Edmond George Petty-Fitzmaurice Fitzmaurice.

Life of William, earl of Shelburne, afterwards first marquess of Lansdowne; (Volume 1) online

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Solicitor-General, the Lord Chief Baron Forster, Mr.
Malone, and the Provost of Trinity College, to a con-
fidential meeting. So alarming was the outlook in their
opinion, that they recommended the postponement of the
Augmentation Bill to another Session, more especially as
at the general election, which it was intended to hold
immediately after the passing of the Octennial Bill,
members might be afraid to lose their seats if they
voted for the Augmentation. The postponement did
not appear to them liable to any inconvenience beyond
that of requiring the presence of the Lord-Lieutenant
somewhat sooner than the usual time. 1 Townshend him-
self further reported, that "the country gentlemen on whose
support he now entirely depended, were very earnest to
go into their several counties to look after their elections,
and yet would be sorry to have the King's service ex-
posed to the enterprises of ambition. He believed they
in general wished to carry through the augmentation
upon the most honourable footing, when their elections
were over, and many would even give it their best
assistance, if they were assured that the weight of the
Crown would not be exerted against them hereafter, by
those whose designs they now defeated by their zealous
support of His Majesty's Government." At the same
time he despatched his Secretary Lord Frederick Camp-

1 Townshend to Shelburne, March 5th, 1768.
1 Townshend to Shelburne, February z6th, 1768.

17671768 IRELAND IN 1767-1768 357

bell to England to lay before the Government more fully
the exact character of the situation. 1

All suggestions of delay were absolutely refused by
Shelburne. He announced the passage through the
English Parliament of a Bill taking off the restriction
imposed by the Act 10 William III. on the number of
troops to be kept on the Irish establishment, and giving
satisfactory security that the force kept in Ireland should
amount to 12,000 men; and he further agreed that in
order to obviate the difficulties which might arise from the
immediate demand of a large sum for levy money, extra
clothing, and arms, the execution of the plan should not
be begun till the ist of December. This would enable
money enough to accumulate to cover all these expenses.
He also gave the assurance of protection required by the
country members, pointing out that as it was by no
means intended that the Lord -Lieutenant should be
a non-resident, there was no danger of the Govern-
ment of the country relapsing into the hands of the
oligarchy. 2

The crisis had now arrived. The Augmentation Bill
was made the subject of a message from the Crown to
Parliament. An amendment was immediately carried to
the address in reply by a majority of four. Here is the
account of the debate sent by Barre then Vice-Treasurer
of Ireland to Shelburne :

" Conoly and Dawson moved and seconded; Pery
opposed mostly upon the ground that the augmentation
was meant to enable Britain to keep more troops in
America, in order to crush the spirit of her Colonies ; the
Attorney-General because it was too late in the session,
and that such a measure should always be taken into
consideration at the beginning of a session, when the
members would have time to consider the state of the
national finances ; thus leaving himself at liberty to hand
in the measure in a subsequent session, when such a
conduct would be more reconcileable to his private

1 Townshend to Shelburne, February i6th, 1763.
" Shelburne to Townshend, March I4th, 1768.


interest. The Prime-Serjeant was not so prudent, and
opposed it in a long languid speech, full of false calcula-
tions ; among the rest this curious one ; that adding
4O,ooo/. per annum to the national expense was in fact
adding a million to its debt, and that the nation in the
next session would be i,8oo,ooo/. in debt. If all this is
true, how will he have the impudence to support this
measure hereafter ? But indeed he has contradicted him-
self three or four times in the course of the session upon
this subject.

"He talks now of being dismissed. His profit by
his employment is trifling, not above three or four
hundred a year. He is personally disliked, a mean
gambler, not one great point in him, and exceedingly
unpopular in this country. I must tell you a short
anecdote which put him very much out of temper. The
day after the first division, he came to Council in a
hackney chair, which happened unluckily to be No. 108
(the number of the majority). A young officer at the
Castle wrote under the number of the chair, ' COURT ' in
large characters, and at the top a coronet was drawn. He
denied positively in the beginning of his speech, any
bargain or terms proposed by him at the Castle, but was
not believed.

" Lucas tried to get the citizens to instruct him to
oppose the augmentation, but not being able to succeed,
he contented himself with giving a silent negative. All
other attempts to make the measure unpopular were
nearly as fruitless, and indeed some members were in-
structed to vote for it. Dennis did not speak but voted
with Lord Shannon. The speakers for Government were,
the Solicitor-General, Mason, Cunningham, Butler, French,
Bagwell, Burke, Waite, Burton, FitzGerald, Gore brother
to Lord Annaly, Gisborne, who spoke well, and Lord
F. Campbell who, to do him justice, chose his ground
well, proved that there was no more money wanted than
what was already granted by the vote of credit, and
showed himself better informed of the state of this king-
dom than most of them. He also very properly corrected

1767-1768 IRELAND IN 1767-1768 359

the Speaker for his strangely inattentive conduct in the
Chair when he was speaking, a conduct at which the
House took offence. Sir Lucius O'Brien was with the

" The Lord-Lieutenant is hurt and seems low. Sir
J. Caldwell is very bustling and has advised him to try
the measure again, only dished up in another way ; he
assured him it would be carried. He did not ask my
opinion, and only dropped in conversation what Sir James
had recommended. I contented myself with saying that
I thought it would be right to sound the first men in the
kingdom that were friends, before he committed the
dignity of Government in so loose a way. He has this
day hurt the chiefs exceedingly, by joining Sir Robert
Deane (a mortal enemy) to Lord Shannon in the Govern-
ment of the county of Cork, and by disposing of some
things which the Speaker had almost engaged to some of
his followers.

" As far as I am able to judge, this country is man-
ageable easily enough. The prevailing faction exists
only by your want of system in England, and avows the
hopes of a change in administration there. They have
no abilities, and their present and only friend Hutchinson
(for Tisdal is quite broke) cannot be depended on for a

" But, my Lord, if a resident Governor is not appointed,
the game which has been played will continue to be
played in a greater or less degree, let you place the power
in what hands you will.

" The resources of this country are greater than they
are generally imagined, though I am not at present
possessed of that full information which I hope to get
before I leave Dublin, and which I shall certainly com-
municate to your Lordship." l

Such was the fate of the Augmentation Bill. A like
fate awaited the Judicature Bill, which on being trans-
mitted to the House of Commons was immediately sent
to a Committee of Comparison, and on the report of the

1 Bafr to Shelburne, May 5th, 1767.


alterations made by the English Privy Council at once
thrown out. 1

This was the last proof of their supremacy which
Shannon and Ponsonby were able to give, for the Adminis-
tration, on hearing of the vote on the Augmentation Bill,
directed the Lord-Lieutenant to prorogue the Parliament
with a view to instant dissolution. Marked distinctions
were simultaneously conferred on those who had been
most conspicuous in the recent contest on the side of
Government. But these distinctions were not in them-
selves sufficient to have much effect, and if frequently
repeated would have become a fresh source of corruption.
More was needed. Shelburne and Townshend both
agreed that it was necessary to strike off the roll of the
Irish Privy Council all those corrupt persons who had
attempted to traffic on their Parliamentary influence, and
to remove the exercise of the patronage of the Government
entirely from the control of the Lords Justices, vesting it
in a resident Governor subject to the control of the
English Treasury. 2 But before this change could be
adequately discussed, and before the new Parliament
assembled. Shelburne had ceased to have any but a private
connection with the affairs of Ireland.

1 Common* Journals, viii. 270 j Plowden, History of Ireland, i. 388.

2 Shelburne to Townshend. Townshend to Shelburne, July 1768.




WHILE Shelburne was attempting to settle the affairs of
Ireland, Choiseul, convinced that as the Bedford party
were in the ascendant he had nothing to fear, and not
deeming the moment favourable for a rupture, continued
to distribute cheap protestations of friendship with even
greater profusion than before, and at the same time
took the opportunity of causing all naval preparations in
the ports and arsenals of France to cease, in order to
make economies which he hoped might restore some
order in the finances of his country. He resolved at the
same time to prosecute his schemes of aggrandisement in
the South of Europe, where he had less reason to anticipate
resistance than elsewhere.

The expulsion of the Jesuits from Spain and Naples
had been followed by their expulsion from Parma. The
Pope, roused by the bold step taken by the Sovereign of
the latter petty principality, a blood relation of the Kings
of France, Spain, and Naples, threatened his dominions
with an interdict and his person with excommunication. 1
Benevento was thereupon immediately seized by Naples ;
Avignon and the Comtat Venaissin by France. Neither
in the days when Boniface VIII. was bearded at Anagni
by Colonna and Nogaret, nor when Bourbon led his
victorious legions to the walls of Rome, had the Papal
See suffered such indignities. But the humiliation of the

1 Coxe, Memoirs of the Bourbon Kings, iii. 336.
3 6l


Sovereign Pontiff and the seizure of his dominions did
not satisfy the ambition of Choiseul. The annexation of
Corsica had long been a favourite idea of French policy,
and the time was now come for putting the idea into

Corsica had been in the possession of Genoa ever
since 1481 ; but the rule of the Republic was oppressive,
and the island became the scene of constant insurrections.
The idea of selling their troublesome possession to France
had in consequence been more than once entertained by
the Genoese, but in 1743 England formally notified that
she would not under any circumstances allow such a
transaction. Gastaldi, the Genoese Minister, declared in
reply that no such intention was entertained. 1 During
the war of the Austrian succession, England assisted the
rebels, and even after the peace of Aachen clandestine
support continued to reach the island, notwithstanding
the issue of prohibitory Orders in Council in 1753 and
1763. When finally it became known that a fresh in-
surrection had been organised under the leadership of
Pascal Paoli, the patriotic son of a patriotic father, and a
man said to be as eminent for virtue and ability as the
leader of the previous insurrection, Theodore Neuhof, a
Westphalian adventurer, had been conspicuous for the
opposite qualities, the enthusiasm for Corsican independ-
ence grew stronger than ever, especially after the publica-
tion of Boswell's account of his tour in the island. The
material interests of England were also held by many
to be at stake. Burke himself solemnly declared that
" Corsica a French province was terrible to him." The
advantages which as a naval station commanding the
Mediterranean, it might give to any power desiring to
interfere with the commerce and maritime supremacy of
England, were insisted upon, and not without reason.
On the other hand there were those who with Johnson
"wished England to mind her own affairs, and to leave
the Corsicans to mind theirs."

1 " Precis of previous History of the Relations of England and Corsica." Lansdownc
House MS. * Cavendhh Debates, i. 40.

* Boswell's Johnson, ed. Birckbeck Hill, ii. 22.


Whether the independence of Corsica from French
control was an object worth contending for by arms
may be doubted. The representatives of Chatham in
the Ministry felt, however, that the friendship of France
was only waiting for a convenient opportunity to be
converted into overt hostility, and that any display of
weakness on the part of England was likely to hasten
the moment. It was desirable, therefore, to act with
diplomatic vigour in a case in which not only were
the sympathies of the nation strongly aroused, and the
maritime interests of the country affected in a greater or
less degree, but the course adopted by France was also a
clear violation of existing treaties, 1 and in direct contradic-
tion with her own conduct in protesting against the
occupation of the Falkland Islands by England as a
violation of the status in quo. Again the moment was
singularly favourable for the adoption by England of
diplomatic action. The councils of the French ministry
were as divided on the subject of Corsica as those of the
English ministry on America, 2 for the idea of occupying
the island at this juncture was peculiarly Choiseul's own,
and was therefore unpopular with his numerous enemies
at court. 3 Nor was their case weak, for Choiseul had
traded on the party divisions in England to carry out his
plan unmolested, and although the navy of France had
been allowed to get out of repair with a view to economy,
the finances of the country had not had time to recover
sufficiently to bear the expense of hostilities.

The Genoese had for some time past been receiving
assistance from France under a Convention made in
1764 : 4 the French undertaking to garrison several of
the most important military positions in the island on
behalf of the Genoese, who in return released a heavy
debt owing to them by their allies. Before the end of

1 The 1 5th Article of the Treaty of Aachen ran as follows : " It has been settled
and agreed upon between the High contracting powers, that for the advantage and main-
tenance of the peace in general, and for the tranquillity of Italy in particular, all things
shall remain there in the condition they were in before the war, saving and after the
execution of the dispositions made by the present Treaty."

2 Rochfort to Shelburne, June znd, July yth.

3 Rochfort to Shelburne, June 3oth. 4 Martens, Recueil dei Trails, i. 265.


1767 France had become the creditor of the Genoese, and
not expecting repayment entered for the second time into
clandestine negotiations with Paoli, offering to recognise
the independence of the island in exchange for the cession
of the province of Capo Corso. 1 The Genoese in alarm
now fell back on the idea of selling the whole island to
France, and after some preliminary negotiations signed a
Treaty on May I5th, 1768, which practically carried out
that object. 2

Notwithstanding the most sedulous efforts on the part
of the High Contracting Powers to keep the Treaty
secret, they were unable to prevent the rumour of its
existence reaching England. Choiseul and du Chatelet,
the latter of whom was now ambassador in London,
made a bold but unsuccessful attempt to stifle discussion
by solemnly declaring that they were " entirely ignorant
of any such intention," 8 and that " they did not know what
could occasion the rumour, and that no resolution was yet
taken" * Shelburne, however, knowing with whom he had
to deal, refused to be deceived by the smooth assurances
of the French Minister, and instructed Rochfort to demand
an explanation from Choiseul in the most decided terms.
At the same time desiring to have exact information as to
the preparations of France and the resources of Corsica,
he decided on sending a secret emissary on a tour of
inspection through both countries, with instructions to
report as soon as possible. With this object Mr. John
Stewart an accomplished linguist was selected. He left
England early in May, and began by traversing the whole
of the north and east of France. He observed a complete
absence of all naval preparations in the ports, great material
distress in the large towns, and discontent in the German
population of Alsace. 5 He then proceeded to Italy.

Meanwhile differences of opinion were making them-
selves felt in the councils of the Ministry. " The Royal

1 Mann to Shelburne, May I4th, 1768. On the first negotiation between France
and Paoli, see infra, p. 380. 2 Martens, Recueil des Traites, i. 591.

3 Shelburne to Rochfort, May ijth, 1768.

4 Rochfort to Shelburne, March jut, 1768.
6 Stewart to Shelburnr, June, July 1768.


Cabinet," wrote Caracciolo, the Neapolitan Minister to
Tanucci, " is not agreed. The Chancellor, the Duke
of Grafton, and Lord Shelburne wish to support the
Corsicans, these Lords retaining in their minds the manner
of thinking of Lord Chatham, of whom they are the
creatures ; Lord Weymouth and all the Bedford party,
on the contrary, are absolutely against taking any steps
which may disturb the general tranquillity and peace. In
fact Lord Weymouth has made no difficulty in discovering
his sentiments, judging it not to interest this nation what
may be the destiny of that island. Having, he says, as
England has, the superiority at sea, the French will never
be able either in war or peace to hinder their entrance into
the ports of the Mediterranean ; and in effect it was
seen in the last war. France had troops in the maritime
places of Corsica, and besides that Port Mahon, notwith-
standing which the two fleets navigated that sea without
any molestation or inconvenience. Lord Shelburne seems on
the contrary to consider the affair as a thing of importance." 1
The affairs of America still further aggravated the
position. Events had been marching with rapidity in the
colonies, ever since the arrival of the news that Charles
Townshend's taxes had received the consent of Parliament.
Already on the 28th of October 1767, the inhabitants of
Boston, in town meeting assembled, had entered into a
non-importation agreement. The two succeeding months
were spent in planning how to carry out the agreement.
Opposition was determined upon first ; the philosophy of
opposition was invented afterwards. The distinction
between internal and external taxation had been cunningly
respected by Townshend, the taxes were port duties and
therefore not internal taxation, and the old arguments
clearly failed when used against them. It was necessary
to look further. In the Farmer's Letters of John
Dickenson of Pennsylvania the key-note of a new resist-
ance was struck. " We," he argued, " being obliged to
take commodities from Great Britain, special duties on
their exportation to us are as much taxes upon us as those

Caracciolo to Tanucci, May zjth, June 3rd, 1768.


imposed by the Stamp Act. Great Britain claims and
exercises the right to prohibit manufactures in America.
Once admit that she may lay duties upon her exportations
to us, for the purpose of levying money on us only, she
then will have nothing to do but to lay those duties on
the articles which she prohibits us to manufacture, and the
catastrophe of American liberty is finished. We are in
the situation of a besieged city surrounded in every part
but one. If that is closed up no step can be taken but to
surrender at discretion." The argument was the argu-
ment of Mansfield, stated in another shape and with an
opposite object. 1 Franklin acknowledged the force of the
reasoning of the Farmer, and abandoned his previous
opinions as to the essential difference of internal and
external taxation from a constitutional point of view. 3

On the 1 2th of January 1768 the assembly of Massa-
chusetts solemnly passed an address to the English Ministry
against the new taxation, and the appropriation of it.
They also memorialised the King and the leading English
statesmen Shelburne in their number 8 and on the 4th
of February resolved to inform the other Colonial Govern-
ments of their proceedings against the Acts "that if they
thought fit they might join therein." Meanwhile Bernard,
Hutchinson, and the Commissioners of Customs wrote to
their official superiors exaggerating the disloyal feeling in
the colonies, denouncing their liberties, and clamouring
for troops. On the i5th of April the news of the circular
letter of the 4th of February arrived in England. Hills-
borough, now in high favour at Court, immediately ordered
the Assembly in the harshest terms " to rescind the resolu-
tion which gave birth to it, and to declare their disapproba-
tion of that rash and hasty proceeding." If the Assembly
refused to comply they were to be dissolved. The other
States were to be called upon to take no notice of the
circular, and their Assemblies also were to be dissolved
in the event of a refusal. Shelburne opposed this resolu-

1 See supra, p. 265.

2 Franklin to Cooper, June 8th, 1770. Works, v. 259. Franklin republished his
Farmer' t Letters in London with a Preface signed N. N., v. 127.

1 The House of Representatives to Shelbume, January 151)1, 1768.


tion, which recommended itself to the Bedford party and
to the King. 1

" It is expected every day," wrote Whateley to Gren-
ville, " that Lord Shelburne will be out. . . . 2 About ten
days ago Lord Chesterfield (who has always been remark-
able for his intelligence) said to Irwin, ' I think I smell
a change : I rather mean two changes ; the first incon-
siderable, introductory to a greater. During the interval
I fancy Lord Barrington will be Secretary of State, but
whatever is done, Mr. Grenville must be Minister before
the meeting of Parliament.' Irwin thought by his
manner that he spoke from some information which he
did not explain, but it is certain that part of what his
Lordship smelt ten days ago was become a general report
just before I left London, where it was confidently said
that Lord Shelburne was immediately to go out, and to
be succeeded by Lord Barrington. . . . The present
Solicitor-General seems even now in a doubtful situation ;
his principal connection I suppose to be Lord Shelburne,
and the part he has taken in Wilkes' affair cannot recom-
mend him." B

Rigby at the same time was pushing Gower and
Weymouth to unite with him in insisting with Grafton
on the removal of Shelburne, who they said " betrayed
them and opposed all their measures in Council." " The
accusation," continues Walpole, " was not unwelcome
either to the Duke or to the King. The former hated
Shelburne for enjoying Lord Chatham's favour, and the
King had not forgotten the tricks that Shelburne had
played Lord Bute. To make the proposal still more
palatable, the Cabal offered to His Majesty the choice
of the Duke of Northumberland or Lord Egmont, his
own creatures, of Lord Holdernesse anybody's creature,
or of Lord Sandwich their own friend, to replace Lord
Shelburne. Willing as he was to give up the last, the
the King had adopted a rule of turning [out] no single
man, both from pusillanimity, and from never being sorry

1 Circular letter of Hillsborough, April zist, 1768.

2 Whateley to Grenville, May 2ist, 1768. Gren-ville Papers, iv. 296.

3 Whateley to Grenville, June 4th, 1768. Gren-ville Papers, iv. 300.


to embarrass Ministers whom he had not taken from
inclination." T

The Bedfords next prevailed on the King through
Grafton to name Mr. Lynch, one of their own friends,
Minister to Turin. 2 This was in Shelburne's department,
but though he considered Lord Tankerville the "best
man for the post," and resented the interference of
Grafton, who had not even consulted him before recom-
mending Mr. Lynch to the King, he accepted the explana-
tions which were offered, and no immediate breach ensued. 3

Choiseul on receiving the protest of Shelburne against
the annexation of Corsica, " declared to God that when
he first thought of his plan he did not believe it could

Online LibraryEdmond George Petty-Fitzmaurice FitzmauriceLife of William, earl of Shelburne, afterwards first marquess of Lansdowne; (Volume 1) → online text (page 34 of 46)