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This sweetness of temper in Lord North was by no means confined to public life; it was no less manifest and no less delightful in his domestic eircle. His youngest and long surviving daughter — herself a person of no mean attainments — has recorded that she never knew him really out of humour. She tells us that he had one drunken stupid groom who used to provoke him, and who from this uncommon circumstance was called by the children “the man that “puts Papa in a passion.” Yet it seems this drunken stupid groom was never discarded, but died in the service of the same indulgent master. *
As an upright public servant the character of Lord North stands above all suspicion or reproach; indeed but for the Wardenship of the Cinque Ports, which the King's spontaneous act bestowed upon him as afterwards upon Mr. Pitt, he would have left office a poorer man than he had entered it. On all occasions his feelings as his manners were those of an honourable and high-bred gentleman. He had great sagacity in unravelling, and great quickness in mastering, the most intricate details of public business. But in conducting that business it cannot be denied that he lacked something of energy, of firmness, of fixed and resolute will. These qualities — needful to a statesman at all times, but doubly needful at a period so fraught with difficulties as the American contest, — never certainly shone forth in this too amiable, too complying, Prime Minister. It is his main reproach as he stands before the tribunal of History, nor can History absolve him from the charge, that he frequently yielded his own deliberate judgment to the persuasion of his Sovereign or of his friends. His daughter owns it as his weakness, which, she adds, followed him through life, – of flattery, Lord North observed in answer that “he passed a great deal of “his time in that House, where he could not be idle, and where it was “plain that he was not flattered ' " See Lord John Russell's Memorials of Fox, vol. i. p. 165. (1853.)
* Letter, on the character of Lord North, from Lady Charlotte Lindsay to Lord Brougham, February 18. 1839. This interesting and excellent
letter, creditable alike to its object and to its writer, has been published by Lord Brougham in the Appendix to his Historical Sketches.
“the want of power to resist the influence of those he “loved.” — Thus it is that on several occasions, though not from any base or sordid or unworthy motive, he stooped to be an instrument of measures which he did not in his heart approve; thus it is that on many questions of policy at least, though not perhaps on any question of principle, we find his public speeches defend the very course which his private letters arraign. The success of the Opposition in driving the Duke of Grafton from the helm could not fail to animate them to many a fresh onset against Lord North. During the whole remainder of the Session he was assailed in both Houses with every topic of reproach or ridicule. Above all there was urged against him the old and stale, but by no means worn out, accusation of his being the mere puppet and secret tool of Lord Bute, even although Lord Bute was then in Italy. In allusion to the title of his ancestor, a Lord Keeper, the new Prime Minister was nick-named Lord Deputy North. * It is with sorrow I observe that no one was more factious on this topic, more unsparing in his hints against the King, more forward with this party charge of continued Scottish influence, than Lord Chatham. Only a month after the new appointments he took occasion in the House of Lords to thunder against the “invisible, irresponsible, and most per“nicious counsels of a Favourite..... That Favourite is at “the present moment abroad, yet his influence by his con“fidential agents is as powerful as if he were at home. Who “does not know the Mazarinade of France, — that Mazarin “absent was Mazarin still, - and what is there I would ask “to distinguish the two cases? . . . . When I was earnestly “called upon for the public service I came from Somerset“shire with wings of zeal. I consented to preserve a peace “which I abominated; a peace I would not make, but would. “preserve when made. . . . . I own I was credulous; I was “duped; I was deceived; for the same secret invisible in
* See the Chatham Papers, vol. iii. p. 443.
1770. ALTERCATION witH THE DUKE of GRAFTon. 269
“fluence still prevailed, and I found that there was no origi“nal administration to be suffered in this country!” On hearing this attack, which while aimed against Lord Bute glanced also at Royalty itself, the Duke of Grafton felt it his duty, though no longer a Minister, to rise in vindication of his Sovereign, and to declare, as General Conway had done on a like occasion, that while in office he had never seen or felt such an influence as was described. He added with great force and point that the charge was so utterly groundless that it could only be “the effect of a distempered “mind brooding over its own discontents.” — Upon this, Lord Chatham rose again, and with a monarch's voice (as Sir Philip Francis termed it) spoke as follows: “I rise, my “Lords, neither to deny, to retract, nor to explain away the “words I have spoken. As for His Majesty, I always “found everything gracious and amiable in the Closet; so “condescending as to promise in repeated audiences not “only to forgive but to supply the defects of health by his “cheerful support. Instead of this, all the obstacles and “difficulties which attended my public measures were sug“gested, nourished, and supported by that secret influence “to which I have alluded. . . . . A long train of these prac“tices has at length unwillingly convinced me that there “is something behind the Throne greater than the Throne “itself!” This visionary charge — which coming from Lord Chatham can only in my opinion be explained as the Duke of Grafton did explain it — was by no means the last of Lord Chatham's attacks in this year. The Duke of Grafton observes in his Memoirs that he had never under any Ministry seen his Lordship in more active opposition. He was sometimes disabled by the gout, but when his health allowed him to be present he brought forward several uncompromising motions against the measures of the Government. One of these motions was for a Bill reversing the adjudications of the House of Commons in the case of Wilkes; another was for an Address to the King praying him to dissolve the Parliament. In all these he was defeated by large majorities or without a division. In all these, however, it may be said that his eager party spirit coincided with just views for the public good. The adherents of the Ministry endeavoured to comfort and re-assure themselves by whispers of his recent insanity. “A mad motion of the mad Earl of Chatham!” — says that disinterested patriot, Mr. Rigby.* But the main difficulty with which at this period Lord Chatham had to strive lay in the qualms and fears of Lord Rockingham and Lord Rockingham's followers. Thus on one occasion does the Earl write from Hayes to his confidential friend Mr. Calcraft: “I was in town on Wednesday last, saw Lord Rocking“ham, and learnt nothing more than what I knew before; “namely, that the Marquis is an honest and honourable man, “but that ‘Moderation! Moderation!' is the burden of the “song among the body. For myself I am resolved to be in “earnest for the public, and shall be a scare-crow of violence “to the gentle warblers of the grove, the moderate Whigs, “and temperate statesmen.” ” At this period indeed the Opposition were far from being a compact or united body. The followers of George Grenville looked with great dislike to the followers of Lord Rockingham, - a feeling not less heartily returned. In the year but one preceding Mr. Knox, lately the Secretary of Mr. Grenville, and writing under his eye, had published a pamphlet, entitled “The present State of the Nation.” That pamphlet (as usual with secretaries out of place) contained many fond recollections of his chief while Minister, and many lugubrious statements of the evils which had followed his retirement. Some strokes in it at the Rockingham party had provoked Burke to draw his pen; the more so since many persons in the public believed Grenville himself to be the author.” The celebrated answer of Burke: “Observations * Bedford Correspondence, vol. iii. p. 412. ** Letter dated July 28. 1770. *** Mr. Knox to Mr. Grenville, Nov. 1. 1768. Grenville Papers. Mr.
Knox adds, that he “did not discountenance the supposition.” This was on the appearance of the third edition.
1770. THE CHATHAM AND RocKINGHAM PARTIES. 271
“on a late State of the Nation,” which was published in 1769, proved a masterpiece of skill and eloquence. But the brighter the weapon the deeper the wound which it gave. Thus in one passage Burke refers to Mr. Grenville as foremost among “the ravens who have always croaked out this “kind of song. They have a malignant delight in presaging “mischief when they are not employed in doing it!” Nor is this all. Burke goes on to compare the eminent retired statesman to the Spirit of Envy, as Ovid has portrayed her, gazing down upon Athens in all its wealth and glory, and scarcely able to restrain her grief because she could see nothing to grieve at!” It is plain also at this very period, from Burke's private correspondence, that however respectful the tone adopted in public towards Lord Chatham, he did not in reality regard his Lordship with a much more favourable eye. Pursuing his ornithological similes, we find him liken the great orator not indeed to a raven, but to a hawk: “The style of “Lord Chatham's politics is to keep hovering in air over “all parties, and to souse down where the prey may prove “best!” ## Thus when Lord Chatham came forth again to public life he had found himself on the Opposition side between two jarring parties, and not without some resentful feelings turned against himself. On many points, as on the Middlesex Election, he combined them to harmonious action, but on others he could not so prevail. Nor indeed did his own opinions entirely agree with either party. On several questions of domestic policy he differed from Lord Rockingham. On several questions of Colonial policy he differed from Mr.
* “Vixque tenet lachrymas quia nil lachrymabile cernit!” See Metam., lib. ii. p. 796. and Burke's Works, vol. ii. p. 75. ed. 1815. ** To Lord Rockingham, Oct. 29. 1769. Correspondence, vol. i. p. 206. — Lord Chatham's own opinion of Burke's pamphlet was that “however well “intended it has done much hurt to the cause.” This he says in a private letter of next year to Lord Rockingham; which private letter the Marquis, perhaps not quite fairly, allowed the author to read; as we may find from a much later note by Burke himself, published by Lord Albemarle in his Memoirs of Lord Rockingham, vol. ii. p. 195. (1853.)