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Item:  BSL - FOX-1806-02-22-Arlington



1 page Autograph Letter Signed (ALS)

Charles James Fox engaged most of his adult life in one of the most celebrated political contests of British history as he contended with William Pitt the Younger, head of the Tory Party and the Pittites, from the American Revolution through the light and then dark days of the French Revolution and Napoleonic War.  The Duchess of Devonshire, who was one of Fox's closest friends, wrote of him: "He seems to have the particular talent of knowing more about what he is saying and with less pains than anyone else. His conversation is like a brilliant player at billiards, the strokes follow one another piff puff...."


An interesting note on several fronts. Fox's long-time political rival William Pitt had just died on January 23, 1806. With Pitt's death, Lord Grenville was asked to be Prime Minister and assembled what was known as the "Ministry of All the Talents". This included Fox as the Foreign Secretary, one of whose responsibilities was the oversight of the Diplomatic Corps. Lord Buckinghamshire was a Tory, but these were war times and many of the ministries had "leaning" partisans in Cabinet positions. Such was the noblesse oblige of the landed members of the British aristocracy that the Earl of Buckinghamshire was comfortable "leaning" on fellow noble Charles Fox for a favorable consideration for his cousin Charles Stuart. In the event, Stuart did not get the Constantinople plum but returned to St. Petersburg with a promotion as Minister Plenipotentiary until Fox died in September 1806 at which time the Marquess of Douglas was sent to prop up Whig values with the Russians. He failed so miserably that Lord Granville Leveson Gower had to be hurriedly sent back to Russia by which time it was too late and Russia declared War upon England. An extremely fine letter written and signed by the Greatest Whig of them all when serving in his last year of life as Foreign Secretary having finally outlasted his best friend and enemy, William Pitt.


Arlington Street
22 February 1806

To Earl of Buckinghamshire

My Dear Lord

I am honoured with your Lordship's letter of yesterday in which you mention your wishes in favour of Mr. Stuart. Mr. Stuart's merit is such that it is no great compliment to your Lordship to say that I shall be happy to appoint him to almost any situation that he will best like. - I cannot yet say precisely any thing about Constantinople, but I have little doubt but that Embassy will be open to him, or something he will like as well. At all events it shall be my endeavour to do what will be most agreeable to your Lordship on this occasion.

I am very sincerely, My dear Lord, yours ever,

                                                        C. J. Fox


The Earl of Buckinghamshire

Robert Hobart, 4th Earl of Buckinghamshire, PC (6 May 1760 – 4 February 1816), known as Lord Hobart from 1793 to 1804, was a Tory politician of the late 18th and early 19th century. Buckinghamshire was the son of George Hobart, 3rd Earl of Buckinghamshire and Albinia Bertie, daughter of Robert Bertie, Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven. He was elected Member of Parliament for the rotten borough of Bramber in 1788, a seat he held until 1790, and then sat for Lincoln from 1790 to 1796. He was also MP for Armagh Borough in the Irish House of Commons from 1790 to 1797. In 1793 he was invested a member of the Privy Council, and appointed Governor of Madras, in which post he remained until 1797. On his return to Britain in 1797 he was summoned to the House of Lords through a writ of acceleration in his father’s junior title of Baron Hobart. He later served as the first Secretary of State for War and the Colonies from 1801 to 1804, as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1805 and again in 1812, as Postmaster General from 1806 to 1807 and as President of the Board of Control from 1812 to 1816. Lord Buckinghamshire died in February 1816 at the age of 55. Hobart, capital of Tasmania, is named after him.

Sir Charles Stuart

Sir Charles Stuart, Baron Stuart de Rothesay (2 January 1779–6 November 1845) was the eldest son of Lieutenant General the Honourable Sir Charles Stuart, 4th son of Lord Bute, and Louisa Bertie, daughter of Lord Vere Bertie (Duke of Ancaster). He was born on 2 January 1779. Having entered the diplomatic service, he became Chargé d'Affaires at Vienna, then served in St Petersburg and Madrid by 1808. In 180 he was appointed His Majesty's Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal during the Peninsular War. His overwhelming success and cooperation with Wellington was instrumental in the British victory. He followed with Ambassadorships to Paris, twice, the Netherlands, the Brasils, and Russia during a long and distinguished diplomatic career. He was created Count of Machico and Marquis of Angra, and knight grand cross of the Tower and Sword, by Portugal. On 20 Sept. 1812 he was made G.C.B. and a Privy Councilor. On 22 Jan. 1828 he was created Baron Stuart de Rothesay of the Isle of Bute. He was the grandson of the 3rd Lord Bute. He died on 6 Nov. 1845. His portrait, painted by Baron Gerard, belonged in 1867 to his daughter, the Marchioness of Waterford, and now hangs in the British embassy in Spain. By his wife Elizabeth Margaret, third daughter of Philip Yorke, 3rd Earl of Hardwicke, he had two daughters Charlotte (d. 1861), wife of Charles John Canning, Earl Canning, and Louisa (d. 1891), wife of Henry, 3rd Marquis of Waterford.



Biographical Note

Charles James Fox
24 January 1749 – 13 September 1806)

     The Right Honourable Charles James Fox was a prominent British Whig statesman whose parliamentary career spanned thirty-eight years of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and who was particularly noted for being the arch-rival of William Pitt the Younger. He went to Parliament at the age of 19, at 21 he was first Lord of the Admiralty. He could speak 5 languages fluently was renowned as the best orator of his day and frittered away a fortune of a quarter of million pounds (a good income for a lord's son at this time was around five thousand pounds). It is interesting to also note that Charles Fox was also a leader of fashion early on and after a tour of Europe brought back to London the extravagant male fashions then popular at the French court - frilly lace, brocade, cosmetics, red heels etc. This was the costume of the 'Macaroni's' and at nineteen Fox was the acknowledged leader of this group.
The son of an old, indulgent Whig father, Fox rose to prominence in the House of Commons as a forceful and eloquent speaker with a notorious and colourful private life, though his opinions were rather conservative and conventional. However, with the coming of the American Revolution and the influence of the Whig Edmund Burke, Fox's opinions evolved into some of the most radical ever to be aired in the Parliament of his era. He came from a family with radical and revolutionary tendencies and his first cousin and friend Lord Edward Fitzgerald was a prominent member of the Society of United Irishmen who was arrested just prior to the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and died of wounds received as he was arrested.
      Fox became a prominent and staunch opponent of George III, whom he regarded as an aspiring tyrant, and a supporter of the revolutionaries across the Atlantic, taking up the habit of dressing in the colours of George Washington's army. Fox served briefly as Britain's first Foreign Secretary in the ministry of the Marquess of Rockingham in 1782, and returned to the post in a coalition government with his old enemy Lord North in 1783. However, the King forced Fox and North out of government before the end of the year, replacing them with the twenty-four-year-old Pitt the Younger, and Fox spent the following twenty-two years facing Pitt and the government benches from across the Commons.
     Though Fox had little interest in the actual exercise of power and spent almost the entirety of his political career in opposition, he became noted as an anti-slavery campaigner, a supporter of the French Revolution, and a leading parliamentary advocate of religious tolerance and individual liberty. His friendship with his mentor Burke and his parliamentary credibility were both casualties of Fox's support for France during the Revolutionary Wars, but he went on to attack Pitt's wartime legislation and to defend the liberty of religious minorities and political radicals. After Pitt's death in January 1806, Fox briefly became Foreign Secretary in the 'Ministry of All the Talents' of William Grenville, before dying himself on 13 September 1806, aged fifty-seven.
     After Pitt’s resignation in February 1801, Fox had undertaken a partial return to politics. Having opposed the Addington ministry (though he approved of its negotiation of the Peace of Amiens) as a Pitt-style tool of the King, Fox gravitated towards the Grenvillite faction, which shared his support for Catholic emancipation and composed the only parliamentary alternative to a coalition with the Pittites. Thus, when Pitt (who had replaced Addington in 1804 to become Prime Minister once more) died on 23 January, 1806, Fox was the last remaining great political figure of the era, and could no longer be denied a place in government. When Grenville formed a "Ministry of All the Talents" out of his supporters, the followers of Addington, and the Foxites, Fox was once again offered the post of Foreign Secretary, which he accepted. Though the administration failed to achieve either Catholic emancipation or peace with France, Fox’s last great achievement would be the abolition of the slave trade in 1807. Though Fox would die before abolition was formalized, he oversaw a Foreign Slave Trade Bill in spring 1806 that prohibited British subjects from contributing to the trading of slaves with the colonies of Britain’s wartime enemies, thus eliminating two-thirds of the slave trade passing through British ports.
     On 10 June 1806, Fox offered a resolution for total abolition to Parliament: "this House, conceiving the African slave trade to be contrary to the principles of justice, humanity, and sound policy, will, with all practicable expedition, proceed to take effectual measures for abolishing the said trade…" The House of Commons voted 114 to 15 in favour and the Lords approved the motion on 25 June. Fox said that: “So fully am I impressed with the vast importance and necessity of attaining what will be the object of my motion this night, that if, during the almost forty years that I have had the honour of a seat in parliament, I had been so fortunate as to accomplish that, and that only, I should think I had done enough, and could retire from public life with comfort, and the conscious satisfaction, that I had done my duty.”

Document Specifications:  An extremely fine handwritten ALS letter signed by Charles James Fox as Foreign Secretary in the London and dated February 22nd 1806. Single half sheet letter measures 9½" tall x 7⅜" wide (238mm x 188mm). On batonne laid paper with "LB" crested watermark , with usual letter folds and slight corner creases. Writing on one page as shown. This is a handwritten letter by one of the most renowned of British Politicians. The fact that it ties in Lord Buckinghamshire, himself a Cabinet member and Sir Charles Stuart, later Lord Rothesay who would become one of the pre-eminent diplomats of his day makes this is a scarce opportunity to acquire an example of Fox's hand and signature on a historically relevant document and which would handsomely enhance and help anchor a collection of British Political Leaders. Scarce in the market place.

From the Sir Charles Stuart, Lord Rothesay, Correspondence. Stuart was His Britannic Majesty's Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal during the greater part of the Peninsular War (10 January 1810 to 26 May 1814). He was a personal friend and confidante of Wellington and Nelson, a sitting member of the Portuguese Regency (the only British Subject in the war ever permitted to hold an official position in a foreign government while also representing Britain), and later ambassador to Netherlands & France. The most important foreign diplomat of the Peninsular War, his archive of diplomatic, military and intelligence dispatches are second only to Wellington's Dispatches.

 Offered by Berryhill & Sturgeon, Ltd.

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