Boon II,
Chap. III.

Lovers Ami


Growth Of
Lord Shel-


The C.csar


The Cecil

OR llLRr.H

I.f.y Papers.

sort of man.' This small misplacement of an emphasis was of course quoted in the clubs against the unlucky speaker. 'Ah!' said Horace Walpolk, with his wonted charity, 'that's a picture of the man's whole life.'

Lord Shelburne's library profited by his long releasement from the cares of office. He bestowed much of his leisure upon its enrichment, and especially upon the acquisition of manuscript political literature. In 1770, he was fortunate enough to obtain a considerable portion of the large and curious Collection of State Papers which Sir Julius Cesar had begun to amass almost two centuries before. Two years later, he acquired no inconsiderable portion of that far more important series which had been gathered by Burgh Ley.

Whilst Lord Siielburne was serving with the army in Germany, the 'Caesar Papers' had been dispersed by auction. There were then—1757—a hundred and eightyseven of them. About sixty volumes were purchased by Philip Cartaret Webb, a lawyer and juridical writer, as well as antiquary, of some distinction. On Mr. Webb's death, in 1770, these were purchased by Shelburne from his executors. On examining his acquisition, the new possessor found that about twenty volumes related to various matters of British history and antiquities; thirtyone volumes to the business of the British Admiralty and its Courts; ten volumes to that of the Treasury, Star Chamber, and other public departments ; two volumes contained treaties; and one volume, papers on the affairs of Ireland.

The 'Burghley papers,' acquired in 1772, had passed from Sir Michael Hickks, one of that statesman's secretaries, to a descendant, Sir William Hickes, by whom they were sold to Chiswell, a bookseller, and by him to

[ocr errors]

Strype, the historian. These (as has been mentioned Bookii,

Chap. III.

in a former chapter) were looked upon with somewhat Booncovetous eyes by Humphrey Wanley, who hoped to have i>°ITMA*" seen them become part of the treasures of the Harleian ^ Library. On Strype's death they passed into the hands of James West, and from his executors into the Library at Shelburne House. They comprised a hundred and twenty-one volumes of the collections and correspondence of Lord Burgiiley, together with his private note-book and journal.

Another valuable acquisition, made after Lord ShelBurne's retirement in 1768 from political office, consisted of the vast historical Collections of Bishop White Kennett, extending to a hundred and seven volumes, of which a large proportion are in the Bishop's own untiring hand. Twenty-two of these volumes contain important materials for English Church History. Eleven volumes contain biographical collections, ranging between the years 1500 and 1717. All that have been enumerated are now national property.

Other choice manuscript collections were added from time to time. Among them may be cited the papers of Sir Paul Rycaut—which include information both on Irish and on Continental affairs towards the close of the seventeenth century; the correspondence of Dr. John Pell, and that of the Jacobite Earl of Meleort.

These varied accessions—with many others of minor importance—raised the Shelburne Library into the first rank among private repositories of historical lore. To amass and to study them was to prove to its owner the solace of deep personal affliction, as well as the relief of public toils. At the close of 1770, he lost a beloved wife,

Book II,
Chap. III.


Lord Shkl-
Blkne As A

after a union of less than six years. He remained a widower until 1779.

Another source of solace was found in labours that have an inexhaustible charm, for those who are so happy as to have means as well as taste for them. Lord Shelburne lived much at Loakes—now called Wycombe Abbey—a delightful seat, just above the little town of High Wycombe. Its striking framework of beech-woods, its fine planetrees and ash-trees, and its broad piece of water, make up a lovely picture, much of the attraction of which is due to the skill and judgment with which its then owner elicited and heightened the natural beauties of the place.* But those of Bowood exceeded them in Lord Shelburne's eyes. There, too, he did very much to enhance what nature had already done, and he had the able assistance of Mr. Hamilton of Pains-Hill. In consequence of their joint labours, almost every species of oak may be seen at Bowood, with great variety of exotic trees of all sorts. Both wood and water combine to make, from some points of view, a resemblance between Wycombe and Bowood. And both differ from many much bepraised country scats in the wise preference of natural beauty—selected and heightened—to artificial beauty. Lord Shelburne himself was wont to say: 'Mere workmanship should never be introduced where the beauty and variety of the scenery are, in themselves, sufficient to excite admiration.'

But, in their true place, few men better loved the productions of artistic genius. He collected pictures and sculpture, as well as trees and books. He was the first of his name who made Lansdowne House in London, as well Bookii, as Loakes and Bowood in the country, centres of the best Booksociety in the intellectual as well as in the fashionable j£"TMA1"'

* Loakes had been purchased from the last owner of the Archdall family by Henry, Earl of Shelburne. Earl William (first Marquess of Lansdowne) eventually sold it to the ancestor of the present Lord Carrington.

World. Ben Mac


Years passed on. The course of public events—and especially the death of Lord Chatham and the issues of the American war—together with many conspicuous proofs of his powers in debate, tended more and more to bring Lord Shelburne to the front. Between him and Lord Rockingham, as far as regards real personal ability— whether parliamentary or administrative—there could, in truth, be little ground for comparison. But in party connection and following, the claims of the inferior man were incontestible. Lord Shelburne, towards the close of 1779, signified his readiness to waive his pretensions to take the lead—in the event of the overthrow of the existing Government—and his willingness to serve under Lord Rockingham; so little truth was there in the assertion, made by Horace Walpole to his correspondent at H-jmp* Florence, that Shelburne ' will stick at nothing to gratify "so.

,.,.., March 21.

his ambition.

But that very charge is, in fact, a tribute. Walpolk's indignation had been excited just at that moment by the zealous assistance which Shelburne had given, in the House of Lords, to the efforts of Burke in the lower House in favour of economical reforms. He had brought forward a motion on that subject on the same night on which Burke had given notice for the introduction of his fa pious Bill (December, 1779). He continued his efforts, and presently had to encounter a more active and pertinacious opponent of retrenchment than Horace WalPole.

In the course of a vigorous speech on reform in the

[ocr errors][merged small]

administration of the army, Lord Shelburne had censured a transaction in which Mr. Fullerton, a Member of the House of Commons, was intimately concerned. Fullerton made a violent attack, in his place in the House, upon his censor. But his speech was so disorderly that he was forced to break off. In his anger he sent Lord Shelburne a minute, not only of what he had actually spoken, but of what he had intended to say, in addition, had the rules of Parliament permitted. And he had the effrontery to wind up his obliging communication with these words:—' You correspond, as I have heard abroad, with the enemies of your country.' His letter was presented to Lord Shelburne by a messenger.

The receiver, when he had read it, said to the bearer: 'The best answer I can give Mr. Fullerton is to desire him to meet me in Hyde Park, at five, to-morrow morning.' They fought, and Shelburne was wounded. On being asked how he felt himself, he looked at the wound, and said: 'I do not think that Lady Shelburne will be the worse for this.' But it was severe enough to interrupt, for a while, his political labours.

On the formation in March, 1782, of the Rockingham Administration, he accepted the Secretaryship of State, and took with him four of his adherents into the Cabinet. But the most curious feature in the transaction was that Lord Shelburne earned on, personally, all the intercourse in the royal closet that necessarily preceded the formation of the Ministry, although he was not to be its head. George The Third would not admit Lord Rockingham .to an audience until his Cabinet was completely formed. The man whose exclusion from the Grafton Ministry the King had so warmly urged a few years before, was now not less warmly urged by him to throw over his party, and to

« ElőzőTovább »