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apted to his genļus; he panted to be engaged in scenes of activity and enterprize, and obtained his father's permission to make the usual tour of Europe.
Though every thing in the form of luxury and dissipation struck his fancy, yet he had an equal appetite for inquiry, and no man was better qualified to deriye instruction from that novelty, whieh travelling affords. The etiquette of courts, the politics of nations, and the manners of men, attracted his penetrating mind; hę inquired into their merits, and made himself master of their economy; he remembered that he was the son of a nobleman, forgot not his own dignity, and had an eye to the service of his country. Notwithstanding these, he frequently overstepped the bounds of propricty; the fascinating vivacity of French manners, the seduction of Italian luxury, at times enslaved him : he drank large draughts of pleasure, and was often at the gaming table, till his excesses exceeding even the indulgence of his father, whose ears they had reached, he was summoned home; and it was not without repeated commands that he obeyed, as he had entered into the elegant and fascinating societies of soire of the most beautiful women on the continent. Among other bills which his father satisfied, was one for a debt of 16,0001. contracted by the youth during his residence at Napies.
Those who have been accustomed to see Mr. Fox in the latter years of his life, without being coquainted with the minute particulars of his early history, will scarcely believe that, at the
period of which we are speaking, he was one of the greatest beaus in England, that he indulged in all the fashionable elegance of attire, and vied, in point of red heels and Paris cut veldet with the most dashing young men of the age. Indeed there are many still living who recollect Beau Fox strutting up and down St. James's street, in a suit of French embroidery, a little silk hat, redheeled shoes, and a bouquet nearly large enough for a maypole. These and similar qualifications he displayed in most of the courts of Europe which he visited in the course of his tour, and if he did not return like his maternal ancestor, Charles II, with all the vices of the continent, he at least brought back a wardrobe replete with all its fashions. The ardor and impetuosity of youth likewise led him to expend, or rather lavish, vast sums of money in play, and to contract immense debts during his absence.
Through his course of study, travel and dissipation, he passed before the completion of his nineteenth year.
His father in order to detach him from pursuits which threatened injury to his health and ruin to his fortune, and impatient also to see him commence his political career, procured him, at the general election in 1768, to be returned a representative in parliament for Midhurst, in Sussex.
Every person under age is by law incompetent to judge for himself, and still less can he be deemed capable of making laws for others. On this ground Mr. Fox was ineligible to a seat in the House of Commons, he was under twenty.
From whatever cause it happened that he expera ienced no opposition, whether from design, or ac. cidental oversight in the committee of privileges and in the speaker, it cannot but be considered as a singular circumstance in the first entrance of this great political actor upon the public stage, That no notice was taken of his nonage, ought perhaps to be ascribed to a compliment of indulgence to the influence of his father, or to somo other venal motive in men who probably relied on his
support at his outset. The exertions and the display of talents in a youth seldom fail to conciliate good-will and even esteem. This observation was particularly exemplified in the case of Mr. Fox: no member in his noviciate ever excited so much anxiety and expectation. His maiden speech, was on the subject of Mr. Wilkes's petition from the King's Bench prison to be admitted to take his seat in the house, and thus satisfy the desire of his constituents. On this question Mr. Fox did not take the popular side, on which the best and most constitutional lawyers declared justice to lie. It has been surmised that, had the youthful member favored that side, he would not have been allowed to retain his seat on account of his minority.
During all the proceeding of the House of Commons relative to the Middlesex election, Mr. Fox stood forward as ihe champion of the ministry, and exhibited no. common activity and ad. dress on this occasion. From the first moment of entering the senate he indeed displayed all the
qualities of an accomplished orator, he becam the theme of conversation in every fashionab company, and attracted universal admiratio He was deemed one of the ablest supporters the minister, and obtained the notice of Juniu who saw the bloom of talents destined to ripe into the most valuable fruit. The facility wi which he made himself master of a new questio and comprehended thc strength, weakness, ai tendency of a measure or proposition ; his foro ble argumentation, his ready command of ti most appropriate, significant and energetic lạ guage, soon rendered him conspicuous. Lo North, who was then Chancellor of the Exch quer, entertained such a high opinion of his me it, that he soon appointed him paymaster of tl pensions to the widows of land officers ; and the beginning of the year 1770, to a seat at t board of Admiralty.
At the conclusion of 1770, Mr. Fox againvi ited the continent, and went to Paris. Mar people pretended to see something mysterious his sudden departure for that capital ; but, no withstanding these insinuations, it was an u doubted fact that the sole intention of his journ was to purchase clothes for the approachi: birth-day, in defiance of the laws of his count by whieh a penalty of Lwo hundred pounds w attached to the wearing of apparel of Fren manufacture. Nevertheless he was furnish with the necessary dimensions, and was comm sioned to purchase several suits for persons the highest rank. On the arrival of these clothes
the Custom- house, Mr. Fox applied for them to the proper officers, but to his
great mortification only such as had been worn were allowed to be delivered. The rest, consisting of several rich suits, lace, and other articles prohibited by law, were detained and burned. It was observed that, at the next birth-day, most of the noblemen and gentlemen appeared in French clothes, whereas, to the honour of the fair sex, not one lady was distinguished in any other dress but that of her own country
Mr. Fox's conduct at the commencement of liis political career, was but ill adapted to the acquisition of popularity; on the contrary, such was the odium which he brought upon himself, that his carriage was once broken in pieces by the mob, when he was proceeding to the House of Commons. He manifested the utmost contempt and abhorrence of every sing of English Imanufacture, and was so addicted to gaming, that the clerks of the Admiralty were often obli. ged to wait upon him on public business at the gaming-houses ia St. James's and Pall-mall; where, with a pen in one hand, and cards in the other, he signed warrants, orders, and other
papers of a similar nature, without knowing one word of their contents.
In March, 1771 when Alderman Oliver was summoned before the House of Commons, and when he and the Lord Mayor were ordered to be sent to the Tower, Mr. Fox had the temerity to give che former the infamous appellation of assassin. The alderman who was absent when this expres