MELBOURNE, William Lamb, Viscount (1779-1848). Prime Minister 1834 and 1835-1841.
Machiavellian Autograph Letter Signed to an unnamed correspondent, 1½-pages 4to with endorsement on the second leaf, South Street, 12 April 1835.
'I sent you the letter for Lord Spencer. I have pressed him in it to take office ... & therefore I have not mentioned the other alternative of his merely coming up to give the support of his presence & approbation, because I feared that if it were presented to him, he might eagerly seize upon it & at once put a negative upon the other proposition. Press him strongly to take office, do not give up this first easily. If you find it impracticable, you may then mention to him the secondary. ...'
George John Spencer (1758-1834, second Earl Spencer, politician and book collector) had died on 10 November 1834 at Althorp Park and had been succeeded by his son John Charles (1781-1845, politician agriculturist and sportsman). The latter had 'escaped' becoming prime minister after Grey's resignation on 9 July 1834. Ellis Archer Wasson in ODNB puts it that 'Though ambitious, he knew himself well enough to understand that he lacked the temperament and strategic vision to hold the first place. Many remained ardent for his leadership, but Spencer lay low in order to give no encouragement to his followers'. Grey had in the event been succeeded by Melbourne on 16 July, but held the office only until 14 November when the government was dismissed by William IV. There followed the short-lived caretaker government of the Duke of Wellington (14 November to 10 December 1834) and the minority government of Sir Robert Peel (10 December 1834 to 8 April 1835) when Melbourne was himself returned to office. The present letter therefore dates from the first week of Melbourne's longer term of office and appears to indicate that Spencer's position was in some way still ambivalent.
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