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Art. IV.- Correspondence of William Pitt, Earl of CHATHAM.
Edited by William Stanhope T'aylor, Esq., and Captain
we called to it the attention of our readers, and look occasion to enter at some length into the character of the illustrious person whose remains form the principal portion of its contents. The appearance of the two volumes before us, suggests the propriety of again entering upon the subject; and we shall thus be enabled to add further important information to that before delivered upon Lord Chatham's history and habits; and also to preserve some memorial of the other figures in the group of which he was the centre. We must premise that the editors have continued, in the present publication, to conduct their work with the same diligence and the same success. Availing themselves again, as we presume, of Mr Wright's able assistance, they have accompanied all the letters with explanatory notes, stating the particulars which the reader desires to know, in order to understand the text ;- -as the events briefly alluded to in the correspondence, the history of the persons mentioned, and such other particulars as are known to those only who have devoted much of their time to the personal history of the last hundred and fisty years, and which must be learned by the student of our general annals, else he is liable to make continual and important mistakes. We cannot dismiss this prefatory notice of the execution of the present work, without also, in justice to Mr Wright, noticing another in which he is engaged—the publication of the Parliamentary Debates during the Parliament which began in 1768 and ended in 1774. These invaluable remains are treasured up in the shorthand notes of Sir Henry Cavendish, who, from the specimen published the Quebec Bill Debate), appears to have been one of the very best reporters that ever attempted the difficult and useful task of preserving the eloquence of their day. The Government, with a praiseworthy liberality, are understood to have assisted this important work; and surely the public patronage never was better bestowed.
Upon the most remarkable passage of Lord Chatham's life, his Resignation in October 1761, little new light is thrown in these letters. That Lord Bute had widely differed with him all along upon the conduct of the war, and had slown repeated symptoms
of uneasiness at his bold and comprehensive plans, termed wild, rash, precipitate-nay, occasionally insane-is certain. These papers contain proofs of this, and also of that favourite minister having viewed, with the jealousy natural to a courtier, one whose influence was built upon his popularity ;-one whom the people regarded as their representative in the Cabinet, as well as the Senate. His extrusion from office, was therefore resolved upon, in all probability, as soon as Lord Bute had, after much hesitation, made up his own mind to take an ostensible situation. He was determined to be the Prime Minister of the young Prince, whose favour he enjoyed; and he saw, like the rest of the cabinet, not only that while Lord Chatham was in office he must ever hold the first place, but that no one else could have any weight or any consideration at all. Gerard Hamilton's (Single Speech') account of his predominancy, is as correct as it is well-expressed — For those who want merely to keep a subordinate employment, Mr Pitt is certainly the best minister in
the world, but for those who wish to have a share in the rule * and government of the country, he is the worst.' 'It is easy to see that, with the exception of Lord Temple, his brother-inlaw, all his other colleagues were likely to adopt Lord Bute's views, and to take part with him who was at once the King's choice and their own safeguard from the great Commoner's domination. This feeling soon appeared in the deliberations of the Cabinet. The French Court had thrown obstacles in the way of Spain, by taking part with Spain in the differences then beginning with that power. Lord Chatham long perceived that the alliance of the different branches of the Bourbons was closer than the safety of Europe allowed; and he saw that every thing was tending towards a rupture with the Court of Madrid. When, therefore, the French ultimatum arrived, he gave a firm and somewhat stern answer to it; in a despatch which the Cabinet, after much discussion, only adopted by a narrow majority. Lord Bute, immediately after, wrote a letter to Lord Chatham, in which he communicated the King's desire that the despatch should be sent; but his great concern at a matter of such im'mense importance being carried by so slender a majority'—and his surprise that words could not have been chosen in which
all might have concurred.' In about a month after this occurrence, intelligence was received of the Family Compact-confirming Lord Chatham's recent apprehensions--and further information of measures about to be taken by Spain for protecting her valuable American commerce and remittances. On the 18th September, he gave his decided opinion to the Cabinet, that a rupture being now inevitable, 'prudence, as well as spirit, required • England to secure to herself the first blow;' and he proposed seizing the Spanish fleets on their way to Europe. Lord Bute first opposed this proposal “as rash and unadvisable.' No decision was come to, the Cabinet being thinly attended. A few days aster, all being present, Lord Chatham resumed his advice for immediate hostilities; the majority were not satisfied of the necessity for this step, but no resolution was taken either way. Early in October, a third discussion led to the whole ministers being against him, except Lord Temple. The great man then declared, that, ' as this was the moment for humbling the House • of Bourbon, it was the last time he would sit among them • if his advice were now rejected.' He thanked them for their support; said that he was called to the ministry by the people's • voice, and to the people should deem himself accountable for his conduct; but that he could not continue responsible for • measures which he was no longer allowed to direct. The King having rejected his advice, tendered in writing, he and Lord Temple resigned their places on the 5th of October.
On the following day, Lord Bute, by the King's desire, offered him the government of Canada, with five thousand a-year of salary, and the Chancellorship of the Duchy of Lancaster, a lucrative sinecure; and, after some negotiation, it ended in a peerage to his wife and a pension of L.3000. The letters written by Lord Bute on this occasion are very becoming in every respect; those of Lord Chatham are extremely humble, and betoken a far more rapturous sense of the Royal favour showed to his family, than of indignation at the Court cabal which had just involved in ruin the best interests of his country: • Overwhelmed with the • King's gracious goodness, he desires to lay himself at the • Royal feet with the bumble tribute of the most unfeigned and • respectful gratitude.'— Penetrated with the bounteous favour
of a most benign Sovereign and master, he is comforted with • his condescension in deigning to bestow one thought about • any inclination of his servant.'— Any mark of approbation, • flowing from such a spontaneous source of clemency, will be • his comfort and his glory.' Then, when the matter is finally settled on his own suggestion, he has afterwards to express the • sentiments of veneration and gratitude with which he receives the unbounded effects of beneficence and grace, which the most benign of Sovereigns has condescended to bestow.'• No wonder that the sensations which possess his whole heart,
resuse him the power of describing their extent.' But he only desires to offer his Majesty the genuine tribute of the truly • feeling heart, which he dares to hope the same Royal bene! volence which showers on the unmeritorious such unlimited • benefits, may deign to accept with equal welcome and goodness.' In all this, we find it hard to say whether the honourable and manly feelings of the mind, or the principles of correct taste, are the most outraged. The feelings expressed by the Great Commoner on account of bounty,—of pecuniary bounty, accompanying his being driven from the helm to make way for what he deemed imbecility, and what certainly was favouritism-areof a cast bordering upon the mean and the servile-even the sordid; while the words chosen to convey them, are barely the ordinary English of a bad novel. Surely we have made a great step towards the acquisition of plain good sense, in thinking of and speaking to sovereigns, since the year 1761. The most abject courtier would hardly now venture to use such expressions of almost idolatrous devotion to his king, as the greatest patriot of the last century blushed not to employ, when making his successful competitor for power the channel of carrying his thanks for royal favqur. We doubt if any man of our times durst so far become accessory to his own undoing with the country-to the loss of all popular weight and influence—as to take a pension and a title upon being extruded from office for a difference of principle. We are quite sure, no one who did stoop so low, would venture still further to seek his own degradation by such humble and almost pious thanksgivings as Lord Chatham poured out before the altar of Royal Mercy.
It is but just that we should add—what these letters plainly prove—the fact of Lord Chatham never casting any kind of blame on Lord Bute for his conduct on this memorable occasion. The meanest of the mean, indeed, Bubb Doddington, in his notorious · Diary,' has recorded the triumphant exultation of the base herd of courtiers be belonged to ; and has printed a letter, written by him to the favourite, sincerely wishing him joy of being delivered of (as if he had been brought to bed) a most impracticable colleague, his Majesty of a most impure servant, ' and the country of a most dangerous minister;' and he adds a very handsome offer, of readily undertaking any place where the
service is most dangerous and difficult;'-—which they well know who know courtiers and their temperament, means any good easy place, with little work to do, and much salary to receive. Lord Bule's answer does him great credit. Wbile he promises to acquaint the King with Bubb's very frank and friendly declaration' (whereof no advantage of course was taken) he says he is far from *thinking the change advantageous to the King's affairs ;' and he iben shows how all the blame will be thrown on himself, which, however, will make him steady and resolute as well as cautious. Lord Bute, in the course of a year and a half, was driven from the
helm, as he himself distinctly admitted, by the clamour raised against him mainly on account of his native country; and, although he continued for three or four months longer a member of the Cabinet, he soon gave that situation up also, and retired for ever from all concern in public affairs. Before leaving office he opened a communication with Lord Chatham, whom he saw more than once, and who saw the King. The frank exposition which he made of the sweeping change necessary for carrying on the public service, alarmed the sovereign, and the treaty broke off. It was the subject of very great discussion in those days; and, being some time afterwards tabled in the House of Commons, a curious letter remains of Gerard Hamilton, giving an account of the debate. It appears that the King had said to Lord Chatham, Should I consent to these demands, Mr Pitt, there would nothing more
be lest for me, but to take the crown from my head and put it on yours, and then patiently submit my neck to the block.' All that had been asked, however, was to turn out the Tories, and those who voted for the peace. This passage was not given in the debate; but all who spoke did ample justice to Lord Bute's conduct. • I think,' says Gerard Hamilton, the day was a very reputable one for Lord Bute-hat it gave, as indeed it ought to give, a great deal of satisfaction to his friends, to hear both Mr
Pitt and George Grenville labouring to explain that they had 'not the least degree of personal animosity whatever to him; and • letting it be understood, that if he would wish either of these
ministers to be satisfied with a moderate share of influence, they shouid be extremely happy in his friendship,' (II. 379.) It is plain, however, from this passage, that the writer laboured under the common error of supposing that Lord Bute had some influence over, and communication with the King after his resignation in 1763. This impression is visible throughout most of the letters, in this collection, in which any reference to Lord Bute is made. The truth is, nothing can be more utterly groundless than the supposition of his ever having interfered in public affairs after he resigned. We have the most positive assertion to that effect on the authority of both George III., and the family of Stuart, in Lord Brougham's Historical Sketches."* Mr Wilberforce once in the House of Commons made the same statement, distinctly and authentically; and these volumes contain a remarkable confirmation of it in the conversation between Lord Chatham and George III himself, in August 1763. When Lord Chatham (vol. ii. p. 250) suggested that the King would be pleased to hear of Lord Bute and himself “uniting their councils for
* 1. 48, 390, and Il. 1.