GEORGE GOSCHEN Autograph Letter Signed.
British (English) Liberal and later Conservative politician. Lord Salisbury's Chancellor of the Exchequer.
ALS. 2pp and integral blank leaf. No place. 18th June (no year). To [George] Melly [M.P.]. Together with a contemporary 19th century portrait photograph.
"I was most horrified to find in The Times this morning that the private letter to you has been printed. Ross, the Times reporter, asked for my papers and I sent them up in a hurry and on one of them was a note made by secretary as to the letter to you. This should, of course, have been struck out but in the hurry of the moment I overlooked it. Pray forgive me. I sincerely hope no damages will be caused you by this deplorable oversight."
8vo. Approx 7 x 4.5 inches. Some mounting residue to the verso of the blank last leaf but the text leaf is in fine condition. The portrait of George Goschen is an albumen carte de visite photograph by John Watkins of Parliament Square. It shows the relatively young George Goschen, head and shoulders looking slightly to his right. It is mounted on the photographer's original mount and laid down on card from an album leaf with a border of fine, original penwork decoration. It measures approx 4 x 2.5 inches (excluding mount). There is mounting damage to verso of mount but the photograph is in very good condition.
George Goschen was a director of the Bank of England who, in 1863, was returned as one of four Liberal M.P.s for the City of London. His rise was rapid and he became vice-president of the Board of Trade and Paymaster General (1865), entered the Cabinet (1866), president of the Poor Law Board (1868) and First Lord of the Admiralty (1871). The views of George Goschen on the Franchise question made it politically difficult for him in the Liberal Party and he declined to join Gladstone's government in 1880 (also refusing the offer of appointment as Viceroy of India). When W.E. GLADSTONE adopted the Home Rule for Ireland policy, George Goschen joined the Liberal Unionists and subsequently accepted the job of Chancellor of the Exchequer in Lord Salisbury's Conservative government. He took over the post from Randolph Churchill, who had assumed he was safe in the post and could not be replaced. When Salisbury ousted Churchill in favour of Goschen, Lord Randolph is famously quoted as saying "I forgot Goschen".
Melly is the Liberal M.P., George Melly, who was a merchant, ship-owner and the member for Stoke-on-Trent from 1868 to 1875 (after which he took the Chiltern Hundreds). The papers of George Melly held in the National Archives reveal that there was a correspondence between George Goschen Melly and Gladstone in 1867-68 concerning the Reform Bill and this letter probably dates from this time and relates to it. It would be intriguing to know what was in the letter which had been published in the Times and just how inadvertent Goschen's error had been. A 19th century version of the political 'leak', perhaps?
Both the letter and the photograph are from a 19th century collection made by the radical Liberal M.P., William Woodall, who became M.P. for Stoke-on-Trent in 1880.