« VorigeDoorgaan »
the Picts or the Danes, the poor, proud | ably inclined towards them. Other aid must children of Leprosy and Hunger. It is a be called in. And where was other aid to · slight circumstance, but deserves to be re- be found ? corded, that in this year pamphleteers first There was one man whose sharp and ventured to print at length the names of the manly logic had often in debate been found great men whom they lampooned. George a match for the lofty and impassioned rhetthe Second has always been the K oric of Pitt, whose talents for jobbing were His ministers had been Sir R W not inferior to his talents for debate, whose Mr. P, and the Duke of N dauntless spirit shrank from no difficulty But the libellers of George the Third, of or danger, and who was as little troubled the Princess Mother, and of Lord Bute, with scruples as with fears. Henry Fox, or did not give quarter to a single rowel. nobody, could weather the storm which was
It was supposed that Lord Temple se- about to burst. Yet was he a person to cretly encouraged the most scurrilous as- whom the court, even in that extremity, sailants of the government. In truth, those was unwilling to have recourse. He had who knew his habits tracked him as men always been regarded as a Whig of the track a mole. It was his nature to grub Whigs. He had been the friend and disciunderground. Whenever a heap of dirt ple of Walpole. He had long been conwas fung up, it might well be suspected nected by close ties with William Duke of that he was at work in some foul crooked Cumberland. By the Tories he was more labyrinth below. But Pitt turned away hated than any man living. So strong was from the filthy work of opposition, with their aversion to him, that when, in the the same scorn with which he had turned late reign, he attempted to form a party away from the filthy work of government. against the Duke of Newcastle, they had He had the magnanimity to proclaim every thrown all their weight into Newcastle's where the disgust which he felt at the in- scale. By the Scots, Fox was abhorred as sults offered by his own adherents to the the confidential friend of the conqueror of Scottish nation, and missed no opportunity Colloden. He was, on personal grounds, of extolling the courage and fidelity which most obnoxious to the Princess Mother. the Highland regiments had displayed For he had, immediately after her husthrough the whole war. But, though he band's death, advised the late King to take disdained to use any but lawful and hono- the education of her son, the heir-apparable weapons, it was well known that his rent, entirely out of her hands. He had fair blows were likely to be far more for- recently given, if possible, still deeper ofmidable than the privy thrusts of his bro- fence; for he had indulged, not without ther-in-law's stiletto.
some ground, the ambitious hope that his Bute's heart began to fail him. The beautiful sister-in-law, the Lady Sarah LenHouses were about to meet. The treaty nox, might be queen of England. It had would instantly be the subject of discussion. been observed that the King at one time It was probable that Pitt, the great Whig rode every morning by the grounds of Holconnection, and the multitude, would all land House, and that, on such occasions, be on the same side. The favorite had Lady Sarah, dressed like a shepherdess at professed to hold in abhorrence those a masquerade, was making hay close to the means by which preceding ministers had road, which was then separated by no wall kept the House of Commons in good-hu- from the lawn. On account of the part
He now began to think that he had which Fox had taken in this singular lovebeen too scrupulous. His Utopian visions affair, he was the only member of the Priwere at an end. It was necessary, not xy Council who was not summoned to the only to bribe, but to bribe more shameless meeting at which his majesty announced ly and flagitiously than his predecessors, in his intended marriage with the Princess of order to make up for lost time. A major- Mecklenburg. Of all the statesmen of the ity must be secured, no matter by what age, therefore, it seemed that Fox was the
Could Grenville do this? Would last with whom Bute, the Tory, the Scot, he do it? His firmness and ability had the favorite of the Princess Mother, could, not yet been tried in any perilous crisis. under any circumstances, act. Yet to Fox He had been generally regarded as a hum- Bute was now compelled to apply. ble follower of his brother Temple, and of Fox had many noble and amiable qualhis brother-in-law Pitt, and was supposed, ities, which in private life shone forth in though with little reason, to be still favor- full lustre, and made him dear to his chil.
dren, to his dependents, and to his friends ; | ing situation, he should be rewarded with but as a public man he had no title to a peerage, of which he had long been deesteem. In him the vices which were sirous. He undertook on his side to obcommon to the whole school of Walpole tain, by fair or foul means, a vote in favor appeared, not perhaps in their worst, but of the peace. In consequence of this arcertainly in their most prominent form; rangement he became leader of the House for his parliamentary and official talents of Commons; and Grenville, stifling his made all his faults conspicuous. His cou- vexation as well as he could, sullenly acrage, his vehement temper, his contempt quiesced in the change. for appearances, led him to display much Fox had expected that his influence that others, quite as unscrupulous as him- would secure to the court the cordial supself, covered with a decent veil. He was port of some eminent Whigs who were his the most unpopular of the statesmen of his personal friends, particularly of the Duke time, not because he sinned more than of Cumberland and of the Duke of Devonmany of them, but because he canted less. shire. He was disappointed, and soon found
He felt bis unpopularity; but he felt it that, in addition to all his other difficulties, after the fashion of strong minds. He be- he must reckon on the opposition of the came, not cautious, but reckless, and faced ablest prince of the blood, and of the great the rage of the whole nation with a scowl house of Cavendish. of inflexible defiance. He was born with But he had pledged himself to win the a sweet and generous temper; but he had battle; and he was not a man to go back. been goaded and baited into a savageness it was no time for squeamishness. Bute which was not natural to him, and which was made to comprehend that the ministry amazed and shocked those who knew him could be saved only by practising the tactics best. Such was the man to whom Bute, in of Walpole to an extent at which Walpole extreme need, applied for succor.
would have stared. The Pay-Office was Such succor Fox was not unwilling to turned into a mart for votes. Hundreds of afford. Though by no means of an envious members were closeted there with Fox, and, temper, he had undoubtedly contemplated as there is too much reason to believe, departthe success and popularity of Pitt with bit- ed carrying with them the wages of infamy. ter mortification. He thought himself Pitt's It was affirmed by persons who had the best match as a debater, and Pitt's superior as a opportunities of obtaining information, that man of business. They had long been regard twenty-five thousand pounds were thus paid ed as well paired rivals. They had started away in a single morning. The lowest fair in the career of ambition. They had bribe given, it was said, was a bank-nole long run side by side. At length Fox had for two hundred pounds. taken the lead, and Pitt had fallen behind. Intimidation was joined with corruption. Then had come a sudden turn of fortune, All ranks, from the highest to the lowest, like that in Virgil's foot-race. Fox had were to be taught that the King would be stumbled in the mire, and had not only obeyed. The Lords-Lieutenant of several been defeated, but befouled. Pitt had counties were dismissed. The Duke of reached the goal, and received the prize. Devonshire was especially singled out as The emoluments of the Pay-Office might the victim by whose fate the magnates of induce the defeated statesman to submit in England were to take warning: His wealth, silence to the ascendency of his competitor, rank, and influence, bis stainless private but could not satisfy a mind conscious of character, and the constant attachment of great powers, and sore from great vexations. his family to the house of Hanover, did not As soon, therefore, as a party arose adverse secure him from gross personal indignity. to the war and to the supremacy of the It was known that he disapproved of the great war-minister, the hopes of Fox began course which the government had taken; to revive. His feuds with the Princess and it was accordingly determined to bumMother, with the Scots, with the Tories, he ble the Prince of the Whigs, as he had been was ready to forget, if, by the help of his old nicknamed by the Princess Mother. He enemies, he could now regain the import- went to the palace to pay his duty. “Tell ance which he had lost, and confront Pitt him,' said the King to a page, that I will on equal terms.
not see him.' The page hesitated. 'Go The alliance was, therefore, soon con- to him,' said the King, and tell him those cluded. Fox was assured that, if he would very words.' The message was deliver ed. pilot the government out of its embarrass- The Duke tore off his gold key, and went
away boiling with anger. His relations. The great day arrived. The discusion had who were in office instantly resigned. A lasted some time, when a loud huzza was few days later, the King called for the list heard in Palace-yard. The noise came of privy-councillors, and with his own hand nearer and nearer, up the stairs, through struck out the Duke's name.
the lobby. The door opened, and from the In this step there was at least courage, midst of a shouting multitude càme forth though little wisdom or good-nature. But Pitt, borne in the arms of his attendants. as nothing was too high for the revenge of His face was thin and ghastly, his limbs the court, so also was nothing too low. Aswathed in flannels, his crutch in his hand. persecution, such as had never been known The bearers set him down within the bar. before and has never been known since, His friends instantly surrounded him, and raged in every public department. Great with their help le crawled to his seat near numbers of humble and laborious clerks the table. In this condition he spoke three were deprived of their bread, not because hours and a half against the peace. Durthey had neglected their duties, not being that time he was repeatedly forced to cause they had taken an active part against sit down and use cordials. It may well be the ministry, but merely because they had supposed that his voice was faint, that his owed their situations to the recommenda- action was languid, and that his speech, tion of some nobleman or gentleman who though occasionally brilliant and impreswas against the peace. The proscription sive, was feeble when compared with his extended to tide-waiters, to gaugers, to best oratorical performances. But those doorkeepers. One poor man to whom a who remembered what he had done, and pension had been given for his gallantry who saw what he suffered, listened to him in a fight with smugglers, was deprived of it with emotion stronger than any that mere because he had been befriended by the eloquence can produce. He was unable to Duke of Grafton. An aged widow, who, stay for the division, and was carried away on account of her husband's services in the from the House amidst shouts as loud as navy, had, many years before, been made those which had announced his arrival. housekeeper to a public office, was dis A large majority approved the peace. missed from her situation, because it was The exultation of the court was boundless. imagined that she was distantly connected 'Now,' exclaimed the Princess Mother, by marriage with the Cavendish family. ' my son is really King.' The young soveThe public clamor, as may well be sup- reign spoke of himself as freed from the posed, grew daily louder and louder. But bondage in which his grandfather had been the louder it grew, the more resolutely did held. On one point, it was announced, his Fox go on with the work which he had be- mind was unalterably made up. Under no gun. His old friends could not conceive circumstances whatever should those Whig what had possessed him. I could forgive,' grandees, who had enslaved his predesaid the Duke of Cumberland, · Fox's po cessors and endeavored to enslave himself, litical vagaries, but I am quite confounded be restored to power. by his in humanity. Surely he used to be His vaunting was premature. The real the best-natured of men.'
strength of the favorite was by no means At last Fox went so far as to take a legal proportioned to the number of votes which opinion on the question, whether the pa- he had, on one particular division, been tents granted by George the Second were able to command. He was soon again in binding on George the Third. It is said difficulties. The most important part of his that, if his colleagues had not flinched, budget was a tax on cider. This measure he would at once have turned out the tell. was opposed, not only by those who were ers of the Exchequer and justices in Eyre. generally hostile to his administration, but
Meanwhile the Parliament met. The also by many of his supporters. The name ministers, more hated by the people than of excise had always been hateful to the ever, were secure of a majority, and they Tories. One of the chief crimes of Walhad also reason to hope that they would pole, in their eyes, had been his partiality have the advantage in the debates as well for this mode of raising money. The Tory as in the divisions. For Pitt was confined Johnson had in his Dictionary given so to his chamber by a severe attack of gout. scurrilous a definition of the word · Excise,' His friends moved to defer the considera- that the Commissioners of Excise had serition of the treaty till he should be able ously thought of prosecuting him. The to attend. But the motion was rejected. counties which the new impost particularly
affected had always been Tory counties. I they regarded him broke forth as soon as It was the boast of John Philips, the poet the crisis seemed to be over. Some of of the English vintage, that the Cider-land them attacked him about the accounts of had ever been faithful to the throne, and the Pay-Office. Some of them rudely in. that all the pruning-hooks of her thousand terrupted him when speaking, by laughter orchards had been beaten into swords for and ironical cheers. He was naturally dethe service of the ill-fated Stuarts. The sirous to escape from so disagreeable a siteffect of Bite's fiscal scheme was 10 pro- uation, and demanded the peerage which had duce an union between the gentry and yeo- been promised as the reward of his services. manry of the Cider-land and the Whigs of It was clear that there must be some the capital. Herefordshire and Worces- change in the composition of the ministry. tershire were in a flame. The city of Lon. But scarcely any, even of those who, from don, though not so directly interested, was, their situation, might be supposed to be in if possible, still more excited. The debates all the secrets of the government, anticipaon this question irreparably damaged the ted what really took place. To the amazegovernment. Dashwood's financial state-ment of the Parliament and the nation, it ment had been confused and absurd beyond was suddenly announced that Bute had rebelief, and had been received by the House signed. with roars of laughter.
He had sense
Twenty different explanations of this enough to be conscious of his unfitness for strange step were suggested. Some attrithe high situation which he held, and ex- buted it to profound design, and some to claimed, in a comical fit of despair, 'What sudden panic. Some said that the lamshall I do? The boys will point at me in poons of the opposition had driven the Earl the street,
cry, “There goes the worst from the field; some that he had taken chancellor of the exchequer that ever was.'”, office only in order to bring the war to a George Grenville came to the rescue, and close, and had always meant to retire when spoke strongly on his favorite theme, the that object had been accomplished. He profusion with which the late war had been publicly assigned ill health as his reason for carried on. That profusion, he said, had quitting business, and privately commade taxes necessary.
He called on the plained that he was not cordially seconded gentlemen opposite to him to say where by his colleagues; and that Lord Mansfeld, they would have a tax laid, and dwelt on in particular, whom he had himself brought this topic with his usual prolixity. “Let into the cabinet, gave him no support in the them tell me where,' he repeated, in a mo- House of Peers. Lord Mansfield was, innotonous and somewhat fretful tone. Ideed, far too sagacious not to perceive that say, sir, let them tell me where. I repeat Bute's situation was one of great peril, and it, sir ; I am entitled to say to them—tell far too timurous to thrust himself into peril me where.' Unluckily for him, Pitt had for the sake of another. The probability, come down to the House that night, and however, is, that Bute's conduct on this ochad been bitterly provoked by the reflec- casion, like the conduct of most men on tions thrown on the war. He revenged most occasions, was determined by mixed himself by murmuring, in a whine resem- motives. We suspect that he was sick of bling Grenville's, a line of a well-known office; for this is a feeling much more song, 'Gentle shepherd, tell me where.' common among ministers than persons who 'If,' cried Grenville, gentlemen are to be see public life from a distance are disposed treated in this way'. -Pitt, as was his to believe. And nothing could be more fashion when he meant to mark extreme natural than that this feeling should take contempt, rose deliberately, made his bow, possession of the mind of Bute. In generand walked out of the House, leaving his al, a statesman climbs by slow degrees. brother-in-law in convulsions of rage, and Many laborious years elapse before he every body else in convulsions of laughter. reaches the topmost pinnacle of preferment. It was long before Grenville lost the nick- In the earlier part of his career, therefore, name of the gentle shepherd.
he is constantly lured on by seeing someBut the ministry had vexations still more thing above him. During his ascent he serious to endure. The hatred which the gradually becomes inured to the annoyances Tories and Scots bore to Fox was implaca- which belong to a life of ambition. By the ble. In a moment of extreme peril, they time that he has attained the highest point, had consented to put themselves under his he has become patient of labor and callous guidance. But the aversion with which of abuse. He is kept constant to his voca
tion, in spite of all its discomforts, at first | Their principles were fundamentally difby hope, and at last by habit. It was not ferent. so with Bute. His whole public life lasted Bute was a Tory. Grenville would have little more than two years. On the day on been very angry with any person who should which he became a politician he became a have denied his claim to be a Whig. He cabinet minister. In a few months he was, was more prone to tyrannical measures than both in name and in show, chief of the ad- Bute : but he loved tyranny only when disministration. Greater than he had been he guised under the forms of constitutional could not be. If what he already possessed liberty. He mixed up, after a fashion then was vanity and vexation of spirit, no delu- not very unusual, the theories of the repubsion remained to entice him onward. He licans of the seventeenth century with the had been cloyed with the pleasures of am- technical maxims of English law, and thus bition before he had been seasoned to its succeeded in combining anarchical speculapains. His habits had not been such as tion with arbitrary practice. The voice of were likely to fortify his mind against oblo- the people was the voice of God; but the quy and public hatred. He had reached only legitimate organ through which the his forty-eighth year in dignified ease, with voice of the people could be urtered was the out knowing, by personal experience, what Parliament. All power was from the peoit was to be ridiculed and slandered. All ple; but to the Parliament the whole powat once, without any previous initiation, he er of the people had been delegated. No had found himself exposed to such a storm Oxonian divine had ever, even in the years of invective and satire as had never burst on which immediately followed the Restorathe head of any statesman. The emolu- tion, demanded for the King so abject, so ments of office were now nothing to him : unreasoning a homage, as Grenville, on for he had just succeeded to a princely what he considered as the purest Whig property by the death of his father-in-law. principles, demanded for the Parliament. All the honors which could be bestowed on As he wished to see the Parliament despothim he had already secured. He had ob- ic over the nation, so he wished to see it tained the Garter for himself, and a British also despotic over the court. In his view, peerage
for his son. He seems also to have the prime minister, possessed of the conimagined, that by quitting the treasury he fidence of the House of Commons, ought to should escape from danger and abuse with be mayor of the palace. The King was a out really resigning power, and should still mere Childeric or Chilperic, who might be able to exercise in private supreme influ- well think himself lucky in being permitted ence over the royal mind.
to enjoy such handsome apartments at St. Whatever may have been his motives, he James's, and so fine a park at Windsor. retired. Fox at the same time took refuge Thus the opinions of Bute and those of in the House of Lords; and George Gren- Grenville were diametrically opposed. Nor ville became first lord of the treasury and was there any private friendship between chancellor of the exchequer.
the two statesmen. Grenville's nature was We believe that those who made this ar- not forgiving; and he well remembered rangement fully intended that Grenville how, a few months before, he had been should be a mere puppet in the hands of compelled to yield the lead of the House of Bute; for Grenville was as yet very imper- Commons to Fox. fectly known even to those who had ob We are inclined to think, on the whole, served him long. He passed for a mere that the worst administration which has official drudge; and he had all the industry, governed England since the Revolution was the minute accuracy, the formality, the te- that of George Grenville. His public acts diousness, which belong to the character. may be classed under two heads, outrages But he had other qualities which had not on the liberty of the people, and outrages yet shown themselves-devouring ambition, on the dignity of the crown. dauntless courage, self-confidence amount He began by making war on the press. ing to presumption, and a temper which John Wilkes, member of parliament for could not endore opposition. He was not Aylesbury, was singled out for persecution. disposed to be any body's tool ; and he had | Wilkes had, till very lately, been known no attachment, political or personal, to chiefly as one of the most profane, licenBute. The two men had, indeed, nothing tious, and agreeable rakes about town. He in common, except a strong propensity was a man of taste, reading, and engaging towards harsh and unpopular courses. manners. His sprightly conversation was