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of the Treasury. Fox now put an end to his connexion with Lord North, went into Opposition, and began to act with the Rockingham party, though he did not formally join it till 1778 or 9. By this means he became the friend of Burke; a friendship which exercised much influence upon him. His independent political career, after he had broken through his original party ties, may be considered as commencing from 1774, when he was in his 25th year. This year, as Lord John Russell remarks, in an excellent review of our history from 1763 to 1774 (vol. i. p. 102—133.) was the turning point of the American war. then that Lord North, though he had originally been adverse to the imposition of the tea duty, decided to maintain it, by closing the port of Boston, and altering the charter of Massachussets. • In taking this course,' says Lord John, · Lord North was warmly supported in the closet, and received the sympathy of the country. Yet it is impossible not to reflect that Lord • North was the same minister who in 1768 had, by his voice in
the Cabinet, prevented the repeal of the tea duty, and the • abandonment of all taxation by Parliament for imperial purposes.
Had he supported that repeal in 1768, he would have prevented the American war; in 1774 he at least would have 'given a chance to peace; in 1778, after our armies had been * defeated, the concession was useless and insufficient.'
Fox, from the time that he separated himself from Lord North, carried on an unremitting opposition to the American war. His speeches, always marked by decided ability, had hitherto been desultory and occasional; but he now (as Gibbon said) discovered powers for regular debate, which neither his friends hoped, nor his enemies dreaded. Mr. Grattan (as we learn from Lord John), who had heard Mr. Fox at various epochs, declared his preference for the speeches delivered during the American war, to all the other efforts of his eloquence. His denunciations of Ministers and their policy were conveyed in the strongest language. Thus in 1777 he described Lord G. Germaine, as
* The division in the Cabinet of 5 to 4, by which it was decided to maintain the tea duty, was not in 1768, but on the 1st of May, 1769. See Lord • Mahon's History,' vol. v. p. 242, and Ap. p. xxxvii, The votes were as follows:For repeal.
his first of honour in havingainst Lord Northst and one of the
that inauspicious and ill-omened character, whose arrogance and . presumption, whose ignorance and inability,' had brought evil upon the country.* Horace Walpole says, that on the budget in 1778, Charles Fox poured out the bitterest and one of the • finest of all his philippics against Lord North, taxing him with
breach of honour in having declared that he would resign if • his first conciliatory proposition had not the desired effect;
that he had broken his word, that he had this year brought * measures of the same kind, at which he confessed he felt • humbled, though not ashamed; if such measures did not make • him blush, what would ? And in this style he spoke for above half an hour.'
The following curious account of a scene in an American debate in 1777 occurs in a letter of Mr. Crawford (better known by his prenomen of Fish) to Lord Ossory : –
Charles [Fox] spoke with great violence, but the House this time went along with him. We were not shocked at his talking of bringing Lord George [Germaine] to a second trial, nor were we shocked at being asked if we could patiently continue to submit to see this nation disgraced by him in every capacity. There were high words between Wedderburne and Burke, which so offended the latter that he went out of the House, and, I believe, intended to challenge Wedderburne, but was prevented by a letter from Wedderburne, and an explanation likewise, which he sent him through Charles. In the midst of Wedderburne's speaking, Burke burst into one of his loud hysterical laughs. Unfortunately at that moment there was a dead silence in the House. Wedderburne, in a very angry tone, said, that if that gentleman did not know manners, he, as an individual, would teach them to him; that he had not the good will of that gentleman, and did not wish for it, but he was ambitious of having even his respect, and would force it from him, &c. This the other construed into a menace..... I have given this imperfect description of a quarrel, which is very well settled on both sides. Burke was origi
* On this occasion • Lord North handsomely defended Lord George, and said he was glad Fox had abandoned him, an old hulk,
to attack a man of war; but afterwards he perhaps hurt Lord George * as much as Fox had done, for the latter coming up to the Treasury
benches, Lord North said, in Lord George's hearing, “ Charles, I am • " glad you did not fall on me to-day, for you was in full feather.”' (Mem. of Fox, vol. i. p. 159.) This anecdote proves the private familiarity which still subsisted between Lord North and Fox, notwithstanding their political differences.
† The allusion is to Lord G. Germaine's conduct at the battle of Minden, in 1759, for which he was dismissed by Mr. Pitt from all his military employments, and was declared by a court-martial to have been guilty of disobeying orders, and to be unfit to serve his Majesty in any military capacity whatever.
nally in the wrong, because nothing could be more uncivil than his laugh appeared to be, from the accident of the dead silence of the House at that moment. (Mem. of Fox, vol. i. p. 162.)
The efforts of the Opposition in denouncing the policy of Lord North’s Government were not unavailing, for in a letter to Lord Ossory of November 29. 1777, Fox says, “I am clear the
opinion of the majority of the House is with us. I cannot help · flattering myself that opinions will, in the long run, have their
influence on votes. A few months later (February, 1778) he uses the following remarkable expressions respecting himself in à letter to his intimate friend Fitzpatrick, who was then in America:
• I think I have given you enough of politics, considering I have nothing but reports and conjectures to give you. With respect to my own share, I can only say that people flatter me that I continue to gain, rather than losé, my credit as an orator; and I am so convinced that this is all that I erer shall gain (unless I choose to become the meanest of men) that I never think of any other object of ambition. I am certainly ambitious by nature, but I really have, or think I have, totally subdued that passion. I have still as much vanity as ever, which is a happier passion by far; because great reputation I think I may acquire and keep, great situation I never can acquire nor, if acquired, keep, without making sacrifices that I never will make. If I am wrong, and more sanguine people right, tant mieux, and I shall be as happy as they can be ; but if I am right, I am sure I shall be the happier, for having made up my mind to my situation.'
The influence, however, which Fox had gained in the House by his speeches against the Ministry, and the waning popularity of the war since the reverses of our arms, especially after the surrender of Saratoga in October 1777, led to a negotiation with Fox in March 1778, to induce him to join Lord North's Ministry. This negotiation (to which the King's consent had doubtless been obtained) was conducted by Mr. Eden (afterwards Lord Auckland), whose account of his interview of three hours with Fox is now published. Fox is reported to have said, • that except with Lord G. Germaine, he could act with the • existing Ministers; but he disavowed every possibility of
accepting singly and alone, and even doubted whether he *could accept in any case.' 'I am convinced,' adds Mr. Eden,
that he will make no bad use of the conversation, but in other • respects will be as hostile as ever.' A similar overture was made at the same time, through Mr. Eden, to Lord Shelburne, whose chief political connexion was with Lord Chatham ; and through him an attempt was made to ascertain the terms upon which Lord Chatham would join the Government. It is, however, evident that the King did not meditate any fundamental change of policy, or any real concession to the views of the Opposition. He was ready to engraft men of ability into the Ministry, but merely with a view of strengthening it, not of altering its measures. This appears clearly from a curious passage in Mr. Eden's account of his interview with Lord Shelburne. In the course of a discussion on certain changes of office, Lord Shelburne had made the remark, that 'surely there * would be some mode of doing everything right, without doing ó anything harsh.
* This,' says Mr. Eden, 'gave me the opening I wished, to enter fully, and in the plainest language, into the narrowness, nonsense, and harshness of the whole proposition, so far as implied a wish and expectation in his lordship’s friend at Hayes [Lord Chatham] to avail himself of the pressure of a moment in order to dictate terms to the closet, every part of which would imply a desertion and disarowal of servants who for many years had fought the cause of their master, of the Parliament, and of the whole nation, with the most cordial fidelity and zeal; and this, too, upon principles of the purest kind, the truth of which remains unimpaired, though mischances and circumstances may make it more difficult to enforce them. I added, that though uninformed and unauthorised as to any specific resolutions taken, I could argue safely from the sentiments of honour which I knew to be firmly rooted, and could at once say that no arrangement could or would ever be listened to one moment except on the ground of mere accession of capacity and business, in a moment which would require great exertions, and that even such accessions could not be taken, unless made in a plan consistent with the honour of all that had passed heretofore.' (Vol. i. p. 185.)
The limited extent of the King's views in consenting to these negotiations, and his resolution to continue the anti-American policy, so long as he could find Ministers who would support him, are fully displayed in his letters to Lord North at this period. In a letter of the 16th of March, 1778, he thus expresses himself: 'I will only add, to put before your eyes my
Concerning this negotiation through Lord Shelburne with Lord Chatham, see Lord Mahon's History,' c. 57. vol. vi. p. 223—226. Lord Mahon remarks :- It is certain that the object of the King
was at this juncture wholly unattainable, that if Lord North retired as not willing or not able to carry his system further, no
other administration on the same system could be formed. This opinion seems to us perfectly correct, but the plan of a coalition can hardly be called the King's object. It was the King's aversion; and he was only willing to consent to it on terms which rendered it impossible.
* most inward thoughts, that no advantage to this country, nor * personal danger to myself, can ever make me address myself to • Lord Chatham, or any other branch of Opposition. Honestly,
I would rather lose the crown I now wear than bear the • ignominy of possessing it under their shackles.' On the following day he writes thus : “My dear Lord, no consideration in • life shall make me stoop to Opposition. I am still ready to accept any part of them that will come to the assistance of my present efficient Ministers; but whilst any ten men in the kingdom will stand by me, I will not give myself up to bondage. My dear Lord, I will rather risk my crown than do what
I think personally disgraceful. It is impossible this nation should not stand by me. If they will not, they shall have
another king; for I never will put my hand to what will make 'me miserable to the last hour of my life.' On the 22nd, the King says: 'I will never consent to removing the members of * the present Cabinet from my service;' and on the 29th he puts this question to Lord North: Do you think it possible to strengthen the present Administration by an accession of
some men of talents from the Opposition?' He then adds : If that cannot be effected, will you consent to continue, and try to exert yourself, and co-operate with me in putting vigour
and activity to every department.' Again, on the 29th of January, 1779, the King addresses Lord North in the same strain : I perceive, as I expected, that Opposition, when they
talk of conditions, mean to dictate. I thank God, whatever • difficulties may surround me, I am not made of materials to
stoop to that.' And on the 4th February: 'My conduct • will show that I never am deaf to any apparent proposals of 'general union, though no circumstances shall ever compel me to be dictated to by Opposition.'
If George III. had understood his position as a constitutional king, he would at this time have consented to form a new Ministry from the leaders of Opposition, and have acquiesced, without querulous and undignified protestations, in a policy which in a few years was forced upon his acceptance by the general feeling of the country, and at the point of the Parliamentary bayonet.
Lord Holland remarks upon these declarations, that the King was willing to employ any one who would concur with
him in his efforts to reduce the revolted colonies to obedience, .but would not accept the services of Opposition, because the Opposition thought that object unattainable, and were ready
to acknowledge the independence of the United States. The * result is, that it was the King at that period, and the King