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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 28.djvu/21

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Howard
Howard
15

accounted the two best dressed men in town. His passion for play led him into the greatest extravagance. He became surety for Fox's gambling debts (Walpole, Letters, v. 485), and ultimately was compelled to retire to Castle Howard for a year or two in order to repair the disasters in which his improvidence and his generosity had involved him.

Emancipating himself from the gaming-table he gave his attention to politics, and on 13 June 1777 was appointed treasurer of the household, and sworn a member of the privy council. On 13 April 1778 he was nominated the chief of the commission sent out to America by Lord North 'to treat, consult, and agree upon the means of quieting the disorders in the American colonies (London Gazette, 1778, No. 11865). While there he became involved in a misunderstanding with Lafayette, who, enraged at some strong expressions reflecting on the conduct of the French, which had been, published in one of the proclamations of the commissioners, challenged Carlisle, as the principal commissioner, to a duel. Carlisle very properly declined the meeting, and informed Lafayette in a letter that he considered himself solely responsible to his country and king, and not to any individual, for his public conduct and language. The American demands being in excess of the powers vested in the commissioners, Carlisle returned without having entered into negotiations with the congress, a result which Horace Walpole predicted when, in announcing Carlisle's appointment on the commission to Mason, he described him as being 'very fit to make a treaty that will not be made' (Walpole, Letters, vii. 37).

Soon after his return from America, having resigned the treasurership of the household, Carlisle became president of the board of trade in the place of Lord George Germaine (6 Nov. 1779). On 9 Feb. 1780 he was appointed lord-lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire, and on 13 Oct. in the same year was nominated lord-lieutenant of Ireland in succession to John Hobart, second earl of Buckinghamshire. He was succeeded in December 1780 at the board of trade by Lord Grantham, and arrived in Dublin at the close of that month, taking with him as his chief secretary William Eden, afterwards Lord Auckland, who in the previous year had addressed `Four Letters to the Earl of Carlisle' on English and Irish political questions. Though inexperienced in official life, Carlisle soon gained a clear insight into the true condition of Irish affairs, and won the respect of the Irish people. In his official despatches he did not conceal his opinion that it was impossible to maintain the old system of government, and vehemently urged that Ireland should not be included in British acts of parliament. 'Should any regulations,' wrote Carlisle to Hillsborough, on 23 Feb. 1782, 'be necessary to extend to this kingdom as well as Great Britain, I have not the least reason to doubt that the nation would immediately enact them by her own laws;' and in another letter, dated 19 March 1782, he asserts: 'It is beyond a doubt that the practicability of governing Ireland by English laws is become utterly visionary. It is with me equally beyond a doubt that Ireland may be well and happily governed by its own laws.'

On the accession of Rockingham to office in March 1782, Carlisle was abruptly dismissed from the lord-lieutenancy of the East Riding, and replaced by the Marquis of Carmarthen, who had been removed from that office by the late government. In consequence of this slight Carlisle resigned the post of lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and on 16 April 1782 the Irish House of Commons passed a hearty vote of thanks to him 'for the wisdom and prudence of his administration, and for his uniform and unremitted attention to promote the welfare of this kingdom' (Journals of the Irish House of Commons, x. 336). Carlisle was succeeded in the viceroyalty by the Duke of Portland, and on 11 May 1782 was appointed lord steward of the household. When Lord Shelburne brought forward his Irish resolutions on 17 May 1782 in the House of Lords, they were received with warm approval by Carlisle, who 'bore ample testimony to the zeal and loyalty of the Irish, and particularly stated the honourable conduct of the volunteers and the liberal offers made of their service, when Ireland was threatened with an attack' (Parl. Hist. xxiii. 38). On learning the terms of the peace with France and America, Carlisle resigned his office in Lord Shelburne's administration, and in the House of Lords, on 17 Feb. 1783, proposed an amendment to the address of thanks, condemning the preliminary articles' as inadequate to our just expectations and derogatory to the honour and dignity of Great Britain.' After a lengthy debate in a fuller house than had been known for many years the address was carried at half-past four in the morning by a majority of thirteen (ib. xxiii. 375-80, 435). On the formation of the coalition ministry Carlisle was made lord privy seal (2 April 1783), a post which he retained until Pitt's accession to power in December 1783. During the discussions on the regency question in the winter of 1788-9 Carlisle took an active part against the re-