Saturday, April 01, 2006

Diary of Lady Shelburne - 11th Post

This is the eleventh blog post from the diary of Lady Shelburne. There are links to the others in the right-hand panel. As before, the entries come from the Fitzmaurice biography: Life of William, Earl of Shelburne, Afterwards First Marquess of Lansdowne, by Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice (London, Macmillan and Co. 1912) 2 Volumes.

Fitzmaurice introduces this entry, which turns out to be the last one he includes in the biography:
It has been seen that at the time when Shelburne resigned the Secretaryship of State the Ministry had determined to prosecute Wilkes, who on his return from France and surrender to his outlawry had been arrested on April 27th, 1768, and imprisoned. On June 8th, however, Lord Mansfield declared the outlawry void, but sentenced Wilkes to fine and imprisonment for his original offence in publishing No. 45 of the North Briton and the Essay on Woman. On May l0th Wilkes was elected for Middlesex. He was expelled from the House of Commons on February 3rd, 1769, but reelected for Middlesex on the 16th of the same month. On the 7th his election was declared void, and himself declared incapable of being elected into the Parliament then sitting. On March 16th he was again elected, the candidate against him being Mr. Dingley. On March 17th his election was again declared void, and a new election ordered. On April 13th he was victorious over Colonel Luttrell, who on the 15th was, however, seated as member or Middlesex by the House of Commons.

"I went in the morning to the manège," Lady Shelburne writes in her Diary on Thursday, March 16th, [1769] "though I had some apprehension of being molested by the Mob, it being the day of the Brentford election, when Mr. Dingley was to offer himself as a candidate to oppose Mr. Wilkes; however it was all very quiet."
Friday. I heard that Mr. Dingley, who went on the part of Administration to offer himself to represent he County of Middlesex in Parliament, in opposition to Mr. Wilkes, was received with great decency by his party when he appear'd on the hustings at Brentford; but it is most likely their dislike might be restrained by the speeches of Mr. Townshend and Mr. Sawbridge, recommending quiet and good order. Mr. Dingley, however, could get nobody to propose him, and being very suspicious of some violence, withdrew under the protection of two sheriffs, and return'd to London by two o'clock to report his ill success and the reelection of Mr. Wilkes.

April 11th. Ryle came in and told me that there was a great mob before the Palace at St. James; who were very riotous, and insulted the merchants who were gone to the King with an address. We therefore congratulated ourselves on being to spend the day out of town, and when my Lord was ready, Lady Jane, he and I, and dear little Monna all set out for Wycombe, where I had the pleasure of finding my dear little boy safely arrived the day before. The servants, who came down from London after us, told us that Sir Fletcher Norton had been obliged to read the Riot Act from the window over the arch of the palace, and that they had dispersed soon after.

Thursday Morning, April 13th. We breakfasted at Mr. Anson's, who gave a breakfast and concert to Mrs. Montagu, to which she very obligingly invited us. We called upon her and went together, and saw a very fine house, built and ornamented by Mr. Stuart. The company were Count Bruhl, Lord Egremont, Mr. and Mrs. Harris and their daughter, Mrs. Vesey, Mrs. Dunbar, Mrs. Carter, Mrs. Scott, a M. de Vibre, M. de Maltête a President de Parlement, who came over expressly to see a Riot, but was deterred from going to Brentford by the French Ambassador, and condemned to pass this memorable morning in the calmer scene of Mr. Anson's house and entertainment. From hence I went with my Lord to return his visits, as I was apprehensive I might meet with some Mob that it would have been disagreeable to pass thro' in a chair. I must here say that this was the day when Mr. Luttrell offered himself to oppose Mr. Wilkes. As he was going out of town by Hyde Park Corner with some gentlemen who attended him, he was pelted by the Mob, and some of his company who were riding first were a little disconcerted and stop'd, which stop'd him who was following, and one of the mob took hold of the bridle of his horse. Capt. Luttrell, however, gave him a blow with the end of his whip, and disengaging himself gallop'd away to Holland House, where his friends and he breakfasted with Mr. Fox, and from thence proceeded to Brentford, accompanied by several gentlemen. Mr. Wilkes was returned Member for Middlesex, but Mr. Luttrell had 296 votes. Captain Roche withdrew, and Mr. Whitaker, who had also proposed himself, had 5 votes.

Friday. This day they declared Mr. Wilkes incapable of sitting in the House of Commons, and the day after, Mr. Luttrell was declared member for Middlesex, and took his seat in the House of Commons. There have been some meetings of freeholders at Mile End, and it is said they mean to draw up a petition to the King to dissolve the Parliament; however, no steps are yet taken.

[The biographer writes:]

The excitement, of which the meetings described by Lady Shelburne were the sign, grew daily stronger. Grafton trembled before the storm, but George III remained undaunted and determined to get rid of Grafton.

It has already been seen how the King on his accession abandoned the Whigs, and setting up a standard of his own, had made his Court a Cave of Adullam to which every country squire with an hereditary hatred of revolution principles, and every Jacobite sufficiently clear-sighted to recognize the hopelessness of the Stuart cause, eagerly gathered himself and his friends. Prerogative was pitted against the privilege of Parliament by the act of the King himself, and both looked round for allies.

Outside the limits of the Court and of the aristocracy lay the rising power of the Middle Classes. The party able to gain their support was certain of ultimate success.

"I sell here,"said Matthew Boulton to those who,like Shelburne, visited his works, "what the world desires to have, Power."

Notes on people, places, and events mentioned in this post.

Wilkes. Shelburne believed that the character flaws of Wilkes undermined the popular cause they both adhered to. The story of the Wilkes mobs of 1768 is told well in The Complete Newgate Calendar, Volume IV: JOHN WILKES, ESQ., M.P., Whose Arrest and Conviction for writing Seditious and Blasphemous Pamphlets led to Riots in London in 1768, which concludes, huffily:
The outrages of the populace were too many to be enumerated; several innocent people were killed and numbers wounded. They broke windows without number, destroyed furniture, and even insulted Royalty.

The metropolis, as well as various other parts of the kingdom, had not been so convulsed with riots and partial insurrections since the Civil Wars as during the short time of Wilkes's popularity.

These disgraceful tumults, and the lenity or, as some would have it, the timidity of Government, spread disaffection into all classes of mechanics, who, thinking the time at hand when they might exact what wages they pleased, and perhaps beyond their masters' profits, struck work.
You might conclude that Wilkes relished these outrages, but he claimed otherwise. The summation of Peter D. G. Thomas's article in the DNB says it well:
Posterity has been reluctant to accept that Wilkes, a womanizer and blasphemer, and a man with a cynical sense of humour, could have possessed genuine political principles, a verdict seemingly confirmed by such stories as his comment to George III that he had never been a Wilkite, and his rebuke to an elderly woman who called out ‘Wilkes and liberty’ on seeing him in the street: ‘Be quiet, you old fool. That's all over long ago’ (Bleackley, 376). Nor did his overnight conversion in 1782 from radical to courtier do his reputation any good, even though he received no reward in honour or office. That last twist to his career is irrelevant to his earlier political record. For two decades Wilkes fought for ‘liberty’, whether freedom from arbitrary arrest, the rights of voters, or the freedom of the press to criticize government and report parliament. He suffered exile, financial ruin, and imprisonment for his principles, and by a combination of political courage and tactical skill won notable victories over government. He thereby earned respect from Lord North. In a debate of 27 November 1775 the prime minister declared that one Wilkes was enough, ‘though, he said, to do him justice, it was not easy to find many such’ (Almon, 3.214–30). After Wilkes British politics would never be the same again: his career permanently widened the political dimension beyond the closed world of Westminster, Whitehall, and Windsor.

Lord Mansfield. He was at this time chief justice of the court of King's Bench. Wikipedia says: "He supported Lord Camden's decision against general warrants, and reversed the outlawry of John Wilkes. He was always ready to protect the rights of conscience, whether they were claimed by Dissenters or Catholics."

No. 45 of the North Briton. Shelburne did not believe the warrant for Wilkes' arrest to have been legal. In fact, Shelburne disagreed so frequently with other members of the cabinet that he had threatened to resign at the time. (i. 195) The Cambridge History of English and American Literature has a brief account of Wilkes and this publication.

Essay on Woman. This was an obscene poem, written by Wilkes' friend Potter, as a parody of Alexander Pope's Essay on Man. It was impious and libelous as well as vicious in its treatment of women. Wilkes was prosecuted for printing and publishing it. The sequence of events is described well at this site.

Middlesex. Middlesex is a county in the south-east by Surrey, Essex, Hertfordshire, and Buckinghamshire.

Mr. Dingley. This was Charles Dingley, a timber merchant and inventor of a new kind of sawmill. The Guildhall Library holds a satirical print showing him sawing through the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights.

Colonel Luttrell. This was Henry Lawes Luttrell.

The Manège. A Manège is a riding academy.

The hustings at Brentford. Hustings refers to the platform used for nomination of candidates and candidates' speeches in parliamentary elections.

Mr. Townshend. This was James Townshend, who at this time was an MP for West Looe in Cornwall, also Alderman of a Bishopsgate Ward, in London. Later in 1769 he would be elected Sheriff of London. Fitzgerald says he was "a man of great resolution and firmness," who could match the pride and tenacity of aristocrats but also show be friendly and courteous to people of lower social ranks. He was a long-standing friend of Shelburne's (see the third, ninth, and tenth posts of the Diary of Lady Shelburne. Fitzgerald tells this story about him: "On one occasion it is said that a highway robbery having been committed in his neighbourhood, he disguised himself as a countryman, set out in search of the offender, and much to the astonishment of the latter, overpowered and apprehended him." (i. 461. which gives Walpole, iii. 284. as reference). In 1772 Townshend defeated Wiles in an election for Lord Mayor of London. A Wilkes mob attached the celebration ball and Townshend, says Fitzgerald, was only with difficulty restrained from sallying out with drawn sword. (i. 462)

Mr. Sawbridge. At this time Mayor of London.

Ryle has not been identified.

Lady Jane. Lady Jane Tollemache, a cousin of Sophie's, daughter of her aunt, Lady Grace Carteret.

Dear little Monna. Seems to be a pet name. OED says Monna derives from manna meaning spiritual nourishment.

Wycombe. This was a secondary Shelburne estate, Bowood being the main one. Apparently, her "dear little boy" (second son William) was being raised here. See Diary of Lady Shelburne 5th Post

My dear little boy. Second son, William. See Diary of Lady Shelburne 10th Post.

Sir Fletcher Norton. Sir Fletcher Norton was a politician

The Riot Act. The Riot Act was "An act for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies, and for the more speedy and effectual punishing the rioters." Wikipedia says: "The Riot Act (1 Geo. 1, c. 5) of 1714 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain introduced to allow the local authorities to declare a group of more than twelve people to be unlawfully assembled, and thus have to disperse or face punitive action." As Sophie indicates, it could be difficult for magistrates to make this public declaration.

Mr. Anson's. This was Thomas Anson of Shugborough, who inherited wealth and property a few years earlier from his elder brother George Anson, 1st Baron Anson. The inheritance included a mansion on St. James' Square (see "fine house" below).

Mrs. Montagu. This was Elizabeth Montagu, universally known as "Queen of the Blue Stockings." Wikipedia describes her: "British social reformer, patron of the arts, hostess, literary critic, and writer who helped organize and lead the bluestocking society." Of her, Hannah More wrote: "She is not only the finest genius, but the finest lady I ever saw; she lives in the highest style of magnificence; her apartments and table are in the most splendid taste." She, like Thomas Anson, commissioned a house by James Stuart. At the time Sophie wrote, her book, the Essay on the Writings and Genius of Shakespear, Compared with the Greek and French Dramatic Poets. With some remarks Upon the Misrepresentation of Mons. De Volatire, was being published. Published anonymously, it was the first book on Shakespeare by a woman.

A very fine house, built and ornamented by Mr. Stuart. There's a full history of this mansion on the English Heritage web page, which says Thomas Anson,
a bachelor of sixty-six and a man of taste ... undertook a rebuilding which embodied the more delicate, self-conscious and matured taste of the 1760's. ... The architect chosen was James Stuart, whose Antiquities of Athens, making familiar the details if not the spirit of ancient Greek architecture, had appeared in the year of Lord Anson's death, and who was presumably acquainted with Thomas Anson through their membership of the Society of Dilettanti.... The old house was pulled down in the summer of 1763 and the new house was probably occupied by the end of 1766. ... by April 1768 [actually 1769] Lady Shelburne could note in her diary that she had attended a 'breakfast and concert' in honour of Mrs. Montagu, another of Stuart's patrons, at Mr. Anson's, 'a very fine house, built and ornamented by Mr. Stuart'. ... Lady Shelburne's good opinion of the house was doubtless fully shared by its architect, who had told Anson while it was building that it was 'a topic of much conversation among the Connoisseurs in Architecture'. Stuart's pleasure in the contemplation of his own skill found outlet in the flattering references to the house by the author of the anonymous Critical Observations on the Buildings and Improvements of London of 1771 if, as seems probable, the author was Stuart himself.

Count Bruhl. Count Bruhl was prime minister to Augustus King of Poland, and Elector of Saxony (this according to the editor of Walpole's letters, note 716, vol 2).

Lord Egremont. Lord Egremont was a politician who served in the Bute ministry with Shelburne in the early 1760's.

Mr. and Mrs. Harris. She was sister to General Conway, a politician and one of Horace Walpole's correspondents.

Mrs. Vesey. This was Elizabeth Vesey, like Mrs. Montagu a prominent Blue Stocking hostess. The article on Mrs. Montague in the Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21) says: 'Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu was one of a bright company of brilliant women; and, in spite of rivals, she reigned supreme for fifty years as the chosen hostess of the intellectual society of London. Mrs. Vesey, for a time, was a prominent rival, because, as wife of Agmondesham Vesey, a member of “The Club,” she came forward as the special hostess of that select company.' (Volume X. The Age of Johnson. Chap. XI. Letter-Writers. Sec. 12. "Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu as a literary hostess.") Horace Walpole says Mrs. Vesey was very sophisticated (Letter 86 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Arlington Street, Jan, 15, 1775. page 124).

Mrs. Dunbar. Alas, not identified.

Mrs. Carter. Horace Walpole writes of a Mrs. Elizabeth Carter whom his editor says wrote "a translation of Count Algarotti's Newtonianismo per Le Dame, under the title of Sir Isaac Newton'S Philosophy explained for the Use of the Ladies; in six Dialogues of Light and Colours (1739). (Source: Note 470, Letters, Vol 4, Letter 241 To The Rev. William Mason. page 307.)

Mrs. Scott. Not identified.

M. de Vibre. Not identified.

M. de Maltête a President de Parlement. Sophie might mean René-Nicolas de Maupeou who was "Premier président du parlement de Paris et Chancelier, 15 septembre 1768 - 24 août 1774," according to this site. Under Louis XV, he attempted to reassert a disintegrating royal control over French politics and the French economy. Voltaire applauded his work but in general it proved to be very unpopular. See Politics and the Parlement of Paris Under Louis XV, 1754-1774 by Julian Swann, p321, and Birth of the Leviathan: Building States and Regimes in Medieval and Early Modern Europe by Thomas Ertman, p. 143 (I found these using Google Book Search). Wikipedia has an article on this man.

Holland House. The focus point for the Whig opposition at this time, Holland House was the mansion of Lord Holland in Kensington (now part of London).

Mr. Fox. This was the politician Charles James Fox. The son of one of the most prominent members of the Whig opposition, he was at this time only 21 years old and had only just taken his seat in Parliament for Midhurst, a family pocket borough. Ambitious, well-connected, and articulate, he quickly rose to a leadership position within the opposition party (or rather within the loose coalition of opposition interests). He and Shelburne had very similar views but were as often opponents as allies. This site tells his story well.

Captain Roche. Not identified.

Mr. Whitaker. Not identified.

Grafton. See Diary of Lady Shelburne 10th Post.

Had made his Court a Cave of Adullam. This is a biblical reference to a place of refuge where a hodge podge of adherents gather round a leader. Adullam is located in modern-day Israel. The place has many caves which might have been the actual one. The Book of Samuel (1 Samuel 22) says that David, fleeing from Saul, hid in the "cave of Adullam, and while there gathered discontented men around him.

Matthew Boulton. Matthew Boulton was a prime mover in the industrial revolution. See Diary of Lady Shelburne 4th Post.


Anonymous said...

Just a small note and one question...

The third paragraph talks about Mr.Townshend and Mr.Sawbridge. I would be interested in knowing whether the original diary spells Townshend with an H or without.

As you may know, there were many Townshends in government at that time (second only, perhaps, to the Cornwallis family). These Townshends were all closely related (all 1st or 2nd cousins), except for the one associated with Sawbridge.

The Townshend associated with Sawbridge was a James Townsend who in 1772 became Mayor of London. He was the grandfather of Chauncey Hare Townshend, close friend of John Forster and Charles Dickens. Apparently Chauncey Hare Townshend reverted to the "Townshend" spelling which is why the spelling of his grandfather in Lady Shelburne's diary is intriguing. Incidently the newspapers of the time spell James Townsend without the "H". However, the Letters of Junius spell it as Townshend.

This Mr. James Townsend should not be confused with Mr. Thomas Townshend who was very closely tied to Shelburne. (It is not certain which Townshend visited Lady Shelburne on 5th Jan 1766, but I speculate Thomas Townshend rather than James Townsend.)

In 1782 Shelburne made Thomas Townshend his Home Secretary and also gave his office the responsibilities of Foreign Secretary. It was Thomas Townshend (and his junior David Hartley) who was responsible for the peace negotiations with America (through Benjamin Franklin) resulting in the preliminary agreement in November 1782. Thomas Townshend was rewarded by Shelburne for his efforts and made Lord Sydney. A few months later Shelburne was out of office (and Sydney too), leaving the wrapping up of the peace negotiations to the reluctant Lord North, who had retained David Hartley (who eventually signed the Treaty of Paris in 1783.)

Jeff said...

Hi, Anonymous. "Townshend" it is. You can do a Google Book Search to see instances of this spelling in both vols (about 30) and the other (none at all). It's been a while since I wrote that post, but I recall spending quite a bit of time trying to sort out the Townsend/Townshends. I'm grateful for this full explanation. If I ever get into the archives at Bowood or Shelburne papers at the U of Michigan, I'll try to find out which member of the family Lady Shelburne refers to and whether Lord Edmund Fitzmaurice regularized the spelling while writing the biography.