The Influence of Grenville on Pitt's Foreign Policy, 1787-1798

By Ephraim Douglass Adams | Go to book overview

appeal to the Prime Minister.* In the letters passing directly between Grenville and his chief there is no mention whatever of those details of administration with which Pitt busied himself while Leeds was his Foreign Secretary. Such letters are indeed infrequent, and wherever occurring are concerned with general questions of foreign policy. Grenville understood the dignity of his position and his rights in personal control, while Pitt was well content to shift the burden of petty management to responsible shoulders.


WAR WITH FRANCE--THE MANIFESTO AND THE TOULON DECLARATION.

OCTOBER TO NOVEMBER, 1793.

Since midsummer of 1791 no great question of foreign policy had arisen to excite the interest of Englishmen or to test the comparative control of Pitt and Grenville. Gradually attention was centering on the threatening cloud from France that endangered England's neutrality. The events of the 10th of August, 1792, long prophesied, yet unexpected after all, momentarily threw into confusion British governmental circles, and incidentally furnished an illustration of the degree of dependence now felt by Pitt in the management of foreign affairs. Grenville was absent from London upon his wedding journey. He was, however, in constant touch with his departmental work, for Burges kept him regularly informed of each day's budget of news, and both Pitt and Dundas wrote him with a frequency indicating their anxiety for his advice.˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ Matters not requiring immediate attention were referred to him for decision, and copies of all despatches from abroad were forwarded. When the news of the excesses committed in France

____________________
*
Ewart's recall deserves more attention than has been given to it in history, both as the ending of a definite epoch of English diplomacy and as the conclusion of the career of a very able diplomat. Auckland's efforts to secure Ewart's disgrace, Grenville's willingness to make him a scapegoat, and the seizure of Ewart's papers, as brought out in the Dropmore MSS., do not reflect much credit on the English, government. The letters relating to the seizure of the papers are in Dropmore, II, 253-256. Grenville increased Mrs. Ewart's pension in order to get them, but this was not known even to Auckland. Mrs. Ewart afterward received the offer of a round sum from the opposition for these same papers, and made the amusing reply that she must reject the offer as she "considered them [the papers] as a sacred deposit belonging to her son." Auckland, II, 435. Ewart's importance and his great influence at Berlin are asserted in a letter from St. Helens to Croker, written November 2, 1836. Croker, II, 95-97.
˙ ˙ ˙ ˙
Letters from Pitt, Dundas, and George III to Grenville indicate that all the more important despatches were forwarded to Grenville for his advice. Dropmore , II, 310-315. Burke also wrote two letters to Grenville at this crisis, protesting against the government's policy of neutrality, as in effect a sanction of the crimes in France. The first letter was written August 18, 1792, when news of the events of the 10th reached England, but was not sent until September 19, when Burke wrote out his views after an interview with Grenville. Ibid., III, 463-467.

-19-

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