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CHAP, that the King could grant the territory of North America, CXL- none could say that the King could put the grantees out of their subjection to the summum imperium of Great Britain. My Lords, the colonies are become too big to be governed by the laws they at first set out with. They have, therefore, run into confusion, and it will be the policy of this country to form a plan of laws for them. If they withdraw allegiance, you must withdraw protection; and then the little state of Genoa or of San Marino may soon overrun them." *
This coarse invective, the first of the sort delivered in Parliament against " the Rebels," though sure to gratify the King and the "King's friends," was so very indiscreet, and was so evidently calculated to produce resentment and resistance on the other side of the Atlantic, that not only Lord Rockingham and his Whig colleagues were appalled by it, but it gave uneasiness to all moderate Tories who had approved of the Stamp Act, and were still desirous of supporting it. Lord Lord Mansfield immediately followed, in the hope of re
discUimer.* pairing or mitigating the mischief; and, notwithstanding his habitual self-command, was unable to conceal his mortification. Thus he gently disclaimed the diatribe of the Chancellor: "I stand up, my Lords, to bring your Lordships to the question before you, which is, whether the proposition enunciated by the noble Dukef as to our right to make laws to bind the colonies is, according to what appears from our law and history, true, or not true? It is out of the question whether it was, or was not, expedient to pass the law; whether it be, or be not, expedient to repeal it. Out of this question, too, are the rules which are to guide the legislature in making a law. This law is made, and the question is, whether you had a right to make it?" Without farther reference to the Chancellor, he then goes on, with great calmness, and with arguments to which I have never been able to find an answer, to deny, as far as the power is concerned, the distinction between a law to tax and a law for any other purpose. The resolution was agreed to, but this debate marred the effect of the repeal of the Stamp Act, and
• 16 Pari. Hist. 161—177.
f The Duke of Grafton, who moved the resolution.
gave a great "shake" to the Rockingham administration, by CHAP, showing that their conciliatory policy was distasteful to the CXLCourt.
The Lord Chancellor seems to have remained quiet for the rest of the session, and not even to have spoken when the House of Lords, very properly, rejected the bill passed by the Commons, declaring "General Warrants" to be illegal; leaving this question to be decided (as it was satisfactorily) by the Courts of Common Law.
Soon after the prorogation, it was evident that a political June 6. crisis was at hand. The immediate cause of the dismission J^j" of the ministry is attributed to an intrigue of the Lord Chan- Northingcellor Northington, who had long contemplated their feeble J^"^^^^ state, and meditated their overthrow.* He had now personal gammas well as courtier-like reasons for wishing that there might be a revolution in the cabinet. Those legs, of which he had taken such bad care in his youth, refused to carry the Chancellor any longer between the woolsack and the bar, and he was desirous of making the repose which they demanded as comfortable as possible. His attacks of gout had been of late so frequent and severe, that he found he could not longer hold the Great Seal; yet he was unwilling to retire into private life, and he thought that, in taking an active part in forming a new administration, he should be able to make a good bargain for himself. It may seem strange that he hoped to accomplish bis object under the auspices of Mr. Pitt, who had been so odious at Court after his quarrel with Lord Bute, and had expressed a strong opinion against taxing America. But here begins the period of the life of that most illustrious patriot which is the least to his credit. Piqued that there should be a Whig government in which he was not included, — instead of supporting it, he had publicly said, "Lord Rockingham has not my confidencef;" and, from his belligerent tendencies, there was an expectation that, if he were once in office, he might be induced to take
* 1 Adolphus, 225.
f Lord Rockingham's position, at this time, bears a considerable resemblance to that of Mr. Canning in 1827, when the ultra Tories and Lord Grey coalesced to eject him.
Chap, part against the Americans, and to use the necessary force CXL. for subing them. There is no such bond of political union Coalition as a common dislike of the minister. This makes all differbetwccr^ ence 0f principle and all past quarrels be forgotten. and Mr. George III. and the "Great Commoner" being equally dePut to turn sirous of getting; rid of Lord Rockingham, there had been
out Lord , .
Rocking- much coquetry between them during some months, and, for ham. nonce, there was actually considerable good will. Lord
Northington was well aware of these reciprocal feelings, and determined to take advantage of them. Lord The occasion which he seized for effecting his purpose was
ton's1'"'8" the preparation of a Code for the government of Canada. A scheme for proclamation had issued in 1764, by which all the laws of the"llock-' England were introduced into the French provinces, ceded by ingham the peace of Paris; but this rash experiment (as might have tration.*" been foreseen) caused general discontent and confusion. The papers relating to the disputes had, according to custom, been laid before the Attorney and Solicitor General — most able men — Charles Yorke, and De Grey — and they had prepared a very masterly report for the consideration of the cabinet — proposing to leave to the natives their ancient rights of property and civil laws, and to temper the rigour of their criminal procedure by the more equitable and liberal system of English jurisprudence. Soon after the commencement of the recess a cabinet was called to consider this report, and the Chancellor being confined by a fit of the gout, the July 4. meeting took place at his house in Lincoln's Inn Fields. Con1766. trary to his good-humoured aud courteous, though blunt and careless manner, he was exceedingly cross and peevish on this occasion, and found fault with every body and every thing. He complained that he had been slighted in the affair by Mr. Attorney and Mr. Solicitor; he bitterly criticised and abused their performance; and he concluded by giving an opinion that no proposition on the subject could be sanctioned by the cabinet until they had procured a complete digest of all the existing laws of Canada, — which would occasion a delay of at least a whole year. His colleagues believed that his waywardness proceeded from the bodily anguish he was suffering, and the meeting broke up without coming to any definitive resolution. Next day he refused to attend another cabinet CHAP. — (as they still supposed) from his great toe being more CXL" painful. The rest of the ministers considering the matter very pressing, — that there might not be disturbances at Quebec, as well as at Boston, held two more meetings without him at the Duke of Richmond's house at Whitehall. The Attorney General, who had taken the chief part in framing the Report, being summoned to attend, gave ample information on the principles by which he was guided, and proposed that it should be sent to Quebec for the inspection and consideration of Governor Carleton and the Colonial crown lawyers, with instructions to return it corrected, according to their judgment, so that it might be in all respects suited to the circumstances and feelings of the province. Every difficulty seemed obviated. In consequence Lord Egremont, in whose department the business more immediately was, and who had recommended the summoning of the Attorney and Solicitor General, went out of town, declaring his willingness to confide his judgment to their decision. Mr. Attorney, thinking July G. all his cares over till the Morrow of All Souls, and the re- 1766assembling of parliament should again make him wish that he could be divided into ten portions to be working in ten places at once, — retired into the country to enjoy the repose of the long vacation.
But the Lord Chancellor, when he heard at night of this Lord last meeting of the Cabinet, loudly exclaimed, "By G—, ^"advises they shall never meet again." Next morning, repairing to *he K^njJ Richmond, he informed the King "that the Ministers could Mr. Pitt, not go on, and that at all events he himself must resign the Great Seal, and would attend Cabinet Councils with Lord Rockingham no longer." He concluded by advising his Majesty to send for Mr. Pitt, — holding out hopes that there was a change in him, and that he might now be found more pliant and accommodating. The King, without considering too curiously what might follow, being delighted with the prospect of getting rid of the men who had repealed the Stamp Act, and had induced Parliament to condemn the proceedings against Wilkes, very willingly adopted this ad
vor„ v. p
Chap, vice, and they manufactured the following letter to "the Great Commoner:"
"Richmond Lodge, July 7. 1766.
7tt Kt'ngs "Your very dutiful and handsome conduct the last sumMr. Pitt. mer 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.
As soon as Lord Northington arrived in town he forwarded the royal missive, accompanied by the following communication from himself:
"London, July 7. 1766.
Lord "I have the King's command to convey to you his Majesty's
ton'sYetter n0^e inclosed; and as I am no stranger to the general contents, to Mr. Pitt. 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
* There is no trace of this speech any where to l,e found.