Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Howard, Frederick

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617216Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 28 — Howard, Frederick1891George Fisher Russell Barker

HOWARD, FREDERICK, fifth Earl of Carlisle (1748–1825), only son of Henry, fourth earl of Carlisle, by his second wife, Isabella, daughter of William Byron, fourth lord Byron, was born on 28 May 1748, and succeeded his father as fifth earl on 4 Sept. 1758 [see under Howard, Charles, third Earl]. At an early age he was sent to Eton, where he was the contemporary and friend of Lord Fitzwilliam, Charles James Fox, James Hare, and Anthony Morris Storer, and in 1764 proceeded to King's College, Cambridge. He left Cambridge without taking any degree, and after a flirtation with Lady Sarah Lennox, which was commemorated in verse by Lord Holland, started on a continental tour, being accompanied during part of the time by Fox. While on his travels he was elected a knight of the Thistle (23 Dec. 1767), and was invested with the insignia of the order at Turin by the king of Sardinia on 27 Feb. 1768. Returning to England in the following year he took his seat in the House of Lords for the first time on 9 Jan. 1770 (Journals of the House of Lords, xxxii. 394). For several years Carlisle continued to "be known only as a man of pleasure and fashion. He and Fox were accounted the two best dressed men in town. His passion for play led him into the greatest extravagance. He became surety for Fox's gambling debts (Walpole, Letters, v. 485), and ultimately was compelled to retire to Castle Howard for a year or two in order to repair the disasters in which his improvidence and his generosity had involved him.

Emancipating himself from the gaming-table he gave his attention to politics, and on 13 June 1777 was appointed treasurer of the household, and sworn a member of the privy council. On 13 April 1778 he was nominated the chief of the commission sent out to America by Lord North 'to treat, consult, and agree upon the means of quieting the disorders in the American colonies (London Gazette, 1778, No. 11865). While there he became involved in a misunderstanding with Lafayette, who, enraged at some strong expressions reflecting on the conduct of the French, which had been, published in one of the proclamations of the commissioners, challenged Carlisle, as the principal commissioner, to a duel. Carlisle very properly declined the meeting, and informed Lafayette in a letter that he considered himself solely responsible to his country and king, and not to any individual, for his public conduct and language. The American demands being in excess of the powers vested in the commissioners, Carlisle returned without having entered into negotiations with the congress, a result which Horace Walpole predicted when, in announcing Carlisle's appointment on the commission to Mason, he described him as being 'very fit to make a treaty that will not be made' (Walpole, Letters, vii. 37).

Soon after his return from America, having resigned the treasurership of the household, Carlisle became president of the board of trade in the place of Lord George Germaine (6 Nov. 1779). On 9 Feb. 1780 he was appointed lord-lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire, and on 13 Oct. in the same year was nominated lord-lieutenant of Ireland in succession to John Hobart, second earl of Buckinghamshire. He was succeeded in December 1780 at the board of trade by Lord Grantham, and arrived in Dublin at the close of that month, taking with him as his chief secretary William Eden, afterwards Lord Auckland, who in the previous year had addressed `Four Letters to the Earl of Carlisle' on English and Irish political questions. Though inexperienced in official life, Carlisle soon gained a clear insight into the true condition of Irish affairs, and won the respect of the Irish people. In his official despatches he did not conceal his opinion that it was impossible to maintain the old system of government, and vehemently urged that Ireland should not be included in British acts of parliament. 'Should any regulations,' wrote Carlisle to Hillsborough, on 23 Feb. 1782, 'be necessary to extend to this kingdom as well as Great Britain, I have not the least reason to doubt that the nation would immediately enact them by her own laws;' and in another letter, dated 19 March 1782, he asserts: 'It is beyond a doubt that the practicability of governing Ireland by English laws is become utterly visionary. It is with me equally beyond a doubt that Ireland may be well and happily governed by its own laws.'

On the accession of Rockingham to office in March 1782, Carlisle was abruptly dismissed from the lord-lieutenancy of the East Riding, and replaced by the Marquis of Carmarthen, who had been removed from that office by the late government. In consequence of this slight Carlisle resigned the post of lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and on 16 April 1782 the Irish House of Commons passed a hearty vote of thanks to him 'for the wisdom and prudence of his administration, and for his uniform and unremitted attention to promote the welfare of this kingdom' (Journals of the Irish House of Commons, x. 336). Carlisle was succeeded in the viceroyalty by the Duke of Portland, and on 11 May 1782 was appointed lord steward of the household. When Lord Shelburne brought forward his Irish resolutions on 17 May 1782 in the House of Lords, they were received with warm approval by Carlisle, who 'bore ample testimony to the zeal and loyalty of the Irish, and particularly stated the honourable conduct of the volunteers and the liberal offers made of their service, when Ireland was threatened with an attack' (Parl. Hist. xxiii. 38). On learning the terms of the peace with France and America, Carlisle resigned his office in Lord Shelburne's administration, and in the House of Lords, on 17 Feb. 1783, proposed an amendment to the address of thanks, condemning the preliminary articles' as inadequate to our just expectations and derogatory to the honour and dignity of Great Britain.' After a lengthy debate in a fuller house than had been known for many years the address was carried at half-past four in the morning by a majority of thirteen (ib. xxiii. 375-80, 435). On the formation of the coalition ministry Carlisle was made lord privy seal (2 April 1783), a post which he retained until Pitt's accession to power in December 1783. During the discussions on the regency question in the winter of 1788-9 Carlisle took an active part against the restrictions of the Prince of Wales's authority, and continued to act in opposition to Pitt's ministry until the outbreak of the French revolution. On 26 Dec. 1792, 'though not accustomed to agree with the present administration,' he supported the third reading of the Alien Bill (ib. xxx. 164), and in February 1793 declared that he entertained no doubt 'of the necessity and justice of the war with France' (ib. xxx. 324). On 12 June 1793 he was invested with the order of the Garter, and in May 1794 defended the Habeas Corpus Suspension Bill 'as being essential to the safety of the constitution' (ib.xxxi. 597). On 26 Feb. 1799 he was reappointed lord-lieutenant of the East Riding (London Gazettes, p.191), and in March of that year spoke in favour of the union with Ireland (Parl. Hist. xxxiv. 710-11). In January 1811 he supported Lord Lansdowne's amendment to the first regency resolution, contending that by imposing any limitation and restriction 'the country could only draw the conclusion that there was a suspicion that the Prince of Wales would make an improper use of the power' (Parl. Debates, xviii. 692-3, 747). In March 1815 he both spoke and voted against the third reading of the Corn Bill, and with Grenville and nine other peers entered a protest on the journals against it (ib. xxx. 261, 263-5). From this date Carlisle appears to have retired from public life and to have taken no further part in the debates of the House of Lords. He died at Castle Howard on 4 Sept. 1825 in his seventy-eighth year.

Carlisle married, on 22 March 1770, Lady Margaret Caroline Leveson-Gower, daughter of Granville, first marquis of Stafford, by whom he had four sons and three daughters. His wife died on 27 Jan. 1824, and he was succeeded in his honours by his eldest son, George Howard (1773-1848) [q. v.] At Castle Howard there are three portraits of Carlisle by Sir Joshua Reynolds, as well as others by Hoppner and Jackson. In the first volume of Cadell's ' British Gallery of Contemporary Portraits there is an engraving by H. Meyer after the portrait by Hoppner. Two other engravings are referred to in Bromley's 'Catalogue.'

In 1798 Carlisle was appointed by the court of chancery guardian of Lord Byron, who was his first cousin once removed. He undertook the charge with much reluctance, and interfered little in the management of his ward. The second edition of Byron's 'Hours of Idleness' was dedicated to Carlisle 'by his obliged ward and affectionate kinsman, the author.' Enraged, however, by Carlisle's refusal to take any trouble in introducing him to the House of Lords, Byron erased from his 'English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,' which was then going through the press, the complimentary couplet

On one alone Apollo deigns to smile,
And crowns a new Roscommon in Carlisle,

and substituted the bitter attack commencing with the lines,

No muse will cheer with renovating smile
The paralytic puling of Carlisle.

Though no formal reconciliation ever took place between them, Byron afterwards made a handsome apology while referring to the death of Carlisle's third son, Frederick, at Waterloo, in the third canto of 'Childs Harold' (stanzas xxix. xxx.) Carlisle was a liberal patron of the fine arts, with a cultivated mind, polished manners, and a taste for writing poetry. He purchased a large part of the Orleans gallery, and was one of the pall-bearers at Sir Joshua Reynolds' funeral. His literary work was praised both by Johnson and Horace Walpole. The former in a letter to Mrs. Chapone, dated 28 Nov 1783, declares, in reference to 'The Father's Revenge,' that 'of the sentiments I remember not one that I wished omitted … with the characters, either as conceived or preserved I have no fault to find' (Boswell, Johnson iv. 247-8); while the latter, in a letter to the Countess of Ossory, dated 4 Aug. 1788 says of the same tragedy that ' it has great merit; the language and imagery are beautiful, and the two capital scenes are very fine (Walpole, Letters, viii. 394). Several of Carlisle's letters are printed in Jesse's 'George Selwyn and his Contemporaries,' and in Lord Auckland's 'Journal and Correspondence.' Those to George Selwyn, with whom he was very intimate, are bright and lively, and 'rouse a regret that the writer did not devote himself to a province of literature in which he might have been mentioned with Walpole, instead of manufacturing poetry which it was flattery to compare with Roscommon's' (Sir G. O. Trevelyan, Early History of Charles James Fox, p.59). Several of Carlisle's poetical pieces appeared in 'The New Foundling Hospital for Wit,' 1784 (i. 7-22), 'The Asylum for Fugitive Pieces,' 1785 (i. 28-9, iv. 17-21), and in the 'Gentleman's Magazine' (1804, pt. ii. p.954, 1821. pt. ii. pp. 457-8), all of which, with the exception of the last piece, were included in one or other of his collections.

Carlisle was the author of the following:

  1. 'Poems, consisting of the following pieces viz.: i. Ode … upon the Death of Mr. Gray. ii. For the Monument of a favourite Spaniel,' &c., London, 1773, 4to; 2nd edition, London, 1773, 4to; 2nd edition, London, 1773, 4to; 3rd edition, London, 1773, 4to; another edition, Dublin, 1781, 8vo; new edition, with additions, London, 1807, 8vo, privately printed.
  2. ‘The Father's Revenge, a tragedy’ (in five acts and in verse), London, 1783, 4to, privately printed; another edition, with other poems, London, 1800, 4to, privately printed, and containing four engravings after Westall; new edition, London, 1812, 8vo, privately printed.
  3. 'To Sir J. Reynolds, on his late resignation of the President's Chair of the Royal Academy’ (verses) [London], 1790, 8vo.
  4. 'A Letter … to Earl FitzWilliam, in reply to his Lordship's two letters’ (concerning his administration of the government of Ireland), London, 1795, 8vo; 2nd edition, London, 1795, 8vo.
  5. 'The Crisis and its alternatives offered to the free choice of Englishmen. Being an abridgment of “Earnest and Serious Reflections” … &c.,' the 3rd edition, anon., London, 1798, 8vo.
  6. 'Unite or Fall,' 5th edition, anon., London, 1798, 12mo.
  7. ‘The Stepmother, a tragedy’ (in five acts and in verse), London, 1800, 8vo; a new edition, with alterations, London, 1812, 8vo, privately printed.
  8. 'The Tragedies and Poems of Frederick, Earl of Carlisle,' &c., London, 1801, 8vo.
  9. 'Verses on the Death of Lord Nelson,' 1806.
  10. ‘Thoughts upon the present Condition of the Stage, and upon the construction of a New Theatre,’ anon., London, 1808, 8vo; a new edition, with additions (appendix), London, 1809, 8vo.
  11. 'Miscellanies,' London, 1820, 8vo, privately printed.

[Annual Biography and Obituary for 1826, pp. 291–319; Annual Register, 1825, App. to Chron. pp. 277–9; Gent. Mag. 1825, vol. xcv. pt. ii. pp. 369–71; Walpole's Letters, ed. Cunningham; Boswell's Johnson, ed. G. B. Hill, iv. 113–14, 246–8; Jesse's George Selwyn and his Contemporaries; Sir G. O. Trevelyan's Early History of Charles James Fox; Life of Henry Grattan by his son, 1839, ii. 153, 182–213; Lecky's Hist. of England, vol. iv. chap. xvii.; Morris's Life of Byron; Doyle's Official Baronage, i. 332–3; Collins's Peerage, 1812, iii. 508–9; Notes and Queries, 7th ser. viii. 208, 331; London Gazettes; Martin's Catalogue of Privately Printed Books, 1854; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. F. R. B.