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1763. FOX CREATED LORD HOLLAND. 27
one. In private he wrote to one of his friends as follows: “Single in a Cabinet of my own forming; no aid in the House “of Lords to support me, except two Peers (Denbigh and “Pomfret), both the Secretaries of State (Lords Egremont “and Halifax) silent, and the Lord Chief Justice (Mansfield), “whom I myself brought into office, voting for me and yet “speaking against me”, - the ground I tread upon is so “hollow that I am afraid not only of falling myself, but of “involving my Royal Master in my ruin. It is time for me “to retire.” ## On calmly reviewing the whole of this transaction there seems no reason to doubt that, according to Lord Bute's own statement of his motives, his coolness with his colleagues and his sense of duty to his Sovereign might weigh with him no less than the violence of his opponents. It is certain, however, that he did not then, nor for some time afterwards, lose his back-stairs influence, nor lay aside his ambitious hopes. It is probable that he expected to allay the popular displeasure by a temporary retirement, and meanwhile, in merchants’ phrase, to carry on the same firm with other clerks. With Lord Bute retired both Dashwood and Fox. For the former an ancient Barony, to which he was one of the co-heirs, was called out of abeyance, and thus he became Lord Le Despencer. Fox was likewise raised to the Upper House as Lord Holland — the same title which had been already bestowed upon his wife. But an unseemly altercation * This alludes to the debate on the Cyder Tax, when, as Horace Walpole says, nearly to the same effect: “Lord Mansfield made a bad trim“ming speech, but voted for the Bill.” (Memoirs, vol. i. p. 253.) He had been Chief Justice since 1756, but Lord Bute had first placed him in the Cabinet. ** Mr. Adolphus has inserted this letter in his History (vol. i. p. 117. ed. 1840) as derived “from private information,” but even in that recent edition does not state to whom the letter was addressed. Another letter from Lord Bute to the Duke of Bedford, dated April 2. 1763, has since been published in the Bedford Correspondence. From this last it now appears certain (as indeed other circumstances always seemed to me to prove) that neither Pitt as Mr. Adolphus supposes, nor yet Fox as Horace Walpole asarose in private between him and Lord Bute as to his retirement, which was now expected, from his office of Paymaster. Lord Bute had understood that he would quit the Pay-Office for a peerage. Fox had only stipulated to carry through the Peace for that reward. Both parties now appealed to Lord Shelburne, who in the preceding autumn had been the negotiator between them. Lord Shelburne, much embarrassed, was obliged to own that he had in some degree extenuated or exaggerated the terms to each, from his anxiety to secure at all events the support of Fox, which he thought at that period essential to the Government. These misrepresentations Lord Bute, now forgiving, called, “a “pious fraud.” “I can see the fraud plain enough,” cried Fox, “but where is the piety?” # At last, however, the new-made Peer prevailed, and was allowed still to be Paymaster so long as power remained with Lord Bute's successor. But although Lord Holland thus, during two more years, continued a placeman, it may be said of him that he had ceased to be a politician. Henceforth, until his death in 1774, he took little or no further part in public affairs. He turned moodily aside from the ill opinion which he had irretrievably raised. In his retirement his principal pleasure was the construction of a fantastic villa at Kingsgate, on the coast of Thanet. It was this building which drew forth that most bitter and stinging lampoon of Gray, a lampoon omitted in the earlier edition of his works, but perhaps only the better known on that account. That lampoon is a signal proof how strong was the aversion which the once gay, the warm-hearted, the buoyant Fox had ended by exciting. The shore where “cormorants dwell,” and where “mariners “though shipwrecked dread to land,” is represented as to him the most “congenial spot.” Worse still, the poet makes him bewail that the cowardice of Lord Bute withheld him 1763. GEORGE GRENVILLE THE NEw PRIME MINISTER. 29
serts, were at this period offered the lead of affairs before it devolved upon George Grenville.
* See Lord Orford's Memoirs of George III., vol. i. p. 258. Some clearer and fuller details (including Fox's exclamation) were given in conversation by Fox's grandson, the late Lord Holland.
from punishing the free spirit of London by fire and sword, when amidst the city's ruins owls might have hooted in Westminster Abbey, and foxes made their burrows in St. Paul's! The successor to Lord Bute proved to be George Grenville, who on the very day that the Favourite resigned kissed hands on his appointment as both First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer. No one doubted that this choice had been made under the influence of Lord Bute, and was designed for the preservation of that influence. At the same time it was intimated to the Foreign Ministers that the King had now intrusted the principal direction of his affairs to three persons, namely, to Mr. Grenville and the Secretaries of State, Lords Egremont and Halifax. Thus it happened that the chiefs of the new administration received from the public the name of “the Triumvirate,” although, says Lord Chesterfield, “the public looked still at Lord Bute “through the curtain, which indeed was a very transparent “one.” According to the same calm and close by-stander, writing within a year of the event, “Lord Halifax had parts, “application, and personal disinterestedness; Lord Egre“mont was proud, self-sufficient, but incapable.”” I may observe, however, that Lord Egremont's speeches in Parliament, though few in number, have been praised for their force and clearness **, and that, besides his high rank and his princely possessions, he had the advantage of a considerable following in the Tory party as the son of their late champion Sir William Wyndham. He was at the same time nearly allied to Mr. Grenville, who had married his sister. Several smaller changes followed. The Duke of Bedford returned from his embassy to France, but did not resume the Privy Seal; thus the former post was left to be bestowed upon the Earl of Hertford, and the latter upon the Duke of Marlborough. The place of First Lord of the Admiralty, left vacant by George Grenville, was intended for Charles Townshend, who was already First Lord of the Board of Trade. “After his usual fluctuation,” as Horace Walpole says *, he accepted it; nay, even went to St. James's to kiss hands for it. But rashly presuming that the seats of his colleagues at the Board must be in his own nomination (which had never yet been admitted or allowed), he, without asking it, without even naming it to any Minister, carried to Court with him Mr. Burrell, one of his followers, intending that this gentleman should kiss hands along with himself as another Lord of the Admiralty. He thought his honour engaged to carry through this most unusual pretension, and said he would not go in to kiss the King's hand unless Mr. Burrell was admitted also. This was flatly refused, and Townshend was told that the King had no further occasion for his services in any department. The Earl of Sandwich was appointed to the head of the Admiralty, and the Earl of Shelburne to the head of the Board of Trade. Another change at this period was in favour of Lord Granby, named Master of the Ordnance. From that post a deserving veteran, old Marshal Ligonier, was removed, not without great reluctance on his part, and much comment on the public's**; the removal, however, being softened both by a pension and by an English peerage. At this period also retired from office James Oswald of Dunnikier, who, among the Lords of the Treasury, had grown a veteran junior. He showed himself as a speaker clear, acute, and well informed; and he possessed considerable weight, especially among his countrymen — the Scotch. But he was now declining in years and health, and at the next dissolution withdrew altogether from publie life. 1763. THE NORTH BRITON, No. 45. 31
d losount of Lord Bute's Administration. Corresp., vol. ii. p. 478, ed.
** Memoirs by Bishop Newton; Works, vol. i. p. 88, ed. 1787,
* Memoirs of George III., vol. i. p. 264. ** “The mean subterfuge , —- the indignity upon so brave an officer,” &c. &c. “That step was taken to give the whole power of the army to the “Crown, that is, to the Minister!" (North Briton, No. 45.) At a later period Lord Chesterfield quietly observes: “It was cruel to put such a boy as “Lord Granby over the head of old Ligonier.” (To his son, Sept. 12. 1766.)
Oswald's colleagues at the Treasury, during several years of the late reign, had been no mere cyphers, but men of note, –Lord North and Robert Nugent. Lord North already took an active part in the House of Commons, and enjoyed some reputation there, although his future mastery over it was not yet foreseen by others, nor probably anticipated by himself. Nugent, a native of the sister island, became three years afterwards Wiscount Clare, and, later still, Earl Nugent, in its peerage. His wit and humour, combined with shrewd sense, may still be traced in that fine full-length portrait by Gainsborough which lately adorned the walls of his descendant at Stowe. * Sometimes he spoke in the House of Commons with considerable success and applause, but was still more frequently drawn from it by his love of letters and of ease. Perhaps he will be best known to posterity, not as the politician or the Peer, but rather as Goldsmith's patron and friend. Only eleven days after the resignation of Lord Bute the King in person closed the Session of Parliament. His Majesty's Speech on this occasion referred with natural complacency to the recent conclusion of peace, “on terms,” it was added, “so honourable to my Crown, and so beneficial to my “people.” Such an eulogy from such a quarter roused the ire of the writers in the North Briton; and on the 23d of April came forth the last and most renowned of their lampoons, NUMBER FORTY-FIVE. Of this celebrated Number, of which Wilkes was the author, and from the first almost the avowed one, it may be observed that bitter and scurrilous as were its comments on the Royal expressions, it referred throughout to those expressions in a proper Constitutional tone, not as any emanation of the Royal Mind, but as merely “the Minister's Speech.” We may also remark, that celebrated as it became from the proceedings adopted against it, yet in wit, or point, or pungency it was inferior to almost any of its predecessors, even without rating these predecessors very high. A few * No. 347, in the Catalogue of Pictures, 1848.