Extract from Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge’s London Travel Diary

A great day every four years in America—here this year at least, a bright one, the Sun shining & blue sky visible—I am going again to Tottenham Green & shall call for Miss Rogers to go with me.

More talk about the Queen & her Court. Another version of the story of Lady Flora Hastings, who is now said not to have sent for her brother until after she had succeeded in justifying herself. Lord Hastings insisted on an interview with the Queen that he might, if possible, induce her to dismiss two of her ladies whom he accused of slandering his sister. In this form of the story Lord Hastings is hot-headed & obstinate, Lord Melbourne wise & judicious. “You may” said he to the angry brother, “insist, as a peer, on an interview with the Queen, but you cannot compel her Majesty to open her mouth in reply, or to comply with your demands.” It is evident that the little sovereign is not considered as wanting in pluck. The Duchess of Kent is said to have written to the Duke of Wellington, (the brave & loyal old Tory!) on the subject of her own relations with the Queen her daughter, and that the Duke wrote in reply “in times like these Royalty cannot be too cautious.”—The whole medley of small talk & court scandal, coming to my ears in various ways, brings to my mind the polite conversation of Lady Blarney. “Sir Tomkinson drawing his sword” &c &c.

But under all this dirty upper froth is there not something brewing which may have fearful mischief in it? I am told that the disorganizing principle is deeply at work in England—that the fiends of revolution are abroad, as yet walking in disguise but biding their time—that all this idle talk & these stories about the Queen & her attendants, her ministers & her ladies, are symptoms of growing disaffection & disloyalty, of increasing disrespect for the Government & for the privileged classes. And yet it seems to me that whilst the great agricultural interest goes with the Crown and the British Constitution, whilst the army, the navy, the clergy, the aristocracy, the gentry, almost all the men of property & education, the merchants the tradespeople, the servants, a numerous band, the small shopkeepers & more classes of society that I can enumerate are attached to the existing order of things & loyal to their sovereign, there can be no danger of revolution. The Pyramid of law & order will stand too firmly on it’s base to heed the assaults made upon it’s sides. Cabinet Ministers may be foolish & perverse—Court ladies may squabble & calumniate each other, a great deal of nonsense may be talked, many silly things done, and many serious evils cry aloud for reform, which they will ultimately though gradually obtain, yet the fabric of the Constitution will endure in spite of all. Surely demagogues, radicals & agitaters, cotton spinners and manufacturers of Birmingham, Leeds & Manchester, malcontents & disorganizers cannot be more than a match for the Kingdom of Great Britain!—

MS (MHi: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Diary, Ms N-1027); in Coolidge’s hand. Published in Thomas Jefferson’s Granddaughter in Queen Victoria’s England: The Travel Diary of Ellen Wayles Coolidge, 1838–1839, Ann Lucas Birle and Lisa A. Francavilla, eds. (2011), 276–7

every four years the United States inaugurated its incoming president on 4 March, until the passage of the Twentieth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1933 changed the date to 20 January. lady blarney, a character in Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), shares the latest court gossip with her companion, the high-born Miss Skeggs, while the Vicar’s two daughters “sat silent, admiring their exhalted breeding.”