I write to-night for ten dozen more of vin de Grave.
Fox’s Debts—Lord Holland—News from London—Interview with Fox—The Fire at Holland House—A Visit to Tunbridge—Provision for Mie Mie —County business and electioneering at Gloucester—Lotteries—Fox and Carlisle—Highway adventures—London Society—Newmarket intelligence—An evening in town—Charles Fox and America—Carlisle declines a Court post—Money from Fox—Selwyn and gambling—A Private Bill Committee—Selwyn in bad spirits—The Royal Society —Book-buying—Political affairs—London parks—Gainsborough—The Duchess of Kingston—Selwyn’s private affairs—“The Diaboliad”—A dinner at the French Ambassador’s—Politics and the Clubs—In Paris —Electioneering again.
A distinguished man of letters of the present day has called Selwyn the father confessor of the society of his time: it is a tribute to his friendliness and good sense, as well as to his good nature and patience. Without them he could never have been the trusted adviser of Carlisle in those financial difficulties in which the young peer’s friendship for Charles Fox involved him. It was in 1773 that the crash came in Fox’s affairs. His gambling debts had been accumulating. The birth of a son to his elder brother—closing, at any rate for the time, Charles Fox’s reversionary interests—caused his creditors to press their claims. Lord Holland was obliged to come to the assistance of his son. It is at this moment that the correspondence which is gathered in the present chapter begins. Lord Holland had raised a large sum with which to pay off his son’s debts. Selwyn was indignant because it seemed as if creditors less indulgent than Carlisle would be the first to be paid. So in many letters he presses upon Carlisle that he must not allow his friendship for Charles Fox to outweigh the monetary claims which he had upon him, and in no measured terms he condemns the carelessness with which Fox regarded his financial obligations to his friend.
The correspondence contained in this chapter commences at the end of the year 1773, after an apparent break of four years; there is no doubt, however, that it continued and the letters from Selwyn have not been preserved. The letters in 1773 begin by referring to the financial matters to which brief allusion has just been made, and which formed a subject so full of interest and anxiety for Selwyn. He has time, however, to give his friend news of the political and social events of London. The American question was becoming more and more important, the Declaration of Independence had startled England in 1776, and in 1774 Charles Fox had finally left the Administration of Lord North, soon to become the leader of the Whig party and the champion of the American Colonists.