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not any one of those who did not express their readiness to adopt this plan, and their approbation of it; so that, in fact, this matter, so far from being taken up by the generality of commanding officers in the same light in which you had objected to it, has really the sanction of every commanding officer, except, as I am told, Lord Berkeley, Lord Carnarvon and yourself.
Under these circumstances, much as I regret that any arrangement could be proposed and could be likely to be carried, which is so disagreeable to you, you will, however, I am sure, agree with me that it stands upon very different ground, when it stands upon the ground of individual opinions, from what it would have done if it had been taken up by the whole or the majority or a large part of the Militia. My best hopes are that some mode may yet be found which may place your own regiment in the shape that you had wished ; and William has, I know, taken all the pains he can to urge the adoption of all or of any of the modifications of this order, which may make it less objectionable to you; and I cannot therefore but hope that his zeal and anxiety in this will carry it to a better shape for you as far as you are immediately interested. But we live in times of such pressing public duty, and the military post to which you are called and in which you are placed, is one so forward both in danger and in honourable distinction to you, that I should not do my duty by you if I did not (however uncalled upon for that opinion) add that, in my poor judgment, no state of military arrangements or orders can for a moment admit of the possibility of your giving up your command in an hour of danger, as immediate as that in which I write. I know you will give me credit for the honesty of this opinion, as well as for the affection which calls it forth from me. God bless you, my dearest brother. Ever most affectionately yours,
LORD GRENVILLE TO THE MARQUIS OF BUCKINGHAM.
Cleveland Row, April 27th, 1798. MY DEAREST BROTHER,
On receiving your letter to Pitt, I sent it to him, and have since seen him and Dundas. I understand from them that you have been misinformed about the idea of their intending to bring in any new Bill on the subject of forming the flank companies of Militia into light infantry battalions, as the opinion both of the Attorney and Solicitor-General is quite clear on the interpretation of the present law. With respect to the measure itself, I must say that as far as I understand it, my opinion is and always has been clearly for it. But what is much more important is, that the Duke of York, all the Generals of districts and Lord Cornwallis, the only military Cabinet Minister, all put the salvation of the country upon it. In this situation I do not think that Pitt, or Dundas, or any of us, could take upon ourselves the responsibility of omitting a measure, stated to be clearly within the law, and in which so large a proportion of the Militia officers are disposed to acquiesce with cordiality and cheerfulness.
Nothing certainly can be further from their wishes, even as public men only, than to place you in any unpleasant or difficult situation ; but you will not think this a moment when points of real importance can be given up to personal considerations of regard and good-will.
It has occurred, that adopting the measure generally, the application of it to your particular regiment might be avoided, by permitting you to form a separate light infantry battalion, under the command of Fremantle, he being an army officer, and one whom the Duke of York himself allows to be as fit for that purpose as any he could select; and that this permission may, under certain circumstances and conditions, be extended to other colonels desirous of taking that mode preferably to the other.
But this is not without its difficulty, nor is it possible for any man, beforehand, to engage for the Duke of York's consent to a measure, on which he has so much right not only to have voix au chapitre but to have a voice nearly decisive, so long as his regulations do not interfere with the law. All, therefore, that I can say is, that I am persuaded Dundas will do whatever he can to promote this arrangement, the only solution that I see to difficulties, one side of which, in the alternative stated by you, present consequences to which I am very sure, whatever else happens, you will never bring yourself to look. If I had the least doubt upon that point, I certainly could and should say much of the time, of the situation of the country, of the local position of your regiment in its present quarters, and of the possibility of any man, under such circumstances, resigning a command because he disapproves in his own judgment, even supposing him right in that judgment, of a military order which the Commander-in-chief has clearly a right to give, and for the omission, as well as the giving of which, he and the Government are exclusively responsible.
I know nothing more of the supplementary Militia than that they are to be immediately called out.
LORD GRENVILLE TO THE MARQUIS OF BUCKINGHAM.
Dropmore, May 1st, 1798. MY DEAREST BROTHER,
I got your letter here last night. I should not have gone out of town even for one day, if I had not understood from Dundas that the Duke of York, though quite determined against adopting the substitution you propose, seemed to think that in order to avoid putting you under difficulties of any sort, he could forbear to make the demand on your regiment.
I do not say that I like this expedient, but I see no other without his abandoning a measure which, for one, I should be very sorry to see abandoned, believing, as I do, that things of much more importance than the matter of any legal question of a Militia Act, depend upon it. I really believe that you are not accurately informed when you speak of the wishes of the Militia in general being against this measure. But on this point you have certainly better means of knowing individual opinions than I can have. On the legal point, the opinion of the King's law servants must of course be the only guide for a Commander-in-chief, even if he were not a Prince of the blood, but much more when he is so, and consequently not supposed to enter into discussions of that sort, or to be responsible for them.
I grieve that in these times you should set the example of raising these questions; but I am confident you would not do so if you did not think it right. I own I should have thought that any idea of disobeying, as a Militia officer, a command of the Commander-in-chief, was out of the question in the present moment, and that if the case (I had almost said) which you yourself put, had occurred, that of being ordered to embark on board Lord Bridport's fleet, you would have done so, with a protest of ne trahatur in exemplum.
Dundas will, as I understand from him, explain to you what he considers to be the case about your letter, which he states to me to have been an official letter addressed, I think, to P. W. Howe or his Adjutant-general, and which therefore he did not consider in any other light than as an accurate statement of the doubt given in officially and meant to be so considered. But all this is of very little consequence in comparison of that of the light in which the thing itself places you, if it were possible that you could adopt the resolution you speak of.
I take it for granted that Dundas's Bill is meant only to extend to British subjects, or may easily be so limited. As such, it is surely highly advantageous in the present moment to have the services of the men who, of all British officers, have seen the most real service.
I do not think that the Vienna news at all lessens the expediency of calling out the remaining third of the Militia. It is highly probable that the French, seeing that they cannot hope to contend again with England and Austria joined together, may determine to accelerate their attack on us, and put the whole on that one desperate issue.
Ever, my dearest brother,
The insurrection in Ireland was now approaching the moment which had been arranged by the rebels for the final move upon the capital. The whole plan of the rising, which was to have taken place on the 23rd of May, appeared in the details of a paper found upon the person of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, whose capture on the 19th frustrated the designs of the infatuated conspirators. Measures of the most careful precaution had been previously taken by the Government. Sir Ralph Abercromby, who had been in command of the army, and expressed a wish to retire, was replaced by General Lake, whose know ledge of the country afforded the strongest assurance of success in the vigorous proceedings it became necessary to adopt.
The presence of the military in the disturbed districts, and the numerous seizures of arms and arrests of members of the provincial committees that were organized over the country, had considerably deranged the plans and weakened the resources of the confederacy previously to the arrest of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, which effectually crushed the hopes of the rebels, although for some months afterwards they carried on a sort of flying campaign, with a despera