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Westmoreland's removal. I should readily agree with what you say in your last letter on that subject, that he ought to wait for a provision, if I did not see that even this is rendered more difficult by the éclat of what has happened. Still I should think he ought to forego his claim; but if he thinks otherwise, he has a positive promise, which of course cannot be broken. But I always feel a confidence that this point would in some manner be arranged, because I am sure that we should all be willing to make almost any sacrifice rather than let it be said by the enemy, that after having professed to unite on public principle, we had separated on a mere squabble about the distribution of places.
The other points are those from which I fear the most. It is, however, a satisfaction to me to think that I see on both sides (I know it exists on one) a very sincere and earnest desire to prevent the fatal consequences which a division amongst us, at such a moment as the present, must infallibly produce. And I can truly add that, on our part, this desire is increased by the manner in which everything else had gone on before this unhappy subject was started.
You are coming from a bad scene and to a bad scene; but we must hope the best, both at home and abroad, and at least we ought all to be quite sure that we can tell ourselves we have each done our best to prevent the misfortunes which seem to hang over us.
God bless you, my dearest brother.
LORD GRENVILLE TO THE MARQUIS OF BUCKINGHAM.
Dover Street, Oct. 30th, 1794. MY DEAREST BROTHER,
I received your letter the day before yesterday at Dropmore. Mr. Pitt, who had left me that morning, had shown me your
him, with respect to which I say nothing, as I under
stood he meant to write to you upon the subject. The whole business to which it relates is in a situation, the final issue of which is extremely doubtful. With my impression of the advantage, and even necessity, of uniting at this time in the public service the great bulk of the landed property of the country, and doing away all distinctions of party between those who wish the maintenance of order and tranquillity here, I shall very deeply regret, as a great public misfortune, any event that leads to the dissolution of a system so lately formed. But, on the other hand, I have certainly no intention of making myself a party to any system of government in Ireland that is incompatible with my views of the interest of this country there. And in any case, I certainly neither have, nor can take, as far as relates to myself, any step upon the subject which has its origin in any other motive than a sense of public duty under circumstances of much difficulty.
I considered the subject of my brother's acceptance of the situation offered to him in Ireland as being, as in fact he appears to have stated it to you, very undecided, even if any arrangement were made for Lord Fitzwilliam's going there. I could have no motive to keep it back from you, but felt it due to him to leave it to him to do what I was sure he would be anxious to do. The whole subject appears now in some degree suspended till his arrival. When I see him I should of course state to him, as far as I am able to do it, your ideas respecting it.
I am still of opinion that it will turn out that the alarm created in Ireland, and the impression given here has originated in very loose reports, magnified, as usual, by persons repeating them according to their interest and wishes; but I state this as matter of opinion only.
I expect my brother here every day. They left Vienna in the beginning of this month, without having concluded any treaty, though they seem to have established a juster sense of the present crisis than prevailed before.
Our Prussian ally has had his payments stopped, and is withdrawing his troops. In the meantime, the Empress of Russia has done his business, or rather her own, in Poland, the Polish army being completely defeated, and Kosciusko, who was the soul of the enterprise, taken prisoner. God bless you, my dearest brother.
Believe me ever most affectionately yours,
The conduct of Lord Fitzwilliam had been reprehensible from the beginning. The suggestion of the Lord-Lieutenancy had scarcely taken a definite shape, when he opened a communication, as appeared afterwards, with the heads of the Irish party, and announced the system on which he intended to govern the country. In any case, such a proceeding would have been inexpedient and indefensible, its inevitable effect being to commit the policy of the Administration beforehand, to deprive it at once of all dignity and independence, and to revive those heartburnings and dissensions which had already so nearly endangered the connection of the two kingdoms.
But, composed as the Cabinet was of men who were known to entertain different opinions in reference to Ireland, the premature and unwarrantable publicity given by Lord Fitzwilliam to his own views was calculated to precipitate still more injurious results. So far back as the 23rd of August, he had written to Mr. Grattan, who was then personally unknown to him, apprising him of his approaching appointment; and, in plain terms, calling in that gentleman and his party to his future councils. From the very first paragraph of his letter, it is evident
that at the time when this ill-judged communication was made, the arrangements respecting the Lord-Lieutenancy had not advanced sufficiently far to justify him in taking any ostensible step whatever in reference to Ireland. His own language was abundantly explicit on this point : “Though I have not as yet the honour of an appointment to succeed Lord Westmoreland, there certainly is great probability of that event taking place very soon.” Yet in this early stage of the ministerial negotiations, he did not hesitate to inform Mr. Grattan that he intended to look to “ the system of the Duke of Portland, as the model,” by which he should regulate his conduct; and that, in order to enable him to render that system effective, it was necessary he should be supported by Mr. Grattan and his friends. " It is, Sir, to you," he observes, “and your friends, the Ponsonbys, that I look for assistance in bringing it to bear,” adding, “it is that assistance which I am therefore now soliciting.” The letter concludes by inviting Mr. Grattan to form an "intimate, direct, and avowed connection” with the Castle, which he had never hitherto “ approached in confidence and avowed friendship ;” and in the postscript he gives Mr. Grattan this significant caution: “It may seem a little inconsistent, and that this letter is written rather prematurely, when I beg not to be quoted as having announced myself in the character of a Lord-Lieutenant elect; my nomination not having yet been mentioned to the King, on account of his absence at Weymouth.”*
This indiscreet and unjustifiable line of proceeding
* This letter is published in full in the Life of Mr. Grattan.
placed the Ministry in a dilemma, from which the escape, either way, was surrounded by dangers. They selected that alternative which appeared, under all circumstances, to be the least hazardous; and on the 10th of December, Lord Fitzwilliam attended the levée to kiss hands on his appointment.
Mr. Thomas Grenville, however, declined the office of Secretary, which was conferred on Lord Milton.