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Charles James Fox$
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L. G. Mitchell

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198201045

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198201045.001.0001

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New Principles and Old Failings, 1784–1789

New Principles and Old Failings, 1784–1789

(p.72) 4 New Principles and Old Failings, 1784–1789
Charles James Fox

L. G. Mitchell

Oxford University Press

The feverish politics of 1782–4 ended, for Fox, in public and sensational defeat. Their impact and influence cast long shadows, and for Fox they were a formative experience. Defeat reinforced in Fox all those inclinations to abandon politics that had always been part of his personality. Too often thereafter the making of policy was left to others, like Burke and Sheridan. At crucial moments, seemingly paralysed or indifferent, Fox refused to exercise the influence that his name and talents secured him. He was the undoubted leader and yet often refused to lead. He wanted to make George III pay for the humiliation of 1784, but somehow lacked the will to exploit opportunities to do so. As a result, divisions and animosities within the Foxite group were allowed to develop long before 1789. It was the French Revolution that would tear the party asunder, but Fox's refusal either to lead or retire left the Foxites vulnerable and at risk.

Keywords:   Charles James Fox, 18th-century politics, English politicians, political defeat, George III, Foxites, French Revolution

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