Memoirs of the Court and Cabinets of George the Third Volume I Part 14

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THE DUKE OF PORTLAND TO LORD TEMPLE.

(Most Secret and Confidential.)

London, Saturday Evening,

Feb. 22nd, 1783.

My dear Lord,

The events of Monday and last night must have been communicated to you, and their consequences must be too obvious to render it necessary for me to point them out. What effect they may have upon my situation and that of my friends, it is impossible to say; but the supposition of a probability that they may tend to our being intrusted with the Administration will not suffer me to conceal the wish I should in that case most anxiously entertain for your Excellency's continuance in the Government of Ireland. As Mr. Townshend's friendship induced him to communicate to you my sentiments upon your appointment, you cannot be surprised at my presumption in the hope I now take the liberty of expressing to you; nor will it, I trust, be thought unjustifiable or unreasonable, notwithstanding the endeavours which it appeared to be my duty to exert for the removal of Lord Shelburne from any confidential employment in the King's service. I shall not trouble your Excellency with the reasons for my conduct, as a reference to the mode of Lord Shelburne's appointment is sufficient to explain them, even without the comment which his conduct affords; but as it is not unlikely that the means which have been represented to you to have been taken in the course of this short but successful attempt may in some degree prejudice us in your opinion, I am desirous of trespassing upon your patience for a few moments to assure you that no deviation from the principles upon which I have acted throughout my whole political life has been or is to be the price of the assistance we have had in attaining that object.

If, therefore, it should be the King's pleasure to place the Government in our hands, the powers of carrying it on must be given to those who are looked upon to be Whigs, and were considered to be such by our late most excellent friend, Lord Rockingham. _All_ the responsible efficient offices will be required and insisted upon to be given to persons of that description; and though Lord North or others of the old Administration may make a part of such a new arrangement, it will be made a _sine qua non_ condition that the powers of Government shall be solely vested in those who have the advantage of being denominated the friends of the late Lord Rockingham. I have thought it necessary to state this outline of our _determinations_ to your Excellency, to counteract any misrepresentation that may be made of the basis or purport of our junction with Lord North (to which _I_ conceive it may be liable, from the very false and groundless accounts which are reported to have been transmitted to Ireland of Mr. Fox's speech on Mr. Townshend's motion for the Bill respecting the Irish Judicature, which I myself heard, and with which I was so satisfied, upon account of those whom it was intended to support, of him whom it was intended to reprobate, and whom I consider as the arch-enemy of Ireland--I mean Mr. H. Flood--that I should have been happy to have spoken it _verbatim et literatim_), and to inform you of the terms upon which I aspire to so much of your confidence as to flatter myself that you will be kind enough to give me the most convincing proof of it that a public station is capable of affording, which is that of remaining in the Lieutenancy of Ireland. This request is certainly premature, and very possibly may be useless, as I may never be authorized to make it; but as it is not less a testimony of my regard for the public than of my esteem and respect for your Excellency, I do not hesitate at depositing it in your custody, and have great satisfaction in the idea of leaving with you such a pledge of my zeal for the welfare of both kingdoms.

I am, Most sincerely, Your Excellency's most faithful and obedient servant, Portland.

His Excellency the Lord-Lieutenant, &c., &c., &c.

(ANSWER.)

LORD TEMPLE TO THE DUKE OF PORTLAND.

Dublin Castle, March 2nd, 1783.

My dear Lord,

A course of westerly winds having for the last anxious week cut off our communication with England, six mails crowded upon me yesterday such a load of public business, that I was forced to delay till this morning the acknowledgments which are so much due for your Grace's secret and confidential letter. I need not say how truly I feel the extent of the partiality which I have so often experienced, and which has certainly influenced you against your better judgment in the offer which you are so good as to make to me. Removed as I am from the immediate scene of English politics, I am but little able to decide upon those minutiae, which are often the principal springs which move the machine; and under this want of information, I must confess myself much distressed by the means employed to obtain an object, in which, for obvious reasons, I should probably not have engaged, but which in all contingencies I should hardly have ventured to pursue in the mode which has succeeded. Both kingdoms stand in need of a solid and substantial Government; and in that spirit of candour which I am sure will entitle me to your Grace's good-will, I must acknowledge that such an arrangement as is proposed does not hold out to me any reasonable expectation of a duration, even as long as that of the Ministry which it supersedes; and consequently, that the removal of Lord Shelburne (even if that could be an object with me) would not compensate in my mind for the real and solid mischief which these frequent and rapid changes, which have already taken place, and which in a few months will again happen, must always bring upon the Government of both kingdoms; and I need not give your Grace a more convincing argument than by recalling to your mind the jealousy which was felt in so many parts of Ireland at your resignation, and the ferment which the unsettled form of Government brought forward.

I have stated these few observations from an impulse which I cannot suppress. If I really was vain enough to think my continuance in this or any official situation was important to the public, I would sacrifice much to endeavour to reconcile my feelings to it; but as I am certain that your Grace's friendship alone could have suggested to you the option which you have given to me, I shall truly consult that, in which I shall always take the strongest interest, your Grace's advantage, honour and reputation, by enabling you to send to this very difficult situation some other person, who may have equal advantages with myself in possessing your good-will, and whose abilities might enable him to return that debt, by giving solid and material strength to your Administration. But be assured, my dear Lord, that I am truly sensible of the value of the offer, and that this is a real gratification to me. And with these sentiments,

I am, my dear Lord, Your very obliged and obedient servant, Nugent Temple.

His Grace the Duke of Portland.

Lord Shelburne tendered his resignation on the 24th. "Whether," says Mr.

Grenville, "that resignation was to be accepted immediately, and was or was not to be followed by the others, I do not know." It appears, however, from a letter of General Cuninghame's, that the colleagues of the Ministers were waiting in the ante-chamber, prepared to follow him into retirement.

MR. W. W. GRENVILLE TO LORD TEMPLE.

Pall Mall, Feb. 24th, 1783.

My dear Brother,

I don't write to you by a messenger, because I have nothing decisive to tell you. Lord Shelburne went in to-day to resign.

Whether that resignation was to be accepted immediately, and was or was not to be followed by the others, I do not yet know.

Nobody has yet been sent to. The report of Lord Gower, or some other substitution, is very prevalent.

Before you receive this, you will probably have heard from me by the messenger; if not, you may depend on it that nothing is settled. Adieu.

Ever yours, W. W. G.

GENERAL CUNINGHAME TO LORD TEMPLE.

London, Feb. 24th, 1783, Two o'clock, P.M.

My Lord,

Lord Shelburne is now in the closet, _resigning_, and most of his colleagues in the outward room, to follow his example. The Chancellor's resignation is doubtful. General Conway has been ill since Friday; this morning St. Anthony's fire broke out in his legs. Mr. Townshend will move the Commons to adjourn. The whole political system is now in such confusion, that speculation would only tend to mislead.

I heartily wish your Excellency whatever you wish yourself, and am, with the most perfect respect and attachment,

My Lord, Your Excellency's most faithful and obedient humble servant, Robert Cuninghame.

His Grace the Lord Temple, &c., &c.

MR. W. W. GRENVILLE TO LORD TEMPLE.

Tuesday Night, Feb. 24th, 1783.

I expected before this to have dispatched you a messenger, with an account of the new arrangement; but I write by the post, as I can only tell you, that neither the Duke of Portland nor Lord North have yet been sent for, and that the prevailing report in the House of Commons to-day was Lord Shelburne's resignation, and a system, to be composed of the remains of his Administration, joined with Lord Gower.

The House has adjourned till Friday. Before that, I shall probably be able to write to you more at length. Nothing can be a stronger confirmation than this, of the truth of your idea of reluctance and disinclination, &c., &c.

There is no other news here, nothing else having been talked of for the last week but arrangements. The hungry mouths are gaping very wide, and have fixed their eyes on morsels which may possibly never drop into them. Adieu.

Ever yours, W. W. G.

MR. W. W. GRENVILLE TO LORD TEMPLE.

Pall Mall, Feb. 26th, 1783.

My dear Brother,

I do not yet write to you by the messenger, as I cannot tell you what _is_ (nothing being yet settled), but only what _is not_.

The offer has been made to Pitt of the Treasury, with _carte blanche_; which, after two days' deliberation, he has this day refused. No other person has yet been sent for. Lord Gower was with the King on Monday, but I believe no offer made to him.

Whether the King has any resource left, or whether he will (as I rather think) acquiesce, God knows. _Voila tout que je sais_; and so, good night.

GENERAL CUNINGHAME TO LORD TEMPLE.

London, Wednesday Night,

Feb. 25th, 1783.

Memoirs of the Court and Cabinets of George the Third Volume I Part 14

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