HL Deb 14 May 1839 vol 47 cc1008-22
Viscount Melbourne

said: My Lords, I hope your Lordships will excuse me when I come forward and throw myself upon the consideration of your Lordships for having, for one night after the announcement that I made on Tuesday last of my having tendered to her Majesty the resignation of the office which I held, of her Majesty having accepted the same, and of her Majesty having graciously requested me and my colleagues to retain office, until her Majesty should have made such arrangements as would lead to the appointment of our successors,—I say, my Lords, that I owe to your Lordships an apology for having appeared for one night again as a Minister of the Crown, without at the same time seizing an opportunity of explaining what has taken place, and stating the grounds on which I departed from the resolution which I before announced to your Lordships. My Lords, I thought it not unnatural—those negotiations, of which an account was to be given, having been conducted by other persons, I necessarily being wholly ignorant of them, and they being known only to two persons, one of whom only, as has been well expressed, is present in Parliament to give an account of them—I say, my Lords, it did appear to me not unnatural to expect that those who had been engaged in those negociations, or some person on their part, would begin by making some statements of those parts of the transactions of which they were witnesses. I had, my Lords, some expectation that such a course would in the first instance have been pursued in this House, and I felt perfectly certain, from the communications that have taken place, that the course would have been pursued in this House which has been pursued in another place; and I thought that it would much more tend to an accurate, a comprehensive, and a dispassionate consideration of the subject, that a statement of those parts of these transactions should be made by those cognizant of them, because from the statement so made, and from the documents produced, I should be able to judge how far it would be necessary for me to make a supplementary statement, or to produce more information or other documents, or to state generally what might be necessary to be said, in order to place the matter before this House in the fullest manner, and at the same time in the most satisfactory form. My Lords, these are the reasons by which I have been delayed from making a statement on a former occasion, for which omission I very humbly beg leave to beg your Lordships' pardon. My Lords, permission, as your Lordships know, has been given by her Majesty to a right hon. Baronet, a Member of the other House, and to the noble Duke opposite, to release them from the obligations which they took upon themselves; and her Majesty has permitted them to state the circumstances of the case to this House, if they think proper, and to make use for that purpose of the documents which have passed between her Majesty and themselves. I now beg leave very succinctly and very shortly to state to the House the part I have borne in these transactions. On Tuesday morning the vote of the House of Commons occurred, and in the course of that day, namely, on Tuesday, as I have already stated, I and my colleagues tendered our resignations to her Majesty, and upon the meeting of this House on Tuesday, I declared to your Lordships the fact. On Wednesday morning I had, as I conceived, my last audience of her Majesty. As I understand the negotiations, in the first place the noble Duke opposite was sent for by her Majesty, and afterwards the right hon. Baronet, who takes so extremely prominent a part in the other House of Parliament. On Thursday evening, about six o'clock, I was again summoned by her Majesty, and upon being admitted into her Majesty's presence, her Majesty informed me, that her Majesty considered that the negotiations with the right hon. Baronet were, in effect, at an end, and were terminated; that her Majesty had granted one or two audiences to the right hon. Baronet, and that at the audience of that morning the right hon. Baronet proposed to her Majesty the arrangements that had been made by him for the construction of a Ministry; but that at the close of that audience the right hon. Baronet made a proposal, that he should have the power of dismissing the ladies of her Majesty's household, not stating to what extent he would exercise that power—not stating how many, or whom, it was his intention to propose to remove—but asking the power of dismissing the ladies of the household, and leaving unquestionably upon her Majesty's mind a very strong impression, that it was intended to employ that power to a very great extent—to such an extent, certainly, as to remove all the ladies of the bedchamber, as well as some of those filling an inferior situation in the household. Such, my Lords, was the impression on her Majesty's mind—an impression which, from what has since transpired, is evidently erroneous. No doubt such an impression was a mistaken one. The right hon. Baronet has distinctly stated, that he had no such intention, and there cannot be the slightest doubt upon the point. Her Majesty informed me that she considered the negotiations at an end, and that she had promised the right hon. Baronet to send him a final answer, and that she had recourse again to my advice and assistance; and her Majesty requested me, to advise her with respect to the form of the answer by which she should communicate her determination, of which the right hon. Baronet had been already apprised. My Lords, it is evident that it was not for me alone to come to any determination on this subject, and I immediately therefore summoned the rest of my colleagues. We held a meeting—I told them the whole circumstances of the case, and unquestionably being of opinion that her Majesty was justified in the course which she had taken—being unquestionably of opinion that it was not advisable, not fitting, not just, either for her Majesty's present comfort or for the future happiness of her reign, that the ladies of her household should be subject to the changes and vicissitudes of political parties—unquestionably we did advise her Majesty to return to the right hon. Baronet the following answer:— Buckingham Palace, May 10, 1839. The Queen, having considered the proposal made to her yesterday by Sir Robert Peel, to remove the ladies of her bedchamber, cannot consent to adopt a course which she conceives to be contrary to usage, and which is repugnant to her feelings. To this letter, after two or three hours, her Majesty received from the right hon. Baronet the following answer:— Whitehall, May 10, 1839. Sir Robert Peel presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and has had the honour of receiving your Majesty's note of this morning. "In respectfully submitting to your Majesty's pleasure, and humbly returning into your Majesty's hands the important trust which your Majesty has been graciously pleased to commit to him, Sir Robert Peel, trusts that your Majesty will permit him to state to your Majesty his impression with respect to the circumstances which have led to the termination of his attempt to form an administration for the conduct of your Majesty's service. In the interview with which your Majesty honoured Sir Robert Peel yesterday morning, after he had submitted to your Majesty the names of those whom he proposed to recommend to your Majesty for the principal executive appointments, he mentioned to your Majesty his earnest wish to be enabled, with your Majesty's sanction, so to constitute your Majesty's household, that your Majesty's confidential servants might have the advantage of a public demonstration of your Majesty's full support and confidence, and that at the same time, as far as possible consistently with that demonstration, each individual appointment in the household should be entirely acceptable to your Majesty's personal feelings. On your Majesty's expressing a desire that the Earl of Liverpool should hold an office in the household, Sir Robert Peel requested your Majesty's permission at once to offer to Lord Liverpool the office of Lord Steward, or any other which he might prefer. Sir Robert Peel then observed, that he should have every wish to apply a similar principle to the chief appointments which are filled by the ladies of your Majesty's household, upon which your Majesty was pleased to remark, that you must reserve the whole of those appointments, and that it was your Majesty's pleasure that the whole should continue as at present, without any change. The Duke of Wellington, in the interview to which your Majesty subsequently admitted him, understood also that this was your Majesty's determination, and concurred with Sir Robert Peel in opinion, that considering the great difficulties which at the present crisis, and the expediency of making every effort in the first instance to conduct the public business of the country with the aid of the present Parliament, it was essential to the success of the commission with which your Majesty had honoured Sir Robert Peel, that he should have that public proof of your Majesty's entire support and confidence which would be afforded by the permission to make some changes in that part of your Majesty's house- hold, which your Majesty resolved on maintaining entirely without change. Having had the opportunity through your Majesty's gracious consideration, of reflecting upon this point, he humbly submits to your Majesty that he is reluctantly compelled, by a sense of public duty, and of the interests of your Majesty's service to adhere to the opinion which he ventured to express to your Majesty. He trusts he may be permitted at the same time to express to your Majesty his grateful acknowledgments for the distinction which your Majesty conferred upon him, by requiring his advice and assistance in the attempt to form an administration, and his earnest prayers that whatever arrangements your Majesty may be enabled to make for that purpose may be most conducive to your Majesty's personal comfort and happiness, and to the promotion of the public welfare. I entirely agree in the principles laid down by her Majesty. I entirely agree that it is not expedient to apply the principle in the manner for which it was contended by the right hon. Baronet; for there was no objection to other parts of her Majesty's household. We so entirely concur in the opinion of her Majesty, for reasons which I need not now go into, and, as it does not appear necessary on the present occasion to argue the subject; but we so entirely agree with her Majesty, that it is inexpedient to apply the principle, that the ladies of her Majesty's household should be removed, that all or any part of them should be removed in consequence of changes in the Administration; that, so entirely agreeing in opinion with her Majesty on this principle, we have come to the determination to support her Majesty on the present occasion. I know very well, my Lords, that in coming to this determination, and in arriving at this conclusion, not only with all my colleagues, but particularly myself, we may be exposed to all kinds of insinuations. I know that we shall be exposed to the charges of having intrigued; of having laid down a preconcerted plan; of having beforehand taken care that his objection should be made, and of rendering abortive any attempt to form another Administration. My Lords, I know very well, that in situations like mine, men are exposed to insinuations and to accusations of this kind. I know, my Lords, they will not be made in this, as they have not been made in the other House of Parliament, but they are made in quarters of considerable weight and influence, and come from quarters of considerable weight and influence, and therefore I cannot allow them to pass either unnoticed or uncontradicted. I know that it is a bad thing to have nothing to oppose to charges and to imputations of this nature, except it be one's own personal assertions. I can say, my Lords, that when I parted with her Majesty on Wednesday morning last, I tendered to her Majesty advice as to whom she ought to apply, and the course which her Majesty should take. I thought it to be my duty to give that advice in consequence of the novelty of the situation in which her Majesty was placed, and the difficulties by which she was surrounded. But I roost distinctly assert and affirm, and this, not using many assertions or protestations, because I think that many assertions and protestations might have the effect upon your Lordships, as they have upon me, of throwing a doubt upon the veracity of the man who uses them; but I distinctly declare, and decidedly affirm, that as to the ladies of the household, I gave her Majesty no advice whatsoever, because, I fairly declare, that I did not expect—that I did not entertain a notion—and that I could not conceive—that that proposition could have been made. I had not unquestionably anticipated it, and most undoubtedly I never mentioned the subject to her Majesty. I do not know why it was suggested. There are many reasons, in my opinion, why the proposition should not have been made to her Majesty. There are many reasons why it is very obviously wrong. I say nothing now of the prudence, the policy, or the expediency of such a proposition as this. It is not for me to instruct the noble Duke opposite, or the right hon. Baronet, or the noblemen and gentlemen who acted with them. They have had much greater experience in the conduct of political affairs than myself. But I too, my Lords, have had some political experience in the reign of his late Majesty, and can from that have some idea of the relations that ought to subsist between the Sovereign and the Minister. I have had some experience as to the bearings of these matters, and I can assure your Lordships that in these personal matters strokes of force never work well; they are never worth the labour that is expended upon them; and that they give a tone and a character to the beginning of a career which never produce any good; but, on the contrary, they produce alienation of feeling, and irritation, which are ten times worse than any inconvenience which they are intended to obviate. I have, my Lords, had some experience in these matters, and I give you this as my decided opinion. I do not deny that there might have been some of the supporters of the noble Lords opposite who might have spoken on this matter, and who might have felt strongly; but there, my Lords, is the difficulty, as I well know by experience. But, then, it happens that these inconveniences are often imaginary, and they are always much exaggerated; and depend upon it they are as nothing, when compared with the inconveniences attendant upon the sort of force which was adopted upon the present occasion. I should hope, my Lords, that all angry arid irritating feelings will be abstained from on the present occasion—that they will not be allowed to enter into the arguments used on this occasion. I reserve to myself, my Lords, the power, which I am sure your Lordships will permit me to make use of, to reply to any observations which may be made, if indeed any such should be made. There are many accusations which have been put forward—accusations of the general and usual character, upon a person in my situation, to which I am exceedingly callous. There are some accusations, the truth of which I do not feel, and towards which I am very insensible. These are the accusations of tenacity of office—a desire for place—the imputation of being actuated by motives of ambition, or motives of avarice. I know not that 1 altogether deny them, and I am sure that I care very little about them; but I should be exceedingly sorry if the accusation could be made, and justly made, against me, of running away from my post amid the dangers and difficulties of the country, or of abandoning any party in the country by whom I have been maintained and supported. I own, my Lords, that I have a very strong feeling upon this subject, and I should be very sorry if the reproach or the accusation could with any show of justice be cast upon roe. When I was removed from office in the year 1835, I declared upon occasions which were then afforded me of addressing bodies of my fellow subjects, that it was by difference of opinion and disunion amongst our supporters that the Administration had been broken up, and that nothing but complete concord and agreement, nothing but the most complete co-operation of all who in any degree thought with us might re-establish us in power, or maintain us for any length of time after we were reestablished. The union which I advised was established and subsisted for a considerable period. It appears to me at last that it was broken up; and thinking that there was so much discord amongst my supporters as to render it impossible for me to continue to conduct the Government with the strength and efficiency which the state of affairs demanded, or to take the measures necessary for the safety and well being of the country—I resigned my office—I resigned, I will not use so harsh a term as to say because I was abandoned by my supporters, but because there had, as I conceived, arisen amongst my supporters that amount of difference in opinion, which led me to suppose that I could no longer with honour to myself, or advantage to the country, conduct the affairs of Government; and I now, my Lords, frankly declare that I resume office unequivocally and solely for this reason—that I will not abandon my Sovereign in a situation of difficulty and distress, and especially when a demand is made upon her Majesty, with which I think she ought not to comply—a demand, in my opinion, my Lords, inconsistent with her personal honour, and which, if acquiesced in, would make her reign liable to all the changes and variations of political parties, and render her domestic life one constant scene of unhappiness and discomfort.

The Duke of Wellington

spoke as follows:—In addressing you, my Lords, on the present occasion, I shall endeavour to imitate the moderation of a part of what the noble Viscount has said; and, in doing so, I think that I shall pursue the course which is most becoming to my own situation, most suitable to the subject I have to discuss, and most agreeable to the feelings of your Lordships; and, my Lords, in order that I may sustain the same tone of moderation with which I commence, I will take the liberty of laying aside those reports to which the noble Viscount has referred, and which, in my opinion, have nothing to do with the subject now before your Lordships. Probably, if I were inclined to enter into a discussion of those reports, I could find a little to say upon them likewise, and in referring to them I might be induced, as the noble Viscount has been induced, to depart from that tone of moderation to which it is my firm intention to adhere throughout the whole of the address which I am now about to make to your Lordships. I must, however, say, that I have one advantage over the noble Viscount in respect to reports. I have served the Sovereigns and the public of this country for fifty years, and throughout the whole of that period I have been exposed to evil report and to good report, and I have still continued to serve on through all report, both good and evil, and thus I confess myself to be completely indifferent to the nature of reports. It does, however, surprise me to find, that in the course of the last few days I have been traduced as having illtreated my most gracious Sovereign—I, who was about to enter into her service, and to be responsible for her Government—for no other reason that I know of save that I was going at my time of life to take upon myself the trouble of sharing in the Government. Having been so treated all my life, I have gained the advantage of being able to preserve my temper under it, and this advantage I have over the noble Viscount, who seems very sensitive about certain reports circulated respecting him, with as little foundation as the reports about myself which I have just mentioned to your Lordships. The noble Viscount commenced the observations which he addressed to your Lordships, by stating, that he expected that I should have commenced the discussion of these subjects, and not himself. I am much obliged to the noble Viscount for the compliment he thus offered me; but, unless a question had been put to me pointedly, I do not know that I should have had any occasion to give any explanation respecting them. I certainly should not have thought it necessary to give any explanation to-day, had I not been called upon by what has just been stated by the noble Viscount; for I have heard that a most full, a most distinct, and a most satisfactory explanation of these transactions was given by my right hon. Friend, the Member for Tamworth, last night, in another place. However, my Lords, I admit that you have reason to expect, when a Member of your body has been engaged in such negotiations as these, that he should explain to you what has passed, especially when he is called upon to explain by one of his brother peers. My Lords, it is perfectly well known, that I have long entertained the opinion, that the Prime Minister of this country, under existing circumstances, ought to have a seat in the other House of Parliament, and that he would have great advantages in carrying on the business of the Sovereign by being there. Entertaining such an opinion, it was only to be expected that I, who on a former occasion had acted upon it, should, if again called upon by my Sovereign, recommend her to select a Member of the House of Commons to conduct the affairs of her Government. When the noble Viscount announced in this House, on Tuesday last, that he had resigned his office, the probable consequences of that annunciation occurred to my mind, and I turned my attention, in consequence to the state of the Government at the present moment—to the state of the Royal authority—to the composition of the Royal household, and to all those circumstances which were likely to come under my consideration, in case I were called upon to assist in advising the composition of another Administration. I confess, that it appeared to me impossible, that any set of men should take charge of her Majesty's Government without having the usual influence and control over the establishment of the royal household—that influence and control which their immediate predecessors in office had exercised before them. As the Royal household was formed by their predecessors in office, the possession of that influence and that control over it appeared to me to be especially necessary, to let the public see that the Ministers who were about to enter upon office had and possessed the entire confidence of her Majesty. I considered well the nature of the formation of the royal household under the Civil List Act passed on the commencement of her Majesty's reign. I considered well the difference between the household of a Queen consort and the household of a Queen regnant. The Queen consort not being a political person in the same light as a Queen regnant, I considered the construction of her Majesty's household; I considered who filled offices in it; I considered all the circumstances attendant upon the influence of the household, and the degree of confidence which it might be necessary for the Government to repose in the members of it. I was sensible of the serious and anxious nature of the charge which the Minister in possession of that control and influence over her Majesty's household would have laid upon him. I was sensible, that in everything which he did, and in every step which he took as to the household, he ought to consult not only the honour of her Majesty's Crown, and her royal state and dignity, but also her social condition, her ease, her convenience, her comfort, in short everything which tended to the solace and happiness of her life. I reflected on all these considerations as particularly incumbent on the Ministers who should take charge of the affairs of this country; I reflected on the age, the sex, the situation, and the comparative inexperience, of the Sovereign on the Throne; and I must say, that, if I had been, or if I was to be, the first person to be consulted, with respect to the exercise of the influence and control in question, I would suffer any inconvenience whatever, rather than take any step as to the royal household which was not compatible with her Majesty's comforts. There was another subject which I took into consideration—I mean the possibility of making any conditions or stipulations in respect to the exercise of this influence and control over the household. It appeared to me, that the person about to undertake the direction of the affairs of this country who should make such stipulations or conditions would do neither more nor less than this—stipulate that he would not perform his duty, that he would not advise the Crown in a case in which he thought it his duty to advise the Crown, in order that he might obtain place. I thought, that no man could make such a stipulation and consider himself worthy of her Majesty's confidence, or entitled to conduct the affairs of the country. I thought it impossible that such a stipulation should be made. Nor did I think it possible, that the Sovereign could propose such a stipulation or condition to any one whom her Majesty considered worthy of her confidence. First of all, the Sovereign making or proposing such a stipulation must suppose, that her Minister is unworthy of the confidence of the Crown; but suppose him to be worthy of confidence, and to break off all communication in consequence of the proposal of such stipulations, then the Sovereign would be placed in a very disagreeable and awkward position—a position into which I am thoroughly convinced, from what I have seen of the Sovereign now on the Throne, she never will be thrown. With respect, my Lords, to the share I took in these negotiations, I have to state to your Lordships, that I waited by command on her Majesty on Wednesday last. I am not authorised to state what passed in conversa- tion between her Majesty and me upon that occasion, not having felt it necessary to request her Majesty's permission to do so. What I will state to your Lordships is this, that nothing there passed inconsistent with the opinions and principles which I have just explained, neither with respect to myself personally, and my own conduct as to the formation of the Government, nor with respect to the principles on which the patronage of the household should be managed, and its conduct, control, and influence, supposing her Majesty should think proper to intrust me with the administration of affairs. Her Majesty acted on the advice which I humbly tendered to her, and sent for a right hon. Baronet, a Friend of mine in another place. In proposing to her Majesty to send for Sir Robert Peel, I ventured to assure her Majesty, that I was perfectly ready to serve her, in office or out of office; I preferred serving her out of office. I was willing to undertake to conduct the affairs of the Government in this house not in office; but if her Majesty and her Ministers preferred it, I was ready to conduct the duties of any office—to do, in short, whatever would be most convenient to her Majesty and to her Ministers, being disposed to lend all my assistance in every possible way to serve her Majesty in whatever manner it might be thought most desirable that I should do so. After I had this interview, my right hon. Friend also waited by command upon her Majesty. He certainly did consult me and take the opinion of others, as stated in my right hon. Friend's letter, on the important point of the construction of her Majesty's household. I may state, my Lords, that all who were present upon that occasion, my noble and learned Friend behind (Lord Lyndhurst), and several others, gave an opinion exactly in conformity to what my right Lon, Friend has stated in his letter; and he waited upon her Majesty the following day with the view of submitting such propositions as he should think proper, according to what he had stated to his intended colleagues. In the course of the conversation which Sir Robert Peel had with her Majesty on Thursday, a difference of opinion arose with respect to the Ladies of the household. My right hon. Friend suggested, I believe, that I should be sent for, in order that her Majesty might have my opinion on the subject. The right hon. Baronet came up to my house and informed me of what had occurred, the discussion which had taken place on the subject, and what he had proposed, entirely in conformity with the principles which I have stated to your Lordships. I returned with him to Buckingham Palace, and after a short time I was introduced to her Majesty's presence. It is not necessary, and indeed I have not permission, to go into the details of the conversation which passed between her Majesty and me on that occasion. All that I shall say on the subject is, that nothing passed on my part inconsistent with the principles I have already stated—which I maintain are the correct principles to govern a case like the present, and most particularly that part of the subject which related to the administration of the influence and control of the Royal household, supposing her Majesty should think proper to call me to her Government. My right hon. Friend has stated correctly that part of the conversation which related to the interpretation and decision to which her Majesty had come—"that the whole should continue as at present, without any change." This was her Majesty's determination, and accordingly I did, as stated in the paper, immediately communicate to Sir Robert Peel, who was in the next room, the decision of her Majesty to that effect. I do not know, my Lords, that it is necessary for me to go any further into this matter; we afterwards had a communication with other noble Lords and right hon. Gentlemen, and we found it impossible for us to undertake the conduct of her Majesty's Government unless this point was put to rights. The noble Viscount has stated that he gave her Majesty advice upon the subject—to write a letter on a statement which he admits was erroneous. I don't mean to draw any conclusion from this, except that possibly it might have been better if the noble Viscount had taken some means to ascertain what the right statement was before he gave the advice. Whether the statement were erroneous or not, the noble Viscount had a right, if he chose, to act on the principle that our advice was erroneous; that our demands were such that they ought not to have been made; but it would be well for noble Lords not to be in so great a hurry in future as to give their opinion and advice upon such important matters without well assuring themselves that they have a really correct statement before them. My Lords, I cannot but think that the principles on which we proposed to act with respect to the Ladies of the Bedchamber in the case of a Queen regnant were the correct principles. The public will not believe that the Queen holds no political conversation with those ladies, and that political influence is not exercised by them, particularly considering who those persons are who hold such situations. I believe the history of this country affords a number of instances in which secret and improper influence has been exercised by means of such conversations. I have, my Lords, a somewhat strong opinion on this subject. I have unworthily filled the office which the noble Viscount now so worthily holds; and I must say, I have felt the inconvenience of an anomalous influence, not exercised, perhaps, by ladies, but anomalous influence, undoubtedly, of this description, and exerted simply in conversations; and I will tell the noble Viscount that the country is at this moment suffering some inconvenience from the exercise of that very secret influence. My Lords, I believe I have gone further into principles upon this subject than may, perhaps, suit the taste of the noble Viscount; but this I must say, that at the same time we claimed the control of the Royal household, and would not have proposed to her Majesty to make any arrangements which would have been disagreeable to her, I felt it was absolutely impossible for me, under the circumstances of the present moment, to undertake any share of the government of the country without that proof of her Majesty's confidence. And now, my Lords, in concluding this subject, I hope with a little more moderation than the noble Viscount, I have only to add the expression of my gratitude to her Majesty for the gracious condescension and consideration with which she was pleased to listen to the counsel which it was my duty to offer; and I must say, I quitted her presence not only impressed with the feeling of gratitude for her condescension and consideration, but likewise with deep respect for the frankness, the intelligence, the decision, and firmness, which characterized her Majesty's demeanour throughout the proceedings.

Viscount Melbourne

said, there was one part of the noble Duke's speech to which he wished for a moment to advert. The noble Duke had stated, that be (Lord Melbourne) had admitted the statement on which he gave his advice to her Majesty was erroneous. It was not so. He did not say that the statement was erroneous, but that the impression on her Majesty's mind, after the statement made in the other House of Parliament last night, must have been erroneous. The statement was, that Sir R. Peel had required the power of dismissing the ladies of the household, not stating the extent to which he would put it in execution, but leaving on her Majesty's mind an impression that he meant to carry it out to a very great extent. He did not say that the statement itself was erroneous, but that he now believed the impression on her Majesty's mind to have been erroneous. The noble Duke had adverted to an influence which had troubled him in his career; he did not know to what the noble Duke referred; but when he said the country was suffering under a similar influence—

Lord Brougham

No, no; the expression was "secret influence."

Viscount Melbourne

was sorry to have misunderstood the noble Duke. He begged, however, to deny the existence of any such influence at the present moment.