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THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE.
moral, not of intellectual, inferiority. His eloquence was, indeed, of the most sterling kind; in it knowledge, reasoning, composition, elocution, were combined in harmonious excellence; but it wanted a coarser quality—that impetuous earnestness which, whether real or simulated, is requisite for complete success in a popular assembly; accordingly, it attained its serene perfection on the judgment seat, and in the Upper House of Parliament. Still, overborne as he was by the towering genius of his rival, Murray failed not to vindicate his high pretensions; and all men assented to the probability and the propriety of his advancement to the most important office in the State.
The choice between these eminent persons rested chiefly with the Duke of Newcastle, a
The Duke of man whose absurd manner has exposed Newcastle as a him to ridicule, but who really was not "com the strange compound of knave and fool which his character has been represented. Newcastle was far, indeed, from being a competent minister, but duller men have filled his office both before and since, and obtained a respectable place in history. He was the successor of Walpole in the management of that machinery of corruption by which the Government was carried on. Himself a large borough proprietor, he had a principal share in the traffic for seats in the House of Commons. Reserving to his own management exclusively the distribution of places, and the dispensation of the Secret Service fund, he administered this department with considerable skill and tact. His maxim was to avoid giving offence to, or breaking with, any man, however inconsiderable. Those whom he was unable or unwilling to gratify, he held on by promises or caresses. He evinced a shrewd perception of the characters with which he had to deal. At the time when he was doing everything in his power to supplant Pitt, he affected to
POLICY OF THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE.
carry on a confidential correspondence with him, to whisper State secrets in his ear, to pay the utmost deference to his judgment, and, above all, to ply the King's name—a spell which never failed in its influence upon the Great Commoner. Newcastle is a remarkable instance of the success which usually attends the unwearied pursuit of one object. Without parts or knowledge, or any higher quality of a statesman; notoriously false, fickle, and timid ; grotesque in deportment, and absurd in speech, this man contrived to outwit his competitors, and to maintain his position at the head of affairs during a long official life. His rank, and lavish expenditure in purchasing boroughs, were, no doubt, considerable advantages; but he had little other adventitious aid. He was not, as he has been sometimes represented, the head of the Whig party; for that party, since the Revolution, had been broken up into severalsections or clans, as they are termed by a contemporary writer of the highest authority; * and Newcastle influenced only one, although perhaps the largest, of its divisions.
Jealous of power, and conscious, it may be supNewcastle's posed, of intrinsic weakness, it was New
castle's policy to have no partner in the Government, but to conduct the public business in Parliament through the medium of agents, who, without having access to the Sovereign, or any independent voice in council, should receive their instructions from him alone. While Pelham lived, such an arrangement was practicable; although the Duke's tenacious jealousy of power bad, at one time, nearly caused a rupture between the brothers. The difficulty now was to induce either of the distinguished men who stood prominently forward as candidates for office, to accept it on such terms. Newcastle dared
* Lord Waldegrave's Memoirs.
HE ADDRESSES HIMSELF TO FOX.
though promotion any other
not hint such a proposition to Pitt, and the King's known repugnance to that statesman was an obstacle, the force of which he himself had fully acknowledged. Murray firmly refused any office out of the line of professional promotion. There remained only Fox, who, though the least able, was the most eligible of the three. Public opinion had designated him as the probable successor of Pelham; and he had, what the others wanted, a large political following.
To Fox, therefore, the Duke addressed himself, through the agency of a common friend,
Newcastle adthe Marquis of Hartington, afterwards dresses himself Duke of Devonshire. The terms were unusually liberal: a secretaryship of state, a seat in the Cabinet, the lead of the House of Commons, and, above all, information as to the expenditure of the Secret Service Money. This fund was then the key to political power, being chiefly employed in purchasing boroughs and bribing members of Parliament. By these means, Newcastle had procured a House of Commons subservient to his purposes; and, at the eve of a new election, it was more than ever important to retain a firm hold of this potent instrument of corruption. No sooner, therefore, had he made his proposal to Fox, than he began to fear he had parted with too large a share of power, and he hastened to qualify his offer. “He had meant;' he said, “to keep the disposal of the Secret Service Money to himself. Fox, with his strong sense, immediately pointed out the inconvenience of such reserve. How was he to manage the House of Commons, unless he knew who had been bribed and who had not?' But remonstrance and reason were in vain addressed to the Duke of Newcastle. A panic had seized him; and he resolved to retain the secret service, the patronage of office, and the nomination of ministerial boroughs entirely in his own hands.
It was hardly possible for any man of spirit to
ations accept high responsible office upon such with Fox. conditions. But Fox was not scrupulous, and never thought of hastily breaking off the negotiation upon anything like a punctilio. He consulted his friends, however, and finding them unanimous against his assent to Newcastle's proposal, he wrote to the Duke, resigning the seals which he had agreed to accept the day before. The Duke, delighted no doubt at being relieved from a colleague who, instead of an official hack, threatened to turn out a formidable competitor for power, would have no more to do with statesmen and orators, but forthwith conferred the seals of office upon Sir Thomas Robinson, a diplomatist whose knowledge of public affairs was confined to the petty politics of the German courts, in which he had practised. To conciliate Pitt, places were given to his only followers, Sir George Lyttelton and Grenville. Murray was satisfied by the appointment of Attorney-General, which happily then became vacant. Pitt and Fox consented to remain in the subordinate offices of Paymaster and Secretaryat-War, the new Parliament was constituted pretty much as its predecessor had been, and the Duke and his royal master congratulated themselves on the satisfactory settlement which had been effected. Such an adjustment of places could, however,
hardly be durable. Pitt and Fox made the new minide common cause against a ministry which
excluded them from prominent positions. The Paymaster of the Forces assailed the AttorneyGeneral; the Secretary-at-War turned the Leader of the House of Commons into ridicule; or, as was observed by a spectator, assisted him in performing that office for himself. Acts of insubordination and mutiny, which had been visited, from the highest to the lowest, with prompt and unmitigated severity, when an Imperial mind directed the councils of the
nation, were now perpetrated with utter impunity, under the weak, irresolute rule of the successors of Walpole. The policy of cowardice and incapacity was resorted to. Overtures were again made to one of the powerful malcontents, through the medium of the Earl Waldegrave, a nobleman who stood high in the estimation of all parties, and possessed what hardly any other public man at that time could boast of, the confidence of the King.
Waldegrave represented to Newcastle the impossibility of carrying on the Government against the alliance of the two great parliamentary chieftains; and he sought to attach Fox to the administration on terms still less favourable than those last offered by the Duke, by assuring him that there was no disposition in the highest quarter to engage his services. Fox, whose appetite for power was not easily disgusted, consented, under such circumstances, to take a seat in the Cabinet, without the post of Secretary of State, and without the recognised lead of the House of Commons.
Events soon occurred to try the vigour and administrative ability of the reconstructed Government. The ancient enmity of France and England threatened an immediate outbreak. The race for empire, which had already commenced on the vast continent of Asia, and on that of the New World, had become bitter contention, and war was inevitable.
Early in 1755, the House of Commons received a message from the crown, asking for a vote Prepare of credit, to put the establishments on a four when war footing. This was readily granted; the King. and the King shortly after left the country on his annual visit to Hanover. The impropriety of absenting himself from the seat of empire under such circumstances, was in vain urged upon a selfish and un-English sovereign. The unsettled state of affairs at home, the commencement of war, the weakness of
for war. Supineness of