Page images
PDF
EPUB

“On receiving this letter from my mother, who refused to quit the representation and without waiting for his reply to my of West Gloucestershire on his dictation, former note, I wrote to Lord Segrave, expressing my astonishment at the treatment I

may be judged from the following achad met with, and telling him that in this count, which must be authentic, of a transaction I should look to no one but himself

, letter to Mr. Henry Berkeley, the as I declined to be indebted to my mother. I should therefore expect that he would pay me

member for Bristol, by a friend of Lord the whole of the arrears that might accrue,

Fitzhardinge's, “Mr. Joseph Watts, or while in Parliament, during my mother's life,

56 «Old Joe Watts,' as I had always when at her death her jointure reverted to “heard him called on his visits to the his hands. To this he merely answered, “ castle" :* Very well.""

" This communication was not addressed to But the end was not “very well.”

me, but at me through my brother Henry, For fourteen years Mr. Grantley Berkeley and a faithful copy of it, if not the original, struggled on, serving the nation as is in my possession now. The purport of it member for West Gloucestershire, with

was that Mr. Henry Berkeley was privately to out the 2501. a year which his brother

assure me that Lord Fitzhardinge had ex

pressed to Mr. Watts a resolution to beggar had promised him at the outset for me and blast my reputation—to crush me, meeting the additional expenses of his in fact, in power and station, goods and body, parliamentary life. When the Countess

if I did not under his charges silently retire of Berkeley died there were fourteen

from the representation.” years' arrears, and Earl Fitzhardinge re- Subsequent events proved that the fused to pay them. Mr. Grantley

threat was not an idle one. The public Berkeley reminded him of his word will always side with the weaker party and his letters ; the reply was that, if struggling against unscrupulous tyranny; Grantley went to law, the earl would and Lord Fitzhardinge effectually put plead the Statute of Limitations. himself in the wrong with public opinion,

But this is not the worst. It was the and surrounded his brother with symbeginning of a sad end. Some time pathy and compassion. It is enough to before the general election of 1847,

mention that Mr. Grantley Berkeley Earl Fitzhardinge signified to his brother was summoned to the Middlesex County Grantley that he was to “ quit the Court by Lord Fitzhardinge's houserepresentation of the county. Mr. keeper, in Spring Gardens, for about Grantley Berkeley asked why, and was twenty pounds, for breakfasts and firing answered that he was getting very un

supplied to him while a guest in Lord popular, and that to return him again Fitzhardinge's London house. would be impossible; and, further, that

“ The husband of this woman had lived as Lord Fitzhardinge's “funds for political butler with my mother, and there was some purposes were exhausted, and that he

delay in the proceedings, because the old man “ had no reason now for keeping up his

stoutly refused to let the demand appear in “ political power.” Another expostu

his name. This was thought so disgraceful lation produced from Lord Fitzhardinge

to Lord Fitzhardinge that a number of his

former friends and mine begged me to pay the the following reply :

money rather than let the affair come to trial; “ You have become so unpopular, and have

and, though I told them all that I well knew so much abused and misdirected the govern

it was not the last persecution to which I was ment patronage that has come under your gift,

doomed, still, at their request, I consented, applying it to private purposes, that it would

and paid the claim.” be impossible to return you to Parliament."

With such proceedings as this it is Mr. Grantley Berkeley's subsequent not wonderful that “the pot boiled return, in the teeth of Lord Fitzhardinge's over” in West Gloucestershire. Mr. most violent opposition, proved the in- Grantley Berkeley's account of the elecjustice of this allegation. The extreme tion, ending in his return, and Lord animosity now conceived by Lord Fitz- Fitzhardinge's discomfiture, is very inhardinge against the brother who had teresting, and about the best-written sat for fifteen years as his nominee, and part of his two volumes.

“ The time of the election for the western

spanned the road at the entrance of the town, division approached, and I received numerous

and decked the houses, and I found myself letters from what might be called the indus

anything but alone and unfriended, for it was trious classes, begging me to come down and

as if a whole county had gathered together to show myself in the vale of Berkeley, assuring give me a hearty welcome.” me, in their homely way, that if I had lost my The opponent selected by Lord Fitzroom in the castle, I had fifty rooms of my own in its place, for they had all set apart in their hardinge to oust his brother was Mr. cottages or houses their best chamber, and

Grenville Berkeley, a cousin. On the had newly done it up as Mr. Grantley's room. first day of polling, Mr. Grantley BerkeFrom the tenants under the castle, too, and ley attended at the polling-booth, at the members of my squadron of yeomanry, I Borkeley, right under the castle. also received the most hearty and generous assurances of devoted attachment and support, “I had been present at the polling booth at telling me not to fear any consequences to Berkeley on the first day of the election, and them, for Lord Fitzhardinge dare not turn so terrified were my friends at what they called them all out of their farms, and that they “bearding the lion in his den,' none of them were unanimous in their feelings of goodwill liked to go there ; I had to remove a large to me.

board stuck up in front of the place where the “Notwithstanding these and many such votes were taken, telling the people to vote assurances of my popularity, I hesitated to for Grenville Berkeley. I could not help trust myself to a contested election, without a noticing the sorrowful glances of old tenants sixpence that I could spare to pay my way;

and servants, when they replied to the question, and I also did not think it generous on my

• For whom do you come to vote ?'—'Grenville part to embroil the tenantry with their land- Berkeley.' I had seen the old butler, William lords-Lord Fitzhardinge and Lord Ducie-in Reynolds, who had known me from the earliest a contest, unless I felt sure that there was hours of childhood, and who had married my every chance of my being successful.

kind nurse, give a plumper against me, and "At last the following laconic epistle from then burst into tears. I had then given him a dear old friend of mine, who kept an inn in my arm, and walked with him through the Thornbury, determined me to throw myself on silent and respectful crowd to his own housethe county :

door, for he was at that time retired from “Mr. Grantley.—Dear Sir,-Come down

service. Then I received from him the assuramong us; we only want you as our leader ;

ance that so much pain had the vote he had the pot's boiling over, and we can win.'

just been forced to give occasioned him that, "My reply was almost as brief. It promised

if it pleased God to spare his life for another that at a given hour, on a certain day, I would,

election, and I needed it, he would give me a mounted on my well-known white charger,

plumper in spite of anybody, to wipe out the Beacon, present myself to my friends at the ·

error he had committed. He lived to fulfil his inn at Alistonship, and ride through the

promise." division of the county.

This is a touching incident well told; “My horse having preceded me, I came and so is the account of the news of the vid Bristol, and, on arriving at the inn, was greeted by an immense assemblage of people

final triumph with a band and banners. It was a curious “I shall never forget the calm, still, hot sight to a reflective mind, for I cannot call summer's night of the Saturday when the to my recollection that there was a large election had concluded, and the numbers were proprietor present, though there were a vast being summed up. I was staying with my number of their tenants, and thousands of good, kind old friends, Mr. and Mrs. Bromedge, labouring men, women, and children-the near Stone, in the vale of Berkeley, and within latter lining the banks on either side the road hearing too of the Berkeley Church bells

. all the way into Thornbury. When we had We knew that about this time we might formed into procession, there was a shout expect to hear the news, and were all lisfrom the immense throng to me for colours. tening for an indication from some church or Colours ! I have none ! I cried ; 'I can't other of the sound of rejoicing bells

. Though afford to buy them ; but I need none better we had heard nothing, Mrs. Bromedge's maidthan those of our vale. The oak-sprig, then, servant presently rushed from the lawn into to your hats and breasts !' No sooner said the house, and exclaimed, «The Berkeley than done; there was a general rush at the bells !'We knew that they would ring only hedges and boughs of the oak trees, and, in on my defeat. On hearing this, we all hurried a short time, like the wood of Dunsinane,' a out, but no Berkeley bells could be heard. All forest moved in the direction of the town and at once, in the midnight air, a signal bell castle of Thornbury, my dear old horse occa- sounded in the steeple at Stone, and then the sioning much laughter among my adherents, same all round us ; then, as if simultaby pulling off the hats within his reach, in neously, far and near, there came a chime of snatching at the leaves they bore. Immense joyful triumphs, and all knew that I had arches of flowers, and every imaginable design,

won."

Mr. Grantley Berkeley had a majority than that of veneration and affection, and I over his cousin-opponent, Lord Fitz- could not help the tears rolling down my face hardinge’s new candidate, of 621; but still

, all the men joined in it, cheering for me,

as I heard the roar of voices; for, standing though he was thus triumphantly re

and execrating the conduct of an elder who, turned, his troubles were not yet ended. apart from his attempted and ill-advised When attending at the hustings for the oppressions, still stood to me in the light of official declaration of the poll, he was

a brother.

“It was here, as we halted close to the served with a demand to declare his

entrance of the churchyard, that Harry Ayris, qualification. This was followed by a the present Lord Fitzhardinge's huntsman, petition against the return for want of suddenly appeared from behind the tombstone qualification. The petition ultimately hand, gave the view-holloa I 'had so often

of a predecessor in the field, and, hat in failed, a Committee of the House of delighted in, and a cheer for me; this, knowCommons deciding that Mr. Grantley ing, as his hearers did, that perhaps his place Berkeley was duly qualified; and this depended on the act, electrified them all. last fruitless effort of vindictiveness

It was reported to his master by some spy; but

Harry was too good a huntsman and too was especially discreditable to Lord

necessary a servant to be dismissed ; so, after Fitzhardinge, as Mr. Grantley Berkeley a jobation, he maintained, and maintains still, had sat as his nominee for fifteen years

his place at the head of those splendid

hounds." with the same qualification which he now disputed, and the earl endeavoured Such passages as this of the huntsto use his position and opportunities of

man, and the formerly quoted one of the knowledge, as trustee of his brother's old butler, are redeeming bits in a book marriage-settlement, to his brother's

brothers which, though capable of being turned prejudice. In the time which has

to very useful account, cannot be propassed since this bitter contest of 1847,

nounced wholly creditable. They snatch several changes have taken place, and

from us occasional sympathy with the

author. among them the abolition of the property qualification for members, and the

Mr. Grantley Berkeley was elected limitation of polling in counties to one

by the independent enthusiasm of a day. The parliamentary reformer's hand county constituency, in opposition to has also since extinguished the old insti- three powerful noblemen, whose wishes tution of chairing, thus doing away with

under ordinary circumstances would much foolish expense and mischievous

have obtained easy acquiescence-Earl incitement to drunkenness and rioting. Fitzhardinge (the Lord-Lieutenant of the Mr. Grantley Berkeley had a triumphant county,) the Earl of Ducie, and the chairing procession—not free, however,

Duke of Beaufort. The first two noblefrom personal dangers, as he boldly ap

men were Whigs, the last a Conservative. proached the Castle of Berkeley. The

The victorious member thus nailed his danger surmounted, a triumphant re

three great opponents in a speech to his ception awaited him in the town of constituents made in the first excitement Berkeley.

of victory

“ The spontaneous agency and free-will of " At the entrance of the town I was met by the people had defeated the schemes of three its entire population. The men were kindly powerful peers, and triumphed over their laughing spectators at their doors, taking no dictation. He said three peers, for it was no part in the procession-for they felt they dared use to deny that the Duke of Beaufort did not not do so—but all their mothers, wives, sisters, direct bis tenantry to vote against him, for he daughters, and children, thronged out to join had seen the order that had been given, and me, carrying oak boughs, and shouting all therefore he knew he did. As to Lord Ducie, sorts of congratulations. We promenaded the he dared no more tell him that he did not town ; my supporters asked if they might lead exercise his power in coercing his tenantry on up to the outer lodge of the castle ; so, than he dared attempt to fly. As to the Lordstill smarting under the attack that had just Lieutenant, they all knew what he had done. been made upon my friends, I replied, Cer- He desired his brother, Augustus Berkeley, tainly, and give three cheers at the gate whom he had not asked to his castle for itself.

fourteen years, to vote for his nominee, and “ This was the first time in the whole attempted to intimidate Henry Berkeley, course of my life that I had ever ascended the member for Bristol, to do the same ; but, that well-known hill under any other feeling with his full consent, his brother Henry after close communication with Lord FitzBerkeley :

remained neutral, in order to please his Bristol Willis's Elm, as spokesman for himself and friends, who were afraid that, if he offended the his comrades, held out his right arm, and castle, they should get no more funds thence said, "There, Mr. Ellis ; I'd sooner chop that for future contests. At Coleford, where the off than set my name to such a lie.' cowardly outrage was conmitted, as well as in “This attempt, therefore, failed; still be Newnham, port, sherry, cider, and beer were went on, and caused the same agent to let his so profusely handed about in cans, that he had tenants know that those who retained their seen not only men, but children, lying, by the service under me would inevitably lose their wayside in the gutters in a state of drunken farms. This menace brought me and my men helplessness."

together. I was far from desirous that they In another part of the book Mr.

should act to their own disadvantage, but they

were ready to dare everything rather than fail Grantley Berkeley says that on this oc

me in my need. We came to a resolution that casion his brother Henry bad very little all who feared to lose their farms should resign assistance from Lord Fitzhardinge for with my leave, but not until they had procured his election at Bristol. He estimates,

a friend to fill their saddles, while the more

opulent tenants, who did not care for threats, perhaps with exaggeration, the total

were to continue to serve. After the election expense for Lord Fitzhardinge of his had terminated, I informed them that I should unsuccessful effort in West Gloucester- decline to serve in the yeomanry any longer, shire at thirty thousand pounds; while

and suggested that we might retire together.

This arrangement was carried out to the full. the expenses on Mr. Grantley Berkeley's

“Lord Fitzhardinge felt himself foiled, for side, which were subscribed for by his my drills were attended by my usual number supporters, are said by him to have been of men, and he saw that, unless by some still under eighteen hundred pounds.

more desperate move, he could not prevent the One separate means of coercion used

usual muster under me for permanent duty in

Stokes Croft, at Bristol. On this he went to by Lord Fitzhardinge, as unsuccessfully the colonel of the regiment, the Duke of as all the rest, yet remains to be told, Beaufort. . . . The upshot of it was that, and is thus related by Mr. Grantley

hardinge, I received an order from the duke

to pay up years of arrears of my mess-bills and “ From the time that I came forward at his troop expenses, all of which Lord Fitzhardinge request in 1831-2, Lord Fitzhardinge had put had undertaken to pay, and of which I had my name down to all subscription lists and previously known nothing, and that, unless I clubs that he pleased ; he asked my permission immediately did so, I was not to attend the to do so under the promise that' for every muster of the regiment. expense so incurred he would be answerable. “ These were hard lines to me. I did not I also, at his request, commanded his squadron know that anything was owing on my account, of yeomanry on the same understanding. For and upon inquiry I found that there was an some time, however, and evidently with the arrear of a considerable sum. My finances design of crushing me, he had left accounts in had so rapidly diminished that, like Walter, arrear, all standing in my name, while at the surnamed the Penniless,' in the Crusades, I same time the receipts for part payments were knew myself to be a good general, and to have in his hands.

a large following, but I had not of my own a “Soon after he had ordered me to give up “stiver to pay my troops. A friend started the representation of the division, he desired up, a Mr. Clayton, who offered to advance me me to quit the yeomanry, again giving out some money on a note of hand. He did so; that it was my personal unpopularity that and, paying the arrears thus purposely left to necessitated my retirement. That falsehood assist in my ruin, I laughed in the face of having been sufficiently exposed, I refused to Duke and Lord-Lieutenant, and marched to obey, every man of the squadron swearing to Bristol with my squadron for the muster of the stand by me, their captain. The Lord-Lieu- regiment. tenant once more found himself in an awkward “My way to the parade lay through fix, but he ventured to send his agent, Mr. Thornbury, and the town turned out to Joyner Ellis, to the non-commissioned officers welcome the squadron as it passed ; to the of the squadron, some of whom were his compliment so conveyed of course I carried powerful tenants, with a sort of round-robin, swords; and, placing themselves by my side at to which he thus desired them to put their the head of the squadron, Mr. Townsend, the names, stating in writing that they wished to Vicar of Thornbury, and his two daughters, retire from the troop because they did not like rode with me some miles on my way. Along me, their commanding officer, I had become so the fourteen miles of road, and at Bristol, a overhearing and unpopular—or words to that welcome to the “Berkeley squadron” was effect. Mr. Ellis called some of the non- hung out from many a window, and I was commissioned officers together, set this docu- considerably amused at seeing my commander

, ment before them, and ordered them to the to me hostile duke, studying their devices attach their names ; when Sergeant Jones, of as they waved above his head.

“As soon as the duty was over, I broke my “ Parliament, &c. to concern himself in sword, when I for the last time dismissed my " the election of members to serve for men, across the pommel of my saddle, much to my old charger's astonishment, and told

“ the Commons in Parliament, or for them that I would never again serve under any lord-lieutenant or governor of any any man who had lent himself, as the duke county to avail himself of any authohad done, to acts of undeserved oppression. Thus ended my yeomanry service.”

rity derived from his commission to

“ influence the election of any member Soon after the assembling of the new

to serve in the Commons in Parliaparliament, a petition signed by a

“ ment." Here the accused was lordnumber of electors was presented to the lieutenant as well as peer. It is House of Commons, praying for inquiry impossible to read the speeches of the into the conduct of Earl Fitzhardinge, a

Attorney-General (Sir J. Jervis, afterpeer and the Lord-Lieutenant of the wards Chief Justice of the Common County, with reference to the West Pleas), Lord John Russell, who was Gloucestershire election; and on De- Prime Minister, and Sir George Grey, cember 14th, 1847, Mr. Wakley moved the Home Secretary, in the debate on for the appointment of a Select Com- Mr. Wakley's motion, without perceiving mittee to inquire into and report upon

that there was a desire to avoid the the allegations of the petition. The inquiry and screen Lord Fitzhardinge. petition contained many serious charges, But the impetuous zeal of Sir F. Thesiger and was sufficiently specific. The co- on the Opposition benches for purity ercion by Lord Fitzhardinge of his and freedom of election obliged the tenants, to make them resign their ser- Government to make some concession; vice in the yeomanry under his brother, and Sir George Grey, after taking a few was charged in the petition. It was days to consider, proposed to refer the alleged that he had on two occasions petition to the Committee of Privioffered large sums of money to Mr. leges," instead of to a Select Committee, Grantley Berkeley to induce him to as had been proposed by Mr. Wakley. withdraw from the contest. The peti- The Committee of Privileges had long tion stated that “Earl Fitzhardinge, since ceased to be a practical institution ;

during and about the time of the said it was a mere tradition and name. But "election, paid, or caused to be paid, ingenuity conveniently discovered that

large sums of money for the purchase similar complaints had in bygone times “ of votes, and for treating voters, and been referred to the Committee of " for the instigation of violence, by Privileges ; and so a Committee of

extensive and organized Privileges was constituted, in accordsystem of personal violence, gross im- ance with ancient practice, by the ap“morality, bribery, corruption, and in- pointment of a certain number of “ timidation was carried on at the said members by name, with the wholesale “ election.” Such were the statements addition of every “gentleman of the of the petition; and the incidents of long robe ” having a seat in the House. the contest and the election were noto- Here, then, was a Committee of uncertain rious, having for a period of many

and indefinite number, and swamped months engaged the attention of the with lawyers. The result was, as might public. It would have been expected have been foreseen, and as was probably that the House of Commons would be desired. The accused got off by a techimpatiently eager to investigate the nical mode of procedure. Instead of charges against Lord Fitzhardinge, for proceeding to hear all evidence that was there are orders of the House of Com- forthcoming in support of the allegations mons, formally renewed at the beginning of the petition, the Committee required of every session, that a peer cannot the accusers to specify Lord Fitzhardinge's even vote in an election, and that “it acts of interference as a peer, and by " is a high infringement of the liberties authority derived from his commission “ and privileges of the Commons of the as lord-lieutenant. The inquiry fell to “ United Kingdom for any Lord of the ground. A Select Committee of the

" which an

« PreviousContinue »