A history of the British Cabinet



IN the early summer of 1765 after the failure of the Stamp Act, Royal Premier Grenville found his administration embarrassed by conflicting political interests, and the king was dissatisfied with what his minister failed to accomplish. The monarch, influenced by men of greater minds than his own, had resolved on a change. The public were loudly clamoring for the restoration of Pitt to the premiership. The king was not unwilling, and in June he summoned that statesman to an audience. Pitt was shy; he would not commit himself until he knew what lines of policy were to be pursued. The king yielded much. Among other things he agreed to a repeal of the English cider tax and a change in the American stamp tax, and then Pitt consented to form a new ministry. He sent for his brother-in-law, Lord Temple, to whom he offered the seals of the treasury. Temple declined. He was influenced by Grenville, and Pitt was thwarted. Then the Duke of Cumberland attempted to form a ministry. He well knew the value of Pitt, and the importance of having him a leading spirit in the cabinet. To accomplish this end, he visited the great commoner in person, at Hayes, where Pitt was laid up with the gout, but he failed in his mission, and made up an incongruous cabinet. This visit to Hayes drew forth a caricature that was inspired by the ministers out of office. The Duke of Cumberland is seen as a courier riding in hot haste to consult the gouty foot of the statesman, which is seen projecting from the door of a country inn, and swathed in flannels. On a sign-board over the door is an inflated bladder inscribed "Popularity," and under it the initials of Pitt-- W.P.

In the new cabinet, the Marquis of Rockingham, a friend of the Americans, took the place of Grenville; General Conway, another friend, was appointed Secretary of State with the management of the House of Commons, assisted by the Duke of Grafton. This office concerned the Americans more than any other, for its incumbent dealt directly with them. These, with other members of the cabinet, formed such a motley group of men of conflicting political views, that its early dissolution seemed inevitable. Lord Chesterfield wrote to his son: "It will either require repairs or a keystone next winter; and that keystone will and must necessarily be Mr. Pitt." Such was the tendency and such was the expectation all the autumn-that memorable autumn when the tempest of opposition to the stamp tax raged in America. At the same time Mr. Pitt's health gradually improved. At the close of November, he wrote to his wife from Bath: " I have been airing in the coach to-day for the second time, nearly three hours, and come untired, wanting nothing but dinner, and the sight of my love and of my children. I can stand with the help of crutches, and hope soon to discard one of them. Who knows, in time, what may become of his companion? My left hand holds a fork at dinner with some gentilenesse, and my right, as you see, a pen." The statesman's health continued to improve, and when Parliament assembled after the Christmas holidays, he was in his place, and indulged a feeling of confidence in Rockingham.





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