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

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cases that there would be more danger of foreign wars even than
of domestic." — H. w.

"Charles Fox persisted in asking whether persons not subjects
of England came within the act?" — H. w.

" Charles Fox urged that, while the lawyers contradicted one
another, it was in vain to say, as Wedderburne maintained, that
the line was ascertained. This would be the first time that ever
a penal law was passed with the lawyers difi'ering." — H. w.

' His father, Lord Holland, too, had always great pleasure in attacking
the lawyers. — H. W.


"Charles Fox said the occasion (of the Royal Marriage Bill)
was pitiful and disgraceful. Did the dignity of the Crown con-
sist in the marriages of the Koyal Family ? He then, perceiving
the Ministers would not argue, yet maintained the clause, said
artfully, he perceived Lord North's friends had abandoned his
defence." — H. w.

20th March. "Charles Fox asked Lord North with what face
he could tell him that a prince, who should contract a marriage
contrary to this bill, would not be guilty of a praemunire. That
clause was a tacit confession of the weakness of the nullity. '^ —

H. W.

"But a more remarkable secret came out. Yery few days
before the conclusion of the Royal Marriage Bill, young Mr.
Crawford, mentioned above, told me this story. He gave a din-
ner to his countryman, Mr. Wedderburne, the Solicitor-General,
to Charles Fox, and others. They got drunk, and, in his cups,
Wedderburne blabbed that he and Thurlow had each drawn the
plan of an unexceptionable bill, but that Lord Mansfield had said
they were both nonsense, had rejected them, and then himself
drew the present bill; 'and damn him,^ added Wedderburne,
* when he called my bill nonsense, did he think I would defend
him?' In the course of the debates, I have given very inade-
quate ideas of the speeches of Burke, and Charles Fox, and Wed-
derburne, three excellent orators in different ways. I could only
relate what I heard at second-hand, and from notes communicated
to me, which must be imperfect when not taken in short-hand.
Burke's wit, allusions, and enthusiasm, were striking but not
imposing; Wedderburne was a sharp, clever arguer, though un-
equal; Charles Fox, much younger than either, was universally
allowed to have seized the just point of argument throughout
with most amazing rapidity and clearness, and to have excelled
even Charles Townshend as a Parliament man, though inferior
in wit and variety of talents."

" Enough of that bill — never was an act passed agcdnst which
so much andybr which so little was said." — H. w.

[Frequent mention has been made in these collections of Mr.


Crawford, as an early acquaintance and associate of Mr. Fox.
He was a man of parts and vivacity, had been a favorite with
Voltaire, and lived to be the friend of Calonne. He was well
known for many years in the fashionable world, where his curious
and prying disposition procured feim the nickname of the Fish, by
which he was habitually designated in society. He sat in several
Parliaments, and once he attempted to speak. Of his failure on
that occasion, he gives a sprightly account in a letter to Ste Fox,
with whom and Lord Ossory, as more nearly of the same age, he
was on more intimate habits than with Mr. Fox. As this letter
alludes to a distinguishing feature in Mr. Fox's character, which
was never to desert a friend at a pinch, it deserves insertion,]


"Grafton Street.
*'In all distresses of our friends,
Kind nature, ever bent to ease us,
Finds out some circumstance to please us.
How patiently we hear them groan !
How glad the case is not our own !

"I know, dear Ste, that you will be delighted to hear that I
had the misfortune to speak a few days ago in the House of
Commons. If I was the oldest and dearest friend you had in
the world, you could not have wished me to succeed worse than
I did. It was a prepared speech, ill-timed, ill-received, ill-de-
livered, languid, jjlaintive, and everything as bad as possible.
Add to all this, that it was very long, because, being prepared
and pompously begun, I did not know how the devil to get out
of it. I know this news will give you great pleasure, and it is
out of perfect kindness that I send it to you. The only thing I
said, which was sensible or to the purpose, was misrepresented
by Burke. Charles was not ashamed to acknowledge me in my
distress. He explained and defended what I had said with spirit,
warmth, and great kindness to me. I am really more pleased at
having received a proof of kindness from Charles, whom I admire


and love more and more every day, than I am hurt at not suc-
ceeding in a thing in which I had no right to succeed. For cer-
tainly it was not the intention of Nature that I should be a
public speaker, and I shall never attempt it any more. Hie finis
Priami fatorum — I shall have the pleasure of seeing you some
time next week in my way to Bath. I hope Lady Mary will not
receive me the worse for not being an orator, or rather for having
attempted to be one, which was a foolish mistake with regard to
myself. All I have said is exactly true, and therefore I have no
doubt of this being a very agreeable letter to jou.

''For I am, and ever have been,
"Dear Ste,

"Your affectionate friend,

"J. C."

April 7. " Though I had never been in the House of Com-
mons since I had quitted Ptfi-liamcnt, the fame of Charles Fox
raised my curiosity, and I went this day to hear him. He made
his motion for leave to brine: in a bill to correct the old Marriag-e
Bill, and he introduced it with ease, grace, and clearness, and
without the pref)ared or elegant formality of a young speaker.
He did not shine particularly, but his sense and facility showed
he could shine. He said the two great points of the former bill
were to fix the notoriety of marriages, and to prevent improper
marriages by establishing a nullity. He approved the first; he
highly condemned the second. To encourage marriage by facili-
ties was the business of a rej)ublican kind of government ; but
the late bill had been the work of a proud aristocracy, and he
believed had hurt propagation, though he was not ready with
proofs that it had. Colonel Burgoyne, a pompous man, whose
speeches were studied, and yet not striking, seconded him. Lord
North, who had declared he would not oppose the introduc-
tion of the new bill, now unhandsomely opposed it, to please the
Yorkes and the peers, and spoke well. He said formerly the
bill had been matter of speculation. It was no longer so; twenty
years had shown its utility. It ought not to be laid aside unless
VOL. I. — 8


proofs could be brought that it had done hurt. T. Townshend
supported the motion. Ellis, who owned he had been strongly
against the old bill, said he had been converted to it on many
points by Lord North's supporting it, but should not oppose con-
sidering how to amend it. Ongley and Cornwall were, the first
for the old, the second for the new bill. Cornwall, a comely,
sensible man, decent in his manner and matter, but of no viva-
city. Burke made a long and fine oration against the motion.
Burke was certainly in his principles no moderate man, and when
his party did not interfere, generally leaned towards the more
arbitrary side, as had appeared in the late debates on the Church,
in which he had declared for the clergy. He laid his chief stress
on the impropriety of allowing men to have children till they
were of an age by strength and prudence to maintain them. He
spoke with a choice and variety of language, a profusion of meta-
phors, and yet with a correction of diction, that were surprising.
His fault was copiousness above measure ; and he dealt abund-
antly, too much, in establishing general positions. Two-thii-ds
of this oration resembled the beginning of a book on speculative
doctrines, and yet argument was not the forte of it. Charles
Fox, who had been running about the house talking to different
persons and scarce listening to Burke, rose with amazing spirit
and memory, answered both Lord North and Burke, ridiculed the
arguments of the former, and confuted those of the latter with a
shrewdness that, from its multiplicity of reasons, as much ex-
ceeded his father in embraciug all the arguments of his antago-
nists, as he did in his manner and delivery.^ Lord Holland was
always confused before he could clear up the point, fluttered and
hesitated, and wanted diction, and labored only one forcible con-

^ He (Charles Fox) said ingeniously that the clandestine marriages
made in Scotland had prevented some of the bad eCFects of the bill, and
yet that he disliked those marriages, because by preventing those mis-
chiefs they had prevented the repeal of the bill. He maintained what
Burke denied, that it was an aristocratic bill : and he asked if it was the
mildness of the aristocracy that had saved the bill when a repeal of it had
twice passed the House of Commons. — H. W.


elusion. Charles Fox had great facility of delivery, his words
flowed rapidly; but he had nothing of Burke's variety of lan-
guage or correctness, nor his method, yet his arguments were far
more shrewd. He was many years younger. Burke was inde-
fatigable, learned, and versed in every branch of eloquence;
Fox was dissolute, dissipated, idle beyond measure. He was that
very morning returned from Newmarket, where he had lost some
thousand pounds the preceding day; he had stopped at Hocherel,
where he found company, had sat up all night drinking, and had
not been in bed when he came to move his bill, which he had
not even drawn up. This was genius, was almost inspiration.
Being so very young, he appeared in that light a greater prodigy
than the famous Charles Townshend. Townshend's speeches,
for four or five years, gave little indication of his amazing parts :
they were studied, pedantic, and like the dissertations of Burke,
with less brilliancy. Charles Fox approached to Charles Towns-
hend only in argument. Charles Townshend grew idle ; he had
taken pains ; both could illuminate themselves from the slightest
hints. But Townshend's wit exceeded even Burke's, and he
could shine in every science, in every profession, with a quarter
of Burke's application. All three were vain, and kept down by
no modesty. Townshend knew his superiority over all men, and
talked of it; Fox showed that he thought as well of himself;
Burke endeavored to make everybody think so of him. Burke
had most ambition and little judgment; Townshend, no judgment
and most vanity ; Fox, most judgment in his speeches, and none
of Townshend's want of courage and truth. If Fox once reflects,
and abandons his vices, in which he is as proud of shining as by
his parts, he will excel Burke ; for of all the politicians of talents
that I ever knew, Burke has the least political art. None of the
three were well calculated to command adherents. No man could
trust or believe Townshend; and though he would flatter grossly,
he would the next moment turn the same men into ridicule. Fox
was too confident and overbearing ; Burke had no address or in-
sinuation. Men of less talents are more capable of succeeding
by art, observation, and assiduity. The House dividing. Lord


North was beaten by 62 to 61, a disgraceful event for a Prime
Minister. Since he would oppose Fox's motion contrary to his
declaration, he ought to have taken care to have his members
about him ; but he daily showed that he was only a subservient
minister. The Scotch cabal and the Tories could sway him as
they pleased, and his negligence demonstrated that he followed
their dictates, not his own objects. In fact, he disliked his post,
and retained it only from hopes of securing some considerable
emolument for his family. He was indolent, good-humored, void
of affectation of dignity, void of art, and his parts and the good-
ness of his character would have raised him much higher in the
opinion of mankind if he had cared either for power or ap-
plause." — H. w.

^' Two strong objections against the old bill came out, which
called loudly for reconsideration. Lord Mansfield had expressed
doubts on the clandestine marriages in Scotland, and had advised
some persons married there, to be married again legally. The
other was still more crying. A young man could marry, com-
plying with the other forms, by swearing he was of age. Should
it come out, twenty years afterwards, that he had sworn falsely,
whether by design or by ignorance, the marriage would be null,
and his children irretrievably bastards." — H. W.

May 18. ^' Charles Fox's Marriage Bill, on which he had
given himself no trouble, having taken away all restraints except
the single one of a register, was thrown out, without a debate, by
93 to 34. He arrived from Newmarket just as his bill was
rejected." — h. w.

December. " The year, and the first part of the session of
Parliament, ended with a new disposition of places, arranged
solely to make room for Charles Fox at the Treasury. Lord
Edgecombe, one of the vice-treasurers of Ireland, was made to
give up that opulent post, and take the vacant place of Captain
of the Band of Pensioners, with a salary to make up his loss. —
Jenkinson, Lord Bute's creature and one of the secret junto,
succeeded as vice-treasurer, and Charles Fox replaced Jenkinson
at the Board of Treasury." — h. w.


The events and state of parties in 1772, as well as the situa-
tion in which Mr. Fox was placed, both in his private and public
capacity, ought to be duly weighed by his, biographer, in tracing
the origin and growth of his political principles. His father,
under whose auspices he had originally been brought into Parlia-
ment, was sinking fast under disease and depression of spirits.
He was consequently less exposed to the political impressions
which his father would have inculcated in him, than during the
first and second year of his parliamentary life. Even if that
had not been so, his father, though never inclined to opposition,
still less to the individuals who then composed it, was far from
satisfied either with the public or private conduct of the ministers
or of the King. Many of the Bedford party had recovered
influence and power, and even high office ; and for none of
that party (Lord Sandwich excepted) had Lord Holland any
remaining feelings of kindness or good-will. Horace "VValpole
would persuade us that he was so chagrined at being refused his
earldom, that he instigated his son to resign. I do not believe
it, but I have little doubt that he was discontented at what he
considered (and, I believe, was) a breach of promise ; and that
his conversation on passing events, and on those who were in a
situation to influence them, including the King, was ill adapted
to inculcate on a young and generous mind any very great attach-
ment to their cause or their persons ; so that, had Mr. Fox
continued to receive his political impressions under the paternal
roof, he would 'not have been altogether unprepared to admit
principles hostile to their system, especially if, in pursuance of
it, they should stumble on some measure of a novel nature, and
involving in it questions to which neither he nor his connections
had been previously pledged. The interest on the Middlesex
election, and on the whole of Wilkes's conduct and fortunes, was
in some little degree subsiding. As chance would have it, a
measure liable to many objections, which his father had urged
with peculiar energy and with great success at the most brilliant
period of his life, and which were congenial to the temper and
character of Mr. Fox, was espoused by the ministers, or forced



upon them by the King — viz., the Eoyal Marriage Act. Secret
family reasons had swayed Lord Holland in resisting so vehe-
mently as he did the Marriage Act of Lord Hardwicke's invention
in 1753. But recollections yet more recent, and not unconnected
with their family, must have made Lord Holland, as well as Mr.
Fox, averse to the principle of throwing legal obstacles in the
way of all intermarriages between the royal family and subjects.
The share this famous measure of the Koyal Marriage Bill
had in determining him to resiarn has been recorded in the
extracts from Walpole, and his own letter to Lord Ossory ; and
the share his conduct in that respect, as well as other passages of
his life about this time, had in making the King on the throne
his personal enemy, though less susceptible of proof, may, with-
out any want of charity, be reasonably conjectured. It must,
indeed, be acknowledged, that Mr. Fox's resignation was not upon
any broad principle of public policy, and it is nearly as clear that
neither the discontents he felt, nor the disapprobation which ho
avowed of that particular measure, were intended as a prelude to
active opposition to the Government, and still less as a step towards
connections with those who opposed them. Mr. Fox would at
that time have shrunk from such a consequence. He would
. almost have considered such an interpretation of his conduct as
an aspersion ; but yet the spirited act of resignation, combined
with an eager and able resistance to a measure supported by the
Court, must have loosened very sensibly those shackles in which
his giant limbs had been originally confined. ' He abstained,
indeed, from all party connection with opposition, and he was
shortly restored to office ; but he had, in the mean time, braced
his mind to the independent exercise of his faculties, and he
had contracted much personal friendship with many (and with
Burke in particular), who were capable and desirous of exciting
him to a more elevated and glorious use of his mighty powers,
than the mere view of advancement in place would have suggest-
ed This year of exclusion from office, no doubt, laid the seeds
of those principles which were afterwards brought into action ;
as it undoubtedly did of many friendships and connections with



persons -with whom it was afterwards his fate to co-operate. The
consequences of his exclusion from office on his private habits
were not equally happy. He indulged more than ever in his
passion for play, and as this and the ensuing years are the
period of his great losses, I shall insert the observations com-
municated to me in conversation by Lord Egremont, in 1823, on
the occurrences of that time. Lord Egremont was convinced, he
said, by reflection, aided by his subsequent experience of the world,
that there was at that time some unfair confederacy among some
of the players, and that the great losers, especially Mr. Fox, were
actually duped and cheated — he should, he said, have been torn to
pieces, and stoned by the losers themselves, for hinting such a
thing at the time, and even now those of them, himself excepted,
who survived, would exclaim at such a supposition ; but he was
nevertheless satisfied that the immoderate, constant, and unpa-
ralleled advantages over Charles Fox and other young men were
not to be accounted for merely by the difference of passing or
holding the box, or the hazard of the dice. He had, indeed, no
suspicions (any more than the rest had) at the time, but he had
thought it much over since, and he now had.


[Li consequence of his losses at play, imperfectly compensated
by his winnings at Newmarket, where he was usually successful,
Mr. Fox became involved in pecuniary embarrassments to a great
amount, from which, in the succeeding winter of 1773-1, he was
in some measure relieved, by his father coming forward and pur-
chasing from his creditors the annuitie^e had granted them.
For the payment of some of these annui^R several of his young
friends had joined him in security, and the securities being pur-
chased with the annuities by his father, who was a public ac-
countant, they were retained by his agents till his own accounts
with Government should be settled. It was not till many years
afterwards that they were released ; but no money was ever paid
upon them by the parties who had contracted the engagements.


the whole of the debts from which he was relieved, amounting
to 14:0,0001., being discharged from Lord Holland's own estate.]
February 23. '' Sir William Meredith moved to reconsider the
subscription to 39 articles." At the instigation of Archbishop
of York and University, "Lord North made a point of throwing
out the motion, and earnest request of attendance was sent twice
to the Court Militia. Charles Fox supported the question.'' —

H. W.

[In the debates on East India affairs, Mr. Fox seems to have
taken a violent part against Lord Clive.] On General Burgoyne's
motion of the 21st of May, he described Clive as "the origin of
all plunders, the source of all robbery ;"^ [and in a subsequent
debate on the 11th June, he and Sir William Meredith] "made
such unprovoked philippics against Lord Clive that he quitted
the house with anger or shame." — H. w.

" In the summer of this year, a woman, who had been trans-
ported, and who, a few years before, had advertised herself as a
sensible icoman who gave advice on all emergencies, for half a
guinea, was carried before Justice Fielding by a Quaker, whom
she had defrauded of money under the pretence of getting him a
place by her interest with Ministers, to whom she pretended to
be related. She called herself the Hon. Mrs. Grieve, and gave
herself for cousin to Lord North, the Duke of Grafton, and Mrs.
Fitzroy. She had bribed Lord North's porter to let her into his
house, and as her dupes waited for her in the street, they con-
cluded she had access to the Minister. Before Fieldinsr she be-
haved with insolence, abused the Quaker, and told him she had
disappointed him of ihe place because he was an immoral man,
and had had a chil^ Her art and address had been so great
that she had avoided^eing culpable of any fraud for which she
could be committed to prison, and was dismissed, the Quaker

^ This seems to have been the opinion of George III. himself, for he
says to Lord North on 22d May, 1773, "I own I am amazed that private
interest could make so many individuals forget what they owe to their
country, and come to a resolution that seems to approve of Lord Olive's


having only power to sue her at common law for the recovery of
his money, and for which suit she was not weak enough to wait
wnen at liberty. But the Quaker's part of the story would not
have spread Mrs. Grrieve's renown, if a far more improbable dupe
had not been caught in her snares. In a word, the famous
Charles Fox had been the bubble of this woman, who undoubt-
edly had uncommon talents and a knowledge of the world. She
had persuaded Fox, desperate with his debts, that she could pro-
cure for him as a wife a Miss Phipps, with a fortune of 80,000/.,
who was just arrived from the West Indies. There was such a
person coming over, but not with half the fortune, nor known to
Mrs. Grieve. With this bait she amused Charles for many
months, appointed meetings, and once persuaded him that as Miss
Phipps liked a fair man, and as he was remarkably black, that
he must powder his eyebrows. Of that intended interview he
was disappointed by the imaginary lady's falling ill of what was
afterwards pretended to be the smallpox. After he had waited
some time, Mrs. Grieve affected to go to see if Miss Phipps was
a little better and able to receive her swain ; but on opening the
door, a servant-maid, who had been posted to wait on the stairs as
coming down with the remains of a basin of broth, told Mrs.
Grieve that Miss Phipps was not well enough to receive the visit.
Had a novice been the prey of these artifices, it would not have
been extraordinary, but Charles Fox had been in the world from his
childhood, and been treated as a man long before the season. He
must have known there could not have been an Hon. Mrs. Grieve,
nor such a being as she pretended to be. Indeed, in one stroke
she had singular finesse ; instead of asking him for money, which
would have detected her plot at once, she was so artful as to lend
him 300/., or thereabouts, and she paid> herself by his chariot
standing frequently at her door, which served to impose on her
more vulgar dupes." ^ — H. w.

' I believe the loan from Mrs. Grieve to be a foolish and improbable
story. I have heard him say she never got or asked any money from

Online LibraryCharles James FoxMemorials and correspondence of Charles James Fox (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 31)