Edmond George Petty-Fitzmaurice Fitzmaurice.

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

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1 9th Shelburne obtained an audience of the King. "He
did not hint his design to any of the Ministers ; he only
desired Lord Weymouth would let him go in alone, as he
had something particular to say to the King, and at
coming out, told Lord Northington that he might, if he
pleased, tell the Ministers a piece of news, for that he had
just resigned the Seals." 3 The Bedfords now remained
masters of the field. They at once made their power
felt. Led by the Duke himself, they proposed and carried
an address to the Crown to bring over and prosecute in
England all who had been engaged in treasonable practices
in America. For this purpose an obsolete statute of
Henry VIII. was to be revived, and the first speech which
Shelburne made from the Opposition benches was against
this proposal. 4 At the same time the expulsion of Wilkes
from the House of Commons was determined upon.

On the day preceding Shelburne's resignation, which
was followed by that of Barre, a squib, popularly attributed
to Wilkes, 5 was published in the Public Advertiser, de-

1 Chatham Correspondence, iii. 337, note.

2 Chatham to Grafton, October 12th, 1768. It is difficult to see any justification
for Chatham in objecting to the removal of Sir Jeffery Amherst. He was the non-resident
Governor of a colony which had been most forward in expressing sympathy with
Massachusetts, and the Assembly had complained of his absence. Amherst was besides
offered a pension equal to the value of his salary.

3 Walpole, iii. 247, 289. Whateley to Grenville, October 27th, 1768. Grcn-villc
Correspondence, iv. 390.

4 Parliamentary History, xvi. 476, 477. " Grenvillc Correspondence, iv. 383.


scribing the leading characters of the Administration, and
reproducing with a few changes ayV# d* esprit which had
appeared about a year before in the same journal under
the signature of Correggio. 1 It purported to contain a
vision of the masquerade given by the King of Denmark
at the Opera House on the loth of October. Grafton
was Janus, Chatham was King Lear, Wey mouth was the
landlord of the Bedford Arms. " But no piece," so had
said Correggio, " could be complete without a young man
who will make a capital figure. His features are too
happily marked to be mistaken. A single line of his face
will be sufficient to give us the heir apparent of Loyola
and all the College. A little more of the devil my lord if
you please about the eye-brows thai 's enough^ a perfect
Malagrida I protest ! So much for his person, and as for
his mind, a blinking bull-dog 2 placed near him will form
a very natural type of all his good qualities." Following
in the steps of Correggio, the " Dreamer of Dreams " in
the Public Advertiser placed Shelburne on his stage as a
Jesuit. 3 The sobriquet thus invented stuck to its object,
and Shelburne for ever after appeared in every caricature ot
the day in the guise of the famous Portuguese ecclesiastic,
who some years before had been strangled and burnt by
orders of Pombal, for his real or supposed share in the
conspiracy of the Due d'Aveiro. 4

1 September i6th, 1767. 2 An allusion to Barr.

8 Grcn-ville Correspondence, iv. 383.

4 Sir N. Wraxall, writing of his journey in Portugal, says : " In 1772, the State
prisons were crowded with unfortunate victims. The tower of Belem, the Fort of the
Bougie, situate at the mouth of the Tagus, and the Castle of St. Julien, placed at the
northern entrance of that river, were all full of prisoners ; among whom a great
proportion had been Jesuits, arrested either in 1758 or 1763 by orders of the first
Minister. The subterranean casemates of the Castle of St. Julien contained above a
hundred individuals, who could be clearly discerned, by persons walking on the ramparts
of the fortress, through the iron gratings which admitted some light to those gloomy
abodes. I have myself beheld many of them at the depth of fifty or sixty feet below me,
pacing to and fro most of whom, being Jesuits,- were habited in the dress of the order.
They excited great commiseration. The famous Gabriel Malagrida, an Italian Jesuit,
who was accused of having, as confessor to the Marchioness of Tavora, known and
encouraged her to make the attempt upon Joseph's life, after being long imprisoned in
that fortress, was strangled, and his body subsequently reduced to ashes at the stake in
1761. He appears to have been rather a visionary and an imbecile fanatic, than a man
of dangerous parts. His public execution, when near seventy-five years of age, must be
considered as a cruel and odious act, which reflects disgrace on Joseph and on his
minister. Malagrida's name is become proverbial among us to express duplicity ; and
has been applied, perhaps unjustly, to one of our greatest modern statesmen by his


The circumstances of Shelburne's career had not
rendered the imputations of insincerity embodied in the
appellation unnatural in the eyes of those who were not
behind the scenes of the political world. The country
was constantly being reminded that " the Earl of Shelburne
had initiated himself in business by carrying messages
between the Earl of Bute and Mr. Fox, and was for some
time a favourite with both," l and then the changes were
rung on the eternal story of the " pious fraud." The
ambiguous position he had for some time past occupied in
a ministry, from the chief measures of which he was known
to differ, could be justified by facts known only to a few
persons ; while the politicians best acquainted with the
wheels within wheels of the recent negotiations, were also
those most interested in making the character and conduct
of Shelburne appear in an unfavourable light. His sudden
rise to very high office when a young man increased the
number of his enemies. Those who were ready to declare
" that before he was an ensign he thought himself fit to be
a general, and to be a leading minister before he ever saw
a public office," were not unwilling to add that " his life
was a satire on mankind," and, while telling the public,
in the solemn tones of virtuous indignation, " that the
treachery which deserts a friend might be a virtue compared
to the fawning baseness which attaches itself to a declared
enemy," 2 they pointed the moral with the story, how
Chatham who was congratulated that " Shelburne had
not acted to him with greater insincerity than to his
former connections" 3 having become the "idol" of
Shelburne, " introduced him into the most difficult depart-
ment of State, and left him there to shift for himself." 4
" It was a masterpiece of revenge," said Atticus. 5 " Un-

political opponents. Many other persons of all ranks, either known or believed to have
been implicated in the Duke d'Aveiro's conspiracy, remained in 1772 shut up in the
various State prisons of Portugal. Most or all of these unhappy sufferers who survived
have, I believe, been since liberated in 1777, on the accession of the present Queen."
Memoirs, i. 63.

1 Letters ofjunius, October igth, 1768, under the signature of " Atticus."

2 Ibid., October igth, 1768, under the signature of "Atticus."

3 Ibid., October igth, 1768.

4 Junius to Chatham, January 2nd, 1768 ; Chatham Correspondence, iii. 303.

5 Letters of Junius, October igth, 1768.


connected, unsupported, he remains in office without
interest or dignity, as if the income were an equivalent
for all loss of reputation. Without spirit or judgment to
take an advantageous moment for retiring, he submits to
be insulted as long as he is paid for it. But even his ab-
ject conduct will avail him nothing. Like his great arche-
type, the vapour on which he rose deserts him, and now

Fluttering his pennons vain, plumb down he drops." 1

Shelburne himself frequently declared that he belonged
to no party ; and a great statesman of the previous
century had recorded the opinion that even the best party
is but a kind of conspiracy against the rest of the nation.
But Sir George Savile, Marquis of Halifax, was rewarded
by being called a Trimmer after his own book, but in no
complimentary sense, by both the factions whose ill-
will he had equally gained. The leader who leaves one
party without frankly going over to the other may beckon
to the people with his hand in the hope that they will
listen ; but his too frequent fate has been to be met, like
the prophet of old, with the angry cry : " What is thy
country, and of what people art thou."

After, however, making full allowance for the circum-
stances of his political position, it remains clear from the
unanimity of contemporary testimony that certain faults of
manner greatly contributed to injure Shelburne's reputation.
While no man obtained more general recognition of his
abilities in office, or was able to surround himself with a
more devoted body of friends, an overstrained affectation
of extreme courtesy, and a habit of using unnecessary
compliments in conversation, gained him the reputation
with the general public of saying more than he really
meant. Even in France, where studied civility would, in
those days at least, have met with greater acceptance, his
style was not universally popular. An old blind lady of
eighty-two writes : " Lord Shelburne has flattered me
extremely ; he assures me that he shall come again next
year singly and solely for the pleasure of seeing me.

1 Milton's Parodist Lost, book ii.
8 Ltttret dt Madame du Dtffand, ii. 597, ed. 1810.

" 2


Again, his fondness for foreign society and his Irish
extraction made it possible for his political enemies to
insinuate, with considerable effect in a time of national
prejudices, that he was hardly an Englishman either by
birth or in character. " Where," said one of the lampoon
writers of the day addressing him :

"Where shall I then begin, where end ?
But as I wish to be your friend,

Your lineage first I'll trace.
Pray then which would you choose to be,
Since double is your family tree

Of Teague or Saxon race ?

" Shall I to Maurice quite go back,
Who Scotchman-like erst bore a pack,

A merchant in those days ;
Or as I mean not here to fret ye,
Shall I commence with surgeon Petty,

Well versed in land surveys ? " 1

The same notion more delicately expressed may be
read in the following letter from Lady Rockingham :
" Lady Rockingham presents her compliments to Lord
Shelburne. She is totally at a loss what to say for so
elegant a requital, beyond all measure and bounds, for the
miserable box of Vinigritto snuff which she sent him
yesterday (in haste) to take to the House of Lords,
imagining, from his message to Lord Rockingham, that he
wanted some of that snuff to take with him there, which
made her take the liberty of sending some ready-mixed
in the first box she could find, and such a one as the sight
of this he has done her the honour to send in return would
make her ashamed to recollect, but that she only meant it
just to convey the snuff to his own snuff-box. It is a
serious distress to Lady Rockingham to rob Lord Shelburne
of not only much too elegant a box, but also (being crystal)
of one that is of all others the most proper for Vinigritto.

1 The remainder of the poem which may be found in the Appendix to the Journals
of Horace ffalfolc, edited by Dr. Doran is an account of the " pious fraud." The
allusion to Maurice, " who bore a pack," is apparently a confusion between Antony
Petty, the Romsey clothier, father of Sir William Petty, and the Earls of Kerry. Sir
William Petty was Physician-General to the Cromwellian army in Ireland, and author
of the Doivn Survey.


At the same time she supposes she must not take the
liberty of returning it ; that would be too English : she
is almost tempted to say that his Lordship's extreme
politeness is too French" l

The imputation of insincerity was, indeed, indignantly
denied by those who had the most abundant opportunities
of knowing Shelburne intimately. Franklin and Morellet
repeatedly insisted on his perfect straightforwardness, and
attributed the attacks made upon him to jealousy ; 2 Mile,
de 1'Espinasse considered frankness to be one of the
distinguishing characteristics of his nature ; 8 and it
was of Shelburne that Sir W. Jones quoted the line
of Shakespeare,

"He was my friend, faithful and just to me;"

but Burke, to whom Sir W. Jones quoted the line, and all
the Rockingham Whigs, said Shelburne was insincere, and
Burke and the Rockingham Whigs were very honourable
men in the estimation of the world.

1 Lady Rockingham to Lord Shelburne (undated).

2 Morellet, Mimo'tret, n. xiv., Diary of Franklin, 1784.

3 Lettres de Mademoiselle de rEifinasse, i. Ixiii.




IT was the opinion of Wai pole that the resignation of
Chatham was not anticipated by Shelburne as the necessary
consequence of his own. 1 The Diary of Lady Shelburne,
to which it may not be unpleasant to revert, confirms the
above view :

Wednesday^ January list, 1768. I went in the
evening to Madame de Walderen's, where everybody was
talking of Lady Newnham's accident on the Sunday even-
ing in her chair going from the French Ambassador's,
where I had seen her. She was pursued from Soho Square
to the narrow passage by Conduit Street, by a man who
ran against her chair and her servants, and was several
times push'd by them, once so as to be thrown down. In
the passage he attack'd her first footman and stabbed him
in the breast ; she found herself immediately set down
and surrounded by a mob who took the man. She went
directly to her father Lord Vernon's house, where was
only one woman servant, and remained there in the greatest
distress, till the wounded man could be carried home and
properly assisted. The wound appears not to be mortal,
and the man who gave it to be a Mr. Ross, an attorney
in the City, of good character, but very much in liquor.
Amongst the many greater blessings I have to be thankful
for to Providence, I rank this escape as one subject more

1 Walpole, Correspondence, v. 131.


of gratitude, having very much the same route as Lady
Newnham to take that evening, but leaving the French
Ambassador's later.

Wycombe^ Saturday 28/A. As we were breakfasting
Jack Conyers arrived from Oxford. 1 He was as good
humour'd and amiable as usual, and enliven'd us extremely.
At four o'clock Lord Shelburne came and brought Lord
Clare with him, and at half an hour after six our company
of dancers began to assemble. We danced in the parlour
to the number of fifteen couple. I began the ball dancing
a minuet with Lord Clare. I must not omit that Lord
Shelburne danced too, which I had never the pleasure of
seeing him do before. Amongst our ladies was a very
pretty bride, the wife of the Mayor Mr. Rose. 2 Lord
Clare divided his compliments between her and Miss Kitty
Shrimpton. We sup'd at eleven in the India paper room,
that we might not encroach upon Sunday morning. During
this time my Lord Clare sung ridiculous songs, and the
whole was over at twelve o'clock, and nobody the worse
for this sober recreation.

March ijth (atBowood). Lord Bottetort breakfasted
with us in his way from Hungerford to Stoke. It being
Good Friday we had prayers in the morning, after which
I attempted taking a little walk, but was driven back by
the cold. The work they are now upon is levelling the
lawn before the house, to the edge of the water, for which
the weather has been very unfavourable. My Lord is
very much satisfied with Farmer Manfield, by whose care
the park is got into fine order, and the flock of sheep
increasing very fast ; these circumstances and the number
of workpeople employed there, make Bowood have no
appearance of the scarcity so alarmingly conspicuous in
most parts of this country, and so severely felt by the

iind. A note from Lady Louisa, who was arrived at
Stoke from Ireland, determined me to go and spend the
day with her there. I found her looking well, but grown

1 A couiin of Lady Shelburne.
* They had been married on the igth February, 1767.


thin, which I was not surprised at. She told me Lady
Anne (Dawson) was at Harrowgate and surprisingly well
in health ; that her attendance on her daughter had been
continual, and her sorrow for her of the tenderest, most per-
manent and reasonable kind, restrained merely by the submis-
sion she pays to the power and will of that Supreme Being,
whose beneficence had granted her, for eleven years, the
most promising of children. I think it right to posterity,
if this Diary should by any means descend to them, to
relate the most remarkable of many acts of resolution that
her sincere piety enabled her to perform, as an example of
how parental tenderness ought to operate on such trials,
and as a proof that the Divine support can do all things
even in a mind torn by grief and a body worn by sickness.
In the last visit the physician made her daughter, she
followed him out to ask his opinion of her state. He told
her that she could not live twelve hours. She then asked
him if he expected any struggle before her death. He
answered she was so weak he thought she would go off in
faintings. Having heard this she returned into the room,
and summoning all her courage said to the child, " My
dear Henrietta, I have been asking your physician how
soon he thinks you will be well, for you have been so long
ill we may expect it now every day. He assures me
before this time to-morrow ; but as all severe illnesses
have their crises, you must expect first to be extremely
sick and faint, and at last to be quite overcome with sleep,
which you have been so long without, that it will be the
soundest you have ever had, and when you wake you will
be stronger, lighter, and better than you ever remember
to have been." The child, who was perfectly sensible,
seemed pleased, and asked her how she could know that.
To which Lady Anne answered that the course of most
illnesses were well known, and that she herself always
knew that it would be so in this, as it was one many people
had had, but as she did not know the exact time of the
crisis, would not talk of it to her for fear of making her
impatient. In an hour or two the child called her and
complained of extreme faintness, upon which she took her


hand and said, " Well then, my dearest Henrietta, think
of what I told you." The effect was so blest, that the
child smiled upon her and expired.

September 26th. My Lord returned (to Bo wood) and
brought with him Mr. Hume ; they read office papers
together in the evening while we drew and worked.

November i$th. This morning I had christened, at
St. George's Church, a little negro boy of five years old,
that was given me by Mr. Richard Wells on Friday last,
by the names of Thomas Coulican Phcenix ; the latter
he had been called after the ship he was brought in.
He is pretty and very good humoured, and I hope by
proper care will turn out well.

Christmas Day. I could no longer delay the pleasure I
proposed, in giving my watch to my Lord, and accord-
ingly produced it at breakfast, when he was vastly pleased
with it, and did me the honour to accept it. Here he
remained till Sunday, January the third, and in the course
of that time walked out very constantly till Thursday the
last of December, when a fall of snow like that of the
preceding year began. Our visitors in the course of that
time were Lord Clare and Sir William Codrington, Sir
John Hort, Mr. Parker, Mr. Fitzmaurice, Mr. Dunning,
Mr. Townshend, Mr. Radcliffe, and Col. Barre, besides
ourselves, and now and then an accidental visit from our
country neighbours, Dr. Rolt, Mr. Daniel Bull, &c. The
intense cold killed in one night our poor ourang-outang,
or man of the wood, and possibly in some measure hastened
the death of old Mr. Bull, which is a serious loss to Lord
Shelburne, he being a most faithful, able, and zealous

July 19/A, 1768. My Lord's business calling him to
town, he left me very early this morning with no other
company to supply his place than my dear little boy, who
after the solitude of the first day was past, has done it
better than could have been imagined. I spend my time
as follows : At eight I rise, dress and take the child without
his nurse one turn round the shrubbery before breakfast.
Immediately after, I go out with him again till a little


after eleven, when he sleeps. I then read my chapters in
my blue dressing room below stairs, and from that time
till two, the Memoires de M eUe de Montpensier ; then go to
see Lord Fitzmaurice dine, and teach him afterwards to
spell words, till it is time to dress for my own dinner ;
after which I have twice taken the air, or walk'd with him,
and amused myself in planting Chinese seeds, which Mr.
Sulivan gave me, in pots for the hot-house, and after work-
ing some of my Paris net trimming, and seeing the child
put to bed, walk in the shrubbery till nine o'clock, and
then come in and read the Adventurer, or Les Caracteres
de la Bruyere till supper. I have seen none of my neigh-
bours since my Lord went. My greatest amusement has,
therefore, been receiving two very kind letters from my
Lord by Thursday and Saturday's posts.

Saturday, August loth. I had the pleasure of coming
to Shelburne House from whence I continue this Diary.
My Lord was just going to Council as I arrived, with
Lord Granby ; we had some little conversation upon the
steps, and I had full time to walk over and examine the
house. It is very noble, and I am much pleas'd with it,
tho' perhaps few people wou'd have come to live in it in
so unfurnished a state.

August i^th. After dinner my Lord, Mr. Towns-
hend, and Mr. Adams set out for Bowood, where he is
also to give Lord Shelburne some plans of buildings,
and of joyning the house and offices by an additional

September \%th. They told me of a very extraordinary
match of Augustus Harvey with Miss Hunter. In order
to its being accomplished it is necessary he should own
his marriage, and be divorc'd from Miss Chudleigh, 1
which it is said he sent to her to propose. She answered
that she had no objection, but must in honour acquaint
him that the moment he declar'd himself her husband, he
would become responsible for a debt of sixteen thousand

1 This lady subsequently became Duchess of Kingston. See some letters on this
subject in the Grcn-ville Correspondence, iv. 343, 356.


October 2O//;. I should not omit a very essential
event : Lord Shelburne's resignation of the Seals as
Secretary of State. It was preceded a week before by
Lord Chatham's of which, however my Lord had no
intelligence, it being transacted very privately between
him and the King, to whom he wrote himself. 1 A report
prevail'd in town of its having taken place in consequence
of a letter to him from the Duke of Grafton, proposing
to remove Lord Shelburne, which it is said Lord Chatham
answered only by enclosing the above-mention'd letter of
resignation to the Duke of Grafton, and desiring him
to deliver it to the King.

November 6th. My Lord went this morning to
Hayes to see Lord Chatham, return'd late, and dined
only with Mr. Fitzmaurice and me, to whom he told part
of his conversation with Lady Chatham, having had only
a glympse of my Lord as he was coming down stairs. It
tended to confirm the truth of the report I mention'd
before, and to prove that neither the Chancellor nor my
Lord Bristol had his authority for continuing to hold or
accept a place with the present Administration. I was
call'd away in the middle of this by the arrival of Lady
Jane Macartney and of Miss Murray. After they were
gone Lord Shelburne and Colonel Barre came and
sat with me and renewed the conversation of Lord
Chatham, till Mr. Price, whom we had sent for to
christen our little boy, 2 arrived from Wy combe and sup'd
with us.

Tuesday, February iyd. Lord Rochfort told Mme.
de Viri the first of a very sad story, that has since that
time been but too truly verify'd, of Lady Sarah Bunbury
having elop'd from Sir Charles with Lord William Gordon.

Graver events than elopements were soon, however, to
attract the attention of Lady Shelburne. It has been

1 Chatham had resigned on the ground that he believed that Shelburne was about
to be dismissed ; and he treated Shelburne's resignation under the circumstances as
practically the same thing as a dismissal, and in any case as carrying with it the same

Online LibraryEdmond George Petty-Fitzmaurice FitzmauriceLife of William, earl of Shelburne, afterwards first marquess of Lansdowne; (Volume 1) → online text (page 37 of 46)