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suspicion was carried to an extravagant length; but, although he pretended that, having gained all the objects of his ambition, he had betaken himself to "the domestic and literary retirement which he loved," there can be no doubt that, for a considerable time, in ministerial arrangements, he chiefly guided the King; and that he entertained a strong hope of being able ostensibly to resume his position, when the prejudices excited against him should have passed away.
Parliament was hurriedly prorogued to prevent discussion; but the closing speech called forth No. 45. of the "North Briton;" general warrants were issued by Lord Halifax, Secretary of State, to arrest the author, printer, and publisher,—Wilkes was arrested,—Wilkes was sent to the Tower, — Wilkes was liberated by the judgment of the Court of Common Pleas; and the cry of " Wilkes And Liberty!" resounded throughout the realm. Although he afterwards asserted that he himself had never been much of a Wilkite, the administration was more unpopular than when Lord Bute was at the head of the Treasury; and the sudden death of the Earl of Egremont having deprived it of the minister whose abilities and influence had given it most weight, Lord Bute became sensible that some new arrangement was necessary, and opened negotiations with Mr. Pitt, the Duke of Newcastle, and Lord Hardwickc. A very interesting account of these is given in the following letter from the Ex-chancellor to his eldest son, which shows that he had greatly improved in the facility and elegance of his English composition since he wrote "Philip Homebred" for the " Spectator;" and that if he had practised letter-writing, he might have rivalled Horace Walpole:
"Wimple, Sept. 4. 1763.
"My dear Lord*,
w°ckde"ard" "I have heard the whole from tte Duke of Newcastle; letter to his and, on Friday morning, de source, from Mr. Pitt. But if
* I can only regret that he does not begin "My dear Phil" This mylording of his own son, which would not have been practised by a Howard or a Spencer, confirms the charge against him that he preposterously piqued himself upon his nobility, and forces us to recollect the poor youth, who, under his mistress's stern orders, brought home cabbages from the greengrocer's, and ovsters from the fishmonger's. According to a well-known story, the late Lord Althorp, I was to attempt to relate in writing all that I have heard in CHAP.
two conversations of two hours each, the dotterells and wheat- — 1
ears tcould stink before I could finish my letter. Besides, it son, giving is as strange as it is long, for I believe it is the most extra- *f pTM"^1 ordinary transaction that ever happened in any Court in tions for Europe, even in times so extraordinary as the present. nT^'mfni*
"I will begin as the affair has gone on, preposterously, by trytelling you, that it is all over for the present, and we are to come back re infectd.
"It began as to the substance, by a message from my Lord Bute to Mr. Pitt, at Hayes, through my Lord Mayor, to give him the meeting privately at some third place. This, his Lordship (Lord B.) afterwards altered by a note from himself, saying, that as he did things openly, he would come to Mr. Pitt's house in Jermyn Street in broad day-light. They met accordingly, and Lord Bute, after the first compliments, frankly acknowledged that his ministry could not go on, and that the King was convinced of it; and therefore he (Lord B.) desired Mr. Pitt would open himself frankly, and at large, and tell him his ideas of things and persons with the utmost freedom. After much excuse and hanging back, Mr. Pitt did so with the utmost freedom indeed, though with civility. Here I must leave a long blank to be filled up when I see you. Lord Bute heard with great attention and patience; entered into no defence; but at last said, 'If these are your opinions, why should you not tell them to the King himself, who will not be unwilling to hear you?' — 'How can I presume to go to the King, who am not of the council, nor in his service, and have no pretence to ask an audience? The presumption would be too great.'—'But suppose his Majesty should order you to attend him, I presume, sir, you would not refuse it.'—'The King's command would make it my duty, and I should certainly obey it.'
"This was on last Thursday sevennight. On the next day (Friday) Mr. Pitt received from the King an open note, unsealed, requiring him to attend his Majesty on Saturday
when a distinguished senator, was thus addressed by his noble father: "Ring the bell, Jack."
CHAP, noon, at the Queen's Palace, in the Park. In obedience
u X XXVII
"hereto, Mr. Pitt went on Saturday at noon-day, through the
Mall, in his gouty chair, the boot of which (as he said himself) makes it as much known as if his name was writ upon it, to the Queen's Palace. He was immediately carried into the closet, received very graciously; and his Majesty began, in like manner as his quondam favourite had done, by ordering him to tell him his opinion of things and persons at large, and with the utmost freedom; and I think, did in substance make the like confession, that he thought his present Ministers could not go on. The audience lasted three hours, and Mr. Pitt went through the whole upon both heads more fully than he had done to Lord Bute, but with great complaisance and douceur to the King; and -his Majesty gave him a very gracious accucil, and heard him with great patience and attention. And Mr. Pitt affirms that, in general, and upon the most material points, he appeared by his manner and by many expressions to be convinced. But here I must again avail myself of my long blank, and make only one general description; that Mr. Pitt went through the infirmities of the peace; the things necessary and hitherto neglected to improve and preserve it; the present state of the nation, both foreign and domestic; the great Whig families and persons which have been driven from his Majesty's council and service, which it would be for his interest to restore. In doing this he repeated many names; upon which his Majesty told him, there was pen, ink, and paper, and wished he would write them down. Mr. Pitt humbly excused himself, by saying, that would be too much for him to take upon him; and he might, upon his memory, omit some material persons, which might be subject to imputation. The King still said he liked to hear him, and bid him go on; but said, now and then, his honour must be consulted; to which Mr. Pitt anwered in a very courtly manner. His Majesty ordered him to come again on Monday, which hev did, to the same place and in the same public manner."
[Here comes in a parenthesis, that on Sunday, Mr. Pitt went to Claremont, and acquainted the Duke of Newcastle with the whole, fully persuaded from the King's manner and behaviour that the thing would do; and that on Monday the CHAP.
outlines of the new arrangement would be settled. This pro
duced the messages to the Lords, who were sent for. Mr.
"But, behold the catastrophe of Monday. The King received him equally graciously; and that audience lasted near two hours. The King began, that he had considered of what had been said, and talked still more strongly of his honour. His Majesty then mentioned Lord Halifax for the Treasury, still proceeding upon the supposition of a change.
"To this Mr. Pitt hesitated an objection — that certainly Lord Halifax ought to be considered, but that he should not have thought of him for the Treasury. Suppose his Majesty should think fit to give him the Paymaster's place. The King replied, 'But, Mr. Pitt, I had designed that for poor G. Grenville, he is your near relation, and you once loved him.' To this the only answer made was a low bow. And now here comes the bait. 'Why,' says his Majesty, 'should not my Lord Temple have the Treasury? you would then go on very well.'—' Sir, the person whom you shall think fit to honour with the chief conduct of your affairs cannot possibly go on without a Treasury connected with him. But that alone will do nothing. It cannot be carried on without the great families who have supported the Revolution government, and other great persons, of whose abilities and integrity the public has had experience, and who have weight and credit in the nation. I should only deceive your Majesty, if I should leave you in an opinion that I could go on, and your Majesty make a solid administration on any other foot.' —' Well, Mr. Pitt, I see (or I fear) this will not do. My honour is concerned, and I must support it. 'Et sic finita est fabula.' "Vos valete," but I cannot with a safe conscience add, "plaudite." I have made my skeleton larger than I intended at first, and I hope you will understand it. Mr. Pitt professes himself firmly persuaded that my Lord Bute was sincere at first, and that the King was in earnest the first day; but that on the interCHAP, mediate day, Sunday, some strong effort was made which pro
C Y X X V11.
duced the alteration.
"Mr. Pitt likewise affirms that, if he was examined upon oath, he could not tell upon what this negotiation broke off, whether upon any particular point, or upon the general complexion of the whole; but that if the King shall assign any particular reason for it, he will never contradict it.
"My story has been so long, though in truth a very short abridgment, that I shall not lengthen it by observations, but leave you to make your own: it will certainly be given out, that the reason was the unreasonable extent of Mr. Pitt's plan — a general rout; and the minority, after having complained so much of proscriptions, have endeavoured to proscribe the majority. I asked Mr. Pitt the direct question, and he assured me, that although he thought himself obliged to name a great many persons for his own exculpation, yet he did not name above five or six for particular places. I must tell you that one of these was your humble servant for the President's place. This was entirely without my authority and privity. But the King's answer was, 'Why, Mr. Pitt, it is vacant, and ready for him; and he knows he may have it to-morrow, if he thinks fit.'
"I conjectured that this was said with regard to what had passed with poor Lord Egremont, which made me think it necessary to tell Mr. Pitt in general what had passed with that Lord (not owning that his Lordship had offered it directly in the King's name), and what I had answered, which he, in his way, much commended.
"This obliges me to desire that you will send me by the bearer my letter to you, which you were to communicate to my Lord Lyttleton, that I may see how I have stated it there, for I have no copy.
"I shall now make you laugh, though some parts of what goes before make me melancholy, to see the King so committed, and his Majesty submitting to it, &c. But what I mean will make you laugh, is, that the Ministers are so stung with this admission that they cannot go on, (and what has passed on this occasion will certainly make them less able to go on,) and with my Lord Bute's having thus carried them to market