Philip Chesney Yorke.

The life and correspondence of Philip Yorke, earl of Hardwicke, lord high chancellor of Great Britain online

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honour, which assurances Pitt, in his reply, accepts without reserve,
while he expresses his conviction that it is the King's hostility

' R. Phillimore, Memoirs of Lord Lyttelton, 478. ^ Below, p. 371.

3 H. 247, f. 4.

•* "The Chancellor, ever since Pitt's return, had falsely boasted to him of having
proposed him for Secretary of State." Walpole, George II, i. %^^, -who is followed with
too little discrimination by Pitt's latest biographer, Ruville, Life of Pitt (Eng. trans.),
i. 321.

Y. II. 13


alone that has stood in his way^ A further proof of the Chancellor's
genuine support of Pitt, if such is needed, is afforded in Pitt's
letter to his friend Lyttelton of April 4th, where, while expressing
some sarcastic doubts of the zeal of the Duke of Newcastle, to
whom he had written on March 24, representing his disappointment
that the Secretaryship of State, on Fox's ultimate refusal, had not
been offered to him, he avows the " deepest sense of his [the
Chancellor's] goodness to me," at the same time that he declares
himself obliged to resist his influence, and announces his determina-
tion to abstain no longer from opposition. On March 24 Pitt
wrote, " You will say all you suppose I feel towards the Chancellor,
as when I tell you I think him sincere in his professions, and
reverence his wisdom before any man's. The Duke of Newcastle
I don't charge with insincerity intentional or want of good willV

Meanwhile Fox, finding there was no intention of giving him
the real leadership of the House of Commons, or any share in the
government patronage, had (on March 14) thrown up his office as
Secretary of State, on the advice of the Duke of Cumberland, and
retired to his former subordinate post of Secretary at War^ The
Duke of Newcastle, by no means displeased at the prospect of
having no rivals to his power in the Cabinet, and of keeping the
direction of the House of Commons in his own hands*, immediately
appointed to the vacant office Sir Thomas Robinson, a diplomatist,
who had rendered useful service abroad, but who possessed no
administrative ability or parliamentary experience. He forgot that
rivals, exasperated by exclusion from power, may be much more
active and dangerous than when soothed by the sweets of office.

Accordingly Pitt, who at first, and while he still cherished hopes
of office, had given the strongest assurances of support and of his
sense of obligation to the Duke of Newcastle and the Chancellor^
yielding to his feelings of disappointment, resumed his denunciations
of Hanover and of foreign subsidies, and joined forces in an un-
natural coalition with Fox, who enjoyed the steady support of the
Duke of Cumberland ; while both, though retaining their subordinate
offices, attacked violently and unscrupulously the offitial leaders of
the government in the House of Commons. " The not settling the

1 pp. 214-6.

^ Phillimore's Memoirs of Lord Lyttelton, 462, 467 ; and for the whole transaction
Crenville Papers, i. 429 sqq.

* Dodingtoii's Diary, 239, 271; H. Walpole's George II, i. 381; Letters, iii. 219,
224; N. 49, f. 243; Hist. MSS. Comm. Rep. viii. 220.

■* Coxe's Lord Walpole, ii. 370.


management of the House of Commons in able hands, but having
a notion that it could be conducted without a minister at the
head of it," is rightly criticised by Lord Royston as one of the
chief mistakes of the Duke of Newcastle at this time\ The ad-
ministration was left practically unsupported, except by Murray,
in the Commons; and this strange situation continued for some
time, till January 1755. Fox, who had immediately regretted his
resignation of office ^ then undertook to cease from further opposi-
tion at the price of a seat in the Cabinet Council, which was
followed, on April 26, by one in the Council of Regency during the
King's absence abroad', an office which was secured now, for the
first time also, by the Duke of Cumberland. Pitt then perceiving
the drift of Fox's political plans angrily declared all connection
with him at an end, and that he would be " second to nobody*." It
was with reference to this reunion between Newcastle and Fox that
Pitt made use, afterwards in November, of his much applauded
metaphor of the junction of the Rhone and the Saone, the one
" a gentle, feeble, languid stream, and though languid of no depth,
the other a boisterous and impetuous torrents" The alliance, how-
ever, of Newcastle now with Fox was not so strange as Pitt's own
unscrupulous coalition with Fox had been, or to use the Chancellor's
metaphor that " fire and water should agree." The principal cause
of this coalition of the ministers with Fox, moreover, had been
Pitt's own conduct, which had forced them to have recourse to Fox^;
and the renewal of Pitt's factious opposition now considerably
increased as well the difficulty of surmounting the King's hostility-

I H. 247, f. 4.

''■ Hist. MSS. Comm. Rep. viii. 224, Lord Ilchester to Lord Digby, March 21, 1754,
describing Fox as "now convinced that he has made as great a mistake, as ever
Was made by man. ..and laments himself in a most passionate manner, blaming every-

" pp. 219, 221; Walpole's George II, i. 420; Letters, iii. 271; Chatham Correspon-
dence, i. 132.

*■ Ruville, Pitt, i. 348, 356; Walpole, Letters, iii. 268; Chatham Correspondence, i.
^'^4-idTt Lord Waldegrave's Memoirs, 31 sqq., 155 sqq. ; Dodington's Diary, 282, 284,
333 i Walpole's George II, i. 392, 409, 417, ii. 21, 37. According to this writer (i. 418) :
"The Chancellor had discovered so much of the secret of his breast as to ask Pitt, ' Could
you bear to act under Fox?' Pitt replied, 'My Lord, leave out under: it will never be
a word between us, Mr Fox and I shall never quarrel.'" According to Potter, one of
Pitt's followers, Pitt's rupture with Fox was caused by the latter's " eagerness for power,
which inspired a doubt of his firmness on trying occasions"; because "it was apparent he
was always pu-rsuing a private rather than a joint plan," and on account of his " implicit
obedience to the commands of the Duke of Cumberland." Grenville Papers, i. 142.

^ Walpole's George II, ii. 58.

* See p. 204 n,



The Chancellor, however^ and the Duke of Newcastle endeavoured
once more to resume negotiations. Pitt was first approached in
April, I7SS, shortly before the King's departure and at the time of
Fox's inclusion in the Regency, by the elder Horace Walpole, when
he demanded the immediate insistence of his claims upon the King,
to lead the House of Commons, and a definite promise of the next
vacant Cabinet office^

The Chancellor, who alone had prevented Pitt's summary dis-
missal at the close of 1754^ earnestly desired his accession to the
administration and the strengthening of the government in the
House of Commons ; and on July 11, the Duke of Newcastle dis-
patched a letter to Lord Holderness in Hanover, to be laid before
the King, urging Pitt's inclusion in the Cabinet in his own and
Lord Hardwicke's name, and obtained the King's reluctant consent'.
A few days previously, on July 6, a preliminary and tentative con-
ference had been held, by the Duke of Newcastle's desire, with Pitt
by Charles Yorke*, between whom a friendship, cultivated under
the hospitable roof of Ralph Allen at Bath, existed. And this was
followed by another on August 9, between Pitt and the Chancellor,
when the latter candidly explained the position of affairs, and while
showing the impossibility of then giving a definite promise of the
Secretaryship, offered meanwhile' a seat in the Cabinet*. There
seemed at this moment every prospect of an agreement, even on
the subject of the foreign subsidies, which were in reality, in Pitt's
mind, matters of secondary importance in comparison with the
satisfaction of his personal ambitions ; but once more the project of
this alliance, so necessary in the public interests, was doomed to
failure. The meeting between Pitt and the Duke of Newcastle did
not take place for some weeks ; and during the interval the stability
of the government received a new shock by the revolt of Legge, the
Chancellor of the Exchequer and adherent of Pitt, who, under the
latter's influence, had grown rebellious, and now, in August, took

' Dodington's Diary, 301 ; Walpole, George II, ii. 37, 40.
^ pp. 221 sqq., 229.

* p. 229 ; Walpole's George II, ii. 387, appendix.

* Pitt iiad also visited Lord Royston at Wrest in the autumn of 1734. Chatham
Corresp. i. 116. See below, pp. 227-9; ^""^ H. 67, f. 15, N. to H. July 25, 1755,
who writes again, "Pray consider how we must entamer the great Pitt: Counsellor
Charles must come to our assistance. " The statement of James Grenville (Dodington's
Diary, 302), that the assurances of friendship and support that Charles Yorke was
commissioned to give Pitt were repelled by the latter, who refused any favours and any
conferences is contradicted by the sequel.

^ pp. 230 sqq., 237.


occasion to raise difficulties by refusing to sign the Treasury warrants
for the Hessian subsidy'. Moreover the imminent renewal of the
war, which had been pushed on by the factions, both of Fox and
Pitt, to embarrass the ministers, rendered the position of the govern-
ment still more precarious; for no one placed any trust in Fox,
who indeed now threatened to join the Opposition, if he were not
further satisfied", Pitt, who, on the first reconstruction of the
ministry, might have been gained on easy terms, was no longer to
be had on the same conditions. He saw himself now sought after,
because the ministers had no one else to whom, in their embarrassed
situation, they could have recourse ; and the feeling of power arising
from these circumstances, together with the sense of disappoint-
ment and of ill-treatment, rendered him now exacting and im-

Accordingly, at a further interview at the end of August', the
Chancellor found Pitt's attitude far less friendly; and at a meeting
between Pitt and the Duke of Newcastle, on September 2, all
favourable impressions were found to be quite removed. Pitt,
while acquiescing in the Hessian, refused to have anything to do
with the Russian subsidy ; though the Duke of Newcastle defended
the latter as the fruit of four year's negotiations, and repudiated
entirely a general continental schemed Pitt rejected definitely the
Cabinet Council as insufficient, demanded the Secretaryship of
State, an " office of advice " as well as one of " execution," with
a share in the recommendation to employments and in the choice
of measures, insisted on the necessity of a leader in the House
of Commons and the cession by the Duke of Newcastle of a part
of his " sole power," and eulogised the rebellious Legge as " the
favourite of the House of Commons " and the " Child of the Whigs ^"
Notwithstanding these exacting and peremptory demands, the
Chancellor still supported Pitt. He thoroughly understood his
character, and was convinced that, once the object of his ambition
was secured, his opposition to the policy of the government would
vanish. The alternative was the entrance into the Cabinet of Fox
with great powers and a great following, patronized by the Duke
of Cumberland and the King, and making a breach between the

' Walpole, George II, ii. 35. On November 8, 1754, the D. of N. had complained to
the Chancellor of Legge's having ridiculed him, and had desired that Lord Anson and
Charles Yorke should " talk strongly and roundly to him about his behaviour." (H. 66,
f. 218.)

2 pp. ^34-6. ' p. 236. * pp. 237 sqq.

* Dodington's Diary, 329; Waldegrave, Memoirs, 44; below, pp. 239, 244.


government and Leicester House. He saw clearly the dangers of
this step, and declared his determination to have nothing to do with
it, adding : " If any other persons shall be inclined to bring him in,
I can acquiesce in it, as all personalities between that gentleman
and myself are now quite over, as if they had never been; and
I shall go on to serve the King, and adhere to and support my old
friends, to the best of my poor ability \" " My Father's opinion,"
writes Lord Royston, "though indirectly given, was clearly for
Pitt. [But] the King came over in ill-humour, and the Duke [of
Cumberland] got about him, and Murray, with other friends of the
Duke of Newcastle, were for FoxV The Duke of Newcastle him-
self, moreover, was not so hostile to Fox as the Chancellor, and not
so well disposed to Pitt, whose power, when once established as
leader of the Commons and Secretary of State, he could not help
fearing. Besides it was his opinion — and no man had a greater
experience or prudence in such matters — that to ask so much for
Pitt at once, would only embitter the King and render the situation
of the government still worse'.

The final result, therefore, was that Fox was offered and
accepted the Secretary of State and leadership of the House of
Commons at the end of September 1755, and received the Seals
of his office on November 15*; and Lord Barrington, a pliable
character, became Secretary at War, with Sir George Lyttelton as
Chancellor of the Exchequer. Pitt was dismissed on November 20,
I7SS> together with George Grenville and Legge, while James
Grenville resigned the Board of Trade and Sir Thomas Robinson
returned to the Great Wardrobe. Pitt had not waited for this open
mark of the King's displeasure to resume his campaign of active
opposition. On November 1 3 he again attacked Hanover and the
foreign subsidies in his most declamatory style, and declared " that
within two years His Majesty would not be able to sleep in
St James's for the cries of a bankrupt peopled" " How widely
Mr Pitt departed afterwards [when he was in office] from the
language he held at this time," wrote Lyttelton, " to gain popularity
and distress the Court he opposed, I need not observe. The wonder
is, that in doing so, he did not lose that popularity, but this must
chiefly be accounted for by his almost miraculous success in the

1 N. 51, f. 41S. 2 H. 67, f. 83.

' pp. 349, 350.

* Walpole, George II, ii. 43 ; Letters, iii. 349; Grenville Papers, i. 137 sqq.

^ Walpole, George II, ii. 60.


war.... It was quite impossible for me, as a man of honour and
integrity, to join in an opposition which, at the beginning of it, in
the year 1754 and through the ensuing session of 1755, had not
even the pretence of any public cause, but was purely personal
against the Duke of NewcastleV Pitt continued his violent dia-
tribes against Hanover in the House of Commons; and in May 1756
declared, in his most insulting tones, the electorate to be " a place
of such inconsiderable note that its name was not to be found in
the map," " a barren rock," to which the nation was chained like
Prometheus^. The breach was now complete and this unfortunate
issue had many unhappy consequences, besides the loss of Pitt's
services to the administration, and the waste of his splendid
talents in the petty sphere of factious opposition. The choice of
Fox, " tied and bound," to use Pitt's expression, to the Duke of
Cumberland', was attended by serious disadvantages. The Duke,
together with Fox, on the King's departure for Hanover, in April
1755, had obtained a seat in the Council of Regency, though this
accession to his power was feared and deprecated by the Chancellor^,
and the government was largely dominated by their influence and
faction. The military appointments were in the Duke's hands as
Captain-General, and were distributed among his own and among
Fox's adherents ; and the mismanagement in this province was
largely the cause of the failures in the initial stages of the war^ ;
while suspicions of the Duke's good faith and intentions made the
ministers unwilling to increase the military forces in England".
Through the influence of the Duke of Cumberland and Fox, sup-
ported by Pitt, who wished to embarrass the Duke of Newcastle in
the House of Commons and render himself necessary, the general

^ R. Phillimore, Mems. of Lord Lyttelton, 478-480.

^ Pari. Hist. xv. 704.

' Lord Waldegrave's Mems. 161.

* Coxe, Lord Walpole, ii. 381, who urged this measure upon the government in a
memorandum: " As to Lord Chancellor, whose great talents, moderation and practicable
disposition, nobody can have a better opinion of than myself, I must own that when
I read to him at his house the paper. ..his thoughts upon it, relating to the Duke of
Cumberland, appeared to me to be contracted into narrower views than seem consonant
with the importance of our condition, and the disagreeable consequences apprehended
from it at this great juncture. His Lordship intimated to me that H.R.H. was not very
popular, and let fall something, from whence I concluded. ..that his Lordship may be of
opinion it might fling the administration wholly into His Royal Highness's hands jointly
with others in his immediate confidence, that are not friends to the chief ministers." See
also Walpole, George II, ii. 21.

^ p. 206; Waldegrave's Memoirs, 21, 46.

" Walpole's George II, ii. 19.


war with France was precipitated, before the country was prepared
or ready \ The Princess of Wales, moreover, who regarded the
Duke with intense aversion as a rival and enemy, and possibly
a supplanter, became as a consequence, immediately hostile, and
threw all her influence into the balance against the ministry ; while
the Leicester House faction was joined by Pitt and the Grenvilles'',
The young Prince was induced to reject the project of marriage
with the Princess Sophia of Brunswick Wolfenbiittel, desired by the
King, and to persevere in his demand for the appointment as Groom
of the Stole of Lord Bute, between whom and the Princess, accord-
ing to common belief, there existed a criminal intimacy, of which
there is no proof or sufficient evidence, but the suspicion of which
alone was both an unquestionable disqualification and a public
calamity. He refused, moreover, the King's offer of a separate
residence. He remained with his mother at Leicester Hous6,
which became, under the guidance of Bute and Pitt, the centre
of intrigues against the King's administration, and prepared that
unfortunate developement of events, which led to such disasters
at the opening of the new reign^

1 " The Duke [of Cumberland] and Fox," writes Lord Royston, ' ' were at this time
[October 12, 1754] pushing things towards war; Pitt, without direct concert co-
operating with them, because he knew the Duke of Newcastle would be distressed by
such active operations in the then state of the House of Commons where, with a very
great party and the real power at Court, his Grace had nobody to take the lead." H. 66,
f. 202.

^ Grenville Papers, i. 432.

3 Lord Waldegrave who is, however, an adversary and not an impartial judge, and
who allows Lord Bute not much more than " fine legs, a theatrical air of the greatest im-
portance" and " an extraordinary appearance of wisdom," repeats a slighting reference to
him of Frederick, Prince of Wales, adding ' ' but the sagacity of the Princess Dowager has
discovered other accomplishments of which the Prince, her husband, may not perhaps
have been the most competent judge." " The Chancellor, with his usual gravity, declared
[at the Cabinet Council] that for his own part he had no particular objection to the Earl
of Bute's promotion ; neither would he give credit to some very extraordinary reports,
but that many sober and respectable persons would- think it indecent, for which reason
he could never advise his Majesty to give his consent." Waldegrave, Metn. 38, 67.
Walpole criticises adversely the Duke of Newcastle's and the Chancellor's support of the
King's objections to Lord Bute, as losing an opportunity of ingratiating themselves with
the heir to the throne, and is so completely devoid of all sense of public duty that he can
only imagine: "the truth was he [the D. of N.] was overruled by the Chancellor who,
having been slighted and frowned on by the Princess in the winter, was deterriiined to be
avenged; and the gentle method he took was to embroil the Royal Family and blast the
reputation of the mother of the Heir apparent." Nor can the Chancellor's conduct later,
when he endeavours to persuade the King to give Bute some appointment other than the
Stole, satisfy this severe moralist, which is then only "dishonourable sophistry'' and
"sanctimonious chicane." Below, pp. 249 sqq., 254, 296, 305; H. 522, f. 259;
Dodington's Diary, 257, 286, 292, 294, 304 ; Waldegrave's Mems. 30, 37, 65 sqq.,
161 sqq,; Walpole's George II, ii. 36, 39, 205, 221, 249.


William Pitt to Sir George Lyttelton, Bart,

[R. Phillimore, Memoirs of Lord Lyttelton, 449.]

Bath, March lath, 1754.

Dear Lyttelton,

I am much obliged to you for your dispatch, and am
highly satisfied with the necessary reserve you have kept with
respect to the dispositions of yourself and friends. Indeed the
conjuncture itself, and more especially our peculiar situation,
require much caution and measure in all our answers, in order
to act like honest men, who determine to adhere to the public
great object ; as well as men who would not be treated like
children. I am far from meaning to recommend a sullen, dark,
much less a double conduct. All I mean is to lay down a plan to
ourselves ; which is to support the King's Government in present,
and maintain the Princess's authority and power in a future
contingency. As a necessary consequence of this system, I wish
to see as little power in Fox's hands as possible, because he is
incompatible with the main part, and indeed of the whole of this
plan ; but I mean not to open myself to whoever pleases to sound
my dispositions, with regard to persons especially, and by pre-
mature declarations, deprive ourselves of the only chance we have
of deriving any consideration to ourselves, from the mutual fears
and animosities of different factions in court : and expose ourselves
to the resentment and malice in the Closet of the one, without
stipulations or security for the good offices and weight of the
other ^ there in our favour. But do I mean then an absolute
reserve, which has little less than the air of hostility, towards our
friends (such as they are) at court, or at least bear too plainly the
indications of intending a third party or flying squadron .■" By
no means ; nothing would in my poor judgment be so unfit or
dangerous for us. I would be open and explicit (but only on
proper occasions) " that I was most willing to support His
Majesty's Government upon such a proper plan, as I doubted not
His Majesty, by the advice of his Ministers, would frame ; in order
to supply, the best that may be, the irreparable loss the King has
sustained in Mr Pelham's death ; in order to secure the King
ease for his life, and future security to his family and to the
Kingdom; that my regards to the Ministers in being were too
well known to need any declarations"; this and the like, which
may be vary'd for ever, is answer enough to any sounder. As
to any things said by Principals in personal conference, as that
of the Chancellor with you, another manner of talking will be
proper, though still conformable to the same private plan which

^ Fox and the Duke of Newcastle.


you shall resolve to pursue. Professions of personal regard cannot
be made too strongly ; but as to matter, generals are to be answered
by generals ; particulars, if you are led into them, need not at all
be shunn'd; and if treated with common prudence and presence
of mind, cannot be greatly used to a man's prejudice, if he says
nothing that implies specific engagements, without knowing speci-
fically what he is to trust to reciprocally. Within these limitations,
it seems to me, that a man whose intentions are clear and right,
may talk without putting himself at another's mercy or offending
him by a dark and mysterious reserve. I think it best to throw my
answer to the Chancellor into a separate piece of paper^, that you
may send it to his Lordship. I am sorry to be forced to answer in
writing, because not seeing the party, it is not possible to throw in
necessary qualifications and additions or retractations, according
to the impression things make.

As far as, my dear Lyttelton, you are so good to relate your
several conversations upon the present situation, I highly applaud
your prudence. I hope you neither have, nor will drop a word
of menace, and that you will always bear in mind that my personal
connection with the Duke of Newcastle, has a peculiar circumstance

Online LibraryPhilip Chesney YorkeThe life and correspondence of Philip Yorke, earl of Hardwicke, lord high chancellor of Great Britain → online text (page 22 of 65)