Imágenes de página

Remarks on the Private Paper. 1st. Why does le say that he does not know of the Americans having any intention of making claims of indemnification, he and others having full powers.— That is not open. – No reparation to be thought of.-The money spent in America is more than sufficient indemnification for all particular losses. Lord Shelburne-has a manuscript of Sir William Petty to send in return for this paper. The title of it is to show that Ireland would have been in a state of poverty and uncivilised savageness if it had not been for the money expended by the English in their wars in that country.

"All ideas of a supposed justice in claims of indemnification to be disowned ; and if started, to be waived as much as possible.

It is reasonable to expect a free trade, unencumbered with duties, to every part of America.

"Make early and strict conditions, not only to secure all debts whatever due to British subjects, but likewise to restore the loyalists to it full enjoyment of their rights and privileges. And their indemnification to be considered. Lord Shelburne will never give up the Loyalists. The Penn family have been sadly used, and Lord Shelburne is personally interested for them, and thinks it his duty to be so for all.

• The private paper desires Canada for three reasons :

' 1st. By way of reparation. - Answer. No reparation can be heard of.

“2nd. To prevent future wars. — Answer. It is to be hoped that some more friendly method will be found.

• 3rd. Loyalists as a fund of indemnification to them. Answer. No independence to be acknowledged without their being taken care of.

A compensation expected for New York, Charlestown, and Savannah. Penobscott to be always kept.'

These observations on the Canada paper show that, if Lord Shelburne had sent any answer to it by Oswald, it would not have been a favourable one. The probability is, that he made no remark upon it to Oswald, fearing that he might offend Franklin; and that Oswald construed his silence into approbation. There is likewise another paper of similar notes, which ends with the following passage:-. Tell him (Franklin) candidly • and confidentially, Lord Shelburne’s situation with the King: • that he was sent for to form the Ministry.

• That his lordship will make no use of it but to keep his • word with mankind, and is under as little apprehension of being o deceived himself, as unwilling to deceive others. In short, • that he knows the bottom to be sound.'

The purpose of this projected communication was to satisfy Franklin that the King was not secretly hostile to the negotiation, and that the American negotiators need not fear that the treaty would be ultimately defeated by the King's interference.

It should be added that the cession of Canada was afterwards formally proposed by Franklin to Oswald, when the latter had been appointed Commissioner, and was reported to his own government, in a letter of July 12.; but that the proposition was not assented to. *

Lord Holland remarks that, this resignation of Mr. Fox is 'unquestionably one of the two passages of his public life most • open to animadversion, and most requiring explanation.'t The wisdom of this decision resolves itself into a question of general mistrust of Lord Shelburne; for Lord Shelburne's accession to the Treasury would have placed another person at the Home Office, who would have had the control of the American negotiator. Mr. Fox thus describes his motives for resignation, in a

* The story of Franklin's coat (the truth of which has been denied by Sparks) is traced by Lord Mahon to the signing of the Treaty with France in 1778. (See his note, vol. v. p. 329.) Mr. Allen remarks that the anecdote rests on authority not slightly to be re

jected. It was related to Lord Holland by Lord St. Helen's, one of the plenipotentiaries employed in negotiating the treaty, and the • lasting impression it made on Lord St. Helen's leaves little doubt of the accuracy of his recollection. He could not speak without indignation of the triumphant air with which Franklin told them he had “ laid by and preserved his coat for such an occasion.' (Mem. of Fox, vol. i. p. 385.) Lord St. Helen's, then Mr. Fitzherbert, was sent to Paris to negotiate with France, when Mr. Grenville resigned. He had no personal concern with the treaty between France and America in 1778; and therefore, if his testimony is not rejected, we must suppose that Franklin wore the coat twice. Mr. Fitzherbert signed the preliminaries with France and Spain, but Oswald signed those with America; the definitive treaty with America was signed by Mr. Hartley for England. Mr. Fitzherbert could not have been present, officially, when any signature with Franklin took place.

Mr. Fitzherbert, in a letter to Lord Grantham, of February 9. 1783 (preserved among the Shelburne papers), has the following passage:- Dr. Franklin seems anxious to return to America, which

I am sorry for, being persuaded that he will do his utmost, wben there, to prevent all revival of goodwill and cordiality with the "mother country; his rancour and inveteracy against which are as 'violent as ever. I could mention to your Lordship instances of this which would be almost ludicrous, if anything can deserve that name which is likely to produce such serious consequences. The letter from Mr. Hartley to Mr. Fox, of 3rd September, 1783, S.P.O., reporting the signature of the Definitive Treaty with America, describes the existence of a very friendly feeling with the American Commissioners on that occasion.

† Vol. i. p. 472. The other passage alluded to by Lord Holland is the coalition with Lord North. (See vol. ii. p. 62.)

letter to Mr. Grenville of the 5th of July:-'I am sure my

staying would have been a means of deceiving the public and betraying my party; and these are things not to be done for • the sake of any supposed temporary good. I feel that my • situation in the country, my power, my popularity, my consequence,—nay, my character, are all risked: but I have done right, and therefore in the end it must turn out to have been

[ocr errors]

The left the in (as we learn years later, s'him

Lord Shelburne had held office in the Duke of Grafton's Administration, and had been a Secretary of State at the age of twenty-nine. He was a man of ability, and was eminent as a speaker; he belonged to the Whig party, but his more imme. diate political connexion was with Lord Chatham. During the American War, he continued in active opposition to the Government, and he had never been a favourite of the King. Before he left the Duke of Grafton's Cabinet in 1768, instigations to

remove him (as we learn from the Duke's Memoirs) fell daily

from the King.'p Ten years later, in March 1778, the King, writing to Lord North, thus expresses himself: _ I am willing, • through your channel, to accept any description of persons that will come avowedly to the support of your Administration; and, as such, do not object to Lord Shelburne and Mr. Barré, whom personally, perhaps, I dislike as much as Alderman Wilkes.' I In December 1779, Lord Shelburne made a speech

* Buckingham Papers, vol. i. p. 55.

† Cited by Lord Mahon, vol. v. p. 202., 3d ed. See his character of Lord Shelburne, Ib., p. 209.

Lord Shelburne seems to have been a strong free-trader, at a time when such opinions among statesmen were almost unknown. The following passage occurs in a letter from Benjamin Vaughan to Franklin, of February, 1783:-“The boldness of my friend's (Lord

Shelburne's) conduct, has done infinite service to men's minds, as his • conversation has done to the royal mind. You will take pleasure in • hearing that he talked of making England a free port ; for which, he said, we were fitted by nature, capital, love of enterprise, maritime connexions, and position between the Old and New World, ' and the North and South of Europe; and that those who were best • circumstanced for trade, could not but be gainers by having trade • open.' (Works, ib. p. 489.) According to Lord Holland, Bentham always said, that · Lord Shelburne was the only Minister he ever heard

of who did not fear the people.' (Memoirs of the Whig Party, vol. i. p. 41.) M. Dumont, on coming to England in 1785, acquired the friendship of Lord Shelburne, and was entrusted with the education of his sons. (Dumont, Souvenirs sur Mirabeau, p. ii.)

I Lord Mahon, vol. vi., App. p. lvi. A story is told of Wilkes, after he had given up the trade of a patriot, having been present at a

in the House of Lords, in an American debate, which Mr. Fitzpatrick describes as 'excellent, very violent, and very personal to

the King.'* It may be added that the King's aversion for Lord Chatham, with whom Lord Shelburne had acted, was latterly not less than his aversion for Fox. If, therefore, the King showed any preference for Lord Shelburne in 1782, it must have been, not because he liked him much, but because he disliked Fox more. Lord Shelburne, indeed, according to Lord Holland's testimony, always complained that the King had • tricked and deserted him in 1782 and 1783;' and " he always

suspected the Court of secretly conniving at his downfall.'t On the other hand, the King complained of Lord Shelburne for resigning the Government too easily, and for not prolonging the fight against the Coalition. In an audience granted to Lord Temple, upon his return from Ireland, His Majesty recapi*tulated all the transactions of that period, with the strongest

encomium upon Mr. Pitt, and with much apparent acrimony hinted at Lord Shelburne, whom he stated to have abandoned a . position which was tenable, and particularly so after the popular resentment had been roused.'

Lord Holland, in his “Memoirs of the Whig Party,' has given a full-length portrait of Lord Shelburne, founded on personal knowledge. His character is there summed up in the following words :-His chief merits were courage, decision of

character, and discernment in discovering the talents of in• feriors. Want of judgment was his great defect. An im* perious character, and suspicion, with its consequences, his ruling vices.'§ If habits of suspicion, and a persuasion of the

party with the Prince of Wales, and having joined in singing God - save the King. The Prince called to him, and asked how long he had sung that song. “Ever since I have had the honour of knowing * your Royal Highness,' was the answer.

* Memorials of Fox, vol. i. p. 239. † Ibid. vol. i. p. 479. ; vol. ii. p. 65. • The late Earl of Shelburne told a friend of mine that the King possessed one art beyond any man he had ever known : for that, by • the familiarity of his intercourse, he obtained your confidence, pro* cured from you your opinion of different public characters, and then

availed himself of this knowledge to sow dissension.'-(Nicholl's Recollections and Reflections during the Reign of George Ill., vol. i. p. 389.) The same writer states, Ibid. p. 51., that the King ordered * the members of his household to express their disapprobation of the . peace, and thus affronted Lord Shelburne.

Buckingham Papers, vol. i. p. 303. The latter words allude to the incipient unpopularity of the Coalition.

§ Vol. i. p. 42.

general dishonesty of mankind, had prevented Lord Shelburne from being frank and open in his dealings, and had earned him the nickname of Malagrida, this fact was well known to Fox when he accepted office as his colleague. The arguments founded on this general presumption were not, as we have seen, greatly strengthened by the Oswald affair. It cannot be supposed that Fox was influenced by such appeals to his self-love, as that administered by Burke, when he spoke of the utter impossibility

of his acting for any length of time as a clerk in Lord Shelburne's Administration.'* If Fox had put forward his pretensions to the office of Prime Minister, he might consistently have resigned because they were rejected. But he proposed the appointment of the Duke of Portland to that office, and did not object to serve under him. The objection therefore, was, not to the subordination, but to the person of the chief.

Mr. Fitzpatrick, in a letter of July 5., thus pointedly describes the opinions of the public upon Fox's resignation :- All persons • who have any understanding and no office, are of opinion that • Charles has done right: all persons who have little understand. ing are frightened; and all persons who have offices, with some

brilliant exceptions, think he has been hasty.' (Vol. i. p. 461.) Lord Temple, in a letter to Mr. Grenville, written on the previous day, gives the following account of a conversation which he had had with Fox at the House of Lords:

• He stated his knowledge that Lord Shelburne would succeed to Lord Rockingham, and his idea of throwing up. I stated Lord Shelburne's promises to measures, which I found Lord Shelburne had made to him; but the loss of the object, which was evidently a favourite point with him, seemed to affect him much. I repeated my apprehensions that the people would not stand by him in his attempt to quit upon private grounds, which, from their nature would appear to be a quarrel for offices, and not a public measure. He saw all this, and said that it had been urged to him by several, but that he was not determined ..... My opinion, from all whom I have seen, is, that Fox has undone himself with the public; and his most intimate friends seem of the same opinion.' (Buckingham Papers, vol. i. p. 51.).

• The step (says Lord Holland) was universally lamented, and very naturally censured, by many friends of freedom and peace, who were unacquainted with the personal character of Mr. Fox and his col. leagues, and who saw in it nothing but a fatal division in a budy of men, to whom they were looking for a restoration of the blessings of peace, and the re-establishment of a virtuous system of government at home. To them it seemed the result of mere personal jealousy and

* Memorials of Fox, vol. i. p. 457.

« AnteriorContinuar »