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Database: December 19, 1867

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ACS DB Royal Correspondence 3

FROM GENERAL GREY

General Grey presents his humble and most devoted duty to your Majesty. He has shrunk from with a reluctance beyond words to express, from saying anything to alarm your Majesty - and if he spoke on the subject yesterday, it was only in obedience to Mr. Hardy's opinion that he ought to do so. But in what he said yesterday, he said perhaps less than he ought to have done; for he feels that, with a view to your Majesty's safety, it is absolutely necessary that your Majesty should be under no delusion as to the designs which are harboured against your Majesty, or as to the peculiar facility which Osborne affords, in spite of the utmost watchfulness, for carrying them into execution.

Crimes such as those contemplated cannot easily be penetrated in crowded throughfares, or where there is a large population; and the most unsafe places for your Majesty at this moment, are those where the population is most thin and scattered. General Grey says this with much pain and reluctance, for he knows how it will jar against your Majesty's comfort. But he would be utterly unworthy of the confidence your Majesty has reposed in him, if he hesitated now, even at the risk of incurring your Majesty's displeasure, in saying what he believes the case for your Majesty's precious safety requires.

He shrunk yesterday from telling your Majesty the full extent of the information received with respect to the designs against your Majesty. He now sends for your Majesty's perusal the note he received from Mr. Hardy after he had seen him on Tuesday, and in answer to one that General Grey wrote to ask if he thought it necessary that your Majesty should be informed of the designs against your Majesty's person. He also sends the letter he has this morning received from Mr. Hardy, as well as one from the Duke of Buckingham, corroborating the information received at the Home Office; also one from the Duke of Cambridge enclosing an anonymous letter, evidently written in a good spirit, warning him of the designs against your Majesty, which, it is added, "they are only waiting for rendering the services of the Military, in and about London, more immediately available in the event of incendiary fires," which appears the form of outbreak most to be apprehended.

Lord Derby had written thus far, and was about to bring under your Majesty's notice the painful and alarming reports which have been received of designs against your Majesty's person, when he received a letter from General Grey informing him that he had felt it to be his duty not to shrink from laying before your Majesty the intelligence itself, which, received in the first instance by telegram from Lord Monck, has since been confirmed in several respects from various quarters. As your Majesty will see the Duke of Buckingham to-morrow, Lord Derby abstains from detailing the measures which your Majesty's servants have taken for guarding against the particular danger thus indicated, in which moreover his Grace has taken a prominent part. It is indescribably painful to him to acknowledge even to himself that so fearful a crime should be contemplated; but disposed as he is to disregard mere rumors of such threatened atrocity against your Majesty, or your Majesty's servants (of which there have been abundance), he cannot shut his eyes to the conviction that such schemes are in serious contemplation; and that the determination of a few resolute and desperate men to effect them, at the hazard of their own lives, requires the utmost vigilance to defeat them - and even that MAY prove insufficient.

Lord Derby would hardly venture to write thus openly, if he were not aware that your Majesty is inaccesible, perhaps even, if he may be permitted to say so, too much so, to personal apprehension; but he trusts that he may be allowed, most respectfully, but most earnestly, to represent, that it is a duty which your Majesty owes to many millions of loyal subjects, not to expose to unnecessary risk a life so incalculably valuable to the country; and he cannot but concur in the opinion which he knows has been submitted to your Majesty by General Grey, that few places could afford such facilities as Osborne, to such a design as is, he fears with too much truth, entertained. Of course as long as it is your Majesty's pleasure to remain there, every precaution that can be taken, will be taken, both by land and sea, to provide for your Majesty's safety; but Lord Derby cannot withhold the expression of his own strong opinion that that primary object could be far better secured, even in London, but still more at Windsor; and he would feel himself not only deeply responsible to public opinion, but personally criminal in his own conscience, if he shrank from submitting this view to your Majesty, unpleasing as he knows it must be. In any case Lord Derby would urge upon your Majesty, with all possible earnestness, at least so far to co-operate with those whose duty and affection alike prompt to watch over your Majesty's safety, as to limit your hours of driving out, as far as possible, to daylight; and to be accompanied by a sufficient attendance to provide against a coup de main. The house at Osborne may, by extreme care, be protected; but your Majesty's unattended late drives afford an opportunity for desperate adventurers against which no vigilance can effectually provide...

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