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proposal of Fox's, that the restrictions, particularly that of peerage, should continue only for a limited time; by which means, we should have been placed in this sort of situation, that if, at the expiration of that term, the King should be so far recovered, as to afford hopes even of an almost immediate recovery, the Regent would be able, by a sudden creation of Peers, to make it impossible for him to resume his authority.
Nugent had voted with us upon the first question ; but was, I suppose, led away by some part of Fox's speech, which had the effect of carrying over Bankes and about six or seven more of our conscientious friends. I think it right to mention this circumstance to you, though not with any view of suggesting what you may think it right to do. I shall, I own, be much mortified if he should vote against us on Monday; but nothing that you can do will be in time enough to prevent that. I do not feel that I can take any measures on the subject, although I certainly have no doubt what your wishes would have been if you were on the spot.
I find, from general report, that some of our friends are staggered about the household resolution, which is to be proposed on Monday. It is, therefore, probable, that we shall not carry this by so triumphant a majority as we have the other questions. I think, however, there is little doubt that we shall carry it; and that is the point of real importance.
I shall be anxious to hear the event of your meeting. You will have observed that, by Lord Sydney's despatch, a latitude is given you of proroguing, in stating the opinion of the King's servants on the different points. I thought, when the despatch was shown to me, that this was a favourable circumstance, as, from your letters, it seemed to me at that time very doubtful whether you would not have adopted that measure; and, in that case, I felt that you would certainly have been glad to have this sort of sanction. Believe me ever most affectionately yours,
W. W. G.
The Duke of Leinster bas, as I suppose you know, written to the Prince of Wales, to offer himself to him. The consequence has been, that Lord Charles Fitzgerald has declared, that he does not consider himself in a situation to be turned over from party to party every half-year; and that he has hoisted an Orange cape. He will, as I understand, not go over to Ireland at the meeting; and I take it for granted, that in case of a dissolution the Duke will not re-elect him.
MR. W.W. GRENVILLE TO THE MARQUIS OF BUCKINGHAM.
Whitehall, Jan. 19th, 1789. MY DEAR BROTHER,
Since I wrote my other letter of this date, I have received yours of the 15th, stating your alarm at the lies spread in Ireland about the proceedings of the Committee of the House of Commons. You will, long before this, have received the report itself from me, and by reading it, will have found how much more favourable the account of the King's situation appears from that examination, and how much you are in the wrong to suffer your noble spirit to be cast down by such weak inventions of the enemy; and above all, how monstrous the idea is that Fox is to gain with the public by a transaction which only shows their inveterate malice against the King and Queen, and its utter impotence. Your expressions of duper and duped, you will see are equally inapplicable to our representations of the King's situation, which I think you will still believe to be as authentic and as credible as the lies which Grattan and Forbes retail from the porter's lodge at Carlton or Burlington House. Seriously speaking, I am vexed to see the importance which you attach to all these reports, because I know that it must work and agitate your mind. A whole life would not suffice, on my part, to answer every lie in circulation : but I beg you to believe that although, perhaps, naturally a little sanguine in my temper, yet that if there was any really unfavourable circumstance which arose here, I would not conceal it from you. The King is better ever since that examination; and this I speak on no partial authority, but on the information of Warren himself, who gave yesterday to the person who repeated it to me a much more favourable account.
I have not time to answer the rest of your letter to-day. Our Bill is not prepared yet, nor can be till the resolutions have been agreed to by both Houses; but it will be short, and nearly in the same words with the resolutions, adding only the oath of office from the Regency Bill of 1765, and a few other particulars.
W. W. G. I suppose you know that Lord Spencer certainly goes to Ireland.
The notion that the Regent would continue Mr. Pitt and his friends in office was rapidly dissipated during the progress of these discussions. The Household Bill, alluded to in one of Mr. Grenville's letters, gave deep offence to His Royal Highness; and from the moment that part of the plan was disclosed, there was no longer any disguise about the fact that the Prince had not only made up his mind to dismiss the Ministers, but that the list of the incoming Administration was actually settled, and ready
The object of the Household Bill was to confide to the Queen the care of the King's person, and the dis
position of the royal household, which would have the effect of placing at Her Majesty's control the patronage of four hundred places; while the Regent was to possess no power whatever over any office, reversion, or pension. This appeared to the Prince and his allies a monstrous proposition, calculated to introduce “weakness, disorder, and insincerity into every branch of political business ;" to "separate the Court from the State;” to “ disconnect the authority to command service from the power of animating it by reward;” and to impose on the Regent “all the invidious duties of the kingly station, without the means of softening them to the public by any one act of grace, favour, or benignity.”
In these poised and melodious sentences (said to have been written by Burke) may be recognized the policy of the master spirit that raised the storm which was to overwhelm Ministers. When the moment came, however, at which it should have burst-Pitt's motion for the Address-- Fox was absent. “Fox is gone to Bath,” says Mr. Grenville. “Whether he is very ill, as some say, or wants to shirk the discussion about Mrs. Fitzherbert, as others assert, I know not.”
This business of Mrs. Fitzherbert, of which we hear something in these letters, was suspended like a sword over the heads of the royal Opposition; and whenever it threatened to descend, they endeavoured to escape from it by avoiding the discussion, or to avert it by abating their violence. The rumour, however, which ascribed Fox's absence on this occasion to that cause was certainly unfounded. On the 19th of January, he made his motion
for limiting the continuance of the restrictions; and on the 26th he was ill at Bath, where he remained for some weeks in a precarious state of health. His loss was severely felt by his party. Ministers were triumphant in both Houses. The incidental shocks they experienced from the vibrations of that class of persons designated by Mr. Grenville as “conscientious friends,” and from the defection of the rats, had been completely recovered in the final majorities of Lords and Commons; and although Fox may not have thought it prudent on some occasions to enhance the inevitable defeat of the Prince's followers by assisting at their discomfiture, it is unlikely that even the dread of a debate on Mrs. Fitzherbert would have kept him away at this critical juncture.
While these discussions were going on, always ending in fluctuating majorities for Pitt, the Prince of Wales and his brother, notwithstanding the dissipation in which they indulged, were indefatigable in their efforts to cultivate popularity. Thus writes Lord Bulkeley:
The Princes go on in their usual style, both keeping open houses, and employing every means in their power to gain proselytes, attending the Beefsteak Clubs, Freemason meetings, &c., and will probably very soon attend the parochial meetings of Lord John Townshend's Committee in Westminster. Notwithstanding all this, the Parliament still continues steadily to Mr. Pitt, which, considering the looseness of morals and of the times, does the members great credit.
* The Duke of York never misses a night at Brookes's, where the hawks pluck his feathers unmercifully, and have reduced him to the vowels I. O. U. The Prince likewise attends very often, and has taken kindly to play.