Whom The Gods Would Destroy (1)
As Brougham himself would say of his great opponent, “Put all their other men together in one scale, and poor Castlereagh in the other single, he plainly weighed them down.” Before Canning’s undeserved fall from grace, he and Castlereagh had been the guiding intelligences of the Conservative party, and afterwards the foreign secretary had borne that whole burden alone. Perhaps this is why although lesser lights such as Sidmouth were only briefly shocked by the Jeannot/St.-Leger betrayal, Castlereagh was deeply, deeply unnerved. In spite of all his cunning, he had been maneuvered by the kingdom’s worst enemy into nearly instigating a civil war. This had been followed almost immediately by the Radicals’ de facto leader standing before the Lords and openly threatening them with violent overthrow. It was, perhaps, only natural that his healthy respect for the capacities of his foes would become a terror that over the course of the next two years would gradually consume him…
Bertrand Martineau and P.G. Sherman, The Great Scheme
There is a saying in the intelligence community: “Just because you’re echthro doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.” It is often reversed to “just because they’re out to get you doesn’t mean you’re not echthro.” In the case of Lord Castlereagh, this was literally and tragically true. No matter how carefully one peruses his writings, or the records of those who knew him and worked for him, it is nearly impossible to find the point where the legitimate fears of a man with real enemies foreign and domestic become the delusions of a malfunctioning brain.

Much of the popular impression of Castlereagh’s last years has its origin, oddly enough, in an opera written by an American over thirty years after the fact. Green’s Castlereagh (apart from its more obvious inaccuracies, such as condensing the events of two years into an indeterminate number of days) creates a masterful portrait of a cunning, ruthless man gradually driven mad by the plots and counter-plots that surround him. A number of political novels, plays and K-graphs have been based on this interpretation. Many of these are ideologically based — to the Elmarist novelist Lucien Tevault, Castlereagh was an aristocrat who imagined himself clever only to be outwitted by the superior cunning of lower-born men, whereas to the aristist playwright Viktor Schicklgruber his fate was the Tragic Destiny of a true Hero.

Given what we now know of mental illness, all this is a gross oversimplification of the case. Although of course no trace of the foreign secretary’s brain remains for analysis, the beginnings of his paranoia must surely have been in some physical deterioration there. If the Caroline affair had never happened at all, or at least had been less of a tangle, perhaps Castlereagh’s sickness might have taken a different, less violent form.

We will never know. What we do know is that by 1822 his memory was failing and he was prone to violent outbursts that terrified his servants. In the classic manner of true echthrophrenia, every event that came to his attention turned itself into a fresh source of fear — in June, when the Bishop of Clogher was caught in a compromising position with a handsome young man, for example, Castlereagh became convinced that his servants were plotting to blackmail him by accusing him of the same.[1] And, again in the classic manner of true echthrophrenia, his suspicions eventually fell on those closest to him…
Arthur Roundtree, The Dangerous Years

July 27, 1822
shortly after 5 p.m.
Fife House, Whitehall
To one who didn’t know him well, it would seem that there was nothing wrong with Lord Castlereagh. He was poised and impeccably dressed, with only a hint of furtiveness about his eyes… and more than a week’s growth of beard on his face. He was carrying a greatcoat rolled under his arm, although there was no need for it at all in this weather. And why didn’t the butler take it at the door? thought Liverpool.

“Please sit down, Robert,” said the Earl of Liverpool. But instead of sitting down, Castlereagh went to the window and peered out, pushing the curtains aside the slightest amount.

“I believe I was followed here,” he said. “In fact, I am certain of it.”

“Well, you’re safe enough in my house, any road,” said Lord Liverpool. “Now sit down and let me bring you some wine.”

“You must forgive my… appearance, Robert,[3]” said Castlereagh, stroking his chin. “Of late, it seems, I… I cannot keep a razor in my house. They have all disappeared.” He looked out the window again. “Razors and knives, razors and knives,” he muttered. “Who could be taking them? To what purpose?” He shook his head a little. “Forgive me.”

Castlereagh sat down, but his eyes kept moving between the window or the doors. “I… don’t wish to be overheard,” he said.

“I trust the discretion of the servants, if that’s what you’re worried about.” Nonetheless, the Prime Minister brought the wine and wineglasses himself. The less of… this… was generally known, the better. He poured Castlereagh a glass, and then another for himself. He sat down and raised his glass.

“To… peace of mind,” he said.

“Peace of mind,” said Castlereagh, raising his glass in response. As he brought the wine to his lips, his elbow brushed the arm of the chair where his greatcoat was resting. A revolver fell out and hit the floor.

Liverpool sprang to his feet, dropping his own wineglass on the carpet.

“What in God’s name?”

“A Francotte revolver, made in Liege,” said Castlereagh, sipping his wine. “I had one of my agents in France obtain one. Seven shots — excellent weapon. Collier’s design, I believe.[4]” (Even in the grip of whatever madness this was, the man knew his firearms.) “They are developing a model for the use of their army, planning to… set up a factory in… in…” He shook his head. “Blast it, where?”

“Never mind that! Put it away!” Suddenly, Liverpool found it very easy to believe that his wife or servants had taken it upon themselves to hide all the sharp objects in the house. “Good God, man, do you expect to be assaulted here?”

“Not here,” he said, tucking the pistol back into the folds of the coat. “But on the streets… I feared assassins, and I no longer trust my servants.”

Liverpool sighed. There was no time for small talk today.

“Robert, I invited you here for a reason,” he said. “I spoke with His Majesty yesterday at Carlton House. Since your last audience with him, he has become deeply concerned about you.” There was this to be said for the king — when he wasn’t in a laudanum-induced stupor or gnashing his teeth over his own sundry grievances, he could be quite attentive to others. And a far less observant man would have seen that Castlereagh was… not in the best of health.

“What is it you’ve been told about me?” said Castlereagh sharply. His eyelids were twitching. How long has it been since this man slept properly? thought Liverpool. “Robert, you must believe, I’m not an invert, I’m not a damned sodomite!”

“No, of course not! That is not—” Liverpool stopped. “Excuse me for a moment. I wish to make sure we are not being overheard.”

“By all means.”

As Liverpool checked the nearby rooms and corridors for any servants who might be eavesdropping, he went over in his mind, one more time, what it was he needed to say. Robert, you are not well. Your mind has been agitated past reason. Rest and prayer are what you need. You cannot serve the realm in this condition. His Majesty, and Arthur, and myself are all of one mind in this.

The man needed a respite from work. He needed to return to his own estates — or to a warmer, healthier climate. Gibraltar, perhaps, or Malta. After a year or so, he could return refreshed and resume his duties. He would be 54 by then — that was no great age for a statesman. And surely the realm would be in a better state by then. Already, the lower classes were spending less time grumbling and more time working.[5]

Even now, Liverpool wasn’t looking forward to the prospect of doing without him and Canning both. And what if he was right? The Radicals had accused the whole Government of plotting to disinherit Her Highness. Before that, they had accused the Duke of Cumberland of murdering a servant and performing an abominable assault on one of his sisters, and he had been far less a threat to them than Castlereagh. Liverpool would put no libel or slander past those jackals at this point.

It doesn’t matter. When a man’s wife feels the need to hide his razors, that man is not of sound mind.

And then Liverpool heard a voice behind him. A calm, yet somehow terrifying voice.

“You haven’t had any wine, Robert.”

Liverpool spun around. Castlereagh was pointing the revolver at his chest. There was a look of rage and betrayal on his face.

“You poisoned me,” he said in a low voice that was almost a hiss.

Then he pulled the trigger.

Castlereagh was an excellent shot, and whatever had destroyed his mind had done no harm to his muscle memory. The Prime Minister was already dead when he hit the floor.

* * *

The servants on the upper floors heard the shot. About half a minute later, they heard another shot. It took them some time to work up the nerve to investigate. When they did, they found the corpses of both men.

[1] This happened in July IOTL.
[2] Lord Liverpool seems to have spent more time here than at Number 10.
[3] Unfortunately, they’re both named “Robert.” I hope this doesn’t make it hard to keep track.
[4] IOTL, the American inventor Elisha Collier moved to London in 1818, where he could get a more lucrative contract. ITTL he moves to Liege instead.
[5] The PM doesn’t really grasp the process, but the economy is starting to pick up.

Unless I'm mistaken, that makes it two PMs assassinated in a row ITTL (Spencer Perceval predates the PoD, I believe).

Yes, indeed.

Castlereagh committed suicide in August of 1822 IOTL. We know that he was suffering from paranoid delusions and sudden outbursts of anger, but he seems to have realized what was happening to his mind. I don't think it's too much of a stretch that TTL's Caroline affair and the intrigue surrounding it would have influenced the course of his illness to make it even more violent, and to damage his ability to recognize it.
Could this push Britain to adopt some kind of line of succession à la the United States?

That hadn't occurred to me.

Interesting idea, but I suspect they wouldn't go that far. Prime Ministers have died in office before this point and seem to have been replaced without too much trouble. Having a king and a powerful cabinet, the system can manage without a PM for the few days it takes to choose a replacement.


Holy crap. :eek: Who's the Head of Government, now?

Also, you never responded to my previous post on "Joseph Green":

...Poe is a librettist, now? One hopes one of those operas is an adaptation of Arthur Gordon Pym... :D

(Or, hell, something like his Politian!)

Shame that Victor Hugo probably doesn't write Le roi s'amuse ITTL; otherwise, we'd probably still get some form of Rigoletto from "Green".

And... "K-graphs"? Interesting.
It is starting to become clear why England has a revolution. Though I wonder if something will happen to Wellington or if just hardliner will take control of the government. Or worse Wellington does take power but can't stop what is already in motion.:(
This timeline is great and I can't wait to see what is next.
It is starting to become clear why England has a revolution. Though I wonder if something will happen to Wellington or if just hardliner will take control of the government. Or worse Wellington does take power but can't stop what is already in motion.:(
This timeline is great and I can't wait to see what is next.

Maybe I am missing a lot but it seems this will make things a bit better as far as 'revolution' goes. The police state without the police seems likely to collapse without those two in fairly short order. Wellington is not going to rule by force, so it looks like revolution will be mostly "Glorious" with reformer politicians and the Queen carrying matters out rather than republicans and Jacobins.
Maybe I am missing a lot but it seems this will make things a bit better as far as 'revolution' goes. The police state without the police seems likely to collapse without those two in fairly short order. Wellington is not going to rule by force, so it looks like revolution will be mostly "Glorious" with reformer politicians and the Queen carrying matters out rather than republicans and Jacobins.

You have a point, but it seems from how things are going that if things got as far revolution it would have to be a lot worse and not have good solutions. In particular it seems that Britain's strategic situation has gotten worse with the anger of the U.S over Louisiana, and the end of the war of 1812 combined with France's overall stronger position ITTL. A political crisis could be used by either to weaken the British through direct or indirect actions. And from a domestic angle the way the deaths happened it would not be hard for the Conservatives to convince themselves the deaths were a cover up for assassination or use that as an excuse for much larger crack down But I could be misreading situation and could turn out fine.:)
Whom The Gods Would Destroy (2)
Oh, I figured. But surely there's a less unwieldy AH name that can be applied to them? Maybe... "heelies" (short for "heliograms"?

I think I'll use that one in my next TL.:D

July 31, 1822
Carlton House

The king had often reminded Wellington of a petulant child. Now, he looked like a lost and frightened child.

Wellington couldn’t blame him. Two friends and colleagues struck down in a single blow. Over the course of his career in the army and the government he had thought he had had every kind of unpleasant surprise the world could throw at a man, but this… this… The murder of Perceval had been bad enough, but that at least had been the deed of a stranger, not a friend. Wellington kept replaying in his mind his every encounter with Castlereagh over the past month. Was there something he’d missed? Some sign that this was more than just a case of overwork, that the man was truly going dangerously mad?

“Any road, everyone seems to be in agreement,” said the king. “It must needs be you. If Lord Sidmouth tried to take up the mantle again, the Whigs would call for a vote of no confidence and half the Tories would join them.”

More than half, including myself, thought Wellington. “I am honored to serve Your Majesty,” he said.

“And of course we’ll need a new foreign secretary. Do you have someone in mind?”

Wellington nodded. “Lord Clancarty, Your Majesty. I worked alongside him at Vienna. There are a few other changes I intend to make as well.”

“Name them.”

“At the Exchequer, I intend to replace Vansittart with F.J. Robinson. I have Robert Peel in mind for the position of Home Secretary.”

“Peel… young fellow, isn’t he? Something of a protégé of yours?”

“He’s 34, Your Majesty, and I have great confidence in his skills. Some of his ideas about policing the nation may seem a bit foreign, but I think we’d be wise to heed them. We don’t want to be caught flat-footed again.”

“Thirty-four,” said the king. He shook his head. “We’re none of us getting any younger, are we?”

“Indeed, Your Majesty. And I dare hope that so many new faces in government at once will serve to quiet calls for an election.”

The king nodded. “I have one question. This horrid murder… do you think it is as it appears to be?” From the look in his eyes, George had grave doubts.

“I… see no reason to believe otherwise, Your Majesty,” Wellington said carefully. “We both observed, in the weeks leading up to the event, that the viscount was unwell. Yesterday, Peel and I spoke to his wife and the servants in his household, and they confirmed that his behavior had become far more erratic and violent than either of us ever had occasion to witness. The servants at Fife House neither saw nor heard anyone enter or leave the room that night beyond the two men who died there. As shocking as this tragedy is, it hardly seems a mystery.”

“And the pistol they found… it was of French make, was it not?”

“So it was, Your Majesty… but I would attach no great importance to that fact.” If French assassins have such free rein in Whitehall itself, I wasted a deal of effort trying to keep Boney’s boots off our shores.

Wellington had heard of a few others — John Hely-Hutchinson, Earl of Donoughmore, for instance — who seemed to harbor the suspicion that the murder was the work of some Radical or French assassin who had arranged the evidence to implicate Castlereagh. It was a frightening thought… but was it not an even more frightening thought that a Prime Minister could be brought to dust by a bankrupted businessman with a gun, as had happened to poor Perceval? Or that one of the greatest men of his time might take leave of his senses and shoot down his dearest friend? It was enough to make a man miss the battlefield, which at least was supposed to be dangerous. No doubt I’ll miss it even more when I have to take Parliament in hand, he thought.

August 4, 1822
Westminster Abbey

Princess Charlotte Augusta was not at all surprised that the inquest had taken only a week to declare that the late Lord Castlereagh had been non compos mentis, and that the murder and suicide he had committed were therefore not damning acts of theological despair, but the final symptoms of a disease that had destroyed his reason. Now he could receive a proper funeral.

Many of her political allies had remarked on the contrast with the Percival assassination. John Bellingham had been tried, convicted and hanged before his victim was even in the ground. But then, Bellingham had been a different sort of assassin — broken, bitter and vengeful, but not utterly delusional. What was it Sir Samuel Romilly had written? “It is a species of madness which probably for the sake of mankind ought not to exempt a man from being answerable for his actions.” (Romilly… another one who had perished at his own hand.)

The Cub, sitting between her and The Leo, tugged gently on her sleeve. She leaned down next to him on the pew so that he could whisper in her ear.

“There were happy people outside, Mum,” he whispered.

Charlotte looked into the big brown eyes of her son, not yet five years old and already with so much of his father in his features. She wasn’t quite sure what to say to him. Yes, of the thousands of onlookers at Castlereagh’s funeral procession, a good many men and women had regarded it as an occasion of public rejoicing. The same had been true of Lord Liverpool’s funeral on Thursday.

Part of her — the part that had she suspected was her true inheritance from her father — took a vicious pleasure in the fact. Those who toasted the death of my mother now know how I felt. But the part of her that had been taught by Henry Brougham and strengthened in the care of The Leo had wanted to tell them You shame yourselves! You are better than this, and you know it! And certainly that was the only part of her that her son needed to know about.

“I thought everybody was supposed to be sad today,” the child added.

“Some people don’t know any better,” she whispered. “Their mummies and daddies never taught them how to behave.”

“Talking of which,” whispered Leopold, “the service will begin soon. Be very quiet and still. Make us proud of you.”
Hmm... I wonder if Policing by "Peelian Principles" will have a more sinister meaning ITTL?

Peel actually seems to have been one of the saner Conservatives… at least as long as the subject of Catholicism didn't come up.

Excellent as always. How much currency will conspiracy theories have, going forward?

Thank you. Ever since the Caroline affair, conspiracy theories have been lent more credence than they deserve by both Whigs and Tories, and what just happened will only make things worse.

Here are some of the wilder theories among the more radical Whigs:
• "The government really was planning to disinherit and/or assassinate Charlotte Augusta like it said in that pamphlet." (Whitbread stopped printing The Plot Against Our Princess when he realized that Talleyrand and Fouché had played him for a sucker too, but he couldn't publicly repudiate it without admitting he was the one who'd written it.)
• "King George had Queen Caroline poisoned." (Well, it's not like he wouldn't have done it. Some suspect he did IOTL.)
• "Wellington killed Liverpool and Castlereagh and made it look like a murder-suicide."

And among the Tories, the theory that Liverpool and Castlereagh were killed by Radicals, the French, or some sort of International Jacobin Conspiracy that encompassed both will be even more widespread. I can't overemphasize what a terrible blow this was to the government and the Conservative party. With them gone and Canning still Reassigned to Louisiana, Wellington really is the only one they have left who can lead the nation.
Peel actually seems to have been one of the saner Conservatives… at least as long as the subject of Catholicism didn't come up.

True, but in the context of a Conservative government which is likely to believe that social unrest has been whipped up by Bonapartist France that subject might come up more than OTL.