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ved he founo persisors to other por pr
fluence of the Crown, I do not think it much signifies how soon we go out after, and leave him and the Chancellor to make such a government as they can; and this I think we shall be able to do.' (Vol. i. p. 316.)
The practical working of our Government has undergone so great a change since 1780, notwithstanding the preservation of its forms, that it is important not to misunderstand the true character of the struggle which was terminated by the overthrow of Lord North's Ministry. It was a struggle of the King's personal will, supported by the influence of the Crown, against the independent portion of the House of Commons. The war against the insurgent colonies had at first been highly popular*; but a succession of disasters turned the tide of public feeling, and the country were ready to adopt the views of all the ablest men in both Houses of Parliament, who recommended either large concessions, or entire independence. But the King remained unmoved: he would not consent to a dismemberment of the Empire; and he found in Lord North and his colleagues Ministers who were ready to persist in the policy to which he adhered, even when it was contrary to their own convictions. Against this Ministry, Fox, Burke, and other powerful speakers, thundered night after night, denouncing their principles, conduct, motives, and capacity in the most vehement language, and sometimes directing their fire over the Treasury Bench at the Throne. When the battle was over, Fox openly treated it as a victory of the House of Commons over the King. On the night when Lord North announced his resignation, he said, that “as the House had now proved their abhorrence of a . Government of influence, the new Ministers must ever bear in mind that fact, and remember that to the House they owed their situations. Moreover, before the list of the proposed Cabinet was presented to the King, it had been submitted to a meeting of the Whig party, and had received their sanction. By placing the question on this issue, George III. abandoned the secure, dignified, and neutral position of a constitutional king, and entered upon the perilous career of a party-leader. He protested against changing his principles, threw out obscure threats of abdicating the throne, and staked his political reputation against Fox and the leaders of Opposition. The result was, that he underwent the humiliation of a personal defeat; but he had sufficient prudence to tolerate for a time a Ministry composed of men whom he regarded as his personal enemies,
* See Lord Mahon, vol. vi. p. 68.
rather than attempt some act of unconstitutional violence, or bring the machine of Government to a stand-still.
The Rockingham Ministry lasted just three months. Lord North resigned on the 20th of March. Lord Rockingham died on the ist of July.* Two days after his death, Mr. Fox advised the King to appoint as his successor some member of the Rockingham party. The King announced his intention of preferring Lord Shelburne, to whom Fox objected; but the King adhered to his resolution, and Fox, followed by Lord John Cavendish, with Burke, Sheridan, and others not in the Cabinet, resigned. Lord Shelburne then became Prime Minister, with Pitt as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons. Lord Keppel, General Conway, and the Duke of Richmond, the other three members of the Rockingham party in the Cabinet, retained their offices, and did not go out with Fox.
Among the Rockingham Whigs, the Duke of Richmond considered himself as having the first claim to the post of Prime Minister. He was, however, rejected by his friends on account of his extreme opinions on Parliamentary Reform; and Mr. Fox, as being his kinsman t, was employed to impart to him the unwelcome intelligence, which he executed thus: We must (he
said) settle without delay whom to propose as the successor of • Lord Rockingham ; and as you and I are both out of the • question, owing to the decided part we have taken about • Parliamentary Reform, I think the Duke of Portland should be * the man.' The Duke of Portland was, however, chiefly recommended for this post by his rank and respectable character; and in point of capacity and fitness for the office of Prime Minister, he was decidedly inferior to Lord Shelburne.
We have been the more particular in describing this change of Administration, because we believe that Fox's decision to separate himself from Lord Shelburne was the turning point of his political life, and exercised an enormous influence upon the subsequent course of events. His motive for this decision was his distrust of Lord Shelburne, whom he believed to be systematically insincere, and whom he likewise suspected of intriguing with the King against his colleagues. This suspicion
* * The King (says Horace Walpole) showed his aversion to Lord Rockingham so indecently and unfeelingly, that, though he had accepted him for his Minister, he did not once send to inquire how the Marquis did when he was dying.' (Mem. of Fox, vol. i. p. 440.)
† Mr. Fox was the nephew of the Duke of Richmond. His mother was the Duke's sister. The present Duke of Richmond is the great nephew of the Duke in question.
partly rested upon Lord Shelburne's general character, who had, 80 early as the year 1767, obtained from the writer of Junius the nickname of Malagrida,' on account of his supposed Jesuitical habits of mind.* Its chief ground, however, was Lord Shelburne's recent conduct in the negotiation for peace with America, the details of which we will proceed to narrate.
The Secretary of State's office was formerly divided into the Northern and Southern Departments. The Southern Secretary had the management of home affairs, and of the correspondence with Ireland, the Colonies, and the States of Western Europe. The Northern Secretary conducted only the correspondence with the other European countries. This unequal and inconvenient division was discontinued upon the accession of the Rockingham Ministry, when the third or American Secretary was abolished, and the existing division of the Home and Foreign Departments was introduced. I The Home Office was formed out of the old Southern Department, and it therefore retained the Irish and Colonial business : the Foreign Office was formed out of the Northern Department, by the addition of
* It was given him in some anonymous productions by the author of Junius, which appeared under another signature. (See Woodfall's Junius,' vol. ii. pp. 472. 482.) Gabriel Malagrida, an Italian by birth, and a Jesuit, resided in Portugal. He was accused of participation in a conspiracy against the King, and was burnt by the Inquisition for heresy in 1761. He seems to have been scarcely sane. (Biogr. Un. and Chalmers, in v., and see Lord Mahon, vol. iv. p. 263.)
it Fox's resignation, says Lord Holland, was not the result of advice or persuasion. It was his own resolution adopted after much
• duct the public affairs under Lord Shelburne's treasury with safety, honour, or advantage ; and from resentment at the duplicity with which his negotiations at Paris had been impeded by Lord Shelburne through Mr. Oswald, of which he thought Mr. Grenville's letters furnished him indubitable evidence.' (Mem. of Fox, vol. i. p. 473. See some similar remarks of Lord Holland, ib. p. 387.)
We have mentioned in a former Number that Lord Holland and Mr. Allen are mistaken in supposing that the division of the Northern and Southern departments subsisted at this time. (Mem. of Fox, vol. i. pp. 345. 475.) If Lord Shelburne had had the old Southern de partment both negotiations would have been in his hands; for both
letter to Mr. Grenville, of July 5. 1782, begins thus :- His Majesty
having thought proper to entrust me with the seals of the Foreign • Department, upon the resignation of Mr. Secretary Fox, I take the
earliest opportunity of notifying it to you.' (S. P. O.) The seals of this department were immediately afterwards transferred to Lord Grantham.
the correspondence with those foreign countries which had previously been under the charge of the Southern Secretary. The Home Secretary, as the successor of the Southern Secretary, retained the seniority in official rank.
In the beginning of the year 1782, Franklin, who had been appointed one of the American Commissioners for negotiating with France, was staying at Paris. At the time when Lord North's Ministry was about to expire, Lord Cholmondeley passed through Paris on his road to England, and called upon Franklin, though previously unacquainted with him. During his visit, he offered to carry a letter from him to Lord Shelburne; and Franklin accordingly wrote to Lord Shelburne a letter of civility, in which he referred to their former acquaintance, and took occasion to express a hope that the recent votes of the House of Commons might lead to a general peace. This letter was written in ignorance of Lord North's resignation, the news of which reached Paris immediately afterwards. When Lord Shelburne received this letter, he already held the seals of the Home Department; and as the American colonies were still considered as subject to the Crown of England, all affairs relating to them were under his official cognisance. Without delay, he took advantage of this accident to send Mr. Oswald, a London merchant, formerly resident in America, to Paris, in order to communicate with Franklin. Oswald accordingly arrived in Paris near the beginning of April, and had an interview with Franklin, at which he delivered to him private letters from Lord Shelburne, and Mr. Laurens, an American officer, then a prisoner in England.* Franklin, in his detailed journal of these transactions, states that Oswald, at this interview, described England as ready to concede the independence of America, and to treat of peace, but as prepared to continue the war if the terms insisted on by France were too humiliating. The answer made by Franklin was, that he could only treat in concert with France; but he offered to introduce Oswald to M. de Vergennes, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, and an interview accordingly took place between them, a few days afterwards, in Franklin's presence. Oswald was unable to speak French, and the conversation was carried on through an interpreter. The general effect of this interview is related in a letter addressed by Franklin to Lord Shelburne. The principal points were, that France could not treat without her allies, and that Paris was suggested as the proper place for the
* See Franklin's Works by Sparks, vol. ix. p. 240., where the letters are printed.
negotiations. Oswald returned to London to carry the account of his interviews; bearing likewise the expression of Franklin's wish, that there might be no other channel of communication between him and the English Government than Oswald himself. Franklin, as Mr. Allen remarks, had doubtless soon discovered that Oswald was a simple-minded, well-meaning man, on
whom he could make the impression he chose.' Upon Mr. Oswald's return to London, a meeting of the Cabinet was held, at which the following minute was agreed to:
April 23. 1782. Present, Lord Chancellor, Lord President, Duke of Richmond, Marquis of Rockingham, Duke of Grafton, Lord Ashburton, Lord J. Cavendish, Lord Keppel, Gen. Conway, Mr. Fox, Lord Shelburne.
• “It is humbly submitted to His Majesty that Mr. Oswald shall “ return to Paris with authority to name Paris as the place, and to “ settle with Dr. Franklin the most convenient time for setting on “ fuot a negotiation for a general peace, and to represent to him that “ the principal points in contemplation are, the allowance of in“ dependence to America upon Great Britain's being restored to the “ situation she was placed in by the treaty of 1763, and that Mr. Fox “shall submit to the consideration of the King a proper person to “ make a similar communication to Mons. de Vergennes.”' (Vol. i. p. 345.) *
Before Oswald left Paris, Franklin placed in his hands a paper, containing suggestions respecting Canada, for Lord Shelburne's consideration. It threw out the idea that Canada might be voluntarily ceded to the United States, as an indemnity for the losses occasioned by the war; and it concluded with these words:- This is mere conversation matter between Mr. Oswald 6 and Mr. Franklin, as the former is not empowered to make
propositions, and the latter cannot make any without the con• currence of his colleagues.' Franklin afterwards regretted that he had allowed the paper to go out of his own hands. On his
• We observe that the peculiar mode in which the ministers address the sovereign in private communications, which is now in use, was observed by Mr. Fox at this time. “Mr. Fox has the “honour of transmitting to your Majesty the minute of the Cabinet
Council assembled this morning at Lord Rockingham's.' 18 May 1782. (Ib. p. 351.) When this epistolary form was introduced, or by whom, we know not. The letters of Mr. G. Grenville to the King in 1765, printed in the Grenville Papers, vol. iii. p. 4-15., are in the ordinary form. I have but just now received the honour of
your Majesty's commands on my return home from my Lord Chan'cellor's, where I have passed the greatest part of the evening. ACcording to the more recent etiquette, the minister uses the third person, and addresses the Sovereign in the second.