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Secretary Robinson-Lord North-Lord George Germain-Sir Edward Sackville
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It is not possible for me to call to mind a character in all essential points so amiable as that of this departed minister, and not wish to find some palliation for his oversights; but if I were now to say that I acquit him of injustice to me, it would be affectation and hypocrisy; at the same time I must think, that Mr. Secretary Robinson, who was the vehicle of the promise, was more immediately bound to solicit and obtain the fulfilment of it, and this I am persuaded was completely in his power to do: to him, therefore, I addressed such remonstrances, and enforced them in such terms, as no manly spirit ought to have put up with; but anger and high words make all things worse; and language, which a man has not courage to resent, he never will have candor to forgive.
When in process of time I saw and knew Lord North in his retirement from all public affairs, patient, collected, resigned to an afflicting visitation of the severest sort, when all but his illuminated mind was dark around him, I contemplated an affecting and an edifying object, that claimed my admiration and esteem; a man, who, when divested of that incidental greatness, which high office for a time can give, self-dignified and independent, rose to real greatness of his own creating, which no time can take away; whose genius gave a grace to everything he said, and whose benignity shed a lustre upon everything he did ; so richly was his memory stored, and so lively was his imagination in applying what he remembered, that after the great source of information was shut against himself, he still possessed a boundless fund of information for the instruction and delight of others. Some hours (and those not few) of his society he was kind in bestowing upon me; I eagerly courted, and very highly apprized them.
'The unbroken good humor, the conciliating and amiable qualities, the extensive information, excellent sense, unflinching courage, ready and powerful talents of Lord North, have been alike applauded by those who approved and those who condemned his public conduct. He incurred great odium in America from being the responsible advocate of the ill-starred policy towards the colonies; and the American war, as Lord Brougham justly observes, is the great blot upon his fame. It is now well known that he perceived the folly of the American contest, and was only kept at the helm, advocating a line of conduct which he disapproved, “ by constant entreaties, by monthly expostulations, by the most vehement protestations of the misguided prince. But although we may thus explain, we are not the better enabled to excuse the minister's conduct. When he found that he could no longer approve the policy which he was required to pursue, and of course to defend, he was bound to quit the councils of his obstinate and unreasonable sovereign.'— Lord Brougham's Sketches.
Lord North was the eldest son of the Earl of Guilford, and born in 1733. He was educated at Eton and Oxford, and then proceeded to the Continent, where he remained three years. In addition to his classical knowledge, which was extensive and accurate, he had made himself master of French, German, and Italian. On coming of age he was returned to Parliament, and soon became the recipient of ministerial favors. Lord of the Treasury, joint paymaster of the forces, and chancellor of the exchequer; these were the posts bestowed on him before he had attained his thirty-fifth year. But through all these promotions, says Lord Mahon, it may be said with truth, that he did not seek honors ; it was rather that honors sought him. He was by no means of an ager and aspiring temper, nor ever feeling tempted to deviate from principle in quest of popularity. .... Of outward advantages,' says the same authority, ‘Lord North was altogether destitute. His figure was overgrown and ungraceful, and his countenance gave little promise of ability. He was extremely near-sighted ; a great obstacle in the way of Parliamentary eminence, which has never, perhaps, been wholly overcome, except by himself, and in our own time by Lord Derby. A few days only before he became prime minister, one of his keenest opponents, Mr. Burke, thus described him in the House of Commons : “The noble lord who spoke last, after extending his right leg a full yard before his left, rolling his flaming eyes, and moving his ponderous frame, has at length opened his mouth.' But Mr. Burke might have added, though he did not, that no sooner was that mouth opened, than it made ample amends for every defect of form or gesture. Out there came, fresh at each emergency, a flow of good sense and sterling information, enlivened by never-failing pleasantry and wit. During his long and, for the most part, disastrous administration, it was frequently his fate to maintain almost alone, a contest with some of the ablest orators whom the world had ever seen. Yet by his natural and acquired gifts of mind, conjoined with high character and with sturdy courage, he was enabled to stand firm, during so many years, against all the efforts of Fox and Burke, of Dunning, Savile, and Barré, and at last the younger Pitt. Unequal as he might be to some, at least, of these in powers of eloquenee, he far surpassed them, and indeed all men of his time, in his admirable mildness and placidity of temper. So cheerful was ever his mien, and so unruffled his composure, that it seemed scarcely an effort to him to wage the warfare of debate even against such adversaries. Indeed, his great difficulty during the violent volleys of attacks that were often poured upon him as he sat upon the treasury bench, was to keep himself awake! Many a keen opponent, charging him to his face with the heaviest crimes and misdemeanors, must have felt not a little disconcerted at seeing opposite the object of all his vehemence dropping by de
LORD GEORGE GERMAIN.
I experienced no abatement in the friendship of Lord George Germain; on the contrary, it was from this time chiefly to the day of his death, that I lived in the greatest intimacy with him. Whilst he held the seals I continued to attend upon him both in public and in private, rendering him all the voluntary ser. vice in my power, particularly on his levee days, which he held in my apartment in the Plantation office, though he had ceased to preside at the Board of Trade, and here great numbers of American loyalists, who had taken refuge in England, were in the habit of resorting to him: it was an ardous and delicate business to conduct: I may add it was also a business of some personal risk and danger, as it engaged me in very serious explanations upon more occasions than one.
Upon Lord George's putting into my hands a letter he had received from a certain naval officer, very disrespectful towards him, and most unjustifiably so to me, for having brought him an answer to an application, which he was pleased to consider as private and confidential, I felt myself obliged to take the letter with me to that gentleman, and require him to write and sign an apology of my own dictating: whatever was his motive for doing what I peremptorily required, so it was, that to my very great surprise he submitted to transcribe and sign it, and when I exhibited it to Lord George, he acknowledged it to be the most complete revocation and apology he had ever met with.
There were other situations still more delicate, in which I occasionally became involved, but which I forbear to mention ; but in those unpleasant times men's passions were inflamed, and in every case, when reasoning would not serve to allay intem
grees into a gentle doze, and only roused by his neighbor's elbows into starts of watchfulness.
This sweetness of temper in Lord North was by no means confined to public life; it was no less manifest, and no less delightful in his domestic circle. ... As an upright public servant, the character of Lord North stands above all suspicion or reproach ; indeed, but for the wardenship of the Cinque Ports, which the king's spontaneous act bestowed upon him, as afterwards upon Mr. Pitt, he would have left office a poorer man than he had entered it. On all occasions his feelings as his manners were those of an honorable and high-bred gentleman. He had great sagacity in unravelling, and great quickness in maturing the most intricate details of public business. But in conducting that business it cannot be denied that he lacked something of energy, of firmness, of fixed and resolute will. These qualities--needful to a statesman at all times, but doubly needful at a period so fraught with difficulties as the American contest-never certainly shone forth in this too amiable, too complying prime minister. It is his main reproach, as he stands before the tribunal of history, nor can history absolve him from the charge, that he frequently yielded his own deliberate judgment to the persuasion of his sovereign or friends.'-History of England, vol. v. p. 255, et seq. Vide, also, the supplement to this volume.
perance, and explanation was lost upon them, I never scrupled to abide the consequence.
When Lord George Germain resigned the seals, the king was graciously pleased, in reward for his services, to call him to the House of Lords by the title of Viscount Sackville. The wellknown circumstance,' that occurred upon the event of his elevation to the peerage, made a deep and painful impression on his feeling mind, and if his seeming patience under the infliction of it should appear to merit in a moral sense the name of virtue, I must candidly acknowledge it as a virtue that he had no title to be credited for, inasmuch as it was entirely owing to the influence of some, who overruled his propensities, and made themselves responsible for his honor, that he did not betake himself to the same abrupt, unwarrantable mode of dismissing this insult, as he had resorted to in a former instance. No man can speak from a more intimate knowledge of his feelings upon this occasion than I can, and if I was not on the side of those who no doubt spoke well and wisely when they spoke for peace, it is amongst the many errors and offences which I have yet to repent of.
There was once a certain Sir Edward Sackville, whom the world has heard of, who probably would not have possessed himself with so much calmness and forbearance as did a late noble head of his family, whilst the question I allude to was in agitation, and he present in his place. It was by the medium of this noble personage that the Lord Viscount Sackville meditated to send that invitation he had prepared, when the interposition and well-considered remonstrances of some of his nearest friends (in particular of Lord Amherst) put him by from his resolve, and dictated a conduct more conformable to prudence, but much less suited to his inclination.
The law that is sufficient for the redress of injuries does not always reach to the redress of insults; thus it comes to pass that many men, in other respects wise, and just, and temperate, not having resolution to be right in their own consciences, have
' Lord George Germain had been convicted by a court martial of disobedience of orders at the battle of Minden, and when it was reported that he had been created Viscount Sackville, the Marquis of Caermarthen moved in the Peers that to recommend to the crown, for such a dignity, any person laboring under so heavy sentence of a court martial, was derogatory to the honor of the House of Lords. And the same motion was renewed when he took his seat. This is the well-known circumstance to which Cumberland refers. The attack of Caermarthen was deemed disgustful, and without justification. “Lord Caermarthen made himself odious ; and Lord George found at least that mankind were not so abandoned as to enjoy such wanton malevolence.'--Memoirs of the Reign of George III., vol. ii. p. 296, note.
set aside both reason and religion, and, in compliance with the evil practice of the world about them, performed their bloody sacrifices, and immolated human victims to the idol of false honor. Truth obliges me to confess that the friend, of whom I am speaking, though possessing one of the kindest hearts that ever beat within a human breast, was with difficulty diverted from resorting a second time to that desperate remedy, which modern empirics have prescribed for wounds of a peculiar sort, oftentimes imaginary, and always to be cured by patience.
When Lord North's administration was overturned, and the Board of Trade, of which I was Secretary, dismissed under the regulations of what is commonly called Mr. Burke's Bill,' I found myself set adrift upon a compensation, which, though much nearer to an equivalent than what I had received upon my Spanish claims, was yet in value scarce a moiety of what I was deprived of. By the operation of this reform, after I had sacrificed the patrimony I was born to, a very considerable reduction was made even of the remnant that was left to me; I lost no time in putting my family upon such an establishment as prudence dictated, and fixed myself at Tunbridge Wells.
This place, of which I had made choice, and in which I have continued to reside for more than twenty years, had much to recommend it, and very little that in any degree made against it. It is not altogether a public place, yet it is at no period of the year a solitude. A reading man may command his hours of study, and a social man will find full gratification for his philanthropy. Its vicinity to the capital brings quick intelligence of all that passes there; the morning papers reach us before the hour of dinner, and the evening ones before breakfast the next day; whilst between the arrival of the general post and its departure there is an interval of twelve hours; an accommodation in point of correspondence that even London cannot boast of. The produce of the neighboring farms and gardens, and the supplies of all sorts for the table are excellent in their
1 The laudable spirit manifested by Burke in his celebrated bill, has been the subject of much and deserved praise. Unlike most reformers, he did not press forward to his object with undiscriminating zeal. His speech, when bringing forward his motion, was pronounced by Lord North one of the ablest he had ever heard, 'a speech,' he said, 'such as no other member could have made.' It has been said, indeed, that his ideas of reform were too extensive, and not sufficiently matured ; that subsequently, when invested with the responsibilities of office, he seceded fro a large portion of his scheme. But, 'the high statesmanlike ability with which Burke, in his speech, pleads for all the wise and temperate-wise, because temperate-principles on which he argues, is such as to claim the most careful perusal, and the most respectful mention, so long as the British Parliament or the British people may endure.'— Lord Mahon, History of England, vol. vii. p. 5.