Memoirs of the Court and Cabinets of George the Third Volume I Part 17
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In all events, I should hope you would very seriously reconsider the two ideas which you throw out. That of a precipitate departure, before the arrival of your successor, would bear so very strongly the appearance of fretfulnesss and intemperance, and would be liable to so many ill consequences in Ireland that might arise, and would all be imputed to you, that I own I should deprecate it in the most eager manner, especially as I should think you would most fully acquit yourself, both to your own character and to the peace of the two kingdoms, by protesting against such a measure, and by declaring your intention of remaining only till you could deliver over the Sword of State to some person authorized to receive it.
With respect to the other, it brings back very strongly to my mind what I felt and still feel on the subject of Eden's conduct last year. I cannot think that we are either of us justifiable in withholding from persons in the King's Government any information upon the situation of Ireland; but that, on the contrary, the best mode of enforcing acquiescence in your wishes as to the Bill, would be by a communication of opinions on the subject. Such a communication must of course be made with prudence and caution, always bearing in mind the essential difference between committing ourselves to a friend and to a foe. But still, as to facts and leading outlines, I think we have no choice.
As your letter does not imply any wish of a particular secresy on the subject (although it is certainly not a thing to be wantonly proclaimed), I thought it would be a sort of return for confidential communications which I have transmitted to you, and a step liable to no objections, to state your intention to Pitt.
Jemmy's opinion agreeing with mine, I took an opportunity in a few words to say that an intimation had been made to you of a wish that you should continue, in case the arrangement under the Duke of Portland should take place, and that you had thought yourself bound to decline it. (I did not think myself at liberty to mention the Duke of Portland's letter specifically, as it is marked _secret_, although the thing itself is well known and talked of.)
His answer was very much the kind of thing I expected, expressing his great satisfaction that your ideas on the subject of the late Opposition and new Government concurred with his, and at the same time his concern and apprehensions on the subject of the effect likely to be produced in Ireland by such an event. I only added, that he would easily see that although it was a thing which must in a few days be publicly known, still it ought not to be talked of beforehand.
I have expressed to you in my letter of last night what I feel upon your goodness to Bernard. To these I am now to add my acknowledgments of your kind wishes in my behalf. I will not pretend to say that I am indifferent on the subject, but I can with the greatest truth and sincerity a.s.sure you that I feel much more pleasure and satisfaction in the affection and love towards me which produces those wishes, than I could in the accomplishment of them to their utmost extent. And whilst I continue to possess that affection, I shall look with much less anxiety to other objects which are in my estimation of so much less value.
In these sentiments believe me, my dearest brother,
Ever most affectionately yours, W.W.G.
Upon reading this over, I find I have said not a word about a Ministry. Lord North saw the King yesterday, and from him went to the Duke of Portland; but at twelve o'clock to-day I know from authority that the latter had not seen the King, and that no name was fixed for any one department; which is, in a few words, all that I know.
I enclose a letter from Tonson, with my answer.
MR. W. W. GRENVILLE TO LORD TEMPLE.
Friday, March 14th, 1783.
My dear Brother,
We are now not a step forwarder than we were at this time two days ago. The King commissioned Lord North to submit a plan of Government, with the Duke of Portland at the Treasury. This has not been done; nor has the King sent for the Duke of Portland, who expected that step to have been taken.
What transpires about arrangements is as follows; Pitt not to join them (_upon which you may depend_); Lord North to name a colleague to Fox, who is to be Lord Stormont, _if he will accept_; Lord Dartmouth to be of the Cabinet; Twitcher, Privy Seal; G. North, Treasurer of the Navy; Grey Cooper, Jemmy's successor (at which his n.o.ble spirit is offended); Lord J.
Cavendish, Chancellor of the Exchequer; Fitzpatrick, talked of for Secretary-at-War; Lord Keppel to return. Query, whether he is by this means to be in the Cabinet with Twitcher? I think he should appoint St. Hugh a Junior Lord.
So good night to you.
_Amiciteae sempitereae inimicetrae placabiles._
These arrangements were dependant on the issue of negotiations that underwent fresh modifications from day to day. In the meantime Lord Temple had sent in his resignation. His Lords.h.i.+p's conduct on this occasion was as creditable to his integrity as it was ill.u.s.trative of his temperament. He appears to have accompanied the official despatch tendering his resignation with a private letter to the King, which Mr.
Grenville, acting on his own discretion, withheld. Lord Temple, devoted to the principles and the party of the late Marquis of Rockingham, and regarding the alliance of the Duke of Portland, Mr. Fox, and others of that party, with Lord North, as a gross dereliction of principle, did not hesitate to allude personally to them in the communication to His Majesty, under the impression that the coalition was then actually formed, and that in his public and onerous position he was bound to state the grounds upon which he felt himself imperatively called upon to resign. The coalition, however, was not yet concluded; although, on the 13th of March, General Cuninghame confidently announced to Lord Temple that a new Administration was to be declared the next day, and that that was the last letter he should have to write to him on such idle subjects; entering circ.u.mstantially, at the same time, into the disposal of the various offices, and a.s.signing an equal division of the Cabinet to Fox and Lord North, with the moderate Duke of Portland at the head.
Mr. Grenville, whose caution in reference to such transactions had been disciplined by experience, and who always brought the most temperate judgment to bear upon situations of delicacy and embarra.s.sment, saw the imprudence of committing Lord Temple to expressions that supposed a state of things which did not actually exist, or which, if it should be brought about, would consign his letter to the "very worst hands into which it could fall." Lord Temple, in Dublin, hara.s.sed by delays, and surrounded by increasing difficulties in his Government, could not decide this point so clearly as Mr. Grenville in London; and the sequel, which furnished his Lords.h.i.+p with a legitimate opportunity of stating his views and feelings to the King, amply justified the course adopted.
In the following letter, Mr. Grenville details the substance of his interview with the King, arising out of Lord Temple's resignation. It possesses the highest historical value, taken in connection with the letters that follow, for the full and minute information it affords of the course of those secret negotiations which finally terminated in the establishment of the coalition.
MR. W. W. GRENVILLE TO LORD TEMPLE.
Pall Mall, March 17th, 1733.
My dear Brother,
I received your packet of the 12th instant last night, and immediately sent to Lord Sydney your despatch of resignation. He forwarded it to the King, who immediately directed him to send me to Buckingham House, where I was with him above two hours.
I felt myself under much difficulty about your letter. It was evidently written on the supposition of a Government being formed by the Duke of Portland and Fox, in conjunction with Lord North; and to that point its whole reasoning was directed. Now the present situation in which we are, seems to tend to some different solution; and this idea was very much strengthened by the King's note to Lord Sydney, desiring to see me, in order to talk with me about your staying, _at least for the present_.
This being the case, I was apprehensive that some parts of your letter might possibly pledge you further to him than you would like in other contingencies which might turn up; and I also thought that a letter of that sort would come with more force from you in answer to what I should undoubtedly be commissioned to say to you. To this was added a most serious apprehension, which had struck both Jemmy and myself very forcibly, as to the prudence of committing yourself to him by so very strong language on the subject of the Duke of Portland and Fitzpatrick by name, and under your hand-writing; which paper, even supposing no ill use was ever to be made of it by the person to whom it is addressed, might, in the s.p.a.ce possibly even of a few hours, by any sudden accident, fall into _other_ hands, perhaps at this moment the very worst into which it could fall.
Under the pressure of these two ideas, and having very little time for deliberation, I adopted that measure which I thought at all events the safest; as, if the delivery of the letter at this moment, and in the altered state of things, was wrong, it could not ever be recalled; while, if you thought me wrong in withholding it, the error could be productive only of a short delay--certainly not wholly immaterial, but I should hope not very important. At the same time I own that I felt much difficulty in withholding it, as it appeared to me so admirably drawn up, and so well calculated to produce the effect intended by it, and so very unexceptionable in all its parts, except that which I have stated before--the mention of individuals by name (especially those with whom you are living on good terms), in a manner which, however proper for conversation, is, I think, infinitely hazardous when committed to paper.
Still, however, I hope that every effect intended by it may be produced as well, and possibly better, by the letter which you will of course send to him in answer to this conversation. I am sensible that, in using this discretion, I have taken much upon me; but I am sure I need not enlarge upon the motive; and I cannot help flattering myself, that the step itself will meet your approbation, especially as the conjecture from the words of the King's letter was justified in great measure by what pa.s.sed during so long a conversation, in which, from the inconceivable quickness with which the King ran on upon the different subjects of it, I found it very difficult to put in even the little which I thought it right to say.
When I first came in, he stated, with many very flattering expressions to you, the concern which he had felt at the idea of your resignation; that he had sent to me in order that he might have an opportunity of letting you into all the circ.u.mstances of the present situation, which he thought the most calamitous into which any country had ever been brought; that the kingdom was split into parties, not as had been formerly the case--two great bodies of men acting under the different denominations of Whigs and Tories, and upon different principles of conduct--but into factions, which had avowedly no other view than that of forcing themselves, at all hazards, into office; that before you took any step, he wished you to be fully apprized of the circ.u.mstances, which he would for that purpose detail to me, as he hoped that your letter had been written in the idea of the Government falling into the hands of persons of the description stated above.
I answered, that I believed you had certainly had that event in view, as one which the circ.u.mstances of the time rendered too probable. He then went into a long detail (with a great number of digressions upon the different political subjects of the day) of what had pa.s.sed since Monday's vote, particularly between him and Lord North, of whom he spoke in terms of strong resentment and disgust.
He stated, that when Lord Shelburne could no longer remain, he had first endeavoured to persuade Pitt to suffer the Treasury to devolve upon him, and that at one time he had entertained the most flattering hopes of success; but being disappointed in this, he had tried the Cabinet all round, but none had the spirit to stand forth. He had then sent to Lord North (after a week's delay to try other arrangements, particularly one in which the H. C. and the seals of the Secretary of State had been offered to and pressed upon Ths. Pitt), to know whether he was open to negotiation, or prevented by this coalition; that when, in consequence of this message, he saw him, he had at first tried whether he would accept the Treasury; because, much as he disliked them both, if he was to choose, he must certainly prefer Lord North to Fox. When Lord North declined this, he proposed that an arrangement should be made, leaving the Treasury open to some person of neither party, to be named by him afterwards; that Lord North left him with this proposal, but the next day told him that Mr. Fox insisted upon the Treasury for the Duke of Portland. After some time, he consented to this point also, and then desired that Lord North would bring him a written arrangement, that he might be enabled to see the whole, and form his judgment upon all the dismissals and appointments which were intended. After two days more, he had sent for Lord North, who had told him that he had no such arrangement to bring him, for that difficulties had arisen between them; that Fox insisted upon removing the Chancellor, in order that the Seals might be put into commission. To this the King objected very strongly, as he had expressed his desire that the arrangement might be made upon a broad basis; and that nothing could be more different from such an idea than the dismissal of the Chancellor, without having any person to subst.i.tute in his room.
Lord North then said that another difficulty had arisen. He had named Lord Stormont for the Secretarys.h.i.+p of State; but this had been objected to; and Lord Stormont had refused to accept of any other situation. The King again asked him whether, this being the case, he would undertake it separately. This was declined.
Yesterday evening, at five, Lord North was again at the Queen's House, when the King told him that he desired it might be understood that it was not he who broke off the arrangement upon the idea of keeping the Lord Chancellor; that, on the contrary, he desired it might be understood that he had expressed no determination, nor would he express any, upon a particular part of the proposed arrangement, till the whole was submitted to him. Therefore, if they thought to obviate the difficulties which they found in making it by laying the onus upon him, he was not fairly dealt with.
This finished the detail. His observations upon it were nearly what is implied in the last sentence: that he believed, when they came to treat about the arrangement, they found infinite difficulty in coming to any agreement, and had therefore resolved to throw the burthen upon him; that, in the meantime, he was using every endeavour to form a Government; that he hoped your resignation was only to be considered as relative to the event which you then thought likely to happen; that undoubtedly _in some cases_ it would be impossible for you to stay there with honour to yourself; that unless you met with full support from hence, the Government in Ireland could not go on; but, in the meantime, he desired I would write to you, to express his wish that you would take no precipitate step till something was finally settled.
This, I think, was the main jut of the conversation to this point; though I have thrown it much more into form than it was spoken--as it was interrupted by a great variety of digressions: upon the coalition, in the reprobating of which I took care to join with him most heartily; upon Fox, whom he loaded with every expression of abhorrence; upon the Duke of Portland, against whom he was little less violent; upon Lord North, to whose conduct he imputed all the disasters of the country; upon American Independence, which seems to have been a most bitter pill indeed; upon a.s.sociations and reforms, clubs, gaming-houses, aristocratic cabals, &c., &c.; together with much inquiry into the state of Ireland, and the characters and conduct of people there; and a long detail about Lord Bellamont, who he believed was crack-brained, and of whom he told two curious stories of audiences which he had asked, and in which he at last insisted that, unless the King would make him reparation for the second disgrace he had suffered by the nomination of Lord Arran, by suffering him to kiss hands, on or before St.
Patrick's Day, for an English Baronage or an Irish Marquisate, given to him, or given to Lord Mountrath and entailed upon him, he would come no more to Court; which curious condition, you may believe, has not been complied with; and consequently, said the King, I shall be delivered from the trouble of seeing him.
You will easily suppose that I have not been able to recollect the precise words of a conversation so very diffuse, upon so many different subjects, and which lasted from eleven at night till past one this morning.
Upon the whole, what I collect from his conversation, and from the sort of impression which the whole tenour of his language, rather than from any one particular expression, is that in the case which you supposed, and upon which you acted, nothing could be more agreeable to him than your resignation; especially, as he observed to me several times, that it was impossible he could wish that such a Government should last; and mentioned a message which he sent through Lord Ashburton to Lord Shelburne, that he should consider him as a disgraced man if, after their conduct towards him, he ever "_supported them in Government_, or joined them in opposition;" (these were the precise words he used to me.) I collect the same idea also from the expression of _some cases_ in which you could not stay, and the eagerness with which he joined in with me when I took occasion to observe to him that the system of the Duke of Portland and Fox in Ireland had been so different from yours, as to put you under an impossibility of remaining under them. This point, therefore, I conceive to be clear, that in such an event, your resignation would be as acceptable to him as I think it would be honourable to yourself.
But from the request he has made you, and from the particular pains he seems to take to throw the onus (as he called it) of breaking off the negotiation with the Duke of Portland and Lord North upon their shoulders, I think we must conclude that he considers that as being entirely at an end, and that he has something else in view; though what that something else can possibly be, I am utterly at a loss to imagine.
At the same time, I think the opportunity of doing a handsome thing is too fair to be neglected. If I were therefore to advise you, it would be to write to the King, stating that nothing could be further from your intention than the throwing any embarra.s.sment in his way at a moment when, on the contrary, you would rather wish to do everything in your power, &c., &c. This would lead naturally to the first part of your letter, about the manner of your having accepted the Government of Ireland. You might then say, that the letter of resignation was written on the idea of the probability of those men being called to His Majesty's counsels who had, &c., &c. That under such a Government you could not have flattered yourself with the hopes of being useful to His Majesty, for the reasons a.s.signed, &c., &c., which I think it is impossible for you to detail better than they are there stated, except in the single instance of the mentioning of names, with no very flattering comment, which I would (if I might be allowed to do it) deprecate in the strongest manner, for reasons very sufficiently obvious. You might then, I should think, go on to say, that in obedience to His Majesty's gracious dispositions, you would continue to hold your situation till something is settled; in the hopes, however, if it ended in such a Government as you could not serve under consistently with your character, or the system of your Administration, you might then be permitted, &c., &c.
In this manner I should hope that you would lose nothing, except a little time--not very important to you--by the non-delivery of your letter.
The Duke of Portland had a meeting last night, to which were summoned all Fox's people, and all the country gentlemen who had formerly acted with them. The Duke stated to them what had pa.s.sed, and told them that the whole had broken off upon the King's insisting upon the Chancellor and Lord Stormont. This is pretty curious, at the moment that the King was stating to Lord North that such a reason could not be a.s.signed with truth. The Duke said, however, that Lord North was then with the King, and therefore hoped that nothing might be done till they heard the result. This was applied to Lord Surrey, who had expressed an intention of moving an address.
What pa.s.sed between the King and Lord North, I have told you above, as it was stated to me. It is not, therefore, wholly impossible that the negotiation may be resumed, as the King's object seems to be to set them quarelling between themselves about the different parts of this arrangement. At all events, I think your letter cannot but do good, and I will certainly remain here to deliver it.
Acting strictly on this sound advice, Lord Temple addressed to His Majesty the following letter, in which he enters at length into the peculiar obstructions to which he had been exposed through the whole period of his Administration in Ireland, and unreservedly submits for His Majesty's consideration the reasons which led to his resignation.
LORD TEMPLE TO THE KING.
March 23rd, 1783, Two o'clock, A.M.
I have this moment received from Mr. Grenville the detail of the conversation, with which your Majesty was pleased to honour him on the 16th instant. I will not attempt to state the feelings of grat.i.tude and respect with which I have received the testimonies of your approbation, and the signal proofs of that condescension, with which you were graciously pleased to inform me of the situation of the kingdom at this most alarming crisis.
Every feeling of duty and of inclination call upon me to offer my situation and opinions to your Majesty's consideration; and, as I have no official means of conveying them, I trust to your goodness to excuse what must be a long detail, but truly interesting to me, as your good opinion must ever be the object of my eager wishes.
Memoirs of the Court and Cabinets of George the Third Volume I Part 17
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