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to be obliged to make their declaration for a fortnight, as to the incurability of the King's mind, and not to be surprised if, at the expiration of that time, they should ask more time ; but that they were perfectly ready to declare now, for the furtherance of public business, that he is now insane ; that it. appears to be unconnected with any other disease of his body, and that they have tried all their skill without effect, and that to the disease they at present see no end in their contemplation : these are their own words, which is all that can be implied in an absolute declaration,—for infallibility cannot be ascribed to them.
“Should not something be done about the public amusements? If it was represented to Pitt, it might embarrass them either way; particularly as it might call for a public account every day. I think the Chancellor might take a good opportunity to break with his colleagues, if they propose restriction : the Law authority would have great weight with us, as well as preventing even a design of moving the City ; -at all events, I think Parliament would not confirm their opinion. If Pitt stirs much, I think any attempt to grasp at power might be fatal to his interest, at least, well turned against it.
“ The Prince has sent for me directly, so I'll send this now, and write again."
In the words, “ I think the Chancellor might take a good opportunity to break with his colleagues," the writer alludes to a negotiation which Sheridan had entered into with Lord Thurlow, and by which it was expected that the co-operation of that Learned Lord might be secured, in consideration of his being allowed to retain the office of Chancellor under the Regency.
Lord Thurlow was one of those persons who, being taken by the world at their own estimate of themselves, contrive to pass upon the times in which they live for much more than they are worth. His bluntness gained him credit for superior honesty, and the same peculiarity of exterior gave a weight, not their own, to his talents ;-the roughness of the diamond being, by a very common mistake, made the measure of its value. The negotiation for his alliance on this occasion was managed, if not first suggested, by Sheridan and Mr. Fox, on his arrival from the Continent, (having been sent for express upon the first announcement of the King's illness,) found considerable progress already made in the preliminaries of this heterogeneous compact.
The following letter from Admiral Payne, written immediately after the return of Mr. Fox, contains some further allusions to the negotiations with the Chancellor :
“MY DEAR SHERIDAN, “I am this moment returned with the Prince from riding, and heard, with great pleasure, of Charles Fox's arrival ; on which account, he says, I must go to town to-morrow, when I hope to meet you at his house some time before dinner. The Prince is to see the Chancellor to-morrow, and therefore he wishes I should be able to carry to town the result of this interview, or I would set off immediately. Due deference is had to our former opinion upon this subject, and no courtship will be practised; for the chief object in the visit is to show him the King, who has been worse the two last days than ever : this morning he made an effort to jump out of the window, and is now very turbulent and incoherent. Sir G. Baker went yesterday to give Pitt a little specimen of his loquacity, in his discovery of some material state-secrets, at which he looked astonished. The Physicians wish him to be removed to Kew; on which we shall proceed as we settled. Have you heard any thing of the Foreign Ministers, respecting what the P. said at Bagshot? The Frenchman has been here two days running, but has not seen the Prince. He sat with me half an hour this morning, and seemed much disposed to confer a little closely. He was all admiration and friendship for the Prince, and said he was sure every body would unite to give vigor to his government.
“To-morrow you shall hear particulars ; in the mean time I can only add I have none of the apprehensions contained in Lord L.'s letter. I have had correspondence enough myself on this subject to convince me of the impossibility of the Ministry managing the present Parliament by any contrivance hostile to the Prince. Dinner is on table ; so adieu ; and be assured of the truth and sincerity of
“Yours affectionately, “ FVindsor, Monday, 5 o'clock, P. M.
“ J. W. P. “I have just got Rodney's proxy sent.”
The situation in which Mr. Fox was placed by the treaty thus commenced, before his arrival, with the Chancellor, was not a little embarrassing. In addition to the distaste which he must have felt for such a union, he had been already, it appears, in some degree pledged to bestow the Great Seal, in the event of a change, upon Lord Loughborough. Finding, however, the Prince and his party so far committed in the negociation with Lord Thurlow, he thought it expedient, however contrary to his own wishes, to accede to their views; and a letter, addressed by him to Mr. Sheridan on the occasion, shows the struggle with his own feelings and opinions, which this concession cost him :
“ DEAR SHERIDAN, “ I have swallowed the pill,—a most bitter one it was,and have written to Lord Loughborough, whose answer of course must be consent. What is to be done next ? Should the Prince himself, you, or I, or Warren, be the person to speak to the Chancellor? The objection to the last is, that he must probably wait for an opportunity, and that no time is to be lost. Pray tell me what is to be done : I am convinced, after all, the negociation will not succeed, and am not sure that I am sorry for it. I do not remember ever feeling so uneasy about any political thing I ever did in my life. Call if
66 Yours ever,
“ Sat. past 12.
“C. J. F."
Lord Loughborough, in the mean time, with a vigilance quickened by his own personal views, kept watch on the
mysterious movements of the Chancellor ; and, as appears by the following letter, not only saw reason to suspect duplicity himself, but took care that Mr. Fox and Mr. Sheridan should share in his distrust :
“ MY DEAR S. “I was afraid to pursue the conversation on the circumstance of the Inspection committed to the Chancellor, lest the reflections that arise upon it might have made too strong an impression on some of our neighbours last night. It does indeed appear to me full of mischief, and of that sort most likely to affect the apprehensions of our best friends, (of Lord John for instance, and to increase their reluctance to take any active part.
“ The Chancellor's object evidently is to make his way by himself, and he has managed hitherto as one very well practised in that game. His conversations, both with you and Mr. Fox, were encouraging, but at the same time checked all explanations on his part, under a pretence of delicacy towards his colieagues. When he let them go to Salthill, and contrived to dine at Windsor, he certainly took a step that most men would have felt not very delicate in its appearance, and, unless there was some private understanding between him and them, not altogether fair ; especially if you add to it the sort of conversation he held with regard to them. I cannot help thinking that the difficulties of managing the patient have been excited or improved to lead to the proposal of his inspection, (without the Prince being conscious of it) for by that situation he gains an easy and frequent access to him, and an opportunity of possessing the confidence of the Queen. I believe this the more from the account of the tenderness he showed at his first interview, for, I am sure, it is not in his character to feel any. With a little instruction from Lord Hawksbury, the sort of management that was carried on by means of the Princess-Dowager, in the early part of the reign, may easily be practised. In short, I think he will try to find the key of the back stairs, and, with that in his pocket, take any situation that preserves his access, and
enables him to hold a line between different parties. In the present moment, however, he has taken a position that puts the command of the House of Lords in his hands, for 米 * *
“ I wish Mr. Fox and you would give these considerations what weight you think they deserve, and try if any means can be taken to remedy this mischief, if it appears in the same light to you.
“Ever yours, &c.”
What were the motives that induced Lord Thurlow to break off so suddenly his negociation with the Prince's party, and declare himself with such vehemence on the side of the King and Mr. Pitt, it does not appear very easy to ascertain. Possibly, from his opportunities of visiting the Royal Patient, he had been led to conceive sufficient hopes of recovery, to incline the balance of his speculation that way; or, perhaps, in the influence of Lord Loughborough* over Mr. Fox, he saw a risk of being supplanted in his views on the Great Seal. Whatever may have been the motive, it is certain that his negociation with the Whigs had been amicably carried on, till within a few hours of his delivery of that speech, from whose enthusiasm the public could little suspect how fresh from the incomplete bargain of defection was the speaker, and in the course of which he gave vent to the well-known declaration, that “his debt of gratitude to His Majesty was ample, for the many favours he had graciously conferred upon him, which when he forgot, might God forget him!”
As it is not my desire to imitate those biographers, who swell their pages with details that belong more properly to History, I shall forbear to enter into a minute or consecutive narrative of the proceedings of Parliament on the important
† The remainder of this sentence is effaced by damp.
• Lord Loughborough is supposed to have been the person who instilled into the mind of Mr. Fox the idea of advancing that claim of right for the Prince, which gave Mr. Pitt, in principle as well as in fuct, such an advantage over him.
* “Forget you !" said Wilkes, " he'll see you dad first."