Letter – Charles Grey to Matthew Ridley – 13 Mar 1824

Document Type: Letter
Date: 13 Mar 1824
Correspondent: Charles Grey
Recipient: Matthew Ridley
Archive Source: DUL JGL A40 8-11
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                                                                  				March 13 1824

My Dear Ridley

      I received your letter this morning.  Where I can have no doubt of the existence of the very best intentions & feel so strong a sense of personal obligation for all the kindness I have experienced from you, it is extremely painful to me to express any difference of opinion with respect to the conduct that has been pursued; with a view to the vacancy which is expected to take place in consequence of Beaumont’s retirement from the representation of the County.

      But I should not deal sincerely with you if I were to attempt to conceal from you that in my opinion, any mode of previous application to the Duke was injudicious - you say that the filling up of any vacancy that might occur, was not to depend upon him, but practically that surely must have been in your view, unless you were determined, notwithstanding any <..fient> or indisposition which he might manifest, to propose a Candidate on the Independent Interest.  If such was your determination I cannot help thinking it would have been much better on all accounts, & on none more than for the purpose of procuring the best chances of success, to have made a proper application to him as one of the greatest, or if you will the greatest interest of the County, in favour of a Candidate [underlined: ‘already determined upon’]. If this was not your resolution the alternative necessarily must have been to allow your conduct to be regulated by the result of the communication you had desired to be made.  I certainly have said from the beginning and I must continue to say, that I could not take upon myself the expense of a contest. But in this declaration I have meant to imply that if the Duke attempted to fill the seat, which ought to belong to the Independent Interest, we ought to submit.  What I said of insuring to my son, or whoever may be the Whig candidate, an [underlined: ‘effectual support’], must <tend> that my meaning was directly the contrary.  If any of our friends had been selected I was prepared to take my share in any expense & exertion which might be required to support him.   Of course I should not be more backward in the cause of my son.  What happened in 1774 in Northumberland & what has happened more recently in other counties, proves how much may be done by zeal, spirit &resolution at a comparatively trifling expense.  So this kind of exertion I looked in the event of the duties urging a pretension which the Independence & character of the County required should be <united> if made but I did not urge this more strongly in my letters, feeling that if this was not a spontaneous disposition to make such an effort no attempt to excite it was likely to be successful.  The course therefore that should have been taken, according to my views of this matter, was to disclose a Candidate with a determination to fight the battle, if necessary in the way I have stated; & if this had been done, I am persuaded that at this moment no difficulty could have <existed>.

      If this could not be done then the only alternative was to abandon the representation of the County to its fate & indeed if you will consider the situation in which you are now placed I am convinced you will see that my opinion is not a very erroneous one.  You probably will have no decisive answer from the Duke.  In that case will you proceed to disclose a Candidate?  If you do I think you are honor bound to go to the Poll & at least give the County an opportunity of asserting its independence & thus the very difficulty which you have wished to avoid is only delayed but not prevented.  It grieves me to add that if I think the course you have taken with respect to the declaration of a Candidate objectionable I must still more strongly disapprove of the communication that has taken place with Beaumont.  I had understood from you that it was by an application to Luckington that his appointment to the C Hundreds had been suspended. This I did not think very prudent but being done, it was useless to object to it & I thought Beaumont’s resignation was complete & might be acted on at any moment.  I never was more surprised, therefore, than when I heard that there had been a communication directly with him & even a correspondence with respect to the Persons who might offer themselves as Candidates for his seat.  If he is sane his conduct has deprived him of the character of a Gentleman & all communication with him was improper.  It was obviously no less so in the entire supposition of his being out of his senses & the result is that you are involved in an embarrassment from which I do not see how you will extricate yourselves.  Will you desire him to renew his application telling him that you have at last found a Candidate?  This will be a further admission that he is entitled still to be communicated with as a person of sane mind & even as one to whom you can lay yourselves under some obligation?  Or will you leave matters in their present uncertainty? This obviously will be very disadvantageous with a view to the Independent Interest & the Peace of the County.  The result probably will be that if he hears that Howick is to be the Candidate, he will not resign the seat, the County will be entire unrepresented, or most disgracefully represented for the remainder of the Parliament & what confusion may be produced at a general election cannot easily be foreseen or guarded against.  How far this state of things can now be remedied I am not prepared to say.  If it can be remedied the most prompt measures ought to be taken for that purpose & I am prepared as I have always been to do what I can.  At all events nothing can be worse than this continuance of a state of suspense & uncertainty.  I am sure you will not take amiss this free expression of my opinions & feelings on the whole of what has passed, under the conviction that I can have no feeling or opinion however we may differ in judgement that is incompatible with the utmost confidence in the honorable independence of your character & the kind disposition which you have all along manifested personally towards myself.  I am ready to admit too, that it is possible my views might in some respects perhaps have been liable to alteration, if I had been at hand to communicate personally with you & the rest of our friends, tho’ in substance I do not think they could have admitted of any material change. I am with the truest regard, my dear Ridley,

      Most sincerely yours

      (Signed) Grey
JGL A40/11

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The Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project aimed to celebrate and discover the heritage of the Dukesfield Arches & lead carriers' routes between Blaydon and the lead mines of Allendale and Weardale. A two year community project, it was led by the Friends of the North Pennines in partnership with Hexhamshire and Slaley Parish Councils and the active support of Allendale Estates. It was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the generous support of other sponsors. Friends of the North Pennines: Charity No:1137467