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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Hanover now became separated from England


[Sidenote:

Her first Privy Council]

Lord Melbourne, the Prime Minister, was summoned, and at eleven o'clock that same morning a Privy Council was held, which is thus described by Charles Greville, an eye-witness: "Never was anything like the first impression she produced, or the chorus of praise and admiration which is raised about her manner and behavior, and certainly not without justice. It was very extraordinary, and something far beyond what was looked for. Her extreme youth and inexperience, and the ignorance of the world concerning her, naturally excited intense curiosity to see how she would act on this trying occasion, and there was a considerable assemblage at the palace, notwithstanding the short notice which was given. The first thing to be done was to teach her her lesson, which for this purpose Melbourne had himself to learn.... She bowed to the Lords, took her seat, and then read her speech in a clear, distinct, and audible voice, and without any appearance of fear or embarrassment."

[Sidenote: Hanover separates from England]

[Sidenote: Ernest, King of Hanover]

[Sidenote: Royal breach of faith]

[Sidenote: Revolt at Goettingen]

The first signature to the Act of Allegiance was that of Ernest, Duke of Cumberland, eldest surviving brother of the late King William. To him

passed the crown of Hanover, which for a hundred and twenty-five years had been held by the occupants of the British throne. Under the Salic law, restricting succession to the male line, Hanover now became separated from England. On June 28, the new King arrived in Hanover. He refused to receive the deputation of the estates that had come to greet him. Dispensing with the formality of taking the required oath to the constitution, he dissolved the estates. The validity of the Hanoverian Constitution was next called in question, and the restoration of the less liberal constitution of 1819 was ordained. The first to protest against this royal breach of faith were seven professors of the University of Goettingen. Among them were the two brothers Grimm, to whom the German language and literature are so deeply indebted, and Gervinus, the great historian of modern Europe. The professors were instantly dismissed. This high-handed act provoked an insurrection among the students, which had to be quelled by troops, with bloodshed.

The departure of the unpopular Duke of Cumberland and the dissolution of the embarrassing connection with Hanover wrought distinct relief to the people of England. According to usage on the accession of a new sovereign, Parliament was dissolved, in this instance by the Queen in person. She drove to the House of Lords in state, and created a sensation by her youth and graciousness. What she said of her own good intentions, her confidence in the wisdom of Parliament and the love of her people and her trust in God, was re-echoed throughout the English dominion. Her popularity speedily became unbounded. The change in the person of the sovereign was a great advantage for the Melbourne Ministry. They had no longer to fear such a summary dismissal or interference by the throne as they had suffered during the last reign. The dissolution of Parliament only resulted in their favor. The Tories were in despair. The departure of the Duke of Cumberland, their power behind the throne, had deprived them of a leader. The old Duke of Wellington regarded the accession of a female sovereign a probable bar to his return to power. To a friend he said: "I have no small talk, and Peel has no manners."


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