Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

enough, with the certainty that whatever was done must have fallen short of satisfying one party, and in an equal degree must have dissatisfied another. It was also a matter of continual perplexity with the Government to find the right moment for initiating the policy of conciliation. There were always moments when, in certain shapes, it would have suited one party or the other ; but the moment when it would have suited both never came.

no

LORD GRENVILLE TO THE MARQUIS OF BUCKINGHAM.

St. James's Square, Oct. 11th, 1792. MY DEAR BROTHER,

We go to Dropmore to-morrow, to fix ourselves for the remainder of the autumn-if any autumn remain. I shall be very much obliged to you for your cargo, whenever Mr. Woodward's prudence allows him to send it.

We are all much disappointed with the result of the great expectations that had been formed from the Duke of Brunswick's campaign. According to the best accounts I can get, of a business involved in almost inextricable mystery, the fluxwhich had got into his camp-was the true cause of his retreat. Whatever be the cause, the effect is equally to be regretted. The plan seems now to be, to hold Verdun and Longwy; and to employ the interval before the spring allows them to march forwards again, in besieging the different frontier towns in the neighbourhood. But the example of Thionville will prevent the success of intimidation, or of coups de main; and the opening trenches is impossible, at least, till the post comes. Clairfayt's corps of about twenty thousand men is to march towards the Low Countries, to prevent them from being insulted.

I have thought much of the Irish business. I am very much inclined to think that the alarms stated by the people there are much exaggerated, partly with the view of producing an effect here, and partly, because you know such is the genius of that people to carry everything to extremes. Allowing, however, for this, there is certainly much real cause for alarm. It is, I think, clearly impossible not to resist the demands of the Catholics, in the manner and circumstances in which they are now made. How far it was prudent to have gone last year, in voluntary and gratuitous concession, I know not, and really feel that it requires more local knowledge than I possess to decide. My leaning was certainly in favour of going as far as could be gone with safety, but no person is authorized to state even that leaning; and the subsequent conduct of the Catholics does, in my opinion, go far to shake any opinion which might then have been entertained in favour of further concession.

My idea, therefore is, that the Irish Parliament must be enabled to meet the struggle, if struggle there is to be, by having the means put into their hands of calling forth all the resources of that country; which, if called forth, I believe to be very great indeed. That this may not ultimately lead to some drain upon the purse and force of this country, is more certain than any man would affirm, who sees what has passed in France. But the probability is, I think, against it. I am inclined to believe, that the voting an increase of the army may be a wise measure of intimidation, and as such, it will be stated to that Government for consideration ; but, on the other hand, any increase of expense, which is to lead to increase of taxes, is certainly objectionable. My own persuasion is, that with a very little firmness, the Convention of 1793 will vanish like that of 1783 ; but this is no reason for neglecting reasonable measures of precaution. Ever most affectionately yours,

GRENVILLE.

In these letters occur the first allusions to Dropmore, Lord Grenville's seat in Buckinghamshire, which he had recently purchased, and upon the embellishment of which he bestowed all the spare hours he could rescue from the fatigues of public business. The trees, acknowledged in the following letter as having been just received from Stowe, were destined to convert a common into pleasure-grounds, under the direction of his accomplished taste, which “made the wilderness smile,” and transformed a remote country nook into a scene of singular and matchless beauty.

The state of Europe, and the views of the writer in reference to it, are treated at large in this letter, which is of great historical value as an exposition of the firm and judicious course pursued by Lord Grenville through a period of universal panic and confusion. To have kept England in tranquillity aloof from the perils that were devastating the continent, and to have sustained her in such prosperous circumstances as to justify the hope that in the next year the Government might be enabled to announce a further remission of taxes, furnishes a triumphant answer to the charge so frequently brought against Mr. Pitt's Administration, of wantonly encouraging a policy that plunged the country into a profligate war expenditure.

LORD GRENVILLE TO THE MARQUIS OF BUCKINGHAM.

St. James's Square, Nov. 7th, 1792. MY DEAR BROTHER,

The trees arrived safe at Dropmore yesterday, and we were at their unpacking in the middle of such a fog as I never saw before. They will answer admirably well for my purpose, and will make a great figure on my bill in the course of a century or so, provided always that the municipality of Burnham does not cut them down sooner.

I cannot deny that you have some reason to complain of my silence for the last month, but you have the kindness to assign the true cause; unless, indeed, I was to add another almost equally strong, I mean the absolute want of anything to say. This sounds strange, but it is not the less true. The events you read in the newspapers, often before I get them, and they have been such as it could give me little pleasure to detail. The causes have been hid, caliginosá nocta, in a fog almost as thick as that of yesterday, and I have been among the guessers only, and not always among those who were luckiest in their guesses. I bless God, that we had the wit to keep ourselves out of the glorious enterprize of the combined armies, and that we were not tempted by the hope of sharing the spoils in the division of France, nor by the prospect of crushing all democratical principles all over the world at one blow. But having so sturdily resisted all solicitation to join in these plans, we have been punished for our obstinacy by having been kept in profound ignorance of the details by which they were to be executed, and even of the course of events, as far as that could be done, which occurred during the progress of the enterprize. Now that it has failed, we must expect these deep politicians to return to the charge, and to beg us to help them out of the pit into which they wanted to help us. But they have as yet been in no hurry to begin this pleasant communication, and most assuredly we are in no disposition to urge them on faster. You have here, therefore, the explanation of the total impossibility in which I find myself to explain all the inexplicable events of the last two months otherwise than by conjecture. It is but lately that I have thought I had even grounds enough to guess by. But you shall hear my guess. The Austrians and Prussians thought they were marching to certain victory. The emigrants, who had given them this idea, confirmed them in it till the facts undeceived them. The Duke of Brunswick, who joins to great personal valour great indecision of mind, and great soreness for his reputation, hesitated to take the only means that could have insured success—a sudden and hazarded attack. The more he delayed, the more difficult his position grew. He then attempted to buy a man, who, under other circumstances, would have been very purchasable; failed in this; lost time; excited distrust and jealousy among his allies; dispirited his own troops; and ended his enterprize by a disgraceful retreat, which coffee-house politicians are, as usual, willing to attribute to all sorts of causes except the natural and obvious one. The subsequent successes of the French are natural. An army that expected to be in Paris in October, had naturally taken little precaution to prevent the French from attacking Germany in the same month. The French officers, who could have no authority over their armies in defeat and disgrace, have naturally acquired it in success; and the business will begin again in the spring, being about twice as difficult as it was when it began this autumn.

I have little doubt that this is the project of both parties. The Austrians may perhaps put themselves a little more forward than the Prussians; and from what I have heard of the conduct of the latter, the enterprize may not fare the worse for this difference. The Emperor must feel that he has now got an enemy whom he must devour, or be devoured by it. And the governing party at Paris have very many very obvious reasons for continuing the war. The rest of the empire will give their contingent, unless they have been lucky enough to be forced to sign a capitulation of neutrality. The King of Sardinia and Italy will defend themselves as they can, which will probably be very ill. What Spain will do, she does not know, and therefore certainly we do not. Portugal and Holland will do what we please. We shall do nothing. Sweden and Denmark can

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »