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Mackenzie's case: “I see that I must yield; I do it for the “good of my people.”
Thus had the King bent his neck to the yoke; the iron had entered into his soul. His wounded feelings were shown by clouded looks to Grenville and Bedford; by smiles and gracious words to their opponents. He invited to Court the young Duke of Devonshire, a stripling of seventeen, who came attended by his uncles, and was welcomed as the son of a friend. Grenville and Bedford, both men of angry passions, both deeming that the King had now no resource beyond themselves, resented not less deeply this conduct of their Sovereign, and resolved to make him feel their power. The Duke said that he was determined, before he left town in the summer, to have an explanation with His Majesty. Accordingly, on the 12th of June, not three weeks from the previous discussions, Bedford entered the King's apartment, and after taking his orders on some current business, addressed to him an elaborate speech from notes which he had ready prepared, and appears to have held in his hand. His Grace complained of the kindness shown to the enemies of the present administration, — inveighed against Lord Bute, “this favourite,” as he presumed to call him to his Master, — and, above all, ventured to question whether, as respected Lord Bute, the King had kept his own Royal word. The King, in deep displeasure, listened, nevertheless, with calmness and composure to this long harangue; he spoke a few words in the course of it, denying that he had, as was imputed to him, again consulted Lord Bute, but at the close he merely bowed as a sign that he desired to be left alone. *
* On the details of this interview compare Walpole's Correspondence with Mann (June 26. 1765), his Memoirs (vol. ii. p. 182.), and a letter from the Duke of Bedford to his nephew of Marlborough, June 13. 1765. (Bedford Papers, vol. iii. p. 286.) These three accounts, although two are by the same hand, are far from agreeing with each other. The last is undoubtedly by far the most authentic, and is corroborated by several passages in the Grenville Papers. It is plain from this letter that the Duke had no intention, as Walpole alleges, to insult the King, and was unconscious of having done so. Yet such was certainly the public impression and belief at the time (see Burke's Works, vol. ii. p. 156, ed. 1815), and from the Duke's warm temper he was by no means unlikely to overstep the bounds proposed to himself in his notes. Even according to his own statement it appears that he presumed to ask the King whether “this (the Royal) “promise had been kept 2" — a most offensive question surely, had it even been addressed to an equal or inferior.
1765. SECOND OVERTURE TO PITT. 113
Thus upbraided, thus set at defiance by one at least of his own official servants, and determined to bear them no longer, the King again applied to the Duke of Cumberland, and the Duke of Cumberland again applied to Pitt. On this occasion the Great Commoner, being at last nearly free from gout, came to town, and had an interview of about three hours' duration with His Majesty. Everything he asked was agreed to, especially a close alliance, if possible, with Prussia, an abolition of General Warrants for the future, a repeal of the Cyder impost, and a change in the American taxation. * On these terms Pitt declared himself ready to undertake the direction of affairs, if others would embark with him. He named Lord Temple for the Treasury, and the Duke of Grafton with himself as Secretaries of State. Accordingly an express was sent for the Lord of Stowe, to whom three days afterwards the King gave an audience in presence of Pitt. There Pitt once more expressed his willingness to accept office, but Temple peremptorily refused, saying, that he had “a delicacy which must always remain “a secret.” Pitt would not take part without him, and thus the negotiation ended. — When afterwards referring to it, and speaking of Temple's desertion, Pitt in one of his striking phrases termed it “an amputation.” And to one of his friends in a letter hitherto unpublished he wrote as follows: “All is now over as to me, and by a fatality I did not “expect; I mean Lord Temple's refusing to take his share “with me in the undertaking. We set out to-morrow morn“ing for Somersetshire, where I propose, if I find the place “tolerable, to pass not a little of the rest of my days.” + To Burton Pynsent he accordingly repaired, selling soon afterwards his house at Hayes to Mr. Thomas Walpole, a merchant in London, and a son of the elder Horace, Lord Walpole of Wolterton. Pitt being thus for the present out of the question, the Duke of Cumberland had next recourse to the confederacy of the great Whig Houses. Several of the best heads in that party were against attempting to form a Government unless in combination with Pitt, but the old Duke of Newcastle was, as usual, whimpering for office, and his eagerness prevailed. At a meeting of their principal men it was agreed to put forward as their leader the Marquis of Rockingham, and to this arrangement, strangely as it sounded, neither the Duke of Cumberland nor the King made any objection. His Majesty was indeed no longer in a condition to cavil or dispute as to terms. Thus the Marquis of Rockingham was named First Lord of the Treasury. The new Secretaries of State were the Duke of Grafton and General Conway, — General Conway so lately dismissed with every feeling of anger, with every sign of ignominy, and now not only recalled but intended for the lead of the House of Commons! The Earl of Northington continued Chancellor. The Duke of Newcastle was soothed with the Privy Seal.” Another bygone statesman, the nearly octogenarian Earl of Winchelsea, became President of the Council. The Chancellorship of the Exchequer was bestowed on Mr. William Dowdeswell, hitherto a stranger to office, but a well informed and active country gentleman. The new Government thus formed and installed on the 13th of July was beyond all question respectable in its character, fair and upright in its views. But consisting as it did in part of worn-out veterans, and in part of raw recruits, it
* Private Diary of Mr. Grenville, June 26, 1765. These terms were repeated by the King to the Chancellor, and by the Chancellor to Grenville. — In the Memoirs of Rockingham by Lord Albemarle, vol. i. p. 185— 203. , may be seen a narrative of the negotiations through the Duke of Cumberland, written by His Royal Highness himself. It is very full and exact, but breaks off abruptly in the midst of the second interview with Pitt. (1853.)
Mahon, History. W. 8
* To Countess Stanhope, July 20, 1765, Appendix.
** “The Duke of Newcastle gave up his claim to that post (the Treasury) “reluctantly, though most of his own friends felt that his advanced age “rendered him inadequate to fill it. . . . . . To keep him in good humour “the patronage of the Church was added to the Privy Seal.” Duke of Grafton's MS. Memoirs.
1765. THE MARQUIS OF ROCKINGHAM. 115
held out little promise of stability whenever it should come to be tried in the ordeal of Parliamentary debate. “It is a “jumble,” writes Lord Chesterfield, “of youth and caducity “which cannot be efficient.”* — “It is a mere lute-string ad“ministration,” — cried Charles Townshend, who, by the way, however, retained his place in it as Paymaster of the Forces; — “it is pretty summer wear, but it will never stand “the winter!”
Conscious of their weakness the new Ministers were from the first most eager to propitiate and gratify Pitt. His confidential friend, Chief-Justice Pratt, was immediately raised to the Peerage by the title of Camden. His confidential lawagent, Mr. Nuthall, was immediately appointed to the lucrative office of Solicitor to the Treasury. Pitt nevertheless continued cold and unbending. He called himself only “a Somer“setshire by-stander;” but he desired it to be publicly known that this new administration had not been formed with his advice or concurrence. Above all, he expressed displeasure at the accession of the Duke of Newcastle. “Claremont,” — thus he wrote in August, — “could not be to me an object of “confidence or expectation of a solid system for the public “good according to my notion of it.”**
The accession of the Duke of Newcastle need not have caused displeasure, nor have seemed important in any eyes, except his own, if the chief of the new administration had been a man of adequate ability and vigour. Charles, Marquis of Rockingham, was at this time thirty-five years of age. His paternal name was Watson, but in the female line he was a descendant of the great Lord Strafford, and inherited the honours of Wentworth. Horse-racing was his early passion and pursuit. He afterwards became a Lord of the Bedchamber, and was thought perfectly well fitted for that post. When in 1763 an idea was first entertained of appointing him to a high political office the King expressed his surprise, “for “I thought,” said His Majesty, “I had not two men in my “Bedchamber of less parts than Lord Rockingham.”* Indeed everything about him bore the stamp of the tamest mediocrity, except only his estate, which was extremely large and fine. On the merits of that estate his panegyrists were frequently compelled to rely. One of them, in relating his appointment as Prime Minister, bids us recollect “his Lord“ship's great interest in the public welfare, in quality of one “of the greatest landholders in England.”* In the House of Lords, even as the leader of a party, he could seldom be persuaded or provoked to rise. One night, after Lord Sandwich had been plying him in vain with much raillery and eloquence, Lord Gower could not forbear to whisper, “Sandwich, how “could you worry the poor dumb creature so?" On the other hand, Lord Rockingham had clear good sense and judgment, improved by the transaction of business. His character was without a stain, marked by probity and honour, by fidelity to his engagements, and by attachment to his friends. Such was the man whom the Whig party of 1765 selected from their ranks for their leader. Such was the man to whom they continued their allegiance in every variety of fortune during eighteen years. The selection might surprise us more were it not in some measure characteristic of that party. Since parties were formed anew, though under the old names, early in the reign of George the Third, it has been the boast of the Tories that with them family and fortune have been no necessary qualities of leadership, — that many an esquire of no ancient lineage, or a younger son of no broad domains, and relying on no merits save his own, has been with joyful assent raised far above the heads of the wealthiestand proudest among them. The same boast, at least not to the same degree, could scarcely perhaps be made by their opponents. We find the Whigs most frequently prefer for chiefs the PoRPHYRo-GENETs, as the to: might have termed them, — men born and bred in purple, – the Marquis of Rocking
* To his son, August 17. 1765.
** Letter to the Duke of Grafton, August 24. 1765.