Letter – John Lambton to Charles Grey – 3 Sep 1823

Document Type: Letter
Date: 3 Sep 1823
Correspondent: John Lambton
Recipient: Charles Grey
Archive Source: DUL JGL A40 8-11
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The Earl Grey                                           			Stapleton Wednesday Morning

The Earl of Essex’s Watford                        

My Dear Lord Grey

      This Morning my brother William received a Letter from Beaumont to his great astonishment, saying that you were now his ‘antagonist’, wishing to have William for a second, and to see him at Ferrybridge at 3o’clock, but if, as was most natural, Willm objected to be concerned for him in any thing which had any reference to you, not to come.  This was all he said except declining to tell him any thing of the Causes or reasons for this untill they met.

      William came to me in great distress to show the letter.  I thought it best, all things considered, to tell him what had taken place between you, the substance of Beaumont’s letter, your answer and his general behaviour.  I knew he must be acquainted with it in a few hours and thought it better that he should be prepared before he met Beaumont.

      William said nothing on earth should make him act for Beaumont, but he thought from his previous intimacy with him, and former influence over his mind, if it was sane, he should be able to prevent his pursuing this Outrageous line of Conduct, by meeting him and endeavouring to argue with him, and prove to him that no man of honour in England could act as his second in any affair with you.

      When we go to the Races W is to ride to the Inn at Ferrybridge and wait for him, if he cannot stop him, he is to order 4 horses for me, and I shall be on the Road to London and in Town an hour after him.  I will keep this open until William returns that I may tell you the result, if indeed I do not see you before this could reach you.

                                                              				Wednesday night

      I am happy to say that William has settled every thing at least as far as any hostile intentions against you are concerned, because altho’ nothing might have come of it from the want of a competent friend to authorise his proceedings, yet the probable result would have been very unpleasant and troublesome both as regards publicity and annoyance, if he had gone on.

      William stayed with him 3 hours, heard all his story, read his letter to you, and told him fairly he thought he was mad, that no person of character or honor could assist him, that the only thing to redeem his character, or save it from farther obloquy and Exposure would be to keep quiet, and to go abroad for some Months.

      Beaumont said quite seriously he did not think he was mad that he examined himself repeatedly, felt his own pulse (!!) and had even asked Bird his tutor, who thought him in full possession of his senses.  He told W. a great number of long stories of Grievances against Lady Swinburne, of her asserting that he B was trying to be too intimate with a Sister of his intended Wife, which fact he said the Sister communicated to him - that Lady S’s Conduct was repeatedly very indecent, latterly to two painters who were in the house (!!) so much so that he at one time entertained great notions of expostulating with the painters themselves.  When pressed by William to say what authority he had for those assertions against Lady S with regard to you, the General and the Butler he said ………. [dots given as written] had told him so!! and that he had told Edward Swinburne so.  He said farther that he had no ‘religious fury’ in him and therefore could Not be mad.  It was time he had questioned his intended as to her religious opinions about the Divinity of Christ and the Doctrine of Original Sin and certainly was not quite satisfied with her answers.  That he felt it to be his painful Duty to reveal to her, her Mother’s Conduct and that he was convinced she would be too happy to marry him even now.  William after a great deal of Argument, and hearing a Mass of incoherent assertions and reasoning, at last prevailed on him to give up his journey to Town, whither he was hastening to arrange a Duel with you, and go to Scarborough for a Week, and from thence go abroad for 5 or 6 Months.  His manner he thought very strange, he seemed in high spirits, laughed repeatedly and was quite unconscious at first of all the Misery he had brought on one family by his unwarrantable behaviour and was endeavouring to bring on another without even the remotest shadow of a justification.  He seemed to yield latterly to W’s view of the Case, but I think left Ferrybridge with that delusion about Lady S. as strong on his mind as ever.   He expressed himself as convinced of her being the most vicious of her sex.   He must be as mad as bedlam.  William begged me not to say that Beaumont had quoted  ……  as his authority, but I think it right to tell you, relying implicitly on your not making any Use of it, in any way.  I am very happy that William was here at the time and was able to prevent him from going on.  I beIieve no one but him could have effected it - and when I reflect the vexation and annoyance that his presence in Town, his attempts to persuade his friends to act for him, and even the mere correspondence on the subject would have created independent of the Chance of his Meeting some blackguard or other who would have rejoiced in nothing more than a row, without any reference to his honor or justice, I feel too happy that he has been prevented in his mad purpose and William, the person who was the means of effecting it.

      It is altogether the most strange unaccountable business I ever heard of -  No one ever went mad, I believe with less provocation, or gave fewer signs of the disease coming on - or had a more efficient fit when it did arrive.

      Excuse this Scrawl - it is late at night, and I have been too nervous all day about this, to be quite cool even now.  I hope you will think I acted properly and that the result, namely preventing B from any more Acts of Outrage, the best that could have been procured under existing circumstances.

                     Ever your affect.


I stay here until the 12th and then go to Cantley
JGL A40/9. Undated, but it was directed to Grey at the ‘Earl of Essex’s, Watford’. This was Cassiobury, to where Grey had informed Lambton on 4th Sept 1823 he was going to stay, and from where he had returned by 11th Sept. 3rd and 10th Sept were Wednesdays. Given other letters from Grey to Lambton the 10th would have been too late a date for news of Wm Lambton’s meeting with Beaumont at Ferrybridge to have been reported to Grey, so 3rd Sept is assumed here.

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