Charles James Fox.

Memorials and correspondence of Charles James Fox (Volume 1) online

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t. k. and p. g. collins, printers.


The late Lord Holland employed himself for many years in
preparing the materials for a Life of Mr. Fox. These materials
were to be woven into a narrative, and the great events which,
from 1770 to 1806, were discussed in Parliament, were to have
been reviewed by the pen of an enlightened and benevolent states-
man. But Lord Holland's life was a busy one, the noble idleness*'
of refined society and classical reading took up a great part of his
remaining time, and little was left for transcribing, commenting,
and narrating. Soon, the Life descended into a collection of ma-
terials ; the collection of materials, only partially arranged, was
not carried beyond the year 1786.

Lord Holland himself foresaw that he should not be able to
complete his work, and one day that he was employed upon it, he
told me that he believed it would be left to me to finish.

After Lord Holland's death, Mr. Allen, whose literary charac-
ter is well known, and justly esteemed, began the whole again,
inserted many passages explanatory of the history of the time, and
caused a large portion of the correspondence to be copied.

In this state I found the papers when they came into my posses-
sion by the bequest of the late Lady Holland.

Public afi'airs have prevented my giving that early attention to
these papers which they deserved. Like Lord Holland, I should

' Nobile ozio, — Machiavel.


have desired to weave into one continuous narrative, illustrated
by correspondence, the life of Mr. Fox. The importance of the
period during which he led, with consummate ability, the Whig
party, the line he took in opposing the American and French wars,
preferring the interests of the people to their applause, the singular
candor, boldness, simplicity, and kindness of his character, would
have made it to me a labor of love to trace the career of a man —

*' By all who marked his mind revered,
By all who knew his heart beloved."

As it is, the work I am about to produce must have a disjointed
and irregular appearance. Its greatest value will be found in the
letters of Mr. Fox to Lord Holland, written between 1790 and
1805. These letters are more literary than political, and show
how keen was Mr. Fox's enjoyment of poetry, especially Greek
and Italian.

In the First Volume, the passages written by Lord Holland are
generally marked Y. H. at their close, those of Mr. Allen are in-
cluded between brackets [], and mine between asterisks.

Whatever may be the defects of these volumes, they will, I trust,
give Englishmen a better knowledge than they now possess of one
of the most striking periods of their history, and of one of their
greatest men.

J. R.

Chesham Place,

Jan. 10, 1853.





The object of tins work is not to give a complete life of Mr.
Fox, as that would comprise a history of the country during his
time, but to arrange his correspondence, and to subjoin notes or
premise short sentences to explain the events alluded to in the
letters, and illustrate the character of the writer, as well as his
relation with those to whom he writes, or of whom he speaks in
the course of his correspondence.

In furnishing some future biographer with the maberials for a
more comprehensive work, the compiler proposes to divide them
into six distinct periods. First, such documents, private or pub-
lic, as relate to the birth, family, connections, and education of
Mr. Fox. Secondly, those that refer to his own private or pub-
lic life, from the period of his taking his seat in the House of
Commons to his separation from Lord North in 1774. Thirdly,
the correspondence, anecdotes, and events from 1774 to 1782.*
Fourthly, from 1782 to the dissolution of Parliament in 1784.

' I have divided tlie ttird period, wMcli Lord Holland had made to
extend from 1774 to 1784, into two, on account of the importance of the
events of 1782 — the formation of the Rockingham Ministry, and the close
of the American War. — J. R.
VOL. I. — 3


Fifthly, the letters, papers, anecdotes, and recollections relating
to his privato and public life, to the commencement of the war
of 1793. Sixthly, letters, papers, and recollections, relating to
his opinions, occupations, manners, and political conduct, from the
year 1793, and during his secession from Parliament till his
return to Parliament and coalition with Lord Grenville in 1803
and 1804. Seventhly, and lastly, correspondence, recollections,
notes, and papers, relating to his parliamentary and oflScial con-
duct, and to his public and private character, from the year 1803
to his last illness and death in 1806. These would form seven

Sir Stephen Fox, mentioned for his honesty by Clarendon,
and for his riches by Grrammont, was the founder of our family,
and seems, notwithstanding some little venial endeavors of his
posterity to conceal it, to have been of a very humble stock. He
was born in 1627. He owed his introduction at court to Lord
Percy; his favor with Charles IT. to Lord Clarendon; and his
general success in the world to integrity, diligence, and abilities
in business. He was a Tory both in his political and religious
principles; a money-getting man in his habits, and, as far as I
have been able to gather from his panegyrists, his conduct and
his will charitable, and affectionate in his disposition. He was
[ remarkable for having married a second time at the very advanced
age of 77 years; and as his daughters by his first marriage had the
\ good fortune of marrying into noble families, his sons by the
second had the yet greater distinction of being ennobled by pro-
motion with the titles of Ilchester and Holland. The manner of
announcing his second marriage was no less singular than the
period at which it was contracted. His second wife was a Miss
Hope, daughter of a clergyman of that name, and said to be
goddaughter of Sir Stephen. On the death of her father she
lived with Sir Stephen's unmarried daughter; and, if a paper of
Governor Pownall's, communicated to me by his son-in-law, Mr.
Fawkener, be correct, she announced her marriage, which had
been celebrated in private, by claiming a letter directed pur-



posely to lier by Sir Stephen, under the name of '' liady Fox."^
Some letters from her to her children at school, iJliistrative of the
manners of the last century, are in my possession. His son, the
first Lord Holland and father of Mr. Fox, used to relate, with
some pleasantry, a usa^e in Sir Stephen's family, which proves
the superstitious veneration in which Tories, as well as Jacobites,
held the memory of Charles I. During the whole of the 30th of
January, the wainscot of the house used to be hung with black,
and no meal of any sort allowed till after midnight. This
attempt of rendering the day melancholy by fasting had a direct
contrary effect on the children (afterwards Lord Ilchester, Lord
Holland, and Mrs. Digby); for the housekeeper, apprehensive
that they might suffer from so long an abstinence from food,
used to give the little folks clandestinely as mq.ny comfits and
sweetmeats as they could eat, and Sir Stephen's intended fast
was looked to by the younger part of the family as a holiday
and diversion. Sir Stephen died in 1715, and his widow two or
three years after him.

The education, fortunes, political connections, and history of
Henry, first Lord Holland, were favorable to the cultivation of
his natural talents, but unfavorable to any great elevation of
public principle. Expensive and embarrassed in his youth, he
was protected and brought forward by Sir Robert Walpole, and
became afterwards the public opponent of Lord Chatham; and
though on many occasions the friend and supporter of the Whigs,
he was at all times disgusted with the duplicity and littleness of
their leader Newcastle. The correspondence at his marriage
affords strong evidence of the change in manners for the better.
The letters of the Duke and Duchess of Richmond, as well aS
the sensation of the Court on a duke's daughter marrying a man
who, though of consequence in the House of Commons and in

1 [There is a slight inaccuracy in this anecdote, as in most stories
handed down by tradition. Sir Stephen had no unmarried daughter alive
at the time of his second marriage. The person with whom Miss Hope
had lived as companion was Mrs. Fox, wife of his son Charles. — J. A.]


the Ministry, was not of an illustrious family, prove the preva-
lence of an absurd pride in that day, which no Englishman can
now easily conceive.

Any detailed account of Mr. Henry Fox's life and fortunes
would lead the writer too far from his main subject. Nothing
more than those circumstances in his situation and character,
that could have an influence on the early conduct and opinions
of his son, will be necessary in this work. We shall, in the
course of it, have abundant evidence of the effects which his
indulgent education, and the principles and connections he had
espoused, produced on Mr. Fox in the first years of his life. Grood
and bad resulted. The good was permanent. The evil, owing
to the accidents of his political life, and, above all, to the natu-
ral tendency of his disposition, was temporary, and was weeded
out gradually by the society of men of purer principles and more
enlarged philosophy, and by the necessary operations of a reflect-
ing mind and an excellent heart.

[Charles James Fox was third son of Henry Fox, afterwards
Lord Holland, and of Lady Georgiana Caroline Fox, eldest daugh-
ter of Charles, second Duke of Richmond. He was born in
Conduit Street on the 24th January, 1749 (N.S.)]

[As a child he was remarkable for the quickness of his parts,
his engaging disposition and early intelligence.] ^' There's a
clever little boy for you,^' exclaims his father to Lady Caroline,
in repeating a remark made a propos by his son Charles, when
hardly more than two years and a half old. " I dined at home
to-day,^^ he says in another letter to her,^ " tete-a-tete with Charles,
intending to do business, but he has found me pleasanter employ-
ment, and was very sorry to go away so soon ;" and writing next
day, he says, " I never saw Charles so well as he is now. I grow
immoderately fond of him.'' "Is he my sensible child still?"
[he asks in a letter of the ITth December, 1754, when his son was
not six years old ; and on the 11th January, 1756, he writes to
Lady Caroline,] — " I got to Holland House at seven, found all

« March 27, 1752.


the boys very well ; but, to say the truth, took most notice of
Charles. I never saw him better or more merry.'' '' I found
Charles" [he says in another letter written about the same time]
" very well, very pert, and very argumentative.'' — " He is all life,
spirits, motion, and good-humor." — " Stage-mad, but it makes
him read a good deal." [He was naturally of a passionate tem-
per, but learned to control it, as he afterwards told the story
himself, in consequence of a conversation he accidentally over-
heard when a very little boy.] His mother having said to his
father, '^ Charles is dreadfully passionate, what shall we do with
him ?" his father replied, '^ Oh ! never mind, he is a very sensible
little fellow, and will learn to cure himself." ^' I will not deny,"
said Mr. Fox, ^^ that I was a very sensible little boy, a very
clever little boy, and what I heard made an impression on me,
and was of use to me afterwards."

Though there are many proofs in the manuscript correspond-
ence I possess of the strong parental affection of Mr. and Lady
Caroline Fox for their children, and of the expectations which
the surprising and growing talents of Mr, Fox excited even in
childhood, yet there is nothing in these letters which proves the
excessive indulgence so often and so justly imputed to Lord
Holland as the cause of the subsequent extravagance and dissi-
pation of his son. Of the fact, however, there is no doubt. Con-
temporary friends and foes, intimate acquaintances and mere
gossips, all concur in describing or relating traits of it. Among
them an incident of a wall at Holland House is related in Mrs.
Bellamy's Memoirs 3* and I find the following confirmation of it
in Manuscript Reminiscences of Sir Gr. Colebrook, who was no j .
friend either of Lord Holland or of Mr. Fox. ^' Mr. Fox's 1
children were to receive no contradiction. Having promised
Charles that he should be present when a garden-wall was to be '\
flung down, and having forgotten it, the wall was built up again,
that he might perform his promise." This was perhaps foolish, f
but the performance of a promise was the moral inculcated by \

' Letter 52d.


' the folly, and that, ce me semhle, is no bad lesson. [That he
was scrupulous in keeping the promises he had made to his chil-
dren appears from a letter written from Holland House to Lady
Holland in the country/ in which he says :] " "Whenever you
come, do but let me know the day and hour when you will be at
Salthill, and Farnen and Charles shall meet you there. I prom-
ised Charles he should see his brother, and he won't be put off."
[The first rudiments of his education were received at a pre-
paratory school of some celebrity, kept at Wandsworth by a
Frenchman of the name of Pampcllonne.] " Charles," says his
father, in a letter of the 24lh of February, 1756, " determines
to go to Wandsworth," — [probably from a knowledge of the
companions he was there to meet with. He was indulged in his
choice, having had the alternative of staying at home till he was
of age to go to Eton ; and appears to have remained at Pampel-
lonne's till autumn, 1758. Of this school and its inmates there
is a lively account given by the late Earl of Egremont, in a letter
to Lord Holland of the 26th of January, 1820.]


" DExiR Lord Holland : —

" I went to Pampellonne's school at Wandsworth at six years
old, and at eight I left it, and went to Westminster. I was so
young, and I am now so old, that I cannot recollect with perfect
accuracy at this distance ] but I am convinced that Fitzpatrick
was never at that school. Charles Fox was there in my time,
for, I believe, a year ; which, as he was two years older than me,
would send him to Eton at nine years old. There were more
boys of some station in life at that little school than usual in so
small a number, — I think Lord Ilchester, but I am sure his
brother,^ about my age, whose face I have never seen since. The
late Duke of Leinster, and his elder brother, who died soon after,
Lord Fortescue, and, I think, Lord Bray brook, Sir Thomas Frank-
land, the late Marquis of Townshend — but he was younger than

1 January 18, 1757. 2 Cq] gtrangways, alive now, 1829.— V. IT.


mc, and I do not recollect him, but he was fond of such reminis-
cences, and never met me in company without alluding to it —
and many others ; but all of them except one (Lord Aylesford,
who went with me to Westminster), went to Eton, and I saw
no more of them until I met them at Oxford or in the world. I
do not recollect whether the Grenvilles were there, and the pro-
bable reason of my doubt about it is that from near relationship
I saw so much of them in early youth, that I do not distinguish
between home and school. Charles Fox had left Oxford before
I went there. I did not fall in with him again after Pampel-
lonne's, until I was of age, and met him in the London world.
Fitzpatrick,^ who, I believe, was never at Pampellonne's, was at
Westminster, older than me, and above me at school, but I caught
him in the sixth form, saw enough of him to know that he had
been very idle, and had contrived to acquire as little learning as
was possible for a person of his abilities to do in his progress
through the school. He was a page ; and as in those days courts
were very frequent, a great part of his time was lost in sedan-
chairs and drawing-rooms, and in the necessary preparation of
powder and pomatum. Dimiter, an old friend of mine, who had
the living of Petworth, used to help him through his exer-
cises ; and what with jokes of his own, and the negligence of
the masters, he got on with little trouble and less profit. I
remember one instance, which diverted him and us very much.
We had portions of the classics to make remarks upon. He
took something in Virgil, where there was

"Dardana qui Paridis direxti tela manusque
Corpus in ^acidae ;"

1 I transcribe this part of the letter as well as the beginning, though
it has no immediate relation to Mr. Fox or his education. I do so for
two reasons: first, because it regards my maternal uncle, and Mr. Fox's
deares-T friend, and secondly, because the observant, sprightly, and accu-
rate writer of it, in giving me his recollections of school, has, as usual,
drawn a lively picture of the times and of his contemporaries, even in
boyhood. — V. H.


(a very bad line — this is my remark at 68.) Then his observa-
tion was : 'It is very odd that Virgil should have been so ignorant
as not to know that Achilles was not vulnerable in the body, but
in the heel/ 'Poh! it is a foolish quibble/ says the master; 'it
means the person of Achilles, and not a distinction between
body and heel/ Fitzpatrick acquiesced; but in three weeks'
time produced it again. The master very angry — he, in his cool,
slow way defending it, and all the boys laughing. In this way
he went on ; and I have no doubt that whatever knowledge he
possessed was acquired after being at school."

[In autumn, 1758, Mr. Fox was sent to Eton. While a child,
and when first at Eton, he appears to have been of a sickly con-
stitution. In the letters preserved by his family, apprehensions
are frequently expressed for his health. In one written while he
was at Eton, his father says to Lady Caroline — ] "Whenever
you think London or Holland House better for Charles than
Eton, be assured I shall like it. There is no comparison to be
made between health and learning; besides that, I am sure
enough for him of the latter; I wish to Grod I were so of the

[While at Eton, he appears to have been a diligent scholar,
and, during part at least of the time he passed there, he was
assisted in his lessons and exercises by the Rev. Mr. Francis, the
translator of Horace, and father of the late Sir Philip Francis.
He was not, however, kept to his studies without interruption.
He appears to have been frequently brought to town for his
amusement, and, among other occasions, to be present at the
coronation in 1761. Having about that time met with some
accident, his father remarks:] "The article (in the newspapers)
of Charles's mishap has brought several messages. The boy is
a great deal better beloved than his father is." [In the following
year, before Mr. Fox had connected himself with Lord Bute,]
the Duke of Devonshire concludes a letter of business to him

* Septcvmber 30, 1758.


with these words : " Commend me to your son Charles for his
sagacity" — a strong expression from a grave man, in a grave let-
ter, about a lad not fourteen years of age.

[In May, 1763, the fondness and mistaken indulgence of his
father took him from school, and carried him first to Paris, and
then to Spa. After wasting four months idly abroad, he went
back to England under the care of Sir George, (afterwards) Lord
Macartney, and, much to his credit, he returned to Eton at his
own desire. His reception there was, however, far from flatter-
ing. He was quizzed by the boys, rallied by Dr. Barnard, the
head-master, and actually flogged while fresh from the brilliant
society he had just quitted. At Spa he had been initiated in
play; and his father is said to have instigated and encouraged
him in a propensity which became the source of much future
unhappiness to both.

In November, 1763, his father went down to Eton to hear
him speak, and afterwards brought him to town to attend the
debates in Parliament on the publications of Mr. Wilkes. He
was thus present at the passing of the memorable resolution of
the House of Commons, that "'The North Briton,^ No. 45, was
a false, scandalous, and seditious libel ;'^ and, from his father's
connection with the ministry, he most probably participated
warmly in the sentiments of the majority on that occasion.]

Among my grandfather's papers I found the following verses,
written by Charles James Fox in 1764, when he was fifteen or
sixteen years old, and still, I think, at Eton. When I mentioned
them to him, he said: "Oh, I remember them well; it was very
foolish of my father to keep them, for they are all wrong. I did
not at that time know the rules of French versification.'^ Pos-
sibly the subject, viz. a contrast between Bute and Pitt, to the
advantage of the former, was as unpleasant a recollection to him
as the faults in the metre of this juvenile exercise in a foreign
language. That circumstance, however, gives them some little
interest, and, with all their faults, they are the composition of a
lad of promising abilities : —


Longtcnis clu peuple Pitt favori adore
Les meprisant toujours, en fut toujours aime,
Estimant leur amour, il protligua leur vie,
Et cherchoit la gloire aux clepens de sa patrie.
Le peuple malheureux, ebloui du succes,
Voyoit bien ses victoires, sans voir leur effets ;
Dedaignant de la paix la douceur plus trauquille,
II suivit, volontiers, une guerre inutile ;
Loua de ses projets le detestable auteur,
Content d'etre perdu pourvu qu'il fut vainqueur ;
Et chantant de leur Pitt la vertu si vantee,
De la Chine au Perou etend sa renommee.
Tandis que de son Prince veritable ami
Bute vivoit toujours vertueux et hai,
En vain il terminoit, par une paix heureuse,
Une guerre, a la foix funeste et glorieuse ;
Nous lui refusames I'amour qui lui fut du,
II perdit cet amour en suivant la vertu.
Nous sommes des ingrats, qm rendant nos hommages
A un fourbe orateur, refusons nos suffrages
Au digne Citoyen, qui nous aime a ce point,
Qu'il nous veut conserver quand nous n'en voudrons point.
Recevez ce portrait, cher Nicole, d'une terre,
Que je rougis, en effet, de nommer ma mere.
1764. C. J. F.

[In spring, 1764, Lord Holland writes from Paris to Mr.
Campbell, of Cawdor :] '' My son Charles really deserves all that
can be said of his parts, as I will convince you when I see you
at Holland House. But he has what I value much more — good
sense, good nature, and as many good and amiable qualities as
ever met in any one's composition. I have two sons here; the
eldest bids fair for being as universally and as much beloved as
ever I was hated. Thus happy in private life, am I not in the
right to leave the public?"

[Having remained at Eton until the commencement of the
summer holidays in 1764, Mr. Fox was sent in the following
October to Oxford, and placed at Hertford College, under the
tuition of Dr. Newcome, afterwards Primate of Ireland. Hert-


ford College was always a small and poor college, but had at that
time obtained a temporary celebrity from the reputation of Dr.
Newcome/ in consequence of which Mr. Fox, and other young
men of rank, were sent to it. Some years after it became ex-
tinct; the building, having escheated to the Crown, was trans-
ferred by act of Parliament to the University, and now forms the
site of Magdalen Hall.] Of Mr. Fox's application at college,
and of his habits, extracts from his own letters, and those of his
relations and friends, will afford the best proof.


"Holland House, December 2b, 1764.

"Dear Macartney: —

"As my father defers writing because I write, you will expect
to hear all the news of the town from me, and I will satisfy you
as much as is in my power. Sir Thomas Clarke, Master of the
Kolls, died about a month ago, upon which it was first settled
that Norton should have his place, and Charles Yorke to be
made Attorney-General; but he altered his mind, and would not
take it. However, he had a patent of precedency, and Sewell is

Online LibraryCharles James FoxMemorials and correspondence of Charles James Fox (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 31)