HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN in 1839, Attended by Viscount Melbourne, the Marquis of Conyngham, who raises his hat, the Hon. George S. Byng, the Earl of Uxbridge, and Sir George Quinton.

THE ardour and intelligence with which the Queen applied herself to master the details of ceremony and business incident to her position at the head of a great Empire, did not protect her from censorious and even malicious criticism. It was natural, perhaps, that the exclusive confidence reposed by Her Majesty in Lord Melbourne should excite the jealousy of others, whose exalted rank gave them what they considered a superior claim to access to the presence.

Search here for UK insurance such as directline car insurance or directline home insurance. Do you need some monthly car insurance?

Lord Melbourne's constant attendance at Court had compelled him to change his demeanour in a very remarkable degree. Hitherto, his affectation had been to conceal all traces of seriousness in transacting business he would sprawl on a sofa, blow a feather about the room, balance a chair, or dandle a cushion while receiving deputations - the very incarnation of indolence - to the despair of those who anxiously desired to engage his attention, and who could scarcely be persuaded by those who knew him best that he had spent strenuous hours in getting up the subject under discussion, was perfectly acquainted with all its details, and was, besides, listening most attentively to all that was said. His physician, Dr. Copeland, knew how really hard the Prime Minister worked, and told Bishop Wilberforce that he (Melbourne) used to transact business all day in his bedroom with his secretaries in order that bores might be dismissed with the information that " my lord had not yet left his bedroom."

But besides this tiresome frivolity of manner, there was another habit in regard to which Melbourne had to put severe restraint on himself in the Royal presence. It had been his custom to season his conversation with a multitude of indecorous oaths. Mr. Denison (afterwards Speaker, and subsequently Viscount Ossington) spoke to him one day about some points in the Poor Law Bill, then under consideration. Melbourne was just going out for a ride, and referred Denison to his brother George. " I have been with him," replied Denison, " but he damned me, and damned the Bill, and damned the paupers." " Well, damn it ! what more could he do ? " quoth Melbourne, and rode off.

In spite of all his affectation and a degree of underlying weakness, this Minister performed a singularly valuable public service to his country in the support and advice he afforded the Queen at the most critical time of her life ; a service that was explicitly and handsomely acknowledged in the House of Lords by his chief opponent there, the Duke of Wellington, in 1841.

Site Copyright Worldwide 2010. Text and poetry written by Sir Hubert Maxwell is not to be reproduced without express Permission.