Memoirs of the Court and Cabinets of George the Third, Volume 2 (of 2) - From the Original Family Documents
by The Duke of Buckingham
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse
















LONDON: Printed by Schulze and Co., 13, Poland Street.



































The fluctuations of the daily accounts from Windsor, and afterwards from Kew, to which place the King was ultimately removed at the instance of the Prince of Wales, and the effect they produced upon the public and the Opposition, greatly increased the difficulties of the Government in this unprecedented emergency. So long as there was the faintest hope of His Majesty's recovery, Mr. Pitt was enabled to avert extremities between the Administration and the Prince of Wales, by repeated adjournments of Parliament. The interest, therefore, which attached to the slightest items of intelligence contained in these letters may be easily understood. All other subjects were of inferior consideration. Even the serious inconvenience occasioned to the public service by the suspension of business in Parliament was forgotten in the one absorbing topic.

The uncertainty that hung over the issue, the responsibility that attended the treatment of the case, and the extreme caution observed by the physicians in the opinions they were called upon to pronounce, kept all classes of the people in a state of constant agitation. The Prince and his supporters availed themselves of these circumstances to strengthen their party in Parliament and out of doors. The passions of the inexperienced, and the hopes of the discontented, are always on the side of youth and excitement; and every vicissitude in the condition of the King that diminished the prospect of his recovery, augmented the ranks of the Opposition, which now became familiarly known as "the Prince of Wales's Opposition." Mr. Pitt acted throughout with the utmost reserve. Deeply impressed by the complicated hazards of the situation, he carefully avoided all allusions to his ulterior intentions in his intercourse with the Prince of Wales, which was strictly formal and official, and confined to such communications as were unavoidable in his position.


Whitehall, Nov. 15th, 1788. MY DEAR BROTHER,

I enclose you the note, which I received from Pitt last night on his return from Windsor. I have seen him this morning; and understand that Warren said one thing which is still more favourable. He told him that a more rapid amendment would, in his opinion, have been a less pleasing symptom; and I find, from Pitt, that on conversing both with Sir G. Baker and Reynolds, he found them rather more sanguine, upon the whole, than Warren, but agreeing with him in his general account. What I have learnt this morning seems to confirm the pleasing hope which I cannot help indulging, from all these circumstances, though, God knows, it is still exposed to much doubt and hazard. The public account, which has been uniformly less flattering than the private letters from Windsor, states that he has had six hours' sleep, and that he is a little better this morning. All the other accounts say that he is certainly getting better.

Pitt saw the Prince of Wales yesterday, for the purpose of notifying to him the step which the Council had taken, of ordering prayers, and of acquainting him that he had written circular letters to all the Members of the House of Commons, stating the probability of Parliament having to meet on Thursday; and that he meant then to propose to adjourn.

Prince of Wales received the communication with civility, and told him he was persuaded no opposition could be made to this. It is, I think, plain, from Pitt's account of his general behaviour, and from what one hears, that my conjecture is right, and that he will dismiss Pitt without hesitation.

Ever most affectionately yours, W. W. G.


Whitehall, Nov. 17th, 1788. MY DEAR BROTHER,

The accounts for the last two days have been, I think, rather less favourable than that of Saturday, which I sent you. You can, however, hardly conceive the difficulty which we have, even at this small distance, to procure such information as can be in any degree depended on. All the private accounts are so strongly tinctured by the wishes of those who send them, that no reliance can be placed upon them; and the private letters of the physicians are frequently inconsistent with each other, and even with the public account which they send to St. James's. In general, that account has been uniformly found to be the least favourable; and seems as if it was drawn for the purpose of discouraging the hopes which their own letters and conversation excite. The letters which they read to Pitt, though frequently varying in their general tenor from the public account, are not at all more detailed than that is, and take no sort of notice of the most material circumstances. I imagine all this is to be imputed to a difference of opinion which is supposed to prevail amongst them, it being believed that Warren is strongly inclined to think the disorder permanent, and that Reynolds is sanguine in the contrary opinion. Pitt is gone down again to Windsor to-day; but will hardly be back again time enough for me to insert his account in this letter. The public account of to-day says, I understand, that the King has had much quiet and composed sleep, but is nearly the same as before. The sleep, I am told, is generally considered as a favourable symptom.

Under these circumstances, there can, I think, be no doubt that the two Houses will adjourn on Thursday, without opposition.

Everything remains as before. I think you clearly have done right in stopping Corry, it being so much our interest to prevent, and not to promote, negotiation. I think, on more reflexion, that the idea of refusing the power of dissolving is impracticable, and may be turned against us in the end; the other limitations will, I believe, be proposed; and that alone will be sufficient to put all negotiation out of the question.

Fox is expected in three or four days; but it seems impossible that he should be here so soon.

Ever most affectionately yours, W. W. G.


Whitehall, Nov. 18th, 1788. MY DEAR BROTHER,

I do not find from Pitt that he learnt anything very particular yesterday in addition to what you already know. The King continues much quieter, but still deranged in his intellects and conversation. The fever has not yet entirely left him. The physicians seem very unwilling to say anything with respect to his situation, and declare that it must still be eight or ten days before they can pronounce at all decisively as to the nature of his disorder.

You seem, in your letter, to conceive the point of his recovery to be much more desperate than I understand it to be thought even after a derangement of months, or even years. There hardly passes a day in which one does not hear of cases of that sort, and we are now told that a disorder of this sort has appeared in several instances in Devonshire in the course of this autumn, where the patient has been in this way for six weeks together, and has then entirely recovered.

I have no other news.

Ever most affectionately yours, W. W. G.


Whitehall, Nov. 20th, 1788. MY DEAR BROTHER,

I went down yesterday to Windsor, as a matter of form, to inquire after the King's health. Having nothing very material to write to you in the morning, I thought it best to take the chance of being back early enough to write before the post went out. This, however, I found impossible, on account of the different people whom I met at Windsor, and with whom I was naturally anxious to converse.

The account, as far as relates to the King's actual situation for these two or three last days, is much less favourable than it has been. The disorder of his intellects has continued almost, if not entirely, without intermission for the whole of that time. He talks incessantly for many hours together, and without any appearance of sense or reason, sometimes knowing the persons who are about him, at other times mistaking them, or fancying himself employed in different occupations, such as taking notes on books, or giving different orders. He has appeared several times to have that sort of consciousness of his situation which lunatics are observed to possess, and to use the same sort of methods for concealing it. All this constitutes the gloomy side of the picture; and Warren is so much impressed with this, that he told Pitt there was now every reason to believe that the disorder was no other than direct lunacy.

On the other hand, I understand that he, as well as the other physicians, are now agreed as to the cause of the disorder. You may remember that, at the beginning of this unhappy situation, I mentioned to you that an idea had been entertained of its proceeding from some local cause, such as water on the brain, or some change in the texture of the brain itself, by induration or ossification. Warren has decidedly said, that he is satisfied this is entirely out of the question; this he told Pitt in express terms. The cause to which they all agree to ascribe it, is the force of a humour which was beginning to show itself in the legs, when the King's imprudence drove it from thence into the bowels; and the medicines which they were then obliged to use for the preservation of his life, have repelled it upon the brain. The consequence of this opinion is so plain, that there certainly requires no professional skill to know that his recovery must depend upon this single circumstance, whether there is, or is not strength enough in his constitution to throw off this humour by any other channel. The physicians are now endeavouring, by warm baths, and by great warmth of covering, to bring it down again into the legs, which nature had originally pointed out as the best mode of discharge.

I was mentioning these circumstances yesterday to a person who lives in intimacy with John Hunter, the anatomist. He told me that they had been all stated to him three days ago, by Hunter, who had collected them from the different inquiries he had made. Hunter added, that we must still expect for some days, and perhaps even weeks, to hear of no decisive alteration, but possibly of some occasional variation from day to day; that at the end of this it would probably come to some sort of crisis, by which it would appear whether there was strength enough in the constitution to prevail over the disease; that all he had heard of the manner of the King's life, did unquestionably make him an unfavourable subject for such a struggle, but that if it was the case of any common man, he should have no hesitation in pronouncing even now that it would be very bad luck indeed if he did not recover, and that the chances were nine to one in his favour. You will easily suppose that this was said under the seal of confidence, and that a professional man would not choose to have his name quoted in a case of so much importance in which he is not employed, and in which his opinions may be either founded at present on false information, or may be defeated by the mode of treatment adopted by those who are called in. I have, therefore, mentioned this only to you, though possibly you may hear it from other channels. On such authority, one certainly may be allowed to indulge some degree of hope. I am, however, far from letting this expectation take possession of my mind, but, on the contrary, have prepared myself for the worst, and can with truth say that I have made up my mind to meet it with cheerfulness, and to accommodate myself as a reasonable man ought to do to my situation.

You will particularly see that this consideration had no effect on my judgment, and that I feel as you do. On the question of a coalition, no offers have as yet been made. The language of Opposition inclines one to think that their idea is to that, but the conduct of the Prince of Wales marks a desire of avoiding Pitt. I believe he has had no communication with the Duke of Portland, or with any of them, except Sheridan and Lord Loughborough; the latter is supposed to be much in his confidence. Pitt has opened his plan of Regency to Thurlow and Lord Weymouth, and they both approved it; he is to lay it before the Prince of Wales in a few days, and will then make it public.

Whatever is done, I have no conception that it can be brought to a point so as to enable you to form any decisive judgment with respect to your situation so early as the beginning of next month. We are now at the 19th. Pitt means to-day to move an adjournment to this day sevennight, and a call of the House for this day fortnight. It is doubtful whether the business will even then be brought on, and the intervening adjournment is made with the view of enabling Pitt to put off the call to a more distant day if the King's situation should be thought to render that a proper step.

Bernard is now out of town, but I understood from him that your house in Pall Mall was let to the Duke of Gordon for another year, to commence from Christmas.

I am just returned from the House, where Pitt moved the adjournment for the whole fortnight (in consequence of an opinion of the Chancellor's), and a call at the end of that term. Not a word was said by any other person, and he himself barely stated that the continuance of the King's illness had prevented the prorogation, and that the same circumstance made it desirable to have the public attendance when the House met again.

The public account of to-day is that he has passed a less disturbed night, but that the fever continues.

Ever most affectionately yours, W. W. G.


Whitehall, Nov. 20th, 1788. MY DEAR BROTHER,

The accounts which Pitt received last night are more favourable than any which have yet been sent. They stated particularly, that during the whole course of yesterday the King was more composed, and with less incoherency in his conversation, than he has been at any period during the last fortnight. The opinion which I mentioned to you yesterday prevents my being very sanguine with respect to the uniform continuance of these symptoms; but it is certainly no light confirmation of that opinion to observe this sort of fluctuation; and it is a pleasant circumstance to find that this abatement of his disorder has followed so immediately on the application of fomentations to the legs.

Since I wrote the above, the accounts of this morning have been received. I enclose the public note, which admits that there is some remission of the fever, by which word they describe the delirium. The letter sent to Pitt only states that the King is less well than he was during most part of yesterday. I do not learn that there is yet any appearance of swelling or eruption on the legs. On the whole, though the account of this morning is certainly less encouraging, I think the two taken together by no means diminish the hopes which I trust there is reason to entertain.

It is become very difficult to get at the real truth; for since there has been an appearance of amendment, Opposition have been taking inconceivable pains to spread the idea that his disorder is incurable. Nothing can exceed Warren's indiscretion on this subject.

You will probably have heard from other quarters how favourable the appearance of yesterday, and the reception of Pitt's speech, were. There seems to be just such a spirit and zeal gone forth among his friends as one would most desire; and whatever is now the event of this anxious moment, I am persuaded you will see him increase from it in point of character, and lose little in point of strength. What passed yesterday, and the tone of our friends, are much beyond the expectations which I had formed.

Ever most affectionately yours, W. W. G.


Whitehall, Nov. 22nd, 1788. MY DEAR BROTHER,

I went this morning to Nepean, to speak about sending you the official accounts of the King's health. He assured me that he had regularly done so for the last week, and that he would continue it. He sends a messenger to-morrow, so that this letter will be very short.

You will receive the St. James's account of this day from Nepean. I have not yet seen it, but am assured that all the private accounts are favourable. So are, as far as I can learn, the declared opinions of every medical man except those who are employed: and of those, Warren only speaks unfavourably. The rest say nothing.

The indecency of any language held on your side of the water cannot exceed that of the universal tone of Opposition within these last four or five days. So long as they considered the case as desperate, they were affecting a prodigious concern and reverence for the King's unhappy situation. Now that people entertain hopes of his recovery, they are using the utmost industry to combat this idea—circulating all the particulars of everything which he does or says under his present circumstances, and adding the most outrageous falsehoods.

I think I can say with confidence, that no enmity against an individual, much less against a person in such a rank as his, could induce me to retail the different acts of frenzy which he may commit in a state of delirium or insanity.

Ever most affectionately yours, W. W. G.

Don't use your new cypher, for I doubt whether mine is not rendered useless. I will write to you about it to-morrow.

P.S.—The cypher will be better set by the last letter of the word en clair, immediately preceding the cyphered part of the letter. I will use it in that manner when I write.


Whitehall, Nov. 23rd, 1788. MY DEAR BROTHER,

I[A] write this by Lord Sydney's messenger, but with such an aching head that it is impossible for me to enter into much detail. Pitt was at Windsor yesterday, and by his account, which he collected from the persons who immediately attend the King's person, there can be no doubt of the King's being much better, and more composed than he has been since his illness began. At the same time, the accounts of the physicians are gloomy, and with less hope than they have before expressed. It is very difficult to reconcile these contradictions. Rennel Hawkins, the surgeon who has attended him during the whole illness, and sits up with him every other night, has written a letter to Sir Clifton Wintringham, which the latter has shown about London, in which the King's recovery is mentioned as a thing certain, and likely to take place, sooner than people in general expect. On these data you can judge as well as we can here. I confess myself to be sanguine in my hopes of his recovery. In the meantime, no pains are spared to circulate all sorts of lies, in order to depress people's spirits on this subject; and the support which is given to these gloomy ideas by the language and conduct of the physicians does certainly produce a considerable effect.

Think of the Prince of Wales introducing Lord Lothian into the King's room when it was darkened, in order that he might hear his ravings at the time that they were at the worst. Do not let this fact come from you; it begins to be pretty well known here, and no doubt will find its way to Ireland; but it is important that we should not seem to spread the knowledge of anything which can injure His Royal Highness's character in public opinion.

I think the best thing that can be done in Ireland is to let your Parliament meet at its prorogation; and that you should then communicate to them the King's situation, and the measures taken in England. A similar proceeding might then be adopted in Ireland, and your commission then revoked in the usual form by the Regent, which I should think far preferable to any contrivances of Justices, &c. Long before all this can be necessary, things will have begun to take some more decided turn than in the present moment, when hopes and fears make the opinions of people fluctuate from day to day.

Unless we are clearly satisfied (which is far from being the case now), that the King is not mending fast, we shall certainly propose another adjournment on the 4th. This will perhaps be opposed, but if it is, we shall clearly have the opinion of people in general with us on that point.

It is quite impossible for me to enter into the other discussions in your letter, important as they are, for it is with difficulty that I write this desultory stuff.

There seems to be a notion among Lord North's friends that he is preparing to take a more moderate line, and more inclining to the King than Fox's people. I suppose he has a mind to make a parade of gratitude. He has not five votes in this Parliament, and yet any appearance of difference of opinion might assist us.

If I am better to-morrow, I think of going to Stanlake for a few days. I shall have the Windsor news as soon there as in town, and will write to you from thence.

Ever yours, W. W. G.

Your cypher is, as I feared, spoilt by the unequal extension of the paper in pasting. In future, in using the old cypher, I will use ou instead of out, and er, es, and or, in the three places that are now occupied by word, blank, and ends. The cypher may be set by the first letter, which is written en clair, as I in this letter.

[Footnote A: The letter thus written in italics is the key to a new cypher in which these communications were carried on.]


Whitehall, Nov. 24th, 1788. MY DEAR BROTHER,

The same contradiction still prevails between all the private accounts, even those of the physicians themselves, and the public information which they give either to Ministers or to the country. At the same time, the medical people seem so confident in their declarations of his not being better, that it cannot but shake the trust which one should otherwise place in the accounts of his improvement.

My head is by no means better to-day, so that you must excuse the shortness of this.

Ever yours, W. W. G.


Baronhill, Nov. 25th, 1788. MY DEAR LORD,

When I left London last Saturday, the accounts were not arrived of the state of the King's health. He was much better on the Friday morning, but relapsed in the evening. I am afraid it is a very hopeless case, though much time ought to elapse before anybody ventured to pronounce for a certainty; and the physicians, who have been so warped by party, or by an anxiety to pay their court to the Prince, as to venture to do so, certainly deserve the severest reprehension. The meeting of Parliament was much the fullest, in both Houses, I ever saw; and in the House of Peers, the greatest decency I ever witnessed, considering the hopes and fears of each party. There were but seven Bishops (among whom Chester was one) present, which is a proof that crows soon smell powder. I took the opportunity of coming down here to settle my private affairs, which my sudden departure had left unsettled, your brother William having promised to send for me in case there is no appearance of the King's recovering before the 4th of December, in which case another adjournment would certainly take place, or in case Government should not contest the Prince's becoming Regent without a Council. It will be with great unwillingness I shall return, as I wish to remain here till the beginning of February; but if I find we are all expected to stand to our guns, and that our generals are ready to fight a battle without a compromise, I shall leave my dear Baronhill, and all my comforts, for all pleasures of war's alarms: marching and countermarching in the House of Lords, drums beating, and colours flying, &c. I supped at White's the night before I left town, where Pitt was in high spirits, and Selwyn uncommonly ridiculous; in general, our friends seem to await the approaching storm with the greatest sang-froid and philosophy: the longest faces I saw were Lord Hawkesbury's, Lord Sydney's, and Sir George Yonge's. I heard for certain that the Chancellor, who was suspected of being rattically inclined, was firm as a rock, and that the whole Cabinet were determined to die together. Fox was either not found, or averse to returning, although the Opposition were looking out for him as the Jews look out for their Messiah. Je crois qu'il boude un peu. Sheridan and Lord Loughborough are those who more immediately correspond with the Prince, with which, I believe, the old Rockinghams were much dissatisfied; in short, there is every reason to think there is a division among them, which, however, a sense of common interest and common danger may rectify before the day of trial. Your sister Williams, and Sir Watkin, were in town both crying up the affection, humanity, filial piety, feeling, &c., of the Prince, and lamenting the little chance of the King's recovery, &c. The Nevilles were to leave town last Sunday, and by being in the neighbourhood of Windsor, can inform you, if they choose it, of the real state of the late and present behaviour and conduct of some persons in that quarter who are so puffed by the papers and by the Opposition. In the changes and chances of this mortal life, our Barony of Braybroke appears to have been secured at a lucky moment. I left Parry in town, and I set Rose and Steele to coax him a little, for the old grievance sticks by him, and he wants much persuasion to efface the memory of it. Sir Hugh is here, and complains much of never having had one letter answered since Pitt has been in power; notwithstanding which, I shall take him up if the battle is to be fought before Christmas. I am afraid more rats will run, on account of Pitt's inattention to these trifles, than on any other account whatsoever; indeed I heard as much in town. Rose and Steele may laugh at such details, but they are necessary; and the constituent will not believe the member's assiduity unless he sees a real or ostensible answer. I gave my L100 to the Westminster election, in consequence of a letter from Rose; I could ill spare it, but finding others were dosed in the same manner, I gulped the grievance.

I am, my dear Lord's sincere friend, B.


Stratton Street, Nov. 25th, 1788. MY DEAR LORD,

However, at a crisis of such national concern as the present, my mind is impressed with its importance, and would communicate to you the vicissitudes and opinions thereon of each hour, as leading in the minutest variation to new consequences, and of the first moment; yet I confess myself at a loss how to arrange these parvula quidam ex queis magun exoriuntur, and give them their due weight, by stating the deductions thereon as they appear to me, within any compass of letter.

As to the fact on which our fears and speculations are to build, the change of mere words in stating the malady, as daily announced at St. James's, may be proper enough to keep alive the hopes of the public, who will argue on mere words, in reality, within this fortnight the King hath remained from day to day without any variation in symptoms: so this very morning Dr. Gisborne told me, as his opinion, resulting from conversation with his brother physicians in immediate attendance. My friend Dr. Milman seems to be of the like opinion. That possibly His Majesty may recover the perfect use of his understanding is not less believed than hoped for: cases have been stated, more desperate than the present, wherein the recovery hath been perfect. Yet much mischief is already done, or rather the basis of mischief is already and irremoveably laid. In future times, designing, ambitious and profligate men may start the idea that what has been may be, and in the desperate effort of factious opposition, even venture to arraign the temper and health of mind, though it shows its perfect state, and the wise measures of Government should put such daring insult at defiance.

If the King remains a length of time in the same state, I would, on such too probable circumstance, join my speculations to your Lordship's, could I imagine any resting-place, or outlet, in the labyrinth of cases and deductions which the subject affords. I had best, therefore, confine my correspondence, and take up the immediate matter and language of the mere day, unless I meant a book rather than a letter.

The language touches on the hopes and views of partymen, and on the interests of the country as complicated with the present Administration remaining in power. My business calling me often into the city, I speak as an eye-witness to the temper of men at the Royal Exchange, and Lloyd's Coffee-rooms, never did Administration stand so high in opinion of the moneyed and commercial world: throughout the city, the fears of losing Pitt from the finance make as much of the regrets of anticipation, as the fears of losing the King from the throne. Should the change of Ministry (too much apprehended) take place, it is thought that Fox's party—to temporize with the public opinion, too strong directly to meet in the teeth—will propose a coalescence of some sort; but so narrowed, and in regard to Mr. Pitt, moreover, placing him in such jar of official situation, that it cannot be in any manner listened to. The refusal of the insidious offer is then to be noised throughout the country, and a trial to be made to engage the people "to join with those who proffered a sacrifice of enmities to Pitt for the public good." My opinion is, that the trial will be abortive, and the present Administration retire (if so necessitated), merely to return to power on the shoulders of the nation. The Opposition, I understand, foresee their difficulties, and are exceedingly embarrassed, even supposing the Regent, or Regency, to venture on the change of Ministry.

I presume to hazard an opinion that such Regent, or Regency, cannot and will not risk a change of Ministry with so precipitate declaration in favour of our opponents, as some expect, at such eventful crisis as the present. It is natural for men's hopes, or fears, to colour too strongly the contingency on which their relative interests depend. Some hope too much, and some fear too much. If the Prince of Wales is made and continues at the head of Regency a twelvemonth, then indeed a revolution in Ministry, or in everything, may be worked out of the occasions ingenuity and ambition may have to take hold of; but here I am running into a book, and to avoid it close my letter. From time to time I shall write, almost from day to day, if aught occurs deserving your perusal. Meantime, and ever, my dear Lord, in truest affection and attachment,

Your faithfully devoted friend and servant, W. YOUNG.


Whitehall, Nov. 25th, 1788. MY DEAR BROTHER,

I am very sorry to be obliged to say that the account from the physicians to-day, confirmed by the most accurate testimony from private quarters, state the King's situation in the most unfavourable manner, his disorder having returned with great violence. I do not understand that there is any return of bodily complaint, so that nothing can be worse than this intelligence. From what I now understand, it should seem that some considerable time must elapse, even after the two Houses meet, before any decisive step can be proposed, as it seems now to be thought necessary that some mode of satisfaction should be given to the Houses themselves, by means of Secret Committees, or otherwise, respecting the King's situation, and that after that precedents must be searched.

Fox arrived yesterday morning early, having come in little more than nine days from Bologna. He expected, it is said, from the accounts which he had received, to find the King dead.

Ever most affectionately yours, W. W. G.


Whitehall, Nov. 26th, 1788. MY DEAR BROTHER,

I sit down to write a few words, because I know it is a satisfaction to you to hear from me in such a moment as this, although I have nothing particular to say.

The situation of the King continues to be such as I described it yesterday; and Warren told Pitt yesterday, that the physicians could now have no hesitation in pronouncing that the actual disorder was that of lunacy; that no man could pretend to say, that this was, or was not incurable; that he saw no immediate symptoms of recovery; that the King might never recover; or, on the other hand, that he might recover at any one moment. With this sort of information we shall probably have to meet Parliament. I much hope that the previous examination by the Privy Council may be judged sufficient, without any further inquiry into the particulars of a subject which one so little wishes to have discussed.

I have no other news of any sort.

I do not know, whether I mentioned to you in my last letter, that I tried, but to no purpose, to make out that part of yours which was written in the new cypher; my cypher, which you sent over to me, being wholly spoilt in the pasting. I must, therefore, beg you to write in the old cypher, with the alterations I suggested.

Ever yours, W. W. G.


Whitehall, Nov. 27th, 1788. MY DEAR BROTHER,

The accounts of the King's situation continue to be so much the same as for the last two or three days, that it now appears perfectly plain that we shall be under the necessity of bringing forward some measure for an intermediate Government immediately after the 4th; and that there can be no further adjournment.

The Prince of Wales has sent a letter to the Chancellor, desiring that all the members of the Cabinet may attend at Windsor to-day; but this I imagine (and, indeed, his letter conveys it), has no relation to any other subject, but to an idea of moving the King to Kew, where he can take the air without being overlooked, as is the case at Windsor. I have nothing new to write to you on other subjects, though I believe I shall have in a day or two; probably by Sunday's messenger.

Ever most affectionately yours, W. W. G.


Whitehall, Nov. 28th, 1788. MY DEAR BROTHER,

The Ministers were all sent for to Windsor yesterday by the Prince, in order to give their advice with respect to moving the King. They were detained so late, that Pitt went to Salt Hill to sleep there; and is not yet returned, at least not to his own house, so that I have not seen him.

I had a note from him yesterday evening, to say that they had not seen the Prince, he having sent a written message to them by the Duke of York. It related to the removal. He says, that the opinion of the physicians, particularly of Addington, who had been desired to come over that day from Reading, was favourable as to a possibility, and even a prospect of recovery, and clear for removing him as soon as possible.

We are still in the dark, as to the Prince of Wales's intentions; though what passed yesterday confirms my opinion. The general language leans to negotiation.


Whitehall, Nov. 29th, 1788. MY DEAR BROTHER,

I received your letter of the 23rd, by the messenger only this morning, and have sent the enclosed, which, as you will have seen, exactly tallies with the ideas which I have stated to you in some of my letters. I shall write to you to-morrow, being Sunday, when a messenger would of course be sent with the official bulletin, and as you may very probably receive that letter as soon as this, I think it unnecessary to fatigue either you or myself with figures, especially as I have nothing very material to say, except a confirmation, from my subsequent conversation with Pitt, of the ideas which I mentioned to you yesterday, particularly with respect to Addington's opinion, which seems to have encouraged the rest to speak out. Addington told Pitt that he had himself kept a house for the reception of these unhappy people for seven years. That during that period, he had hardly ever had fewer than ten or twelve with him, and that of all those one only was not cured, he having died in the house of bursting a blood-vessel. He said that the symptoms, as they at present appeared, were those of a morbid humour, flying about and irritating the nerves. The physicians desired Pitt to see the King yesterday, which he did, and found him, though certainly in a state of derangement, yet far better than he had expected from the accounts. It is not yet settled whether he shall be removed, as he has expressed some reluctance to it, and the physicians are extremely averse to any force.

We are still under some uncertainty whether or not to propose a further adjournment; in the meanwhile we have thought it absolutely necessary to summon all our friends, as without their attendance, we should not even have the decision of that question in our own hands.

Ever most affectionately yours, W. W. G.


Whitehall, Nov. 30th, 1788. MY DEAR BROTHER,

There is no particular account of the King this morning, He was yesterday evening removed to Kew. There was considerable difficulty in persuading him to agree to this removal, but it was at last accomplished without violence. Pitt saw him again at Windsor before his removal, and thought him rather less well in his manner than on the preceding day. Addington's conversation is still such as to show that he thinks the probabilities greatly in favour of his recovery. He mentioned particularly to Pitt, that he had in his house one person whose case appeared to him exactly to resemble the King's, and that this person had been cured.

We are still much undetermined about the time of bringing forward the decisive measures. The general leaning of people's minds appears to be for delay, and there is not anything that can perhaps absolutely be said to require that immediate steps should be taken. There are, however, several points of foreign business which seem to press considerably, and there seems little reason to hope that this situation will be at all altered within such a time as it would be possible to wait. I am rather inclined towards bringing the business forward on Thursday; and yet I am very apprehensive of the effect which might be produced by any appearance or imputation of precipitancy.

When the Cabinet went down to Windsor two days ago, in consequence of the Prince of Wales's letter, he did not see them, but sent them a written message by the Duke of York, respecting the King's removal. This message, whether accidentally or not, was couched in terms that were thought a little royal. Some caution was thought necessary in wording the answer to avoid the style of giving His Royal Highness advice, or of acknowledging any authority in him.

You will have heard, in all probability, much on the subject of the Chancellor. His situation is a singular one. It is unquestionably true that he has seen Fox, and I believe he has also seen Sheridan repeatedly, and certainly the Prince of Wales. And of all these conversations he has never communicated one word to any other member of the Cabinet. Yet I am persuaded that he has as yet made no terms with them, and that whenever they come to that point they will differ. With this clue, however, you will be at no loss to guess where the Prince acquires his knowledge of the plans of Regency which are to be proposed, because, even supposing the Chancellor not to have directly betrayed the individual opinions of his colleagues, yet still his conversation upon these points, in all of which he has explicitly agreed with the opinions of Pitt, must lead to the communication of the plans in agitation. I am, however, rather inclined to believe that Cuninghame's correspondent has taken by guess one out of a variety of reports circulated, and that he has been right by accident. The general belief of the Opposition certainly is, as you may by their papers, that measures of much more violence are intended.

Pitt has been induced, from his regard to the King, to dissemble his knowledge of Thurlow's conduct, and to suppress the resentment which it so naturally excites. There is no reason, but the contrary, for believing that any of those who have acted with him are at all disposed to follow his example. It is universally reprobated, and explicitly by them. I think you will do well, if it comes in question, to do as I do, which is to avoid saying anything on the subject as long as I can; and when pressed, to profess ignorance.

There is no great inconvenience arising, in reality, from the communication of these intentions to the Prince. His intentions are sufficiently decided, and he has no means of traversing our schemes.

We do not yet know with certainty whether he has any idea of negotiation; but if he has, it is unquestionably only as a cloak, and meaning that it should be rejected. But the prospect of detaching the Chancellor may make this less probable, although he may perhaps insist on something of the sort being done to provide for his delicacy. The general language is universal and immediate dismission. If I am not mistaken, a storm is rising that they little expect, and the sense of the country, instead of being nearly as strong as in 1784, will be much stronger. But the party in general are so hungry and impatient, that I think they will act upon the better judgment of their leaders, and prevent them from doing anything which may allow a moment's delay.

Ever most affectionately yours, W. W. G.

It was beginning to be suspected that Thurlow was about to rat. His conduct justified the worst doubts. Sir William Young confirms the intelligence about his increasing and suspicious intimacy with the Prince of Wales.


Stratton Street, Nov. 30th, 1788. MY DEAR LORD,

Since my last, all the intelligence to be given consists merely of rumours and of opinions respecting the probable changes in the Administration, on accession of the Prince to the executive authority. The Prince, it is said, is wonderfully of late attached to Thurlow. His Royal Highness hath not been equally gracious to Mr. Pitt; and from the authority of a person who dined with him, I am assured that his melancholy derived from the malady of his father and King, is not of that deep and rooted sort for which "no physic of the mind" can be found. Drinking and singing were specifics on the day stated to me.

As to opinions alluded to above, they appear to me, who am not in the secret, mere sermons to Shakspeare's text of "Harry, thy wish was father to the thought." If aught is settled, your Lordship is undoubtedly apprised of it; if things yet remain for arrangement, your grounds for mere fabrics of speculation must ere this be better laid than mine; and so, in either case, I'd better e'en refrain from the subject, until Thursday begins the course of authentic matter for my letters.

Meantime, a word in regard to myself. I write under the greatest embarrassment of mind, between pressing necessity of not moving from London and a justness of sentiment which would particularly at this moment urge my repairing to you at the Castle. When your kind friendship conferred what, at that moment, was a most essential aid to my family subsistence, your goodness added that I need not visit Ireland oftener than the convenience of my family allowed. Of this goodness I by no means thought to avail myself, and proposed this winter proceeding with my wife and son to the Castle, and returning to accomplish the passing of my "Poor Laws," in February or March.

The loss of my father hath placed me in a situation wherein, from the magnitude and delicacy of the concern, every hour may afford an important crisis; and in which a single omission, a momentary absence, may entail consequences irretrievable, in matters wherein the result to me and mine is to be conjoined reputation and affluence, or disgrace and penury. I cannot, under impression of such alternatives, delegate an iota of conduct to a second person. I have laid down a systematic plan of conduct for myself, which in executing I am sure of honour and credit, have a certainty of competence, and a prospect of considerable wealth. The more I reflect, the more I am confirmed in the propriety of the grounds of procedure which I have adopted, and I feel myself equal to the accomplishment, as far as it depends on steady pursuit of a well-weighed purpose. Obstacles, however, may arise, and difficulties occur, such as I have daily to obviate or to surmount, in shape of impatient creditors, who, if they were not led to just understanding of circumstances, would not wait two years for a final liquidation of private claims, with an inventory before them in the Commons of property to the amount of L200,000, but would jump forward to their own and my loss. One of the two years I have now securely in hand; the crop of 1789 being shipped from Christmas to March, of produce all grown, and partly manufactured. If Government leaves me the year 1790, at the close of it there will not be a private debt, nor an article alienated of security for public claims; and my gain of the income of 1788-9-90 is actually the amount of L45,000 clear gain, above the result of immediate sale of the estates, which in ordinary course, or other line than I have chalked out, would be the direct legal recurrence for general liquidation of first public and then private claims. One year of this gain to my residue I have already secured, the second I have no doubt of, the third I have great hopes of, and at the period thereof, the gross total of the Crown demand, without a deduction or charge per centage, would scarcely necessitate any sale, or but a partial one, should I wish quickly to clear all away.

Having no reserve for you, my best friend, I have, in accounting for my "fixing myself on the watch" in England this winter run into these details; and further (which will explain them fully) enclose a rough copy of my instructions to my attorneys in St. Vincent's, which, when read, you will consign to the flames.

I have that grateful attachment to you, that I should yet scarcely hesitate in hazarding a month's absence from home, did not I anticipate that your friendship would rather chide than approve the sacrifice. I am ever at your command, being, my dear Lord, in truest affection,

Your devoted and obliged friend, &c., W. YOUNG.

The plans of Ministers are further developed in the next letter from Mr. Grenville.


Whitehall, Tuesday, Dec. 2nd, 1788. MY DEAR BROTHER,

I have nothing of any importance to add to my letter of Sunday, everything remaining here precisely in the same state. It is determined to proceed, after Thursday, without any further adjournment. A Privy Council is summoned for to-morrow, to which all the Privy Councillors are summoned; those of the Royal Family by letters from the Lord President. The physicians are ordered to attend, and questions will be put to them, to which they will be to give their answers on Wednesday. It is then meant, that on Friday, the Lord President in the House of Lords, and Pitt in the House of Commons, should communicate these questions and answers, but not as a message, from the Privy Council. We hope that Parliament will be disposed to proceed, without any inquiry, by themselves; but on the ground of the examination of the Privy Council, a Committee is then to be appointed to search precedents, so that it will be more than a week from this day before the propositions can formally be made. They will, I believe, be nearly, if not exactly, the same as I have already stated them to you. The point, on the prudence of which you had doubts, is of such absolute necessity, that I am sure, by a very little conversation, I could satisfy you in a moment that it must be taken care of. It is intended to say of the whole plan, that it is merely temporary, adapted to the present circumstances, when we are obliged to act after the King has been ill a very short time, and when there is much uncertainty with respect to the nature of his complaint, and an absolute ignorance as to its probable duration; that if, under different circumstances, and after a longer and more defined illness, Parliament shall think it necessary to make other arrangements, that power must rest with them, which cannot, indeed, be taken from them. This would, I think, cure your difficulty.

Pray tell Bernard that the sooner he returns the better, and that I will engage to find him full employment.

Ever most affectionately yours, W. W. G.

I hope Bernard is not necessary to you in Ireland, because I think he is already seriously wanted here. He will tell you for what.


Dublin Castle, Dec. 2nd, 1788. MY DEAR BULKELEY,

Many thanks for your very interesting and affectionate correspondence, which I have not neglected from inattention, but from anxiety, and from business, which you can easily figure to yourself, and as easily excuse. Much of your Windsor anecdotes had reached me from other quarters; but I could not, without very accurate information, have given credit to details so very unpleasant as some of those which I have heard. The messenger, who will deliver this to you, is going to London; but I was anxious that he should leave this at Baronhill, as I think it may be doubtful whether you know that the new system of government is to be proposed at the next meeting of Parliament; and that unless the King's health should vary materially after the 28th (my last date), there was no idea of a further adjournment. My brother will probably have written to you, to press your attendance, and, in that case, this will find you in London, as I shall order the messenger not to leave it at Baronhill; but, if it should reach you in the country, let me implore you not to lose this (perhaps last) occasion of paying a debt to our master, which every principle of private honour and public duty must make sacred to us. The only object to which I look is, not to private power or ambition, but to the means of waking our unhappy King, at some future period, to the use, not only of his reason, but of his power. How this is to be secured I cannot, in my uninformed situation, pretend to say; but I have the fullest confidence on this head in Mr. Pitt, and if I could imagine that he could suffer a consideration of private situation to interfere on such a question, I should despise him as much as I now love him. I can have no doubt, that as soon as His Royal Highness is possessed of the power of dismissing us, we shall feel the full weight of it, and to that you will believe me most indifferent; but the subsequent scene must, in all events, be so interesting, that I must wish every assistance to Mr. Pitt that friends and countenance can give him. If this should be realized, I shall not be long absent from you; and perhaps our Christmas pies may be too hot for the new Government, if their folly and intemperance should urge them to the steps which those immaculate Whigs, Lord Loughborough and Sheridan, may suggest. Adieu. I am almost too late.

Ever yours, N.B.

Robert and I have made our peace. Pray carry Sir Hugh with you.


Whitehall, Dec. 3rd, 1788. MY DEAR BROTHER,

It is now past four o'clock, and I am but just returned from the Privy Council. The whole number that attended was above fifty, including Lord North, Lord Stormont, Lord Loughborough, &c., &c. Fox was not there, being confined with a flux, which he has got by the rapidity of his journey. None of the Royal Family attended. The physicians who were examined, were Warren, Baker, Pepys, Reynolds, and Addington. The general questions that were proposed to them were three:

1. Whether the King is now incapable of attending to business?

2. What hopes do you entertain of his recovery?

3. What do you conjecture may be the probable duration of his complaint?

These are not the precise words, but the substance. They all answered the first question decisively, that he is now incapable, &c.

To the second, Warren gave an ambiguous answer; but said that the majority of persons afflicted with all the different species of this disorder, recovered. An explanatory question was put to him, which it took about an hour and a half to settle; whether, as far as experience enabled him to judge, he thought it more probable that the King would or would not recover. To this he said that he had not, and he believed no one else had, sufficient data to answer that question.

All the rest stated, though in terms more or less strong, that the probability is in favour of recovery.

The time, they all declared themselves unable to speak to.

A question was put to them, to show the degree of experience each had had in these cases. That of the three first appeared not to be great; that of Reynolds more; and Addington stated the particulars, which you already know, about his house at Reading.

On the whole, I think the impression of the examination was universally more favourable than was expected.

After the Council was formally broke up, Pitt proposed, in consequence of some things which had been thrown out by Lord Stormont and Lord Loughborough, that it should be understood, that any proposal for further examination in Parliament should be resisted. After some conversation, this was acceded to; and Monday settled as the day when these papers are to be taken into consideration. A Committee is then to be moved to search precedents, so that the motion itself cannot come on till Friday, or more probably Monday se'nnight.

Ever yours, W. W. G.


Whitehall, Dec. 4th, 1788. MY DEAR BROTHER,

Lord Sydney sends off this messenger with the proceedings of yesterday's Council. I write a few lines by him, because I know you would wish to hear from me, although I have, in fact, nothing to say.

Our situation continues exactly as it was. The prevailing idea seems to be that of a general dismission, and of an immediate dissolution of Parliament. How far the examinations of yesterday may operate with respect to this, it is impossible to say; but I thought the Opposition people seemed evidently struck and disappointed with them. If they do dissolve Parliament in such a moment as this, when the physicians concur in declaring the King's recovery probable, I am persuaded the cry will be as strong as it was in 1784.

There is a report, that before the Duke of Portland would consent to have any communication with the Prince of Wales, he insisted on an apology being made to him, for some very rough treatment which he received at the time of the question of the debts; and that this apology has been made. This, however, I give you only as a report, for the truth of which I do not vouch.

I enclose you a pamphlet, which you may perhaps think worth reprinting in Ireland.

I hear as yet of no rats, but I suppose a few days will bring some to light; though I cannot help thinking that the examinations of yesterday donneront a penser a Messieurs les Rats.

I have not heard from you for almost a fortnight, and am impatient to know that you receive my accounts; and to hear your opinions upon them as they arise.

Pray send Bernard back as soon as you can. I cannot guess what his motive was, for persisting so strongly in wishing to undertake two such journeys at this season of the year; but he assured me, that he had no wish to stay any time in Dublin.

The list, which you will see in the "Morning Post," of the Council is accurate. It makes a curious medley.

James is come to town, looking very sturdy. He is now with me; and has no other message to send, except to wish you all safe home again.

Ever yours, W. W. G.


Stratton Street, Dec. 5th, 1788. MY DEAR LORD,

When I came home yesterday afternoon from the House, I wrote the enclosed minute of proceedings—a practice I shall continue to pursue until we meet, for your satisfactory information.

As to news, it consists in the rumour of a general change in Administration. I confess that so hasty a step as is generally talked of and believed, comes not within the scope of credit which my mind is framed to. Political wisdom suggests a multiplicity of reasons why the Prince of Wales should not act precipitately—nay, why Mr. Fox, &c., should not act precipitately; unless, indeed, to embroil the times, and seek occasions of profit and power from their turbulency and vicissitudes, may be the plot of some desperate men of the party. Of authorities for intentions of change, my best is Colonel Stanhope, who, coming from the Duke of Portland's the day before yesterday, mentioned that the arrangement of the new Administration was finally settled in everything; but, "that they had not yet succeeded in persuading the Duke of Devonshire to go to Ireland."

A-propos of Ireland. Accustomed to speculate on historical points, the precedent seems to me eventful, indeed, on that side of the water. The times, indeed, are perilous, and must be met everywhere with wisdom and firmness. At all times, I am ever, my dear Lord, in truest affection of friendship, your devoted and obliged friend, &c.,



Whitehall, Dec. 6th, 1788. MY DEAR BROTHER,

I have great pleasure in being able to tell you that, in addition to what you will have seen in the examination taken before the Privy Council, a Dr. Willis, whose name you will probably have heard, saw the King yesterday, and that his opinion is still more favourable as to the prospect of recovery. I have but just seen Pitt, who has been at Kew this morning, and saw Willis there. This general information is all that he had then to mention; but if there should be any particulars of any importance, I will let you know them. I am much mortified by receiving half a dozen Irish papers together this morning without a word from you, as the speculations on your side of the water are by no means indifferent, or uninteresting here.

The papers will have told you what passed in the two Houses. It was too late for me to write; nor, indeed, was Viner's nonsense worth sending. Fox looked ill, and spoke worse than I ever have heard him. His object was to beat about, and feel the pulse of the House with respect to further examination. I do not think he received much encouragement; but they are so anxious to mend this part of their case by cross-examining the physicians, that I am inclined to think they will try it. This opinion of Willis's is some temptation to us to allow it; but, on the whole, I think it better resisted. I should be quite clear about it, if it was not from a fear that some individuals may be caught by the notion of parliamentary dignity, and that our first division may thereby be less favourable than if it was taken on any direct question of party.

I send you a note which Wilberforce put into my hands. If the thing cannot be done, pray send a separate and very civil letter about it; because this Sir J. Coghill is one of his chief friends in Yorkshire, and he particularly desires to be able to send him a civil answer.

Ever most affectionately yours, W. W. G.

The next day, immediately after this favourable report from a physician whose experience in this particular branch of practice gave great weight to his opinions, Thurlow began to veer round again to the Ministry. "Whatever object he might at one time have had in view," says Mr. Grenville, "he has now taken his determination of abiding by the present Government." Thurlow, in short, was exactly the man the King believed him to be, and always kept in the sun.


Whitehall, Dec. 7th, 1788. MY DEAR BROTHER,

There is nothing particularly worth mentioning to you with respect to Willis, more than what I told you in my last letter. He expressed himself very strongly to Pitt as to his hopes of the King's recovery, and said that there was no symptom which he saw in him, or could learn from the other physicians, which he had not seen much stronger in other people who have recovered. He has, I understand, already acquired a complete ascendancy over him, which is the point for which he is particularly famous. He had the boldness yesterday to suffer the King to shave himself in his presence. The King was much more composed than he has ever been, slept uncommonly well the night before last; said in the morning that he found himself much better, for that Dr. Willis had settled his mind; and was remarkably quiet the whole of yesterday. The account this morning is also, I understand, very favourable. I have just seen a man who saw a note of Willis's dated late last night, in which he says that he is confident the King would do very well. He is to continue entirely with him, and to have the complete management of him. The other physicians are, however, to see him, in order to keep him in bodily health.

It is quite ridiculous to see how angry the Opposition are at the report of the physicians, and particularly at what Warren said, which, I understand, was very different from what they had expected. They go so far as to say, that if Fox had been present he would not have dared to give such an evidence. They hope to mend it by a subsequent examination before a Committee of the House: the object of Willis being examined is so great, that I think we shall consent to something of this sort. Not only his opinion will have great weight, but it will also make the others very cautious what they say in opposition to it.

The behaviour of the two Princes is such as to shock every man's feelings. What do you think of the Duke of York's having a meeting of the Opposition at his house on Thursday, before the House of Lords met, and then going down there to hear the examinations read? After that, they closed the day, by both going in the evening to Brooks's. The truth is, that the Duke is entirely in his brother's hands, and that the latter is taking inconceivable pains to keep him so, in order that he may not see what a line is open to him if he had judgment to follow it.

The assurances of support which Pitt receives from all quarters are much beyond the expectations which we had formed. It is also clear that, whatever object Thurlow might at one time have had in view, he has now taken his determination of abiding by the present Government, and supporting their measures with respect to the Regency. I imagine that Lord Stafford and Lord Weymouth have chiefly influenced his resolution—their line having been clear and decided from the beginning.

On the other hand, there seems great reason to believe that the Prince of Wales is inclined to go to all the lengths to which that party are pushing him. They have for several days been spreading a report that he has expressed a determination not to accept of the Regency under any restrictions or in any manner at all short of regal power; and that the Duke of York was commissioned by him to have declared this on Thursday, if anything had been said that could at all have led to it. The story of to-day is, that the three Royal Dukes have assured him of their resolution to refuse it if tendered to them on similar terms, and that they have authorized Fox to say this in the House of Commons. There is no knowing what sort of effect this may produce with respect to the measures of the present moment: that must depend entirely on the sort of turn that the people in general may take upon it at first. But it is very evident that by such a step the Prince will do himself a permanent mischief which he will never be able to repair, and which we shall probably all of us have much reason to regret. It is quite clear that, having once proposed these restrictions, as thinking them necessary for the interest of the King (and on that ground only could we propose them), no other motive whatever can be a justification for abandoning them, as long as there can be found one individual or set of individuals who will undertake to carry on the Government, and as long as Parliament continues to think the proposal right and equitable. What all this may produce, God only knows. Our reliance can only be on the discharge of what we owe to the King in gratitude and duty, and in the decided manner in which we have put all considerations out of the question which can personally affect our own interests.

In the midst of all this confusion, and while his sons and brothers are struggling to gain entire possession of his authority, the King may recover his reason. What a scene will present itself to him! and how devoutly must he pray, if he is wise, to lose again all power of recollection or reflection.

The struggle was now beginning in earnest between the Ministers and the Prince of Wales. The point at issue apparently narrowed itself to the restrictions; but there lay beneath this question of royal expediency a great constitutional principle, which was gradually developed in the progress of the subsequent debates. It was not alone that Mr. Fox and his party demanded the Regency without any limitations whatever, but that they demanded it as a right; setting up the doctrine that when the Sovereign, from any cause, became incapacitated, the Heir Apparent had an indisputable claim to the executive authority during the continuance of the incapacity, just as he would have on the demise of the Crown. It was strange enough that this doctrine, which Mr. Pitt denounced as "treason against the Constitution," should have been maintained by the avowed champions of popular liberty; and that it should have been reserved for the Ministers of the King to defend the interests of the people against the encroachments of royalty. Mr. Pitt asserted that the right of providing a remedy for the suspension of the regular powers of Government rested solely with the people, "from whom," he added, "all the powers of Government originate." The language he held upon this occasion is remarkable not only from its constitutional soundness, but for the perspicuity with which it states the actual question in contest, stripped of all disguises and evasions. "To assert an inherent right in the Prince of Wales to assume the Government, is virtually to revive those exploded ideas of the divine and indefeasible authority of Princes, which have so justly sunk into contempt and almost oblivion. Kings and Princes derive their power from the people; and to the people alone, through the organ of their representatives, does it appertain to decide in cases for which the Constitution has made no specific or positive provision." It will be seen that in the end the Prince of Wales was obliged to abandon his claim of right, and that the steadfastness of Pitt finally secured the recognition of the principle which placed in the hands of Parliament the settlement of the conditions under which His Royal Highness was to enter upon the Regency.

This glance at the subject is a little in advance of the correspondence; but it will be useful as a key to the points of discussion thrown up in its progress. The fulness and freshness of the letters, written daily, and containing the most minute history of those proceedings that has yet appeared in print, requires such slight elucidation as to render it undesirable to interrupt their continuity by commentaries, except where it may become necessary to direct attention to some special matter.

Both parties were now gathering their allies around them, and preparing for a contest which was not very creditable to the political character of the Opposition. In the meanwhile a third party was forming, which, trying to reconcile hopeless antagonisms, ran its head against a crotchet, resisting the restrictions on the one hand, and supporting Mr. Pitt, as Minister, on the other, for the sake of his popularity and transcendant abilities. This line of conduct is justly described by Mr. Grenville as "absolute nonsense."


Whitehall, Dec. 9th, 1788. MY DEAR BROTHER,

The messenger who carries this is sent for the purpose of collecting proxies. It is, you know, necessary that they should be renewed every session; for which reason I have desired that a blank proxy should be directed to you, which I suppose you will fill up, as before, with Fortescue's name. He is quite eager (especially for him), and came up to town for the first day. I think there is every reason to hope that we shall not stand in need of this sort of canvass, either for the House of Commons or the House of Lords; but you will certainly agree with me, that no pains are superfluous when such points are in question.

I do not learn that there is any foundation for the report which I mentioned to you of the round-robin entered into by their Royal Highnesses. The partizans of Opposition are, however, still circulating, with great industry, the idea that the Prince of Wales has positively declared his resolution not to accept the Regency under any restrictions whatever. I take this, however, to be nothing more than a bully, intended to influence votes in the House of Commons. If, however, he should be so desperate, I should hope there would be every reason to believe that the Queen would be induced to take the Regency, in order to prevent the King's hands from being fettered for the remainder of his life. Nothing has yet passed with respect to this subject. Pitt has seen her once; but the conversation was nothing more than general, although with the greatest civility, and even kindness, on her part towards him.

We receive every day new professions of attachment; and I do not yet hear of any one individual of any consequence whom we shall lose, except, probably, the Duke of Queensbury. The Duke of Grafton has declared himself explicitly. There is no longer any doubt of Thurlow; and there never has been any of Lord Stafford, Lord Weymouth, &c. Lord Lonsdale is still uncertain, and so is, I believe, the Duke of Northumberland—though this will have been brought to a point by this time. The general idea is, that he has connected himself with the Independents, of which there was some appearance last session. It is said that they mean to support Pitt as the Minister, but to oppose any restrictions on the Regent. This is not the less likely to be their conduct, on account of its being absolute nonsense.

With respect to individuals in the House of Commons, there are several who have long been wavering, and who have sent the most positive assurances of support.

There is every reason to believe that the country will continue entirely with us, and that addresses will be presented from all parts to the Regent, to continue the Government. I am afraid that, in point of time, nothing can be done of that sort in Ireland, without exposing you to much embarrassment.

I conceive that our Regent will probably be appointed, the Bill passed, &c., &c., by about the 10th or 12th of January, and that we shall then immediately be dismissed. You certainly must remain till your Parliament has met and appointed the Regent for Ireland, because there is no one else who can vacate your commission; and I think the contrivances which you once mentioned for avoiding it, are liable to great objections. Now, you will observe, that the addresses from Ireland could not be presented to the Prince of Wales till he was Irish Regent, and that it would be a very awkward thing to have the people there addressing him to continue you in Ireland, after you had declared your own resolution to quit it in consequence of the removal of your friends here. I wish you would consider all this attentively, because, if these difficulties could be removed, it would certainly be very desirable that it should appear as far as possible to be the united sense of all the three kingdoms, as well as of both Houses of Parliament, and of the King, that the present Government should remain; and that these Whigs should recommend the dismission in the teeth of all these.

Willis sent last night a note to Pitt about his attendance at the Committee to-day. In a postscript, he tells him that he thinks the King better and more composed than he has been since he has attended him.

Ever most affectionately yours, W. W. G.

A new question and a new embarrassment now arose, as to what was to be done about the Regency in Ireland. It was natural enough that the Prince of Wales should be popular in Ireland as a pis aller, on account of the known antipathy of the King to the Catholic claims; and it was apprehended that the Irish Parliament, acting independently of English precedent, would declare itself in favour of an unlimited Regency. The anxiety to which Lord Buckingham was exposed by this disturbing prospect (some people went so far as to cast the horoscope of an Irish revolution), and by the delays in the receipt of intelligence, owing to the imperfect and irregular means of communication existing between the two countries, betrayed him into some expressions of impatience, against which Mr. Grenville remonstrated with his habitual temperance and good sense, throwing out at the same time some sound suggestions as to the course it was desirable the Lord-Lieutenant should pursue. There are no qualities in these letters, wherever reference is made to the conduct of public men in great crises, more worthy of unmixed admiration than their practical sagacity and complete self-control.


Whitehall, Dec. 10th, 1788. MY DEAR BROTHER,

Your messenger having been, as he says, four or five days at sea, has just brought me your letter of the 2nd. I cannot avoid expressing to you the mortification I felt, on finding it filled with complaints of want of communication. It is now more than a month that I have written to you constantly seven days in the week, with the exception, I believe, of not four days in the whole time. I do this, not only without reluctance, but with pleasure, because I think it contributes to your satisfaction, and because it is a real relief to my mind to converse with you in this manner on the subjects which are, in the present moment, so interesting to us both. But I do it often under circumstances of so much other business, as makes it impossible for me to keep any copies or memoranda of what I write. I cannot, therefore, distinctly call back to my mind the thread of that correspondence; but, as far as my memory serves, I solemnly protest I know of no one fact, opinion, or conjecture, that could be of the least use to you, or could even satisfy your curiosity, that I have not regularly communicated to you as it arose.

You seem to have mistaken some expression in one of my letters, and to have understood that the proposition itself relating to the Regency was to have been brought forward on Thursday last. You will since have seen, that the preliminary steps require so much time, that it must still be Monday, or more probably Wednesday next, before anything can be moved. But you say that you have received no communication of the extent or wording of that plan, so as to consider its legal or political effect towards Ireland. On this, I can only say, that long before the outlines of that plan were finally settled, even, I believe, in Mr. Pitt's mind, certainly long before they were at all agreed upon by the Cabinet, I communicated them to you distinctly, and at length. There has since been no variation in these. With respect to the precise wording of the plan, I do not know that this is yet decided upon; nor do I suppose it can be so, till within a few hours of its being moved. But as to any legal effect which it can have upon Ireland, I have certainly failed in what I intended to do, if I have not stated to you a clear opinion, that no measure taken in Parliament here can possibly affect Ireland any otherwise than as a precedent, which every Irishman must think himself bound to follow, who does not wish to separate the two countries. It surely could not be your wish, nor would it be desirable, to attempt to pledge any Irishman one step beyond that general proposition, that whatever is done by the authority of the British Parliament as to England, must be done in Ireland by the authority of the Irish Parliament; but that the latter will grossly betray the interests of their own country, if they do not adopt the English measure, whatever that may ultimately be. I trust that we shall be able to carry the measure here, such as I stated to you long ago, some time before your Parliament meets; but if it should fail, and any different form be established, I hope we should be the last men in the two countries to wish to disunite them on this ground.

I cannot but repeat, that the expressions and style of your letter have hurt me sensibly. I do not believe, that if you were living in Pall Mall, you could be more distinctly or regularly informed of what passes. You will, of course, hear in Dublin, as you would in Pall Mall, an infinite variety of foolish reports, as is naturally the case when every man has his own speculation. You cannot, I am sure, think it possible that I can even enumerate, much less argue upon, or contradict all these; but I cannot, at this time, after some reflection, call to my mind any point of the smallest consequence in our present situation with which I am myself acquainted, and which I have omitted to state.

With respect to your own particular situation, I conceive that it is not possible that things can be brought to the point of affecting that for several weeks to come. The measure which is to be brought forward here will, of course, meet with violent opposition; and cannot, according to my calculation, be completed, so as to put the Prince of Wales in possession of the Regency, till the first or second week in January. I think as soon as you receive the notification that this measure has passed in England, it would be right for you to write a very short letter to the Secretary of State, mentioning in a very few words the opinions of lawyers there, that your patent can be vacated only by a Regent appointed by the Irish Parliament, suggesting the expedient of Lords Justices; and then desiring to know His Royal Highness's pleasure, whether he chooses that under those circumstances you should meet the Parliament, for the purpose of laying before them the circumstances of the present situation, or whether you should name Lords Justices, and who they should be. You see, I put this on the supposition that you are not immediately removed, which, for many reasons, I think unlikely. You know my opinion has always been that the Prince would not negotiate, and I am every day more confirmed in it. But I think it may be a question, whether he may not choose to look about him a little. Perhaps, however, in order to anticipate any sudden step, you would do well to send a letter such as I mention, so as to reach England a few days before the measure can pass, and to be here ready to be laid before him when he does accept. In a point of such importance, it seems to me that it would be proper that you should have, for your own justification, the written opinions of your lawyers on the point I mention, but not to send them over here. I mention this as a general idea; but wish you to consider it, because I am sure, in general, the less you write on this subject the better, in order that you may not give ground of misquoting, or misrepresenting what you say.

As to the idea of vesting the Government in Lords Justices, or taking any step for throwing up the Government in the interval, except with the consent and by the direction of the Prince of Wales, I should most earnestly deprecate it for a thousand reasons; but, above all, for the impression which it would give here of abandoning the interests of this country in Ireland, for the sake of adding to the confusion, and creating factious difficulties. I think your line clear, and that you have nothing to do but to sit still saying or doing nothing till our measure passes. You then ask the Prince of Wales whether he chooses that you or any Lords Justices should meet Parliament; and if he directs you to stay, you have nothing to do but to express to anybody that asks you, your wish that the English measure should be precisely followed. Whatever, under such circumstances, is the conduct of the Irish Parliament, you cannot be responsible for it, unless you make yourself so.

There is another urgent reason against your taking any step for breaking up your Government: the King is daily getting better, and has been continuing so to do ever since Sunday. Willis's examination before the Committee yesterday, was all but decisive as to the certainty of his recovery in a short time. I will send it to you in the course of to-morrow, or the next day; but these are the material parts. He is asked what hopes he entertains of the King's recovery? He says he entertains great hopes; that if it was the case of a common man, he should have no doubt of his recovery; but in the King's situation, his own reflections on his situation, when he begins to recover his reason, may retard the cure. (A good lesson, by the bye, to the Prince of Wales, &c.) He says he cannot yet affirm that there are signs of convalescence, but that there is everything leading to it; particularly that the irritation has almost entirely subsided, which must precede convalescence, or any appearance of it. He is asked with respect to his own experience, &c.? He says, that of ten patients brought to him within three months of their being attacked, nine have recovered. That the smallest time he remembers, is six weeks or two months from their being brought to him; the longest, a year and a half; the average, about five months.

With this account, it is not very sanguine to hope that the King's actual recovery may take place before the measure can pass here; or, at least, such a prospect of it as may make it absolutely impossible for the Prince, whatever his disposition may be, to change the Government. If the amendment continues, it may even be a question whether further adjournment may not be thought right, though the inconveniences of this, particularly with respect to foreign affairs, are so great that it must not be done but upon very strong grounds indeed.

The nonsense about dissolution has been talked in England as well as in Ireland; but I cannot persuade myself that it really comes from Lord Loughborough. It has not made its fortune much here. Anybody who had the smallest knowledge of the general turn and bent of the public mind, both in and out of Parliament, would not have broached so foolish an idea.

I told you, in one of my former letters, that I was utterly at a loss to guess what Bernard's motive was for going to Ireland in the moment which he chose. I stated my wishes against it; but I saw that there was some mystery behind, which he did not wish to explain, and therefore I pressed him no more about it.

Adieu, my dear brother. I hate writing anything to you, which can bear even the appearance of complaint. I feel for the disagreeableness of your situation at this moment: being at a distance from the scene of events which interest you so much, and from any conversation with those in whom you most confide. But I am sure you will, on reflection, acquit me of any want of attention to you on the head of communication.

I am much obliged to you for your anxiety about myself. I had a slight attack of fever for a day or two; but it is now entirely gone.

Five o'clock.

I am just returned from the Committee, who have finished the examination of the physicians. The examinations of to-day are not very material; but as far as they go, they confirm our favourable hopes. Another account is just come from Kew, that the King has continued better ever since the account of this morning, which is the public one.

Pitt is to move to-day for the Committee of Precedents. Fox told us he meant to say a few words against it, as unnecessary, but not to divide; so I shall not go down again.

The notion of the Prince of Wales not accepting, seems to lose ground; and all these favourable accounts of the King are evidently strong grounds of argument for our measures.


Stratton Street, Thursday, Dec. 11th, 1788. MY DEAR LORD,

I did not receive your kind letter of Dec. 2nd, until my arrival last night from the House of Commons, when it was too late to write, and the conversation which then arose was of so important a nature, that it was not practicable or proper to steal a moment from the debate, or to send a line respecting it ere it was closed, and the subject took a decisive turn, which was after the post hour.

To a friendship so dear and honourable to me as yours, and shown me by so many instances of goodness, the best answer I can make is, through life, by a return of grateful attachment, honour, and disinterestedness; and in these, if I aught know myself, I shall never fail.

Of the momentous business opened last night, I can only say that our astonishment is only to be equalled by the spirits we are in, on viewing the grounds Mr. Fox hath abandoned to us and left our own. Lord Radnor, who breakfasted with me this morning, told me he understands that Fox's doctrine, "that the Prince of Wales was Regent, invested with full regal authority immediately and de jure on the incapacity, however temporary, of the King, and that the two Houses of Parliament had no right to debate thereon even," came from that constitutional lawyer, Lord Loughborough. Radnor's further remark, that Fox, having on a former occasion sought to trespass on the royal just prerogative, had now completed his attack on the Constitution, in denying the rights of Lords and Commons, is worthy observation. Talbot, who made one of my morning's levee, told me that at White's last night, all was hurra! and triumph. Charles Sturt and other youngsters took part at the bar, to echo the "Hear, hear," from Fitzpatrick and Burke, of Fox's doctrine; yet the "Hear, hear," was but little caught or repeated, though given loudly. Looking back to the history of this "Man of the People," and to his present conduct, in despite of his talents of logical discrimination, I begin almost to doubt whether his weakness or profligacy is transcendant. Pitt's language was most masterly and decisive; and has been done but little justice to in the papers of this day. The general tenor of subject they will give you, but what I have seen does not touch on the overthrow of Fox's resort to the doctrine that Parliament was of "Kings, Lords, and Commons; that no two branches thereof could make a law," by the just and constitutional distinction between the two Houses making a law, and the providing or giving efficiency to the third executive branch of Legislature in cases of defect, whatever it may be. The report of the physicians being ordered to be printed, will be out to-morrow, when I will send it, with a few remarks. Our great days are to be Monday and Tuesday.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse