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serve, was moved in both Houses. The treaties were powerfully defended by Shelburne in the Lords, and by Pitt in the Commons. In reply to those orators who expressed the opinion then prevalent that the prosperity of the country depended on commercial monopoly, Shelburne, educated in the new school of the Economists, did not hesitate to avow his belief that
Monopolies, some way or other, are ever justly punished. They forbid rivalry, and rivalry is of the very essence of the well-being of trade. This seems be the era of Protestantism in trade. All Europe appears enlightened, and eager to throw off the vile shackles of oppressive and ignorant monopoly ; that unmanly and illiberal principle, which is at once ungenerous and deceitful. A few interested Canadian merchants may complain; for merchants always love monopoly, without taking a moment's time to think whether it is for their interest or not. I avow that monopoly is always unwise ; but if there is any nation under heaven which ought to be first to reject monopoly, it is the English. Situated as we are between the old world and the new, and between southern and northern Europe, all we ought to covet upon earth is free trade, and fair equality. With more industry, with more enterprise, with more capital than any trading nation upon earth, it ought to be our constant cry, let every market be open, let us meet our rivals fairly, and we ask no more.' (Vol. iii. p. 348.)
The Address was carried in the Lords by the narrow majority of 13; but in the Commons the Government were beaten by a majority of 16. Many of Shelburne's friends urged him to appeal to the country; and arguing from the signal success of the dissolution in the following year, it is possible that this step promptly taken might have dispersed the Coalition. But we agree with Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice that a dissolution at that moment would have been premature and inopportune. The country, though tired of the war, was not yet reconciled to the peace; and there was a prevalent opinion, inflamed by the speeches and pamphlets of the Opposition, that too much had been conceded both to the revolted Colonies and to the foreign enemy. Shelburne himself had none of the personal popularity which counts for so much at a general election. He was indeed the most unpopular of the statesmen who had made a prominent figure since Bute. A persistent course of slander had fixed upon his name the stain of duplicity; and at best he was considered one of those proud exclusive Whigs whose rivalries and dissensions had long been regarded by the nation with impatience and disgust. Shel. burne perfectly understood his position ; he knew that he had no following in the country, and he had reason to think he was not supported by the King. The ground of this suspicion was that the Court contingent, which had played such an important part during the present reign in making and unmaking Ministers, had voted with the Opposition in the recent division. He imparted his suspicions to Pitt, and it was agreed that if the King's friends should support a motion condemning the treaty in express terms, of which Lord John Cavendish had given notice, the resignation of Lord Shelburne should be signified to the House of Commons by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As soon as the House assembled on the evening of February 21, it became known that Cavendish's motion was to be carried ; and Pitt, recognising the fact that the Ministry and not the treaties were on their trial, expanded his speech into a general defence of their policy; and alluding to the event which was imminent, he concluded with a fine passage, which, though often quoted, will bear repetition:
' I repeat, then, that it is not this treaty, it is the Earl of Shelburne alone whom the movers of this question are desirous to wound. This is the object which has raised this storm of faction; this is the aim of the unnatural coalition to which I have alluded. If, however, the baneful alliance is not already formed, if this ill-omened marriage is not already solemnised, I know a just and lawful impediment, and, in the name of the public safety, I here forbid the banns.' (Parliamentary History, vol. xxiii. p. 550.)
Two days after this decisive vote, Shelburne resigned; and after various attempts to patch up the Government, the Coalition Ministry was formed, with the Duke of Portland at its head, and Lord North and Fox Secretaries of State.
Lord Shelburne's Administration lasted scarcely a twelvemonth. Its principal act was to put an end to the protracted war, which had been wantonly begun and feebly conducted by a former Government. Two British armies had capitulated in America; French and Spanish fleets had appeared in the Channel. The Northern Powers had entered into a league to cripple the naval force of England. There had never been a concurrence of circumstances in the history of this country so unfavourable to the conclusion of an honourable peace. Yet Shelburne, by consummate skill, prudence, and temper, through many difficulties, not the least of which arose from his own colleagues, at length succeeded in obtaining treaties which made no substantial concession to the Continental Powers, and emancipated America without humiliation to the mother country.
* En effet,' says the American historian to whom we have already referred, 'le traité du 30 Novembre ne fut pas un compromis ni un accord imposé par la force ; ce fut une solution libre et parfaite, un
arrangement destiné à durer perpétuellement sur tous les points qui avaient été mis en question.'
We will add another just and graceful tribute to Shelburne from the same writer :
· Le mérite d'avoir mis un terme à une lutte meurtrière entre des hommes d'une même parenté et d'un même langage, de l'avoir fait en se mettant au-dessus des préjugés, d'y avoir employé la modération, d'avoir agi par un désir sincère de la réconciliation, d'avoir cédé franchement à l'Amérique la jouissance de ses avantages naturels; enfin d'avoir poursuivi avec habileté un plan bien conçu à l'effet de gagner, par la liberté des transactions commerciales, une magnifique compensation pour la perte du monopole et l'abandon de la souveraineté ; ce mérite appartient à Lord Shelburne au-dessus des autres hommes d'Etat que la Grande-Bretagne possédait alors.' (Vol. ii. p. 208.)
Besides the pacification of Europe and America, Shelburne engaged in another enterprise which no Minister who consulted his own ease and safety would have attempted, and which in fact contributed materially to his fall. He had drawn up an extensive scheme for the reform of the public service which, in consequence of the system of parliamentary management, had become a sink of jobbery and corruption. He thus raised up a host of enemies, which no Minister in those days could withstand. Even in the last hour of his Administration, Shelburne made an effort to carry through Parliament a bill to open the commercial intercourse between this country and the United States of America, in accordance with terms which had been settled by the British envoys at Paris and the American Commissioners. One of the first acts of the Coalition was to stop this excellent measure; and the opportunity thus lost of establishing commercial relations with the United States upon the basis of free trade has never to this moment been repaired.
With the exception of one speech, in which he made a forcible attack upon the financial measures of Lord John Cavendish, Shelburne took no part in public affairs during the remainder of the session. Meanwhile a cloud of obloquy was gathering round the Coalition; and the first great measure which they brought forward was manifestly designed to secure themselves in power for a certain number of years, independent of the Crown and the country. By the principal provision of the East India Bill, the whole government and patronage of India was to be vested in seven commissioners, who were to remain in office for a fixed period of four years, and to be
• Bancroft's History, translated by M. de Circourt, vol. ii. p. 247.
appointed by Parliament. The effect of this provision was to enable the Minister who could command a majority of the House of Commons to maintain himself in power for four years at least without fear of disturbance. The bill, nevertheless, passed the Commons by a majority of more than two to one, and its passage through the Upper House was looked upon as a matter of course. The King, however, was determined to fight his Ministers with their own weapon. As they had made an attempt to encroach on the constitutional rights of the Crown, so did the King, in order to defeat that attempt, resort to an unconstitutional interference with the freedom of Parliament. He caused it to be intimated through Lord Temple to such peers as were willing to listen to such a communication, that he
should deem those who should vote for the bill not only not his « friends but his enemies.' The consequence was the rejection of the bill in the House of Lords by a decisive majority. The King, who never lacked courage and decision, was resolved to carry through the bold policy on which he had entered. Finding that the Ministers showed no intention of resiyning on the day after the vote on the Indian Bill, the King sent at midnight a peremptory order to North and Fox to deliver up the seals, and to send them by the Under Secretaries, as the personal attendance of the Ministers themselves would not be agreeable to him. The seals were provisionally given to Lord Temple, who was also employed to write letters of dismissal to the other members of the Cabinet; but if that lord expected his Majesty's commands to form a new Administration, he was mistaken, for Mr. Pitt was immediately appointed First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer. His coileagues, with the exceptions of Lords Gower, Thurlow, and Sydney (Thomas Townshend), were men of no political mark or experience, and comprised not a single member of the Lower House. Though many were found to applaud the spirited insult offered to an overbearing cabal, there were few who seriously thought the new Ministry could last. A young man of five-and-twenty without any party following, even though he was backed by the whole power and influence of the Court, seemed to have little chance against the most powerful combination that had ever been arrayed in Parliament. The seals of office which had been taken from North and Fox, after many refusals, were accepted by Lord Sydney and Lord Carmarthen.
While Pitt found the greatest difficulty in persuading any man of note to join his Administration, it is a notable fact that he made no overture of any kind to Shelburne. If there was one man more than another to whom the young Minister might have looked for aid and counsel in the difficult enterprise which he had undertaken, it was his father's friend and his late chief; but it is certain that Shelburne was neither consulted nor invited to take part in the new arrangements. Historians of the reign of George III. have been unable to account for a slight apparently so wanton and ungrateful. The explanation, like that of many other mysteries, lies near the surface, and has been supplied by the research of Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice among
at Lansdowne House. There were several causes for the exclusion of Shelburne, neither of them separately insuperable but collectively of great weight. In the first place, the King was against him. It was his Majesty's habit to accuse every Minister of deserting him who could not carry through the policy of the Court; and he was especially incensed against Shelburne for abandoning him to the Coalition. Shelburne's offence had been aggravated by his absence from the division on the India Bill, after Temple had been instructed to signify his Majesty's pleasure.
The King's repugnance to a particular Minister, however, might have been got over, as it had been on former occasions, if the head of the Government had insisted on the appointment. But the real reason which decided Pitt not to offer office to Shelburne is to be found in the correspondence of their common friend Mr. Orde.* According to Dundas, the excuse which Pitt made was that he felt a delicacy in offering office to a man under whom he had so recently held office himself. The truth was that he did not venture to weight himself with the load of unpopularity which, however unjustly, had attached to Shelburne. This was plainly expressed by Lord Sydney in a conversation with Orde:
* He declared, the latter wrote to Shelburne, in the strongest terms his own regard to your Lordship, and his sense of the obligations he lay under to you, which he was proud to acknowledge everywhere, and also his conviction that there never was a Minister who might be more depended on for spirit, ability, and steadiness, and for sacred adherence to all engagements in business. He lamented, however, the effect and absolute influence of prejudice, which at this moment prevented the applications which might otherwise have been made to you. He said that it was in vain to combat it. The prevalence of it would by degrees diminish and die away, but that at present it would not be much more alarning to many to bring Lord Bute forward. He touched also
* Secretary of the Treasury, afterwards Secretary for Ireland, created Lord Bolton after his marriage with the natural daughter and heiress of the last Duke of Bolton.