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THE EARL OF CHATHAM."
(EDINBURGH REVIEW FOR OCTOBER, 1844.)
Mons than ten years ago we commenced a sing a government to which a revolution had sketch of the political life of the great Lord given being. Both came by degrees to altach Chatnari.t We then stopped at the death of more importance to the means than to the George ine Second, with the intention of speed- end. Both were thrown into unnatural situaily resuming our task. Circumstances which tions; and both, like animals transported to it would be tedious to explain, long prevented an uncongenial climate, languished and de us from carrying this intention into effect. Nor generated. The Tory, removed from the suncan we regret the delay. For the materials shine of the court, was as a camel in the which were within our reach in 1834 were snows of Lapland. The Whig, basking in the scanty and unsatisfactory, when compared with rays of royal favour, was as a reindeer in the those which we at present possess. Even now, sands of Arabia. though we have had access to some valuable Dante tells us that he saw, in Malebolge, a sources of information which have not yet been strange encounter between a human form and opened to the public, we cannot but feel that a serpent. . The enemies, after cruel wounds the history of the first ten years of the reign of inflicted, stood for a time glaring on each other. George the Third is but imperfectly known to A great cloud surrounded them, and then a as. Nevertheless, we are inclined to think wonderful metamorphosis began. Each creathat we are in a condition to lay before our ture was transfigured into the likeness of its readers a narrative neither uninstructive nor antagonist. The serpent's tail divided itself aninteresting. We therefore return with plea- into two legs; the man's legs intertwined them sure to our long interrupted labour.
selves into a tail. The body of the serpent We left Pitt in the zenith of prosperity and put forth arms; the arms of the man shrank glory, the idol of England, the terror of France, into his body. At length the serpent stood up the admiration of the whole civilized world. a man, and spake; the man sank down a The wind, from whatever quarter it blew, serpent, and glided hissing away. Something carried to England tidings of battles won, for- like this was the transformation which, during tresses taken, provinces added to the empire. the reign of George the First, befell the two At home, factions had sunk into a lethargy, English parties. Each gradually took the shape such as had never been known since the great and colour of its foe; till at length the Tory religious schism of the sixteenth century had rose up erect the zealot of freedom, and the roused the public mind from repose.
Whig crawled and licked the dust at the feet In order that the events which we have to of power. relate may be clearly understood, it may be It is true that, when these degenerate politidesirable that we should advert to the causes cians discussed questions merely speculative, which had for a time suspended the animation and, above all, when they discussed questions of both the great English parties.
relating to the conduct of their own grandIf, rejecting all that is merely accidental, we fathers, they still seemed to differ as their look at the essential characteristics of the grandfathers had differed. The Whig, who Whig and the Tory, we may consider each of during three Parliaments had never given one them as the representative of a great principle, vote against the court, and who was ready to essential to the welfare of nations. One is, sell his soul for the Comptroller's staff, or for in an especial manner, the guardian of liber- the Great Wardrobe, still professed to draw ty, and the other, of order. One is the moving his political doctrines from Locke and Milton, power, and the other the steadying power of still worshipped the memory of Pym and the state. One is the sail, without which Hampden, and would still, on the thirtieth of society would make no progress; the other January, take his glass, first to the man in the the ballast, without which there would be mask, and then to the man who would do it small safety in a tempest. But, during the without a mask. The Tory, on the other hand, forty-six years which followed the accession while he reviled the mild and temperate Walof the house of Hanover, these distinctive pole as a deadly enemy of liberty, could sec peculiarities seemed to be effaced. The Whig nothing to reprobate in the iron tyranny of conceived that he could not better serve the Stafford and Laud. But, whatever judgment cause of civil and religious freedom than by the Whig or the Tory of that age might pro. strenuously supporting the Protestant dynasty. nounce on transactions long past, there can The Tory conceived that he could not better be no doubt that, as respected the practical prove his hatred of revolutions than by attack- questions then pending, the Tory was a re.
former, and indeed an intemperate and in. • Correspondence of William Pitt, Earl of Chatham. discreet reformer, while the Whig was con. A vols. 8vo. London, 1840.
servative even to bigotry. We have ourselves Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford, to Sir Horace seen similar effects produced in a neighbour Mann. 4 vols. 8vo. London, 1843-4. Seo page 226.
ing country by similar causes. Whc would
have believed, tifteen years ago, that M. Guizot generally succeeds to morbid excitement. The and M. Villemain would have to defend pro- people had been maddened by sophistry, by perty and social order against the Jacobinical calumny, by rhetoric, by stimulants applied to attacks of such enemies as M. Genoude and the national pride. In the fulness of bread, M. de La Roche Jaquelin ?
they had raved as if famine had been in the Thus the successors of the old Cavaliers land. While enjoying such a measure of civil had turned demagogues; the successors of and religious freedom as, till then, no great the old Roundheads had turned courtiers. Yet society had ever known, they had cried out for was it long before their mutual animosity a Timoleon or a Brutus to stab their oppres. began to abate; for it is the nature of parties sors to the heart. They were in this frame of to retain their original enmities, far more firm- mind when the change of administration took y than their original principles. During many place; and they soon found that there was to Years, a generation of Whigs whom Sidney be no change whatever in the systein of gewould have spurned as slaves, continued to vernment. The natural consequences followvage deadly war with a generation of Tories ed. To frantic zeal succeeded sullen indifferwhom Jefferies would have hanged for re- ence. The cant of patriotism had not merely publicans.
ceased to charm the public ear, but had become Through the whole reign of George the First, as nauseous as the cant of Puritanism after and through nearly half of the reign of George the downfall of the Rump. The hot fit was the Second, a Tory was regarded as an enemy over: the cold fit had begun: and it was long of the reigning house, and was excluded from before seditious arts, or even real grievances, all the favours of the crown. Though most could bring back the fiery paroxysm which of the country gentlemen were Tories, none had run its course, and reached its termination. but Whigs were created peers and baronets. Two attempts were made to disturb this Though most of the clergy were Tories, none tranquillity. The banished heir of the house but Whigs were created deans and bishops. In of Stuart headed a rebellion; the discontented every county opulent and well-descended Tory heir of the house of Brunswick headed an opsquires complained that their names were left position. Both the rebellion and the opposition out of the commission of the peace; while came to nothing. The battle of Culloden anmen of small estate and mean birth, who were nihilated the Jacobite party; the death of for toleration and excise, septennial parlia- Prince Frederic dissolved the faction which, ments and standing armies, presided at quarter under his guidance, had feebly striven to ansessions, and became deputy lieutenants. noy his father's government. His chief fol
By degrees some approaches were made lowers hastened to make their peace with the owards a reconciliation. While Walpole was ministry; and the political torpor became at the head of affairs, emnity to his power complete. induced a large and powerful body of Whigs, Five years after the death of Prince Fre headed by the heir-apparent of the throne, to deric, the public mind was for a time violently make an alliance with the 'Tories, and a truce excited. But this excitement had nothing to even with the Jacobites. After Sir Robert's do with the old disputes between Whigs and fall, the ban which lay on the Tory party was Tories. England was at war with France. taken off. The chief places in the administra- The war had been feebly conducted. Minorca tion continued to be filled by Whigs, and, had been torn from us. Our fleet had retired indeed, could scarcely have been filled other before the white flag of the House of Bourbon. wisc; for the Tory nobility and gentry, though A bitter sense of humiliation, new to the stror.g in numbers and in property, had among proudest and bravest of nations, superseded them scarcely a single man distinguished by every other feeling. The cry of all the countalents, either for business or for debate. A ties and great towns of the realm was for a few of them, however, were admitted to sub-government which would retrieve the honour ordinate offices; and this indulgence produced of the English arms. The two most powerful a softening effect on the temper of the whole men in the country were the Duke of New body. The first levee of George the Second castle and Pitt. Alternate victories and deafter Walpole's resignation was a remarka- feats had made them sensible that neither of ble spectacle. Mingled with the constant sup- them could stand alone. The interests of the porters of the house of Brunswick, with the state, and the interests of their own ambition, Russells, the Cavendishes, and the Pelhams, impelled them to coalesce. By their coalition appeared a crowd of faces utterly unknown to was formed the ministry which was in power the pages and gentlemen-ushers, lords of rural when George the Third ascended the throne. manors, whose ale and fox-hounds were re The more carefully the structure of this nownea in the neighbourhood of the Mendip celebrated ministry is examined, the more hills, or round the Wrekin, but who had never shall we see reason to marvel at the skill or crossed the threshold of the palace since the the luck which had combined in one barmo. days when Oxford, with the white staff in his nious whole such various and, as it seemed, hand, stood behind Queen Anne.
incompatible elements of force. The influence During the eighteen years which followed which is derived from stainless integrity, the this day, both factions were gradually sinking influence which is derived from the vilest arts deeper and deeper into repose. The apathy of of corruption, the strength of aristocratical the public mind is partly to be ascribed to the connection, the strength of democratical enthoanjust violence with which the administration siasm, all these things were for the first time of Wa.pole had been assailed. In the body found together. Newcastle brought to the politic, as in the natural body, morbid languor Icoalition a vast mass of power, which had
descended to him from Walpole and Pelham. did him too much honour. Such matters wera The public offices, the church, the courts of beyond his capacity. It was true that his poor law, the army, the navy, the diplomatic ser- advice about expeditions and treaties was vice, swarmed with his creatures. The bo-, listened to with indulgence by a gracious roughs, which long afterwards made up the sovereign. If the question were, who should memorable schedules A and B, were repre- command in North America, or who should be sented by his nominees. The great Whig ambassador at Berlin, his colleagues would families, which during several generations had probably condescend to take his opinion. But been trained in the discipline of party warfare, he had not the smallest influence with the and were accustomed to stand together in a secretary of the treasury, and could not venfirm phalanx, acknowledged him as their capture to ask even for a tide-waiter's place. tain. Pitt, on the other hand, had what New It may be doubted whether he did not owe castle wanted, an eloquence which stirred the as much of his popularity to his ostentatious passions and charmed the imagination, a high purity, as to his eloquence, or to his talents for reputation for purity, and the confidence and the administration of war. It was everywhere ardent love of millions.
said with delight and admiration that the great The partition which the two ministers made Commoner, without any advantages of birth of the powers of government was singularly or fortune, had, in spite of the dislike of the happy. Each occupied a province for which he court and of the aristocracy, made
himself the was well qualified; and neither had any inclina- first man in England, and made England the tion to intrude himself into the province of the first country in the world; that his name was other. Newcastle took the treasury, the civil mentioned with awe in every palace from and ecclesiastical patronage, and the disposal Lisbon to Moscow; that his trophies were in of that part of the secret service money which all the four quarters of the globe; yet that he was then employed in bribing members of was still plain William Pitt, without title or Parliament. Pitt was secretary of state, with riband, without pension or sinecure place. the direction of the war and of foreign affairs. Whenever he should retire, after saving the Thus the filth of all the noisome and pestilen- state, he must sell his coach-horses and his cial sewers of government was poured into one silver candlesticks. Widely as the taint of channel. Through the other passed only what corruption had spread, his hands were clean. was bright and stainless. Mean and selfish They had never received, they had never politicians, pining for commissionerships, gold given, the price of infamy. Thus the coalition sticks, and ribands, flocked to the great house gathered to itself support from all the high at the corner of Lincoln's Inn Fields. There, and all the low parts of human nature, and at every levee, appeared eighteen or twenty was strong with the whole united strength of pair of lawn sleeves; for there was not, it was virtue and of mammon. said, a single prelate who had not owed either Pitt and Newcastle were co-ordinate chiet his first elevation or some subsequent transla- ministers. The subordinate places had been tion to Newcastle. There appeared those filled on the principle of including in the go. members of the House of Commons in whose vernment every party and shade of party, the silent votes the main strength of the govern- avowed Jacobites alone excepted; nay, every ment lay. One wanted a place in the excise public man who, from his abilities or from his for his butler. Another came about a prebend situation, seemed likely to be either useful in for his son. A third whispered that he had office or formidable in opposition always stood by his Grace and the Protestant The Whigs, according to what was then succession; that his last election had been considered as their prescriptive right, held by very expensive ; that pot-wallopers had now far the largest share of power. The main no conscience; that he had been forced to take support of the administration was what may up money on mortgage; and that he hardly be called the great Whig connection-a con knew where to turn for five hundred pounds. nection which, during near half a century, had The duke pressed all their hands, passed his generally had the chief sway in the country, arms round all their shoulders, patted all their and which derived an immense authority from backs, and sent away some with wages, and rank, wealth, borough interest, and firm union. some with promises. From this traffic Pitt To this connection, of which Newcastle was stood haughtily aloof. Not only was he him- the head, belonged the houses of Cavendish, self incorruptible, but he shrank from the Lennox, Fitzroy, Bentinck, Manners, Conway, loathsome drudgery of corrupting others. He Wentworth, and many others of high note. had not, however, been twenty years in Par There were two other powerful Whig con. liament, and ten in office, without discovering nections, either of which might have been a how the government was carried on. He was nucleus for a forinidable opposition. But perfectly aware that bribery was practised on room had been found in the government for a large scale by his colleagues. Hating the both. They were known as the Grenvilles practice, yet despairing of putting it down, and the Bedfords. and doubting whether, in those times, any The head of the Grenvilles was Richard ministry could stand without it, he determined Earl Temple. His talents for administration to be blind to it. He would see nothing, know and debate were of no high order. But his nothing, believe nothing. People who came great possessions, his turbulent and unscru. to talk to him about shares in lucrative con- pulous character, his restless activity, and his tracts, or about the means of securing a skill the most ignoble tactics of faction, Cornish corporation, were soon put out of made him one of the most formidable enensies cuuatenance by bis arrogant humility. They I that a ministry could have. He was keeper
of the privy seal. His brother George was men stood so low in public estimation, that treasurer of the navy. They were supposed the only service which they could have ren. o be on terms of close friendship with Pitt, dered to any government would have been to who had married their sister, and was the oppose it. We speak of Lord George Back most uxorious of husbands.
ville and Bubb Dodington. The Bedfords, or, as they were called by Though most of the official men, and all the their enemies, the Bloomsbury gang, professed members of the cabinet, were reputed Whigs, to be led by John Duke of Bedford, but in truth the Tories were by no means excluded from led him wherever they chose, and very often employment. Pitt had gratified many of them led hiin where he never would have gone of with commands in the militia, which increased his own accord. He had many good qualities both their income and their importance in of head and heart, and would have been cer- their own counties; and they were therefore tainly a respectable, and possibly a distin- in better humour than at any time since the guished man, if he had been less under the death of Anne. Some of the party still coninfluence of his friends, or more fortunate in tinued to grumble over their punch at the choosing them. Some of them were indeed, Cocoa-Tree; but in the House of Commons to do them justice, men of parts. But here, not a single one of the malecontents durst lin we are afraid, eulogy must end. Sandwich and his eyes above the buckle of Pitt's shoe. Rigby were able debaters, pleasant boon com Thus there was absolutely no opposition. panions, dexterous intriguers, masters of all Nay, there was no sign from which it could the arts of jobbing and electioneering, and, be guessed in what quarter opposition was both in public and private life, shamelessly likely to arise. Several years passed during immoral. Weymouth had a natural eloquence, which Parliament seemed to have abdicated which sometimes astonished those who knew its chief functions. The Journals of the House how little he owed to study. But he was in- of Commons during four sessions contain no dolent and dissolute, and had early impaired a trace of a division on a party question. The fine estate with the dice-box, and a fine con- supplies, though beyond precedent great, were stitution with the bottle. The wealth and voted without discussion. The most animated power of the duke, and the talents and auda- debates of that period were on road bills and city of some of his retainers, might have seri- enclosure bills. ously annoyed the strongest ministry. But his The old king was content; and it mattered assistance had been secured. He was Lord- little whether he were content or not. It lieutenant of Ireland; Rigby was his secretary; would have been impossible for him to eman. and the whole party dutifully supported the cipate himself from a ministry so powerful, measures of the government.
even if he had been inclined to do so. But he Two men had, a short time before, been had no such inclination. He had once, inthought likely to contest with Pitt the lead of deed, been strongly prejudiced against Pitt, and the House of Commons-William Murray had repeatedly been ill-used by Newcastle ; and Henry Fox. But Murray had been re- but the vigour and success with which the war moved to the Lords, and was Chief-Justice of had been waged in Germany, and the smooththe King's Bench; Fox was indeed still in the ness with which all public business was car. Commons. But means had been found to se- ried on, had produced a favourable change in cure, if not his strenuous support, at least his si- the royal mind. lent acquiescence. He was a poor man; he Such was the posture of affairs when, on was a doting father. The office of Paymaster the 25th of October, 1760, George the Second General during an expensive war was, in that suddenly died, and George the Third, then age, perhaps the most lucrative situation in twenty-two years old, became king.
The the gift of the government. This office was situation of George the Third differed widely bestowed on Fox. The prospect of making a from that of his grandfather and that of his noble fortune in a few years, and of providing great-grandfather. Many years had now amply for his darling boy Charles, was irre- elapsed since a sovereign of England had been gistibly tempting. To hold a subordinate place, an object of affection to any part of his people. however profitable, after having led the House The first two kings of the house of Hanover of Commons, and having been intrusted with had neither those hereditary rights which have the business of forming a ministry, was in- often supplied the defect of merit, nor those deed a great descent. But a punctilious sense personal qualities which have often supplied of personal dignity was no part of the charac- the defect of title. A prince may be popular ter of Henry Fox.
with little virtue or capacity, if he reigns by We have not time to enumerate all the birthright derived from a long line of illus other men of weight and talents who were, by trious predecessors. An usurper may be some tie or other, attached to the government. popular, if his genius has saved or aggranWe may mention Hardwicke, reputed the first dized the nation which he governs. Perhaps lawyer of the age; Legge, reputed the first no rulers have in our time had a stronger hold financer of the age; the acute and ready Os- on the affection of subjects than the Emperor wald; the bold and humcrous Nugent; Charles Francis, and his son-in-law the Emperor Townshend, the most brilliant and versatile Napoleon. But imagine a ruler with no better of mankind; Elliot, Barrington, North, Pratt title than Napoleon, and no better understand Indeed, as far as we recollect, there were in ing than Francis. Richard Cromwell was the whole House of Commons only two men such a ruler; and, as soon as an arm was of distinguished abilities who were not con- lifted up against him, he fell without a struggle aected with the government; and those two l amidst universal derision. George the Firse
and George the Second were in a situation to reproach hin with. Even the remaining which bore some resemblance to that of Rich-adherents of the house of Stuart could scarcely ard Cromwell. They were saved from the impute to him the guilt of usurpation. He was fate of Richard Cromwell by the strenuous not responsible for the Revolution, for the Acı and able exertions of the Whig party, and by of Settlement, for the suppression of the risings the general conviction that the nation had no of 1715 and of 1745. He was innocent of the choice but between the house of Brunswick blood of Derwentwater and Kilmarnock, of Balo and Popery. But by no class were the Guelphs merino and Cameron. Born more than fifty regarded with that devoted affection, of which years after the old lipe had been expelled, Cnarles the First, Charles the Second, and fourth in descent and third in succession of the James the Second, in spite of the greatest Hanoverian dynasty, he might plead some show faults, and in the midst of the greatest misfor- of hereditary right. His age, his appearance, tunes, received innumerable proofs. Those and all that was known of his character, conWhigs who stood by the dynasty so manfully ciliated public favour. He was in the bloom with purse and sword, did so on principles of youth; his person and address were pleasing. independent of, and indeed almost incompati- Scandal imputed to him no vice; and flattery ble with, the sentiment of devoted loyalty. might, without any glaring absurdity, ascribe The moderate Tories regarded the foreign to him many princely virtues. dynasty as a great evil, which must be endured It is not strange, therefore, that the sentifor fear of a greater evil. In the eyes of the ment of loyalty, a sentiment which had lately high Tories, the elector was the most hateful seemed to be as much out of date as the belief of robbers and tyrants. The crown of another in witches or the practice of pilgrimage, should, was on his head; the blood of the brave and from the day of his accession, have begun to loyal was on his hands. Thus, during many revive. The Tories, in particular, who had years, the kings of England were objects of always been inclined to king-worship, and who strong personal aversion to many of their had long felt with pain the want of an idol besubjects, and of strong personal attachment to fore whom they could bow themselves down, none. They found, indeed, firm and cordial were as joyful as the priests of Apis, when, support against the pretender to their throne; after a long interval, they had found a new cali but this support was given, not at all for their to adore. It was soon 'clear that George the sake, but for the sake of a religious and Third was regarded by a portion of the nation political system which would have been en- with a very different feeling from that which dangered by their fall. This support, too, his two predecessors had inspired. They had they were compelled to purchase by perpetually been merely first Magistrates, Doges, Stadtsacrificing their private inclinations to the holders; he was emphatically a King, the party which hai set them on the throne, and anointed of Heaven, the breath of his people's which maintained them there.
nostrils. The years of the widowhood and At the close of the reign of George the se- mourning of the Tory party were over. Dido cond, the feeling of aversion with which the had kept faith long enough to the cold ashes house of Brunswick had long been regarded by of a former lord; she had at last found a comhalf the nation had died away; but no feeling forter, and recognised the vestiges of the old of affection to that house had yet sprung up. Alame. The golden days of Harley would reThere was little, indeed, in the old king's turn; the Somersets, the Lees, and the Wynd. character to inspire esteem or tenderness. He hams would again surround the throne. The was not our countryman. He never set foot latitudinarian prelates, who had not been on our soil till he was more than thirty years ashamed to correspond with Doddridge and to old. His speech betrayed his foreign origin shake hands with Whiston, would be succeeded and breeding. His love for his native land, by divines of the temper of South and Alterthough the most amiable part of his character, bury. The devotion which had been so signally was not likely to endear him to his British sub- shown to the house of Stuart—which had been jects. That he was never so happy as when proof against defeats, confiscations, and prohe could exchange St. James's for Hernhausen; scriptions; which perfidy, oppression, ingratithat, year after year, our fleets were employed tude, could not weary oul-was now transferred to convoy him to the Continent; that the in- entire to the house of Brunswick. If George terests of his kingdom were as nothing to him the Third would but accept the homage of the when compared with the interests of his elec. Cavaliers and High-churchmen, he should be to torate, could scarcely be denied. As to the rest, them all that Charles the First and Charles the he hail neither the qualities which make dul- Second had been. ness respectable, nor the qualities which make The prince whose accession was thus hailed labertinism attractive. He had been a bad son by a great party long estranged from his house, and a worse father; an unfaithful husband and had received from nature a strong will, a firman ungraceful lover. Not one magnanimous ness of temper to which a harsher name might or humane action is recorded of him; but many perhaps be given, and an understanding not, instances of meanness, and of a harshness indeed, acute or enlarged, but such as qualified which, but for the strong constitutional re- him to be a good man of business. But his mraints under which he was placed, might have character had not yet fully developed itself. He made the misery of his people.
had been brought up in strict seclusion. The He died; and at once a new world opened. detractors of the Princess Dowager of Wales The young king was a born Englishman. All affirmed that she had kept her children from his tastes and habits, good or bad, were Eng. commerce with society, in order that she might lish. No portion of his subjects had any thing hold an undivided empire over their minds. She