May 31 1812: Whig Political Maneuverings

On May 31, 1812, Lord Moira is trying to form a government having been given some indication that he should try to do so by the Prince Regent. Moira is an Irish-British politician and a Whig. He favours Catholic Emancipation but may, at this time, be willing to compromise on that point. He writes to Lord Grey, another prominent Whig, to confirm exactly what he said in the House of Lords. Grey receives the letter while having dinner at Holland House but responds immediately. He writes that he cannot remember the exact words he used but confirms that in substance certain pledges on Catholic Emancipation had been made. He does not say who made the pledges but implies it was the Prince Regent. Grey writes that as a consequence if the Prince Regent feels "a strong personal objection" to him then he is prepared to "stand out of the way." He would still support a Whig government. The maneuverings are of interest in that they indicate that the Crown still  had a determinative role as to who would form the government. A Whig government may have had a different American policy but by now it is too late to stop an American declaration of war. Madison is putting the final touches on the secret message that he will be sent tomorrow, June 1, to Congress proposing war with Great Britain. Moira's letter is reproduced below followed by Grey's response:  

May 31st, 1812. 
My dear lord; a just anxiety not to leave any thing subject to misunderstanding, must excuse me if I am troublesome to you. Since I quitted you, the necessity of being precise in terms has occurred to me: and, although I think I cannot have mistaken you, I wish to know if I am accurate in what I apprehend you to have said. I understood the position. stated by you as having been what you advanced in the House of Lords, to be this, "That pledges had been given to the Catholics, a departure from which rendered their present disappointment more galling; and that you said this in the hearing of persons who could contradict you if you were inaccurate." Just say whether I have taken your expression correctly or not. Believe me, &c. &c.Moira.
Lord Grey's response: 
Holland House May 31, 1812.
My dear lord; I cannot sufficiently thank you for your kind anxiety to procure an accurate statement of the words spoken by me in the House of Lords. It is difficult to remember precise expressions so long after they were spoken; but I am sure I cannot be far wrong in stating the substance of what I said, as follows:
I was speaking on the subject of the Irish Catholics, and particularly on the charge of intemperate conduct which had been made against them. I stated, that great allowances were to be made for this, considering their repeated disappointments; and I cited, as instances of these, the recall of lord Fitzwilliam, and the Union. I then said, that the most distinct and authentic pledges had been given to them, of the Prince's wish to relieve them from the disabilities of which they complained; that I spoke in the hearing of persons who would contradict me if what I said was unfounded, and who would, I was sure, support its truth if questioned; that now, when the fulfilment of these pledges was confidently expected, to see an administration continued in power, which stood on the express principle of resisting their claims, was, perhaps, the bitterest disappointment they had yet experienced; and that it was not surprising, if, under such circumstances, they felt, and acted, in a way that all well wishers to the peace of the empire must regret.
This I give as the substance, and by no means as a correct repetition of the particular expressions used by me; and this statement I can neither retract, nor endeavour to explain away. If, inconsequence of it, the Prince feels a strong personal objection to me, I can only repeat what I have already said to you, that I am perfectly ready to stand out of the way; that my friends shall have my full concurrence and approbation in taking office without me, and my most cordial support in the government of the country, if their measures are directed, as I am sure they must always be, by the principles on which we have acted together.
I write this from lord Holland's, in a great hurry, and in the middle of dinner; but I was unwilling to defer, even for a minute, to answer an enquiry, which I feel to be prompted by so friendly a solicitude for me. I have not the means of taking a copy of this letter. I shall therefore be obliged to you to let me have one; and I am sure, if, upon recollection, I shall think it necessary to add any thing to what I have now said, you will allow me an opportunity of doing so. I am, with the sincerest regard, my dear lord, your's very faithfully.Grey.

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