Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 23.djvu/143

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Grenville
Grenville
135

527-9). Grenville made a spirited speech in defence of the government on 22 March 1798, during the debate on the Duke of Bedford's motion for an address to the king for the removal of the ministry (ib. xxxiii. 1338-51), and on 19 March 1799 moved the resolutions for the union with Ireland in a speech lasting four hours, ‘putting the arguments on strong grounds of detailed political necessity’ (Lord Colchester's Diary, i. 175). On 4 Jan. 1800 Grenville replied to Napoleon's letter to the king, and, throwing the whole blame of the war upon the French, refused to enter into negotiations with those ‘whom a fresh revolution has so recently placed in the exercise of power in France.’ A few weeks after Grenville defended the foreign policy of the government in the House of Lords, and carried an address in favour of the vigorous prosecution of the war, by 92 to 6 (Parl. Hist. xxxiv. 1204-22). In October 1800 Grenville wrote a long letter to Pitt, protesting against tampering with the laws of supply and demand, and reminded him that ‘we in truth formed our opinions on the subject together, and I was not more convinced than you were of the soundness of Adam Smith's principles of political economy till Lord Liverpool lured you from our arms into all the mazes of the old system’ (Stanhope, Pitt, iii. 248).

Grenville, however, had to yield his opinion in the cabinet, and several measures of an exceptional character for the alleviation of the existing distress were passed early in the ensuing session. Writing to his eldest brother on 2 Feb. 1801, Grenville declared that it had always been his opinion that ‘the union with Ireland would be a measure extremely incomplete’ . . . ‘unless immediate advantage were taken of it’ to conciliate the great body of the Irish catholics (The Court and Cabinets of George III, iii. 128). An elaborate plan, prepared by Grenville in conjunction with Pitt, was submitted to the cabinet. Though approved of by a majority of the ministers, the king refused to sanction any measure of catholic emancipation. Pitt thereupon resigned, and Grenville announced his own resignation and that of several other members of the administration on 10 Feb. 1801 (Parl Hist. xxxv. 945-6). In November 1801 Grenville forcibly stated his objections to the peace, the terms of which he considered ‘fraught with degradation and national humiliation’ (ib. xxxvi. 163-71), and voted against the address, which was, however, carried by 114 to 10. Though at variance with Pitt on the subject of the peace, Grenville, thinking that war was inevitable, was strongly of opinion in November 1802 that unless the government were placed in Pitt's hands Bonaparte would be able to treat us as he had treated the Swiss (The Court and Cabinets of George III, iii. 214). In April 1803 the negotiations between Addington and Pitt fell through owing to Pitt insisting that Grenville and Windham should be included in the ministry. In the confidential letter of 12 July 1803, written by Grenville to Lord Wellesley (which falling by the chances of war into the hands of the French was published in the ‘Moniteur’), the writer says: ‘While my quarrel with Addington becomes every day more serious, all the motives which made Pitt and me differ in opinion and conduct daily decrease. We have not yet been able to assimilate completely our plans of political conduct’ (Annual Register, 1804, app. to Chron. p. 153).

Though Pitt at first refused to join in a systematic opposition to the government, he afterwards combined with Grenville and Fox in their attack upon Addington's administration. Upon its downfall in the spring of 1804, Grenville declined to accept office under Pitt without Fox, whom the king refused to admit. Pitt was greatly incensed at Grenville's refusal to join him, and their long friendship was terminated. On Lord Hawkesbury refusing to carry on the government after Pitt's death, Grenville formed the Ministry of All the Talents, comprising the principal members of the three parties which had recently acted together in opposition. Grenville was appointed first lord of the treasury on 11 Feb. 1806, while Fox became secretary for foreign affairs, and Lord Sidmouth took the office of lord privy seal. Grenville's short administration was a singularly unfortunate one. The admission of Lord Ellenborough to the cabinet while holding the office of lord chief justice of England was injudicious if not unconstitutional. The measure, which was immediately introduced and rapidly passed through both houses,to enable Grenville while holding the post of first lord of the treasury to execute the office of auditor of the exchequer by deputy (46 Geo. III, c. l), was not creditable to the prime minister. The negotiations with France failed. The foreign expeditions were unsuccessful. Fox's death, in September 1806, created a void which none could fill. One great measure, though not strictly speaking a government one, was, however, accomplished. Resolutions in favour of the abolition of the slave trade were carried by Fox and Grenville in the two houses in June 1806. On 2 Jan. 1807 Grenville introduced a bill to carry these resolutions into effect, and on 5 Feb. moved the second reading in an eloquent speech (Parl. Debates, viii. 657-64). The bill, after passing through the House