The Early History of Charles James Fox

By George Trevelyan Otto | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER V. 1768-1769.

Fox's Maiden Speech. -- Wilkes. -- His Early Life. -- The North Briton and the "Essay on Woman." -- Persecution of Wilkes. -- His Exile. -- Churchill. -- Return of Wilkes, and his Election for Middlesex. -- Disturbances in London. -- Fatal Affray between the Troops and the People. -- Determination of the Court to crush Wilkes. -- Conflict between the House of Commons and the Middlesex Electors. -- Enthusiasm in the City on Behalf of Wilkes. -- Dingley. -- Riot at Brentford. -- Weakness of the Civil Arm. -- Colonel Luttrell. -- His Cause espoused by the Foxes. -- Great Debates in Parliament. -- Rhetorical Successes of Charles Fox. -- The King and Wilkes. -- Burke on the Middlesex Election -- Proceedings during the Recess. -- Recovery of Lord Chatham. -- His Reconciliation with the Grenvilles and the Whigs.

WHEN Fox first spoke, and on what subject, is, and will ever remain, a doubtful matter. His eldest brother, Stephen, had entered Parliament at the same time as himself, and was quite as eager to be conspicuous, until experience taught him that public life is an element in which one of a family may flounder while another swims.1 Various paragraphs of five

The verdict of a clever young man before he is of an age to be cynical or jealous may safely be taken about those of his coevals with whom he lives on terms of intimacy; and two sentences from a letter of Lord Carlisle's are perhaps as much notice as the second Lord Holland can claim from a posterity which has so much else to read about. The letter refers to a fire which had destroyed Winterslow House, near Salisbury, where Stephen Fox lived after his marriage. "There is something," wrote Lord Carlisle, "so laughable in Stephen's character and conduct that, though he were broke upon the wheel, or torn between four wild horses, like Damien, the persons who live the most with him would never be grave or serious upon any calamity happening to him. If Lady Mary was much alarmed, or if the birds were really burned to death, I should be very sorry. As this is the first misfortune that ever happened to Stephen which he did not bring upon himself, all compassionate thoughts and intentions may be turned from Charles to him." Charles was just


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