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there, when the new whig ministry assumed office. Scarcely of maintaining the royal authority, and even that might had arrived the new whig lord-lieutenant, the duke of not always avert danger. Such corruptions, to an Portland, a heavy half-Dutchman, of no talent or activity, enormous extent, and such further dangers, did afterwards but having the necessary whig qualification for high office, arise, as was foreseen ; but the case with the present that of high revolutionary family. With him went colonel ministry was one of simple necessity. England had comRichard Fitzpatrick, a much abler man, and a friend of mitted the great error of refusing all concession to demanded Fox.
rights in the case of America, and now lay apparently Grattan had given notice that on the 16th of April he exhausted by the fight to compel submission, and with all would move for the utter repeal of the acts destructive of Europe in arms against her. Ireland, aware of this, was in the independent legislative rights of Ireland. Colonel arms, and determined to profit by the crisis. Neither Fitzpatrick immediately waited on lord Charlemont, and Ireland nor England was prepared for that union which eatreated him to induce Grattan, under the circumstances, took place years afterwards, and which was not effected to postpone his motion. Grattan, though ill at the time, without arduous labour and great pecuniary cost ; to resist would not listen to the request. On the appointed day, the present demand might cause the Irish agitators to look the house of commons having been expressly summoned by abroad ; and France, Holland, and Spain would have only the speaker, Grattan rose, and, assuming the question been too happy to have responded to an appeal from Ireland already as carried, began, “I am now to address a free to aid her in assuming independence. The least evil was to people. Ages have passed away, and this is the first put all such contingencies to flight by at once conceding the moment in which you could be distinguished by that Irish demands. Fox, therefore, on the 17th of May, anappellation. I have found Ireland on her knees; I have nounced the intention of ministers at once to acknowledge watched over her with an eternal solicitude; I have traced the independence of Ireland by repealing the act of the 6th her progress from injury to arms, from arms to liberty. of George I. Fox, in his speech, declared that it was far better Spirit of Swift! spirit of Molyneux! your genius has pre- to have the Irish willing subjects to the crown than bitter vailed! Ireland is now a nation. In that new character I enemies. The bill repealing the 6th of George I. accordingly hail her, and, bowing to her august presence, I say, Esto passed both houses as a matter of course, and the effect upon PERPETUA!” The speech was received with thunders of Ireland was such, that in the first ebullition of the national applause. It concluded with an address to the crown, declar-joy the Irish house of Commons voted one hundred thousand ing in the plainest, boldest language, that no body of men, pounds to raise twenty thousand seamen-a most timely except the Irish parliament, had a right to make laws by grant; for the marquis of Rockingham wrote to the duke of which that nation could be bound. The address was carried Portland that government had ten ships-of-the-line with by acclamation; it was carried with nearly equal enthusiasm scarcely a man to put into them! The Irish commons, by the lords, and then both houses adjourned to await the moreover, offered to grant Grattan, for his patriotic and decision of the English parliament and ministry.
successful exertions in this cause, a similar sum, to purchase This was a serious position of affairs for the consideration him an estate. Grattan—though a poor man, his income of the new whig ministry. They were called on to declare, at that time scarcely exceeding five hundred pounds a-year either that Ireland was part of the empire, and subject to —disinterestedly refused such a sum, and was only with the same laws, as regarded the empire, as Great Britain, or difficulty induced ultimately to accept half of it. that it was distinctly a separate empire under the same. There were not wanting, however, those who strove to king, just as Hanover was. The ministry of Rockingham disturb the joy of Ireland, and the peace of England thus have been severely blamed by one political party, and highly acquired, by sowing suspicions of the sincerity of England, lauded by another, for conceding the claims of Ireland on and representing that the independence granted was that head so readily; for they came to the conclusion to spurious rather than real. Amongst these, Flood, the rival yield them fully. They were by no means blind to the of Grattan in political and parliamentary life, took the lead. difficulties of the case, and to the evils that might arise He seized on every little circumstance to create doubts of from a decision either way. By conceding the entire inde- the English, carrying out the concession faithfully. He pendence of Ireland of our parliament and courts of law, seized on an imprudent motion of the earl of Abingdon, in they saw that there was but one individual that linked the peers, and still more vivaciously on the decision of an that country to Great Britain-and that was the king. appeal from Ireland, in the court of King's Bench, by lord Supposing Ireland should, some day, go a step further, and Mansfield. The case had remained over, and it was deemed repudiate the sovereign, adopting the older dynasty, and impracticable to send it back to Ireland, though nearly the British parliament declined to furnish him troops for finished before the act of repeal. Fox explained the case, the recovery of his crown, Ireland would be lost to the and made the most explicit declaration of the “ full, comempire altogether. Even whilst remaining attached by this plete, absolute, and perpetual surrender of the British single link, what influence was to maintain the royal power legislative and judicial supremacy over Ireland.” But the there in times of high discontent? To make Ireland move suspicions had been too adroitly infused to be removed in cordial union with England, there might possibly require without a fresh and still more positive act, which was passed more than simple justice under certain circumstances of in the next session. temptations from without, or factious agitation within. In The claims of Ireland appearing, for the moment, to be that case, there would, in all probability, arise great cor- happily satisfied, ministers now proceeded to carry out those ruption in the delegated government there, as the means reforms for which they had loudly called during the many
years that they had been in opposition. They adopted and as the organ of these cabinet ministers than as the indepenintroduced the bills of Sir Philip Jennings Clarke and Mr. dent framer of his own bill. Carew for excluding contractors from the house of commons, The duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster and the princiand revenue officers from voting at elections. The bill pality of Wales were at once cut out of his scheme of against the contractors passed the commons with little reform. That of supplying the royal household by contract opposition ; but the ministers immediately felt the mischief was abandoned; the ordnance office, in the hands of the of allowing lord Thurlow to retain his place of chancellor. duke of Richmond, was not to be touched, nor the treasurer He opposed the measure vehemently, and divided the house of the household's office; and some other of the royal upon it. Lord Mansfield gave it his cordial resistance, and establishments, which were mere sinecures, were left, the the new lord Ashburton, though made so by the present Mint, &c. But he succeeded in lopping off the third secreadministration, tacked to it a clause exempting all gentle tary of state, which had been created for the American men who merely contracted for the produce of their estates. colonies, and was useless now they were virtually gone; the The clause, however, was lopped away again on the return lords of trade and plantations; the lords of police in Scotof the bill to the commons, and the act passed without it. land; the principal officers of the great wardrobe, jewel
The bill for disqualifying revenue officers was opposed with office, treasurer of the chamber, cofferer of the household, equal pertinacity by Thurlow and Mansfield ; though lord six clerks of the board of green cloth-in all, about a dozen Rockingham stated that the elections in seventy boroughs useless offices were swept away, and Burke shed tears of joy depended chiefly on revenue officers, and that nearly at such a sweeping out of the dens of corruption. It was, twelve thousand of such officers created by the late ministry indeed, something to have made such an inroad into these had votes in other places. The bill passed, after exempting tabooed regions of royal waste and aristocratic plunder, yet all officers who held their posts for life, and therefore were what a falling off from Burke's long-vaunted demands ! charitably supposed to be beyond the reach of undue in- Instead of the saving of two hundred thousand pounds afluence, as if no such thing as promotion had its effect. year, which he proposed in 1779, he now effected only a
At this favourable crisis, Wilkes seized the opportunity to saving of about seventy-two thousand pounds. move that the resolution of 1769, annulling his election for The pension list was vigorously revised. No pension was Middlesex, and all the subsequent proceedings founded upon to exceed three hundred a-year, and not more than six it, should be expunged from the journals of the house, and hundred was to be granted in pensions in any one year; the he succeeded ; but Charles Fox incurred the inextinguishable names of the persons to whom they were granted to be resentment of Wilkes by opposing the motion, on the laid before parliament in twenty days after the beginning of ground that the house ought to possess the privilege of each session, until the amount in the pension list should expelling such members as it deemed unworthy of a seat. reach ninety thousand pounds. The secret service money Byng, the other member for Middlesex, seconded Wilkes, was, at the same time, limited ; and a solemn oath was to and lord North as firmly opposed him, but the motion was be administered to the secretaries of state regarding its carried by one hundred and fifteen votes against forty- proper employment. It may be imagined what were the seven.
consternation and the disgust of the large class which had On the 15th of April a message was sent down to both houses been revelling on these misappropriated funds of the nation. from the king, in conformity to his pledge to the new ministry, Burke, in a letter, describes feelingly the gauntlet he had with regard to Mr. Burke's plan of economical reform, which to run in proceeding with his reform. " I was loaded," he it proposed should be a measure of effectual retrenchment, says, “with hatred for everything withheld, and with and to include his majesty's own civil list. Lord Shelburne, obloquy for everything given." What, however, brought in communicating it to the lords, moved an address of unjust odium on him, but just reproach on the cabinet, was, thanks, assuring the house that this was no mere ministerial that lord Rockingham made haste, before the bill was passed, message, but was the genuine language of the king himself, to grant enormous pensions to his supporters and colleagues, proceeding from the heart. Burke, in the commons, used lord Ashburton and colonel Barré. This latter ardent more exuberant terms of eulogy, declaring that "it was the patriot, who, whilst Burke's bill was in consideration, said best of messages to the best of people from the best of it did not go far enough in reform, now willingly pocketed kings !” Early in May he moved for leave to bring in three thousand two hundred pounds a-year, as a pension, his bill on the subject, and then most of the promised beside the salary of his office! Such were the men with wonders of reform and retrenchment vanished. It was but whom Burke had to act in the business of reform, and we another example of the marvellous effect of office in shrink- shall soon see that, in matters of parliamentary reform, they ing up the brave demands of patriots in opposition. Num- were still worse. In the house of lords, Thurlow again bers of those things which Burke had for years denounced attacked the bill, supported by lords Mansfield and Loughas monstrous, nowhere appeared in the scheme of curtail-borough ; but it passed, and Burke immediately gave an inent. “ He found," says his own biographer, “what most illustrious proof of his disinterestedness, by bringing in a reformers in time discover, that it is easier to propose public bill for regulating and reducing the enormous emoluments of corrections when out of office, than to carry them into effect his own office, the paymastership of the forces. This was a when in." It may be some palliation for this falling off, brilliant contrast to the conduct of Henry Fox, first lord that Burke, by his whig colleagues, had been carefully Holland, Charles Fox's father, who held it snugly and excluded from the cabinet, as only a man of genius and pertinaciously for a long term of years, making the best of not of family; and therefore was compelled rather to act lit and its opportunities for amassing money. Burke, on
the other hand, the poorest man that ever held that office, by twenty votes. Burke and Townshend had been perrelentlessly cut it down, and then proceeded to give up the suaded to absent themselves; but, on the subject soon after profits on clothing the pensioners, as treasurer of Chelsea being incidentally introduced when Burke happened to be Hospital, amounting to seven hundred a-year, and, by a present, he sprang up, and attacked Pitt with a scream of pasnew contract, saved to the country six hundred a-year. sion, “swearing,” according to a letter of Sheridan, “that Amid all the abuse which had been poured on the later parliament was, and always had been, what it ought to be, conduct of Burke, these are instances of patriotism rare and that all people who wanted to reform it sought to indeed in those who can better afford them. In addition to overturn the constitution." There were other motions these reforms, lord Shelburne introduced and carried a bill, introduced on the subject of reform-one by Sawbridge, for compelling such people as held patent places in the colonies, the shortening of parliament, and by lord Mahon, to or anywhere abroad, to reside there, and discharge the prevent bribery at elections ; but their fate was the same as duties.
Pitt's motion, and, indeed, the repulse of that seemed to From economical and colonial, ministers proceeded to have damaged the ministers. Fox complained of the thinparliamentary reform. Sir Harbord Harbord bad intro- ness of the attendance, the in difference of members to duced, before their accession to office, a bill to disfranchise the questions of reform, and the shameful conduct of the lords, rotten borough of Cricklade, in Wiltshire, as Shoreham had where the duke of Richmond had been opposed and deserted already been disfranchised. The new ministry supported it, on all sides. with the exception of their strange colleague, Thurlow, whom But the matters most important, and in which the they ought to have insisted on being dismissed. Cricklade was | Rockingham ministry succeeded the best, were those of a thoroughly venal borough, regularly sold to some East attempting to accomplish the peace with America, and with Indian nabob; and Mr. Frederick Montagu, in the the continental nations on which they had so long and so debate. quoted lord Chatham's remark on Shoreham. I loudly insisted. Fox first tried his diplomatic genius with which had also been the purchased lair of Indian corrup the Dutch, whom he could, as he boasted, soon conciliate ; tionists, that he “was glad to find the borough of Shoreham
o find the borough of Shoreham but, to his infinite chagrin, that calculating people were so likely to be removed from Bengal to its ancient situation in elated by the recent ill success of the English, and relied so the county of Sussex.”
completely on the powerful fleets of France and Spain to The success with Cricklade encouraged William Pitt to protect their trade and islands, that they returned a conbring forward a motion for a general reform of parliament. temptuous answer, declaring that they could not treat This he did on the 7th of May, and was seconded by without their allies. Wilkes' old ally, Alderman Sawbridge. Pitt did not ven- ! Still more mortifying was his repulse by the Americans. ture to talk of a bill, but only to propose a committee to His offers of negotiation for peace were received with a consider the subject. This was granted; but it was soon haughty indifference by congress, and he was again referred apparent that nothing could be done. The ministers were to France. It was a jusi punishinent for the unmeasured wholly at variance on the subject-some went one length, encouragement and extravagant eulogies which he and his and some another; many of them were as determined colleagues of the opposition had so long conferred on the against all parliamentary reform as any tories—in fact, it Americans. They had spared no terms which could debase would be difficult, with our notions of reformers, to class their native country and exalt America-which could the leading so-called whigs as anything but conservative. represent England as exhausted and America as invincible ; Many of them, Rockingham, the prime minister, especially, England as mean and tyrannical, America as noble and held much borough influence. He was utterly opposed, in magnanimous. They had been feeding a vanity ready secret, to all such reforms. Burke, economical reformer, enough to kindle of itself, and had, in truth, as had been was impatiently hostile to reform of boroughs, for he had bitterly remarked by their predecessors in office, really been ejected by an independent constituency, and was now fought for the congress in parliament much better than the
the nominee of lord Rockingham. Thomas Pitt, Pitt's English generals and admirals had fought against it. They • brother, and Thomas Townshend, secretary at war, were had now procured a resolution of the house of commons,
open opponents. Pitt himself would hear nothing of presented by the whole house in a body to the king, and repealing the septennial act; but it is to us a curious sight therefore, by him assented to, although reluctantly, that to see this afterwards, and for so many years, determined England could not and would not continue the war. tory minister battling for parliamentary reform against 80- Under these circumstances, congress treated their old friends called whigs and reformers. He was for sweeping away all and advisers with the coolest contempt, at the very time rotten boroughs, those tools with which he subsequently that the American army was destitute of food, of clothingworked so at his will; he went for equalising the whole re- of almost everything, and could no more fight than it could presentation, for destroying the influence of the trea- draw a doit from the empty treasury of congress. General sury, of the hereditary right assumed by the aristocracy, Greene, as commander of the northern army, was writing, and, by disfranchising the rotten boroughs, sweeping |“For upwards of two months more than one-third of our the house of the creatures of the India House.
men have been entirely naked, with nothing but a breech He was zealously supported by Fox, Sheridan, Sir George cloth about them, and never came out of their tents; and Saville ; and the duke of Richmond, in the lords, warmly the rest were as ragged as wolves. Our condition was commended the movement; but the motion had the fate little better ; our beef was perfect carrion, and frequently that might have been expected—it was negatived, but only we had none." Washington described his men as exactly in
the same condition, and added, “You may rely upon it, that by their years of inconsiderate language. When they dreamt the patience and long-suffering of this army are almost only of damaging their official opponents, they were in exhausted, and that there never was so great a spirit of dis- reality damaging and humbling themselves. Fox now had content as at this instant. It is high time for a peace.” recourse to the mediations of Russia and Austria. The Yet at this moment the congress, careless of its army, or czarina and the emperor Joseph, equally with the Dutch conwhether it dispersed or not, because the whig ministers of vinced of the fallen fortunes of England, insulted her whilst England had determined to fight no more, behaved to pretending to serve her. At the same time, Fox dispatched their old friends and eulogists with the most supreme to Paris Thomas Grenville, to propose, as the basis of a scorn. A minister of genius would, at this moment, have treaty, the concession of the independence of the United
mustered fresh troops and ships, were it by a gigantic States, and the status quo ante bellum, for all other territoeffort, have quelled those starved and trouserless troops, and ries. Here again, however, the same haughty indifference have dispelled the prospects of a peace, which might never encountered him; the French expected wonders from their arrive, except by submission ; for at this moment the spirit mighty fleet in the West Indies, under De Grasse; nothing of England was rising again on the ocean, and there needed less than the capture of our few remaining islands; and the only a great mind at the helm to humble all her enemies. Spaniards were more than ever confident of the conquest of
But Fox and his colleagues had not yet tasted all the Gibraltar. bumiliation which they had been preparing for themselves. Whilst Fox was experiencing these unpleasant effects ar
the speeches of himself and co-oppositionists, which had so soon to do. Fox, on his part, came in for very severe long extolled the enemies of England, and represented her censure, for being one of a ministry who, whilst professing 60 low and so completely on the brink of ruin, Rockingham, to put an end to administrative corruption, and engaged in who was failing when be took office, died on the 1st of July. cutting down pensions, granted the enormous ones of colonel Fox, who was a violent anti-Shelburneite, instantly threw Barré and lord Ashburton ; whilst they received with op office on the king sending for Shelburne, and upon that coldness the news of a most splendid victory of Rodney over nobleman accepting the position of premier. Burke, lord | De Grasse, which we have now to detail, and conferred on John Cavendish, and John Townshend, did the same. him only a pension of two thousand a-year, because he was Thomas Townshend took Fox's place as foreign secretary, a tory. In fact, whilst Fox had been vainly making overlord Grantham succeeded lord Shelburne as home secretary, tures of peace to the European powers and to America, William Pitt now came in as chancellor of the exchequer, Rodney had been showing that there wanted only three or in the place of lord John Cavendish. Barré took Burke's four really able men at the head of our ministry, our army post of paymaster of the forces, and Dundas stepped into and navy, to turn again the tide of victory toward England
Barré's as treasurer of the navy. Other changes took place; | in all its greatness. To add to these mortifications of Fox, the duke of Portland, a firm Rockinghamite, resigned the the king, disgusted at the humiliations which he considered lord-lieutenantcy of Ireland, which George Grenville, now the overtures made by Fox to the French, Dutch, Spaniards, lord Temple, the nephew of the late lord Temple, took. and Americans brought with them, had, with evident satisMr. Pepper Arden became solicitor-general, and Sir George faction, accepted his resignation. The king prorogued parYonge secretary of war, in place of Thomas Townshend, liament immediately on the formation of the new ministry, now secretary of state, in place of Fox.
the session ending on the 11th of July. The resigned Rockinghamites were by no means resigned Scarcely was the Rockingham administration formed when in their tempers. Fox was gone out in the deepest poverty they determined to recall England's ablest admiral, Sir and embarrassment, and attacked his late colleagues bitterly. George Rodney, and they carried this into execution in May He declared that Shelburne could be base enough to coalesce of this year, and appointed admiral Pigott in his stead. Lord even with lord North, the very thing Fox himself was so Keppel, who had shown himself so sensitive in his own case,