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General Cuninghame appears to have disappointed the expectations of his friends at this period, and, although present in the House on the 19th, did not vote. It was the next thing to ratting, and seems to have been regarded in that light by Lord Bulkeley.
General Cuninghame has been blowing hot and cold in his language here, but has not voted, not even last night, when he appeared for the first time in the House. I have had a letter from the Duke of Dorset, complaining of his conduct in not resigning his seat, as his conscience troubled him.
No man had so keen a scent for rats as Lord Bulkeley, and he was generally in advance of his party in detecting them.
Thurlow and Loughborough were both ill at this time (“which,” says Sir William Young, with a touch of sarcastic humour,“ will much shorten the progress of the Regency Bill in the Lords"); and on the 2nd of February, when Mr. Grenville, in his capacity of Speaker, attended at the bar of the House of Peers to hear the Commission under the Great Seal read, Thurlow was unable to attend, and Lord Bathurst officiated for him. The night before, Thurlow declared, as reported by his physician, that “if he were ten times worse, he'd go, by G—;" his physician, however, overruled him; and the obstruction of his presence being thus fortunately removed, it was anticipated that the progress of the Bill through the Lords would be so rapid as to place the Regent on the throne in a fortnight. Active preparations were, consequently, set on foot for settling the new Administration. Amongst the other great
situations, Ireland was offered to the Duke of Northumberland, who declined it, and then to Lord Spencer, who accepted it, with Pelham for his secretary
Ireland was a considerable item in the calculations of the Opposition. “The Prince and the Opposition,” writes Lord Bulkeley, “have great hopes of a riot in their favour in the Parliament of Ireland.” Some such result was to be apprehended from the temper of the people, and the adverse views they took of the Regency question ; although a true sense of their own independence ought to have shown them that there were national objections against allowing the Prince to indemnify himself by the use of the royal prerogatives in Ireland for the restraints which were put upon him in England. The object to which, under these difficult circumstances, Lord Buckingham and Mr. Grenville directed their attention, was to assimilate, as nearly as possible, the Regency Bills in both countries, so as to prevent the occurrence of so great an anomaly as that of having a Regent whose powers should be strictly limited in the one kingdom, and who should, at the same time, be invested with unrestricted powers in the other. The Parliament of Ireland possessed the unquestionable right of deciding the Regency in their own way, leaving the legal validity of the act for subsequent consideration; and as it was understood that the Opposition intended to move an Address to the Prince, which there was reason to believe they would be able to carry, calling upon His Royal Highness to assume the Government of Ireland
unconditionally during the term of His Majesty's illness, · the position of Lord Buckingham had become peculiarly
embarrassing. What course should be taken in the event of such an Address being carried? This question is anxiously discussed in numerous communications between Lord Buckingham and Mr. Grenville and other members of the Government. The predicament was so strange, and involved constitutional considerations of such importance, as to give the most serious disquietude to the Administration. The first expedient thought of was to delay the proceedings of the Irish Parliament, by adjournment, or any other available means, till after the Regent had been appointed in England, provided the motion for the Address could be successfully resisted in the first instance. But as it was almost certain the Administration would be beaten on that motion, it remained to be determined whether Lord Buckingham, in that event, should refuse to transmit the Address to His Royal Highness. Upon the propriety of so extreme a measure Mr. Grenville entertained some doubts in the beginning. By refusing to transmit the Address, the Lord-Lieutenant would clearly put himself in the way as an obstacle to that mode of providing for the emergency which the two Houses of Parliament were determined to adopt; or, on the other hand, by sending it he would make himself, in some degree, a party to a request by which His Royal Highness was asked to do an act which he, Lord Buckingham, held His Royal Highness to be precluded by law from doing. Such was the dilemma as it presented itself to the mind of Mr. Grenville. One escape from it was, to forward the Address, accompanied by a representation from Lord Buckingham of his own views of its illegality. Another was, to resign.
In the meanwhile, the projects of the Opposition in England were checked by the gratifying accounts from Kew. The King was visibly improving, and hopes began to be entertained that there might be no necessity for a Regency after all. The letters of Mr. Grenville, reverting to the opening of the Parliament, trace the progress of these circumstances in detail.
MR. W. W. GRENVILLE TO THE MARQUIS OF BUCKINGHAM.
Whitehall, Feb. 2nd, 1789. MY DEAR BROTHER,
Our Parliament has this day been opened by Lord Bathurst, the Chancellor being so ill as to make it absolutely impossible for him to come down. The Commission was first read, and then Lord Bathurst said, in a few words, that the Lords Commissioners being empowered by the said Commission to declare the causes of calling the Parliament, thought it their duty to call the attention of the two Houses to the melancholy circumstance of His Majesty's illness, and to recommend to them to provide for the care of His Majesty's royal person, and the administration of the royal authority during His Majesty's illness, in such manner as the exigency of the case requires.
I think that my former calculation is rather too sanguine, and that the 18th is the soonest that the Bill can pass, allowing for the debate, of which notice has been given in both Houses, on the Committee for the royal assent. The idea is, that the letters of dismission are ready written, and will be sent that day.
I cannot yet learn, with certainty, who is to be the Home Secretary of State. It is supposed to lie between Lord Stormont and Lord Rawdon ; and there is a report that they are quarrelling about that as about everything else, and that the Duke of York espouses Lord Rawdon's cause very warmly.
The accounts of Fox are that he is not at all better, and that he has not been able yet to drink the waters. His death would throw them into complete confusion, though the Prince is so far pledged, that even in that case he must attempt to form a new Government.
We mean (but this inter nos only) to move an Amendment upon the Address, expressive of our satisfaction at the flourishing state in which the public affairs are delivered into His Royal Highness's hands, and of our hope that the same principles and measures will continue to be pursued. I have no doubt of our carrying this, in their teeth.
Everybody seems to think a dissolution certain. I imagine it cannot by possibility take place till May or June, though some people expect it in March.
I believe I mentioned to you in my last the great improvement which these last few days have made in the King's situation, and the strong hope which we derive from it. Ever most affectionately yours,
W. W. G.
MR. W.W. GRENVILLE TO THE MARQUIS OF BUCKINGHAM.
Whitehall, Feb. 7th, 1789. MY DEAR BROTHER,
I do not know of anything that has happened here since I wrote last, which is worth mentioning to you. Our Bill is to be in the Committee to-day, and Monday, so that I guess we shall not get it into the House of Lords till Wednesday or Thursday. This will put off the passing a little beyond my calculation, and I imagine the Regent will not now be in full possession of his office till about the 19th or 20th. I wait with much impatience to hear what has passed on Thursday in