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the united House of Bourbon, Lord Chatham had formed
1766. NEGOTIATION AT BERLIN. 173
any measures in England.* Nor was His Majesty moved even by the general belief which prevailed that the House of Austria was engaged in a concert of measures with the House of Bourbon, and becoming, though not formally, yet virtually, a member of the Family Compact. In vain did Sir Andrew press the King in repeated audiences; in vain did Lord Chatham attempt by letter to alarm him for Silesia; the King resolutely kept aloof from the desired alliance. Thus during several months of preliminary negotiations Mr. Stanley's mission was still delayed, and these prelimimary negotiations failing, it was at length wholly laid aside. The return of Pitt to office was, however, in itself a tower of strength to England. “His dismissal,” — thus wrote an accomplished Frenchman in 1761, - “is a greater “gain to us than would have been the winning of two “battles.”.” In 1766 Horace Walpole, who had lately been at Paris, observes: “Their panic at Mr. Pitt's name is not to “be described. Whenever they were impertinent I used to “drop as by chance that he would be Minister in a few days, “and it never failed to occasion a deep silence.” “** Thus in some parts of the Continent his name was pronounced with keen dislike, as in others with warm affection, but in all with respect and awe. His name, now transmuted to Chatham, lost some of its potent spell. Yet still it was felt at foreign Courts that so long as he really ruled England, England would endure no wrong; that all injurious acts must be forborne, all aggressive designs be postponed. With respect to Ireland the views of Lord Chatham at this period are clearly set forth in a letter of the following year from his confidential friend Lord Camden. : “The time “must come (I wish it was come)when a different plan of Go“vernment must take place in Ireland. Lord Chatham in“tended now to begin it; and to enable himself to contend “with the powerful connections there, proposed to establish “himself upon the basis of a just popularity by granting the “four favourite Bills.” # Foremost among these was the measure which the Irish appeared to have much at heart for shortening the duration of Parliaments to the Septennial period. Deep cause is there for regret, deep cause even to the present day, that the power of Lord Chatham did not endure to give effect to his wise and healing policy. In England almost the first public measure that engaged Lord Chatham's attention turned on the apprehended scarcity of corn. The weather had been most unfavourable for the harvest. On the 1st of August Lord Chesterfield writes: “There never was so wet a summer as this has been in the “memory of man; we have not had one single day since “March without some rain, but most days a great deal.”— It was found that the crops had to a large extent failed, and the prices risen not only in England but in Europe; and it was feared that our own supplies, scanty as they were, might soon be sent abroad. Great disturbances ensued in several counties, especially the western ones, where the mob rose and seized the corn by force, or burned down the barns of those who hoarded it. Under these circumstances Lord ‘Chatham acted with characteristic energy. On the 10th of September came forth a Proclamation against “forestallers “and regraters.” On the 24th, the tumults having meanwhile increased, was issued, - wholly without precedent in time of peace, — the celebrated Order in Council laying an embargo upon corn, and thus keeping in port several ships laden with grain or flour, and preparing to sail. Nor did Lord Chatham deem it needful instantly to call Parliament together to sanction this last bold stretch of the prerogative;
* Despatch to Mr. Secretary Conway, dated Sept. 1766, and printed in a note to the Chatham Papers. At this interview Frederick expressed himself satisfied with his own situation, and quoted the Italian proverb.: Chi sta bene, non si muove! To this Mitchell answered aptly: Chi sta solo mon sta bene! ** “Il faut que vous sachiez que Monsieur Pitt est disgracie. Cela vaut “mieux pour nous que deux batailles gagnées.” Diderot a Madlie Voland le 19 Octobre 1761. Corresp. Ined., vol. ii. p. 80. ed. 1830. *** To Sir H. Mann, July 23, 1766.
* Letter to the Duke of Grafton (Sept. 29. 1767) in the Grafton Memoirs. See also a note to Lord Orford's, vol. iii. p. 111.
1766, A PAPER WAR. 175
he decided that the Houses should not meet until the day for which they already stood prorogued, namely, the 11th of November. : . . . . .” . . . . . * - . . . Meanwhile, as for or against the new Prime Minister, an active paper war was waging. The partisans of Earl ‘Temple, his “loving brother,” were foremost in the field. On their side came forth a most acrimonious pamphlet, entitled “Inquiry into the conduct of a late Right Honourable “Commoner.” This was commonly ascribed to Humphrey Cotes, a brother of Alderman Cotes, and a thorough-going City-friend of Wilkes. It contains accounts of the private interview between Pitt and Temple, such as could only be derived from the private letters or the private conversation of the latter. Thus it says with truth that Lord Temple had complained of Mr. Pitt having chosen for himself “a side“place with little responsibility,” while at the same time he “dictatorially nominated” to all the other offices. Thus it says also with truth that Lord Temple had proposed first : Lord Lyttleton and then Lord Gower for posts in the Cabinet. But, on the other hand, it alleges with absolute falsehood that Mr. Pitt had declared his readiness to grant several large pensions at the outset, while Lord Temple in a more ‘patriotic spirit had exclaimed that he would not stain the bud of his administration with such burthens.” To this parmphlet, in which truth and falsehood we thus ingeniously mingled, an answer soon appeared. • It was called, “Short View of the Political Life of a late “Right Honourable Commoner.” This was equally acrimonious and far more able. In some few passages there may even perhaps be traced Lord Chatham's masterhand. Thus it contains a wish that “private conversations had not “thus been shamefully tortured into a thousand time-serving “forms.” . Thus also it disdainfully sums up the character of ‘Earl Temple as follows: “Till his resignation with Mr. Pitt “he was looked upon merely as an inoffensive good-natured “nobleman, who had a very fine seat, and was always ready “to indulge anybody with a walk in his garden or a look at “his furniture. How he has suddenly commenced such a “statesman as to be put in competition with Mr. Pitt is what “I am at a loss to determine. But this I will take upon me “to say that had he not fastened himself into Mr. Pitt's train, “and acquired thereby such an interest in that great man, he “might have crept out of life with as little notice as he crept “in, and gone off with no other degree of credit than that of “adding a single unit to the bills of mortality.”— A highly competent critic, Lord Chesterfield, observes of this last sentence, that it expresses such extreme contempt of Lord Temple, and in so pretty a manner, that he suspects it to be Mr. Pitt's own. * So rapid was the interchange of compliments that not only this attack and this answer, but a whole host of other pamphlets and half-sheets, had come forth before the middle of August. Of all the party-writers at this time, since Junius had not yet appeared, none certainly was so dangerous as Wilkes. At first he had cherished hopes of some indulgence from the new administration. He came secretly to London, and on the first of November addressed to the Duke of Grafton as head of the Treasury a letter professing loyalty and imploring pardon. “That letter,” says the Duke of Grafton, “I showed to His Majesty, who, as well as I recollect, read “it with attention, but made no observation upon it. Lord “Chatham on reading it remarked on the awkwardness of “the business with which it was so difficult to meddle; and “on my pressing to know what was to be done, he answered, “‘the better way, I believe, at present will be to take no “‘notice of it.' And his advice I followed.” +* — Thus the baffled demagogue found it necessary to return to Paris, where soon afterwards he vented his spleen in a most angry
* The falsehood of this story, though not suspected by the Quarterly Reviewer (No. cxxxi. p. 249.), is most frankly stated by Lord Temple himself in ymns to Humphrey Cotes. (Letter, August 24, 1766, Grenville Papers. - - - -