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tinued. In vain did the Earl declare that he had renounced politics; in vain did he lead a studious and secluded life; in vain did he travel to Scotland; in vain did he travel to Italy. It was still imagined that by some occult means, invisible to vulgar eyes, he communicated with the King on all important occasions, and formed the mainspring of all the Royal movements. In fact, however, George the Third considered himself bound by his promise to Bed rd and Grenville, even after the statesmen to whom he made it had quitted his service. Certain it is that from that day he never again either corresponded or conversed with Lord Bute. Once indeed the Princess Mother attempted, but without the least success, to renew the intercourse between them. As the King was one day walking with her in her garden at Kew Lord Bute suddenly appeared before him, having come out of a summer-house where he had been purposely concealed. The King many years afterwards told the story to his son the Duke of York, adding that he had effectually shown his displeasure at the intrusion of his former favourite.* Strange as it seems, however, the belief in Lord Bute's continued ascendency over the Royal mind was by no means confined to the multitude, nor to those who had but scanty means of information. It was sincerely shared by many of the leading statesmen of the age. Several passages in Lord Chesterfield's letters which his first Editor suppressed show that prepossession in the strongest degree. Thus he writes to his son in 1767: “We must soon see what order will be “produced from this chaos; it will be whatever Lord Bute
* See Lord John Russell's Introduction to the third volume of the Bedford Papers, p. xxxiii. See also, in corroboration, the more guarded hints ascribed to Mr. Croker in the Quarterly Review, No. cxxxi. p. 236. But as to the main fact, — the cessation of all intercourse between the King and the Earl, - Lord Bute's own statement is quite sufficient and satisfactory. Thus writes his son, Lord Mount-Stuart, in a published letter, dated October 23. 1778: “He (Lord Bute) does authorise me to say that he “declares upon his solemn word of honour that he has not had the honour “of waiting on His Majesty, but at his Levee or Drawing Room, nor has “he presumed to offer an advice or opinion concerning the disposition of “offices, or the conduct of measures, either directly or indirectly, by “himself or any other, from the time the late Duke of Cumberland was “consulted in the arrangement of a Ministry in 1765 to the present hour.” . * Letter, July 9. 1767. The MSS. containing this and several other passages to the same effect had not been recovered at the time of the edition of 1845. ** Works, vol. ii. p. 285. ed. 1815.
1765. CHARGES OF BITRIKE AGAINST THEM. 123
“pleases.”* Thus also it is evident from the Wright and Addington transaction in 1778 that the same idea had to the last possession of Lord Chatham's mind. Other charges equally groundless and far more grievous were brought against the King's Friends. They have been assailed by Burke with no common force and eloquence in his masterly Essay, “Thoughts on the Cause of the Present “Discontents,” which appeared in 1770. But here it is needful to bear in mind how warm was Burke's attachment to the Rockingham party, and how much that very party had thought itself wronged by the King's Friends. Nor ought we to forget the distinction to be drawn in all Burke's writings. While the latest posterity may well recur to them for general maxims of philosophy and politics, no man should readily adopt their more narrow views of contemporary character. In these Burke ever displays the ardour of an advocate rather than the calmness of a judge. In these he ever mistakes the colouring of his own brilliant imagination for the hues of the objects around him. But let us look more closely at the charges alleged by Burke against the King's oriends. In the first place he urges that they had no personal intimacy with their Sovereign, and therefore no just right to the name which they bore. “They “are only known to the Sovereign,” says he, “by kissing “his hand for the offices, pensions, and grants into which “they have deceived his benignity.”* It seems, however, equitable to remember that the name of the King's Friends was not assumed by themselves, but far rather applied by their opponents; that they did not claim or allege any peculiar intimacy with the Sovereign; and that they only professed special veneration for the Kingly office, and especial confidence for the personal character of George th Third.
Then again we find Burke ascribe to them a most refined and complicated scheme that no administration, however composed, should ever enjoy any real power, but that all affairs should be transacted by an interior and invisible Cabinet. — Surely the extreme refinement of this scheme is alone sufficient to prove its airy nature, — that it never could exist in real life, but only spring forth in an author's teeming brain. To resist some one measure or some one Ministry might be natural, but to resist all and every one of them upon system, and for the sake of another party in the clouds, is incredible. No one, I imagine, who now peruses Burke's eloquent pages on this subject, will adhere to them in their full extent. And I observe that later writers, as Mr. Macaulay and Lord John Russell, even while pursuing Burke's accusation against the King's Friends with undiminished fire and vehemence, have yet altogether shifted and altered its original ground.*
But further still it is urged by Burke against the King's Friends that their prevailing object was only to keep themselves in place. In such a charge Burke was no doubt justified by particular instances. In such a charge, however, he need not have confined himself to the King's Friends alone. The best party that ever existed in this or in any country has beyond all question comprised within it many selfish and sordid-minded men. Indeed parties are like coin which would never be fit for common use without some considerable alloy of the baser metals. But can it be proved, or even pretended, that the King's Friends under George the Third comprised a larger proportion of such men than the other contemporary factions? Was it to them that Lord Melcombe or Lord Sandwich, Mr. Rigby or Mr. Wedderburn, belonged?
Above all it is to be noted that the eloquent sally of Burke can apply only to such of the King's Friends as contrived to hold paid offices of state, – amounting, perhaps at
* Edinburgh Review, No. clxii. p. 576. Introduction to the Bedford Papers, vol. iii. p. xxix.
1765. THEIR C. ROUNDS OF DEFENCE. 125
most, to eight or ten or twelve. The position of such gentlemen towards the head of the Government was no doubt a special one, – open to much cavil, -and only to be justified according to the latitude understood or agreed upon in regard to open questions. This was a point to be settled between them and the Prime Minister, between the Prime Minister and the King. But what charge is made, what charge can be made, against that far larger number of independent Peers and independent Members of Parliament to whom the name of King's Friends was commonly applied, - men without a wish or thought of office for themselves, but who loved and revered the Crown with all their heart, with all their mind, with all their soul, and with all their strength? Not freer from any selfish taint was the spirit, — such as Ormond felt, such as Clarendon describes, – the spirit with which the ancestors of many among them had stood by the Crown in its days of danger and distress, – in the days of the rout at Marston, or of the watch and ward at Carisbrook. Then the flame of loyalty beamed far brighter from the surrounding darkness, – now it was as pure though it paled before the day! Nor was it a blind unreasoning ardour of loyalty alone. Many of them throughout this reign fixed their faith on the personal integrity and upright intentions of the Sovereign, and felt more reliance on his character than on that of any of his Ministers, – the younger Pitt alone excepted. Such were the men to whom, as the last Lord Dudley states, his own parent belonged. “My father,” — thus he writes to the Bishop of Llandaff, - “is a Tory of a very “peculiar breed; devoted to Courts and Ministers, and whol“ly indifferent to the favours they have to bestow.”* Such were the men who formed in no slight degree the strength and support of the principal administrations in the reign of George the Third. It may be easy to misrepresent their views, -to call them abject, —to say that they were prompted, if not by sordid hopes, at least by a slavish mind. But there are some — themselves in truth anything but slavish to * Letter of October 19, 1822.
the prevailing temper of the day—who will never join in that reproach. There are some who will remember that the most uncompromising assertors of the Crown have often proved no less the sturdiest champions of the people. There are some who know and feel how just a pride, how true a glory, may spring from the very meekness of legitimate obedience.
In Ireland the state of politics, though in some respects the same, was in others widely different. — The Parliamentary contest which commenced in 1753 * had now in a great measure died away. The two party-chiefs and rivals, Stone and Boyle, – the Lord Primate and the Earl of Shannon, — died in December 1764 within a few days of each other. At that time William Gerard Hamilton, as Irish Secretary, might still deliver some eloquent oration, first carefully learnt by heart, and Anthony Malone pour forth some able and unpremeditated sally. But in general the oratory of the Irish Parliament had sunk to a low ebb. A very competent authority assures us that at this period in Ireland “an unlettered style, almost approaching to coarse“ness and vulgarity, was the only one permitted by the “House of Commons.” “* Nor in general were the subjects discussed of any Constitutional importance. One of the few exceptions was owing to the strong desire out of doors, which was manifested soon after the accession of George the Third, to limit for the future the duration of an Irish Parliament. For according to the law of Ireland at that time, as according to the law of England before the Revolution, a Parliament might, without any fresh appeal to the people, endure from the commencement to the very end of a reign. Dr. Lucas; once an apothecary, now become Member for Dublin, and a popular leader of the day, - “the Irish “Wilkes,” as he was sometimes called, – brought in a Septennial or, as it afterwards became before the Privy Council, an Octennial Bill. At last in 1768 that Bill was
* See vol. iv. p. 132.