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[108]

The head of the Board of Trade was the Earl of

CHAP. VI.} 1763. May.
Shelburne. He was at that time not quite six and twenty years old, had served creditably in the seven years war, as a volunteer, and, on his return, was ap pointed aide-de-camp to George the Third. He had supported the peace1 of 1763, as became a humane and

1 Walpole, in Memoirs of the Reign of King George III. i. 257, 258, says of Shelburne: ‘The probability was, that he (Shelburne) intended to slip into the pay-office himself.’ Again; he insinuates that Shelburne, in negotiating with Fox to support the peace, practised ‘the pious fraud’ of concealing Lord Bute's intention of retiring. Similar anecdotes were told me by one of the worthiest men in England. Having read a vast deal of Lord Shelburne's correspondence, I observed how unlike these imputations were to the character imprinted on his writings. I was advised to inquire if in the papers of the first Lord Holland these charges are preserved; an I having opportunity to do so, I was answered with courtesy and frankness, that they are not to be found in the unpublished memoirs, nor, I believe, in any of the papers of Lord Holland.

As to the first surmise, that Shelburne desired to slip into the pay-office himself, there exists no evidence to justify it; while every letter that has since come to light, goes to show such a readiness on the part of Bute, and, for a time, of Grenville to gratify Fox, that he himself was satisfied and avowed his purpose to give every support to the new ministry. The whole tone of their intercourse is inconsistent with the supposition of any difference about the paymaster's place. Grenville's Diary, in Papers II. 207, 208. As for Shelburne, he was marked out for the higher office of a Secretary of State; but, ‘in the handsomest manner, wished to be omitted.’ Bute to Grenville, 1 April, 1763, in Grenville Papers, II. 41.

As to the other insinuation, the concealment of Bute's purpose of resigning, whether blamable or not, was the act of Bute himself, with whom Fox negotiated directly. ‘I am come from Lord Bute,’ writes Fox to the Duke of Cumberland, on the 30 Sept. 1762, ‘more than ever convinced that he never has had, nor now has, a thought of retiring or treating.’ Alhemarle's Memoirs of Rockingham, i. 132. That Fox was with Bute repeatedly before superseding Grenville in the lead of the House of Commons, appears from Albemarle, i. 127, 129 and 132. Bedford Correspondence, III. 124 and 133. That Fox did not regard this concealment as an offence appears from his own testimony; for he himself, in December, 1763, said to Grenville, that ‘he believed Lord Bute to be a perfect honest man; that he respected him as such; and that in the intercourse between them Lord Bute had never broken his word with him.’ See G. Grenville's Diary for Wednesday, 25 Dec. 1764. Even Walpole admits that Lord Holland's own friend, as well as the Bedfords, refused to find Shelburne blamable. Walpole's Geo. III. i. 262, 263.

In the very paragraph in which Walpole brings these unsubstantiated charges against Shelburne, he is entirely at fault in narrating confidently that the Treasury was offered to Fox. The Grenville Papers show that it was not.

The name of Shelburne will occur so often in American history during the next twenty years, that I was unwilling to pass over the aspersions of Walpole. It is to be remembered also, that both whig and tory were very bitter against Shelburne; some of the Rockingham whigs most of all, particularly C. J. Fox and Edmund Burke.

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