North, Frederic, Second Earl Of Guilford

, more familiarly known as Lord North, was the eldest son of Francis, first earl of Guilford, and was born April 13, 1732. He commenced his education at Eton school, and completed it at Trinity college, Oxford, of which his father had been a member, and which the family have generally preferred, from their relationship to the founder, sir | Thomas Pope. At school and college, where he took both his degrees in arts (that of M. A. in March 1750) he obtained considerable reputation for his proficiency in classical literature; and was not less respected for the vivacity of his conversation, and his amiable temper, qualities which he displayed during life, and for which his family is still distinguished. He afterwards made what used to be called the grand tour, and applied with much assiduity to the acquisition of diplomatic knowledge. He also studied with great success the Germanic constitution, under the celebrated Mascow, one of the professors of Leipsic, whose lectures on the droit publique were at that time much frequented by young Englishmen of fortune and political ambition; and this mode of education being much a favourite with George II. courtiers thought it a compliment to his majesty to adopt his sentiments in this branch of their sons’ accomplishments. Celebrated, however, as professor Mascow once was, when we came to his name we were not able to discover any biographical memoir of him, or any information, unless that he outlived his faculties for some years, and died about 1760.

On lord North’s return home, he commenced his parliamentary career in 1754, as representative for the family borough of Banbury, in Oxfordshire. On June 2, 175y, during the administration of Mr. Pitt, afterwards lord Chatham, he was appointed one of the commissioners of the treasury, and continued in that office until 1763, in which last year Mr. George Grenville succeeded the earl of Bute, as first lord. In the same year lord North began to contribute his more active services, as a statesman, by taking the management of the measures adopted in consequence of the publication of Mr. Wilkes’s “North Briton,” and other parts of that gentleman’s political conduct, to his final expulsion from the House of Commons. It must be confessed that these measures afford but an inauspicious commencement of his lordship’s political career, for without answering their purpose, or suppressing the spirit of faction, they served only to give that importance to Wilkes which he then could not otherwise have attained. In the same year lord North was a supporter of the right of taxing American commodities, and of the memorable stamp act. In 1765, on the dissolution of Mr. Grenville’s administration, which was succeeded by that of the marquis of Rockingham, lord North retired from office with his | colleagues, but persisted in his sentiments respecting the taxation of the colonies, and divided with the minority against the repeal of the stamp act. The Rockingham administration scarcely survived this well-intentioned measure, and when succeeded by that of the duke of Grafton, lord North was, in August 1766, appointed joint receiver (with George Cooke, esq.) and paymaster of the forces; and in Dec. 1767, was appointed chancellor of the exchequer, and a lord of the treasury. The talents he had already displayed were thought to qualify him in an eminent degree for those situations, especially that of chancellor of the exchequer; and his abilities for debate were often displayed to advantage. During a period of considerable political turbulence, he was advanced Jan 28, 1770, to the place of first lord of the treasury, which he held with that of chancellor of the exchequer during the whole of his eventful administration, which finally terminated in March 1782.

To detail his lordship’s political conduct during these twelve years would be to give the voluminous history of the contest with America, and the war with France, Spain, and Holland, and the Northern confederacy, which arose from it. With every part of this series of difficulties, every step which led to them, and every measure by which they were to be opposed, his lordship was intimately connected, either as prime mover, or defender. It has often indeed been said, that in some of the worst parts of his administration, where his measures appeared most erroneous, and his obstinacy in defending them most unaccountable, he acted under a certain species of secret influence, or controul. Whether this was intended as a compliment to his understanding at the expence of his independence, or was one of those insinuations, very common during his administration, against the first personage of the state, has not yet been decided; and as the best informed seem to be of opinion that the private history of his administration, which on all occasions is different fro that which appears on the surface, is not yet ripe for di closure, we may be excused from entering on the di cussion.

Some facts, however, may be added, which are admitted on all sides, and on which future information can throw very little new light. It may be added that lord North entered upon the war with America upon a principle | recognized not only by the most decided majorities in parliament, but by the voice of the nation. To this last there was no exception but in the proceedings of a party in the metropolis, whose dissatisfaction arose from other causes, and who embraced this favourable opportunity to mix something national with the petty concerns of John Wilkes. On the other hand, no minister had ever to contend with so many difficulties; a question of right, which many disputed; the disaffection of the colonies, which was applauded and encouraged within his hearing in the house of commons; an army which, even if it had appeared at once in the field of battle, had to encounter physical difficulties; but which was sent out with hesitation, and in such divisions that the portion to be assisted was generally defeated before that which was to assist had arrived; a navy likewise incapable of coping with the numerous European enemies that combined against Great Britain, and as yet in the infancy only of that glory to which we have seen it arrive. Added to these, lord North had to contend in parliament with an opposition more ample in talents and personal consequence than perhaps ever appeared at one time, and with the uninterrupted hostility of the corporation of London to all his measures, and to the court itself. For such a force of opposition lord North was not in all respects qualified. Even Burke, whose irritating language during tfye American war seemed beyond all endurance, could allow, that “lord North wanted something of the vigilance and spirit of command that the time required.” Yet with all these discouragements, it was only the actual failure of the measures of subjugation that lessened his majorities, and turned the tide of popular sentiment. It was not conviction, but disappointment, which made the war obnoxious; and the “right of taxation,” the “ingratitude of the colonies,” “unconditional submission,” ana even the epithet “rebellion,” applied to their resistance, never ceased to be urged until repeated failures prescribed a different language, and made thousands question the principle as well as the policy of the war, who at its commencement did not entertain a doubt on the subject. It was now that the ministry of lord North was charged with misconduct and incapacity; and such misconduct and incapacity being but too obvious in the blunders of those who had to execute his orders, it was not wonderful that the supporters of the war should gradually desert the ministerial | standard, and that ministers should sink under the accumulated weight of parliamentary and popular odium. After a few faint efforts, therefore, to which he seemed rather impelled than inclined, lord North gave in his resignation in March 1732. That he had lately acted under the influence to which we formerly alluded, seemed to he about this time more generally believed, for some of the last endeavours of the opposition to procure his dismissal, had the “influence of the crown” for their avowed object; and as they approached nearer the accomplishment of their wishes, their threats to bring this guilty minister to his trial became louder. When, however, he made way for his successors, they not only granted him fu-ll indemnity for the past, but at no great distance of time, associated with him in a new administration, a measure to which the public could never be reconciled. The coalition which placed lord North and Mr. Fox in the same cabinet was more repugnant to general feeling than any one, or perhaps the aggregate, of lord North’s measures, when in the plenitude of his power. When the voice of the nation, and the spirit of its sovereign, had dismissed this administration, lord North returned no more to power, and took 110 very active part in politics, except on two occasions, when he maintained the consistency of his former political life, by opposing the repeal of the test act, and a scheme for the reform of parliament. In 1790 he succeeded his father in the earldom, but survived him only two years, during which he had the misfortune to lose his sight. He passed his last days in the calmness and endearments of domestic privacy, to which his cheerful and benign temper m was peculiarly adapted. His lordship died August 5, 1792. He was at this time, ranger and warden of Busby Park; chancellor of the university of Oxford; a knight of the garter; lord lieutenant and custos rotulorum of the county of Somerset; recorder of Gloucester and Taunton, one of the elder brethren of the Trinity-house; president of the Foundling-hospital and the Asylum, and governor of the Turkey company and Charter-house.

In March 1756, he married Anne, daughter and co-heir of George Speke, of White Lackington, in the county of Somerset, esq. by whom he had a numerous issue. He was succeeded in titles and estate by his eldest son, George Augustus, who dying without male issue in 1794, was succeeded by his brother Francis, present and fourth earl of Guilford. | Of the talents of lord North, much was said during his administration, and it is perhaps his highest praise, that against such a force of opposition, he could act so well upon the defensive. With many personal defects, he contrived to exhibit a species of eloquence which seemed easy and habitual, and always commanded attention. On subjects of finance, his abilities were generally acknowledged^ he reasoned closely and he replied with candour and temper, not unfrequently, however, availing himself of his wit. But as an orator, there were men of far more brilliant talents opposed to him; and as a statesman in general, he cannot be compared to his successor Pitt. He perhaps approaches the nearest to sir Robert Walpole, and like him seldom displayed the commanding energies of mind, but was content to follow the track of official duties, and to defend individual measures, arising out of temporary necessities, without professing any general system applicable to all occasions. But whatever were the errors or defects in lord North’s public conduct,' there lies no impeachment on his integrity. He neither enriched himself nor his family, nor was he ever accused of turning ministerial information. or influence to the purposes of pecuniary emolument. To the last moment of his life, he reviewed his conduct and his principles with satisfaction, and professed his readiness to defend them against any inquiry that could be instituted. What such inquiry can produce, must be the subject of future discovery. All we know at present is, that the moment he resigned, his public accusers became silent.

The private character of lord North has ever been the subject of praise and admiration. Among all his political opponents, he never had a personal enemy. Although during his whole administration the subject of the bitterest calumny and malignity, he never retorted but in conversation. His uncommon sweetness of temper, the vivacity of his replies, his ready and playful wit, created a diversion in his favour, if we may use the phrase, amidst the fiercest of his political contests. His character in general, indeed, cannot be concluded in more comprehensive terms than those of Burke: “He was a man of admirable parts; of general knowledge; of a versatile understanding, fitted for every sort of business; of infinite wit and pleasantry; of a delightful temper, and with a mind most disinterested.1

1 Annual Register, passim. -Brydges’s edition of CdHns^s Pe*rag 5 &c- &e,