What would Christmas be without our trimming the tree? Some believe that it was Prince Albert who introduced the custom of the Christmas tree to England, while others maintain that they were introduced to England by King George III’s German wife, Queen Charlotte. However, it was only circa 1848, after the London Illustrated News ran the engraving depicting showing Queen Victoria and Prince Albert celebrating around the Christmas tree with their children (above) that this tradition caught on with the public.
The painting above, Queen Victoria’s Christmas tree at Windsor in 1850 as painted by James Roberts (1824 – 1867), depicts presents around the tree from Prince Albert. We thought it might prove amusing to see what others had written about the Christmas tree in centuries past.
From Recollections from 1803 to 1837 by Amelia Murray:
“Christmas-trees are now common. In the early part of this century they were seldom seen, but Queen Charlotte always had one dressed up in the room of Madame Berkendorff, her German attendant; it was hung with presents for the children, who were invited to see it, and I well remember the pleasure it was to hunt for one’s own name, which was sure to be attached to one or more of the pretty gifts.”
From 20 Years at Court
The Hon. Eleanor Stanley (maid of honour to Queen Victoria, 1842-1862) to her Mother, Lady Mary Stanley, Windsor Castle, Saturday, Dec. 25th, 1847.
“Dearest Mama,—A merry Xmas, and many happy returns of the day to you and all the family at the dear old Castle. Yesterday evening we were desired, at a quarter to seven, to come down to the Corridor, to get our Gifts; we found all the gentlemen and Mrs. Anson already assembled, and presently the page desired us to go to the Oak-room, where the Queen and Prince already were, standing by a large table covered with a white cloth, in the middle of which was a little fir-tree, in the German fashion, covered with bonbons, gilt walnuts, and little coloured tapers. I send a bonbon as a Christmas box to little Blanche, which I took off the tree. . . . The children had each a little table with their new toys, and were running about in great glee showing them off; Prince Alfred, in a glorious tinsel helmet that almost covered his face, was shooting us all with a new gun, and Princess Alice was making us admire her dolls, etc. They had one Christmas tree among them, like us, but the Queen, Prince, and Duchess had each one, and altogether I never saw anything prettier than the whole arrangement.”
From The Memoirs of Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck
Cambridge Cottage, January 1, 1848.
“My Dearest Draperchen, (her former governess, Miss Draper, whom she addressed as ‘Ma chere Draperchen), . . . Our Christmas went off very well. The room was beautifully decorated ; there were four fine trees, and these were connected by wreaths of laurel evergreens and holly.”
by the same author
Cambridge Cottage, January 9, 1849
“The Christmas holidays have been very happily spent by the inmates of Cambridge Cottage, and I have received a number of cadeaux! Our Trees were arranged in the Conservatory, which was hung with festoons of evergreens, from which transparent lamps were suspended. The whole was well lighted up, and looked remarkably pretty, and the three trees were quite covered with bon-bons and fruit.”
From My Reminiscences By Lord Ronald Sutherland Gower
“At Trentham, Christmas 1854, I find, on turning the pages of that record of my early years, much detail regarding our Christmas gifts and of the Christmas tree; now so general in English homes at Yuletide, but then hardly seen but in a few English houses. Our German tutor claimed to have introduced this pretty custom in this country in our family, the first implanted out of Germany having been erected by him in the hall at Stafford House. Until recently there was always one of these Christmas trees, richly decked, placed in one of the drawing-rooms at Trentham on Christmas Eve; and the household attended to see the illuminations and receive the gifts that were one by one cut off from the lighted boughs. No one was forgotten, from the most honored of the guests down to the kitchen-maids and stable-men. Christmas was worthily maintained in those days at Trentham. Generally after the tree there came a ball for the servants, given in a long gallery overlooking the stable-yard. All took part in the dances, which, with itscountry dances and Highland flings and reels, when the Scotch piper was in great demand, were always most successful festivities.”
From Letters by Lady Harcourt, December 17, 1885
“Yesterday I made an excursion to the city with Hilda Deichmann and her husband to buy things for our Christmas trees. It was most amusing ransacking in all the big wholesale houses, and reminded me of my childish days and similar expeditions to Maiden Lane . . . . . . . . Our shopping was most successful. All the prettiest things come from the German shops. The ginger-bread animals were wonderful,—some horses and dogs with gilt tails and ears most effective. The decorations were really very pretty—the stars and angels quite charming.”
by the same author
To G. K. S., Albert Gate, London, December 24, 1885.
“The sisters and I have been shopping all day getting the last things for the tree, which is to be on the 26th. The streets are most animated, full of people, all carrying parcels, and all with smiling faces. . . We wound up at the Army and Navy Stores, and really had some difficulty in getting in. They had quantities of Christmas trees already decorated, which were being sold as fast as they were brought in.”
Following the Number One London Georgian Tour, Vicky flew in and met me in London for a night before we headed off on our epic research journey, visiting three Archives that hold documents related to the Duke of Wellington. Our first stop was the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading. We had booked a hotel in nearby Caversham and our good friend, author Beth Elliott was kind enough to pick us up at the station.
You’ve heard me speak of Beth here on the blog before. She’s the sort of friend who is a comfort, a joy and who also happens to be very funny. In an understated English way. So, Beth collected us at the train station and drove Vicky and me to our riverside hotel, where we met a gaggle of other local residents.
Later that evening, we all went out to the nearby carvery and indulged in that most comforting of British food, the Sunday Roast, even though it was actually a Wednesday.
Next day, Vicky and I headed off to the Museum of English Rural Life.
We had ordered the documents we wished to see in advance, one of which was the Marriage Settlement between Richard, Marquis Wellesley and Maryanne Patterson, below. You’ll see that the Duke of Wellington was one of the executors of the Settlement. Between his brother and his former mistress. Yes, you read that correctly.
We spent the entire day reading historic documents and attempting to read Wellington’s handwriting. Boxes and boxes of letters and documents. Naturally, by the end of the day, Vicky and I were ready for a drink. And when we met up with Beth later that evening, we told her we’d love to have a plate of roast beef for dinner. Again. So we did.
Afterwards, we strolled through historic Caversham, which, as Cavesham, was mentioned in the Domesday Book and which sits on the north bank of the Thames.
Good friends, good food and good Wellington documents. As you can imagine, it was a wonderfully satisfying day. And one I’ll always remember. More to come . . . .
The following letters were all addressed to Lady Salisbury –
Walmer, October 11, 1850
“I sent my instruction to my Deputy Ranger yesterday of which I will send you a copy as soon as I can get one! You will see that they settle the affair. I have another likewise at the Office of Woods about the Squatter in Hyde Park, and I hope to shake that Lady off without very much difficulty. But we must proceed with caution and Regularity. . . . . .”
Walmer, October 13, 1850
“I have had nothing very interesting to tell you in the last two days! My time has been principally occupied by the Mad Men and Mad Women by whom I am pestered constantly! It is quite curious with what a number of Insane persons I am in relation. Mad retired Officers, Mad Women, etc.! I found last session that there is a Society established for the protection of those who are insane, or charged with insanity, and the Head of which is a Madman; one of the Percevals.
“I have heard no more of the Squatter! If you remember there is on the right hand side of what is called the Rotten Row, that is the Riding Road up the Park to Kensington Gardens and Kensington, a Mound or Bank which retains the water in what is called the Serpentine River! This house is placed on this mound, or rather in a Space scooped out of its thickness! for I have never seen the house!
“I rather suspect that the Woman had been allowed to establish a sort of stall on this Spot for selling oranges, cakes, etc. It is situated near a fountain, and that she has contrived to build Houses on the spot on which she had been permitted to have a stall for the sale of her oranges and Cakes. However she became established, I entertain no doubt that it will be a troublesome job to remove her! and I have determined that I will go to work regularly.”
Walmer, October 15, 1850
“You will be surprised to learn that I am going to London. I am going there on the principle that the only animal who is never allowed to have any rest is the Duke of Wellington . . . I propose to avail myself of the opportunity of getting upon my horse and taking a look at the position of the Squatter in Hyde Park.
“When Sir Harry Smith was in England a year or two ago, he reminded me of my old Practice with the Army.
“When there was any difficulty and they came to me to report it, and to ask what they should do, my answer was, `I will get upon my Horse and take a look; and then tell you!’ Accordingly, as soon as I shall reach my own House to-morrow, I will get upon my horse and take a look at the position of this Squatter! and I think that I shall have no difficulty in pointing out the mode as settling that one! . . . . ”
London, October 17, 1850
“. . . . I arrived in town prosperously yesterday afternoon; and in conformity with my intention mounted my horse and went to take a look at the position of the Squatter! She is not exactly at the Fountain, very little further on; and higher up the Bank! I entertain no doubt that it will not be difficult to remove her if necessary! But I hope that we shall prevail upon her to move off without the necessity of compulsion . . . . As long as the Duke of Cambridge was Ranger, and since his Death, nobody ever thought of wanting Police in the Parks; but now that I am Ranger, everybody has discovered that they cannot walk or take the air in security. . . . ”
Walmer, October 18, 1850
” . . . . . I went to take a look at the Squatter’s Premises in Hyde Park! They are quite distinct from the Fountain with which you are acquainted in which there is a spring of pure water! This last is lower down the Bank and nearer Rotten Row . . . . . ”
London, November 15, 1850
“. . . . Before I went to Bed at night, I received the usual summonses to attend Christenings, Dinners, Concerts, etc., this day and to-morrow. In short, there is no end of the demands upon my time . . . I have the pleasure of informing you we have got rid of the Squatter in the Park. She has quitted her Residence, which has been pulled down and the ground on which it stood or rather fell has been levelled.”
This was not the end of the matter. The Squatter, namely a Mrs. Ann Hicks, was subsequently arrested in August of 1851 for selling refreshments outside the Crystal Palace. She claimed that her grandfather had rescued King George II from drowning in the Serpentine and that her family had subsequently been granted life tenancy in the Park. Her case was heard and dismissed by the House of Commons and a public appeal raised enough funds to purchase Mrs. Hicks passage to join her family in Australia.
The Duke of Wellington died at Walmer Castle on September 14, 1852
From The History of Walmer and Walmer Castle by Charles Robert Stebbing Elvin (1894)
“The Duke of Wellington was Lord Warden (of the Cinque Ports) for nearly four and twenty years, and during all that time rarely missed coming to Walmer after the prorogation of Parliament, staying usually till about the middle of November; and, before leaving for Strathfieldsaye, generally held at Dover a Court of Lodemanage, to discuss and settle the affairs of the Cinque Ports’ pilots.
” . . . The Duke was accustomed to rise early, but, on September 14th, 1852, when his valet called him as usual at six o’clock, he found the Duke particularly drowsy, and thought it best to leave him undisturbed for an hour longer. He therefore withdrew, but remained within hearing. It was fortunate he did so, for soon after he was alarmed at hearing groans from the Duke’s room, and on re-entering was requested to send for Dr. Hulke of Deal, who came, prescribed some simple remedies, and, seeing nothing serious in the Duke’s condition, departed. Shortly after this, however, the Duke became much worse, and messages were despatched for further help. On the return of Dr. Hulke with his son and Dr. McArthur, they found his Grace breathing laboriously, unconscious, and very restless. To assist respiration he was raised and put into his easy chair, where for a time he breathed more freely; but the end was very near, and at five and twenty minutes past three he expired. A message had meanwhile been sent to London for Dr. Williams, who only arrived in time to find the mortal remains of his illustrious patient laid out upon his little camp-bed.
“The Union Jack now drooped at half-mast high upon the castle ramparts; announcing to the world that the Iron Duke, the nation’s idol was no more. The body of the departed hero remained at Walmer Castle until the eleventh of November, in the irregularly-shaped room shown in the engraving; which still retains the name of “The Duke’s Room.” The scene at Walmer, subsequent to the removal, cannot be better described than in the following extract from a contemporary record, which conveys a most graphic idea of all the solemn proceedings of this time :—” In the small irregularly shaped death-chamber lay the body of the Duke, inclosed in an outer coffin covered with crimson velvet, and with handles and funeral decorations richly gilt. On the lid, near the head, rested the ducal coronet, and beyond it the pall, gathered back, to give visitors a complete view. The coffin rested on a low stand, covered with black cloth, round which candelabra with huge wax lights and plumes of feathers were arranged. The walls and roof of the small apartment were, of course, hung with black cloth, the single deep-recessed window closed, and candles, reflected against silver sconces, barely relieved the gloom of the sombre display. Visitors entering at one door passed by the end of the coffin, and then out at another without interruption. The ante-chambers and corriders were also darkened, hung with black, and lighted with candles placed at intervals on the side walls.
“The first day for admission of the public was Tuesday (Nov. 9th). Through the low strong archway of the entrance the visitors passed, first, along the curved glass-covered passage, then through the dimly lighted anterooms into the chamber of death, and then along corridors and down staircases and across the garden on to the beach. All the way at a few paces distance from each other on either hand, the guard of honour of the Rifle Brigade were placed, each man with his arms reversed, and leaning in a sorrowful attitude on his musket. Along the beach, as far as the eye could reach towards Deal, a long train of visitors dressed in mourning passed and repassed throughout the day, while from greater distances conveyances arrived and took their departure in quick succession.
“The stream of visitors continued throughout the Tuesday, and until four o’clock in the afternoon of the following day; during which time upwards of nine thousand people are said to have visited the chamber of the late Duke to witness the lying in state. But about 7 p.m. on Wednesday (Nov. 10th), the body was removed to Deal Station, en route for London, under an escort of about 150 men of the Rifle Brigade, commanded by Colonel Beckwith, and attended by mourning coaches in which were seated the Duke’s eldest son and successor, Lord Arthur Hay, Captain Watts, Mr. Marsh of the Lord Chamberlain’s office, and others.
“As the funeral cortege prepared to leave the grounds, the solemn booming of the minute-guns resounded from the castle walls; while the wind brought back the echo from Deal and Sandown, where the like honour was paid to the memory of the deceased. Down the “sombre avenue,” lighted by the lurid glare from the flambeaux with which a body of men led the way, and through the silent crowds who lined the road undeterred by chill darkness of a November night, winded the slow procession; moving with measured tread, until at length they reached Deal Station; the melancholy march of a mile and three-quarters having occupied no less than one hour and a half. There they were awaited by Mr. James Macgregor, M.P., the chairman of the South-Eastern Railway Company; and the hearse having been transferred to a truck, the journey onward to London was resumed at a quarter past nine.
“On arriving at the Bricklayers’ Arms station, the hearse with the coffin was removed to Chelsea Hospital, under an escort of the 1st Life Guards; and there the remains of the Duke continued to lie in state till removed for the Grand State Funeral which took place on the following Thursday, November 18th.
“In 1861, shortly after the appointment of Lord Palmerston (as Lord of the Cinque Ports), several articles were removed from (the Duke of Wellington’s room at Walmer) to Apsley House, with the consent of Lord Dalhousie’s executors, in consequence of a threatened sale by auction; but these have all been recently restored, through the generosity of the present Duke of Wellington, as related further on; and “The Duke’s Room” is once again as it used to be, even to the yellow moreen curtains and the orignal bedding and chair-cover. The bookshelves have, however, been wisely covered with glass doors, and so converted into a cabinet, in which many articles of interest are kept under lock and key; including the Duke’s set of his own printed despatches, in twelve vols., the first volume of which has been despoiled of its title-page by some thief, or thievish collector, for the sake no doubt of the autograph. This cabinet also contains, among other things, two pairs of “Wellington” boots, and a volume of Statutes relating to the Cinque Ports, of the date of 1726. The latter was presented to the Duke of Wellington by Lord Mahon, and contains the autograph of each. One pair of the “Wellingtons,” described in the schedule of heirlooms as a pair of “Field Marshall’s ‘Wellington’ boots,” are believed to be the same that were worn by the Duke at the Battle of Waterloo. The famous camp-bedstead has now a green velvet coverlet, presented by the Countess of Derby in 1893.
“The engravings in this room include portraits of Mrs. Siddons, Mr. Burke, and Lord Onslow, as well as the Duke’s print of the Chelsea pensioners reading the Gazette announcing the victory at Waterloo; and in the adjoining dressing-room, is a curious piece of work, made by the Duke’s house carpenter and shown at the Exhibition in 1851, being the representation of Strathfieldsaye House, in the form of a picture, composed it is said of 3,500 pieces of wood. The Duke of Wellington thought so much of this picture that it used to hang during his lifetime in the dining-room.”
The following correspondence is from The Despatches, Correspondence, and Memoranda of Field Marshal Arthur, Duke of Wellington
Wellington’s letter to Mr. Bankhead
London, 9th Aug.. 1822
Dear Sir: I called upon you with the intention of talking to you about Lord Londonderry, and of requesting you would call upon him. He promised me that he would send for you, but, lest he should not, I entreat you to find some pretence for going down to him. I entertain no doubt that he is very unwell. It appears that he has been overworked during the session, and that his mind is overpowered for the moment and labours under a delusion. I state the impression made upon me in the interview I have just had with him. I told him that this was my impression, and I think it is his own, and he will probably communicate it to you; but, lest he should not, I tell you what I think, begging you never to mention to anybody what I have told you. I am setting out this moment for the Netherlands; I would have stayed with Lord Londonderry, but he would not allow me. I shall be very much obliged to you if you will write me a line and have it left at my house to let me know how you find him, and particularly if you think I am mistaken.
Ever, dear Sir, yours most faithfully,
Mr. Bankhead to Field Marshall the Duke of Wellington
Lower Brook Street, 9th Aug., 1822
I am this moment (8 o’clock) returned to my own house from Lord Londonderry’s, where I have been for two hours; and I lose not a moment in answering the letter which your Grace has condescended to write to me. Thirty years intimacy with Lord Londonderry makes me know his peculiarities intimately. His nerves are never unstrung unless when he has some bodily indisposition. I conceive that at this moment he has a preternatural fullness of the vessels of the head, and that this (rather than the wear and tear of work) makes him nervous. I have had him cupped, and he experiences the greatest possible relief in the feelings of his head and of his mental competency.
He is gone down to Cray with Lady Castlereagh, and I purpose to see him there to-morrow. Perhaps a feverish affection of a few days may follow this casual derangement of the system, but knowing the natural soundness of Lord Londonderry’s constitution, I have no doubt but that by quietness and ordinary care of a few days he is likely soon again to be reinstated in his general health.
I know that Lady Londonderry has written a few lines to your Grace before she left St. James’s Square.
I have the honour to be,
your Grace’s most obedient humble servant,
To the Duke of Wellington from the Marchioness of Londonderry
London, 9th Aug., 1822.
My Lord: From your kind feeling with respect to Lord Londonderry I am sure you will be glad to hear that he saw Bankhead, who ordered him to be cupped. The blood resembled jelly, and he was instantly relieved, and I have hopes that he will be well in a few days; but I really think he was upon the verge of a brain fever.
Yours most sincerely,
Lord Fitzroy Somerset to Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington.
London, 12th August, 1822.
My Dear Lord
It is with great concern that I have to announce to you the melancholy intelligence of the death of Lord Londonderry, which took place, by his own hands, this morning between seven and eight o’clock.
I enclose a copy of Bankhead’s statement, which will show you what occurred from the time you first sent him to attend Lord Londonderry, and will prove to you that you were right in the apprehensions you expressed to Bankhcad that his mind was not what it ought to be.
Lord Liverpool, whom I saw as soon as he arrived from Combe Wood, desired me to communicate this lamentable event to you, and to express to you his wish that you should return to England immediately. He is in the greatest distress. His first idea was to set off for Scotland immediately, and break the intelligence to his Majesty himself; but upon reflection he has thought it best not to leave London, but to depute Mr. Peel to do that office for him. He laments your absence amazingly, and would have requested you to go to the King if you had been in the way. As it is, however, his Majesty is better prepared for the shock than anybody else, for he mentioned to Lord Liverpool on Saturday, that he had seen Lord Londonderry the day before, and was quite convinced that he was not right in his mind, and that he felt great alarm for the consequences of the break up of such a mind as Lord Londonderry’s.
Lord Liverpool has written to the King, and entreated his Majesty not to make any arrangement for filling Lord Londonderry’s office till his return from Scotland, assuring him that
he will keep the machine going till that time in the best way he can.
I understand from Bankhead that Lady Londonderry apprehended the possibility of Lord Londonderry’s making away with himself, and placed everything out of his reach that she thought him likely to make use of; but unfortunately he had in one of his despatch-boxes the knife with which eventually he put an end to his life. He had got up in the night and gone into the dressing-room to wash his face, and then returned quietly to his bed.
I presume you will be able to arrive here between Thursday and Friday. Lord Liverpool looks forward to your return with great anxiety. Lord Westmorland and Lord Maryborough are the only ministers in town. The latter would have written to you, but Lord Liverpool has employed him to write to Lord Harrowby and Lord Wellesley; and as I am writing, he thinks it unnecessary to do so.
Your most faithful and affectionate,
Fife House, 12th Aug., 1822.
From the time Dr. Bankhead first saw Lord Londonderry on Friday evening last he was satisfied that his head was seriously affected, and that he laboured under very general mental delusion. He had been cupped in his house in St. James’s Square on that evening, from which he seemed much relieved; and in the quiet of the evening Lord and Lady Londonderry went down to Cray, Dr. Bankhead promising to follow them the next day, and to stay at Cray all Sunday. On Friday night Lord Londonderry was restless, and asking many questions during the night, which manifested incoherence and delirium. On Saturday morning he took some opening medicine which Dr. Bankhead had sent him, remained in his bed all the day, and was kept particularly quiet, using slops only as nourishment, and barley-water as drink.
When Dr. Bankhead arrived at Cray in the afternoon of Saturday he found Lord Londonderry rather better from the favourable operation of the cooling medicine, but still there was heat and fever, great thirst, and an unusual watchfulness and suspicion of manner, and a constant anxiety lest he should not be well enough to go abroad in the appointed time. He asked several questions very irrelevant and quite at variance with his usual calm manner. In the night of Saturday he had some refreshing sleep, but on the whole of Sunday his fever still continued, as well as the delirium and unhappiness of mind and manner. Dr. Bankhead quitted his room about midnight, leaving his Lordship tolerably comfortable, and Lady Londonderry in the room with him, both retiring to rest. Dr. Bankhead slept in a room close to his Lordship, and on the morning of this day, about 7 o’clock, Lady Londonderry’s maid called him, saying that Lord Londonderry wished to see him. Dr. Bankhead instantly repaired to the bedroom, but found that his Lordship had that moment gone into the dressing-room adjoining to the bedroom. On entering this instantly, the Doctor saw Lord Londonderry standing opposite to the window with his face to the ceiling, having on his dressing-gown. The Doctor immediately ran towards him, saying, “My dear Lord, why do you stand so?” upon which, without turning, he answered, “Bankhead, let me fall upon your arm; it is all over.” In the agony of the moment, Dr. Bankhead caught him on his arm, and, dreadful to relate, saw a short-bladed knife in his right hand fiercely clenched, with which he had deeply divided the carotid artery; and from the sudden effusion of blood he fell instantly from Dr. Bankhead’s arms on his face upon the floor, and was instantly dead without a struggle.
The Duke then wrote:
13th Aug., 1822.
I saw Lord Londonderry frequently during the last days of his life.
I dined with him on Saturday, the 3rd of August, at Cray, and sat next to him at dinner. There was a very large party, and I thought Lord Londonderry was in particularly good spirits at dinner.
I had occasion, both before and after dinner, to talk to him on subjects on which the delusions of his mind would have appeared, if he had at that time laboured under any. They related to certain anonymous letters received by Mr. Arbuthnot and others of the Treasury, which were known to come from a person by the name of Jennings, who had been under examination before a committee of the House of Commons; and although I thought Lord Londonderry was cold in his manner on the subject of some of these letters, which was not unusual with him, I never saw him more decided or more clear in his opinion. I saw a letter from him to Mr. Arbuthnot on the same subject the next day, Sunday, the 4th of August, in which he expressed himself with more than usual clearness and decision.
I did not see Lord Londonderry on Monday the 5th, but on Tuesday the 6th he came to the Ordnance office early, to a meeting of certain persons to consider of the means of reforming the commissariat in Canada. Upon this occasion I thought him very low. He took no part in the discussion, and manifested no interest in it. After the meeting had broken up he waited to talk to Mr. Arbuthnot and me about Jennings’s letters, about which he showed that he felt more than I thought he had on the preceding Saturday, but there was no appearance of agitation respecting them.
I met Lord Londonderry at the Cabinet on Wednesday the 7th of August. The subject of discussion was the instructions for himself on his mission to Vienna. Lord Liverpool read them to the Cabinet, and there was some discussion upon them; but Lord Londonderry took no part in the discussion, and he appeared very low, out of spirits, and unwell. There was, however, no appearance of agitation. After the Cabinet was over I went into Mr. Beckett’s, and after leaving him I met Lord Londonderry as he was coming out by the back door of his office. We walked together through the Park and the Ordnance office to his own house. Lord Londonderry was remarkably low and silent. He held me by the arm, but scarcely said a word; but there was no symptom of agitation.
After leaving him at his door I returned to my office, and in about half an hour went to Carlton House to take leave of the King previous to my departure for the Netherlands. I found Lord Londonderry at Carlton House. The King was gone out, and I walked with Lord Londonderry back to his own house, where I left him. He was equally low as before.
I had occasion, in about an hour afterwards, to go to my own house, and as I was returning down the Park I stopped to speak to his Royal Highness the Duke of York, who was in his buggy. Lord Londonderry came up the Park on horseback, and joined us, and in a few seconds I left him and the Duke of York together; he then appeared very low and out of spirits.
I did not see him on Thursday the 8th of August.
On Friday the 9th I was proceeding on horseback through St James’s Square from the Ordnance office to my own house, to set out for the Continent at about four o’clock in the afternoon. Lady Londonderry called to me, and was talking to me from her window, when Lord Londonderry passed me in rather a quick and hurried pace, and told me he wanted to speak to me. I followed him into his house and his room.
I cannot give a better account of what passed in this interview than by copying a letter which I wrote to Mr. Arbuthnot (who had left London that evening) immediately after it was concluded, before I set out for Dover:—
London, 9th August, 1822.
My Dear Arbuthnot
“I am just setting off, but I cannot go without making you acquainted with the impression made upon my mind by an interview I have just had with Lord Londonderry.
“It appears to me that his mind and body have been overpowered by the work of the session, and that he is at this moment in a state of mental delusion. He took me into his house to talk to me about the same story that he told to you and to Lord Liverpool; and, strange to say, he imagined from my manner at the last Cabinet and afterwards walking home with him that I had heard of something against him and believed it. He thought the same of the Duke of York; and he told me some strange story of a man telling him this day that his horses were waiting for him when he was coming out of Carlton House, of his not having ordered his horses to town, and of the arrival of the horses, and of his being informed of their arrival, as proofs that the person who had ordered up his horses, and that the person who informed him they were waiting, thought there was so much against him that he ought to fly the country. This impression was so strong upon his mind that he rung the bell to desire that inquiry might be made as to who had ordered up his horses, and the delusion was not removed till he was informed that the horses were not in town.
“He is certainly very unwell, and I did not conceal from him my opinion that he was so, and that his mind was not in its usual and proper state. I offered to stay with him, but he would not allow me, as he said it would make people believe that there was some reason for it. I begged him to send for Dr. Bankhead, and, between ourselves, I have informed Dr. Bankhead that it is my opinion that he is labouring under a temporary delusion. He cried excessively while talking to me, and appeared relieved by it and by his conversation with me, and he promised me to see Bankhead.
“I am afraid that he has mentioned the story above referred to, to more persons than Lord Liverpool, you, and me. I have entreated him to say no more about it to anybody, but I fear he will.
“I write you all this in order to urge you to see him as soon as you can after you will return to London and observe him well, and see if his mind is quite right. If it is not, and he should go abroad, I think you ought to make him take Bankhead with him; and, if that is not accomplished, I think you ought to mention the matter to Planta. Otherwise, it is my opinion that this impression of mine should never go beyond ourselves.
“He is quite clear and right about public matters, but agreed with me that his mind had been overpowered by the work of the session, and that he was labouring under a delusion.
“Destroy this letter, and believe me, etc. Wellington.”
The remains of the noble Marquess, after lying in state for several days, were removed from his house in St. James’s Square, followed by the Ministers of State, principal Nobility, and private friends of his Lordship, in carriages, and interred, with funeral pomp, in Westminster Abbey, on Thursday, the 22d of August, 1822.