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

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On the contrary, if any very good opportunity should offer itself, I should think him more inclined to lessen than to extend. He either has, or affects, an opinion very different from that which I hold out to him with respect to the difficulties of your Government, and exclaims even against the possibility of your being driven from your ground. I can't say that I think this situation between your official Minister and the real Premier quite pleasant, because it seems to me that the despatches of the one, however explicit, being all written without the concurrence of the Cabinet, do not pledge the opinions of the other, which are, after all, the only opinions which are of any consequence.

I believe I stated to you in my last the reason which Townshend gave to me, and which Lord Shelburne a.s.signed to Jemmy, for not calling a Cabinet immediately on my arrival, namely, their unwillingness to meet them before they had news from Paris, because they had been hitherto unanimous, and hoped to meet Parliament so; and if they were called upon the subject of Ireland, n.o.body knows what other hare might be started there, however they might agree upon Irish affairs. You will certainly think the mode of keeping a Cabinet unanimous, by never meeting them at all, an excellent one; however, in the situation of things here, I did not think it would be decent in me to distress Government, especially as I really think the propriety of the dissolution at this moment depends much on the event of the business at Paris. I have therefore contented myself with an explicit a.s.surance from Townshend, that when news of that arrives, which is now most anxiously expected every hour, a Cabinet shall be held, to go into the whole line of Irish business.

Townshend showed me his despatches on the subject of the embargo, and of this Irish cause, both of which the King has seen, but I believe, no one else. The idea of the resolutions not being proposed till your wish was known, was suggested to him by me, because, if you should be driven--and things certainly verge towards it--to any further concession, you will not be much a.s.sisted by those two resolutions standing on the journals in array against you. But I believe the attention of every one here will be so much employed by the great point of peace or war, that there will be very little room for Irish politics, either in the House of Commons or the House of Lords.

I asked Townshend, an hour ago, whether there was anything from Paris; and he told me explicitly that they knew nothing at all, but was in most anxious expectation. The Parliament certainly meets on Thursday. I think, from the style of their language, and particularly from Lord Shelburne's trying to make me pledge you to it, that they are confident of a peace; and certainly, if they have it not, their situation is very precarious, to say no more of it. If they do meet Parliament with a peace, I am persuaded they will stand their ground. The country gentlemen hold in general rather a friendly language than otherwise. I shall certainly now stay over Thursday; but after that, get back to you as soon as I can.

Lord Mahon has been with me, and is outrageous about the Duke of Leinster. He wanted me to engage that Government would give them land if the other offers failed; but I begged to decline.

I have received the enclosed from Talbot, and have also sent you my answer, which you will forward or not, as you think right.

Lord Nugent is out of all patience with you for not answering his letter. Adieu.

Believe me, Ever most affectionately yours, W. W. G.

I have not given you the words of the Speech exactly, but nearly. Yorke and Banks move in the House of Commons; Lord Carmarthen and ---- in the House of Lords.

You will probably think it right to write to Lord Shelburne, stating the difficulties of your situation at full length; because I think his idea of ease and smoothness ought by no means to remain uncontradicted. If you do that, I should think it would not be amiss to say something about a peace, for he evidently meant that I should have pledged you to that, and to acknowledge his professions, which have been boundless and unlimited.

I should think it would be also an act of real justice to Townshend to say something to him about his conduct towards you, which I think as honourable and friendly as possible. If one could but join the power of the one with the integrity of the other!

What answer will you give about your stopping the English recruiting parties _car l'on est un peu choque la-dessus_?


Pall Mall, Dec. 5th, Eleven at Night.

My dear Brother,

In consequence of their having altered their minds about Ireland, I was summoned to give my opinion. I think the words as they stand now are sufficiently strong, and they pa.s.sed to-night without the least animadversion: "The liberal principles adopted by you with respect to the rights and commerce of Ireland, do you the highest honour, and must, I trust, ensure that harmony which ought ever to subsist between the two kingdoms."

We have had no division to-night. The speakers, Lord N., Fox, Burke, Townshend and Pitt.

Lord N. uncommonly well, holding off from both sides. Fox and Pitt both worse than usual. The chief debate about peace. The giving up Gibraltar was thrown out by Banks, and strongly objected to by Lord N., Burke, and Fox.

Johnstone made an attack upon Lord Howe, which was as ill received as it deserved to be. I would have sent you a copy of the King's Speech, but it is so uncommonly long, that it is not out yet. It is utterly impossible to travel through the great variety of matter which it comprehends. Remarkably full house.

Bulkeley was in the House of Lords; says that Shelburne acquitted himself very well. Lord Stormont attacked him about the Independence. He defended it as the wish of the people. Lord Fitzgerald spoke but badly. No division there.

Ever yours, W. W. G.

Keith Stewart answered Johnstone, defending Lord Howe very warmly. Everybody who spoke after Johnstone reprobated him. Duke of Richmond attacked Lord Sandwich.


Pall Mall,, Dec. 7th, 1782.

My dear Brother,

I received your packet late on Thursday night, or rather, I believe, early on Friday morning. As soon as I was up I sent the enclosed letter to Lord Shelburne and to Townshend. I received from Lord Shelburne an answer appointing me in an hour's time.

When I went there, after waiting a considerable time (which I can easily excuse when I reflect upon the business of this moment), I was shown into a room, where he was with Townshend.

It is difficult for me to say whether I was more surprised or mortified at his telling me, as soon as I came in, that he could only see me for a minute or two. He then entered upon the subject of your letter, by saying that he had not read Mr.

Townshend's despatches, but only your letter to himself and the bill which you enclosed to Townshend. With respect to the bill, he said nothing could be done without consulting the Chancellor and the other lawyers of the Cabinet; that I must see the Chancellor, and explain the business to him; that the rendering a judgment null might be objected to. I answered that I was persuaded _that_ was the part on which you was least bent, and that you would be fully satisfied if the enacting clause went only to prevent any future decisions, provided the preamble expressed the principle. To this he said, that it was impossible to go on if everything of this sort made a necessity for new measures, and that when a ground was once taken, it ought to be stood to. My answer was, that your ground was very materially changed, and that this overturned the only reasoning upon which you had been able to go on at all, namely, the pledging your own personal faith, and the honour of Government here, that the repeal of the G. I. was considered as a renunciation on the part of Great Britain of all legislation and jurisdiction. He asked whether I meant external as well as internal? I said, undoubtedly. He said, that he had understood from your conversation before you went, "that you meant to make your stand upon the external legislation;" and for this he appealed to Townshend, who said he had understood the same. It was impossible for me to contradict this, as it referred to conversations to which I was no party. He said that he thought you was reasonable upon the subject of the dissolution, and that this other business was not to be taken up suddenly. I asked what then he wished me to do. He told me to wait upon the Chancellor. I objected that the question was not a legal one, but wholly political. I urged the consequences of delay. Still, however, I could get no answer from him, but only that I must go to the Chancellor; and at last he grew so impatient as to leave the room while I was talking, and to tell Townshend that he might find him in his (Lord Shelburne's) office. The whole conversation did not last above four or five minutes at the utmost. I turned to Townshend, and asked him if he thought it possible that the Government of Ireland could go on in this manner. He pressed me to go to the Chancellor, and said that he could tell me, _en ami_, that I should do more good there in three minutes than I could do elsewhere in as many hours.

By the way, I must say here, that by some inaccuracy I must have explained myself very ill to you about Townshend, who seems to me to have acted the most friendly and honest part towards you in the course of the whole business, and who has sacrificed his time to me for an hour or an hour and a half for several days; while during the fortnight I have now been here, I have not seen Lord Shelburne for twenty minutes in the whole.

I have been very particular in detailing the above conversation to you, because I think it opens two things of infinite importance to your personal comfort and your personal honour. I think it extremely plain that the object of Lord Shelburne is to gain time, and that let me press ever so eagerly, _which I shall not fail to do_, still I am not to expect any final answer till the negotiation is settled, and the peace, which they evidently look upon as certain, is secured and announced. What effect these delays may have in Ireland, and what appearance this state of uncertainty must bear to those who know the proposal you have made, you are best able to judge, but I know enough of it to be very much alarmed. But the second consideration affects me much more, as I think it affects your honour, and my own as involved with it. What I mean is this: I threw out to you in my former letters that Lord Shelburne appears to me much more disposed to narrow than to extend the rights and concessions yielded to Ireland by Great Britain. I think when you compare the evident reluctance he showed to agree to the resolutions first proposed; his telling me that he had thought of a paragraph in the King's Speech to do instead of them; his then showing me a paragraph relating merely to commercial advantages, and his telling me we were not ripe for the word rights; when you compare all this with his evident dislike to this bill, and with the expression stated above about external legislation, it is not very difficult to collect that he means to do nothing till we have peace, and when we have, he means, to use his own expression, to make the stand upon that point.

Possibly I may agree with him, that it might have been well for the general interest of the empire if that ground had originally been explained, decisively taken and maintained. But I am sure I know too well the situation of that country and of this, to think that it can now be held out without the most fatal consequences to both; and I think I know your feelings too well to imagine that you will suffer yourself to be made an instrument of deceiving any man or body of men whatever, still less a whole country, especially in contradiction to the language which you have invariably held, at least as far as I can recollect (ever since you accepted of your situation), both to people in Ireland and to Government here, that the repeal was a complete renunciation.

It is a singular pleasure to me to observe how exactly our ideas have hitherto corresponded since I left you; so that while you have been taking your measures in Ireland, I have been recommending the same to you from hence. If they should continue to do so in this instance, the line of conduct which I apprehend would be proper for us to adopt on our different posts is this.

I am to see the Chancellor to-morrow, and immediately upon leaving him mean to write to Lord Shelburne, pressing him again most eagerly to allow me an opportunity of stating to him _at length_ what I have in commission to say to him from you. If he should comply, I will then go into the whole state of Ireland; will mention to him the credit which ought to be given to representations proceeding from you, in preference to those of interested individuals; will enlarge upon the necessity of decision; and will press that a Cabinet may be held in performance of Townshend's promise to me. In the meantime, I should think you would do well to write a letter to Townshend, stating your ideas upon the necessity of good faith, and the impossibility of resistance, even upon the ground of simple repeal, still more upon the more narrow one of external legislation; and desiring an explicit answer _from the Cabinet_ on these points. This, if you would entrust me with it, I would suppress in case the Cabinet should have met and come to any satisfactory decision; and if not, I would deliver it to Townshend, with every personal expression to him of regard, &c., &c.

The advantages which I propose by this conduct, and the mode of reasoning upon which I support it, are as follows: In the first place, if it is really their intention to reserve the external legislation, the sooner you know it, and are able to wash your hands of it completely, by returning to England, the more popular you will be in Ireland, and the better ground you will have here, both to your own conscience, and as a man who may be called upon to defend his conduct. You will observe that I take it for granted you agree with me as to the utter impossibility of ever exercising such a right, and the impolicy as well as bad faith of reserving it, to become, like the tea-duty, a ground for contest and ill-blood; without the possibility of advantage.

Lord Shelburne seems to imagine that by a peace he should be able to enforce it; you know the contrary, and that the hearts and voices, and even hands, not of the Volunteers only, but of the people, and even of Parliament, would be against it. And with what face, supposing the thing in itself practicable and honest, could we maintain that ground, after having repeatedly stated the contrary, and pledged ourselves to it in resolutions, and now in a bill offered under your recommendation for the English Parliament? In this event, therefore, I think that by an immediate resignation you will have satisfied your own feelings, and at the same time found an honourable solution to a very unpleasant situation--unpleasant from the situation of things there, and possibly not less so from the complexion of affairs here.

If, on the other hand, this measure drives them into an immediate acquiescence with your proposals, you will certainly stand in a much pleasanter situation in Ireland, especially as a peace will give you a fair ground for dissolving the Fencibles, if you think proper, without ever coming to Parliament to vote money for them. The advantages which we shall have from putting an end to this almost intolerable scene of delay and temporizing are obvious; and if the measure comes from Townshend, and is seconded by me, as I shall propose, it will give you all the credit of the adherence to good faith, &c., &c., instead of its being forced upon Government, as it will otherwise be, by Lord Beauchamp, or Commodore Johnstone, or any person disposed to do mischief.

I have said that O. l Fo2c TolB 3Fo3 the complexion of affairs here makes

evident intention it more unpleasant. Lord Shelburne's c21bc93 193c931m9 is

make cyphers colleagues to 70Ic aw6FckT of his amddcol2ct. Rayneval's arrival at his

not known house at eight in the morning was 9m3 I9ms9 to Townshend

till twelve, nor to others till after four.

3ldd 3scd2c, 9mk 3m any of the m3Fckt 3ldd oE3ck Em2k.

They be much pleased, they mean 3fcw cannot hc 72af 6dcotch, but sill it is imagined 3fcw 7co9

to remain.

3m k370l9. I have had no opportunity of speaking about the

Vice-Treasurers.h.i.+p since your last letter; I had spoke before.

will observe Barre's place is kept You sldd mhtck2c Hokkct 6doac lt also Ic63 open.[1]

_Quorsum haec tendunt_, G.o.d only knows.

Ever yours, W. W. G.

[Footnote 1: Portions of numerous letters in the correspondence contained in these volumes are written in cypher. The above pa.s.sage is given merely as a specimen, which will be sufficient to show the character of the cypher.]


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