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Great Commoner had been transformed into the Earl of Chatham. It seemed incongruous that the people's Minister should quit the appropriate field of his fame and power; and that in mid career he should pass into that serene assembly where his illustrious predecessors had been content to retire from the turmoil of public life. But it was little foreseen that clouds and thick darkness were already gathering round an Administration which opened with such brilliant prospects.

Chatham, content to be at the head of the Government, was probably indifferent as to its composition. He invited all the existing Ministers, with the significant exception of Rockingham, to retain their places, and some of them consented. Shelburne, who had been faithful to the fortunes of Pitt, obtained the post of Secretary of State, which had long been the object of his ambition. The other principal Ministers were Grafton, Northington, and Camden. Newcastle was left out, and Temple, as usual, sullen and impracticable, refused to join. Chatham himself, declining an office of business, took the sinecure place of Privy Seal; while the Duke of Grafton, as first Lord of the Treasury, was to act as a deputy Prime Minister.

Soon after the Government was formed, Chatham fell ill, and was forced to absent himself from their deliberations. Questions of vital moment regarding India and the American Colonies divided the Cabinet; and it was in vain that Shelburne and his colleagues wrote to their chief urging him to determine their distracted councils by a decision. Chatham was now sinking under the pressure of bodily and mental disease, and the appeals to his judgment were met by querulous evasions. In the absence of a supreme, controlling authority, the brilliant abilities of Charles Townshend asserted their ascendency in council, and his disastrous policy of coercion towards the Colonies was vehemently supported by the King.

The Cabinet, demoralised and disorganised by the want of a presiding will, resolved itself into its elements, and every member, treating the public interests as a secondary consideration, was occupied in providing for his own safety in the ministerial wreck which seemed imminent. Grafton was looking out for a new alliance; Camden and Conway wished to be rid of the responsibility for measures which they did not approve. Every man's hand was against Shelburne. The King hated him. Grafton and Northington denounced him as a 'secret enemy.' Charles Townshend spoke of him with the greatest contempt. But as the sole representative of Chatham in the Government, Shelburne, though anxious to retire, felt bound to keep his place. The sudden death of Charles Townshend in the midst of his ambitious intrigues, followed by the resignation of Northington and Conway, made way for the Bedford party, who had long been intriguing for power.

. Lord Weymouth became Secretary of State, and Lord Hillsborough at the Board of Trade relieved Shelburne of that part of his duties which related to the administration of the American Colonies. The policy of coercion towards the Colonies was thus continued; while the foreign enemies of England regarded the access of the Bedford party to power as an earnest of peace. Thus within a short year after he had become the nominal head and reputed genius of the Government, was the policy of Chatham in its capital points completely reversed.

Shelburne now found himself thwarted upon every point. His Irish policy was overruled ; his protest against the annexation of Corsica by France was disregarded ; he stood alone in the Cabinet in his opposition to coercive measures against the Americans. At length Grafton wrote to the Prime Minister to insist on the dismissal of Shelburne. The answer from the nominal head of the Government was that he himself would resign. Under these circumstances, it only remained for Shelburne to wait upon the King and tender his resignation, which was readily accepted. sentative in the Cabinet being thus removed, Chatham at length relieved himself from the nominal responsibility for measures of which he would have wholly disapproved

had he been in a condition to express any opinion. The Bedford party was now in the ascendant, and the Bedford party was the worst of the factions which Chatham had denounced as the plague of the country. A pusillanimous foreign policy and an arbitrary domestic policy were the leading characteristics of the party of which the Duke of Bedford was the head. France and Spain had no longer anything to fear from England; but the Colonists were told that their demands were to be put down by force, and that their patriotic leaders were to be punished as traitors. At the same time an insolent attack was made upon the representative institutions of the conntry by the expulsion of Wilkes from the House of Commons and the substitution of a candidate who had been rejected by the constituency.

Shelburne, on his retirement from office, was pursued by a shower of libels which held him up to odium as a monster of duplicity and deceit. His public conduct had given some colour to these imputations. His first appearance as a politi

His sole repre

cian was in the character of an agent for negotiating an iniquitous bargain between Bute and Fox; a transaction which resulted in his heing openly charged by one of the principals with fraud and falsehood. He had been more or less engaged in subsequent political intrigues. He had lately attached himself to the fortunes of Chatham, and for the first time had held high office; but he was so unfortunate as to incur the distrust and dislike of every one of his colleagues. His manner also was against him. He affected an elaborate courtesy and an exaggerated style of compliment, which, even in that age of artificial stiffness and ceremony, disgusted many with whom he came in contact. Charles Townshend, as we have seen, treated him with scorn. To Burke he was an object of aversion; and Walpole assailed him with the bitterest invective. By the newspapers and their readers he was called Malagrida, after a Portuguese Jesuit priest who had lately been put to death for a supposed complicity in assassination. Vague slanders like these are attracted by every man of eminence; nor is it necessary to contend, as regards Shelburne, that they were wholly without foundation. In times when party discipline was lax in the extreme, party honour was almost unknown. In the last century, public men adapted their conduct to the circumstances of the day, and entered into temporary combinations generally with a view to personal objects of ambition or of gain. In the early part of the reign of George III., the standard of public morality was at its lowest point. And this may be easily explained, The division between Constitutionalists and Loyalists had disappeared. There was no longer fear of civil war. There was no important question of domestic policy in agitation. The popular belief was and is that the administration of Walpole was the era of parliamentary corruption; but we doubt whether Walpole in twenty years spent so much in bribery and corruption as was lavished by Fox in securing the vote of the House of Commons for the treaty of 1763.

Walpole was a frugal Minister; he knew every man's price, and he never gave a bank note or a place without full value. The majority of Walpole's parliaments were honest and zealous supporters of the House of Hanover; but the majority of the parliaments which Fox had to deal with were hostile to his policy; and he had to buy them over by the sheer force of places, pensions, and ready money. There was no affectation of patriotism among the sordid and self-seeking politicians with whom Shelburne mingled on entering public life; and Shelburne made no pretension to rise above the level of the statesmen of the time. A Shippen or a Pitt would have been very unfitting


instruments to negotiate such a business as the purchase of the House of Commons. All that can be said is that Shelburne was not more scrupulous than his contemporaries, though his fortune and position enabled him to avoid the taint of personal corruption. The transactions in which he was engaged involved, to a certain extent, dissimulation and double-dealing; but, apart from this exigency, there seems to be no ground for charging him with habitual duplicity. Benjamin Franklin, with whom Shelburne was for a long time in confidential correspondence on the subject of the American war, spoke of his conduct as perfectly straightforward. M. Morellet and Malle. de l'Espinasse, who knew him well, bore similar testimony. Jeremy Bentham, on the other hand, who was the frequent guest of Lord Shelburne, and esteemed him highly, speaks of his evasive and ambiguous manner in terms which seem to imply that candour and frankness were not the most prominent traits in his character. It is not uncommon to meet men of very honest meaning who, by an affectation of mystery and reserve, produce an impression of craft and insincerity.

Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, however well he may represent the undoubted ability of his ancestor, certainly does not inherit the disingenuousness which was attributed to Lord Shelburne. With an impartiality, rarely to be found in a biographer, Lord Edmond shows both sides of the question. Shelburne indeed, throughout these volumes, is very much his own biographer. His letters and papers, his fragments of history and characters of his contemporaries, are clever and amusing. The reader, however, would be much misled who should adopt all Shelburne's views of the events which he narrates, and of the characters which he portrays. He derides the notion of Foreigners,' that freedom and constitutional government were promoted by the revolution. These blessings, it seems, were

, wholly owing to the weakness of the reigning family, who were driven by a disputed succession 'to abjure the rights of * royalty, and to throw themselves into the arms of the old • Whigs; in other words, telling the people “we are your «« slaves and blackamoors. France, on the other hand, in the seventeenth century, was 'systematically and wisely go“ verned, under Louis XIV., a king in every sense of the word, * who identified himself as few kings do with the public, with whom he was one and the same.' William III. was ' a proud sagacious Dutchman,' who hated liberty, who was actuated in his public conduct solely by ambition, and who came over to this country to forward his political purposes, and to provide for his worthless followers, the Bentincks, the Nassaus, the

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Keppels, &c. The princes and statesmen of the Hanover succession do not fare much better. Of George I. and II. there was little, perhaps, to be said ; and it would be difficult to imagine a character more contemptible than Frederick Prince of Wales. But we were not prepared to learn that Lord Chancellor Hardwicke caused Admiral Byng to be shot to save the reputation of his son-in-law Lord Anson ; nor that Lord Mansfield, like the generality of Scotch, had no regard • to truth whatever.' We might multiply specimens of this unjust and ill-natured criticism. But Lord Shelburne could sometimes treat the characters of great men with candour and discrimination. His sketches of Sir Robert Walpole, of Lord Granville, Lord Chatham, and Lord Ashburton are finely drawn.

After Chatham and Shelburne bad resigned, the residuum of the Ministry, yielding to the stubborn will of the King, entered upon a contest with Wilkes, as if the destruction of a profligate adventurer was a vital question of policy. While this was going on, says Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, outside • the limits of the court and the aristocracy lay the rising power of the middle classes. The party able to gain their support was certain of ultimate success.

6“I sell here,” said Matthew Boulton to those who like Shelburne visited his works, “ what the world desires to have, power.” The year which marked the beginning of the ascendency of Bute, had seen the completion of Brindley's canal over the Irwell; in the year in which he fell, Wedgwood had established the potteries, and Hargreaves was inventing the Jenny. While Grenville was passing the Stamp Act, Watt was discovering the steam engine; while the House of Commons was occupied in expelling Wilkes, Arkwright was inventing the spinning machine; and the great English newspapers were attracting to themselves a larger capital, and showing increased enterprise as each day passed by. The old Whigs, however, forgetting that the revolution had to a great extent been rendered successful by the support of the commercial classes, resolutely shut their eyes to the signs of the times, and seemed determined not to look beyond the charmed circle of their own family connexions.' (Vol. ii. pp. 189–90.)

Lord Edmond is a little hard upon the old Whigs. The revolution of 1688 was a party, as contradistinguished from a popular, revolution; and it was brought about mainly by the firmness and courage of the Whigs, without any material assistance from the commercial, or any other class. The old Whigs had many faults to answer for. They were factious, exclusive, and overbearing; but they never forsook their guiding principle of civil and religious freedom; and that principle was best served, in their day, by restraining the power of

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