False Rumours About The Queen

IN 1832 the cholera made its appearance in many parts of the country,

and claimed many victims. At Brentford the people disputed hotly about

it, some alleging it was not Asiatic cholera, fearing that the

prevalence of that epidemic would be detrimental to the little trade of

the town. At the parish meetings feeling ran so high that the

disputants almost came to blows, and Colonel Clitherow 'never had so

much difficulty
in keeping them in decent order.'

In the autumn of the previous year Earl Howe[*] had been dismissed, at

the request of Lord Grey, from the post of Chamberlain to the Queen. As

this office had always been regarded as independent of the Ministry of

the day, the incident attracted a good deal of attention at the time,

and formed the subject of a question by Mr. Trevor in the House of

Commons, to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Althorp,

returned a diplomatic reply. Yet, however unusual the action taken by

the Government may have been, there can be little doubt that,

considering the feeling of the country respecting reform, their

decision was a wise one. Earl Howe had twice voted against the Reform

Bill, and it might have been inferred that he had been influenced in

this action by the Queen against the King's wish. His dismissal did

not, apparently, prevent rumours to this effect becoming current, and

the Queen and her friends were much annoyed at the imputations thus

implied and expressed. That these somewhat natural inferences had no

substantial foundation is made clear by a letter written from Boston

House, April 11, 1832:

[*] Richard William Penn Curzon-Howe, second Viscount Curzon; born

1796, created Earl Howe 1821, his maternal grandfather, the celebrated

Admiral, having previously borne that title.

'We are often annoyed at the unaccountable falsehoods put about of our

dear Queen. The world now says she and the King are on such bad terms

that she is going to Germany. My brother called on Lady Mary Taylour[*]

(she is Princess Augusta's Lady of the Bedchamber), who said she had

that morning read a letter from the Queen to the Princess, in which she

said she had been very unwell, her anxiety was so great about the

Princess Louise; her mother was ill, and her sister not coming, but,

she added, "My comfort and consolation is the extreme kindness of the

King. Nothing can exceed it.' This is from one you may believe. When we

were at the Pavilion, early in December, she was too ill to come out of

her room, but sent for Mrs. Clitherow after dinner, and she had a

tete-a-tete with her for an hour. She spoke much of the insult to her

of dismissing Lord Howe, but what hurt her most was her fear lest the

King should be blamed, for she was sure he never would have done it

could he have helped himself. I think now, if you hear the report, you

may contradict it on sure grounds. I do believe her excellent and good.'

[*] Eldest daughter of the first Marquis of Headfort, born 1782.

Within a week or two after this, Colonel and Mrs. Clitherow again

visited Windsor by the Royal commands, and Miss Clitherow, in her

minute chronicle, shows that, while they cherished no pride of pomp or

station, they fully appreciated the honour of the King's friendship:

'BOSTON HOUSE, 'May 13, 1832.

'Thank God the cholera does seem subsiding! And in what mercy has that

scourge visited England compared to other countries! Yet, such is the

fatal blindness of the multitude, they see none of God's mercies, and

only provoke Him more and more by increasing wickedness. The downfall

of our Church seems the first object. But you know as much as I know,

and a truce with the subject.

'I will tell you of our Courtly doings, and how thankful we are that we

just take the cream, free and independent, without rank or place--no

troubles, turmoils, or jealousies. We receive the most flattering

notice--and it can be from no other motive than liking us--a rare

occurrence at Court, and of which we have a right to be proud.

'Lately a command came to my brother and Mrs. Clitherow to come to

Windsor Castle on the Monday and stay till the Wednesday. There were no

other visitors. Nobody breakfasts with the Queen or takes luncheon

unless sent for. You have your breakfast in your own sitting-room, or

at the general breakfast, as you prefer. We always take the latter, but

this visit Jane was with her at every meal, the King the only gentleman

admitted at breakfast, and only his sons, or very few, at luncheon.

Each evening the Queen called Jane to her sofa and work-table, where,

also, no one approaches but by her invitation, and on the Tuesday

morning the King took my brother all round the Castle with Wyattville,

giving orders and directions. I fear greatly the improving mania is

coming upon His Majesty, which, in these times, will be very


'The Queen took my brother and Jane a long drive in her barouche.

'Now, in this kind of social visit you get at much of a person's mind

and opinions. The Queen seemed to enjoy a freedom of speech with

friends. Poor thing! how seldom can she feel that! She terms Jane her

"friend who tells her true." I can safely say, in contradiction to the

abominable reports circulated to her disadvantage, that she and the

King are on the best terms possible. In all her conversation, her

anxiety was on his account, lest he should get blamed. She has strong

sense and good judgment. She said: "I must have my own opinion, but I

do not talk to the King about it. It would only make him unhappy, and

could do no good."

'After the drive she took them into her room, and clasped a bracelet

round Jane's arm, begging her to wear it for her sake, and, as the

stone was an amethyst, the A would remind her of Adelaide, and then she

kissed her cheek. To my brother she presented a silver medallion of the

King, telling him her name was on the back, and he must keep it for her

sake. She always has something obliging and kind to say. She sent a

ticket for her box at Drury Lane. It was "Admit Colonel and Mrs.

Clitherow." Jane asked her if that meant two places. "No, no; the whole

box, to be sure. It holds eight. But, when I name one of you, I cannot

help naming both."

'King William IV. forgot little me when he sent his commands. On their

going in he said: "Where is Miss Clitherow? I hope illness has not

prevented her.' On an explanation, "Then next Monday meet us at dinner

at Bushey, and bring your sister with you.' And we did meet them. The

King came over with Wyattville to inspect Hampton Court Palace. The

Queen followed, to dine with him at their dear Bushey. They returned to

Windsor at ten, the Princess Augusta to town. Only Lady Falkland and

Miss Wilson attended the Queen. The company were the inmates of Hampton

Court, where we have never visited, and therefore to me the dinner was


At this time there was a grave political crisis through the action of

the House of Lords respecting the Reform Bill. The Cabinet advised the

King to create a batch of peers to form a Whig majority, as had been

done by Harley in 1711. This, however, the King refused to do, and Lord

Grey consequently resigned. The letters which passed between Lord Grey

and the King at this time are of considerable interest, and show that

the King exercised a greater influence and tact as a ruler than has

generally been ascribed to him. The Duke of Wellington was summoned,

but could not meet with sufficient support to accept office. Earl Grey,

therefore, returned to power, and the deadlock was removed by the King

persuading the Duke of Wellington and some of the peers who supported

him to absent themselves from the division on the Reform Bill, and thus

allow it to pass.[*] Miss Clitherow touches but lightly on this

subject, but it seemed desirable to put the facts before the reader.

Her letter proceeds:

[*] There are several letters on this subject towards the end of vol.

ii. of 'The Correspondence of the Late Earl Grey with H.M. King William

IV., and with Sir Hubert Taylor,' edited by his son, and published by

John Murray in 1867. Anyone desiring to have a clear idea of the

political anxieties which Miss Clitherow tells us harassed the King

would do well to consult this interesting work.

'The Thursday after we went to see Lady Falkland, who is on a visit to

papa King. We found her, her widowed sister Lady Augusta Kennedy, and

Miss Wilson very comfortably at work. They were the two Fitz-Clarences;

we saw a good deal of them when they lived at Bushey.

'A page soon came to conduct my brother to the King, another to desire

we would take luncheon in the Queen's room. On entering the King called

Jane by him, the Queen me; she rose up and shook hands with both. My

brother went down to the general luncheon. Nothing could be more

good-humoured and pleasant than they were. The King was cheerful but

silent; 'twas the day after Lord Grey's resignation. The Queen

certainly in particular good spirits; the King's firmness respecting

the making no peers had delighted her. They went to his apartments, and

we to Lady Falkland's, and were preparing to depart, when a message

came. The Queen had not taken leave of us, and hoped we were in no

hurry, but would stay and Walk with her. Of course we did. The party

consisted of the Queen, Miss Eden (Maid of Honour), Miss Wilson, Lord

Howe, Mr. Ashley, Mr. Hudson, Sir Andrew Barnard, and our three selves.

She took us through the slopes to her Adelaide Cottage and her

flower-garden to see Prince George of Cambridge at gymnastics, with

half a dozen young nobility from Eton, who came once a week to play

with him. We were walking nearly two hours. The Queen is very animated,

and Mr. Ashley and Mr. Hudson full of fun and tricks, and amused us all

much. In short, I have but one fear when with her--forgetting in Whose

presence I am; her manner is so very kind, but there is dignity with it

that keeps us in order.'

Before Miss Clitherow wrote again to her old friend, the Queen's little

niece, Whose illness has been already alluded to, had passed away. Her

Majesty was tenderly attached to the young Princess, and had shown her

every possible attention during her illness. She was greatly grieved at

her death, and the sorrow and anxiety seem to have affected her health

for some little time.

'WINDSOR CASTLE, 'September 3, 1832.

'Here I am writing with Royal pens, ink, and paper, which last I

dislike of all things, it being glazed.

'We have not seen our dear, amiable Queen since the Ascot week, and,

poor thing! she has gone through a great deal, but her conduct through

the whole was beautiful. Princess Augusta gave us the account of the

closing scene, and with tears in her eyes described the feeling and

resignation of the Queen, and the extreme kindness and attention of the

King to all her little wishes at the time of the funeral, which, by all

accounts, was the best managed and most affecting thing possible. She

has very much recovered her spirits, which are naturally very cheerful,

but she is still most miserably thin.

'The King is particularly well.

'The visitors here besides ourselves are the Duke and Duchess of

Gloucester[*]--she is too unwell to appear--Prince George of Cambridge;

the Duke of Dorset; Mademoiselle d'Este; Sir Henry and Lady Wheatley,

with two daughters; Lady Isabella Wemyss (Lady of the Bed-chamber), a

most pleasing, lovely woman, sister to Lord Errol; Miss Johnson (Maid

of Honour); Miss Wilson (Bed-chamber-woman); Mademoiselle Marienne,

Lord and Lady Falkland, Sir Herbert and Lady Taylor, Sir Andrew

Barnard, Sir Frederick Watson, Colonel Bowater, Mr. Hudson, Mr.

Shifner, and Mr. Wood.[**] Princess Augusta and Lady Mary Taylour came

every day from Frogmore, which, with the household medical man, Mr.

Davis, makes a party of thirty, reckoned here a small party.

[*] H.R.H. was the King's cousin, and the Duchess was the King's fourth

sister, Princess Mary.

[**] Many of these are obviously members of the household rather than


'The dinners are always princely, gold plate, quantities of wax-lights,

and servants innumerable, yet very agreeable and with less of form than

you could suppose possible.

'Yesterday threatened much rain, but after luncheon it cleared, and we

started, four carriages, four in each and a number on horseback, and

went to the Fishing Temple by the Virginia Water to see a model of a

vessel to be moved by clockwork. After seeing it exhibited we all took

boat, and in parties rowed about that beautiful lake. We had the

six-oared boat and various little boats. Prince George and Mr. Hudson

rowed Her Majesty about, and the whole had so much ease and good-humour

it was very delightful.

'Our evenings are always the same, the band playing most beautifully,

work-tables and cards for those who chuse.

'The first evening the Queen called us both to her table; the second

she sat with the Duchess of Gloucester till her bedtime, so that we had

not much of her company. She is always about some elegant work, which

she does remarkably well, and has a great deal of cheerful conversation.

'This is our third day, and we leave on Monday. Our invitations say

when we are to come and when to go, which is very agreeable. We have

our time to ourselves in our own sitting-room from breakfast till

luncheon at two.

'So I have scribbled to you, though no post goes till to-morrow. A trio

of kind regards.

'Yours truly, 'M. CLITHEROW.'