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(he said), from some words the King dropped at the Levee, that His Majesty wished to talk to him. He represented, however, their conversation to have been quite general, though he acknowledged it to have been very long; and said that by what he collected from it the King had not altered his sentiments with regard to his present Ministry. He affected to treat it as if his audience had had no particular view, and had been in a manner casual. I am persuaded, however, from all the circumstances, and from some parts which he glanced at occasionally, that it was much more particular than he chose to state; and his having appointed me for Saturday, and then seen the King on Friday, confirms that opinion. In different parts of his conversation he expressed very strongly, as he has so often before, the necessity of a stable government; but at the same time threw out doubts whether objections to particular persons being brought forward might not be in the way of it. He also dropped, in a passing way, and at separate times, that the King had no insight into the means of forming a Government; that his directly turning out his Ministers was different from their resigning or being pressed in Parliament; and that the King had gone through the worst in the struggle which ended in bringing them in. Yet he said, when I hinted that they might succeed in their endeavour to reconcile the King to them, that the King could never forgive their conduct; and mentioned as an instance, Mr. Fox's language in the House of Commons relative to the Prince of Wales's establishment, of which the King, he said, had expressed his resentment to him the day before. When I endeavoured to learn from him what part Lord Gower or Lord Weymouth would be disposed to take, he studiously declined particulars. His principal object seemed to be to turn the conversation on the subject of Parliamentary Reform, and of the influence of the Crown, especially the latter. He went into a great deal of general speculation, but without much pledging his own opinion, and seeming to take every way of sounding whether any ground would be gained for the Crown on that article. Your Lordship will form your judgment on these particulars, though related so much more shortly than they passed. They struck me as a full proof that Lord Thurlow's object was to insinuate that a change was not so necessary to the King, and to endeavour to make it (if it should take place) rather our act than his, and on that ground to try whether terms might not be imposed that could not otherwise. This is so totally contrary to every idea we both entertain, that I thought it necessary to take full care to counteract it. I stated in general, that if the King's feelings did not point strongly to a change, it was not what we sought; but that if they did, and we could form a permanent system, consistent with our principles, and on public grounds, we should not decline it. I reminded him how much I was personally pledged to Parliamentary Reform on the principles I had publicly explained, which I should support on every seasonable occasion. I treated as out of the question any idea of measures being taken to extend influence, though such means as are fairly in the hands of Ministers would undoubtedly be to be exerted; and I said that I wished those with whom I might act, and the King (if he called upon me), to be fully apprized of the grounds on which I should necessarily proceed. He received all I said extremely well; and though much of his discourse seemed to aim at instilling other ideas, he never directly objected to what I stated. He ended our interview with expressing an earnest wish that the King might get rid of the present Ministry, and seemed anxious to see me again before he goes abroad, which he still talks of doing next week. I have fixed to dine with him on Tuesday, when I shall probably hear more on these subjects.
My opinion at present is, that though he was sounding to see whether something might not be formed more on the foundation of the old politics of the Court, he will see that that is out of the question; but that such a Government may, nevertheless, be formed as will be justly much more acceptable to the King than the present. I think, therefore, what has passed will not tend to delay our having the offer whenever things are ripe for it. I hope, too, that it has tended to put the business on such a ground as can alone make it advisable or honourable; and I flatter myself I shall have the happiness to find that it strikes your Lordship in the same manner.
I am ever, my dear Lord, &c.,
Earl Temple to Mr. Pitt.'
Stowe, MY DEAR SIR, July 21, 1783.
Nothing can be more clear than the whole of your detail of the conversation with Lord Thurlow, and your conclusions drawn from it. He has spoken much of this from himself, as the whole tenour of his language is perfectly congenial with his feelings, but the great outline was clearly drawn in the closet on Friday. The King, I have no doubt, is in earnest, so is his Lordship; but they both wish to try that which is perfectly natural, namely, how far concessions may begained from us upon points which press hard upon that general system under which they formerly governed. To the Parliamentary Reform you are pledged whenever there is a reasonable prospect of success, and from that you cannot recede with the fair fame which I ever wish to you. As to the other reform, the great objects have been missed, and some parts have not done credit to the reformers, and possibly (with the best intentions) the experiment is hazardous if carried at once to its utmost extent; but whatever we may think upon time or mode, I am most clearly and decisively of opinion that we cannot be too explicit in our refusal to engage in government upon the avowed or implied system of replacing in the hands of the Crown that influence which has been already taken from it, excepting in any instance (if such there be) where an improper new * There was no copy of this original is among the papers left
letter in the Stowe Collection as by Mr. Pitt. put up for sale in 1862; but the
arrangement may make a change necessary, not for influence, but for the proper administration of each department; and even this last exception should be kept out of sight, in order that no superstructure may be built by Lord Thurlow upon it. The idea of the change originating in an offer or in an eagerness from us cannot be allowed; nor do I see the necessity of it, as I think it clear that the King is in earnest, and that he is not more anxious than Lord Thurlow. What then is his object? Not to continue his present Ministry; not to patch one with Lord North and the old Government, who cannot now undertake it even with Lord Thurlow and Lord Gower; not to depend solely upon Lord Gower. What then is his alternative? The very arrangement which he now has in view, but which he will endeavour to bring as near as possible to his ideas; and a strong proof of it is the affected mystery with which Lord Thurlow held back the opinions of Lord Gower and Lord Weymouth, which to me, upon a former occasion, he quoted at every moment, and particularly entered into the specification of the kind of office for Lord Gower; and ridiculous as the reason may appear, it seems to me that he keeps that name back, for fear of pledging his Lordship too far in a business which he probably now thinks nearer than it was when he first spoke. However, be all this as it may, our line cannot admit of a moment's doubt; and you have seized it precisely as I knew you would, with clearness and with credit, by holding out an inclination to accept in proper circumstances any offer from His Majesty; but by disavowing