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William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne

British Whig statesman
William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne

William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne (15 March 1779 – 24 November 1848) was a British Whig statesman who served as Home Secretary (1830–1834) and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1834 and 1835–1841).


  • My principles are, as I believe, the Whig principles of the revolution. The main foundation of them is the irresponsibility of the crown, the consequent responsibility of ministers, and the preservation of the power and dignity of parliament as constituted by law and custom. With a heap of modern additions, interpolations, facts and fictions, I have nothing to do.
    • Letter to Lord Holland (10 December 1815), quoted in Philip Ziegler, Melbourne. A Biography of William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne (London: Collins, 1976), p. 70.
  • It my humble opinion, not a desirable thing for us to be dependent for our nourishment on foreign supplies, and I think it would be wise even to sacrifice something of commercial prosperity to the national safety and independence. my strong feeling, and I have great doubt whether our commerce has not been increased by our agricultural prosperity. I entirely agree...that any change in the present system would be an evil.
  • I say, Archbishop, all this reforming gives a deuced deal of trouble, eh? eh? I wish they'd let it all alone...I say, Archbishop, what do you think I'd have done about this slavery business, if I'd had my own way? I'd have done nothing at all! I'd have left it all alone. It's all a pack of nonsense! Always have been slaves in all the most civilised countries; the Greeks and Romans had slaves; however, they would have their fancy, and so we've abolished slavery; but it's a great folly.
    • E. Jane Whately (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Richard Whately, D.D. Late Archbishop of Dublin. Volume II (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1866), pp. 451-452.
  • The possession of great power necessarily implies great responsibility.
    • T.C. Hansard (ed.), The Parliamentary Debates From The Year 1803 To The Present Time. Vol. 36. (London: T.C. Hansard, 1817) p. 1227.
  • Agitate, agitate, agitate.
    • In Torrens, Life of Lord Melbourne, Volume I, p. 320, and in Walpole's History of England from Conclusion of the Great War, Volume III, p. 143.


  • I wish I were as cocksure of anything as Tom Macaulay is of everything.
    • Lloyd C. Sanders (ed.), Lord Melbourne's Papers (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1889), p. xii.
  • What all the wise men promised has not happened, and what all the damned fools said would happen has come to pass.
    • W. M. Torrens Memoirs of William Lamb, Second Viscount Melbourne (1890), p. 234

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