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wicke, and he opposed it. For its rejection he was very CHAP, severely blamed, and a cry was raised that "he wished Ad- cxxxv miral Byng to be shot to screen the late administration,"— the multitude being misled by the unfeeling words blurted out by the Duke of Newcastle, when a deputation waited upon him from the City, complaining that Minorca had been abandoned: "It is the fault of the Admiral, he shall be tried immediately, he shall be hanged directly." The sentence of death upon Byng was erroneous, — the Court, acquitting him of treachery and cowardice, having only found that "he had not done his utmost to relieve St. Philip's Castle, or to defeat the French fleet from mistake of judgmentand the government was highly to be censured for carrying it into effect, — particularly after the unanimous recommendation to mercy from the members of the court-martial. Nevertheless, I think that the bill rested on no principle, and that Lord Hardwicke would have been liable to severe censure if he had assisted in establishing a dangerous precedent by sanctioning it. In the course he took, he was warmly supported by Lord Mansfield, who now began to show the rare example of a lawyer having great success in both Houses of parliament, and who was destined to contest the palm of eloquence with the Earl of Chatham, as he had done with Mr. W. Pitt. They treated the subject with judicial accuracy and precision, showing that criminal justice could not be administered satisfactorily by any tribunal in the world if there were to be a public disclosure of the reasonings and observations of those who are to pronounce the verdict or judgment while they are consulting together. They therefore framed two questions to be put to the members of the court-martial, all of whom were examined at the bar while the bill was pending. I. "Do you know any matter that passed previous to the sentence upon Admiral Byng which may show that sentence to have been unjust?" 2. "Do you know any matter that passed previous to the said sentence which may show that ientence to have been given through any undue practice or motive?" All (including Captain Keppel, at whose request the bill had been introduced) answered both questions in the negative. Lord Hardwicke then animadverted in a tone of
CHAP, the highest scorn upon the haste and heedlessness with which CXXX.VI •" the bill had passed in the House of Commons, and on his
motion it was rejected without a decision."* April, As every one had foreseen, the administration formed in
Formation autumn of 1756 soon crumbled to pieces, and after the of Mr. dismissal of Pitt and Lord Temple, for nearly three months adminisT the country was without a government, although a foreign tration. war was raging, and dangerous discontent began to be engendered among the people. But, in the midst of disgrace and despondency, the nation was on the point of seeing the most glorious period of its annals; for now, instead of a single victory in a European campaign, the flag of England was to ride triumphant on every sea, and territories to which the island of Great Britain was a mere speck on the globe, were to be added to her dominion. This state of things was brought about by a coalition between the greatest and the meanest of statesmen, Pitt and the Duke of Newcastle, which was arranged chiefly under the auspices of Lord Hardwicke.f The first personal interview was brought about by the following letter from him to Mr. Pitt: —
"Wednesday, May 25. 1757.
Letters "I have seen the Duke of Newcastle this morning, who is
Hardwicke extremely willing and desirous to have a conference with you, to Mr. Pitt, and thinks it may be most useful to have a meeting first with yourself, before that which he will also be proud of having with my Lord Bute. He therefore proposes that his Grace and you should meet this evening at Lord Royston's, in St. James's Square, where I may attend you. The family is out of town, and that place will be better than any of our houses, and you (if you approve it) may come so far in your chair without hazard. I should think between eight and
• 15 Pari. Hist 803—822.; Hor. Walp. Mem. Geo. 2., vol. ii. 687. The House of Lords, in this instance, instead of forbidding the publication of their proceedings, themselves very wisely made an order " that all the proceedings on the bill, with the evidence of the witnesses, should be printed and published under the authority of the House "— Lords' Journ. 1757.
t Lord Mansfield had previously tried his hand at mediating between the parties, but in vain.
nine o'clock would be a proper time, unless you have any CHAP.
objection to it — and then any other hour you shall name. — [
I beg you will send me notice to Powis House as soon as you can."
In a subsequent stage of the negotiation we find that, while Leicester House was still a party to it, Lord Hardwicke thus addressed Mr. Pitt: —
"Powis House, l6th June, 1757.
"I am to desire, in the Duke of Newcastle's name as well as my own, that we may have the honour of meeting you and my Lord Bute at your house this evening a little before nine. I have in like manner sent notice to Lord Bute. I found the Duke of Newcastle pleased, in the highest degree, with your visit and conversation this forenoon."
The great difficulty in the way of a satisfactory settlement Difficulty' was the disposal of the Great Seal. The Duke of Newcastle ^Slt \ was naturally eager to see Lord Hardwicke again Chancellor, the Great that he might have his powerful support in that office, and Lord Hardwicke, himself professing to be tired of public life, would not have been unwilling to have resumed his labours, with the prospect now opening of a powerful government. They felt their way by at first proposing that he should have a seat in the cabinet, but conditions were annexed even to this concession, which showed the main object to be utterly impracticable. The fact was, that "the Great Commoner" and the Ex-premier, in the midst of much politeness and courtesy, thoroughly knew each other. The former determined to have all the power in his own hands, that he might pursue unchecked his vast plans for the nation's pre-eminence and glory, — while he was willing to throw to others all jobbing patronage, he could not bear the thought of seeing in high office, a man of character and weight, who, from ancient associations, would be disposed to stand by the sordid and meddling Duke.— Lord Hardwicke behaved exceedingly well upon this occasion. He did not allow his disappointment to be known to the world, and although he plainly saw that he could gain nothing for himself,— out of regard to his
CHAP, old patron, and (let us believe) out of regard to his country, then in imminent peril, he exerted himself to smooth away all difficulties. On the 22d of June thus he writes to Mr. Pitt: —
LordHard- "Since I had the honour of seeing you last, I have talked, sents in by way of, sounding, in the best manner I could, to all the disposing of three persons who can now come under consideration in the
Seal. disposition of the Great Seal. I think I see clearly the way of thinking and inclination of them all, which differs very little from the conjectures which we had formed concerning them. It is now so late, that if I should have any chance of finding you at home, I should only put you in danger of
being out of time for the levee I am very desirous
that we should meet this evening, for precious moments are lost, and not innocently wasted, but to the detriment of that great and useful system which we are labouring to establish. I am most sincere and zealous in my endeavours to bring about what you so much wish for, a present arrangement of the Great Seal; but I see vast difficulties attending it."
Willes, the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and now first Commissioner of the Great Seal,— a good lawyer, and no politician, — was expected for some time to be the successful candidate, but he haggled for a peerage, to which the King would not consent. A charge of treachery towards Willes in this affair has been brought against Lord Hardwicke, but it is not supported by any evidence, nor, as he had given up all thoughts of the Great Seal himself, by any probability.* At last Pitt fixed upon a man who could not be formidable to him, who was ready to accept the office on very moderate terms, and who might be expected to perform decently well its judicial duties,— Sir Robert Henley, the Attorney General, — and urged that his appointment was a stipulation that had been made by Leicester House to reward a man who had long and faithfully adhered to that party.
The following letter from Lord Hardwicke to Mr. Pitt throws great light on these intrigues: —
• See Cooksey, 82.; and Life of Lord Northington, pott.
"Powis House, June 25. 1757, Saturday night. CHAP.
« Dear Sir, cxxxvi.
"However improper for a private man, yet majora effu- ~
giens opprobria culpa, I did, in compliance with your com- Hard
mands, and those of our other friends who met on Thursday !fick?,.to . , . • Mr. Pitt
night, attend the King to-day, in order to know if he had on the new
any orders for me relating to the disposition of the Great mirastrTSeaL I found his Majesty very grave and thoughtful on the news which came last night*, but calm. He soon entered into matter; and it is unnecessary, as well as hardly possible, to give you the detail of my audience in writing. His Majesty expressed his desire to settle his administration on the plan fixed, but thought there was no necessity of making a hasty disposition of so important an office as the Great Seal, an immediate part of it. However, the result was, that he absolutely refused to give a peerage with it f, which, I think, puts my Lord Chief Justice Willes out of the case; for his Lordship not only told me before, but has since repeated, that peerage is with him a condition sine qua non. I see the King inclines more to Mr. Attorney General; and when I stated to his Majesty what I collected or conjectured to be his views, he hearkened, and at last bade me talk to Sir Robert Henley, reduce his terms as low as I could, and bring them to him in writing on Monday.
"Since I saw my Lord Chief Justice Willes, I have seen Sir Robert Henley, who talks very reasonably and honourably. His proposals are:—First, a reversionary grant of the office of one of the tellers of the Exchequer to his son for fife; second, a pension of 1500/. per annum on the Irish establishment to himself for life, to commence and become payable upon his being removed from the office of Lord Keeper, and not before, but to be determinable and absolutely void upon the office of teller coming into possession to his son. My present opinion is, that the King may be induced to agree to this on Monday; for when I hinted in ray discourse at a pension upon Ireland, though his Majesty
* Defeat of the King of Prussia at Kolin.
f I suspect that Lord Hardwicke did not much combat this resolution, still fishing to have no more law Lords in the House. VOL. V. L