Richard Glover.

Memoirs by a celebrated literary and political character, from the resignation of Sir Robert Walpole, in 1742, to the establishment of Lord Chatham's second administration, in 1757; containing strictures on some of the most distinguished men of that time online

. (page 6 of 9)
Online LibraryRichard GloverMemoirs by a celebrated literary and political character, from the resignation of Sir Robert Walpole, in 1742, to the establishment of Lord Chatham's second administration, in 1757; containing strictures on some of the most distinguished men of that time → online text (page 6 of 9)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

I asked Lord Temple why Nugent was
left in the Treasury ? he replied, with his
usual frankness, that Lord Granville in-
sisted upon it, and there was no contend-
ing with that new and potent ally, who
had so much personal weight in the Cabi-

The Treasury was settled on the l6th
November, the Admiralty on the 20th.
Mr. Pitt was appointed Secretary of State
on the 4th of December, two days after
the Parliament met.

H 3 On

( 102 )

1756. On the first of December, the eve of
the Parliament's meeting, an accident lit-
tle regarded by the public drew the at-
tention of thinking people. The King^s
speech being prepared by Mr. Pitt, the
most remarkable part of which was the
recommendation of a Militia; the ad-
dresses of the two houses were settled
likewise, one left to the care of Mr. Pitt,
the other to the Duke of Devonshire.
Lord Temple was at this time confined to
his bed with a fever, and was accidentally
informed, that in the meeting of the
Lords, consulted in drawing up their Ad-
dress, the Duke had consented to the in-
sertion of a clause of thanks to his Ma-
jesty fpr having brought over his electoral
troops. Lord Temple knowing that such
a clause was not in the Address of the
Commons, and provoked at the Duke of
Devonshire's acquiescence, without the
privity of Mr. Pitt or himself; signified,
by a message to the Duke, the day before
the Houses were to meet, that if the
clause stood, he would come down, sick
as he was, and singly oppose it» The


( 103 )

Duke of Devonshire replied, about one i756,
o'clock the next day, that he was sorry
for the accident, but that it was too late,
and not in his power to make any altera-

I was at the House of Lords that day,
where Lord Temple, just risen from a sick
bed, and with a blister on his back, made
a most manly and spirited speech against
the clause, and was seconded by no one
Lord except Earl Stanhope. Temple
was obliged to return home immediately
after his speech, and the Address, with
the clause of thanks, passed nem, coji.
Almost at the same instant the Address of
the Commons passed without such a clause
i%em, con. likewise. Upon this success in
the House of Lords, the King plucks up
his perverse spirit, and insists on the re-
committing of the Address in the Com-
mons, a proceeding extremely unusual,
that the same clause of thanks might be
inserted. Mr. Pitt at once gave him to
understand, that he would not only op-
pose any such attempt, but would also re-
fuse the seals, in case it were made. The

H 4 Earl

( 104 )

1756. Earl of Granville here interposed, at
whose persuasions the King gave way to
Mr. Pitt. This circumstance is men-
tioned to shew the spirit of Pitt, as well
the little reliance there was to be had on
the Duke of Devonshire.

The new Minister had no sooner va-
cated his seat in Parliament by his ac-
ceptance of the seals, than he was con-
fined to his house by the gout, and nothing
material was transacted from that day to
the end of the year 1756.

1757. After the expectation raised by the pre-
ceding pages, it is scarcely credible to
myself, that, while endeavouring to reca-
pitulate the transactions of this interesting
sessions, I should find them all within the
old narrow circle, trite, trifling, and ini-
quitous, except one absurd deviation from
the plain track of borrowing money for
the annual supplies, where an affectation of
doing better than well, ended in disap-
pointment and disgrace.

Sir John Barnard was the Director, now
grown old, yet less debilitated in body than
in mind. He stole from a poor half-

( 105 )

witted zealot, Henriques, his gambling its?,
scheme of a guinea-lottery, and prevailed,
to establish in effect, a gaming-table in
every county, under the sanction of go-
vernment, which held the fallacious box ;
that unlaxed indigence might be gulled
into a contribution, when property only
should pay to the public. This lottery
consisted of a million of tickets; and out
of the million of guineas subscribed,
550,000/. was to remain with the govern-
ment, and 550,000/. in prizes among the
adventurers. The next, was a scheme of
raising 2,500,000/. by annuities for lives
with a benefit of survivorship. I declared
to the principal persons in power my utter
dislike, and even contempt, of both these
projects.* The lottery was kept open for
six or seven months, and was not half
filled at last. The sums subscribed to the
life-annuities did not exceed an eighth
part of the whole.

Fifty-five thousand seamen and marines,
49,749 landsmen for Great Britain, Guern-

* See Letters of Junius on Lord North's genius for
finance, Vol. i. p. 52, and Vol. ii. p. US.— Edit.


( 106 )

1757. sey, and Jersey were voted, and proper
care taken to relieve the distressed Hano-
verians and Hessians, who were re-em-
barked for their own country in the spring
agreeably to the king's necessities and
original design. These were matters of
course; not one new measure of conse-
quence was accomplished by the new
ministry in parliament ; it is true, the ser-
vile majority was against them ; * their
leader, Mr. Pitt, a great part of the time
was restrained, by his indisposition, from
attending the House; it may be urged,
that from the certainty of losing every
question, nothing could be done by them;
but it is as certain that nothing of impor-
tance was attempted, but by Colonel
Townshend ; in those gallant attempts
Pitt should have been the principal, or
left a second part to him who was altoge-
ther pliant and subservient. He pressed
the militia in behalf of his country, Pitt

* Junius always speaks of the Parliament as possessing
a limited authority, Vol. i. p. *287, *289, 191, &c. and
censures its acts with the same freedom when the decision
of the majority was at variance with his opinion. — Edit.


( 107 )

espoused it for the sake of popularity ; it nsr.
was contrived, however, to mortify its no-
ble parent by reducing the numbers to
about 30,000, not one half of the old bill,
and changing the training day from the
Sunday to the Monday, for which purpose
the bishops, and the cheap-bought tools
among the dissenting clergy, were effec-
tually employed, and for whose tender
consciences Mr. Pitt expressed a tender
concern. In fine, the bill passed modelled
to the sense and relish of such court syco-
phants as Hardwicke. —

The inquiry into the loss of Minorca
was begun, and prosecuted with equal ac-
tivity, diligence, and integrity by the same
gentleman, unassisted by any but Mr.
Waller and myself. I never left him, ex-
amined, and digested all the evidence for
him, and am a witness to his undiscouraged
assiduity in comparing my collection of
the evidence with his own, and with the
original documents, transcribing every
particular with their proper references in
his own hand, and imprinting in his mind
both method and matter; no Brief, though


( 108 )

irsr. less comprehensive than his, was ever more
accurately arranged, and no pleader more
completely prepared.

This subject must be interrupted, as
some facts must be traced back, and anec-
dotes revealed, preparatory to the great
change which took place in the midst of
the sessions, and several days before the
opening of the inquiry.

The king's unalterable aversion to his
new servants was notorious, from the cold
and slighting reception he gave them on
their kissing his hand. Awed by the spi-
rit of Mr. Pitt, the King did not break
the forms of civility to him. To his
counsels he would grant a patient ear, but
his heart, still in the hands of others, was
unsusceptible of impression. Legge, who
had refused to sign the warrant for the
first quarter of the Hessian subsidy, and
Dr. Hay, who had formerly been made
King's advocate, but had frustrated the
Duke of Newcastle's expectations of him,
were both sinners not to be forgiven.
Earl Temple was the most hated of all :
he, against his own inclination, was put at


( 109 )

the head of the Admiralty, and was 1757;
obliged to transact with the King and the
Duke of Cumberland all Pitt's business
during his frequent indispositions, which
rendered him incapable of personal atten-
dance. His life was truly intolerable.
His whole intercourse with the Duke of
Cumberland consisted in reiteration to ob-
tain for an American expedition the
troops, which, after so much difficulty,
were extorted at last, and were short of
the number proposed. In the cabinet,
whither this double duty of minister for<
the time, and at the head of the admiralty,
continually led him, he experienced no-
thing but insults and ill manners. Tem-
ple seldom failed to express a manly and
noble resentment on these occasions, and
thereby rendered himself the more ob-^
noxious. His demeanour in office was
frank, ingenuous, unaftecting, and obliging
to all, whether applying for his favour, or
assisting him with advice and intelligence.
Thus stood the new administration at

In the House of Commons the first who ,,


( no )

mr. appeared against them were Fox and Lofd
Egmont. Soon after the meeting, when
Mr* Grenville had made a motion to quar-
ter the foreign troops during their stay in
England, these gentlemen took occasion
to inveigh against the measure of sending
such a force out of the country before
our own troops were complete. Gren-
ville, who supplied the place of Pitt,
made answer, that there was a necessity
for sending those troops back, intimating,
that they were wanted, by the king,
abroad. Lord Egmont, with a sneer, sig-
nified his wish, that no question might be
put, because he was unwilling that it
should go against the administration by a
great majority. It is certain if a motion
had been made to address his Majesty for
the further detention of the foreign forces,
it would have been carried against the ad-
ministration. For my own part, I wish it
had been made and carried, that the
House might have undergone the mortifi-
cation of the King's positive refusal. An-
other small opposition was formed to a
Very rational step of Mr. Pitt, the raising


( 111 )

two regiments in the Highlands, and trans- irsr.
porting them to North America under the
command of Mr. Montgomery and the
master of Lovat, both men of character
here, and of interest in Scotland. The
Duke of Cumberland, who cared little for
America, threw all the obstacles he could
in the way, and when he could not succeed
in defeating the project, refused to give
the commanders the rank they were en-
titled to, and, instead of colonels-com-
mandant, would make them no more than
lieutenant-colonels. Montgomery told me
that the duke refused the assistance of
some old Serjeants and corporals to train
the men, and that a considerable time was
spent before their arms could be procured
from the Tower.

Not three months were now elapsed
since the meeting of parliament, when it
became apparent to the public, that the
complexion of the King, Lords, and Com-
mons, was so unfavourable to Mr. Pitt,
that he was understood by all to be only
a nominal minister without a grain of power,
which he confirmed in those very words


{ 11^ )

1757. by a declaration in the House. His bodily
infirmities, together with these provoca-
tions, added peevishness to pride, and,
growing daily tnore inaccessible and re*
served, he rather lost than gained adhe*
rents. On one occasion he ran the hazard
of being deserted by all the country gen-
tlemen, hitherto his warmest friends, and
to whom he had made some court.

It was about the middle of February
when he had resolved to move for a vote
of 200,0001. to assist his Majesty in form-
ing an army of observation, &c., and to-
wards enabling him to fulfil his engage-
ment with the King of Prussia, &c.; thiS:
he determined -without condescending to
consult the countj-y first ; or even Colonel
Townshend. I chanced to visit that gen-
tleman on the eve of this intended motion.
I found him much disconcerted and dis-
pleased ; he told me this particular, and
that all his friends took it most unkindly
of Mr, Pitt. I soon perceived that the
word unkind was used in a sense much
stronger than its natural meaning. Mr.
Townshend added, that Mr. Pitt intended


' ( 113 )

to postpone the militia, which was the or- iTsr.
der of the house the next day, to make
room for his motion. In fine it was pro-
bable, that an opposition would be made
by the disgusted country gentlemen. I
represenced to Mr. Townshend the misfor-
tune and weakness of destroying a whole
system, because Mr. Pitt had been inad-
vertent and peevish; I conjured him to
allow for his ill state of health and hasty
temper; that he would pay him a visit
the next morning, and use all his interest
to mollify his ill humours, which were
gathering. He replied, that he had ah'cady
discoursed with Legge and George Gren-
ville upon the subject, yet they seemed
afraid to talk with Pitt about it, and had
referred the task to him ; yet he did not
see that it was his affair more than theirs,
and that he would not undertake a thing
where he had no chance of success. He
protested that this was not the effect of
pride in himself; that he would run after
any man with a prospect of serving the
public, but in the present case the mis-
chief was done, and past his power to re-
trieve. Upon this I rose, took him by the

I hand,

( 114 )

^^^T. hand, and delivered myself thus : " My
dear Mr. Townshend, I have no further
arguments to use, but I will not quit this
house till you promise to follow my ad-
vice." To this he most obligingly replied,
*' I promise you I will merely because you
insist upon it, though I am still uncon-
vinced, and without hopes of doing any
thing." This accidental interview of mine
with Townshend prevented all the im-
pending mischief. He mollified Viner,
North ey. Sir Charles Mordaunt, and the
other country gentlemen ; the next morn-
ing, he saw Pitt, and was one of the mem-
bers who introduced him to the house:
his long fit of the gout, and his two re-
lapses, had prevented his taking his seat
there ever since it was vacated by his ac-
ceptance of the seals. Mr. Pitt's motion
passed nem. con. and old Viner himself
made him a compliment on the occasion.
It must be said, there never was a cheaper
Hanoverian bargain, and the most pala-
table too, as it included the interest, at
least the name, of the idolized King of
Prussia ; but that merit, so endearing to
Mr. Viner and his friends, served but to


( 115 )

weaken Mr. Pitt still more with the court, ^757,
and its prostitute instruments, the two
houses of parliament.* The King was con-
vinced by long experience that any other
minister would have sacrificed much more
to the safety of Hanover. The court
members had constantly been lavish of
their sneers on Mr. Pitt's connection with
Tories and Jacobites. Mr. Fox, more
ably, on the 18th of February, the day of
Pitt's motion, reminded him of some pas-
sages in the last sessions, referring to the in-
consistency of his language then, and now,
on the subject of continental measures.

Mr. Fox now stepped from behind the Fox.
curtain, where he had been acting a con-
siderable part, supported by the Duke of
Cumberland, secretly encouraged by the
King, and animated by the apparent
decline of Mr. Pitt's popularity. That re-
markable instance of popular instability,
resulting from the fate of Admiral Byng, Ad. Byng.
renders the story of his trial and sentence

* " There is no act of arbitrary power which the King
might not attribute to necessity, and for which he would not
be secure of obtaining the approbation of his prostituted
Lords and Commons." — Junius, Vol. ii, p. 360,. — Edit.

I 2 necessary

( 116 )

»^^7. necessary in this place. The inquiry itself^
so impatiently demanded, was advisedly
suspended by Mr. Townshend, waiting the
issue of this trial, which was to unravel a
conduct so nearly connected with the loss
of Minorca.

On the 28th of December, the Court
Martial assembled on board the St, George,
in the harbour of Portsmouth; the prisoner
was tried under the 12th article of war,
which runs thus,: — :" Every person in the
fleet, who, through cowardice, negligence,
or disaffection, shall in time . of action
withdraw, or keep back, or not come into
the fight or engagement, or shall not do
his utmost to engage, take, or destroy
every ship, which it shall be his duty to
engage, and to assist and relieve all and
every one of his Majesty's ships, or those
of his allies, which it shall be his duty to
assist and relieve; every such person so
offending, and being convicted thereof by
the sentence of a Court Martial, shall
suffer death." Let unprejudiced minds
determine, whether the plain sense of this
article be not as follows: —

*' Every person keeping back in an en*


( 117 )

gagement through cowardice, neghgence, i76r.
or disaifection, or under the circumstances
described, not doing his utmost through
cowardice, negligence, or disaifection, shall
suffer death/' Hence it is evident, that
no instance of misconduct, not proceeding
from those motives, is deemed a capital
crime by this article. That the Court
IVIartial understood the article, as compre-
hending error in judgment among the
number of capital offences, is evident be-
yond all controversy. By their 36th re-
i^olution, on the 28th of January, they
unanimously declare, that Admiral Byng
appears to fall under part of the 12th
article, to wit, " Or ^hall not do his utmost
to take, or destroy, Sic." Under these
words absolutely, without assigning any
motive whatever, they adjudged him to
die, by their sentence on the 28th. The
sentence then proceeds to an acquittal
from the charge of cowardice or disaffec-
tion, and passing over in silence the third
criminal motive, negligence, concludes
with an earnest recommendation to mercy.
The sentence is transmitted to the Lords

I 3 of

( 118 )

1757; of the Admiralty, accompanied by a letter
unanimously setting forth " the distresses
of their minds, which they cannot help
laying before their Lordships on the oc-
casion, in finding themselves under the
necessity of condemning a man to death,
from the great severity of the 12th article
of war, which admits of no mitigation,
even if the crime should be committed by
an error in judgment only ; and, therefore,
for their own consciences' sake, as well as
in justice to the prisoner, they pray their
Lordships in the most earnest manner to
recommend Admiral Bying to his Ma-
jesty's clemency." What, but an unfeeling
Prince; Counsellors, criminal themselves;
and People, blind with womanish rage,
could impute to Earl Temple, as a most
unpardonable offence, his hesitation to
concur with a sentence like this, from
Judges, who unanimously declare the
person condemned to be undeserving of
his fate, illiterate, inconsistent, unappre-
hending judges, demonstrably such on the
evidence of their own words and decision I
Earl Temple lost not a moment in laying


( 119 )

this strange sentence and epistle before 1757.
the King, who ordered the warrant for his
immediate execution ; and for his inflexi-
biUty was called an heroic Prince, by
subjects who had ever despised him before.
Every Commissioner of the Admiralty then
in town, Temple, Forbes, Hunter, and the
two civilians Hay and Elliot, demurred,
in eftect, refused to sign the warrant till
the opinion of the twelve Judges could be
obtained on the legality of the sentence.
Their opinion was obtained, and the sen-
tence declared legal by them all.

These transactions were nosoonerknown,
than the First Commissioner began to share
with the criminal himself in the public in-
dignation and fury. Temple assured me
in the most solemn manner, that the guilt
or innocence of Byng made no part of his
own consideration ; but, that the putting
any man to death under such a sentence,
accompanied by such a letter, without the
least revision, was a manifest violation of
justice, in which he would not tamely
concur, whatever the consequence might
prove to himself. In this he was sup-

I 4 ported

( 120 )

irsT. ported by the opinions of the Attorney
and Solicitor General, by the Earls of
Westmoreland and Lord Stanhope, the
most unspotted of all the nobility ; by Sir
Francis Dash^vood and Mr. Waller, ad-
herents to the new Administration on
principle ; by the most considerable of its
adversaries hkewise. Lord Egmont, Sir
George Lee, Sir John Gust, and Mr.
Dodington, who all went so far, on a peru-
sal of the trial, as to pronounce the person
condemned innocent of any capital crime.
At length Sir Francis Dashwood, and Sir
John Gust, one a friend, and one an
enemy to the Ministry, mentioned their
difficulties in Parliament; on this occa-
sion Mr. Pitt, for the first time, delivered
his sentiments, without his accustomed
warmth, but in terms of moderation, de-
claring his desire, that mere justice might
be done, which he thought would suffer, if
so inconsistent and preposterous a sentence
should take place without any further ex-
amination. This modest use of a privilege
common to all, thinking for himself, and
thus producing his thoughts, at once threw


( 12T )

down the image of public adoration, pol- 1757.
luted and defaced by the despicable
hands which had raised it : Pitt became
hateful to the people of Great Britain,
like Anson, like Fox, or Byng.*

The late contrition of some of By n'g's
judges, Mr. Keppel in particular, his sig-
nifying in Parliament a desire to be ab-
solved from his oath of secrecy, a Bill
passed by the Commons for that purpose;
and rejected by the Lords, predetermined
to wash away, if possible, the stains of the
old Administration by the blood of an in-~
significant victim, together with the absurd
and inconsistent behaviour of Keppel
himself, and others of the Court Martial
at the bar of the Lords, are incidents
which scarcely deserve the slight mention
already made. The \^hole concluded in
the criminal's execution. His trial is in

* The sltuatioi; of parties respecting Admiral Byng is
thus described by Lord Chesterfield.

" Byng is reprieved for a fortnight; what will become
of him at last God knows : for the late Admiralty want to
shoot him, to excuse themselves; and the present Ad-
miralty want to save him, in order to lay the blame upon
their predecessors." — Edit.


( 122 )

1757. print. Whether it furnishes evidence to
prove the cowardice of v/hich he stands ac-
quitted in his sentence, or the neghgence
for which he is condenuied by implication,
or whether his not having done his utmost,
simply and independently of any criminal
motive assigned, be a capital offence
existing in the law, or merely in the empty
heads of his judges, are points which I
leave to the decision of unprejudiced pos-

'On the l4th of March Byng was shot,
memorable only in his fall ; innocent or
guilty, equally the occasion of dishonour
to his countrymen ; whether we consider
theirintemperate rage, artificially fomented
by the more guilty against him, unheard
and untried, or their more unmanly and
petulant levity towards Pitt, for an act of
moderation untinctured with selfishness,
and wearing the aspect at least of justice
and humanity. It is to shew so strong an
instance of a fickle and worthless people,
that I have dwelt so long on this subject.
Mr. Pitt was deemed impolitic by many,
ivho, ignorant of the intrigues at Court,


( 1^3 )

imputed his speedy dismission from em* 1757.
plojment, in a great measure, to his con-
duct on this occasion, which, disgusting
his friends, the people, had encouraged the
King and the Cabinet cabal to deprive
him of his high office. On the contrary,
his nearest friends for two months before,
seeing the impracticability of any un-
dertaking for the public, wished him and
his party out of the Administration, and
were quickly satisfied, that their wish was
every day growing nearer its accomplish-
ment, from the King^s own disposition,
and the perseverance of the Duke of Cum-
berland, to form a ministry of his own.
A decisive opportunity presented itself to
the Duke: being ordered by the King to
embark for Germany, and command the
Army of Observation there, he made a
difficulty of complying, unless he left
behind him an Administration well in-
clined to his person and measures : his
father most readily consented, and by the
5th of April, the day that Mr. Pitt, by the
King's command, resigned the seals, (the

1 2 3 4 6 8 9

Online LibraryRichard GloverMemoirs by a celebrated literary and political character, from the resignation of Sir Robert Walpole, in 1742, to the establishment of Lord Chatham's second administration, in 1757; containing strictures on some of the most distinguished men of that time → online text (page 6 of 9)