Viscount Melbourne – Speech Following Assassination Attempt on Queen Victoria

Below is the text of the speech made in the House of Lords on 11th June 1840 following an attempt to kill Queen Victoria.

My Lords, your Lordships have all, doubtless, heard, with that deep sorrow and concern, with that mingled surprise, horror, and indignation which such an event is calculated to produce, of that with which it is now my duty formally and officially to acquaint you – that a desperate attempt on her Majesty’s life was made yesterday evening, as she was proceeding from the palace to the park. Two pistols were fired at her in the most determined and most desperate manner, at no great distance from her person, and it is only matter of wonder that the event was not more unfortunate and melancholy.

My Lords, on all former occasions of a similar nature, of which, unfortunately, there are in the recent history of our country but too many examples, it has always been the custom of your Lordships to address the Throne to express the horror which you feel at the attempt which has been made, and to congratulate the Sovereign on the happy and fortunate escape which has taken place. Upon all former occasions such are the precedents; and your Lordships, therefore, I am sure, will not be in the least surprised, that I should seize the earliest opportunity of your Lordships’ meeting – without any notice – to call upon your Lordships to follow on this occasion, the usual course.

At the same time, I feel that it is unnecessary for me, and that it would be, in some degree, improper to expatiate any further on the circumstances, or upon what might have been the consequences of the unfortunate event which has taken place. This matter is now in course of investigation; it must be matter of judicial inquiry, and under such circumstances, it would ill become either me to address the House, or your Lordships to hear, any observations which could, in the slightest degree, interfere with the calm, the deliberate, the dignified, and impartial course of public justice, I shall, therefore, content myself with moving:- “That an humble address be presented to her Majesty, to express our horror and indignation at the late atrocious and treasonable attempt against her Majesty’s sacred person, and our heartfelt congratulations to her Majesty and the country, on her Majesty’s happy preservation from so great a danger, to express our deep concern at there having been found within her Majesty’s dominions a person capable of so flagitious an act, and that we make it our earnest prayer to Almighty God, that as he has preserved to us the blessings that we enjoy under her Majesty’s just and mild government, be will continue to watch over a life so justly dear to us.