Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

for, was drawn up in an invidious spirit,' I certainly did, with more warinth than was perhaps discreet, comment on the Paper proposed to be substituted ; and there ended, with no good effect, our interview.

“ Adam and I saw the Prince again that night, when His Royal Highness was graciously pleased to meet our joint and earnest request, hy striking out from the draft of the Answer, to which he still resolved to adhere, every passage which we conceived to be most liable to objection on the part of Lord Grey and Lord Grenville.

" On the next morning, Friday, -a short time before he was to receive the Address, when Adam returned from the Noble Lords, with their expressed disclaimer of the preferred Answer, altered as it was, His Royal Highness still persevered to eradicate every remaining word which he thought might yet appear exceptionable to them, and made farther alterations, although the fair copy of the paper had been made out.

6. Thus the Answer, nearly reduced to the expression of the Prince's own suggestions, and without an opportunity of farther meeling the wishes of the Noble Lords, was delivered by His Royal Highness, and presented by the Deputation of the two Houses.

" I am ashamed to have been thus prolix and circumstantial upon a matter which may appear to have admitted of much shorter explanation; but when misconception has produced distrust among those, I hope, not willingly disposed to differ, and who can have, I equally trust, but one common object in view in their different stations, I know no better way than by minuteness and accuracy of detail to remove whatever

may

have 36

VOL. II.

appeared doubtful iu conduct while unexplained, or inconsistent in principle not clearly re-asserted.

" And now, my dear Lord, I have only shortly to express my own personal mortification, I will use no other word, that I should have been considered by any persons, however high in rank, or justly entitled to high political pretensions, as one so little attached to His Royal Highness,' or so ignorant of the value of the Coustilution of his country,'as to be held out to HIM, whose fairly-earned esteem I regard as the first honour and the sole reward of my political life, in the character of an interested contriver of a double government, and, in some measure, as an apostate from all iny

former principles, -- which have taught me, as well as the Noble Lords, that the maintenance of constitutional responsibility in the ministers of the Crown is essential to any hope of success in the administration of the public interest.'

** At the same time, I am most ready to admit that it could not be their intention so to characterise but it is the direct inference which others must gather from the first paragraph I have quoted from their Representation, and an inference which, I understand, has already been raised in public opinion. A departure, my dear

d, on my part, from upholding the principle declared by the Noble Lords, much more a persumptuous and certainly ineffectual attempt to inculcale a contrary doctrine on the mind of the Prince of Wales, would, I am confident, lose me every particle of his favour and confidence at once and for ever. But I am yet to learn what part of my past public life, and I challenge observation on every part of my present proceedings,-has warranted the adoption of any such suspicion of me, or the

me;

expression of any such imputation against me. But I will dwell no longer on this point, as it relates only to my own feelings and character; which, however, I am the more bound to consider, as others, in my

humble judgment, have so hastily disregarded both. At the same time, I do sincerely declare, that no personal disappointment in my own mind interferes with the respect and esteem I entertain for Lord Grenville, or in addition to those sentiments, the friendly regard I owe to Lord Grey. To Lord Grenville I have the honour to be but very little personally known. From Lord Grey, intimately acquainted as he was with every circumstance of my conduct and principles in the years 1788-9, I confess I should have expected a very tardy and reluctant interpretation of any circumstance to my disadvantage. What the nature of my endeavours were at that time, I have the written testimonies of Mr. Fox and the Duke of Portland. To you I know those testimonies are not necessary, and perhaps it has been my recollection of what passed in those times that may have led me 100 securely to conceive myself above the reach even of a suspicion that I could adopt different principles now. Such as they were they remain untouched and unaltered. I conclude with sincerely declaring, that to see the Prince meeting the reward which his own honourable nature, his kind and generous disposition, and his genuine devotion to the true objects of our free Constitution so well entitle him to, by being surrounded and supported by an Administration affectionate to his person, and ambitious of gaining and meriting his entire csteem, (yet tenacious, above all things, of the constitutional principle, that exclusive confidence must attach to the responsibility of those whom he selects to be his public

servants,) I would with heartfelt satisfaction rather be a looker-on of such a Government, giving it such humble support as might be in my power, than be the possessor of any possible situation either of profit or anıbition, to be obtained by any indirectness, or by the slightest departure from the principles I have always professed, and which I have now felt myself in a manner called upon lo re-assert.

“ I have only to add, that my respect for the Prince, and my sense of the frankness he has shown towards me on this occasion, decide me, with all duly, to submit this letter to his perusal, before I place it in your hands ; meaning it undoubtedly to be by you shown to those to whom your judgment may deem il of any consequence to communicate it.

" I have the honour to be, etc. " To Lord Holland. (Signed) 6 R. B. SHERIDAN. “ Read and approved by the Prince, January 20.1811.

6R. B. S." Though this Statement, it must be recollected, exhibits but one side of the question, and is silent as to the part that Sheridan took after the delivery of the Remonstrance of the two Noble Lords, yet, combined with preceding events and with the insight into motives which they afford, it may sufficiently enable the reader to form his own judgment, with respect to the conduct of the different persons concerned in the transaction. With the better and more ostensible motives of Sheridan, there was, no doubt, some mixture of, what the Platonists call the 6 material alluvion" of our nature. His political repugnance to the Goalesced Leaders would have been less strong but for the personal feelings that mingled with it; and his anxiety that the Prince should not be dictated to by others, was at least equalled by his vanity in showing that he could govern him himself. But, whatever were the precise views that impelled him to this trial of strength, the victory which he gained in it was far more extensive than he himself had either foreseen or wished. He had meant the party to feel his power, -not to sink under it. Though privately alienated from them, on personal as well as political grounds, he knew that, publicly, he was too much identified with their ranks, ever to serve, with credit or consistency, in any other.

He had, therefore, in the ardour of undermining, carried the ground from beneath his own feet. In helping to disband his party, he had cashiered himself; and there remained to him

now, for the residue of his days, but that frailest of all sublunary treasures, a Prince's friendship.

With this conviction, (which, in spite of all the sanguineness of his disposition, could hardly have failed to force itself on his mind,) it was not, we should think, with very self-gratulatory feelings that he undertook the task, a few weeks after, of inditing, for the Regent, that memorable Letter to Mr. Perceval, which sealed the fate at once

« ПредишнаНапред »