Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 49.djvu/456

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the regency bill in April 1765 Bedford maintained in opposition to the lord chancellor [see Henley, Robert, first Earl of Northington] that the term ‘royal family’ did not include the princess dowager of Wales, and finally the princess was excluded from the regency; his action in this matter proceeded from jealousy of Bute, whom he and his colleagues suspected of having secret influence over the king. In May he opposed a bill for imposing high duties on Italian silks with the object of shutting foreign silks out of England altogether, and was considered to have spoken with ‘uncommon harshness’ of the Spitalfields weavers (Annual Register, 1765, viii. 42). On the 15th the duke was hissed and pelted with stones, one of which wounded him, as he drove from the House of Lords, by a mob of weavers. He showed much firmness and self-command, and on reaching his house admitted two of the ringleaders to an interview. On Friday, the 17th, he received intelligence that an attack would be made on his residence, Bedford House, on the north side of Bloomsbury Square. A troop of horse was sent to defend it, and a large party of his friends also garrisoned the house. A determined attack was made upon it in the evening, two or three soldiers were wounded, and the rioters were not finally dispersed until the arrival of a reinforcement. Both the duke and duchess declared that the mob had been set on by Bute.

The king was determined to get rid of his ministers, and specially of Bedford, whose action on the regency bill had offended him. When Bedford and his fellow-ministers heard that George III was in communication with Pitt on the subject of a new ministry, they told him that unless one was formed at once they would resign. Bedford, believing that the king still acted by Bute's advice, flatly accused him of a breach of his word (Correspondence, p. 280). The Duke of Cumberland's negotiations with Pitt having failed, the king was forced to keep his ministers, and on the 23rd Bedford and the rest compelled him to assent to various hard and insulting demands as conditions of their retaining office (Adolphus, History, i. 179). On 12 June Bedford, in an audience, made a long address to the king from notes previously prepared, in the course of which he presumed to ask whether the king had kept his word as to Bute, and treated him, probably without designing to do so, with insult. The king dismissed his ministers, and Bedford went out of office on 12 July. He paid a short visit to France, and on his return went to Bath, where on 5 Nov. he wrote a notice to Woodfall, the publisher of the ‘Morning Advertizer,’ complaining of insults to himself in the paper, and threatening prosecution. On the 11th he was informed of his election as chancellor of the university of Dublin. He was installed in person on 9 Sept. 1768, an ode in his honour being sung to music composed by Lord Mornington (Gent. Mag. 1768, pp. 443, 535–6).

The Rockingham ministry having taken office, Bedford on 17 Dec. seconded Lord Suffolk's amendment to the lords' address calling on the government to enforce the obedience of the American colonies, and in the early part of 1766 opposed the policy of the ministers with regard to the colonies, and signed the protest against the repeal of the Stamp Act. During the course of these transactions he and Grenville had an interview with Bute, arranged by the Duke of York, in which the two late ministers appear to have sought for an exercise of the influence that they believed Bute had over the king, to suggest to him that they were ready to take office again to help him against the Rockingham party. The negotiation failed, and Bute seems to have made his two former enemies feel the humiliation of their position (Correspondence, u.s. pp. 326–9; Walpole, u.s. p. 209). When Pitt was forming an administration in July, the duke intimated through his son, Lord Tavistock, that he would be willing to support him without taking office, if he would find places for some of his party. Pitt, however, at the time slighted this overture (ib. pp. 245, 252; Chatham Correspondence, ii. 461). Nevertheless, while both Chatham (Pitt) and the duke were at Bath in the autumn, some communications passed between them. In November Chatham opened formal negotiations with Bedford with a view to obtaining the support of his party. Bedford's demands for offices and honours for his friends were high. The king, who was still deeply displeased with him, pronounced them extravagant, and put an end to the treaty, and Bedford went off to Woburn full of wrath. On 22 March 1767 he lost his only son, Tavistock, who died from the effects of a fall while hunting. His grief was for a time so violent that his life was believed to be in danger, but public business, to which he returned very soon, helped him to recover himself, and his enemies unjustly reproached him with callousness (Hume, Private Correspondence, pp. 237, 244, 264; Junius, Letter xxiii. ii. 214). Chatham having ceased to give help to the ministry, the Duke of Grafton, with the hope of strengthening it, opened negotiations in July with the Bedford and Rockingham parties. Bedford was willing