Oldalképek
PDF
ePub
[graphic]
[ocr errors]

*I lived to see him, when he wanted nothing, then, though far from blameless, have died and ought to have had no interest or ambition without dishonour, and no man probably would but, for his own sake, to close such a life with have examined the ashes of his heart.' consistency and honour, drop at once, luminous to the last, as lightning falls from heaven, not Undoubtedly, as Mr. Donne expresses it, stopping half way, not catching at a stump or the King was a good hater. Some of the a twig to break the fall, not halting at the com- evidences of this quality afforded by these inon landiny-places of trading politicians, of volumes are striking enough, some amusing. midway statesmen, of de medietate patriots and It makes the reader smile to observe how, orators, with half a tongue ready for either side, from which he might have mounted and soared on particular contingencies, the simple act again, as Chatham did after a pecrage and a of taking part in opposition turns a man, in pension, which he took and might justly have the Royal opinion, into a monster. The claimed as his right; but down he went, Duke of Richmond offends him (1773) by

moving that a conference be desired with Plumb down he drops, the Commons upon the subject matter of Ten thousand fathoms deep;

the East India Company's Regulation Bill. and there I leard him, in a special pleading for This

, in the King's judgment, 'shews the Hanover against England in 1806,* pronounce Duke of Richmond's blackness, if it wanted the panegyric, and bear witness to the virtues any elucidation.' His verdict on Duidas of his Royal master George the Third ! all destined, in later days, to become a favourwhich he did ex abundanti, without necessity or ite — is shrewd enough, but spiteful. the least call for it. Neither could it possibly be of any service to him towards gaining the "The more I think on the conduct of the Adking, as he well knew, and must have known, vocate of Scotland, the more I am incensed if he knew anything of that gentleman. against him; more favours have been bestowed And what did he gain by it? To be suspected, on that man than ever were bestowed on any if not convicted, of insincerity by every man of Scotch lawyer, and he seemed studiously to sense and spirit in the kingdom, even among embrace an opportunity to create difficulties ; his friends, such as Coke of Norfolk, Plummer but men of talents, when not accompanied with of Herts, &c., who all knew that every word he integrity, are pests instead of blessings to souttered on this subject was false. And what ciety, and true wisdom ought to crush them would he liave lost by acting firmly, or by dy rather than encourage them !' — (Feb. 24, ing a year or two sooner, while his reputation 1778.) was entire ? The short possession of a place from which the best of princes would have taken The following (one of those now publishthe first opportunity to expel him, as he did ed for the first time) gives the measure of bis Grey and Grenville eight months after: sentiments as to his English legal advisers His retreat fronı Parliament in 1797, as far as about the same time (April 21, 1770), it concerned the public only, did not want a justification. . . . The nation had no claim 'It is impossible to be more pleased than I on him for gratitude or service, nor was his ab- am with the very frank manner in which Lord sence at all regretted by what is called the pub- North opened himself to me on the present ill. lic. It was unjust to the City of Westminster humor of the Attorney-General. It had the to hold, and not to occupy, the place they gave appearance of unbosoming to a friend... him. Attendance is a duty inseparable from Lord North is much above any little intrigue, the station, and on no account to be waved or which certainly is very prevalent in the comporenounced, especially by a man so likely to be sition of the Attorney-General (Wedderburn), followed by so many others. It was unjust and and still more so in that of his pupil Mr. Eden. ungrateful to his party and friends, who had What I have to recommend is, that Lord North lately paid his debts, and made him indepen- would place his chief political contidence in the dent, not surely for the purpose of enabling him Chancellor (Thurlow), who is a very firm and to desert them, to retire into the country, and fair* man, will, if' called upon, give on any busito marry Mrs. Armistead. At all events he ness his sentiments, yet not ambitious of going should liave gone alone, and not have taken his out of his particular line, therefore will not atfriends and as many of his party as he could in- tempt the part of a Mentor, which the two other fluence along with him to cover his retreat, as gentlemen have but too much aimed at not to in fact he did, though not without airs of re- have caused Lord North much uneasiness, and monstrance, and requests to cngage them to every quarrel could only be healed by some job. Let stay. There, however, should have ended his the Lord-Advocate be gained 'to attend the political life, by quitting Parliament. He might whole session, and let him have the confidence * The allusion is probably to l'ox's speech of cerning the filling of employments, which might,

[ocr errors]

concerning measies in Parliament, but not conApril 23, in that year, on the King's message re. lating to Prussia. As Fox's sentiments on that

as in the former mode, give trouble.' occasion earned him the 'cordial approbation of Lord Castlereagh, they were hardly likely to meet * Could the King have foreseen 1788, he would

hardly have used these epithets.

with that of Francis.

6

[ocr errors]

Respecting Eden (the first Lord Auck- | Bishop of Litchfield, who brought me thé melland) to whom reference is here made, there ancholy news that some difficulties from Lady are some curious evidences both of the King's Bruce had so agitated her husband that he could appreciation of men, and of the suspicious not think of being Governor to my children. way ity with the political world had given bim. whose secrecy I could depend upon, to acquaint of looking at them, which long familiar- The Bishop broke it with the greatest gentle

ness. I instantly sent for Lord Ashburnham, Lord Auckland,' says Mr. Jesse, * had for the Duke of Montague of this event, and to merly been held in great regard by the desire the Duke to come to me. I have so King, but had forícited it, as be had also for- powerfully shown that my fresh distress arose feited the regard of Lord North, by his po- from his family, that I have persuaded him to litical conduct. This is not exactly the supply the place of his brother, which he does case. George the Third seems to have had on the following conditions not to be appointa liking for Eden, as well as a high opinion ed until Wednesday, by which he avoids apof his talents (he was sent to America in pearing on the birthday, for which he has no 1778, as one of those three unlucky Com- cloaths, and that Lord Bruce may still have the missioners whom Mr. Donne treats so se- without farther delay, order the Earlılom of

Earldom of Ailesbury. You will therefore, verely), but, at the same time, to have Montague for the Duke, with the remainder to thoroughly appreciated from the beginning the Duchess of Buccleugh and her male heirs. the slippery qualities which details lately I am this instant going to Kew to acquaint my brought to light, relating to much more re- sons of this change.' — See Walpole's Last cent days, have so fully illustrated. • In- Journals,' ii. 53. trigue,' he says, 'is so prevalent in his composition. It is impossible for me (Sept.

We have perhaps given proof enough in25, 1780) to follow Mr. Eden through the cidentally but much more might be addmazes and turnings he is for ever treading.' ed—of the King's possession of one eminently

The following two letters, which Mr. kingly quality: the knowledge of men, where Donne has now for the first time made pub- favour or inveterate prejudice did not distort lic, are curious as evincing the extreme his judgment of them. As to the question solicitude of the King, even at the earliest of his general abilities, that has been thorperiod, respecting the arrangement for the oughly and often discussed in these pages education of his children, which, neverthe- and elsewhere. That the abundant revelaless, on the whole, succeeded so ill.

tions of the last twenty years have raised him

in general opinion, in this respect, there can St. James's, May 31st, 1776. be no doubt. It was the Whig fashion of

15 . Lord Nortit. - I have this instant received some years ago to decry him as extremely your letter, which throws me into the greatest stupid, as well as uneducated and illiterate. state of uneasiness I ever felt. Last ycar, when As regards the latter charge, these

very

letI mentioned the application of the Duke of ters (so far as they were known to the pubMontague for the Eurldom of Montague, you lic) were often referred to in proof. We never reminded me of wishing that title for are now able to estimate them better. Lady Beaulien; on Wednesday was seven-George the Third was far from a well-edunight, when I mentioned that the creating Lord cated man. But the peculiarities of his Bruce an Earl would obliye me to create liis style and diction, in ordinary correspondbrother Earl of Montague, and also on Wednes- ence, were by no means so much owing to day, when I directed the preparing the two war. this circumstance as to another; the extrarants, this did (not) occasion any other remark than that it would distress Lady Beaulicu, i ordinary precipitation with which he wrote, have crordingly, through Lord Bruce, ac- as well as spoke.* Unquestionably, as we quainted the Duke that he will be Earl of Mon- have said, this was part of the morbid side tague; I cannot retract. If you do wish an of his mind. While dashing off his notes to Earldom for Laily Beaulieu, I will grant her Lord North at the rate sometimes of three one of any other name to ease your mind; but or four a day, on every conceivable subject, fairly owne I think her conduct to me, as that he absolutely discarded the rules of spellof all her family, deserved none. Come imme- ing, and broke Priscian's head, as Mr. Donne diately, I cannot go to my levée, nur sce any phrases it, without the slightest remorse. mort:il, till you bave been here.' Queen's llouse, June 2nd, 1776.

* This habit was always painfully remarkable in 20 min. pt. 8 p.m.

crises of political difficulty. You will easily sup*Lord NORTII, - | thought by the step I describing an important interview in March, 1783,

1

[ocr errors]

says Mr. Grenville to Lord Temple, after had taken yesterday that my distress was at an • that I have not been able to recollect the precise end; but after you left me this day I saw the words of a conversation so very diffuse, upou so

very many subjects, and which lasted from eleven

last night till post one this morning.' (Court and * Vol. jii. p. 512.

Cabinets of George the Third,' i. 192.).

pose

.

[graphic]

The

There are many of us — men naturally or only weighing such events in the scale of a habitually accurate — to whom a slip in tradesman behind his counter. It is necessary spelling, or even in grammar, would be an for those in the station it has pleased Divine impossibility, under any pressure of hurry. Providence to place me to weigh whether exBut there are others, particularly men who pences, though very great, are not sometimes read but little and converse much, whose necessary to prevent what might be more rui

nous to a country than the loss of money. propensity, more or less effectually conquer. The present contest with America I cannot help ed, is, when they take pen in hand, to write seeing as the most serious in which any country as they talk, ungrammatically, and to spell was ever engaged ; it contains such a train of by the hearing. George the Third when consequences that they must be examined to writing hasty notes scarcely resisted at all feel its real weight. Whether the laying a tax the temptation to take his ease in these par was deserving all the evils that have arisen ticulars. But the proof that his clerical from it, I should suppose no man could alledge errors arose from negligence only are sim- (sic) that without being thought more fit for

Bedlam than a seat in the Senate; but step by ple enough. When he gave himself the pains, he both wrote and spelt as correctly dependance is their object ; that certainly is one

step the demands of America have risen ; inas any educated and sensible man.

which every man not willing to sacrifice every reader may easily ascertain this for himself, object to a momentary and inglorious peace must by comparing with these perfunctory scrawls concurr with me in thinking that this country such serious compositions as that spirited, can never submit to : should America succeed though peevish, letter to Lord Temple, of in that, the West Indies must follow them, not April 1, 1783, which is printed in the Court independence, but must for its own interest be and Cabinets of George III.' i. 218, and con- dependent on North America. Ireland would trasting its diction with that of the notes to soon follow the same plan and be a separate Lord North of the same month. Or take state; then this island would be reduced to itthe following to Lord North himself, of June self

, and soon would be a poor island indeed,

for, reduced in her trade, merchants would re11, 1770, which Sir James Mackintosh could tire with their wealth to climates more to their not believe to be genuine :

advantage, and shoals of manufacturers would

leave this country for the new empire. These : "The original, however (says Mr. Donne), self-evident consequences are not worse than is in his Majesty's hand-writing ; and as he in- what can arise should the Almighty permit timates that it was deliberately composed, the every event to turn out to our disadvantage; absence of ungrammatical or confused sentences consequently this country has but one sensible, may be accounted for without resorting to Sir one great line to follow, the being ever ready James's supposition. The King, when he took to make peace when to be obtained without time, did not write ill.'

submitting to terms that in their consequence

must annihilate this empire, and with firmness Tbough, for our own parts, we cannot quite to make every effort to deserve success.' subscribe to the King of Hanover's indulgent estimate of his father's epistolary abili- But to pass to more important qualificaty: “No man wrote better, or knew how to tions than good spelling and grammar. express his opinion in a concise way, than There is no doubt that the King had not, George the Third.' — Jesse, ii. 47.

as he himself quaintly regrets, 'the powers

of oratory of a Demosthenes, or the pen of “I should think it the greatest instance among an Addison' (ii. 321). There is a striking the many I have met with of ingratitude and contrast between the dulness and narrowinjustice, it it could be supposed that any man ness, and extreme of commonplace, in which in my dominions more ardently desired the res he generally expresses himself respecting toration of peace and solid happiness in every matters of political interest — the twadpart of this empire than I do ; there is no per: dle, to speak irreverently, to which he sonal sacrifice I could not readily yield for so desirable an object; but at the same time no

treats Lord North — the truisms, which one inclination to get out of the present difficulties, would be tempted to call Joseph Surfacewhich certainly keep my mind very far from a like, were it not for the transparent honesty state of case, can incline me to enter into what of the writer, respecting the beauties of the I look upon as the destruction of the empire. British Constitution, and the preference due I have heard Lord North frequently drop that to virtue over vice, with which he is wont the advantages to be gained by this contest to preface the intimation of some audacious could never repay the expence; I owne that, let any war be ever so successful, if persons

act of autocracy — and the resolute, able will sit down and weigh the expences, they will coup d'æil with which he sometimes seizes a find, as in the last, that it has impoverished the merely practical question. Obstinate he State, enriched individuals, and perhaps raised was to the extreme extent of that quality, the name only of the conquerors ; but this is I obstinate in adherence to what he deemed

Jan. 31st, 1778.

principles, obstinate in achieving bis will the accession of France to her alliance, furfor minor purposes; but between these nished another and far more remarkable two classes of subjects, there was another instance of his possession of this faculty, on which his good sense overcame his obsti- and comprehension of the maxim reculer Dacy. No one seems to have known better pour mieux sauter.' It is a great pity that than he, at times, when to change bis front we are unable to ascertain what answers in face of an enemy, when to seek to ob- Lord North himself made to appeals thus tain by a Alank movement what he had frequently addressed to him, and (as we missed'in a dash. It was not without truth, know) so entirely disregarded : in this sense, that Lord Grenville observed in one of bis private letters (as quoted by Lord Russell) that • George the Third al

"You will remember that after the recess I ways knew when be must give way.'

strongly advised you not to bring forward a The following short letter (hitherto un

proposition for restoring tranquility to North

America, not from any absurd ideas of unconprinted) in the matter of Wilkes, with Mr.

ditional submission my mind never harboured, Donne's commentary on it, will illustrate but from perceiving that whatever can be proour meaning :

posed will be liable not to bring America back

to a sense of attachment to the mother country, 'Queen's House, March 20th, 1771. yet to dissatisfy this country, which has in the

55 min. pt. 9 am • LORD NORTH, - I am sorry the business the contest, and therefore has a right to have

most handsome manner cheerfully carried on of committing the Lord Mayor could not be the struggle continued until convinced that it concluded last night, for every delay in a breach is vain. Perhaps this is the minute of all others of privilege of so enormous a kind seems to indicate to the bystander a less attachment in that you ought to be the least in a hurry to the House of Commons to its own authority from France adds to the appearance of a speedy

produce any plan of that kind, for every letter than every wellwisher can desire; besides, declaration of war: should that event happen, whatever time is given to the Lord Mayor is in it might perhaps be wise to strengthen the forces reality allowing consultation and plans of dis- in Canada, the Floridas, and Nova Scotia : turbance to the factious. I own I could have withdraw the rest from North America, and wished that Wilkes had not been ordered before without loss of time employ them in attacking the House, for he must be in a jail the next New Orleans, and the French and term if not given new life by some punishment West India possessions. Success in those parts

Spanish indicted on him, which will bring him new supplies; and I do not doubt he will hold such would repay us the great expenses incurred; we a language that will oblige some notice to be trade and ports of the rebellious colonies, and thus

must at the same time continue destroying the taken of him.'

soon bring both contests to a conclusion: and * His Majesty, indeed (remarks Mr. Donne), this country, having had its attention diverted was very near the truth, and showed that, to a fresh object, would be in a better temper to whatever the House may have done, he had subscribe to such terms as administration might learnt wisdom from the Middlesex election. There can be no doubt that the printers' busi- think advisable to offer America, who on her ness did not answer Mr. Wilkes's expectations part will at such a time be more ready to treat when he caught at it. “His fortunes,” says

than at the present hour.

Perhaps,' he says in another letter of the Mr. Massey (Hist. ii. p. 91), " were again at a low ebb; the subscriptions which had flowed

same month, ‘the time may come when it will so frecly to his relief during the Middlesex be wise to abandon all North America but Canelections had fallen off as that excitement wore ada, Nova Scotia, and the Floridas : but then away; the Society for the Support of the Bill the generality of the nation must see it first in of Rights began to think that their organization that light; but to treat with Independence can might be available for other objects than the

See also ii. 207.

never be possible.' relief of a patriot's pecuniary necessities. A dispute had arisen between Wilkes and a former Mr. Donne does the King a great deal friend and coadjutor, the celebrated Parson less than justice in this matter. Lord BarHorne; and, as usuallv happens with patriots rington (Secretary-at-War) wrote to Lord when they fall out, Wilkes and Horne became North on Aug. 8, 1775 : – implacable foes, and Horne, who had proved himself a match for Junius, was much more than a match for Wilkes." Comp. “Lord As it is the measure of Government to have Mahon,' v. p. 299-301.

a large army in North America, it is my duty and inclination to make that measure succeed

to the utmost: though my opinion always has We bave always thought that the King's been, and still is, that the Americans may be advice to Lord North as to the best mode of reduced by the fleet, but never can be by the pursuing the contest with America after army.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[graphic]

On which Mr. Donne observes :

That Farmer George was a cleverer fel

low than Laurence and Fitzpatrick or even * Had the King listened to his Secretary of Fox and Sheridan gave him credit for, we War, instead of trusting Lord Ceorge Ger- can well believe. But that he was such a maine, and forcing Lord North into a course of crowned Machiavel as this picture reprewhich he disapproves, much "dishonour" and infinite “loss" might have been spared to tradition such innocent victims in his grasp,

sents, and the magnates of Whig and Tory England even at this moment of the crisis.'

we for our own parts can by no means supNow, if France had not joined the pose. We think that George the Tbird's United States, and if the British forces had undoubted mastery,' in most emergencies been handled by men of ability instead of and in the long run, over so many leading incapables like Howe and Burgoyne, it is politicians, is chiefly ascribable to a cause very possible that the rebellion, in spite of quite independent of his abilities. He was all the resolution and resources of the always determined to play out his own Americans, might have been suppressed by game; and, in doing so against private opthe army; whereas it is very certain that it ponents, he had the advantage which the never could have been by the navy. But Bank, at Homburg or Baden, possesses over when France mingled in the business, the individual players. His reserve' was conditions of the problem were entirely greater

han theirs. H could better changed ; and we see that the King, if he afford to stand a run against him than they could have had his way, would then have severally could. Possessed of the full redone what Lord Barrington prematurely sources of royal influence and patronage, advised three years before. And had the and in the habit of making the most unKing's views prevailed, the French and sparing use of them (we avoid the word American fleets would not have been para-unscrupulous ’ lest we should seem to impls mount in the Chesapeake, while Cornwallis a moral judgment which we had no intenwas besieged by a force of thrice his amount tion to pass) he could overpower them by a in York Town.

pressure to which they must needs ultimateAlthough, however, our own estimate of ly succumb. Only one man ever broke the King George's capacity is certainly very king's bank at the game of politics — and different from that professed by the authors that was William Pitt. And even in that of the Roliad' and their allies, and the instance the final victory was a divided one. descendants of these in the next generation, The best analogy which we can find in this yet we were quite unprepared for the pane- respect to the case of George the Third is gyric recently pronounced upon his ability that of one whom he in many points resemby the staunchest surviving inheritor of bled – the other bourgeois sovereign of Whig last century traditions — by Lord modern days, Louis Phillippe. But the Russell himself- in the last volume of his latter's difficulties were greater, and proved · Life of Fox :'

insuperable, though he was doubtless in

many respects the more gifted man of the 'In the resources of skill and subtlety, and two. of what is commonly called “kingcraft,” the Of the determined self-will with which King was infinitely superior to Pitt. From the the king set about his self-imposed mission, commencement of his reign he had practised to govern as well as reign, during the perion the statesmen of the greatest fume and pop- od now under review, it is unnecessary to ularity. He bad defeated Pitt by appealing to George Grenville and the Duke of Bedford; he speak, as no trait in history is better known. had got rid of Grenville by calling in Lord

• The power of a single will’ (as Lord RusRockingham; he had supplanted Lord Rock sell truly says) was conspicuous: but the ingham by calling upon Lord Chatham ; upon constitution afforded ample means of overLord Chatham's failure, he had supplied his ruling that will, had the minister obeyed loss by making a tool of Lord North ; and, his own convictions, or had the House of lastly, he had defeated the coalition of Fox and Commons been true to the people whom North by calling upon the younger Pitt. they represented.' No doubt : but, generThen, again, as to measures, he had baffled the ally speaking, king, majority of the House plans of Pitt the elder, which would have of Commons, and constituencies, were all of pacified America, and the larger and liberal views of Pitt the younger, which would have a mind. We are convinced that Mr. Donpacified Ireland, by the intimate knowledge of ne, conversant as he is with the subject, men and of the national character, which gave mistakes in one important respect the real him a mastery over the greatest and highest of character of the sovereign. Had he not," his subjects.'-'Life of Fox,' jii. 324. he asks, ' been trained to believe it his duty.

6

[ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »