« ПредишнаНапред »
A.D. 1766. CORRESPONDENCE WITH PITT. 335
“Richmond Lodge, July 7, 1766. “Mr. Pitt, “Your very dutiful and handsome conduct the last summer makes me desirous of having your thoughts how an able and dignified ministry may be formed. I desire, therefore, you will come for this salutary purpose to town. “I cannot conclude without expressing how entirely my ideas concerning the basis on which a new administration should be erected are consonant to the opinion you gave on that subject in parliament a few days before you set out for Somersetshire." “I convey this through the channel of the Earl of Northington; as there is no man in my service on whom I so thoroughly rely, and who I know agrees with me so perfectly in the contents of this letter. “GEORGE R.”
As soon as Lord Northington arrived in town he forwarded the royal missive, accompanied by the following communication from himself: “London, July 7, 1766. “Sir,
“I have the King's command to convey to you his Majesty's note inclosed; and as I am no stranger to the general contents, I cannot help adding that I congratulate you very sincerely on so honourable and so gracious a distinction.
“I think myself very happy in being the channel of conveying what I think doth you so much honour, and I am persuaded will tend to the ease and happiness of so amiable and respectable a Sovereign, and to the advantage of this distracted kingdom.
“It is the duty of my office to attend in London (though my health requires air and the country). If therefore, on your arrival, you want any information, I shall be very ready and willing to afford you all I can.
“I have the honour to be, with great respect,
h There is no trace of this speech any where to be found.
Mr. Pitt thus answered Lord Northington:
“Tuesday, 10 o'clock, July 8, 1766. “My Lord,
“I received this morning the honour of your Lordship's very obliging letter inclosing his Majesty's most gracious commands in writing to me. I am indeed unable to express what I feel of unfeigned gratitude, duty, and zeal, upon this most affecting occasion. I will only say, that the remnant of my life, body, heart, and mind, is at the direction of our most gracious and clement Sovereign.
“I will hasten to town as fast as I am able, and will, on my arrival, take the liberty to avail myself of the very kind permission your Lordship is so good as to allow me of troubling you: in the mean time, I beg leave to express, in a word, how truly sensible I am of the great honour your Lordship does me by such favourable sentiments on my subject, and to assure you how proud and happy I am in receiving such flattering marks of friendship and confidence from your Lordship. I am, &c.”
And here is his courtly response to the King:
“Sire, “Penetrated with the deepest sense of your Majesty's
boundless goodness to me, and with a heart overflowing with duty and zeal for the honour and happiness of the most gracious and benign Sovereign, I shall hasten to London as fast as I possibly can,—wishing that I could change infirmity into wings of expedition, the sooner to be permitted the high honour to lay at your Majesty's feet the poor, but sincere offering of the little services of
- “Your Majesty's
“Most dutiful Subject,
The particulars of the negotiation are not certainly known, but they may easily be conjectured from the two following letters from Lord Northington to Mr. Pitt:
A.D. 1766. HIS LETTERS TO MR. PITT. 337
“London, July 14, 1766. “Dear Sir,
“I am sorry to find that you are so much out of order, and hope the air will speedily remove that complaint; which I trust will not be immediately felt, as, by his Majesty's commands, I yesterday wrote to Earl Temple that the King desired to see him in London; and on the other side you will see his answer, received since I began this page. I desire to know when you go to Hampstead; as, if occasion requires, I may be able to communicate accordingly.
“I will apprize the King of your unlucky situation; who was so well satisfied with your dutiful behaviour as to feel it accordingly. I am with great respect,” &c.
“Sunday, 5 P.M., July 20, 1766. “I)ear Sir, “Having seen his Majesty after the drawing room to-day, I now sit down to answer your very obliging letter; which, as far as it related to myself, I could not before do. “The invidious share I have taken in the present business was the result of my sensible feeling for my most gracious Master, and this great commercial and brave country, with which I thought nothing could stand in competition. I therefore determined not to be considerate of myself in any respect, but to stand forth as a public servant, or retire a private man, as either should contribute to the King's service. “As I suppose you might speak with regard to me in the same style of partial consideration to the King you did to myself, I found his Majesty very desirous that I should take a great office in his administration, to which I assented, and to that you so kindly pointed out. Though no office is so personally inviting as that I am now in, yet is true what I urged that my health cannot sustain the Chancery, the woolsack, and state affairs. I need not, after what I said to you, say that the succession of Lord Camden will be most agreeable to myself. Your own thoughts respecting yourself have my full concurrence in, and approbation of their propriety, and the other persons mentioned have all due respect from me. “I shall only add, that if you lend your advice, as also your reputation, and the rest of the administration act with cordiality and resolution (from me you shall have the fullest support I can give), I see no difficulties to frighten men. WOL. VI. Z
“I should have made you another visit after I had seen Lord Temple; but I know, in general, how unseasonable visits are to invalids. If you are well enough, I would call at your most convenient hour to-morrow. I have the honour to be, with the greatest respect, dear Sir, “Your most obedient, “and most humble Servant,
The Chancellor had been the bearer of a communication from the King to Lord Temple, asking him to take office; but his terms could not be acceded to, and without his co-operation was formed an administration the most fantastical in its construction, and the most whimsical in its proceedings, of any to be found in our annals."
Lord Northington went through the formal ceremony of resigning the Great Seal into his Majesty's hands, at St. James's Palace, on Wednesday, the 30th of July, 1766, and was at the same time declared by his Majesty PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL, with many gracious acknowledgments of his faithful ser
i The following is Horace Walpole's account of Lord Northington's breaking up the Rockingham administration: “On the 7th of July the Chancellor went into the King, and declared he would resign—a notification he had not deigned to make to the ministers, but which he took care they should know by declaring openly what he had done. When the ministers saw the King, he said, coolly, “Then I must see what I can do.’ ”—Memoirs of King George III., vol. ii. 334. Sir Denis Le Marchant, the learned editor of this work, says: “Lord Northington's health, and his frequent disagreements with his colleagues, had for some months made him desirous of an honourable and quiet retreat. There is no doubt, both from his own letters and the traditions still extant at the bar, that his habits of hard labour and extreme conviviality had by this time undermined his constitution much to the deterioration of his temper; and
he, perhaps, suspected slights that were never intended. Moreover, the scrupulous sense of public duty, the natural reserve and strict propriety of deportment which characterised Lord Rockingham and Mr. Conway, were by no means to his taste. He must have felt even less easy with such associates than his successor Lord Thurlow did in a later day with Mr. Pitt; and, like him, his usual course in the cabinet was to originate nothing, and to oppose everything. The commercial treaty with Russia, a measure of unquestionable benefit, nearly fell to the ground owing to his unreasonable and obstinate opposition. He would rarely listen to remonstrances from his colleagues; and was on such cold terms with them, as probably justified him in his own mind in breaking up the cabinet so unceremoniously. He was too fearless to stoop to intrigue; and there was no necessity for it on this occasion.”
A.D. 1766. HIS PENSION. 339
CONCLUSION OF THE LIFE OF LORD NORTHINGTON.
My Lord President and ex-Chancellor Northington, while labouring for the public good, in the new arrangements was not forgetful of what was due to himself. As an indemnity for his sacrifice of the Great Seal, it was agreed that, in addition to the salary of his present office, he should receive an immediate pension of 2000l. a year; that on his resignation of this office the pension should be raised to 4000l. a year; and that he should have a reversionary grant of the office of Clerk of the Hanaper in Chancery for two lives, after the death of the Duke of Chandos. Although Lord Northington held a high appointment at the commencement of this motley administration, his connection with it was fleeting, and this is not the place to tell of the mortification, failure, and eclipsed fame of the “Great Commoner,” become Earl of Chatham, when he found himself, from physical and mental infirmity, unable to control the discordant materials of which he had thought fit to compound his new cabinet.* The only measure of the government in which Lord Northington took any part, was the embargo to prohibit the exportation of corn; and here he exhibited his characteristic rashness and recklessness, which seemed to be aggravated by age and experience. On account of the almost unprecedented succession of wet weather in the summer and autumn of 1766, the harvest had failed in many parts of England, the price of bread had risen alarmingly, and a famine was apprehended. A foolish proclamation was issued against “forestallers and regraters,”
k Lord Northington, from the time of his appointment as Lord President, frequently corresponded with the Duke of Grafton, who was at the head of the Treasury. Being at the Grange in September, 1766, he writes to him: “I have not spent my time here without regard to my new employment, having
perused the papers which I brought down here, and which have been long in arrear. I am sorry Lord Chatham is laid up; and shall only add, that I think nojourney inconvenient which tends to the King's service, or to express the great personal regard with which I am,_My dear Lord,” &c.