SHELBURNE STRIVES SINCERELY FOR PEACE.
ON the death of Eockingham, the king offered to Shelburne by letter “the employment of first lord of the treasury, and with it the fullest political confidence.” Of no British minister had the principles been so liberal. He wished a thorough reform of the representation of the people of Great Britain in parliament. Far from him was the thought that the prosperity of America could be injurious to England. He regarded neighboring nations as associates ministering to each other’s welfare, and wished to form with France treaties of commerce as well as of peace. But Fox, who was entreated to remain in the ministry as secretary of state with a colleague of his own choosing and an ample share of power, set up against him the narrow-minded duke of Portland, under whose name the old aristocracy was to rule parliament, king, and people. To gratify the violence of his headstrong pride, he threw away the opportunity of taking a chief part in restoring peace to the world, and struck a blow at liberal government in his own country from which it did not recover in his lifetime.
The old whig aristocracy was on the eve of dissolution. In a few years those of its members who, like Burke and the duke of Portland, were averse to “shaking the smallest particle of the settlement at the revolution of 1688,” were to merge themselves in the new tory or conservative party; the rest adopted the watchword of reform; and, when they began to govern, it was with the principles of Chatham and Shelburne. Fox, who was already brooding on a coalition with