was compounded by Place’s publication of the report of the Westminster committee (which Hobhouse had tried to keep under wraps, though he was ultimately powerless to do so) which, reflecting all his unbridled hatred of the Whigs, exposed the corruption which they had resorted to in Westminster and condemned them for abandoning the cause of reform. The Whigs put up the barrister George Lamb*, a younger son of Lord Melbourne, at the last minute. At first Hobhouse tried a moderate and ambivalent line on reform in a bid to appeal to respectable electors, but this did not take, and as Lamb forged ahead in the poll with the overt support of the government and the Court, he became increasingly strident in his denunciations of the Whigs and so branded himself as a radical, though he remained a Whig at heart, albeit one who espoused the ‘principles ... of the Whigs of 1798 in contradistinction to the Whigs of 1819’. He was beaten by 604 votes in a poll of 8,364.6
Hobhouse, who told Byron in April 1819 that ‘the Whigs are down and dead for ever’, contributed the weighty Defence of the People to the ensuing pamphlet war between radicals and Whigs. After the Peterloo massacre he joined Burdett in speaking at the protest meeting in Palace Yard, 2 Sept., and later published a Supplicatory Letter to Lord Castlereagh, condemning in advance the anticipated repressive legislation. This he followed with A Trifling Mistake in Lord Erskine’s Recent Preface, a furious attack on ministerial policies, to which Place added ‘a thundering note’. He signed the requisition for a county meeting in Wiltshire, where some of his father’s property lay, and the subsequent protest against the sheriff’s refusal to grant it.7 On 8 Dec. he addressed the Westminster meeting called to demand inquiry into Peterloo, denounce the Six Acts and press for reform: he castigated reactionary lawyers and predicted the certain triumph of ‘moral resistance’ by the people.8 His last pamphlet, particularly its observation that only the military authorities and their troops prevented ‘the people from walking down to the House, pulling out the Members by the ears, locking up their doors, and flinging the keys into the Thames’, was drawn to the attention of the Commons, and he was pronounced guilty of a breach of privilege and sentenced, by a majority of 65, to confinement in Newgate. He went quietly, but obtained a hearing in king’s bench, where chief justice Abbott refused to accept his argument that the Speaker’s warrant was illegal, 5 Feb. 1820. He published a lengthy protest in The Times, 8-15 Feb. His imprisonment (which was genteel enough, with plenty of visitors) had made him a national radical hero; and he received and publicly responded to a supportive address from ‘the electors of Westminster’, where his prospects of success at the general election precipitated by George III’s death had been greatly enhanced.9 He was due for release on the day of dissolution, 28 Feb., but for three weeks beforehand, guided, coached and occasionally lectured by Place, he prepared himself to stand with Burdett, ostensibly in response to the invitation of the electors. Lamb’s candidature was at length confirmed. Hobhouse’s liberation made him feel ‘quite queer’. On 2 Mar. he went with Burdett (who was facing a trial for seditious libel) to a Crown and Anchor meeting called to celebrate his release. He seemed to one reporter ‘to have suffered from his ... imprisonment’, but he was warmly received, and in what he considered a ‘good’ speech, with ‘two or three capital hits’, he attacked his prosecutors and denounced the spy system and military oppression, but noticed favourably Whig exertions ‘in the cause of a thorough reform of Parliament’ at Norwich, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Bristol and York, though he insisted that the impetus for change must come from ‘the people’. His father, unperturbed by his radicalism, generously gave him £500 to cover some of the unavoidable legal expenses of a Westminster election.10 On the hustings (which Burdett attended for the first time in his career as Member for Westminster), Hobhouse seized an immediate initiative by reading out, to great effect, a letter of Lamb to an elector in which he solicited ministerial support and referred to the supporters of his radical opponents as ‘the lower orders’. He established a handsome early lead over Lamb, who failed to get significant government backing, and although he had a few anxious moments when Lamb gained some ground in the later stages, he finished the 15-day poll in second place, 446 ahead of Lamb. He had ‘cried like a child’ on learning of Burdett’s conviction at Leicester assizes towards the end of the contest, and his delight in his own success was a little ‘dampened’ by it. He reflected that he had been returned ‘without great family, or fortune, or friends, or any help except from my own exertions on behalf of reform ... to represent the constituents of Fox and Burdett, the most enlightened, the most independent, and the most numerous body of electors in the kingdom’; but he declined to exult too much ‘until I know what I have done to justify the great expectations raised of me’: ‘I am sure I have gained character by this election. I hope I shall lose none in the House of Commons’.11 To Byron, who mistakenly thought he was hand in glove with such extremists as Henry Hunt† and William Cobbett†, he again condemned the Whigs and asserted that ‘the proudest of all politicians and the most uncondescending is the man of principle, the real radical reformer’.12 On the hustings on the last day he defined ‘radical reform’ as ‘reform on those principles which have been maintained by the best men, in the best periods of our history’, aimed at ‘the rooting up of ... [the] tree of corruption’. This encouraged Ellice to argue to a sceptical Lord Grey, the Whig leader, that there was room for some sort of accommodation with the likes of Hobhouse and Burdett on reform, which must form an essential part of the party’s programme in opposition and, if it came to pass, in power.13 The Commons clerk Hatsell predicted that Hobhouse would ‘probably bring the ... Commons into some difficulty, and himself into the Tower’; while, according to Mrs. Arbuthnot, the duke of Wellington was prepared to give some credence to a story that Hobhouse had shown an ‘inclination to place himself at the head of any revolutionary government’, as the Cato Street conspirator Thistlewood was reputed to have asked him to do earlier in the year.14
Hobhouse, a short, stocky man, with a prominent Roman nose on the Wellingtonian model, and ‘a pensive cast’ to his face,15 entered Parliament just short of his 34th birthday, outwardly confident but given to self-doubt. His keeping a daily diary for the bulk of his adult life attests to his strong and not always healthy inclination to introspection; and on 15 Nov. 1821 he noted that ‘my difficulty is a sort of nervous sensibility about reputation which may go far to preventing my having a reputation’.16 He was in a not entirely enviable situation, for Place hoped to groom and direct him as an efficient ‘man of business’, attentive to constituency business and supportive of the interests of working people; but his ties to the Whigs had not been irrevocably cut, and as a Member in opposition he was obliged, both by necessity and desire, to co-operate with at least the more progressive elements of the party. Place constantly cajoled and lectured him, but ultimately was disappointed in him and washed his hands of him. Throughout the 1820 Parliament he divided steadily with the extreme left of the opposition to the government, missing only a handful of significant divisions. He was an exemplary attender (unlike Burdett, who pleased himself more often than not) and by his own lights took great pains with constituency business in committees, promoting legislation and taking up the cases of aggrieved groups and individuals, though he frequently found it tedious. He was in the Commons to hear the debate on the address, 27 Apr., when he thought Tierney, the Whig leader there, was ‘very bad’ and was prepared to second an amendment had Burdett moved one. He witnessed the execution of Thistlewood and the conspirators, 1 May, and was impressed by their dignified deportment. Next day he was ‘horror-struck’ when Brougham ‘defended’ the employment of government spies and ‘had half a mind to get up and attack’ him, but held his peace.17 On 9 May he made his maiden speech for inquiry into the spy system, having ‘swallowed half a dozen glasses of wine and a biscuit’ beforehand: he ‘scarcely said a word of what I had got ready, confining myself chiefly to answer’. He was complimented privately by Lambton, Sir Robert Wilson* and David Ricardo*, and decided that ‘what I said was not bad’. The independent Tory Member Henry Bankes thought he spoke ‘fluently and well’, and the ‘Young Whig’ Lord Althorp* reported that the debut was ‘a very promising one’. The most remarkable feature of the debate, however, was Canning’s violent denunciation of Burdett and insulting designation of Hobhouse as ‘his man’.18 On 11 May Hobhouse was perturbed to discover that a petition had been lodged against his return, but the Whigs disavowed it and, after a fortnight of anxiety he was relieved when the ‘foolish and vexatious job’ lapsed for want of recognizances, 26 May.19 He presented and endorsed a petition for redress from inhabitants of Oldham injured by troops, 12 May.20 On the 19th he welcomed Lord John Russell’s Grampound disfranchisement bill as a small step towards reform, ‘putting in the claim of radicals as not being bigots’; Russell thanked him when he sat down.21 At the Westminster purity of election anniversary diner, 23 May, he delivered what he considered ‘a lively speech’, promising to ‘go all lengths that he could constitutionally go’ to promote reform, and giving the health of Lambton and success to his reform motion planned for 6 June.22 Place cajoled him into preparing a speech for this, pointing out that it would ‘afford to you an opportunity to place yourself high above both the factions’. He duly collected materials and studied them, but he was still finding his feet in the Commons and was uncomfortable at the prospect: ‘this new occupation completely upsets me and whatever little sense and spirit I had seem quite evaporated. I know not if I shall ever shake off this incubus which oppresses me whenever I enter or think of the House of Commons’. On 2 June he and Burdett dined with Middlesex freeholders to celebrate the return of the Whigs George Byng and Samuel Charles Whitbread (Hobhouse had played an active part in bringing in the latter), but he concluded that ‘the people feel no interest in ... anything Whiggish’. He went to the Commons ‘in a great agitation at contemplated speech’ on the 6th, and ‘felt a load off my mind’ when the king’s message regarding the return of Queen Caroline obliged Lambton to postpone his motion. On his way from the House he saw her coming over Westminster Bridge ‘in an open lumbering landau’.23 Supporting Lord Nugent’s motion to reduce the standing army by 15,000 men, 14 June, he said he would ‘have voted for disbanding the whole army’ and that ministers seemed to aspire to ‘governing by the sword’. This elicited ‘a great cheering’ from the government benches, but Hobhouse felt he had spoken ‘pretty well and very strongly’.24 He objected to the £40,000 grant for annual law charges because the ‘money had been expended in the prosecution of political opinions’, 16 June. On the 26th he spoke and voted against the ‘green bag’ inquiry into the queen’s conduct abroad, but the Whig Sir James Mackintosh* thought it was a ‘miserable’ effort.25 He attended and addressed a Westminster meeting to address the queen, 4 July, when he ‘spoke well, I think, at least produced an effect’, and ‘took care to say that whether the queen was innocent or guilty she had been ill treated and the ministers were guilty’, as this was ‘the just as well as the safest method of putting the question’. On the 6th he, Burdett and the high bailiff of Westminster presented the address to the queen at her ‘little lodgings’ in Portman Street, where he was touched and impressed by her dignified bearing. ‘We don’t care a fig about her guilt as they call it’, he told Byron, adding that Brougham ‘says he has Bergami’s b_____x in a bottle’.26 On 11 July, opposing the East India volunteers bill, he proclaimed that
though it was the fashion to insist that the people were inflamed by demagogues ... they had never entertained any such designs as to warrant ministers advocating [such] measures ... The standing army was 92,000 men, while Cromwell had been able to keep down a disaffected population with not more than one third of the force. New barracks were constructing in all directions ... Government had so long talked of the phantom of disaffection, that they now believed in its existence as children frightened into a notion of the reality of ghosts.
Next day he spoke for an hour, without consulting his notes, against the ‘odious ... unconstitutional’ aliens bill. He thought ‘the thing was well done for a bumpkin’, though Henry Grey Bennet* said he was ‘too loud’, and ‘to mortify whatever little vanity I might feel’ he discovered that the speech was ‘reported very shortly in all the papers’ next day. He had heard from Byron that that there was not ‘the smallest doubt’ about Caroline’s very ‘public’ adultery with Bergami in Italy, but this did not deter him from asserting at the end of his speech that ‘all the proceedings against ...[her] are stained with injustice of the deepest dye’. His motion was defeated by 69-23.27 He seconded Bright’s motion for reception of an individual’s petition calling for reform of the ‘corrupt’ Commons, 15 July, but bowed in the end to the Speaker’s ruling that it was inadmissible.28 On 21 Aug. he went to London from his father’s Middlesex home at Whitton to second Lord Francis Osborne’s amendment for an immediate prorogation rather than an adjournment to 18 Sept. He was disappointed when Osborne, abandoned by Tierney and Brougham, did not divide and reflected that if he ‘had been an old Member’ he would have done so, as ‘we should have divided 40 at least and with them some of the best men in the House’.29 On 18 Sept. he secured 12 votes to 66 for his amendment for an address for a prorogation. Grey Bennet reported that he ‘began well, but [was] too didactic’, but Hobhouse felt he had ‘succeeded’.30 He chaired a meeting of ladies of London, Westminster and Southwark which addressed the queen, 26 Sept. In the House, 17 Oct., disgusted with the feebleness of the Whig amendment to the ministerial motion to adjourn until 23 Nov., he persuaded Lord Folkestone, John Calcraft and James Scarlett to take ‘a very different tone’ and added a few words of protest of his own. Afterwards he found Tierney indifferent towards the queen and cynical about the prospects of turning out the ministry.31 He went to the House on 23 Nov. ‘upon a scheme of catching the miscreants’, and was involved in the rowdy scenes in which the few Members on the opposition benches ‘fairly hooted the Speaker and [Lord] Castlereagh out of the House’.32 He had had ‘a long interview’ with the queen on the 16th, when he congratulated her on the abandonment of the prosecution, but still saw trouble ahead. Unlike Burdett, he attended and addressed Westminster parish meetings in her support, and one chaired by Russell at the Freemasons’ Tavern, 17 Nov., when it was agreed that it would ‘be a farce to change ministers without reform’. He was at Caroline’s thanksgiving in St. Paul’s Cathedral, 29 Nov. He thought ‘curious’ a letter from Grey which Ellice showed him on 7 Dec. 1820, asking whether he should ‘pledge himself to reform’ if invited by the king to form a ministry, and concluded either that Grey was ‘a cautious man’ or ‘perhaps he really wants to know what Burdett and myself, and others, who he knows herd with Ellice, say on these subjects’.33 At the end of the year he was alarmed by a succession of fainting fits, but on Christmas Day Burdett urged him to join him at Bath: ‘the great thing of all is change of scene and being away from eternal applications, frequently unreasonable and annoying’.34
In the first week of January 1821 Hobhouse got the sheriff of Wiltshire to put his name to the requisition for a county meeting in support of the queen. When Paul Methuen† expressed a fear that he would go to Devizes ‘to preach radical doctrines’, Hobhouse assured him that he would ‘not speak unless the Whigs said anything about blasphemy and sedition, in which case nothing should prevent me from censuring such odious and pernicious hypocrisy’. Before going on the hustings, 17 Jan., he had some talk with his Whig acquaintance Lord Lansdowne and agreed that he and Burdett, who was also there, would not make themselves ‘prominent’. In the event they remained silent until they were called on to speak after the main business had been transacted, and ‘did not say ... much ... about reform’. He and the Whigs thought the meeting was ‘excellent’.35 On 26 Jan. he presented petitions in support of the queen before supporting Hamilton’s motion on the omission of her name from the liturgy, arguing that the affair had strengthened the case for parliamentary reform and vowing to ‘contribute all in his power’ to the task of removing ministers. He denied having called Arthur Onslow ‘an idiot’. The treasury official Stephen Rumbold Lushington* told the king that Hobhouse had spouted ‘the cream of all he has [been] spluttering for the last five months’; and even Grey Bennet deemed the speech a failure, though the young Whig George Howard* reckoned it was a ‘very fair’ effort.36 He reported to Byron as the campaign on behalf of the queen ended in smoke that ‘the opposition [are] completely outnumbered in Parliament and [there is] no chance whatever of a change’.37 He brought up more petitions in support of the queen, 13 Feb., when he threw in Castlereagh’s teeth his declaration of 1792 in favour of reform of the Irish Parliament and asserted that the Commons ‘must ultimately adopt a radical reform’. In consultation with Place he drafted the Westminster electors’ public address of support to Burdett on his imprisonment, chaired the meeting at which it was adopted, 12 Feb., when he noted that there was ‘not a Whig there’, and led the deputation which presented it to Burdett outside Newgate prison, 21 Feb.38 Supporting inquiry into Davison’s complaint against Justice William Best†, 23 Feb., he said that ‘the ermine with which a judge was clothed did not invest him with fallibility’. He voted for Catholic claims, 28 Feb., and for the subsequent relief bill. He did not vote for a proposal to make Leeds a scot and lot borough if it got Grampound’s seats, 2 Mar., but on the 5th, when Russell abandoned the measure, which now proposed to give the seat to Yorkshire, he said that ‘although a radical reformer, I should support the bill even in its present wretched form’ and was ‘much cheered’ when he replied to some earlier taunts about Westminster electors by Alexander Baring. He spoke to the same effect on 19 Mar., when he again lashed Baring.39 On 9 Mar. he denied the power of the House to commit to gaol the printer of the Morning Chronicle for breach of privilege. The Speaker called him to order for this, but he ‘went on and made a decent short speech’, divided in the minority of 33 and then in Creevey’s minority for reducing the number of placemen in the House, when ‘many of the opposition voted against us’.40 He was busy on committees on the Newington vestry and the supply of water to the metropolis, and on 21 Mar. went to Court with an address to the king for the dismissal of ministers: George did not speak to him, but was ‘gracious as far as smiling and bowing went’.41 He was ‘employed about getting up a reform dinner in the City of London’ to presage Lambton’s reform motion ‘and to show that we radicals will help the Whigs when the Whigs will do anything’. He attended and spoke ‘well but too long’ at the gathering, 4 Apr., having drawn up all the toasts and ‘contrived to mention all the MPs present’.42 He seconded and was a minority teller for Creevey’s motion for inquiry into distress, 6 Apr., and on the 12th secured 33 votes (to 82) for his proposal to refer the Lyme Regis petition complaining of Lord Westmorland’s electoral interference to the committee of privileges. Unable to forget Canning’s ‘insult’ on the occasion of his maiden speech and another more recent one in a debate on the Catholic question, and feeling that he owed it to his maligned constituents as well as to himself to show ‘moral courage’ by replying, he ‘got up a portrait of a political adventurer as a contrast to the demagogue whom Canning is so fond of letting fly at, and ... connected it with parliamentary reform by showing how much such a being is caressed in Parliament’. He obtained the approval of Burdett (who was still in gaol) and delivered his attack as the conclusion of his long speech in support of Lambton’s reform scheme, 17 Apr. Canning appeared to be discomfited, and Hobhouse received many congratulations. It was expected that Canning would respond in the resumed debate next day, but he did not do so, and after the premature division, from which Hobhouse, Lambton and many of the reformers were shut out, left the chamber. Hobhouse, who regarded this episode as an ‘important’ one in his parliamentary career, recalled in his old age that Canning never thereafter ‘repeated his first incivilities’ and was often ‘pointedly commendatory’. At the time he told Byron:
I bray’d to some tune ... The effect in and out of Parliament has been such as you would wish ... Had I not had provocation the attempt would have been imprudent, but as it was I have been told on all hands, Whigs and Tories, that I was quite right. I was sensible that it would be either a complete hit or a complete miss. It was not the latter.43
He voted silently for Russell’s reform motion, 9 May, but was absent from the division on reform of the Scottish county representation next day. On the 15th he presented petitions from people wounded at Peterloo before seconding and speaking for ‘an hour or more’ in support of Burdett’s motion for inquiry. He recorded that he was ‘loudly cheered by the opposition during the speech’ and, ‘for the first time’ since he had entered the House, received ‘several rounds of applause’ when he finished. Mackintosh ‘shook hands’ with him.44 At the Westminster anniversary dinner, 23 May, he read parts of letters of support from Grey Bennet, Nugent, Dr. Stephen Lushington* and Thomas Barrett Lennard* and argued that the reform cause was flourishing. He privately thought the description by which he was introduced - ‘the man who dares to attack apostacy when sheltered by power’ - was ‘ridiculous’, as Caning was not in office ‘when I let fly at him’. Later that day he voted for mitigation of the punishment for forgery, and found himself, ‘oh rare, in a majority’.45 He advocated repeal of the vagrancy and combination laws and restrictions on emigration, 7 June, condemned the Constitutional Association and the system by which ‘prosecutions might be suspended over the heads of innocent men to eternity, 14 June, and on the issue of Hunt’s treatment in Ilchester gaol, 21 June, ‘remarked upon the zeal with which all functionaries were defended’ in the House. He raised the case of his constituent William Benbow, a bookseller, who had been imprisoned by the action of the Association, and got the attorney-general to promise to investigate it, 3, 4 July. On 10 July he urged ministers to recommend a royal pardon of all ‘political prisoners’ to mark the coronation.46 He wrote in his diary, 27 June:
I find politics a most engrossing pursuit, and the more I see of them the more I am convinced that men of ordinary capacities are best qualified for them. A great eagerness to excel creates a fastidiousness which is fatal to excellence, and, generally speaking, the study of passing events irritates too much to improve the intellectual faculty.47
In August he was involved in the disorder which occurred during the funeral procession of the queen (who he thought had ‘died of a broken heart in the common sense of the term’) and was outraged by the subsequent dismissal of Sir Robert Wilson from the army, observing to Byron that ‘we have a pretty set of fellows over us, have we not?’48 In December 1821, after spending much of the autumn in the country with Burdett, he went, for the first time since 1814, to Tavistock’s Bedfordshire home at Oakley, noting that ‘politics have lately kept ... Tavistock and myself more asunder than in former days’, but that ‘nothing could be kinder than his reception of me’.49
In January 1822 Hobhouse told Place that he was ‘almost inclined to think that there should be a meeting called in Westminster’ to petition for reform, relief from distress and inquiry into Peterloo, but Place, as usual, had anticipated him, and bombastically advised him as to the best approach. The meeting took place on 13 Feb., when Hobhouse, following Burdett’s familiar line, declared that ‘without reform, he ... looked to no retrenchment’.50 He supported the prayer of the petition in the House, 15 Feb. On the address, 5 Feb., he seconded Burdett’s amendment to postpone further consideration of it and asserted that ‘the nation was not afraid of the revolutionary plunderer, but of the tax-gathering plunderer ... who came to drag the beds from under them, and to reduce them to the last stage of poverty and wretchedness’. Tierney did not want a division and, according to Hobhouse, Burdett would have ‘given way’, but he ‘insisted on dividing’. The minority was 58, and that on Hume’s subsequent amendment 89 (to 171), with a number of leading ‘country gentlemen’ in the majority, which convinced Hobhouse that ‘we do not seem likely to mend much by the agricultural distresses’.51 He spoke forcefully for the remission of Hunt’s sentence, 8 Feb., 1, 22 Mar., 24 Apr., and for inquiry into the conduct of the military at the queen’s funeral, 28 Feb. On the same subject, 6 Mar., when Lord Londonderry (Castlereagh) ‘called the queen’s friends a faction’, he ‘answered very warmly’, observing that some who had tried to exploit her for their own ends were ‘a factious cabal’ and speaking out for the poor and rootless, ‘this despised portion of the people’. He was told that the speech was ‘the best I ever made in Parliament’, but thought it ‘was not’, though ‘it had a good deal of effect and was loudly cheered’.52 He attended the ‘dull’ and ‘dear’ dinner at Brooks’s to celebrate the secession from the club of the Grenvillites, who had just joined the ministry.53 In mid-April he received a lecture from Place, in reply to his observation that he had ‘blushed’ when his name had been coupled with Burdett’s at the Middlesex election dinner, 11 Apr., when he had said that ‘parliamentary corruption’ was at the ‘root’ of the country’s problems:
Why do you show such want of proper confidence in yourself? ... I will tell you my opinion ... and it is not mine alone ... that you are by far the better minded man of the two, and capable of much more as a legislator for the good of your country ... You appear to be guided altogether too much by Sir Francis, not that he is unfit to take as a guide but because it evidently prevents you from exercising or putting out all your power. It is well to have a man to consult occasionally, but he who does not take opinions from others cautiously, and satisfy himself by his own cogitations, will never progress much in real knowledge. If you were to turn seriously to work, on all the great points of legislation and political economy, I am sure you would make a great display and do us most important services. Ricardo has a pamphlet in the press which will be well worth your attention.
Hobhouse resented Place’s insinuation that he was ‘lazy’, responding that ‘I can work hard enough when there is anything to do, but the den is a damper to industry’. Place denied having meant to imply idleness: ‘I give you credit for being industrious, but I am sometimes sorry to see that you despond. I never do ... I do not make any charge against you, but I do desire to furnish motives to induce you to go far beyond "the limit which it is not given to go"’.54 Hobhouse voted silently for Russell’s ‘excellent and appropriate’ reform scheme, 25 Apr., when the anticipated personal attack by Canning did not materialize. He voted for Canning’s bill to relieve Catholic peers, 30 Apr., and on 3 May noted that ‘ministers continue to develop their great schemes’ for relief of distress, ‘which neither they nor any one else seem to believe can do any good’; but after the crushing defeat in the division on the Swiss embassy, 16 May, he wrote that ‘the opposition are now as low as ever’.55 He annoyed Place by suggesting to him, partly at Burdett’s behest, that the annual Westminster dinner might be brought forward a day to 22 May in order to enable a number of Whig Members, including Lambton and Tavistock, to attend, which they could not do on the 23rd, adding that ‘perhaps, on this occasion, when the scoundrels are tottering, it might be worth while to strain a point in order to show a union between public men’. Place would have none of it, reminded him that ‘we stand on high ground’, above party, and said that ‘the reason on which you ground the proposal appears to me the best of all reasons for not adopting it’, in that, as Burdett had always preached, it was best for the cause of popular liberty to allow the present ministers to persist in their folly and incompetence and so eventually to ‘bring the nation to its senses’, and to ‘refrain from assisting to change them for another set, not one jot better but more artful and more likely to deceive the people’. When Hobhouse subsequently expressed a hope that ‘radical reform’ would not be toasted because it would ‘offend the Whigs’, Place damned him in a letter to the Westminster activist Puller, who was inclined to agree with Hobhouse: ‘If the toast be an insult, so will be ... [his] speech ... Oh dear, our Members, our radical reform Members, are to talk poor driveling party stuff to please the Whigs, while other Members [such as Hume and Ricardo] ... come to the dinner on purpose to talk ... boldly ... of radical reform, and thus leave our Members, or at least one of them, far behind’. Hobhouse, to whom Tavistock had confided his fanciful notion of having Burdett installed as leader of the opposition in the Commons, attended the diner on its appointed day, and noted the presence of a score of opposition Members, including the ‘young Whig’ Lord Ebrington, who surprised him by giving his health, prefaced by ‘a handsome encomium, owning he had opposed me in Westminster, had been in error and would never be in error again and trusted Westminster would never be divided again’. He felt that he ‘spoke ill’, but thought the meeting would almost certainly prevent the intervention of a Whig candidate at the next general election and might ‘also assist Tavistock’s project’ (which came to nothing a week later).56 Hobhouse went to a Southwark electors’ diner with Lambton, 18 June, but he was at a low ebb when he confided to his diary on his 38th birthday, 27 June:
My body and mind have undergone a change for the worse during the last year. My attendance in the House ... has certainly broken my health, and I have nothing in the way of parliamentary exertion to show for it this session ... I ... feel something very like decay of the poor faculties which I think used to put me formerly something, but not much, above par. My memory is very much shattered, and I have not the same power of application which I used to possess ... Perhaps a reform of habits altogether might bring me back to a tolerable condition ... I feel confident that I shall not live much longer [he survived for another 47 years], so what I intend to do in this world I must do quickly ... I find I hate politics more than ever, but I cannot conceal from myself that one of the causes is that I am not qualified for making ... a ‘figure’ in the ... Commons. I am too afraid of failing ever to succeed. An honest man in Parliament, however, I can be - I think I may add, I will be. If the Westminster men are not contented with that, let them turn me out. I trust I shall be able to bear that which will be no disgrace.57
On 1 July he ‘took some pains’ with a speech against the aliens bill, ‘this misshapen offspring’, for which he got 66 votes (to 142). Mackintosh thought he spoke ‘readily, sharply and fairly, but in a manner both vulgar and dull’.58 He had postponed his planned motion for repeal of the house and window taxes, a matter of particular concern in Westminster, until ministers revealed their own proposals; but he considered these inadequate, and on 2 July 1822, having been coached by Place, he spoke for an hour and a half, and, while there were no more than ‘from 15 to 25 present at any time’, he thought the division of 59-146 was ‘all things considered’ a ‘good’ one and that his ‘pains were not thrown away’.59
Three weeks later he went to Italy with his brother Edward and two sisters. He ran Byron to earth in Pisa, 15 Sept., bade farewell to him (for the last time) on the 20th and went to Florence and Rome. He returned to England via Venice, from where he ‘had a look at the Congress of Verona’, and Paris, where he dined with Constant and met Lafayette.60 He attended the opening of the new session, 4 Feb. 1823, with ‘an amendment in my pocket declaring abhorrence of Holy Alliance and of [the French] invasion of Spain’, but decided, with the concurrence of Russell and others, not to move it, as the mover of the address was ‘very decided against the interposition of France’. He and other ‘radicals’ dined with the Speaker at his ‘first opposition dinner’, 9 Feb.61 He voted for inquiry into the borough franchise, 20 Feb., and information on the municipal government of Inverness, 26 Mar., hailed ‘the great progress which the cause of reform was now making in the country’, 16 Apr.,62 and divided for Russell’s reform motion, 24 Apr., and reform of the Scottish electoral system, 2 June. On 24 Feb. he supported the prayer of a Southwark petition for repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act and praised ministers for their ‘prudence’ in relation to the Franco-Spanish conflict.63 Five days later he went to Holland House for the first time since 1818: he was well received and became a regular visitor thereafter.64 He said on 24 Feb. that despite ministerial concessions on the window tax he would persevere with his intended repeal motion. He presented and endorsed a constituency petition to that effect, 4 Mar. He urged ministers to reform the Insolvent Debtors Acts, 18, 21 Mar., and presented a Westminster tradesmen’s petition for the more effectual recovery of small debts, 24 Apr.65 On 18 Mar. he was infuriated when Canning ‘let out at last that Spain and France were almost sure of war, and that we should not agree in hostilities in support of the Spanish liberals’. When William Plunket, a Grenvillite Whig who had defected to become Irish attorney-general, was called by the Speaker to propose Catholic relief, 17 Apr., Hobhouse joined Burdett, Sefton, Grey Bennet and others in walking out of the chamber in protest. On Macdonald’s motion for papers on the Spanish problem, 28 Apr., he ‘spoke for an hour and ten minutes ... for war, at least for preparing war’. Although he was ‘far from well and left out some of my best points’, he ‘heard afterwards that it was the best speech I had ever made’. In his reply next day, Canning was ‘very complimentary’ to Hobhouse.66 At the Westminster anniversary, 23 May, when he took the chair in the absence of the poorly Burdett, he had Ebrington on his right and Lambton on his left, was toasted by Thomas Coke* of Norfolk, who recanted his ‘error’ in opposing him in 1820, and in his speech ‘appealed to [the] electors whether or not I was not right in saying [in the Commons, 28 Apr.] they would have supported a war against France for the liberties of Europe’; he ‘had a most unequivocal reply’.67 He called for reform of the method of striking special juries, preferring a ballot to nomination by the crown office, 28 May. He supported Hume’s attempt to secure inquiry into the cost of the coronation, 11 June, and raised the case of one Butt, claiming recompense for false imprisonment, 19 June, but receive short shrift from the solicitor-general. He said that the partial reduction of the window tax had greatly disappointed many Westminster shopkeepers, 19 June.68 He objected to the proposal to house the king’s library in the British Museum, ‘a piece of patchwork’, arguing that a location in Whitehall would be more appropriate, 20 June, 1 July.69 He presented petitions for repeal of the Combination Acts, 25 June, and the abolition of slavery, 30 June.70 In Burdett’s continued absence, he presented on 16 July 1823 a ‘radical reform’ petition from the freeholders and inhabitants of Somerset, arguing that ‘everything which had passed during the present session ... had tended to show the necessity of a reform’ and claiming that almost one third of the membership of the Commons had now voted for it.
Hobhouse took a leading part in the organization of support for the Spanish liberals and was a founder member in June 1823 of the Spanish committee, which received ‘no encouragement whatever from the grandees’. The cause ended in defeat and disappointment.71 He had long been an enthusiast for Greece, and in March 1823 was involved in the formation of the Greek committee set up to help the rebels against Turkish oppression, in whose cause Byron made his fateful journey to Greece as the agent of the committee in July. In this, too, disillusionment and bad feeling awaited Hobhouse, but he threw himself zealously into the committee’s work.72 Having been ‘recommended to travel and amuse myself’, he went in early September to North Wales, Cheshire (staying with local Whig Members) and from Liverpool by steamboat to Glasgow. He was the guest of Lord Glenorchy* at Auchmore, where he met Lord John Hay*, brother of the marquess of Tweeddale. Saddened to hear of the early sudden death of Ricardo, he visited Edinburgh in the last week of September and made his way to Burdett’s Kirby hunting lodge in Leicestershire by way of Lambton Castle (where he encountered Brougham, incongruous in a party of ‘racing men’), the home of Walter Fawkes† at Farnley and Newstead Abbey, Byron’s ancestral home, which was under renovation.73 He contributed an initial £10 to the London Mechanics’ Institution, about which Place was enthusiastic, but they had slightly differing views as to its usefulness. However, he subscribed an additional £100 in January 1825.74
On the address, 4 Feb. 1824, Hobhouse criticized France for an ‘open breach of faith’ towards Spain and said that the anti-Greek proclamation issued by Sir Thomas Maitland†, governor of the Ionian Islands, seemed to have been ‘written in a drunken frolic’. He informed Byron soon afterwards that ‘Parliament has begun very slackly, and the session promises to be exceeding dull and peaceful, very much to my satisfaction, who have been and still am in a very queer way with affections of the head which the doctors call stomach and which may be anything’. He added that ‘the ministers certainly are popular, and the agricultural asses have amazed all the opposition in the rising bushels of their corn doles’.75 On 19 Feb. he warned of the ‘injurious consequences’ of introducing treadmills into prisons and supported Grattan’s motion for information on Catholic office-holders, urging the ‘more liberal’ ministers to overcome the Irish secretary Goulburn’s objections. Next day he spoke and voted, in Hume’s minority of ten, for reducing the army by 10,000, observing in his diary that ‘no one cares’ that 4,000 soldiers had been added and that even Holland, worried about his West Indian plantations, ‘approves the augmentation’. He was in a minority of eight on the same issue, 23 Feb. On the 27th he drew attention to the army barracks in King’s Mews, Charing Cross, a source of irritation and anxiety to the residents, and condemned the increase in expenditure on ‘this system of planting a military force throughout the country’.76 His motion to reduce the barrack grant to £90,000 was negatived, 9 Mar. He suggested two amendments for the benefit of his constituents to Althorp’s bill for the easier recovery of small debts, 23 Feb.: creditors should be able to renew their demands every two years and to sue away from debtors’ places of residence. That day and on 16, 23 Mar., 5 Apr. he presented petitions for repeal of the Combination Acts.77 He divided for reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 26 Feb. On 2 Mar. he presented two petitions for repeal of the assessed taxes before speaking for an hour and 40 minutes in support of his own motion for remission of the window tax. He later wrote that he ‘did the first quarter of an hour well off hand’, but that ‘when I began to look at my papers I began to boggle and am afraid my speech sounded very badly, although it was not a bad one’. He got 88 votes to 155, ‘nearly 30 more than I did in 1822’, but still felt that ‘on the whole the attempt is what is called a failure’.78 He spoke, 11 Mar., and was a teller for the minority of 47, 15 Mar., in favour of ending army flogging. He presented and endorsed a petition from inhabitants of Westminster for reduction of taxes, using the surplus of the sinking fund, and reform of the ‘misrule’ in Ireland. He saw ‘some plausibility’ in the reform scheme (repeal of the Bribery Acts, the sanctioning of the open sale and purchase of seats and the enfranchisement of large towns) outlined by his constituent Worgman in a petition, 17 Mar., but could not endorse it overall. At the request of constituents affected by the provisions of the silk bill, he supported the prayer of their petition for compensation for stock in hand, but made it clear that he approved the general principle of the measure. Next day he delivered what he thought was ‘a strong speech’ against the introduction of the aliens bill. ‘Several friends’ asked him not to divide, but Lambton said he would if Hobhouse did not, and they obtained a respectable minority of 70 (to 131).79 As a member of the committee on the home secretary Peel’s county courts bill, he objected on 26 Mar. to its giving the appointment of 70 new posts to the crown, but conceded that it would correct some abuses in the process of recovering small debts. He condemned the proposal for subsidizing the building of new churches, 5, 9 Apr., when his wrecking amendment was defeated by 148-59, declaring on the first occasion that the money would be better spent ‘in buying up rotten boroughs’. He spoke briefly against any future promotions on the judicial bench, 13 May. Next morning he was woken by the arrival of a note from Kinnaird informing him of Byron’s death at Missolonghi, which put him into ‘an agony of grief’. As one of the executors he proved the will in July and oversaw arrangements for the burial of Byron’s remains at Hucknall, Nottinghamshire on the 16th. It was on his advice that Byron’s memoirs were destroyed.80 He was ‘totally at a loss’ as to what to say to the Westminster electors at the anniversary dinner, 24 May, as the ‘times [are] so changed in appearance, that except the necessity of reform which is an axiom [there is] nothing to enforce’. He found the presence of the Greek deputies ‘a God-send’, but felt unable ‘to refer to Greece as I otherwise would’, as ‘the very word stuck in my throat’. He warned ‘the people of England against being deluded by the temporary prosperity which they enjoyed at this moment’ and concentrated on foreign affairs. Next day he returned to the Commons, where he ‘fought the Islington improvement bill’.81 He opposed the third reading of the Equitable Loan Company bill, the object of which was ‘private profit’, 1 June, and called for an end to naval impressment, 10 June. He obtained only 14 votes (to 52) for his attempt to kill the Irish insurrection bill, 18 June, when he said that as long as the cabinet remained divided on the Catholic question nothing could or would be done for Ireland. On 24 June 1824 he exposed the privations of debtors in Horsemonger Lane gaol and recommended a curb on magistrates’ powers of committal.
On his 38th birthday he lamented Byron’s death and wrote that ‘I have sunk into a complete valetudinarian, so much so that I quite wonder that I have been able to do the little I have done in the ... Commons this year, where I learn that my constituents think that I have made progress instead of going back or standing still, and I learn generally that my good Westminster friends are contented with me’. Yet he found that ‘everything palls upon me, and the prospect that by the common course of nature, myself, and those of whom I am fond, cannot add, but must lose gradually the capacity for enjoyment, makes me look with distaste upon what may remain of existence’. That day he received a letter of thanks from the inmates of Horsemonger Lane, where the magistrates had relaxed the rules, but he reflected that ‘if they were justified by my real conduct and character’, the thanks ‘might reconcile a man fond of praise to the weight of existence’.82 He was inclined to honour Byron’s memory by going to Greece as an agent of the committee, but disagreements with Hume and the advice of Burdett and Ellice, who persuaded him that he would be better employed at home, changed his mind. With the secretary John Bowring, he contributed a survey of Byron’s activities in Greece to the July 1824 issue of the new Westminster Review. Even though the enthusiasm of most members of the committee waned rapidly, Hobhouse remained a believer and devoted much time and energy to the cause in the next two years, but, through no fault of his own, to little effect.83 In the autumn of 1824 he toured the north-east of England, where he met and befriended Grey’s son Lord Howick*. As a guest at Lambton Castle he encountered Grey himself, who, ‘owing probably to his acquaintance with my father ... was ... particularly kind and talked on political subjects without reserve’: ‘he several times talked to me with great despondency on the want of public spirit in England’. Hobhouse did not, however, think much of that ‘very wag’ Creevey. On his return to London he called ‘by appointment’ on Byron’s former lover Lady Caroline Lamb, who gave him ‘a ridiculous account of the attempt lately made to confine her as a madwoman’. He continued to write articles for the periodical press in defence of Byron’s reputation.84
When he opposed bringing up the report of the address, 4 Feb. 1825, he deplored the proposed suppression of the Catholic Association, damned Plunket, protested at the size of the standing army and called for support for the Greeks, but applauded the liberalization of commercial policy and ‘the improvement of ministers’; he detected unusual ‘symptoms of great irritation on all sides of the House’.85 He spoke for allowing the Catholic Association to present its case at the bar and said the bill to put it down was ‘pregnant with danger to the best interests of the country’, 18 Feb. Three days later Daniel O’Connell*, in London as one of the Catholic deputation, described Hobhouse on first acquaintance as ‘a direct-minded, honest man’.86 Resuming his campaign, on behalf of his constituents, against the house and window taxes, he presented a petition for their repeal, 28 Feb., and said the inhabitants of Westminster were far from satisfied with the ministerial proposal to reduce them, 2 Mar. At the Westminster meeting called to petition for repeal, 24 Mar., he was attacked by Hunt as the son of a sinecurist, with reference to Sir Benjamin’s office as a Carnatic commissioner. He retorted that Hunt’s charge was ‘as false as his own conduct to the public’, that his father had never taken public money for doing nothing and that his salary of £1,500 was paid jointly by the creditors of the nabob and the East India Company.87 It was not until 17 May that he moved for repeal of the window tax, securing 77 votes to 114. He voted for Burdett’s successful motion to consider Catholic claims, 1 Mar., and for the relief bill, 21 Apr., 10 May, though he had misgivings on account of his ‘great dislike’ of the associated bill to disfranchise the Irish 40s. freeholders. When Brougham denounced the latter, 26 Apr., Hobhouse ‘had my doubts what to do’ and, not wishing to ‘appear to abandon Burdett’, yet ‘unable to support the principle’ of the bill, he abstained. On 9 May he begged Lambton not to vote against the relief bill on account of his hostility to the disfranchisement measure.88 He criticized fraudulent joint-stock companies, 28 Feb., and on 16 Mar. spoke ‘well’ for an hour and 20 minutes against the second reading of the Peruvian Mining Company bill, but did not divide the House, reflecting later that this effort ‘has cost me a great deal of trouble and will bring much individual resentment against me‘.89 On 9 Mar. he warmly welcomed Peel’s juries regulation bill as ‘the most salutary reform that could be found in our statute books’. He explained, 15 Mar., that he had initially wanted to support Frederick Trench’s Thames Quay scheme, but that his interested constituents’ protests had now convinced him of its ‘utter impracticability’. He had reservations about the salary of £800 proposed by Peel’s police magistrates bill, 21 Mar. He asserted that putting the planned National Gallery in the British Museum would be ‘like uniting the Jardin des Plantes with the Musee’, 28 Mar., when he failed again to persuade ministers to remove the barracks from King’s Mews. He objected to the proposed increase in judicial salaries, 16 May, 17 June, when his wrecking amendment was lost by 74-45. He could see nothing to recommend Twiss’s assessors at elections bill, 21 June. Warned by one of the Westminster activists that Burdett’s advocacy of Catholic claims had upset some of his constituents and that most of the stewards of the 18th anniversary dinner (23 May) did not wish O’Connell to attend, Hobhouse asked Lord Killeen*, who refused, and then Maurice Fitzgerald* ‘to keep him away’. In the event the toast to Catholic emancipation was given and O’Connell did turn up (to speak ‘shortly and well’), but Hobhouse, who thought his own effort was poor, though he was ‘as well received as ever’, was pleased to record that ‘the whole meeting went off well’ and that ‘the cause of religious freedom must be a gainer by it’.90 A week later he dined at Lansdowne House for the ‘first time since political squabbles in Westminster’.91 His genuine humanitarianism prompted him in 1825 to make his first attempt to legislate to reduce the hours of child and juvenile labour in cotton factories. He tried unsuccessfully to interest Peel in improving his father’s Act of 1819, but under pressure from ‘the poor operative deputies from Manchester’ decided to go ahead himself, though he wanted ‘some one to do it more likely to succeed’. On 5 May he obtained leave to introduce a bill to reduce the working day to 11 hours for children under 16 and to give Peel’s Act teeth by empowering magistrates to summon witnesses and prevent magistrates who were mill owners or their sons from acting as inspectors. He carried its second reading, 16 May, but Peel recommended him to restrict the measure to making his father’s Act operative. On 31 May he explained that he had altered his measure to limit hours to 12 a day, Monday to Friday, and nine on Saturday. The bill became law as 6 Geo. IV, c. 63; and in 1829 Hobhouse carried through a bill to improve enforcement of the regulations (10 Geo. IV, c. 51).92 In late June 1825 Place bombarded Burdett and Hobhouse with information pertaining to the ministerial bill partially to reinstate the combination laws after the practical failure of Hume’s botched repeal measure of the previous year. Hobhouse thought they had put up ‘a stout fight’ against it (he spoke at length against a penalty clause, 27 June) and they succeeded in securing ‘some material amendments’; but when he told Place that ‘not much harm is done’ by the passage of the measure, Place predicted that ‘not a single association of workmen will exist in six months’ except illegal ones and warned that ‘the working people will not quietly submit to the tyranny and degradation this Act will bring upon them’.93 In his end of term birthday lucubrations, Hobhouse wrote:
I have taken a much less active part in public affairs this year than last, but I have been more employed in private business connected with my constituents than at any former period ... My health on the whole has been better than during the last year, but I have still symptoms about me that convince me I shall be an invalid all my life. As to my intellect, it is certainly decaying, either from bad habits of living, or from my total neglect of any literary studies that might tend to brace and invigorate my mind ... By losing my friend Byron I have lost one of the most powerful motives to exertion and ... I am daily more careless of what I may do or what may be said of my doings.94
At Place’s pressing request, he went to London to attend the inaugural meeting of the Western Literary and Scientific Institution, which involved ‘the sons of respectable tradesmen and merchants in Westminster’, in November 1825, but Burdett, with whom he was staying at Kirby, after a period with Ellice in Norfolk, developed a convenient attack of ‘gout’. Hobhouse subscribed £25 to the venture.95
He ‘tried to understand this great question’ of the banking and currency crisis of 1825-6 and decided that ministers were ‘right’ in their response;96 but he saw reason to change his mind, and voted in a minority of 24 against a detail of their promissory notes bill, 20 Feb., and supported Hume’s attempts to require country banks to hold deposits equal in amount to that of notes issued, 24, 27 Feb., when he said that ministers had abandoned ‘correct principles’ and that ‘unless something was done to strike at the root of the present banking system, the country would be exposed to the constant recurrence of those evils under which it now suffered’. He spoke and voted, with Hume, for reduction of the army estimates, 3, 6 Mar., making another protest against the King’s Mews barracks, and on 7 Mar proposed a once for all reduction of the army to 77,000: he got 34 votes to 106. He opposed the introduction of a bill to regulate steam vessels in Scotland, 9 Mar., and obtained leave to bring in a bill for the erection of a new gaol in Westminster, 13 Mar. He carried its third reading, 26 Apr., and it became law on 5 May.97 Supporting Russell’s bill to curb electoral bribery, 14 Mar., he said that the standing orders against the interference of peers were routinely flouted and ‘it was well known that many ... who sat in that House were only representatives of their own money’. He then endorsed Hume’s denunciation of army flogging, against which he had voted in a minority of 47 on 10 Mar. Place briefed him at length on the question of special jury selection in London and the proposed government sponsored improvements to the Charing Cross area, and he presented a petition for compensation from householders of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, 10 Apr.98 Later that day he opposed receiving the report on the separate ministerial salary of the president of the board of trade, and in the course of his speech declared that while ‘it was said to be very hard on His Majesty’s ministers to raise objections’, he thought it was ‘much more hard on His Majesty’s opposition’. He thus originated a phrase which passed into common political usage, though thanks, he said, to the typical ‘happy spirit of blundering’ to which Hume was prone, the initial credit went to Tierney.99 He spoke and was a minority teller for reforming Edinburgh’s representation, 13 Apr. When Peel gave notice that the Aliens Act would not be renewed, 20 Apr., Hobhouse thanked him, for which he was rebuked by ‘some of my friends’. He remained determined to give ministers credit ‘when I felt they did right’, if ‘only because I feel their omnipotence, and how completely Parliament would stand by them even if they did wrong’. On 27 Apr. he spoke for an hour and a half in support of Russell’s reform scheme, arguing that all reformers should endorse the transfer to ‘the opulence, the industry, the importance of such towns as Manchester and Birmingham’ of the ‘rights now thrown away upon, and shamefully bartered by, the penniless, idle, insignificant vote-sellers of such boroughs as Orford’. He noted Hume’s absence, produced an analysis by type of constituency of the voting of Members, 1821-2, to prove his case that the existing system bolstered the government and declared that he wanted ‘real popular control over the measures of government, which alone can ... save us from a relapse into the miseries inseparable from a corrupt and delusive system of representation’. The speech was considered a great success by Russell and many Whigs, and Hobhouse had it published as a pamphlet; but privately he doubted ‘that I should do any permanent good by this exposure’ of the system. He thought the agriculturists were ‘foolish’ to make such an ‘outcry’ against the government’s ‘trifling’ proposal for the emergency admission of bonded corn, which he supported, though he felt that ministers had been ‘most shuffling’ and might have produced a better ‘settlement’ of the corn law issue. On 19 May he urged government to aid the Greeks, especially as the French were assisting Turkey. He then ‘sat out’ a long debate on slavery and divided in the minority of 38 for abolition, 19 May, but did not think the abolitionists’ cause was ‘gaining ground amongst the really influential part of the community’, while in the Commons it was ‘losing ground’.100 At the `thinly attended’ Westminster anniversary dinner, 23 May, he ‘spoke well but too long’, as he thought, about reform and Greece.101 He was in the chamber for the debate on Russell’s resolutions against electoral bribery, 26 May 1826, but did not vote in the majority for them.102
On the eve of the dissolution Hobhouse was perturbed to learn that ‘nothing was doing in Westminster’ towards his and Burdett’s re-election and was angered by a paragraph in the Morning Herald accusing them of ‘remissness in attendance’, which in his case, saving the absence on 26 May, was ‘absurd in the extreme’. Matters were put in train by Place and Kinnaird, but Hobhouse was ‘much displeased’ when Kinnaird allowed reporters to remain at a poorly attended meeting which resolved to invite them to be nominated, and which thus looked like a closed cabal, and ‘more so still’ by the resolutions’ opening attack (Place’s work) on the ‘two political factions that had so long kept Westminster without a real representative’. He and Burdett were ‘resolved we would not attack the Whigs and would say so publicly if required’. He remonstrated with Kinnaird and called very late at night on Place, who thought his agitation was largely unwarranted. Place oversaw and co-coordinated from his home subsequent proceedings and persuaded Hobhouse and Burdett to take no notice of the ‘factions’ remark in their answer to the formal invitation. An attempt to put Canning in nomination ended in farcical failure, and Burdett and Hobhouse were returned unopposed in under an hour. At the nomination, Hobhouse made light of the accusations against him and asserted that while reform was essential, the bribery resolutions were ‘nugatory’ and ‘delusive’. Place meanwhile, had recorded his view that he and Burdett were ‘little if any better than mere drawling Whigs’ and that as Members they were now ‘inefficient and almost useless’.103 Holland and Ebrington asked Hobhouse to go to Nottingham to support the Whig Lord Rancliffe*, but he was unable to do so, explaining that not only was he ineligible to vote, having declined to accept the offered freedom at the time of Byron’s funeral, but he was fully committed to helping Whitbread in Middlesex and then ‘the Bedfordshire reformers’, if required.104 On 5 July he went with his brother Thomas Benjamin to Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy (Milan and Genoa), returning via Toulon, Marseilles and Paris, where he obtained authorization from the local Greek committee to act with Colonel Stanhope in the disposal of their funds for the support of the expedition being planned by Lord Cochrane†, whom he had seen in Marseilles. But when he got back to London on 12 Nov. 1826 having decided, though there seemed to be no urgency as far as the opening of Parliament was concerned, that it was ‘as well to be in the way’, he found the Greek cause there mired in scandal and stories of mismanagement and corruption. He was also greeted by a long letter from Place on the subject of special jury selection.105
He divided in the minority of 24 on the address, 21 Nov. 1826. He praised Waithman for exposing the Arigna Mining Company scandal and ministers for backing him, 5 Dec., and on 8 Dec., not for the first or last time, pressed in vain for an indication of when the Charing Cross improvements were to begin.106 In the first week of December he received from Place an extraordinary long letter, a sequel to an earlier conversation, in which the tailor frankly told him that in Westminster ‘a general opinion prevails that you want habits of business’, yet at the same time offered to entrust him rather than the more dependable Hume with the case of an aggrieved constituent provided he was willing to go into it patiently and effectively. Hobhouse, unamused, wrote a lengthy and spirited defence of his parliamentary conduct, contending that he believed it had been satisfactory to all reasonable electors, admitting that he had no wish or inclination to follow Hume’s example of incessant, often misdirected and perverse activity to create an impression of efficiency, and reminding Place that he had never portrayed himself as ‘a man of business’. He showed his reply to Burdett, who approved it and remarked that ‘I would do without Westminster much better than Westminster could do without me’, but ‘on second thoughts’ he resolved not to send it. He mentioned the episode to Brougham, who ‘laughed at the "habits of business"’.107 Hobhouse spent some time with Tavistock in January 1827. He ‘did not stay to vote against the duke of Clarence’s additional pension’, 16 Feb., ‘having walked down to the House ... with ... Althorp, and agreed with him that it would be inexpedient to do so unless too large a sum was proposed’. However, he subsequently decided that the grant was too large, and he voted in the minority of 39 against the annuity bill, 2 Mar.108 When Peel outlined his plans for consolidation of the criminal code, 23 Feb., Hobhouse was fulsome in his praise, observing the he had ‘laid the basis for being a great man, by showing himself to be a good one’. On the 26th he supported Althorp’s motion to legislate against electoral bribery, though he ‘did not think that any good would be effected by this or any other temporary expedient’, and backed Hume’s bid to end army flogging. He spoke in the same sense on the mutiny bill, 12 Mar. He voted silently for Catholic relief, as proposed by Burdett, 6 Mar., but found himself in a minority.109 He presented a Westminster shoemakers’ petition for free trade in corn, 8 Mar., and voted for reduced protection, 6, 9 Mar., when he denounced the government, ‘wretched and disjointed’ since Liverpool’s stroke, as ‘not worth twopence’.110 He voted for inquiry into the electoral activities of Leicester corporation, 15 Mar., information on the Barrackpoor mutiny, 22 Mar., and to withhold supplies until a settled administration was in place, 30 Mar., though he considered it an empty gesture.111 He seconded Hume’s motion for a select committee on debtors’ gaols and the operation of the relevant laws, but advised him that finding a solution would not be ‘as easy as ...[he] seemed to think’. On 5 Apr. he got himself into a tangle by rising in anger to ‘declaim’ against lord chancellor Eldon but, wrongly thinking the debate was on the master of the rolls Copley’s chancery amendment bill (it was in fact on Harvey’s motion for information on chancery delays) made much of Copley’s absence. Canning raised ‘a great laugh’ by insinuating that Hobhouse was drunk, which he was not, but did not overdo the sarcasm. Nevertheless Hobhouse ‘felt very uncomfortable and went home’ without voting, but ‘scarcely slept a wink’.112 He presented and endorsed a petition from shareholders in the County Fire Office complaining of their treatment by the vice-president of the board of trade Wallace in the revenue inquiry.113 During the Easter recess he suffered again ‘under a smart attack of my old complaint in the head’, but was ‘pretty well’ by the time Canning’s appointment as prime minister and the coalition in office with him of the Lansdowne Whigs were confirmed. He had already predicted to Tavistock, who wanted ‘to sail in the same boat with me’, that ‘Canning would be the cause of a disunion between the Whigs, and that having heard that Peel was going abroad, I thought I should follow his example, for my occupation was over’. On 30 Apr. Burdett informed him that he had decided to ‘sit behind the treasury bench’ and support the ministry ‘as a choice of evils’. Hobhouse ‘told him that I could not bring myself to sit behind the arch-enemy of the reformers, and that having no confidence at all in ... Canning, I could not take a step which would make it appear that I had confidence in him’. He added that he would ‘vote for Canning when he was right’ and that ‘he would derive a more respectable support from the opposition on their own benches than when considered as mere appendages to the treasury bench’. Next day Burdett assured Hobhouse that ‘seeing his going behind the treasury bench gave me so much pain, he should keep his old seat but make a declaration in favour of ministers’; but he broke his word when the House assembled, and even tried to persuade Hobhouse to cross the floor with him. Hobhouse seated himself ‘on the second opposition bench’.114 He presented petitions on assorted constituency business, 9, 14, 21 May, and on the 22nd, prompted by Place, brought up and endorsed one from Newcastle seafarers for an end to impressment.115 He voted for inquiry into bankruptcy administration, 22 May, spoke and voted for the disfranchisement of Penryn, making it clear that he would not swallow its sluicing, 28 May, and was in Hume’s minority of ten for repeal of the Blasphemous and Seditous Libels Act, 31 May. At the Westminster anniversary dinner, 23 May, when Cobbett and Hunt created a near riot by denouncing Burdett for supporting Canning, Hobhouse considered himself ‘the principal sufferer, for what between the vociferation of our friends and the clamour of Cobbett and company I could not get a hearing for the first time since I have been known in Westminster’. He ‘bore the disappointment calmly enough until I heard Cobbett calling me names, upon which like a silly fellow I took up a steward’s wand and threatened to knock him down’. He reckoned the shambles ‘a partial defeat’ for the Westminster reformers, but next day was told by Burdett that he had ‘a very erroneous impression of the meeting’ and ordered to keep his mouth shut about it.116 He had a long talk with the Hollands on ‘the prospects of the new government’, 30 May, and was struck by the ‘short and simple statement’ with which Canning introduced his cautiously optimistic budget next day. He presented Westminster petitions on arrests for small debts and various building projects, 7 June, and on the 11th the petition of the householders of Rye complaining that the franchise had been ‘surreptitiously taken from them’ by the treasury interest. He was tempted to answer Hume’s attack on the report of credit for Portugal, 10 June, but ‘did not like the appearance of being more a ministerialist than I am, particularly more a Canningite’. He tried in vain to secure alterations to the bill regulating arrests for debt on mesne process, 16, 18 June, when he divided against the Coventry magistracy bill but voted ‘for the government corn bill’. He decided that accepting Canning’s invitation to dine with him on 2 July 1827, the day of prorogation, would ‘compromise my independence’, and so turned it down.117
By this time, after further setbacks and scandals, one of which had more or less exhausted his patience with Hume, Hobhouse was thoroughly disillusioned with ‘anything connected with the Greeks’.118 At Whitton in mid-July, he was relieved and pleased to find from Burdett that he would not destroy himself by accepting the peerage on which Canning had had him sounded. As Canning lay dying at Chiswick House in early August, he twice called to enquire after him. He was saddened by his death, but decided (unlike Hume, ‘the impudent fool’) to stay away from the public obsequies, for he had hardly known and never quite trusted the man.119 During a stay with Burdett in Derbyshire in September, Hobhouse courted his daughter Sophia. Burdett gave his blessing to a proposal of marriage, but after several weeks she turned him down. Soon afterwards he began a furtive and tormented affair with the wife of a Wiltshire acquaintance.120 His autumn travels included a November sojourn with Ellice at Dawlish, where they received the news of the destruction by the Allies under Admiral Codrington of the Turkish fleet at Navarino, ‘an important event’ which in the end ‘saved Greece’.121 On 18 Dec. 1827 he wrote to Place mocking the tottering Goderich ministry, but received a reply expressing the hope that the ministerial incompetence would long continue, so that ‘the people’ would be roused at last to work out their own salvation, and ‘abusing the aristocracy, and saying the people now were too wise to care for any public man much’. Hobhouse answered him forcefully, arguing that it was wrong to say that the ruling classes derided ‘the march of intellect’, which they either feared or encouraged, according to their political stance, and telling Place
frankly that ... public men have very little encouragement to try to please what you call the people ... It is expected they should, without the least regard to times and seasons, be always doing something ... although it is morally impossible under the present system that their exertions however assiduous should produce any immediate or speedy effect, yet they are blamed ... for having done nothing ... The first person who when in office adopts some of their recommendations and carries them into effect robs them of all the praise ... Any coarse unfeeling pretender, with no other merit than having a strong digestion and a bad heart, laborious about trifles, and trifling about matters of real import, envious, dishonest, and unfair, impatient and intriguing and except for his own purposes altogether impracticable ... can at any time, by bidding higher and stooping lower, make himself a favourite with a good many of those who ought to know mankind a little better than they do.
Place insisted that ‘the fault is not at all in the people, but in the [public] men themselves’, and in the same breath asked Hobhouse to give his name and secure those of his father, Burdett and Bedford as stewards for the Mechanics’ Institution’s approaching anniversary jamboree.122 At the turn of the year, when he was at Whitbread’s home at Southill, Bedfordshire, he heard that Burdett had formally withdrawn his support from the Goderich administration, and on 2 Jan. 1828 wrote to Burdett ‘telling him I was uneasy at having taken no line by speaking my opinion last session, and that I felt inclined to do so next. I told him there was no fear of my being too active. My propensity was repose, as it is with most men’. Burdett replied that he would ‘do as I do, sink or swim’. Hobhouse, who received a circular requesting his attendance at the opening of the session from Huskisson, the leader of the Commons, could ‘not see how the government is to stand’, on 4 Jan., but still doubted ‘whether it is wise to lend a hand to its destruction’. When he sought Place’s advice on this, he received the unhelpful reply that it was ‘of no importance whatever’ whether the ministry stood or fell, though at least there could never again be an unadulterated ‘Castlereagh and Eldon administration’.123 When Tavistock showed him a letter from Althorp ‘declining all concert and combination for an organized opposition’ and one from Holland complaining of ‘the distrust of the administration by their own Whig friends’, Hobhouse sent him ‘a long letter ... showing how little Lord Holland’s letter applied to us’ and arguing that Lansdowne was to blame for any ‘want of union’. On 8 Jan. Burdett arrived at Southill and urged Hobhouse to ‘take a line [on] the first day’, but he responded by saying that ‘I foresaw there was little chance of united action for any purpose’. Next day came the news that Goderich had finally thrown in the towel and the duke of Wellington (for whom Hobhouse had a genuine admiration as a man and leader of men) was forming a ministry, which might include Huskisson and his Canningite group as well as Peel. Hobhouse wrote to Place to say that if Wellington was ‘really resolved to name liberal ministers and to try liberal measures, I think it would be unwise as well as unfair to oppose his administration at once without giving it every trial’. He got a scathing reply, in which Place again denounced all party politicians and mocked Hobhouse’s implication that Peel and Wellington were ‘liberal’, observing, fatuously, that the former ‘would make a despotism’, while the duke ‘would cut the throats of anyone who stood in the way of his supreme ignorance’. Hobhouse, exasperated with Place’s obsessive obduracy, replied that ‘with your views about public men you must be supremely indifferent to the event now brewing, except indeed that you would naturally prefer the worst cabinet that could be chosen’, adding that for himself he ‘should like to see the Whigs, such as Lord Althorp and the duke of Bedford fairly tried, and if they would do nothing we should then know that good will could do nothing, for I certainly believe they are sincere in their professions’. Place’s retort was that the real cabinet would be Wellington, the king’s confidant Knighton, Rothschild and his creature John Charles Herries*, and that Althorp and Bedford were ‘names, nothing, or little more than nothing now’, who ‘might go into the cabinet quietly as a couple of old women’, but who had no ‘particular claim to the support of the people’.124 On a more realistic plane of action, Hobhouse continued to correspond with Tavistock, Althorp and other Whig ‘watchmen’, and by 24 Jan. 1828 had concluded with them that ‘now our course is clear, we all go into regular opposition, and may do the only good the Whigs ever can do; by acting separately and watching the government’.125
He was still ‘hesitating’ as to what to do on the opening day:
My natural inclination leads me to be silent, but it will not do for a Westminster Member always to look on ... Yet if Huskisson has already liberalized ... [the] administration - which is just probable - I think this ministry is as good as the last; nay, better, inasmuch as it does not compromise the character of reformers; and though the resigning ministers may attack Huskisson, I do not see why I should.
On the address, 31 Jan., he asked Lord Palmerston, the foreign secretary, whether ministers intended to present Admiral Gore’s report on Navarino to the House and move a vote of thanks to Codrington. He accepted Palmerston’s explanation that it would not be necessary to bring up the report, but not his statement that no thanks would be proposed, and gave notice of a motion to that effect for 14 Feb. Althorp and Wilson discouraged him as the day approached, but he went ahead, ‘with beating heart and throbbing temples’, in a ‘very full’ House. He spoke for almost two hours, was heard ‘well’ and received many ‘compliments’ when he sat down. Having made his point successfully, he submitted to Burdett’s advice and withdrew the motion at the end of the debate. He received much subsequent praise, but later wrote that had he realized how many ‘friends’ would object to the proposal, he would not have made it.126 On 26 Feb. he presented petitions for repeal of the Test Acts before voting in the unexpected majority for that measure. On 28 Feb. he complained that he had been listed, without his authority, as a member of the committee of the Covent Garden vestry bill, which a majority of his constituents did not want him to support. He questioned Peel on the progress of the commission of inquiry into the supply of water to the metropolis, agreeing with him that private speculators should pay for the surveys, and as a member of the committee on alehouse licensing seconded Escourt’s motion for leave to bring in a regulatory bill, 14 Mar. On 28 Mar. he told Peel that the report of the water supply commissioners was ‘anything but satisfactory’, in that they appeared to have restricted themselves to the condition of current supplies and ignored the question of remedial measures to improve quality. Place later introduced him to one of the managers of a project to supply the city with ‘pure water’.127 Hobhouse voted against sluicing East Retford into the hundred, 21 Mar., and supported Althorp’s freeholders registration bill, 25 Mar. Place sent him an enormous manuscript of his projected work on ‘morals and manners’, commenting that ‘with your talents, your quickness, and aptitude in all respects for pursuing the inquiry in which you are engaged, the whole truth might be worked out, had you the doggedness which I lament you have not’. Hobhouse’s heart must have sunk when he opened this packet. Place also pressed him to research and expose to the House, in reference to Peel’s plans for a revamped metropolitan police force, the wretched and corrupt ‘former state of this establishment’.128 He presented and endorsed many petitions against Courtenay’s friendly societies bill, a source of ‘great consternation’ among his constituents, 25 Mar., 1, 15, 18, 22 Apr., and welcomed its abandonment, 28 Apr. He said that the Marylebone select vestry bill, for which he had presented the original petition, was much needed on account of existing abuses, 31 Mar. He presented a petition complaining of inequitable rate assessments by the select vestry of St. James’s, Westminster, and noted that returns relating to St. Martin’s which he had earlier requested had not yet been furnished. On 22 Apr. he demanded to know why ministers had changed their minds on the corn bill since last year and divided for a pivot price of 60s. Next day at the drawing room he chided Huskisson about this, but denied being ‘angry’ with him, though he retained his view that Huskisson was ‘a shabby, unprincipled man’.129 Hobhouse divided in Hume’s minority of 27 for a fixed 15s. duty, 29 Apr., and presented and endorsed a Westminster free trade petition, 19 May. He supported the prayer of a petition against the Lambeth Bridge bill, one of several ‘wholly unnecessary’ such projects, 28 Apr. He voted silently for Burdett’s motion to consider Catholic claims, 12 May, and against the pension for Canning’s family next day, for he did not ‘know what Canning has ever done to entitle him to a national reward after his death’. On 17 May he was ‘in a private room’ for the first time with Wellington at Lord Belgrave’s* diner party, but they did not converse. He divided in the minority against sluicing East Retford after the ‘long and angry’ debate which led to the resignation from the government of the Huskissonites, 19 May.130 He denounced Millbank penitentiary as ‘a most useless charge on the country’, 23 May. He made no effort to recruit Members for the Westminster anniversary dinner, postponed to 26 May by Epsom races, mainly because he ‘did not like to ask them to come and run the risk of meeting the ruffian Cobbett’. In the event, only three other Members attended and, while Hunt attacked Burdett, both he and Hobhouse (who was still fretting about his health, noting increasing deafness and the fact that ‘my right side is not so active as my left’) were ‘very well received’. The topics of his speech were ‘the reported change of ministry and the little chance of the king choosing a good administration when the Parliament was no representative of the people’.131 At dinner at Devonshire House, 28 May, he asked Lord Alvanley to let Wellington know that in the present state of the Commons a ‘bigoted old Tory government’ could not survive, and that ‘in order to avoid these repeated changes it would be necessary to fall in with the general disposition of the times and liberalize his government’. In the House, 30 May, he rose ‘half out of breath’ and deprecated ministerial instability, said that the choice of the soldier Sir George Murray* as colonial secretary ‘might be a good’ one, but that it needed to be long-term, and stated his hope of seeing ‘a ministry acting upon good principles ... at last permanently appointed’. Yet he felt that these observations ‘fell flat because they were not factious, and because I did not fall in with the foolish notions about a military cabinet’. In a conversation on 1 June, he found that Grey, like himself, ‘did not approve of our going at once into strong opposition’, which would ‘only strengthen the ministry’.132 Place alerted him to the fact that the borough polls bill would significantly increase the basic expenses of Westminster elections, and he raised this problem in the House, 6 June, when the bill’s sponsor Thomas Davies said he was willing to exempt Westminster and agreed to postpone the third reading.133 On 2 June he said that he would rather return to corruption than sluice East Retford and wished that ‘we had done with this unlucky subject’; and on 27 June, when he argued that the seats should go to a large town, he declared that the only thing left to do that session was to ‘knock up the bill’. Next day he agreed with Hume that the duties on malt and beer should be reduced to encourage the consumption of beer rather than gin. He spoke and voted in a minority of 28 against the grant for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospels, 6 June, and on the 20th divided in minorities of 38 and 22 against details of the miscellaneous estimates. He called for the abandonment of the additional churches bill and voted to condemn the waste of public money on Buckingham House refurbishment. Having again been pressed on the matter by Place, he tried in vain to get an answer from ministers as to the timing of the projected Charing Cross improvements, 25 June. Place rapped his knuckles for declining to move for returns of St. Martin’s rate assessments to be printed on the ground that they were too voluminous.134 When Daniel Harvey, ‘a sad dog’, presented a petition from Colne handloom weavers for wage regulation, 1 July, Hobhouse rebuked him for his ‘very exalted tone’ in ‘abusing ... the political economists’ and accusing other opposition Members of indifference to distress, and applauded Peel’s stated willingness to back the liberalization of trade. He thought he performed ‘well’. Later that day he supported Burdett’s motion for inquiry into the metropolitan water supply and was named to the select committee.135 He voted for abolition of the post of lieutenant-general of the ordnance, 4 July, but privately recorded his envy of Sir James Graham and Edward Smith Stanley, wealthy young men and ‘foremost of the youngsters’ on the opposition benches, and mused that ‘I must rouse myself, or these folks will beat the old stagers out of the field’.136 On 16 July 1828 he unsuccessfully urged ministers to accept Poulett Thomson’s amendment to the customs bill to confirm their adhesion to ‘a more liberal and generous system of policy’.
For several weeks Hobhouse had been courting Hay’s consumptive sister Julia, and on 30 May 1828 he found himself ‘in a most ridiculous embarrassment’ at Grosvenor House between his married lover and the ‘lady ... who I wish to be my wife’. On 25 June he spent the night with his lover ‘in a way which I shall not record though I shall never forget it’, and next day made a successful offer of marriage to Lady Julia. On the 27th her uncle Lord Lauderdale gave his blessing, and told him that her crown pension would lapse on the marriage and that she ‘had no fortune’. Next day he terminated his relationship with his lover, ‘in the best way I could’, but ‘had a dreadful scene and wished myself at the bottom of the sea’, though he felt that he had ‘nothing to charge myself with on the core of duplicity’, having ‘always told what I thought might happen’. By the marriage settlement, Lady Julia was to have ‘nearly £2,000 a year if I die before her, which I shall most assuredly’. (Hobhouse in fact was to be a widower for the last 34 years of his life.) At the wedding by special licence at 3 Cumberland Place, 28 July, when Hobhouse was 42 and his bride ten years his junior, she fainted twice and had ‘not quite recovered’ when they arrived at Whitton for the first part of their honeymoon. On 12 Aug. 1828 they left for the continent and made their way to Naples, Rome and Florence, returning by way of Genoa, Turin and Paris, where Hobhouse met Burdett, and arriving in London in the first week of February 1829. Soon afterwards they moved into their new house at 21 Charles Street, Berkeley Square, where Hobhouse quickly impregnated Julia with their first child.137
On his passage from Calais he met the Huskissonite Palmerston. On the announcement, 5 Feb. 1829, of the government’s plan to concede Catholic emancipation, he found ‘our friends quite in ecstasies and satisfied’ and inclined to treat the recommendation to suppress the Catholic Association as ‘nothing, a mere formality’. He entered his own ‘humble protest’ against this, 12 Feb., but said he would not oppose it, and called on ministers to ‘say they staked their government on it, as the only way of determining the wavering peers’. He praised past Whig champions of emancipation to counteract the tributes paid to Canning. On 20 Feb. he defended Peel and Wellington against an Ultra’s charge of ‘political apostacy’, and on the 23rd said that petitioners against emancipation from the rural deanery of Gloucester were in error in stating that the measure had been ‘repeatedly rejected’ hitherto by the Commons. He voted silently for emancipation, 6, 30 Mar., pairing off for the committee stages of the relief bill, though on the latter day he was so angered by the Ultra Wetherell’s ‘perversions of history’ that he shouted a corrective rebuke ‘across the table’. On the 19th he asserted that what the Surrey Member Charles Pallmer had presented as the anti-Catholic petition of householders of London and Westminster was not representative of opinion in his constituency. He was one of the 100 or so Members who accompanied Peel to the Lords with the bill 31 Mar., and he attended the debates there. He had come to distrust O’Connell, ‘a strange compound’ who ‘did not know his station’, and did not vote for allowing him to take his seat unimpeded, 18 May, although he was evidently in the chamber during the debate.138 In Burdett’s absence through illness, Hobhouse chaired the 22nd Westminster anniversary dinner, 25 May, which proved to be a rowdy affair. He described the events in his diary:
The king’s health was given and God save the king. Here the first disturbance began, for Hunt grumbled and Cobbett would not stand up. Then I gave reform and Hunt ... complained that I gave it without comment. I said nothing. Sturch then proposed Burdett’s health and someone hissed ... Hunt ... made a speech against the toast. I kept silent pretty well. Cobbett spoke. The accusations were that Burdett had not voted against the building of palaces, that he had not voted against disfranchising the [Irish] 40s. freeholders and finally not voted against [the] ... anatomy bill! ... I put the question whether the health of Burdett should be drunk. Almost all the company rose and when I put the contrary only five or six held up their hands ... The health was drunk with the greatest enthusiasm ... Alexander Dawson* gave my health ... and I rose and met with a most cordial reception. The speech I made completely overthrew the enemy and gave a portrait of Cobbett which the company recognized at once ... When I sat down Hunt shook his fist at me of which I took no notice.
He was astounded to find in The Times of 27 May ‘an attack on me for praising Cobbett’s talents’, and wrote a letter of remonstrance to the editor Barnes, who replied on 30 May ‘praising me up to the skies and offering to explain his former paragraph’; he was unimpressed.139 On 2 June 1829 he spoke and voted in the minority of 40 for the Ultra Lord Blandford’s reform scheme, not as a step towards preventing another ministerial ‘betrayal’, but as one towards necessary change, particularly the eradication of nomination boroughs. Howick thought that ‘unluckily’ the speech was ‘meant to be for us, but ... turned out against us’.140 Hobhouse divided that day in the minority of 44 for issuing a new writ for East Retford.
It was in this session that he first brought seriously before the House the problem of vestry reform, a subject of particular interest in Westminster, where there were several closed vestries whose wasteful and self-interested management of parochial affairs had provoked resentment among many of the parishioners. It was an issue in which Place took a close interest, and he supplied Hobhouse with materials and advice in his usual overbearing and didactic fashion.141 On 28 Apr. 1829 Hobhouse moved for the appointment of a select committee of inquiry into vestries in England and Wales in a speech which gave detailed examples of the most glaring abuses, including those in Westminster and the wider metropolis, where he wanted select vestries to be abolished. There was a ‘thin’ House and there was little response. Peel, in what Hobhouse thought a ‘shabby speech’, challenged his allegations of malpractice, arguing that popularly elected vestries would become chaotic, but he conceded the inquiry in so far as it went to investigate abuses in parochial expenditure. Hobhouse replied that he was averse to ‘open’ vestries, but wished to modify ‘the elective principle’ and extend the provisions of the Act of 1819 to the metropolis. He chaired the committee’s deliberations during May, clashing frequently with William Sturges Bourne, who he believed ‘will attempt to bring my inquiry to nothing’. He intended to present the report on 12 June, ‘but did not’ do so until the 19th. He also introduced that session bills dealing with the Westminster vestries of St. James and St. Paul. He lost the former on its third reading by 83-61, 21 May, noting that ‘the opponents rode off on my general measure’. He got the St. Paul’s bill through the Commons and solicited support for it in the Lords from Grey, Lord King and Lord Durham (as Lambton now was). It became law on 22 May 1829.142
In late November 1829 Hobhouse told Brougham that he saw no reason to oppose the ministry, for ‘the only fault I found was that ... Wellington had inferior associates where he might have the best men in the country’. Accordingly, he was one of the oppositionists who with little ‘hesitation’ divided with government against Knatchbull’s amendment to the address, 4 Feb. 1830. He thought he saw next day, when Burdett, possibly drunk, delivered a ‘philippic’ against the government which he noted ‘embarrasses me for I differ from him altogether and shall be obliged to say so’, that his vote on the address had ‘rather displeased some of my Whig cronies’.143 He voted to transfer East Retford’s seats to Birmingham and for some punitive action, 11 Feb., when he forced the second division, and on 5 Mar., when he said ‘a few words’ in favour of O’Connell’s proposal to incorporate the ballot in the bill.144 He was ‘in woeful health’, but attended dutifully, agreeing with Tavistock that the government was too feeble to carry ‘bad measures’ and that they should generally support ‘the duke, with his wings clipped’, though it would be gratifying to see him bring in some ‘better’ men.145 He divided with Hume for major tax cuts, 15 Feb., and next day decided not to speak on Greece, as he ‘should have taken a different view of the subject from all my friends and might have been misunderstood not only in England but elsewhere’. He recorded that Palmerston confided to him his belief that Greece could not possibly ‘stand alone’. On 18 Feb. he delivered what Howick thought ‘an exceedingly amusing speech’ on Blandford’s reform plan, though ‘by some unaccountable confusion’ he and other Whigs divided for this rather than for the general resolution proposed by Brougham. Speaking for Davies’s motion to delay the army estimates, 19 Feb., he wanted ‘to give a reason why I did not like voting with the Ultra Tories’, but ‘got confused because I did not like to say harsh or personal things of them’. On 22 Feb. he ‘sat up till near two ... voting in Hume’s four minorities against the army estimates’.146 Next day he voted silently for Russell’s motion to enfranchise Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, only to find in the Morning Journal of 24 Feb. ‘a charge of my having voted with ministers’. He stormed round to the office and secured the promise of a correction. He was told ‘by many’ that his speech in support of the Newark petition complaining of the duke of Newcastle’s eviction of electorally recalcitrant tenants had ‘floored’ his opponents, but he believed that ‘the speech was distasteful to many and was not well listened to with the complacency with which I usually meet’. He was pleased when Burdett paid ‘a compliment to the duke of Wellington and his government’, 2 Mar.147 He was at the small meeting of ‘the party’ at Althorp’s rooms, 6 Mar., when he spoke in support of the proposal ‘to announce that a certain number of men were acting together for reduction of taxation’. He recommended ‘some sort of communication for this object only with the Huskissonians and the [Ultra] Tories’, but was overruled, though he subsequently explained that he was ‘averse to any coalition for the purpose of turning out ministers, who I preferred to all the world except the gentlemen present’. He did not attend the meeting on 16 Mar.148 He divided against government on relations with Portugal, 10 Mar., and against the appointment of a treasurer of the navy, 12 Mar.149 He moved and was a minority teller for a wrecking amendment to the East Retford sluicing bill, 15 Mar., when he voted in O’Connell’s minority of 21 for the adoption of the ballot. That day he passed on a petition from licensed victuallers against free trade in beer to Alderman Thompson, because he was ‘a party concerned’ as a result of his father’s interest in Whitbread’s.150 He agreed with Althorp that inquiring into the state of the nation, as Edward Davenport proposed, 18 Mar., ‘meant nothing less than depreciating the currency’. He admired the eloquence of Burdett’s speech in the resumed debate, 23 Mar., but thought he ‘talked sad nonsense’ about prices and was provoked by the implied ‘threat’ of his observation that ‘he wondered how any [man] could meet his constituents who voted against the inquiry’ into staying on to divide with government. He supported reception of a Drogheda petition for repeal of the Union presented by O’Connell, 22 Mar., but privately deemed him guilty of hypocrisy. He voted for inquiry into taxation, 25 Mar., and to reduce the ordnance estimates, 29 Mar. His speech for abolition of the Bathurst and Dundas pensions, 26 Mar., was ‘extremely well received during the delivery and loudly cheered at the close’, but he thought that attribution to it of the opposition majority was misguided; he expected that the female Bathursts, who had recently called on Julia, would not do so again.151 He voted for Jewish emancipation, 5 Apr., 17 May 1830, though on the first occasion he was ‘angry’ at the government’s feebleness in allowing the proposal to be carried against them.152
On 10 Feb. 1830 Hobhouse secured the renewal of his select committee on vestries and had the minutes of evidence from the 1829 investigation printed. He failed to persuade Russell to postpone the St. Giles’s vestry bill, 2 Mar., and on the 16th presented a hostile petition from that parish and St. George’s, Bloomsbury, moved to have it referred to the committee on the bill and wore down the Speaker’s resistance to this on a point of order. He seconded Hume’s unsuccessful bid to reduce its voting qualification from £30 to £15, 1 Apr., and brought up more hostile petitions next day.153 Meanwhile, he worked hard at his own committee, 16 Feb.-25 Mar., receiving little support from opposition members of it in his battle with Sturges Bourne, Charles Ross and Sir Thomas Fremantle. He gave evidence himself from Bristol, 11 Mar. Place was disappointed that the 1829 report had not recommended democratic involvement in parochial government, and bombarded Hobhouse with advice and information as the committee’s proceedings drew towards their end. Hobhouse, who presented the new report at half past two on the morning of 2 Apr., when there was ‘only one other Member in the House’, struggled to prepare a bill during the Easter recess, which he spent with his brother at Send, near Guildford. He admitted that he was ‘a good deal embarrassed with technical difficulties, as also the necessity of making the provisions apply to all parishes, small as well as large, rural as well as metropolitan’. He had been obliged to abandon, ‘very much against my own inclinations’, the ‘great principle of giving every rate payer one vote and no more’. He expected that the measure would ‘satisfy nobody’, but Place, though ‘well aware’ of his ‘difficulties’, thought he was ‘decidedly wrong in endeavouring to make the bill palatable to the House’. He introduced it on 12 May 1830 and had it read a second time and referred to a committee upstairs on the 20th, with a view to its being printed and held over till next session. It was mutilated there, with plural voting reinstated and the voting qualification for parishes outside London doubled to £20. Hobhouse commented that it was ‘a very ungracious task and by no means a labour of love’. The dissolution put an end to the business for the moment.154
Hobhouse divided steadily with the revived opposition in the second part of the 1830 session. He was in O’Connell’s minorities for reform of Irish vestries, 27 Apr., 10 June. On 28 May he spoke and voted for O’Connell’s radical parliamentary reform scheme, declaring his recent conversion to the ballot, and Russell’s more moderate plan. Like most opposition Members, he voted for the government’s sale of beer bill, 4 May, and would not submit to constituency pressure from licensed victuallers to ‘make a stand against selling on the premises’.155 He complained again about the King’s Mews barracks, 30 Apr. On 3 May he divided the House on the issue of giving public access to St. James’s Park from Waterloo Place and obtained 123 votes to 139. He presented and endorsed parish petitions for the construction of a new road northwards from Waterloo Bridge, 6, 11 May, and on 4 June criticized ministers for not giving active support to ‘this great national improvement’. He condemned as ‘monstrous’ the principle of the bill for the removal of Scottish and Irish paupers, whereby the cost was to fall on the relevant parish, 26 May. He voted with O’Connell for papers on the Cork conspiracy trials, 12 May, but after reporters had been cleared from the gallery ‘took care to state that I did so not in order to inculpate the [Irish] solicitor-general [John Doherty*] but only on principle’.156 He spoke and voted against the grant for South American missions, 7 June, and paired that day for abolition of the death penalty for forgery. On the 8th he protested against the ‘disgraceful negotiations’ which had damaged the Greek cause. He brought up and supported the prayer of a petition of Strand householders for compensation for the chaos created by the slow progress of demolition for the Charing Cross improvements, 21 June. He said that in the next Parliament he would legislate again to tighten the restrictions on child labour in cotton factories, 5 July. Next day he divided with opposition on the regency question, but was ‘vexed at voting’, which he would not have done had he not been present at the meeting at Althorp’s to discuss the matter. When ‘we made such a wretched figure’ in the division he told Althorp that his prediction of humiliation had been fulfilled. On 7 July he took Hume to task for his ‘foolish and stale fallacy’ in appealing to electors to return a majority of independent Members at the impending general election, pointing out that ‘without some essential change in the system ... [his] object can never be obtained’.157 He spoke and voted against the libel law amendment bill, 9 July, and was in Brougham’s minority of 27 for the abolition of colonial slavery, 13 July 1830.
In early May 1830 Burdett, without consulting Hobhouse, agreed to chair a meeting, ostensibly of the electors of Westminster, got up by James Silk Buckingham† to publicize his grievance against the East India Company. Hobhouse remonstrated with Burdett and made him contact Place to organize a requisition to legitimize the meeting. Hobhouse’s brother Henry was a candidate for the East India Company direction, but he felt that this should not deter him from attending, as ‘I must fill my own place in Westminster, though I wish Buckingham at the bottom of the sea, for it is a farce and no good will be done to anybody’. On the day of ‘the confounded meeting’, Burdett developed a convenient illness, and Hobhouse was forced to take the chair. He had ‘enough to do to keep the peace’, but reckoned that Hunt’s ‘sly allusions to the Carnatic claims and to younger sons of the aristocracy going to India’ evoked no reaction in the audience. In his own speech, he declined to pledge himself ‘at all on the matter’.158 At the sparsely attended Westminster anniversary dinner, 24 May, he explained that he and Burdett had made no parliamentary initiatives on reform because they wished to give new recruits such as Blandford their head. He noted the absence of the disgruntled publicans and reflected that ‘unless reform receives some fresh support in Westminster I may as well withdraw myself’. A fortnight later he discovered that one of the leading Westminster activists had ‘been intriguing against me amongst my friends’.159 For over a week from 15 June he was preoccupied with and aggravated by his efforts, which were eventually successful, to secure the ‘very shabby shuffling’ Hume’s nomination for Middlesex at the approaching election. At one point it was suggested that he might stand there (and come in ‘without opposition’), but he ruled this out.160 On 25 June, the day before George IV died, he and Tavistock ‘had a great deal of talk on politics’ and ‘agreed as to the strange inconsistency and weakness of Lord Grey’s general conduct, sometimes coquetting with ministers, and then undoing all previous courtship by unreasonable hostility’. A week later he was told by Julia that Lauderdale wished to ‘sound me through her brother whether or not I would accept office under the duke of Wellington’: ‘very likely indeed’, he commented in his diary. In mid-July he was ‘very much’ inclined to agree with Burdett that at the start of the next session they should declare their ‘decided’ support for the ministry.161 Matters were well in train for their re-election, but Hobhouse was now very jaundiced about his situation in Westminster: he had replied to the preliminary invitation to stand again, 2 July, in ‘terms very measured and without any expressions of gratitude, which I cannot say I feel’. Rumours of opposition persisted, but they came to nothing. On 16 July Hobhouse attended a ‘reform meeting’ promoted by the radical Colonel Leslie Grove Jones, where he again remonstrated with Hume and confirmed his conversion to the ballot, only to be traduced, as he saw it, in the Morning Chronicle. A black man asked him ‘whether I was for or against radical reform’, and ‘after a great deal of uproar’ Hobhouse ‘referred him to my speech on O’Connell’s motion’. He wrote the Middlesex freeholders’ requisition to Hume and his reply, but left the ‘common’ committee work to Henry Warburton*, who ‘cannot write’. On 18 July he was told by his wife’s brother Lord Tweeddale that he had heard from ministers that ‘there was a wish that I should join the administration, and also take a high place, having liberty however to vote for reform of Parliament and to act in that respect as before’. He gave the same reply as he had to Hay earlier in the month:
Namely that I did not see how such an arrangement was possible, but that it was time enough to give the answer when the proposal was made. I also said that unless Burdett and two or three other independent influential men took the same step, I could be of no use to the government. I should only ruin my own character and not help them.
But when Tweeddale told him that ministers wanted him to replace Goulburn as chancellor of the exchequer, Hobhouse ‘burst out laughing’ and realized that the whole thing was ‘a hoax’. He added that ‘if I did support ministers’ he would prefer to ‘do so without office, or at least with only honorary office’, but Tweeddale said ‘that would be of no service’. Next day Hobhouse attended a ‘very satisfactory’ public meeting in Marylebone at which he ‘put to rights the misconceptions’ about his vestry bill. When Parliament was dissolved on 24 July he wondered if ‘my public life is at an end’, as the hostile press continued to stir up trouble, but on the 30th the ‘astounding and glorious news’ of the revolution in France ‘drove the thought of tomorrow’s election out of my head’. There was no opposition, but his and Burdett’s reception was ‘anything but flattering’, especially from the publicans and ‘two or three little knots of malcontents’ who hurled cabbage stalks. Hobhouse reckoned that Burdett took the brunt of the criticism and that he was heard in comparative silence as he defended his record in the House and attention to local interests, though there were a few ignorant cries alluding to his support for the anatomy bill and his vestry measure. When all was over, he did not share Burdett’s purblind view that all had gone off ‘very well’, and reflected that ‘we cannot in the common sense of the word be called the popular Members for Westminster’.162
Hobhouse, who went to assist Hume in the ‘odious’ Middlesex election before going to join Julia and their infant daughter at Eastbourne, was increasingly enthused by the progress of events in France and, with Burdett, contemplated a visit. Burdett irritated him by including a ‘rhodomontade’ about France in his address of thanks, having previously agreed to say nothing, which obliged Hobhouse to alter his own address accordingly. On 11 Aug. 1831 he discovered from the papers that Burdett had allowed Buckingham to get up a dinner in Westminster to celebrate the French revolution without consulting the local reformers. Hobhouse alerted the latter, chided Burdett and tried to have it put off, but this proved to be impossible. He went to London for it, 18 Aug., concerted plans beforehand with Burdett and was relieved when it ‘went off admirably’, with Colonel Jones outmanoeuvred.163 He shared some of Burdett’s alarm at ‘the outcry beginning to be raised against the new aristocracy’ in France and changed his mind several times about going to Paris. In the end he followed Burdett’s example and decided not to go, but, having moved to Brighton on 17 Sept., he wrote for The Times an article, signed ‘An Old Subscriber’, in which he attacked ‘the great mass of those who call themselves the Whig party’ for failing to support Louis Philippe, defended the new regime and criticized, out of personal pique, Cobbett and Dr. Bowring of the Westminster Review for jumping on the French bandwagon; it was published on 7 Oct. 1830.164
He spent three weeks with his brother at Send, which intensified his new found ‘love of a country, that is an idle life’. Strongly inclined to move an amendment to the address, on 30 Oct. 1830 he went to London in order to take the oath and his seat (with Brougham). He found that ‘Brougham and the party are furious against the duke’. Next day he heard from a British officer who had witnessed the fighting horrific tales of ‘the atrocities’ committed by Dutch soldiers against the civilian population of Belgium after the rising: these included the rape of women ‘before their husbands and fathers’ and cold blooded killing. The provisional Belgian government sent its representative Vanderweyer to consult with Hobhouse in the first week of November, and the reference in the king’s speech to the Belgians as ‘revolters’, 2 Nov., prompted him next day to give notice for the 12th of a motion for an address to the king on non-interference in Belgian affairs.165 On 5 Nov. he said that Wellington’s declaration against all reform had completed the alienation of the House and country, deplored the prospect of war held out in the address and declared that he must now oppose the government ‘systematically’. He conceded that some of O’Connell’s activities in Ireland were indefensible, but asserted that he had drawn ‘a dreadful picture’ of the state of that country. Next day at Brooks’s Durham, assuming that the government was doomed, asked him ‘whether I would take office under Lord Grey’, to which Hobhouse replied that ‘a reforming ministry might be joined by any reformer’. On the 7th he dined with Brougham, Graham, Althorp, Smith Stanley, Howick, James Brougham*, Lord Morpeth*, Sir James Macdonald* and Thomas Denman* to discuss tactics. Before they had got far, Thomas De Vear, the chairman of the Westminster committee, and another man arrived to ask if there should be a constituency meeting on Belgium and reform. Hobhouse referred the question to his companions, who voted five to four in favour. Hobhouse, who was against, communicated the result to De Vear, but in the event no meeting took place. It was proposed that Hobhouse should second Brougham’s planned reform motion, ‘but it was thought better to try and procure’ Edward Littleton. On a report that Palmerston and the liberal Tories would support a ‘vaguely worded’ reform motion but had declined to ‘give a positive answer’ concerning Hobhouse’s Belgian one, he was pressed to give precedence to Brougham. He ‘told them that my constituents naturally expected that I should make some effort ... that my character to a certain degree had been compromised by my previous silence, but that if I could be convinced it would be better for the case of reform that the first division should take place on Brougham’s motion I would yield, but I must have another day given up to me’. Brougham offered to give him his ‘slavery day’. Hobhouse reckoned that nothing was absolutely settled, but promised a final answer next day. According to his diary, he was for Brougham’s ‘dealing in generalities and confessing fairly that he did so in order to extract from the House the opinion whether or not the old system should be persevered in’, but he added that ‘the people would not be satisfied except all nomination [boroughs] were done away with’. He ‘ventured to expostulate with Brougham on his eulogy of the aristocracy and begged him to have recourse to no such topic in his reform speech, not because the sentiment was incorrect, but because the people did not like to hear one of their principal champions recite the language of the corruptionists’. He left the meeting, where he ‘took care to declare more than once that I was no Whig’, convinced that ‘these men are utterly ignorant of the state of the country, and will persevere deliberating on the miseries of petty political factions till the storm burst over them, and all is lost with them and the country’. In the House, 8 Nov., he insisted that there was no ‘disaffection’ among the people of the metropolis sufficient to warrant ministers’ decision to cancel the king’s visit to the City. At the request of Althorp and Brougham, he agreed to postpone his motion on Belgium to 18 Nov., but in doing so made some observations on the base intentions of the Holy Alliance.166 His brother-in-law Hay criticized him privately for ‘blackguarding’ Wellington in the House.167 On 13 Nov. he attended a large party meeting at Althorp’s, where Brougham expounded his reform plan and Hobhouse recommended him to ‘say as little as possible ... for fear of frightening the moderate reformers’. He divided in the decisive majority against the government on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830, and immediately afterwards ‘unwisely’, as he later admitted, asked them if they intended to resign, but Brougham stepped in to prevent any unpleasantness. He regarded their resignation next day as ‘le commencement de la fin’, but on the 17th was peeved to learn that some Whigs affected to be angry with him ‘for pushing ministers’ on the 15th.168
On 18 Nov. 1830, when Grey was forming his ministry, Hobhouse withdrew the notice of his motion on Belgium, ‘as it would have been absurd to bring it forward in the present state of the House’, quite apart from the fact that the Belgians now seemed to be ‘contented with the assurances of the Allies’. He had qualms about the letter of support to Grey which Burdett, who had seen the new premier the day before, showed him before sending it, but did not press the issue. Next evening he found a note from Durham, the lord privy seal, who had told him earlier in the day that Grey ‘based his administration on reform ... and next on retrenchment’, indicating that the prime minister ‘would like to see me the next day’. He duly presented himself at Downing Street at 12.30 on the 20th, but, after seeing only Howick, who asked if he wanted to see his father, was left alone for an hour and a half. He was on the verge of stalking out when Howick returned and expressed ‘surprise’ at his still being there. Hobhouse explained about Durham’s note, and when Durham himself appeared begged him not to let Grey know he was there but to tell him he had called because he had been invited and was always at Grey’s disposal. He thought that Howick and Durham ‘seemed much annoyed’, but he ‘bore this accident, as I suppose it was ... with equanimity ... though of course I could not help being inwardly annoyed’. Before he left Durham confided to him that Grey, who had ‘the highest possible opinion’ of his ‘capacity’, had wished to know ‘whether there was any situation’ which he would like. Hobhouse did not respond, and resolved to act as if the ‘strange misadventure’ had arisen from Grey’s forgetfulness in the press of business, rather than an attempt ‘to entrap me into an apparent acquiescence in the new government’ or a calculated snub.169 On 21 Nov., at Brooks’s, he concurred in criticism of Grey’s shameless nepotism in his ministerial appointments, especially that of his brother-in-law Ellice as patronage secretary, but agreed with Tavistock that ‘Grey ought not to meet any difficulties from us, especially on personal grounds’.170 He presented petitions from South Shields for reform of the church establishment, from the parish authorities of St. Clement’s against the Metropolitan Police Act and from individuals for repeal of the house and window taxes, 2 Nov. He also gave notice that after the Christmas recess he would reintroduce his vestry bill. He was less than pleased when a deputation from metropolitan parishes voiced to him their objection to ‘the essential clause’ of his measure, 3 Dec.: ‘so all my labour has been in vain - the fate of most men who try to reconcile contending interests’.171 After the appointment of the select committee on public salaries, 9 Dec., when he thought there was ‘a great deal of nonsense talked’, he told Charles Wood*, Grey’s secretary, that he ‘did not much like the constitution of the committee as being composed too much of anti-reductionists’, and next day Althorp had him and ‘Bum’ Gordon added to it.172 On 13 Dec., in ‘a sort of profession of faith’, he conceded that the Wellington ministry had gone ‘as far as the corrupt system of this House and of the constitution of the government allowed them’ in economy and retrenchment, but said that the duke’s fateful declaration against reform had revealed his ignorance of the recent dramatic change in public opinion, which was
running in a current which cannot be opposed by the present government ... [or] by any who may follow them. I have no doubt that the present ministers mean well ... I have had the felicity of knowing them privately, and I see what is their course in their public duty ... Having every reason to repose confidence in them, I will not withhold it (till I see grounds for believing that I am mistaken) and thus run the risk of embarrassing measures which, I think, will tend to the common good.173
He supported the prayer of the City petition for repeal of the coastwise coal duties, 14 Dec., but dissented from Wilson’s view that this could only be financed by the introduction of a property tax. He was ‘angry, more than was wise’, when two Westminster activists ‘called to remonstrate’ with him for not presenting a St. John’s parish petition for vestry reform the previous night. He then went to the Middlesex county reform meeting at Hackney, where he proposed the third resolution, for a householder and ratepayer suffrage (making clear his personal preference for universal), called for confidence to be placed in the new ministers on reform and retrenchment and silenced ignorant criticism of his father’s supposed sinecure. He was ‘well received’, but thought ‘the Middlesex men’ were in much the same bad humour as his ‘Westminster friends, though Heaven knows the cause of their discontent’. He was concerned that Jones and the extremists were ‘evidently hostile to us, and ... to the whole frame of society’. He duly presented and endorsed the St. John’s vestry reform petition next day, explaining that at the behest of his constituents he had restored his original provision for a single vote for every qualified ratepayer, and intended to let the measure stand or fall as it was. He had a satisfactory meeting on the subject in St. James’s, 17 Dec., and noted that ‘the good folks were much pleased, and so they ought to be!’ He promised to send Place a copy of the bill as soon as it was drafted.174 On the Middlesex reform petition, 21 Dec., he put the case for the ballot, which would safeguard electors against the exercise of ‘undue influence’, attacked the Tory opposition for asserting that ministers had held out unattainable expectations to the country and argued that ‘the old appellations of Whig and Tory should be forgotten, and the only distinguishing title of parties now should be Reformers and anti-Reformers’. On 23 Dec. 1830 he mentioned to Althorp, now chancellor of the exchequer and leader of the Commons, with whom had ‘a long talk ... on currency’, that at his recent re-election the war secretary Charles Williams Wynn had ‘declared against parliamentary reform’, but Althorp persuaded him not to mention it in the House. He had take a lease for eight weeks on a house at 1 Herring Court, Richmond, Surrey, where he spent most of the recess, working on his vestry bill and reading the second volume of Moore’s Life of Byron, with which he was not much enamoured. He attended a meeting of parochial delegates at the Freemasons’ Tavern, 20 Jan. 1831, when his bill was ‘discussed clause by clause’, and he then ‘framed it exactly to their wishes, but told them honestly it had no chance of passing’. He privately thought that ‘if we are to have capital punishment at all’ he could think of no ‘malefactors more deserving of it’ than the ‘Swing’ rioters recently convicted before the special commissions. He was willing to chair a meeting of the Westminster liverymen of London in favour of the candidature of Waithman for the chamberlainship, which was being opposed by Hume, but this project was abandoned.175 On 1 Feb. 1831 he received from Althorp an invitation to a ‘parliamentary dinner’ next day, but he made an excuse, ‘as I considered it a meeting of Members notoriously supporting the administration, amongst which number I do not choose to be ranked. I am a friend but no follower, nor ought a Member for Westminster to be’. He felt ‘certain that the ministers or their retainers would be glad enough to secure me or anyone by the cheapest of favours’. He declined another such invitation on 13 Feb. 1831.176
He brought in his new vestry bill, which was far more radical than the previous one, on 8 Feb. 1831. He defended it on its successful second reading, 21 Feb., and had it committed, reported and printed, 28 Feb., but it was overtaken by the early dissolution. On 14 Feb. he advocated a ‘graduated property tax’ and said that many of Althorp’s budget tax proposals, especially the controversial stock transfer tax, would ‘not have the effect intended’. He accompanied a deputation of calico tradesmen to Althorp, 23 Feb., noting that he ‘did not seem to know much about the matter but ... did not give in’ to their demands.177 On 17 Feb. he introduced a bill to restrict the factory hours of apprentices under 18 to eleven and a half per day. It was referred to a select committee, 14 Mar., but lapsed with the dissolution.178 On 15 Feb., at the salaries committee, he witnessed the examination of Brougham, now lord chancellor. In the House he made a speech, ‘not a bad one’, on the ‘extravagant tastes’ of George IV and the ‘enormous expense’ of Windsor Castle and Buckingham House refurbishments. He thought the disastrous budget would have brought the ministry down but for anticipation of the reform scheme and Brougham’s projected chancery reforms.179 He presented and endorsed several reform petitions, 14 Feb., and said that the ballot was ‘absolutely and indispensably necessary’, 26 Feb. He (and the rest of ‘the Mountain’, as he later recalled) ‘cheered long and loud’ when Russell revealed the government’s reform proposals to an astonished House, 1 Mar., but both he and Burdett thought there was ‘very little chance of the measure being carried, and that a revolution would be the consequence’. Nor did they think that Place and the Westminster reformers would be satisfied with it, especially the proposed £10 borough franchise, but they were pleasantly surprised to find next day that Place was ‘charmed with the reform of ministers, and says that all our friends are equally so’. In the House, 3 Mar., after rebuking Sir Henry Hardinge for calling the scheme ‘revolutionary’, he delivered a major speech in its support and, apologizing to Peel ‘for my exultation on the day of his being beaten out of office’, appealed to him to ‘become a reformer’. At the Westminster reform meeting got up by Place, 4 Mar., Hobhouse was involved in the turn of events by which Place’s resolutions in favour of the ballot and short parliaments were thrown out for an address to the king and a petition to Parliament ‘simply in support of ... ministers’ and their plan; this episode was not forgotten by the more extreme Westminster activists. When Greville congratulated him on the success of his Commons speech, 7 Mar., he asked him ‘if he thought it would be carried’, and Hobhouse replied that ‘he did not like to think it would not, for he was desirous of keeping what he had, and he was persuaded he should lose it if the bill were rejected’. On 5 Mar. he dined at the Speaker’s ‘at a mixed ministerial party’, for the first time ...[since] I had been in Parliament’.180 On 6 Mar. Williams Wynn indicated that he must resign because he could not support the reform scheme. Next day, when a paragraph appeared in the Chronicle stating that Hobhouse was to replace him, Durham asked him, supposedly on behalf of Grey, whether he would accept office if it was offered to him. Hobhouse confirmed his wholehearted support for the reform bills, said he would ‘consider myself much complimented by any proposal’ from Grey and that he would have to consult ‘two or three’ leading Westminster men, but ‘doubted very little their acquiescence’. He begged Durham to keep this confidential and not to give Grey the impression that he was soliciting a place. He later reflected:
Had I wished to make office my object I ought to have taken a different course and said at once that if the place was offered to me I would take it. But I have by no means made up my mind to do any such thing and moreover I am not quite sure that Lord Durham is a safe man. Perhaps the place might not be offered to me and ... [Durham] might give out that I applied for it. Under these circumstances I took the prudent as well as the honourable course.
In fact Durham, with the blessing of Althorp, wrote that night to Grey urging ‘the great advantage of securing Hobhouse’, whose appointment and re-election for Westminster would ‘show that in practice the government would find no difficulty in getting the re-election of their members for populous places’ in a reformed Parliament. He added that taking him in would be ‘very gratifying to a numerous party to whom as yet you have show no attention and who have supported us most manfully even before our reform bill’, and would bring some much needed ‘energy’ and ‘power of speaking’ to the treasury bench. He also made the dubious assertion that ‘as a man of business you could not find one more efficient’. On 9 Mar. Hobhouse was bullied by Burdett, who decided at the last minute that he could not go, into taking the chair at a dinner given to ‘the Polish would-be envoy Marquess Wielopolski’, ‘an untimely and useless parade’ which Burdett, with his usual ‘indiscretion’, had sanctioned without consulting anyone else. The event passed off ‘with less than the usual nonsense talked’. On 12 Mar. Durham told Hobhouse that he had secured the approval of Grey and Althorp to offer him the war secretaryship, but that the ‘unlucky Polish dinner’ had made it ‘impossible’ to appoint him, as ‘the Russians would take it as a decided proof of hostility to them’. Hobhouse explained the circumstances, but Durham said that there was nothing to be done, though the fuss might ‘blow over’ by the time Williams Wynn formally resigned after the second reading of the English reform bill. Hobhouse wrote in his diary next day:
I made as light of the business as possible and never told him whether or not I would have accepted the place ... It is true that I had foreseen when I went to the dinner that such an uncalled for demonstration of opinion might stand in the way of this appointment ... but I resolved to go at all risks ... Nevertheless I cannot but think that the dinner is made the pretext and cannot be the real cause of the exclusion. There must be some objection to me for any office or for this particular office quite independent of my expressed opinions in favour of the Poles ... However, whatever may be the cause I ought not to be dissatisfied with the result for I maintain my independence and run no risk of showing myself unfit for business. Add to this my health is much on the decline and a constant attendance at the Horse Guards would have hastened the decay.181
He dined at Downing Street with Althorp, 12, and Grey, ‘an over-anxious man, more in manner perhaps than in action’, 19 Mar. Place tried to involve him in the newly formed Parliamentary Candidates Society, of which his brother Thomas was a committee member, but he seems not to have responded. He presented and endorsed Westminster petitions for the reform bills, 15, 19, 28 Mar. He divided silently for the second reading of the English bill, 22 Mar.182 After the debate on the civil list, 25 Mar., when ministers ‘got into a hobble’ by proposing more than recommended by the select committee, he noted that ‘nothing but reform can give these men a chance of keeping their ground’. On the 30th he accused Goulburn of giving ‘a false notion’ of what had been decided by the salaries committee. That day the appointment of Sir Henry Parnell as war secretary was confirmed, and Hobhouse observed privately that ‘he is a much better man there than I should have been; but I am a better man in the House, at least so far as speaking goes’.183 On 3 Apr., when he again dined with Grey, he had ‘a long talk’ with Durham, who said that he had been passed over for the war secretaryship because ‘I should be obliged to explain government proceedings on Westminster hustings or to Westminster committees, but made no mention of the Polish dinner’. He then
told me I might do anything ... He wished me to come forward again on the reform bill and show how serviceable I could be to the government. I told him that a man out of office had not the same right to defend government nor the same opportunity as one in place and that I had no scruple in saying that under Lord Grey I should have no objection to serve, in a proper situation. As for the secretaryship at war, it was ... the most unfit place for me. Lord Durham said, ‘Oh, it was only pour commencer, you would not stop there’. He again urged me to take a prominent part in the ensuing debates, and confessed the inability of the present treasury bench. I talked very confidentially with him, but not more so than was prudent ... I see no reason why a man like myself should not accept office or even should not endeavour to obtain it, after witnessing such unequivocal proof of honesty in the government.184
Hobhouse, who received Althorp’s circular letter requesting attendance after Easter and thought that ‘that rogue and fool’ Hunt was ‘playing into the hands of the Tories, by stating that the people are beginning to be against the bill’, ‘spoke for the first time in my life from behind the treasury bench’ when refuting William Bankes’s allegation that political partiality had secured the preservation of Lansdowne’s borough of Calne, 15 Apr.185 He voted against Gascoyne’s successful wrecking amendment to the reform bill, 19 Apr., and witnessed the angry scenes in the Commons when Peel lost control of himself as Black Rod arrived to summon Members to the Lords for the dissolution, 22 Apr.186 His re-election with Burdett, adroitly stage managed by De Vear and the committee, was a triumph. At the Westminster meeting called to address the king and thank him for dissolving Parliament, 26 Apr., they were ‘received as in the old time, and gave the boroughmongers a dressing’. They went in procession ‘in an open barouche’ to the Covent Garden hustings, 2 May, when torrential rain did not dampen ‘the utmost good humour’ of the crowd, though it drowned much of his speech.187 Hobhouse was active in the promotion of the Loyal and Patriotic Fund to assist reformers at the elections, but his involvement inevitably entailed a clash with Place, who badgered him to put the case for paying £100 to Colonel George De Lacy Evans* for his unsuccessful attempt, encouraged by Hobhouse, to dish Hunt at Preston, and John Nicholson for his abortive intervention at Dover.188 On 3 May, as he was preparing to go to Cambridge to vote in the University election, he was informed by Hardinge that Peel had taken exception to some of his remarks in his Crown and Anchor speech on 26 Apr. and wanted satisfaction. The affair was settled amicably by their intermediaries.189 He rejoiced in the reformers’ success at the elections, which he celebrated with Burdett and their supporters at the Westminster anniversary dinner, 23 May 1831, when a ‘festival’ atmosphere prevailed.190
Hobhouse received Althorp’s letter requesting attendance on 21 June 1831 a week later, but by then his life had been clouded by the first serious symptoms of the consumption which was to kill Julia in 1835. An ‘all but fatal’ verdict was pronounced on her by the doctors in mid-June, but this was kept from her, and she recovered to a degree as the summer wore on. But when he attended the Commons for the re-election of the Speaker, taking a seat on the ‘bench behind the treasury’, 14 June, he was thinking ‘of home’ and ‘how changed [it had become] since I was last in ... [the] House’. To add to his worries, his father was dying in his ‘house of sickness and sorrow’ at 42 Berkeley Square. Hobhouse decided that he had to act as if he had ‘nothing but politics’ on his mind and to ‘plunge into the business of the session’ as a necessary ‘distraction’.191 He reintroduced his amended cotton factories regulation bill, 4 July. It generated much controversy, and in the end he altered it to apply only to factories where children under 18 had a 12-hour day: it also prohibited night work for persons under 21 and obliged employers to keep a record book of hours. It became law on 15 Oct. 1831 (1 & 2 Gul. IV, c. 39), but disappointed provincial factory reformers. Hobhouse explained and defended his conduct in a letter to the Leeds Mercury, 5 Nov. 1831.192 He announced that he would probably reintroduce his vestry reform bill, 30 June, and, after consulting parish meetings of his constituents, he did so on 29 July. In committee on it, 30 Sept., he resisted Althorp’s amendment to require a two-thirds majority for decisions, but was beaten by 67-37. However, when he complained that those who had ‘most wished’ him to bring in the bill would now probably ‘ask me to withdraw it’, Althorp agreed to a compromise of three-fifths. Hobhouse accepted two years as the time limit for lawful requisitions, but forced Vyvyan to withdraw his amendment to restore plural voting according to wealth and a bid to impose a £20 qualification for Bristol. He carried the third reading by 38-8, 5 Oct. The measure emerged not entirely unscathed, but ‘changed ... part clumsily and partly for the better’ from a House of Lords distracted by reform and became law 20 on Oct. 1831 (1 & 2 Gul. IV, c. 60). It now applied to open as well as closed vestries, represented a significant step towards the democratization of local government and was Hobhouse’s most lasting achievement as a politician: he thought it ‘a very great reform’.193
He voted for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July 1831. On the 9th he attended the ‘very splendid’ Mansion House banquet in honour of Russell. Worried about Julia, he took a pair and left the House before the protracted series of divisions on the opposition motions for adjournment, 12 July. He voted fairly steadily for the details of the disfranchisement and enfranchisement clauses, 19 July-5 Aug., but did not speak until 3 Aug., when, cajoled by Althorp into removing his ‘muzzle’, he delivered from ‘the third bench behind the treasury’ what Littleton thought was ‘a good speech’ for the enfranchisement of Greenwich. In the course of it he urged the Lords to ponder well the consequences of rejecting a measure passed by the Commons and endorsed by overwhelming public support. He later wrote that this ‘effort’ was ‘by far the most successful I had ever made’ and contributed towards the government’s unexpectedly large majority on the potentially vulnerable case of the metropolitan districts.194 On 10 Aug. he voted against joining Merthyr Tydvil with Cardiff and ‘said a few words to put down’ Sir Edward Sugden, who talked of reform Members being ‘dragged to the vote’. He was, however, alarmed by ‘dissensions ... among our friends’ on Ireland, and told Althorp ‘what I thought of Stanley’s tone’ towards O’Connell and Richard Sheil*. As he left the House he received a note from Julia telling him that his father was ‘much worse’, and next day he arranged to obtain a fortnight’s leave of absence. His father died on the 14th, and was buried in the vault of St. Mark’s chapel, North Audley Street on 22 Aug. By his will of 17 Feb. 1830 Hobhouse, now of course a baronet, succeeded to the landed estates and received a share of his mother’s marriage settlement of £14,000 and a £25,000 share in Whitbread’s. He proved the will at about £230,000 on 27 Aug., and in 1832 benefited as residuary legatee to the tune of £109,093. He realized that if the brewery continued to prosper, the Whitbread shares would ‘ensure me a large income, larger than I know what to do with’, but he counted ‘on nothing in these uncertain times’ and partook ‘a little in the panic which the Tories are sedulously raising’. On 3 Sept. he was at a ‘very dull’ dinner at Althorp’s in Downing Street.195 On 7 Sept. he stayed in the Commons to see the reform bill come out of committee. He attended and addressed a Westminster meeting to petition the Lords to pass it, 21 Sept., and voted for the passage of the measure through the Commons later that day. He accompanied Russell to the Lords with the bill, 22 Sept., voted for the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept., and attended the dinner to ministers at Stationers’ Hall on the 24th. He signed the requisition for the Wiltshire reform meeting, 30 Sept. 1831.196
Having assured Ebrington that he would not use ‘violent language’ in debate if the Lords rejected the bill, he joined his family at Brighton on 7 Oct. 1831 and learned of the defeat next day. On the 10th he went to London, where he attended the mass Westminster meeting at the Crown and Anchor, ‘the largest meeting I ever saw there’, and, borrowing the words of Thomas Attwood† of the Birmingham Political Union, ‘preached patience’. He went to the House to vote for Ebrington’s confidence motion, but he thought young Macaulay’s speech went ‘somewhat near the wind on the intimidation side’ and told him so. When he attended Court to present various metropolitan electors’ addresses to the king in support of the ministry and reform, he was ‘surprised on going into the streets to find the shops shut and a great many ill-looking and ill-dressed people standing about’: ‘there was something in the look and manners of the crowds’ which he ‘did not like’. On the 13th he chaired a parish meeting of St. George, which was attended by the Tory ‘Waverer’ Lord Wharncliffe. In the House that day he dismissed a Tory’s complaint that householders of St. James’s had breached privilege by threatening to withhold payment of rates and taxes until reform was secured.197 On 11 Oct. ‘my friend Place’, who did not trust Grey and his colleagues to persevere with reform, sent him a long letter reprimanding him for ‘having preached patience to the people yesterday’. Hobhouse replied that he too had ‘occasionally very great apprehensions’, but he thought Place’s ‘gloomy’ prognostications of a revolution were unfounded and that ‘the instinctive good sense and good feeling of the great mass of the community’ would prevent convulsion. He reiterated his faith in ‘the intentions of ministers’, not doubting ‘their resolution or capacity to do what is right, so far as reform is concerned’. On 17 Oct. Grey’s letter to Hobhouse promising ‘an equally efficient reform bill in the next Parliament’ was published in the press, but this did not satisfy Place and ‘the impatient metropolitans’, who organized of a deputation of delegates to wait on Grey and badger him on standing firm, which did not please the harassed and irritable premier. Hobhouse could understand their anxiety, but was privately appalled.198 He maintained his deliberately moderate stance as the provincial reform riots raged, steering clear of Place’s National Political Union, in which Burdett unhappily embroiled himself, and the short-lived Westminster Reform Association, which was killed off by the government’s proclamation of 5 Nov. He foresaw ‘a squabble amongst our Westminster friends, which, if reform does not take place, will probably break them up and cost me my seat’. He professed to be ‘more than indifferent, for I think I should like an honest excuse for quitting public life - at least as M.P. for Westminster. I know I have done my duty, and if others do not think so, I cannot help it’.199
Hobhouse had ‘a terribly tedious drive’ from Hastings to London for the introduction of the revised English reform bill, 12 Dec. 1831. He thought Russell’s speech was ‘not well done’, but was pleased to find that the measure was ‘neither more nor less than the old ... in all its essential principles, and ... more radical, if anything’. His ‘friends’ pressed him ‘very much’ to speak in the debate on the second reading, 17 Dec., but he cast a silent vote. He supplied Smith Stanley with materials for his crushing attack on Croker that evening.200 On 15 Dec. 1831 he obtained leave to bring in a bill to remove a practical difficulty in the way of implementation of his Vestry Act, in that ‘parochial taxes’ had not been properly defined. On 22 Jan 1832 he went to London for the session and settled in his father’s Berkleley Square house, which he had rented from his stepmother for her lifetime. He explained his vestry amendment bill when moving the second reading, 23 Jan., asserting that as it stood the Act was inoperable, but it was ‘violently’ opposed by a number of Members, including, to his surprise a ‘tipsy’ George Lamb, and rejected by 44-40, with a number of senior ministers in the majority. He complained in his diary that they ‘knew nothing of the state of the question’. Hume supported him and attacked ministers, but not without expressing a ‘regret’ to Hobhouse that he had not waited for ‘a larger House’. In practice, the loss of the bill proved to be largely immaterial.201 Hobhouse evidently missed the divisions on the principles of schedules A and B of the reform bill, 20, 23 Jan. According to Greville, who got it from the ‘Waverer’ Lord Harrowby’s son Lord Sandon*, he spoke to the latter after the angry debate on the 23rd and ‘said how anxious he was they should come to some understanding, and act in a greater spirit of conciliation, and talked of a meeting of the moderate men on either side’. Before he voted with government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., he was assured by Place that there was much ‘apathy’ and ‘disgust’ among ‘the people’. On the 28th Macdonald and Macaulay told him that the government ‘could not stand with the present treasury bench’ and that he ‘must come into office’; he agreed that ‘ministers did seem to want assistance’.202 On 29 Jan. the full cabinet decided that Parnell had to be dismissed as war secretary for failing to vote on the Russian-Dutch loan and that the place should be offered to Hobhouse, though there was some apprehension that the king’s ‘exhortation to abstain from popular names seems to threaten some obstacle’. Holland believed that Hobhouse was ‘as unlikely a man to be intractable in office as any I know and more likely to run the career, though with superior talents and taste, of his father from demagogue to ministerialist, from ministerialist to placeman, and from placeman to courtier, than to embarrass any government he is connected with [by] any austere notion of retrenchment or any visionary plans of reform’. Grey wrote to the king (at Brighton) seeking his sanction for the offer to be made, stressing that Hobhouse was well qualified to ‘defend the measures connected with the establishment of the army against the attack which will be directed against it, more especially by ... Parnell’. He conceded that Hobhouse had ‘been formerly engaged in active scenes of popular contention’, but said he had ‘the strongest assurances that his present views are moderate and just, that he disapproves of many of the measures of the candidates for popular favour, which he has proved by refusing to belong to the Westminster Union’ and that he could be relied on not to rock the boat. The king readily gave his blessing, noting Hobhouse’s recent conspicuous moderation and his ‘advantage of being of an old and respectable family’.203 On the morning of 31 Jan. Althorp summoned Hobhouse to Downing Street and made him the offer. His immediate response was that he needed a little time to consider and to consult his leading supporters in Westminster. Althorp assented, told him confidentially that ministers ‘would carry the reform bill but were not likely to be permanent’ and added that the offer came with the approval of all the cabinet and the sanction of the king. When Hobhouse said that this office was ‘the least agreeable place he could offer me’, Althorp agreed, but said it was ‘a high office, and they had no other to give’. He brushed aside the problem of Hobhouse’s commitment to oppose army flogging and doubts as to his capacity for administration. An hour later Durham reiterated all this, observing that ‘the office would only be a step to a more important position, and that no one would be promoted over my head’. Hobhouse, who was inclined to accept, though not without misgivings, interpreted this as an assurance that he was to get the first cabinet office that came vacant. He consulted Burdett, who was decidedly in favour of acceptance, De Vear, who took the same line and said ‘Westminster will be pleased’, and Place, who was less enthusiastic but concluded that ‘it would do good to the people’. He accepted the offer in the evening. Next day he saw Grey, who read him part of the king’s letter, gave him ‘some hints as to the nature and duty of my office’ and urged him to ‘keep up a good understanding’ with the commander-in-chief Lord Hill and the officials at Horse Guards.204 Hobhouse, who was advised by Tavistock to preserve his health under the weight of departmental business by ‘taking a trot on the roughest bone-shaker you can get, for an hour, at least, every morning’, included in his draft reply to the formal invitation from Westminster the phrase ‘an administration determined and as I have every assurance able to bring ... [the reform plan] to a happy conclusion’, but he showed it first to Althorp, who advised him to omit the reference to ‘ability’. He asked him ‘several important questions and got satisfactory answers’. At his swearing-in and kissing of hands, 6 Feb., when the king was ‘very, very kind’ and spoke fondly of his father, he seemed to Holland to be ‘mightily tickled with his appointment and honours’. His re-election, 8 Feb., went off quietly. In his speech of thanks, he said he would back ministers ‘so long as they were supporting reform and support them as I had the popular cause ... not by halves but without caviling at little faults, constantly and unremittingly’. He remained (rightly as it turned out) doubtful as to ‘my being any great accession’ to government ‘as active debater and man of business in Parliament’, and felt that ‘too much is expected of me, that is certain’.205 Raikes saw his appointment as ‘a bold ... measure’. In the House, 10 Feb., Hunt expressed his pleasure that there was now a minister ‘who knows what it is to be sent to gaol’; and Littleton recorded a ludicrous episode at the Speaker’s dinner, 11 Feb., when Hobhouse turned up ‘in his new official uniform. Some one said, "Hobhouse, who made your coat?" The attorney-general answered for him, "Place"’. Hardinge interpreted his appointment as a sign that ‘the ministers are sure of the king and mean to use him to create peers’.206 In fact, Hobhouse came close to resigning on this very issue less than a week after his formal appointment. He had been alarmed on 5 Feb. by Durham’s hint that ‘all was not right as to the bill’, and told him that ‘I had a character to lose, and if I had been deceived as to the resolution of carrying the bill, I had also deceived my constituents and the public’, and ‘added that I would quit office the moment I knew there was any hesitation’. Other members of the cabinet reassured him, but he remained aware of ‘doubts on the great question of creating peers’ to carry the bill through the Lords, and on 11 Feb. Howick surprised him by telling him that his father was decidedly averse to ‘swamping the peerage’. He asked Hobhouse to see Grey and to make him aware of ‘the consequences of rejecting the bill’. Hobhouse, who would have preferred a party meeting for this purpose, wondered if Grey had taken up reform ‘as a toy which he might break or lay down again’. He went to Burdett, who, ‘equally shocked’, advised him to ‘resign office instantly, upon discovering that there was any intention of risking the bill’. At the Speaker’s dinner later that day he urged on Charles Grant*, a member of the cabinet, the ‘necessity of creating peers at once’ and said he would see Grey next day and resign if he was ‘not assured that the bill was to be carried’. On the 12th he first saw Durham, who informed him that he had told Grey that he too would resign unless the bill was made safe in the Lords. But what Durham said of Grey’s views did not seem to tally with Howick’s account, and Hobhouse, perplexed, went to Althorp to seek ‘some positive reassurance in regard to carrying the reform bill’. Althorp assured him that he and Brougham would resign if there was no moral certainty of carrying the measure, but that ministers wished if possible to avoid a large creation. Hobhouse retorted that this was not possible and insisted on having ‘an engagement which could not be violated’. A further long talk with Althorp, who impressed Hobhouse with his unaffected sincerity, did not entirely appease him, but on 13 Feb. Durham gave him ‘a satisfactory account of a correspondence now going on between the king and Lord Grey’ on the issue. Yet nine days later Durham was ‘again in the greatest alarm at the delay in making peers’, and Hobhouse ‘begged ... [him to] let me know in time to save myself, for as the coach was to be upset I should certainly jump off first’. Graham, first lord of the admiralty, gave him a desponding view of the state of play, 2 Mar., but Althorp made light of this. On 3 Mar., however, he was more pessimistic, and inclined to resign if the bill went to its second reading in the Lords without a prior guarantee of a creation. Hobhouse pressed Althorp to ‘abide by this determination’ in order to try bring his wavering cabinet colleagues into line. That day he wrote to Thomas Kennedy*, who had recently taken office:
Our country’s prospects ... at present ... are most gloomy, and I do not conceal from myself that those who are on the street side of the door are more enviable than the inmates of a tottering house. But I am sure that both of us have done what is right ... To be a public man at all is to be exposed to some, and indeed in these times no little danger, and the difference between our peril and that of less apparent politicians is hardly worth a thought.207
In the House, 13 Feb., Hobhouse, in his official capacity, defended the grant of £1,000 for a survey of the metropolitan water supply and denied Hume’s charge that it was ‘a job and a juggle’. His only known votes on details of the reform bill were on the cases of Appleby, 21 Feb., Tower Hamlets, and Gateshead, 5 Mar. He clashed with Sugden and Wetherell over their obstructive resistance to the measure, 16 Feb. On 10 Mar. it was rumoured that if Althorp was sent to the Lords to handle the bill there, Smith Stanley would become chancellor of the exchequer and Hobhouse replace him as Irish secretary. This speculation continued for three weeks, and Hobhouse himself was aware of it.208 On 10 Mar. Althorp informed him that he had failed to persuade the cabinet to secure a promise of a creation of peers before the second reading and that he was considering whether or not to resign. Hobhouse ‘went away pondering my own position, whether I ought to resign now, for I see the bill is to be risked’. He told Ellice on 12 Mar. that the ministers were ‘mad’ not to insist on a creation, and next day was informed by Durham and Russell of the continuing disagreement within the cabinet and uncertainty as to the fate of the bill in the Lords.209 On 22 Mar. 1832 he delivered a major speech of one and a half hours in support of the third reading of the bill:
I made a strong attack on Peel and his party and put them into a violent rage, but although I was a great deal cheered and some of the speech was good, yet I was not pleased with myself. Nor did my colleagues much like it. I hear from ... Howick ... that ... Grey liked it, and Macaulay praised it ... It was not so good as I could have made it had I not been really very unwell and forgot some of my best points.
Althorp considered it ‘too much a hustings speech’.210
Hobhouse was uncomfortable in his office. Tavistock warned him that he would ‘find it difficult to keep pace with Graham’ at the admiralty, but that ‘we shall look to you for great reductions’ and a reform of ‘the expensive and complicated machinery by which our army is governed’. He accepted Hobhouse’s disclosure that the unsettled state of Ireland and the continent made it impossible to reduce the size of the army at present, but welcomed his enthusiasm for administrative reform and retrenchment.211 On 16 Feb. 1832, before Hobhouse appeared in the House, Hunt moved unsuccessfully for information on military flogging and alluded to his absence. Later Hobhouse, goaded by Wetherell, reaffirmed his hostility to flogging, but said he would have opposed Hunt’s motion because he had given no reason for furnishing the information. Having ‘crammed’ himself intensively, he brought in the army estimates for the first quarter of the year, 17 Feb. He explained that he was not personally responsible for them, but agreed with his predecessor that the army could not be reduced and pointed out that the total estimate was £684,000 less than in 1820. Hume carped and quibbled, but Hobhouse, who now discovered that ‘there was no arguing with this gentleman’, stuck to his guns; he was reasonably pleased with his performance. He came up with a scheme for reducing the colonial force and some other minor reforms and enlisted Althorp’s aid in selling it to Grey. But when he presented the plan to Hill and Lord Fitzroy Somerset*, the military secretary at the war office, as the proposal of the cabinet, he ran into trouble, for Hill complained to Althorp, who rebuked Hobhouse for going ‘a little too far’ in taking this approach. Goderich, the colonial secretary, also went bleating to Althorp, and Hobhouse, ‘highly indignant’, replied uncompromisingly and half expected to be turned out. He felt as though he had been appointed on a whim and left to ‘sink or swim’. On 7 Mar. he tackled Grey directly on the colonial reductions, but the premier peremptorily dismissed him with the observation that no cuts were possible. A week later, at the levee, he got the king’s back up with suggestions for change, including making Sandhurst self-supporting, and irritated Hill with a sarcastic remark.212 On 28 Mar. he dined at four with Althorp ‘on his leg of mutton’ and went down to the House to bring in his own army estimates for the next year, with ‘not above 30 Members present’. He explained that recent events in the West Indies and elsewhere had scuppered his plans for reductions. He was criticized by ‘shabby’ Parnell, Davies, Hume and Hunt, and supported by Althorp and Hardinge, whose ‘very civil’ speech he appreciated. In his reply he said that he was ‘in rather a hard situation’ and disputed Parnell’s claim to have left him a ‘plan of reduction’. He concluded privately that ‘though I did my best, I was in no very pleasant predicament’, and admitted that he found Parnell’s ‘suggestions ... in many respects quite reasonable, and I did not know what answer to give to them’. On 2 Apr. he replied to Hardinge’s criticism of army pension arrangements and gave an assurance that he was keen to improve the provisions for soldiers now serving abroad but also to prevent fraud. In committee on the mutiny bill, Hunt proposed to omit corporal punishment. Hobhouse ‘felt very uncomfortable, but felt it best to tell the exact truth’, namely that ‘I was as much against flogging as ever, that all the authorities I had consulted were on the other side, and that as I did not frame the mutiny bill I could not help the continuance of the practice’. Hardinge made ‘something like an attack’ on him, observing that he was the responsible minister, and Hobhouse again ‘felt in a very unpleasant predicament, which I had foreseen when I took office, for though not in fact the framer of the mutiny bill I am in form the minister who ought to defend it, and if I cannot defend it I ought to give up my office’. To his surprise and relief, for he ‘hardly’ knew ‘how I could have brought myself to vote against him’, Hunt did not divide the House.213 On 4 Apr. 1832 Hobhouse told Hardinge that he had looked into the pensions commutation problem and found that while he had ‘a fair ground of complaint’, there were extenuating circumstances to absolve the war office from blame.
He was told by Althorp on 28 Mar. that the king had agreed to a creation of peers, but on 4 Apr. 1832 that all was ‘gloomy’ and uncertain again. He witnessed the second reading debates in the Lords, 9-14 Apr. After the bill’s defeat in committee, 7 May, and the king’s refusal of the cabinet’s request for peers to be made, he of course resigned with his colleagues, taking formal leave of the king on the 14th. He voted for Ebrington’s motion for an address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry undiluted reform, 10 May, but thought it best as an ex-minister to stay away from the Westminster protest meeting, 11 May. He attended the party meeting at Brooks’s, 13 May, when it was decided not to press the issue further in the Commons for the moment. He remained in touch with Place, who kept him abreast of popular feeling, and on 18 May, when the Grey ministry was virtually reinstated but some ‘uncertainty’ remained, wrote him a letter to the effect that while the run on gold had ceased as soon as Grey was sent for, any hitch which led to the appointment of Wellington as premier would provoke renewed panic and probably ‘a commotion in the nature of a civil war, with money at our command’. Whether Hobhouse showed this letter to members of the cabinet is not clear, and the crisis was resolved later that day.214 When Hunt and Hume moved for an address to the king to suspend army flogging for a year, 19 June, Hobhouse answered that he remained personally opposed to it and had secured a ‘diminution of punishment’ by reducing the number of lashes from 300 to 200 for regiments and from 500 to 300 for brigades. Hunt divided the House and Hobhouse had a majority of 37 to 15, which included ‘some of my old friends’.215 He went to the Westminster anniversary dinner, which Burdett pronounced to be the last one, 27 June, and when he spoke was ‘much better received than I thought any placeman could be’, with ‘no hints about flogging’. A libellous letter in the Examiner a few days later which accused him of ‘receiving perquisites and sharing public plunder with a near relation’ tempted him to prosecute, but Burdett, Place and the home secretary Lord Melbourne talked him out of it.216 The case of Alexander Somerville, a private in the Scots Greys who had been court martialled and sentenced to 100 lashes ostensibly for insubordination, but according to Hume, who raised the case in the House, 3 July, for having expressed reforming views, caused Hobhouse more aggravation. He secured a court of inquiry, which censured the commanding officer responsible and gave Somerville an honourable discharge, but he felt that he got no credit for this and that Hume treated him less than candidly in the House, 6, 20 July, 8, 9 Aug.217 Hunt moved for returns on flogging, 24 July, and Hobhouse ‘amended and then granted them’, which had never been done before. When De Lacy Evans, who had an eye on the Westminster seat, proposed a substantial reduction in the army establishment, 26 July, Hobhouse moved the previous question. He was ‘manfully’ backed by Althorp, but ‘did not feel quite comfortable as many of Evans’s suggestions were such as I approved’. The motion was withdrawn, but Hobhouse believed that the episode ‘although very unjustly will be made a handle against me’.218 He expressed surprise when Sadler presented a petition from factory workers claiming to have been victimized by their employers for testifying before the committee on the factories bill, 30 July, but conceded that it warranted investigation. He carried a vote of £50,000 for commutation allowances to Chelsea pensioners, 3 Aug. On the 8th he brought forward his clause in the Appropriation Act granting half-pay officers permission to hold civil offices. He felt that Hume’s opposition to this ‘act of justice’ was ‘most unfair’, but ‘got through the business well’. On 9 Aug. he regretted Althorp’s decision to drop his proposed remedial measure to deal with the problem of voter registration in the large towns and metropolitan seats, where, as Evans had been arguing for some time, thousands of householders faced disfranchisement as a result of being late with their rate payments. He attended the Westminster electors’ meting on the issue next day and presented and endorsed its petition, 11 Aug. 1832, claiming that there would be 3,500-4,000 registered electors in Westminster, where the true figure should be 18,500. He was not entirely satisfied with Althorp’s assurance that in practice the problem would not be serious, but also accused Evans of grossly exaggerating it. He reflected that it was a ‘queer finale to the session - the secretary at war against [the] chancellor of the exchequer’.219
Hobhouse fell out with Hume over the latter’s support of the Radical John Roebuck† against his brother Henry at Bath at the 1832 general election. This completed his fall from grace with Place, who washed his hands of him and publicly condemned him as a traitor to radical reform. He sought re-election for Westminster, with Burdett, but refused to pledge himself to a radical reform programme. Place and the more radical Westminster activists took up Evans (though De Vear remained loyal to the sitting Members), and Hobhouse was returned in second place, 2,344 ahead of Evans. According to Denis Le Marchant†, he was ‘in immense exultation at his success’ and ‘complained of Place the tailor in no uncertain terms, and did not lavish less abuse upon Hume’. At the end of March 1833 he replaced Smith Stanley as Irish secretary. He was re-elected unopposed, but a month later not only resigned his new office over his colleagues’ refusal to support repeal of the house and window taxes, but put his Westminster seat on the line. This time Evans, assisted by the intervention of a no-hope Conservative, turned him out.220 He came in for Nottingham in 1834 and served in the Liberal ministries of Melbourne and Russell. A combative Commons performer, better ‘in attack than defence’, he was rather harshly described in 1836 by Ellice as ‘a good fellow, but without courage or influence’.221 As Holland had predicted, his career in many respects echoed that of his father, though he remained a man of liberal views, and he was made a peer in 1851. He died in June 1869 and was buried in Kensal Green cemetery.
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: David R. Fisher
See R.E. Zegger, John Cam Hobhouse: a Political Life, 1819-1852 (1979) and M. Joyce, My Friend H (1948). As Lord Broughton, he had five vols. of Some Account of a Long Life privately printed, 1865-7. His daughter Lady Dorchester published portions of this, together with extracts from his daily diaries, as Recollections of a Long Life, 6 vols. (1909-11). This (cited hereafter as Broughton), has been drawn on, and the unpublished diaries (Add. 56540-56557) have been selectively used.
- 1. HP Commons, 1790-1820, iii. 209-12; Zegger, 34-37.
- 2. For his letters to Byron, 1808-24, see Byron’s Bulldog ed. P.W. Graham (1984).
- 3. Zegger, 37-52; Joyce, 117; Broughton, i. 5-348; ii. 1-99.
- 4. Not 1818, as stated in Zegger, 54.
- 5. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 275-8; Byron’s Bulldog, 231-47.
- 6. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 278-82; Zegger, 55-72; Joyce, 116-26; Broughton, ii. 103-6; Byron’s Bulldog, 263.
- 7. The Times, 3 Sept.; Devizes Gazette, 11 Nov., 9 Dec. 1819.
- 8. Zegger, 72-78; Byron’s Bulldog, 266, 272-3; The Times, 9 Dec. 1819.
- 9. Zegger, 77-79; Broughton, ii. 115-16; Colchester Diary, iii. 101; The Times, 21 Dec. 1819; Byron’s Bulldog, 280-3; Lincs. AO, Tennyson D’Eyncourt mss H108/5.
- 10. Add. 27843, ff. 11, 16, 22; 36458, ff. 133, 180, 182, 184, 185; 56541, ff. 3-4, 6-9; Broughton, ii. 118-22; The Times, 3 Mar. 1820.
- 11. Northants. RO, Agar Ellis diary, 9 Mar.; The Times, 10 Mar. 1820; Add. 56541, ff. 12-21; Broughton, ii. 121-3.
- 12. Byron’s Bulldog, 286-7.
- 13. The Times, 27 Mar.; Grey mss, Ellice to Grey, 7 Apr. 1820.
- 14. Colchester Diary, iii. 125; Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 17.
- 15. [J. Grant], Random Recollections of Commons (1837), 215.
- 16. Zegger, 31.
- 17. Broughton, ii. 125-7.
- 18. Add. 51541, f. 34; Dorset RO D/BKL, Bankes jnl. 117 (9 May 1820); Althorp Letters, 107; NLW, Coedymaen mss 935.
- 19. Add. 56541, ff. 35-37.
- 20. The Times, 13 May 1820.
- 21. Broughton, ii. 128.
- 22. Add. 56541, f. 37.
- 23. Add. 36458, f. 309; 56541, ff. 38-39.
- 24. Add. 56541, f. 42.
- 25. Add. 52444, f. 177.
- 26. The Times, 5, 7 July 1820; Add. 56541, ff. 48-49; Byron’s Bulldog, 296.
- 27. Add. 56541, f. 62; M.W. Patterson, Sir Francis Burdett and his Times, ii. 518.
- 28. The Times, 17 July 1820.
- 29. Add. 56541, f. 73.
- 30. Ibid. ff. 73-74; Brougham mss, Grey Bennet to Brougham [19 Sept. 1820].
- 31. Add. 56541, f. 83-85.
- 32. Patterson, ii. 514-15.
- 33. Ibid. ii. 520; The Times, 18, 28 Nov. 1820; Geo. IV Letters, ii. 884.
- 34. Add. 47222, f. 59.
- 35. Add. 51686, Lansdowne to Holland, 11 Jan.; 51687, same to Lady Holland, 18 Jan.; 51831, Gordon to Holland [c. 18 Jan.]; 56541, ff. 131, 133; Devizes Gazette, 11, 18, 25 Jan. 1821.
- 36. Broughton, ii. 140; Geo. IV Letters, ii. 895-6; HLRO, Hist. Coll. 379, Grey Bennet diary, 5; Castle Howard mss, Howard to Lady Morpeth, 28 [Jan. 1821].
- 37. Byron’s Bulldog, 304.
- 38. Add. 56542, ff. 1-2; The Times, 22 Feb. 1821.
- 39. Broughton, ii. 141.
- 40. Add. 56542, f. 8.
- 41. Ibid. ff. 11-12.
- 42. Ibid. ff. 11, 14; Broughton, ii. 145; Grey Bennet diary, 50.
- 43. Broughton, ii. 145-50; Von Neumann Diary, i. 58-59; Greville Mems. i. 117.
- 44. The Times, 16 May 1821; Add. 56542, f. 28.
- 45. The Times, 24 May 1821; Add. 56542, ff. 29-30.
- 46. The Times, 8, 15, 22 June, 4, 12 July 1821.
- 47. Broughton, ii. 152.
- 48. Hobhouse Diary, 73; Add. 30109, f. 264; Byron’s Bulldog, 315, 318.
- 49. Broughton, ii. 174.
- 50. Add. 36459, f. 213; The Times, 14 Feb. 1822.
- 51. Add. 56544, f. 60.
- 52. Ibid. f. 70.
- 53. Broughton, ii. 179; HLRO HC. Lib. Ms 89, Moulton Barrett diary, 6 Mar. .
- 54. The Times, 12 Apr. 1822; Add. 27837, f. 205; 36459, ff. 239, 243; G. Wallas, Francis Place (1908), 153.
- 55. Broughton. ii. 183-6.
- 56. Add. 27843, ff. 347-50; 56545, ff. 4-8, 12; The Times, 24 May 1822.
- 57. Broughton, ii. 188-9.
- 58. Add. 52445, f. 90; 56545, ff. 25-26.
- 59. Add. 56545, ff. 26-27.
- 60. Broughton, iii. 1-10.
- 61. Ibid. iii. 10-11; Byron’s Bulldog, 326; Add. 52444, f. 112.
- 62. The Times, 17 Apr. 1823.
- 63. Creevey Pprs. ii. 64.
- 64. Broughton, iii. 15.
- 65. The Times, 25 Feb., 5, 22 Mar., 25 Apr. 1823.
- 66. Broughton, iii. 20-21.
- 67. Add. 56548, f. 2; The Times, 24 May 1823.
- 68. The Times, 20 June 1823.
- 69. Add. 56548, f. 7.
- 70. The Times, 26 June, 1 July 1823.
- 71. Add. 36460, f. 123; 56548, f. 7; Broughton, iii. 21-22; Zegger, 118-20.
- 72. Zegger, 120-5; Byron’s Bulldog, 328-52.
- 73. Broughton, iii. 24-30.
- 74. Add. 27823, f. 350; 27824, f. 25; 36460, ff. 155.
- 75. Byron’s Bulldog, 344, 347.
- 76. Add. 56548, ff. 55-56.
- 77. The Times, 24 Feb., 16, 24 Mar., 6 Apr. 1824.
- 78. Add. 56548, ff. 56-57.
- 79. Ibid. f. 62.
- 80. Broughton, iii. 35-71.
- 81. Add. 56548, ff. 92-93; Broughton, iii. 44; The Times, 25 May 1824.
- 82. Broughton, iii. 54-56; Add. 56549, f. 4.
- 83. Broughton, iii. 46-47, 55, 72-76.
- 84. Ibid. iii. 77-85.
- 85. Add. 56549, f. 83.
- 86. O’Connell Corresp. iii. 1172.
- 87. The Times, 28 Feb., 3, 25 Mar. 1825; Add. 36461, f. 51.
- 88. Broughton, iii. 96-97.
- 89. Add. 56549, f. 102.
- 90. Ibid. ff. 122-4; Broughton, iii. 101; The Times, 24 May 1825.
- 91. Broughton, iii. 104.
- 92. Ibid. iii. 95, 99; Zegger, 170-2.
- 93. Add. 36461, ff. 130, 141, 147; Broughton, iii. 111.
- 94. Add. 56549, f. 141.
- 95. Broughton, iii. 119-20; Add. 27824, ff. 392, 397, 399, 447; 36461, f. 263.
- 96. Broughton, iii. 125.
- 97. The Times, 14 Mar., 27 Apr. 1826.
- 98. Add. 36462, ff. 49, 67; The Times, 11 Apr. 1826.
- 99. Broughton, iii. 129-31.
- 100. Ibid. iii. 132-5.
- 101. Add. 56550, f. 79; The Times, 24 May 1826.
- 102. Broughton, iii. 135.
- 103. Add. 27843, ff. 390-3, 396-7, 404, 408-13; Add. 36462, f. 235, 238; 56550, ff. 84-94; Broughton, iii. 137; The Times, 10 June 1826.
- 104. Add. 36462, ff. 271, 275; 51569, Hobhouse to Holland, 18 June .
- 105. Broughton, iii. 145-58; Zegger, 127-9; Add. 36463, f. 19; 37949, f. 175.
- 106. The Times, 9 Dec. 1826.
- 107. Add 36463, ff. 66, 75, 79, 83; 56550, ff. 117-18.
- 108. Broughton, iii. 161-6, 169; Add. 51784, Holland to C.R. Fox, 17 Feb. 1827.
- 109. Broughton, iii. 173-6.
- 110. The Times, 9 Mar. 1827
- 111. Broughton, iii. 180.
- 112. Ibid. iii. 180-1.
- 113. Add. 36463, ff. 311, 313, 329.
- 114. Add. 37949, f. 456; Broughton, 185-8; NLS mss 14441, f. 20.
- 115. The Times, 10, 15, 22, 23 May 1827; Add. 36463, f. 407.
- 116. Add. 47222, f. 191; 56550, ff. 176-8; Broughton, iii. 195-6; The Times, 24 May 1827.
- 117. Broughton, iii. 198-9, 201-5; The Times, 8, 12, 16, 19 June 1827.
- 118. Zegger, 134.
- 119. Broughton, iii. 209-18.
- 120. Joyce, 196-7.
- 121. Broughton, iii. 223-5.
- 122. Add. 35148, f. 3, 6; 36464, f. 114; Broughton, iii. 229.
- 123. Broughton, iii. 230-3; Add. 36464, f. 173.
- 124. Broughton, iii.233-6; Add. 35148, ff. 9, 10, 13; 36464, ff. 173, 179, 185.
- 125. Add. 36464, ff. 166, 176, 182; Broughton, iii. 236-7.
- 126. Broughton, iii. 327-8, 242-5; Ellenborough Diary, i. 35; Hatherton diary, 14 Feb. ; Keele Univ. Lib. Sneyd mss SC17/36.
- 127. Add. 36464, f. 354.
- 128. Ibid. ff. 283, 298.
- 129. Broughton, iii. 257.
- 130. Ibid. iii. 260-2.
- 131. Add. 56552, f. 101-2; Broughton, iii. 271; The Times, 27 May 1828.
- 132. Broughton, iii. 273-5.
- 133. Add. 36464, f. 356.
- 134. Ibid. ff. 369, 372.
- 135. Add. 56552, f. 116.
- 136. Broughton, iii. 283.
- 137. Ibid. iii. 280-300; Add. 56552, ff. 104-5, 114-15, 122-3; 56553, ff. 140-2; Joyce, 197-201.
- 138. Add. 56553, ff. 142-6, 152-6; 56554, f. 19; Broughton, iii. 301-21.
- 139. Add. 56554, ff. 17-20; The Times, 26, 27 May 1829.
- 140. Grey mss, Howick jnl. 2 June .
- 141. See Zegger, 143-5; Add. 37949, f. 223.
- 142. Add. 56554, ff. 8, 10-12, 15-17, 19, 21, 22, 24; Broughton, iii. 320.
- 143. Broughton, iv. 3, 7-8; Howick jnl. 4 Feb.; The Times, 6 Feb. 1830; Add. 47223, f. 38; 56554, f. 60.
- 144. Add. 56554, ff. 62, 71.
- 145. Add. 36466, ff. 12, 31; 56554, f. 64.
- 146. Add. 56554, ff. 64-67; Broughton, iv. 9.
- 147. Add. 56554, ff. 67, 70-71.
- 148. Ibid. ff. 71-72, 75.
- 149. Broughton, iv. 12.
- 150. Add. 56554, ff. 75-76.
- 151. Ibid. ff. 76, 78-80; Broughton, iv. 13.
- 152. Broughton, iv. 16.
- 153. Add. 56554, f. 83.
- 154. See Zegger, 145-52; Add. 35148, ff. 42, 44, 49, 52, 53, 58; 36466, f. 94; 56554, ff. 61, 64, 67, 68, 70, 73, 74, 76, 83, 88-89, 94, 101, 114, 118, 119; Broughton, iv. 22, 27.
- 155. Add. 56554, f. 93.
- 156. Ibid. f. 98.
- 157. Broughton, iv. 36-38; Add. 56554, ff. 131.
- 158. Add. 56554, ff. 95-98.
- 159. Ibid. ff. 104, 113; The Times, 25 May 1830.
- 160. Broughton, iv. 28-30; Add. 36466, ff. 161, 163; 56554,f. 120.
- 161. Broughton, iv. 31; Add. 56554, f. 129, 133.
- 162. Add. 56554, ff. 127-8, 131, 133-6, 138; 56555, ff. 2-4; Broughton, iv. 43; The Times, 2 Aug. 1830.
- 163. Wilts. RO, Hobhouse mss 145/2/b, Hobhouse to wife, 2, 4 Aug. 1830; Add. 47222, f. 253; 56555, ff. 5-6, 8, 10-14; Broughton, iv. 44, 46.
- 164. Add. 56555, ff. 17-19, 21, 28-29; Broughton, iv. 48, 52-54; Zegger, 138-40.
- 165. Add. 36815, f. 50; 56555, ff. 28-31, 33-35; Broughton, iv. 55-56; Arbuthnot Corresp. 200.
- 166. Add. 51564, Brougham to Lady Holland [8 Nov.]; 56555, ff. 35-47; Broughton, iv. 57-66; Howick jnl. 7 Nov.; Agar Ellis diary, 7 Nov.; Chatsworth mss, Brougham to Devonshire [8 Nov. 1830].
- 167. NLS mss 14441, f. 78.
- 168. Add. 56555, ff. 50, 52; Broughton, iv. 66-70.
- 169. Add. 56555, ff. 57-61; Broughton, iv. 70-72.
- 170. Add. 56555, ff. 62, 66.
- 171. Broughton, iv. 75.
- 172. Add. 56555, f. 71.
- 173. Broughton, iv. 76; Add. 56555, f. 74.
- 174. Add. 37950, f. 103; 56555, ff. 74-76; The Times, 16 Dec. 1830.
- 175. Add. 56555, ff. 77-79, 80, 85-87; Broughton, iv. 80-81.
- 176. Broughton, iv. 81, 84.
- 177. Ibid. iv. 84; Add. 56555, f. 97.
- 178. Add. 56555, f. 128.
- 179. Broughton, iv. 85-86.
- 180. Ibid. 86-91; Add. 51569, Ord to Lady Holland [3 Mar.]; 56555, ff. 100-2; The Times, 5 Mar. 1831; Wallas, 257-9; London Radicalism ed. D.J. Rowe (London Rec. Soc. v), 13-14; Greville Mems. ii. 126-6
- 181. Add. 56555, ff. 104-9; Grey mss, Durham to Grey [7 Mar. 1831].
- 182. Broughton, iv. 93-97; Three Diaries, 69; Add. 36464, ff. 294,299; 56555, f. 110, 114.
- 183. Broughton, iv. 98.
- 184. Ibid. iv. 99; Add. 56555, ff. 119-20.
- 185. Add. 36466, f. 311; 56555, ff. 122-3; Wilts. RO, Malmesbury (Burke) mss 124/1/175.
- 186. Broughton, iv. 101-8.
- 187. Ibid. iv. 109-10; Add. 36466, f. 316; 56555, ff. 131-2; The Times, 27 Apr., 3 May 1831.
- 188. Broughton, iv. 109; Add. 36466, ff. 333, 345, 354, 385, 405, 410; 56555, ff 132-3.
- 189. Broughton, iv. 110-12; Add. 40402, ff. 23-34.
- 190. Broughton, iv. 113; Add. 56555, f. 140; The Times, 24 May 1831.
- 191. Add. 36464, f. 374; Broughton, iv. 113-15; Add. 56555, ff. 143-63.
- 192. Add. 56555, f. 169; Zegger, 174-8.
- 193. Broughton, iv. 133-5, 144, 145; Add. 56556, ff. 12, 14. See Zegger, 153-6.
- 194. Broughton, iv. 119-28; Add. 56555, f. 163; Hatherton diary, 3 Aug. .
- 195. Broughton, iv. 129-30; Add. 56555, ff. 176, 179-80, 183-91; PROB 11/1789/467; IR26/1261/505.
- 196. Broughton, iv. 130-3; Add. 56555, ff. 191-4; The Times, 22 Sept.; Hobhouse mss 145/2/b, Hobhouse to wife, 24 [Sept.]; Devizes Gazette, 29 Sept. 1831.
- 197. Broughton, iv. 135-43; Add. 56556, ff. 5, 7-9; The Times, 11, 14 Oct. 1831.
- 198. Broughton, iv. 144-5, 147-9; Add. 35149, ff. 83-89; 36466, 422; 56556, ff. 6, 13-14; Wallas, 276-7; Holland House Diaries, 70.
- 199. Broughton, iv. 146-53; Add. 56556, ff. 16-27.
- 200. Hobhouse mss 145/2/b, Hobhouse to wife, 13, 17 Dec. 1831; Broughton, iv. 153-7; Greville Mems. ii. 230.
- 201. Broughton, iv. 161; Add. 56556, ff. 44-45; Zegger, 155-6.
- 202. Greville Mems. ii. 241-2; Broughton, iv. 165-5.
- 203. Holland House Diaries, 121-2; Grey-William IV Corresp. ii. 164-5, 173.
- 204. Broughton, iv. 165-9; Add. 56556, f. 52; 75941, Althorp to Spencer, 31 Jan.; Hobhouse mss 145/2/b, Hobhouse to wife, 31 Jan., 1 Feb. 1832; Grey-William IV Corresp. ii. 177-8, 180-1.
- 205. Broughton, iv. 169-73; Add. 47223, f. 49; 56556, ff. 55, 59-61; Holland House Diaries, 126; The Times, 9 Feb. 1832.
- 206. Raikes Jnl. i. 9; Hatherton diary, 10 Feb. ; Three Diaries, 191, 194.
- 207. Broughton, iv. 170, 174-81, 184-5, 188-93; Cockburn Letters, 389-90.
- 208. Three Diaries, 211, 217; Baring Jnls. i. 92-93; Aberdeen Univ. Lib. Arbuthnot mss 3029/1/2/45; Add. 56556, f. 110.
- 209. Broughton, iv. 194-6.
- 210. Add. 56556, f. 102-3; Three Diaries, 215.
- 211. Add. 47223, ff. 52, 57.
- 212. Broughton, iv. 181-7, 193-4, 201-3; Add. 47226, f. 146; Zegger, 194-6.
- 213. Add. 56556, ff. 108-9, 111.
- 214. Broughton, iv. 209-10, 212-13, 218-34; Add. 27794, f. 278; 35149, f. 150; Wallas, 315-17, 320; Zegger, 191-3.
- 215. Add. 56556, f. 159
- 216. Add. 56557, ff. 1-4; Broughton, iv. 244; The Times, 28 June 1832.
- 217. Broughton, iv. 246-7; Add. 56557, ff. 15, 16; Zegger, 197-8.
- 218. Add. 56557, ff. 11-12.
- 219. Ibid. f. 15.
- 220. Zegger, 198-208; Three Diaries, 284, 286.
- 221. Grant, 213; Reid, Lord Durham, ii. 109.