The military campaigns in the summer of 1809 had ended in disappointment or disaster; this situation in itself might have brought about a ministerial crisis in the autumn, and perhaps driven Castlereagh from office. As it happened, these circumstances did no more than strengthen the arguments of George Canning that the ministry should be recast in order to achieve a more efficient direction of the war, and — it is not unfair to add sotto voce — to promote the interest of George Canning himself. The crisis precipitated by Canning was to drive himself and Castlereagh out of the ministry, and though Spencer Perceval and Liverpool were able to reconstitute it, there was to be a continual quest for reinforcements, and its long-term prospects were often in doubt. Repeatedly the years 1806–12 were to underline the problem of maintaining the party or government of Mr. Pitt without the leadership of Pitt himself. Indeed, only the fortuitous quarrel of George III with the Ministry of All the Talents in 1807 may have saved the Pittites from disintegration, or at least from a very real diminution of strength. Thereafter their survival in office owed much to equally fortuitous circumstances, such as the failure of any other combination of politicians to possess the confidence of the King, or later of the Prince Regent, and also of Parliament.
KeywordsMilitary Campaign Prince Regent Efficient Direction Alternative Ministry English Working Class
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- 1.Gray, pp. 242–53. G. Fox-Strangeways, Further Memoirs of the Whig Party, 1807–21 (1905), p. 35. Rose, Correspondence, ii. 349–423. Romilly, Memoirs, ii. 293–4n. Lane Poole, Stratford Canning, i. 74–76. Marchioness of Londonderry, Castlereagh (1904), pp. 38–44.Google Scholar