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greater appetite for employing it." The lounging opinions to outvote you in cabinet." Duke of Richmond, to whom we refer, did Accordingly, with his accustomed dry denot, therefore, like Mr. Fox, think himself light in a joke, Lord Shelburne accepted the "out of the question." But the Duke had mission to report to the King the decrees of two or three trifling defects, which combined the Whigs; and, returning, reported to the to unfit him for the choice of the Great delegates that his Majesty had been graciousHouses. In spite of his rank his opinions ly pleased to appoint as first Lord of the were popular; and in spite of his graceful Treasury-the Earl of Shelburne himself. manners and a "thousand virtues" he him- Though the announcement could not have self was just the reverse. He was "intrac-been unexpected, it produced the effect of a table," he had a will of his own; he was bomb upon a company of gazers only preapt to have "speculative visions, and was pared for the ascent of a rocket. Fox would particularly romantic upon the article of listen to no remonstrance; he carried at representation." In short, the Duke of once the seals of his office to the King, comRichmond was set aside. And Fox and the plained loudly of Lord Shelburne's "treachDuke being thus dissolved in the Whig eries," and proclaimed, as it were, his concrucible, nothing remained but that caput tempt for the royal favor he had lost, or his mortuum his Grace of Portland. hopes in royal favor prospective, by receiving at dinner that very day the Prince of Wales as his guest, and allowing his parti sans to circulate the soothing intelligence that the Heir Apparent regarded "the Rockingham party as the best friends of the country." Lord John Cavendish alone of the members of the cabinet imitated the example of Mr. Fox. The three other Whigs by profession, Keppel, Conway, and the Duke of Richmond, remained in office; each professing to share Fox's distrust of Lord Shelburne, but cach, by remaining, and upon the avowed grounds of public duty, implying a censure on those who retired. Never before did a parliamentary leader make a movement of equal importance with so little approval and so scanty a following, or upon grounds less calculated to compensate in the sympathy of the people for the detriment inflicted upon party. "My opinion," writes Lord Temple to his brother Thomas, that Fox has undone himself with the public, and his most intimate friends seem of the same opinion." The blow to the Whigs which the hasty back-stroke of their chief inflicted was indeed so mighty, that it scattered them right and left. The policy of the Whigs as a party was evidently either to absorb the Shelburnites into their own body, or to destroy Lord Shelburne's personal influence as an obstacle to that fusion. The course taken by Mr. Fox transferred to Lord Shelburne all whom interest, ambition, or sense of public duty enlisted on the side of the Government. And by that single act Mr. Fox, viewing him only as a party chief, lost at least one-third of the numbers, and a far greater proportionate amount in property, rank, and character, of the party committed to his guidance. His resignation may have been necessitated. Mr. Fox might feel that he could not with honor serve under Lord Shelburne. But since so many of his friends
The intrigues of this interesting crisis have an exquisite air of high comedy. The Whig junto having agreed that the Duke of Richmond was to concede his claim to the Duke of Portland, who, above all men, was selected to tell him so?-who was to be the simpler Bouverie to that more vain Lord John? The Whigs appointed Mr. Fox; and, “ being his Grace's nephew, the Duke," says Walpole, with the shrewdness of a man of the world, "was most offended with him." With the bonhommie of a child Mr. Fox undertook the task of alienating from his party one of its ablest chiefs, and from himself his most powerful relation. Horace Walpole was present in one of the meetings between uncle and nephew, and informs us that "he entreated both to argue without passion, and to remember that, being such near relatives, they must come together again." "I did prevent any warmth," adds that most cynical of peacemakers," and they parted civilly, though equally discontented with each other." It must have been a yet more amusing scene "when Lord Shelburne was desired by the voice of the party to acquaint King George III. that the Whigs recommended the Duke of Portland to his Majesty to succeed Lord Rockingham." The Earl had previously foiled Mr. Fox's opposition in the cabinet with a sort of well-bred humor which seems to imply a cordial enjoyment of his part in the play. When General Conway, on whom the Rockingham faction, despite his superb pretensions to be above all considerations of party, had certainly counted as their own, gave in that cabinet of nine his independent vote, much to that faction's annoyance, quoth Lord Shelburne aside to Mr. Fox, "That innocent man never perceives that he has the casting vote of the cabinet ! Again says the Earl smilingly to his baffled rival," Very provoking, I must own, for you to see Lord Camden and the Duke of Grafton come down with their
* Courts and Cabinets of George III. Vol. I. p. 52.
retained their offices, and remonstrated effect! The peace itself was more honorable against his own decision, prudence demanded to the country than that which Mr. Fox that his retirement should be made with would have effected. Lord Shelburne carried temperance and dignity. Preserving in Par- his point. The acknowledgment of Ameriliament the attitude of a vigilant neutrality, can independence was made by an article in he might thus have retained his friends, the treaty, not by a previous declaration. whether in or out of office, while asserting Nothing further was heard of the cession of his own independence. But Mr. Fox here Canada. But he who wishes to see the vinmanifested to the fullest extent his charac- dication of that peace and its provisions teristic errors of conduct. He began at once must turn to the great speech in their de"an opposition wofully thinned and discon- fence against Fox, which in tone and argunected, ,"* and to that opposition he gave all ment is one of the noblest ever uttered by the rancor and vehemence which could jus- Pitt. But let us glance for a moment over tify his opponents in ascribing his motives the condition of parties before Fox committo personal spleen and mortified ambition. ted himself to the formal coalition with Lord On this score Lord John Russell writes well: North. In point of numbers the new GovConceding this point [that Mr. Fox's ernment was far weaker than that out of resignation was almost inevitable], it must which it had grown. According to a calcube owned that the field of battle was the lation made to Gibbon, who reports it, the worst that could be chosen. Lord Shel- supporters of Ministers did not muster more burne, the friend and colleague of Lord than 140; the Fox party was estimated at Chatham, the Secretary of State under Lord 90; Lord North's at 120, the Members not Rockingham, a man of tried acquirements and undoubted abilities, was personally far superior to the Duke of Portland as a candidate for the office of prime minister.' "The choice of a prime minister against the choice of the Crown, and that in the person of a man whose rank and fair character were his only recommendations, appeared to the public an unwarrantable pretension, inspired by narrow jealousies and aristocratic prejudices."
This was, however, the ground which Mr. Fox selected. From this ground he fulmined on the Government in which the most eminent of his recent colleagues remained, which a large and influential number of his recent followers supported-an artillery of eloquence startling by the explosion of its powder, harmless by the misdirection of its ball. He not only accused Lord Shelburne of duplicity to himself, but insulted those just severed from his side by declaring it was "impossible to act under the Earl with honor or benefit to the country." He ventured to prophesy "not only that Lord Shelburne would still be opposed to the independence of America, but that in order to maintain himself in power the Earl would be capable of that extremity of baseness a coalition with Lord North!"
What followed is notorious. Mr. Fox himself coalesced with Lord North; and that coalition was first proclaimed to the world in denouncing the treaties for a peace which Mr. Fox had so solemnly invoked throughout the phases of his opposition to Lord North's Government, and which as a minister himself he had pushed diplomacy to the extreme of supplication in order to Sheridan's Letter to Thomas Grenville, Courts and
Cabinets of George III. Vol. 1. p. 53.
thus classified were considered uncertain.
atrocem animum Catonis
inent part in the defence of the Government that at this time, as on later occasions, far and the conduct of business. But great as from not enduring a rival near the throne, his own powers were, Pitt himself felt that Pitt was desirous of yet securing to the Gova Ministry thus formed and supported could ernment of the country the only man whose not last. The peace, however necessary, parliamentary genius and position were was in itself unpopular. The Government equal to his own. For the first and only could only secure a majority in the House of time in his life he met Fox in private but Commons in its favor by a junction with one political negotiation-happy perhaps for the of the two parties which were both convinced career of Fox, had the object of the interof the impracticability of continued war. view been effected! But Fox's resentment the Foxites and the Northites. Lord Shel- against Lord Shelburne was more implacable burne was urged by some of his friends to than Lord Shelburne's against Fox. coalesce with the last, by others to unite proposed that Fox and his friends should with the first. The Earl was not unwilling have an equal share in the Government, to propitiate Lord North, but on the condi- Lord Shelburne retaining the Treasury; Fox tion of not placing him in the Cabinet. made Lord Shelburne's resignation a sine Dundas sounded Lord North on this head; quâ non. Pitt drew himself up-"I did not "but," says Walpole, "Lord Shelburne, come here to betray Lord Shelburne,” said foolishly, meanwhile, making the Duke of he, and left the room. Rutland not only Lord Steward but of the Immediately following these fruitless neCabinet Council, filled up one of the best gotiations, Lord North's familiar friend Mr. places with which he might have trafficked Adam, indignant at the idea that Lord North with Opposition. "So the overtures to Lord should be excluded from the Cabinet that North, which were never cordial nor direct, was left open to his friends, got into failed of effect. "Indeed," says Bishop communication, through George North the Tomline (a better authority here than ex-Minister's son, with Fox's familiar friend Walpole), "as Lord North was fully aware Lord John Townshend. "These three of Mr. Pitt's positive determination to have (writes Lord John to Lord Holland in 1830) no political connection with him, and he could laid their heads together.' "Fitzpatrick's not but know that a perfectly good under- aid was invaluable; "Sheridan was 66 eager standing subsisted between Lord Shelburne and clamorous" for the junction; Burke and Mr. Pitt, he must therefore have been was not adverse. Beyond this (and we reconvinced that any union between himself joice to find that Burke's share in the intrigue and the present Ministers must have been has been so much exaggerated) Burke had utterly impracticable." It is true that the no great hand in the work; and," adds more personal reasons which might well Lord John, "it was lucky, as we thought, weigh with Mr. Fox in not accepting as a that he had not, as he might in any day colleague in council the man whom he had have marred everything, according to cusso short a time before threatened with the tom, in some wrong-headed fit of intemperblock, were not applicable to Pitt, who had ance." Thus three men, of mark in their indulged in no similar language and received little day, but exceedingly obscure to pos only pointed compliments from the ex-Min- terity, made up the notorious Coalition beister, but by that intuitive sympathy with tween Fox and North, of which the ultipublic opinion, which constituted more than mate consequences were the annihilation of half his political wisdom, Pitt clearly saw the North party, the decimation and discredthat though the country could acquiesce it of the Whig, and the formation of that in arrangements that might strengthen the vast parliamentary majority, founded on the Government by the support of Lord the ruins of the one, swelled by the seceders North's partisans, it could not tolerate the from the other, which so long maintained restoration to power of the man whose the destinies of England in the hands of Mr. policy had involved it in such serious calam- Pitt. ities. Against an union with Fox there was no such vital objection. If the personal differences between the Whig leader and Lord Shelburne could be adjusted, their political dissensions might well terminate in a peace which secured the substance of all that its common advocates professed to desire. These personal differences Lord Shelburne, on his side, was induced to forego, and to be the first to court reconciliation. It is clear
*Life of Pitt.
Against the morality of the Coalition so much has been said that we may be saved the necessity of reiterating austere homilies on a worn-out text. But we must frankly own that the apologists for Mr. Fox have in this instance laid foo much stress on the placability of his disposition. For if he forgot his old resentment against Lord North, it was to gratify his new resentment against Lord Shelburne. It was the sacrifice of one revenge for the prosecution of another. And his real excuse is not to be sought in the
forgiving sweetness of his temper, but in | that fervor of passion which too often blinds judgment by the very fire that it gives to genius. From a great flame goes a great smoke.
In the secret diplomacy of parties a man whose name henceforth became closely associated with that of Pitt had lately taken a very active part. Henry Dundas, then in his forty-third year, is thus characterized by But accepting all that can mitigate the Lord Brougham, in one of those Sketches political sin of the Fox and North Coalition, which, whatever our several impressions in it remains not the less grave as a political particular instances as to the perfect accublunder on the part of Mr. Fox. It is racy of the coloring, are not less valuable difficult to conceive how a people could ever specimens of a great artist's skill in compohave been wisely governed by a statesman sition. Henry Dundas (afterwards Lord who could so egregiously miscalculate the Melville) was a plain business-like speaker; directions of public opinion. Nor could a a clear, easy, fluent, and from much prac party fail to decrease rapidly in power and tice as well as strong natural sense a skilful importance that appeared to the community debater." To this we may add, that if the to renounce all the recognized principles of effect of his speeches was somewhat marred political action in order to subserve the by a broad Scotch accent, so on the other ambition of a chief whose very genius only hand it was favored by the advantages of a rendered more alarming to the safety of the comely countenance and imposing person. commonwealth the unscrupulous appliance of He understood well the system of businesshis means to the naked audacity of his ends. uniting industry in details with the facility But whatever the ultimate effect of the of generalization; his temperament was buoyCoalition, it obtained Fox's immediate object ant, his manners were pleasing. No man -it drove Shelburne from power; and he more agreeable could be met in the byeways who had declared when opposing Lord North of political life. The austerest member on that " peace upon any terms- peace for a the opposite side could enjoy his laugh in year, for a month, for a day was indis- the lobby or share his bottle at Bellamy's. pensable under the present circumstances of To qualities so fitted to rise in life, Henry the country," joined with Lord North in Dundas.added the profound determination condemning the successful negotiator of a to do so. He grafted his talents on the peace, of which Lord Temple, no partial healthiest fruit-trees, and trained them with friend to Lord Shelburne, speaks as the due care on the sunny side of the wall. most meritorious and happiest event for a Lord Advocate under North's administration, kingdom exhausted of men and of credit." and one of the most zealous defenders of the "By my absence in Ireland and my little American war while the war was popular, connection with Lord Shelburne I was with intuitive sagacity he saw in season the enabled," adds Lord Temple, " to judge of necessity of adapting his opinions to the it with coolness and impartiality, and from vicissitudes of time. By a sort of magnetism the knowledge of the various difficulties at- kindred to this happy clairvoyance he was tending it, I am convinced better terms could attracted towards Mr. Pitt, on the very first not have been had." * appearance of the latter as the opponent of the Government of which Dundas was the partisan and member. In reply to a speech against Ministers made by Pitt in his maiden session, Dundas said:
"The Honorable Gentleman who spoke last claims my particular approbation. I find myself compelled to rejoice in the good fortune of destined at some future day to derive the most my country and my fellow-subjects, who are important services from so happy an union of first-rate abilities, high integrity, bold and honest independency of conduct, and the most precocious eloquence."
It was evidently the hope of the Coalition to detach Pitt from Shelburne. North, in replying to Pitt's speech against the resolutions by which Lord John Cavendish implied his censure of the Government, pointedly said that he saw no reason why the carrying of the present motion should drive Mr. Pitt from the service of his country.' Fox up to this moment had also taken occasion to compliment Pitt at the expense Shelburne. So exclusively personal towards the chief minister was the attack of the Coalition, that, when, Lord Shelburne resigned, the King, on the plea injudiciously left to him "that Lord Shelburne was the By a dexterity that was really admirable only person in whom the House of Commons in its way, the Lord Advocate contrived to had shown a want of confidence," baulked the expectations of the victors, and startled all parties, by offering the Treasury to Pitt with full powers to nominate his colleagues.
• Court and Cabinets of George III., Vol 1. p. 302.
glide so easily from Lord North's administration into Lord Rockingham's that he really heightened his character in retaining his office. With a penetrating eye that compre hended in a glance the welfare of Great Britain and the interests of Henry Dundas,
this profound politician perceived the faults Lord Bacon calls "the wisdom of business," in Mr. Fox that rendered it more likely that than when he declined. Again the King, the genius of that statesman would adorn an most loth to humble himself to what he Opposition than maintain a Government. called "a faction," entreated Pitt to retract Accordingly we have seen that while in the his determination. But Pitt remained imRockingham administration, and nominally movable. He understood the King's interest under the lead of Mr. Fox, he still turned better than his Majesty did. The Coalition his prophetic inclinations towards Mr. Pitt, must be tried in office before it could be safe and made a marked distinction between the for the monarchy to hazard that most delipurity of intention that distinguished the cate and critical of all political questions young man who spoke on the opposite side which lies involved in the constitutional of the House and that which characterized prerogative of the King to choose his ministhe leader on the Treasury Bench. From ters, and the attempt of ministers so chosen Lord Rockingham's administration he slid to govern the country, even for a time, against into Lord Shelburne's with a yet easier grace a majority in the House of Commons. "The than that with which he had glided from King," said the dutiful heir-apparent, whose Lord North's into Lord Rockingham's. friendship Mr. Fox so dearly purchased, Anxious to preserve his office and his coun-" has not yet agreed to the plan of the Coatry, Dundas then became the zealous but un-lition, but by G- he shall be made to successful negotiator in the attempt to secure agree to it." to Lord Shelburne the support of Lord North. The royal prediction was verified; the Some little time before retiring from power, Duke of Portland became chief minister unbut when its necessity was evident, Lord der Lord North and Mr. Fox. Shelburne sent to Dundas, and said to him with that courtly combination of cynicism and loftiness which often distinguished the Earl in his commerce with mankind-"Did you ever hear the story of the Duke of Perth?" "No," said Dundas, "Then I will tell it you. The Duke of Perth had a country neighbor and friend who came to him one morning with a white cockade in his hat. What is the meaning of this?' asked the Duke. I wish to show your grace,' replied his country friend, that I am resolved to follow your fortunes.' The Duke snatched the hat from his head, took the cockade out of it, and threw it into the fire, saying'My situation and duty compel me to take this line, but that is no reason why you should ruin yourself and your family." I find," continued Lord Shelburne, "it will now be necessary for me to quit the government, but as you are beloved by all parties I wished you to have early notice of it, that you might be prepared for what must happen!
In quitting office-with powers so acknowledged, and an ambition so flatteringly caressed we might suppose, according to ordinary parliamentary precedents, that Mr. Pitt would have become the recognized leader of Opposition. He pointedly renounced all assumption to that post. Before the new ministry was formed, he declared with emphasis that "he was unconnected with any party whatever; that he should keep himself reserved, and act with whichever side he thought did right." He soon showed his independence of the main body in Opposition by renewing in more detail his motion on Parliamentary Reform. It was lost by a much larger majority than the former one, owing, it is said," to the increased influence of Lord North, as Secretary of State" — a proof how little Fox had advanced the principles he professed by the coalition in which he had gratified his personal ambition and private resentment. Nor would Pitt join with the majority of the Opposition, in the popular clamor against a tax on receipts; The Lord Advocate was prepared not to though on another occasion he unsparingly ruin himself and his family. And he it was exposed the waste and profligacy of a loan who on Lord Shelburne's final overthrow, by which, according to Lord Shelburne, the "being," says Horace Walpole, one of the public lost £650,000, which was negotiated boldest of men, proposed to the King to send in private on the same principle which Lord for the very young Chancellor of the Ex- North had adopted and the Whigs dechequer, William Pitt, not yet past 23 ;"- nounced; which gave a bonus of six per cent. he it was who strained all the efforts of his to the lenders, and rose with a rapidity that eloquent experience to induce William Pitt startled the upward eyes on Exchange to a to accept the offer, and in order to give the premium of eight. But the Great Houses more time for reflection, he it was who moved had again placed the finances of the country the adjournment of the House for three days. in the well-bred hands of Lord John Caven"By far the greater number of the friends dish; and it is no matter of surprise that whom Pitt consulted," says Bishop Tomline, the 3 per cent. Consols, which in March were "advised him to accept the offer." Pitt at 70, fell to 56 in the following December, never more evinced that fine judgment which just before the country lost the services of