Memoirs of the Court and Cabinets of George the Third Volume II Part 6

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Fox got up, on Mr. Pitt's having moved for a Committee to inquire into the state of the nation on Tuesday. Fox explained away much of the harshness of the doctrine of _right_ in the Prince of Wales to a.s.sume the royal authority during the temporary incapacity of the King; but left all the substance of the doctrine. He then spoke his sentiments of what ought to be done, whatever the manner; namely, to recognize, _or confer_, as others might say, _full regal authority_ on the Prince, for the time of the King's incapacity. He then called on Pitt to relieve the nation from doubt, and give an opening of his plan.

Pitt, in reply, stated the point of law and the Const.i.tution yet to be at issue, the _substance_ of difference yet remaining, and that such great question could not be slurred over. It must be decided by Parliament, and should be the first subject of debate and decision; namely, for Tuesday. It was a question for themselves and for posterity. He then said, that the outline of his plan was, as _matter of discretion_ and conveniency, to appoint the Prince of Wales sole Regent, with no permanent council, with power to remove and make his Ministry at pleasure, and with all other regal powers necessary for giving force, dignity, and vigour to his Administration; but with no powers that might be needless, intrench on the Crown, and cause embarra.s.sment on the King's recovery, &c.

Our business for Tuesday, therefore, is the _question of right_.

Pitt stands higher and higher in general estimation. As I pa.s.sed the gallery to write this, Marquis of Townsend caught my arm, and said: "A glorious fellow, by G----, Young! His speech is that of an angel."

Post bell rings.

Yours ever, W. Y.

MR. W. W. GRENVILLE TO THE MARQUIS OF BUCKINGHAM.

Whitehall, Dec. 13th, 1788.

MY DEAR BROTHER,

I must refer you to the papers for an account of our triumphant day in the House of Commons yesterday. You will see by that, that I was not mistaken in my opinion that the doctrine of the Prince's right was not likely to be a very popular one. Fox found that by what he said before he had offended so many people, that he was obliged to take the very first moment of explaining it away; still, however, he has left it in such a shape that we cannot fail of debating it with great advantage. He intends, as you will see by his speech, to move the previous question on Pitt's proposition, which he is afraid to attempt to negative. After this recantation was over, the day was closed by such a blunder of Sheridan's, as I never knew any man of the meanest talents guilty of before. During the whole time that I have sat in Parliament, in pretty warm times, I never remember such an uproar as was raised by his threatening us with _the danger of provoking the Prince to a.s.sert his right_, which were the exact words he used.

You may conceive what advantage all this gives us, especially when coupled with the strong hopes entertained of the King's recovery.

The account, as given at St. James's, is rather less favourable this morning. I do not well know how to account for this circ.u.mstance, as the letters from persons immediately about the Queen continue as favourable as ever. I rather guess it to be Warren's malice against Willis, who was yesterday put into possession of many points which they had disputed with him, particularly the right of signing the reports. I imagine he was unwilling the first day of this to contest with Warren about the precise words.

There is a report, which I heard yesterday before I went to the House, and which Fox's speech appeared to countenance, of their intending to acquiesce in the limitations, provided they are established only for a short time.

The precise mode of carrying our propositions into effect is not yet settled. Our general idea is, that the two Houses should authorize the Chancellor to put the great seal to a Commission, empowering the Prince to open the session. And that then the propositions should then be brought forward in the shape of a Bill, to which the Prince may, by a similar Commission, be authorized to give the royal a.s.sent. We shall, however, in the course of two or three days have reduced this to form, and I will then send it over to you.

Ever most affectionately yours, W. W. G.

The report alluded to above turned out to be true, which could be said of few of the reports that were so industriously circulated during the King's illness. The Prince's party, finding it impossible to get rid of the restrictions, were ready to enter into a compromise, and to agree to them, provided their duration was limited to a certain period. A Bill to that effect was afterwards introduced. But Ministers were not inclined to accept compromises when they had the power in their own hands to dictate conditions; and so the limited Regency scheme came to nothing.

SIR WILLIAM YOUNG TO THE MARQUIS OF BUCKINGHAM.

Stratton Street, Dec. 13th, 1788.

MY DEAR LORD,

The account at St. James's this morning is, that the King had a quiet night; but that, on awaking, His Majesty was more unquiet than yesterday. Unless something very particular is noted in these official returns of the King's health, shall not in future transmit accounts so inconclusive to such a distance. The disorder in its nature is subject to intervals, and to variations which even a medical inquirer could not build upon, without being a witness to such vicissitudes of malady or having a recital of each minute symptom, and that with comments. Each authentic account, more in detail, as it comes to me you shall have; and then, too, the St.

James's note as a corollary.

After my note from the House of Commons--which, if your Lords.h.i.+p can read, I do not think I now could, such was the haste of scribble--Sheridan threw out the menace which the papers state, with Pitt's answer; the comment on which is, in the mouth of Opposition: "Pray, for G.o.d's sake, don't put a question, and urge it to a division, which will ruin our pretensions as Whigs if we do, as we must do, divide against it."

On walking out this morning, the first thing that struck me, was a long row of handbills, stuck from one end to the other of the wall of Devons.h.i.+re House; in which a few words of _Fox for the Prince's prerogative_, and of Pitt, in reply for privilege of Parliament and liberties of the nation, were not badly selected.

We are likely to have a conversation in Parliament, I am pretty authentically informed, of even a more delicate nature than the last; John Rolle intending to bring forward his old subject of Mrs.

Fitzherbert.

Rolle and Sheridan had a whispering conference under the gallery for some minutes; the result of which, Sir J. Scott, Solicitor-General, with whom I dined, said he understood to be firmness on the part of Rolle, in his intention at a proper time to come forward.

To our question of right, on Tuesday the previous question is expected from Opposition; and that they will be stronger on that point than any other, from having the timidity of some, co-operate with the interestedness of others. The list on that day will be worth marking. I trust we shall yet have a great majority of Parliament who will not submit to be dragooned out of their privileges and freedom by an Irish Brigade.

Grattan is every day under the gallery, not admiring, I hope, the Captains Sheridan and Burke. I know not which side he leans to.

Adieu, my dear Lord. My wife desires to forward her kindest wishes and best respects to the Marchioness, with your most affectionate and devoted friend's,

W. YOUNG.

MR. W. W. GRENVILLE TO THE MARQUIS OF BUCKINGHAM.

Whitehall, Dec. 14th, 1788.

MY DEAR BROTHER,

I received this morning your letter of the 8th, and am very sorry that I am so hurried to-day as to make it absolutely impossible for me to enter into the subject which you discuss, in the manner which I should wish. You will collect from a former letter my general notions upon it, but I doubt whether those may not be considerably varied by the consideration which you suggest of being able to carry more for the King by remaining, than otherwise.

I have had a good deal of conversation with Pitt on the subject. He promises me that he will, immediately after Tuesday, discuss it thoroughly with me, and enable me to send you his decided opinion how you ought to act. I find, from what he says, that he apprehends Lord Thurlow's opinion to be contrary to ours. This, however, seems immaterial, except with a view to future support, and, probably, cannot easily be brought to a point, as no Cabinet measure or instructions can be grounded upon it. The idea still continues of proceeding by Bill; and as we preface that with an a.s.sertion of the right in both Houses, it must still be a considerable time before any measure can come in question with respect to Ireland.

I believe we shall word the proposition in a less abstract form, and apply it more particularly to this individual case, still, however, a.s.serting the right.

The account is less favourable to-day, notwithstanding that of yesterday. I saw a letter from Willis to Pitt, in which he said that the King "had pa.s.sed the day calmly, and was, in other respects, much the same as yesterday."

Ever most affectionately yours, W. W. G.

MR. W. W. GRENVILLE TO THE MARQUIS OF BUCKINGHAM.

Whitehall, Dec. 15th, 1788.

MY DEAR BROTHER,

I had yesterday some conversation with Pitt on the subject of your letter, which I had received in the morning.

On the best consideration, we agreed that the line I before mentioned to you is the best which you ought to follow; that you should write a letter, to be delivered immediately upon the Prince of Wales being Regent, to state the doubts, to suggest the solution of Lords Justices, to desire His Royal Highness's commands upon the danger of giving offence here, by the appearing to raise difficulties in Ireland. This was agreed to be more proper, even to the King, than leaving them to open the Parliament. Pitt has received a very haughty letter from the Prince of Wales to Thurlow, complaining of his general behaviour to him, and of his not having had Pitt's plan communicated to him, and ordering Thurlow to require him to send it to him in writing. Pitt has sent a respectful answer, disclaiming any disrespect to him; but saying that he does not think it proper to do this until the question of right has been discussed.

It is reported that the four Princes of the blood met yesterday, and agreed to refuse the Regency under any limitations, and this is to be declared in the House of Commons to-morrow. I have reason to believe this to be true. Pitt saw the Queen yesterday; I do not know what pa.s.sed, though I think he is satisfied.

I enclose a letter from Camplin, upon which you must decide. I have not yet seen Captain Nugent, who has sent me a letter from you, but his business is wholly out of our cognizance.

Ever most affectionately yours, W. W. G.

When Pitt was at Kew he saw Willis, who told him that he did not think the difference in the King's state within these last two days, of the smallest importance. That this sort of fluctuation was naturally to be expected, and did not in any degree diminish his hopes, which are as sanguine as ever.

MR W. W. GRENVILLE TO THE MARQUIS OF BUCKINGHAM.

Whitehall, Dec. 17th, 1788.

MY DEAR BROTHER,

I have nothing to add to what I said in my last letter, on the interesting subject of your situation and conduct in the events that may most reasonably be expected to arise. It appears, however, to me, to be of the utmost importance that you should not neglect for a moment taking the opinion of the law servants of the Crown in Ireland, with respect to the operation of a new patent granted by a Parliamentary Regent here, under the English Great Seal, previous to any proceeding having been held in Ireland. I have a real confidence in Fitzgibbon's honour; but I think this a point of much too great importance to yourself, to be vested on verbal opinions.

You may, and I think ought, both to keep these written opinions secret, and to require them to do so; but as soon as you have received them, you should, I think, transmit them to Lord Sydney, to remain in his office. You will observe that the ground is now in some measure cleared for you by the declaration of right, which we came to last night, and which will certainly be agreed to by the House of Lords. I expected to have been able to send you an exact copy of the resolutions, but am disappointed. You will, however, probably see them in the "Morning Chronicle," if that comes out early enough for the post. The first states the fact of the King's present inability to attend to business, "and that the _personal exercise_ of the royal authority by His Majesty is thereby for the present interrupted."

Memoirs of the Court and Cabinets of George the Third Volume II Part 6

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