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To Mammon nor to Moloch makes a prayer,
Tempt not her sons to seek th' auriferous land;
But let them plough and reap, plant, prune, and gather,
THE following very interesting letter is from the youngest and only surviving daughter of Lord North. All comment upon its merits or its value is superfluous :—
"MY DEAR LORD BROUGHAM,
"You mentioned to me the other night your intention of writing the character of my father, to be placed among some other characters of the statesmen of the last century, that you are preparing for the press, and at the same time stated the difficulty of describing a man of whom you had had no personal knowledge. This conversation has induced me to cast back my mind to the days of my childhood and early youth, that I may give you such impressions of my father's private life as those recollections will afford.
"Lord North was born in April, 1733; he was educated at Eton school, and then at Trinity College, Oxford; and he completed his academical studies with the reputation of being a very accomplished and elegant classical scholar. He then passed three years upon the Continent, residing successively in Germany, Italy, and France, and acquiring the languages of those countries, particularly of the last. He spoke French with great fluency and correctness; this acquirement, together with the observations he had made upon the men and manners of the countries he had visited, gave him what Madame de Staël called l'esprit Européen, and enabled him to be as agreeable a man in Paris, Naples, and Vienna as he was in London. Among the lighter accomplishments he acquired upon the Continent was that of dancing: I have been told that he danced the most graceful minuet of any young man of his day: this, I must own,
surprised me, who remember him only with a corpulent heavy figure, the movements of which were rendered more awkward and were impeded by his extreme near-sightedness before he became totally blind. In his youth, however, his figure was slight and slim; his face was always plain, but agreeable, owing to its habitual expression of cheerfulness and good humour; though it gave no indication of the brightness of his understanding.
"Soon after his return to England, at the age of twentythree, he was married to Miss Speck, of Whitelackington Park, Somersetshire, a girl of sixteen; she was plain in her person, but had excellent good sense; and was blessed with singular mildness and placidity of temper. She was also not deficient in humour, and her conversational powers were by no means contemptible; but she, like the rest of the world, delighted in her husband's conversation, and being by nature shy and indolent, was contented to be a happy listener during his life, and after his death her spirits were too much broken down for her to care what she was. Whether they had been in love with each other when they married I don't know, but I am sure there never was a more happy union than theirs during the thirtysix years that it lasted. I never saw an unkind look, or heard an unkind word pass between them; his affectionate attachment to her was as unabated, as her love and admiration of him.
"Lord North came into office first, as one of the Lords of the Treasury, I believe, about the year 1763, and in 1765 he was appointed as one of the Joint Paymasters.* In 1769 he became Chancellor of the Exchequer, and some years after First Lord of the Treasury. He never would allow us to call him Prime Minister, saying, there was no such thing in the British Constitution. He continued in office thirteen years: during the three last he was most
* An anecdote is related of his Paymastership which will paint, though in homely colours, his habitual good humour. He was somewhat disappointed at finding he had a colleague who was to divide the emoluments of the office, which was then chiefly prized for its large perquisites. The day he took possession of the official house a dog had dirtied the hall, and Lord North, ringing for the servant, told him to be sure, in clearing the nastiness away, that he took half of it to his colleague, as it was a perquisite of the Joint office.
anxious to retire, but he suffered himself to be overcome by the earnest entreaties of George III. that he should remain. At length, the declining majorities in the House of Commons made it evident that there must be a change of ministry, and the King was obliged reluctantly to receive his resignation. This was a great relief to his mind; for, although I do not believe that my father ever entertained any doubt as to the justice of the American war, yet I am sure that he wished to have made peace three years before its termination. I perfectly recollect the satisfaction expressed by my mother and my elder sisters upon this occasion, and my own astonishment at it; being at that time a girl of eleven years old, and hearing in the nursery the lamentations of the women about 'My Lord's going out of power' (viz. the power of making their husbands tidewaiters), I thought going out of power must be a sad thing, and that all the family were crazy to rejoice at it!
"It is hardly necessary to say that Lord North was perfectly clean handed and pure in money matters, and that he left office a poorer man than when he came into it. His father being still living at that time, his income would have scantily provided for the education and maintenance of his six children, and for the support of his habitual, though unostentatious hospitality, but the office of Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports becoming vacant, the King conferred it upon him. His circumstances, by this means, became adequate to his wishes, as he had no expensive tastes, or love of splendour; but he was thoroughly liberal, and had great enjoyment in social intercourse, which even in those days was not to be had without expense. Lord North did not long continue out of office, the much criticized Coalition taking place the year following, 1783. The proverb says, 'Necessity acquaints us with strange bedfellows' it is no less true that dislike of a third party reconciles adversaries. My eldest brother was a Whig by nature, and an enthusiastic admirer of Mr. Fox; he, together with Mr. Adam, and Mr. Eden (afterwards Lord Auckland), were, I believe, the chief promoters of the Coalition. My mother, I remember, was averse to it, not that she troubled her head with being a Tory or a Whig,
but she feared it would compromise her husband's political consistency. I do not pretend to give any opinion upon this subject, having been too young at the time to form any, and since I grew up I have always been too decided a Whig myself to be a fair judge. This ministry, in which Mr. Fox was at the head of the Foreign, Lord North of the Home Office, and the Duke of Portland of the Treasury, lasted but a few months: in 1784 Mr. Pitt began his long administration. My father, after he was out of office, attended Parliament, and sometimes spoke and voted, independent of the opinions of his new allies; but this made no difference in the cordiality of their friendship, which remained unimpaired to the end of his life.
"I will now attempt to give you my impressions of my father's style of conversation and character in private life. His wit was of the most genuine and playful kind; he related (narroit) remarkably well, and liked conversing upon literary subjects; yet so completely were all these ingredients mixed and amalgamated by good taste, that you would never have described him as a sayer of bon mots, or a teller of good stories, or as a man of literature, but as a most agreeable member of society and truly delightful companion. His manners were those of a high-bred gentleman, particularly easy and natural; indeed, good breeding was so marked a part of his character, that it would have been affectation in him to have been otherwise than well bred. With such good taste and good breeding, his raillery could not fail to be of the best sort-always amusing and never wounding. He was the least fastidious of men, possessing the happy art of extracting any good that there was to be extracted out of anybody. He never would let his children call people bores; and I remember the triumphant joy of the family, when, after a tedious visit from a very prosy and empty man, he exclaimed, 'Well, that man is an insufferable bore!' He used frequently to have large parties of foreigners and distinguished persons to dine with him at Bushy Park. He was himself the life and soul of those parties. To have seen him then, you would have said that he was there in his true element. Yet I think that he had really more enjoyment when he went into the country on a Saturday and Sunday, with only his own family, or one or
two intimate friends: he then entered into all the jokes and fun of his children, was the companion and intimate friend of his elder sons and daughters, and the merry, entertaining play fellow of his little girl, who was five years younger than any of the others. To his servants he was a most kind and indulgent master: if provoked by stupidity or impertinence, a few hasty, impatient words might escape him; but I never saw him really out of humour. He had a drunken, stupid groom, who used to provoke him; and who, from this uncommon circumstance, was called by the children 'the man that puts papa in a passion;' and I think he continued all his life putting papa in a passion, and being forgiven, for I believe he died in his service.
"In the year 1787 Lord North's sight began rapidly to fail him, and in the course of a few months he became totally blind, in consequence of a palsy on the optic nerve. His nerves had always been very excitable, and it is probable that the anxiety of mind which he suffered during the unsuccessful contest with America, still more than his necessary application to writing, brought on this calamity, which he bore with the most admirable patience and resignation; nor did it affect his general cheerfulness in society. But the privation of all power of dissipating his mind by outward objects or of solitary occupation could not fail to produce at times extreme depression of spirits, especially as the malady proceeded from the disordered state of his nerves. These fits of depression seldom occurred, except during sleepless nights, when my mother used to read to him, until he was amused out of them, or put to sleep.
"In the evenings, in Grosvenor Square, our house was the resort of the best company that London afforded at that time. Mr. Fox, Mr. Burke, Mr. Sheridan, occasionally; and Lord Stormont, Lord John Townshend, Mr. Windham, Sir James Erskine, afterwards Lord Rosslyn, his uncle, then Lord Loughborough, habitually frequented our drawing-room: these, with various young men and women, his children's friends, and whist-playing ladies for my mother, completed the society. My father always liked the company of young people, especially of young women who were sensible and lively; and we used to accuse him of often rejoicing when his old political friends left his side and were