Page images

of councils, undoubtedly, exposed his popularity at the time to a severe trial. The result, however, appears to have justified his conduct, and warranted his emphatic asseveration, that • America was conquered in Germany.

The series of successes, which with little interruption marked the ensuing years of the war, had nearly annihilated the navy of France, and left her scarcely a colony or a settlement in any part of the world., But a devolution of the crown had taken place at home.

On October 25, 1760, George III. ascended the throne; and the popularity of the Great Com. moner' (as Mr. Pitt was now called) appeared to give no satisfaction to the new Monarch. Peace, likewise, began to be the national wish ; and the negotiation, commenced with France, had only failed in consequence of an intermixture of Spanish interests. The Secretary, who had received accurate information of the hostile intentions and intrigues of the Court of Madrid, proposed in Council an immediate declaration of war against that kingdom; asserting, that this was the time for humbling the House of Bourbon, and that if the opportunity were suffered to pass unimproved, it might never be recovered.. Spain (he added) was now willing to temporise; but as soon as her treasure was safe in her harbour, she would keep terms with us no longer.' Yet in spite of all he could say, and no energy was wanting to enforce it, he was over-ruled in the Cabinet; all the members, with the exception of his brother in law Lord Temple, declaring themselves of a contrary opinion. It was indeed but too manifest; that the Earl of Bute, who had possessed a considerable share in directing the education of the young King, retained an ascendency extremely injurious to the real interests of the kingdom. Mr. Pitt declared therefore that, as he had been called to the ministry by the voice of the people, to whom he deemed himself accountable for his conduct, he would no longer remain in a situation which made him responsible for measures he was no longer permitted to guide. Accordingly, he retired from office October 5, 1761 : and six days afterward his Lady was created Baroness of Chatham, and he himself accepted an annuity of 30001. to be continued during his own life, that of his lady, and his eldest son.

On the twenty second of the same month, the following vote was passed in the Common Council of the city of London: Resolved, That the thanks of this court be given to the Right Hon. William Pitt, for the many great and eminent services rendered this nation during the time he so ably filled the high and important office of one of Majesty's principal Secretaries of State, and to perpetuate their grateful sense of his merits, who by the vigour of his mind had not only roused the ancient spirit of this nation from the pusillanimous state to which it had been reduced, but by his integrity and steadiness uniting us at home had carried it's reputation in arms and commerce to a height unknown before, by our trade accompanying our conquests in every quarter of the globe.

• Therefore the city of London, ever steadfast in their loyalty to their King, and attentive to the honour and prosperity of their country, cannot but lament the national loss of so able, and faithful a minister at this critical conjuncture.'

On the Lord Mayor's day following, the King and Queen dined with the chief magistrate and corporation of London. Mr. Pitt joined in the procession: te and the friends of government had the mortification to see their young Sovereign, with whatever popu. larity he had ascended the throne, pass along almost unnoticed ; while his discarded minister was hailed with every demonstration of public gratitude.*

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

* The year preceding, the first stone of the new bridge at Black Friars had been laid by the Lord Mayor, under which was placed a Latin inscription on large plates of pure tin, to the following purport:

On the last day of October, 1760,
and in the beginning of the most auspicious

Reign of GEORGE III.
Sir THOMAS Chitty Knight, Lord Mayor,

laid the first stone of this Bridge,
Undertaken by the Common Council of

(amidst the rage of an extensive war)
for the public accommodation

and ornament of the city,
ROBERT MYLNE being Architect.
And, that there might remain to Posterity
a Monument of this City's Affection to the

who by the strength of his genius,

the steadiness of his mind,
and a certain kind of happy contagion of his

probity and spirit

(under the Divine Favour,
and fortunate Auspices of GEORGE II.)
recovered, augmented, and secured

the British Empire in Asia, Africa, and America, and restored the ancient reputation

and influence of his Country

· The administration of Mr. Pitt may justly be regarded as the temporary triumph of the people. “By their voice,” it has been said, “ he was called into power: by their verdict he was supported. He carried his measures by the unbought suffrages of their representatives. An unanimity of this sort in parliament was altogether unexampled. And when he fell, he fell covered with popular honours: the gratitude of a mighty people followed, and illustrated him; and their indignation, and their curse, was the inheritance of his successors."

The continental struggle was carried on, however, with some vigour after his resignation. Lord Egremont was appointed to succeed him, as Secretary for the Southern department. It was found necessary, notwithstanding the decision of the cabinet but three short months before, to engage in a quarrel with Spain, the famous family-compact among the different branches of the Bourbon family having now generally transpired; and, accordingly, war was declared against that kingdom in January,1762. The spirit, which Mr. Pitt had inspired, continued to operate; and the instrument he had used still vibrated, though it's keys were no longer touched by the master-hand. The ģeneral outline of the campaign, and several of the particular plans, were his own. The Spaniards lost the Havannah, and Martinico; and several other islands in the West Indies were taken from the French. But negotiations for peace being entered into, some

among the Nations of Europe ;
The Citzens of London have unanimously voted
this Bridge to be inscribed with the name of


preliminaries were agreed upon, and canvassed in parliament. Upon that occasion Mr. Pitt, though he had been for some time confined to his bed by a severe fit of the gout, came down to the House of Commons, .where he was allowed the unprecedented indulgence of a chair, and spoke for nearly three hours. He gave his opinion upon almost every article; and maintained, on the whole, that they were inadequate to the conquests and to the just expectations of the kingdom.' The definitive treaty between Great Britain, France and Spain, was however concluded at Paris in February, 1763, and received the sanction of both Houses; although it was far from giving satisfaction to the people at large.

From this period, various causes contributed to diffuse a general spirit of discontent. The affair of the Middlesex election, and the unconstitutional persecution of Mr. Wilkes, rendered the administration, and especially the Earl of Bute (then First Lord of the Treasury) highly unpopular. It was natural, indeed, that great indignation should be excited, when Mr. Pitt was removed to make way for one, who had none of the honourable talents of a statesman, and whose political principles were unfavourable to the interests of a free constitution.

Not long afterward, the Minister resigned his place to Mr. Grenville. In August 1763, the Earl of Egremont dying, an attempt was made to form a new cabinet under the auspices of Mr. Pitt; but the arrangement failed, and the Bedford party succeeded.

When the question of General Warrants was agitated, in 1764, in the House of Commons, Mr. Pitt

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »