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Chapter 17:

The king and the aristocracy against the Great Commoner.—George the Third Drives out Pitt.


‘My horse is lame,’ said the new king, as a rea-
chap. XVII.} 1760. Oct.
son for turning back; nor did he manifest any sign of emotion or surprise at the intelligence which he had received. Continuing his concealment, ‘I have said this horse was lame,’ he remarked to the groom at Kew; ‘I forbid you to say the contrary;’ and he went directly to Carleton House, the residence of his mother.1

The first person whom he sent for was Newcastle; who came in a great hurry as soon as he could ‘put on his clothes.’ None knew better than those who were to receive the duke, that Pitt had forced a way into the highest place in the ministry over the heads of an envious and unwilling aristocracy; and that, under a reluctant coalition, there rankled an incurable alienation between the members of the administration itself.2

Newcastle had no sooner entered Carleton House, than Bute came to him, and told him that the king would see him before any body and before holding a council. ‘Compliments from me,’ he added, ‘are [383] now unnecessary. I have been and shall be your

chap. XVII.} 1760. Oct.
friend, and you shall see it.’ The veteran courtier caught at the naked hook as soon as thrown out, and answered in the same strain.

The king, so young and so determined to rule, praised the loyalty of Newcastle, who in return was profuse of promises.3 ‘My Lord Bute,’ said the king, ‘is your good friend. He will tell you my thoughts at large.’ And before the ashes of the late king were cold,4 the faithless duke was conspiring with the new influences on and around the throne to subvert the system, by which Pitt had not only restored but exalted his country.

On meeting the council, the king, and with good reason, appeared agitated and embarrassed; for his speech, which had been drawn by Bute, set up adhesion to his plan of government as the test of honesty; calumniated the war as ‘bloody’ and expensive; and silently abandoned the king of Prussia. Newcastle, who was directed to read it aloud, seemed to find it unexceptionable; and opportunely lowered his voice at the offensive parts, so that his words could not be distinguished. ‘Is there any thing wrong in point of form?’ asked the king; and then dismissed his ministers; and the declaration was projected, executed and entered in the council books without any previous notice to Pitt.

The Great Commoner was ‘extremely hurt;’5 he discerned what was plotting; and after vainly seeking to inspire Newcastle with truth and firmness,6 he [384] insisted that the address should be amended; that

chap. XVII.} 1760. Oct.
it was false to say the war had been to England a bloody war;7 and after an altercation of two or three hours with Lord Bute, he extorted the king's reluctant consent to substitute as his own these words: ‘As I mount the throne in the midst of an expensive but just and necessary war, I shall endeavor to prosecute it in a manner most likely to bring on an honorable and lasting peace in concert with my allies.’

The amendments of Pitt gave to the address dignity and nationality. The wound to the royal authority rankled in the breast of the king. He took care to distinguish Newcastle above all others; and on the third day after his accession, he called Bute, who was but his groom of the stole, and who had forfeited Pitt's friendship,8 not to the Privy Council only, but also to the cabinet.9

On the last day of October, the king published a proclamation ‘for the encouragement of piety, and for preventing immorality.’ This public appeal corresponded with his personal habits; and in a kingdom, where, for nearly fifty years, the king's mistresses, in rank the peeresses of the highest aristocracy, had introduced vulgarity with licentiousness, and had rivalled the ministry in political influence, the serious people of England were fired with loyalty towards a monarch who had been trained in seclusion as temperately and chastely as a nun.

To the draft which Hardwicke and Pitt had made

[385] for his first speech to parliament, he on his own au-
chap. XVII.} 1760. Nov.
thority added the words, ‘Born and educated in this country, I glory in the name of Briton:’ thus putting himself with just complacency rather than invidiously in contrast with his predecessors, who were Hanoverians by birth and by affection. A greater concourse of ‘the beauty and gentility’ of the kingdom attended him at parliament than had ever graced that assembly. ‘His manner,’ said Ingersoll, of Connecticut, who was present, ‘has the beauty of an accomplished speaker. He is not only, as a king, disposed to do all in his power to make his subjects happy, but is undoubtedly of a disposition truly religious.’ Horace Walpole echoed the praises of his grace, dignity, and good-nature; expressed his admiration in courtly verses, and began a friendly correspondence with Bute. ‘All his dispositions are good,’ said Secker, the archbishop; ‘he is a regular, worthy, and pious young man, and hath the interest of religion sincerely at heart.’10 The poet Churchil did but echo the voice of the nation, when he wrote:

Stripped of her gaudy plumes and vain disguise,
See where Ambition, mean and loathsome, lies!
Reflection with relentless hand pulls down
The tyrant's bloody wreath and ravished crown.
In vain he tells of battles bravely won,
Of nations conquered, and of worlds undone.
But if, in searching round the world, we find
Some generous youth, the friend of all mankind,
Whose anger, like the bolt of Jove, is sped
In terrors only at the guilty head,
Whose mercies, like heaven's dew, refreshing fall
In general love and charity to all,
Pleased we behold such worth on any throne,
And doubly pleased, we find it on our own.


Such acclamations welcomed the accession of George

chap. XVII.} 1760. Nov.
the Third, whom youth and victory, conquest and the love of glory, popular acclamation and the voice of Pitt, the prospect of winning all America and all the Indies, could not, as it seemed, swerve from the fixed purpose of moderation in triumph and the earliest practicable peace. But the ruling idea of his mind, early developed and indelibly branded in, was the restoration of the prerogative, which in America the provincial assemblies had resisted and defied; which in England had one obstacle in the rising importance of the people, as represented by Pitt, and another in the established power of the oligarchy under the banner of Newcastle.11 The man at maturity is but the continuation of the youth; from the day of his accession, George the Third displayed an innate love of authority, and, with a reluctant yielding to present obstacles, the reserved purpose of asserting his self-will, which doomed him in a universe of change to oppose reform, and struggle continuously, though hopelessly, against the slow but resistless approaches of popular power.

‘Our young man,’12 wrote Holdernesse, one of the secretaries of state, ‘shows great attention to his affairs, and an earnest desire of being truly informed of the state of them. He is patient and diligent in business, and gives evident marks of perspicuity and good sense.’ ‘Nothing can be more amiable, more virtuous, or better disposed, than our present monarch,’ reported Barrington,13 the secretary at war, but a few weeks later; ‘he applies himself thoroughly to [387] his affairs, and understands them astonishingly well.

chap. XVII.} 1760. Nov.
His faculties seem to me equal to his good intentions. A most uncommon attention, a quick and just conception, great mildness, great civility, which takes nothing from his dignity, caution and firmness are conspicuous in the highest degree.’ ‘The king,’ said the chief proprietary of Pennsylvania,14 ‘attends daily to business; shows great steadiness in his resolutions, and is very exact to all his applications, whether of business or recreation.’ But Charles Townshend, being questioned as to his character, deliberated a moment, and replied, ‘The young man is very obstinate;’ and four months had not passed, when Pratt, the attorney-general predicted that ‘this would be a weak and inglorious reign.’15

To place himself above aristocratic dictation and dictation of all sorts, was the ruling passion of George the Third; and for its gratification he was bent on securing ‘to the court the unlimited and uncontrolled use of its own vast influence under the sole direction of its private favor.’16 For his instrument in accomplishing this purpose, he cherished the Earl of Bute, whom he valued only because he found in him an obsequious friend, ready to give effect to the new system; and within five weeks from the commencement of his reign, Bute was planning how to make a place for himself among the ministers. To the party of the court he brought no strength whatever. He had neither experience, nor political connections, nor powerful family friendships, nor great capacity; and [388] owed his public distinction solely to the royal favor.

chap. XVII.} 1760. Nov.
He was to the king such a confidential companion as the attendant on a heroine in the plays of the earlier French dramatists. By theory he acquiesced in royal authority. He was inferior to George the Third, even in those qualities in which that prince was most deficient; greatly his inferior in vigor of understanding and energy of character. The one had a daring hardihood and self-relying inflexibility, which danger could not startle and the dread of responsibility could not appall; while Bute, who was timid by nature, united persistence with pusillanimity; and as a consequence, had the habit of duplicity. He was ignorant of men and ignorant of business, without sagacity or courage; so that it is difficult to express adequately his unfitness for the conduct of a party, or the management of the foreign relations and public affairs of his country.

Had Bute been left to his own resources, he must have failed from the beginning. Even his earnest desire to restore peace could not have brought about his advancement; the way was opened for him by the jealous impatience of the aristocracy at power derived, independently of themselves, from the good opinion of the people of England. ‘The ministers will drop off, ere long,’ wrote the vain, rich Dodington; ‘think with yourself and your royal master of proper persons to fill up the first rank with you, in case of death or desertion. . . . . . .Remember, my noble and generous friend, that to recover monarchy from the inveterate usurpation of oligarchy is a point too arduous and important to be achieved without much difficulty and some degree of danger.’ ‘They will beat every thing,’ said Glover, of Bute and the [389] king; ‘only a little time must be allowed for the

chap. XVII.} 1760. Dec.
madness of popularity to cool.’ But from that day forward, ‘popularity,’ as the influence and power of the people were sometimes called by the public men of England, was the movement of the age, which could as little be repressed as Providence dethroned; and George, who hated it almost to madness, was the instrument chosen by Heaven to accelerate that movement, till it proceeded with a force which involved the whole human race, and could not be checked by all the weight of ancient authority.

The king was eager to renounce the connection

1761. Jan.
with Prussia, and to leave that kingdom to meet its own ruin, while he negotiated separately with France; but Pitt prevailed with the cabinet to renew the annual treaty with Frederic, and with parliament to vote the subsidy without a question. ‘He has no thought of abandoning the continent,’ said Bute, in January; ‘he is madder than ever.’ But Newcastle, clinging fondly to office, and aware of the purposes of the king, shrunk from sustaining the secretary, and professed himself most sincerely desirous of peace, most willing to go any length to obtain it. Pitt, on his part, never ceased to despise the feebleness, and never forgave the treachery of Newcastle. ‘They neither are nor can be united,’ said Bute; and early in January, 1761, his friends urged him ‘to put himself at the head, in a great office of business, and to take the lead.’

But Newcastle began also to be conscious of his own want of favor. He had complained to Bedford, who despised him, ‘of the very little weight he had in the closet, and of the daily means used to let him have as little in the coming parliament, and talked of [390] resignation;’ then, conspiring against Pitt and sub-

chap. XVII.} 1761. Jan.
mitting to every thing; he remained at his post. In the approaching election, he was thwarted in his desire to use for his own purposes his old system of corruption; but of whatever he complained, it was answered, ‘The king had ordered it so.’ To the king's boroughs the king himself would name. Where a public order gave permission to the voters in the king's interest, to vote as they pleased, a private one was annexed, ‘naming the person for whom they were all to vote;’ and Newcastle was limited to those where the crown had only an influence. ‘The new parliament,’ said Bute, confidently, ‘will be the
king's.’ George the Third began his reign by competing with the aristocracy at the elections for the majority in that body; and in the choice of the twelfth parliament, his first effort was successful.

Changes in the cabinet were preparing. From the opening of the new reign Holdernesse had been ready to quarrel with his fellow-ministers, and throw up in seeming anger, so that Bute might then come in without appearing to displace any one. But this was too foolish a scheme to be approved of. ‘It is very easy,’ thought the Favorite, in February, ‘to make the Duke of Newcastle resign, but who is to take it?’ He had not courage to aim at once at the highest station.

On the nineteenth of March, 1761, as the session

closed, the eleventh parliament of Great Britain was dissolved. On the same day, to gratify a grudge of George the Third, conceived when Prince of Wales, Legge, the chancellor of the exchequer, was dismissed. When it was known that that officer was to be turned out, George Grenville, who piqued himself on his [391] knowledge of finance, ‘expressed to his brother-in-
chap. XVII.} 1761. March
law his desire of the vacant place; but Pitt took no notice of his wishes, upon which a coolness commenced between them.’ ‘Fortune,’ exclaimed Barrington, on receiving the appointment, ‘may at last make me pope. I am equally fit to be at the head of the Church as of the exchequer. But no man knows what is good for him. My invariable rule, therefore, is, to ask nothing, to refuse nothing.’ He was willing to serve with any ministry, making the king's wish his only oracle.

Two days later, the resignation of Holdernesse was purchased by a pension, with the reversion of the wardenship of the Cinque Ports for life; and Bute, on the king's own recommendation,17 accepting Charles Jenkinson, afterwards Earl of Liverpool, as his confidential secretary, took the seals for the Northern Department.

At the same time an office was given to Sir Francis Dashwood, the open and resolute opponent of Pitt's engagements with Germany; and Charles Townshend, described by Hume as ‘the cleverest fellow in England,’ celebrated for his knowledge of America, and his zeal for new-modelling its governments, ‘swore allegiance to Bute,’ at least for a time, and was made secretary at war. He who holds that post is not a member of the cabinet, but rather the king's military secretary; and, as such, is frequently admitted to the closet. Townshend was ever careful to cultivate the favor of his sovereign. He was, in parliament and in life, ‘for ever on the rack of exertion;’ [392] of ill-regulated ambition; unsteady in his polit-

chap. XVII.} 1761. March
ical connections; inclining always to the king, yet so conscious of the power conferred on him in the House of Commons by his eloquence, as never to become the servant of the king's friends. Too able to be dependent, too indifferent to liberty to advocate it freely, he floated between the two parties, not from change of views, but because, from his nature and his convictions, he was attached sincerely to neither.

In the House of Commons, Charles Townshend never feared to appear as the rival of the minister; that there might also be in the cabinet one man who dared to stand up against Pitt, contradict him, and oppose his measures, the Duke of Bedford, though without employment, was, by the king's command, summoned to attend its meetings. The Duke was indifferent to office, and incapable of guile; as bold and as open as Pitt, and more regardless of consequences. Halifax, who had so long been trained at the Board of Trade to the assertion of the prerogative, was sent as Lord Lieutenant to carry out the system in Ireland; while the patronage and chief correspondence with the American colonies were taken from the Board of Trade, and restored to the Southern Department.

These changes in the cabinet hastened the period of conflict with the colonies; the course of negotiations for peace between England and France was still more momentous for America.

‘Since we do not know how to make war,’ said Choiseul, ‘we must make peace.’ Choiseul had succeeded Bernis, as the minister of foreign affairs; in January, 1761, had, on the death of Belle-Isle, [393] become minister of war, and soon annexed to these

chap. XVII.} 1761. March
departments the care of the marine. ‘It is certain,’ said Grimaldi, the Spanish ambassador at Paris, ‘they ardently wish for a negotiation for peace here.’ Kaunitz, of Austria, who might well believe that Silesia was about to be recovered for his sovereign, interposed objections. ‘We have these three years,’ answered Choiseul, ‘been sacrificing our interests in America to serve the queen of Hungary; we can do it no longer.’ ‘France will not be bound by the will of her allies.’18Spain saw with alarm the disposition for peace; she had demanded the evacuation of the British posts in the Bay of Honduras, and on the shore of Campeachy; and in the pride of maritime ascendency, England, violating treaties and its own recognition of its obligations, required that Spain should first come into stipulations for the continuance of the trade which had occasioned the intrusive settlements. Unwilling to be left to negotiate alone, Grimaldi, urging the utmost secrecy, ‘began working to see if he could make some protecting alliance with France.’ ‘You have waited,’ he was answered, ‘till we are destroyed, and you are consequently of no use.’ And on the twenty-fifth day of March, within five days of Bute's accession to the cabinet, on occasion of proposing a general congress at Augsburg, for the pacification of the Continent, Choiseul offered to negotiate separately with England. Pitt assented. Little
did the two great statesmen foresee that their attempts at a treaty of peace would only generate permanent passions and alliances, which would leave [394] England without a friend in its coming contest with
chap. XVII.} 1761. April.

Choiseul was, like Pitt, a statesman of consummate ability; but while Pitt overawed by the authoritative grandeur of his designs, the lively and indiscreet Choiseul had the genius of intrigue. He was by nature an agitator, and carried into the cabinet restless activity and the arts of cabal. Pitt treated all subjects with stateliness; Choiseul discussed the most weighty in jest. Of high rank and great wealth, he was the first person at court, and virtually the sole minister. Did the king's mistress, who had ruled his predecessor, interfere with affairs? He would reply, that she was handsome as an angel, but throw her memorial into the fire; and with railleries and sarcasms, he maintained his exclusive power by a clear superiority of spirit and resolution.19 For personal intrepidity he was distinguished even among the French gentry, so remarkable for courage; and as he carried the cabinet by his decided character, so he brought into the foreign politics of his country as daring a mind as animated any man in France or England. It was the judgment of Pitt, that he was the greatest minister France had seen since the days of Richelieu. In depth, refinement, and quick perceptions, he had no superior; and his freedom from prejudice opened his mind and affections to the philosophic movement of his age. No motive of bigotry or antipathy could lead him to crush the power of Frederic, or to subject France to the influence of a state still overshadowed, like Austria, by the cumbrous forms and superstitions of the Middle Age. To [395] the Dauphin, who cherished the traditions of the past,

chap. XVII.} 1761. April.
he said, ‘I may one day be your subject, your servant never.’ A free-thinker, an enemy to the clergy, and above all to the Jesuits, he united himself closely with the parliaments, and seemed to know that public opinion was beginning to outweigh that of the monarch. Perceiving that America was lost to France, he proposed, as the basis of the treaty, that ‘the two crowns should remain each in the possession of what it had conquered from the other;’ and while he named epochs from which possession was to date in every continent, he was willing that England itself should suggest other periods. On this footing, which left all Canada, Senegal, perhaps Goree also, and the ascendency in the East Indies to England, and to France nothing but Minorca to exchange for her losses in the West Indies, all Paris believed peace to be certain. George the Third wished it from his heart; and though Fuentes, the Spanish ambassador at London, irritated by the haughtiness of Pitt, breathed nothing but war, though the king of Spain proposed to France an alliance offensive and defensive, Choiseul, consulting the well-being of his exhausted country, sincerely desired repose.

But the hardy and unaccommodating nature of Pitt, inflamed by success, was unfit for the work of reconciliation. He expected, and had led his countrymen to expect, that the marked superiority of England would be imprinted on the treaty of peace. He accepted as the basis, that each nation should retain its acquisitions; but delayed the settlement of the epochs, till the fleet of one hundred and fifteen vessels, which had sailed on the very day of his answer to the proposition of Choiseul, could make the [396] conquest of the island of Belle-Isle. This is the

chap. XVII.} 1761. April.
great stain on the fame of William Pitt. Every object of the war had been accomplished; but he insisted on its continuance for the purpose of making more extended acquisitions. England may forgive a lofty and impassioned attachment to her greatness: impartial history awards the palm to the tempered ambition of the young sovereign, who desired the purer glory of arresting victory by a reasonable peace.

‘There may be quarrelling yet,’ predicted Grimaldi. To further the negotiations, Bussy repaired

to London, furnished with authority to offer bribes to members of the English cabinet;20 and the circumspect, distrustful Hans Stanley, who dared only reflect the will of his employer, made his way to Paris. But the frank haughtiness and inflexibility of Pitt were apparent from the beginning; and Choiseul, deluding himself no more with belief in peace, employed the remaining years of his ministry to unite around France the defenders of the freedom of the seas.

Still the negotiation continued, and subjects of

detail were brought into discussion. Here the greatness of Pitt appeared, in his quickness of perception, his comprehensiveness, and sagacity; in the energy of his nervous, imperative dialectics, resting on exact information, and throwing light on the most abstruse questions. Concede that a continuance of the war was no crime against humanity, and the courage, sagacity, and prudent preparations of Pitt must extort admiration. [397]

With regard to the German war, France proposed

chap. XVII.} 1761. June.
that England, on recovering Hanover, should refrain from interference. In favor of this policy a large party existed in England itself, and had its head in the king, its open supporter in the Duke of Bedford. The king of Prussia, whose chances of ruin, even with the aid of England, were computed as three to one, knew that George the Third was indifferent to his interests and disliked his character; and his ministers had reported that Bute and the British king would advise him to make peace by the sacrifice of territory. ‘How is it possible,’ such were the words addressed by Frederic21 to Pitt,

how can the English nation propose to me to make cessions to my enemies; that nation which has guarantied my possessions by authentic acts, known to the whole world? I have not always been successful; and what man in the universe can dispose of fortune? Yet, in spite of the number of my enemies, I am still in possession of a part of Saxony, and I am firmly resolved never to yield it but on condition that the Austrians, the Russians, and the French shall restore to me every thing that they have taken from me.

I govern myself by two principles: the one is honor, and the other the interest of the State which Heaven has given me to rule. The laws which these principles prescribe to me are, first, never to do an act for which I should have cause to blush, if I were to render an account of it to my people; and the second, to sacrifice for the welfare and glory of my country the last drop of my blood. With these maxims I can never yield to my enemies. Rome, [398] after the battle of Cannae,—your great Queen Eliza-

chap. XVII.} 1761. June.
beth, against Philip the Second and the invincible armada,—Gustavus Vasa, who restored Sweden,—the Prince of Orange, whose magnanimity, valor, and perseverance founded the republic of the United Provinces,—these are the models I follow. You, who have grandeur and elevation of soul, disapprove my choice, if you can,

All Europe turns its eye on the beginning of the reign of kings, and by the first fruits infers the future. The king of England has but to elect, whether, in negotiating peace, he will think only of his own kingdom, or, preserving his word and his glory, he will also have care for the welfare of his allies. If he chooses the latter course, I shall owe him a lively gratitude; and posterity, which judges kings, will crown him with benedictions.

‘Would to God,’ replied Pitt, ‘that the moments of anxiety for the states and the safety of the most invincible of monarchs were entirely passed, away;’ and Stanley, in his first interview with Choiseul, avowed the purpose of England to support its great ally ‘with efficacy and good faith.’ But France had no motive to ruin Prussia; a just regard for whose interests would have been no insurmountable obstacle to the peace.

When France expressed a hope of recovering Canada, as a compensation for her German conquests, ‘They must not be put in the scale,’ said Pitt to Bussy. ‘The members of the Empire and your own allies will never allow you to hold one inch of ground in Germany. The whole fruit of your expeditions, after the immense waste of treasure and men, will be to make the house of Austria more powerful.’ ‘I [399] wonder,’ said Choiseul to Stanley, ‘that your great

chap. XVII.} 1761. June.
Pitt should be so attached to the acquisition of Canada. The inferiority of its population will never suffer it to be dangerous; and being in the hands of France, it will always be of service to you to keep your colonies in that dependence which they will not fail to stake off, the moment Canada shall be ceded.’22 And he readily consented to abandon that province to England.

The restitution of the merchant-ships, which the English cruisers had seized before the war, was justly demanded. They were afloat on the ocean, under every guaranty of safety; they were the property of private citizens, who knew nothing and could know nothing of the diplomatic disputes of the two countries. The capture was unjustifiable by every reason of equity and public law. ‘The cannon,’ said Pitt, ‘has settled the question in our favor; and in the absence of a tribunal, this decision is a sentence.’ ‘The last cannon has not yet been fired,’ retorted Bussy; and destiny showed in the shadowy distance still other desperate wars between the nations for dominion and for equality on the seas.

France desired to escape from the humiliating condition of demolishing the harbor of Dunkirk. ‘Since England has acquired the dominion of the seas,’ said Pitt to Bussy, ‘I myself fear Dunkirk but little; but the people regard its demolition as an eternal monument of the yoke imposed on France.’23

Choiseul was ready to admit concessions with regard to Dunkirk, if France could retain a harbor in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, with the freedom of the [400] fisheries. Without these, he would himself decline

chap. XVII.} 1761. June.
further negotiation. In those days, maritime power was thought to depend on the encouragement of the fisheries; and to renounce them seemed like renouncing the power of manning a navy. Pitt refused the fisheries altogether. The union of France with Spain was the necessary consequence, and was promoted by the reduction of Belle-Isle. ‘You have effectually roused France in every part of it,’ wrote Keppel, in June, just after that success; ‘they feel themselves so hurt and dishonored, that they will risk their ships and every thing to wipe it off.’24 Towards such efforts Pitt looked in the proud serenity of conscious strength; and yet it was observed that he was becoming sombre and anxious;25 for his own king had prepared for him opposition in the cabinet.

‘The peace which is offered,’ said Granville, the

Lord President, ‘is more advantageous to England than any ever concluded with France, since King Henry the Fifth's time.’ ‘I pray to God,’ said Bedford to Bute, in July, ‘his majesty may avail himself of this opportunity of excelling in glory and magnanimity the most famous of his predecessors, by giving his people a reasonable and lasting peace.’ Did any argue that efforts could be made during the summer from Belle-Isle? Bedford expected nothing, but ‘possibly the taking another island, or burning a few more miserable villages on the continent.’26 Did Pitt say, ‘Before December, I will take Martinico?’ ‘Will that,’ rejoined Bedford, ‘be the means of obtaining a better peace than we can command at [401] present, or induce the French to relinquish a right of
chap. XVII.} 1761. July.
fishery?’ ‘Indeed,’ he pursued, with good judgment and good feeling,

the endeavoring to drive France entirely out of any naval power is fighting against nature, and can tend to no one good to this country; but, on the contrary, must excite all the naval powers in Europe to enter into a confederacy against us, as adopting a system of a monopoly of all naval power, dangerous to the liberties of Europe. . . .

. .In case it shall be decided to carry on the war for another campaign, I,

he added, ‘wash my hands from all the guilt of the blood that may be shed.’

At the king's special request, Bedford attended the cabinet council of the twentieth of July, to discuss the conditions of peace. All the rest who were present cowered before Pitt, in dread lest he should frown. Bedford ‘was the single man who dared to deliver an opinion contrary to his, though agreeable to every other person's sentiments.’27 ‘I,’ said Newcastle, ‘envy him that spirit more than his great fortune and abilities.’ But the union between France and Spain was already so far consummated, that, in connection with the French memorial, Bussy had on the fifteenth of July presented a note, requiring England to afford no succour to the king of Prussia, and a private paper, demanding, on behalf of Spain, indemnity for seizures, the right to fish at Newfoundland, and the demolition of the English settlements in the Bay of Honduras. ‘These differences, if not adjusted, gave room,’ it was said, ‘to fear a fresh war in Europe and America.’ [402]

This note and this memorial, containing the men-

chap. XVII.} 1761. July.
ace of a Spanish war, gave Pitt the ascendency. To the private intercession of the king he yielded but a little, and in appearance only, on the subject of the fishery. ‘I was overruled,’ said he afterwards, ‘I was overruled, not by the foreign enemy, but by another enemy;’ and at the next council he presented his reply to France, not for deliberation, but acceptance. Bute dared not express dissent, and as Bedford disavowed all responsibility and retired with indignant surprise, Pitt, with the unanimous consent of the cabinet, returned the memorials relative to Prussia and to Spanish affairs as wholly inadmissible; declaring that the king ‘would not suffer the disputes with Spain to be blended in any manner whatever in the negotiations of peace between the two nations.’

On the twenty-ninth of July, Stanley, bearing the ultimatum of England, demanded Canada; the fisheries, with a limited and valueless concession to the French, and that only on the humiliating condition of reducing Dunkirk; half the neutral islands, especially St. Lucia and Tobago; Senegal and Goree, that is, a monopoly of the slave-trade; Minorca; freedom to assist the king of-Prussia; and British ascendency in the East Indies. The ministers of Spain and Austria could not conceal their exultation.

‘My honor,’ replied Choiseul to the English envoy,
will be the same fifty years hence as now; I am as indifferent to my place as Pitt can be; I admit with out the least reserve the king's propensity to peace, his Majesty may sign such a treaty as England demands, but my hand shall never be to that deed. Thackeray's Life of Chatham, II. 580.

[403] And claiming the right to interfere in Spanish affairs,
chap. XVII.} 1761. Aug.
with the approbation of Spain, he submitted modifications of the British offer. He still desired peace;28 but he already was convinced that Pitt would never agree to a reasonable treaty, and his only hope was in delay.

Thus far Pitt had encountered in the cabinet no avowed opposition except from Bedford. On this point the king and his friends made a rally,29 and the answer to the French ultimatum, peremptorily rejecting it and making the appeal to ‘arms,’30 was adopted in the cabinet by a majority of but one voice. ‘Why,’ asked George, as he read it, ‘why were not words chosen in which all might have concurred?’ and his agitation was such as he had never before shown.31 The friends of Bedford mourned over the continuance of the war, and the danger of its involving Spain. ‘Pitt,’ said they, ‘does govern, not in the cabinet council only, but in the opinions of the people.’ Rigby forgot his country so far as to wish ill success to its arms;32 but with the multitude, the thirst for conquest was the madness of the times. Men applauded a war which was continued for no definite purpose whatever.

But on the fifteenth of August, the very day on which Pitt despatched his abrupt declaration, Choiseul concluded that Family Compact33 which was designed to unite all the branches of the House of Bourbon as a counterpoise to the maritime ascendency of England. [404] From the period of the termination of existing

chap. XVII.} 1761. Aug.
hostilities, France and Spain, in the whole extent of their dominions, were to stand towards foreign powers as one state. A war begun against one of the two crowns was to become the personal and proper war of the other. No peace should be made but in common. In war and in peace, each should regard the interests of his ally as his own; should reciprocally share benefits and losses, and make each other corresponding compensations. This is the famous treaty which secured to America in advance aid from the superstitious, kind-hearted, and equitable Charles the Third of Spain. For that monarchy, which was the weaker power and more nearly insulated, having fewer points for collision in Europe and every thing at hazard in America, the compact was altogether unwise. We shall see presently, that, as its only great result in the history of the world, it placed the fleets of the European sovereign whose power was the most absolute, whose colonies were the most extended, on the side of a confederacy of republican insurgents in their struggle for independence.

On the same fifteenth of August, and not without the knowledge of Pitt, France and Spain concluded a special convention,34 by which Spain herself engaged [405] to declare war against England, unless contrary to

chap. XVII.} 1761. Aug.
all expectation, peace should be concluded between France and England before the first day of May, 1762. Extending his eye to all the states interested in the rights of neutral flags, to Portugal, Savoy, Holland, and Denmark, Choiseul covenanted with Spain that Portugal should be compelled, and the others invited, to join the federative union ‘for the common advantage of all maritime powers.’35

Yet, still anxious for peace, and certain either to

secure it or to place the sympathy of all Europe on the side of France, Choiseul resolved on a last ‘most ultimate’ attempt at reconciliation by abundant concessions; and on the thirteenth day of September, just five days after the youthful sovereign of England had taken as his consort the blue-eyed, considerate, but not very lovely German princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz,—a girl of seventeen, who became well known as the parsimonious and correct Queen Charlotte,—Bussy presented the final propositions of France. By Pitt, who was accurately acquainted with the special convention between France [406] and Spain, they were received with disdainful indif-
chap. XVII.} 1761. Sept.
ference. A smile of irony, and a few broken words, were his only answer; and when the negotiation was broken off, Pitt said plainly, that his own demands throughout had been made in earnest. ‘If I had been the master,’ he added, ‘I should not have gone so far; the propositions which France finds too severe, would have appeared too favorable to a great part of the English nation.’36

A war with Spain could no longer be avoided by England. To the proposal for ‘the regulation of the privilege of cutting logwood by the subjects of Great Britain,’ the Catholic King replied through Wall, his minister, by a despatch which reached England on the thirteenth of September. ‘The evacuation of the logwood establishments is offered, if his Catholic Majesty will assure to the English the logwood! He who avows that he has entered another man's house to seize his jewels says, I will go out of your house, if you will first give me what I am come to seize.’ Pitt's anger was inflamed at the comparison of England with house-breakers and robbers; and his vehement will became ‘more overbearing and impracticable’ than ever. He exulted in the prospect of benefits to be derived to his country, and glory to be acquired for his own name, in every zone and throughout the globe. With one hand he prepared to ‘smite the whole family of Bourbons, and wield in the other the democracy of England.’37 His eye penetrated futurity; the vastest schemes flashed before his mind,—to change the destinies of continents, and mould the fortunes of the world. He resolved to seize the remaining [407] French islands, especially Martinico; and to con-

chap. XVII.} 1761. Sept.
quer Havana. ‘You must take Panama,’38 he exclaimed, to a general officer. The Philippine islands were next to fall; and the Spanish monopoly in the New World to be broken at one blow and for ever by a ‘general resignation of all Spanish America, in all matters which might be deemed beneficial to Great Britain.’

But humanity had reserved to itself a different mode of extricating Spanish America from colonial monopoly. On the eighteenth day of September, Pitt, joined only by his brother-in-law, the Earl of Temple, submitted to the cabinet his written advice to recall Lord Bristol, the British ambassador, from Madrid. At three several meetings, the question was discussed. ‘From prudence, as well as spirit,’ affirmed the secretary, ‘we ought to secure to ourselves the first blow. If any war can provide its own resources, it must be a war with Spain. Their flota has not arrived; the taking it disables their hands and strengthens ours.’ Bute, speaking the opinion of the king, was the first to oppose the project as rash and ill-advised; Granville wished not to be precipitate; Temple supported Pitt; Newcastle was neuter. During these discussions, all classes of the people of England were gazing at the pageant of the coronation, or relating to each other how the king, kneeling before the altar in Westminster Abbey, with piety formal but sincere, reverently put off his crown, as he received the sacrament from the archbishop. A second meeting of the cabinet was attended by all the ministers; they heard Pitt explain correctly the private [408] convention by which Spain had bound itself to declare

chap. XVII.} 1761.
war against Great Britain in the following May, but they came to no decision. At a third meeting all the great Whig lords objected, having combined with the favorite to drive the great representative of the people from power. Newcastle and Hardwicke, Devonshire and Bedford, even Ligonier and Anson, as well as Bute and Mansfield, assisted in his defeat. Pitt, with his brother-in-law Temple, stood alone. Stung by the opposition of the united oligarchy, Pitt remembered how he made his way into the cabinet, and what objects he had steadily pursued. ‘This’—he exclaimed to his colleagues, summoning up all his haughtiness as he bade defiance to the aristocracy and appealed from them to the country which his inspiring influence had rescued from disgrace,—‘This is the moment for humbling the whole House of Bourbon; if I cannot in this instance prevail, this shall be the last time I will sit in this council. Called to the ministry by the voice of the people, to whom I conceive myself accountable for my conduct, I will not remain in a situation which makes me responsible for measures I am no longer allowed to guide.’ ‘If the right honorable gentleman,’ replied Granville, ‘be resolved to assume the right of directing the operations of the war, to what purpose are we called to this council? When he talks of being responsible to the people, he talks the language of the House of Commons, and forgets that at this board he is responsible only to the king.’39

The Duke of Newcastle was never seen in higher [409] spirits,40 than on this occasion. His experienced hand41

chap XVII.} 1761
had been able to mould and direct events so as to thwart the policy of Pitt by the concerted junction of Bute and all the great Whig Lords. The minister attributed his defeat not so much to the king and Bute as to Newcastle and Bedford; yet the king was himself a partner in the conspiracy; and as he rejected the written advice that Pitt and Temple had given him, the man ‘whose42 august presence overawed majesty,’ resolved to resign.

On Monday, the fifth day of October, William Pitt, now venerable from years and glory, the greatest minister of his century, one of the few very great men of his age, among orators the only peer of Demosthenes, the man without title or fortune, who, finding England in an abyss of weakness and disgrace, conquered Canada and the Ohio valley and Guadaloupe, and sustained Prussia from annihilation, humbled France, gained the dominion of the seas, won supremacy in Hindostan, and at home vanquished faction, stood in the presence of George to resign his power. It was a moment to test the self-possession and manly vigor of the young and inexperienced king. He received the seals with ease and firmness, without requesting that Pitt should resume his office; yet he manifested concern for the loss of so valuable a minister, approved his past services, and made him an unlimited offer of rewards. At the same time, he expressed himself satisfied with the opinion of the majority of his council, and declared he should have found himself under the greatest difficulty how to [410] have acted, had that council concurred as fully in

chap. XVII.} 1762. Oct.
supporting the measure proposed, as they had done in rejecting it. The Great Commoner began to reply; but the anxious and never ceasing application, which his post as the leading minister had required, combined with repeated and nearly fatal attacks of hereditary disease, had completely shattered his constitution, and his nervous system was becoming tremulous and enfeebled. ‘I confess, Sir,’ said he, ‘I had but too much reason to expect your Majesty's displeasure. I did not come prepared for this exceeding goodness; pardon me, Sir, it overpowers me, it oppresses me;’ and the man who by his words and his spirit had restored his country's affairs, and lifted it to unprecedented power and honor, to extended dominion and proud self-reliance, burst into tears.43 On the next day, the king seemed impatient to bestow some mark of favor; and as Canada had been acquired by the ability and firmness of his minister, he offered him that government, with a salary of five thousand pounds. But Pitt, whose proud hardihood never blenched in the presence of an adversary, had a heart that overflowed with fond affection for his wife and children. The state of his private affairs was distressed in consequence of the exemplary disinterestedness of his public conduct. ‘I should be doubly happy,’ he avowed, ‘could I see those dearer to me than myself comprehended in that monument of royal approbation and goodness.’ A peerage, therefore, was conferred on lady Hester, his wife, with a grant of three thousand pounds on the plantation duties, to be paid annually during the lives of herself, her husband and [411] her eldest son. And these marks of the royal appro-
chap. XVII.} 1761. Oct.
bation, very moderate in comparison with his merits, if indeed those merits had not placed him above all rewards, were accepted ‘with veneration and gratitude.’ Thus he retired, having destroyed the balance of the European colonial system by the ascendency of England, confirmed the implacable hostility of France and Spain to his country, and impaired his own-popularity by accepting a pension and surrendering his family as hostages to the aristocracy.

1 Walpole's George III. i. 6.

2 Burke, Thoughts on the cause of the present Discontents. Works i. 362.

3 Newcastle himself gives the account of all this. ‘I made suitable returns.’

4 William Pitt to Nuthall, 10 Dec., 1765. Chat. Corr. II. 349. It was not known how literally true was the accusation of Pitt, till the publication of Newcastle's letter to Hardwicke, 26 Oct., 1760, con containing his own account of his interview with the king.

5 Harris's Hardwicke, III. 215.

6 Walpole's Memoirs of George III., i. 10.

7 Newcastle to Hardwicke.

8 Adolphus: Hist. of England, i. 11.

9 Walpole's Memoirs of the Reign of King George III., i. 8, and Sir Denis Le Marchant's Note.

10 Seeker to Johnson, 4 Nov., in Chandler's Life of Johnson, 182.

11 Burke: Thoughts on the Cause of the present Discontent.

12 Holdernesse to Mitchell.

13 Lord Barrington to Sir Andrew Mitchell, 5 Jan., 1761, in the British Museum.

14 Penn to Hamilton.

15 Nicholls's Recollections.

16 Burke: Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontent. Works, i. 358.

17 That Jenkinson was recommended by the king to Bute, and not, as is sometimes said, introduced by Bute to the king, I have received from private information of the highest authority.

18 Flassan: VI. 377, 381. Grimaldi to Fuentes in Chatham Correspondence, II. 92.

19 Stanley to Pitt.

20 Flassan: Hist. de la Diplomatie Francaise, VI. 399.

21 Chatham Corr., II. 109, 111, without date.

22 Second Thoughts, or Observations upon Lord Abingdon's Thoughts.

23 Flassan, VI. 403, 405.

24 Keppel to Pitt, 18 June, 1761.

25 Flassan, VI. 406.

26 Wiffen's House of Russell, II. 468, 469, 470, 471.

27 Rigby in Wiffen, II. 472. See also Bedford Corr.

28 Bussy to Pitt, 5 Aug., 1761.

29 Wiffen's Russell, II. 473.

30 Pitt to Bussy, 15 Aug., 1761.

31 Bute to Pitt, 14 Aug., 1761.

32 Rigby 27 Aug. in Wiffen, II. 473.

33 Martens: Receuil, VI. 69.

34 Of this special convention Pitt was correctly informed. He knew, also, that the court of Spain wanted to gain time, till the fleet should arrive at Cadiz. Compare the letters of Grimaldi to Fuentes, of August 31, and September 13, in Chatham Correspondence, II. 139-144, and the private note of Stanley to Pitt, of September 2.

The existence of this special convention, so well known to Pitt, and so decisive of his policy, appears to have escaped the notice of British historians, with the exception of Lord Mahon. In the edition of Adolphus's History of England published in 1840, that writer assumes that Pitt was misinformed, and hazards the conjecture, that ‘the communication made to Mr. Stanley was a refined piece of finesse in the French ministry.’—Adolphus, i. 46, note. Yet, in the second edition of Flassan's Histoire de la Diplomatie Francaise, VI. 322-326, an abstract of the convention itself may be found. I endeavored to obtain from the French archives an authentic copy of the whole paper; but was informed that the document had been misplaced or lost. The allusion of Grimaldi, in his letter of September 13, ‘to the stipulations of the treaty between the two courts,’ is also to the special convention; though the editors of the Correspondence of the Earl of Chatham, in their comment on the passage, refer it to the Family Compact.

The accurate knowledge of this transaction is essential to a vindication of the course pursued by Pitt towards Spain. He did not insist on war with that power, till he had evidence in his possession, that Spain had already made itself a party to the war by a ratified treaty with France. The advice of Pitt on this occasion was alike wise and just. The error comes from confounding the Special Convention, regulating the conditions on which an immediate war was to be conducted, with the General Treaty of alliance between the princes of the House of Bourbon. The last was no ground for war; the first was war itself.

35 Article VI: and VII. of the Special Convention. Flassan, VI. 322, 323.

36 Flassen, VI 445.

37 Grattan's Character of Pitt.

38 Chatham Anecdotes, i. 366. Choiseul in his later Correspondence says he was aware of Pitt's Plans.

39 Annual Register, IV. 42. Hist. Minority. Walpole's George III, IV. 144. Adolphus, i. 44.

40 Sir George Colebrooke's Memoirs in a note to Walpole's Geo. III., i. 82.

41 Pitt to Nuthall, in Chatham Corr. II. 345.

42 Grattan's Character of Pitt.

43 Annual Register for 1761.—The Grenville Papers, I. 413.

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