Charles James Fox.

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

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they were in effect practically inseparable, was not formally ac-
complished even so late as February, 1779. The Duke of
Kichmond writes as to a man with whom he agrees and with
whom he concerts, but not as to a fixed member of some party, to
and with whom he is engaged by actual treaty. — v. H.

February 11. In the evening news of Keppel's acquittal
arrived in London. Illuminations and a riot ensued. Palliser's,
Head's, and Mulgrave's windows were broken, and those of some
other persons. ''It happened at three in the morning, that Charles
Fox, Lord Derby, and his brother. Major Stanley, and two or three
more young men of quality, having been drinking at Almack's,
suddenly thought of making a tour of the streets, and were joined
by the Duke of Ancaster, who was very drunk, and, what showed
it was no premeditated scheme, the latter was a courtier, and had
actually been breaking windows. Finding the mob before
Palliser's house, some of the young lords said : ' Why don't you
break Lord Gr. Germaine's windows ?' The populace had been so
little tutored that they asked who he was, and being encouraged


broke his windows. The mischief pleasing the juvenile leaders,
they marched to the Admiralty, forced the gates, and demolished
Palliser's and Lord Lisburne's windows. Lord Sandwich, ex-
ceedingly terrified, escaped through the garden, with his mistress,
Miss Kay, to the Horse Guards^ and there betrayed most mani-
fest panic."*

February 12. " Keppel thanked by House of Commons, with
only one dissentient voice."

February 18. ^^ Wedderburne, Attorney-Greneral, having under-
taken to prosecute the three rioters, notice was taken of it in the
House of Commons, and Charles Fox handsomely and generously,
though liable to be reproached with having been one of their in-
stigators, pleaded for them. The court was ashamed, and dropped
the prosecution."

February 19. "Charles Fox told the Commons that he had
intended to move an Address to the King, to remove Sir H.
Palliser from all his employments, but had that morning heard a
report that precluded his motion, for he had been told that Sir
Hugh had been dismissed or removed from all his employments,
and asked if either was true. Lord North said: 'It was true that
he had resigned his seat at the Admiralty, his Government at
Scarborough Castle, and his Lieutenant-Generalship of the Ma-
rines.' Fox broke out on the scandalous tenderness for a man
so criminal, compared with the treatment of the meritorious Kep-
pel, to whom the Ministers had only written coldly to hoist his
flag again. He said he did not want to persecute the unhappy man,
nor saw what good a court-martial could do him, for it could not
clear him from having brought a malicious and unjust charge
against Keppel, which disqualified him from ever serving as Vice-
Admiral, and, therefore, he had a mind to move for taking that
rank from him. He might still have a court-martial, as Lord G.
Germaine had had (after some objections to prejudging, in which

• It was always said that tlie late Mr. Thomas Grenville participated
in this riot at the Admiralty. But these were lawless days ! — J. R.


Conway agreed). Charles Fox, in compliment to Conway, ab-
stained from his motion.''^

February 20. On Keppel dining at London Tavern, " the city
was again illuminated, and it spread to Westminster after mid-
night, when the mob was far more riotous than the preceding
night, and far more windows were broken ; but it was believed to
be at the instigation of the Court, to make the Opposition sick of
such rejoicings; for many windows of the Opposition were broken,
particularly Charles Fox's."

February 24. On Lord North's Budget, ^^ Charles Fox, who
had never applied to finance, nor was supposed to understand it
at all, entered into the subject, and made as great a figure as he
did on all others, and exposed Lord North in that light as much
as he had in others."


"February 15, 1779.

" Dear Brother : —

'' According to your desire to give you an account of what has
passed, the message that was received on Sunday was, that the
person [the Kimj] desired till morning to consider of it, and this
morning he sent word by the negotiator [Lord Weymouth] that
any coalition would be agreed to, but that the main object [the
Treasury] could not be granted ] so that, as things appear at pre-
sent, the negotiation must break ofi", which the person who brought
the message expressed great concern for. This being the case,
Charles Fox desires me to tell you that they mean to proceed
immediately in the most hostile manner. I don't know what we

1 I remember Mr. Fox telling me that, at the close of the debate, young
Pitt (afterwards the Minister) lamented to him that he did not persist
in his motion, as he (Pitt) feared enough had not been done to prevent
Palliser from ever being employed or promoted. Pitt afterwards gave
him, if I mistake not, Greenwich Hospital, and had, I suspect, some diffi-
culty in resisting the King's urgent instances to name him to the Channel
Fleet.— V. H.


shall have to-morrow in the House of Commons ; in the Lords,
the thanks to Keppel are to be moved. I take it for granted you
will come on Wednesday, and will probably find something going
on in the House of Commons. I don't know whether the mys-
terious language at the beginning of this letter will be clear
enough, but I think you will guess the import of it. In short, I
am afraid all chance of the present opportunity is at an end.

[On the debates produced by the Spanish Manifesto, the two
following letters, in both of which Mr. Fox is mentioned, were
written by Mr. Fitzpatrick to his brother Lord Ossory] : —


^^ Saturday, June 19, 1779,

" The event of the Spanish declaration has hitherto produced
nothing but a very general consternation, and a most universal
acknowledgment of the necessity of changing the Ministry, which
most people think must take place, though, in point of voting, the
numbers were much as usual in both Houses. Some violent peo-
ple thought the conduct of Opposition too moderate upon the
occasion, but I think you will approve of it; for it surely would
have been an unpopular measure to have refused their support
upon the present occasion. Lord John Cavendish seconded the
Address, and he, with Charles, Burke, &c., went to St. James's
with it. The two latter spoke admirably in the debate, and so,
indeed, the first. The Duke of Richmond distinguished himself
very much in the House of Lords, and met with approbation from
all quarters. Lord Shelburne (which some people thought was
done purposely) seemed determined to be as violent as the other
was moderate, and pronounced a most furious philippic, in the
coarsest terms, against the Ministers, chiefly North, Sandwich,
and Germaine. Our friend Carlisle attempted the defence of the
latter in a short speech.

" I was in the House, and heard these two speeches. It is still


said that Parliament will be prorogued on Monday or Tuesday.
The Spanish fleet has sailed; twelve ships from Cadiz, the 27th
of May, and twenty more on the 3d of June. Add these to M.
D'Orvilliers's, and you will be surprised to hear the Lord Advocate
has said that he wished to hear Sir Charles Hardy was to engage
them the morrow. All people see the necessity of withdrawing
the troops from America. None of the Tories in town stayed out
the debate the other night, except Baldwyn, who voted with us,
and declared himself sick of America. One can hardly conceive
but they will make some attempt this summer either here or in
Ireland, and if our fleet is beat, it will probably be a very serious

" Monday night.

" I fancy by this night's post you will receive a letter upon the
subject you mention, which will bring you to London, and which
will inform you of an event we have expected, and which I think
a very good one. I went this morning to Lord Shelburne's, but
did not find him. I am glad to find your politics agree so exactly
with mine, for though I told you I thought the supporting the
Address was wise, I approved much more of the violence of Lord
Shelburne's speech than the moderation of the Duke of Rich-
mond's, which I have been inveighing against ever since. To-day,
however, we have had a debate, in which Opposition have been
less moderate ; Lord North moved a bill to double the militia,
which was seconded by Lord Beauchamp. What may not be
hoped from the activity of Lord North and the vigor of Lord
Beauchamp ? Charles spoke in favor of the motion, but strongly
against Ministers, and showed what resources his mind was capa-
ble of in this menacing crisis. Tommy Townshend spoke well
and very violently, so did Sir Gr. Savile and Barre, and the Minis-
ters seemed really totally sunk. To-morrow, a remonstrance is
expected from the city. An invasion either of England or Ire-
land must take place, and surely it is impossible these Ministers
should remain. Adieu. I suppose I shall see you to-morrow or
next day."


" P. S. — G. Selwyn is just arrived from Paris, but seems not
to have the least idea of anything that is going forward. John-
stone voted with us, and Mansfield not at all ; the Duke of Port-
land and Lord Chatham voted in Opposition, but did not protest.
Lord Derby, the Duke of Rutland, Lord Harrington, have offered
to raise regiments, but have received no positive answers to their

[In the following autumn, the combined fleets of France and
Spain entered the chops of the Channel, and paraded for several
days before Plymouth. Of their first appearance off the Lizard,
Mr. Fox sent the following account to Lord Ossory] : —

LoNDOX, April 17.

"Dear Ossory: —

" The French and Spanish fleets are certainly off Lizard Point,
and between Sir Charles Hardy and Plymouth. You may
depend on this being true ; sixty-three were seen ; but whether
there were more or not, or how many of them were frigates, is
not certain. There must be a battle, and Sir Charles Hardy has
but thirty-six.

" Yours ever,

♦'C.J. FOX."

[Happening to be at Plymouth a few days afterwards, when
the combined squadrons threatened to make a second appearance
in the Channel, he sent to Mr. Fitzpatrick the following particu-
lars of this mortifying state of things, to which nothing since the
days of Elizabeth had been parallel]: —


''Saltram, August 2&, at night.

"Dear Dick: —

" Lord Hervey and Pakenham, who anchored last night in

Cawsand Bay, brought an account that Darby was gone up the

Channel, and that the combined fleets were steering this way.


This morning, Lord Shuldham and the Commissioner have re-
ceived letters from Darby, telling them that he is gone into Tor-
bay, and that he had heard of the combined fleet in lat. 47°, long.
10°, sailing to the N. E., with about forty sail of the line. From
what Lord Hervey and Pakenham said last night, everybody ex-
pected the enemy here immediately, and many people imagined
that Darby had seen the combined fleet, and was actually chased
in by them; but, upon inquiry, this does not seem to have been
the case at all. All that Darby knows of the enemy is from an
account of a Portuguese vessel, who says that he spoke with the
combined fleet, in the latitude I mentioned, on Tuesday se'n-night
last ; Darby, upon hearing they were gone to the northward, kept
close to the French coast, and came by Guernsey, &c., to Torbay,
and, as I could collect from his letter, which Lord Shuldham read
us, was a good deal surprised that the enemy should not have
been seen or heard of here. You have now all the facts that we
have, and may reason upon them as well in London as we can here.
What seems extraordinary is, that the enemy, if he was actually
so near as the latitude and longitude mentioned on Tuesday, the
14th, should not be near enough to be seen or heard of before this
time, if the Channel was actually his destination; and yet what
other destination he could have northward, one cannot conceive.
I forgot to mention, that though the number of ships of the line
is said to be between forty and fifty, the whole fleet is said to con-
sist of ninety sail. I shall go to Torbay to-morrow, and see if I
can get any more light upon this business from Jarvis, or any of
the captains I know. If I do, I will write again. If I should
think, from what I hear, that there is really any chance of their
coming, you will easily imagine that I shall not leave this country
so soon as I otherwise intended; but I think, if they do not appear
very soon, the whole must be a mistake, or perhaps, after all,
designedly false intelligence. I shall be in town on Friday or
Saturday, unless there is a probability of more interesting sport
here than partridge-shooting.

^^ Yours affectionately.'^



<'Saltkam, August 27.

"I dined to-day on board ^Sir John Ross/ with Jarvis and
others, but have very little to tell you in addition to what I wrote
last night. The facts were exactly as I told you them, only I
understand now that the Portuguese vessel was in fact an English
one, with Portuguese colors and nominal owners, to secure it from
privateers, and that the master of her was an Englishman ; his
journal, too, was inspected, and tallied with the account he gave.
In short, I find they all believe his intelligence to have been true.
But why the combined fleet is not now here, if it was coming this
way, is what nobody seems to account for; Jarvis thinks they are
gone into Quiberon Bay, in order to see the Dutch Indiamen,
which they had with them, safe into Port FOrient, and to bring
the troops with them that they may want for attacking the Isle of
Wight, Portland, or whatever may be their object. Others think
(and I think with more probability) that they are cruizing oif
the Lizard, in hopes of intercepting Darby, whom they suppose to
be to the westward, and whom they must naturally expect to come
home that way, as he certainly would have done if he had not
obtained intelligence of them. The only objection to this suppo-
sition is, that they could not have formed any rational hope of
bringing Darby to action against his will, as the Spanish part of
the fleet is said to be very foul; so that Darby could certainly (as
they say) have got home without an engagement, even if he had
come that way. I think it a very difficult matter to guess what
they mean; but one should think it impossible that with such a
decided superiority they should attempt nothing. Darby waits at
Torbay for orders, which he expects to-morrow or next day. I
shall dine on board Jarvis, Wednesday, and from thence proceed
to London or return here, according as, upon the general face of
things, I think anything likely to happen here. The fleet to-da3'
was a most magnificent sight. It was formed in order -that, in
case of an attack, they may not be found in the confusion that
VOL. 1. — 17


Johnstone was; and faith, when one looks at it and thinks there is
a possibility of its coming to action in a day or two, on se sent emu
heaucoup. If some things were otherwise at home, and the fleet
was commanded by Keppel, one should feel very eager indeed ;
when, even in the present damned state of things, who cannot help
feeling something at the sight of it ? It seems to be the opinion
that, if they do come. Darby will make some sort of fight with them
in the narrow part of the Channel. At all events, if the French
should come again, I cannot think they will go away as they did
before, and that there must, either at sea or land, be qiielque chose
a voir; in which case I should be very much vexed indeed, to have
left this country just before the sight begins. Adieu.

^^ Yours ever most affectionately,

"C. J. FOX.

'^ By Zoutman's account I perceive the Dutch were rather in-
ferior than superior to Parker. When one considers that there
was hardly an officer on board their fleet that ever saw a gun fired,
ilfaut avouer que ce ne sont pas des plates gens."


•' Saltbam, August 28.

" There has been a strong south-west wind all day, but no news
nor even report at Plymouth. I go to-morrow to Torbay, and
probably on to London.

" Yours ever affectionately."

Soon after this alarm, he appears to have credited a report that
Ministers had determined to resign, for on the 5th of September
he writes to Fitzpatrick : " I really think there is now a possi-
bility of saving the country, if these foolish people will give up
the thing to those who know better. Between this and next
campaign there is time for increasing the navy incredibly, or for,
what would be much better, making a peace which we should
dare to do, and these poor devils dare not.'^ But whatever was


the ground for those expectations, they were quickly dissipated.
On the appearance of an extraordinary Gazette, announcing the
destruction of the American squadron on the Penobscot, he writes
as follows : —

" HuNTSTAXTON, September 27.
" Dear Dick : —

"If one really wished nothing but the destruction of those we
hate, the extraordinary Gazette we have just received would be
very good news; for I think nothing more likely than that this
event may give them spirits to persevere in the war, which I can-
not help thinking they had determined to give up. What a
puppy that Sir George Collier must be ! Are not the Americans
thought to have behaved very ill; or was Sir George's force more
superior than he represents it? If this should encourage them to
persist, I think it makes their ruin quite sure, and perhaps, in the
end, as complete as even you or I can wish ; but then everything
else will be so bad that it is impossible to wish it. I have just
been reading the Koailles Memoirs, and when one thinks of what
this country was then and is now, it is enough to make one sick.
How ruinous everything done by Tories is always destined to be!
for I think it cannot be denied but we feel the mischief of the
peace of Utrecht even now.

'^ Yours affectionately,

"C. J. FOX."

[Lord North's application to retire, and the King's unwilling-
ness to accept his resignation, continued throughout the summer.
At one time. Lord North appears to have suggested Lord Gower
as his successor; for on the 22d of June the King writes to him] :
" It is no compliment when I say that Lord Gower would be a
poor substitute for Lord North. What I said yesterday was the
dictates of frequent and severe self-examination. I can never de-
part from it. Before I will hear of any man's readiness to come
into office, I will expect to see it signed under his own hand that
he is resolved to keep the Empire entire, and that no troops shall


consequently be withdrawn from thence, nor independence ever

[In the beginning of winter, Lord North, being still solicitous
to retire, and Lord Thurlow, Lord Gower (who had come to town
in September), and Lord Weymouth, concurring in opinion that
the Ministry could not carry on the public business without an
accession of strength, the King, after another ineffectual effort to
work on the feelings of Lord North (November 30, 1779), was
prevailed upon to give authority to^ Lord Thurlow to open a
negotiation with the leaders of Opposition,^ and. to declare to
them his Majesty's willingness] ^'to blot from his remem-
brance any events that may have displeased him, and to admit
into his confidence and service any men of public spirit and ta-
lents who will join with part of the present Ministry in forming
one on a more enlarged scale, provided it be understood that every
means are to be employed to heep the Empire entire, to prosecute
the present just and unprovoked war in all its branches, with the
utmost vigor, and that his Majesty's past measures be treated with
proper respect." [In a subsequent communication,^ Lord Thur-
low is authorized to inform the person with whom he had con-
versed] " that Lord North's situation will not stand in the way of
any arrangement, and that he does not desire to be a part of any
new administration. ^ This,' adds the King, ^ ought to convince
that person that I really mean a coalition of parties, and not to
draw him in to support the present Ministry.' "

[Furnished with this authority. Lord Thurlow seems to have
proceeded in a strange way to execute his commission. Instead
of using the King's name, he] "conversed with Lord Camden,
Lord Shelburne, and others, but still as a private man, disclaiming
all authority to make proposals. ' They declined,' he says, in his
report of what had passed, to the King, ^ to enter into that sort of
conversation with me on that footing, but they never imagined
that they were returning an answer to your Majesty.' "

[The King, on his part, was offended by the "cold and distant"

' Deceml3er 3, 1776. ^ December 8, 1779.


manner in which Lord Thurlow's overtures had been received,
and when no other answer could be obtained than that " a coali-
tion seemed not to suit their views/^ he observes/ with a warmth
which Lord Thurlow's subsequent explanation^ does not appear
to have allayed] : " From the cold disdain with which I am
treated, it is evident to me what treatment I am to expect from
Opposition, if I was to call them into my service. To obtain
their support, I must deliver up my person, my principles, and
my dominions into their hands. '^ [The truth seems to have been
that the King was unwilling to part with Lord North, whom he
could govern, and unwilling to put himself in the power of Op-
position, who would have insisted on governing him.]

[The spirit in which the Opposition were disposed to receive
these overtures appears from the following letter of Mr. Fitz-
patrick to his brother. Lord Ossory. It was impossible, indeed,
for them to listen to conditions which were at variance with the
opinion they entertained of the impolicy of continuing the con-
test for reducing the revolted colonies to obedience. They must
have regarded the proposals made to them to be insincere, as
intended not to procure their assistance, but to reconcile Lord
North to his situation, by the impossibility of his quitting it with-
out abandoning the King to those whom his Majesty was pleased
to consider as his enemies.] ^


" Thursday night, December 2, 1779.

" The debate yesterday in the House of Lords was the best I
ever remember to have heard. By coming late, I lost the first
half of Lord Shelburne's speech ; but what I heard I thought
excellent, very violent, and very personal to the King : in short,
a counterpart of Charles in the House of Commons ; and to-day
he told me he meant it as such. Many compliments in it to the
Rockinghams, which were answered on their side, and the Duke

I December 18, 1779. 2 December 26, 1779^



of Richmond equalled him ia violence. Lord Gower spoke in the
most hostile manner to Administration, though he voted against
the motion, upon the grounds of the neglects not being proved
sufficiently to justify or censure, though he said he knew them
from opportunities which he as a Minister had had, but which
the House were not in possession of. He was personal to Lord
North upon the subject of negligence, and added that he was
clearly of opinion that this Administration were unequal to the
conduct of the war, and could not save the country, which he
thought union could only eflPect. The idea of union with any of
the present Ministers was universally rejected from every quarter
of Opposition, and Lord Camden spoke admirably upon that sub-
ject. The Chancellor was the only tolerable speaker on their
side, and he defended it only upon the ground of its not being
sufficiently proved to proceed to a censure. Upon the whole, it
was a very good day in all respects, except numbers, which were
as usual. Lord Shelburne seemed much pleased to-day, and told
me he thought the appearance of union in Opposition gave him
more hopes than anything he had yet seen. He was very severe
upon Lord Mansfield (but he was not there) and Wedderburne,
and his speech was really one of the finest I ever heard. The
post is going out, and I can say no more. Charles is quite well."

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