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Critical and Historical Essays Volume 1 by Thomas Babington Macaulay

Part 9 out of 16

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grossly exaggerated, about Lord Carteret; how, in the height of
his greatness, he fell in love at first sight on a birthday with
Lady Sophia Fermor, the handsome daughter of Lord Pomfret; how he
plagued the Cabinet every day with reading to them her ladyship's
letters; how strangely he brought home his bride; what fine
jewels he gave her; how he fondled her at Ranelagh; and what
queen-like state she kept in Arlington Street. Horace Walpole has
spoken less bitterly of Carteret than of any public man of that
time, Fox, perhaps, excepted; and this is the more remarkable,
because Carteret was one of the most inveterate enemies of Sir
Robert. In the Memoirs, Horace Walpole, after passing in review
all the great men whom England had produced within his memory,
concludes by saying, that in genius none of them equalled Lord
Granville. Smollett, in Humphrey Clinker, pronounces a similar
judgment in coarser language. "Since Granville was turned out,
there has been no minister in this nation worth the meal that
whitened his periwig."

Carteret fell; and the reign of the Pelhams commenced. It was
Carteret's misfortune to be raised to power when the public mind
was still smarting from recent disappointment. The nation had
been duped, and was eager for revenge. A victim was necessary,
and on such occasions the victims of popular rage are selected
like the victim of Jephthah. The first person who comes in the
way is made the sacrifice. The wrath of the people had now spent
itself; and the unnatural excitement was succeeded by an
unnatural calm. To an irrational eagerness for something new,
succeeded an equally irrational disposition to acquiesce in
everything established. A few months back the people had been
disposed to impute every crime to men in power, and to lend a
ready ear to the high professions of men in opposition. They were
now disposed to surrender themselves implicitly to the management
of Ministers, and to look with suspicion and contempt on all who
pretended to public spirit. The name of patriot had become a by-
word of derision. Horace Walpole scarcely exaggerated when he
said that, in those times, the most popular declaration which a
candidate could make on the hustings was that he had never been
and never would be a patriot. At this conjecture took place the
rebellion of the Highland clans. The alarm produced by that event
quieted the strife of internal factions. The suppression of the
insurrection crushed for ever the spirit of the Jacobite party.
Room was made in the Government for a few Tories. Peace was
patched up with France and Spain. Death removed the Prince of
Wales, who had contrived to keep together a small portion of that
formidable opposition of which he had been the leader in the time
of Sir Robert Walpole. Almost every man of weight in the House of
Commons was officially connected with the Government The even
tenor of the session of Parliament was ruffled only by an
occasional harangue from Lord Egmont on the army estimates. For
the first time since the accession of the Stuarts there was no
opposition. This singular good fortune, denied to the ablest
statesmen, to Salisbury, to Strafford, to Clarendon, to Somers,
to Walpole, had been reserved for the Pelhams.

Henry Pelham, it is true, was by no means a contemptible person.
His understanding was that of Walpole on a somewhat smaller
scale. Though not a brilliant orator, he was, like his master, a
good debater, a good parliamentary tactician, a good man of
business. Like his master, he distinguished himself by the
neatness and clearness of his financial expositions. Here the
resemblance ceased. Their characters were altogether dissimilar.
Walpole was good-humoured, but would have his way: his spirits
were high, and his manners frank even to coarseness. The temper
of Pelham was yielding, but peevish: his habits were regular, and
his deportment strictly decorous. Walpole was constitutionally
fearless, Pelharn constitutionally timid. Walpole had to face a
strong opposition; but no man in the Government durst wag a
finger against him. Almost all the opposition which Pelham had to
encounter was from members of the Government of which he was the
head. His own pay-master spoke against his estimates. His own
secretary-at-war spoke against his Regency Bill. In one day
Walpole turned Lord Chesterfield, Lord Burlington, and Lord
Clinton out of the royal household, dismissed the highest
dignitaries of Scotland from their posts, and took away the
regiments of the Duke of Bolton and Lord Cobham, because he
suspected them of having encouraged the resistance to his Excise
Bill. He would far rather have contended with the strongest
minority, under the ablest leaders, than have tolerated mutiny in
his own party. It would have gone hard with any of his
colleagues, who had ventured, on a Government question, to divide
the House of Commons against him. Pelham, on the other hand, was
disposed to bear anything rather than drive from office any man
round whom a new opposition could form. He therefore endured with
fretful patience the insubordination of Pitt and Fox. He thought
it far better to connive at their occasional infractions of
discipline than to hear them, night after night, thundering
against corruption and wicked ministers from the other side of
the House.

We wonder that Sir Walter Scott never tried his hand on the Duke
of Newcastle. An interview between his Grace and Jeanie Deans
would have been delightful, and by no means unnatural. There is
scarcely any public man in our history of whose manners and
conversation so many particulars have been preserved. Single
stories may be unfounded or exaggerated. But all the stories
about him, whether told by people who were perpetually seeing him
in Parliament and attending his levee in Lincoln's Inn Fields, or
by Grub Street writers who never had more than a glimpse of his
star through the windows of his gilded coach, are of the same
character. Horace Walpole and Smollett differed in their tastes
and opinions as much as two human beings could differ. They kept
quite different society. Walpole played at cards with countesses,
and corresponded with ambassadors. Smollett passed his life
surrounded by printers' devils and famished scribblers. Yet
Walpole's Duke and Smollett's Duke are as like as if they were
both from one hand. Smollett's Newcastle runs out of his
dressing-room, with his face covered with soap-suds, to embrace
the Moorish envoy. Walpole's Newcastle pushes his way into the
Duke of Grafton's sick-room to kiss the old nobleman's plasters.
No man was so unmercifully satirised. But in truth he was himself
a satire ready made. All that the art of the satirist does for
other men, nature had done for him. Whatever was absurd about him
stood out with grotesque prominence from the rest of the
character. He was a living, moving, talking caricature. His gait
was a shuffling trot; his utterance a rapid stutter; he was
always in a hurry; he was never in time; he abounded in fulsome
caresses and in hysterical tears. His oratory resembled that of
justice Shallow. It was nonsense--effervescent with animal
spirits and impertinence. Of his ignorance many anecdotes remain,
some well authenticated, some probably invented at coffee-houses,
but all exquisitely characteristic. " Oh--yes--yes--to be sure--
Annapolis must he defended--troops must be sent to Annapolis--
Pray where is Annapolis?"--"Cape Breton an island! Wonderful!--
show it me in the map. So it is, sure enough. My dear sir, you
always bring us good news. I must go and tell the King that Cape
Breton is an island."

And this man was, during near thirty years, Secretary of State,
and, during near ten years, First Lord of the Treasury! His large
fortune, his strong hereditary connection, his great
parliamentary interest, will not alone explain this extraordinary
fact. His success is a signal instance of what may be effected by
a man who devotes his whole heart and soul without reserve to one
object. He was eaten up by ambition. His love of influence and
authority resembled the avarice of the old usurer in the Fortunes
of Nigel. It was so intense a passion that it supplied the place
of talents, that it inspired even fatuity with cunning. "Have no
money dealings with my father," says Marth to Lord Glenvarloch;
"for, dotard as he is, he will make an ass of you." It was as
dangerous to have any political connection with Newcastle as to
buy and sell with old Trapbois. He was greedy after power with a
greediness all his own. He was jealous of all his colleagues, and
even of his own brother. Under the disguise of levity he was
false beyond all example of political falsehood. All the able men
of his time ridiculed him as a dunce, a driveller, a child who
never knew his own mind for an hour together; and he overreached
them all round.

If the country had remained at peace, it is not impossible that
this man would have continued at the head of affairs without
admitting any other person to a share of his authority until the
throne was filled by a new Prince, who brought with him new
maxims of government, new favourites, and a strong will. But the
inauspicious commencement of the Seven Years' War brought on a
crisis to which Newcastle was altogether unequal. After a calm of
fifteen years the spirit of the nation was again stirred to its
inmost depths. In a few days the whole aspect of the political
world was changed.

But that change is too remarkable an event to be discussed at the
end of an article already more than sufficiently long. It is
probable that we may, at no remote time, resume the subject.


(January 1834)

A History of the Right Honourable William Pitt, Earl of Chatham,
containing his Speeches in Parliament, a considerable Portion of
his Correspondence when Secretary of State, upon French, Spanish,
and American Affairs, never before published; and an Account of
the principal Events and Persons of his Time, connected with his
Life, Sentiments and Administration. By the Rev. FRANCIS
THACKERAY, A.M. 2 Vols. 4to. London: 1827.

Though several years have elapsed since the publication of this
work, it is still, we believe, a new publication to most of our
readers. Nor are we surprised at this. The book is large, and the
style heavy. The information which Mr. Thackeray has obtained
from the State Paper Office is new; but much of it is very
uninteresting. The rest of his narrative is very little better
than Gifford's or Tomline's Life of the second Pitt, and tells us
little or nothing that may not be found quite as well told in the
Parliamentary History, the Annual Register, and other works
equally common.

Almost every mechanical employment, it is said, has a tendency
to injure some one or other of the bodily organs of the artisan.
Grinders of cutlery die of consumption; weavers are stunted in
their growth; smiths become blear-eyed. In the same manner almost
every intellectual employment has a tendency to produce some
intellectual malady. Biographers, translators, editors, all, in
short, who employ themselves in illustrating the lives or the
writings of others, are peculiarly exposed to the Lues
Boswelliana, or disease of admiration. But we scarcely remember
ever to have seen a patient so far gone in this distemper as Mr.
Thackeray. He is not satisfied with forcing us to confess that
Pitt was a great orator, a vigorous minister, an honourable and
high-spirited gentleman. He will have it that all virtues and all
accomplishments met in his hero. In spite of Gods, men, and
columns, Pitt must be a poet, a poet capable of producing a
heroic poem of the first order; and we are assured that we ought
to find many charms in such lines as these:

"Midst all the tumults of the warring sphere,
My light-charged bark may haply glide;
Some gale may waft, some conscious thought shall cheer,
And the small freight unanxious glide."

[The quotation is faithfully made from Mr. Thackeray. Perhaps
Pitt wrote guide in the fourth line.]

Pitt was in the army for a few months in time of peace. Mr.
Thackeray accordingly insists on our confessing that, if the
young cornet had remained in the service, he would have been one
of the ablest commanders that ever lived. But this is not all.
Pitt, it seems, was not merely a great poet, in esse, and a great
general in posse, but a finished example of moral excellence, the
just man made perfect. He was in the right when he attempted to
establish an inquisition, and to give bounties for perjury, in
order to get Walpole's head. He was in the right when he declared
Walpole to have been an excellent minister. He was in the right
when, being in opposition, he maintained that no peace ought to
be made with Spain, till she should formally renounce the right
of search. He was in the right when, being in office, he silently
acquiesced in a treaty by which Spain did not renounce the right
of search. When he left the Duke of Newcastle, when he coalesced
with the Duke of Newcastle, when he thundered against subsidies,
when he lavished subsidies with unexampled profusion, when he
execrated the Hanoverian connection, when he declared that
Hanover ought to be as dear to us as Hampshire, he was still
invariably speaking the language of a virtuous and enlightened

The truth is that there scarcely ever lived a person who had so
little claim to this sort of praise as Pitt. He was undoubtedly a
great man. But his was not a complete and well-proportioned
greatness. The public life of Hampden or of Somers resembles a
regular drama, which can be criticised as a whole, and every
scene of which is to be viewed in connection with the main
action. The public life of Pitt, on the other hand, is a rude
though striking piece, a piece abounding in incongruities, a
piece without any unity of plan, but redeemed by some noble
passages, the effect of which is increased by the tameness or
extravagance of what precedes and of what follows. His opinions
were unfixed. His conduct at some of the most important
conjunctures of his life was evidently determined by pride and
resentment. He had one fault, which of all human faults is most
rarely found in company with true greatness. He was extremely
affected. He was an almost solitary instance of a man of real
genius, and of a brave, lofty, and commanding spirit, without
simplicity of character. He was an actor in the Closet, an actor
at Council, an actor in Parliament; and even in private society
he could not lay aside his theatrical tones and attitudes. We
know that one of the most distinguished of his partisans often
complained that he could never obtain admittance to Lord
Chatham's room till everything was ready for the representation,
till the dresses and properties were all correctly disposed, till
the light was thrown with Rembrandt-like effect on the head of
the illustrious performer, till the flannels had been arranged
with the air of a Grecian drapery, and the crutch placed as
gracefully as that of Belisarius or Lear.

Yet, with all his faults and affectations, Pitt had, in a very
extraordinary degree, many of the elements of greatness. He had
genius, strong passions, quick sensibility, and vehement
enthusiasm for the grand and the beautiful. There was something
about him which ennobled tergiversation itself. He often went
wrong, very wrong. But, to quote the language of Wordsworth,

"He still retained,
'Mid such abasement, what he had received
From nature, an intense and glowing mind."

In an age of low and dirty prostitution, in the age of Dodington
and Sandys, it was something to have a man who might perhaps,
under some strong excitement, have been tempted to ruin his
country, but who never would have stooped to pilfer from her, a
man whose errors arose, not from a sordid desire of gain, but
from a fierce thirst for power, for glory, and for vengeance.
History owes to him this attestation, that at a time when
anything short of direct embezzlement of the public money was
considered as quite fair in public men, he showed the most
scrupulous disinterestedness; that, at a time when it seemed to
be generally taken for granted that Government could be upheld
only by the basest and most immoral arts, he appealed to the
better and nobler parts of human nature; that he made a brave and
splendid attempt to do, by means of public opinion, what no other
statesman of his day thought it possible to do, except by means
of corruption; that he looked for support, not, like the Pelhams,
to a strong aristocratical connection, not, like Bute, to the
personal favour of the sovereign, but to the middle class of
Englishmen; that he inspired that class with a firm confidence in
his integrity and ability; that, backed by them, he forced an
unwilling court and an unwilling oligarchy to admit him to an
ample share of power; and that he used his power in such a manner
as clearly proved him to have sought it, not for the sake of
profit or patronage, but from a wish to establish for himself a
great and durable reputation by means of eminent services
rendered to the State.

The family of Pitt was wealthy and respectable. His grandfather
was Governor of Madras, and brought back from India that
celebrated diamond which the Regent Orleans, by the advice of
Saint Simon, purchased for upwards of two millions of livres, and
which is still considered as the most precious of the crown
jewels of France. Governor Pitt bought estates and rotten
boroughs, and sat in the House of Commons for Old Sarum. His son
Robert was at one time member for Old Sarum, and at another for
Oakhampton. Robert had two sons. Thomas, the elder, inherited the
estates and the parliamentary interest of his father. The second
was the celebrated William Pitt.

He was born in November, 1708. About the early part of his life
little more is known than that he was educated at Eton, and that
at seventeen he was entered at Trinity College, Oxford. During
the second year of his residence at the University, George the
First died; and the event was, after the fashion of that
generation, celebrated by the Oxonians in many middling copies of
verses. On this occasion Pitt published some Latin lines, which
Mr. Thackeray has preserved. They prove that the young student
had but a very limited knowledge even of the mechanical part of
his art. All true Etonians will hear with concern that their
illustrious schoolfellow is guilty of making the first syllable
in labenti short. [So Mr. Thackeray has printed the poem. But it
may be charitably hoped that Pitt wrote labanti.] The matter of
the poem is as worthless as that of any college exercise that was
ever written before or since. There is, of course, much about
Mars, Themis, Neptune, and Cocytus. The Muses are earnestly
entreated to weep over the urn of Caesar; for Caesar, says the
Poet, loved the Muses; Caesar, who could not read a line of Pope,
and who loved nothing but punch and fat women.

Pitt had been, from his school-days, cruelly tormented by the
gout, and was advised to travel for his health. He accordingly
left Oxford without taking a degree, and visited France and
Italy. He returned, however, without having received much benefit
from his excursion, and continued, till the close of his life, to
suffer most severely from his constitutional malady.

His father was now dead, and had left very little to the younger
children. It was necessary that William should choose a
profession. He decided for the army, and a cornet's commission
was procured for him in the Blues.

But, small as his fortune was, his family had both the power and
the inclination to serve him. At the general election of 1734,
his elder brother Thomas was chosen both for Old Sarum and for
Oakhampton. When Parliament met in 1735, Thomas made his election
to serve for Oakhampton, and William was returned for Old Sarum.

Walpole had now been, during fourteen years, at the head of
affairs. He had risen to power under the most favourable
circumstances. The whole of the Whig party, of that party which
professed peculiar attachment to the principles of the
Revolution, and which exclusively enjoyed the confidence of the
reigning house, had been united in support of his administration.
Happily for him, he had been out of office when the South-Sea Act
was passed; and, though he does not appear to have foreseen all
the consequences of that measure, he had strenuously opposed it,
as he had opposed all the measures, good and bad, of Sutherland's
administration. When the South-Sea Company were voting dividends
of fifty per cent, when a hundred pounds of their stock were
selling for eleven hundred pounds, when Threadneedle Street was
daily crowded with the coaches of dukes and prelates, when
divines and philosophers turned gamblers, when a thousand kindred
bubbles were daily blown into existence, the periwig-company, and
the Spanish-jackass-company, and the quicksilver-fixation-
company, Walpole's calm good sense preserved him from the general
infatuation. He condemned the prevailing madness in public, and
turned a considerable sum by taking advantage of it in private.
When the crash came, when ten thousand families were reduced to
beggary in a day, when the people, in the frenzy of their rage
and despair, clamoured, not only against the lower agents in the
juggle, but against the Hanoverian favourites, against the
English ministers, against the King himself, when Parliament met,
eager for confiscation and blood, when members of the House of
Commons proposed that the directors should be treated like
parricides in ancient Rome, tied up in sacks, and thrown into the
Thames, Walpole was the man on whom all parties turned their
eyes. Four years before he had been driven from power by the
intrigues of Sunderland and Stanhope; and the lead in the House
of Commons had been intrusted to Craggs and Aislabie. Stanhope
was no more. Aislabie was expelled from Parliament on account of
his disgraceful conduct regarding the South-Sea scheme. Craggs
was perhaps saved by a timely death from a similar mark of
infamy. A large minority in the House of Commons voted for a
severe censure on Sunderland, who, finding it impossible to
withstand the force of the prevailing sentiment, retired from
office, and outlived his retirement but a very short time. The
schism which had divided the Whig party was now completely
healed. Walpole had no opposition to encounter except that of the
Tories; and the Tories were naturally regarded by the King with
the strongest suspicion and dislike.

For a time business went on with a smoothness and a despatch such
as had not been known since the days of the Tudors. During the
session of 1724, for example, there was hardly a single division
except on private bills. It is not impossible that, by taking the
course which Pelham afterwards took, by admitting into the
Government all the rising talents and ambition of the Whig party,
and by making room here and there for a Tory not unfriendly to
the House of Brunswick, Walpole might have averted the tremendous
conflict in which he passed the later years of his
administration, and in which he was at length vanquished. The
Opposition which overthrew him was an opposition created by his
own policy, by his own insatiable love of power.

In the very act of forming his Ministry he turned one of the
ablest and most attached of his supporters into a deadly enemy.
Pulteney had strong public and private claims to a high situation
in the new arrangement. His fortune was immense. His private
character was respectable. He was already a distinguished
speaker. He had acquired official experience in an important
post. He had been, through all changes of fortune, a consistent
Whig. When the Whig party was split into two sections, Pulteney
had resigned a valuable place, and had followed the fortunes of
Walpole. Yet, when Walpole returned to power, Pulteney was not
invited to take office. An angry discussion took place between
the friends. The Ministry offered a peerage. It was impossible
for Pulteney not to discern the motive of such an offer. He
indignantly refused to accept it. For some time he continued to
brood over his wrongs, and to watch for an opportunity of
revenge. As soon as a favourable conjuncture arrived he joined
the minority, and became the greatest leader of Opposition that
the House of Commons had ever seen.

Of all the members of the Cabinet Carteret was the most eloquent
and accomplished. His talents for debate were of the first order;
his knowledge of foreign affairs was superior to that of any
living statesman; his attachment to the Protestant succession was
undoubted. But there was not room in one Government for him and
Walpole. Carteret retired, and was from that time forward, one of
the most persevering and formidable enemies of his old colleague.

If there was any man with whom Walpole could have consented to
make a partition of power, that man was Lord Townshend. They were
distant kinsmen by birth, near kinsmen by marriage. They had been
friends from childhood. They had been schoolfellows at Eton. They
were country neighbours in Norfolk. They had been in office
together under Godolphin. They had gone into opposition together
when Harley rose to power. They had been persecuted by the same
House of Commons. They had, after the death of Anne, been
recalled together to office. They had again been driven out
together by Sunderland, and had again come back together when the
influence of Sunderland had declined. Their opinions on public
affairs almost always coincided. They were both men of frank,
generous, and compassionate natures. Their intercourse had been
for many years affectionate and cordial. But the ties of blood,
of marriage, and of friendship, the memory of mutual services,
the memory of common triumphs and common disasters, were
insufficient to restrain that ambition which domineered over all
the virtues and vices of Walpole. He was resolved, to use his own
metaphor, that the firm of the house should be, not Townshend and
Walpole, but Walpole and Townshend. At length the rivals
proceeded to personal abuse before a large company, seized each
other by the collar, and grasped their swords. The women
squalled. The men parted the combatants. By friendly intervention
the scandal of a duel between cousins, brothers-in-law, old
friends, and old colleagues, was prevented. But the disputants
could not long continue to act together. Townshend retired, and,
with rare moderation and public spirit, refused to take any part
in politics. He could not, he said, trust his temper. He feared
that the recollection of his private wrongs might impel him to
follow the example of Pulteney, and to oppose measures which he
thought generally beneficial to the country. He therefore never
visited London after his resignation, but passed the closing
years of his life in dignity and repose among his trees and
pictures at Rainham.

Next went Chesterfield. He too was a Whig and a friend of the
Protestant succession. He was an orator, a courtier, a wit, and a
man of letters. He was at the head of ton in days when, in order
to be at the head of ton, it was not sufficient to be dull and
supercilious. It was evident that he submitted impatiently to the
ascendency of Walpole. He murmured against the Excise Bill. His
brothers voted against it in the House of Commons. The Minister
acted with characteristic caution and characteristic energy;
caution in the conduct of public affairs; energy where his own
supremacy was concerned. He withdrew his Bill, and turned out all
his hostile or wavering colleagues. Chesterfield was stopped on
the great staircase of St. James's, and summoned to deliver up
the staff which he bore as Lord Steward of the Household. A crowd
of noble and powerful functionaries, the Dukes of Montrose and
Bolton, Lord Burlington, Lord Stair, Lord Cobham, Lord Marchmont,
Lord Clinton, were at the same time dismissed from the service of
the Crown,

Not long after these events the Opposition was reinforced by the
Duke of Argyle, a man vainglorious indeed and fickle, but brave,
eloquent and popular. It was in a great measure owing to his
exertions that the Act of Settlement had been peaceably carried
into effect in England immediately after the death of Anne, and
that the Jacobite rebellion which, during the following year,
broke out in Scotland, had been suppressed. He too carried over
to the minority the aid of his great name, his talents, and his
paramount influence in his native country.

In each of these cases taken separately, a skilful defender of
Walpole might perhaps make out a case for him. But when we see
that during a long course of years all the footsteps are turned
the same way, that all the most eminent of those public men who
agreed with the Minister in their general views of policy left
him, one after another, with sore and irritated minds, we find it
impossible not to believe that the real explanation of the
phaenomenon is to be found in the words of his son, "Sir Robert
Walpole loved power so much that he would not endure a rival."
Hume has described this famous minister with great felicity in
one short sentence,--"moderate in exercising power, not equitable
in engrossing it." Kind-hearted, jovial, and placable as Walpole
was, he was yet a man with whom no person of high pretensions and
high spirit could long continue to act. He had, therefore, to
stand against an Opposition containing all the most accomplished
statesmen of the age, with no better support than that which he
received from persons like his brother Horace or Henry Pelham,
whose industrious mediocrity gave no cause for jealousy, or from
clever adventurers, whose situation and character diminished the
dread which their talents might have inspired. To this last class
belonged Fox, who was too poor to live without office; Sir
William Yonge, of whom Walpole himself said, that
@Nothing but such parts could buoy up such a character, and that
nothing but such a character could drag down such parts; and
Winnington, whose private morals lay, justly or unjustly, under
imputations of the worst kind.

The discontented Whigs were, not perhaps in number, but certainly
in ability, experience, and weight, by far the most important
part of the Opposition. The Tories furnished little more than
rows of ponderous foxhunters, fat with Staffordshire or
Devonshire ale, men who drank to the King over the water, and
believed that all the fundholders were Jews, men whose religion
consisted in hating the Dissenters, and whose political
researches had led them to fear, like Squire Western, that their
land might be sent over to Hanover to be put in the sinking-fund.
The eloquence of these zealous squires, and remnant of the once
formidable October Club, seldom went beyond a hearty Aye or No.
Very few members of this party had distinguished themselves much
in Parliament, or could, under any circumstances, have been
called to fill any high office; and those few had generally, like
Sir William Wyndham, learned in the company of their new
associates the doctrines of toleration and political liberty, and
might indeed with strict propriety be called Whigs.

It was to the Whigs in Opposition, the Patriots, as they were
called, that the most distinguished of the English youth who at
this season entered into public life attached themselves. These
inexperienced politicians felt all the enthusiasm which the name
of liberty naturally excites in young and ardent minds. They
conceived that the theory of the Tory Opposition and the practice
of Walpole's Government were alike inconsistent with the
principles of liberty. They accordingly repaired to the standard
which Pulteney had set up. While opposing the Whig minister, they
professed a firm adherence to the purest doctrines of Whiggism.
He was the schismatic; they were the true Catholics, the peculiar
people, the depositaries of the orthodox faith of Hampden and
Russell, the one sect which, amidst the corruptions generated by
time and by the long possession of power, had preserved inviolate
the principles of the Revolution. Of the young men who attached
themselves to this portion of the Opposition the most
distinguished were Lyttelton and Pitt.

When Pitt entered Parliament, the whole political world was
attentively watching the progress of an event which soon added
great strength to the Opposition, and particularly to that
section of the Opposition in which the young statesman enrolled
himself. The Prince of Wales was gradually becoming more and more
estranged from his father and his father's ministers, and more
and more friendly to the Patriots.

Nothing is more natural than that, in a monarchy where a
constitutional Opposition exists, the heir-apparent of the throne
should put himself at the head of that Opposition. He is impelled
to such a course by every feeling of ambition and of vanity. He
cannot be more than second in the estimation of the party which
is in. He is sure to be the first member of the party which is
out. The highest favour which the existing administration can
expect from him is that he will not discard them. But, if he
joins the Opposition, all his associates expect that he will
promote them; and the feelings which men entertain towards one
from whom they hope to obtain great advantages which they have
not are far warmer than the feelings with which they regard one
who, at the very utmost, can only leave them in possession of
what they already have. An heir-apparent, therefore, who wishes
to enjoy, in the highest perfection, all the pleasure that can be
derived from eloquent flattery and profound respect, will always
join those who are struggling to force themselves into power.
This is, we believe, the true explanation of a fact which Lord
Granville attributed to some natural peculiarity in the
illustrious House of Brunswick. "This family," said he at
Council, we suppose after his daily half-gallon of Burgundy,
"always has quarrelled, and always will quarrel, from generation
to generation." He should have known something of the matter; for
he had been a favourite with three successive generations of the
royal house. We cannot quite admit his explanation; but the fact
is indisputable. Since the accession of George the First, there
have been four Princes of Wales, and they have all been almost
constantly in Opposition.

Whatever might have been the motives which induced Prince
Frederick to join the party opposed to the Government, his
support infused into many members of that party a courage and an
energy of which they stood greatly in need. Hitherto it had been
impossible for the discontented Whigs not to feel some misgivings
when they found themselves dividing night after night, with
uncompromising Jacobites who were known to be in constant
communication with the exiled family, or with Tories who had
impeached Somers, who had murmured against Harley and St. John as
too remiss in the cause of the Church and the landed interest,
and who, if they were not inclined to attack the reigning family,
yet considered the introduction of that family as, at best,
only the least of two great evils, as a necessary but painful
and humiliating preservative against Popery. The Minister might
plausibly say that Pulteney and Carteret, in the hope of gratifying
their own appetite for office and for revenge, did not scruple to
serve the purposes of a faction hostile to the Protestant succession.
The appearance of Frederick at the head of the Patriots silenced
this reproach. The leaders of the Opposition might now boast that
their course was sanctioned by a person as deeply interested as
the King himself in maintaining the Act of Settlement, and that,
instead of serving the purposes of the Tory party, they had
brought that party over to the side of Whiggism. It must indeed
be admitted that, though both the King and the Prince behaved in
a manner little to their honour, though the father acted harshly,
the son disrespectfully, and both childishly, the royal family
was rather strengthened than weakened by the disagreement of its
two most distinguished members. A large class of politicians, who
had considered themselves as placed under sentence of perpetual
exclusion from office, and who, in their despair, had been almost
ready to join in a counter-revolution as the only mode of
removing the proscription under which they lay, now saw with
pleasure an easier and safer road to power opening before them,
and thought it far better to wait till, in the natural course of
things, the Crown should descend to the heir of the House of
Brunswick, than to risk their lands and their necks in a rising
for the House of Stuart. The situation of the royal family
resembled the situation of those Scotch families in which father
and son took opposite sides during the rebellion, in order that,
come what might, the estate might not be forfeited.

In April 1736, Frederick was married to the Princess of Saxe
Gotha, with whom he afterwards lived on terms very similar to
those on which his father had lived with Queen Caroline. The
Prince adored his wife, and thought her in mind and person the
most attractive of her sex. But he thought that conjugal fidelity
was an unprincely virtue; and, in order to be like Henry the
Fourth, and the Regent Orleans, he affected a libertinism for
which he had no taste, and frequently quitted the only woman whom
he loved for ugly and disagreeable mistresses.

The address which the House of Commons presented to the King on
the occasion of the Prince's marriage was moved, not by the
Minister, but by Pulteney, the leader of the Whigs in Opposition.
It was on this motion that Pitt, who had not broken silence
during the session in which he took his seat, addressed the House
for the first time. "A contemporary historian," says Mr.
Thackeray, "describes Mr. Pitt's first speech as superior even to
the models of ancient eloquence. According to Tindal, it was more
ornamented than the speeches of Demosthenes, and less diffuse
than those of Cicero." This unmeaning phrase has been a hundred
times quoted. That it should ever have been quoted, except to be
laughed at, is strange. The vogue which it has obtained may serve
to show in how slovenly a way most people are content to think.
Did Tindal, who first used it, or Archdeacon Coxe and Mr.
Thackeray, who have borrowed it, ever in their lives hear any
speaking which did not deserve the same compliment? Did they ever
hear speaking less ornamented than that of Demosthenes, or more
diffuse than that of Cicero? We know no living orator, from Lord
Brougham down to Mr. Hunt, who is not entitled to the same
eulogy. It would be no very flattering compliment to a man's
figure to say, that he was taller than the Polish Count, and
shorter than Giant O'Brien, fatter than the Anatomie Vivante, and
more slender than Daniel Lambert.

Pitt's speech, as it is reported in the Gentleman's Magazine,
certainly deserves Tindal's compliment, and deserves no other. It
is just as empty and wordy as a maiden speech on such an occasion
might be expected to be. But the fluency and the personal
advantages of the young orator instantly caught the ear and eye
of his audience. He was, from the day of his first appearance,
always heard with attention; and exercise soon developed the
great powers which he possessed.

In our time, the audience of a member of Parliament is the
nation. The three or four hundred persons who may be present
while a speech is delivered may be pleased or disgusted by the
voice and action of the orator; but, in the reports which are
read the next day by hundreds of thousands, the difference
between the noblest and the meanest figure, between the richest
and the shrillest tones, between the most graceful and the most
uncouth gesture, altogether vanishes. A hundred years ago,
scarcely any report of what passed within the walls of the House
of Commons was suffered to get abroad. In those times, therefore,
the impression which a speaker might make on the persons who
actually heard him was everything. His fame out of doors depended
entirely on the report of those who were within the doors. In the
Parliaments of that time, therefore, as in the ancient
commonwealths, those qualifications which enhance the immediate
effect of a speech, were far more important ingredients in the
composition of an orator than at present. All those
qualifications Pitt possessed in the highest degree. On the
stage, he would have been the finest Brutus or Coriolanus ever
seen. Those who saw him in his decay, when his health was broken,
when his mind was untuned, when he had been removed from that
stormy assembly of which he thoroughly knew the temper, and over
which he possessed unbounded influence, to a small, a torpid, and
an unfriendly audience, say that his speaking was then, for the
most part, a low, monotonous muttering, audible only to those who
sat close to him, that when violently excited, he sometimes
raised his voice for a few minutes, but that it sank again into
an unintelligible murmur. Such was the Earl of Chatham, but such
was not William Pitt. His figure, when he first appeared in
Parliament, was strikingly graceful and commanding, his features
high and noble, his eye full of fire. His voice, even when it
sank to a whisper, was heard to the remotest benches; and when he
strained it to its full extent, the sound rose like the swell of
the organ of a great Cathedral, shook the house with its peal,
and was heard through lobbies and down staircases to the Court of
Requests and the precincts of Westminster Hall. He cultivated all
these eminent advantages with the most assiduous care. His action
is described by a very malignant observer as equal to that of
Garrick. His play of countenance was wonderful: he frequently
disconcerted a hostile orator by a single glance of indignation
or scorn. Every tone, from the impassioned cry to the thrilling
aside, was perfectly at his command. It is by no means improbable
that the pains which he took to improve his great personal
advantages had, in some respects, a prejudicial operation, and
tended to nourish in him that passion for theatrical effect
which, as we have already remarked, was one of the most
conspicuous blemishes in his character.

But it was not solely or principally to outward accomplishments
that Pitt owed the vast influence which, during nearly thirty
years, he exercised over the House of Commons. He was undoubtedly
a great orator; and, from the descriptions given by his
contemporaries, and the fragments of his speeches which still
remain, it is not difficult to discover the nature and extent of
his oratorical powers.

He was no speaker of set speeches. His few prepared discourses
were complete failures. The elaborate panegyric which he
pronounced on General Wolfe was considered as the very worst of
all his performances. "No man," says a critic who had often heard
him, "ever knew so little what he was going to say." Indeed, his
facility amounted to a vice. He was not the master, but the slave
of his own speech. So little self-command had he when once he
felt the impulse, that he did not like to take part in a debate
when his mind was full of an important secret of state. "I must
sit still," he once said to Lord Shelburne on such an occasion;
"for, when once I am up, everything that is in my mind comes

Yet he was not a great debater. That he should not have been so
when first he entered the House of Commons is not strange.
Scarcely any person has ever become so without long practice and
many failures. It was by slow degrees, as Burke said, that
Charles Fox became the most brilliant and powerful debater that
ever lived. Charles Fox himself attributed his own success to the
resolution which he formed when very young, of speaking, well or
ill, at least once every night. "During five whole sessions," he
used to say, "I spoke every night but one; and I regret only that
I did not speak on that night too." Indeed, with the exception of
Mr. Stanley, whose knowledge of the science of parliamentary
defence resembles an instinct, it would be difficult to name any
eminent debater who has not made himself a master of his art at
the expense of his audience.

But, as this art is one which even the ablest men have seldom
acquired without long practice, so it is one which men of
respectable abilities, with assiduous and intrepid practice,
seldom fail to acquire. It is singular that, in such an art,
Pitt, a man of great parts, of great fluency, of great boldness,
a man whose whole life was passed in parliamentary conflict, a
man who, during several years, was the leading minister of the
Crown in the House of Commons, should never have attained to high
excellence. He spoke without premeditation; but his speech
followed the course of his own thoughts, and not the course of
the previous discussion. He could, indeed, treasure up in his
memory some detached expression of an opponent, and make it the
text for lively ridicule or solemn reprehension. Some of the most
celebrated bursts of his eloquence were called forth by an
unguarded word, a laugh, or a cheer. But this was the only sort
of reply in which he appears to have excelled. He was perhaps the
only great English orator who did not think it any advantage to
have the last word, and who generally spoke by choice before his
most formidable antagonists. His merit was almost entirely
rhetorical. He did not succeed either in exposition or in
refutation; but his speeches abounded with lively illustrations,
striking apophthegms, well-told anecdotes, happy allusions,
passionate appeals. His invective and sarcasm were terrific.
Perhaps no English orator was ever so much feared.

But that which gave most effect to his declamation was the air of
sincerity, of vehement feeling, of moral elevation, which
belonged to all that he said. His style was not always in the
purest taste. Several contemporary judges pronounced it too
florid. Walpole, in the midst of the rapturous eulogy which he
pronounces on one of Pitt's greatest orations, owns that some of
the metaphors were too forced. Some of Pitt's quotations and
classical stories are too trite for a clever schoolboy. But these
were niceties for which the audience cared little. The enthusiasm
of the orator infected all who heard him; his ardour and his
noble bearing put fire into the most frigid conceit, and gave
dignity to the most puerile allusion.

His powers soon began to give annoyance to the Government; and
Walpole determined to make an example of the patriotic cornet.
Pitt was accordingly dismissed from the service. Mr. Thackeray
says that the Minister took this step, because he plainly saw
that it would have been vain to think of buying over so
honourable and disinterested an opponent. We do not dispute
Pitt's integrity; but we do not know what proof he had given of
it when he was turned out of the army; and we are sure that
Walpole was not likely to give credit for inflexible honesty to a
young adventurer who had never had an opportunity of refusing
anything. The truth is, that it was not Walpole's practice to buy
off enemies. Mr. Burke truly says, in the Appeal to the Old
Whigs, that Walpole gained very few over from the Opposition.
Indeed that great minister knew his business far too well. He,
knew that, for one mouth which is stopped with a place, fifty
other mouths will he instantly opened. He knew that it would have
been very bad policy in him to give the world to understand that
more was to be got by thwarting his measures than by supporting
them. These maxims are as old as the origin of parliamentary
corruption in England. Pepys learned them, as he tells us, from
the counsellors of Charles the Second.

Pitt was no loser. He was made Groom of the Bedchamber to the
Prince of Wales, and continued to declaim against the ministers
with unabated violence and with increasing ability. The question
of maritime right, then agitated between Spain and England,
called forth all his powers. He clamoured for war with a
vehemence which it is not easy to reconcile with reason or
humanity, but which appears to Mr. Thackeray worthy of the
highest admiration. We will not stop to argue a point on which we
had long thought that all well-informed people were agreed. We
could easily show, we think, that, if any respect be due to
international law, if right, where societies of men are
concerned, be anything but another name for might, if we do not
adopt the doctrine of the Buccaneers, which seems to be also the
doctrine of Mr. Thackeray, that treaties mean nothing within
thirty degrees of the line, the war with Spain was altogether
unjustifiable. But the truth is, that the promoters of that war
have saved the historian the trouble of trying them. They have
pleaded guilty. "I have seen," says Burke, "and with some care
examined, the original documents concerning certain important
transactions of those times. They perfectly satisfied me of the
extreme injustice of that war, and of the falsehood of the
colours which Walpole, to his ruin, and guided by a mistaken
policy, suffered to be daubed over that measure. Some years
after, it was my fortune to converse with many of the principal
actors against that minister, and with those who principally
excited that clamour. None of them, no, not one, did in the least
defend the measure, or attempt to justify their conduct. They
condemned it as freely as they would have done in commenting upon
any proceeding in history in which they were totally
unconcerned." Pitt, on subsequent occasions, gave ample proof
that he was one of these penitents. But his conduct, even where
it appeared most criminal to himself, appears admirable to his

The elections of 1741 were unfavourable to Walpole; and after a
long and obstinate struggle he found it necessary to resign. The
Duke of Newcastle and Lord Hardwicke opened a negotiation with
the leading Patriots, in the hope of forming an administration on
a Whig basis. At this conjuncture, Pitt and those persons who
were most nearly connected with him acted in a manner very little
to their honour. They attempted to come to an understanding with
Walpole, and offered, if he would use his influence with the King
in their favour, to screen him from prosecution. They even went
so far as to engage for the concurrence of the Prince of Wales.
But Walpole knew that the assistance of the Boys, as he called
the young Patriots, would avail him nothing if Pulteney and
Carteret should prove intractable, and would be superfluous if
the great leaders of the Opposition could be gained. He,
therefore, declined the proposal. It is remarkable that Mr.
Thackeray, who has thought it worth while to preserve Pitt's bad
college verses, has not even alluded to this story, a story which
is supported by strong testimony, and which may be found in so
common a book as Coxe's Life of Walpole.

The new arrangements disappointed almost every member of the
Opposition, and none more than Pitt. He was not invited to become
a place-man; and he therefore stuck firmly to his old trade of
@patriot. Fortunate it was for him that he did so. Had he taken
office at this time, he would in all probability have shared
largely in the unpopularity of Pulteney, Sandys, and Carteret. He
was now the fiercest and most implacable of those who called for
vengeance on Walpole. He spoke with great energy and ability in
favour of the most unjust and violent propositions which the
enemies of the fallen minister could invent. He urged the House
of Commons to appoint a secret tribunal for the purpose of
investigating the conduct of the late First Lord of the Treasury.
This was done. The great majority of the inquisitors were
notoriously hostile to the accused statesman. Yet they were
compelled to own that they could find no fault in him. They
therefore called for new powers, for a bill of indemnity to
witnesses, or, in plain words, for a bill to reward all who might
give evidence, true or false, against the Earl of Orford. This
bill Pitt supported, Pitt, who had himself offered to be a screen
between Lord Orford and public justice. These are melancholy
facts. Mr. Thackeray omits them, or hurries over them as fast as
he can; and, as eulogy is his business, he is in the right to do
so. But, though there are many parts of the life of Pitt which it
is more agreeable to contemplate, we know none more instructive.
What must have been the general state of political morality, when
a young man, considered, and justly considered, as the most
public-spirited and spotless statesman of his time, could attempt
to force his way into office by means so disgraceful!

The Bill of Indemnity was rejected by the Lords. Walpole withdrew
himself quietly from the public eye; and the ample space which he
had left vacant was soon occupied by Carteret. Against Carteret
Pitt began to thunder with as much zeal as he had ever manifested
against Sir Robert. To Carteret he transferred most of the hard
names which were familiar to his eloquence, sole minister, wicked
minister, odious minister, execrable minister. The chief topic of
Pitt's invective was the favour shown to the German dominions of
the House of Brunswick. He attacked with great violence, and with
an ability which raised him to the very first rank among the
parliamentary speakers, the practice of paying Hanoverian troops
with English money. The House of Commons had lately lost some of
its most distinguished ornaments. Walpole and Pulteney had
accepted peerages; Sir William Wyndham was dead; and among the
rising men none could be considered as, on the whole, a match for

During the recess of 1744, the old Duchess of Marlborough died.
She carried to her grave the reputation of being decidedly the
best hater of her time. Yet her love had been infinitely more
destructive than her hatred. More than thirty years before, her
temper had ruined the party to which she belonged and the husband
whom she adored. Time had made her neither wiser nor kinder.
Whoever was at any moment great and prosperous was the object of
her fiercest detestation. She had hated Walpole; she now hated
Carteret. Pope, long before her death, predicted the fate of her
vast property.

"To heirs unknown descends the unguarded store,
Or wanders, heaven-directed, to the poor."

Pitt was then one of the poor; and to him Heaven directed a
portion of the wealth of the haughty Dowager. She left him a
legacy of ten thousand pounds, in consideration of "the noble
defence he had made for the support of the laws of England, and
to prevent the ruin of his country."

The will was made in August--The Duchess died in October. In
November Pitt was a courtier. The Pelhams had forced the King,
much against his will, to part with Lord Carteret, who had now
become Earl Granville. They proceeded, after this victory, to
form the Government on that basis, called by the cant name of
"the broad bottom." Lyttelton had a seat at the Treasury, and
several other friends of Pitt were provided for. But Pitt himself
was, for the present, forced to be content with promises. The
King resented most highly some expressions which the ardent
orator had used in the debate on the Hanoverian troops. But
Newcastle and Pelham, expressed the strongest confidence that
time and their exertions would soften the royal displeasure.

Pitt, on his part, omitted nothing that might facilitate his
admission to office. He resigned his place in the household of
Prince Frederick, and, when Parliament met, exerted his eloquence
in support of the Government. The Pelhams were really sincere in
their endeavours to remove the strong prejudices which had taken
root in the King's mind. They knew that Pitt was not a man to be
deceived with ease or offended with impunity. They were afraid
that they should not be long able to put him off with promises.
Nor was it their interest so to put him off. There was a strong
tie between him and them. He was the enemy of their enemy. The
brothers hated and dreaded the eloquent, aspiring, and imperious
Granville. They had traced his intrigues in many quarters. They
knew his influence over the royal mind. They knew that, as soon
as a favourable opportunity should arrive, he would be recalled
to the head of affairs. They resolved to bring things to a
crisis; and the question on which they took issue with their
master was whether Pitt should or should not be admitted to
office. They chose their time with more skill than generosity. It
was when rebellion was actually raging in Britain, when the
Pretender was master of the northern extremity of the island,
that they tendered their resignations. The King found himself
deserted, in one day, by the whole strength of that party which
had placed his family on the throne. Lord Granville tried to form
a Government; but it soon appeared that the parliamentary
interest of the Pelhams was irresistible, and that the King's
favourite statesman could count only on about thirty Lords and
eighty members of the House of Commons. The scheme was given up.
Granville went away laughing. The ministers came back stronger
than ever; and the King was now no longer able to refuse anything
that they might be pleased to demand. He could only mutter that
it was very hard that Newcastle, who was not fit to be
chamberlain to the most insignificant prince in Germany, should
dictate to the King of England.

One concession the ministers graciously made. They agreed that
Pitt should not be placed in a situation in which it would be
necessary for him to have frequent interviews with the King.
Instead, therefore, of making their new ally Secretary at War as
they had intended, they appointed him Vice-Treasurer of Ireland,
and in a few months promoted him to the office of Paymaster of
the Forces.

This was, at that time, one of the most lucrative offices in the
Government. The salary was but a small part of the emolument
which the Paymaster derived from his place. He was allowed to
keep a large sum, which, even in time of peace, was seldom less
than one hundred thousand pounds, constantly in his hands; and
the interest on this sum he might appropriate to his own use.
This practice was not secret, nor was it considered as
disreputable. It was the practice of men of undoubted honour,
both before and after the time of Pitt. He, however, refused to
accept one farthing beyond the salary which the law had annexed
to his office. It had been usual for foreign princes who received
the pay of England to give to the Paymaster of the Forces a small
percentage on the subsidies. These ignominious veils Pitt
resolutely declined.

Disinterestedness of this kind was, in his days, very rare. His
conduct surprised and amused politicians. It excited the warmest
admiration throughout the body of the people. In spite of the
inconsistencies of which Pitt had been guilty, in spite of the
strange contrast between his violence in Opposition and his
tameness in office, he still possessed a large share of the
public confidence. The motives which may lead a politician to
change his connections or his general line of conduct are often
obscure; but disinterestedness in pecuniary matters everybody can
understand. Pitt was thenceforth considered as a man who was
proof to all sordid temptations. If he acted ill, it might be
from an error in judgment; it might be from resentment; it might
be from ambition. But poor as he was, he had vindicated himself
from all suspicion of covetousness.

Eight quiet years followed, eight years during which the
minority, which had been feeble ever since Lord Granville had
been overthrown, continued to dwindle till it became almost
invisible. Peace was made with France and Spain in 1748. Prince
Frederick died in 1751 ; and with him died the very semblance of
opposition. All the most distinguished survivors of the party
which had supported Walpole and of the party which had opposed
him, were united under his successor. The fiery and vehement
spirit of Pitt had for a time been laid to rest. He silently
acquiesced in that very system of continental measures which he
had lately condemned. He ceased to talk disrespectfully about
Hanover. He did not object to the treaty with Spain, though that
treaty left us exactly where we had been when he uttered his
spirit-stirring harangues against the pacific policy of Walpole.
Now and then glimpses of his former self appeared; but they were
few and transient. Pelham knew with whom he had to deal, and felt
that an ally, so little used to control, and so capable of
inflicting injury, might well be indulged in an occasional fit of

Two men, little, if at all inferior to Pitt in powers of mind,
held, like him, subordinate offices in the Government. One of
these, Murray, was successively Solicitor-General and Attorney-
General. This distinguished person far surpassed Pitt in
correctness of taste, in power of reasoning, in depth and variety
of knowledge. His parliamentary eloquence never blazed into
sudden flashes of dazzling brilliancy; but its clear, placid, and
mellow splendour was never for an instant overclouded.
Intellectually he was, we believe, fully equal to Pitt; but he
was deficient in the moral qualities to which Pitt owed most of
his success. Murray wanted the energy, the courage, the all-
grasping and all-risking ambition, which make men great in
stirring times. His heart was a little cold, his temper cautious
even to timidity, his manners decorous even to formality. He
never exposed his fortunes or his fame to any risk which he could
avoid. At one time he might, in all probability, have been Prime
Minister. But the object of his wishes was the judicial bench.
The situation of Chief justice might not be so splendid as that
of First Lord of the Treasury; but it was dignified; it was
quiet; it was secure; and therefore it was the favourite
situation of Murray.

Fox, the father of the great man whose mighty efforts in the
cause of peace, of truth, and of liberty, have made that name
immortal, was Secretary-at-War. He was a favourite with the King,
with the Duke of Cumberland, and with some of the most powerful
members of the great Whig connection. His parliamentary talents
were of the highest order. As a speaker he was in almost all
respects the very opposite to Pitt. His figure was ungraceful;
his face, as Reynolds and Nollekens have preserved it to us,
indicated a strong understanding; but the features were coarse,
and the general aspect dark and lowering. His manner was awkward;
his delivery was hesitating; he was often at a stand for want of
a word; but as a debater, as a master of that keen, weighty,
manly logic, which is suited to the discussion of political
questions, he has perhaps never been surpassed except by his son.
In reply he was as decidedly superior to Pitt as in declamation
he was Pitt's inferior. Intellectually the balance was nearly
even between the rivals. But here, again, the moral qualities of
Pitt turned the scale. Fox had undoubtedly many virtues. In
natural disposition as well as in talents, he bore a great
resemblance to his more celebrated son. He had the same sweetness
of temper, the same strong passions, the same openness, boldness,
and impetuosity, the same cordiality towards friends, the same
placability towards enemies. No man was more warmly or justly
beloved by his family or by his associates. But unhappily he had
been trained in a bad political school, in a school, the
doctrines of which were, that political virtue is the mere
coquetry of political prostitution, that every patriot has his
price, that government can be carried on only by means of
corruption, and that the State is given as a prey to statesmen.
These maxims were too much in vogue throughout the lower ranks of
Walpole's party, and were too much encouraged by Walpole himself,
who, from contempt of what, is in our day vulgarly called humbug;
often ran extravagantly and offensively into the opposite
extreme. The loose political morality of Fox presented a
remarkable contrast to the ostentatious purity of Pitt. The
nation distrusted the former, and placed implicit confidence in
the latter. But almost all the statesmen of the age had still to
learn that the confidence of the nation was worth having. While
things went on quietly, while there was no opposition, while
everything was given by the favour of a small ruling junto, Fox
had a decided advantage over Pitt; but when dangerous times came,
when Europe was convulsed with war, when Parliament was broken up
into factions, when the public mind was violently excited, the
favourite of the people rose to supreme power, while his rival
sank into insignificance.

Early in the year 1754 Henry Pelham died unexpectedly. "Now I
shall have no more peace," exclaimed the old King, when he heard
the news. He was in the right. Pelham had succeeded in bringing
together and keeping together all the talents of the kingdom. By
his death, the highest post to which an English subject can
aspire was left vacant; and at the same moment, the influence
which had yoked together and reined-in so many turbulent and
ambitious spirits was withdrawn.

Within a week after Pelham's death, it was determined that the
Duke of Newcastle should be placed at the head of the Treasury;
but the arrangement was still far from complete. Who was to be
the leading Minister of the Crown in the House of Commons? Was
the office to be intrusted to a man of eminent talents? And would
not such a man in such a place demand and obtain a larger share
of power and patronage than Newcastle would be disposed to
concede? Was a mere drudge to be employed? And what probability
was there that a mere drudge would be able to manage a large and
stormy assembly, abounding with able and experienced men?

Pope has said of that wretched miser Sir John Cutler,

"Cutler saw tenants break and houses fall
For very want: he could not build a wall."

Newcastle's love of power resembled Cutler's love of money. It
was an avarice which thwarted itself, a penny-wise and pound-
foolish cupidity. An immediate outlay was so painful to him that
he would not venture to make the most desirable improvement. If
he could have found it in his heart to cede at once a portion of
his authority, he might probably have ensured the continuance of
what remained. But he thought it better to construct a weak and
rotten government, which tottered at the smallest breath, and
fell in the first storm, than to pay the necessary price for
sound and durable materials. He wished to find some person who
would be willing to accept the lead of the House of Commons on
terms similar to those on which Secretary Craggs had acted under
Sunderland, five-and-thirty years before. Craggs could hardly be
called a minister. He was a mere agent for the Minister. He was
not trusted with the higher secrets of State, but obeyed
implicitly the directions of his superior, and was, to use
Doddington's expression, merely Lord Sunderland's man. But times
were changed. Since the days of Sunderland, the importance of the
House of Commons had been constantly on the increase. During many
years, the person who conducted the business of the Government in
that House had almost always been Prime Minister. In these
circumstances, it was not to be supposed that any that any person
who possessed the talents necessary for the situation would stoop
to accept it on such terms as Newcastle was disposed to offer.

Pitt was ill at Bath; and, had he been well and in London,
neither the King nor Newcastle would have been disposed to make
any overtures to him. The cool and wary Murray had set his heart
on professional objects. Negotiations were opened with Fox.
Newcastle behaved like himself, that is to say, childishly and
basely, The proposition which he made was that Fox should be
Secretary of State, with the lead of the House of Commons; that
the disposal of the secret-service money, or, in plain words, the
business of buying members of Parliament, should be left to the
First Lord of the Treasury; but that Fox should be exactly
informed of the way in which this fund was employed.

To these conditions Fox assented. But the next day everything was
in confusion. Newcastle had changed his mind. The conversation
which took place between Fox and the Duke is one of the most
curious in English history. "My brother," said Newcastle, "when
he was at the Treasury, never told anybody what he did with the
secret-service money. No more will I." The answer was obvious.
Pelham had been not only First Lord of the Treasury, but also
manager of the House of Commons; and it was therefore unnecessary
for him to confide to any other person his dealings with the
members of that House. "But how," said Fox, "can I lead in the
Commons without information on this head? How can I talk to
gentlemen when I do not know which of them have received
gratifications and which have not? And who," he continued, "is to
have the disposal of places?"--"I myself," said the Duke. "How
then am I to manage the House of Commons?"-- "Oh, let the members
of the House of Commons come to me." Fox then mentioned the
general election which was approaching, and asked how the
ministerial boroughs were to be filled up. "Do not trouble
yourself", said Newcastle; "that is all settled." This was too
much for human nature to bear. Fox refused to accept the
Secretaryship of State on such terms; and the Duke confided the
management of the House of Commons to a dull, harmless man, whose
name is almost forgotten in our time, Sir Thomas Robinson.

When Pitt returned from Bath, he affected great moderation,
though his haughty soul was boiling with resentment. He did not
complain of the manner in which he had been passed by, but said
openly that, in his opinion, Fox was the fittest man to lead the
House of Commons. The rivals, reconciled by their common interest
and their common enmities, concerted a plan of operations for the
next session. "Sir Thomas Robinson lead us!" said Pitt to Fox.
"The Duke might as well send his jack-boot to lead us."

The elections of 1754 were favourable to the administration. But
the aspect of foreign affairs was threatening. In India the
English and the French had been employed, ever since the peace of
Aix-la-Chapelle, in cutting each other's throats. They had lately
taken to the same practice in America. It might have been
foreseen that stirring times were at hand, times which would call
for abilities very different from those of Newcastle and

In November the Parliament met; and before the end of that month
the new Secretary of State had been so unmercifully baited by the
Paymaster of the Forces and the Secretary-at-War that he was
thoroughly sick of his situation. Fox attacked him with great
force and acrimony. Pitt affected a kind of contemptuous
tenderness for Sir Thomas, and directed his attacks principally
against Newcastle. On one occasion he asked in tones of thunder
whether Parliament sat only to register the edicts of one too
powerful subject? The Duke was scared out of his wits. He was
afraid to dismiss the mutineers, he was afraid to promote them;
but it was absolutely necessary to do something. Fox, as the less
proud and intractable of the refractory pair, was preferred. A
seat in the Cabinet was offered to him on condition that he would
give efficient support to the ministry in Parliament. In an evil
hour for his fame and his fortunes he accepted the offer, and
abandoned his connection with Pitt, who never forgave this

Sir Thomas, assisted by Fox, contrived to get through the
business of the year without much trouble. Pitt was waiting his
time. The negotiations pending between France and England took
every day a more unfavourable aspect. Towards the close of the
session the King sent a message to inform the House of Commons
that he had found it necessary to make preparations for war. The
House returned an address of thanks, and passed a vote of credit.
During the recess, the old animosity of both nations was inflamed
by a series of disastrous events. An English force was cut off in
America and several French merchantmen were taken in the West
Indian seas. It was plain that an appeal to arms was at hand.

The first object of the King was to secure Hanover; and Newcastle
was disposed to gratify his master. Treaties were concluded,
after the fashion of those times, with several petty German
princes, who bound themselves to find soldiers if England would
find money; and, as it was suspected that Frederic the Second had
set his heart on the electoral dominions of his uncle, Russia was
hired to keep Prussia in awe.

When the stipulations of these treaties were made known, there
arose throughout the kingdom a murmur from which a judicious
observer might easily prognosticate the approach of a tempest.
Newcastle encountered strong opposition, even from those whom he
had always considered as his tools. Legge, the Chancellor of the
Exchequer, refused to sign the Treasury warrants, which were
necessary to give effect to the treaties. Those persons who were
supposed to possess the confidence of the young Prince of Wales
and of his mother held very menacing language. In this perplexity
Newcastle sent for Pitt, hugged him, patted him, smirked at him,
wept over him, and lisped out the highest compliments and the
most splendid promises. The King, who had hitherto been as sulky
as possible, would be civil to him at the levee; he should be
brought into the Cabinet; he should be consulted about
everything; if he would only be so good as to support the Hessian
subsidy in the House of Commons. Pitt coldly declined the
proffered scat in the Cabinet, expressed the highest love and
reverence for the King, and said that, if his Majesty felt a
strong personal interest in the Hessian treaty he would so far
deviate from the line which he had traced out for himself as to
give that treaty his support. "Well, and the Russian subsidy,"
said Newcastle. "No," said Pitt, "not a system of subsidies."
The Duke summoned Lord Hardwicke to his aid; but Pitt was
inflexible. Murray would do nothing. Robinson could do nothing.
It was necessary to have recourse to Fox. He became Secretary of
State, with the full authority of a leader in the House of
Commons; and Sir Thomas was pensioned off on the Irish

In November 1755, the Houses met. Public expectation was wound up
to the height. After ten quiet years there was to be an
Opposition, countenanced by the heir-apparent of the throne, and
headed by the most brilliant orator of the age. The debate on the
address was long remembered as one of the parliamentary conflicts
of that generation. It began at three in the afternoon, and
lasted till five the next morning. It was on this night that
Gerard Hamilton delivered that single speech from which his
nickname was derived. His eloquence threw into the shade every
orator, except Pitt, who declaimed against the subsidies for an
hour and a half with extraordinary energy and effect. Those
powers which had formerly spread terror through the majorities of
Walpole and Carteret were now displayed in their highest
perfection before an audience long unaccustomed to such
exhibitions. One fragment of this celebrated oration remains in a
state of tolerable preservation. It is the comparison between the
coalition of Fox and Newcastle, and the junction of the Rhone and
the Saone. "At Lyons," said Pitt, "I was taken to see the place
where the two rivers meet, the one gentle, feeble, languid, and
though languid, yet of no depth, the other a boisterous and
impetuous torrent: but different as they are, they meet at last."
The amendment moved by the Opposition was rejected by a great
majority; and Pitt and Legge were immediately dismissed from
their offices.

During several months the contest in the House of Commons was
extremely sharp. Warm debates took place in the estimates,
debates still warmer on the subsidiary treaties. The Government
succeeded in every division; but the fame of Pitt's eloquence,
and the influence of his lofty and determined character,
continued to increase through the Session; and the events which
followed the prorogation made it utterly impossible for any other
person to manage the Parliament or the country.

The war began in every part of the world with events disastrous
to England, and even more shameful than disastrous. But the most
humiliating of these events was the loss of Minorca. The Duke of
Richelieu, an old fop who had passed his life from sixteen to
sixty in seducing women for whom he cared not one straw,
landed on that island, and succeeded in reducing it. Admiral Byng
was sent from Gibraltar to throw succours into Port-Mahon; but
he did not think fit to engage the French squadron, and sailed
back without having effected his purpose. The people were inflamed
to madness. A storm broke forth, which appalled even those who
remembered the days of Excise and of South-Sea. The shops were
filled with libels and caricatures. The walls were covered with
placards. The city of London called for vengeance, and the cry
was echoed from every corner of the kingdom. Dorsetshire,
Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Somersetshire,
Lancashire, Suffolk, Shropshire, Surrey, sent up strong addresses
to the throne, and instructed their representatives to vote for a
strict inquiry into the causes of the late disasters. In the great
towns the feeling was as strong as in the counties. In some of the
instructions it was even recommended that the supplies should be

The nation was in a state of angry and sullen despondency, almost
unparalleled in history. People have, in all ages, been in the
habit of talking about the good old times of their ancestors, and
the degeneracy of their contemporaries. This is in general merely
a cant. But in 1756 it was something more. At this time appeared
Brown's Estimate, a book now remembered only by the allusions in
Cowper's Table Talk and in Burke's Letters on a Regicide Peace.
It was universally read, admired, and believed. The author fully
convinced his readers that they were a race of cowards and
scoundrels; that nothing could save them; that they were on the
point of being enslaved by their enemies, and that they richly
deserved their fate. Such were the speculations to which ready
credence was given at the outset of the most glorious war in
which England had ever been engaged.

Newcastle now began to tremble for his place, and for the only
thing which was dearer to him than his place, his neck. The
people were not in a mood to be trifled with. Their cry was for
blood. For this once they might be contented with the sacrifice
of Byng. But what if fresh disasters should take place? What if
an unfriendly sovereign should ascend the throne? What if a
hostile House of Commons should be chosen?

At length, in October, the decisive crisis came. The new
Secretary of State had been long sick of the perfidy and levity
of the First Lord of the Treasury, and began to fear that he
might be made a scapegoat to save the old intriguer who, imbecile
as he seemed never wanted dexterity where danger was to be
avoided. Fox threw up his office, Newcastle had recourse to
Murray; but Murray had now within his reach the favourite object
of his ambition. The situation of Chief-Justice of the King's
Bench was vacant; and the Attorney-General was fully resolved to
obtain it, or to go into Opposition. Newcastle offered him any
terms, the Duchy of Lancaster for life, a teller-ship of the
Exchequer, any amount of pension, two thousand a year, six
thousand a year. When the Ministers found that Murrays mind was
made up, they pressed for delay, the delay of a session, a month,
a week, a day. Would he only make @is appearance once more in the
House of Commons? Would he only speak in favour of the address?
He was inexorable, and peremptorily said that they might give or
withhold the Chief-Justiceship, but that he would be Attorney-
General no longer

Newcastle now contrived to overcome the prejudices of the King,
and overtures were made to Pitt, through Lord Hardwicke. Pitt
knew his power, and showed that he knew it. He demanded as an
indispensable condition that Newcastle should be altogether
excluded from the new arrangement.

The Duke was in a state of ludicrous distress. He ran about
chattering and crying, asking advice and listening to none. In
the meantime, the Session drew near. The public excitement was
unabated. Nobody could be found to face Pitt and @Fox the House of
Commons. Newcastle's heart failed him, and he tendered his

The King sent for Fox, and directed him to form the plan of an
administration in concert with Pitt. But Pitt had not forgotten
old injuries, and positively refused to act with Fox.

The King now applied to the Duke of Devonshire, and this mediator
succeeded in making an arrangement. He consented to take the
Treasury. Pitt became Secretary of State, with the lead of the
House of Commons. The Great Seal was put into commission. Legge
returned to the Exchequer; and Lord Temple, whose sister Pitt had
lately married, was placed at the head of the Admiralty.

It was clear from the first that this administration would last
but a very short time. It lasted not quite five months; and,
during those five months, Pitt and Lord Temple were treated with
rudeness by the King, and found but feeble support in the House
of Commons. It is a remarkable fact, that the Opposition
prevented the re-election of some of the new Ministers. Pitt, who
sat for one of the boroughs which were in the Pelham interest,
found some difficulty in obtaining a seat after his acceptance of
the seals. So destitute was the new Government of that sort of
influence without which no Government could then be durable. One
of the arguments most frequently urged against the Reform Bill
was that, under a system of popular representation, men whose
presence in the House of Commons was necessary to the conducting
of public business might often find it impossible to find seats.
Should this inconvenience ever be felt, there cannot be the
slightest difficulty in devising and applying a remedy. But those
who threatened us with this evil ought to have remembered that,
under the old system, a great man called to power at a great
crisis by the voice of the whole nation was in danger of being
excluded, by an aristocratical cabal from that House of which he
was the most distinguished ornament.

The most important event of this short administration was the
trial of Byng. On that subject public opinion is still divided.
We think the punishment of the Admiral altogether unjust and
absurd. Treachery, cowardice, ignorance amounting to what lawyers
have called crassa ignorantia, are fit objects of severe penal
inflictions. But Byng was not found guilty of treachery, of
cowardice, or of gross ignorance of his profession. He died for
doing what the most loyal subject, the most intrepid warrior, the
most experienced seaman, might have done. He died for an error in
judgment, an error such as the greatest commanders, Frederick,
Napoleon, Wellington, have often committed, and have often
acknowledged. Such errors are not proper objects of punishment,
for this reason, that the punishing of such errors tends not to
prevent them, but to produce them. The dread of an ignominious
death may stimulate sluggishness to exertion, may keep a traitor
to his standard, may prevent a coward from running away, but it
has no tendency to bring out those qualities which enable men to
form prompt and judicious decisions in great emergencies. The
best marksman may be expected to fail when the apple which is to
be his mark is set on his child's head. We cannot conceive
anything more likely to deprive an officer of his self-possession
at the time when he most needs it than the knowledge that, if,
the judgment of his superiors should not agree with his, he will
he executed with every circumstance of shame. Queens, it has
often been said, run far greater risk in childbed than private
women, merely because their medical attendants are more anxious.
The surgeon who attended Marie Louise was altogether unnerved by
his emotions. "Compose yourself," said Bonaparte; "imagine that
you are assisting a poor girl in the Faubourg Saint Antoine."
This was surely a far wiser course than that of the Eastern king
in the Arabian Nights' Entertainments, who proclaimed that the
physicians who failed to cure his daughter should have their
heads chopped off. Bonaparte knew mankind well; and, as he acted
towards this surgeon, he acted towards his officers. No sovereign
was ever so indulgent to mere errors of judgment; and it is
certain that no sovereign ever had in his service so many
military men fit for the highest commands.

Pitt acted a brave and honest part on this occasion. He ventured
to put both his power and his popularity to hazard, and spoke
manfully for Byng, both in Parliament and in the royal presence.
But the King was inexorable. "The House of Commons, Sir," said
Pitt, "seems inclined to mercy." "Sir," answered the King, "you
have taught me to look for the sense of my people in other places
than the House of Commons." The saying has more point than most
of those which are recorded of George the Second, and, though
sarcastically meant, contains a high and just compliment to Pitt.

The King disliked Pitt, but absolutely hated Temple. The new
Secretary of State, his Majesty said, had never read Vattel, and
was tedious and pompous, but respectful. The first Lord of the
Admiralty was grossly impertinent. Walpole tells one story,
which, we fear, is much too good to be true, He assures us that
Temple entertained his royal master with an elaborate parallel
between Byng's behaviour at Minorca, and his Majesty's behaviour
at Oudenarde, in which the advantage was all on the side of the

This state of things could not last. Early in April, Pitt and all
his friends were turned out, and Newcastle was summoned to St.
James's. But the public discontent was not extinguished. It had
subsided when Pitt was called to power. But it still glowed under
the embers; and it now burst at once into a flame. The stocks
fell. The Common Council met. The freedom of the city was voted
to Pitt. All the greatest corporate towns followed the example.
"For some weeks," says Walpole, "it rained gold boxes."

This was the turning point of Pitt's life. It might have been
expected that a man of so haughty and vehement a nature, treated
so ungraciously by the Court, and supported so enthusiastically
by the people, would have eagerly taken the first opportunity of
showing his power and gratifying his resentment; and an
opportunity was not wanting. The members for many counties and
large towns had been instructed to vote for an inquiry into the
circumstances which had produced the miscarriage of the preceding
year. A motion for inquiry had been carried in the House of
Commons, without opposition; and, a few days after Pitt's
dismissal, the investigation commenced. Newcastle and his
colleagues obtained a vote of acquittal; but the minority were so
strong that they could not venture to ask for a vote of
approbation, as they had at first intended; and it was thought
by some shrewd observers that, if, Pitt had exerted himself to
the utmost of his power, the inquiry might have ended in a
censure, if not in an impeachment.

Pitt showed on this occasion a moderation and self-government
which was not habitual to him. He had found by experience, that
he could not stand alone. His eloquence and his popularity had
done much, very much for him. Without rank, without fortune,
without borough interest, hated by the King, hated by the
aristocracy, he was a person of the first importance in the
State. He had been suffered to form a ministry, and to pronounce
sentence of exclusion on all his rivals, on the most powerful
nobleman of the Whig party, on the ablest debater in the House
of Commons. And he now found that he had gone too far. The
English Constitution was not, indeed, without a popular element.
But other elements generally predominated. The confidence and
admiration of the nation might make a statesman formidable at the
head of an Opposition, might load him with framed and glazed
parchments and gold boxes, might possibly, under very peculiar
circumstances, such as those of the preceding year, raise him for
a time to power. But, constituted as Parliament then was, the
favourite of the people could not depend on a majority in the
people's own House. The Duke of Newcastle, however contemptible
in morals, manners, and understanding, was a dangerous enemy. His
rank, his wealth, his unrivalled parliamentary interest, would
alone have made him important. But this was not all. The Whig
aristocracy regarded him as their leader. His long possession of
power had given him a kind of prescriptive right to possess it
still. The House of Commons had been elected when he was at the
head of affairs, The members for the ministerial boroughs had all
been nominated by him. The public offices swarmed with his

Pitt desired power; and he desired it, we really believe, from
high and generous motives. He was, in the strict sense of the
word, a patriot. He had none of that philanthropy which the great
French writers of his time preached to all the nations of Europe.
He loved England as an Athenian loved the City of the Violet
Crown, as a Roman loved the City of the Seven Hills. He saw his
country insulted and defeated. He saw the national spirit
sinking. Yet he knew what the resources of the empire, vigorously
employed, could effect, and he felt that he was the man to employ
them vigorously. "My Lord," he said to the Duke of Devonshire, "I
am sure that I can save this country, and that nobody else can."

Desiring, then, to be in power, and feeling that his abilities
and the public confidence were not alone sufficient to keep him
in power against the wishes of the Court and of the aristocracy,
he began to think of a coalition with Newcastle.

Newcastle was equally disposed to a reconciliation. He, too, had
profited by his recent experience. He had found that the Court
and the aristocracy, though powerful, were not everything in the
State. A strong oligarchical connection, a great borough
interest, ample patronage, and secret-service money, might, in
quiet times, be all that a Minister needed; but it was unsafe to
trust wholly to such support in time of war, of discontent, and
of agitation. The composition of the House of Commons was not
wholly aristocratical; and, whatever he the composition of large
deliberative assemblies, their spirit is always in some degree
popular. Where there are free debates, eloquence must have
admirers, and reason must make converts. Where there is a free
press, the governors must live in constant awe of the opinions of
the governed.

Thus these two men, so unlike in character, so lately mortal
enemies, were necessary to each other. Newcastle had fallen in
November, for want of that public confidence which Pitt
possessed, and of that parliamentary support which Pitt was
better qualified than any man of his time to give. Pitt had
fallen in April, for want of that species of influence which
Newcastle had passed his whole life in acquiring and hoarding.
Neither of them had power enough to support himself. Each of them
had power enough to overturn the other. Their union would be
irresistible. Neither the King nor any party in the State would
be able to stand against them.

Under these circumstances, Pitt was not disposed to proceed to
extremities against his predecessors in office. Something,
however, was due to consistency; and something was necessary for
the preservation of his popularity. He did little; but that
little he did in such manner as to produce great effect. He came
down to the House in all the pomp of gout, his legs swathed in
flannels, his arm dangling in a sling. He kept his seat through
several fatiguing days, in spite of pain and langour. He uttered
a few sharp and vehement sentences; but during the greater part
of the discussion, his language was unusually gentle.

When the inquiry had terminated without a vote either of
approbation or of censure, the great obstacle to a coalition was
removed. Many obstacles, however, remained. The King was still
rejoicing in his deliverance from the proud and aspiring Minister
who had been forced on him by the cry of the nation. His
Majesty's indignation was excited to the highest point when it
appeared that Newcastle, who had, during thirty years, been
loaded with marks of royal favour, and who had bound himself, by
a solemn promise, never to coalesce with Pitt, was meditating a
new perfidy. Of all the statesmen of that age, Fox had the
largest share of royal favour. A coalition between Fox and
Newcastle was the arrangement which the King wished to bring
about. But the Duke was too cunning to fall into such a snare. As
a speaker in Parliament, Fox might perhaps be, on the whole, as
useful to an administration as his great rival; but he was one of
the most unpopular men in England. Then, again, Newcastle felt
all that jealousy of Fox, which, according to the proverb,
generally exists between two of a trade. Fox would certainly
intermeddle with that department which the Duke was most desirous
to reserve entire to himself, the jobbing department. Pitt, on
the other hand, was quite willing to leave the drudgery of
corruption to any who might be inclined to undertake it.

During eleven weeks England remained without a ministry; and in
the meantime Parliament was sitting, and a war was raging. The
prejudices of the King, the haughtiness of Pitt, the jealousy,
levity, and treachery of Newcastle, delayed the settlement. Pitt
knew the Duke too well to trust him without security. The Duke
loved power too much to be inclined to give security. While they
were haggling, the King was in vain attempting to produce a final
rupture between them, or to form a Government without them. At
one time he applied to Lord Waldegrave, an honest and sensible
man, but unpractised in affairs. Lord Waldegrave had the courage
to accept the Treasury, but soon found that no administration
formed by him had the smallest chance of standing a single week.

At length the King's pertinacity yielded to the necessity of the
case. After exclaiming with great bitterness, and with some
justice, against the Whigs, who ought, he said, to be ashamed to
talk about liberty while they submitted to the footmen of the
Duke of Newcastle, his Majesty submitted. The influence of
Leicester House prevailed on Pitt to abate a little, and but a
little, of his high demands; and all at once, out of the chaos in
which parties had for some time been rising, falling, meeting,
separating, arose a government as strong at home as that of
Pelham, as successful abroad as that of Godolphin.

Newcastle took the Treasury. Pitt was Secretary of State, with
the lead in the House of Commons, and with the supreme direction
of the war and of foreign affairs. Fox, the only man who could
have given much annoyance to the new Government, was silenced by
the office of Paymaster, which, during the continuance of that
war, was probably the most lucrative place in the whole
Government. He was poor, and the situation was tempting; yet it
cannot but seem extraordinary that a man who had played a first
part in politics, and whose abilities had been found not unequal
to that part, who had sat in the Cabinet, who had led the House
of Commons, who had been twice intrusted by the King with the
office of forming a ministry, who was regarded as the rival of
Pitt, and who at one time seemed likely to be a successful rival,
should have consented, for the sake of emolument, to take a
subordinate place, and to give silent votes for all the measures
of a government to the deliberations of which he was not

The first acts of the new administration were characterized
rather by vigour than by judgment. Expeditions were sent against
different parts of the French coast with little success. The
small island of Aix was taken, Rochefort threatened, a few ships
burned in the harbour of St. Maloes, and a few guns and mortars
brought home as trophies from the fortifications of Cherbourg.
But soon conquests of a very different kind filled the kingdom
with pride and rejoicing. A succession of victories undoubtedly
brilliant, and, as was thought, not barren, raised to the highest
point the fame of the minister to whom the conduct of the war had
been intrusted. In July 1758, Louisburg fell. The whole island of
Cape Breton was reduced. The fleet to which the Court of
Versailles had confided the defence of French America was
destroyed. The captured standards were borne in triumph from
Kensington Palace to the city, and were suspended in St. Paul's
Church, amidst the roar of drums and kettledrums, and the shouts
of an immense multitude. Addresses of congratulation came in from
all the great towns of England. Parliament met only to decree
thanks and monuments, and to bestow, without one murmur, supplies
more than double of those which had been given during the war of
the Grand Alliance.

The year 1759 opened with the conquest of Goree. Next fell
Guadaloupe; then Ticonderoga; then Niagara. The Toulon squadron
was completely defeated by Boscawen off Cape Lagos. But the
greatest exploit of the year was the achievement of Wolfe on the
heights of Abraham. The news of his glorious death and of the
fall of Quebec reached London in the very week in which the
Houses met. All was joy and triumph. Envy and faction were forced
to join in the general applause. Whigs and Tories vied with each
other in extolling the genius and energy of Pitt. His colleagues
were never talked of or thought of. The House of Commons, the
nation, the colonies, our allies, our enemies, had their eyes
fixed on him alone.

Scarcely had Parliament voted a monument to Wolfe, when another
great event called for fresh rejoicings. The Brest fleet, under
the command of Conflans, had put out to sea. It was overtaken by
an English squadron under Hawke. Conflans attempted to take
shelter close under the French coast. The shore was rocky; the
night was black: the wind was furious: the waves of the Bay of
Biscay ran high. But Pitt had infused into each branch of the
service a spirit which had long been unknown. No British seaman
was disposed to err on the same side with Byng. The pilot told
Hawke that the attack could not be made without the greatest
danger. "You have done your duty in remonstrating," answered
Hawke; "I will answer for everything. I command you to lay me
alongside the French admiral." Two French ships of the line
struck. Four were destroyed. The rest hid themselves in the
rivers of Brittany.

The year 1760 came; and still triumph followed triumph. Montreal
was taken; the whole province of Canada was subjugated; the
French fleets underwent a succession of disasters in the seas of
Europe and America.

In the meantime conquests equalling in rapidity, and far
surpassing in magnitude, those of Cortes and Pizarro, had been
achieved in the East. In the space of three years the English had
founded a mighty empire. The French had been defeated in every
part of India. Chandernagore had surrendered to Clive,
Pondicherry to Coote. Throughout Bengal, Bahar, Orissa, and the
Carnatic, the authority of the East India Company was more
absolute than that of Acbar or Aurungzebe had ever been.

On the continent of Europe the odds were against England. We had
but one important ally, the King of Prussia; and he was attacked
not only by France, but also by Russia and Austria. Yet even on
the Continent the energy of Pitt triumphed over all difficulties.
Vehemently as he had condemned the practice of subsidising
foreign princes, he now carried that practice further than
Carteret himself would have ventured to do. The active and able
Sovereign of Prussia received such pecuniary assistance as
enabled him to maintain the conflict on equal terms against his
powerful enemies. On no subject had Pitt ever spoken with so much
eloquence and ardour as on the mischiefs of the Hanoverian
connection. He now declared, not without much show of reason,
that it would be unworthy of the English people to suffer their
King to be deprived of his electoral dominions in an English
quarrel. He assured his countrymen that they should be no losers,
and that he would conquer America for them in Germany. By taking
this line he conciliated the King, and lost no part of his
influence with the nation. In Parliament, such was the ascendency
which his eloquence, his success, his high situation, his pride,
and his intrepidity had obtained for him, that he took liberties
with the House of which there had been no example, and which have
never since been imitated. No orator could there venture to
reproach him with inconsistency. One unfortunate man made the
attempt, and was so much disconcerted by the scornful demeanour
of the Minister that he stammered, stopped, and sat down. Even
the old Tory country gentleman, to whom the very name of Hanover
had been odious, gave their hearty Ayes to subsidy after subsidy.
In a lively contemporary satire, much more lively indeed than
delicate, this remarkable conversation is not unhappily

"No more they make a fiddle-faddle
About a Hessian horse or saddle.
No more of continental measures
No more of wasting British treasures.
Ten millions, and a vote of credit,
'Tis right. He can't be wrong who did it."

The success of Pitt's continental measures was such as might have
been expected from their vigour. When he came into power, Hanover
was in imminent danger; and before he had been in office three
months, the whole electorate was in the hands of France. But the
face of affairs was speedily changed. The invaders were driven
out. An army, partly English, partly Hanoverian, partly composed
of soldiers furnished by the petty Princes of Germany, was placed
under the command of Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick. The French
were beaten in 1758 at Crevelt. In 1759 they received a still
more complete and humiliating defeat at Minden.

In the meantime, the nation exhibited all the signs of wealth and
prosperity. The merchants of London had never been more thriving.
The importance of several great commercial and manufacturing
towns, of Glasgow in particular, dates from this period. The fine
inscription on the monument of Lord Chatham, in Guildhall records
the general opinion of the citizens of London, that under his
administration commerce had been "united with and made to
@flourish by war?"
@It must be owned that these signs of prosperity were in some
degree delusive. It must be owned that some of our conquests were
rather splendid than useful. It must be owned that the expense of
the war never entered into Pitt's consideration. Perhaps it would
be more correct to say that the cost of his victories increased
the pleasure with which he contemplated them. Unlike other men in
his situation, he loved to exaggerate the sums which the nation
was laying out under his direction. He was proud of the
sacrifices and efforts which his eloquence and his success had
induced his countrymen to make. The price at which he purchased
faithful service and complete victory, though far smaller than
that which his son, the most profuse and incapable of war
ministers, paid for treachery, defeat, and shame, was long and
severely felt by the nation.

Even as a war minister, Pitt is scarcely entitled to all the
praise which his contemporaries lavished on him. We, perhaps from
ignorance, cannot discern in his arrangements any appearance of
profound or dexterous combination. Several of his expeditions,
particularly those which were sent to the coast of France, were
at once costly and absurd. Our Indian conquests, though they add
to the splendour of the period during which he was at the head of
affairs, were not planned by him. He had undoubtedly great
energy, great determination, great means at his command. His
temper was enterprising; and, situated as he was, he had only to
follow his temper. The wealth of a rich nation, the valour of a
brave nation, were ready to support him in every attempt.

In one respect, however, he deserved all the praise that he has
ever received. The success of our arms was perhaps owing less to
the skill of his dispositions than to the national resources and
the national spirit. But that the national spirit rose to the
emergency, that the national resources were contributed with
unexampled cheerfulness, this was undoubtedly his work. The
ardour of his soul had set the whole kingdom on fire. It inflamed
every soldier who dragged the cannon up the heights of Quebec,
and every sailor who boarded the French ships among the rocks of
Brittany. The Minister, before he had been long in office, had
imparted to the commanders whom he employed his own impetuous,
adventurous, and defying character They, like him, were disposed
to risk everything, to play double or quits to the last, to think
nothing done while anything remained undone, to fail rather than
not to attempt. For the errors of rashness there might be
indulgence. For over-caution, for faults like those of Lord
George Sackville, there was no mercy. In other times, and against
other enemies, this mode of warfare might have failed. But the
state of the French government and of the French nation gave
every advantage to Pitt. The fops and intriguers of Versailles
were appalled and bewildered by his vigour. A panic spread
through all ranks of society. Our enemies soon considered it as a
settled thing that they were always to be beaten. Thus victory
begot victory; till, at last, wherever the forces of the two
nations met, they met with disdainful confidence on one side, and
with a craven fear on the other.

The situation which Pitt occupied at the close of the reign of
George the Second was the most enviable ever occupied by any
public man in English history. He had conciliated the King; he
domineered over the House of Commons; he was adored by the
people; he was admired by all Europe. He was the first Englishman
of his time; and he had made England the first country in the
world. The Great Commoner, the name by which he was often
designated, might look down with scorn on coronets and garters.
The nation was drunk with joy and pride. The Parliament was as
quiet as it had been under Pelham. The old party distinctions
were almost effaced; nor was their place yet supplied by
distinctions of a still more important kind. A new generation of
country squires and rectors had arisen who knew not the Stuarts.
The Dissenters were tolerated; the Catholics not cruelly
persecuted. The Church was drowsy and indulgent. The great civil
and religious conflict which began at the Reformation seemed to
have terminated in universal repose. Whigs and Tories, Churchmen
and Puritans, spoke with equal reverence of the constitution, and
with equal enthusiasm of the talents, virtues, and services of
the Minister.

A few years sufficed to change the whole aspect of affairs. A
nation convulsed by faction, a throne assailed by the fiercest
invective, a House of Commons hated and despised by the nation,
England set against Scotland, Britain set against America, a
rival legislature sitting beyond the Atlantic, English blood shed
by English bayonets, our armies capitulating, our conquests
wrested from us, our enemies hastening to take vengeance for past
humiliation, our flag scarcely able to maintain itself in our own
seas, such was the spectacle which Pitt lived to see. But the
history of this great revolution requires far more space than we
can at present bestow. We leave the Great Commoner in the zenith
of his glory. It is not impossible that we may take some other
opportunity of tracing his life to its melancholy, yet not
inglorious close.

(October 1844)

1. Correspondence of William Pitt, Earl of Chatham. 4 vols. 8vo.
London: 1840.

2. Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford, to Horace Mann. 4
vols. 8vo. London: 1843-4.

More than ten years ago we commenced a sketch of the political
life of the great Lord Chatham. We then stopped at the death of
George the Second, with the intention of speedily resuming our
task. Circumstances, which it would be tedious to explain, long
prevented us from carrying this intention into effect. Nor can we
regret the delay. For the materials which were within our reach
in 1834 were scanty and unsatisfactory when compared with those
which we at present possess. Even now, though we have had access
to some valuable sources of information which have not yet been
opened to the public, we cannot but feel that the history of the
first ten years of the reign of George the Third is but
imperfectly known to us. Nevertheless, we are inclined to think
that we are in a condition to lay before our readers a narrative
neither uninstructive nor uninteresting. We therefore return with
pleasure to our long interrupted labour.

We left Pitt in the zenith of prosperity and glory, the idol of
England, the terror of France, the admiration of the whole
civilised world. The wind, from whatever quarter it blew, carried
to England tidings of battles won, fortresses taken, provinces
added to the empire. At home, factions had sunk into a lethargy,
such as had never been known since the great religious schism of
the sixteenth century had roused the public mind from repose.

In order that the events which we have to relate may be clearly
understood, it may be desirable that we should advert to the
causes which had for a time suspended the animation of both the
great English parties.

If, rejecting all that is merely accidental, we look at the
essential characteristics of the Whig and the Tory, we may
consider each of them as the representative of a great principle,
essential to the welfare of nations. One is, in an especial
manner, the guardian of liberty, and the other of order. One is
the moving power, and the other the steadying power of the State.
One is the sail, without which society would make no progress;
the other the ballast, without which there would be small safety
in a tempest. But, during the forty-six years which followed the
accession of the House of Hanover, these distinctive
peculiarities seemed to be effaced. The Whig conceived that he
could not better serve the cause of civil and religious freedom
than by strenuously supporting the Protestant dynasty. The Tory
conceived that he could not better prove his hatred of
revolutions than by attacking a government to which a revolution
had given birth. Both came by degrees to attach more importance
to the means than to the end. Both were thrown into unnatural
situations; and both, like animals transported to an uncongenial
climate, languished and degenerated. The Tory, removed from the
sunshine of the Court, was as a camel in the snows of Lapland.
The Whig, basking in the rays of royal favour, was as a reindeer
in the sands of Arabia.

Dante tells us that he saw, in Malebolge, a strange encounter
between a human form and a serpent. The enemies, after cruel
wounds inflicted, stood for a time glaring on each other. A great
cloud surrounded them, and then a wonderful metamorphosis began.
Each creature was transfigured into the likeness of its
antagonist. The serpent's tail divided itself into two legs; the
man's legs intertwined themselves into a tail. The body of the
serpent put forth arms; the arms of the man shrank into his body.
At length the serpent stood up a man, and spake; the man sank
down a serpent, and glided hissing away. Something like this was
the transformation which, during the reign of George the First,
befell the two English parties. Each gradually took the shape and
colour of its foe, till at length the Tory rose up erect the
zealot of freedom, and the Whig crawled and licked the dust at
the feet of power.

It is true that, when these degenerate politicians discussed
questions merely speculative, and, above all, when they discussed
questions relating to the conduct of their own grandfathers, they
still seemed to differ as their grandfathers had differed. The
Whig, who, during three Parliaments, had never given one vote
against the Court, and who was ready to sell his soul for the
Comptroller's staff or for the Great Wardrobe, still professed to
draw his political doctrines from Locke and Milton, still
worshipped the memory of Pym and Hampden, and would still, on the
thirtieth of January, take his glass, first to the man in the
mask, and then to the man who would do it without a mask. The
Tory, on the other hand, while he reviled the mild and temperate
Walpole as a deadly enemy of liberty, could see nothing to
reprobate in the iron tyranny of Strafford and Laud. But,
whatever judgment the Whig or the Tory of that age might
pronounce on transactions long past, there can be no doubt that,
as respected the practical questions then pending, the Tory was a
reformer, and indeed an intemperate and indiscreet reformer,
while the Whig was conservative even to bigotry. We have
ourselves seen similar effects produced in a neighbouring country
by similar causes. Who would have believed, fifteen years ago,
that M. Guizot and M. Villemain would have to defend property and
social order against the attacks of such enemies as M. Genoude
and M. de La Roche Jaquelin?

Thus the successors of the old Cavaliers had turned demagogues;
the successors of the old Roundheads had turned courtiers. Yet
was it long before their mutual animosity began to abate; for it
is the nature of parties to retain their original enmities far
more firmly than their original principles. During many years, a
generation of Whigs, whom Sidney would have spurned as slaves,
continued to wage deadly war with a generation of Tories whom
Jeffreys would have hanged for republicans.

Through the whole reign of George the First, and through nearly
half of the reign of George the Second, a Tory was regarded as an
enemy of the reigning house, and was excluded from all the
favours of the Crown. Though most of the country gentlemen were

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