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the deliberations of Parliament. The existence of this
party, and their interference between the king and his
responsible advisers, may be traced, with more or less
distinctness, throughout the whole of this reign. By
their means the king caballed against his ministers,

i Harris, Life of Hardwicke, v. 3, ' Ib. pp. 22, 27, 30 ; Parl. Deb

p. 231. v. 16, p. 9. See Ed. Rev. v. 126,

' May's Hist. v. 1, pp. 11, 12. p. 14; Greville Memoirs, v. 1, p. 84!

I 2



thwarted their measures in Parliament, and on more
than one occasion effected their overthrow.' 4

By the encouragement which he afforded to these
irregular practices, it is undeniable that George III.
violated a foundation principle of the constitution, and
hindered the progress of parliamentary government,
which, when faithfully carried out, should foster and
promote reciprocal confidence between the sovereign and
his responsible advisers. We are not prepared to assert,
however, that under no circumstances whatever is the
sovereign justified in seeking advice from others than
those who form part of his recognised administration,
who may Every peer of the realm is an hereditary councillor of
king. the crown, and is entitled to offer advice to the reigning
monarch. The king, moreover, is at liberty to summon
whom he will to his Privy Council ; and every privy
councillor has in the eye of the law an equal right to
confer with the sovereign upon matters of public policy.
The position and privileges of cabinet ministers are, in
fact, derived from their being sworn members of the
Privy Council. It is true that by the usages of the con-
stitution cabinet ministers are alone empowered to
advise upon affairs of state, and that they alone are
ordinarily held responsible to their sovereign and to
Parliament for the government of the country. Yet it
is quite conceivable that circumstances might arise
which would render it expedient for the king, in the
interests of the constitution itself, to seek for aid and
counsel apart from his cabinet. Such an occasion, it may
be urged, was found in the events which led to the dis-
missal of the Coalition ministry of Fox and North in
1788. It will be remembered that the Bill for the


Coalition government of India, which had been drawn up by Mr.

in 1783.

Fox, had been formally sanctioned by his Majesty, and

* May, Const. Hist. v. 1, pp. 31, 47, 67, 70, 84, 88, 98; Master,
Geo. III. v. 1, pp. 67, 144,242.


passed triumphantly by the influence of the ministry
through the House of Commons, before the true charac-


ter of the measure was understood, either by the sove-
reign or by the country at large. The eyes of the king
were opened to the real scope and tendency of the Bill
by ex- Chancellor Thurlow, who availed himself of his
privilege as a peer to obtain access to the king, and to
advise him what course he should pursue at this junc-
ture. As soon as the Bill reached the Upper House,
George III. authorised Lord Temple, one of his ' friends,'
to oppose it, and even to use his name to defeat it in that
chamber. Succeeding in this, the king then dismissed
his ministers, and empowered Mr. Pitt to form a new
administration. In taking office, Mr. Pitt, as he was
constitutionally bound to do, justified to the country the
removal of his predecessors, and assumed entire respon-
sibility for the same. Only by such a course, indeed,
was it possible that the conduct of the king could be
condoned, in a constitutional point of view. Even so, it
must be admitted that the course he pursued in this
emergency was unusual, extreme, and most undesirable
to establish as a precedent ; more especially in regard
"to the mode in which he brought about the rejection of
the India Bill namely, by the use of his own name to
influence the proceedings of the legislature. For the
crown cannot take notice of business actually depending
in Parliament without a breach of privilege, and an in-
fringement of the independence which belongs to both
branches of the legislature, as component parts of the
supreme power of the state/ But the question is, not
whether the king chose the best course that was open
to him to thwart the designs of the unscrupulous men
who had obtained control, both in the ministry and in
Parliament, but whether we are warranted in so far

r Bowyer's Const. Law, pp. 135, See further, on thia subject, post.
136 ; Hats. Free. v. 2, pp. 352-356. v. 2.


limiting the exercise of personal authority on the part
of the sovereign as to deny him the right to interfere
when his ministry are about to consummate an act
which, in his opinion, is fraught with danger to the
state, and is injurious to the common weal. It may be
urged that, having lost confidence in his ministers, the
king should have immediately dismissed them ; but
events were scarcely ripe enough for such a step. For,
while the right of the sovereign to dismiss his ministers
is unquestionable, constitutional usage prescribes that it
should be exercised on grounds which can be justified
by Parliament ; w and as the king had agreed to the
introduction of the India Bill, although in ignorance of
its true character, and it had already passed the House
of Commons, he could scarcely venture to dismiss his
ministry on that account until he had succeeded in un-
masking their designs, and in bringing about their
defeat on the measure in the House of Lords. To assist
his judgment and afford him substantial help at this
crisis, the king naturally had recourse to the advice of
trusty friends, on whose fidelity he could rely. There is
no question that, in a constitutional point of view, any
Advice peer or privy councillor who may advise the crown
sporai- becomes himself responsible to Parliament for such
biiity advice, x and should be prepared to admit and assume
togetSr. the same, in order that, in the words of Lord North/
' advice and responsibility might go hand-in-hand.' The
king, however, having succeeded, with the assistance of
his friends, in arresting the further progress of the ob-
noxious Bill, immediately entrusted the reins of govern-
ment to Mr. Pitt, who, while he could not vindicate in
every particular the means made use of in bringing
about the change of ministry, nevertheless assumed the

w See May's Hist. v. 1, p. 126. Ld. Palmeraton's note. Martin, Pr.

x Ld. Lansdowne and Ld. J. Rus- Consort, v. 5, p. 261.

sell, Hans. D. v. 130, p. 387. And * Parl. Hist. v. 24, p. 291 ; and see

see Welln. Desp. 3rd ser. v. 4, p. 225, Ib, v. 23, p. 67.


responsibility of that change before Parliament and the
country.' 2 Thus the authority of the sovereign was
rescued from the meshes of political intrigue in which it
had become involved ; partly by the machinations of the
ambitious men who had then the upper hand, and partly
by reason of the king's own irregular acts ; and the
chariot of the state proceeded once more along the
beaten tracks, duly subjected to constitutional control.

The position of Mr. Pitt, on accepting office, w r as Mr. Pitt s
one of peculiar difficulty. He had to contend almost ministr*.
single-handed against an overwhelming majority of the tion -
House of Commons, marshalled by Fox, North, Sheri-
dan, and other able politicians, who were indefatigable
and unscrupulous in their endeavours to effect his over-
throw. But he resolutely determined to maintain his
ground as the king's minister, and to abstain from a
dissolution of Parliament, though this was repeatedly
urged upon him by his Majesty, until he could be satis-
fied that there was a decided reaction in the country in
his favour, indications of the commencement of which
began to be speedily manifested. He therefore boldly
continued the struggle from December 22 to March 24,
notwithstanding reiterated votes of want of confidence
and every hindrance (short of an actual refusing of the
supplies, from which even the factious Opposition
shrank) that the ingenuity of his opponents could

Meanwhile, ' the loyalty of the people was aroused,
and they soon ranged themselves on the side of the king
and his ministers. Addresses and other demonstrations
of popular sympathy were received from all parts of
the country ; and the king was thus encouraged to
maintain a firm attitude in front of his opponents. The

* See Stanhope's Life of Pitt, v. 1, Lives of the Chanc. v. 5, p. 565. This

pp. 153-155. Massey's George III. sound constitutional lawyer does not

v. 3, p. 224 See also Ld. Campbell's hesitate to express his approval of the

account of these transactions, in his king's conduct in this emergency.'


tactics of the two parties in Parliament, and the con-
duct of their leaders, were also calculated to convert
public opinion to the king's side. Too much exaspe-
rated to act with caution, the Opposition ruined their
cause by factious extravagance and precipitancy. They
were resolved to take the king's cabinet by storm, and
without pause or parley struck incessantly at the door.
Their very dread of a dissolution, which they so loudly
condemned, showed little confidence in public support.
Instead of making common cause with the people, they
lowered their contention to a party struggle. Consti-
tutionally, the king had a right to dismiss his ministers,
and to appeal to the people to support his new adminis-
tration. The Opposition endeavoured to restrain him
in the exercise of this right, and to coerce him by
a majority of the existing House of Commons. They
had overstretched the legitimate limits of their power,
and the assaults directed against prerogative recoiled
upon themselves.'*

The The private letters of the king to Mr. Pitt, at this

views 8 of period, show us the light in which his Majesty regarded
hi ? . the conduct of the House of Commons towards the
17 minister of his choice. Writing to Mr. Pitt shortly
before the dissolution of Parliament, the king says, ' he
[Mr. Pitt] will ever be able to reflect with satisfaction,
that in having supported me, he has saved the constitu-
tion, the most perfect of human formation.' b And, on
another occasion, the king refers to his own course as
' calculated to prevent one branch of the legislature
from annihilating the other two, and seizing also the
executive power.' c While it is necessary that the king's
government should be carried on in harmony with the
House of Commons, a due regard to the royal preroga-
tive certainly requires that, in the first instance, the

May's Hist. v. 1, pp. 71, 72. e Ib. p. 293.

May's Hist. v. 1, pp. 71, Y2.
Tomline's Life of Pitt, v. 1, p. 321.


choice of the crown, in selecting the ministers of state,
should be respected, and no hasty or factious opposition
be directed against them, until they have given proof
of incapacity or unfitness for the duties they have been
selected by the crown to discharge. This the Parlia-
ment of 1784 were unwilling to allow ; and accordingly
when, at the fitting moment, the king and his minister
appealed to the people, the result of the dissolution was
the return of a large majority in favour of the new
minister, who thus commenced a long lease of power,
secure alike in the good will of the people and of the
crown. In Mr. Pitt, George III. found a minister after
his own heart, of high ability, unswerving integrity,
and firmness of purpose. Nevertheless, the king never
surrendered, even to his favourite minister, the unre-
stricted exercise of the prerogative, but himself shaped
the general policy of his government, and personally
influenced the distribution of patronage, both in Church
and State, d

After the death of Mr. Pitt, in 1806, the king was FOX and
obliged to accept of an administration taken chiefly m^Jtry!
from the Whig party, in whom he had no confidence.
-The ministry of c All the Talents,' under the presidency
of Lord Grenville and Mr. Fox, was forced, by political
considerations, upon the king. Before the arrangements
were completed, a difficulty arose on a point of prero-
gative. During the negotiations, ' Lord Grenville pro-
posed to his Majesty some changes in the adminis-
tration of the army ; by which the question was raised
whether the army should be under the immediate
control of the crown, through the commander-in-chief, ontro1 o

. ' the army

or be subject to the supervision of ministers, The king by minis-
at once contended that the management of the army
rested with the crown alone ; and that he could not
permit his ministers to interfere with it, beyond the

May, v. 1, pp. 75, 85.



Office of
der- in-
chief of
the army.

levying of the troops, their pay and clothing. Lord
Grenville was startled at such a doctrine, which he
conceived to be entirely unconstitutional, and to which
he would have refused to submit. For some time it
was believed that the pending ministerial arrangements
would be broken off; but on the following day Lord
Grenville presented a minute to his Majesty, stating
that no changes in the management of the army should
be effected without his Majesty's approbation.' With
this proviso the king assented to the ministerial claims ;
and thus the sole remaining branch of the public service,
heretofore considered as to a certain extent exempted
from such interference, was brought under ministerial
control. 6

So recently as 1743, it was claimed that the king, as comrnander-
in-chief, had an absolute power of appointing and cashiering officers
of the army, and was not bound by the advice of a responsible
minister ; who, nevertheless, was responsible to Parliament for a
wrong use of the prerogative/

George III., for the first thirty years of his reign, claimed and
exercised an irresponsible authority over the management and
patronage of the army. The secretary-at-war, though nominally
responsible to Parliament in military affairs, was actually limited in
his powers to financial control.^

In 1789, the secretary-at-war admitted ' that he was in some
sort officially responsible for every measure taken in the military
department,' which Mr. Fox said ' he was glad to hear, and that they
had for \hefirst time learnt, that they actually had such a person
as a responsible military minister.' h

In 1793, the king insisted upon appointing the general who
should command the expedition to Flanders. He chose the Duke of
York, who proved to be so incapable, that Mr. Pitt demanded that
he should be brought before a court-martial. The king would not
agree to this, and Pitt at last yielded, on condition that the appoint
ment of general and all other arrangements of the foreign expedi-
tions should be made in future by ministers, and not by the king.
George III. assented to this condition, in order to save his son from

May's Hist. v. 1, p. 87, quoting Military Forces, v. 2, pp. 73, 337.

Ann. Reg. 1800, p. 20 ; Lewis, Ad- Fonblanque, Life of Burgoyne,

min. p. 287. p. 460.

1 Parl. Hist. v. 12, p. 560. Clode, b Parl. Hist. v. 27, pp. 1312, 1318.


exposure. Accordingly, the appointments for the Egyptian expedi-
tions were made by Pitt himself and Lord Grenville, without the
interference of the king. 1 But it was not until 1810 that, incon-
sequence of further disclosures, showing the evil of such inter-
ferences with ministerial responsibility, that the ' personal rule ' of
the sovereign in military matters was entirely done away with.J

After the death of the Duke of York (December 9, 1826)
George IV. attempted to become commander-in-chief in his own
person, proposing to manage the army through a board of general
officers and the secretary-at-war. But the objections to this plan
were too serious to be overcome, and his Majesty gave way. The
Duke of Wellington was then appointed to the command of the
army ; k nevertheless, in 1829, King George IV. filled up vacancies
in the constableship of Windsor Castle, and in the colonelcy of the
1st Life Guards, without even informing his minister of these
arrangements. 1

In 1850, the Duke of Wellington himself urged Prince Albert
to consent to succeed him as commander-in-chief, but the Prince's
constitutional knowledge induced him to withhold his consent from
this tempting offer, and the command was afterwards conferred
upon Lord Hardinge.

Lord Grenville's ministry was then completed, but Quarrel


it was of very brief duration. The death of Mr. Fox, the king

and his

which speedily followed that of his great rival, led to and hls

several changes in the cabinet, and the following year a
difficulty occurred between the king and his ministry,
which led to their dismissal. 111

The point at issue arose out of an attempt on the
part of ministers to induce the king to agree to a Bill
to remove certain disabilities from Eoman Catholics
and dissenters. But the king resisted the proposal,
and ministers withdrew their Bill. Whereupon the king
demanded of them a pledge that they would not again
propose any similar measure. This they refused to
give, and were accordingly dismissed from office. 11 This
question will hereafter engage our attention, when the

1 Sir G. C. Lewis' Letters, p. 394. ' D. of Welln. Civ. Desp. v. 6, pp.

J Kinglake, Crimea, v. 6, p. 78. 153, 162-166, 181.

k Quar. Rev. v. 133, p. 310. D. - Hans. D. March 26, 1807.

of Welln. Civ. Desp. v. 4, p. 222. n National Rev. v. 14, p. 388.



of George

of minis-
ters in

relations between a constitutional sovereign and his
responsible advisers are discussed. Meanwhile it is
worthy of remark, that May, in reviewing this trans-
action, condemns alike the conduct of ministers in their
hasty and unauthorised minute, and the conduct of the
king in endeavouring to exact a pledge from his cabinet
that they would never again obtrude their advice upon
him in regard to the Eoman Catholic claims. He also
distinctly asserts that the incoming ministers were
responsible for the conduct of the king concerning the
pledge, as though they had themselves advised it.

From this time until the close of the reign of George
III. no further question arose which affects the history
of ministerial responsibility. The king's ' own power,
confided to the Tory ministers who were henceforth
admitted to his councils, was supreme. Though there
was still a party of " the king's friends," his Majesty
agreed too well with his ministers, in principles and
policy, to require the aid of irresponsible advisers.' p The
personal influence of the king was, indeed, very con-
siderable throughout the whole of his reign, and was a
great source of strength to such ministers as enjoyed
his favour. Tt was, on the contrary, a continual cause
of difficulty to ministers who were so unfortunate as
to incur his disapprobation." 1

In reviewing the history of this reign, we cannot fail
to notice the ease with which the successive administra-
tions who held office were able to control the House
of Commons, and to carry on the government in con-
nection therewith. This was mainly attributable, no
doubt, to the number of seats in that House which
were virtually in the nomination of the crown, or in
in the hands of the leading aristocratic families, from

May, Const. Hist. v. 1, pp. 96. > Sir G. C. Lewis, Adoainis. of Qt.
97. Brit. p. 420.

P Ib. p. 98.


amongst whom the members of the cabinet were, at
that time, exclusively chosen/

The great governing families of England have always influence
been divided in their political opinions. Had they been
of one mind, their influence would have been irresistible.
As it was, the Whigs and Tories were continually strug-
gling for the mastery. Sometimes the heart of the
nation would incline to favour the traditions of the
monarchy, embodied in the Tory creed ; again, the ideas
of progress which were the battle-cry of the Whigs
would be in the ascendant. George III., as we have
seen, was strongly biassed on behalf of the Tory party;
and no wonder, for the ' great Tory peers and patrons
of -boroughs, who, by their influence in counties and
their direct power of nomination, commanded the votes
of a large section of the House of Commons, were
willing, in general, to support any ministry which the
king appointed, and to permit all the influence of
the crown to be exercised in its favour, provided that
their own personal wishes respecting the distribution
of patronage received due attention. They contented
themselves, as politicians, with a barter of power for
patronage ; they gave the former and received the
latter. The great Whig lords, however, made a harder
bargain with the crown. They insisted upon selecting
the king's ministers before they consented to support
them. They required that an administration should be
formed of- members of their own party, whose names
should be proposed by their own leaders.' s

Between the oligarchies of the two great parties,
says Sir G. C. Lewis, ' there was this great difference,
that whereas the Tories submitted themselves abso-
lutely to the will of the king, the Whigs gave him only
a conditional support ; they insisted on his government

See ante, p. 10. p. 88. Fitzmaurice, Life of Ld. Shel-

Lewis, Adminis. of Gt. Brit, burne, v. 3, pp. 223, 238, 501.


acting upon their political principles, and being formed

of persons who would carry those principles into effect,

though they might be unpalatable to the crown.' The

king ' chafed at the oligarchy of the Whig houses,

because the Whigs put a bit in his mouth ; whereas

the Tory party was a quiet beast of burden, which he

could ride or drive as he pleased. The real contest in

those days was, not between aristocracy and democracy,

but between aristocracy and monarchy ' The plan of

Mr. Pitt's Eeform advocated by Mr. Pitt, in 1780, was mainly

pa^Ha- directed to emancipate Parliament from the influence

mentary o f ^he crown, exercised through the nomination

reform. 9

boroughs, and to prevent the king irom bartering
patronage for seats. He sought thus to diminish the
influence of the crown in the House of Commons,
which, in the words of Dunning's famous resolution of
April 6, 1780, ' had increased, is increasing, and ought
to be diminished.' But ere long this desirable object
was attained by other means. The labours of Edmund
Burke in the cause of economic reform, the abolition of
sinecure offices, and the reduction of the pension list
within reasonable limits, sufficed to curtail the excessive
and unwarrantable abuse of crown patronage. For
this reason, principally, Mr. Pitt refrained from any
further advocacy of parliamentary reform. When the
question was revived by Lord John Bussell, after the
Peace, and made a ministerial question by the Grey
administration, it had entirely changed its aspect.
' The influence of the crown was no longer formidable ;
and the measure of 1831 was aimed at the diminution
of the power of the aristocratic proprietors of close
boroughs, by the same means which Pitt proposed to
employ to diminish the power of the crown.' t
character George IV., when Prince of Wales, had been the
of^George | 3OSOm friend of Fox and Sheridan, and it was supposed

* Lewis, Adiuinis. pp. 01-99.


that upon his accession to the throne he would promote
the Whigs to place and power. But when, in 1811,
during the incapacity of his father, he became prince
regent, he evinced a remarkable and increasing in-
difference to the principles and persons of the Whig
leaders. After the death of the old king on January
29, 1820 he made no change in his policy, but con-
tinued to repose confidence in the ministers of whom
his father had approved. So that, during the whole of
his reign (1820-1830), the Tories maintained their
ascendency in the cabinet and in the legislature. In-
different to the exercise of political power, and chiefly
concerned in gratifying his taste for pomp and luxury,
George IV. rarely attempted to interfere with his
ministers, except in matters personally affecting himself,
or some of the royal family, when he could be very
resolute and determined. 11 So far as general politics
were concerned, he usually acquiesced in the views of
his constitutional advisers, and co-operated with them

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