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man ever expressed bitter scorn for his opponents with more art and effect." This is not the rhetoric of a Jesuit in his vehemence as in his caution, Lord Shelburne was always the soldier.
Regarded purely as a party leader, Lord Shelburne had some of the highest requisites. "He was munificent and friendly," says Lord Holland, "even to a fault; none of his family or connexions were ever involved in any difficulty without finding in him a powerful protector and active friend." "He had discernment in discovering the talents of inferiors". his person was prepossessing, and his manners, when unrestrained, were sufficiently cordial. On the other hand, as caution was not habitual to him, so he often counteracted its effects by a sudden indiscretion. Though so ready, he often failed in tact, and his energy, though prodigious, was rather fitful than sustained. Often a deep, but too much a solitary thinker, he could not act in sufficient concert with others. And the closeness with which he concealed his plans was partly connected with a reluctance
chiefly came from men whom he might rea- | hardy nobility of thought, and the masculine sonably think it somewhat imprudent to strength of diction. "He was," says Lord trust. Nor was this tendency of mind un- Holland, "a great master of irony; and no justified by the peculiar circumstances with which he was surrounded at various periods of his life. In early youth he had some cause to guard himself against his own family: in the noon of his ambition he saw on one side of him a hostile court, and on the other side a rival faction, whose aid was necessary to his advancement, and whose jealousies might compass his overthrow. But that he had, as Lord Holland asserts, "a mean opinion of his species," is scarcely in keeping with a political theory to which respect for mankind, and confidence in human virtue, make the necessary groundwork. "Lord Shelburne was the only minister I ever heard of," said Jeremy Bentham, "who did not fear the people." His political doctrines were indeed of a more philosophical and comprehensive character than those by which the Great Houses invited the aid of democracy to the dominion of oligarchs. He differed from Mr. Fox and the Whigs of that day in his attachment to the growing science of political economy. No public man then living better understood the true principles of commerce. Without sharing the extrava- to receive advice. With much kindness he gant doctrines of the Duke of Richmond, he was more sincerely in favor of a modified Parliamentary Reform than were the leading partisans of Lord Rockingham. But he had a thorough contempt for all the commonplace jargon bestowed on that subject, and rather held popular liberty essential to vigorous government, than the fascinating substitute for any government at all.
As a Parliamentary speaker, Lord Shelburne showed the same brilliant and eccentric originality which perplexed the judgment of contemporaries in their estimate of the man. He certainly did not speak like one accustomed to plot and inclined to dissimulate. Animation was his leading excellence. Often rash, often arrogant, careless whom he conciliated, whom offended-speaking with impetuous rapidity, like a man full of unpremeditated thought, warmed by passionate impulse-exposing himself both to refutation and ridicule, but "repelling such attacks with great spirit and readiness," all authorities concur in the acknowledgment that, in debate, he was generally very effective, and that at times his language itself, though generally unstudied, was felicitously eloquent. Indeed, there are passages in his speeches still preserved to us, which not one of our English orators has surpassed in the
*Fox says, in one of his later speeches, that Lord Shelburne spoke, like himself, very rapidly, and it was difficult for the reporters to follow him.
† Lord Holland's Memoirs of the Whig Party.
had little sympathy. And as he lacked the art to conciliate opponents, so he scorned to recover friends whom an offence on their part or a misconception on his own, once estranged from his side. He was not revengeful, but he was not forgiving, or rather, if he forgave in his heart, he did not own it. In these less amiable and attractive attributes, favorably indeed contrasted. by the son, who ultimately succeeded to his honors, and who yet lives to command the affectionate veneration of all, who, whatever the differences of party, can appreciate the nature in which a rare elevation and an exquisite suavity admit of no enmities, while cementing all friendships. and which, gracing by accomplished culture a patriotism not embittered by spleen nor alloyed by ambition, harmonizes into classic beauty the character of one with whom Lælius would have eagerly associated, and whom Cicero would have lovingly described
"Ad imitationem sui vocet alios; ut sese splendore animæ et vitæ suæ, sicut speculum, præbeat civibus." *
In the eyes of the King, Lord Shelburne possessed two merits which atoned for speeches that, if not disloyal, were certainly not flattering. First, though friendly to peace, he desired to effect it on terms that might least wound the dignity of the crown, and hesitated therefore to acknowledge unconditionally the independence of America. And
* Lælius ap. Cic. de Republica.- Lib. ii.-xlii.
secondly, though driven to act with Mr. Fox, master, and so admit the elements that must he disliked him personally little less than the divide his cabinet. Had Lord Rockingham King did. Accordingly when George III. possessed" the sound common sense and clear found himself compelled to choose between judgment" which his admirers assign to him, the Earl of Shelburne and the Marquis of his course was clear. In the necessary changRockingham, the former obtained his prefer- es in court and state, such a man would ence. There was indeed some previous co- have gracefully consulted the King's personal quetting with Rockingham through the me- tastes and friendships, in appointments not dium of a go-between, little gifted with the affecting his policy, in order the more strenarts of seduction. Lord Chancellor Thurlow uously to insist upon the removal of political was sent to sound the Marquis, but without antagonists. Lord Rockingham did precisely authority" the Marquis refused to treat the reverse. A harmless inoffensive noble- he came again—would the Marquis ac- man held the office of mastership of the buckcept the administration and settle the terms hounds. This nobleman the King loved as a afterwards? The Marquis gave a direct neg- peculiar friend; with him the royal intelative. The King was in a position that lect unbended in happier moments, and, forwould have been actually impracticable had getful of Whigs and Tories, discussed the his obstinacy been such as it is popularly adventures of the chase. Grimly my Lord represented, for he had declared in a private Marquis insisted that the hounds should exletter to Lord North in the most solemn change their master, and the King lose his manner that his sentiments of honor would gossip. George III. stooped to personal not permit him to send for any of the leaders entreaty, that this one appointment might of opposition, and personally treat with be left uncancelled; in vain. He even shed them 66 Every man," adds his Majesty, tears - the Marquis remained inflexible— "must be the sole judge of his own feelings, Europe and America were at war with Engtherefore whatever you or any man can say land-and Lord Bateman was a necessary will have no avail with me." But four days sacrifice to the deities of Peace. afterwards, a leader of the opposition was On the other hand, if there were a man in sent for to Buckingham House, and in three the three kingdoms whose exclusion from the days more Lord Shelburne was empowered Cabinet should have been an imperative to form an administration. The Earl went condition with the Whig minister-in-chief, straight to Lord Rockingham and offered it was Lord Chancellor Thurlow. The imhim the Treasury and Premiership. "My perious lawyer had a hearty dislike for the lord," he said, with a candor little in unison Rockingham party; he was notoriously prewith the duplicity abscribed to his character opposed to the measures the Marquis was by Mr. Fox's friends," you could stand with- pledged to support. He was not a man to I cannot stand without you." The be swamped by the adverse members of a Marquis was a formalist in point of etiquette Cabinet, nor to be awed by the rank of a he was disposed to decline, because the Rockingham or the genius of a Fox. By King had not sent for himself in person. office he was the Keeper of the King's conMr. Fox and the Duke of Richmond over- science; in point of fact the King was rather ruled his scruples, and the Marquis suddenly the keeper of his own. He was sure to report consented to have greatness thrust upon him. every difference, and exaggerate every error, The King pocketed his honor as the great to the Sovereign, who had accepted the subject pocketed his pride, and so, after government as a dire necessity, and whom straining at Lord Shelburne, his Majesty its chief had turned into a personal enemy. swallowed Lord Rockingham. Exactly ten Yet the same hand that fortified the stables days from the date of the letter in which against a Bateman left the door of the Cabinet George III. so solemnly repeated his assur- unclosed against a Thurlow. But with that ance that he could see personally no leader smallness of cunning which belongs to smallof the opposition-the chief of the Whigs ness of intellect, the Marquis contrived to kissed hands as first minister of the crown. shift upon Shelburne the responsibility of an Never, considering the grave disasters of appointment which he lacked the courage to the country, did an English minister evince resist. In giving a list of those he himself a less dignified sense of responsibility than selected for the Cabinet, he left a blank for the Marquis of Rockingham- never did the the office of Chancellor, apparently in commind of professed patriot appear more nar- pliment to the Earl, whose friendship for rowed into the petty circle of party jealous- Dunning would incline him to offer the seals les never did the diplomacy of a consti- to that famous lawyer and influential debater. tutional statesman, commissioned to secure But his true object was, no doubt, to impose the requisite authority to his counsels, and upon Shelburne the alternative either of yet conciliate the favor of a reluctant king resisting the King and mortally offending so indulge in the spite that must gall his Thurlow, or of retaining the Chancellor, and
incurring the responsibility of an appoint-ites. One-half the Cabinet and one-half the ment odious to the Rockingham party. And subordinate appointments were rigidly to perhaps Lord Rockingham, dull though he counterbalance the other half. The Governwas, could scarcely have been so dull as not ment was thus composed much on the same. to foresee that, of the two evils, Lord Shel- principle of symmetry as that on which burne would choose the last, for the Earl Browne constructed his gardens. If one tree had not the same stern causes to exclude the was planted to shield from the north wind, terrible Chancellor as should have weighed another must be stuck into the ground just with his colleague. During all the prelimi- opposite, though it only served to shut out nary negotiations, Lord Shelburne had been the south. If some eminent man was apselected for personal conference with the pointed by Lord Shelburne, some man, King, and, as the representative of a party whether eminent or worthless, must be thrust comparatively small to that of the Rocking-in by Lord Rockingham. The envies and hamites, the Earl might reasonably consider bickerings about garters and peerages, and the royal favor too valuable an element of places in the household, could they have strength to be thrown away, while Lord been known to the public, would have lost Thurlow had been mixed up in the trans- forever, to the ambition of "the Great actions conducted by Shelburne, and his very Houses," the sympathy of every masculine hostility to one portion of the Cabinet might intellect. But the most fatal blunder of all not be without use to the other.* Lord was in the places severally assigned to Lord Shelburne therefore retained Lord Thurlow, Shelburne and Mr. Fox. "The Foreign and Lord Rockingham assented to the ap- Office was, in the improvident regulations pointment. That in the blank left to Lord of that day, divided between two secretaries Shelburne to fill up, the Marquis had no of state: they presided over their respective desire to advance Dunning, became instan- offices, one of which embraced the north, the taneously clear, for when Lord Shelburne other the south of Europe and the colonies. propitiated that eminent person to the loss The consequences were, that wherever a of the Great Seal by elevating him to the diplomatic agency was required for negotipeerage, with the Duchy of Lancaster, and ation with joint powers, the same man was a pension of £4000 a year, the Rockingham | furnished with instructions from, and had to faction were seized with jealous resentment, correspond with, two different principals; "* and could not rest contented till they had counterbalanced the Shelburne dispensation of patronage, by raising to the peerage a partisan of their own, Sir Fletcher Norton. If Lord Rockingham was sincere in the expectation that Dunning would be raised to the Woolsack, the exceeding bitterness with which himself and the Whigs regarded the compensation afforded by the pension and peerage seems strangely misplaced. On the liberal party generally Dunning's claims were paramount. It was his motion on the power of the Crown which had most united the Opposition, and conduced to the down-measures must needs be negotiations for peace fall of the North administration. And not even Fox himself more commanded the ear of the House, or could less safely have been omitted from a share in the spolia opima. In brief, the more the history of the formation of the Rockingham government becomes clear, the more the general interests of the nation, and the nobler sagacity of patriots, appear to have been forgotten in the miserable jealousies of rival cliques. The grand object of the Whigs was avowedly Tess to consolidate the best government that could reform absuses and restore peace, than to maintain the dignity of their coterie against the encroachments of the Shelburn
Thus Horace Walpole observes truly, "that Lord Shelburne having more of the King's favor than Lord Rockingham, the Chancellor would incline the same way."
as each of these principals employed respectively a separate servant in an affair which was or ought to have been substantially the same, it is clear that an arrangement, in which the will and the dignity of two coequal officers of State were perpetually liable to clash with each other, unquestionably required either the most cordial confidence between the two ministers, or that the negotiations to be effected should appertain exclusively to one of the departments. The last was impossible at the formation of the Rockingham cabinet, in which the primary
with France, which was in the one department, and with America, which was in the other. The first condition thus became still more requisite, and in order to meet it, Lord Shelburne was made Secretary for the south department, and Mr. Fox of the north,precisely the two men who, out of the whole junto, most disliked and most suspected each other. Thus to the ceremonial adjustment of conflicting dignities were alike sacrificed the union of the government and the cause of the nation.
Amongst all the partisans of Lord Rockingham, no one had claim to the veneration and gratitude of the ministers equal to Edmund Burke. His motion on Administrative Reform, and the matchless oration by * Memorials of Fox, Vol. I.
which it had been prefaced, had given them their popular cry at the late election, and comprised the pith of their promises to the people. Lord Rockingham's obligations to Burke were beyond all conceivable estimate; they were such as some commonplace Chloe owes to the poet, who converts an original without a feature into an ideal without a flaw. Burke had taken this (doubtless respectable but) very ordinary nobleman up to the celestial heights of his own orient fancy, and re-created into the prototype of a statesman in times of grave national danger, a mortal whom, if shorn of fortune and titles, no party in a parish, divided on a sewer's rate, would have elected as its champion in the vestry.
and his acquiescence in the slight "certainly hurt his political reputation.'
It must, however, be allowed, that the post assigned to Mr. Burke (that of the Pay Office) would have been the most lucrative in the gift of the Government upon one condition, viz., that he had forfeited all claim to public character in accepting its emoluments. For those emoluments the Adminis trative Reformer was pledged to resign, and he did so..
The Rockingham administration, thus patched together, seems to have failed at once of parliamentary support. The Government could not command the necessary attendance for the transaction of its ordinary business. "The thin attendances," says It is true that Burke had exhibited along Fox, "which appear on most occasions is with the zeal of his ardent temperament, very disheartening. On the bill for securconsiderable defects in temper and in tact; ing Sir Thomas Rumbold's property, † we but those are not defects that necessitate ex- were only 36 to 33." The insubordination clusion from Whig cabinets, provided the of dependents were notable. On that very erring man can cover such stains on his question the Attorney and Solicitor General dinted armor, not with a veteran's cloak, but were both against the Government leader. a herald's tabard. And whatever those de- On another occasion Dundas, still Lordfects might be, the chiefs of the party did Advocate, not perhaps in the best humor not pretend that they sufficed to disqualify that he was not promoted to the Duchy of Burke for a deliberate adviser. "He had," Lancaster instead of Dunning, galled Mr. says Lord John Townsend, "the greatest Fox by a speech, "most offensive," comsway, I might almost say command, over plains the minister, "to me personally, by Lord Rockingham's friends." They pro- marking in the most pointed way the differfessed in private to respect his counsels; ent opinion he entertained of the purity of they excluded those counsels from a voice in Pitt's intentions and mine." Burke himself, the Cabinet. Lord John Russell, with the not wholly uninfluenced, we suspect, by honorable sympathy of a man of letters, al- irritation at the slight at which he was too lows this slight to a man whom posterity re- proud to complain, dealt a deadly side-blow gards, if not as the greatest orator of his age, to the Cabinet that excluded him. Mr. Fox still as the most luminous intellect that ever had declared himself in favor of Parliamentflashed on the windows of the "Great Hous-ary Reform, but, praising Mr. Pitt for his es," to have been "unwise and unjust." motion to that effect, hinted that it did not go But he adds, in apology for his party, that it far enough. Burke, with difficulty restrained does not appear at the time that the exclu- from appearing in the House upon that occasion of Mr. Burke was resented by himself or sion, came down a few nights after (on Alby any of his friends. This may be true of derman Sawbridge's motion for shortening Burke's friends-the Whigs, who excluded parliaments), "attacked Mr. Pitt in a scream him not quite so true of himself. of passion, and not only swore that Parliament was, and always had been, precisely what it ought to be, but that all persons who thought of reforming it wanted to overturn the constitution." Perhaps, however, in this censure Burke exempted the intentions of Mr. Fox at the expense of that statesman's sincerity, for certainly neither then, nor at any time, had Mr. Fox any very serious intention of reforming Parliament, whatever he might say to the contrary. ‡
"In a letter hitherto unpublished," observes Lord Mahon, in the 7th volume of his spirited and valuable History (p. 214), Burke refers to his position at this time in a tone of great mortification, but with a kind of proud humility. You have been misinformed. I make no part of the ministerial arrangement. Something in the official line may probably be thought fit for my measure.""" And whatever Burke or his friends (Whig friends!) may have felt on the matter, there is no doubt that Mr. Prior in his life of the wronged great man says truly, that his exclusion from the Cabinet was a matter of "considerable surprise,"
Fox's Memorials, vol. 1. p. 22.
Willingly will we give to Mr. Fox's memory the benefit of the doubt. But the letter is printed from the draft in Mr. Fox's own handwriting; and we blush to think that a Minister of England could even have dreamed of placing before the eyes of a foreign potentate words that so depreciated his country, and so debased his King. A few extracts from this epistle, to which we can give no epithet but abject, entitled "Private Letter of Mr. Fox, written in order to be communicated to the King of Prussia," will suffice to show the intention and substance of the whole composition. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs thus begins :
Mr. Fox was sometimes less ingenuous to the Fox's) first attempts to form a defensive confedpublic than he was to his friends. Now, eracy in the North, by uniting Russia and Prustoo, the ordinary punishment of those who sia with England, in opposition to the exorbitant are over-lavish in popular professions when ambition and insolent pretensions of the House storming a government befell the successors of Bourbon. With that view he seems to have to that troublesome fortress. Fox had boast-written the following letter to the King of Prussia. Through what channel it was to be conveyed ingly implied that, if he had the official pow- does not appear, nor is it certain that it was he er, possessed the requisite means to detach ever sent; though from allusions in the followthe Dutch from the French. The Dutch ing year to what had passed at this period, it received his diplomatic overtures with a frig probably was.' idity that belied his predictions. He turned to the Americans; there, at least, the eloquence of their advocate was sure of a cordial reception, when commissioned to pacify and anxious to concede. Not a whit of it. The Americans were as sullen as the Dutchmen were phlegmatic. The minister charged with the glorious task of raising the dignity of England in the eyes of foreign states stooped to sue the Russian Czarina and the Austrian Emperor for their mediation between the parent country and the triumphant colonists. The Czarina replied by a personal compliment, the Emperor by a national insult. France and Spain, though in the last extreme of financial distress, refused to accede to the seductions of the Whig peacemaker. Peace falls rarely into the lap of those who ask for it on their knees. Peace has no force in her eloquence unless the trumpet precedes her heralds, and her flag does not carry respect if it droops from the crutch of a beggar. Just retribution! Salutary warning to those who depreciate the power of their country when seeking to damage a government! Men may justly advocate peace, however unpopular, when they hold war inexpedient or unrighteous. But in doing so, patriots will be wary how they tell the enemy that their country has no alternative between peace and destruction. Fox had so often declared in Parliament that England could not encounter her foes, that her foes believed him when he came in the authority of a King's minister with propositions of peace.
But the volumes edited by Lord John Russell contain a document which seems to us so to derogate from Mr. Fox's character as an English statesman, and his position as a Minister of the Crown, that even his warmest admirers may cease to regret that the dignity of the country was not long committed to his hands.
"It was," says Mr. Allen, "one of his (Mr. according to the concurrent testimony of those best acquainted with Fox's genuine opinions, and indeed according to some passages in his own Correspondence, it is evident that he regarded the question of Parliamentary Reform with considerable scepticism as to its benefits or necessity; he looked on it chiefly with reference to the interests of his party- a change of suit which the country could very well do without, but which ought from time to time to be taken -and put down from the shelf-aired, paraded, brushedaway again. DCIV.
LIVING AGE. VOL. XI.
"The assurances that you have given me, Monsieur, of the friendship which the King, your master, bears to the English nation, encourages me to write to you from my own impulse, and without having consulted any one on the actual state of affairs in this country. We are overwhelmed by the number and force of our enemies; and however becoming and glorious may be the defence that we count upon making against a Confederation as powerful as that which attacks us, it is to be feared that this glory will cost us dear, and that we shall find ourselves exhausted by the efforts we make, even if events take a turn more favorable than we have reason to hope.
Was this the language likely to secure to England the active friendship of a man like Frederick the Great?
"It is true that the embarrassments that be
set us are only the fruits of the numberless faults we have committed, and the bad system of policy we have long followed. But it is also true that whatever be the cause, it is of infinite importance to all the nations of Europe, more especially to those of the North, to prevent our succumbing to the House of Bourbon, which looks forward to a despotism over Europe with
"Les assurances que vous m'avez données, Monsieur, de l'amitié que le Roi votre maître porte à la nation anglaise, m'encouragent à vous écrire de mon chef, et sans avoir consulté personne, avec la plus entière confiance, sur l'état actuel des affaires de ce pays-ci. Nous sommes accablés du nombre et de la force de nos ennemis, et quelque belle et glorieuse que sera la défense que nous comptons faire contre une confédération aussi puissante que celle qui nous attaque, il est à craindre, que cette glorie ne nous coûte bien cher, et que nous ne nous trouvions épuisés par les efforts que nous ferons quand même les évènemens prissent une tournure plus favorable que nous n'avons raison d'espérer."