Chap. III.



head a cabinet of his own. He resisted all blandishment, Book II, and virtually told the King that the triumph of the Oppo- Booksition must be its triumph as an unbroken whole; though Lovers he doubtless felt, within himself, that the cohesion was of BENEFACsingularly frail tenacity.

On the 24th of March, SHELBURNE had the satisfaction of conveying to Lord Rockingham the royal concession of his constitutional demands-obtained after a wearisome negotiation, and only by the piling up of argument on argument in successive conversations at the Queen's House,' lasting sometimes for three mortal hours. Three Death of months afterwards, the new Premier was dead. And with ingum,

1782, 1 July him departed the cohesion of the Whigs.


As Secretary of State, Lord SHELBURNE's chief task FORMATION had been the control of that double and most unwelcome Shelnegotiation which was carried on at Paris with France and Ministry. with America.* For it had fallen to the lot of the utterer * See, hereof the 'sunset-speech,'-—' if we let America go, the sun of ville Great Britain is set to arrange the terms of American pacification. And the obstructions in that path which were created at home were even more serious stumblingblocks than were the difficulties abroad. The cardinal points of Lord SHELBURNE's policy, at this time, were to retain, by hook or crook, some amount or other of hold upon America, and at the worst to keep the Court of France from enjoying the prestige, or setting up the pretence, of having dictated the terms of peace.



after, in life
of T. Gren-
Book III, c. 2.

That the split in the Whig party was really and alto+ This famous speech was delivered on the 5th of March, 1778. Then,' said Lord Shelburne, after denouncing measures which would sever the Colonies from the Kingdom, the sun of Great Britain is set. We shall be no more a powerful or even a respectable people.'—Parliamentary Debates, vol. xix, col. 850.


Walpole to Mann (from an eye wit. ness), 1782, July 7.

Book II, gether inevitable, now that RocKINGHAM's death had placed

SHELBURNE above reasonable competition for the premiership, was made known to him when at Court, in the most abrupt manner. On the 7th of July (six days after the death of the Marquess), Fox took him by the sleeve, with the blunt question : ‘Are you to be First Lord of the Treasury ?' When SHELBURNE said “Yes,' the instant rejoinder was, “Then, my Lord, I shall resign. Fox had brought the seals in his pocket, and proceeded immediately to return them to the King.

In his first speech as Premier, Lord SHELBURNE spoke thus :— It has been said that I have changed my opinion about the independence of America. ... My opinion is still the same. When that independence shall have been established, the sun of England may be said to have set. I have used every effort, public and private—in England, and

out of it—to avert so dreadful a disaster. . . . But though Parliamen. this country should have received a fatal blow, there is still tary Debates, vol. xxiii, a duty incumbent upon its Ministers to use their most

vigorous exertions to prevent the Court of France from being in a situation to dictate the terms of Peace. The sun of England may have set. But we will improve the twilight. We will prepare for the rising of that sun again. And I hope England may yet see many, many happy days.'

The best achievements of the brief government of Lord SHELBURNE were (first) the resolute defence, in its diplomacy at Paris and Versailles, of our territories in Canada, and (secondly) its consistent assertion of the principle that underlay a sentence contained in a former speech of the

Premier—a sentence which, at one time, was much upon THE SHEL- men's lips :- I will never consent,' he had said, “that the Minister. King of England shall be a King of the Mahrattas. The

col. 194.





merits, I venture to think, of that short Ministry, have had Book II,

m2 Chap. III. scant acknowledgment in our current histories. And the reason is, perhaps, not far to seek.

The popular history of George The Third's reign has Beneracbeen, in a large degree, imbued with Whiggism. The historians most in vogue have had a sort of small apostolical succession amongst themselves, which has had the result of giving a strong party tinge to those versions of the course of political events in that reign which have most readily gained the public ear. When the full story shall come to be told, in a later day and from a higher stand-point, Lord SHELBURNE, not improbably, will be one among several statesmen whose reputation with posterity (in common-in some measure—with that of their royal master himself, it may even be) will be found to have been elevated, rather than lowered, by the process.

But, be that as it may, party intrigue, rather than minis- Debates, terial incapacity, had to do, confessedly, with the rapid col: 850. overthrow of the Government of July, 1782.

Personally, Lord SHELBURNE was in a position which, in several points of view, bears a resemblance to that in which another able statesman, who had to fight against a powerfu coterie, was to find himself forty years later. But in SHELBURNE's case, the struggle of the politician did not, as in CANNING's, break down the bodily vigour of the man. Lord SHELBURNE had twenty-two years of retirement yet before him, when he resigned the premiership in 1783. And they were years of much happiness.

Part of that happiness was the result of the domestic The closing union just adverted to. Another part of it accrued from LORD LANSthe rich Library which the research and attention of many Dom years had gradually built up, and from the increased leisure that had now been secured, both for study and for the

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Book II, enjoyment of the choice society which gathered habitually Chap. III.

at Lansdowne House and at Bowood. ? Lord SHELBURNE's retirement had been followed, in

1784, by his creation as Earl Wycombe and Marquess of Lansdowne. In the following year, he sold the Wycombe mansion and its charming park to Lord CARRINGTON. Thenceforward, Bowood bad the benefit, exclusively, of his taste and skill in landscape-gardening. Unfortunately, his next successor, far from continuing his father's work, did much to injure and spoil it. But the third Marquess, in whom so many of his father's best qualities were combined with some that were especially his own, made ample amends.

The exciting debates which grew out of the French Revolution and the ensuing events on the Continent, called Lord LANSDOWNE, now and then, into the old arena. But the domestic employments which have been mentioned, together with that which was entailed by a large and varied correspondence, both at home and abroad, were the things which chiefly filled up his later years. The Marquess died in London on the seventh of May, 1805. He was but sixty-eight years of age, yet he was then the oldest general officer on the army list, having been gazetted as a majorgeneral just forty years before.




In order to acquire for the nation that precious portion The Lans- of Lord LANSDOWNE's Library which was in manuscript, the

national purse-strings were now, for the first time, opened on behalf of the literary stores of the British Museum. Fifty-three years had passed since its complete foundation as a national institution, and exactly twice that number of years since the first public establishment of the Cottonian Library, yet no grant had been hitherto made by Par

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liament for the improvement of the national collections of Book II,

Chap. III. books.

LOVERS AND Four thousand nine hundred and twenty-five pounds was the sum given to Lord LANSDOWNE's executors for his BENEFACmanuscripts. Besides the successive accumulations of State Papers heretofore mentioned, the LANSDOWNE Col. lection included other historical documents, extending in date from the reign of HENRY THE Sixth to that of GEORGE THE THIRD ; the varied Collections of William Petyt on parliamentary and juridical lore; those of WarBURTON on the topography and family history of Yorkshire, and of HOLLES, containing matter of a like character for the local concerns of the county of Lincoln ; the Heraldic and Genealogical Collections of SEGAR, Saint GEORGE, DUGDALE, and LE NEVE; and a most curious series of early treatises upon music, which had been collected by John WYLDE, who was for many years precentor of Waltham Abbey, in the time of the second of the Tudor monarchs.



The Lansdowne Collection did not contain very much The Acquiof a classical character. Its strength, it has been seen rue Haralready, lay in the sections of Modern History and Politics. The next important addition to the Library of the Museum Libraries, —that of the manuscripts and printed books of Francis HARGRAVE—was likewise chiefly composed of political and juridical literature. But the third parliamentary acquisition brought to the Museum a store of classical wealth, both in manuscripts and in printed books. HarGRAVE's Legal Library was bought in 1813. Charles BurNEY's Classical Library was bought in 1818. In the biographical point of view neither of these men ran a career which offers much of narrative interest. The one career

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