Lord Grenville (Buckingham's younger brother)
In this preview excerpt from THE SHEEP AND THE GOATS, Book Two of the Berkeley Trilogy (due 2013) the Earl of Berkeley's brother-in-law, The Marquess of Buckingham, shifts closer to power. He is perilously in possession of the truth about the 'first' marriage.
Two weeks later, Pitt gave up the ghost. “Oh, my country!” he gasped. “How I leave my country!”
He was forty-six.
It was a harsh blow to the King. Pitt was a trusted friend and ally. There was no one to fill his shoes. No one whose values so accorded with the King's when he himself was struggling with 'the mortal coil'. Britain was deep in strife and his heir had so far proved to have no mettle for steady government.
The King called for Lord Grenville, Pitt's right hand man, and asked him to form a new administration of the most able politicians. Grenville's older brother, the Marquess of Buckingham, had proved a loyal minister to the throne in previous years, so the Tory pedigree was thorough. Grenville, however, was not a manager of men.
“A coalition,” barked the King. “Ministry of all the talents. Best foot forward! What!” He was striding about the Red Saloon of Buckingham House, his hands behind his back, and his dimming gaze again fixed on the floor. “New brooms, Grenville. Lady Pembroke...”
“Your Majesty?” The minister was not permitted to sit whilst his Monarch was standing and had turned a dizzying full circle to follow his progess.
“No, sir, we are not thinking of putting her in office! Or, perhaps...perhaps we are! Ah, the doe-eyed Countess! Excellent woman! Now, she could have our kingdom if only she'd consent to be bedded!”
Lord Grenville ahemmed. “Your Majesty delights in making sport,” he responded with wan ambiguity. “The Cabinet...”
“Not Fox, you hear! Infernal Republican! That will put Wales' nose out of joint. They're in league to undermine the State, the pair of them. Brace of moles!”
“I fear it might be difficult to refuse office to some of His Highness' friends. I wonder,” mused Grenville in the mannered mode of the Bar, “might Lord Erskine not...”
The King, who had performed a couple of hopscotch jumps upon the carpet in order to avoid some of the intricacies of the design, halted instantly, turning a fiery eye upon the minister. “Erskine! What! Cunning plan. Eh? Whig, but keeps Catholics in their place. Got himself into hot water a few years back, but won the day! Yes, sir!”
“And Sidmouth, might he not serve as Lord Privy Seal?”
“By Jove, Grenville, you've a good nose for politics. Haul him back by all means. Wales can't stomach him.”
“There's Windham, too. A skilled manipulator of opinion.”
“A diplomat, sir! It is in his very marrow. He is against political reform. Secretary of State for War.”
“...And of Your Majesty's Colonies?” suggested Grenville with a bow.
“Oh, our lamented Colonies!” wailed the Sovereign, clapping a hand to his brow. “Those cursed liberal Americans! Shooting themselves in the foot...but, no matter. India!”
Grenville took a deep breath. “The question of who shall fill the post of Foreign Secretary has exercised me in a manner unconducive to repose. Fox has many merits and is well-respected. Does Your Majesty not entertain the notion that he might do more damage out of office than in it?”
The King shuddered with impotent rage. Just as swiftly, he stalled in front of a painting of his father and aunts. Prince Frederick was glued to his cello music while Caroline and Anne supplied accompaniment on the harpsichord and mandolin. Princess Amelia, evidently unmoved by Euterpe, leaned an elbow on the instrument, a hand placed under her cap to cover one ear while she tried vainly to read. You could tell that Amelia was ripe for mischief.
“There is powerful logic in that, sir. Damned Jacobin needs to be occupied. See to it!”
He then fell to ruminating on the business Pitt had left in train. Lord Grenville thought it best to circumvent the thorny issue of Catholic Relief. “Parliament will continue with the abolition of the slave trade,” he announced.
“Can't have any truck with it, Grenville. We have too long seized upon the fortunes of the Moor!”
“Just so, sir.”
Arrested by the Shakespearian theme, the King declaimed: “If you bethink yourself of any crime unreconciled as yet to heaven and grace, solicit for it straight.”
The finger of State was pointed at the new First Minister who thought it prudent to accede with a graceful bow.
“The responsibility of Master-General of the Ordnance...”
The King sniffed. “You're about to tell us that Moira is best qualified. Another cohort of our profligate offspring! Well, let it be so. We shall not interfere. None can rival his experience in the field.”
Grenville was glad that the matter of the Cabinet had fallen out as he had hoped. He was an able communicator and could see how things should come together, dropping the right word here, persuading this clique and that, steering clear of pitfalls. But his own health was finely balanced. He worked hard, but tired easily, so that he needed a supporting cast upon whom he could depend. His brother, the Marquess, was shrewd and would offer sound advice. The stability of the nation was the most crucial matter on the agenda.
He had decided to leave the delicate topic of the Princess Caroline for another session, when the King started pulling the bell-rope as though victory had been announced. This was unnecessary as two of his Lords-in-Waiting stood sentinel at the far end of the room.
“Grenville! Why the deuce do you not sit, sir, and take some sherry! You've had us pacing about this half of the hour!”
Causes Rosy Cole Supports
World Vision, International Prison Outreach, Salvation Army, Emmaus Project, Poor Clares, DogsTrust, BUAV (against animal testing) WWT (Wildfowl &...