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lustre, responded the Peers, does it add to the name of Briton when you, Sir, esteem it among your glories ?' Jacobitism was defunct; and the last non-juring bishop died about this time, an apothecary at Shrewsbury, owning that Providence had declared itself for the Hanover line. Therefore, George III. was not constitutional; he wished not only to reign but to govern. He is surely not much to be blamed for that wish. Hearing a prayer put up every Sunday, that he might be enabled to rule well, he might not unnaturally conceive that it was a part of his duty to rule. Despotic ideas had been carefully infused by his mother and Lord Bute into a mind which the absence of any other culture left entirely open for their reception; for never had a "born Briton' so un-British an education.
The Parliament of that day was not a free Parliament, but an oligarchical and rotten-borough Parliament; and we might have sympathised with the King if he had really intended to override the factions, put the oligarchy under the feet of a national trustee, promote merit in the public service without regard to connection, and govern in the interest of the whole nation. Unfortunately, George the Third's idea of merit was Lord Bute and Mr. Jenkinson, and his idea of governing in the interest of the whole nation was the American
It was unlucky, too, if the new system was to restore purity, that it itself supported by corruption; and that in this corruption, and in the coarsest form of it—that connected with electionsthe King himself took an active part. If any one, in his hatred of oligarchy, dreams of a patriot king, let him awake from that dream. Sooner than a patriot king, he will find an oligarchy ready to divest itself of power.
George III. tried unconstitutional monarchy, first by Lord Bute, a walking-gentleman, and failed; then by Lord North, a good man of business and a parliamentary tactician, but pliant enough to submit to governments by departments; that is, a government in which the king was first minister, and the departments, against their consciences, carried on the King's American war. But the end of that war brought the system to the ground amidst a storm of odium; and only the superior odium of the Coalition could have given the King a third chance. A third chance he now had, and having twice before got hold of a tool who was not strong enough to be a minister, he now got hold of a minister who was rather too strong to be a tool. The Coalition deserved to fall, but not
on which it fell. It had become necessary for humanity, and for the honour of the country, to arrest the servants of the East India Company in their career of crime. The government brought in a bill taking India out of the hands of the Company and putting it into the hands of a board of seven commissioners to be named for the first time by Parliament and afterwards by the crown.
There can be no doubt that the measure was framed in good faith. Burke, whose zeal for Indian reform none will question, was its framer, Fox himself, with all his faults, was a true friend of humanity: let us honour his name for it, at a time when contempt for humanity and sympathy with cruelty is cultivated by feebleness as a proof of vigour, and lauded by public instructors as a healthy English tone. As, however, the majority in Parliament were to have the nominations for the first
time, a cry was got up that the party intended, by the appropriation of overwhelming patronage, to perpetuate itself in place. Set up by Pitt and the opposition, this cry was swelled of course by the whole East Indian interest, which by buying rotten boroughs had made itself a great parliamentary power, and was beginning, in the secret counsels of Providence, to avenge, by its pestilential influence on English politics, the wrongs of the Hindoo. The great standing army, estranged from the ideas of English citizenship and from reverence for English liberties, which is now being trained up in India, may perhaps one day carry further the work of retribution, and teach people that they cannot practise rapine in another country, even under pretence of propagating Christianity, and with the tacit sanction of their bishops, without entailing some consequences on their own. The king was in a paroxysm of rage and fear at the prospect of having so much power taken out of his hands. The bill, however, passed the Commons by a large majority, and was on the point of passing the Lords, when Lord Temple, who had before been carrying on a most unconstitutional correspondence with the King against the Ministers, crept to the royal ear, aud received from His Majesty a paper to be handed about among the Lords in the following terms : His Majesty allowed Earl Temple to say that whoever voted for the India Bill was not only not his friend but would be considered by him as an enemy; and if these words were not strong enough, Earl Temple might use whatever words he deemed stronger and more to the purpose.' The only words which could have been stronger and
to the purpose would have been some having reference to more substantial motives than affection for the royal person. By a free use of this august document, the India Bill was thrown out; and the Coalition ministers fell, most of them in transport of rage, Lord North with his usual good-humour declining to get out of bed at twelve o'clock at night to give up the seals, and forcing the royal envoy, who came at that unseasonable hour, to have an interview with Lady North, as well as with himself. For a moment Temple, the author of the plot, was secretary of state; but he immediately vanished under a cloud of mystery which has never been cleared away. Lord Stanhope is inclined to think that Lord Temple having saved the monarchy by a back-stairs intrigue, wished to assure its salvation by getting himself made a Duke; and that the King, faithful to first principles, even in this supreme hour of political extremity, would make none but Royal Dukes. A more obvious solution is that Temple, like most intriguers, was a coward, and that his heart failed him as he touched his prize. What is certain is, that Lord Temple went to Stowe. Meanwhile the King had turned again to Pitt; and Pitt was prime minister, and not only prime minister, but, as the rest of the cabinet were mere respectabilities, sole minister at twenty-four (1783).
Unluckily there was now a taint on his appointment, which there would not have been if he had dared to accept the prime ministership before. Lord Stanhope defends the King and his partners in this transaction. He says the rules of the constitution were not then settled. The principle that the King was not to take notice of anything depending in Parliament had been asserted, as I apprehend, against
the Stuarts. But be this as it may, if the rules of the constitution were not settled, the rules of honour were; and the rules of honour, while they permitted the King to dismiss his ministers openly and appeal against them to the country, did not permit him to stab them in the dark. But, says Lord Stanhope, Pitt at all events stands clear. His conduct was excusable perhaps; but if the transaction was criminal, he was not guiltless. He was an accomplice after the fact. He screened Lord Temple in parliament. He accepted the fruits of the intrigue. Afterwards, he was himself called upon to confront the prejudices of the King. George III. was cunning, and though he might quail before the haughty son of Chatham, he must have felt in his heart that Pitt had once been his accomplice.
Then came the famous struggle of the young minister at the head of a minority, and without a colleague to support him in the House of Commons, against the superior forces and the veteran chiefs of the Coalition. The merit of Pitt in this struggle has been overrated. The Opposition made him a present of the victory. They should have proceeded not passionately but vigorously against Temple, and treated Pitt with cool forbearance, so as to avoid making him an object of national sympathy. They proceeded passionately but by no means vigorously against Temple, and they assailed Pitt with a ferocity which arrayed the sympathies of all men on his side. The fact is, however, that Pitt played a winning game from the beginning. The numbers of the majority in the House were no measure of their hold on the country. The nation was weary of cabals which bandied power from one set of place-hunters to another. Its heart yearned