Imágenes de página

ho to the Lorin every point of the people had behaal wag

Secretaries of State. The other Cabinet offices were chiefly filled with followers of Fox.

Whatever admiration may be felt for the abilities, the eloquence, the patriotism, the courage, and the public spirit of Mr. Fox, no judicious and impartial biographer will, as it seems to us, seek to justify, or even to palliate, his coalition with Lord North. Lord J. Russell accordingly condemns, and does not defend it. In every point of view, it was an ill-assorted union. The political principles of the two chiefs were diametrically opposed to each other. Lord North had been, as Minister, the passive instrument of the Royal will; Fox had waged a veheinent war against the King and his policy, and had, at last, achieved a victory over both. During the Parliamentary conflicts of the American war, there was scarcely a form of blame, or even of vituperation, within the compass of the English language, which Fox had not applied to Lord North: not only his conduct, his policy, and his principles, but his character, his honour, and his honesty, had been unsparingly denounced. Hints of impeachment had even been thrown out. These debates were quite recent in the beginning of 1783: the very words of Fox's terrible philippics against Lord North's profligate and ruinous administration must have been still ringing in the ears of the members who saw them take their seats, side by side, on the Treasury Bench, as the two Secretaries of State. All the disgraceful events of the latter years of the American war, and the censures which they had entailed on the Ministers who then mismanaged public affairs, were fresh in every one's thoughts; it was scarcely necessary to resort to such reminders as the · Beauties of Fox, Burke, and North,' which were printed and circulated by the enemies of the monstrous and unnatural • Coalition,' These were matters of universal notoriety, and the nation was shocked by a union of parties, in which they could see so little of public principle; so little to justify that

mutual goodwill and confidence, of which Fox spoke in his interview with Lord North. There was, therefore, no disposition to make in favour of the Coalition the allowance suggested by Lord Holland ; namely, that Lord North had been insincere in his American policy, that he had carried on the war in order to please the King, and that the difference between his real opinions and the opinions of Fox was not considerable. *

* See Memorials of Fox,' vol. i. pp. 195. 254., vol. ii. p. 63. We think that Lord Holland's meaning is mistaken by Lord John in his note on the former passage. His object, as it seems to us, is to vindicate Mr. Fox, on the ground that Lord North really agreed with him in opinion.

For the public knew nothing of his secret opinions; they had not the privilege (which we now enjoy) of reading his private correspondence with the King; they judged him by his acts and his avowed opinions; and they knew that his course and that of Fox had, on all the leading questions of public policy, for the last eight years, but, above all, on the great question of the American war, been diametrically opposed. They thought that if Fox was right in his invectives against Lord North in the years 1774 to 1782, he could not be right in coalescing with Lord North in 1783. Besides, it might be felt that there is a medium between rancorous vindictiveness, and a spiritless oblivion of injuries. Though Lord North’s well-tried goodnature would prevent him from cherishing resentful spite, there was something, in our judgment, inexpressibly mean in the tameness which the King's late favourite, covered with the scars of Fox's mighty sword, hastened to accept office in what was virtually his administration. Hence the public were more inclined to blame Lord North for joining Fox, than Fox for joining Lord North. Neither, however, escaped the unpopularity which attended their coalition: the public are, in general, sufficiently ready to believe that Ministers are influenced in their conduct by a mere love of place. On this occasion, it was natural for them to assume that Lord North and Fox were actuated by this motive, when they saw two such determined opponents coalesce in order to obtain office. It may be noted that if Fox's principles, as to the colleagues with whom he acted, were as latitudinarian as his coalition with Lord North evinces, it is difficult to understand why he should have refused to serve with Lord Shelburne, on the ground that he could not place entire confidence in him.*

While the nation disapproved of the Coalition on grounds of public policy, the King resented it still more acutely on grounds of personal feeling. He had for some time entertained the strongest aversion for Fox, his rival, his enemy, and now his conqueror and master; and that aversion had been recently strengthened by the friendship which had grown up between Fox and the Prince of Wales, now in his twenty-first year. The King had never loved his eldest son t; but his hatred for Fox

duct by a to assume thahey saw two it may be no he

* Mr. Adolphus, History of George III.' vol. iii. p. 463., says of the Coalition, 'In no action of his life had Mr. Fox displayed less • discernment'

† Even so early as Nov. 28. 1781, Walpole has the following entry

Gloucester ill, opened his mind to him on his son, the Prince of · Wales, and his other brother, the Duke of Cumberland, the latter of

was aggravated by the belief that he had alienated the Prince's affections from him, and corrupted his principles. When the Coalition Ministry was formed, the Prince and Fox were on the most intimate terms. A series of notes from the Prince to him, of this date, beginning • Dear Charles,' and written in a tone of confidential familiarity, are printed in these memoirs.* The King was said to have called the Coalition Ministry, ‘his son's • Ministry,' and his dislike of Fox, combined with his jealousy of the Prince, became, at this time, in Walpole's words, a rankling ulcer.f Nor were his feelings towards Lord North much more friendly. There were two Ministers to whom, in the course of his long reign, George III. gave a cordial, sincere, and consistent support. Those two Ministers were Lord Bute and Lord North. Even in the disastrous state of things which the country had reached at the beginning of 1782, the King was ready still to support Lord North, if the Minister could have held up his head against the hurricane of censure which night after night he had to encounter in Parliament. In taking leave

• whom, he said, was governed by Charles Fox and Fitzpatrick, and ' governed the Prince of Wales, whom they wanted to drive into • Opposition. “ When we hunt together,” said the King, “neither ““ my son nor my brother will speak to me; and lately, when the

chase ended at a little village where there was but a single post66 chaise to be hired, my son and brother got into it, drove to « “ London, and left me to get home in a cart, if I could find one!" • He complained, too, that the Prince, when invited to dine with him, 'came an hour too late, and “ all the servants saw the father waiting «“an hour for the son.”' (Mem. of Fox, vol. i. p. 269.) When Lord North's Government was falling, the Prince of Wales made interest against him, “Thongh,' says Walpole,' he only influenced one * vote, that of Lord Melbourne, then recently made an Irish peer.' (Ibid. p. 286.) The Prince gave his vote in the House of Lords in favour of Fox's India Bill, at the very moment when the King had been canvassing the Peers against it. (Tomline's Life of Pitt, vol. i. pp. 220. 223. 226.) See also the account of Fox's intimate relations with the Prince, in 1785, at the time of the marriage with Mrs. Fitzherbert. (Mem. of' Fox, vol. ii. p. 277.)

* Vol. ii. pp. 106-111.

† Ibid. pp. 45, 46. 57. Lord Grenville, in describing an interview with the King in March, 1783, says that he loaded Fox with every • expression of abhorrence;' and he added, that much as he disliked both Fox and Lord North, it he was to choose he must certainly prefer the latter to the former. (Buckingham Papers, vol. i. pp. 190. 192.) Walpole, indeed, states, that when the Coalition Ministry kissed * hands, the King received Fox graciously, but received Lord North ' with the utmost coldness, and continued to treat him with visible * aversion.' (Mem. of Fox, vol. ii. p. 56.)

of Lord North on that occasion, the King had said, in the exuberance of his sorrow, that he ever had and ever should, look ‘on Lord North as a friend, as well as a faithful servant.'* It must, therefore, have heen with feelings of poignant disappointment, that he beheld the subject of so much royal favour, and even of royal affection, desert to the enemy, enlist in his service, and by his political influence assist in promoting the defeat and humiliation of his once partial but now deserted master.f If he meditated an escape to Hanover in the preceding year, when Lord North was expelled from office, it was still more natural that he should now again throw out threats of resorting to this extremity; of trying the effects of that royal secession to the Mons Sacer. The iron of the Coalition had indeed entered into his soul, but there was another alternative

* Memorials of Fox, vol. i. p. 289.

† Lord Grenville, in the letter already quoted, says, that the King spoke of Lord North in terms of strong resentment and disgust.' (Buckingham Papers, vol. i. p. 191.) Lord Temple mentions the King's language, at a subsequent audience, respecting Pitt and Lord Shelburne, and adds, ' This was naturally attended with strong expressions of resentment and disgust of his Ministers, and of personal abhorrence of Lord North, whom he charged with treachery and ingratitude of the blackest nature. He repeated, that to such a Ministry he never would give his confidence, and that he would

take the first moment for dismissing them.' (Ibid. p. 303.) In a letter to Lord Temple of April 1. 1783, the King speaks of the * uneasiness of his mind at having been thwarted in every attempt to

keep the administration of public affairs out of the hands of the 'most unprincipled Coalition the annals of this or any other nation

can equal,' and he afterwards sneers at the grateful Lord North.' (Ibid. p. 219.) We owe likewise to the kindness of the Marquis of Lansdowne the information that amongst his father's papers there is a report of a conversation between the King and Lord Ashburton (Dunning) about this time, in which the King is described as complaining in strong terms of Lord North's desertion of him. Lord North's ingratitude was doubtless what rankled most in the King's mind, and, it must be admitted, not without reason. Lord Mahon ( History of England,' vol. v. p. 253.) remarks, that the King never forgot his obligations to Lord North. It would, perhaps, be more correct to say, that the King never forgot Lord North's obligations to him.

# Under March, 1783, Walpole says, “His counsellors were as inveterate as his Majesty, but had less boldness; finding which, he • told the Lord Advocate that sooner than yield he would go to • Hanover, and had even prevailed on the Queen to consent. (Mem. of Fox, vol. ii. p. 44.)


besides Hanover, and he resolved to take the earliest opportunity of shaking off his hated Ministers. We shall see that no long time elapsed before this opportunity presented itself.

The formation of the Coalition Ministry was announced on the 2nd of April, 1783.* Mr. Pitt was pressed by Fox's friends to join it, retaining his office of Chancellor of the Exchequer; but he refused on the ground that he would not serve with Lord North.† Nothing remarkable occurred during the remainder of the Session, and the prorogation took place in July. Parliament met again on the 11th of November, and the King's speech announced with satisfaction the signature of definitive treaties of peace with France, Spain, and the United States of America. Mr. Pitt, now the leader of Opposition, reminded the Ministers that these treaties were substantially identical with the preliminary articles upon which they had turned out the Shelburne Administration. The negotiation of that treaty was chiefly the work of Lord Shelburne himself, and its result was a conclusive proof that he had no wish to

* Watson, Bishop of Llandaff, in the ‘Anecdotes of his Life,' vol. i. p. 173., says, that on the day the Coalition Ministry kissed hands, he itold Lord J. Cavendish that they had two things against them- the • closet and the country; that the King hated them, and would take the first opportunity of turning them out, and that the Coalition would make the country hate them.'

† This fact is stated by Tomline, Ibid. p. 155. Both Adam and Dundas expressed their wish that Pitt could be included in the new arrangement [the Coalition Ministry). Dundas said he had done all in his power to bring it about, but he found it impossible. .... • He afterwards said, Pitt is impracticable on the subject of union : he proscribes Lord North, and does not even express himself clearly disposed to unite with Fox. He has a high opinion of Fox's abili

ties, and had always wished to have him in the Government, because - he thought it impossible to conduct great and difficult affairs with

such abilities to criticise them. But now he seems much estranged from him.' (Mem. of Fox, vol. ii. p. 41.)

Mr. Fox thus expressed himself respecting Pitt, in a letter to Lord Ossory of 9th September, 1783, written under the Coalition Ministry during the recess:- Next session of Parliament will be a great

crisis. I own I am sanguine about it. Nothing can go on so well as we do among ourselves, but in my particular situation it is impossible not to feel every day what an amazing advantage it would be to the country if it could ever be in such a state as to promise a permanent administration in the opinion of Europe. If Pitt could be persuaded (but I despair of it), I am convinced if he could, he would do more real service to the country than any man ever did.' (Vol. ij. p. 208.) In speaking of my particular situation,' Fox alludes to his office of Foreign Secretary.

« AnteriorContinuar »