Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 20.djvu/105

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Fox
Fox
99

America, he was for abandoning it ; for our advantages from America arose from trade and from relationships with a people of the same ideas and sentiments. They would be cut off by war ; while the army in America would oppress the people there, and would be dangerous to liberty at home (ib. p. 61). Fox was at this time the animating spirit of the Rockingham party, though he had not as yet avowedly joined it ; he brought recruits to it, declared himself 'far from being dismayed by the terrible news from Long Island,' urged perseverance, and tried to dissuade the marquis from secession (Memoirs of Rockingham, ii. 297). The king recognised his power ; for he wrote to North, saying that he heard that Fox was about to leave for Paris on 16 Nov., and that the minister would do well to press on business in his absence (Letters to North, ii. 40). While, however, Fox, according to Gibbon, 'in the conduct of a party' thus 'approved himself equal to the conduct of an empire' (Miscell. Works, i. 222), he did not abandon his gaming or rakish life, and was seldom in bed before 5 a.m.,, or up before 2 p.m. (Last Journals, ii. 4). He went to Paris with Fitzpatrick, played high there, and returned to England about the middle of January 1777 (Mme. du Deffand, iii. 207, 218).

When the Rockingham party seceded from parliament, Fox still continued to attend, and on 10 Feb. opposed the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. In the summer he made a tour in Ireland with Lord John Townshend, met Grattan at Lord Charlemont's, and formed a friendship with him, and was much fêted at Dublin (Memorials, i. 156). While in Ireland he received a letter from Burke, exhorting him to lay his 'foundations deep in public opinion,' and expressing the writer's wish that he would avowedly join the Rockingham party (Burke, Works, ix. 148). On the meeting of parliament in November he delivered a 'bitter philippic on Lord George Germaine,' describing him as 'that inauspicious and ill-omened character, whose arrogance and presumption, whose ignorance and inability,' had damaged the country. 'Charles,' Lord North said, for in spite of political differences they were on friendly terms, 'I am glad you did not fall on me to-day, for you was in full feather' (Memorials, i. 159). When Germaine confirmed the news of the disaster at Saratoga, Fox renewed his attack with great vehemence, and expressed his hope of seeing Germaine 'brought to a second trial' (Last Journals, ii. 170). In moving for papers with reference to the surrender at Saratoga, Fox, in January 1778, compared the reign to that of James II. Luttrell said that he was talking treason, which he denied. The 'Morning Post,' the paper of the court party, taunted him with not challenging Luttrell. Its tone gave rise to a suspicion that there was a scheme to get rid of Fox by provoking a duel. Luttrell complained of the tone of the paper, said he had been misrepresented, and threatened to have the gallery cleared. Fox, so greatly had he changed his ground as regards press matters, asserted that the 'public had a right to know what passed in parliament' (Speeches, i. 101). On 2 Feb. he made a motion on the state of the nation, and reviewed the whole conduct of the ministers in a speech of two hours and forty minutes. His speech was not answered, and the motion was rejected by 259 to 165, which was considered a very good division for the opposition (ib. pp. 102-11). The treaty between France and the revolted colonies was signed 6 Feb., and on the 17th Fox, while in the main approving North's new scheme for conciliation, asked 'what punishment would be sufficient for those who adjourned parliament in order to make a proposition of concession, and then had neglected to do it until France had concluded a treaty with the independent states of America' (ib. p. 117). Negotiations were opened in March to induce Fox to join the administration. Fox is reported to have said 'that except with Lord G. Germaine he could act with the present ministers; but he disavowed every possibility of accepting singly and alone.' This report has been discredited (Memorials, i. 181, note by Lord Russell). He had not yet made 'engagements to any set of men,' but felt bound in honour to the Rockingham party (ib. p. 170). As, however, he seems on 31 May to have thought that a 'compromise ought to be made' (Memoirs of Rockingham, ii. 354), the report does not seem incredible. Fox evidently thought it possible that the king would sanction a change of policy, and a considerable change in the administration ; while the king only contemplated reinforcing the existing administration by the admission of two or three men of ability (Lewis, Administrations, p. 14 ; Stanhope, History, vi. 222-6). Soon after this Fox definitely attached himself to the Rockingham party. He still thought a coalition possible, and on 24 Jan. 1779 urged it on Rockingham as an opportunity of restoring the whig party to power. His uncle, the Duke of Richmond, pointed out his mistake, insisted that the negotiations then afoot meant simply 'an offer of places without power,' and exhorted him to be patient and steadfast (Memoirs of Rockingham, ii. 371 ; Memorials, i. 213). He followed this advice. Meanwhile he had not abated the vehemence of his opposition. In