Графични страници
PDF файл

his sudden death brought about a party revolution, and soon placed all power in the hands of the Tories—who had been nearly banished from Court since the accession of the House of Brunswick.




As soon as Lord Hardwicke heard of the decease of George II., Oct. 25, he hurried to Carlton House, where the new Sove

reign was to hold his first council. Here he was resworn a privy councillor, and was treated with great consideration. When parliament was assembled, to him was still committed the task which he had performed ever since the Great Seal was first delivered to him, of preparing the speech from the throne. On the present occasion it was looked for with much anxiety. He drew it in a vague, commonplace style, making the young King lament the death of his grandfather, and express high regard for the civil and religious rights of his loving subjects. Now, for the first time, appeared alarming evidence of the influence of Lord Bute. He returned the dranglet of the speech with the following sentence, in the King's own handwriting, to be inserted in it:—“Born and educated in this country, I glory in the name of Briton; and the particular happiness of my life will ever consist in pro. moting the welfare of a people whose loyalty and warm affection to me I consider as the greatest and most permanent security of my throne." The Duke of Newcastle, writing to inform Lord Hardwicke of the interpolation, said, “I make no observation, but this method of proceeding can't last. We must now (I suppose) submit. You will think · Briton' remarkable : it denotes the author to all the world.” Lord Hardwicke was more seriously offended, and considered the favourite's words to be meant as an insult to the memory of the old King. But he was prevailed upon to acquiesce, and even to furnish this courtly response, which, he says, “I thought of upon my pillow:"_“We are penetrated with the condescending and endearing manner in which your Majesty has expressed your satisfaction in having received your birth


281 and education among us.

What a lustre does it cast upon the name of Briton' when you, Sir, are pleased to esteem it among your glories !” The ex-Chancellor was actually supposed to be intriguing for court favour, and his son, Colonel Yorke, wrote to a friend,—“Lord Hardwicke has been much caressed by the King, and continues to give his helping hand without place or pension.”

When the King's union with the Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg Strelitz approached, Lord Hardwicke wrote to his son, “I thought to have excused myself from the crowd on the wedding night, but I fear I must be an old beau at that ceremony." He not only attended the cereinony, but presented himself at the crowded levee which was held at St. James's next day. Horace Walpole records the dialogue between George III. and his venerable minister on this occasion, which evinces how universally popular a topic of conversation, from the highest to the lowest, is the weather. King : “It is a very fine day, my Lord.” Lord Hardwicke: • Yes, Sir, and it was a very fine night.

A royal message being delivered, recommending that the Judges should not be removable on a demise of the

March, Crown, Lord Hardwicke moved the address of thanks, and he delivered a very courtly speech, most extravagantly over-praising that measure, and creating the delusion which still prevails that till then the Judges held during pleasure. In truth, by the Act of Settlement, their commissions were

quamdiu se bene gesserint ;” and although, by a misconstruction of that act contrary to the maxim that the King never dies,” the appointment was held only during the natural life of the reigning sovereign, only one Judge was removed on the death of George I., not one on the death of George II., and no minister at any time coming would have ventured to remove a competent Judge on the commencement of a new reign. At any rate, this boon from his Majesty was entirely at the expense of his successor. Nevertheless, Lord Hardwicke repre


C 12 & 13 Will. 3, c. 2. The opinion of was a precipitate proceeding, against the that great and upright magistrate, Sir Mi- plain scope and intent the Act Settlechael Foster, was clear, that after the Judges ment, and derogatory to the honour, dignity, were required by the legislature to be appoint- and constitutional independence of the Judges, ed “ during good behaviour," and it was pro- and of the Crown itself. I found myself only vided that they should only be removable on on the Act of Settlement, and the reason of the joint address of the two Houses of Parlia- things.”—Sir Michael Foster to Lord Chief ment, they could not be removed on a demise Justice Wilmot, Life of Wilmot, 31. of the Crown. “I think the last precedent

[ocr errors]

sented the measure as of infinite importance to the impartial administration of justice, and to the rights and liberties of the people. “For doing this,” said he, “ his Majesty has laid his reasons before you. They are such as might have become, as they are truly worthy, the most renowned legislators of antiquity.” After praising our judicial system, subject to the capital defect that quamdiu se bene gesserit means “ during the natural life of the King,” he proceeds :—This, which is the only defect remaining, his Majesty, voluntarily and of his mere motion, invites you to cure. Reflect upon the histories of former times-with what difficulties such acts have been obtained, I was going to say extorted, from the Crown by your ancestors -after many struggles ---sometimes after more than one negative from the throne. Accept it now with thanks. Every one of your Lordships must feel that gratitude in your own breasts which I have imperfectly attempted to express in the address which I have now the honour to propose for your adoption.

Lord Hardwicke continued steadily to support the government even after the resignation of Mr. Pitt, when, being overruled in the Cabinet respecting a declaration of war against Spain, that haughty minister refused to be responsible for measures he was no longer allowed to guide.” As a reward he had an offer of office, which he thus records in his Diary “16th November, 1761. Lord Bute, by his Majesty's command, offered me the Privy Seal lately resigned by Earl Temple, but I declined it with great duty to the King, and strong professions of zeal for his service, wishing it might be disposed of in such manner as might best promote that service in this difficult and critical conjuncture. This his Majesty was pleased to acknowledge to me the same day in his closet as a very disinterested instance of my zeal for his service, and to enlarge much on his esteem for me, and his protection and favour to me and my family. The Privy Seal was given to the Duke of Bedford.”

However, there was a growing coldness between Lord Bute and the Duke of Newcastle, and rumours were afloat that the ex-Chancellor was caballing to overthrow the government. Thus he wrote to his son, Lord Royston:

may possibly have read in the newspapers of my having what is called an

- With regard to this capital improvement, the notes still extant in Lord Hardwicke's if he thought it of such importance, he might hand writing, which show that he continued have explained why he did not himself prothe practice of writing out his speeches, al. pose it during the preceding reign. most at full length, before he delivered them.

“ You

d j5 Parl. Hist. 1011, where will be seen

A.D. 1762.



Jan. 1762.

Opposition Dinner.' There is no truth in it, for I had only half-a dozen particular friends. After having been AttorneyGeneral ten years, Chief Justice between three and four years, and Chancellor almost twenty, I shall not now contradict all the principles and all the rules of law and order which I have been maintaining all my life.”

Nevertheless, Lord Bute, impatient himself to be at the head of the Treasury, that he might have all patronage as well as power in his own hands, having resolved to force out the Duke of Newcastle, the ex-Chancellor suddenly saw things in a very different light, and declared that the policy of the new minister was about to tarnish and render unavailing all the victories won by his predecessor. This changed state of mind was produced by a letter from the Duke, giving an account of an interview with a favourite, in which his Grace had threatened, as he had often before effectually done, to resign unless some job were conceded to him, and in which, to his great mortification, he had been taken at his word. Thus piteously complained the ousted place-man to his confidant :-" He answered me dryly that, if I resigned, the peace might be retarded, but he never requested me to continue in office, nor said a civil thing to me afterwards while we remained together."¢ Newcastle felt so wretched out of place, that a few

weeks after he opened a negotiation for his return, upon the basis that he should freely renounce the Treasury, and be contented with the Privy Seal—an office without patronage—so that, at the same time, his friend the Earl of Hardwicke might be made President of the Council. Such was his Borough interest that Lord Bute listened to the proposal, till, upon consulting with the Secretary to the Treasury, and examining the probable votes in both Houses, it was thought the approaching treaty of peace was sure to be approved of by large majorities. Being finally thrown aside, the Duke went headlong into opposition, took part with Mr. Pitt, caballed in the City, anticipated nothing but disgrace from the pending negotiation with France, and resolved to storm the Treasury. Lord Hardwicke would not desert him, and, as far as was consistent with the decorum of his own character, vi. gorously assisted him in this enterprise.

e Duke of Newcastle to Lord Hardwicke, f It is curious that, in writing to the Lord May, 1762. Adolph. i. 69. The ostensible President of the Court of Session on the 12th dispute was about continuing the subsidy to June, 1763, he represents that he was turned the King of Prussia.

out of the Cabinet, and he tries to mitigate

Parliament meeting on the 25th of November, the preliminary articles of peace, concluded at Fontainebleau on the 3rd of the same month, were laid before both Houses, and on the 9th of December were debated in the House of Lords.8 After rhetorical orations from the mover and seconder of an address of thanks to his Majesty, Lord Bute spoke with much more than his usual ability, entering at length into the whole course of the negotiations for peace, dwelling upon the terms that had been offered by Mr. Pitt, and contending that those actually concluded were, under all the circumstances, as favourable, and ought to be considered satisfactory by the country. He was answered by Lord Hardwicke in a speech which, considering the difficulties of his situation, displays great talent and dexterity. The criticisms on the several articles have ceased to be interesting, the public, without minute inquiry, having acquiesced in the conclusion that the peace was not a bad one, although, if hostilities had been commenced at the proper time against Spain, the House of Bourbon might have been more effectually humbled, and might have been disabled from taking part against us in our impending disputes with our colonies. I shall, therefore, give only a few extracts from his speech which touch on more general topics :

“I was in hopes that, after so successful war, and particularly the great advantages gaineil over the enemy during the present year, a plan of peace would have been produced which would have been satisfactory

his factiousness :-"As to myself, no great it published in any journal or periodical work: part could be taken from me, because I had _“The preliminary articles being read, Lord none; but that seat which I had been per. Wycombe moved an address of thanks to his mitted to retain in the King's Council I was Majesty. Many objections were made, and excluded from just before the last session of some severe reflections thrown out against the parliament. Your Lordship has undoubtedly Earl of Bute, with appearances of beat and heard of me as an opposer. It is true that, animusity. That nobleman defended bis own in conjunction with several of your Lordship’s conduct, with temper and decorum, in a well and my old friends, I have opposed certain connected speech, delivered with great proparticular measures. When I have done so, priety to the surprise of many, who did not it has been according to my judgment and think him so well qualified in the art of eloconscience, with the greatest duty to the cution. He gave a detail of the negotiation, King, and a sincere zeal for his service and and not only avowed himself a warm prothat of the public; and I am not ashamed moter of the peace, but even expressed a deof it."

sire that his having contributed to the cessa& It may be amusing to present to the sion of hostilities should be engraved on his reader a specimen of the parliamentary re tomb. He was seconded by the Earl of Haliporting of that day. This debate in the fax, and supported by a great majority."-15 Lords being one of the most important and Parl. Hist. 1252. Fortunately we have a interesting which ever took place in that sketch of the debate in the handwriting of House, the following is the fullest account of Lord Hardwicke, which I have made use of.

« ПредишнаНапред »