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To Lord Grey Aug 29th 1823 ..Almost immediately after her daughter's acceptance of my proposal, in which she and Sir John seemed cordially to concur, I was struck by the Unkindness of Lady Swinbourne to me, and the Continual Endeavours she was making to hinder Elizabeth from giving her Affections to me ... this alarmed me considerably, … for, besides the usual Respect of well-disposed Children to their parents, I observed a Confidence little short of idolatrous in Elizabeth towards Lady Swinbourne - the peculiarity of some of their Habits and Education had construed this. I resolved immediately to give up other Considerations, and to use all the Advantage which my Familiarity with the Family and approaching Marriage afforded me, for investigating to the Bottom, the cause of this unnatural Behaviour. Circumstances soon occurred to shew me, that Lady Swinbourne had not much Regard for her Husband, for whom, however, she constantly expressed the strongest Attachment. I may now pass over a variety of Things which brought me to suppose that she had entertained, if she had not still, a Passion for yourself, which had at some time or other, probably many Years ago, been gratified. Having this idea, I went on to examine its truth by repeated Conversations, which fully confirmed it. ..I had the opportunity of seeing General Grey with her and was brought to a similar Suspicion regarding him. Nor did it entirely stop here, so unbridled and unprincipled her Conduct appeared to me. The first Step I took (this was in London) was to expostulate with Lady Swinbourne upon her behaviour to me.. On Sunday the 10th, after some prayers had been read at home (it was a wet Morning) .. I declared to Edward Swinbourne my Opinion respecting his Mother, and named yourself, General Grey, and her own Butler. I think it is also my Duty to mention that I felt myself urged to the Course I took, by Circumstances of a extraordinary Character, which, after a most calm and dispassionate Examination, I believe to be out of the actual Cause of Events. ...It has not been the least in my thoughts to screen myself from a Duel by this letter ... to confound their most unworthy, and abandoned Mother ... TW Beaumont. Tunbridge Wells. Sir, I have this moment received your most extraordinary Letter, which has excited not only my Surprise but my Indignation ... the infamous Allegation you have made against Lady Swinburn's character is totally false and unfounded. GREY. My Lord; Being convinced, upon calm Reflection, that my Conduct towards your Lordship has been unjustifiable, I do not hesitate to offer your Lordship an Apology for it. TW Beaumont. (AThis last letter was apparently delivered by hand by TW's brother. Upon reading it, Grey said he presumed TW had been suffering from a temporary mental derangement, and was glad he was cured. On hearing this, TW threatened Grey with action for defamation; a plan which was soon dropped.)
This extract is from a printed copy of the original letter, as also the others that follow in this entry, which found their way into the Newcastle Chronicle’s hands and they were published by them on 20th July 1826, just after Beaumont had lost his seat in the highly charged election of 1826. The transcript was included alongside those of the letters in Johnson’s letterbook in Bell’s essay, and so is included here, together with Bell’s comment at the foot (thus). A fuller version of Grey’s reply from Tunbridge Wells on 31st Aug is given elsewhere, as are two others from Grey on 19th January and 5th February 1824.