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pressly says that, though he considers public characters as public property, and a connivance at their abuses as little short of treason to the State, his object has been to establish in the' opinion of the world the rectitude of his Lordship's conduct, and to make it appear that his actions were right, rather than that those who opposed his measures, and were engaged in disputes with him, were wrong? Audi alteram partem is a maxim as old as civil society itself; and an ex parte narrative of public conduct, which Mr. B, acknowleges was attended with difficulty and danger, and exposed the actor to every kind of-calumny and to hostile opposition, will not enable any person1 to form a correct idea of it.
We can scarcely suppose that Lord Macartney, who was sometimes carried along by favourable gales and at other times involved in storms, could have been throughout a long political life uniformly blameless; and that those who differed from him were invariably wrong, or actuated by unworthy motives. He himself allows that he had recourse to strong measures in India, though he was compelled to take them, contrary to his own natural disposition; and measures, which a courtier and politician acknowleges to be strong, are seldom perfectly justifiable. We are inclined to believe that Lord Macartney's political career was as disinterested as that of most public characters, and in some respects more so: but if it once be received as a maxim, that justice and morality may yield to policy in cases of urgency, such pleas may be set up to the levelling of all barriers between right and wrong, in the administration of human affairs.
George Macartney was descended from a respectable private family, and was born at Lissanoure in Ireland, the 14th of May »737
'At the age of thirteen, he was admitted a fellow commoner of Trinity College in the University of Dublin, and proceeded master of arts there in 1759. From Dublin he came to London, and was entered of the society of the Middle Temple, where he formed an intimacy with Mr. Burke, Mr. Dodwell, and many other characters then rising into eminence; but having no intention to study the law with a view to practice, he remained there but a short period before he had completed his arrangements for making the tour of Europe, in order to collect, by his own observations .and the reports of others on the spot, whatever information could be procured relative to the physical strength and the resources of the several States of that continent, and the characters and politics of their respective courts.'— 'In the course of his travels, he made the acquaintance of Mr. Stephen Fox, (eldest son of the first and father of the present Lord Holland) whom he had an opportunity of serving in a manner so essential to himself and his connections, that he was ever afterwards
Z a honoured honoured with the esteem and confidence of the old Lord and Lady Holland, and with the friendship of all the younger part of the family.
'On his return to England, he became an inmate of the Holland family, by wTiom he was introduced to the acquaintance of Lord Sandwich, then Secretary of State for the northern department; and an arrangement was speedily concluded between these two friend* for bringing him into Parliament for the borough of Midhurst, afterwards represented by Mr. Charles Fox.*
About that time, however, the unexpected revolution in Russia, which placed Catherine on the throne of that country, attracted the attention of most of the nations of Europe; and it was in the contemplation of the British government to form 'a treaty of commerce with Russia, though they had taken no notice of a profit for a treaty of alliance, which had been sent to London while Lord Buckingamshire was at St. Petersburgh. The interest of the Lords Holland and Sandwich was therefore directed to procuring for young Macartney the situation of envoy 10 that court, and the honour of knighthood. " This wa« certainly an important employment for a man who was then little more than 27 years old; and it is somewhat curious to observe the reasons assigned for his appointment:
'His knowledge of European politics alone fitted him for the undertaking; but a graceful person, with great suavity of manners, at conciliating disposition and winning address, were considered as no flight recommendations at a female court, where such accomplish* ments, it was fair to conclude, might work their way, when great but unaccommodating talents alone would prove ineffectual.'
At his first public audience, he addressed her Imperial Majesty in a speech of some length, in the nanae of the king his master: adding,-in the true courtier style, " And forgive me, Madam, if here I express my own particular satisfaction, in having been chosen for so pleasing, so important an employment. By this means I shall have the happiness of more nearly contemplating those extraordinary accomplishments, those heroic virtues, which make you the delight of that half of the globe over which you reign, and which render you the admiration of the other." Mr. Barrow gives a very minute account of the sedulous attention which Sir George Macartney paid to Mr. Panin the Imperial Foreign Minuter, of the difficulties which he had to encounter, and of the address ■which he manifested in the course of the negotiation. Suffice it to observe, that, notwithstanding the dexterity which his biographer ascribes to him, he was obliged to accede to the two s'me qui non conditions of the Russian Minister; which were that> in order to annihilate the Faench interest in Sweden, Great Britain should furnish money for bribing a majority at least of the Swedish diet, and that a war with Turkey should be made a casus foederis. So anxious does Sir George appear to have been to conclude a treaty of some kind, fhat he exceeded his own instructions in signing the one which wag executed. The introduction of the navigation-act by name, in the words "en reciprocite de facte de navigation de la Grande Bretagne" seems to have been an instance not only of supererogation, but also of unnecessary indiscretion j for the clause might as well have stood as follows without them, "Matt alors on se reserve de la part de la Russie, la liberte de faire dans I'interieur tel arrangement pirticutier qu'il sera trouve ion, ■ pour encourager et etendre la navigation Russienne." Mr. Barrow himself observes (p. 23.) that, at the time of framing this treaty, 1 it might fairly have been doubted whether a single subject in the Russian empire had ever even seen our navigation-act, or had any more acquaintance with it than the mere name.' Where was the occasion, then, for mentioning it at all? It is more than probable that the British ministry seized on the introduction of it as a mere pretext for finding fault, while the real cause of their disapprobation of Sir George's conduct was that, contrary to his instructions, he had signed the treaty before he sent it over for His Majesty's approbation. The Duke of Grafton, then Secretary of State for the nothcrn department, in a letter acknowleging the receipt of the treaty, did not advert to any impropriety on the part of Sir George in signing it, but stated that it was very agreeable both to him and to the rest of His Majesty's ministers; in another letter, ten days subsequent to this, the Duke's secretary informed Sir George that he was extremely concerned at not being able to send him a confirmation of those hopes, which his former letter had encouraged him to entertain, that his treaty and his conduct would meet with general approbation, since a very material objection to it had appeared on a thorough examination of it; and two days afterward the Duke himself gave him to understand, that the King's Ministers were highly dissatisfied with his departure from his instructions, without His Majesty's consent previously obtained. His Grace, who is said to have been Sir George's friend, and much mortified at the disapprobation of the treaty which some of his colleagues in office cho= .0 express, referred the clause in the fourth article to theRi 1a company, for their opinion; who, without assigning any reasons, declared " that it might essentially affect and prejudice the trade and navigation of Great Britain, and render the whole treaty ineffectual."
Sir George, on the receipt of this declaration, made some observations to his Grace respecting the composition, &c. of the court of assistants of that company; and in self defence he desired our Consul at Petersburgh to assemble the British merchants there, to read the treaty to them, and to require their opinion in regard to every part of it, particularly the clause in the fourth article which had been disapproved. In consequence of this requisition, they drew up, we are told, and unanimously agreed to sign a letter, which is inserted by Mr. B arrow, expressive of their "entire and unreserved approbation of every article in the treaty, and that they, are particularly obliged to his excellency for that part of the fourth article, by which an equality of duty on exports between the British and Russian merchants is established."
Thus the opinions of the Russia Company, and of the British merchants at Petersburgh, were placed in direct contradiction to each other. The administration of both countries appears to have become foolishly and uselessly obstinate. Thrice did the cabinet of St. James's refuse to ratify the treaty, and thrice did they send back fresh proposals. After a modification of the clause, which had been disputed, was settled with Mr. Panin, Sir George, (to use his own language) "put his safety again on the cast for the public service, and signed the treaty a second time.'' On the management of the northern department devolving on Mr. Conway, Sir G. Macartney at last received His Majesty's ratification of the treaty; and at the same time, as if some blame was still conceived to attach to his conduct, a notification of Mr. Stanley's appointment as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the court of St. Petersburgh, without the least intimation as to what was to become of himself. This proceeding he naturally considered as a slight, and felt much mortification in consequence of it, though he seemed anxious to make people believe that he was not in the least dissatisfied. His letters to Mr. William Burke and to Mr. Conway, on the subject, are full of plaintive observations, and expressive of a sense of ill usage. Mr. Barrow tells us, by way of representing the almost insuperable difficulties opposed to his patron at St. Petersburgh, and his dexterity and exertions in overcoming them, that the empress Catherine * was so vain of her past successes, so giddy with her present prosperity, so blind and incredulous to the possibility of a reverse, that both she and her minister seemed every day to be more intoxicated with pride, more contemptuous towards other powers, and more elated with their own and ;hat Sir G. M. could not impress on their minds the advantages, which Russia would derive from a close alliance with Eng
land. He then makes Sir George speak of himself in these words:
"No art has been left untried, no argument unenforced, and n" effort unexerted. All that my own ingenuity could inspire, the nature of the subject furnish, or the circumstances of the times suggest to me, I have employed, with most unshaken attention, the most unceasing diligence and unremitted assiduity. But this court has listened to me with the most provoking phlegm, and the most stoical indifference." "Nothing on this side of heaven could bribe me to pass the last six months over again: mortified and dejected as I am, I have long since disclaimed the least hopes of applause for any ministerial endeavours, however judiciously conducted, or fortunately concluded; persuaded that nothing is more dangerous than to do more than is commanded, and that he alone is secure and happy who entrenches himself within the bounds of his duty, unambitious of the renown which arises from enterprising boldness or successful temerity."
In his letter of the i6\h of August 1766, to Mr. Secretary Conway, we find sir George asserting that he could prove that no other man could have equalled him in that official situation J
• Conscious,' says he, 'of having acted in all things entrusted to my care, with the utmost integrity, vigilance, and activity, having exerted every talent which nature and education have given me for the service of my sovereign and the interest of the public, ambitious only of honest fame, 1 present myself to every scrutiny, convinced of beiug able to prove, that no man in my situation could have obtained what I have done, convinced that you, Sir, and every branch of administration, will in the end see the strongest reasons for approving every particular of my conduct"
Soon after Sir G. Macartney's return from Russia to England, Mr. Stanley gave in his resignation, and Sir George was appointed to succeed him as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to that court: but, for reasons which his biographer does not explain, he almost immediately resigned his appointment; and, with a just and becoming sonse of propriety, he returned the warrants for a service of plate, the equipage money, and every other emolument annexed to it, retaining only the pictures of their Majesties, 1 which he particularly desired he might be allowed to keep.'
On the 1st February, 1768, he was married to Lady Jane Stuait, second daughter of John Earl of Bute; and as he frequently observed that he always wished to stand well with the King, he could not perhaps have taken a step better calculated for securing to him the sovereign's favourable opinion. In April, 1769, he was chosen one of the representatives for Cockermouth in the British Parliament, and in July he was
Z 4 elected