Edmund Burke.

Correspondence of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke; between the year 1744 and the period of his decease, in 1797 (Volume 1) online

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don't know how to help themselves. Will, is going
to town in some hurry; so that I have only to
assure your lordship, that I am ever, with the
sincerest regard and attachment,

My dear lord,

Your obliged and obedient friend and servant,


2 At this time, a principal secretary of state.



Gregories, September, 1769.


While I wait with some degree of earnestness for
the longer letter you proposed to honour me with,
permit me to thank you for the short one. It
gave me as much satisfaction as I have received
from almost any circumstance in my life. I do
assure your lordship, that the supposed inaction of
Yorkshire was a matter of greater pleasure to
enemies, and of despair to friends of every sort,
than can be well expressed. The well-wishers of
the cause now begin to brighten up, and to enter-
tain livelier hopes. I send you, inclosed, a letter
which I had a little time ago from Whately 3 . He
is now with me. On conversation with him, I
find it to be true, which indeed I partly suspected,
that a long day was fixed for the Buckingham-
shire petition, in order to observe what steps were
taken in other places ; and to press the business
or to relax in the pursuit, according to the spirit
in which it should be prosecuted elsewhere, espe-

3 Probably Thomas Whately, Esq., the well known writer
on landscape gardening, and uncle to the present archbishop
of Dublin. He was under secretary of state to the Earl of
Suffolk, and died in 1773.


cially within the region of your lordship's influ-
ence. But, upon seeing the Yorkshire advertise-
ment, they have prepared a number of handbills
to be circulated at and after the races, and are
resolved, at the same time, not to omit private
applications for attendance. They are confident of
a numerous and respectable meeting ; though my
opinion is, that they have been rather too late and
too languid, considering that there are in this coun-
ty strong and active interests against us. I have
seen the draft of the petition. For the substance,
it is very well ; nothing very poignant in the ex-
pression, but nothing faulty that I could find.
Some points, besides the great object of the peti-
tion, are hinted at ; but there is nothing more
than a hint, properly and judiciously enough put,
as I apprehend. They have not yet quite settled
the plan of the procedure. There is to be a meet-
ing for that purpose to-morrow at the races ; but
the present idea is, that Mr. Hampden should
move the petition, and that, if it should be carried,
the members of parliament for the county, and
resident in it, should present it to the king. Other
gentlemen they did not choose to apply to on this
occasion, for fear of creating a jealousy by a pre-
ference of one to another. I thought that, by all
means, some gentlemen not in parliament should
be added, lest it should look solely like a man-
oeuvre of politicians, and not the genuine sense


of the county. It is a loss of which I am very
sensible, that the distance makes it impossible for
me to have your lordship's advice upon every step
of my conduct, but I shall act as nearly upon your
general ideas as I can. I perceive that Lord
Temple and Mr. Grenville seem prodigiously de-
sirous of my paying them a visit. With regard to
the former, I have promised it, in case of my
going to Biddlesden, and did not decline it with
regard to the latter, but promised nothing. I
think they wish to mark in some very public man-
ner, that they are on no ill terms with your lord-
ship ; and I expect, in conformity to that plan,
a good deal of attention from Lord Temple at the
meeting. I shall avoid going too far, not knowing
how all this may end ; and, indeed, because I do
not find that your lordship has at all settled how
far you intend coalition with them. On this hand,
I would not choose a very shy and cold behaviour,
for fear of defeating any part of the end for which
we met at the Thatched House, or showing anything
of disunion, or mutual dislike, in the presence of the
common enemy. This kind of behaviour requires
a delicacy of management, for which I do not feel
myself well qualified, having ever liked a decided
situation of friendship or enmity ; but that is not
always in my choice. I mentioned to Whately, in
confidence, the doubts which prevailed among your
lordship's friends, concerning the object to what


the petition ought to be directed ; that some of
them were of opinion that the application should
be made to the house of commons, and not to the
crown. He told me that Mr. Grenville had origin-


ally entertained doubts pretty nearly of the same
nature ; but that he is now entirely in favour of
a petition to the crown, because that measure
being free from any objection merely constitu-
tional, and happening to be that which was first
adopted, it would break the unity and firmness of
that chain of proceeding in the several counties
and towns, (upon the preservation of which the
whole efficiency of this measure may very probably
depend,) if we were to vary from the original mode
of address ; that variation, with the departure also
from the latitude of the original plan, amounting
to no less than a condemnation of the whole mea-
sure, as far as it has been hitherto pursued. I
confess myself entirely of the same opinion. It
must be of infinite importance, that the whole
stream of the petitions should, as much as possible,
run one way. In an affair of this sort, it will,
besides, be necessary to be as simple as we can.
Every new controversy will embarrass us ; and in
the meetings which may and ought to follow that
of Yorkshire, if that county takes a road of its
own, there will be two questions ; one on the
merits, the other on the mode. They will have
two patterns to follow ; and the disputes which


may arise on the preference of these modes, cannot
fail of creating difficulties, which may frustrate
the whole design. There is another point, too,
which a little affects me. If a petition is prepared
to parliament, it supposes that the other petitions,
directly or obliquely calling for a dissolution of
parliament, ought to have an effect ; and, after all,
what reason is there to believe, that the same par-
liament which has so haughtily rejected the petition
from Middlesex, will listen to one from any other
county ? If a petition to the crown be voted, so
far you proceed in concert with other places ; and
it is no inconsistency to add, if that should be
thought proper, petitions also to the houses of
lords and commons. I find that the people here
expect, that the other counties in which your
lordship's friends have a powerful interest, should
follow your pattern with speed and vigour. Lan-
cashire is by no, means wholly in the hands of
Lord Strange 4 , so as to prevent the exertion of a
strong spirit there, as well as in Liverpool and
Lancaster ; to say nothing of what may be done in
the city of York, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire,
Cumberland, Westmoreland, &c. &c. It grows
very late, and I must set off for the little meeting
at the races early to-morrow. Whately is gone.
Your lordship will excuse the blots, the paper, the

* The eldest son of Edward, eleventh Earl of Derby.


inaccuracies of every kind. I am just this mo-
ment ill-furnished with materials or time for
writing. I shall be more explicit on my return.
In the mean time, I am, with the most real affec-
tion and attachment,

My dear lord,
Your ever obliged and obedient

humble servant,


Gregories, September*, 1769.


Our meeting was held yesterday; the ostensible
particulars of which Lord Temple took care to
transmit immediately to the newspaper. I shall
not, therefore, trouble your lordship with them
here. Very little pains were taken to form a
striking appearance on the day ; however, it proved
beyond expectation. Aubrey 6 was the only per-

5 The day of the month is nearly obliterated in the MS.,
but the context shows it should be the 12th. The Bucking-
hamshire county meeting having been on the llth September,

6 Subsequently Sir John Aubrey, at one time M.P. for
Wallingford, afterwards for Aldeburgh, and, in 1812, for


son who seemed to have acted rightly; he came
into the town on horseback at the head of sixty-
five freeholders. However, when we got into the
town-hall, it was quite full ; there were not fewer,
I imagine, than four hundred, many of them sub-
stantial people, who came forward to the work
with a good countenance, and an alacrity equal to
that of the third regiment of guards 7 . Every thing
had been done to traverse us ; the terrors of the
house of commons were held over many, and the
word was ; " The king will despise your petitions,
and then what will you do? Will you go into
rebellion ?" &c. &c. The tories in general stayed
away. O'Brien 8 , in his speech, let fly at the Earl
of Bute, and was rather for giving a more whiggish
complexion to the meeting, than would be quite
prudent in a county where the others were so
strong, and in which some of them voted with us,
though they did not choose to appear on this occa-
sion. But on the whole he did very well. No
Grenville, except George's eldest son 9 , a very
sensible boy, and as well disposed to a little fac-

7 Alluding to the employment of the military in St. George's
Fields, in the spring of the preceding year.

8 Probably Murrough O'Brien, Esq., afterwards Earl of
Inchiquin; created in 1800, Marquis of Thomond. He died
in 1808.

9 George, afterwards third Earl Temple, and first Marquis
of Buckingham.


tion as any of his family. We were told we
should have had Harry Grenville 10 , but Lord Tem-
ple found out that he was no freeholder in the
county. His lordship, after dinner, made an apo-
logy for George's absence, declaring, that he highly
approved the principles of the meeting, but thought
he should be able to defend it with the greater
weight if he were not present at it. This was
awkward, and awkwardly delivered. At the din-
ner it was thought necessary that the gentlemen
should not dine all together; accordingly, Lord
Temple stayed at one house, and Lord Verney and
some more of us went to the other. In order to
preserve a harmony in our toasts, they sent them
to us from the house we had left, where they had
been devised. An attempt was made to insinuate
a great deal of Grenvilleism into the meeting.
However, something was done a little to balance
it ; and a toast that had been sent down in an im-
proper mode, about Yorkshire, was dressed by
Aubrey and O'Brien in somewhat a better manner.
What think you of the three united brothers " ?
The freeholders dined, as we did all, at a market-
ordinary, for which we paid our shillings. After-
wards, wine was given at the expense of Lord V.
and Lord T . The first part was necessary,

10 A brother of Lord Temple.

11 Lord Chatham, and his brothers by marriage, Lord
Temple and Mr. George Grenville.



because the freeholders had been informed that
there was to be no treating ; and they were to be
induced to come by the moderation of the expense.
The other was proper to conclude the day cheer-
fully, and it had a very good effect. I take it the
signature will be general. Above three hundred
signed upon the spot. We have not, I believe,

two thousand in the county. *

****** ^

Believe me, with the sincerest and most cordial
attachment, my dear lord,

Your ever obedient and obliged
humble servant,



Gregories, October 9, 1769.


Tommy Townshend called here on his return from
a tour to the westward. We had a good deal of
indifferent with some political conversation. He
talked, as all the world does, of the union of the
parties in opposition as a thing very happy and
very certain. I threw out a good many doubts
of the possibility of a cordial or safe union for us
under the direction of the brothers, or of their
ever consenting to act with us under any other


direction. Each of them had ambition and pre-
tensions enough when they were separate ; united,
their aims would certainly not be less, and
their demands would be higher and more plau-
sible. He did not see these difficulties in so
strong a light as I did. I hinted that the bro-
thers, having proclaimed their resolution to act
together to the whole world, and in the strongest
terms, (to say nothing of the other two,) we had
not the least knowledge of the dispositions of Lord
Chatham, or of what he would have pass for his dis-
positions, with regard to your lordship and your
connexion, and that past experience had informed
us of nothing but his enmity to your whole system
of men and opinions. He has had some conversa-
tion with Lord Chatham, but seemed very reserved
in delivering an opinion on his sentiments, if, in
reality, he has had an opportunity of forming any.
Lord Chatham, he said, took every opportunity of
speaking in the highest terms of Sir Chas. Saun-
ders and Admiral Keppel, not only as great men
in their profession, but as persons of the greatest
honour and integrity. The frequent mention which
was made of them, persuaded Townshend that he
wished them to take some opportunity of paying
him a visit, as it were to congratulate him on the
restoration of his health ; and that he desired it,
with a view of opening himself to them with more
fulness and confidence in relation to your party.

o 2


Townshend being a mutual friend, and having
been formerly an internuncio between you, I con-
sider what he said to him as an oblique message.
He desired me to communicate these conversations
with Lord Chatham ; I said I would to your lord-
ship, but not to Keppel and Saunders ; but told
him that the better way for him would be to call
upon you himself, and to talk over the matter,
when your lordship should return from New-
market. Very possibly you have already seen
him, and have heard more than I relate. I take
Townshend to be a very honest and safe man, and
yet, considering his connexion with Lord Chatham,
perhaps I opened to him my own political creed
with too little reserve ; however, I told him that
they were only my private sentiments, unauthorized
by your lordship or any of the principal persons in
your connexion ; indeed, they were perhaps more
than it would be prudent for any person of weight
to deliver to any other than very confidential
people just at this moment; and yet I foresee that
it will be necessary to declare something like them
strongly and openly. But, at this minute your
lordship has, undoubtedly, a very delicate game to
play, in which you cannot disavow this supposed
union without giving great advantages to the
common enemy ; or admit too much of it, without
the risk of putting yourself in the power of your
allies, on the one hand, or giving them a pretence


to charge you with breach of faith, on the other.
I beg to put your lordship in mind of little Stuart,
in his pursuit of the secretaryship to the arts and
commerce. When I showed his letter to Sir
George Saville \ at Doncaster, I had no answer.
I hope he is not engaged. The Quarmes are mem-
bers. If your lordship should desire me to come
to London, I have nothing to prevent it. I am,
with the greatest truth, my dear lord,

Your ever obliged and obedient
humble servant,





I send you a good part of what I have been medi-
tating about the system of the court, and which
you were so earnest to see carried into execution 2 .

1 Member for Yorkshire, and a distinguished supporter of
the Rockingham party.

2 The commencement of the pamphlet mentioned in a
former note, and published in the next year under the title of
" Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents." It will
be seen in the subsequent correspondence, that the completion
of this tract was much delayed, by frequent references to the


I thought it better to let you see what was finished,
rather than to postpone it until the whole was
completed. The design appears distinctly enough,
from what has been done. If you and your friends
approve of it, you will be so good to send it back,
with your observations, as soon as possible, that it
may go to the press ; when I have got through
the concluding part, you shall have that also, and
on its return, it shall follow the rest.

It will be a matter very proper for the con-
sideration of your lordship and your friends,
whether a thing of this nature should appear at
all. It is, in the first place, a formal attack upon
that object which has been nearest and dearest to
the court since the beginning of the reign ; and of
course, if this thing should be supposed to express
your sentiments, must put you on terms irrecon-
cilably bad with the court and every one of its
adherents. I foresee, at the same time, that the
other bodies who compose the opposition, will
desire " not to be comprehended in these declara-
tions," as G. G. said, upon such an occasion, two
years ago, so that you irritate, past forgiveness,
the court party, and you do not conciliate all the
opposition. Besides, I am very far from confident,
that the doctrines avowed in this piece (though as

author's political friends, and by more than one change in its


clear to me as first principles) will be considered
as well founded, or that they will be at all popular.
If so, we lose upon every side.

As to myself, I am indifferent about the event.
Only, for my credit, (as I fear from some particular
opinions, and from this extensive previous com-
munication, I shall be considered as the author,)
I wish, that if our friends approve the design, I
may have some tolerable support in parliament,
from the innumerable attacks it will bring upon
me. If this be successful with the public, I shall
have enough of odium; I could wish it a little
divided, if the sentiments should belong to others
as well as to myself; for it is upon this presumption,
and with this view only, that I mean to publish.
In order that it should be truly the common cause,
make it at your meeting what you please. Let
me know what ought to be left out, what softened,
and what strengthened. On reading it to Will,
and Dick, they thought some things a little too
ludicrous. I thought much otherwise, for I could
rather wish that more had occurred to me, (as more
would, had my spirits been high,) for I know how
ill a long detail of politics, not animated by a
direct controversy, wants every kind of help to
make it tolerable.

The whole is, in a manner, new cast, something
to the prejudice of the order, which, if I can, I
will rectify, though I fear this will be difficult.


The former scheme would no ways answer, and
I wish I had entirely thrown it aside, as it has
embarrassed me a good deal. The whole attack
on Pitt's conduct must be omitted, or we shall
draw the cry of the world upon us, as if we meant
directly to quarrel with all mankind.

My brother 3 is ordered to Grenada, though his
leg is not yet in a condition, as his surgeons tell
him, and as he feels, to conflict with that climate.
If he goes, he goes I fear to death ; if he stays,
he loses his place, with the mortifying circum-
stance of accommodating an enemy. This is not
pleasant to me.

You will present my compliments to your com-
pany, with whom, though absent, I am present in
spirit ; I am, to them and to your lordship, what
ever I ought to be, most sincerely and affectionately
your attached and obedient humble servant,


I forgot to mention an application to me from
a Mr. Tyson on the part of a Mr. Mackinnon, a
gentleman of Antigua, of considerable fortune,
who lives at Southampton. He has some notion
of attacking the members there, and has sent this
Mr. Tyson to declare his attachment to your lord-

8 Mr. Richard Burke had broken his leg a few months
before. He held an office in the customs, at Grenada ; which
he had obtained in or about 1764.


ship's interests in politics. As I must understand
his intention, I told him that your lordship's friends
had resolved, as a general maxim, on not promising
an election support, in a parliamentary character,
to any person directly or indirectly ; this, as strong
as I could. I have since been desired to know
what your lordship's answer is. May I venture,
from you, to repeat what I told him, as a general
principle of the party ?


Gregories, Sunday, October 29, 1769.


I am infinitely obliged to your lordship for your
long and satisfactory letter, which I concealed or
communicated in the manner I thought most
agreeable to your wishes. I found Lord Albe-
marle had not received the copy your lordship
intended for him ; I therefore showed him mine,
and let Mason make a copy of it for Keppel and
Saunders, when they should come to town. I
showed it, besides, to Lord J. Cavendish and Lord
Frederick. They all concurred very nearly in senti-
ment with your lordship, upon every particular.
There was some doubt, whether our two friends


ought not to pay the visit which, it seems, is
desired, in order to hear at least what style he 4
uses, and what sentiments he would be believed
to entertain ; but they will do nothing without
your desire. For my own part, the more I think
of it, the more perfectly I am convinced that we
ought to take no sort of notice of him, but to
proceed exactly as if no such man existed in the
vrorld. For though, according to Lord Camden's
phrase, Lord Chatham has had a wonderful resur-
rection to health, his resurrection to credit and
consequence, and to the power of doing mischief,
(without which last his resurrection will be incom-
plete,) must be owing to your lordship and your
friends. It ought never to be forgotten, how
much the late Duke of Newcastle hurt himself, in
his interest very often, in his reputation almost
always, by his itch of negotiation. If Lord C.
has any thing to communicate to these gentlemen,
he may send for them. This union of the three
brothers will distract the country as much in
future, as their dissensions did formerly. I quite
agree with your lordship, that Grenville is the
most temperate and manageable of the three ; but
he is no longer George Grenville, a disengaged
individual, but one of the triumvirate, to whom,
by the way, he brings all the following that they

4 Lord Chatham.


possess. Nothing can be said of him, but what
can be said, with equal truth, of the other two,
from whom, I really believe, he will never discon-
nect himself. All these considerations make me
wish, as ardently as your lordship's partiality can
do, that my little scheme was in a way of being
speedily completed. I see, I feel, the necessity of
justifying to our friends and to the world, the
refusal, which is inevitable, of what will be thought
very advantageous offers. This can only be done
by showing the ground upon which the party
stands, and how different its constitution, as well
as the persons who compose it, are from the Bed-
fords, and Grenvilles, and other knots, who are
combined for no public purpose, but only as a
means of furthering, with joint strength, their
private and individual advantage. I am afraid I
shall never compass this design to my mind.
Hitherto I have been so variously distracted, that
I have made but little progress, indeed none;
but to-day I began to set to work a little seriously.
But, in order to produce something which, by
being timely, may be useful, I must beg to be
excused from going to Yorkshire in the next
month. This would break me to pieces, and I
think I may do more service here. Perhaps I may
be able to send something for your consideration
at that meeting.

Your lordship's conversation with the king's


friend was curious. I can be at no loss for the
person. I am told he talks very loud opposition ;

Online LibraryEdmund BurkeCorrespondence of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke; between the year 1744 and the period of his decease, in 1797 (Volume 1) → online text (page 12 of 30)