State of Parties at Lord North?s Accession to the post of First Minister.?Victory of the Court Party.?Character of Lord North.?The other Ministers.?Debate in the House of Lords on the State of the Nation.? ????
  • Quarrel between the Speaker and Sir William Meredith.?Debate in the Lords.?Lord Chatham attacks the Influence of the Court.?Repeal of American Duties.?Bold Conduct of the City Authorities.?Remonstrance Presented to the King.?Debate on the Civil List.?Lord Chatham attacks the Duke of Grafton.?Indirect Censure on the City Remonstrance in the House of Commons.?Loyal Address carried.


Nothing could be more distressful than the situation into which the Duke of Grafton had brought the King, and in which he abandoned him. Whether it was owing to disgust, or whether men had conceived that the Duke could not maintain himself, the majority had suddenly dwindled away to an alarming degree, nor was any time given to prepare for the change. The 31st was appointed for going again into the committee on the state of the nation, the very business on which75 the failure of numbers had disclosed itself. A new arrangement without new strength was not encouraging. Lord North had neither connections with the nobility, nor popularity with the country, yet he undertook the government in a manly style, and was appointed First Lord of the Treasury on the 29th, with only one day to intervene before it would be decided whether he would stand or fall. Could he depend on men whom he had not time to canvass? Was it not probable that the most venal would hang off till they should see to which side the scale would incline? Yet Lord North plunged boldly into the danger at once. A more critical day had seldom dawned. If the Court should be beaten, the King would be at the mercy of the Opposition, or driven to have recourse to the Lords?possibly to the sword. All the resolutions on the Middlesex election would be rescinded, the Parliament dissolved, or the contest reduced to the sole question of prerogative. Yet in the short interval allowed, Lord North, Lord Sandwich, Rigby, and that faction on one side, the Scotch and the Butists on the other hand, had been so active, and had acted so differently from what the Duke of Grafton had done, that at past twelve at night the Court proved victorious by a majority of forty; small in truth, but greater by fifteen or twenty than was expected by the most76 sanguine, the numbers being 226 to 186.50 The question in effect was, that a person eligible by law cannot by expulsion be rendered incapable of being rechosen, unless by act of parliament. The courtiers moved that the chairman should leave the chair, and carried it. Lord North, with great frankness and spirit, laid open his own situation, which, he said, he had not sought, but would not refuse; nor would he timidly shrink from his post. He was rudely treated by Colonel Barré, who already softened towards the Duke of Grafton, to whom he attributed weight and dignity, but expressing contempt for the new Premier, as a man of no consequence. The latter replied not only with spirit but good-humour, and evidently had the advantage, though it was obvious how much weight the personal presence of a First Minister in the House of Commons carried with it. George Grenville amazed everybody by a bitter complaint of libels and libellers hired by the Court; and this at a season when, deserve what it might, the Court undoubtedly laboured under an unparalleled load of abuse. Colonel Lutterell, on the other hand,77 affirmed that he had traced a most flagrant libel home to a near relation of that gentleman, who, he believed, was also privy to it. He had forced the printer to divulge the writer, one Lloyd,51 who had confessed on his knees, with tears, that Lord Temple had forced him to practise that office. Lutterell added that he had taxed Lord Temple with it by letter, who had not deigned to make an answer. Captain Walsingham said he had gone to Lord Temple on the same errand, who had declared on his honour he was not concerned in it. Grenville flamed, and called for a committee to inquire into libels. He was answered finely by Sir Gilbert Elliot, who now, contrary to his custom of late, took a warm part. He had been much neglected by Grafton, though the confidential agent of the King and Lord Bute; and never distinguished himself, though none more able, but on cases of emergency, and when the Court ventured or chose to make its mind more known than by the Minister. Elliot told Grenville that, had he not entered into factious combinations, he knew Grenville would have been entreated to save his country. That Grenville was not pardoned and again received into favour, proved how much more78 the King and his mother were swayed by their passions than by their interest.52