Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Critical and Historical Essays Volume 1 by Thomas Babington Macaulay

Part 10 out of 16

Adobe PDF icon
Download Critical and Historical Essays Volume 1 pdf
File size: 1.9 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Tories, none but Whigs were created peers and baronets. Though
most of the clergy were Tories, none but Whigs were appointed
deans and bishops. In every county, opulent and well descended
Tory squires complained that their names were left out of the
commission of the peace, while men of small estate and mean
birth, who were for toleration and excise, septennial parliaments
and standing armies, presided at quarter-sessions, and became
deputy lieutenants.

By degrees some approaches were made towards a reconciliation.
While Walpole was at the head of affairs, enmity to his power
induced a large and powerful body of Whigs, headed by the heir-
apparent of the throne, to make an alliance with the Tories, and
a truce even with the Jacobites. After Sir Robert's fall, the ban
which lay on the Tory party was taken off. The chief places in
the administration continued to be filled with Whigs, and,
indeed, could scarcely have been filled otherwise; for the Tory
nobility and gentry, though strong in numbers and in property,
had among them scarcely a single man distinguished by talents,
either for business or for debate. A few of them, however, were
admitted to subordinate offices; and this indulgence produced a
softening effect on the temper of the whole body. The first levee
of George the Second after Walpole's resignation was a remarkable
spectacle. Mingled with the constant supporters of the House of
Brunswick, with the Russells, the Cavendishes, and the Pelhams,
appeared a crowd of faces utterly unknown to the pages and
gentlemen-ushers, lords of rural manors, whose ale and foxhounds
were renowned in the neighbourhood of the Mendip hills, or round
the Wrekin, but who had never crossed the threshold of the palace
since the days when Oxford, with the white staff in his hand,
stood behind Queen Anne.

During the eighteen years which followed this day, both factions
were gradually sinking deeper and deeper into repose. The apathy
of the public mind is partly to be ascribed to the unjust
violence with which the administration of Walpole had been
assailed. In the body politic, as in the natural body, morbid
languor generally succeeds morbid excitement. The people had been
maddened by sophistry, by calumny, by rhetoric, by stimulants
applied to the national pride. In the fulness of bread, they had
raved as if famine had been in the land. While enjoying such a
measure of civil and religious freedom as, till then, no great
society had ever known, they had cried out for a Timoleon or a
Brutus to stab their oppressor to the heart. They were in this
frame of mind when the change of administration took place; and
they soon found that there was to be no change whatever in the
system of government. The natural consequences followed. To
frantic zeal succeeded sullen indifference. The cant of
patriotism had not merely ceased to charm the public ear, but
had become as nauseous as the cant of Puritanism after the
downfall of the Rump. The hot fit was over, the cold fit had
begun: and it was long before seditious arts, or even real
grievances, could bring back the fiery paroxysm which had run its
course and reached its termination.

Two attempts were made to disturb this tranquillity. The banished
heir of the House of Stuart headed a rebellion; the discontented
heir of the House of Brunswick headed an opposition. Both the
rebellion and the opposition came to nothing. The battle of
Culloden annihilated the Jacobite party. The death of Prince
Frederic dissolved the faction which, under his guidance, had
feebly striven to annoy his father's government. His chief
followers hastened to make their peace with the ministry; and the
political torpor became complete.

Five years after the death of Prince Frederic, the public mind
was for a time violently excited. But this excitement had nothing
to do with the old disputes between Whigs and Tories. England was
at war with France. The war had been feebly conducted. Minorca
had been torn from us. Our fleet had retired before the white
flag of the House of Bourbon. A bitter sense of humiliation, new
to the proudest and bravest of nations, superseded every other
feeling. The cry of all the counties and great towns of the realm
was for a government which would retrieve the honour of the
English arms. The two most powerful in the country were the Duke
of Newcastle and Pitt. Alternate victories and defeats had made
them sensible that neither of them could stand alone. The
interest of the State, and the interest of their own ambition,
impelled them to coalesce. By their coalition was formed the
ministry which was in power when George the Third ascended the

The more carefully the structure of this celebrated ministry is
examined, the more shall we see reason to marvel at the skill or
the luck which had combined in one harmonious whole such various
and, as it seemed, incompatible elements of force. The influence
which is derived from stainless integrity, the influence which is
derived from the vilest arts of corruption, the strength of
aristocratical connection, the strength of democratical
enthusiasm, all these things were for the first time found
together. Newcastle brought to the coalition a vast mass of
power, which had descended to him from Walpole and Pelham. The
public offices, the church, the courts of law, the army, the
navy, the diplomatic service, swarmed with his creatures. The
boroughs, which long afterwards made up the memorable schedules A
and B, were represented by his nominees. The great Whig families,
which, during several generations, had been trained in the
discipline of party warfare, and were accustomed to stand
together in a firm phalanx, acknowledged him as their captain.
Pitt, on the other hand, had what Newcastle wanted, an eloquence
which stirred the passions and charmed the imagination, a high
reputation for purity, and the confidence and ardent love of

The partition which the two ministers made of the powers of
government was singularly happy. Each occupied a province for
which he was well qualified; and neither had any inclination to
intrude himself into the province of the other. Newcastle took
the treasury, the civil and ecclesiastical patronage, and the
disposal of that part of the secret-service money which was then
employed in bribing members of Parliament. Pitt was Secretary of
State, with the direction of the war and of foreign affairs. Thus
the filth of all the noisome and pestilential sewers of
government was poured into one channel. Through the other passed
only what was bright and stainless. Mean and selfish politicians,
pining for commissionerships, gold sticks, and ribands, flocked
to the great house at the corner of Lincoln's Inn Fields. There,
at every levee, appeared eighteen or twenty pair of lawn sleeves;
for there was not, it was said, a single Prelate who had not owed
either his first elevation or some subsequent translation to
Newcastle. There appeared those members of the House of Commons
in whose silent votes the main strength of the Government lay.
One wanted a place in the excise for his butler. Another came
about a prebend for his son. A third whispered that he had always
stood by his Grace and the Protestant succession; that his last
election had been very expensive; that potwallopers had now no
conscience; that he had been forced to take up money on mortgage;
and that he hardly knew where to turn for five hundred pounds.
The Duke pressed all their hands, passed his arms round all their
shoulders, patted all their backs, and sent away some with wages,
and some with promises. From this traffic Pitt stood haughtily
aloof. Not only was he himself incorruptible, but he shrank from
the loathsome drudgery of corrupting others. He had not, however,
been twenty years in Parliament, and ten in office, without
discovering how the Government was carried on. He was perfectly
aware that bribery was practised on a large scale by his
colleagues. Hating the practice, yet despairing of putting it
down, and doubting whether, in those times, any ministry could
stand without it, he determined to be blind to it. He would see
nothing, know nothing, believe nothing. People who came to talk
to him about shares in lucrative contracts, or about the means of
securing a Cornish corporation, were soon put out of countenance
by his arrogant humility. They did him too much honour. Such
matters were beyond his capacity. It was true that his poor
advice about expeditions and treaties was listened to with
indulgence by a gracious sovereign. If the question were, who
should command in North America, or who should be ambassador at
Berlin, his colleagues would condescend to take his opinion. But
he had not the smallest influence with the Secretary of the
Treasury, and could not venture to ask even for a tidewaiter's

It may be doubted whether he did not owe as much of his
popularity to his ostentatious purity as to his eloquence, or to
his talents for the administration of war. It was everywhere said
with delight and admiration that the Great Commoner, without any
advantages of birth or fortune, had, in spite of the dislike of
the Court and of the aristocracy, made himself the first man in
England, and made England the first country in the world; that
his name was mentioned with awe in every palace from Lisbon to
Moscow; that his trophies were in all the four quarters of the
globe; yet that he was still plain William Pitt, without title or
riband, without pension or sinecure place. Whenever he should
retire, after saving the State, he must sell his coach horses and
his silver candlesticks. Widely as the taint of corruption had
spread, his hands were clean. They had never received, they had
never given, the price of infamy. Thus the coalition gathered to
itself support from all the high and all the low parts of human
nature, and was strong with the whole united strength of virtue
and of Mammon.

Pitt and Newcastle were co-ordinate chief ministers. The
subordinate places had been filled on the principle of including
in the Government every party and shade of party, the avowed
Jacobites alone excepted, nay, every public man who, from his
abilities or from his situation, seemed likely to be either
useful in office or formidable in opposition.

The Whigs, according to what was then considered as their
prescriptive right, held by far the largest share of power. The
main support of the administration was what may be called the
great Whig connection, a connection which, during near half a
century, had generally had the chief sway in the country, and
which derived an immense authority from rank, wealth, borough
interest, and firm union. To this connection, of which Newcastle
was the head, belonged the houses of Cavendish, Lennox, Fitzroy,
Bentinck, Manners, Conway, Wentworth, and many others of high

There were two other powerful Whig connections, either of which
might have been a nucleus for a strong opposition. But room had
been found in the Government for both. They were known as the
Grenvilles and the Bedfords.

The head of the Grenvilles was Richard Earl Temple. His talents
for administration and debate were of no high order. But his
great possessions, his turbulent and unscrupulous character, his
restless activity, and his skill in the most ignoble tactics of
faction, made him one of the most formidable enemies that a
ministry could have. He was keeper of the privy seal. His brother
George was treasurer of the navy. They were supposed to be on
terms of close friendship with Pitt, who had married their
sister, and was the most uxorious of husbands.

The Bedfords, or, as they were called by their enemies, the
Bloomsbury gang, professed to be led by John Duke of Bedford, but
in truth led him wherever they chose, and very often led him
where he never would have gone of his own accord. He had many
good qualities of head and heart, and would have been certainly a
respectable, and possibly a distinguished man, if he had been
less under the influence of his friends, or more fortunate in
choosing them. Some of them were indeed, to do them justice, men
of parts. But here, we are afraid, eulogy must end. Sandwich and
Rigby were able debaters, pleasant boon companions, dexterous
intriguers, masters of all the arts of jobbing and
electioneering, and both in public and private life, shamelessly
immoral. Weymouth had a natural eloquence, which sometimes
astonished those who knew how little he owed to study. But he was
indolent and dissolute, and had early impaired a fine estate with
the dice-box, and a fine constitution with the bottle. The wealth
and power of the Duke, and the talents and audacity of some of
his retainers, might have seriously annoyed the strongest
ministry. But his assistance had been secured. He was Lord-
Lieutenant of Ireland; Rigby was his secretary; and the whole
party dutifully supported the measures of the Government.

Two men had, a short time before, been thought likely to contest
with Pitt the lead of the House of Commons, William Murray and
Henry Fox. But Murray had been removed to the Lords, and was
Chief Justice of the King's Bench. Fox was indeed still in the
Commons; but means had been found to secure, if not his strenuous
support, at least his silent acquiescence. He was a poor man; he
was a doting father. The office of Paymaster-General during an
expensive war was, in that age, perhaps the most lucrative
situation in the gift of the Government. This office was bestowed
on Fox. The prospect of making a noble fortune in a few years,
and of providing amply for his darling boy Charles, was
irresistibly tempting. To hold a subordinate place, however
profitable, after having led the House of Commons, and having
been intrusted with the business of forming a ministry, was
indeed a great descent. But a punctilious sense of personal
dignity was no part of the character of Henry Fox.

We have not time to enumerate all the other men of weight who
were, by some tie or other, attached to the Government. We may
mention Hardwicke, reputed the first lawyer of the age; Legge,
reputed the first financier of the age; the acute and ready
Oswald; the bold and humorous Nugent; Charles Townshend, the most
brilliant and versatile of mankind; Elliot, Barrington, North,
Pratt. Indeed, as far as we recollect, there were in the whole
House of Commons only two men of distinguished abilities who were
not connected with the Government; and those two men stood so low
in public estimation, that the only service which they could have
rendered to any government would have been to oppose it. We speak
of Lord George Sackville and Bubb Dodington.

Though most of the official men, and all the members of the
Cabinet, were reputed Whigs, the Tories were by no means excluded
from employment. Pitt had gratified many of them with commands in
the militia, which increased both their income and their
importance in their own counties; and they were therefore in
better humour than at any time since the death of Anne. Some of
the party still continued to grumble over their punch at the
Cocoa Tree; but in the House of Commons not a single one of the
malcontents durst lift his eyes above the buckle of Pitt's shoe.

Thus there was absolutely no opposition. Nay, there was no sign
from which it could be guessed in what quarter opposition was
likely to arise. Several years passed during which Parliament
seemed to have abdicated its chief functions. The journals of the
House of Commons, during four sessions, contain no trace of a
division on a party question. The supplies, though beyond
precedent great, were voted without discussion. The most animated
debates of that period were on road bills and enclosure bills.

The old King was content; and it mattered little whether he were
content or not. It would have been impossible for him to
emancipate himself from a ministry so powerful, even if he had
been inclined to do so. But he had no such inclination. He had
once, indeed, been strongly prejudiced against Pitt, and had
repeatedly been ill used by Newcastle; but the vigour and success
with which the war had been waged in Germany, and the smoothness
with which all public business was carried on, had produced a
favourable change in the royal mind.

Such was the posture of affairs when, on the twenty-fifth of
October, 1760, George the Second suddenly died, and George the
Third, then twenty-two years old, became King. The situation of
George the Third differed widely from that of his grandfather and
that of his great grandfather. Many years had elapsed since a
sovereign of England had been an object of affection to any part
of his people. The first two Kings of the House of Hanover had
neither those hereditary rights which have often supplied the
defect of merit, nor those personal qualities which have often
supplied the defect of title. A prince may be popular with little
virtue or capacity, if he reigns by birthright derived from a
long line of illustrious predecessors. An usurper may be popular,
if his genius has saved or aggrandised the nation which he:
governs. Perhaps no rulers have in our time had a stronger hold
on the affection of subjects than the Emperor Francis, and his
son-in-law the Emperor Napoleon. But imagine a ruler with no
better title than Napoleon, and no better understanding than
Francis. Richard Cromwell was such a ruler; and, as soon as an
arm was lifted up against him, he fell without a struggle, amidst
universal derision. George the First and George the Second were
in a situation which bore some resemblance to that of Richard
Cromwell. They were saved from the fate of Richard Cromwell by
the strenuous and able exertions of the Whig party, and by the
general conviction that the nation had no choice but between the
House of Brunswick and popery. But by no class were the Guelphs
regarded with that devoted affection, of which Charles the First,
Charles the Second, and James the Second, in spite of the
greatest faults, and in the midst of the greatest misfortunes,
received innumerable proofs. Those Whigs who stood by the new
dynasty so manfully with purse and sword did so on principles
independent of, and indeed almost incompatible with, the
sentiment of devoted loyalty. The moderate Tories regarded the
foreign dynasty as a great evil, which must be endured for fear
of a greater evil. In the eyes of the high Tories, the Elector
was the most hateful of robbers and tyrants. The crown of another
was on his head; the blood of the brave and loyal was on his
hands. Thus, during many years, the Kings of England were objects
of strong personal aversion to many of their subjects; and of
strong personal attachment to none. They found, indeed, firm and
cordial support against the pretender to their throne; but this
support was given, not at all for their sake, but for the sake of
a religious and political system which would have been endangered
by their fall. This support, too, they were compelled to purchase
by perpetually sacrificing their private inclinations to the
party which had set them on the throne, and which maintained them

At the close of the reign of George the Second, the feeling of
aversion with which the House of Brunswick had long been regarded
by half the nation had died away; but no feeling of affection to
that house had yet sprung up. There was little, indeed, in the
old King's character to inspire esteem or tenderness. He was not
our countryman. He never set foot on our soil till he was more
than thirty years old. His speech betrayed his foreign origin and
breeding. His love for his native land, though the most amiable
part of his character, was not likely to endear him to his
British subjects. He was never so happy as when he could exchange
St. James's for Hernhausen. Year after year, our fleets were
employed to convoy him to the Continent, and the interests of his
kingdom were as nothing to him when compared with the interests
of his Electorate. As to the rest, he had neither the qualities
which make dulness respectable, nor the qualities which make
libertinism attractive. He had been a bad son and a worse father,
an unfaithful husband and an ungraceful lover. Not one
magnanimous or humane action is recorded of him; but many
instances of meanness, and of a harshness which, but for the
strong constitutional restraints under which he was placed, might
have made the misery of his people.

He died; and at once a new world opened. The young King was a
born Englishman. All his tastes and habits, good or bad, were
English. No portion of his subjects had anything to reproach him
with. Even the remaining adherents of the House of Stuart could
scarcely impute to him the guilt of usurpation. He was not
responsible for the Revolution, for the Act of Settlement, for
the suppression of the risings of 1715 and of 1745. He was
innocent of the blood of Derwentwater and Kilmarnock, of
Balmerino and Cameron. Born fifty years after the old line had
been expelled, fourth in descent and third in succession of the
Hanoverian dynasty, he might plead some show of hereditary right.
His age, his appearance, and all that was known of his character,
conciliated public favour. He was in the bloom of youth; his
person and address were pleasing. Scandal imputed to him no vice;
and flattery might without any glaring absurdity, ascribe to him
many princely virtues.

It is not strange, therefore, that the sentiment of loyalty, a
sentiment which had lately seemed to be as much out of date as
the belief in witches or the practice of pilgrimage, should, from
the day of his accession, have begun to revive. The Tories in
particular, who had always been inclined to King-worship, and who
had long felt with pain the want of an idol before whom they
could bow themselves down, were as joyful as the priests of Apis,
when, after a long interval, they had found a new calf to adore.
It was soon clear that George the Third was regarded by a portion
of the nation with a very different feeling from that which his
two predecessors had inspired. They had been merely First
Magistrates, Doges, Stadtholders; he was emphatically a King, the
anointed of heaven, the breath of his people's nostrils. The
years of the widowhood and mourning of the Tory party were over.
Dido had kept faith long enough to the cold ashes of a former
lord; she had at last found a comforter, and recognised the
vestiges of the old flame. The golden days of Harley would
return. The Somersets, the Lees, and the Wyndhams would again
surround the throne. The latitudinarian Prelates, who had not
been ashamed to correspond with Doddridge and to shake hands with
Whiston, would be succeeded by divines of the temper of South and
Atterbury. The devotion which had been so signally shown to the
House of Stuart, which had been proof against defeats,
confiscations, and proscriptions, which perfidy, oppression,
ingratitude, could not weary out, was now transferred entire to
the House of Brunswick. If George the Third would but accept the
homage of the Cavaliers, and High Churchmen, he should be to them
all that Charles the First and Charles the Second had been.

The Prince, whose accession was thus hailed by a great party long
estranged from his house, had received from nature a strong will,
a firmness of temper to which a harsher name might perhaps be
given, and an understanding not, indeed, acute or enlarged, but
such as qualified him to be a good man of business. But his
character had not yet fully developed itself. He had been brought
up in strict seclusion. The detractors of the Princess Dowager of
Wales affirmed that she had kept her children from commerce with
society, in order that she might hold an undivided empire over
their minds. She gave a very different explanation of her
conduct. She would gladly, she said, see her sons and daughters
mix in the world, if they could do so without risk to their
morals. But the profligacy of the people of quality alarmed her.
The young men were all rakes; the young women made love, instead
of waiting till it was made to them. She could not bear to expose
those whom she loved best to the contaminating influence of such
society. The moral advantages of the system of education which
formed the Duke of York, the Duke of Cumberland, and the Queen of
Denmark, may perhaps be questioned. George the Third was indeed
no libertine; but he brought to the throne a mind only half open,
and was for some time entirely under the influence of his mother
and of his Groom of the Stole, John Stuart, Earl of Bute.

The Earl of Bute was scarcely known, even by name, to the country
which he was soon to govern. He had indeed, a short time after he
came of age, been chosen to fill a vacancy, which, in the middle
of a parliament, had taken place among the Scotch representative
peers. He had disobliged the Whig ministers by giving some silent
votes with the Tories, had consequently lost his seat at the next
dissolution, and had never been re-elected. Near twenty years had
elapsed since he had borne any part in politics. He had passed
some of those years at his seat in one of the Hebrides, and from
that retirement he had emerged as one of the household of Prince
Frederic. Lord Bute, excluded from public life, had found out
many ways of amusing his leisure. He was a tolerable actor in
private theatricals, and was particularly successful in the part
of Lothario. A handsome leg, to which both painters and satirists
took care to give prominence, was among his chief qualifications
for the stage. He devised quaint dresses for masquerades. He
dabbled in geometry, mechanics, and botany. He paid some
attention to antiquities and works of art, and was considered in
his own circle as a judge of painting, architecture, and poetry.
It is said that his spelling was incorrect. But though, in our
time, incorrect spelling is justly considered as a proof of
sordid ignorance, it would be unjust to apply the same rule to
people who lived a century ago. The novel of Sir Charles
Grandison was published about the time at which Lord Bute made
his appearance at Leicester House. Our readers may perhaps
remember the account which Charlotte Grandison gives of her two
lovers. One of them, a fashionable baronet who talks French and
Italian fluently, cannot write a line in his own language without
some sin against orthography; the other, who is represented as a
most respectable specimen of the young aristocracy, and something
of a virtuoso, is described as spelling pretty well for a lord.
On the whole, the Earl of Bute might fairly be called a man of
cultivated mind. He was also a man of undoubted honour. But his
understanding was narrow, and his manners cold and haughty. His
qualifications for the part of a statesman were best described by
Frederic, who often indulged in the unprincely luxury of sneering
at his dependants. "Bute," said his Royal Highness, "you are the
very man to be envoy at some small proud German court where there
is nothing to do."

Scandal represented the Groom of the Stole as the favoured lover
of the Princess Dowager. He was undoubtedly her confidential
friend. The influence which the two united exercised over the
mind of the King was for a time unbounded. The Princess, a woman
and a foreigner, was not likely to be a judicious adviser about
affairs of State. The Earl could scarcely be said to have served
even a noviciate in politics. His notions of government had been
acquired in the society which had been in the habit of assembling
round Frederic at Kew and Leicester House. That society consisted
principally of Tories, who had been reconciled to the House of
Hanover by the civility with which the Prince had treated them,
and by the hope of obtaining high preferment when he should come
to the throne. Their political creed was a peculiar modification
of Toryism. It was the creed neither of the Tories of the
seventeenth nor of the Tories of the nineteenth century. It was
the creed, not of Filmer and Sacheverell, not of Perceval and
Eldon, but of the sect of which Bolingbroke may be considered
as the chief doctor. This sect deserves commendation for having
pointed out and justly reprobated some great abuses which sprang
up during the long domination of the Whigs. But it is far easier
to point out and reprobate abuses than to propose beneficial
reforms: and the reforms which Bolingbroke proposed would either
have been utterly inefficient, or would have produced much more
mischief than they would have removed.

The Revolution had saved the nation from one class of evils, but
had at the same time--such is the imperfection of all things
human--engendered or aggravated another class of evils which
required new remedies. Liberty and property were secure from the
attacks of prerogative. Conscience was respected. No government
ventured to infringe any of the rights solemnly recognised by the
instrument which had called William and Mary to the throne. But
it cannot be denied that, under the new system, the public
interests and the public morals were seriously endangered by
corruption and faction. During the long struggle against the
Stuarts, the chief object of the most enlightened statesmen had
been to strengthen the House of Commons, The struggle was over;
the victory was won; the House of Commons was supreme in the
State; and all the vices which had till then been latent in the
representative system were rapidly developed by prosperity and
power. Scarcely had the executive government become really
responsible to the House of Commons, when it began to appear that
the House of Commons was not really responsible to the nation.
Many of the constituent bodies were under the absolute control of
individuals; many were notoriously at the command of the highest
bidder. The debates were not published. It was very seldom known
out of doors how a gentleman had voted. Thus, while the ministry
was accountable to the Parliament, the majority of the Parliament
was accountable to nobody. In such circumstances, nothing could
be more natural than that the members should insist on being paid
for their votes, should form themselves into combinations for the
purpose of raising the price of their votes, and should at
critical conjunctures extort large wages by threatening a strike.
Thus the Whig ministers of George the First and George the Second
were compelled to reduce corruption to a system, and to practise
it on a gigantic scale.

If we are right as to the cause of these abuses, we can scarcely
be wrong as to the remedy. The remedy was surely not to deprive
the House of Commons of its weight in the State. Such a course
would undoubtedly have put an end to parliamentary corruption and
to parliamentary factions: for, when votes cease to be of
importance, they will cease to be bought; and, when knaves can
get nothing by combining, they will cease to combine. But to
destroy corruption and faction by introducing despotism would
have been to cure bad by worse. The proper remedy evidently was,
to make the House of Commons responsible to the nation; and this
was to be effected in two ways; first, by giving publicity to
parliamentary proceedings, and thus placing every member on his
trial before the tribunal of public opinion; and secondly, by so
reforming the constitution of the House that no man should be
able to sit in it who had not been returned by a respectable and
independent body of constituents.

Bolingbroke and Bolingbroke's disciples recommended a very
different mode of treating the diseases of the State. Their
doctrine was that a vigorous use of the prerogative by a patriot
King would at once break all factious combinations, and supersede
the pretended necessity of bribing members of Parliament. The
King had only to resolve that he would be master, that he would
not be held in thraldom by any set of men, that he would take for
ministers any persons in whom he had confidence, without
distinction of party, and that he would restrain his servants
from influencing by immoral means either the constituent bodies
or the representative body. This childish scheme proved that
those who proposed it knew nothing of the nature of the evil with
which they pretended to deal. The real cause of the prevalence of
corruption and faction was that a House of Commons, not
accountable to the people, was more powerful than the King.
Bolingbroke's remedy could be applied only by a King more
powerful than the House of Commons. How was the patriot Prince to
govern in defiance of the body without whose consent he could not
equip a sloop, keep a battalion under arms, send an embassy, or
defray even the charges of his own household? Was he to dissolve
the Parliament? And what was he likely to gain by appealing to
Sudbury and Old Sarum against the venality of their
representatives? Was he to send out privy seals? Was he to levy
ship-money? If so, this boasted reform must commence in all
probability by civil war, and, if consummated, must be
consummated by the establishment of absolute monarchy. Or was the
patriot King to carry the House of Commons with him in his
upright designs? By what means? Interdicting himself from the use
of corrupt influence, what motive was he to address to the
Dodingtons and Winningtons? Was cupidity, strengthened by habit,
to be laid asleep by a few fine sentences about virtue and union?

Absurd as this theory was, it had many admirers, particularly
among men of letters. It was now to be reduced to practice; and
the result was, as any man of sagacity must have foreseen, the
most piteous and ridiculous of failures.

On the very day of the young King's accession, appeared some
signs which indicated the approach of a great change. The speech
which he made to his Council was not submitted to the Cabinet. It
was drawn up by Bute, and contained some expressions which might
be construed into reflections on the conduct of affairs during
the late reign. Pitt remonstrated, and begged that these
expressions might be softened down in the printed copy; but it
was not till after some hours of altercation that Bute yielded;
and even after Bute had yielded, the King affected to hold out
till the following afternoon. On the same day on which this
singular contest took place, Bute was not only sworn of the Privy
Council, but introduced into the Cabinet.

Soon after this Lord Holdernesse, one of the Secretaries of
State, in pursuance of a plan concerted with the Court, resigned
the seals. Bute was instantly appointed to the vacant place.

A general election speedily followed. and the new Secretary
entered Parliament in the only way in which he then could enter
it, as one of the sixteen representative peers of Scotland. [In
the reign of Anne, the House of Lords had resolved that, under
the 23rd article of Union, no Scotch peer could be created a peer
of Great Britain. This resolution was not annulled till the year

Had the ministers been firmly united it can scarcely be doubted
that they would have been able to withstand the Court. The
parliamentary influence of the Whig aristocracy, combined with
the genius, the virtue, and the fame of Pitt, would have been
irresistible. But there had been in the Cabinet of George the
Second latent jealousies and enmities, which now began to show
themselves. Pitt had been estranged from his old ally Legge, the
Chancellor of the Exchequer. Some of the ministers were envious
of Pitt's popularity. Others were, not altogether without cause,
disgusted by his imperious and haughty demeanour. Others, again,
were honestly opposed to some parts of his policy. They admitted
that he had found the country in the depths of humiliation, and
had raised it to the height of glory; they admitted that he had
conducted the war with energy, ability, and splendid success; but
they began to hint that the drain on the resources of the State
was unexampled, and that the public debt was increasing with a
speed at which Montague or Godolphin would have stood aghast.
Some of the acquisitions made by our fleets and armies were, it
was acknowledged, profitable as well as honourable; but, now that
George the Second was dead, a courtier might venture to ask why
England was to become a party in a dispute between two German
powers. What was it to her whether the House of Hapsburg or the
House of Brandenburg ruled in Silesia? Why were the best English
regiments fighting on the Main? Why were the Prussian battalions
paid with English gold? The great minister seemed to think it
beneath him to calculate the price of victory. As long as the
Tower guns were fired, as the streets were illuminated, as French
banners were carried in triumph through London, it was to him
matter of indifference to what extent the public burdens were
augmented. Nay, he seemed to glory in the magnitude of those
sacrifices which the people, fascinated by his eloquence and
success, had too readily made, and would long and bitterly
regret. There was no check on waste or embezzlement. Our
commissaries returned from the camp of Prince Ferdinand to buy
boroughs, to rear palaces, to rival the magnificence of the old
aristocracy of the realm. Already had we borrowed, in four years
of war, more than the most skilful and economical government
would pay in forty years of peace. But the prospect of peace was
as remote as ever. It could not be doubted that France, smarting
and prostrate, would consent to fair terms of accommodation; but
this was not what Pitt wanted. War had made him powerful and
popular; with war, all that was brightest in his life was
associated: for war his talents were peculiarly fitted. He had at
length begun to love war for its own sake, and was more disposed
to quarrel with neutrals than to make peace with enemies.

Such were the views of the Duke of Bedford and of the Earl of
Hardwicke; but no member of the Government held these opinions so
strongly as George Grenville, the treasurer of the navy. George
Grenville was brother-in-law of Pitt, and had always been
reckoned one of Pitt's personal and political friends. But it is
difficult to conceive two men of talents and integrity more
utterly unlike each other, Pitt, as his sister often said, knew
nothing accurately except Spenser's Fairy Queen. He had never
applied himself steadily to any branch of knowledge. He was a
wretched financier. He never became familiar even with the rules
of that House of which he was the brightest ornament. He had
never studied public law as a system; and was, indeed, so
ignorant of the whole subject, that George the Second, on one
occasion, complained bitterly that a man who had never read
Vattel should presume to undertake the direction of foreign
affairs. But these defects were more than redeemed by high and
rare gifts, by a strange power of inspiring great masses of men
with confidence and affection, by an eloquence which not only
delighted the ear, but stirred the blood, and brought tears into
the eyes, by originality in devising plans, by vigour in
executing them. Grenville, on the other hand, was by nature and
habit a man of details. He had been bred a lawyer; and he had
brought the industry and acuteness of the Temple into official
and parliamentary life. He was supposed to be intimately
acquainted with the whole fiscal system of the country. He had
paid especial attention to the law of Parliament, and was so
learned in all things relating to the privileges and orders of
the House of Commons that those who loved him least pronounced
him the only person competent to succeed Onslow in the Chair. His
speeches were generally instructive, and sometimes, from the
gravity and earnestness with which he spoke, even impressive, but
never brilliant, and generally tedious. Indeed, even when he was
at the head of affairs, he sometimes found it difficult to
obtain the ear of the House. In disposition as well as in
intellect, he differed widely from his brother-in-law. Pitt
was utterly regardless of money. He would scarcely stretch
out his hand to take it; and when it came, he threw it away
with childish profusion. Grenville, though strictly upright,
was grasping and parsimonious. Pitt was a man of excitable
nerves, sanguine in hope, easily elated by success and
popularity, keenly sensible of injury, but prompt to forgive;
Grenville's character was stem, melancholy, and pertinacious.
Nothing was more remarkable in him than his inclination always to
look on the dark side of things. He was the raven of the House of
Commons, always croaking defeat in the midst of triumphs, and
bankruptcy with an overflowing exchequer. Burke, with general
applause, compared him, in a time of quiet and plenty, to the
evil spirit whom Ovid described looking down on the stately
temples and wealthy haven of Athens, and scarce able to refrain
from weeping because she could find nothing at which to weep.
Such a man was not likely to be popular. But to unpopularity
Grenville opposed a dogged determination, which sometimes forced
even those who hated him to respect him.

It was natural that Pitt and Grenville, being such as they were,
should take very different views of the situation of affairs.
Pitt could see nothing but the trophies; Grenville could see
nothing but the bill. Pitt boasted that England was victorious at
once in America, in India, and in Germany, the umpire of the
Continent, the mistress of the sea. Grenville cast up the
subsidies, sighed over the army extraordinaries, and groaned in
spirit to think that the nation had borrowed eight millions in
one year.

With a ministry thus divided it was not difficult for Bute to
deal. Legge was the first who fell. He had given offence to the
young King in the late reign, by refusing to support a creature
of Bute at a Hampshire election. He was now not only turned out,
but in the closet, when he delivered up his seal of office, was
treated with gross incivility.

Pitt, who did not love Legge, saw this event with indifference.
But the danger was now fast approaching himself. Charles the
Third of Spain had early conceived a deadly hatred of England.
Twenty years before, when he was King of the Two Sicilies, he had
been eager to join the coalition against Maria Theresa. But an
English fleet had suddenly appeared in the Bay of Naples. An
English Captain had landed, and proceeded to the palace, had laid
a watch on the table, and had told his majesty that, within an
hour, a treaty of neutrality must be signed, or a bombardment
would commence. The treaty was signed; the squadron sailed out of
the bay twenty-four hours after it had sailed in; and from that
day the ruling passion of the humbled Prince was aversion to the
English name. He was at length in a situation in which he might
hope to gratify that passion. He had recently become King of
Spain and the Indies. He saw, with envy and apprehension, the
triumphs of our navy, and the rapid extension of our colonial
Empire. He was a Bourbon, and sympathised with the distress of
the house from which he sprang. He was a Spaniard; and no
Spaniard could bear to see Gibraltar and Minorca in the
possession of a foreign power. Impelled by such feelings, Charles
concluded a secret treaty with France. By this treaty, known as
the Family Compact, the two powers bound themselves, not in
express words, but by the clearest implication, to make war on
England in common. Spain postponed the declaration of hostilities
only till her fleet, laden with the treasures of America, should
have arrived.

The existence of the treaty could not be kept a secret from Pitt.
He acted as a man of his capacity and energy might be expected to
act. He at once proposed to declare war against Spain, and to
intercept the American fleet. He had determined, it is said, to
attack without delay both Havanna and the Philippines.

His wise and resolute counsel was rejected. Bute was foremost in
opposing it, and was supported by almost the whole Cabinet. Some
of the ministers doubted, or affected to doubt, the correctness
of Pitt's intelligence; some shrank from the responsibility of
advising a course so bold and decided as that which he proposed;
some were weary of his ascendency, and were glad to be rid of him
on any pretext. One only of his colleagues agreed with him, his
brother-in-law, Earl Temple.

Pitt and Temple resigned their offices. To Pitt the young King
behaved at parting in the most gracious manner. Pitt, who, proud
and fiery everywhere else, was always meek and humble in the
closet, was moved even to tears. The King and the favourite urged
him to accept some substantial mark of royal gratitude. Would he
like to be appointed governor of Canada? A salary of five
thousand pounds a year should be annexed to the office. Residence
would not be required. It was true that the governor of Canada,
as the law then stood, could not be a member of the House of
Commons. But a bill should be brought in, authorising Pitt to
hold his Government together with a seat in Parliament, and in
the preamble should be set forth his claims to the gratitude of
his country. Pitt answered, with all delicacy, that his anxieties
were rather for his wife and family than for himself, and that
nothing would be so acceptable to him as a mark of royal goodness
which might be beneficial to those who were dearest to him. The
hint was taken. The same Gazette which announced the retirement
of the Secretary of State announced also that, in consideration
of his great public services, his wife had been created a peeress
in her own right, and that a pension of three thousand pounds a
year, for three lives, had been bestowed on himself. It was
doubtless thought that the rewards and honours conferred on the
great minister would have a conciliatory effect on the public
mind. Perhaps, too, it was thought that his popularity, which had
partly arisen from the contempt which he had always shown for
money, would be damaged by a pension; and, indeed, a crowd of
libels instantly appeared, in which he was accused of having sold
his country. Many of his true friends thought that he would have
best consulted the dignity of his character by refusing to accept
any pecuniary reward from the Court. Nevertheless, the general
opinion of his talents, virtues, and services, remained
unaltered. Addresses were presented to him from several large
towns. London showed its admiration and affection in a still more
marked manner. Soon after his resignation came the Lord Mayor's
day. The King and the royal family dined at Guildhall. Pitt was
one of the guests. The young Sovereign, seated by his bride in
his state coach, received a remarkable lesson. He was scarcely
noticed. All eyes were fixed on the fallen minister; all
acclamations directed to him. The streets, the balconies, the
chimney tops, burst into a roar of delight as his chariot passed
by. The ladies waved their handkerchiefs from the windows. The
common people clung to the wheels, shook hands with the footmen,
and even kissed the horses. Cries of "No Bute!" "No Newcastle
salmon!" were mingled with the shouts of "Pitt for ever!" When
Pitt entered Guildhall, he was welcomed by loud huzzas and
clapping of hands, in which the very magistrates of the city
joined. Lord Bute, in the meantime, was hooted and pelted through
Cheapside, and would, it was thought, have been in some danger,
if he had not taken the precaution of surrounding his carriage
with a strong bodyguard of boxers.

Many persons blamed the conduct of Pitt on this occasion as
disrespectful to the King. Indeed, Pitt himself afterwards owned
that he had done wrong. He was led into this error, as he was
afterwards led into more serious errors, by the influence of his
turbulent and mischievous brother-in-law, Temple.

The events which immediately followed Pitt's retirement raised
his fame higher than ever. War with Spain proved to be, as he had
predicted, inevitable. News came from the West Indies that
Martinique had been taken by an expedition which he had sent
forth. Havanna fell; and it was known that he had planned an
attack on Havanna. Manilla capitulated; and it was believed that
he had meditated a blow against Manilla. The American fleet,
which he had proposed to intercept, had unloaded an immense cargo
of bullion in the haven of Cadiz, before Bute could be convinced
that the Court of Madrid really entertained hostile intentions.

The session of Parliament which followed Pitt's retirement passed
over without any violent storm. Lord Bute took on himself the
most prominent part in the House of Lords. He had become
Secretary of State, and indeed Prime Minister, without having
once opened his lips in public except as an actor. There was,
therefore, no small curiosity to know how he would acquit
himself. Members of the House of Commons crowded the bar of the
Lords, and covered the steps of the throne. It was generally
expected that the orator would break down; but his most malicious
hearers were forced to own that he had made a better figure than
they expected. They, indeed, ridiculed his action as theatrical,
and his style as tumid. They were especially amused by the long
pauses which, not from hesitation, but from affectation, he made
at all the emphatic words, and Charles Townshend cried out,
"Minute guns!" The general opinion however was, that, if Bute had
been early practised in debate, he might have become an
impressive speaker.

In the Commons, George Grenville had been intrusted with the
lead. The task was not, as yet, a very difficult one for Pitt did
not think fit to raise the standard of opposition. His speeches
at this time were distinguished, not only by that eloquence in
which he excelled all his rivals, but also by a temperance and a
modesty which had too often been wanting to his character. When
war was declared against Spain, he justly laid claim to the merit
of having foreseen what had at length become manifest to all, but
he carefully abstained from arrogant and acrimonious expressions;
and this abstinence was the more honourable to him, because his
temper, never very placid, was now severely tried, both by gout
and calumny. The courtiers had adopted a mode of warfare, which
was soon turned with far more formidable effect against
themselves. Half the inhabitants of the Grub Street garrets paid
their milk scores, and got their shirts out of pawn, by abusing
Pitt. His German war, his subsidies, his pension, his wife's
peerage, were shin of beef and gin, blankets and baskets of small
coal, to the starving poetasters of the Fleet. Even in the House
of Commons, he was, on one occasion during this session, assailed
with an insolence and malice which called forth the indignation
of men of all parties; but he endured the outrage with majestic
patience. In his younger days he had been but too prompt to
retaliate on those who attacked him; but now, conscious of his
great services, and of the space which he filled in the eyes of
all mankind, he would not stoop to personal squabbles. "This is
no season," he said, in the debate on the Spanish war, "for
altercation and recrimination. A day has arrived when every
Englishman should stand forth for his country. Arm the whole; be
one people; forget everything but the public. I set you the
example. Harassed by slanderers, sinking under pain and disease,
for the public I forget both my wrongs and my infirmities!" On a
general review of his life, we are inclined to think that his
genius and virtue never shone with so pure an effulgence as
during the session Of 1762.

The session drew towards the close; and Bute, emboldened by the
acquiescence of the Houses, resolved to strike another great
blow, and to become first minister in name as well as in reality.
That coalition, which a few months before had seemed all-powerful,
had been dissolved. The retreat of Pitt had deprived
the Government of popularity. Newcastle had exulted in the fall
of the illustrious colleague whom he envied and dreaded, and had
not foreseen that his own doom was at hand. He still tried to
flatter himself that he was at the head of the Government; but
insults heaped on insults at length undeceived him. Places which
had always been considered as in his gift, were bestowed without
any reference to him. His expostulations only called forth
significant hints that it was time for him to retire. One day he
pressed on Bute the claims of a Whig Prelate to the archbishopric
of York. "If your grace thinks so highly of him," answered. Bute,
"I wonder that you did not promote him when you had the power."
Still the old man clung with a desperate grasp to the wreck.
Seldom, indeed, have Christian meekness and Christian humility
equalled the meekness and humility of his patient and abject
ambition. At length he was forced to understand that all was
over. He quitted that Court where he had held high office during
forty-five years, and hid his shame and regret among the cedars
of Claremont. Bute became First Lord of the Treasury.

The favourite had undoubtedly committed a great error. It is
impossible to imagine a tool better suited to his purposes than
that which he thus threw away, or rather put into the hands of
his enemies. If Newcastle had been suffered to play at being
first minister, Bute might securely and quietly have enjoyed the
substance of power. The gradual introduction of Tories into all
the departments of the Government might have been effected
without any violent clamour, if the chief of the great Whig
connection had been ostensibly at the head of affairs. This was
strongly represented to Bute by Lord Mansfield, a man who may
justly be called the father of modem Toryism, of Toryism modified
to suit an order of things under which the House of Commons is
the most powerful body in the State. The theories which had
dazzled Bute could not impose on the fine intellect of Mansfield.
The temerity with which Bute provoked the hostility of powerful
and deeply rooted interests, was displeasing to Mansfield's cold
and timid nature. Expostulation, however, was vain. Bute was
impatient of advice, drunk with success, eager to be, in show as
well as in reality, the head of the Government. He had engaged in
an undertaking in which a screen was absolutely necessary to his
success, and even to his safety. He found an excellent screen
ready in the very place where it was most needed; and he rudely
pushed it away.

And now the new system of government came into full operation.
For the first time since the accession of the House of Hanover,
the Tory party was in the ascendant. The Prime Minister himself
was a Tory. Lord Egremont, who had succeeded Pitt as Secretary of
State, was a Tory, and the son of a Tory. Sir Francis Dashwood, a
man of slender parts, of small experience, and of notoriously
immoral character, was made Chancellor of the Exchequer, for no
reason that could be imagined, except that he was a Tory, and had
been a Jacobite. The royal household was filled with men whose
favourite toast, a few years before, had been the King over the
water. The relative position of the two great national seats of
learning was suddenly changed. The University of Oxford had long
been the chief seat of disaffection. In troubled times the High
Street had been lined with bayonets; the colleges had been
searched by the King's messengers. Grave doctors were in the
habit of talking very Ciceronian treason in the theatre; and the
undergraduates drank bumpers to Jacobite toasts, and chanted
Jacobite airs. Of four successive Chancellors of the University,
one had notoriously been in the Pretender's service; the other
three were fully believed to be in secret correspondence with the
exiled family. Cambridge had therefore been especially favoured
by the Hanoverian Princes, and had shown herself grateful for
their patronage. George the First had enriched her library;
George the Second had contributed munificently to her Senate
House. Bishoprics and deaneries were showered on her children.
Her Chancellor was Newcastle, the chief of the Whig aristocracy;
her High Steward was Hardwicke, the Whig head of the law. Both
her burgesses had held office under the Whig ministry. Times had
now changed. The University of Cambridge was received at St.
James's with comparative coldness. The answers to the addresses
of Oxford were all graciousness and warmth.

The watchwords of the new Government were prerogative and purity.
The sovereign was no longer to be a puppet in the hands of any
subject, or of any combination of subjects. George the Third
would not be forced to take ministers whom he disliked, as his
grandfather had been forced to take Pitt. George the Third would
not be forced to part with any whom he delighted to honour, as
his grandfather had been forced to part with Carteret. At the
same time, the system of bribery which had grown up during the
late reigns was to cease. It was ostentatiously proclaimed that,
since the accession of the young King, neither constituents nor
representatives had been bought with the secret-service money. To
free Britain from corruption and oligarchical cabals, to detach
her from continental connections, to bring the bloody and
expensive war with France and Spain to a close, such were the
specious objects which Bute professed to procure.

Some of these objects he attained. England withdrew, at the cost
of a deep stain on her faith, from her German connections. The
war with France and Spain was terminated by a peace, honourable
indeed and advantageous to our country, yet less honourable and
less advantageous than might have been expected from a long and
almost unbroken series of victories, by land and sea, in every
part of the world. But the only effect of Bute's domestic
administration was to make faction wilder, and corruption fouler
than ever.

The mutual animosity of the Whig and Tory parties had begun to
languish after the fall of Walpole, and had seemed to be almost
extinct at the close of the reign of George the Second. It now
revived in all its force. Many Whigs, it is true, were still in
office. The Duke of Bedford had signed the treaty with France.
The Duke of Devonshire, though much out of humour, still
continued to be Lord Chamberlain. Grenville, who led the House of
Commons, and Fox, who still enjoyed in silence the immense gains
of the Pay Office, had always been regarded as strong Whigs. But
the bulk of the party throughout the country regarded the new
minister with abhorrence. There was, indeed, no want of popular
themes for invective against his character. He was a favourite;
and favourites have always been odious in this country. No mere
favourite had been at the head of the Government since the dagger
of Felton had reached the heart of the Duke of Buckingham. After
that event the most arbitrary and the most frivolous of the
Stuarts had felt the necessity of confiding the chief direction
of affairs to men who had given some proof of parliamentary or
official talent. Strafford, Falkland, Clarendon, Clifford,
Shaftesbury, Lauderdale, Danby, Temple, Halifax, Rochester,
Sunderland, whatever their faults might be, were all men of
acknowledged ability. They did not owe their eminence merely to
the favour of the sovereign. On the contrary, they owed the
favour of the sovereign to their eminence. Most of them, indeed,
had first attracted the notice of the Court by the capacity and
vigour which they had shown in opposition. The Revolution seemed
to have for ever secured the State against the domination of a
Carr or a Villiers. Now, however, the personal regard of the King
had at once raised a man who had seen nothing of public business,
who had never opened his lips in Parliament, over the heads of a
crowd of eminent orators, financiers, diplomatists. From a
private gentleman, this fortunate minion had at once been turned
into a Secretary of State. He had made his maiden speech when at
the head of the administration. The vulgar resorted to a simple
explanation of the phaenomenon, and the coarsest ribaldry against
the Princess Mother was scrawled on every wall, and sung in every

This was not all. The spirit of party, roused by impolitic
provocation from its long sleep, roused in turn a still fiercer
and more malignant Fury, the spirit of national animosity. The
grudge of Whig against Tory was mingled with the grudge of
Englishman against Scot. The two sections of the great British
people had not yet been indissolubly blended together. The events
of 1715 and of 1745 had left painful and enduring traces. The
tradesmen of Cornhill had been in dread of seeing their tills and
warehouses plundered by barelegged mountaineers from the
Grampians. They still recollected that Black Friday, when the
news came that the rebels were at Derby, when all the shops in
the city were closed, and when the Bank of England began to pay
in sixpences. The Scots, on the other hand, remembered, with
natural resentment, the severity with which the insurgents had
been chastised, the military outrages, the humiliating laws, the
heads fixed on Temple Bar, the fires and quartering blocks on
Kennington Common. The favourite did not suffer the English to
forget from what part of the island he came. The cry of all the
south was that the public offices, the army, the navy, were
filled with high-cheeked Drummonds and Erskines, Macdonalds and
Macgillivrays, who could not talk a Christian tongue, and some of
whom had but lately begun to wear Christian breeches. All the old
jokes on hills without trees, girls without stockings, men eating
the food of horses, pails emptied from the fourteenth story, were
pointed against these lucky adventurers. To the honour of the
Scots it must be said, that their prudence and their pride
restrained them from retaliation. Like the princess in the
Arabian tale, they stopped their ears tight, and, unmoved by the
shrillest notes of abuse, walked on, without once looking round,
straight towards the Golden Fountain.

Bute, who had always been considered as a man of taste and
reading, affected, from the moment of his elevation, the
character of a Maecenas. If he expected to conciliate the public
by encouraging literature and art, he was grievously mistaken.
Indeed, none of the objects of his munificence, with the single
exception of Johnson, can be said to have been well selected; and
the public, not unnaturally, ascribed the selection of Johnson
rather to the Doctor's political prejudices than to his literary
merits: for a wretched scribbler named Shebbeare, who had nothing
in common with Johnson except violent Jacobitism, and who had
stood in the pillory for a libel on the Revolution, was honoured
with a mark of royal approbation, similar to that which was
bestowed on the author of the English Dictionary, and of the
Vanity of Human Wishes. It was remarked that Adam, a Scotchman,
was the Court architect, and that Ramsay, a Scotchman, was the
Court painter, and was preferred to Reynolds. Mallet, a
Scotchman, of no high literary fame, and of infamous character,
partook largely of the liberality of the Government. John Home, a
Scotchman, was rewarded for the tragedy of Douglas, both with a
pension and with a sinecure place. But, when the author of the
Bard, and of the Elegy in a Country Churchyard, ventured to ask
for a Professorship, the emoluments of which he much needed, and
for the duties of which he was, in many respects, better
qualified than any man living, he was refused; and the post was
bestowed on the pedagogue under whose care the favourite's son-
in-law, Sir James Lowther, had made such signal proficiency in
the graces and in the humane virtues.

Thus, the First Lord of the Treasury was detested by many as a
Tory, by many as a favourite, and by many as a Scot. All the
hatred which flowed from these various sources soon mingled, and
was directed in one torrent of obloquy against the treaty of
peace. The Duke of Bedford, who had negotiated that treaty, was
hooted through the streets. Bute was attacked in his chair, and
was with difficulty rescued by a troop of the guards. He could
hardly walk the streets in safety without disguising himself. A
gentleman who died not many years ago used to say that he once
recognised the favourite Earl in the piazza of Covent Garden,
muffled in a large coat, and with a hat and wig drawn down over
his brows. His lordship's established type with the mob was a
jack-boot, a wretched pun on his Christian name and title. A
jack-boot, generally accompanied by a petticoat, was sometimes
fastened on a gallows, and sometimes committed to the flames.
Libels on the Court, exceeding in audacity and rancour any that
had been published for many years, now appeared daily both in
prose and verse. Wilkes, with lively insolence, compared the
mother of George the Third to the mother of Edward the Third, and
the Scotch minister to the gentle Mortimer. Churchill, with all
the energy of hatred, deplored the fate of his country invaded by
a new race of savages, more cruel and ravenous than the Picts or
the Danes, the poor, proud children of Leprosy and Hunger. It is
a slight circumstance, but deserves to be recorded, that in this
year pamphleteers first ventured to print at length the names of
the great men whom they lampooned. George the Second had always
been the K--. His ministers had been Sir R-- W--, Mr. P--, and
the Duke of N--. But the libellers of George the Third, of the
Princess Mother, and of Lord Bute did not give quarter to a
single vowel.

It was supposed that Lord Temple secretly encouraged the most
scurrilous assailants of the Government. In truth, those who knew
his habits tracked him as men track a mole. It was his nature to
grub underground. Whenever a heap of dirt was flung up it might
well be suspected that he was at work in some foul crooked
labyrinth below. Pitt turned away from the filthy work of
opposition, with the same scorn with which he had turned away
from the filthy work of government. He had the magnanimity to
proclaim everywhere the disgust which he felt at the insults
offered by his own adherents to the Scottish nation, and missed
no opportunity of extolling the courage and fidelity which the
Highland regiments had displayed through the whole war. But,
though he disdained to use any but lawful and honourable weapons,
it was well known that his fair blows were likely to be far more
formidable than the privy thrusts of his brother-in-law's

Bute's heart began to fail him. The Houses were about to meet.
The treaty would instantly be the subject of discussion. It was
probable that Pitt, the great Whig connection, and the multitude,
would all be on the same side. The favourite had professed to
hold in abhorrence those means by which preceding ministers had
kept the House of Commons in good humour. He now began to think
that he had been too scrupulous. His Utopian visions were at an
end. It was necessary, not only to bribe, but to bribe more
shamelessly and flagitiously than his predecessors, in order to
make up for lost time. A majority must be secured, no matter by
what means. Could Grenville do this? Would he do it? His firmness
and ability had not yet been tried in any perilous crisis. He had
been generally regarded as a humble follower of his brother
Temple, and of his brother-in-law Pitt, and was supposed, though
with little reason, to be still favourably inclined towards them.
Other aid must be called in. And where was other aid to be found?

There was one man, whose sharp and manly logic had often in
debate been found a match for the lofty and impassioned rhetoric
of Pitt, whose talents for jobbing were not inferior to his
talents for debate, whose dauntless spirit shrank from no
difficulty or danger, and who was as little troubled with
scruples as with fears. Henry Fox, or nobody, could weather the
storm which was about to burst. Yet was he a person to whom the
Court, even in that extremity, was unwilling to have recourse. He
had always been regarded as a Whig of the Whigs. He had been the
friend and disciple of Walpole. He had long been connected by
close ties with William Duke of Cumberland. By the Tories he was
more hated than any man living. So strong was their aversion to
him that when, in the late reign, he had attempted to form a
party against the Duke of Newcastle, they had thrown all their
weight into Newcastle's scale. By the Scots, Fox was abhorred as
the confidential friend of the conqueror of Culloden. He was, on
personal grounds, most obnoxious to the Princess Mother. For he
had, immediately after her husband's death, advised the late King
to take the education of her son, the heir-apparent, entirely out
of her hands. He had recently given, if possible, still deeper
offence; for he had indulged, not without some ground, the
ambitious hope that his beautiful sister-in-law, the Lady Sarah
Lennox, might be queen of England. It had been observed that the
King at one time rode every morning by the grounds of Holland
House, and that on such occasions, Lady Sarah, dressed like a
shepherdess at a masquerade, was making hay close to the road,
which was then separated by no wall from the lawn. On account of
the part which Fox had taken in this singular love affair, he was
the only member of the Privy Council who was not summoned to the
meeting at which his Majesty announced his intended marriage with
the Princess of Mecklenburg. Of all the statesmen of the age,
therefore, it seemed that Fox was the last with whom Bute the
Tory, the Scot, the favourite of the Princess Mother, could,
under any circumstances, act. Yet to Fox Bute was now compelled
to apply.

Fox had many noble and amiable qualities, which in private life
shone forth in full lustre, and made him dear to his children, to
his dependants, and to his friends; but as a public man he had no
title to esteem. In him the vices which were common to the whole
school of Walpole appeared, not perhaps in their worst, but
certainly in their most prominent form; for his parliamentary and
official talents made all his faults conspicuous. His courage,
his vehement temper, his contempt for appearances, led him to
display much that others, quite as unscrupulous as himself,
covered with a decent veil. He was the most unpopular of the
statesmen of his time, not because he sinned more than many of
them, but because he canted less.

He felt his unpopularity; but he felt it after the fashion of
strong minds. He became, not cautious, but reckless, and faced
the rage of the whole nation with a scowl of inflexible defiance.
He was born with a sweet and generous temper; but he had been
goaded and baited into a savageness which was not natural to
him, and which amazed and shocked those who knew him best. Such
was the man to whom Bute, in extreme need, applied for

That succour Fox was not unwilling to afford. Though by no means
of an envious temper, he had undoubtedly contemplated the success
and popularity of Pitt with bitter mortification. He thought
himself Pitt's match as a debater, and Pitt's superior as a man
of business. They had long been regarded as well-paired rivals.
They had started fair in the career of ambition. They had long
run side by side. At length Fox had taken the lead, and Pitt had
fallen behind. Then had come a sudden turn of fortune, like that
in Virgil's foot-race. Fox had stumbled in the mire, and had not
only been defeated, but befouled. Pit had reached the goal, and
received the prize. The emoluments of the Pay Office might induce
the defeated statesman to submit in silence to the ascendency of
his competitor, but could not satisfy a mind conscious of great
powers, and sore from great vexations. As soon, therefore, as a
party arose adverse to the war and to the supremacy of the great
war minister, the hopes of Fox began to revive. His feuds with
the Princess Mother, with the Scots, with the Tories, he was
ready to forget, if, by the help of his old enemies, he could now
regain the importance which he had lost, and confront Pitt on
equal terms.

The alliance was, therefore, soon concluded. Fox was assured
that, if he would pilot the Government out of its embarrassing
situation, he should be rewarded with a peerage, of which he had
long been desirous. He undertook on his side to obtain, by fair
or foul means, a vote in favour of the peace. In consequence of
this arrangement he became leader of the House of Commons; and
Grenville, stifling his vexation as well as he could, sullenly
acquiesced in the change.

Fox had expected that his influence would secure to the Court the
cordial support of some eminent Whigs who were his personal
friends, particularly of the Duke of Cumberland and of the Duke
of Devonshire. He was disappointed, and soon found that, in
addition to all his other difficulties, he must reckon on the
opposition of the ablest prince of the blood, and of the great
house of Cavendish.

But he had pledged himself to win the battle: and he was not a
man to go back. It was no time for squeamishness. Bute was made
to comprehend that the ministry could be saved only by practising
the tactics of Walpole to an extent at which Walpole himself
would have stared. The Pay Office was turned into a mart for
votes. Hundreds of members were closeted there with Fox, and, as
there is too much reason to believe, departed carrying with them
the wages of infamy. It was affirmed by persons who had the best
opportunities of obtaining information, that twenty-five thousand
pounds were thus paid away in a single morning. The lowest bribe
given, it was said, was a bank-note for two hundred pounds.

Intimidation was joined with corruption. All ranks, from the
highest to the lowest, were to be taught that the King would be
obeyed. The Lords Lieutenants of several counties were dismissed.
The Duke of Devonshire was especially singled out as the victim
by whose fate the magnates of England were to take warning. His
wealth, rank, and influence, his stainless private character, and
the constant attachment of his family to the House of Hanover,
did not secure him from gross personal indignity. It was known
that he disapproved of the course which the Government had taken;
and it was accordingly determined to humble the Prince of the
Whigs, as he had been nicknamed by the Princess Mother. He went
to the palace to pay his duty. "Tell him," said the King to a
page, "I that I will not see him." The page hesitated. "Go to
him," said the King, "and tell him those very words." The message
was delivered. The Duke tore off his gold key, and went away
boiling with anger. His relations who were in office instantly
resigned. A few days later, the King called for the list of Privy
Councillors, and with his own hand struck out the Duke's name.

In this step there was at least courage, though little wisdom or
good nature. But, as nothing was too high for the revenge of the
Court, so also was nothing too low. A persecution, such as had
never been known before, and has never been known since, raged in
every public department. Great numbers of humble and laborious
clerks were deprived of their bread, not because they had
neglected their duties, not because they had taken an active part
against the ministry, but merely because they had owed their
situations to the recommendation of some nobleman or gentleman
who was against the peace. The proscription extended to
tidewaiters, to gaugers, to doorkeepers. One poor man to whom a
pension had been given for his gallantry in a fight with
smugglers, was deprived of it because he had been befriended by
the Duke of Grafton. An aged widow, who, on account of her
husband's services in the navy, had, many years before, been made
housekeeper to a public office, was dismissed from her situation,
because it was imagined that she was distantly connected by
marriage with the Cavendish family. The public clamour, as may
well be supposed, grew daily louder and louder. But the louder it
grew, the more resolutely did Fox go on with the work which he
had begun. His old friends could not conceive what had possessed
him. "I could forgive," said the Duke of Cumberland, "Fox's
political vagaries; but I am quite confounded by his inhumanity.
Surely he used to be the best-natured of men."

At last Fox went so far to take a legal opinion on the question,
whether the patents granted by George the Second were binding on
George the Third. It is said, that, if his colleagues had not
flinched, he would at once have turned out the Tellers of the
Exchequer and Justices in Eyre.

Meanwhile the Parliament met. The ministers, more hated by the
people than ever, were secure of a majority, and they had also
reason to hope that they would have the advantage in the debates
as well as in the divisions; for Pitt was confined to his chamber
by a severe attack of gout. His friends moved to defer the
consideration of the treaty till he should be able to attend: but
the motion was rejected. The great day arrived. The discussion
had lasted some time, when a loud huzza was heard in Palace Yard.
The noise came nearer and nearer, up the stairs, through the
lobby. The door opened, and from the midst of a shouting
multitude came forth Pitt, borne in the arms of his attendants.
His face was thin and ghastly, his limbs swathed in flannel, his
crutch in his hand. The bearers set him down within the bar. His
friends instantly surrounded him, and with their help he crawled
to his seat near the table. In this condition he spoke three
hours and a half against the peace. During that time he was
repeatedly forced to sit down and to use cordials. It may well be
supposed that his voice was faint, that his action was languid,
and that his speech, though occasionally brilliant and
impressive, was feeble when compared with his best oratorical
performances. But those who remembered what he had done, and who
saw what he suffered, listened to him with emotions stronger than
any that mere eloquence can produce. He was unable to stay for
the division, and was carried away from the House amidst shouts
as loud as those which had announced his arrival.

A large majority approved the peace. The exultation of the Court
was boundless. "Now," exclaimed the Princess Mother, "my son is
really King." The young sovereign spoke of himself as freed from
the bondage in which his grandfather had been held. On one point,
it was announced, his mind was unalterably made up. Under no
circumstances whatever should those Whig grandees, who had
enslaved his predecessors and endeavoured to enslave himself, be
restored to power.

This vaunting was premature. The real strength of the favourite
was by no means proportioned to the number of votes which he had,
on one particular division, been able to command. He was soon
again in difficulties. The most important part of his budget was
a tax on cider. This measure was opposed, not only by those who
were generally hostile to his administration, but also by many of
his supporters. The name of excise had always been hateful to the
Tories. One of the chief crimes of Walpole in their eyes, had
been his partiality for this mode of raising money. The Tory
Johnson had in his Dictionary given so scurrilous a definition of
the word Excise, that the Commissioners of Excise had seriously
thought of prosecuting him. The counties which the new impost
particularly affected had always been Tory counties. It was the
boast of John Philips, the poet of the English vintage, that the
Cider-land had ever been faithful to the throne, and that all the
pruning-hooks of her thousand orchards had been beaten into
swords for the service of the ill-fated Stuarts. The effect of
Bute's fiscal scheme was to produce an union between the gentry
and yeomanry of the Cider-land and the Whigs of the capital.
Herefordshire and Worcestershire were in a flame. The city of
London, though not so directly interested, was, if possible,
still more excited. The debates on this question irreparably
damaged the Government. Dashwood's financial statement had been
confused and absurd beyond belief, and had been received by the
House with roars of laughter. He had sense enough to be conscious
of his unfitness for the high situation which he held, and
exclaimed in a comical fit of despair, "What shall I do? The
boys will point at me in the street and cry, 'There goes the
worst Chancellor of the Exchequer that ever was.'" George
Grenville came to the rescue, and spoke strongly on his favourite
theme, the profusion with which the late war had been carried on.
That profusion, he said, had made taxes necessary. He called on
the gentlemen opposite to him to say where they would have a tax
laid, and dwelt on this topic with his usual prolixity. "Let them
tell me where," he repeated in a monotonous and somewhat fretful
tone. "I say, sir, let them tell me where. I repeat it, sir; I am
entitled to say to them, Tell me where." Unluckily for him, Pitt
had come down to the House that night, and had been bitterly
provoked by the reflections thrown on the war. He revenged
himself by murmuring in a whine resembling Grenville's, a line of
a well-known song, "Gentle Shepherd, tell me where." "If," cried
Grenville, gentlemen are to be treated in this way--." Pitt, as
was his fashion, when he meant to mark extreme contempt, rose
deliberately, made his bow, and walked out of the House, leaving
his brother-in-law in convulsions of rage, and everybody else in
convulsions of laughter. It was long before Grenville lost the
nickname of the Gentle Shepherd.

But the ministry had vexations still more serious to endure. The
hatred which the Tories and Scots bore to Fox was implacable. In
a moment of extreme peril, they had consented to put themselves
under his guidance. But the aversion with which they regarded him
broke forth as soon as the crisis seemed to be over. Some of them
attacked him about the accounts of the Pay Office. Some of them
rudely interrupted him when speaking, by laughter and ironical
cheers. He was naturally desirous to escape from so disagreeable
a situation, and demanded the peerage which had been promised as
the reward of his services.

It was clear that there must be some change in the composition of
the ministry. But scarcely any, even of those who, from their
situation, might be supposed to be in all the secrets of the
Government, anticipated what really took place. To the amazement
of the Parliament and the nation, it was suddenly announced that
Bute had resigned.

Twenty different explanations of this strange step were
suggested. Some attributed it to profound design, and some to
sudden panic. Some said that the lampoons of the Opposition had
driven the Earl from the field; some that he had taken office
only in order to bring the war to a close, and had always meant
to retire when that object had been accomplished. He publicly
assigned ill health as his reason for quitting business, and
privately complained that he was not cordially seconded by his
colleagues, and that Lord Mansfield, in particular, whom he had
himself brought into the Cabinet, gave him no support in the
House of Peers. Mansfield was, indeed, far too sagacious not to
perceive that Bute's situation was one of great peril and far too
timorous to thrust himself into peril for the sake of another.
The probability, however, is that Bute's conduct on this
occasion, like the conduct of most men on most occasions, was
determined by mixed motives. We suspect that he was sick of
office; for this is a feeling much more common among ministers
than persons who see public life from a distance are disposed to
believe; and nothing could be more natural than that this feeling
should take possession of the mind of Bute. In general, a
statesman climbs by slow degrees. Many laborious years elapse
before he reaches the topmost pinnacle of preferment. In the
earlier part of his career, therefore, he is constantly lured on
by seeing something above him. During his ascent he gradually
becomes inured to the annoyances which belong to a life of
ambition. By the time that he has attained the highest point, he
has become patient of labour and callous to abuse. He is kept
constant to his vocation, in spite of all its discomforts, at
first by hope, and at last by habit. It was not so with Bute. His
whole public life lasted little more than two years. On the day
on which he became a politician he became a cabinet minister. In
a few months he was, both in name and in show, chief of the
administration. Greater than he had been he could not be. If what
he already possessed was vanity and vexation of spirit, no
delusion remained to entice him onward. He had been cloyed with
the pleasures of ambition before he had been seasoned to its
pains. His habits had not been such as were likely to fortify his
mind against obloquy and public hatred. He had reached his forty-
eighth year in dignified ease, without knowing, by personal
experience, what it was to be ridiculed and slandered. All at
once, without any previous initiation, he had found himself
exposed to such a storm of invective and satire as had never
burst on the head of any statesman. The emoluments of office were
now nothing to him; for he had just succeeded to a princely
property by the death of his father-in-law. All the honours which
could be bestowed on him he had already secured. He had obtained
the Garter for himself, and a British peerage for his son. He
seems also to have imagined that by quitting the Treasury he
should escape from danger and abuse without really resigning
power, and should still be able to exercise in private supreme
influence over the royal mind.

Whatever may have been his motives, he retired. Fox at the same
time took refuge in the House of Lords; and George Grenville
became First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the

We believe that those who made this arrangement fully intended
that Grenville should be a mere puppet in the hands of Bute; for
Grenville was as yet very imperfectly known even to those who had
observed him long. He passed for a mere official drudge; and he
had all the industry, the minute accuracy, the formality, the
tediousness, which belong to the character. But he had other
qualities which had not yet shown themselves, devouring ambition,
dauntless courage, self-confidence amounting to presumption, and
a temper which could not endure opposition. He was not disposed
to be anybody's tool; and he had no attachment, political or
personal, to Bute. The two men had, indeed, nothing in common,
except a strong propensity towards harsh and unpopular courses.
Their principles were fundamentally different. Bute was a Tory.
Grenville would have been very angry with any person who should
have denied his claim to be a Whig. He was more prone to
tyrannical measures than Bute; but he loved tyranny only when
disguised under the forms of constitutional liberty. He mixed up,
after a fashion then not very unusual, the theories of the
republicans of the seventeenth century with the technical maxims
of English law, and thus succeeded in combining anarchical
speculation with arbitrary practice. The voice of the people was
the voice of God; but the only legitimate organ through which the
voice of the people could be uttered was the Parliament. All
power was from the people; but to the Parliament the whole power
of the people had been delegated. No Oxonian divine had ever,
even in the years which immediately followed the Restoration,
demanded for the King so abject, so unreasoning a homage, as
Grenville, on what he considered as the purest Whig principles,
demanded for the Parliament. As he wished to see the Parliament
despotic over the nation, so he wished to see it also despotic
over the Court. In his view the Prime Minister, possessed of the
confidence of the House of Commons, ought to be mayor of the
Palace. The King was a mere Childeric or Chilperic, who well
might think himself lucky in being permitted to enjoy such
handsome apartments at Saint James's, and so fine a park at

Thus the opinions of Bute and those of Grenville were
diametrically opposed. Nor was there any private friendship
between the two statesmen. Grenville's nature was not forgiving;
and he well remembered how, a few months before, he had been
compelled to yield the lead of the House of Commons to Fox.

We are inclined to think, on the whole, that the worst
administration which has governed England since the Revolution
was that of George Grenville. His public acts may be classed
under two heads, outrages on the liberty of the people, and
outrages on the dignity of the Crown.

He began by making war on the press. John Wilkes, member of
Parliament for Aylesbury, was singled out for persecution. Wilkes
had, till very lately, been known chiefly as one of the most
profane, licentious, and agreeable rakes about town. He was a man
of taste, reading, and engaging manners. His sprightly
conversation was the delight of greenrooms and taverns, and
pleased even grave hearers when he was sufficiently under
restraint to abstain from detailing the particulars of his
amours, and from breaking jests on the New Testament. His
expensive debaucheries forced him to have recourse to the Jews.
He was soon a ruined man, and determined to try his chance as a
political adventurer. In Parliament he did not succeed. His
speaking, though pert, was feeble, and by no means interested his
hearers so much as to make them forget his face, which was so
hideous that the caricaturists were forced, in their own despite,
to flatter him. As a writer, he made a better figure. He set up a
weekly paper, called the North Briton. This journal, written with
some pleasantry, and great audacity and impudence, had a
considerable number of readers. Forty-four numbers had been
published when Bute resigned; and, though almost every number had
contained matter grossly libellous, no prosecution had been
instituted. The forty-fifth number was innocent when compared
with the majority of those which had preceded it, and indeed
contained nothing so strong as may in our time be found daily in
the leading articles of the Times and Morning Chronicle. But
Grenville was now at the head of affairs. A new spirit had been
infused into the administration. Authority was to be upheld. The
Government was no longer to be braved with impunity. Wilkes was
arrested under a general warrant, conveyed to the Tower, and
confined there with circumstances of unusual severity. His papers
were seized, and carried to the Secretary of State. These harsh
and illegal measures produced a violent outbreak of popular rage,
which was soon changed to delight and exultation. The arrest was
pronounced unlawful by the Court of Common Pleas, in which Chief
justice Pratt presided, and the prisoner was discharged. This
victory over the Government was celebrated with enthusiasm both
in London and in the cider counties.

While the ministers were daily becoming more odious to the
nation, they were doing their best to make themselves also odious
to the Court. They gave the King plainly to understand that they
were determined not to be Lord Bute's creatures, and exacted a
promise that no secret adviser should have access to the royal
ear. They soon found reason to suspect that this promise had not
been observed. They remonstrated in terms less respectful than
their master had been accustomed to hear, and gave him a
fortnight to make his choice between his favourite and his

George the Third was greatly disturbed. He had but a few weeks
before exulted in his deliverance from the yoke of the great Whig
connection. He had even declared that his honour would not permit
him ever again to admit the members of that connection into his
service. He now found that he had only exchanged one set of
masters for another set still harsher and more imperious. In his
distress he thought on Pitt. From Pitt it was possible that
better terms might be obtained than either from Grenville, or
from the party of which Newcastle was the head.

Grenville, on his return from an excursion into the country,
repaired to Buckingham House. He was astonished to find at the
entrance a chair, the shape of which was well known to him, and
indeed to all London. It was distinguished by a large boot, made
for the purpose of accommodating the Great Commoner's gouty leg.
Grenville guessed the whole. His brother-in-law was closeted with
the King. Bute, provoked by what he considered as the unfriendly
and ungrateful conduct of his successors, had himself proposed
that Pitt should be summoned to the palace.

Pitt had two audiences on two successive days. What passed at the
first interview led him to expect that the negotiations would be
brought to a satisfactory close; but on the morrow he found the
King less complying. The best account, indeed the only
trustworthy account of the conference, is that which was taken
from Pitt's own mouth by Lord Hardwicke. It appears that Pitt
strongly represented the importance of conciliating those chiefs
of the Whig party who had been so unhappy as to incur the royal
displeasure. They had, he said, been the most constant friends of
the House of Hanover. Their power was great; they had been long
versed in public business. If they were to be under sentence of
exclusion, a solid administration could not be formed. His
Majesty could not bear to think of putting himself into the hands
of those whom he had recently chased from his Court with the
strongest marks of anger. "I am sorry, Mr. Pitt," he said, "but
I see this will not do. My honour is concerned. I must support my
honour." How his Majesty succeeded in supporting his honour, we
shall soon see.

Pitt retired, and the King was reduced to request the ministers,
whom he had been on the point of discarding, to remain in office.
During the two years which followed, Grenville, now closely
leagued with the Bedfords, was the master of the Court; and a
hard master he proved. He knew that he was kept in place only
because there was no choice except between himself and the Whigs.
That under any circumstances the Whigs would be forgiven, he
thought impossible. The late attempt to get rid of him had roused
his resentment; the failure of that attempt had liberated him
from all fear. He had never been very courtly. He now began to
hold a language, to which, since the days of Cornet Joyce and
President Bradshaw, no English King had been compelled to listen.

In one matter, indeed, Grenville, at the expense of justice and
liberty, gratified the passions of the Court while gratifying his
own. The persecution of Wilkes was eagerly pressed. He had
written a parody on Pope's Essay on Man, entitled the Essay on
Woman, and had appended to it notes, in ridicule of Warburton's
famous Commentary. This composition was exceedingly profligate,
but not more so, we think, than some of Pope's own works, the
imitation of the second satire of the first book of Horace, for
example; and, to do Wilkes justice, he had not, like Pope, given
his ribaldry to the world. He had merely printed at a private
press a very small number of copies, which he meant to present to
some of his boon companions, whose morals were in no more danger
of being corrupted by a loose book than a negro of being tanned
by a warm sun. A tool of the Government, by giving a bribe to the
printer, procured a copy of this trash, and placed it in the
hands of the ministers. The ministers resolved to visit Wilkes's
offence against decorum with the utmost rigour of the law. What
share piety and respect for morals had in dictating this
resolution, our readers may judge from the fact that no person
was more eager for bringing the libertine poet to punishment than
Lord March, afterwards Duke of Queensberry. On the first day of
the session of Parliament, the book, thus disgracefully obtained,
was laid on the table of the Lords by the Earl of Sandwich, whom
the Duke of Bedford's interest had made Secretary of State. The
unfortunate author had not the slightest suspicion that his
licentious poem had ever been seen, except by his printer and a
few of his dissipated companions, till it was produced in full
Parliament. Though he was a man of easy temper, averse from
danger, and not very susceptible of shame, the surprise, the
disgrace, the prospect of utter ruin, put him beside himself. He
picked a quarrel with one of Lord Bute's dependants, fought a
duel, was seriously wounded, and when half recovered, fled to
France. His enemies had now their own way both in the Parliament
and in the King's Bench. He was censured, expelled from the House
of Commons, outlawed. His works were ordered to be burned by the
common hangman. Yet was the multitude still true to him. In the
minds even of many moral and religious men, his crime seemed
light when compared with the crime of his accusers. The conduct
of Sandwich in particular, excited universal disgust. His own
vices were notorious; and, only a fortnight before he laid the
Essay on Woman before the House of Lords, he had been drinking
and singing loose catches with Wilkes at one of the most
dissolute clubs in London. Shortly after the meeting of
Parliament, the Beggar's Opera was acted at Covent Garden
theatre. When Macheath uttered the words--"That Jemmy Twitcher
should peach me I own surprised me,"--pit, boxes, and galleries,
burst into a roar which seemed likely to bring the roof down.
From that day Sandwich was universally known by the nickname of
Jemmy Twitcher. The ceremony of burning the North Briton was
interrupted by a riot. The constables were beaten; the paper was
rescued; and, instead of it, a jack-boot and a petticoat were
committed to the flames. Wilkes had instituted an action for the
seizure of his papers against the Under-secretary of State. The
jury gave a thousand pounds damages. But neither these nor any
other indications of public feeling had power to move Grenville.
He had the Parliament with him: and, according to his political
creed, the sense of the nation was to be collected from the
Parliament alone.

Soon, however, he found reason to fear that even the Parliament
might fail him. On the question of the legality of general
warrants, the Opposition, having on its side all sound
principles, all constitutional authorities, and the voice of the
whole nation, mustered in great force, and was joined by many who
did not ordinarily vote against the Government. On one occasion
the ministry, in a very full House, had a majority of only
fourteen votes. The storm, however, blew over. The spirit of the
Opposition, from whatever cause, began to flag at the moment when
success seemed almost certain. The session ended without any
change. Pitt, whose eloquence had shone with its usual lustre in
all the principal debates, and whose popularity was greater than
ever, was still a private man. Grenville, detested alike by the
Court and by the people, was still minister.

As soon as the Houses had risen, Grenville took a step which
proved, even more signally than any of his past acts, how
despotic, how acrimonious, and how fearless his nature was. Among
the gentlemen not ordinarily opposed to the Government, who, on
the great constitutional question of general warrants, had voted
with the minority, was Henry Conway, brother of the Earl of
Hertford, a brave soldier, a tolerable speaker, and a well-
meaning, though not a wise or vigorous politician. He was now
deprived of his regiment, the merited reward of faithful and
gallant service in two wars. It was confidently asserted that in
this violent measure the King heartily concurred.

But whatever pleasure the persecution of Wilkes, or the dismissal
of Conway, may have given to the royal mind, it is certain that
his Majesty's aversion to his ministers increased day by day.
Grenville was as frugal of the public money as of his own, and
morosely refused to accede to the King's request, that a few
thousand pounds might be expended in buying some open fields to
the west of the gardens of Buckingham House. In consequence of
this refusal, the fields were soon covered with buildings, and
the King and Queen were overlooked in their most private walks by
the upper windows of a hundred houses. Nor was this the worst.
Grenville was as liberal of words as he was sparing of guineas.
Instead of explaining himself in that clear, concise, and lively
manner, which alone could win the attention of a young mind new
to business, he spoke in the closet just as he spoke in the House
of Commons. When he had harangued two hours, he looked at his
watch, as he had been in the habit of looking at the clock
opposite the Speaker's chair, apologised for the length of his
discourse, and then went on for an hour more. The members of the
House of Commons can cough an orator down, or can walk away to
dinner; and they were by no means sparing in the use of these
privileges when Grenville was on his legs. But the poor young
King had to endure all this eloquence with mournful civility. To
the end of his life he continued to talk with horror of
Grenville's orations.

About this time took place one of the most singular events in
Pitt's life. There was a certain Sir William Pynsent, a
Somersetshire baronet of Whig politics, who had been a Member of
the House of Commons in the days of Queen Anne, and had retired
to rural privacy when the Tory party, towards the end of her
reign, obtained the ascendency in her councils. His manners were
eccentric. His morals lay under very odious imputations. But his
fidelity to his political opinions was unalterable. During fifty
years of seclusion he continued to brood over the circumstances
which had driven him from public life, the dismissal of the
Whigs, the peace of Utrecht, the desertion of our allies. He now
thought that he perceived a close analogy between the well
remembered events of his youth and the events which he had
witnessed in extreme old age; between the disgrace of Marlborough
and the disgrace of Pitt; between the elevation of Harley and the
elevation of Bute; between the treaty negotiated by St. John and
the treaty negotiated by Bedford; between the wrongs of the House
of Austria in 1712 and the wrongs of the House of Brandenburgh in
1762. This fancy took such possession of the old man's mind that
he determined to leave his whole property to Pitt. In this way,
Pitt unexpectedly came into possession of near three thousand
pounds a year. Nor could all the malice of his enemies find any
ground for reproach in the transaction. Nobody could call him a
legacy-hunter. Nobody could accuse him of seizing that to which
others had a better claim. For he had never in his life seen Sir
William; and Sir William had left no relation so near as to be
entitled to form any expectations respecting the estate.

The fortunes of Pitt seemed to flourish; but his health was worse
than ever. We cannot find that, during the session which began in
January 1765, he once appeared in Parliament. He remained some
months in profound retirement at Hayes, his favourite villa,
scarcely moving except from his armchair to his bed, and from his
bed to his armchair, and often employing his wife as his
amanuensis in his most confidential correspondence. Some of his
detractors whispered that his invisibility was to be ascribed
quite as much to affectation as to gout. In truth his character,
high and splendid as it was, wanted simplicity. With genius which
did not need the aid of stage tricks, and with a spirit which
should have been far above them, he had yet been, through life,
in the habit of practising them. It was, therefore, now surmised
that, having acquired all the considerations which could be
derived from eloquence and from great services to the State, he
had determined not to make himself cheap by often appearing in
public, but, under the pretext of ill health, to surround himself
with mystery, to emerge only at long intervals and on momentous
occasions, and at other times to deliver his oracles only to a
few favoured votaries, who were suffered to make pilgrimages to
his shrine. If such were his object, it was for a time fully
attained. Never was the magic of his name so powerful, never was
he regarded by his country with such superstitious veneration, as
during this year of silence and seclusion.

While Pitt was thus absent from Parliament, Grenville proposed a
measure destined to produce a great revolution, the effects of
which will long be felt by the whole human race. We speak of the
act for imposing stamp-duties on the North American colonies. The
plan was eminently characteristic of its author. Every feature of
the parent was found in the child. A timid statesman would have
shrunk from a step, of which Walpole, at a time when the colonies
were far less powerful, had said--"He who shall propose it will
be a much bolder man than I" But the nature of Grenville was
insensible to fear. A statesman of large views would have felt
that to lay taxes at Westminster on New England and New York, was
a course opposed, not indeed to the letter of the Statute Book,
or to any decision contained in the Term Reports, but to the
principles of good government, and to the spirit of the
constitution. A statesman of large views would also have felt that
ten times the estimated produce of the American stamps would have
been dearly purchased by even a transient quarrel between the
mother country and the colonies. But Grenville knew of no spirit
of the constitution distinct from the letter of the law, and of
no national interests except those which are expressed by pounds,
shillings, and pence. That his policy might give birth to deep
discontents in all the provinces, from the shore of the Great
Lakes to the Mexican sea; that France and Spain might seize the
opportunity of revenge; that the empire might be dismembered;
that the debt, that debt with the amount of which he perpetually
reproached Pitt, might, in consequence of his own policy, be
doubled; these were possibilities which never occurred to that
small, sharp mind.

The Stamp Act will be remembered as long as the globe lasts. But,
at the time, it attracted much less notice in this country than
another Act which is now almost utterly forgotten. The King fell
ill, and was thought to be in a dangerous state. His complaint,
we believe, was the same which, at a later period, repeatedly
incapacitated him for the performance of his regal functions.
The heir-apparent was only two years old. It was clearly proper
to make provision for the administration of the Government, in
case of a minority. The discussions on this point brought the
quarrel between the Court and the ministry to a crisis. The King
wished to be intrusted with the power of naming a regent by will.
The ministers feared, or affected to fear, that, if this power
were conceded to him, he would name the Princess Mother, nay,
possibly the Earl of Bute. They, therefore, insisted on
introducing into the bill words confining the King's choice to
the royal family. Having thus excluded Bute, they urged the King
to let them, in the most marked manner, exclude the Princess
Dowager also. They assured him that the House of Commons would
undoubtedly strike her name out, and by this threat they wrung
from him a reluctant assent. In a few days, it appeared that the
representations by which they had induced the King to put this
gross and public affront on his mother were unfounded. The
friends of the Princess in the House of Commons moved that her
name should be inserted. The ministers could not decently attack
the parent of their master. They hoped that the Opposition would
come to their help, and put on them a force to which they would
gladly have yielded. But the majority of the Opposition, though
hating the Princess, hated Grenville more, beheld his
embarrassment with delight, and would do nothing to extricate him
from it. The Princess's name was accordingly placed in the list
of persons qualified to hold the regency.

The King's resentment was now it the height. The present evil
seemed to him more intolerable than any other. Even the junta of
Whig grandees could not treat him worse than he had been treated
by his present ministers. In his distress, he poured out his
whole heart to his uncle, the Duke of Cumberland. The Duke was
not a man to be loved; but he was eminently a man to be trusted.
He had an intrepid temper, a strong understanding, and a high
sense of honour and duty. As a general, he belonged to a
remarkable class of captains, captains we mean, whose fate it has
been to lose almost all the battles which they have fought, and
yet to be reputed stout and skilful soldiers. Such captains were
Coligny and William the Third. We might, perhaps, add Marshal
Soult to the list. The bravery of the Duke of Cumberland was such
as distinguished him even among the princes of his brave house.
The indifference with which he rode about amidst musket balls and
cannon balls was not the highest proof of his fortitude. Hopeless
maladies, horrible surgical operations, far from unmanning him,
did not even discompose him. With courage he had the virtues
which are akin to courage. He spoke the truth, was open in enmity
and friendship, and upright in all his dealings. But his nature
was hard; and what seemed to him justice was rarely tempered with
mercy. He was, therefore, during many years, one of the most
unpopular men in England. The severity with which he had treated
the rebels after the battle of Culloden, had gained for him the
name of the Butcher. His attempts to introduce into the army of
England, then in a most disorderly state, the rigorous discipline
of Potsdam, had excited still stronger disgust. Nothing was too
bad to be believed of him. Many honest people were so absurd as
to fancy that, if he were left Regent during, the minority of his
nephews, there would be another smothering in the Tower. These
feelings, however, had passed away. The Duke had been living,
during some years, in retirement. The English, full of animosity
against the Scots, now blamed his Royal Highness only for having
left so many Camerons and Macphersons to be made gaugers and
custom-house officers. He was, therefore, at present, a favourite
with his countrymen, and especially with the inhabitants of

He had little reason to love the King, and had shown clearly,
though not obtrusively, his dislike of the system which had
lately been pursued. But he had high and almost romantic notions
of the duty which, as a prince of the blood, he owed to the head
of his house. He determined to extricate his nephew from bondage,
and to effect a reconciliation between the Whig party and the
throne, on terms honourable to both.

In this mind he set off for Hayes, and was admitted to Pitt's
sick-room; for Pitt would not leave his chamber, and would not
communicate with any messenger of inferior dignity. And now began
a long series of errors on the part of the illustrious statesman,
errors which involved his country in difficulties and distresses
more serious even than those from which his genius had formerly
rescued her. His language was haughty, unreasonable, almost
unintelligible. The only thing which could be discerned through a
cloud of vague and not very gracious phrases, was that he would
not at that moment take office. The truth, we believe, was this.
Lord Temple, who was Pitt's evil genius, had just formed a new
scheme of politics. Hatred of Bute and of the Princess had, it
should seem, taken entire possession of Temple's soul. He had
quarrelled with his brother George, because George had been
connected with Bute and the Princess. Now that George appeared to
be the enemy of Bute and of the Princess, Temple was eager to
bring about a general family reconciliation. The three brothers,
as Temple, Grenville, and Pitt, were popularly called, might make
a ministry without leaning for aid either on Bute or on the Whig
connection. With such views, Temple used all his influence to
dissuade Pitt from acceding to the propositions of the Duke of
Cumberland. Pitt was not convinced. But Temple had an influence
over him such as no other person had ever possessed. They were
very old friends, very near relations. If Pitt's talents and fame
had been useful to Temple, Temple's purse had formerly, in times
of great need, been useful to Pitt. They had never been parted in
politics. Twice they had come into the Cabinet together; twice
they had left it together. Pitt could not bear to think of taking
office without his chief ally. Yet he felt that he was doing
wrong, that he was throwing away a great opportunity of serving
his country. The obscure and unconciliatory style of the answers
which he returned to the overtures of the Duke of Cumberland, may
be ascribed to the embarrassment and vexation of a mind not at
peace with itself. It is said that he mournfully exclaimed to

"Extinxti te meque, soror, populumque, patresque
Sidonios, urbemque tuam."

The prediction was but too just.

Finding Pitt impracticable, the Duke of Cumberland advised the
King to submit to necessity, and to keep Grenville and the
Bedfords. It was, indeed, not a time at which offices could
safely be left vacant. The unsettled state of the Government had
produced a general relaxation through all the departments of the
public service. Meetings, which at another time would have been
harmless, now turned to riots, and rapidly rose almost to the
dignity of rebellions. The Houses of Parliament were blockaded by
the Spitalfields weavers. Bedford House was assailed on all sides
by a furious rabble, and was strongly garrisoned with horse and
foot. Some people attributed these disturbances to the friends of
Bute, and some to the friends of Wilkes. But, whatever might be
the cause, the effect was general insecurity. Under such
circumstances the King had no choice. With bitter feelings of
mortification, he informed the ministers that he meant to retain

They answered by demanding from him a promise on his royal word
never more to consult Lord Bute. The promise was given. They then
demanded something more. Lord Bute's brother, Mr. Mackenzie, held
a lucrative office in Scotland. Mr. Mackenzie must be dismissed.
The King replied that the office had been given under very
peculiar circumstances, and that he had promised never to take it
away while he lived. Grenville was obstinate; and the King, with
a very bad grace, yielded.

The session of Parliament was over. The triumph of the ministers
was complete. The King was almost as much a prisoner as Charles
the First had been when in the Isle of Wight. Such were the
fruits of the policy which, only a few months before, was
represented as having for ever secured the throne against the
dictation of insolent subjects.

His Majesty's natural resentment showed itself in every look and
word. In his extremity he looked wistfully towards that Whig
connection, once the object of his dread and hatred. The Duke of
Devonshire, who had been treated with such unjustifiable
harshness, had lately died, and had been succeeded by his son,
who was still a boy. The King condescended to express his regret
for what had passed, and to invite the young Duke to Court. The
noble youth came, attended by his uncles, and was received with
marked graciousness.

This and many other symptoms of the same kind irritated the
ministers. They had still in store for their sovereign an insult
which would have provoked his grandfather to kick them out of the
room. Grenville and Bedford demanded an audience of him, and read
him a remonstrance of many pages, which they had drawn up with
great care. His Majesty was accused of breaking his word, and of
treating his advisers with gross unfairness. The Princess was
mentioned in language by no means eulogistic. Hints were thrown
out that Bute's head was in danger. The King was plainly told
that he must not continue to show, as he had done, that he
disliked the situation in which he was placed, that he must frown
upon the Opposition, that he must carry it fair towards his
ministers in public. He several times interrupted the reading, by
declaring that he had ceased to hold any communication with Bute.
But the ministers, disregarding his denial, went on; and the King
listened in silence, almost choked by rage. When they ceased to
read, he merely made a gesture expressive of his wish to be left
alone. He afterwards owned that he thought he should have gone
into a fit.

Driven to despair, he again had recourse to the Duke of
Cumberland; and the Duke of Cumberland again had recourse to
Pitt. Pitt was really desirous to undertake the direction of
affairs, and owned, with many dutiful expressions, that the terms
offered by the King were all that any subject could desire. But
Temple was impracticable; and Pitt, with great regret, declared
that he could not, without the concurrence of his brother-in-law,
undertake the administration.

The Duke now saw only one way of delivering his nephew. An
administration must be formed of the Whigs in opposition, without
Pitt's help. The difficulties seemed almost insuperable. Death

Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest