Victorian Books, The Greville Memoirs A Journal of the Reigns of King George IV, The Greville Memoirs Volume 2 Chapter XI 1830, The Greville Memoirs Volume 2 Chapter XI 16 Jul 1830

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London, July 16th, 1830

King George had not been dead three days before everybody discovered that he was no loss, and King William a great gain. Certainly nobody ever was less regretted than the late King, and the breath was hardly out of his body before the press burst forth in full cry against him, and raked up all his vices, follies, and misdeeds, which were numerous and glaring enough.

The new King began very well. Everybody expected he would keep the Ministers in office, but he threw himself into the arms of the Duke of Wellington with the strongest expressions of confidence and esteem. He proposed to all the Household, as well as to the members of Government, to keep their places, which they all did except Lord Conyngham and the Duke of Montrose. He soon after, however, dismissed most of the equerries, that he might fill their places with the members of his own family. Of course such a King wanted not due praise, and plenty of anecdotes were raked .up of his former generosities and kindnesses. His first speech to the Council was well enough given, but his burlesque character began even then to show itself. Nobody expected from him much real grief, and he does not seem to know how to act it consistently; he spoke of his brother with all the semblance of feeling, and in a tone of voice properly softened and subdued, but just afterwards, when they gave him the pen to sign the declaration, he said, in his usual tone, 'This is a damned bad pen you have given me.' My worthy colleague Mr. James Buller began to swear Privy Councillors in the name of 'King George IV.—William, I mean,' to the great diversion of the Council.

A few days after my return I was sworn in, all the Ministers and some others being present. His Majesty presided very decently, and looked like a respectable old admiral. The Duke [of Wellington] told me he was delighted with him—'If I had been able to deal with my late master as I do with my present, I should have got on much better'—that he was so reasonable and tractable, and that he had done more business with him in ten minutes than with the other in as many days.

I met George Fitzclarence, afterwards Earl of Munster1, the same day, and repeated what the Duke said, and he told me how delighted his father was with the Duke, his entire confidence in him, and that the Duke might as entirely depend upon the King; that he had told his Majesty, when he was at Paris, that Polignac and the Duke of Orleans had both asked him whether the Duke of Clarence, when he became King, would keep the Duke of Wellington as his Minister, and the King said, 'What did you reply?' 'I replied that you certainly would; did not I do right?' 'Certainly, you did quite right.'

Note 1 Eldest son of King William IV. by Mrs. Jordan, who was shortly after the accession created an earl by his father. The rank of 'marquis's younger children' was conferred upon the rest of the family. The King had nine natural children by Mrs. Jordan: 1, George, a major-general in the army, afterwards Earl of Munster; 2, Frederick, also in the army; 3, Adolphus, a rear-admiral; 4, Augustus, in holy orders; 5. Sophia, married to Lord de l'Isle; 6, Mary, married to Colonel Fox; 7, Elizabeth, married to the Earl of Errol; 8, Augusta, married first to the Hon. John Kennedy Erskine, and secondly to Lord John Frederick Gordon; 9, Amelia, married to Viscount Falkland.

He began immediately to do good-natured things, to provide for old friends and professional adherents, and he bestowed a pension upon Tierney's widow. The great offices of Chamberlain and Steward he abandoned to the Duke of Wellington. There never was anything like the enthusiasm with which he was greeted by all ranks; though he has trotted about both town and country for sixty-four years, and nobody ever turned round to look at him, he cannot stir now without a mob, patrician as well as plebeian, at his heels. All the Park congregated round the gate to see him drive into town the day before yesterday. But in the midst of all this success and good conduct certain indications of strangeness and oddness peep out which are not a little alarming, and he promises to realise the fears of his Ministers that he will do and say too much, though they flatter themselves that they have muzzled him in his approaching progress by reminding him that his words will be taken as his Ministers', and he must, therefore, be chary of them.

t the late King's funeral he behaved with great indecency. That ceremony was very well managed, and a fine sight, the military part particularly, and the Guards were magnificent. The attendance was not very numerous, and when they had all got together in St. George's Hall a gayer company I never beheld; with the exception of Mount Charles (age 63), who was deeply affected, they were all as merry as grigs. The King was chief mourner, and, to my astonishment, as he entered the chapel directly behind the body, in a situation in which he should have been apparently, if not really, absorbed in the melancholy duty he was performing, he darted up to Strathaven, who was ranged on one side below the Dean's stall, shook him heartily by the hand, and then went on nodding to the right and left. He had previously gone as chief mourner to sit for an hour at the head of the body as it lay in state, and he walked in procession with his household to the apartment. I saw him pass from behind the screen. Lord Jersey had been in the morning to Bushy to kiss hands on being made Chamberlain, when he had received him very graciously, told him it was the Duke and not himself who had made him, but that he was delighted to have him. At Windsor, when he arrived, he gave Jersey the white wand, or rather took one from him he had provided for himself, and gave it him again with a little speech. When he went to sit in state, Jersey preceded him, and he said when all was ready, 'Go on to the body, Jersey; you will get your dress coat as soon as you can.' The morning after the funeral, having slept at Frogmore, he went all over the Castle, into every room in the house, which he had never seen before except when he came there as a guest; after which he received an address from the ecclesiastical bodies of Windsor and Eton, and returned an answer quite unpremeditated which they told me was excellent.

He is very well with all his family, particularly the Duke of Sussex, but he dislikes and seems to know the Duke of Cumberland, who is furious at his own discredit. The King has taken from him the Gold Stick, by means of which he had usurped the functions of all the other colonels of the regiments of the Guards, and put himself always about the late King. He says the Duke's rank is too high to perform those functions, and has put an end to his services. He has only put the Gold Sticks on their former footing, and they are all to take the duty in turn.

In the meantime the Duke of Cumberland has shown his teeth in another way. His horses have hitherto stood in the stables which are appropriated to the Queen, and the other day Lord Errol, her new Master of the Horse, went to her Majesty and asked her where she chose her horses should be; she said, of course, she knew nothing about it, but in the proper place. Errol then said the Duke of Cumberland's horses were in her stables, and could not be got out without an order from the King. The King was spoken to, and he commanded the Duke of Leeds to order them out. The Duke of Leeds took the order to the Duke of Cumberland, who said 'he would be damned if they should go,' when the Duke of Leeds said that he trusted he would have them taken out the following day, as unless he did so he should be under the necessity of ordering them to be removed by the King's grooms, when the Duke was obliged sulkily to give way. When the King gave the order to the Duke of Leeds, he sent for Taylor that he might be present, and said at the same time that he had a very bad opinion of the Duke of Cumberland, and he wished he would live out of the country.

The King's good-nature, simplicity, and affability to all about him are certainly very striking, and in his elevation he does not forget any of his old friends and companions. He was in no hurry to take upon himself the dignity of King, nor to throw off the habits and manners of a country gentleman. When Lord Chesterfield went to Bushy to kiss his hand, and be presented to the Queen, he found Sir John and Lady Gore there lunching, and when they went away the King called for their carriage, handed Lady Gore into it, and stood at the door to see them off. When Lord Howe came over from Twickenham to see him, he said the Queen was going out driving, and should 'drop him' at his own house. The Queen, they say, is by no means delighted at her elevation. She likes quiet and retirement and Bushy (of which the King has made her Ranger), and does not want to be a Queen. However, 'L'appétit viendra en mangeant.' He says he does not want luxury and magnificence, has slept in a cot, and he has dismissed the King's cooks, 'renversé la marmite.' He keeps the stud (which is to be diminished) because he thinks he ought to support the turf. He has made Mount Charles (age 63) a Lord of the Bedchamber, and given the Robes to Sir C. Pole, an admiral. Altogether he seems a kind-hearted, well-meaning, not stupid, burlesque, bustling old fellow, and if he doesn't go mad may make a very decent King, but he exhibits oddities. He would not have his servants in mourning—that is, not those of his own family and household—but he sent the Duke of Sussex to Mrs. Fitzherbert to desire she would put hers in mourning, and consequently so they are. The King and she have always been friends, as she has, in fact, been with all the Royal Family, but it was very strange. Yesterday morning he sent for the officer on guard, and ordered him to take all the muffles off the drums, the scarfs off the regimentals, and so to appear on parade, where he went himself. The colonel would have put the officer under arrest for doing this without his orders, but the King said he was commanding officer of his own guard, and forbade him. All odd, and people are frightened, but his wits will at least last till the new Parliament meets. I sent him a very respectful request through Taylor that he would pay £300, all that remained due of the Duke of York's debts at Newmarket, which he assented to directly, as soon as the Privy Purse should be settled—very good-natured. In the meantime it is said that the bastards are dissatisfied that more is not done for them, but he cannot do much for them at once, and he must have time. He has done all he can; he has made Errol Master of the Horse, Sidney a Guelph and Equerry, George Fitzclarence the same and Adjutant-General, and doubtless they will all have their turn. Of course the stories told about the rapacity of the Conynghams have been innumerable. The King's will excited much astonishment, but as yet nothing is for certain known about the money, or what became of it, or what he gave away, and to whom, in his lifetime.