ePub 版


nals of England under the House of to British interests in that quarter. Brunswick. Nor do we know of any These twelve years were replete with method of treating the history of an great events.

At their commenceimportant epoch which gives so life- ment, the United Kingdom retained like a representation of the events the prestige and the power which it with which it deals, as that which had acquired under Chatham. At its teaches by a judicious selection of cor- close, not only was that power and respondence. Its defectiveness, in- prestige annihilated, but the country, deed, is in one respect inevitable; in- equally unable to support the war or asmuch as it offers but a partial view to endure the government, pronounced of events ; and, by dealing with pub against the policy of the administralic affairs from its own point of view, tion, established a new one in its place, distorts the relative importance of and recognized the independence of particular scenes and particular ac- America. tors. In this manner, while the pre- On the 19th of March, 1782, Lord sent works detail to us the policy of North, after encountering a variety the Grenvilles with a prominence in- of motions with the alternate fate of a dicative of their own supremacy minority and a majority seldom exin the political world, the Memoirs ceeding fifteen voices upon either of Lord Rockingham, and those of side, communicated to Parliament the Mr. Fox, necessarily give a totally final beak-up of the war ministry. The different complexion to the political Opposition was then constituted by annals of the same period. It will two distinct parties in the State. That thus be the task of the historian to which commanded at once the greatreconcile these inevitable inequalities est ability, and the greatest numeriof partial narration ; but until such cal force, was the more liberal branch an analysis has been made, it will be headed by the Marquess of Rockingthe task of the reviewer to examine ham in the House of Lords, and comthe additional light which the more prehending Mr. Fox, Mr. Burke, Mr. important of these historical sketches Sheridan, and Lord John Cavendish, in may throw upon hidden facts of go- the House of Commons. These were the yernment.

genuine Whigs—a party so pure, and In dealing with works relating to severely exclusive, that they formed periods of such magnitude and im- in reality a political caste. The other portance, it will of course be impossi- party was that of which Lord Chatble to attempt continuous narration. ham, up to his death in 1778, had The correspondence here begins with been the head, and which now acthe dissolution of Lord North's Ad- knowledged the leadership of Lord ministration, and the consequent ter- Shelburne. The opinions of this mination of the American war in party appeared to hold an intervening 1782. It thence elucidates questions place between those of the Whigs relative to the Rockingham, Shel- and Tories. They may perhaps be burne, and Coalition Ministries; to assimilated to the Peelites' of the the final establishment of Mr. Pitt's present day. The coalition of these parGovernment; and to the struggle of ties now formed the obvious means of that period between the crown and a new Government being established the parliament. We shall therefore in 1782, much as the coalition of the endeavour to point out the instances parties headed by Lord John Russell, in which the present works serve to

and of Lord Aberdeen formed an enlarge our knowledge of the politi- expedient dictated by the same concal affairs to which they relate, by sideration seventy years afterwards. touching upon different subjects singly Very strong jealousies and antiand disconnectedly.

pathies had developed themselves beThe year 1782 opened with the fi- tween these parties, even before the nal discomfiture of the war party, out-break of the American war. Lord and of Lord North's Government. Chatham had on a former occasion During twelve disastrous years, that endeavoured to form a combination minister had represented the party with Lord Rockingham similar to opposed to the conciliation of Ame- that of 1782, and so high did the anirica, which under the preceding Ad- mosity run between the two parties, ministration of the Duke of Grafton that Rockingham refused to give (1766-1770) had inflicted a fatal blow Chatham admission to his house. In 1782, however, after so long an es- this knowledge to sow dissensions." trangement from the Treasury bench, (vol. 1, p. 27). the love of office got the better of a The Duke of Buckingham has also love of jealousy and distrust; and brought to light the fact, that Fox the Whigs, on the condition of the himself considered the Administration Premiership of Lord Rockingham, as defunct from the moment of Lord agreed to share the sweets of official Rockingham's death ; and that the life with the party of Lord Shelburne. proposal of the Duke of Portland was It was endeavoured to establish the made simply in the character of an Coalition Government which was thus impracticable ultimatum, to justify formed, on a balance of jealousies. the resignation of the Whigs. This This equipoise, however, was lost is revealed by a letter of his own. within six months of its formation, It must be admitted that this corby the death of Lord Rockingham. respondence has served to offer some The King, who, distrusting the whole palliation of the conduct pursued by liberal body, preferred nevertheless Mr. Fox towards Lord Shelburne, the least anti-monarchical of the two, and to show that public as well as and had wished from the outset to private considerations rendered it diffi. sée Lord Shelburne at the head of af. cult for that minister to serve with fairs, now insisted on his taking him while he was undisputed master Lord Rockingham's place.


of the State. meanwhile, determined to maintain It will be remembered that on the the ascendancy of the Whigs, pro- accession of the Rockingham Minisposed the Duke of Portland in place try, it was determined that an envoy of Rockingham, and to the prejudice should be sent to Paris to negotiate of Shelburne. When he had sub- with Franklin, then at that capital, mitted this proposal to the King, and on the terms of a pacification with was informed that the Treasurer's America. Mr. Thomas Grenville was staff had already been committed to the statesman selected for that purLord Shelburne, he asked leave to pose ; and it would have been diffi. nominate the new Secretary of State cult to have made a more judicions in Lord Shelburne's place ; and on selection. While, however, Mr. Grenlearning that that place was also al- ville was thus publicly accredited in ready disposed of, resigned office the name of the Government, Lord in conjunction with the rest of the Shelburne, as it appears from this Whig leaders. Thus ended, in a few correspondence, took upon himself to months, the Administration represent- send out a secret envoy without the ing the fruit of twelve years of parlia- knowledge of Mr. Fox, the Secretary mentary opposition.

for Foreign Affairs. This envoy apThus far, the incidents we are re- pears to have been charged with the lating are matters of history. But special mission of thwarting Mr. the present Memoirs reveal much of Grenville, and defeating the policy the under-current by which these re- of the majority in the cabinet. It is hults were brought about. Fox, it is to be suspected that the king must clear, placed no confidence in the in- have been cognisant of the matter, tegrity of Shelburne ; nor Shelburne for it is difficult to understand in what in that of the King. When, then, we manner an envoy proceeding in so bear in mind that the integrity of Mr. anomalous a manner could otherwise Fox himself was not of the highest have gained the confidence of the order, we may gain a fair notion of authorities in France. This is exthe exalted point of view from which plained by the following selections Shelburne must have contemplated from a letter given at length in these the morality of the sovereign ! "Lord memoirs : Shelburne said of the King,” says the Duke of Buckingham, "that he possessed one art beyond any man he had

Paris, June 4th, 1782. ever known; for that by the familia

Dear Charles, rity of his intercourse he obtained

I believe I told you iş your confidence, procured from you my last that I had very sanguine expectayour opinion of different public cha- tions of Franklin's being inclined to speak racters, and then availed himself of out when I should see him next: indeed, le

[ocr errors]


expressly told me that he would think over of the cabinet deciding against his all the points likely to establish a solid recon- views. On the other hand, it has ciliation between England and America.

lately been shown in the Memorials For this very interesting communication which I had long laboured to get, he fixed

of Mr. Fox, published by Lord John the fourth day, which was last Saturday;

Russell, that that minister was ready but on Friday morning Mr. Oswald came,

to degrade his country in the eyes of and having given me your letters, he went

the Court of Berlin (see his letters to immediately to Franklin, to carry some to

Frederic the Great); and there was, him.

But when I came to lead therefore, grave doubt whether Fox the discourse (with Franklin) to the subject were not as insincere towards his which he (Franklin) had promised four days country as was Lord Shelburne before, I was a good deal mortified to find towards Fox. The indignation of the him put it off altogether till he should be Rockingham Whigs, however, knew more ready; and notwithstanding my re- no bounds, as will be seen in the folminding him of his promise, he only answered,

lowing extract from the answer of it should be in some days. What passed Mr. Fox : between Mr. Oswald and me will explain the reason of this disappointment.

MR, FOX TO MR. THOMAS GREXVILLE. Mr. Oswald told me that Lord Shelburne had proposed to him, when last in England, to take a commission to treat with the Ame.

St. James', June 10th, 1782.

Dear Grenville, rican ministers; and that upon his mentioning it to Franklin now, it seemed perfectly

I received late, the night before last, agreeable to him, and even to be what he

your very interesting letter of the 4th ; and

you will easily conceive that I am not a little very much wished ; Mr. Oswald adding that he wished only to assist the business. He

embarrassed by the contents. mixed with this a few regrets that there

I have taken upon me to show your letter to should be any difference between the two

Lord Rockingham, the Duke of Richmond,

and Lord John (Cavendish), who are as full offices; and when I asked upon what subject,

of indignation at its contents as one might he said, owing to the Rockingham party

reasonably expect honest men to be. being too ready to give up every thing.

With these two points we wish to charge You will observe, though, for it is on that

Shelburne directly ; but pressing as the King account that I give you this narrative, that

is, and interesting as it is both to our own this intended appointment has effectually

situations and to the affairs of the public, stopped Franklin's mouth to me; and that

which are, I fear, irretrievably injured by when he is told that Mr. Oswald is to be

this intrigue, and which must be ruined if it Commissioner for England, it is but natural

is suffered to go on, we are resolved not to that he should reserve his confidence for the

stir a step until we hear again from you. If quarter so pointed out to him: nor does

this matter should produce a rupture, and this secret seem only known to Franklin ; us Lafayette said, laughing, yesterday, that

consequently become more or less the subbe had just left Lord Shelburne's ambassador

ject of discussion, I am sensible the Canada

paper cannot be mentioned by name; but at Passy. (i. pp. 34-36.)

might it not be said that we had discovered This letter proceeds to mention the that Shelburne had withheld from our knowseveral points on which Oswald en- ledge matters of importance to the negotia. tered into separate and secret nego

tion ? And with respect to the other point, tiation.

might it not be said, without betraying any. Now it is certain that this corres

body, that while the King had one avowed

and authorised minister at Paris, measures pondence reflects more or less discredit

were taken for lessening his credit, and for upon the Whig coalition, in both its

obstructing his enquiries, by announcing a branches. It shows that there was

new intended commission, of which the cabi. Deither honour now confidence in the

net had never been apprised ? &c. (i. p. 40.) composition of the Government. The conduct of Lord Shelburne was wholly It

appears certain from this letter, indefensible, even on the supposition that Mr. Fox and his party had conwhich a passage in the above letter templated a retirement from the cabicertainly authorises, that Mr. Fox net, even before Lord Rockingham's was not very solicitous for the honour death. They proposed openly to assail of his country, under the delicate Lord Shelburne in parliament ; and task and inevitable necessity of re- they were ready, by implication at cognising the independence of a re

least, to assail the king also. Yet these bellious colony. The course open to were the Ministers of the Crown ! Shelburne was undoubtedly that of a And foremost among the assailants resignation, in the event of a majority stood the First Lord of the Treasury, and the Secretary of State for Foreign of uncertainty and alarm, and, as Mr. Affairs! It is difficult to say which Grenville describes it, wholly without party is most eulpable in these trans- any Government whatever.”—p. 172. actions. It was the duty of either The Whigs, however, had not coaparty, instead of cherishing secret lesced with the Tories for nothing. schemes or smothered resentment, to The King at length endeavoured to have submitted the question to the tempt the cupidity of Lord North by cabinet, and to have abided by that offering him the Treasury, a scheme issue. Shelburne might have de- which would have at once excluded claimed against the contingent dis- the party of Mr. Fox, who were dehonour of the country: Fox against termined to enter the Government the certain dishonesty of the minister. upon at least equal terms. This proUtrum horum mavis accipe !

posal rejected, his majesty next sugIt is, however, only due to Mr. Fox gested, as an ultimatum, to place a thus to wipe away the stain attaching neutral person” at the head of_afto the charge of his having thrown up fairs. This “neutral person" Mr. Fox the seals under the influence of a pri- insisted should be no other than the vate pique, upon the promotion of Duke of Portland, whom he had preLord Shelburne to the 'Treasury; for viously endeavoured to prefer to Lord it would have been obviously impossi- Shelburne upon the death of Rockble, whatever were the shortcomings ingham. The Duke's "neutrality" was of his own administration, that he denied by the king, and the scheme should have continued to serve in a rejected. It was not until the 20th of Government thenceforth altogether March, after an unparalleled delay of directed by an alien policy. So much nearly a month, that an administrafor political coalitions !

tion was finally formed by the concesWe now pass to the memorable co- sion of the King. His Grace of Portalition between Lord North and Mr. land became nominal Premier, the Fox, which resulted in the definitive Government, meanwhile, being virtuestablishment of the Shelburne party ally directed by the two secretaries of in power, under the Premiership of state, Lord North and Mr. Fox. It

was so contrived, however, that all the On the 24th of February, 1783, (as other offices of trust should be conferred Mr. Grenville writes to Lord Temple) upon the Whigs; and the new AdLord Shelburne, overwhelmed by the ministration, therefore, became more confederacy of Mr. Fox and Lord

odious to the king than that of Lord North, gave in his resignation. The Rockingham itself. Thus the Whiyo correspondence seems, at this point, came into power once more, using the very strikingly to illustrate the confu- Duke as a go-between, and Lord North sion which ensued, and to show that as a cat's paw ! it was only after a hard struggle, after The steps which brought about the all, that the coalition acceded to power. fall of this Administration are well “ The offer,” says Mr. W. Grenville, on the

known. Mr. Fox's India Bills, which 26th,“ has been made to Pit:of the Treasury,

proposed to transfer to a Whig Parliawith carte blanche, which, after two days'

mentary Commission, irresponsible to deliberation, he has this day refused."

the crown, the whole executive power

of India, were introduced on the 18th The King, therefore, immediately of November in the same year. There on the resignation of Shelburne's minis- can be no doubt that this measure was try, must have sought to reconstruct a signal blunder. It promised, indeed, it by raising the defeated Chancellor if accomplished, a vast extension of of the Exchequer to the Premiership. power to the Whig party. But there On the 1st of March, he sent for was a secret cabinet which had the ear Lord North ; but positively declined of the sovereign, more powerful perto negotiate with Mr. Fox. “ The haps than the acknowledged govern. king's reluctance to see him," writes ment. This was regarded as headed the Duke of Buckingham, “could not by Lord Temple, and stood in the inbe overcome ; upon that point his ma- terest of the King and the Shelburne jesty was inflexible ; and interview party: It is clear, from the correafter interview followed, ending in spondence published by the Duke of the same unsatisfactory way, the coun- Buckingham, that the final defeat of try continuing to be kept in a stato these bills in the House of Lorils,

young Pitt.

[ocr errors]

which produced the king's dismissal we shall scarcely wonder that the same of Ministers, was the work of a secret predilections should have supported, understanding between his Majesty for seventeen years, an administration and Lord Shelburne's party, of both the greater part of which was passed of whom Temple was made the instru- in profound peace and in commercial ment.

enterprise. From this point the more vivid in- We think that our readers will feel terest in the Memoirs of the Reign of more interest in the stirring period of George III. ceases. We have endea- the Regency than in that to which the voured to conduct the reader through rest of the earlier Memoirs by the the tortuous labyrinth by which the Duke of Buckingham refers.

We country passed from the firm but dis- pass, therefore, at once to the years astrous administration of Lord North 1811 and 1812, which witnessed the to the firm and glorious government of accession of the Prince of Wales, the Mr. Pitt. It is easy to trace the pro- assassination of Mr. Percival, the new cess by which that great man, at the complications of European affairs, the age of twenty-four, found himself sud- second American war, and the rise of denly exalted to the head of affairs. the famous Liverpool Administration. During a year and a half, three suc- It will be remembered that, as the cessive ministries were created and Houses of Parliament were about to destroyed. Yet the Administration adjourn for the Christmas of 1810-11, preceding that brief period had en- their festivities were suddenly arrestdured for twelve years, and the Admin- ed by the communication of the starte istration which followed it endured ling intelligence, that the machinery from 1783 into the following century: of government was at an end. The Never was a Government created intellect of his majesty had failed him. with fairer prospects of durability Mr. Percival was then at the head of than that which, in March, 1782, the government; and it became essenarose under the auspices of the Mar- tial at once to institute a Regency. It quess of Rockingham. It was sup- appears that the commission of the ported both by town and coun ry-by government of the country to the the aristocracy and the people : it was Prince of Wales was, from the first required to triumph simply over the moment, acknowledged as inevitable ; prepossessions of the King, and the although it will be remembered that, faction still headed by Lord North. on the earlier manifestation of the Yet it fell, not from external agency, king's malady, twenty years before, but from intestine disunion. It in- Mr. Pitt was strenuously contesting volved not simply a coalition of men, this principle with Mr. Fox, when the but a conflict of opinions. The go- recovery of the King terminated the vernment then formed in its place discussion. The collateral relatives of formed, as Mr. Sheridan, then out of his majesty were now, however, exoffice, indignantly declared, “not of a tinct, with the solitary exception of coalition of parties, but of the shreds his royal highness of Gloucester; and and remnants of parties"--was broken between the sovereign and this prince up by a coalition from without, after there was little, perhaps, to choose. an existence of some eight months. They may be described as standing on Finally, the coalition of the two pre- the two sides of the boundary of the vionsly defeated parties--the North worlds of sanity and insanity. The Tories and the Rockingham Whigs- duke was, in truth, but just on the being, in turn, overthrown at once by safe side of the confines : the king had royal and public displeasure, all the gone over the border," while his reold elements of parliamentary govern,

turn was seriously apprehended at ment were exhausted. The splendid once by the Whigs and the heir to the talents of the younger Pitt and the throne ! favour of the crown then brought a After continual ministerial defeats new generation into irresistible power. on subordinate questions of detail, the If we remember that the personal Regency Bill at length became law on predilections of the sovereign formed the5th of February, 1811. Our author a principal cause of the endurance of fails to notice, however, the manner Lord North's ministry for twelve in which it was decreed that any bill years, amid every complication of poli- could become law when the throne tical blundering and military disaster, was (morally speaking) vacant. It was

« 上一頁繼續 »