Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/William Wyndham Greenville, Lord Grenville

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GRENVILLE, William Wyndham Greenville, Lord (1750-1834), English statesman, son of the preceding, was born 25th October 1759. He was educated at Eton and Oxford, and for some time studied at the Inns of Court, but never practised at the bar. In February 1782 he was elected a member of parliament for the county of Buck ingham, and in the September following he became secretary to his brother the marquis of Buckingham, who had been named lord-lieutenant of Ireland. On the overthrow of the cabinet of Lord Shelburne in the following year he returned to England, and in December he was appointed by his cousin Pitt paymaster-general of the forces. In 1789 he was chosen speaker of the House of Commons, but he vacated the chair in the same year, and was transferred to the Upper House with the title of Lord Grenville, on being appointed secretary of state. He exchanged this office in 1791 for that of secretary of foreign affairs, being regarded by Pitt as the person best fitted to carry out his policy in reference to France. Along with Pitt he resigned office in 1801, on account of the king declining to grant any conces sions to the Catholics ; and when Pitt, on accepting office in 1804, did not stipulate for Catholic emancipation he declined to join his ministry, and entered into a close alliance with Fox. On the death of Pitt in 1806 he became the nominal head of the Government of " All the Talents," whose military projects resulted very unsuccessfully, but which deserves to be remembered with honour on account of the Act for the abolition of the slave trade. Its influence was, however, considerably weakened by the death of Fox ; and as the king in March 1807 demanded from Grenville an assurance that he would initiate no measures for the relief of the Catholics he and his colleagues found it necessary to resign. His colleagues were not unanimous in ap proving of his conscientiousness, and Sheridan expressed the opinion of more than himself when he remarked : " I have known many men knock their heads against a wal 1 , but t never before heard of a man collecting bricks and building a wall for the express purpose of knocking out his own brains against it." Lord Grenville never again held office. He continued to be one of the principal supporters of Catholic emancipation, and during the re mainder of his political career generally voted with the Whigs, although in 1815 he separated himself from Lord Grey and supported the warlike policy of Lord Liverpool. In 1819, when the marquis of Lansdovvne brought forward his motion for an inquiry into the cause of the distress and discontent in the manufacturing districts, Grenville delivered an alarmist speech in which he advocated the adoption of severely repressive measures. He died at his residence, Dropmore, Buckinghamshire, 12th January 1834. Though the talents of Lord Grenville were not of a high order, his straightforwardness, great industry, political knowledge, firmness of mind, and moderate opinions secured him considerable political influence. He can also lay claim to be enrolled among those English statesmen who have distinguished themselves in literature. Besides editing the letters of the earl of Chatham to his nephew Thomas Pitt, afterwards Lord Camelford, he printed for private circulation an edition of Homer with annotations, and also a small volume entitled Nugce Metric 1 , consisting of trans lations into Latin from Greek, English, and Italian. In 1809 he was chosen chancellor of the university of Oxford. He married in 1792 Anne Pitt, daughter of Lord Camelford, but had no issue, and the title became extinct.