Defeat Of The Ministry Dinner At St James's

THOUGH the reign of William IV. was free from any serious war, the

political condition of the country was such as to cause the King much

anxiety. The establishment of a popular Government in France under

Louis Philippe gave a great impulse to the enthusiasm which had been

growing in England for Parliamentary reform, which, through the growth

of large manufacturing centres since 1790, had become a more urgent

very year. In 1795 Lord Grey brought forward a motion on the

subject, which was opposed by Burke and Pitt, and thrown out by a large

majority. The attention of the country was somewhat diverted from

reform during the war with France, which was brought to a close after

the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Its advocacy in Parliament was renewed

in 1817 by Sir Francis Burdett, while William Cobbett's pamphlets, and

large public meetings, often attended by riots, voiced the popular

feeling, which Parliament endeavoured to stifle, thereby only adding to

the discontent. Lord John Russell, in 1819, proposed resolutions in its

favour, but failed to carry them. Lord Liverpool's ministry, which

lasted till his death in 1827, was strenuously opposed to it, and

Canning's death in the same year was a further check to political


The General Election, consequent on the accession of William IV., was

favou[r]able to the supporters of reform, and the Duke of Wellington,

who had been Prime Minister for more than two years, roused a great

deal of feeling by declaring his unqualified disagreement with their

views. Before, however, any resolution was brought forward, the

Government was defeated on a motion connected with the Civil List, and

the Duke immediately resigned. On the night of his defeat, the

Clitherows were dining at St. James's, and the following extract from a

letter dated November 20, 1830, tells us of the reception of the news

at the Palace:

'We were at St. James's the night of the Duke's defeat in the House.

The King had a note, which he opened, and left the room, but soon

returned. Colonel Fred Fitz-Clarence came in, and told the Queen[*] of

it in German. Miss Wilson was sitting by me, and exclaimed, "Good God!"

in a low tone. I looked at her; she put up her finger, and afterwards

whispered what was said in German, but nothing transpired--not a

comment. It's the great secret at Court to smile and be cheerful and

attentive to the circle round you when the heart is sad, and it was

exemplified that evening.'

[*] Queen Adelaide was the eldest daughter of George Frederick, Duke of

Saxe-Meiningen, born 1792. By her marriage in 1818 to William IV. she

had two children, both of whom died in infancy.

The news appears from this to have fallen like a thunderbolt upon the

party, and the inference as to the Clitherows' views is that they were

supporters of the Duke. The letter proceeds to touch of matters of less

public importance, but illustrative of the King and Queen's interest in

local affairs and English industries:

'We had dined there, and it seems almost like vain boasting, but it was

a party made for us. When the King told Mrs. Henry to write and invite

us, he said: "I shall only ask Colonel Clitherow's friends that I have

met at Boston House." And it was the Duke of Dorset,[*] Lord[**] and

Lady Mayo, the Archbishop and Mrs. Howley, the rest of the company his

own family, the Duke of Sussex,[***] and a few of the

Household-in-waiting. There could not be a greater compliment. The Queen

shows a decided partiality for Mrs. Clitherow. In the evening she sat down

to a French table, and called to her to sit by her. The King came in and

sat down on the other side of Mrs. Clitherow. She rose to retire, but he

said: "Sit down, ma'am--sit down." Two boxes were placed before him,

and he said to Miss Fitz-Clarence[****]: "Amelia, I want pen and ink."

Away she went, and brought a beautiful gold inkstand, and he signed his

name, I am sure, a hundred times, passed the papers to Mrs. Clitherow,

and she to the Queen, who put them on the blotting-paper, then folded

them neatly and put them in their little case to enable them to pack

into the boxes again, conversation going on all the time. When the

business was over, the King took my brother to a sofa, and chatted a

long time, inquiring into the state of things in our neighbourhood,

policemen, etc. The Queen's new band was playing beautifully all the

evening, which she said she had ordered to have my brother's opinion.

The late King's private band cost the King L18,000 a year. It was

dismissed, and a small band is formed--I believe I may say all English,

and many of the juvenile performers whom she patronizes. Her dress was

particularly elegant, white, and all English manufacture. She made us

observe her blend was as handsome as Lady Mayo's French blend. "I hope

all the ladies will patronize the English blend of silk," she said. She

is a very pretty figure, and her dress so moderate, sleeves and

head-dress much less than the hideous fashion.'

[*] Charles Sackville Germain, fifth Duke of Dorset, K.G., was a son of

the first Viscount Sackville, and born 1767. He became Viscount

Sackville 1785, and succeeded his cousin, the fourth Duke of Dorset, in


[**] John Bourke, fourth Earl of Mayo, born 1766, succeeded his father

1794. Married Arabella, fourth daughter of W. M. Praed, Esq. His

brothers were Bishop of Waterford and Dean of Ossory.

[***] H.R.H. was the sixth son of H.M. George III., born 1773, and was


[****] The King's youngest daughter, by Mrs. Jordan; born 1807,

married, 1830, the ninth Viscount Falkland.