Greville, Charles Cavendish Fulke (DNB00)
|←Greville, Algernon Frederick||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 23
Greville, Charles Cavendish Fulke
GREVILLE, CHARLES CAVENDISH FULKE (1794-1865), political diarist, eldest son of Charles Greville, grandson to the fifth Lord Warwick, by his wife, Lady Charlotte Cavendish Bentinck, eldest daughter of William Henry, third duke of Portland, was born 2 April 1794. His childhood was in great part spent at Bulstrode, his maternal grandfather's house. He was educated at Eton and Christ Church, where he matriculated in 1810 but took no degree. For a time he was page to George III. He left Oxford early to be private secretary to Lord Bathurst, and the influence of the Duke of Portland procured him the sinecure secretaryship of Jamaica, the duties of which office he performed by deputy in the island without ever visiting it, though he interested himself in Jamaica business in England. He also obtained by the same means the reversion of the clerkship to the privy council. This office fell into possession in 1821 and withdrew from public life a man whose talents signally fitted him to have played the part of an eminent statesman; but on the other hand it afforded him exceptional opportunities for observing the inner workings of high political circles, and these opportunities he turned to good account in his journal. For some years he chiefly amused himself with horse-racing. He was one of the oldest members of the Jockey Club, and from 1821 till 1826 managed the racing establishment of his intimate friend, the Duke of York. Subsequently he was partner in training racehorses with Lord George Bentinck, his cousin, till, about 1835, they parted company in consequence of a dispute about the handling of Greville's mare,Preserve. Greville afterwards trained with the Duke of Portland. In 1845 his horse Alarm would have won the Derby but for an accident at the start; but though he was owner of Alarm, Preserve, and Orlando, he never won the Derby, and only once the St. Leger. Till 1855, when he sold all his racehorses, though often complaining of its frivolity, he was a devotee and excellent judge of racing.
Greville's chief title to fame is his series of memoirs. For forty years he kept with great pains a political diary, designed for publication, which he confided to Mr. Henry Reeve shortly before his death. Owing to his close relations with both whigs and tories, but especially with the Duke of Wellington, the Duke of Bedford, Lord Palmerston, and Lord Clarendon, relations so close that he was not infrequently employed as a negotiator during ministerial changes, especially at the time of Palmerston's resignation in 1853, he was peculiarly well informed on the most secret transactions of contemporary politics. He spared no pains in completing his information, recorded it with great freshness and perfect impartiality, and frequently revised his diaries. These characteristics, coupled with the brilliant portraits which he draws of his contemporaries, make his diaries the most important work of their kind of his generation. They were published in three series, one for 1817 to 1837 (London, 1875, 8vo, 3vols.), and two for 1837 to 1860 (1885, 8vo, 3 vols.; 1887, 2 vols.)
Greville published in his lifetime an account of a visit to Louis XVIII at Hartwell in 1814, in the `Miscellanies of the Philobiblon Society,' vol. v.; 'A Letter to Lockhart in Reply to an Article in the "Quarterly Review,"' March 1832; a pamphlet on the prince consort's precedence in 1840, reprinted in `Memoirs,' 2nd ser. vol, i. append.; 'The Policy of England to Ireland' in 1845, in which he was aided by Sir George Cornewall Lewis; a pamphlet on 'Peel and the Corn Law Crisis' in 1846, and a review on the memoirs of King Joseph Bonaparte in the 'Edinburgh Review' for 1854. He also revised Lady Canning's pamphlet on the Portuguese question, 1830, edited a volume of Moore's 'Correspondence' for Lord John Russell, and Raikes's 'Memoirs.' In May 1859 he resigned the clerkship of the council, and feeling that he then ceased to be intimately acquainted with the details of politics, he closed his journal in 1860. In 1849 he removed from Grosvenor Place to rooms in Lord Granville's house in Bruton Street, and there he died of heart disease, accelerated by a chill caught in an inn at Marlborough, on 18 Jan. 1865. His diary is full of pathetic lamentations over his wasted opportunities and educational shortcomings, yet he was in truth among the most remarkable men of his generation. Though a cynic he was popular among a large number of friends, to whom he was known by the nickname of 'Punch,' or the 'Gruncher' (Fitzgerald, Life of George IV, ii. 202n.) Sir Henry Taylor describes him as 'a friend of many, and always most a friend when friendship was most wanted; high-born, high-bred, avowedly Epicurean, with a somewhat square and sturdy figure, adorned by a face both solid and refined, noble in its outline, the mouth tense and exquisitely chiselled' (Autobiogr. i. 315). A portrait is prefixed to the 16mo edition (1888-9, 8 vols.) of his diary.[Preface and Notes to the Greville Memoirs, by Henry Reeve, C.B.; Doyle's Reminiscences; Reminiscences of William Day; Lord Malmesbury's Memoirs, ii.86; Hayward's Letters, i. 284; Engl. Hist. Review, January 1886 and April 1887; M'Cullagh Torrens's Lord Melbourne; Correspondence of Macvey Napier.]