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continue to hold office under the Crown. Fox took an active part in opposing it during its passage through the House of Commons. In the course of the debates (says Horace • Walpole) I have given very inadequate ideas of the speeches
of Burke, Charles Fox, and Wedderburne, three excellent * orators in different ways. Burke's wit, allusions, and enthu• siasm were striking, but not imposing; Wedderburne was a • sharp, clever arguer, though unequal; Charles Fox, much 'younger than either, was universally allowed to have seized
the just point of argument throughout with most amazing * rapidity and clearness, and to have excelled even Charles • Townshend as a Parliament man, though inferior in wit and • variety of talents.
Fox afterwards introduced his Bill for amending the Marriage Act: it was opposed by Lord North and by Burke, and was ultimately thrown out. Walpole's account of Burke's, speech against this Bill is remarkable with reference to his subsequent career.
Burke made a fine and long oration against the motion. • Burke was certainly in his principles no moderate man; and
when his party did not interfere, generally leaned to the more • arbitrary side, as had appeared in the late debates on the Church,
in which he had declared for the clergy. . . . He spoke with a
choice and variety of language, a profusion of metaphors, and ' yet with a correction of diction that were surprising. His • fault was copiousness above measure; and he dealt abundantly, too much, in establishing general positions. Two-thirds of this
oration resembled the beginning of a book on speculative doctrines, ' and yet argument was not the forte of it.'
of long duration; for in December of the same year 1772, an arrangement was made, by which the former returned to office and became a junior Lord of the Treasury. His habits of deep play, however, unhappily continued unbroken, and in order to pay his gaming debts, he actually incurred liabilities to the enormous amount of 140,0001., which sum was discharged by his father from his own estate. * A strange story is likewise told by Horace
* The following curious account of the occurrences of this time given to Lord Holland in 1823, by Lord Egremont, is worthy of attention by all persons who are in the habit of high play. 'Lord • Egremont was convinced,' he said, .by reflection, aided by his
subsequent experience of the world, that there was at that time some unfair confederacy among some of the players, and that the
great losers, especially Mr. Fox, were actually duped and cheated ; ' he should, he said, have been torn to pieces, and stoned by the
Walpole (the truth of which is recognised by Lord Holland) of his having been at this time duped by an impostor calling herself the Hon. Mrs. Grieve, who undertook to procure for him as wife, a Miss Phipps, recently arrived from the West Indies, with a fortune of 80,0001.
In the session of 1774, Mr. Fox, impatient of the restraints to which a member holding a subordinate office is subject, differed from Lord North and took an independent line with respect to the committal of Woodfall the printer for a breach of privilege. The King, who appears to have conceived a personal dislike to Fox on account of his opposition to the Royal Marriage Bill, was much displeased at his conduct on this occasion, and on February 15th, wrote thus to Lord North:
"I am greatly incensed at the presumption of Charles Fox in . forcing you to vote with him last night, but approve much of
the making your friends vote in the majority. Indeed, that 'young man has so strongly cast off every principle of common
honour and honesty, that he must become as contemptible as . he is odious. I hope you will let him know that you are not insensible of his conduct towards you.'*
On a subsequent stage of the same proceeding, Fox repeated his insubordination to Lord North, who, in consequence, sent him a laconic letter, informing him that he was no longer a Lord
"I and on Februamuch displeant of his oppor have conce breach
• losers themselves, for hinting such a thing at the time, and even ‘now, those of them, himself excepted, who survived, would exclaim
at such a supposition ; but he was nevertheless satisfied, that the 'immoderate, constant, and unparalleled advantages over Charles Fox, and other young men, were not to be accounted for merely by the difference of passing or holding the box, or the hazard of the dice. • He had indeed no suspicions (any more than the rest had) at the time, but he had thought it much over since, and he now had.'
* George III. commented very freely on the public men whom he disliked, in his letters to Lord North. Thus in a letter of Aug. 1775, he speaks of Lord Chatham's recent political conduct as 'abandoned'; he describes Lord Chatham as totally devoid of the honourable sentiment of gratitude, and calls him 'a trumpet of sedition.' (Mem. of Fox, vol. i. p. 129.) In letters of the 16th of March, 1778, he speaks of Lord Chatham and his crew ;' and calls him that perfidious * man. It seems to be ascertained that George III. had an attack of insanity (concealed from the public) so early as the year 1765. See • Adolphus's Hist, of the Reign of Geo. III.? vol. i. p. 175. ed. 1840;
Lord Mahon's History,' vol. v. p. 26. Nevertheless, the letters of Lord Grenville during the King's illness in 1788-9 (in the Buckingham Papers), convince us that the Ministers had, at that time, no suspicion of his having been previously insane. See particularly a letter in vol. ii. p. 5.
of the Treasury. Fox now put an end to his connexion with Lord North, went into Opposition, and began to act with the Rockingham party, though he did not formally join it till 1778 or 9. By this means he became the friend of Burke; a friendship which exercised much influence upon him. His independent political career, after he had broken through his original party ties, may be considered as commencing from 1774, when he was in his 25th year. This year, as Lord John Russell remarks, in an excellent review of our history from 1763 to 1774 (vol. i. p. 102—133.) was the turning point of the American war. It was then that Lord North, though he had originally been adverse to the imposition of the tea duty, decided to maintain it, by closing the port of Boston, and altering the charter of Massachussets. • In taking this course,' says Lord John, “Lord North was • warmly supported in the closet, and received the sympathy
of the country. Yet it is impossible not to reflect that Lord • North was the same minister who in 1768 had, by his voice in
the Cabinet, prevented the repeal of the tea duty, and the • abandonment of all taxation by Parliament for imperial pur• poses. * Had he supported that repeal in 1768, he would have • prevented the American war; in 1774 he at least would have
given a chance to peace; in 1778, after our armies had been * defeated, the concession was useless and insufficient.'
Fox, from the time that he separated himself from Lord North, carried on an unremitting opposition to the American war. His speeches, always marked by decided ability, had hitherto been desultory and occasional; but he now (as Gibbon said) discovered powers for regular debate, which neither his friends hoped, nor his enemies dreaded. Mr. Grattan (as we learn from Lord John), who had heard Mr. Fox at various epochs, declared his preference for the speeches delivered during the American war, to all the other efforts of his eloquence. His denunciations of Ministers and their policy were conveyed in the strongest language. Thus in 1777 he described Lord G. Germaine, as
* The division in the Cabinet of 5 to 4, by which it was decided to maintain the tea duty, was not in 1768, but on the 1st of May, 1769. See Lord • Mahon's History,' vol. v. p. 242, and Ap. p. xxxvii. The votes were as follows:For repeal.
Lord Rochford. . Gen. Conway.
his first of honour in havingainst Lord Northst and one of the
that inauspicious and ill-omened character, whose arrogance and . presumption, whose ignorance and inability,' had brought evil upon the country.* Horace Walpole says, that on the budget in 1778, Charles Fox poured out the bitterest and one of the • finest of all his philippics against Lord North, taxing him with
breach of honour in having declared that he would resign if • his first conciliatory proposition had not the desired effect;
that he had broken his word, that he had this year brought * measures of the same kind, at which he confessed he felt • humbled, though not ashamed; if such measures did not make • him blush, what would ? And in this style he spoke for above half an hour.'
The following curious account of a scene in an American debate in 1777 occurs in a letter of Mr. Crawford (better known by his prenomen of Fish) to Lord Ossory : –
Charles [Fox] spoke with great violence, but the House this time went along with him. We were not shocked at his talking of bringing Lord George [Germaine] to a second trial, nor were we shocked at being asked if we could patiently continue to submit to see this nation disgraced by him in every capacity. There were high words between Wedderburne and Burke, which so offended the latter that he went out of the House, and, I believe, intended to challenge Wedderburne, but was prevented by a letter from Wedderburne, and an explanation likewise, which he sent him through Charles. In the midst of Wedderburne's speaking, Burke burst into one of his loud hysterical laughs. Unfortunately at that moment there was a dead silence in the House. Wedderburne, in a very angry tone, said, that if that gentleman did not know manners, he, as an individual, would teach them to him; that he had not the good will of that gentleman, and did not wish for it, but he was ambitious of having even his respect, and would force it from him, &c. This the other construed into a menace..... I have given this imperfect description of a quarrel, which is very well settled on both sides. Burke was origi
* On this occasion • Lord North handsomely defended Lord George, and said he was glad Fox had abandoned him, an old hulk,
to attack a man of war; but afterwards he perhaps hurt Lord George * as much as Fox had done, for the latter coming up to the Treasury
benches, Lord North said, in Lord George's hearing, “ Charles, I am • " glad you did not fall on me to-day, for you was in full feather.”' (Mem. of Fox, vol. i. p. 159.) This anecdote proves the private familiarity which still subsisted between Lord North and Fox, notwithstanding their political differences.
† The allusion is to Lord G. Germaine's conduct at the battle of Minden, in 1759, for which he was dismissed by Mr. Pitt from all his military employments, and was declared by a court-martial to have been guilty of disobeying orders, and to be unfit to serve his Majesty in any military capacity whatever.
nally in the wrong, because nothing could be more uncivil than his laugh appeared to be, from the accident of the dead silence of the House at that moment.' (Mcm. of Fox, vol. i. p. 162.)
The efforts of the Opposition in denouncing the policy of Lord North's Government were not unavailing, for in a letter to Lord Ossory of November 29. 1777, Fox says, “I am clear the opinion of the majority of the House is with us. I cannot help
flattering myself that opinions will, in the long run, have their • influence on votes.' A few months later (February, 1778) he uses the following remarkable expressions respecting himself in à letter to his intimate friend Fitzpatrick, who was then in America:
• I think I have given you enough of politics, considering I have nothing but reports and conjectures to give you. With respect to my own share, I can only say that people flatter me that I continue to gain, rather than lose, my credit as an orator; and I am so convinced that this is all that I ever shall gain (unless I choose to become the meanest of men) that I never think of any other object of ambition. I am certainly ambitious by nature, but I really have, or think I have, totally subdued that passion. I have still as much vanity as ever, which is a happier passion by far; because great reputation I think I may acquire and keep, great situation I never can acquire nor, if acquired, keep, without making sacrifices that I never will make. If I am wrong, and more sanguine people right, tant mieux, and I shall be as happy as they can be ; but if I am right, I am sure I shall be the happier, for having made up my mind to my situation.'
The influence, however, which Fox had gained in the House by his speeches against the Ministry, and the waning popularity of the war since the reverses of our arms, especially after the surrender of Saratoga in October 1777, led to a negotiation with Fox in March 1778, to induce him to join Lord North's Ministry. This negotiation (to which the King's consent had doubtless been obtained) was conducted by Mr. Eden (afterwards Lord Auckland), whose account of his interview of three hours with Fox is now published. Fox is reported to have said, that except with Lord G. Germaine, he could act with the
existing Ministers; but he disavowed every possibility of • accepting singly and alone, and even doubted whether he
could accept in any case.' 'I am convinced,' adds Mr. Eden, that he will make no bad use of the conversation, but in other
respects will be as hostile as ever.' A similar overture was made at the same time, through Mr. Eden, to Lord Shelburne, whose chief political connexion was with Lord Chatham ; and through him an attempt was made to ascertain the terms upon which Lord Chatham would join the Government. It is, how