Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Charles Cavendish Fulke Greville

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Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition, Volume XI  (1880) 
Charles Cavendish Fulke Greville

GREVILLE, Charles Cavendish Fulke (1794-1865), a great grandson by his father of the fifth earl of Warwick, and son of Lady Charlotte Bentinck, daughter of the duke of Portland, formerly a leader of the Whig party, and first minister of the crown. Greville was born 2d April 1794. Much of his childhood was spent at his grandfather's house at Bulstrode. He was one of the pages of George III., and was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford; but he left the university early, having been appointed private secretary to Earl Bathurst before he was twenty. The interest of the duke of Portland had secured for him the secretaryship of the island of Jamaica, which was a sinecure office, the duties being performed by a deputy, and the reversion of the clerkship of the council. Greville entered upon the discharge of the duties of clerk of the council in ordinary in 1821, and continued to perform them for nearly forty years. He therefore served under three successive sovereigns, George IV., William IV., and Victoria, and although no political or confidential functions are attached to that office, it is one which brings a man into habitual intercourse with the chiefs of all the parties in the state. Well-born, well-bred, handsome, and accomplished, Greville led the easy life of a man of fashion, taking an occasional part in the transactions of his day and much consulted in the affairs of private life. But the celebrity which now attaches to his name is entirely due to the posthumous publication of a portion of a Journal or Diary which it was his practice to keep during the greater part of his life. These papers were given by him to his friend Mr Reeve a short time before his death (which took place on the 18th January 1865), with an injunction that they should be published, as far as was feasible, at not too remote a period after the writer's death. The journals of the reigns of George IV. and William IV. (extending from 1820 to 1837) were accordingly so published in obedience to his directions about ten years after that event. Few publications have been received with greater interest by the public; five large editions were sold in little more than a year, and the demand in America was as great as in England. These journals were regarded as a faithful record of the impressions made on the mind of a competent observer, at the time, by the events he witnessed and the persons with whom he associated. Their characteristic is the love of truth, of justice, and of sincerity. The court was irritated at the scornful disclosure of the vices and follies of former sovereigns, and fashionable society was annoyed at the writer's absolute indifference to its pretensions. But Greville did not stoop to collect or record private scandal. His object appears to have been to leave behind him some of the materials of history, by which the men and actions of his own time would be judged. He records not so much public events as the private causes which led to them; and perhaps no English memoir-writer has left behind him a more valuable contribution to the history of this century. Greville published anonymously, in 1845, a volume on the policy of England to Ireland, in which he advocated the payment of the Roman Catholic clergy; and he was also the author of several pamphlets on the events of his day.