Jacksonian Miscellanies, #46

January 27, 1998

JMISC #46: Diary of Gallatin's Mission for JQA - Part II

Copyright by the editor, Hal Morris, Secaucus, NJ 1997. Permission is granted to copy, but not for sale, nor in multiple copies, except by permission.

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Diary of Gallatin's Mission for JQA - Part II

This is the sequel to issue #43, from The Diary of James Gallatin.

Highlights of diplomacy and gossip; mostly gossip -- from London:



Frances is enjoying herself amazingly and is I think a great favourite. She is at present paying some visits in the country with mamma. The Marchioness of Stafford has been most gracious. She has bidden us all to Trentham in January. They say it is a most magnificent palace, and that wonderful state is kept up. The Duke of Devonshire, whom we knew in 1818, has been most attentive. He is not married and never will. It seems he is the son of the Duke-: that at nearly the same time the Duchess had a daughter, the Duke's mistress had a son-as they were most anxious for an heir the babies were changed. For a long time the deception was kept up, but somebody in the end confessed. This Duke was then in possession of the title; as he was so much beloved it was agreed that he should retain all his honours but that he was never to marry.

The Barings were most cordial in their greetings to us. We dine with them on Christmas Day. At times I feel very low in my mind and feel that after all I should not have left my dear wife and child. I was torn both ways. It seems to take such an unconscionable time to receive any news from home. The King goes openly everywhere with Lady Conyngham. Scandal says she is getting all the money and property that she can for her children, before the King dies. She wore the other night at Princess Lieven's all the Crown Sapphires. They say the King has given them to her.


There is not much entertaining. The King is at Brighton. I met Mr. Greville ((Charles Greville, author of Journals of the Reign & of George III and William IV)) the other night. He is Clerk of the Council. I was amused to see him making notes of the different things I told him. Rather a pedantic person. Princess Lieven is the Ambassador: Prince Lieven is absolutely a nonentity. Lord Goderich is always the same delightful gentleman, it is a pleasure to meet him. Lord Grey I suppose means to be civil, but his manners are not what they should be. Mr. Canning is always most gracious to father, who likes him very much but does not think him a very strong man. Lady Wellesley ((Mrs. Robert Patterson - Editor's Note.-Mrs. Robert Patterson, widow of Robert Patterson, who was a brother of Madame Bonaparte. Patterson, married some years after the death of her husband, the Marquis of Wellesley, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, elder brother of the Duke of Wellington)) has been in London. We dined with her. Of course now she is a very great lady, and does not forget it. She has asked me to come to Dublin after Christmas. She says I will be much amused at Dublin society and the Viceregal Court. I will certainly go if there is not too much work here. There is that horrible Irish Channel to be considered and the very long journey. Mamma arrives to­morrow. We have to entertain some Americans, there are a great many in London at present. Father has declined to present any at Court. He is not resident Minister only a special Ambassador.

I ride every day as I fear I am getting fat; Mrs. Baring has just told mamma that she has invited every available member of the Baring family to her Christmas dinner. We are to be the only outsiders.


Looked in at White's. All intent on gambling. While I was there a sum of £8000 changed hands. Had some supper; a thick fog, had to have a link man to show me the way home.


Dined at a large Diplomatic dinner at Prince Jules de Polignac's at the French Embassy; all men. I was delighted to meet Montmorency; we had good talk over our old days in Paris. He says things are much changed now, and that the King is much disliked. Our successors are not at all well received and do not entertain at all. After dinner, Montmorency and I went for a short time to White's and had supper late. London unutterably dull. Mamma is very happy as she has a perfect riot of churches to go to. It will be gayer after Christmas, but only among the Corps Diplomatique. We are booked for several visits. I was delighted with a long letter from my dear wife. All are well and seem very happy. Father will have to have some sort of reception for the Americans in the New Year. We really make quite a show. We are using all our old French State liveries-which are perfectly fresh.


We had a delightful Christmas with the Barings, who are hospitality itself. There are Barings of all shapes and colours, all sizes-tall ones, short ones, lean ones, fat ones, but all are so nice and cheerful; they seem indeed a united family. We played all sorts of silly games and became children again. I could not keep my thoughts from home. Mr. Baring would drink my wife and boy's health, this nearly broke me up.

We have a big reception of Americans on January 2.


Driving home late last night near the top of Park Lane, we heard cries for help. I jumped down and found a hackney­coach which had been stopped by footpads. Two lonely females were in it. They had stunned the jarvey. I at once escorted them to our coach and we drove them home. They lived quite close to us. A Lady Lucy and her daughter. We had just come upon them in the nick of time and had disturbed the robbers. We never go out at night without at least two footmen and generally father's chasseur as well. It is extraordinary how unsafe London is at night, and in the very best quarters.


Rumours of a change in the Cabinet, but nothing definite The King comes to Buckingham House in a few days. There is a report that Lord Liverpool is ill-not confirmed.


JANUARY 3, 1827

The "rout" for all of our compatriots last night was as successful as any "rout " can be; to be several hours sitting in a coach before arriving at the door of one's destination; then to crawl up about three or four steps every half­hour; to be stifled and toes trodden upon; to make a bow to your hosts; to edge one's way through the crowd; to drink hot champagne and secure an ice down one's back. Then to start one's journey back again. If this spells pleasure, then a "rout" is pleasant. We indeed take our pleasures oddly.

"Crockford's," the magnificent new gambling­hell((sic -- though could be a typo; there are a few of them)) in St. James's Street, was opened yesterday. Pozzo di Borgo, Prince Esterhazy, the Duke of Wellington, Talleyrand, &c. &c., all belong to it. Pozzo took me under his wing. It was very fine. Supper lavish. It is to be the fashionable gambling resort of the aristocracy.


The Duke of York died yesterday, quietly seated in an arm­chair. This of course puts the Court into deep mourning. They say he never recovered from the shock of the Duchess of Rutland's death-his mistress. She induced him to build that huge palace in the Mall called York House. He incurred huge debts. I only saw him once or twice in 1818. He was a great contrast to the then Prince Regent-coarse and very loud in his manners; a viveur in every sense of the word. He had the reputation of being a most loyal friend, and never forsook anybody who was in trouble. Peace to his ashes! I will have to go to the funeral as father's health does not permit him to attend such ceremonies.


We have had some difficulty with our coachman. He committed an assault outside the Embassy but took refuge when they were about to arrest him in the Embassy. Of course no officers of the law can enter an Embassy. Father was informed of the matter. He inquired into the facts of the case and absolutely refused to give the man up. It has caused a good deal of correspondence and the matter is not yet closed.

Our visit to Trentham was a great success. It is a palace indeed, and such magnificence I have never seen outside a royal residence, either here, in France, or in Russia. Lady Stafford received us in her usual dignified and gracious manner. She has always liked father, I believe, because Madame de Stael was so fond of him, and she had a cult for her. My room was quite beautiful, looking out on a fine sheet of water. In summer it must be perfectly beautiful. Then it stands empty as all the family come up to London. The reception rooms, state rooms, &c. &c., beggar description, full of superb works of art. We were sixty guests, a large portion of the Corps Diplomatique and Mr. Canning. Great ceremony for dinner, but the rest of the day we were allowed to do exactly as we chose. Horses to ride, coaches of all sorts at our disposal. Dancing and music in the evening. I thoroughly enjoyed it. So did Frances.


We are going on apace with the negotiations for the absolutely final settlement of the Commercial Treaty.

Of course delays are inevitable in so important a matter.

Lord Liverpool has seemed very odd in his manner lately as if he were half dazed. Walked in the Mall this morning with Frances, the inevitable footman following us. Lord Cassillis called to­day with his charming wife; she was a daughter of Mr. and Lady Mary Watts. Lady Mary was brought up in America as she and her sister, Lady Cathrine Duer, were the daughters of Lord Stirling. Mamma had known them well.


There is a Cabinet crisis which has kept everything at a standstill-very annoying. We dined with the Duke of Devonshire yesterday, at his house in Piccadilly. He is a most gracious host. Snappy Charles Greville, always asking questions and taking notes, was there. A book called "Vivian Grey," published by Colburn and immensely puffed, appeared last year. There were many surmises as to who the author was. Great names were mentioned and there was much speculation on the matter. It now turns out to be by a quite unknown youth called Disraeli, a Jew. Greville had the audacity to say that he knew who the author was from the first. Father thought well of the book. Lady Conyngham appears in the depth of mourning for the Duke of York. This causes much amusement. I do not think we will remain here much longer. I am most anxious to return home.

Father is really despondent, everything goes at a snail's pace. Mr. Adams after promising him an absolutely free hand is evidently irritated by Mr. Clay's continual interference and also influenced by him. Father looks upon Mr. Clay as simply an obstinate firebrand who is not capable of grasping or dealing with a subject without prejudice. The present negotiations are of a most delicate nature and have to be treated as such. Here it seems the custom for statesmen to conceal the truth. In France they do not pretend to tell the truth. The President has written a private letter to father begging him to remain in England. It is flattering to his vanity, but he has none. He is determined after this mission is fulfilled to give up political life altogether.


Lord Liverpool had a stroke on the 17th, and died yesterday. Father does not think this will make any difference He hopes that Mr. Canning will not be Prime Minister. It will be some time before anything definite is decided.


We seem to be slowly creeping toward the end. Patience, is the only thing and we want a sack full of it. Supped at Crockford's last night. Talleyrand was opposite to me and looked more like an ape than ever. The absolute silence of the gambling­rooms is extraordinary. I cannot realize the passion for gambling. I suppose it is a disease like everything else. Father has little dinners of his beloved cronies, Humboldt, Pozzo di Borgo, Baring, &c. I really enjoy their delightful conversation-their contempt for the world amuses me.


The weather, which has been dreadful, is a little better. No entertaining to speak of. Desperately dull. I am glad I have plenty of work to do. Mr. Lawrence seems very capable and father is much pleased with him.


Mr. Canning is now Prime Minister. It seems to have put him into a good temper and he is far more gracious, although his temper at times is very trying. Father much to his disgust, has been summoned by the King to Brighton-I go with him.


We only stopped one night at Brighton. Rooms had been prepared for us at a house close to the Pavilion, which the King keeps for his guests. We were received by his Majesty, who was lying on a divan-he could hardly hold himself up. Lady Conyngham was present at first, but at a nod from the King, retired. She looks as if she had something of a temper. The King spoke on several political subjects, and for a wonder with great lucidity. He said suddenly, "Canning Is a damned old woman." We were bid to sup with the Royal circle. I could see that father could hardly dissemble his disgust. The conversation was boisterous and indecent. Cards after supper, and on a plea of being very fatigued father begged leave to retire. He and I went for a walk by the sea. The only remark he made was, "And that is a King." We left in the morning without seeing His Majesty.


Mr. Canning's temper has become most uncertain. At dinner last night father was sitting next to Baron Humboldt; after dinner, Mr. Canning came up to father and said, "The opinion universally entertained abroad and generally in England is that the Government is an aristocracy-it is not, it is a monarchy." Both father and Baron Humboldt were much surprised at this extraordinary outburst. They could not explain it. Some of the gentlemen sitting near, too, heard this remark and seemed much astonished. Later on the Duke of Wellington had a chair brought and placed between father and Humboldt. He made himself most agreeable, but seemed worried about something. He suddenly said, "Do you find anything odd in Mr. Canning's manner?"


LONDON, April 28, 1827 . . . At the dinner of the 23rd, Mr. Canning came near Baron Humboldt and me and told us, "You see that the opinion universally entertained abroad, and very generally indeed in England, that this Government is an aristocracy, is not true. It is," said he emphatically, "a monarchy. The Whigs had found it out in 1784, when they tried to oppose the King's prerogative of choosing his Prime Minister. The Tories have now repeated the same experiment, and with no greater success." He appears certainly very confident, and speaks of any intended opposition in Parliament as if he had no fear of it. As all the leading newspapers are in his favour, I enclose the only pamphlet of note that has appeared on the other side.

An infusion of Whiggism in the Ministry, by the accession of such a man as the Marquis of Lansdowne, might perhaps, after a while, have produced some favourable change in the policy of the Administration towards the United States. For the present, none can be expected. I do not believe that there is a single question between us in which the Ministers will not be supported by the public opinion of the country in taking rank ground against us. Our dependence for friendly arrangements rests solely on the superior sense of the Ministers Unfortunately Mr. Huskisson ((Colonial Secretary 1827, responsible for the repeal of the navigation laws.)) is less favourably disposed towards the United States, principally on the commercial subjects, than towards any other country. And, having to meet in other respects a formidable opposition to his plans, he may be disposed to regain some popularity with the shipping interest to pursuing with the United States measures inconsistent with his avowed general principles on that subject. If there is any reaction as relates to us, it must come from the West Indies, and perhaps, at last, from the manufacturing interests.

I have been compelled to remain perfectly quiet for the last months; but now that a temporary Administration is formed, which will last at least as long as this session of Parliament, I will ascertain in the course of next week whether it is intended that our negotiations should be resumed. Mr. Canning, on the 23rd, again expressed great regret that they should have been so long interrupted, and intimated his intention of having, within a few days, a special conversation with me.

I have the honour, and &c.,



People are returning to London, and it promises to be a very gay season. Already we have several invitations, but we are here for too short a time to make really any friends. The Court returns to Buckingham House in June, but there will not be any Court entertainments, which is a relief. London is looking her best now; the Park is gay with flowers. I ride out to Kew and Richmond in the early morning-before anybody is stirring. Lady Kensington has been most kind to mamma and Frances. Miss Edwards and the latter are inseparable. I go sometimes to Holland House, which is very beautiful.


Took Frances to Kew Gardens this afternoon. Flowers and plants beautiful. Dinner at the French Embassy. Glad to see some of my old Paris friends. Mr. Canning more and more odd in his manner. Lord Goderich had a long interview with father this morning.


Took Frances to Eton for the 4th of June. A fine company, a very charming sight. The procession of boats delightful and very English. We are stopping at the White Hart Inn, directly opposite the Castle. Lady Kensington, her son and daughter, are of our party.


Matters are going on very well, and father has great hopes of a speedy settlement. A splendid banquet at the Duke of Wellington's last night. A wonderful display of gold plate. A rout at Lady Lansdowne's. It took me exactly one hour to get from the top to the bottom of the stairs. I was wedged between Charles Greville and an immensely fat Dowager. We all three moved step by step together-and this is called pleasure. Dinner at Devonshire House to­night. The Court is at Buckingham House, but no entertaining.


Frances has just come in from a walk in the Mall. She made us guess whom she met-fat Miss Bates whom we brought from America with us. The King was in a wheeled chair; Lady Conyngham walking along side of him. The weather intolerably hot. Good news from home. All are well. Plenty of work for me to­night.


Work, work, work, nothing but work, copying dispatches, preparing drafts of treaty, only to be torn up and new ones made. Weather intolerably hot. I will be glad when all is signed and sealed and we can have a little breathing time. Mamma and Frances in their element as they are dining out every night, and routs and balls following. Mrs. Baring is most assiduous in her attentions and insists on chaperoning Frances when mamma is tired.


Bad rumours of Mr. Canning's health; some say he cannot possibly live.


Mr. Canning died on the 8th. Lord Goderich, much to father's delight, is Prime Minister. All will now be plain sailing. When this treaty is signed it will be a final and we hope a lasting one. Certainly nothing has been left to chance, every detail has been discussed, assuring peace for years to come.


LONDON, August 14, 1827


It is now understood that the new Administration of this country is to be but a continuation of that of Mr. Canning, to act on the same principles, and no new appointments to be made but those that are strictly necessary.

Lord Goderich is First Lord of the Treasury. Lord Harrowby, President of the Council, retires from office, principally on account of a domestic affliction. Marquis Lansdowne, Lord Dudley, and the other Ministers, with the exception perhaps of Mr. Huskisson, remain in their respective offices. The Duke of Wellington may resume his place of Commander­in­Chief, but without a seat in the Cabinet, which he could not with propriety have accepted, since his fellow­seceders were excluded. Mr. Peel, and this is the greatest loss to the Administration, cannot at this time come in, having so lately committed himself by his solemn declaration that his reason for resigning was that he could not make part of an Administration at the head of which was a friend to Catholic emancipation.

The places to be filled are: (1) the President of the Council; and I have not heard who is intended, perhaps the Duke of Portland; (2) Colonial Department, vacant by Lord Goderich's promotion; (3) Chancellor of the Exchequer, an office which as a peer he cannot fill. It is probable that the option of these two places will be given to Mr. Huskisson, now on the Continent, where he was to remain three months, but whom the late event will probably bring back. The last place is that for which he is best qualified, and to which he is called by public opinion-but his precarious health will probably induce him to take the Colonial Department, as less laborious and, above all, as requiring less public speaking. In that case Mr. Herries, the principal Under­Secretary of the Treasury, and a capable man, but without political influence, will probably be the Chancellor, though Lord Palmerston is also spoken of; and Mr. Grant, now Vice­President, will naturally become President of the Board of Trade.

The great difficulty is who shall succeed Mr. Canning as leader of the House of Commons. Mr. Peel, who would have more of their confidence than any other man, is out of the question; and all that can be hoped is that, agreeing on almost every subject but that of the Catholic emancipation with the members of the Cabinet, he will not become the leader of an opposition. Without him there hardly can be one in the House of Commons; and the return of the Duke of Wellington to the command of the Army would go far to paralyse that in the House of Lords, whilst it would add to the weight of the Administration abroad. Mr. Brougham is undoubtedly the first man in the House of Commons, superior to Mr. Canning in force and logic, at least equal in sarcastic powers, far more consistent in his political opinions; but these are much too rank for the House, and perhaps for the nation. Not even a moderate Whig would do for the present, and Mr. Brougham is, besides too harsh, better calculated to drive than to lead. Mr. Huskisson is, therefore, the only man; and he is accordingly looked on and intended as the Ministerial leader in the House.

This place, for it is one united to the superiority of his talents and energy over his colleagues, would make him in reality almost Prime Minister, if he was not rather a sensible than an eloquent speaker, and if it was not that he must govern through at least two of his associates-Lord Goderich, who besides all the patronage of his office, must be considered as the head of the moderate Tory Party, and Marquis Lansdowne, who is the head of almost the whole Whig Party; both also greatly and justly respected, and men of sound judgment and solid, if not showy, talents. Power will be more divided than under Mr. Canning. I think that the influence of Marquis Lansdowne would be greater if he could be transferred to the Foreign Office. As matters now stand, the great political questions will be decided by the Cabinet. Mr. Huskisson will have more weight in those affecting the finances of the country; he will direct almost exclusively (with the exception of the corn question) the commercial regulations, whether interior or in their connexion with foreign relations.

There will, therefore, be no change in the policy of Great Britain towards us. The question of Colonial intercourse was decided almost entirely by Mr. Huskisson's influence. He adheres to that decision, and immediately before leaving the country again committed himself in that respect by positive assurance to merchants interested in the subject. All the difficulties in renewing the commercial convention, and the determination not to renew it unless it might be rescinded at will, also originated with him. He has an undue and not very liberal jealousy of the increasing navigation of the United States. In other respects he cannot be said to be hostile to them; and he would wish that causes of actual rupture might be removed. I have reason to believe that he would be in favour of a satisfactory arrangement on the subject of impressment.

His views in regard of the country west of the Rocky Mountains are, on the whole, temperate, and the difficulties on the subject of the North­East Boundary cannot be ascribed to him. Whether his reign will las is extremely doubtful, his general health is precarious, and he has an organic affection of the throat, so serious that he never made a long speech during the last session of Parliament without experiencing a relapse.


A treaty was signed to­day which continues the Commercial Convention of 1815 indefinitely. All is now entirely satisfactorily settled and we return at once to America.


London empty. We have to go to Brighton to take formal leave of his Majesty. We sail on October 9. All left now for us to do is to settle our domestic affairs. Mamma and Frances are paying some farewell visits in the country. Father is serenely content and believes there will be peace for many years between Great Britain and the United States.


We embark to­morrow morning. The weather very bad. It is a bad season of the year but we must take our chance. Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Baring have accompanied us here-most kind of the latter. I leave with some regret, but long to see my dear wife and child. Now for a new life in the New World.

NOTE.-The following letter from Lord Ashburton to Albert Gallatin, seven years before the latter's death, is of interest as showing at once the friendly feeling between America and England which was the fruit of his labours,, and also the great esteem in which he himself was held.


WASHINGTON, April 12, 1842


My first destination was to approach America through New York, but the winds decided otherwise, and I was landed at Annapolis. In one respect only this was a disappointment, and a serious one. I should have much wished to seek you out in your retreat to renew an old and highly valued acquaintance, and I believe and hope I may add, friendship; to talk over with you the Old and New World, their follies and their wisdom, their present and bygone actors, all of which nobody understands so well as you do, and, what is more rare, nobody that has crossed my passage in life has appeared to me to judge with the same candid impartiality. This pleasure of meeting you is, I trust, only deferred. I shall, if I live to accomplish my work here, certainly not leave the country without an attempt to find you out and to draw a little wisdom from the best well, though it may be too late for my use in the work I have in hand and very much at heart.

You will probably be surprised at my undertaking this task at my period of life, and when I am left to my own thoughts I am sometimes surprised myself at my rashness. People here stare when I tell them that I listened to the debates in Congress on Mr. Jay's treaty in 1795, and seem to think that some antediluvian has come amongst them out of his grave. The truth is that I was tempted by my great anxiety in the cause, and the extreme peace between our countries. The latter circumstance induced my political friends to press this appointment upon me, and with much hesitation, founded solely upon my health and age, I yielded. In short, here I am. My reception has been everything I could expect or wish; but your experience will tell you that little can be inferred from this until real business is entered upon. I can only say that it shall not be my fault if we do not continue to live on better terms than we have lately done, and, if I do not understand the present very anomalous state of parties here, or misinterpret public opinion generally, there appears to be no class of politicians of any respectable character indisposed to peace with us on reasonable terms. I expect and desire to obtain no other, and my present character of a diplomatist is so new to me that I know no other course but candour and plain dealing. The most inexpert protocolist would beat me hollow at such work. I rely on your good wishes, my dear sir, though I have nothing else, and that you will believe me unfeignedly yours,


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