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Mr. Pitt) who could give them that strength and efficiency. Under this person, he added, he should be willing to serve in any capacity, not only as a General Officer but as a pioneer, and would take up a spade and mattock and dig in the trenches. *— It was with great difficulty that the other Secretary of State, General Conway, could be withheld from following the example of his colleague. Another proof of the weakness of the Ministry appears from their behaviour to Wilkes. That adventurer had by this time spent his money at Paris, and exhausted his credit in London. But the Resolution of the House of Commons against the legality of General Warrants revived his hopes. He ventured, though still under sentence of outlawry, to come secretly to England, and threatened to attack and annoy the Government unless they agreed to his terms. As was said by himself very plainly: “If the Ministers do not “find employment for me, I am disposed to find employment “for them!”* Lord Rockingham properly declined to see him, but sent Burke as his negotiator. No less than five interviews ensued. The terms of Wilkes were found to be: a free pardon, a sum of money, and a pension of 1,500l. a year on the Irish Establishment. The Ministers refused compliance, but so much in their feeble condition were their fears excited that they raised amongst themselves by private contributions a sum of several hundred pounds, which being displayed to the best advantage by the eloquence of Burke, and being tendered to the needy patriot, induced him to retrace his steps to Paris.” The Seals which had been flung away by the Duke of Grafton were refused by several Peers in succession, and at last were bestowed upon the Duke of Richmond for no better reason apparently than because he asked for them. No man, however, even affected to believe this or any other * On the Duke of Grafton's speech compare the Chatham and the o Letters (vol. ii. p. 422. of the former, and vol. iv. p. 423. of
** To Humphrey Cotes, Dec 4. 1765. Correspondence, vol. ii. p. 218. ... *** Prior's Life of Burke, p. 99.
J766. SUMMONS FROM THE KING TO PITT. 163
nomination of Lord Rockingham likely to be lasting. In short, when the Session came to a close on the 6th of June, the Ministry, though not yet fully one year old, exhibited the most unequivocal symptoms of infirmity and decrepitude, and seemed at the very last gasp. This languishing condition was speedily brought to a crisis by a disagreement in the Cabinet on a plan for regulating the civil government of Quebec. Lord Chancellor Northington told the King that he and his colleagues could not go on as they were, and the King then decided of: would send for Mr. Pitt. Accordingly on the 7th of July His Majesty entrusted the Chancellor with a letter of invitation to that statesman, which the Chancellor inclosed in a letter of his own. With perfect fairness and frankness the King on the same day informed the other Ministers of the step which he had taken. Their feelings at the news were very various. Conway answered boldly: “Sir, I am glad of it; I “always thought it the best thing your Majesty could do. “I wish it may answer; Mr. Pitt is a great man, but as no“body is without faults he is not unexceptionable.”* Few retiring Ministers, however, are thus candid and good humoured. Lord Rockingham appears to have been much and lastingly offended. The Duke of Newcastle, above all, who knew that he should be proscribed by Pitt, could not conceal his mortification. It is a picture which from the former scenes recorded of his Grace it is sure and easy to portray. We may well conceive to ourselves how the old placeman half ran, half tottered, from house to house and from room to room, - profuse of those hugs and kisses which sooner or later all his associates in office had the gratification to receive from him,” — with tears in his eyes at the loss of office, tears such as the bereavement of a wife or child would draw from other men, – and loudly lamenting that his friend, his dearest friend, Pitt had become so far estranged from him, - from him who would have been so proud to be his colleague, – from him who had always loved him in his heart even when he had outwardly reviled him! No doubt had Pitt but deigned to woo, Newcastle would have been ready as any young bride with a vow to love and to honour, – aye, and to obey, him Yet at this period, as on a former one, Newcastle, with all his love of place, may be justly praised for his contempt of lucre. In 1766, as in 1762, a large pension was tendered to him by the King, but was respectfully refused. Pitt was at Burton Pynsent when the Royal mandate reached him. Only a few days before he had written as follows to a personal friend: “France is still the object of “my mind whenever a thought calls me back to a public “world, infatuated, bewitched; in a word, a riddle too hard “for GEdipus to solve. . . . . Farming, grazing, haymaking, “and all the Lethe of Somersetshire cannot obliterate the “memory of days of activity.”* — Those days of activity were now for a brief period to return. On receiving the King's and the Chancellor's letters Pitt wrote suitable replies to both, wishing in pompous phrase that he could “change infirmity into wings of expedition,” and promising to set off, as he did, without delay to London. The journey, in those days a long and weary one,” was rapidly travelled by Pitt, and severely tasked both his exciteable body and exciteable mind. When he arrived he was suffering from fever, and after his first interview with the King at Richmond found it necessary to retire for a while to the cooler air of Hampstead. There, however, he could still continue to communicate by letters with his Royal Master, and by interviews with his intended colleagues. The reception of Pitt by the King was most gracious. 1766. pitT's BREACH witH EARL TEMPLE. 165
* Lord Orford's Memoirs of George III., vol. ii. p. 338. ** “I have heard much of the Duke of Newcastle's kisses, but never “had one from him till to-day." Mr. Rigby to the Duke of Bedford, April 22, 1761.
* To the Countess Stanhope, June 20. 1766. See Appendix. ** In Toulmin's History of Taunton it is stated that even “the flying “machine,” as it was termed , did not finish its journey in less than four days. The editor of the Chatham Papers who quotes this passage adds with exultation: “Now in (1838) the journey is accomplished in fifteen “hours!" (vol. ii. p. 423.) Only eight years afterwards it was accomplished in less than four hours.
His Majesty declared that he had no terms to propose, but left Mr. Pitt at full liberty to form his administration as he pleased. At the Great Commoner's suggestion the first step taken was to summon Lord Temple from Stowe, and to offer him the headship of the Treasury. Lord Temple came accordingly, had an interview with the King on one day, and with Pitt on the next. In both of these his tone was not conciliatory. To the King he suggested “almosta total exclusion “of the present men.” To Pitt he did not propose the reinstatement of his brother George, but declared that for himself he expected an equal share of patronage and power with the new Prime Minister. Pitt, on the other hand, was resolved, if in office at all, to be Prime Minister not in name only but in fact. “I felt indignation,” writes Lord Temple, “at the idea of being stuck into a Ministry as a great cypher “at the head of the Treasury, surrounded with other cyphers “all named by Mr. Pitt.”* Thus he disdainfully rejected the offers made to him. There was no second interview between the two statesmen; only next day Lord Temple had a parting audience of the King, and immediately afterwards wended back his way to Stowe. The refusal of Lord Temple did not, however, as on a former occasion, impede and stop short the intended admimistration of Pitt. The Great Commoner felt his own honour concerned in its completion. As his friend Lord Camden writes: “It does behove him now to satisfy the world that “his greatness does not hang on so slight a twig as Tem“ple. . . . . Let him fling off the Grenvilles, and save the na“tion without them!”**—Accordingly as soon as his returning health enabled him to return to town and resume his conferences with the King the new arrangements were perfected. His fundamental principle, as he stated it at the time, was to dissolve all combinations, and thenceforward to conciliate and unite. With this view he endeavoured to draw the ablest men from all parties, but did not always prevail in his well-meant object. He found one or two sections, especially the Bedfords, hold fast together, most willing to come in, but resolved to come in wholly or notatall. Finally, the chief posts were filled from two sources, – the friends and adherents of Pitt, — and the members of the late administration. The Duke of Grafton, instead of “a spade and mattock “in the trenches,” received a General's baton, being induced, though most unwillingly, to accept the headship of the Treasury. Charles Townshend, after a large display of his characteristic indecision, allowed himself to be appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. General Conway was continued Secretary of State and leader of the House of Commons; his colleague in the Seals was the Earl of Shelburne. Lord Camden became Chancellor, and Lord Northington President of the Council.” In the lower ranks places were bestowed on Lord North, on Mr. James Grenville, brother of Lord Temple, and on Colonel Barré, who during the last few years had closely attached himself to Pitt. Mr. Stuart Mackenzie was restored to his former office, but with a clear understanding that he should be allowed no influence nor control over Scottish affairs. As each of these appointments in succession became known or surmised, the public curiosity redoubled to learn what place Pitt had fixed on for himself. Many even of his colleagues were not yet apprised of his determination to reserve for himself a peerage and the Privy Seal. At last the curtain was undrawn at Court; and the scene which im
* To Lady Chatham, July 27. 1766. Both from his statement and from Pitt's (Chatham Papers, vol. ii. p. 448.) it is plain that notwithstanding the unfavourable issue, the tone throughout this conversation “was kind and “affectionate;" yet no sooner had Temple arrived once more at Stowe than we find him write a most violent letter to his brother George, inveighing against “all the insolence” of “that great luminary,” Mr. Pitt, and concluding: “Thus ends this pelitical farce of my journey to town, as it was “always intended." (Letter, July 18. 1766, Grenville Papers.) ** Letters to Mr. Thomas Walpole, July 1766, as printed in Lord Campbell's Lives of the Chancellors, vol. v. p. 256–259.
* It appears from the Duke of Grafton's Memoirs that the first Cabinet consisted only of the following persons; Lord Camden, Lord Northington; Lord Chatham, Duke of Grafton, Lord Shelburne, General Conway, Lord Granby (as Commander in Chief), and Sir Charles Saunders (as First Lord of the Admiralty). A few weeks later Charles Townshend was added. “He “was not at rest,” says the Duke, “till he had, through me, teased Mr. "Pitt to admit him there.”