chapter  IX
Pages 25

If we do not tell the truth about public men when they are dead, "Away goes," wrote Cobbett, "at one sweep all historical truth, and, with it, all the advantages therefrom derived, whether in politics or morals." 2 He thus set, in this first case in which the problem was presented to him, the precedent he followed throughout his life, of saying, on the occasion of the death of any important public character, exactly what he thought of him and his doings, without being held back by any respect for the maxim, De mortuis nil nisi bonum. We shall see him repeating the cold douch of uncomplimentary candour over the graves of others, and, in the special case of Castlereagh, dancing over his suicide's grave a positive war-dance of exultation. " Good form," as it was ordinarily understood, did not appeal to Cobbett. He believed in saying exactly what he thought and felt upon all occasions. He did not affect a sorrow or an admiration which he did not feel. This infuriated his enemies, and shocked some of his friends ; but their adverse opinions did not affect him. He had, moreover, a political justification: he held that the dead were exploited by the living for their own ends. "Peace to those ashes, with all my heart! Profound peace to them, as far as historical truth will permit. But, let it be real peace ; peace on both sides ; let them not be raked up for the purposes of annoying us ; let them lie quiet ; let them not be thrown either in our eyes or our teeth; for, if they are, we must, and we certainly shall, as in self-defence and in duty we are bound, throw them back again." 3

George III., indeed, attempted to get the Ministry reconstructed under Lord Hawkesbury, afterwards Earl of Liverpool and Prime Minister from 1812 to 1827 ; but Hawkesbury knew the weakness of his position and refused the task. The king then turned to Lord Grenville, and agreed to the inclusion of Fox in the Ministry as the price of Grenville's acceptance. The Old and New Oppositions combined, with certain elements from the old Government, including the inevitable Sidmouth, to form the Ministry of All the Talents. Grenville was First Lord of the Treasury, Fox Foreign Secretary, Erskine Lord Chancellor, Grey at the Admiralty, and Windham, Cobbett's friend, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. The Whig influence predominated.