THE BEDFORD CORRESPONDENCE.
THE present volume of this collection commences with the year 1749, and comes down to 1760, closing soon after the death of GEORGE the Second. It contains some diplomatic and official correspondence, principally addressed to the Ambassadors at Paris and Madrid, while the Duke of BEDFORD was Secretary of State ; a good many letters from RIGBY and Fox the first Lord HOLLAND, written between the period when the Duke was dispossessed of place through the intrigues of NEWCASTLE in 1751, and his return to office in 1757 as Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland ; together with some correspondence, public and private, written whilst he filled that office.
The diplomatic letters, occupying the first portion of the volume, are dry and formal business papers, without any particular novelty of information to reward attention. The epistles of Runty and Fox are of a more various and interesting character. During this period " the blushing RIGBY" filled the office, in the words of JuNius, of " client in the house of Bloomsbury," which SANDWICH and LEGGE discharged during the time occupied by the first volume. It was his duty to acquaint his patron with the political and social gossip of the day, to inform him of what took place in Parliament when the great man was rusticating at Woburn or elsewhere, and to bear his part in all the business, or rather intrigues, in which a man of the Duke's power and political acti- vity might engage without wishing to be seen. When these sort of things came to any ripeness, Fox appeared in the matter, not like RIGBY as a mere instrument and reporter, but as a superior officer; and his letters, though containing both anecdote and gossip, go more to the fountain-head of facts, and exhibit the statesman's opinions about his own position, and that of his great rival the elder PITT, struck off at the moment of conception. The correspondence during the Duke's Viceroyalty relates to the "difficulty of govern- ing Ireland" ; partly from the selfish factions in the native Parlia- went, which regarded the public as hounds regard a carcass— nothing more or less than matter for meals ; partly from a dislike to English rule, which even then began to display itself, if not as an honest feeling, at least as an excuse for opposition till bought off; and partly from Ministerial jobbing. NEWCASTLE and the King shine in this field. When a thing was too gross for the English Parliament, application was made to the Irish Lord-Lieutenant. To do the Duke of BEDFORD justice, he appears to have resisted these applications more strenuously than the Irish; who were not only ready to forward the job if they were allowed one themselves, but jobbed well, and boldly found a reason for it. It should also be added, that the Duke's difficulties appear to have arisen from an anxious desire to do " justice to Ireland." He wished to govern fairly without respect to parties, to lessen the penal difficulties under which the Roman Catholics were placed, and to discourage jobbing. Whether he had ability to achieve his objects, and sufficient support from home, may be questioned : but at all events, he was soon obliged to abandon the task. His own officials combined against him ; and the Duke shortly found that the only practicable mode for getting on was to play off one party against the other, bribing the most powerful to keep down the rest. There are a good many correspondents in this volume; but Fox and RIGBY, with the Irish Primate, are about the only writers who remain impressed on the reader's mind. Fox, as in all the letters of his we have met, writes with vigour, plainness, and spirit ; exhibiting the manner of a man not devoid of litera- ture, and possessed by practice of a sufficient command of language, but who aims not at graces of style, content with expressing his meaning, and allowing his matter and sentiment to govern his dic- tion. We know from WALPOLE that " Rigby's parts were strong and quick, but totally uncultivated"; and such is the character of his epistles. Writing on subjects with which his correspondent was fully acquainted, be is sometimes so elliptical that his mean- ing is obscure; and once (but for a note by the editor) he appears to say, though not to the Duke of BEDFORD, that Lord TAVISTOCK is dying, when he means the Irish Master of the Rolls, whose place he got. His spelling of unfamiliar terms is odd : for example— "I dined the day he left it at Holland House ; where, though I drank claret with the master of it from dinner till two o'clock in the morning, I could not wash away the sorrow he is in at the shocking condition his eldest boy is in, a distemper they call Sanroitoss dance, (I believe I spell it damnably,) but it is a convulsion that I think must kill him."
In more substantial respects, RIGBY is not a bad letter-writer. Possessed of strong common sense and much worldly knowledge, be seized the leading points of things, or what he thought such, without troubling himself with refinements or subordinate matters : so that his narratives are often vigorous and rarely tedious, whilst any point or spirit they may intrinsically possess is preserved. Here is a neat estimate of TEMPLE'S capabilities. "And now, my Lord, as I understand from the Duke of Devonshire, to whom Lord Hardwicke had communicated the contents of a long audience, .things remained settled thus—
Duke of Newcastle Pitt Holdernesse Fox Anson Treasury. Secretary. Ditto.
Paymaster. Admiralty. Dorset, or Rochford Pensioned.
"Temple, as put down in the paper showed to the King, a place."
TEMPLE ON BYNG.
I cannot forbear telling you Lord Temple pressed him some days ago very strongly for a pardon for Mr. Byng: his Majesty persevered, and told his Lord- ship flatly he thought him guilty of cowardice in the action, and therefore could not break his word they had forced him to give to his people—to pardon no delinquents. His Lordship walked up to his nose, and, sans autre are- monie, said, What shall you think if he dies courageously ? His Majesty stifled his anger, and made him no reply. I think I never heard of such in- solence.
A STRANGE ROBBERY: 1755.
Though it is eleven o'clock, I must tell you of the most curious of all rob- beries that was committed last night. A Mrs. Hodges, of Hanover Square, got into her coach at the playhouse ; and from under the seat of the coach, as it was going along, up jumps a thief, and with a pistol in his hand demands her money and jewels, and orders her, upon pain of instant death, to stop her coach at a certain place and let him out, and wish him good night ; all which she complied with, and he carried off a thousand pounds' worth of her jewels.
FOX ON A LEADERSHIP OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS : 1756.
After what Rigby has just now told me, your Grace won't imagine I am writing to persuade your Grace [to join the Ministry]. But as I am prouder of your friendship and good opinion than of any place the King could give me, I most omit nothing that may justify the part I take. I left the King yester- day determined to name his own Treasury. The Duke of Devonshire, not I, got his leave to offer Legge the Exchequer, and me the Pay Office : I refused any office; and upon a little consideration, however I might dislike the actors, approved of the scene that opened itself, for the following reasons. I think peace and quiet this session as necessary to this country as ever a night's sleep was to a man dying with a fever. No system in which I am a Minister can be carried on without great contention. And by a combination of cir- cumstances obvious to your Grace, I cannot be a Minister (without the Duke of Newcastle, &c., and against Pitt, &c.) without being the Prime Minister. I am not capable of it. Richelieu, were he alive, could not guide the coun- cils of a nation, if (which would be my case) he could not from November to April have above two hours in four-and-twenty to think of any thing but the Rouse of Commons.
THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE'S "MISTAKE."
I was told today, as a great secret, the Duke of Newcastle and Lord Hard- wicke had quarrelled violently upon the disposal of the Great Seal, and pro- ceeded to coarse language with each other. It is no secret that his Grace and Mr. Pitt are for ever at 'variance and distrust with each other. Pitt found there was a lie between his Grace and Legge, and brought them face to face to Snd it out ; and when Legge's superior cunning had lodged it upon the Duke, he frankly confessed he believed it was his mistake. Pitt accordingly never parts with him without recapitulating all that has passed, and begging he will make none of his mistakes.
THE PRIMATE'S DESCRIPTION OF THINGS IN IRELAND: 1758.
The substance and the manners of this country are not to be estimated by the efforts towards luxury and splendour made by a few in the Metropolis. The bulk of the people are not regularly either lodged, clothed, or fed. And those things which in England are called necessaries of life are to us only acci- dents; and we can, and in many places do, subsist without them. The estates have risen within these thirty years to near double the value, but the condition of the occupiers of the land is not better than it was before that increase; nor can 1 imagine any resource for raising money here but by an immediate tax upon the land. The monstrous debt of England, and the facility with which such sums are seemingly raised every year, is a problem far beyond my com- prehension, and which 1 heartily wish I may never live to see solved.
The once celebrated Lord GRANVILLE, whose life did not sustain the estimate formed of his abilities, and who had himself been
Lord-Lieutenant, was about the only person who took the Irish difficulties of 1758 coolly.
GRANVILLE'S RECIPE FOR RULING IRELAND.
Everybody here, except Lord Granville, seems to think the situation of parties in Ireland such as must put your Grace under great difficulties : Lord Granville sees nothing in it that should give your Grace any trouble. I there- fore (not at all able to obviate what I am afraid may happen) shall choose to send your Grace Lord Granville's thoughts, rather than my own, which are too much puzzled to conclude in any opinion.
His Lordship says your Grace has nothing to do but to let them dash their loggerheads together, and to transmit whatever nonsense they may cook up, to England to be rejected, remaining quietly and coolly at the Castle till with the last transmiss of bills your Grace desires leave to come away, and humbly to recommend to his Majesty such persons as your Grace shall choose to leave in the government during your absence; which being complied with, you may, he says, come away with dignity, and settle at Bedford House with him and others of the Cabinet upon what foot you can with like dignity return, and with what prospect of success go to hold another Parliament.
The Introduction by Lord Joint RUSSELL, in this volume, is not so long as the last, or of so much importance; but there are some historical notices in the body of the work, which may be written by him, or by the actual editor, Mr. MARTIN. These are of use as acquainting the reader with the political outlines of the period to which the letters relate, and contain a just estimate of persons. Here is a character of
THE ELDER PITT.
Mr. Pitt, with all his great qualities, was ill fitted to influence the votes of the House of Commons. It was not only that he could not stoop to dishonest arts ; he did not possess, or would not exert, the honest qualities of conciliation and forbearance. Hence, in the course of his long life, theugh he often cap- tivated the nation, he never led a political party, nor was he ever the efficient head of the Ministry. His only connexions were with apart of his own family; for even the " cousins " did not permanently act with him : at one time be was opposed to Lyttelton, at another to George Grenville, and for a consider- able period a breach with Lord Temple broke off another intimate connexion. When he came to form a Ministry himself, he produced that curious mixture of which Mr. Burke says—" He made an Administration so chequered and speckled; he put together a piece of joinery so crossly indented and whimsically i
dovetailed—a cabinet so variously nlaid, such a piece of diversified mosaic— such a tesselated pavement without cement, here a bit of black stone and there a bit of white—patriots and courtiers, King's friends and Republicans, Whigs and Tories, treacherous friends and open enemies ; that it was indeed a very curious show, but utterly unsafe to touch, and unsure to stand on."
This strange jumble of parties was no accident, but was the natural result of his character. He had no party attachments, and no fixed principles. He cared as little for the employment of Hanover troops and the engem, meta of subsidiary treaties as he cared for the Walpole connexion or Mei ...styled patriots : he was ready to be for or against any measure, or any aulAn, as his i temper and judgment inclined him at the moment. What he really possessed, and what others wanted, was a high sense of personal honour and national in- dependence —a resolute heart in council, and a powerful understanding for great emergencies.
These qualities fitted him exactly for a colleague of Newcastle ; who had the qualities which Pitt wanted—a knowledge of the characters of public men, and a sense of the necessity of a party standard to which they could rally.
Lord JOHN is troubled by the " impression " which Junius's " malignity and disregard of truth " have left on " intelligent writers and readers of the present day." The tilt against the " great unknown," however, is reserved for the third volume. The present merely contains a sort of complaint against Lord MAHON for being unconsciously influenced by JUNIUS to characte- rize the Duke as having a " hot head" and a " cold heart." As he appears in his letters, there is not much warmth of any kind, but there is coldness enough both of heart and disposition. This is the epistle he writes to the Honourable Mrs. Ostioax sister of Admiral BYNG, who had solicited his interest to Obtain her brother's pardon- " Woburn Abbey, 6th February 1757. " Madam—I am but just able through extreme weakness of any right hand, occasioned by the gout, to acknowledge the receipt of your letter. All 1 can at present say in answer to it is, that in case his Majesty shall be pleased to refer the sentence of the court-martial to the Cabinet Council, nothing but absolute incapacity on account of health shall prevent my attending it; and shall be very happy if, upon a short examination into the proceedings of the court-martial, I shall find myself at liberty to adopt those sentiments of mercy which that court has so strongly recommended to his Majesty ; as no one has a more real regard for yourself', and Lord Torrington and his family, than myself. " I am, &c. BEDFORD."
The Duke of BEDFORD or any other man is bound not to yield his ideas of public duty to private solicitation ; but a distinction between public duty and personal feeling can be drawn by any one ; and common humanity might have dictated more expression of sympathy for the distress of a sister than the lame and impotent conclusion of "yourself" and "myself" in this cold and formal epistle. Although the Introduction is not important as regards Lord Joint's workmanship, it contains some curious specimens of RIGBY'S correspondence when Irish Secretary, addressed to Sir Ronstyr WILMOT, who was at the head of the Irish department in London. These are now in the possession of the present Sir ROBERT WILMOT, and were placed in the hands of Lord Jona RUSSELL; who quotes some specimens from them, which indicate that they must contain racy pictures of Dublin life and manners. Complaints seem to have been made of RIGBY'S joviality, or rather of his discourse in his cups; which he thus defends— "Now for the drunken story. It is very certain Mr. Pery and I have once dined together since I came to Ireland; and it is as true that we liked one another well enough not to part till near three in the morning, long before which time the company was reduced to a tete-a-tete, except one other, drunk and asleep in a corner of the room. Who, therefore, has been accurate enough to re- member the whole conversation, I cannot imagine : but you may assure your- self their ingenuity much exceeds their veracity. I have never heard or seen any symptoms of anger from Kildare or Malone from that night's jollity, till I read it in your letter this morning. We both, I believe, made free with the times, as people in high spirits and in their cups are apt to do; but I really believe, was I to show it to him, Pery would be as much surprised as I am, to hear that our fun was made matter for serious discourse or deliberation.
"I am much obliged to you, my dear Sir Robert, for sending me, however, all these stories : I am as much entertained, and can laugh at them more, than those that invent them. I know that a Secretary is lawful game for every body to fly at."
IRISH SEPARATISTS : 1759-1760.
Whether these disturbances were in connexion with the apprehended in- vasion, I cannot say ; I rather think not. However, they certainly are the effects of those wicked insinuations to the prejudice of Government in 1753, which, with the national dislike to English rule, has rendered the people easy of belief of all suggestions to its prejudice, and consequently not to be relied on for its support.
Perhaps 1 need not tell you that there is a general indisposition to the people of England from those in Ireland ; that they are unwilling to acknowledge the dependency of this on the British L--sl—re; and that they are all bred up in a settled antipathy to the superiority of the latter. Notwithstanding this, I would not be thought as imagining that there is any settled plan for the assert- ing an Ind—p—cy : but to be uneasy in their present state, and to express among themselves this uneasiness, is the turn and fashion of the upper sort of people, and is caught from them downwards. I apprehend too, that Pr—ts—ts in this particular are as culpable as Pa—p—ts.
If the RIGBY correspondence contains many passages such as these, it would seem desirable to have it, or a selection from it, published. In the hands of an editor acquainted with the times, and not overdoing his task, it would form an amusing and perhaps a valuable work, as showing how long the feelings of "race" have rankled, and how constantly the evil has been neglected.