Philip Chesney Yorke.

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

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particular persons. I was not wanting to do justice to true merit ;
nor backward to shew him how real strength might be acquired.
Some way I made, though not all I wished ; and 1 drew out in-
timations that on this occasion openings might be made in very
considerable employments, in which some of those I named would
be regarded. I sincerely, and without affectation, wish that it had
been possible for you to have heard all that I presumed to say on

14 — 2


this subject. I know you are so reasonable, and have so much
consideration for your friends (amongst whom I am ambitious to
be numbered), that you would have been convinced some impression
was made, and that, in the circumstances then existing, it could
not have been pushed further without the utmost hazard. It would
be superfluous and vain in me to say to you, what you know so
much better than I, that there are certain things which ministers
cannot do directly; and that, in political arrangements, prudence
often dictates to submit to the minus malum and to leave it to time
and incidents, and perhaps to ill judging opposers, to help forward
the rest. Permit me to think that has remarkably happened, even
in the case before us. An ill judged, demand of extraordinary
powers, beyond what were at least in the Royal view, has in my
opinion, helped to mend the first plan, and to leave a greater
facility to make use of opportunities still to improve it\ This
situation, with the Duke of Newcastle (whose friendship and attach-
ment to you are understood and avowed) placed at the head of the
Treasury and in the first rank of power, affords a much more
promising prospect than the most sanguine could hope for, when
the fatal blow was first given.

It gave me much concern to find by your letter to the Duke of
Newcastle, which his Grace did me the honour to communicate
to me in confidence, that you are under apprehensions of some
neglect on this decisive occasion''. At some part of what you say
I do not at all wonder. I sincerely feel too much for you, not to
have the strongest sensibility of it. But I give you my honour
there was no neglect. I exerted my utmost in concurrence with,
and under, the instructions of the Duke of Newcastle, whose zeal in
this point is equal to your warmest wishes. That an impression
was made to a certain degree I think appears in the instances of
some of your best friends, Sir George Lyttelton and Mr George
Grenville, upon whom you generously and justly lay great weight'.
I agree this falls short of the mark, but it gives encouragement.
It is more than a colour for acquiescence in the eyes of the world ;
it is a demonstration of fact. No ground arises from hence to
think of retirement, rather than of courts and business. We have
all of us our hours, in which we wish for those otia tuta, and

^ Fox, on the refusal of his demand for the leadership of the H. of Commons and
further powers, had thrown up his office on March 14.
2 Printed Chatham Con: i. 100, dated there April 5.
2 Grenville was made Treasurer of the Navy and Lyttelton Cofferer of the Household.


I have mine frequently. But I have that opinion of your wisdom,
of your concern for the public, of your regard and affection for
your friends, that I will not suffer myself to doubt but you will
continue to take an active part. There never was a fairer field in
the House of Commons for such abilities, and I flatter myself that
the exertion of them will complete what is now left imperfect.
I need only add to this my best wishes for the entire re-establish-
ment of your health. These wishes are as cordial as the assurances
which, with the utmost sincerity and respect I give you, that I am
always. Sir,

Your most obedient, most faithful and most humble Servant,


Hon. Charles Yorke to the Lord Chancellor

[H. 5, f. 155.] April 2, 1754.

My Lord,

I have just been with Sir George Lyttelton, and read your
Lordship's letter to Mr Pitt. He approves it most highly and said,
that you had hit the true medium in the manner of it, stating the
difficulties so as to shew him, there had been no neglect, and yet
not too strongly ; — allowing much to his own feelings and uneasi-
ness of mind and yet shewing him, that some impression had been
made which, by the activity of his own conduct, may be improved,
especially as the plan is now settled, and considering the advan-
tages which have been given by the ill judgment of others'.

He said that if your Lordship would do him the honour to send
the letter under cover to him, he would take care and send one he
can trust.... He concluded with saying, that of all things he wished
this letter to go, which was the best framed to soothe his friend's
mind of any that had been writ, and would have the most weight
with him....

* The fact is that this letter, though prudently and skilfully drawn, had no effect with
Mr Pitt. His ill-humour broke out the beginning of next session, and he never thought
the old ministers were in earnest to serve him. The truth is, one [D. of N.] had no mind
to have an efficient minister in the House of Commons, and the other [Lord Granville]
knew that it would be drawing the King's resentment upon himself to propose Mr Pitt for
the only ofiice which would have satisfied him. H. And see p. 218 k.

' I.e. Fox's sudden resignation of office.


Mr Pitt to the Lord Chancellor

[H. 75, f. 175. Phillimore, Lyttelton, 471, and Chatham Correspondence, i. 103, from
a draft in Pitt's handwriting, where the letter is dated Ap. 6th, and differs from that in the
text with some slight variations.]

Bath, April ^th, 1754.

My Lord,

No man ever felt an honour more deeply than I do
that of your Lordship's letter : your great goodness in taking the
trouble to write amidst perpetual and important business, and the
very great condescension and the infinitely obliging terms, with
which your Lordship is 'pleased to express yourself, could not but
make impressions of the most sensible kind. I am not only unable
to find words to convey my most grateful sense of them, but am
much more distressed to find any means of deserving the smallest
part of your Lordship's very kind attention and indulgence to
a sensibility, carried, perhaps, beyond what the cause will justify, in
the eye of superior and true wisdom. I venerate so sincerely that
judgment that I shall have the additional unhappiness of standing
self-condemned, if the reasons already laid before your Lordship
continue to appear to you insufficient to determine me to inaction.
I cannot without much shame so abuse your Lordship's indulgence
as to go back, but for a moment, into an unworthy subject, that has
already caused your Lordship too much trouble, and which un-
avoidably must be filled with abundance of indecent egotism. But
permit me to assure your Lordship in the first place, very far from
having a doubt remaining on my mind that more might have been
done in my favour on this occasion (as impressions have been
suffered to remain), that I think myself greatly indebted to your
Lordship's friendship, and will ever gratefully acknowledge the
kind efforts you was pleased to make to remove impressions so
deeply-rooted. But I hope your Lordship will not think me un-
reasonable, if I conclude, as I do, from the inefficacy of these efforts,
in such an urgent want of subjects to carry on the King's business
in Parliament and under His Majesty's full sense of that want, that
these impressions are immovable. Your Lordship is pleased kindly
to say that, some way being made for others, some future occasion
may be more favourable to me. Pardon me, my Lord, if I own
I am not able to conceive any such future occasion morally
possible. God forbid the wants of His Majesty's government
should ever become more urgent : such an unhappy distress can
only arise from an event so fatal to this country, and which must
deprive me of one of the two protectors, whose friendship constitutes
the only honour of my public life, that I will not carry my views
or reasonings to that melancholy contingency. I might likewise
add, I conceive not unreasonably, that every acquiescence to that
constant negative, (necessary as I am convinced it was on the late
occasion), must confirm and render more insurmountable the re-
solution taken for my perpetual exclusion. This, I confess, continues


to be strongly my view of the situation. It is very kind and
generous in your Lordship to suggest a ray of distant general
hope to a man you see despairing, and to turn his view forward
from the present scene to a future. But, my Lord, give me leave
to say that after having set out, ten years ago, under such general
suggestions of future hope, and bearing long a load of obloquy for
supporting the King's measures, without ever obtaining in recom-
pence the smallest remission of that displeasure, I vainly laboured
to soften, I am come finally to feel all ardour for public business
extinguished, as well as to find myself deprived of all consideration,
by which alone I could have been of any use. For indeed, my
Lord, I am persuaded I can be of no material use under such
circumstances ; nor have I the heart or the presumption to attempt
an active, much less a leading part, in Parliament. The weight of
irremovable Royal displeasure is too heavy for any man to move
under, who is firmly resolved never to move to the disturbance of
Government ; it must crush any such man ; it has sunk and
exanimated me ; I succumb under it, and wish for nothing but
a decent and innocent retreat wherein, by being placed out of the
stream of Cabinet Council promotion, I may no longer seem to
stick fast aground and have the mortification to see myself, and
offered to others the ridiculous amusement of seeing, every boat
pass by me that navigates the same river. To speak without a
figure ; I will presume so far upon your Lordship's great goodness
to me as to declare my earnest wish. It is that, (since I cannot be
admitted into a subordinate share in government under His
Majesty's principal ministers, upon equal terms with those of no
more than equal pretensions), a retreat not void of some advantages,
nor derogatory to the rank of the ofSce I hold^ might (as soon as
practicable) be opened to me. In this view I take the liberty of
recommending myself to your Lordship's friendship, as I have
done to the Duke of Newcastle. Out of his Grace's immediate
province patent offices of this kind arise, and to your joint protection
and to that only, I wish to owe the future quiet and satisfaction of
my life.

I see with the greatest pleasure the regard that has been had to
Sir George Lyttelton and Mr [George] Grenville. Every good
done to them will ever be as done to me. At the same time I am
persuaded nothing could be done so advantageous to the system.
Sir George Lyttelton's ability for set debates and solemn questions
is very considerable. Mr Grenville is universally able in the whole
business of the House and, after Mr Murray and Mr Fox, is among
the very first, if not the best Parliament- man in the House.

I am now, my Lord, to ask a thousand most humble pardons
for the length and, I fear still more, for the matter of this letter.
If I am not quite unreasonable, in a trying situation, your Lord-
ship's equity and candour will acquit me. If I am so unfortunate as
to appear otherwise to a judgment I revere, I hope humanity and

' Pitt had been Paymaster of the Forces since 1 746.


generosity of nature will pardon failings, of which I am not quite
the master and that, I trust, do not flow from any bad principle.
Sure I am they never shall shake my unalterable and warm good
wishes for the quiet and stabihty of Government. I can give no
better proof of these wishes than by those my heart forms for the
long continuance of a health just restored, so essential to those
great objects. I have the honour to be with the most respectful
and grateful attachment,

My Lord,

Your Lordship's most humble and most obedient Servant,

' • W. Pitt.

Duke of Newcastle to the Lord Chancellor
[H. 66, f. 167.] Most secret. Claremont, Sept. ist, 1754.

[Begins by detailing the intrigues of Fox with the object of
forcing his way back into office.] I never had, or ever' shall
have, a friend whom I honour and love like yourself, and for
whose opinion, both in public and private life I have, and now
for near thirty years have had, so great a deference. It is
upon that principle that I now act, and it is to that friendship
that I owe my comfort and my security; and therefore, if we
ever differ about persons^ or things, be assured that that difference
of opinion will have no other effect but to make me examine
more closely, and even perhaps doubt my own after examina-
tion, if it shall still continue to be contrary to yours. I sometimes
wish that you would take up some points with a little more
authority and resolution. I think upon the foot of Whiggism, you
might have treated Mr Legge, that creature of ours, in his present
station, with authority and contempt. But however I am far from
being any otherwise uneasy at it, than as I think it might have
saved us trouble. To conclude, I know we have as good a body of
friends in the House of Commons as ever men had ; we have
the King, we have the nation at present and we have, and shall
have, the House of Lords. I will hope that we shall not suffer
three ambitious men in the House of Commons^ (of which two are
at this time guilty of the highest ingratitude to us) to defeat all
our good designs for the public, and to convince the King that we
can't serve him without their being our masters. I beg pardon for
this long letter. I was determined to pour out my heart to you.
I have done it with sincerity and I hope you think, with affection
and respect, being as I ever shall be,

Unalterably yours,

HoLLES Newcastle.

1 Fox is meant and pefhaps Pitt. ^ Fox, Pitt and Legge.


Duke of Newcastle to the Lord Chancellor
[H. 66, f. 193.] Claremont, Sept. i\si, 1754.

My Dear Lord,

I desired Mr Jones to prepare your Lordship by last
night's post for a summons to town, which I am very sorry to be
obliged to send you, but I hope you will see it is unavoidable.
[The expedition to America was the great question to be discussed
and settled.] I must now acquaint your Lordship with some very
material occurrences, which require the greatest secrecy. I have
received an authentic information that the Princess of Wales is
under the greatest apprehension lest we should make up with
Mr Fox, and would do anything rather than that. This you may
depend upon, and this must strengthen our own opinion and
resolution. The next is, that before I could have time to acquaint
the King with what passed at Wimpole and with our plan, His
Majesty began, " Who is to take the head in the House of
Commons 1 I know it is Sir Thomas Robinson's place and rank\
but he does not care for it." To which I replied—" Sir Thomas
Robinson, Sir, will always be ready to give the House the necessary
informations ; but as to the rest, I believe it must be divided. The
Chancellor of the Exchequer^, by his office, must lay everything
before the House that relates to the revenue, and there is the
Secretary at War^ and the Paymaster^" His Majesty then
insinuated that those gentlemen might not be disposed, to which
I replied, that I should talk strongly to Mr Legge and acquaint
him with everything that was proposed ; that Mr Pitt was very
much displeased with me, and thought that he had been neglected ;
upon which the King ran out against Pitt and said that I had
made him do that for him and put him upon a foot, which enabled
him to talk this language and act in this manner'; to which I
answered that the circumstances of the times and Mr Pitt's abilities
were the occasion of it. The King said, " I don't suppose Fox is
in good humour; but after the strong assurances he gave me, I don't
believe he will enter into opposition." — I said that we had nothing
to do but to pursue the plan and measures that His Majesty should
approve, and then, I hoped, they would not oppose them. H.M.
said, " If Pitt acts ill. Fox may have his place," — and I am per-
suaded H.M. thinks that would set all right. 1 told him we were
ready to communicate to Mr Fox the plan of the session, not to
give him a handle to say that he was not informed. That the
King liked, and upon the whole things ended tolerably well, though
it is plain His Majesty had been talked to favourably for Mr Fox,

^ Secretary of State on Fox's resignation. ^ Legge.

2 Fox. 4 Pitt.


and particularly that somebody should take the lead [of the House
of Commons].... If we can go on with success, all will be right in
the Closet. If we cannot, nothing will make it so....I must now
beg pardon for giving you this trouble, which nothing but necessity
could have induced me to do. I have several more circumstances
to relate to you, but these I will defer till I have the honour and
pleasure of seeing you in London. Give me leave to return your
Lordship my sincerest thanks for your kind and agreeable enter-
tainment at Wimpole....

Most affectionately yours,

, HoLLES Newcastle.

{On Oct. 21, I7S4 (H. 66, f 203) the Duke of Newcastle informs
the Chancellor that he has dissipated Legge's ill-humour who,
however, was much afraid of the "able and terrible" Fox in the
House of Commons, to whom he confessed his inability to reply.]

[On Oct. 24, 1754 (H. 6Q, f. 207) he writes to the Chancellor]
Possibly you may have an opportunity to-morrow to hint some-
thing to the King with regard to the state of his affairs here... and
the situation of the House of Commons. Your Lordship, in one
respect, is the most proper person, as you had the sole hand with
the King, in the present arrangement, and in all that passed
originally upon it. I have nothing to answer for but, as jar as
depended upon me, the conducting the King's affairs in the several
branches belonging to me, in a proper, unexceptionable and, I may
add, successful manner*.

Duke of Newcastle to the Lord Chancellor
[H. 66, f. 213.] Newcastle House, Oct. y>th, 1754.

My Dearest Lord,

I cannot be easy till I have, under my hand and from
the bottom of my heart, begged your Lordship's pardon and asked
your forgiveness, in the very just cause of offence which I, though
undesignedly, gave you this evening. Nothing ever was further
from my thoughts and intentions than the doing it, and I do
declare I did not recollect what I had done, till I observed you
were very rightly angry with me. For God's sake, my dear Lord,
don't harbour a thought of my want of gratitude, or the highest
respect for you and regard and submission to your advice. Every
action of my life shows the contrary. Every friend I have knows

* It was singularly unjust and absurd in the D. of N. to lay the whole weight of the
then arrangement on my Father, who had acted entirely under his Grace's eye and almost
under his direction. The affair with Pitt was not pushed, not to anger the Closet ; that
with Fox flew off, because the Duke of Newcastle and he could not agree between
themselves. H.


it, and every enemy I have sees it with concern. I may have faults,
but want of sincerity is not one; and therefore you may believe me,
when I assure you that there is not one in the world, who loves or
honours you more than, my dearest Lord,

Yours most unalterably,

HoLLES Newcastle*.

Duke of Newcastle to the Lord Chancellor
[H. 66, f. 223.] Clarbmont, N<w. l^th, 1754.

My Dear Lord...

I had desired Sir Thomas Robinson to wait on your
Lordship last night, to have told you the particulars of a very
extraordinary conversation, which I had yesterday morning with
Mr Legge at his own house, where I went to congratulate him
upon the success the day before^...! began with applause and
congratulation. Mr Legge replied, the day was good, but that
he would not deceive me... He came plainly to his old point, that
Pitt and Fox must be satisfied, and then made (as from himself
only) the following proposal in form ; that he had had a discourse
with Mr Pitt ; that he found he would no longer insist upon being
Secretary of State, since the King did not like it ; nay, that he
(Legge) believed now, that if it was offered him, he would not take
it, but that if the King would take notice of him, and he was treated
with confidence, that that would do, and that Pitt, (he believed)
would then act an active part. But, continued Mr Legge, " Mr Fox
must be Secretary of Stater As to Mr Pitt, I said I was glad to
hear he was now in that disposition ; that when / flung out that
very thing to him, he treated it as words and m.ere amusement ; but
that, if he would be satisfied with that, one might endeavour to
bring that about. As to Mr Fox's being Secretary of State, I did
not know who would advise the removal of Sir Thomas Robinson ;
but if they did, I was sure the King would not do it. " No," says
Legge, "that I believe, but something may be found for Lord
Holderness, and Sir Thomas Robinson be made a peer and
remain Secretary of State in the House of Lords, and Mr Fox in
the House of Commons." — I contented myself with saying only to
him, that it was too great and too difficult a thing for me to say
anything upon, and did not in the least give into it. He said
remarkably, he left it with m,e to consider, and repeated his nonsense
of uniting by that means the Whigs, and of his two dear friends,
Mr Fox and Mr Pitt. It is plain to me that this proceeds, first
from their seeing that they are beat, then from a most thorough
combination in the three to get at once the House of Commons

* N.B. Not known what this alluded to. H.

^ The debate on the Address on November 14, in which Legge spoke in support of
the government. Pari. Hist. xv. 346.


and consequently the whole administration, into their hands.
Mr Pitt is to make this seeming condescension to please the King,
and Sir Thomas Robinson is to be kept in for the same purpose, of
whom Mr Legge spoke as of one set up purely for a show in the
House of Commons at present. My dear Lord, Legge is, and has
been, linked against us, and this proves it.

Ever yours,

HoLLES Newcastle*.

Earl of Bath to the Lord Chancellor

[H. 245, f. 63.] Bath, Nim. lyd, 1754.

My Dear Lord,

Your ill health, I dare say, affects everybody more than
it does yourself. I am sure that I was so struck with reading in
the papers, that your place as Speaker in the House of Lords was
supplied by another, that I could not refrain from troubling you
with a letter to desire to know how you find yourself.

Your life, I think, is of such infinite importance, that it is
impossible not to be greatly alarmed with the frequent return of
your colds. Your constitution was once a very good one ; but
believe me, my Lord, it is the worse for your incessant labours, and
requires now a little more care of it. Do not think I flatter you ;
I have lived too long in the world and in general despise it so much,
that I scorn to flatter any one. My honour and esteem for you is
real, rooted and unaffected. I should be puzzled extremely to
name anybody else for whom they are so. I have long admired
your integrity and your abilities, talents that are rare enough in
the present age, and which you pay dearly enough for having, by
the terrible fatigues you are forced to undergo.

May you long live to be of use to your Country ; and I entreat
you to think now of nursing yourself up a little, for the sake of
the public, more than for your own. Insignificant as I am, I have
been taking care of my health and fancy myself better for these
waters. About the beginning of next month I hope to have the
honour of waiting on you in Parliament. I am, with the greatest
sincerity and respect.

Your Lordship's most humble and obedient Servant,


* N.B. The House of Commons certainly does not go on well without a minister in
it, and a pretty good speaker too. The Duke of G[rafto"|n jumbled through two sessions
without one; but then there was more submission in the majority, and less ability in
individuals than in 1754, and no stirring faction at Court. H.

t N^B. This noble Lord always avowed the strongest attachment to my Father, and
could he have foreseen all the consequences of his latter conduct at Court would, I am
persuaded, [have] been sorry for it. H. [See below, p. 545.]


Online LibraryPhilip Chesney YorkeThe life and correspondence of Philip Yorke, earl of Hardwicke, lord high chancellor of Great Britain → online text (page 24 of 65)