THE WATERSHED: III
A FIRST faint streak of dawn lighted the first Rockingham administration, the dawn of the distant day of the great Reform Bill; dawn hovering over the cradle where this selfsame August the small head of William IV peered out on a world unreformed. There was little democratic about this Lord Rockingham, so far an amiable race-going nobleman, only thirty-five years of age, who had held no serious office. To great place he seemed to have no claim, except great possessions. It was as difficult to uproot him from Yorkshire as Grey of the Reform Bill from Howick, and like Grey he was too much swayed in counsel by private affection; though much unlike him, he was almost speechless in debate--'How could you worry the poor dumb creature so?' said Gower to Sandwich. But time improves honest men; Rockingham and his colleagues responded, though not swiftly, to public principle, and he had the liberal education of having as his private secretary Edmund Burke. And assuredly, since party exists by passion as much as by principle, the circumstances round the making of his Government hastened the growth of new Whig and new Tory.
No such clean sweep had been seen since the downfall of Sir Robert. With Grenville disappeared Bedford and his merry men, the Leicester House tribe like North and Hillsborough, and King's men of the future like Ellis. Every step seemed to announce that here began a new system. Officers dismissed for their votes were restored; so were some of the placemen 'purged' by Fox over the Peace. A peerage exalted Pratt, the judge who had acquitted Wilkes, into Lord Camden. And along with the Whig grandees* came into office some of the old Tory school, who had shown in the Wilkes case that an old Tory was____________________