LORD ALREXARLR'S MEMOIRS OF ROCKINGHAM AND HIS CONTERPORARIRS.° THIS work, clever in its execution and interesting in its subjects, is less a memoir of the excellent and amiable Whig leader the Marquis of Rockingham and his contemporaries, than a sort of history of the reign of George the Third from its commencement till the death of the Marquis of Rockingham in 1782, when he had for the seoond time become Prime Minister. The very name of the hero is unmentioned for the first seventy pages ; he does not person- ally appear for nearly one third of the first volume, and he subse- quently figures on the stage only when his own papers or his con- nexion with the course of events induce his entrance. The por- traits of many of his contemporaries, from Chatham and Newcastle down to some plain country gentleman or obsequious " Vines friend," are painted as fully as those of Rockingham himself. The only thing which removes the work from a regular history is, that events are considered in reference to the papers at the author's command, or to their connexion with the Marquis and the "great ruling" families.
The book, however, is much more interesting than would be a
regular life of an excellent man and a stanch and mediooro Whig like the Marquis, whose panegyrist was compelled to confine his "inscription" to virtues and good intentions. In fact, the nar- rative is generally more pungent when the Marquis is absent, and Lord Albemarle is painting portraits of sound Whigs with huile perfume° or dipping his pencil into gall to depict Tories or " King's Friends." This strong feeling of partisanship, not running to vio- lence or pushed to an extreme which blunts the critical perception of the author, gives much spirit and pungency to the book. Nu- merous as have been the works written on the first twenty years. of George the Third's reign, Lord Albemarle's may be perused with interest, and consulted with advantage for the information it fur- nishes.
For a large part of this information the author is indebted to
family muniments. The Albemarle papers have furnished curious documents. Lord Fitzwilliam, the grand-nephew of the Marquis of Rockingham, has placed the papers of the Whig leader at the disposal of his biographer. He has been " further assisted by the kindness of the Duke of Richmond, the Earl of Hardwieke," and several other individuals. Lord Albemarle has also perused with a judging eye the published correspondence and narratives relating to the period, and drawn his own conclusions from their state- ments. The work owes its attraction, however, to other charac- teristics. Lord Albemarle is of a species rare in these days, at least the individuals rarely exhibit themselves. He is a genuine Whig of the old school, who "swears in the words of the master" —believes that the wars of the French Revolution, and conse- quently of the Empire, and indeed the Empire itself, were caused by George the Third and Pitt, and would have been prevented by Fox—grieves over the apostasy of Burke and the Reflections— and judges the men of eighty or ninety years ago pretty much as they were judged by those whom they turned or kept out of place. These opinions are of course traditional, and Lord Albemarle's work possesses many other proofs of his training besides his Whig- gery. He has family anecdotes and reminiscences of celebrated men which impart life and personal character to his pages. His family tradition has further served him, by giving him an interest in the past equal to that which the generality take only in the present. Theborne by his grandfather the friend of the Duke of Cumberlandpart , and by his great-uncles, in the wars and polities of the time, has not only turned his attention to their actions, but to the whole period and its actors, as an aetual and living subject. This may produce prejudice and acrimony, but it imparts spirit.
Lord Albemarle has also a sharp and upon the whole a just judgment ; a clear terse style, with a little acid or " sal " to give it vitality; and though his political notions are of a past ago, his manners and ideas are of the present. In method he is somewhat deficient, passing abruptly from one subject to another ; but this is rather a theoretical fault as regards art than a defect to the reader. The work is essentially rather a commentary than a narrative, and the discursiveness gives it an untrammelled air. It is a general opinion in the present generation that the in-
fluence of Bute ceased when he resigned; and some years ago Lord Brougham went so far as to say that Bute and the King never met again. Facts recorded in the Grenville Papers throw very strong doubts on this notion, which are further confirmed by the present volumes. Bute was continually in town backwards and forwards; political go-betweens were flitting to fro ; and there is in this work a suspected or reported secret interview at Kew, which is as clear as " imputation and strong circumstances " can make it. The Protestant and Anti-French feeling of George the Third, thoroughly harmonizing with the national opinion in the early part of this century, gave him a popularity as an English King which he certainly wanted for the first part of his reign, and which he certainly as little deserved. The hypocrisy and treachery with which he was universally charged at the time, are confirmed more strongly by every fresh publication of original papers relating to the period. Those qualities were strongly indicated in Grenville's Diary, and are shown more fully in this correspondence. In the volumes before us, the King is never mentioned except to connect
• Memoirs of the Marquis of Rockingham and his Contemporaries. With Ori- ginal Letters and Documents, now first Published. By George Thomas Earl of Al- bemarle. In two volumes. Published by Bentley.
him with some duplicity or treachery, some court intrigue, or some act to undermine the popularity of a public man by insidious fa- vours or gifts. Rockingham, who was by nature mild and gentle, forced from the King three distinct memorandums, in his own handwriting, relative to the repeal of the Stamp Act, which the King permitted his Ministers to propose and then authorized Lord Strange to say that he had not consented. The papers, however, by Jesuitical art, do not amount to much, and in fact are the precise shuffle of which Walpole accuses his Majesty.
" Among Lord Rockingham's papers are the three following distinct dis- avowals, in the Royal handwriting, of the language attributed. It may, I think, be inferred, that they were obtained at three several audiences. That marked No. III- is on a small piece of paper, apparently part of the cover of a letter, and would seem as if the Minister had determined not to quit the Royal presence until he bad secured 'the word of a King:
"Three Papers in the King' s Handwriting. I.
" 'That Lord Rockingham was on Friday allowed by his Majesty to say, that his Majesty was for the repeal ; the conversation having only been for that or enforcing.'
"'Lord Rockingbam's question was, whether he was for enforcing the Stamp Act or for the repeaL The King was clear that repeal was preferable to enforcing, and permitted Lord Rockingham to declare that as his opinion.'
"'Lord Rockingham—I desire you would tell Lord Strange, that I am now and have been heretofore for modification but that when many were for enforcing I was then for a repeal of the Stamp Act.' " When Rockingham again came into office to conclude peace with America, he seems to have got his stipulations from the King "in black and white." Indeed, among those who were not the " King's friends," it appears to have been an amusement to covertly convict his Majesty. The grandfather of the present Earl of Albe- marle writes as follows to his leader, soon after the dismissal of the Ministry.
" London, August 29th 1766,
"I was most graciously received at the levee—great inquiries about you, Wentworth, and the York races. I afterwards went into the closet with a Window Bill—repeated inquiries about your health, Wentworth, &c. I told his Majesty how uneasy I had felt myself for some time, hearing, and from tolerably good authority, that his Majesty was displeased with me. He seem- ed all astonishment, and wondered who could have told me so infamous a lie; that he had the greatest regard imaginable for me and all my family. I told him the charge was heavy; and though innocent I could not help repeating it to his Majesty,—namely, that I had proposed to him Colonel Hide's selling his regiment ; that I had proposed to him the purchasing the Second Regi- ment of Guards, and my brother to succeed me in my regiment of Dragoons ; that I had solicited Windsor Park in preference to his own family ; in short, there was nothing during the late Administration I had not asked for, either for myself or family. He said he was greatly incensed against the authors ; that he wished he knew them ; that people in general were so false and mis- chievous, that he wondered I could be a moment uneasy about the report.' said I was now happy with so great and good an authority to contradict the lies. His Majesty was moat confoundedly confused, and so I left him."
There is a long memorandum of the Duke of Cumberland, the victor of Culloden, in reference to the negotiations with Pitt in April and May 1765, which the Duke undertook by command of his nephew; going for that purpose to Hayes to the wonder of the world, as Pitt could not or would not come to town. The Great Commoner, though declining with his usual stiff pompous humility, does not seem to have given personal offence ; which is more than can be said for the demeanour and demands of Temple.
" While I was at dinner, the Lord Temple sent to inform me of his arrival in town. I desired him to meet me at my house at six that evening. At six we accordingly met, and I cannot help saying that I think he was more verbose and pompous than Mr. Pitt ; nor do I think so near concluding. I again stated to him his Majesty's situation, displeased with his present Min- isters, both for their behaviour in the closet and that the King found them extremely dilatory in public affairs. Wherefore his Majesty had chalked out for the beginning of an arrangement, Mr. Pitt and Mr. Charles Townshend, Secretaries of State; the Earl. of Northumberland, First Lord of the Trea- sury ; the Duke of Newcastle and Lord Temple, one President, the other Privy Seal; and Lord Egremont, First Lord of the Admiralty ; and had been Pleased to order me to treat with him and Mr. Pitt, as well as with those Lords that formed the head of the Whig party, whom the King looked upon as his best friends, and who had always supported his Royal family. He made great expressions of duty, deprecating any public situation whatever; but at the end of a very long and tedious conversation he desired to ask three questions. The first was, whether it was his Majesty's intention to restore the officers of the army and others. The second, that satisfaction must be made to the public for the warrants, favour shown to Lord Chief justice Pratt, and the system of affairs athome must be entirely changed. The third, that they might know the situation of foreign affairs, to see whether there was still a possibility of following what they thought the only true system for this country. But even then, supposing the answers from his Majesty should be both favourable and gracious, they gave me no latitude whatever to assure his Majesty of their readiness to come into his service. I strongly represented to them the impropriety, in any negotiation whatsoever, but much more so when it was with the King; that as to the first question, I need not ask it, as I had his Majesty's most gracious promise on that, with- out my having asked it. That as to the second proposition, I could assure him it was the King's intention to do handsomely by Lord Chief Justice Pratt, which was the strongest proof his Majesty could give to his people, when he supported by favours those judges who should dare stand up for the defence of the liberties of his subjeas; and that, therefore, I should hope less or nothing need be said in Parliament relative to this affair ; as it was never the duty of any wellwisher to King or constitution to venture to trace ex- actly the law boundaries of the King's prerogative, or the privilege of his people."
These Memoirs contain many more passages of considerable his- torical interest; many clever portraits of well-known or half-for- gotten characters ; and letters from politicians of the day, which in the case of Sir George Savile show high principle and a far reach of mind. We prefer using the room at our disposal for the author's own reminiscences. These are his boyish recollections of Junius's Duke of Grafton.
Bloomfield, the elder brother of Robert, the Farmer's Boy,' thought that, in the books published by Ma brother, the great and truly good man the late Duke of Grafton ought to have been more particularly mentioned. Surely,' continues George Bloomfield, after near thirty years, the good sense and benevolence of that real nobleman may be mentioned. When in my boyhood he held the highest office in the state that a subject can fill, and, like all that attain such preiminence, had his enemies, yet the more Junius and others railed at him the more I revered him. He was our ' lord of the manor' ; and as I knew well his private character, I have no doubt that he was ' all of a piece.' I have on foot joined the fox-chase, and followed the Duke many an hour, and witnessed his endearing con- descension to all who could run and shout.'
" There was, however, a portion of society not of an age and size to parti. cipate in the Duke of Grafton's favourite amusement, and these were not so honoured as George Bloomfield ; and it is to that portion I then belonged. His Grace was not fond of children they came in for no share of his en- dearing condescension.'I have a lively recollection of the awe with which he inspired me. As the Duke's and my father's country-houses in Suffolk were only four miles distant and the families were on intimate terms, I had frequent opportunities of seeing him during the first twelve years of my life. On some occasions I saw him in the luncheon-room at Euston Hall ; but this was a rare occurrence, for I was generally hurried out of the room whenever he was expected. I Used mostly to meet him riding : he was usually mounted on a fiery thoroughbred horse, on which he sat with much ease and dignity. I know not how far local traditions may have mixed with personal recollec- tions, but the mind's eye' presents the picture of an elderly gentleman, of spare form, middle stature, straight silver hair, a prominent nose, and a countenance of much severity, and dressed in a light-coloured tight-fitting coat, long black boots, and a small three-cornered hat. But it was not to us little people only that the Junius Duke of Grafton' was formidable. From the accounts I have heard his nephew the late General William Fitz- roy give of him, he was evidently an object of terror to children of a larger growth.'"
The following exhibits Fox in his decline, as goodnatured and as simple as ever ; and, by the by, taking his iinisterial burden easy.
" The period of our visit was the spring of 1806, not long before that at- tack of illness which a few months later consigned the great statesman to the tomb. Although in excellent health at the time we were at St. Anne's Hill, Mr. Fox was even then unable to walk, and was always wheeled about in a chair ; indeed, I never saw him except in a sitting posture. The dark black hair of the eyebrows, cheeks, and head, which in the early caricatures ob- tained for him the designation of ' Niger,' had given place to a silver white. His dress was a light grey single-breasted coat, with large white metal but- tons, a thick woollen waistcoat, drab kerseymere breeches, dark worsted stockings, and shoes coming up to the ankles. His first appearance in a morning was at the children's one o'clock dinner; and that meal was no soon- er despatched than the Prime Minister and his youthful guests would ad- journ to the lawn before the house, and devote the remainder of the evening to trap-ball, Mr. Fox having always the innings, and we boys the bowling and fagging out. My father has often mentioned to his children the boyish eagerness and delight with which Fox used to enter into the game."
Here are some traditions relating to one of the great guns of the house of Albemarle, Admiral KeppeL
"As the name of William Pitt will not again occur in these pages, I may here advert to his declaration on the 8th March 1782, that he would never accept of a subordinate situation under Government.' He had scarcely, however, made the announcement, than he seems to have been seized with some misgivings. For he inquired of Admiral Keppel, who was sitting next him, whether he had said too much. ' I think you have,' was the reply. 'Shall I rise to explain ?' asked Pitt. No,' replied the Admiral, • Parlia- mentary explanations are best avoided.' Pitt acted upon the suggestion, allowed his words to go unretracted, and in lees than two years he displayed in his own person
' A sight to make surrounding nations stare—
A kingdom trusted to a schoolboy's care.'
"The other candidate to whom I would allude is Admiral Keppel; who had represented the borough of Windsor since the year 1761. Shortly after the dissolution, he presented himself before his former constituents, but found another candidate in the field,—Mr. Powney, a gentleman set up in oppo- sition to him by the Court. The power of the Crown, strong everywhere, might naturally be supposed too mighty in such a town as Windsor ; yet Keppel lost his election only by sixteen votes. On his speech from the hustings, at the close of the poll, after alluding to a report that the King had personally taken a part against him, Keppel said—' This cannot be true : it ought not to be believed ; it must not be believed.'
"This innuendo will be explained by a family tradition. The King is said to have canvassed for votes in person against the Admiral. One elector, a silk-mercer, and a stout Kcppelite, stated that his Majesty, in canvassing i him, said, in his usual quick manner, The Queen wants a gown—wants a gown—No Keppel I—no Xeppel '
"Soon after the contest at Windsor, a large deputation of the Surrey elect- ors invited Keppel to be put in nomination for their county. He consented, and obtained a majority of five hundred and sixteen votes over the Govern- ment candidate.
" Keppel, writing to Lord Rockingham on the 11th October, says—' The Surrey voters, that came from Windsor and about that place, returned with the utmost speed to announce my victory to the inhabitants of Windsor. The cannon were soon firing, and the bells ringing ; and almost every house was lighted. I have been told his Majesty said that it would possibly be a busy night,' and had recommended a sergeant and twelve privates, with loaded arms,_to patrol the streets. The following day the Prince of "Wales and Prince Frederick took the most undisguised pains to express to every friend of mine their extreme satisfaction upon my success ; and to one friend —I believe more than one—they said, we have had a most complete victory.' " To this account of the conduct of the two Princes here mentioned, I may add, that his Royal Highness the late Duke of Sussex himself told me Unit he had been locked up in the nursery at Windsor for wearing Keppel colours."
In the latter part of the work there are several letters of a rather jogtrot kind, relating to the state of parties, and to the questions of Parliamentary Reform and pledges from Members, which were then for the first time beginning to occupy the public mind. Those from some of the leading men, especially fromRockingham, are very Whiggish, and a little temporizing too; but they are chiefly curious as showing how easy it is to find arguments. Taking it altogether, this book is the most amusing work based upon original papers that has appeared for some time.