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“at the death!” – In reward of his services the extinct Barony of Stawell of 1682 had been revived and granted to his wife, a daughter of that house”, but on the death of their only son in 1820 the title again became extinct. In the autumn the Opposition party sustained a still greater and, as Pitt called it at the time, an irreparable loss in the Duke of Devonshire, whom a renewed attack of palsy carried off at Spa. It is not easy to discriminate between his character and his father's, the friend of Sir Robert Walpole, whom he seemed to have succeeded in principles and disposition as much as in title and estates. Like his parent he was distinguished not indeed by any shining talents, but by probity and worth, by a strict love of justice, and a conscientious attention to business. He was but forty-four years of age, but had already come to be regarded as the chief of the Great Houses of what were then termed Revolution principles. Had his life been spared a few years or even months longer, there is no doubt that on Pitt's return to power he would have been called to fill one of the highest offices of Court or State. His son the succeeding Duke was at this time only sixteen years of age, and at no time did he study state affairs. But the importance of the House of Cavendish was in great measure upheld by the late Duke's brothers. Lord John especially, the youngest of all, was well-read, held in just esteem for his truth and honour, and resolute in his views, though shy and bashful in his manner. “Under the appearance of virgin modesty,” says Horace Walpole, “he had a confidence “in himself that nothing could equal.” In reality, however, his abilities were only moderate, nor yet did he bring to public life any very steady application. If indeed we were to judge of him only by the overflowing eulogies of Burke after his retirement we might rank him among the greatest luminaries and benefactors of mankind. But far different are the hints which during his lifetime are dropped by Burke
* Collins's Peerage, vol. ii. p. 281. ** Memoirs of George III., vol. iii. p. 24.
1764. THE HIGH STEWARDSHIP OF CAMBRIDGE. 63
in familiar letters. Thus in one place he wishes that his friend could be induced to “show a degree of regular atten“dance on business.” And he adds: “Lord John ought to be “allowed a certain decent and reasonable portion of fox“hunting; but anything more is intolerable!”* The decease of Lord Hardwicke left vacant his honorary office as High Steward of the University of Cambridge. No sooner was his dangerous illness known than two gandidates declared themselves; the first was his son, Lord Royston; the second, Lord Sandwich. It grew to be in some measure a trial of strength between the Opposition and the Government. Gray writes from the spot in February; “This silly “dirty place has had all its thoughts taken up with choosing “a new High Steward;” yet contemptuously as he spoke of the contest, he was soon, as usually happens in such cases, drawn into its whirl. He took an eager part against the Minister, and contributed on this occasion a bitter lampoon, in which his Lordship's recent nick-name of “Jemmy Twitcher” was not forgotten.” When at last the day of election came the votes appeared to be equal, though each party claimed a majority of one. Great altercations ensued at the moment, and a lawsuit afterwards, when after several months a decision was pronounced in favour of Lord Hardwicke. Two remarkable incidents in Pitt's career took place about this time; the first, his renewed and final estrangement from the Duke of Newcastle. The causes are not quite clear, but it is equally easy to suspect capricious anger on the part of Pitt, or double dealing on his Grace's. It appears, however, that Newcastle had in some debate failed to defend his former colleague, and that he now applied for the Great Commoner's advice and direction on some overo To the Marquis of Rockingham, December 5. 1774. Corresp., vol. i. p. o, this pasquinade, which is not published in the earlier editions of his works, Gray alludes with especial acrimony to the number of clergymen who supported Lord Sandwich. He makes Divinity address him thus: “Never hang down your head you poor penitent elf;
tures from Sir George Young relative to the movements in the Cyder counties. The Duke himself speaks of the subject of these overtures as “a delicate one, and requiring many “explanations.” But his letter only drew from Pitt such resentful expressions as the following: “Having seen the “close of last Session, and the system of that great war, in “which my share of the Ministry was so largely arraigned, “given up by silence in a full House, I have little thoughts “of beginning the world again upon a new centre of union. “Your Grace will not, I trust, wonder if, after so recent “and so strange a phenomenon in politics, I have no dispo“sition to quit the free condition of a man standing single, “and daring to appeal to his country at large upon the “soundness of his principles, and the rectitude of his “conduct.”* And from this time forward we never find Pitt allude to Claremont but in terms of distrust and disdain.o The other event in Pitt's life was more pleasing and wholly unexpected. A rich Baronet in Somersetshire, Sir William Pynsent, had been a Member of the House of Commons in the last years of Queen Anne, but had retired from Parliament and from the world in disgust at the Peace of Utrecht. Thenceforth he had lived at his seat of Burton Pynsent in moody seclusion, eccentric in his manners, and in his morals not free from grievous imputations.” But after half a century the news of the Peace of Paris stirred up again in his mind the feelings of his youth, and seemed to him a parallel to the times which he remembered. Above all, he was struck with admiration of that lofty-minded statesman who had flung away office sooner than accept unworthy terms, or consent to compromise the dignity of England. Having no near kinsman that survived him, he
* Letter to the Duke of Newcastle, October, 1764. ** See especially in the Chatham Papers, vol. ii. p. 322. and 345. *** The rumour against him (though wholly vague and without proof) was the same as against the father of Catherine Fillol, first wife of the Protector Somerset; – “repudiata, quia - pater ejus post nuptias eam cognovit.” (Note to Vincent's Baronage at the Heralds' College.)
1765. MEETING OF PARLIAMENT. 65
resolved when making his last Will to name Pitt for his heir; and thus at his death, which ensued in January 1765, Pitt suddenly found himself possessed of an excellent country house and nearly three thousand pounds a year. The pleasure which he may have felt on this occasion was without the slightest alloy. There was no descendant of Sir William could call himself defrauded of his rights or reasonable expectations. There was no enemy of Pitt could whisper against him the name of legacy-hunter, since he had never once seen nor even written to Sir William. The voice of Faction itself must be mute, or must acknowledge that this was an unsought tribute most honourably paid to high public character and eminent public services.
On the other hand, as if to balance this favour of Fortune, Pitt's old enemy, the gout, returned upon him at this period with new and most constant force, confining him to his room, and almost to his bed. at Hayes, during the first months of 1765.
On the 10th of January the Parliament had met, but its proceedings were at first languid and listless, chiefly on account of Pitt's absence and the daily hopes of his return. At last, however, the question of General Warrants was brought forward by Sir William Meredith, but without success. Warm debates also were raised by General Conway and his friends on the dismission of military officers for political votes. But while such personal or party questions were exciting the keenest attention, — a twelvemonth afterwards to be utterly forgotten as though they had never been, – another measure was gliding through both Houses, with little stir or notice, — a measure whose effects were not to be confined to a single century or a single hemisphere, — a measure which contained within it the first germ of a mighty revolution. This (now to be carefully traced) was the celebrated STAMP ACT for taxing our North American colonies.
By the Peace of Paris in 1763 the power of the French in America was utterly extinguished. They had yielded to the English Canada, Cape Breton, and Louisiana to the east of the Mississippi, while the remainder of that province was acquired from them by Spain as an indemnity for Florida, which Spain gave up to England. Thus there were only the two Peninsular nations to divide with ourselves the dominion of that immense Continent. From the Gulf of Mexico to the Gulf of the St. Lawrence a long line of thriving Colonies acknowledged as their sovereign King George the Third. Happy had it been for England if the views of her Ministers at that period had expanded with her territory, and led them to treat these distant settlers, not as lowly dependants, but rather as fellow-subjects and as freemen! Happy had they refrained from measures of aggression which — rashly urged in council, but feebly supported in war, – have converted many once loyal and contented provinces into a rival empire!
It is remarkable that of all these Colonies, besides some of the newly settled ones, only those last acquired, and least bound to Great Britain in language, in religion, or in race, — namely, the two Canadas, – have remained subject to the British Crown.
A slight sketch for the general reader of the Thirteen British Colonies which lay between the new British conquests, – between Canada and Florida, - and which afterwards became the Thirteen United States of North America, may properly precede an account of the Revolution to which they gave rise. We will take them in geographical order, beginning at the north and proceeding southwards.