Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

ambassador, who would submit to make concessions, without daring to insist upon any honourable condition for his sovereign. Their business required a man who had as little feeling for his own dignity as for the welfare of his country; and they found him in the first rank of the nobility. Belleisle, Goree, Guadaloupe, St. Lucia, Martinique, the Fishery, and the Havannah, are glorious monuments of your grace's talents for negociation. My lord, we are too well acquainted with your pecuniary character, to think it possible, that so many public sacrifices should have been made, without some private compensations. Your conduct carries with it an internal evidence, beyond all the legal proofs of a court of justice. Even the callous pride of Lord Egremont was alarmed *. He saw and felt his own dishonour, in corresponding with you; and there certainly was a moment, at which he meant to have resisted, had not a fatal lethargy prevailed over his faculties, and carried all sense and memory away with it.

I will not pretend to specify the secret terms on which you were invited to support an + administration which Lord Bute pretended to leave in full possession of their ministerial authority, and perfectly masters of themselves. He was not of a temper to relinquish power, though he retired from employment. Stipulations were certainly made between your grace and him, and certainly violated. After two years submission, you thought you had collected a strength sufficient to controul his influence, and that it was your turn to be a tyrant, because you had been a slave. When you found yourself

* This man, notwithstanding his pride and Tory principles, had some English stuff in him. Upon an official letter he wrote to the Duke of Bedford, the duke desired to be recalled, and it was with the utmost difficulty that Lord Bute could appease him,

† Mr. Grenville, Lord Halifax, and Lord Egremont.

mistaken in your opinion of your gracious master's firmness, disappointment got the better of all your humble discretion, and carried you to an excess of outrage to his person, as distant from true spirit, as from all decency and respect *. After robbing him of the rights of a king, you would not permit him to preserve the honour of a gentleman. It was then Lord Weymouth was nominated to Ireland, and dispatched (we well remember with what indecent hurry) to plunder the treasury of the first fruits of an employment which you well knew he was never to execute t.

This sudden declaration of war against the favourite, might have given you a momentary merit with the public, if it had either been adopted upon principle, or maintained with resolution. Without looking back to all your former servility, we need only observe your subsequent conduct, to see upon what motives you acted. Apparently united with Mr. Grenville, you waited until Lord Rockingham's feeble administration should dissolve in its own weakness. The moment their dismise sion was suspected, the moment you perceived that another system was adopted in the closet, you thought it no disgrace to return to your former dependence, and solicited once more the friendship of Lord Bute. You begged an interview, at which he had spirit enough to treat you with contempt.

It would now be of little use to point out, by what a' train of weak, injudicious measures, it became ne

* The ministry having endeavoured to exclude the dowager out of the regency bill, the Earl of Bute determined to dismiss them. Upon this the Duke of Bedford demanded an audience of the reproached him, in plain terms, with his duplicity, baseness, falsehood, treachery, and hypocrisy-repeatedly gave him the lie, and left him in convulsions.

+ He received three thousand pounds for plate and equipage money.

cessary, or was thought so, to call you back to a share in the administration *. The friends whom you did not in the last instance desert, were not of a character to add strength or credit to government; and at that time your alliance with the Duke of Grafton was, I presume, hardly foreseen. We must look for other stipulations, to account for that sudden resolution of the closet, by which three of your dependents t (whose characters, I think, cannot be less respected than they are) were advanced to offices, through which you might again controul the minister, and probably engross the whole direction of affairs.

The possession of absolute power is now once more within your reach. The measures you have taken to obtain and confirm it, are too gross to escape

the

eyes of a discerning judicious prince. His palace is besieged; the lines of circumvallation are drawing round him; and, unless he finds a resource in his own activity, or in the attachment of the real friends of his family, the best of princes must submit to the confinement of a state-prisoner, until your grace's death, or some less fortunate event, shall raise the siege. For the present, you may safely resume that style of insult and menace, which even a private gentleman cannot submit to hear without being contemptible. Mr. M·Kenzie's history is not yet forgotten ; and you may find precedents enough of the mode, in which an imperious subject may signify his pleasure to his sovereign. Where will this gracious monarch look for assistance, when the wretched Grafton could forget his obligations to his master,

When Earl Gower was appointed president of the council, the king, with his usual sincerity, assured him, that he had not had one happy moment since the Duke of Bedford left him.

+ Lords Gower, Weymouth, and Sandwich.

and desert him for a hollow alliance with such a man as the Duke of Bedford !

Let us consider you, then, as arrived at the summit of worldly greatness; let us suppose, that all your plans of avarice and ambition are accomplished, and your most sanguine wishes gratified, in the fear as well as the hatred of the people; can age itself forget that you are now in the last act of life? Can grey hairs make folly venerable? and is there no period to be reserved for meditation and retirement? For shame! my lord: let it not be recorded of you, that the latest moments of your life were dedicated to the same unworthy pursuits, the same busy agitations, in which your youth and manhood were exhausted. Consider, that, although you cannot disgrace your foriner life, you are violating the character of age, and exposing the impotent imbecility, after you have lost the vigour, of the passions.

Your friends will ask, perhaps, Whither shall this unhappy old man retire? Can he remain in the metropolis, where his life has been so often threatened, and his palace so often attacked? If be returns to Wooburn, scorn and mockery await him. He must create a solitude round his estate, if he would avoid the face of reproach and derision. At Plymouth, his destruction would be more than probable; at Exeter, inevitable. No honest Englishman will ever forget his attachment, nor any honest Scotchman forgive his treachery, to Lord Bute. At every town he enters, he must change his liveries and name. Which ever way he flies, the hue and cry of the country pursues him,

In another kingdom, indeed, the blessings of his administration have been more sensibly felt; his virtues better understood; or, at worst, they will not, for him alone, forget their hospitality. As well might Verres have returned to Sicily. You have twice escaped, my

You can

lord; beware of a third experiment. The indignation of a whole people, plundered, insulted, and oppressed as they have been, will not always be disappointed.

It is in vain, therefore, to shift the scene. no more fly from your enemies than from yourself. Persecuted abroad, you look into your own heart for consolation, and find nothing but reproaches and despair. But, my lord, you may quit the field of business, though not the field of danger; and, though you cannot be safe, you may cease be ridiculous. I fear you have listened too long to the advice of those pernicious friends, with whose interests you have sordidly united your own, and for whom you have sacrificed every thing that ought to be dear to a man of honour. They are still base enough to encourage the follies of your age, as they once did the vices of your youth. As little acquainted with the rules of decorum as with the laws of morality, they will not suffer you to profit by experience, nor even to consult the propriety of a bad character. Even now they tell you, that life is no more than a dramatic scene, in which the hero should preserve his consistency to the last; and that, as you lived without virtue, you should die without repentance.

JUNIUS.

LETTER XXIV.

то

JUNIUS.

SIR,

September 14, 1769. HAVING accidentally seen a republication of your letters, wherein you have been pleased to assert, that I had sold the companions of my success; I am

H

« ElőzőTovább »