Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 34.djvu/376

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

of his father in September 1751 Lyttelton succeeded to the baronetcy and the family estates. In November 1753 he supported the repeal of the Jews' Naturalisation Bill, which had been passed in the preceding year (Works, iii. 30–6). On Pelham's death Lyttelton resigned his seat at the treasury board, and, having accepted the post of cofferer in the Duke of Newcastle's administration (April 1754), was admitted a member of the privy council on 21 June 1754. His refusal to join Pitt in opposing the Duke of Newcastle led to the severance of their ‘historic friendship’ (Memoirs, ii. 477–81, 489–491), and on 29 Nov. 1756, after Lyttelton's unsuccessful attempt to conciliate the Duke of Bedford, the breach was openly avowed by Pitt. Instead of resigning when his friends were turned out, Lyttelton accepted the post of chancellor of the exchequer in the place of Bilson-Legge (22 Nov. 1755), an appointment ‘which was resented with the greatest acrimony by the whole of the cousinhood’ (Lord Waldegrave, Memoirs, p. 58), and occasioned Horace Walpole to remark that ‘they turned an absent poet to the management of the revenue, and employed a man as visionary as Don Quixote to combat Demosthenes’ (Memoirs of the Reign of George II, ii. 63). On 23 Jan. 1756 Lyttelton opened the budget ‘well enough in general, but was strangely bewildered in the figures.’ Pitt's attack on his proposal to mortgage the sinking fund led to a debate which was ‘entertaining enough, but ended in high compliments’ (Walpole, Letters, ii. 500). On the 25th of the following month Lyttelton introduced his plan of supplies and taxes for the current year. His speech on this occasion must have been somewhat wanting in lucidity, as ‘he never knew prices from duties nor drawbacks from premiums’ (ib. ii. 511). On 11 May Lyttelton moved for a vote of credit for a million, which led to an altercation between him and Pitt, who insisted on knowing for what the money was designed. The Duke of Newcastle reported to the king that Lyttelton showed the ‘judgment of a minister, the force and wit of an orator, and the spirit of a gentleman’ (Memoirs, ii. 525). On the resignation of the Duke of Newcastle in November Lyttelton retired from office, and on 18 Nov. 1756 was created Baron Lyttelton of Frankley in the county of Worcester. He took his seat in the House of Lords on 2 Dec. following (Lords' Journals, xxix. 6), and spoke for the first time in the discussion of the Militia Bill, when he ‘had a sparring’ with Lord Talbot (Memoirs, ii. 602). During the debates on the Prussian treaty and on the bill for the extension of the Habeas Corpus Act in 1758, Lyttelton was violently attacked by Temple, and on the latter occasion both peers were compelled by the house to promise that the matter should go no further (Lords' Journals, xxix. 347). He opposed the Cider Bill in 1763, and spoke so well against it on the second and third readings as to extort the praise of Horace Walpole. His speech on 29 Nov. 1763, in support of the motion against the extension of the privilege of parliament to the writing and printing of seditious libels, is the only one which is preserved of this debate in the House of Lords (Works, iii. 37–47). On 21 Feb. 1764 he moved a resolution censuring Brecknock's ‘Droit le Roi,’ which was carried, and the book was ordered to be burnt (Walpole, Memoirs of the Reign of George III, i. 384). In this year Lyttelton, who had lately become reconciled with Pitt and Temple, endeavoured to effect a reconciliation between them and Grenville with a view to forming a party against Bute. On 30 April 1765 he took part in the debate on the second reading of the Regency Bill, insisting that the regent should be nominated by the king in conjunction with parliament; but on 1 May his motion ‘urging that the crown cannot devolve its power on unknown persons’ was rejected by 89 to 31 votes (Walpole, Reign of George III, ii. 116–19; see Memoirs, ii. 665–675). During the prolonged attempt at the promotion of a new administration Lyttelton refused the offer of the treasury which was made to him by the Duke of Cumberland (May 1765). He did his best, however, to bring the negotiations between Pitt and Temple to a successful issue. On the formation of Rockingham's first administration in July 1765 Lyttelton refused a seat in the cabinet, and again declined to separate himself from Pitt and Temple. On 17 Dec. 1765 he supported the amendment to the address, and advocated the adoption of stronger measures against the American colonists. In a long and elaborate speech he opposed the repeal of the Stamp Act in January 1766 (Memoirs, ii. 692–703), and signed both the protests against the bill, the first of which was drawn up by himself (Rogers, Protests of the Lords, 1875, ii. 76–89). In December 1766 he took part in the debate on the Indemnity Bill. A pamphlet entitled ‘A Speech in behalf of the Constitution against the suspending and dispensing Prerogative, &c.,’ sometimes attributed to Grenville, but said to have been written by one Macintosh with the assistance of Lyttelton and Temple, preserves the arguments, and has been reprinted in the ‘Parliamentary History’ (xvi. 251–313). In the expectation that Chatham was about to re-