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to strengthen the Ministry by new accessions and allies; “and,” the Duke adds, “he assured me that if Lords “Northington and Camden as well as myself did not retain “our high offices there would be an end to all his hopes of “being ever serviceable again as a public man.” As had been foreseen the Duke of Grafton was in some measure cheered and animated by the aspect of his chief. He refrained from his intended resignation, and found himself able to bring the Session to a close as Minister on the 2d of July. Still, however, his difficulties had thickened so fast around him that in the course of June he again appealed to the King, and the King again appealed to Lord Chatham. The Great Earl was most earnestly requested to make some effort to strengthen and support his own Ministry. “Such “ends to be obtained,” writes the King, “would almost “awaken the great men of former ages, and therefore should “oblige you to cast aside any remains of your late indisposi“tion.”—But to all such appeals His Majesty could only obtain such answers as the following in Lady Chatham's hand: “Under health so broken as renders at present application of “mind totally impossible, may I prostrate myself at your “Majesty's feet, and most humbly implore your Majesty's “indulgence and compassion not to require of a most de“voted unfortunate servant what in his state of weakness he “has not the power to trace with the least propriety for your “Majesty's consideration.”* Thus left to his own resources, but by no means relying on them, the Duke of Grafton had no sooner closed the Session than he commenced overtures to several of the parties opposed to him, especially the Bedfords and the Rockinghams. It was found, however, that none of these parties would agree on terms either with the Government or with one another, and thus, after various interviews and letters, the negotiations ended in failure. The administration continued as Lord Chatham had formed it, but henceforth was called and was in fact not Lord Chatham's but the * Chatham Papers, vol. iii. p. 277.
1767. GRAFTON BECOMES PRIME MINISTER. 193
Duke of Grafton's, since the Duke had 'ceased perforce to be a deputy, and became obliged to fulfil all the duties of Prime Minister. It is surely no slight proof what great things Lord Chatham might have achieved in office had health and strength been spared him, since even the remnant of his system when deprived of his aid and presence was yet able, though tottering, to stand and to proceed. It is probable, however, that ere long the main power of the State would have centered in Charles Townshend. Of late he had found no rival in the House of Commons, and would bear no superior in the Cabinet. He had retired to his country house in Oxfordshire, and, as is believed, was pusily employed in planning a new scheme of government, in which he was to be the Prime Minister and his friend Charles Yorke the Chancellor. But a fever which he at first neglected most unexpectedly put a period to his life on the 4th day of September and in the forty-third year of his age, – the very period when it might have beenhoped that his brilliantgenius would have cast aside the levity and fickleness by which it had hitherto been clouded. In his stead the Duke of Grafton proposed the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer to Lord North, who, after sundry misgivings and one refusal, at last accepted it. In the winter which followed other changes ensued. Lord Northington was anxious to resign from age and growing infirmities; and General Conway had long been uneasy in political office, to which his temper and habits disinclined him. Brave though he was in the field, spirited and ready though he was in debate, he ever seemed in counsel irresolute and wavering; so eager to please all parties that he could satisfy none, and quickly swayed to and fro by any whisperer or gobetween who called himself his friend. At the King's earnest request, however, he consented to remain, though out of office, for some time longer a Member of the Cabinet, and its spokesman in the House of Commons. Meanwhile his retirement and Northington's gave another opening to the Bedfords. The Duke himself would accept no office; he had Mahon, History. W. 13
lately lost his only son by a sudden and violent death; his own eyesight was impaired, and his own health failing; he expired indeed in only two years from this time. But he wished to see honourable provision made for his principal adherents. In the course of December the new party combination was complete. Earl Gower became Lord President; Lord Weymouth, the head of the Thynnes of Longleat, became Secretary of State; and the Earl of Sandwich obtained the promise of the Post Office; while another place rich and easy was secured for Rigby. Moreover at this time the rapid increase of business with our American settlements suggested, or at least justified, the nomination of a third Secretary of State “for the Colonies,” a post which was bestowed upon the Earl of Hillsborough. Some of these arrangements it was supposed would have been by no means pleasing to that illustrious statesman, if he could have been consulted, who still held the Privy Seal. “What will Lord Chatham say?” asked Horace Walpole of the Duke of Grafton. But it is impossible to deny the force of the Duke's answer: “If Lord Chatham will do nothing, “and leaves us to do the best we can, – why then we must “do the best we can!”* The great Earl indeed continued wholly incapable of business. His grievous plight is described as follows by the secretary of his brother-in-law, Mr. Grenville, who had no doubt excellent means of information: “Lord Chatham's “state of health is certainly the lowest dejection and debility “that mind or body can be in. He sits all the day leaning “on his hands which he supports on the table; does not per“mit any person to remain in the room; knocks when he “wants anything; and having made his wants known gives “a signal without speaking to the person who answered his “call to retire.”** Other accounts of a rather later period state that the very few who ever had access to him found him
* Lord Orford's Memoirs of George III., vol. iii. p. 128. ** I,etter from Thomas Whately (private Secretary of Mr. Grenville) to Lord Lyttleton, dated July 30. 1767, and printed in Lord Lyttleton's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 729. ed. 1845.
1767. MELANCHOLY STATE OF CHAT HAM. 195
sedate and calm, and almost cheerful, until any mention was made of politics, when he started, trembled violently from head to foot, and abruptly broke off the conversation. During many months there is no trace in his correspondence of any letter from him, beyond a few lines at rare intervals and on pressing occasions which he dictated to his wife. Even his own small affairs grew a burthen too heavy for his enfeebled mind to bear. He desired Mr. Nuthall, as his legal adviser, to make ready for his signature a general power of attorney drawn up in the fullest terms, and enabling Lady Chatham to transact all business for him.* At the close of the summer he was removed from Hampstead to Burton Pynsent, and thence to Bath, some benefit to his health being looked for from the change. But all his own thoughts and wishes at this time were centered in the repurchase of Hayes. In that air he had enjoyed good health; in that air he might enjoy it again. There in former years he had made improvements which his memory fondly recalled, -— plantations, for example, pursued with so much ardour and eagerness that they were not even interrupted at night-fall, but were continued by torch-light and with relays of labourers. ** On inquiry, however, it was found that the new owner of Hayes, Mr. Thomas Walpole, was by no means willing to part with his purchase. His refusal was conveyed to the invalid by Lady Chatham and Mr. Nuthall with every possible preparation and in the gentlest terms. Lord Chatham on hearing the answer only said with a sigh: “That might have saved me!”*** Lady Chatham now addressed to Mr. Walpole renewed and most earnest entreaties, as foramatter of life or death to her husband, and she at last prevailed. To Hayes, again become his property, Lord Chatham was removed in December 1767. But there during many months ensuing he continued to languish in utter seclusion, and with no improvement to his health. It is not surprising that a malady thus mysterious and thus long-protracted should have given rise to a suspicion in some quarters that it was feigned or simulated, with a view to escape the vexations or avoid the responsibilities of office. This idea, however natural, was certainly quite unfounded. But, on the other hand, we may not less decisively discard the allegation of gout which his friends put forth to the public at the time. Gout, — this I have heard physicians of high eminence referring to the case declare, — could never have produced such and so unremitting effects. In truth it was not gout but the absence of gout which at this period weighed upon Lord Chatham. On the 2d of March, as we have seen, he had arrived in London from Marlborough, still lame, and no more than half recovered. Then his new physician, Dr. Addington, eager no doubt to restore him to his public duties with the least delay, had rashly administered some strong remedies which did indeed dispel the gout from his limbs, but only to scatter it about his body, and especially upon his nerves. This fact was discovered, and has been recorded by two separate and equally shrewd observers at the time.* Hence arose the dismal and complete eclipse which for upwards of a year his mental powers suffered. There was no morbid illusion of the fancy, but there was utter prostration of the intellect. The mental incapacity of Lord Chatham at this period could not remain altogether a secret to the public. In September 1767 there appeared one of the earlier letters from the pen of JUNIUs, but with the signature CoRREGGIo; and
* Chatham Correspondence, vol. iii. p. 282. August 17. 1767.
** In an article of the Edinburgh Review (No. clxii. p. 581.) it is stated that these torch-light plantations were made at Burton Pynsent, and at the time of Lord Chatham's last administration and grievous sickness. But on referring to the authority for that statement (Lord Orford's Memoirs, vol. iii. p. 41.) it will be found that the place was Hayes, and the time long previous. In 1849 the very belts thus planted were pointed out to me at IIayes.
*** Lord Orford's Memoirs of George III., vol. iii. p. 43.
* Lord Chesterfield in his letter to his son of December 19. 1767; Lord Orford in his Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 451. We find Lady Chatham also, when writing confidentially to Lord Shelburne in the autumn of 1767, observe: “I wish I could say there was any material change in the state of my ** Lord's health, but we are forbid to expect that until he can have a fit of “the gout.”