HAWKESBURY'S TENURE AS foreign secretary, despite its frustrations, staked his claim to prominence. As colleagues resigned, they gave him their seals of office for safekeeping as the only secretary of state to continue in Pitt's new government. The small detail points to the role he quietly acquired over the coming years. Moving to the Lords, as his father predicted, took Hawkesbury from the contest in the Commons among Pitt's followers for the lead. It eventually cast him as the mediator among the eventual claimants to Elijah's mantle. Hawkesbury also stepped into his father's role as George III's confidant, a position strengthened by handling quarrels between the Prince of Wales and the king. His most challenging negotiations, however, involved Pitt and Addington, whom he eventually brought together in a short-lived reconciliation. Exchanging the Foreign Office for the home department at Pitt's insistence sparked unwelcome controversy of its own from an early stage.
Pitt no longer dominated politics as the infant Hercules resting upon Chatham's shield or the giant factotum who towered over the Commons and amused himself with the globe. His speed filling leading offices in May 1804 belied the fact that he now operated within a more limited scope. By refusing to admit Fox to the cabinet, George III dashed plans for a comprehensive administration with leading men from all parliamentary factions. Pitt argued that Napoleon's conduct had superseded differences over the French Revolution. A broad government free of opposition would facilitate a new military coalition against France. It also would remove anxiety that agitation of the Catholic question would revive by precluding support from any faction. After rejecting the original plan, the king later agreed on the value of an extended administration. He even waived objections to certain figures holding particular offices, but persisted in rejecting Fox, whom he saw as the most dangerous of politicians, without, however, denying him a post abroad. Refusing to accept office without Fox, Grenville condemned any principle of exclusion. His stance, which prevented an inclusive government, irritated Pitt and reinforced factionalism. Pitt indignantly declared he would teach that proud man how with the king's confidence he could do without him.