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sures ; a determination which he immediately carried
out, by opposing, on April 25, the government plan for
military defence, and developing a scheme of his own.
On a division, ministers were sustained by a small ma-
jority. But, taking into account the gradual decline of
his own numbers, and the increasing strength of his
opponents, Mr. Addington deemed it expedient to resign.
Upon his informing the king of this resolution, there
was an immediate resumption of intercourse between
his Majesty and Mr. Pitt. At first, communications
were conducted through Lord Eldon (the Lord Chan-
cellor); 11 but, on May 6, the king himself wrote to Mr.
Pitt, requiring of him, as a necessary preliminary to his
return to office, that he would never agitate or support
Eoman Catholic emancipation, or the repeal of the Test
Act ; and that in the new ministry (wherein the king
hoped Mr. Pitt would include as many of his Majesty's
present servants as possible) Mr. Fox should be ex-
cluded. Mr. Pitt had previously determined that he
would not again press the Catholic claims upon his royal
master, whether he should be in or out of office. This
resolution had been made known to the king so long
ago as March 1801 ; so that, while he contrived on this
occasion to evade giving the formal pledge which his
Majesty required, he was nevertheless able to satisfy
his sovereign as to the policy he would advocate in the
event of his return to power. Although yielding to

n Lord Eldon'a share in these Lewis, Aduiinis. pp. 243, 279; Quar.

transactions gave rise to an imputa- Rev, v. 112, p. 375.

tion that he intrigued for the return Knight, v. 7, p. 431 ; Parl. Deb.

of Pitt to power, and for his own re- v. 9, p. 254; Stanhope's Pitt, v. 3,

tention in office; but this has not p. 310; Lewis, Adminis. pp. 223-

been satisfactorily established. See 244.


the necessity of the case, in recalling Mr. Pitt, the king
was reluctant to part with Mr. Addington. Before
taking the final step, he offered his faithful premier a
dissolution of Parliament, if he thought it would insure
the stability of his administration. But this was de-
clined ; for, while Mr. Addington did not doubt his
ability to restore and retain his ascendency in the House
of Commons, he felt that he could not command a ma-
jority in the Lords without resorting to the extreme
and dangerous measure of creating a batch of peers. p
He therefore resigned office on May 10. 1804.

6. Mr. Pitt's Second Administration. 1804.

Mr. Pitt, when invited to communicate with the 1804.
king in regard to the existing state of public affairs,
sent his Majesty a letter, on May 2, through Lord Eldon,
containing a plan for the formation of a new govern-
ment, which should comprehend the leaders of all
political parties. The king, who was greatly troubled
at this time by the resignation of his favourite Adding-
ton, and not at all willing to re-admit Pitt to office,
gave a discouraging reply. But on May 7, after Pitt
had satisfied the king that he would no longer agitate
him by renewing his advocacy of the Eoman Catholic
claims, he had an audience of his Majesty, and suc-
ceeded, with some difficulty, in obtaining leave to treat
with Lord Grenville and his friends, and with the friends
of Mr. Fox ; but the king positively refused to admit
Mr. Fox himself into the cabinet, though pressed to
receive him by Pitt. The Grenville party, however,
declined to accept office without Fox, and Pitt was com-
pelled to make other arrangements. The new cabinet
consisted principally of peers ; Lord Castlereagh being
the only one, besides Pitt, who was a member of the

Adolphus, v. 7, p. 768. Life of Earl of Minto, v. 3, c. liii.


House of Commons. q Pitt took his seat, after his re-
election, on May 18, 1804. But he found himself less
strong in the confidence of the House than heretofore.
A severe and mortifying trial overtook him in the fol-
lowing session. His friend and colleague, Lord Melville
(First Lord of the Admiralty), was accused, in the Tenth
Keport of the Commissioners of Naval Inquiry, with a
misappropriation of public money when he held the
office of Treasurer of the Navy. A motion, inculpating
him of this offence, was carried in the House of Com-
mons by the Speaker's casting vote, notwithstanding the
opposition of Pitt. A few days afterwards, Mr. Pitt
informed the House that Lord Melville had resigned his
ministerial office ; and that he had advised the king to
erase his name from the list of the privy council. r

Articles of impeachment were exhibited against Lord Melville ;
and he was tried by the House of Lords, but pronounced not guilty.
He was then restored to his place in the Privy Council ; but never
afterwards held office, though invited to do so by the Portland
administration. 8

1805. j n the autumn of 1805, Pitt again endeavoured to

overcome the king's objections to Mr. Fox, but without
success ; and he was obliged to abandon the idea of
meeting Parliament with any accession of administra-
tive or parliamentary strength.* But it was fated that
he should never appear in the House of Commons again.
His health, which had been long failing, suddenly gave
way, and he died on January 23, 1806 being the
twenty-fifth anniversary of the day on which he first
took his seat in parliament at the early age of forty-
eight. After Mr. Pitt's decease, the junction of political
parties, which he had latterly striven to bring about,
though frustrated by the king's refusal to admit Mr.
Fox into the cabinet, was accomplished. The critical

Lewis, Adminis. p. 246. Ib. p. 297.

Ib. pp. 257, 278. Ib. p. 259.


state of our continental relations induced the leading
politicians to sink minor differences in a general union,
and to agree to the formation of a Coalition govern-
ment on a wide and comprehensive basis."

7. Lord Grenville's Administration. 1806.

After an ineffectual attempt on the part of the king 180fi -
to induce Lord Hawkesbury (the Home Secretary) to
form a new ministry, which should represent as nearly
as possible the principles of the late cabinet, his Majesty
was induced, by the retiring ministers, to send, on
January 26, for Lord Grenville, and empower him to
form a comprehensive administration, which, it was
understood, should include Mr. Fox. From the eminent
statesmen of which this ministry was composed, it
became known as ' All the Talents.' Fox was appointed
Foreign Secretary, and leader of the House of Com-
mons. The only terms which the new ministers made
with the king related to the management of the army, a
point which has already engaged our attention/ Upon
the question of the Eoman Catholic claims the ministry
were divided, and had no declared policy. With a
view to strengthen their political position, Lord Ellen-
borough, the Chief Justice of the King's Bench, had
been admitted to a seat in the cabinet. This arrange-
ment was open to grave constitutional objections, and
became the subject of animadversion in both Houses
of Parliament. Although the appointment was success-
fully defended at the time, it was generally condemned
by public opinion, and no similar appointment has since
been made. w On September 13, 1806, Mr. Fox died, an
event which weakened the ministry in Parliament very

u Lewis, Adininis. p. 267. w See a full discussion of this ques-

T Ib. p. 287. And see ante, p. 121. tion in v. 2.


1806. materially. But the changes of office proposed by
Lord Grenville, and assented to by the king, preserved
the balance of power in the Coalition government.* In
the following month ministers suddenly determined upon
a dissolution of Parliament with a view to strengthen
their hands in the prosecution of the war with
France/ In the new House. of Commons they were able
to command a large majority. Nevertheless, their
downfall was near at hand. True to their avowed
principles when in opposition, they drafted a Bill to
remove certain civil disabilities of Roman Catholics
and Dissenters who held commissions in the army or
navy. They sought and obtained permission from his
Majesty to submit this measure to Parliament. But
the king's consent was given with great reluctance; and,
as it afterwards proved, under a misapprehension as to
the extent of relief proposed to be granted. This mis-
apprehension was shared in by some members of the
cabinet itself. When the ministerial intentions were
fully explained, one of their number (Lord Sidmouth)
tendered his resignation, and the king declared his
decided opposition to the Bill ; which, meanwhile, had
been introduced, and read a first time in the House of
Commons. The ministry anxiously disavowed any in-
tention to deceive their royal master, or to go beyond
the authority they presumed he had given them to
initiate legislation on this subject ; and the king himself

1807. fully acquitted them of any such design. In order to
satisfy his Majesty's scruples, the ministry, on March 15,
passed a cabinet minute, which they communicated to
the king, and in which they agreed to withdraw the
Bill, but claimed the right of publicly expressing their
individual sentiments on the subject, and of proposing
at any future time such measures for the relief of their
Roman Catholic fellow-subjects as they might deem to

* See Lewis, Adminis. p. 293.
Bulwer's Palmerston, v. 1, p. 52. Parl. Dtb. v. 8, p. 27,


be called for by the condition of Ireland. The king
resented this declaration, and insisted that it should be
withdrawn. But, not content with this, he endeavoured
to exact from the ministry a pledge that they would
never, under any circumstances, propose in cabinet any
measure of concession to the Roman Catholics, or in
relation thereto. They very properly refused to give
any such assurance ; whereupon, on March 24, they
received their dismissal. 2 On the day previous, Lord
Howick (Foreign Secretary) informed the House of
Commons that, although ministers had not received the
royal commands to deliver up the seals of office, the
king had thought proper to send for persons not
employed as his servants, and was engaged in arrange-
ments for a new administration. a On the 25th instant,
after the dismissal, his lordship gave notice that as, on
the morrow, the House would be moved to adjourn for
several days, he would take the opportunity to give
explanations respecting the change of ministry. A
similar notice was given by the late premier in the
House of Lords. At the time appointed, the explana-
tions were made, and a short debate thereupon arose in
both Houses. In the course of the debate, notice was
given (in each House) of intended motions in regard to
the circumstances attending the dismissal of the minis-
try. 13 Parliament then adjourned until April 8.

8. Duke of Portland's Second Administration. 1807.

Meanwhile the Duke of Portland, who had been
charged by the king to form a new ministry, 'appears,
on March 25, 1807, to have succeeded in that under-
taking ; although no formal announcement of his suc-
cess seems to have been communicated to Parliament.

z Bulwer'sPalmerston,v. 1, pp.02- b Ib. pp. 260, 279.

76^ Walpole : s Perceval, v. 1, pp. 223- c Ib. p. 187. For au account of the

233. Parl. Deb. v. 9, pp. 266-276. new ministerial arrangements, see

* Parl. Deb. v. 9, p. 174. Lewis, Admiuis. p. 206.


1807. But, on the following day, new writs were moved for in
the Commons, on behalf of the members of the incom-
ing administration who had seats in that House. On
April 9, the new ministers being present, Mr. Brand
moved to resolve, ' That it is contrary to the first duties
of the confidential servants of the crown to restrain
themselves by any pledge, expressed or implied, from
offering to the king any advice which the course of cir-
cumstances may render necessary for the welfare and
security of any part of the empire.' There was a general
acquiescence by members in this doctrine, but it was
objected to as being ' an abstract proposition,' and there-
fore inexpedient and inconvenient for the House directly
to affirm. Accordingly an amendment, that the other
orders of the day be read, was proposed on behalf of
ministers, and agreed to on division. During the debate,
Mr. Perceval (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) stated
that ' to the best of his knowledge and belief, the king

o f ^j

had no adviser on the point of requesting the pledge ; ' d
a remark which called forth emphatic declarations ' that
there was not a moment in the king's life, from his ac-
cession to his demise, when there was not a person con-
stitutionally responsible for his actions ; ' that it was ' of
the greatest importance to his Majesty that the doctrine
of responsible advisers should be strictly maintained ;'
and that, although the king, in dismissing a ministry, in
the exercise of his undoubted prerogative, might appear
to be acting without advice, yet that the incoming
ministry did themselves assume the responsibility of the
dismissal of their predecessors. The king being irre-
sponsible by law, if the ministers should also claim, for
whatever reason, to be absolved from responsibility,

d Parl. Deb. v. 9, p. 328. He ad- rence (p. 345). But a few days

mitted, however, that he ' approved afterwards Mr. Perceval reiterated

of what had been done, and was ready his denial of the doctrine, that minis-

to be responsible for it ' (p. 316) ; a ters who accepted office were legally

declaration in which Mr. Secretary responsible for the change of goveru-

Cauning expressed his full concur- ment (p. 473).


there would be no security for the people against the iso:.
evils of bad government. 6 In the House of Lords, on
April 13, the Marquis of Stafford made a motion similar
in effect to that submitted to the House of Commons by
Mr. Brand, except that it was prefaced by a preamble,
expressive of regret at the changes which had taken
place in his Majesty's councils. It was met on behalf
of ministers by a motion to adjourn, which was carried.
On April 15 Mr. Lyttleton moved, in the House of
Commons, ' That this House, considering a firm and
efficient administration as indispensably necessary, in the
present important crisis of public affairs, has seen, with
the deepest regret, the late change in his Majesty's
councils.' The friends of the motion acknowledged the
right of the king to choose his own advisers, but insisted
that the House had the privilege of giving its opinion on
the fitness of the persons selected to fill the situations
to which they were appointed. But the House were not
prepared to limit the exercise of the prerogative so far
as to refuse a fair trial to the king's ministers. The
debate was in substance a repetition of the former dis-
cussion ; but it was signalised by an able speech from
Sir William Grant (the Master of the Eolls), in which he
commented severely on the attempt of the late ministers
to expose the king to odium because he had thought fit
to dismiss them. He remarked that many ministers had
been dismissed from office without any cause assigned,
but that never until now had any one come to Parlia-
ment to complain of his sovereign. ' Lord Soiners was
removed without a shadow of complaint ; did he demand
an investigation of the cause ? When Godolphin's ad-
ministration was removed by Queen Anne, did they
complain to Parliament? In 1757, the dismissal of Mr.
Pitt and Mr. Legge produced a great ferment ; but was
anything said about that dismissal in Parliament ? If a

Purl. Deb. v. 0, pp. 285, 320, 335, 362, 380.


minister were to secure himself the right of enquiry into
the causes of his removal, he would approximate his
situation to that of a judge, or any other officer, for life.
Of a change in administration, Parliament had no con-
stitutional knowledge, and on such change could found
no enquiry.' An amendment, on behalf of ministers, to
pass to the orders of the day, was then put and car-
ried/ Notwithstanding that by these votes the new
government was fully sustained by majorities in Parlia-
ment, advantage was taken of the popular feeling in
favour of the king's act in dismissing his ministers upon
* Protestant grounds,' to dissolve Parliament at the end
of its first session. g The main issue raised by this
appeal to the country was the propriety of the conduct
of his Majesty in changing his advisers ; proceeding, as
it did, from a conscientious conviction that a due regard
for the maintenance of the principle of Protestantism
in the constitution demanded such a proceeding. This
was distinctly enunciated in the royal speech at the
prorogation of Parliament. 11 The elections went in
favour of ministers, and their majority was largely
increased in the new House of Commons. Upon the
meeting of Parliament, amendments to the address, in
answer to the speech from the throne, were proposed in
both Houses, condemning the dissolution, as having been
resorted to upon ' groundless and injurious pretences ; '
but they were negatived by large majorities. 1 The Duke
of Portland, we have seen, was the nominal head of this
ministry ; but he rarely superintended anything, or
interfered with the arrangements of his colleagues, so
that for a time the administration became, once more, a

f Parl. Deb. v. 0, pp. 472-474. attack for sanctioning the ' No Popery '

And see Speaker Abbott's remarks in cry on this occasion ; notwithstanding-

Colchester Diary, v. 2, p. 119. their own convictions in favour of

* Yonge, Life of Ld. Liverpool, Roman Catholic emancipation. See

v. 1 , p. 237. Lewis, Adminis. p. 302.

h Ib. p. 552. Mr. Canning and Ld. ' Parl. Deb. v. 0, pp. 583-658.
Ua.tlcrengh laid themselves open to


mere government by departments. 3 Its most influential
member was Mr. Spencer Perceval, the Chancellor of the

9. Mr. Perceval's Administration. 1809.

On October 30, 1809, the Duke of Portland died.
After an ineffectual attempt to induce Lord Grenville to
form an extended and combined administration, he was
succeeded by Mr. Perceval as premier.*

Mr. Perceval held the two offices of First Lord of the Treasury and
Chancellor of the Exchequer in conjunction. The Chancellor of the
Exchequership had been offered to Mr. Vansittart, Mr. Rose, Mr.
Long, Mr. Milnes, and to Lord Palmerston, but declined by each. 1

The new cabinet consisted of ten persons, seven of whom
were peers. At first it was beset with difficulties, from
intrigue and a formidable opposition in the House of
Commons, but Perceval's dauntless courage, high per-
sonal character, and ready resources, soon turned the
scale in his favour, and won for him the admiration of
_his political opponents, and the favour of the prince
regent, who had previously regarded him as his bit-
terest enemy . m

Contrary to general expectation, the Prince of Wales, upon his
assumption of the regency, in February 1811, addressed a letter to
Mr. Perceval, stating that it was not his intention to remove the
existing ministers from office. This step, he added, was prompted
exclusively by filial duty and affection. 11 A year afterwards, when
the restrictions on the regent expired, he still continued Mr. Perce-
val as minister. He did, indeed, invite the co-operation of Lords
Grey and Grenville, but they could not consent to form a junction
with their political opponents. The death of George III., which

J Walpole, Life of Perceval, v. 1, m Ib. v. 2, cc. v., vi., vii.

P- 238. " Ib. v. 2, pp. 172, 184, 194.

k Ib. v. 2, c. i. Lewis, Adminis. Ib. p. 264. Lewis, Adminis

p. 316. pp. 329-334.

1 Ib. v. 2, pp. 47-51.



took place on January 29, 1820, was not followed by any important
political consequence.

The Marquis Wellesley was appointed Foreign Secretary
in the new administration, and continued to hold this
isi2. office until February 19, 1812, when he resigned, be-
cause his ' general opinions for a long time past, on
various important questions, had not sufficient weight
in the cabinet to justify' his remaining in the govern-
ment. He had chiefly objected to the narrow and im-
perfect scale on which the war in Spain had been
conducted. His views on this head had been always
overborne in council by Mr. Perceval. In announcing his
intention to retire from office, he declared that he should
have no objection, in any future ministerial arrange-
ments that might be determined upon, to serve with Mr.
PercevaL provided the principles he contended for were
carried out ; but that ' he never again would serve under
Mr. Perceval in any circumstances.' p

Mr. Perceval was desirous of appointing Lord Sidmouth Foreign
Secretary, in place of Lord Wellesley ; but the prince regent, who
had at this time a personal repugnance to Lord Sidmouth, positively
refused his consents A year after, however, his lordship became a
member of the Cabinet. 1 "

A few weeks afterwards, this administration was de-
prived of its main-stay, by the assassination of the
premier, on May 11, in the lobby of the House of Com-
mons. Then came a struggle for power, which left the
country virtually without a government for about a
month. The prince regent, after the death of Mr.
Perceval, being desirous of continuing the administra-
tion upon its existing basis, authorised Lord Eldon (the
chancellor) to ascertain whether the cabinet were will-
ing, if called upon by his royal highness, to carry on the

P Parl. Deb. v. 23, pp. 367-370. > Lewis. Adininis. p. 329.
And see Walpole's Perceral, v. 2, ' Ib. p. 333.
pp. 234-271


government under any one of their colleagues whom is 12.
his royal highness might select. The cabinet replied
that they would be perfectly willing to do so, but that
under the existing circumstances of the country they
considered that the result would be very doubtful. They
appeared to think that at any rate it was advisable to
invite the co-operation of the leading Whig statesmen
before venturing to act without them. 8 Accordingly,
the prince regent, who was anxious to strengthen, as
much as possible, his present ministry by the intro-
duction therein of public men who coincided with the
general principles on which the government of the
country had been hitherto conducted, authorised the
Earl of Liverpool (then Colonial Secretary) to negotiate
with Lord Wellesley and Mr. Canning with a view to
their joining the administration. A communication was
therefore addressed by Lord Liverpool, with the consent
of his colleagues, to these gentlemen, on May 17. But
it was declined by them upon the ground that they
could form part of no ministry that was not prepared
to adopt a less restrictive policy towards the Eoman
Catholics. Lord Wellesley furthermore objected to the
^manner in which the war was carried on, as evincing
but little improvement since he withdrew from the
ministry on that account.* Notwithstanding this failure,
the remaining members of the existing administration
were unwilling to retire from office," being confident of
their ability to carry on the government, if only they
could succeed in replacing their able and popular chief,
and could agree together on a definite line of policy.
But their continuance in office was not satisfactory to
the House of Commons. Accordingly, on May 21, Mr.
Stuart Wortley moved the adoption of an address to

' Twiss, Life of Eldon, v, l,p. 493. Chancellor of the Exchequer, aud a

* Parl. Deb. v. 23, Appx. p. i. new writ moved for in the House

u On May 20, Mr. Nicholas Van- of Commons. He took his seat on

sittart was appointed to the office of June 10.

M 2


1812. the prince regent, praying him to take measures for the
formation of ' a strong and efficient administration.'
The motion was resisted on the ground that it was ' an
unconstitutional and unprecedented interference with
the prerogative of the crown.' ' The House had inter-
fered when an administration had been formed and
found inefficient ; but they never had come forward
with their previous advice. It was their duty to watch
over and control the crown ; but there was no doctrine
in the constitution better understood than that they had

no right to interfere with the crown in the nominatio n

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