Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Critical and Historical Essays Volume 1 by Thomas Babington Macaulay

Part 11 out of 16

Adobe PDF icon
Download Critical and Historical Essays Volume 1 pdf
File size: 1.9 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

and desertion had grievously thinned the ranks of the party
lately supreme in the State. Those among whom the Duke's choice
lay might be divided into two classes, men too old for important
offices, and men who had never been in any important office
before. The Cabinet must be composed of broken invalids or of raw

This was an evil, yet not an unmixed evil. If the new Whig
statesmen had little experience in business and debate, they
were, on the other hand, pure from the taint of that political
immorality which had deeply infected their predecessors. Long
prosperity had corrupted that great party which had expelled the
Stuarts, limited the prerogatives of the Crown, and curbed the
intolerance of the Hierarchy. Adversity had already produced a
salutary effect. On the day of the accession of George the Third,
the ascendency of the Whig party terminated; and on that day the
purification of the Whig party began. The rising chiefs of that
party were men of a very different sort from Sandys and
Winnington, from Sir William Yonge and Henry Fox. They were men
worthy to have charged by the side of Hampden at Chalgrove, or to
have exchanged the last embrace with Russell on the scaffold in
Lincoln's Inn Fields. They carried into politics the same high
principles of virtue which regulated their private dealings, nor
would they stoop to promote even the noblest and most salutary
ends by means which honour and probity condemn. Such men were
Lord John Cavendish, Sir George Savile, and others whom we hold
in honour as the second founders of the Whig party, as the
restorers of its pristine health and energy after half a century
of degeneracy.

The chief of this respectable band was the Marquess of
Rockingham, a man of splendid fortune, excellent sense, and
stainless character. He was indeed nervous to such a degree that,
to the very close of his life, he never rose without great
reluctance and embarrassment to address the House of Lords.

But, though not a great orator, he had in a high degree some of
the qualities of a statesman. He chose his friends well; and he
had, in an extraordinary degree, the art of attaching them to him
by ties of the most honourable kind. The cheerful fidelity with
which they adhered to him through many years of almost hopeless
opposition was less admirable than the disinterestedness and
delicacy which they showed when he rose to power.

We are inclined to think that the use and the abuse of party
cannot be better illustrated than by a parallel between two
powerful connections of that time, the Rockinghams and the
Bedfords. The Rockingham party was, in our view, exactly what a
party should be. It consisted of men bound together by common
opinions, by common public objects, by mutual esteem. That they
desired to obtain, by honest and constitutional means, the
direction of affairs, they openly avowed. But, though often
invited to accept the honours and emoluments of office, they
steadily refused to do so on any conditions inconsistent with
their principles. The Bedford party, as a party, had, as far as
we can discover, no principle whatever. Rigby and Sandwich wanted
public money, and thought that they should fetch a higher price
jointly than singly. They therefore acted in concert, and
prevailed on a much more important and a much better man than
themselves to act with them.

It was to Rockingham that the Duke of Cumberland now had
recourse. The Marquess consented to take the Treasury. Newcastle,
so long the recognised chief of the Whigs, could not well be
excluded from the ministry. He was appointed Keeper of the Privy
Seal. A very honest clear-headed country gentleman, of the name
of Dowdeswell, became Chancellor of the Exchequer. General
Conway, who had served under the Duke of Cumberland, and was
strongly attached to his royal highness, was made Secretary of
State, with the lead in the House of Commons. A great Whig
nobleman, in the prime of manhood, from whom much was at that
time expected, Augustus, Duke of Grafton, was the other

The oldest man living could remember no Government so weak in
oratorical talents and in official experience. The general
opinion was, that the ministers might hold office during the
recess, but that the first day of debate in Parliament would be
the last day of their power. Charles Townshend was asked what he
thought of the new administration. "It is," said be, "mere
lutestring; pretty summer wear. It will never do for the winter."

At this conjuncture Lord Rockingham had the wisdom to discern the
value, and secure the aid, of an ally, who, to eloquence
surpassing the eloquence of Pitt, and to industry which shamed
the industry of Grenville, united an amplitude of comprehension
to which neither Pitt nor Grenville could lay claim. A young
Irishman had, some time before, come over to push his fortune in
London. He had written much for the booksellers; but he was best
known by a little treatise, in which the style and reasoning of
Bolingbroke were mimicked with exquisite skill, and by a theory,
of more ingenuity than soundness, touching the pleasures which we
receive from the objects of taste He had also attained a high
reputation as a talker, and was regarded by the men of letters
who supped together at the Turk's Head as the only match in
conversation for Dr. Johnson. He now became private secretary to
Lord Rockingham, and was brought into Parliament by his patron's
influence. These arrangements, indeed, were not made without some
difficulty. The Duke of Newcastle, who was always meddling and
chattering, adjured the First Lord of the Treasury to be on his
guard against this adventurer, whose real name was O'Bourke, and
whom his Grace knew to be a wild Irishman, a Jacobite, a Papist,
a concealed Jesuit. Lord Rockingham treated the calumny as it
deserved; and the Whig party was strengthened and adorned by the
accession of Edmund Burke.

The party, indeed, stood in need of accessions; for it sustained
about this time an almost irreparable loss. The Duke of
Cumberland had formed the Government, and was its main support.
His exalted rank and great name in some degree balanced the fame
of Pitt. As mediator between the Whigs and the Court, he held a
place which no other person could fill. The strength of his
character supplied that which was the chief defect of the new
ministry. Conway, in particular, who, with excellent intentions
and respectable talents, was the most dependent and irresolute
of human beings, drew from the counsels of that masculine mind a
determination not his own. Before the meeting of Parliament the
Duke suddenly died. His death was generally regarded as the
signal of great troubles, and on this account, as well as from
respect for his personal qualities, was greatly lamented. It was
remarked that the mourning in London was the most general ever
known, and was both deeper and longer than the Gazette had

In the meantime, every mail from America brought alarming
tidings. The crop which Grenville had sown his successors had now
to reap, The colonies were in a state bordering on rebellion. The
stamps were burned. The revenue officers were tarred and
feathered. All traffic between the discontented provinces and the
mother country was interrupted. The Exchange of London was in
dismay. Half the firms of Bristol and Liverpool were threatened
with bankruptcy. In Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, it was said
that three artisans out of every ten had been turned adrift.
Civil war seemed to be at hand; and it could not be doubted that,
if once the British nation were divided against itself, France
and Spain would soon take part in the quarrel.

Three courses were open to the ministers. The first was to
enforce the Stamp Act by the sword. This was the course on which
the King, and Grenville, whom the King hated beyond all living
men, were alike bent. The natures of both were arbitrary and
stubborn. They resembled each other so much that they could never
be friends; but they resembled each other also so much that they
saw almost all important practical questions in the same point of
view. Neither of them would bear to be governed by the other; but
they were perfectly agreed as to the best way of governing the

Another course was that which Pitt recommended. He held that the
British Parliament was not constitutionally competent to pass a
law for taxing the colonies. He therefore considered the Stamp
Act as a nullity, as a document of no more validity than
Charles's writ of ship-money, or James's proclamation dispensing
with the penal laws. This doctrine seems to us, we must own, to
be altogether untenable.

Between these extreme courses lay a third way. The opinion of the
most judicious and temperate statesmen of those times was that
the British constitution had set no limit whatever to the
legislative power of the British King, Lords, and Commons, over
the whole British Empire. Parliament, they held, was legally
competent to tax America, as Parliament was legally competent to
commit any other act of folly or wickedness, to confiscate the
property of all the merchants in Lombard Street, or to attaint
any man in the kingdom of high treason, without examining
witnesses against him, or hearing him in his own defence. The
most atrocious act of confiscation or of attainder is just as
valid an act as the Toleration Act or the Habeas Corpus Act. But
from acts of confiscation and acts of attainder lawgivers are
bound, by every obligation of morality, systematically to
refrain. In the same manner ought the British legislature to
refrain from taxing the American colonies. The Stamp Act was
indefensible, not because it was beyond the constitutional
competence of Parliament, but because it was unjust and
impolitic, sterile of revenue, and fertile of discontents. These
sound doctrines were adopted by Lord Rockingham and his
colleagues, and were, during a long course of years, inculcated
by Burke, in orations, some of which will last as long as the
English language.

The winter came; the Parliament met; and the state of the
colonies instantly became the subject of fierce contention. Pitt,
whose health had been somewhat restored by the waters of Bath,
reappeared in the House of Commons, and, with ardent and pathetic
eloquence, not only condemned the Stamp Act, but applauded the
resistance of Massachusetts and Virginia, and vehemently
maintained, in defiance, we must say, of all reason and of all
authority, that, according to the British constitution, the
supreme legislative power does not include the power to tax.
The language of Grenville, on the other hand, was such as
Strafford might have used at the council-table of Charles the
First, when news came of the resistance to the liturgy at
Edinburgh. The colonists were traitors; those who excused them
were little better. Frigates, mortars, bayonets, sabres, were the
proper remedies for such distempers.

The ministers occupied an intermediate position; they proposed to
declare that the legislative authority of the British Parliament
over the whole Empire was in all cases supreme; and they
proposed, at the same time, to repeal the Stamp Act. To the
former measure Pitt objected; but it was carried with scarcely a
dissentient voice. The repeal of the Stamp Act Pitt strongly
supported; but against the Government was arrayed a formidable
assemblage of opponents. Grenville and the Bedfords were furious.
Temple, who had now allied himself closely with his brother, and
separated himself from Pitt, was no despicable enemy. This,
however, was not the worst. The ministry was without its natural
strength. It had to struggle, not only against its avowed
enemies, but against the insidious hostility of the King, and of
a set of persons who, about this time, began to be designated as
the King's friends.

The character of this faction has been drawn by Burke with even
more than his usual force and vivacity. Those who know how
strongly, through his whole life, his judgment was biassed by his
passions, may not unnaturally suspect that he has left us rather
a caricature than a likeness; and yet there is scarcely, in the
whole portrait, a single touch of which the fidelity is not
proved by facts of unquestionable authenticity.

The public generally regarded the King's friends as a body of
which Bute was the directing soul. It was to no purpose that the
Earl professed to have done with politics, that he absented
himself year after year from the levee and the drawing-room, that
he went to the north, that he went to Rome. The notion that, in
some inexplicable manner, he dictated all the measures of the
Court, was fixed in the minds, not only of the multitude, but of
some who had good opportunities of obtaining information, and who
ought to have been superior to vulgar prejudices. Our own belief
is that these suspicions were unfounded, and that he ceased to
have any communication with the King on political matters some
time before the dismissal of George Grenville. The supposition of
Bute's influence is, indeed, by no means necessary to explain the
phaenomena. The King, in 1765, was no longer the ignorant and
inexperienced boy who had, in 1760, been managed by his mother
and his Groom of the Stole. He had, during several years,
observed the struggles of parties, and conferred daily on high
questions of State with able and experienced politicians. His way
of life had developed his understanding and character. He was now
no longer a puppet, but had very decided opinions both of men and
things. Nothing could be more natural than that he should have
high notions of his own prerogatives, should be impatient of
opposition and should wish all public men to be detached from
each other and dependent on himself alone; nor could anything be
more natural than that, in the state in which the political world
then was, he should find instruments fit for his purposes.

Thus sprang into existence and into note a reptile species of
politicians never before and never since known in our country.
These men disclaimed all political ties, except those which bound
them to the throne. They were willing to coalesce with any party,
to abandon any party, to undermine any party, to assault any
party, at a moment's notice. To them, all administrations, and
all oppositions were the same. They regarded Bute, Grenville,
Rockingham, Pitt, without one sentiment either of predilection or
of aversion. They were the King's friends. It is to be observed
that this friendship implied no personal intimacy. These people
had never lived with their master as Dodington at one time lived
with his father, or as Sheridan afterwards lived with his son.
They never hunted with him in the morning, or played cards with
him in the evening, never shared his mutton or walked with him
among his turnips. Only one or two of them ever saw his face,
except on public days. The whole band, however, always had early
and accurate information as to his personal inclinations. These
people were never high in the administration. They were generally
to be found in places of much emolument, little labour, and no
responsibility; and these places they continued to occupy
securely while the Cabinet was six or seven times reconstructed.
Their peculiar business was not to support the Ministry against
the Opposition, but to support the King against the Ministry.
Whenever his Majesty was induced to give a reluctant assent to
the introduction of some bill which his constitutional advisers
regarded as necessary, his friends in the House of Commons were
sure to speak against it, to vote against it, to throw in its way
every obstruction compatible with the forms of Parliament. If his
Majesty found it necessary to admit into his closet a Secretary
of State or a First Lord of the Treasury whom he disliked, his
friends were sure to miss no opportunity of thwarting and
humbling the obnoxious minister. In return for these services,
the King covered them with his protection. It was to no purpose
that his responsible servants complained to him that they were
daily betrayed and impeded by men who were eating the bread of
the Government He sometimes justified the offenders, sometimes
excused them, sometimes owned that they were to blame, but said
that he must take time to consider whether he could part with
them. He never would turn them out; and, while everything else in
the State was constantly changing, these sycophants seemed to
have a life estate in their offices.

It was well known to the King's friends that, though his Majesty
had consented to the repeal of the Stamp Act, he had consented
with a very bad grace, and that though he had eagerly welcomed
the Whigs, when, in his extreme need and at his earnest entreaty,
they had undertaken to free him from an insupportable yoke, he
had by no means got over his early prejudices against his
deliverers. The ministers soon found that, while they were
encountered in front by the whole force of a strong Opposition,
their rear was assailed by a large body of those whom they had
regarded as auxiliaries.

Nevertheless, Lord Rockingham and his adherents went on
resolutely with the bill for repealing the Stamp Act. They had on
their side all the manufacturing and commercial interests of the
realm. In the debates the Government was powerfully supported.
Two great orators and statesmen, belonging to two different
generations, repeatedly put forth all their powers in defence of
the bill. The House of Commons heard Pitt for the last time, and
Burke for the first time, and was in doubt to which of them the
palm of eloquence should be assigned. It was indeed a splendid
sunset and a splendid dawn.

For a time the event seemed doubtful. In several divisions the
ministers were hard pressed. On one occasion, not less than
twelve of the King's friends, all men in office, voted against
the Government. It was to no purpose that Lord Rockingham
remonstrated with the King. His Majesty confessed that there was
ground for complaint, but hoped that gentle means would bring the
mutineers to a better mind. If they persisted in their
misconduct, he would dismiss them.

At length the decisive day arrived. The gallery, the lobby, the
Court of Requests, the staircases, were crowded with merchants
from all the great ports of the island. The debate lasted till
long after midnight. On the division the ministers had a great
majority. The dread of civil war, and the outcry of all the
trading towns of the kingdom, had been too strong for the
combined strength of the Court and the Opposition.

It was in the first dim twilight of a February morning that the
doors were thrown open, and that the chiefs of the hostile
parties showed themselves to the multitude. Conway was received
with loud applause. But, when Pitt appeared, all eyes were fixed
on him alone. All hats were in the air. Loud and long huzzas
accompanied him to his chair, and a train of admirers escorted
him all the way to his home. Then came forth Grenville. As soon
as he was recognised, a storm of hisses and curses broke forth.
He turned fiercely on the crowd, and caught one by the throat.
The bystanders were in great alarm. If a scuffle began, none
could say how it might end. Fortunately the person who had been
collared only said, "If I may not hiss, sir, I hope I may laugh,"
and laughed in Grenville's face.

The majority had been so decisive, that all the opponents of the
Ministry, save one, were disposed to let the bill pass without
any further contention. But solicitation and expostulation were
thrown away on Grenville. His indomitable spirit rose up stronger
and stronger under the load of public hatred. He fought out the
battle obstinately to the end. On the last reading he had a sharp
altercation with his brother-in-law, the last of their many sharp
altercations. Pitt thundered in his loftiest tones against the
man who had wished to dip the ermine of a British King in the
blood of the British people. Grenville replied with his wonted
intrepidity and asperity. "If the tax," he said, "were still to
be laid on, I would lay it on. For the evils which it may produce
my accuser is answerable. His profusion made it necessary. His
declarations against the constitutional powers of Kings, Lords,
and Commons, have made it doubly necessary. I do not envy him the
huzza. I glory in the hiss. If it were to be done again, I would
do it."

The repeal of the Stamp Act was the chief measure of Lord
Rockingham's Government. But that Government is entitled to the
praise of having put a stop to two oppressive practices, which,
in Wilkes's case, had attracted the notice and excited the just
indignation of the public. The House of Commons was induced by
the ministers to pass a resolution condemning the use of general
warrants, and another resolution condemning the seizure of papers
in cases of libel.

It must be added, to the lasting honour of Lord Rockingham, that
his administration was the first which, during a long course of
years, had the courage and the virtue to refrain from bribing
members of Parliament. His enemies accused him and his friends of
weakness, of haughtiness, of party spirit; but calumny itself
never dared to couple his name with corruption.

Unhappily his Government, though one of the best that has ever
existed in our country, was also one of the weakest. The King's
friends assailed and obstructed the ministers at every turn. To
appeal to the King was only to draw forth new promises and new
evasions. His Majesty was sure that there must be some
misunderstanding. Lord Rockingham had better speak to the
gentlemen. They should be dismissed on the next fault. The next
fault was soon committed, and his Majesty still continued to
shuffle. It was too bad. It was quite abominable; but it mattered
less as the prorogation was at hand. He would give the
delinquents one more chance. If they did not alter their conduct
next session, he should not have one word to say for them. He had
already resolved that, long before the commencement of the next
session, Lord Rockingham should cease to be minister.

We have now come to a part of our story which, admiring as we do
the genius and the many noble qualities of Pitt, we cannot relate
without much pain. We believe that, at this conjuncture, he had
it in his power to give the victory either to the Whigs or to the
King's friends. If he had allied himself closely with Lord
Rockingham, what could the Court have done? There would have been
only one alternative, the Whigs or Grenville; and there could be
no doubt what the King's choice would be. He still remembered, as
well he might, with the uttermost bitterness, the thraldom from
which his uncle had freed him, and said about this time, with
great vehemence, that he would sooner see the Devil come into his
closet than Grenville.

And what was there to prevent Pitt from allying himself with Lord
Rockingham? On all the most important questions their views were
the same. They had agreed in condemning the peace, the Stamp Act,
the general warrant, the seizure of papers. The points on which
they differed were few and unimportant. In integrity, in
disinterestedness, in hatred of corruption, they resembled each
other. Their personal interests could not clash. They sat in
different Houses, and Pitt had always declared that nothing
should induce him to be First Lord of the Treasury.

If the opportunity of forming a coalition beneficial to the
State, and honourable to all concerned, was suffered to escape,
the fault was not with the Whig ministers. They behaved towards
Pitt with an obsequiousness which, had it not been the effect of
sincere admiration and of anxiety for the public interests, might
have been justly called servile. They repeatedly gave him to
understand that, if he chose to join their ranks, they were ready
to receive him, not as an associate, but as a leader. They had
proved their respect for him by bestowing a peerage on the person
who, at that time, enjoyed the largest share of his confidence,
Chief Justice Pratt. What then was there to divide Pitt from the
Whigs? What, on the other hand, was there in common between him
and the King's friends, that he should lend himself to their
purposes, he who had never owed anything to flattery or intrigue,
he whose eloquence and independent spirit had overawed two
generations of slaves and jobbers, he who had twice been forced
by the enthusiasm of an admiring nation on a reluctant Prince?

Unhappily the Court had gained Pitt, not, it is true, by those
ignoble means which were employed when such men as Rigby and
Wedderburn were to be won, but by allurements suited to a nature
noble even in its aberrations. The King set himself to seduce the
one man who could turn the Whigs out without letting Grenville
in. Praise, caresses, promises, were lavished on the idol of the
nation. He, and he alone, could put an end to faction, could bid
defiance to all the powerful connections in the land united,
Whigs and Tories, Rockinghams, Bedfords, and Grenvilles. These
blandishments produced a great effect. For though Pitt's spirit
was high and manly, though his eloquence was often exerted with
formidable effect against the Court, and though his theory of
government had been learned in the school of Locke and Sydney,
he had always regarded the person of the sovereign with profound
veneration. As soon as he was brought face to face with royalty,
his imagination and sensibility were too strong for his principles.
His Whiggism thawed and disappeared; and he became, for the time,
a Tory of the old Ormond pattern. Nor was he by any means unwilling
to assist in the work of dissolving all political connections. His
own weight in the State was wholly independent of such
connections. He was therefore inclined to look on them with
dislike, and made far too little distinction between gangs of
knaves associated for the mere purpose of robbing the public, and
confederacies of honourable men for the promotion of great public
objects. Nor had he the sagacity to perceive that the strenuous
efforts which he made to annihilate all parties tended only to
establish the ascendency of one party, and that the basest and
most hateful of all.

It may be doubted whether he would have been thus misled, if his
mind had been in full health and vigour. But the truth is that he
had for some time been in an unnatural state of excitement. No
suspicion of this sort had yet got abroad. His eloquence had
never shone with more splendour than during the recent debates.
But people afterwards called to mind many things which ought to
have roused their apprehensions. His habits were gradually
becoming more and more eccentric. A horror of all loud sounds,
such as is said to have been one of the many oddities of
Wallenstein, grew upon him. Though the most affectionate of
fathers, he could not at this time bear to hear the voices of his
own children, and laid out great sums at Hayes in buying up
houses contiguous to his own, merely that he might have no
neighbours to disturb him with their noise. He then sold Hayes,
and took possession of a villa at Hampstead, where he again began
to purchase houses to right and left. In expense, indeed, he
vied, during this part of his life, with the wealthiest of the
conquerors of Bengal and Tanjore. At Burton Pynsent, he ordered a
great extent of ground to be planted with cedars. Cedars enough
for the purpose were not to be found in Somersetshire. They were
therefore collected in London, and sent down by land carriage.
Relays of labourers were hired; and the work went on all night by
torchlight. No man could be more abstemious than Pitt; yet the
profusion of his kitchen was a wonder even to epicures. Several
dinners were always dressing; for his appetite was capricious and
fanciful; and at whatever moment he felt inclined to eat, he
expected a meal to be instantly on the table. Other circumstances
might be mentioned, such as separately are of little moment, but
such as, when taken altogether, and when viewed in connection
with the strange events which followed, justify us in believing
that his mind was already in a morbid state.

Soon after the close of the session of Parliament, Lord
Rockingham received his dismissal. He retired, accompanied by a
firm body of friends, whose consistency and uprightness enmity
itself was forced to admit. None of them had asked or obtained
any pension or any sinecure, either in possession or in
reversion. Such disinterestedness was then rare among
politicians. Their chief, though not a man of brilliant talents,
had won for himself an honourable fame, which he kept pure to the
last. He had, in spite of difficulties which seemed almost
insurmountable, removed great abuses and averted a civil war.
Sixteen years later, in a dark and terrible day, he was again
called upon to save the State, brought to the very brink of ruin
by the same perfidy and obstinacy which had embarrassed, and at
length overthrown his first administration.

Pitt was planting in Somersetshire when he was summoned to Court
by a letter written by the royal hand. He instantly hastened to
London. The irritability of his mind and body were increased by
the rapidity with which he travelled; and when he reached his
journey's end he was suffering from fever. Ill as he was, he saw
the King at Richmond, and undertook to form an administration.

Pitt was scarcely in the state in which a man should be who has
to conduct delicate and arduous negotiations. In his letters to
his wife, he complained that the conferences in which it was
necessary for him to bear a part heated his blood and accelerated
his pulse. From other sources of information we learn, that his
language, even to those whose co-operation he wished to engage,
was strangely peremptory and despotic. Some of his notes written
at this time have been preserved, and are in a style which Lewis
the Fourteenth would have been too well bred to employ in
addressing any French gentleman.

In the attempt to dissolve all parties, Pitt met with some
difficulties. Some Whigs, whom the Court would gladly have
detached from Lord Rockingham, rejected all offers. The Bedfords
were perfectly willing to break with Grenville; but Pitt would
not come up to their terms. Temple, whom Pitt at first meant to
place at the head of the Treasury, proved intractable. A coldness
indeed had, during some months, been fast growing between the
brothers-in-law, so long and so closely allied in politics. Pitt
was angry with Temple for opposing the repeal of the Stamp Act.
Temple was angry with Pitt for refusing to accede to that family
league which was now the favourite plan at Stowe. At length the
Earl proposed an equal partition of power and patronage, and
offered, on this condition, to give up his brother George. Pitt
thought the demand exorbitant, and positively refused compliance.
A bitter quarrel followed. Each of the kinsmen was true to his
character. Temple's soul festered with spite, and Pitt's swelled
into contempt. Temple represented Pitt as the most odious of
hypocrites and traitors. Pitt held a different and perhaps a more
provoking tone. Temple was a good sort of man enough, whose
single title to distinction was, that he had a large garden, with
a large piece of water, and had a great many pavilions and
summer-houses. To his fortunate connection with a great orator
and statesman he was indebted for an importance in the State
which his own talents could never have gained for him. That
importance had turned his head. He had begun to fancy that he
could form administrations, and govern empires. It was piteous to
see a well meaning man under such a delusion.

In spite of all these difficulties, a ministry was made such as
the King wished to see, a ministry in which all his Majesty's
friends were comfortably accommodated, and which, with the
exception of his Majesty's friends, contained no four persons who
had ever in their lives been in the habit of acting together. Men
who had never concurred in a single vote found themselves seated
at the same board. The office of Paymaster was divided between
two persons who had never exchanged a word. Most of the chief
posts were filled either by personal adherents of Pitt, or by
members of the late ministry, who had been induced to remain in
place after the dismissal of Lord Rockingham. To the former class
belonged Pratt, now Lord Camden, who accepted the great seal, and
Lord Shelburne, who was made one of the Secretaries of State. To
the latter class belonged the Duke of Grafton, who became First
Lord of the Treasury, and Conway, who kept his old position both
in the Government and in the House of Commons. Charles Townshend,
who had belonged to every party, and cared for none, was
Chancellor of the Exchequer. Pitt himself was declared Prime
Minister, but refused to take any laborious office. He was
created Earl of Chatham, and the Privy Seal was delivered to him.

It is scarcely necessary to say, that the failure, the complete
and disgraceful failure, of this arrangement, is not to be
ascribed to any want of capacity in the persons whom we have
named. None of them was deficient in abilities; and four of them,
Pitt himself, Shelburne, Camden, and Townshend, were men of high
intellectual eminence. The fault was not in the materials, but in
the principle on which the materials were put together. Pitt had
mixed up these conflicting elements, in the full confidence that
he should be able to keep them all in perfect subordination to
himself, and in perfect harmony with other. We shall soon see how
the experiment succeeded.

On the very day on which the new Prime Minister kissed hands,
three-fourths of that popularity which he had long enjoyed
without a rival, and to which he owed the greater part of his
authority, departed from him. A violent outcry was raised, not
against that part of his conduct which really deserved severe
condemnation, but against a step in which we can see nothing to
censure. His acceptance of a peerage produced a general burst of
indignation. Yet surely no peerage had ever been better earned;
nor was there ever a statesman who more needed the repose of the
Upper House. Pitt was now growing old. He was much older in
constitution than in years. It was with imminent risk to his life
that he had, on some important occasions, attended his duty in
Parliament. During the session of 1764, he had not been able to
take part in a single debate. It was impossible that he should go
through the nightly labour of conducting the business of the
Government in the House of Commons. His wish to be transferred,
under such circumstances, to a less busy and a less turbulent
assembly, was natural and reasonable. The nation, however,
overlooked all these considerations. Those who had most loved and
honoured the Great Commoner were loudest in invective against the
new-made Lord. London had hitherto been true to him through every
vicissitude. When the citizens learned that he had been sent for
from Somersetshire, that he had been closeted with the King at
Richmond, and that he was to be first minister, they had been in
transports of joy. Preparations were made for a grand
entertainment and for a general illumination. The lamps had
actually been placed round the monument, when the Gazette
announced that the object of all this enthusiasm was an Earl.
Instantly the feast was countermanded. The lamps were taken down.
The newspapers raised the roar of obloquy. Pamphlets, made up of
calumny and scurrility, filled the shops of all the booksellers;
and of those pamphlets, the most galling were written under the
direction of the malignant Temple. It was now the fashion to
compare the two Williams, William Pulteney and William Pitt.
Both, it was said, had, by eloquence and simulated patriotism,
acquired a great ascendency in the House of Commons and in the
country. Both had been intrusted with the office of reforming the
Government. Both had, when at the height of power and popularity,
been seduced by the splendour of the coronet. Both had been made
earls, and both had at once become objects of aversion and scorn
to the nation which a few hours before had regarded them with
affection and veneration.

The clamour against Pitt appears to have had a serious effect on
the foreign relations of the country. His name had till now acted
like a spell at Versailles and Saint Ildefonso. English
travellers on the Continent had remarked that nothing more was
necessary to silence a whole room full of boasting Frenchmen than
to drop a hint of the probability that Mr. Pitt would return to
power. In an instant there was deep silence: all shoulders rose,
and all faces were lengthened. Now, unhappily, every foreign
court, in learning that he was recalled to office, learned also
that he no longer possessed the hearts of his countrymen. Ceasing
to be loved at home, he ceased to be feared abroad. The name of
Pitt had been a charmed name. Our envoys tried in vain to conjure
with the name of Chatham.

The difficulties which beset Chatham were daily increased by the
despotic manner in which he treated all around him. Lord
Rockingham had, at the time of the change of ministry, acted with
great moderation, had expressed a hope that the new Government
would act on the principles of the late Government, and had even
interfered to prevent many of his friends from quitting office.
Thus Saunders and Keppel, two naval commanders of great eminence,
had been induced to remain at the Admiralty, where their services
were much needed. The Duke of Portland was still Lord
Chamberlain, and Lord Besborough Postmaster. But within a quarter
of a year, Lord Chatham had so deeply affronted these men, that
they all retired in disgust. In truth, his tone, submissive in
the closet, was at this time insupportably tyrannical in the
Cabinet. His colleagues were merely his clerks for naval,
financial, and diplomatic business. Conway, meek as he was, was
on one occasion provoked into declaring that such language as
Lord Chatham's had never been heard west of Constantinople, and
was with difficulty prevented by Horace Walpole from resigning,
and rejoining the standard of Lord Rockingham.

The breach which had been made in the Government by the defection
of so many of the Rockinghams, Chatham hoped to supply by the
help of the Bedfords. But with the Bedfords he could not deal as
he had dealt with other parties. It was to no purpose that he
bade high for one or two members of the faction, in the hope of
detaching them from the rest. They were to be had; but they were
to be had only in the lot. There was indeed for a moment some
wavering and some disputing among them. But at length the
counsels of the shrewd and resolute Rigby prevailed. They
determined to stand firmly together, and plainly intimated to
Chatham that he must take them all, or that be should get none of
them. The event proved that they were wiser in their generation
than any other connection in the State. In a few months they were
able to dictate their own terms.

The most important public measure of Lord Chatham's
administration was his celebrated interference with the corn
trade. The harvest had been bad; the price of food was high; and
he thought it necessary to take on himself the responsibility of
laying an embargo on the exportation of grain. When Parliament
met, this proceeding was attacked by the Opposition as
unconstitutional, and defended by the ministers as indispensably
necessary. At last an act was passed to indemnify all who had
been concerned in the embargo.

The first words uttered by Chatham, in the House of Lords, were
in defence of his conduct on this occasion. He spoke with a
calmness, sobriety, and dignity, well suited to the audience
which he was addressing. A subsequent speech which he made on the
same subject was less successful. He bade defiance to
aristocratical connections, with a superciliousness to which the
Peers were not accustomed, and with tones and gestures better
suited to a large and stormy assembly than to the body of which
he was now a member. A short altercation followed, and he was
told very plainly that he should not be suffered to browbeat the
old nobility of England.

It gradually became clearer and clearer that he was in a
distempered state of mind. His attention had been drawn to the
territorial acquisitions of the East India Company, and he
determined to bring the whole of that great subject before
Parliament. He would not, however, confer on the subject with any
of his colleagues. It was in vain that Conway, who was charged
with the conduct of business in the House of Commons, and Charles
Townshend, who was responsible for the direction of the finances,
begged for some glimpse of light as to what was in contemplation.
Chatham's answers were sullen and mysterious. He must decline any
discussion with them; he did not want their assistance; he had
fixed on a person to take charge of his measure in the House of
Commons. This person was a member who was not connected with the
Government, and who neither had, nor deserved to have the ear of
the House, a noisy, purseproud, illiterate demagogue, whose
Cockney English and scraps of mispronounced Latin were the jest
of the newspapers, Alderman Beckford. It may well be supposed
that these strange proceedings produced a ferment through the
whole political world. The city was in commotion. The East India
Company invoked the faith of charters. Burke thundered against
the ministers. The ministers looked at each other, and knew not
what to say. In the midst of the confusion, Lord Chatham
proclaimed himself gouty, and retired to Bath. It was announced,
after some time, that he was better, that he would shortly
return, that he would soon put everything in order. A day was
fixed for his arrival in London. But when he reached the Castle
inn at Marlborough, he stopped, shut himself up in his room, and
remained there some weeks. Everybody who travelled that road was
amazed by the number of his attendants. Footmen and grooms,
dressed in his family livery filled the whole inn, though one of
the largest in England, and swarmed in the streets of the little
town. The truth was that the invalid had insisted that, during
his stay, all the waiters and stable-boys of the Castle should
wear his livery.

His colleagues were in despair. The Duke of Grafton proposed to
go down to Marlborough in order to consult the oracle. But he was
informed that Lord Chatham must decline all conversation on
business. In the meantime, all the parties which were out of
office, Bedfords, Grenvilles, and Rockinghams, joined to oppose
the distracted Government on the vote for the land tax. They were
reinforced by almost all the county members, and had a
considerable majority. This was the first time that a ministry
had been beaten on an important division in the House of Commons
since the fall of Sir Robert Walpole. The administration, thus
furiously assailed from without, was torn by internal
dissensions. It had been formed on no principle whatever. From
the very first, nothing but Chatham's authority had prevented the
hostile contingents which made up his ranks from going to blows
with each other. That authority was now withdrawn, and everything
was in commotion. Conway, a brave soldier, but in civil affairs
the most timid and irresolute of men, afraid of disobliging the
King, afraid of being abused in the newspapers, afraid of being
thought factious if he went out, afraid of being thought
interested if he stayed in, afraid of everything, and afraid of
being known to be afraid of anything, was beaten backwards and
forwards like a shuttlecock between Horace Walpole who wished to
make him Prime Minister, and Lord John Cavendish who wished to
draw him into opposition. Charles Townshend, a man of splendid
eloquence, of lax principles, and of boundless vanity and
presumption, would submit to no control. The full extent of his
parts, of his ambition, and of his arrogance, had not yet been
made manifest; for he had always quailed before the genius and
the lofty character of Pitt. But now that Pitt had quitted the
House of Commons, and seemed to have abdicated the part of chief
minister, Townshend broke loose from all restraint.

While things were in this state, Chatham at length returned to
London. He might as well have remained at Marlborough. He would
see nobody. He would give no opinion on any public matter. The
Duke of Grafton begged piteously for an interview, for an hour,
for half an hour, for five minutes. The answer was, that it was
impossible. The King himself repeatedly condescended to
expostulate and implore. "Your duty," he wrote, "your own honour,
require you to make an effort." The answers to these appeals were
commonly written in Lady Chatham's hand, from her lord's
dictation; for he had not energy even to use a pen. He flings
himself at the King's feet. He is penetrated by the royal
goodness so signally shown to the most unhappy of men. He
implores a little more indulgence. He cannot as yet transact
business. He cannot see his colleagues. Least of all can he bear
the excitement of an interview with majesty.

Some were half inclined to suspect that he was, to use a military
phrase, malingering. He had made, they said, a great blunder, and
had found it out. His immense popularity, his high reputation for
statesmanship, were gone for ever. Intoxicated by pride, he had
undertaken a task beyond his abilities. He now saw nothing before
him but distresses and humiliations; and he had therefore
simulated illness, in order to escape from vexations which he had
not fortitude to meet. This suspicion, though it derived some
colour from that weakness which was the most striking blemish of
his character, was certainly unfounded. His mind, before he
became first minister, had been, as we have said, in an unsound
state; and physical and moral causes now concurred to make the
derangement of his faculties complete. The gout, which had been
the torment of his whole life, had been suppressed by strong
remedies. For the first time since he was a boy at Oxford, he had
passed several months without a twinge. But his hand and foot had
been relieved at the expense of his nerves. He became melancholy,
fanciful, irritable. The embarrassing state of public affairs,
the grave responsibility which lay on him, the consciousness of
his errors, the disputes of his colleagues, the savage clamours
raised by his detractors, bewildered his enfeebled mind. One
thing alone, he said, could save him. He must repurchase Hayes.
The unwilling consent of the new occupant was extorted by Lady
Chatham's entreaties and tears; and her lord was somewhat easier.
But if business were mentioned to him, he, once the proudest and
boldest of mankind, behaved like a hysterical girl, trembled from
head to foot, and burst into a flood of tears.

His colleagues for a time continued to entertain the expectation
that his health would soon be restored, and that he would emerge
from his retirement. But month followed month, and still he
remained hidden in mysterious seclusion, and sunk, as far as they
could learn, in the deepest dejection of spirits. They at length
ceased to hope or to fear anything from him; and though he was
still nominally Prime Minister, took without scruple steps which
they knew to be diametrically opposed to all his opinions and
feelings, allied themselves with those whom he had proscribed,
disgraced those whom he most esteemed, and laid taxes on the
colonies, in the face of the strong declarations which he had
recently made.

When he had passed about a year and three quarters in gloomy
privacy, the King received a few lines in Lady Chatham's hand.
They contained a request, dictated by her lord, that he might be
permitted to resign the Privy Seal. After some civil show of
reluctance, the resignation was accepted. Indeed Chatham was, by
this time, almost as much forgotten as if he had already been
lying in Westminster Abbey.

At length the clouds which had gathered over his mind broke and
passed away. His gout returned, and freed him from a more cruel
malady. His nerves were newly braced. His spirits became buoyant.
He woke as from a sickly dream. It was a strange recovery. Men
had been in the habit of talking of him as of one dead, and, when
he first showed himself at the King's levee, started as if they
had seen a ghost. It was more than two years and a half since he
had appeared in public.

He, too, had cause for wonder. The world which he now entered was
not the world which he had quitted. The administration which he
had formed had never been, at any one moment, entirely changed.
But there had been so many losses and so many accessions, that he
could scarcely recognise his own work. Charles Townshend was
dead. Lord Shelburne had been dismissed. Conway had sunk into
utter insignificance. The Duke of Grafton had fallen into the
hands of the Bedfords. The Bedfords had deserted Grenville, had
made their peace with the King and the King's friends, and had
been admitted to office. Lord North was Chancellor of the
Exchequer, and was rising fast in importance. Corsica had been
given up to France without a struggle. The disputes with the
American colonies had been revived. A general election had taken
place. Wilkes had returned from exile, and, outlaw as he was, had
been chosen knight of the shire for Middlesex. The multitude was
on his side. The Court was obstinately bent on ruining him, and
was prepared to shake the very foundations of the constitution
for the sake of a paltry revenge. The House of Commons, assuming
to itself an authority which of right belongs only to the whole
legislature, had declared Wilkes incapable of sitting in
Parliament. Nor had it been thought sufficient to keep him out.
Another must be brought in. Since the freeholders of Middlesex
had obstinately refused to choose a member acceptable to the
Court, the House had chosen a member for them. This was not the
only instance, perhaps not the most disgraceful instance, of the
inveterate malignity of the Court. Exasperated by the steady
opposition of the Rockingham party, the King's friends had tried
to rob a distinguished Whig nobleman of his private estate, and
had persisted in their mean wickedness till their own servile
majority had revolted from mere disgust and shame. Discontent had
spread throughout the nation, and was kept up by stimulants such
as had rarely been applied to the public mind. Junius had taken
the field, and trampled Sir William Draper in the dust, had well-
nigh broken the heart of Blackstone, and had so mangled the
reputation of the Duke of Grafton, that his grace had become sick
of office, and was beginning to look wistfully towards the shades
of Euston. Every principle of foreign, domestic, and colonial
policy which was dear to the heart of Chatham had, during the
eclipse of his genius, been violated by the Government which he
had formed.

The remaining years of his life were spent in vainly struggling
against that fatal policy which, at the moment when he might have
given it a death-blow, he had been induced to take under his
protection. His exertions redeemed his own fame, but they
effected little for his country.

He found two parties arrayed against the Government, the party of
his own brothers-in-law, the Grenvilles, and the party of Lord
Rockingham. On the question of the Middlesex election these
parties were agreed. But on many other important questions they
differed widely; and they were, in truth, not less hostile to
each other than to the Court. The Grenvilles had, during several
years, annoyed the Rockinghams with a succession of acrimonious
pamphlets. It was long before the Rockinghams could be induced to
retaliate. But an ill-natured tract, written under Grenville's
direction, and entitled A State of the Nation, was too much for
their patience. Burke undertook to defend and avenge his friends,
and executed the task with admirable skill and vigour. On every
point he was victorious, and nowhere more completely victorious
than when he joined issue on those dry and minute questions of
statistical and financial detail in which the main strength of
Grenville lay. The official drudge, even on his own chosen
ground, was utterly unable to maintain the fight against the
great orator and philosopher. When Chatham reappeared, Grenville
was still writhing with the recent shame and smart of this well-
merited chastisement. Cordial co-operation between the two
sections of the Opposition was impossible. Nor could Chatham
easily connect himself with either. His feelings, in spite of
many affronts given and received, drew him towards the
Grenvilles. For he had strong domestic affections; and his
nature, which, though haughty, was by no means obdurate, had been
softened by affliction. But from his kinsmen he was separated by
a wide difference of opinion on the question of colonial
taxation. A reconciliation, however, took place. He visited
Stowe: he shook hands with George Grenville; and the Whig
freeholders of Buckinghamshire, at their public dinners, drank
many bumpers to the union of the three brothers.

In opinions, Chatham was much nearer to the Rockinghams than to
his own relatives. But between him and the Rockinghams there was
a gulf not easily to be passed. He had deeply injured them, and
in injuring them, had deeply injured his country. When the
balance was trembling between them and the Court, he had thrown
the whole weight of his genius, of his renown, of his popularity,
into the scale of misgovernment. It must be added, that many
eminent members of the party still retained a bitter recollection
of the asperity and disdain with which they had been treated by
him at the time when he assumed the direction of affairs. It is
clear from Burke's pamphlets and speeches, and still more clear
from his private letters, and from the language which he held in
conversation, that he regarded Chatham with a feeling not far
removed from dislike. Chatham was undoubtedly conscious of his
error, and desirous to atone for it. But his overtures of
friendship, though made with earnestness, and even with unwonted
humility, were at first received by Lord Rockingham with cold and
austere reserve. Gradually the intercourse of the two statesmen
became courteous and even amicable. But the past was never wholly

Chatham did not, however, stand alone. Round him gathered a
party, small in number, but strong in great and various talents.
Lord Camden, Lord Shelburne, Colonel Barre, and Dunning,
afterwards Lord Ashburton, were the principal members of this

There is no reason to believe that, from this time till within a
few weeks of Chatham's death, his intellect suffered any decay.
His eloquence was almost to the last heard with delight. But it
was not exactly the eloquence of the House of Lords. That lofty
and passionate, but somewhat desultory declamation, in which he
excelled all men, and which was set off by looks, tones, and
gestures, worthy of Garrick or Talma, was out of place in a small
apartment where the audience often consisted of three or four
drowsy prelates, three or four old judges, accustomed during many
years to disregard rhetoric, and to look only at facts and
arguments, and three or four listless and supercilious men of
fashion, whom anything like enthusiasm moved to a sneer. In the
House of Commons, a flash of his eye, a wave of his arm, had
sometimes cowed Murray. But, in the House of Peers, his utmost
vehemence and pathos produced less effect than the moderation,
the reasonableness, the luminous order and the serene dignity,
which characterised the speeches of Lord Mansfield.

On the question of the Middlesex election, all the three
divisions of the Opposition acted in concert. No orator in either
House defended what is now universally admitted to have been the
constitutional cause with more ardour or eloquence than Chatham.
Before this subject had ceased to occupy the public mind, George
Grenville died. His party rapidly melted away; and in a short
time most of his adherents appeared on the ministerial benches.

Had George Grenville lived many months longer, the friendly ties
which, after years of estrangement and hostility, had been
renewed between him and his brother-in-law, would, in all
probability, have been a second time violently dissolved. For now
the quarrel between England and the North American colonies took
a gloomy and terrible aspect. Oppression provoked resistance;
resistance was made the pretext for fresh oppression. The
warnings of all the greatest statesmen of the age were lost on an
imperious Court and a deluded nation. Soon a colonial senate
confronted the British Parliament. Then the colonial militia
crossed bayonets with the British regiments. At length the
commonwealth was torn asunder. Two millions of Englishmen, who,
fifteen years before, had been as loyal to their prince and as
proud of their country as the people of Kent or Yorkshire,
separated themselves by a solemn act from the Empire. For a time
it seemed that the insurgents would struggle to small purpose
against the vast financial and military means of the mother
country. But disasters, following one another in rapid
succession, rapidly dispelled the illusions of national vanity.
At length a great British force, exhausted, famished, harassed on
every side by a hostile peasantry, was compelled to deliver up
its arms. Those Governments which England had, in the late war,
so signally humbled, and which had during many years been
sullenly brooding over the recollections of Quebec, of Minden,
and of the Moro, now saw with exultation that the day of revenge
was at hand. France recognised the independence of the United
States, and there could be little doubt that the example would
soon be followed by Spain.

Chatham and Rockingham had cordially concurred in opposing every
part of the fatal policy which had brought the State into this
dangerous situation. But their paths now diverged. Lord
Rockingham thought, and, as the event proved, thought most
justly, that the revolted colonies were separated from the Empire
for ever, and that the only effect of prolonging the war on the
American continent would be to divide resources which it was
desirable to concentrate. If the hopeless attempt to subjugate
Pennsylvania and Virginia were abandoned, war against the House
of Bourbon might possibly be avoided, or, if inevitable, might be
carried on with success and glory. We might even indemnify
ourselves for part of what we had lost, at the expense of those
foreign enemies who had hoped to profit by our domestic
dissensions. Lord Rockingham, therefore, and those who acted with
him, conceived that the wisest course now open to England was to
acknowledge the independence of the United States, and to turn
her whole force against her European enemies.

Chatham, it should seem, ought to have taken the same side.
Before France had taken any part in our quarrel with the
colonies, he had repeatedly, and with great energy of language,
declared that it was impossible to conquer America, and he could
not without absurdity maintain that it was easier to conquer
France and America together than America alone. But his passions
overpowered his judgment, and made him blind to his own
inconsistency. The very circumstances which made the separation
of the colonies inevitable made it to him altogether
insupportable. The dismemberment of the Empire seemed to him less
ruinous and humiliating, when produced by domestic dissensions,
than when produced by foreign interference. His blood boiled at
the degradation of his country. Whatever lowered her among the
nations of the earth, he felt as a personal outrage to himself.
And the feeling was natural. He had made her so great. He had
been so proud of her; and she had been so proud of him, He
remembered how, more than twenty years before, in a day of gloom
and dismay, when her possessions were torn from her, when her
flag was dishonoured, she had called on him to save her. He
remembered the sudden and glorious change which his energy had
wrought, the long series of triumphs, the days of thanksgiving,
the nights of illumination. Fired by such recollections, he
determined to separate himself from those who advised that the
independence of the colonies should be acknowledged. That he was
in error will scarcely, we think, be disputed by his warmest
admirers. Indeed, the treaty, by which, a few years later, the
republic of the United States was recognised, was the work of his
most attached adherents and of his favourite son.

The Duke of Richmond had given notice of an address to the
throne, against the further prosecution of hostilities with
America. Chatham had, during some time, absented himself from
Parliament, in consequence of his growing infirmities. He
determined to appear in his place on this occasion, and to
declare that his opinions were decidedly at variance with those
of the Rockingham party. He was in a state of great excitement.
His medical attendants were uneasy, and strongly advised him to
calm himself, and to remain at home. But he was not to be
controlled. His son William and his son-in-law Lord Mahon,
accompanied him to Westminster. He rested himself in the
Chancellor's room till the debate commenced, and then, leaning on
his two young relations, limped to his seat. The slightest
particulars of that day were remembered, and have been carefully
recorded. He bowed, it was remarked, with great courtliness to
those peers who rose to make way for him and his supporters. His
crutch was in his hand. He wore, as was his fashion, a rich
velvet coat. His legs were swathed in flannel. His wig was so
large, and his face so emaciated, that none of his features could
be discerned, except the high curve of his nose, and his eyes,
which still retained a gleam of the old fire.

When the Duke of Richmond had spoken, Chatham rose. For some time
his voice was inaudible. At length his tones became distinct and
his action animated. Here and there his hearers caught a thought
or an expression which reminded them of William Pitt. But it was
clear that he was not himself. He lost the thread of his
discourse, hesitated, repeated the same words several times, and
was so confused that, in speaking of the Act of Settlement, he
could not recall the name of the Electress Sophia. The House
listened in solemn silence, and with the aspect of profound
respect and compassion. The stillness was so deep that the
dropping of a handkerchief would have been heard. The Duke of
Richmond replied with great tenderness and courtesy; but while he
spoke, the old man was observed to be restless and irritable. The
Duke sat down. Chatham stood up again, pressed his hand on his
breast, and sank down in an apoplectic fit. Three or four lords
who sat near him caught him in his fall. The House broke up in
confusion. The dying man was carried to the residence of one of
the officers of Parliament, and was so far restored as to be able
to bear a journey to Hayes. At Hayes, after lingering a few
weeks, he expired in his seventieth year. His bed was watched to
the last, with anxious tenderness, by his wife and children; and
he well deserved their care. Too often haughty and wayward to
others, to them he had been almost effeminately kind. He had
through life been dreaded by his political opponents, and
regarded with more awe than love even by his political
associates. But no fear seems to have mingled with the affection
which his fondness, constantly overflowing in a thousand
endearing forms, had inspired in the little circle at Hayes.

Chatham, at the time of his decease, had not, in both Houses of
Parliament, ten personal adherents. Half the public men of the
age had been estranged from him by his errors, and the other half
by the exertions which he had made to repair his errors. His last
speech had been an attack at once on the policy pursued by the
Government, and on the policy recommended by the Opposition. But
death restored him to his old place in the affection of his
country. Who could hear unmoved of the fall of that which had
been so great, and which had stood so long? The circumstances,
too, seemed rather to belong to the tragic stage than to real
life. A great statesman, full of years and honours, led forth to
the Senate House by a son of rare hopes, and stricken down in
full council while straining his feeble voice to rouse the
drooping spirit of his country, could not but be remembered with
peculiar veneration and tenderness. The few detractors who
ventured to murmur were silenced by the indignant clamours of a
nation which remembered only the lofty genius, the unsullied
probity, the undisputed services, of him who was no more. For
once, the chiefs of all parties were agreed. A public funeral, a
public monument, were eagerly voted. The debts of the deceased
were paid. A provision was made for his family. The City of
London requested that the remains of the great man whom she had
so long loved and honoured might rest under the dome of her
magnificent cathedral. But the petition came too late. Everything
was already prepared for the interment in Westminster Abbey.

Though men of all parties had concurred in decreeing posthumous
honours to Chatham, his corpse was attended to the grave almost
exclusively by opponents of the Government. The banner of the
lordship of Chatham was borne by Colonel Barre, attended by the
Duke of Richmond and Lord Rockingham. Burke, Savile, and Dunning
upheld the pall. Lord Camden was conspicuous in the procession.
The chief mourner was young William Pitt. After the lapse of more
than twenty-seven years, in a season as dark and perilous, his
own shattered frame and broken heart were laid, with the same
pomp, in the same consecrated mould.

Chatham sleeps near the northern door of the Church, in a spot
which has ever since been appropriated to statesmen, as the other
end of the same transept has long been to poets. Mansfield rests
there, and the second William Pitt, and Fox, and Grattan, and
Canning, and Wilberforce. In no other cemetery do so many great
citizens lie within so narrow a space. High over those venerable
graves towers the stately monument of Chatham, and from above,
his effigy, graven by a cunning hand, seems still, with eagle
face and outstretched arm, to bid England be of good cheer, and
to hurl defiance at her foes. The generation which reared that
memorial of him has disappeared. The time has come when the rash
and indiscriminate judgments which his contemporaries passed on
his character may be calmly revised by history. And history,
while, for the warning of vehement, high, and daring natures, she
notes his many errors, will yet deliberately pronounce, that,
among the eminent men whose bones lie near his, scarcely one has
left a more stainless, and none a more splendid name.


(January 1840)

The Life of Robert Lord Clive; collected from the Family Papers,
communicated by the Earl of Powis. By MAJOR-GENERAL SIR JOHN
MALCOLM, K.C.B. 3 vols. 8vo. London: 1836.

We have always thought it strange that, while the history of the
Spanish empire in America is familiarly known to all the nations
of Europe, the great actions of our countrymen in the East
should, even among ourselves, excite little interest. Every
schoolboy knows who imprisoned Montezuma, and who strangled
Atahualpa. But we doubt whether one in ten, even among English
gentlemen of highly cultivated minds, can tell who won the battle
of Buxar, who perpetrated the massacre of Patna, whether Sujah
Dowlah ruled in Oude or in Travancore, or whether Holkar was a
Hindoo, or a Mussulman. Yet the victories of Cortes were gained
over savages who had no letters, who were ignorant of the use of
metals, who had not broken in a single animal to labour, who
wielded no better weapons than those which could be made out of
sticks, flints, and fish-bones, who regarded a horse-soldier as a
monster, half man and half beast, who took a harquebusier for a
sorcerer, able to scatter the thunder and lightning of the skies.
The people of India, when we subdued them, were ten times as
numerous as the Americans whom the Spaniards vanquished, and were
at the same time quite as highly civilised as the victorious
Spaniards. They had reared cities larger and fairer than
Saragossa or Toledo, and buildings more beautiful and costly than
the cathedral of Seville. They could show bankers richer than the
richest firms of Barcelona or Cadiz, viceroys whose splendour far
surpassed that of Ferdinand the Catholic, myriads of cavalry and
long trains of artillery which would have astonished the Great
Captain. It might have been expected, that every Englishman who
takes any interest in any part of history would be curious to
know how a handful of his countrymen, separated from their home
by an immense ocean, subjugated, in the course of a few years,
one of the greatest empires in the world. Yet, unless we greatly
err, this subject is, to most readers, not only insipid, but
positively distasteful. Perhaps the fault lies partly with the
historians. Mr. Mill's book, though it has undoubtedly great and
rare merit, is not sufficiently animated and picturesque to
attract those who read for amusement. Orme, inferior to no
English historian in style and power of painting, is minute even
to tediousness. In one volume he allots, on an average, a closely
printed quarto page to the events of every forty-eight hours. The
consequence is, that his narrative, though one of the most
authentic and one of the most finely written in our language, has
never been very popular, and is now scarcely ever read.

We fear that the volumes before us will not much attract those
readers whom Orme and Mill have repelled. The materials placed at
the disposal of Sir John Malcolm by the late Lord Powis were
indeed of great value. But we cannot say that they have been very
skilfully worked up. It would, however, be unjust to criticise
with severity a work which, if the author had lived to complete
and revise it, would probably have been improved by condensation
and by a better arrangement. We are more disposed to perform the
pleasing duty of expressing our gratitude to the noble family to
which the public owes so much useful and curious information.

The effect of the book, even when we make the largest allowance
for the partiality of those who have furnished and of those who
have digested the materials, is, on the whole, greatly to raise
the character of Lord Clive. We are far indeed from sympathising
with Sir John Malcolm, whose love passes the love of biographers,
and who can see nothing but wisdom and justice in the actions of
his idol. But we are at least equally far from concurring in the
severe judgment of Mr. Mill, who seems to us to show less
discrimination in his account of Clive than in any other part of
his valuable work. Clive, like most men who are born with strong
passions and tried by strong temptations, committed great faults.
But every person who takes a fair and enlightened view of his
whole career must admit that our island, so fertile in heroes and
statesmen, has scarcely ever produced a man more truly great
either in arms or in council.

The Clives had been settled, ever since the twelfth century, on
an estate of no great value, near Market-Drayton, in Shropshire.
In the reign of George the First this moderate but ancient
inheritance was possessed by Mr. Richard Clive, who seems to have
been a plain man of no great tact or capacity. He had been bred
to the law, and divided his time between professional business
and the avocations of a small proprietor.

He married a lady from Manchester, of the name of Gaskill, and
became the father of a very numerous family. His eldest son,
Robert, the founder of the British empire in India, was born at
the old seat of his ancestors on the twenty-ninth of September,

Some lineaments of the character of the man were early discerned
in the child. There remain letters written by his relations when
he was in his seventh year; and from these letters it appears
that, even at that early age, his strong will and his fiery
passions, sustained by a constitutional intrepidity which
sometimes seemed hardly compatible with soundness of mind, had
begun to cause great uneasiness to his family. "Fighting," says
one of his uncles, "to which he is out of measure addicted, gives
his temper such a fierceness and imperiousness, that he flies out
on every trifling occasion." The old people of the neighbourhood
still remember to have heard from their parents how Bob Clive
climbed to the top of the lofty steeple of Market-Drayton, and
with what terror the inhabitants saw him seated on a stone spout
near the summit. They also relate how he formed all the idle lads
of the town into a kind of predatory army, and compelled the
shopkeepers to submit to a tribute of apples and half-pence, in
consideration of which he guaranteed the security of their
windows. He was sent from school to school, making very little
progress in his learning, and gaining for himself everywhere the
character of an exceedingly naughty boy. One of his masters, it
is said, was sagacious enough to prophesy that the idle lad would
make a great figure in the world. But the general opinion seems
to have been that poor Robert was a dunce, if not a reprobate.
His family expected nothing good from such slender parts and such
a headstrong temper. It is not strange therefore, that they
gladly accepted for him, when he was in his eighteenth year, a
writer-ship in the service of the East India Company, and shipped
him off to make a fortune or to die of a fever at Madras.

Far different were the prospects of Clive from those of the
youths whom the East India College now annually sends to the
Presidencies of our Asiatic empire. The Company was then purely a
trading corporation. Its territory consisted of few square miles,
for which rent was paid to the native governments. Its troops
were scarcely numerous enough to man the batteries of three or
four ill-constructed forts, which had been erected for the
protection of the warehouses. The natives who composed a
considerable part of these little garrisons, had not yet been
trained in the discipline of Europe, and were armed, some with
swords and shields, some with bows and arrows. The business of
the servant of the Company was not, as now, to conduct the
judicial, financial, and diplomatic business of a great country,
but to take stock, to make advances to weavers, to ship cargoes,
and above all to keep an eye on private traders who dared to
infringe the monopoly. The younger clerks were so miserably paid
that they could scarcely subsist without incurring debt; the
elder enriched themselves by trading on their own account; and
those who lived to rise to the top of the service often
accumulated considerable fortunes.

Madras, to which Clive had been appointed, was, at this time,
perhaps, the first in importance of the Company's settlements. In
the preceding century Fort St. George had arisen on a barren spot
beaten by a raging surf; and in the neighbourhood a town,
inhabited by many thousands of natives, had sprung up, as towns
spring up in the East, with the rapidity of the prophet's gourd.
There were already in the suburbs many white villas, each
surrounded by its garden, whither the wealthy agents of the
Company retired, after the labours of the desk and the warehouse,
to enjoy the cool breeze which springs up at sunset from the Bay
of Bengal. The habits of these mercantile grandees appear to have
been more profuse, luxurious, and ostentatious, than those of the
high judicial and political functionaries who have succeeded
them. But comfort was far less understood. Many devices which now
mitigate the heat of the climate, preserve health, and prolong
life, were unknown. There was far less intercourse with Europe
than at present. The voyage by the Cape, which in our time has
often been performed within three months, was then very seldom
accomplished in six, and was sometimes protracted to more than a
year. Consequently, the Anglo-Indian was then much more estranged
from his country, much more addicted to Oriental usages, and much
less fitted to mix in society after his return to Europe, than
the Anglo-Indian of the present day.

Within the fort and its precinct, the English exercised, by
permission of the native government, an extensive authority, such
as every great Indian landowner exercised within his own domain.
But they had never dreamed of claiming independent power. The
surrounding country was ruled by the Nabob of the Carnatic, a
deputy of the Viceroy of the Deccan, commonly called the Nizam,
who was himself only a deputy of the mighty prince designated by
our ancestors as the Great Mogul. Those names, once so august and
formidable, still remain.

There is still a Nabob of the Carnatic, who lives on a pension
allowed to him by the English out of the revenues of the
provinces which his ancestors ruled. There is still a Nizam,
whose capital is overawed by a British cantonment, and to whom a
British resident gives, under the name of advice, commands which
are not to be disputed. There is still a Mogul, who is permitted
to play at holding courts and receiving petitions, but who has
less power to help or hurt than the youngest civil servant of the

Clive's voyage was unusually tedious even for that age. The ship
remained some months at the Brazils, where the young adventurer
picked up some knowledge of Portuguese, and spent all his pocket-
money. He did not arrive in India till more than a year after he
had left England. His situation at Madras was most painful. His
funds were exhausted. His pay was small. He had contracted debts.
He was wretchedly lodged, no small calamity in a climate which
can be made tolerable to an European only by spacious and well
placed apartments. He had been furnished with letters of
recommendation to a gentleman who might have assisted him; but
when he landed at Fort St. George he found that this gentleman
had sailed for England. The lad's shy and haughty disposition
withheld him from introducing himself to strangers. He was
several months in India before he became acquainted with a single
family. The climate affected his health and spirits. His duties
were of a kind ill-suited to his ardent and daring character. He
pined for his home, and in his letters to his relations expressed
his feelings in language softer and more pensive than we should
have expected either from the waywardness of his boyhood, or from
the inflexible sternness of his later years. "I have not enjoyed"
says he "one happy day since I left my native country"; and
again, "I must confess, at intervals, when I think of my dear
native England, it affects me in a very peculiar manner....
If I should be so far blest as to revisit again my own country,
but more especially Manchester, the centre of all my wishes,
all that I could hope or desire for would be presented before
me in one view."

One solace he found of the most respectable kind. The Governor
possessed a good library, and permitted Clive to have access to
it. The young man devoted much of his leisure to reading, and
acquired at this time almost all the knowledge of books that he
ever possessed. As a boy he had been too idle, as a man he soon
became too busy, for literary pursuits.

But neither climate nor poverty, neither study nor the sorrows of
a home-sick exile, could tame the desperate audacity of his
spirit. He behaved to his official superiors as he had behaved to
his schoolmasters, and he was several times in danger of losing
his situation. Twice, while residing in the Writers' Buildings,
he attempted to destroy himself; and twice the pistol which he
snapped at his own head failed to go off. This circumstance, it
is said, affected him as a similar escape affected Wallenstein.
After satisfying himself that the pistol was really well loaded,
he burst forth into an exclamation that surely he was reserved
for something great.

About this time an event which at first seemed likely to destroy
all his hopes in life suddenly opened before him a new path to
eminence. Europe had been, during some years, distracted by the
war of the Austrian succession. George the Second was the steady
ally of Maria Theresa. The house of Bourbon took the opposite
side. Though England was even then the first of maritime powers,
she was not, as she has since become, more than a match on the
sea for all the nations of the world together; and she found it
difficult to maintain a contest against the united navies of
France and Spain. In the eastern seas France obtained the
ascendency. Labourdonnais, governor of Mauritius, a man of
eminent talents and virtues, conducted an expedition to the
continent of India in spite of the opposition of the British
fleet, landed, assembled an army, appeared before Madras, and
compelled the town and fort to capitulate. The keys were
delivered up; the French colours were displayed on Fort St.
George; and the contents of the Company's warehouses were seized
as prize of war by the conquerors. It was stipulated by the
capitulation that the English inhabitants should be prisoners of
war on parole, and that the town should remain in the hands of
the French till it should be ransomed. Labourdonnais pledged his
honour that only a moderate ransom should he required.

But the success of Labourdonnais had awakened the jealousy of his
countryman, Dupleix, governor of Pondicherry. Dupleix, moreover,
had already begun to revolve gigantic schemes, with which the
restoration of Madras to the English was by no means compatible.
He declared that Labourdonnais had gone beyond his powers; that
conquests made by the French arms on the continent of India were
at the disposal of the governor of Pondicherry alone; and that
Madras should be razed to the ground. Labourdonnais was compelled
to yield. The anger which the breach of the capitulation excited
among the English was increased by the ungenerous manner in which
Dupleix treated the principal servants of the Company. The
Governor and several of the first gentlemen of Fort St. George
were carried under a guard to Pondicherry, and conducted through
the town in a triumphal procession under the eyes of fifty
thousand spectators. It was with reason thought that this gross
violation of public faith absolved the inhabitants of Madras from
the engagements into which they had entered with Labourdonnais.
Clive fled from the town by night in the disguise of a Mussulman,
and took refuge at Fort St. David, one of the small English
settlements subordinate to Madras.

The circumstances in which he was now placed naturally led him to
adopt a profession better suited to his restless and intrepid
spirit than the business of examining packages and casting
accounts. He solicited and obtained an ensign's commission in the
service of the Company, and at twenty-one entered on his military
career. His personal courage, of which he had, while still a
writer, given signal proof by a desperate duel with a military
bully who was the terror of Fort St. David, speedily made him
conspicuous even among hundreds of brave men. He soon began to
show in his new calling other qualities which had not before been
discerned in him, judgment, sagacity, deference to legitimate
authority. He distinguished himself highly in several operations
against the French, and was particularly noticed by Major
Lawrence, who was then considered as the ablest British officer
in India.

Clive had been only a few months in the army when intelligence
arrived that peace had been concluded between Great Britain and
France. Dupleix was in consequence compelled to restore Madras to
the English Company; and the young ensign was at liberty to
resume his former business. He did indeed return for a short time
to his desk. He again quitted it in order to assist Major
Lawrence in some petty hostilities with the natives, and then
again returned to it. While he was thus wavering between a
military and a commercial life, events took place which decided
his choice. The politics of India assumed a new aspect. There was
peace between the English and French Crowns; but there arose
between the English and French Companies trading to the East a
war most eventful and important, a war in which the prize was
nothing less than the magnificent inheritance of the house of

The empire which Baber and his Moguls reared in the sixteenth
century was long one of the most extensive and splendid in the
world. In no European kingdom was so large a population subject
to a single prince, or so large a revenue poured into the
treasury. The beauty and magnificence of the buildings erected by
the sovereigns of Hindostan amazed even travellers who had seen
St. Peter's. The innumerable retinues and gorgeous decorations
which surrounded the throne of Delhi dazzled even eyes which were
accustomed to the pomp of Versailles. Some of the great viceroys
who held their posts by virtue of commissions from the Mogul
ruled as many subjects as the King of France or the Emperor of
Germany. Even the deputies of these deputies might well rank, as
to extent of territory and amount of revenue, with the Grand Duke
of Tuscany, or the Elector of Saxony.

There can be little doubt that this great empire, powerful and
prosperous as it appears on a superficial view, was yet, even in
its best days, far worse governed than the worst governed parts
of Europe now are. The administration was tainted with all the
vices of Oriental despotism, and with all the vices inseparable
from the domination of race over race. The conflicting
pretensions of the princes of the royal house produced a long
series of crimes and public disasters. Ambitious lieutenants of
the sovereign sometimes aspired to independence. Fierce tribes Of
Hindoos, impatient of a foreign yoke, frequently withheld
tribute, repelled the armies of the government from the mountain
fastnesses, and poured down in arms on the cultivated plains. In
spite, however, of much constant maladministration, in spite of
occasional convulsions which shook the whole frame of society,
this great monarchy, on the whole, retained, during some
generations, an outward appearance of unity, majesty, and energy.
But, throughout the long reign of Aurungzebe, the state,
notwithstanding all that the vigour and policy of the prince
could effect, was hastening to dissolution. After his death,
which took place in the year 1707, the ruin was fearfully rapid.
Violent shocks from without co-operated with an incurable decay
which was fast proceeding within; and in a few years the empire
had undergone utter decomposition.

The history of the successors of Theodosius bears no small
analogy to that of the successors of Aurungzebe. But perhaps the
fall of the Carlovingians furnishes the nearest parallel to the
fall of the Moguls. Charlemagne was scarcely interred when the
imbecility and the disputes of his descendants began to bring
contempt on themselves and destruction on their subjects. The
wide dominion of the Franks was severed into a thousand pieces.
Nothing more than a nominal dignity was left to the abject heirs
of an illustrious name, Charles the Bald, and Charles the Fat,
and Charles the Simple. Fierce invaders, differing, from each
other in race, language, and religion, flocked, as if by concert,
from the farthest corners of the earth, to plunder provinces
which the government could no longer defend. The pirates of the
Northern Sea extended their ravages from the Elbe to the
Pyrenees, and at length fixed their seat in the rich valley of
the Seine. The Hungarian, in whom the trembling monks fancied
that they recognised the Gog or Magog of prophecy, carried back
the plunder of the cities of Lombardy to the depths of the
Pannonian forests. The Saracen ruled in Sicily, desolated the
fertile plains of Campania, and spread terror even to the walls
of Rome. In the midst of these sufferings, a great internal
change passed upon the empire. The corruption of death began to
ferment into new forms of life. While the great body, as a whole,
was torpid and passive, every separate member began to feel with
a sense and to move with an energy all its own. just here, in the
most barren and dreary tract of European history, all feudal
privileges, all modern nobility, take their source. It is to this
point, that we trace the power of those princes who, nominally
vassals, but really independent, long governed, with the titles
of dukes, marquesses, and counts, almost every part of the
dominions which had obeyed Charlemagne.

Such or nearly such was the change which passed on the Mogul
empire during the forty years which followed the death of
Aurungzebe. A succession of nominal sovereigns, sunk in indolence
and debauchery, sauntered away life in secluded palaces, chewing
bang, fondling concubines, and listening to buffoons. A
succession of ferocious invaders descended through the western
passes, to prey on the defenceless wealth of Hindostan. A Persian
conqueror crossed the Indus, marched through the gates of Delhi,
and bore away in triumph those treasures of which the
magnificence had astounded Roe and Bernier, the Peacock Throne,
on which the richest jewels of Golconda had been disposed by the
most skilful hands of Europe, and the inestimable Mountain of
Light, which, after many strange vicissitudes, lately shone in
the bracelet of Runjeet Sing, and is now destined to adorn the
hideous idol of Orissa. The Afghan soon followed to complete the
work of the devastation which the Persian had begun. The warlike
tribes of Rajpootana, threw off the Mussulman yoke. A band of
mercenary soldiers occupied Rohilcund. The Seiks ruled or the
Indus. The Jauts spread dismay along the Jumna. The highlands
which border on the western sea-coast of India
poured forth a yet more formidable race, a race which was long
the terror of every native power, and which, after many desperate
and doubtful struggles, yielded only to the fortune and genius of
England. It was under the reign of Aurungzebe that this wild clan
of plunderers first descended from their mountains; and soon
after his death, every corner of his wide empire learned to
tremble at the mighty name of the Mahrattas. Many fertile
viceroyalties were entirely subdued by them. Their dominions
stretched across the peninsula from sea to sea. Mahratta captains
reigned at Poonah, at Gualior, in Guzerat, in Berar, and in
Tanjore. Nor did they, though they had become great sovereigns,
therefore cease to be freebooters. They still retained the
predatory habits of their forefathers. Every region which was not
subject to their rule was wasted by their incursions. Wherever
their kettle-drums were heard, the peasant threw his bag of rice
on his shoulder, hid his small savings in his girdle, and fled
with his wife and children to the mountains or the jungles, to
the milder neighbourhood of the hyaena and the tiger. Many
provinces redeemed their harvests by the payment of an annual
ransom. Even the wretched phantom who still bore the imperial
title stooped to pay this ignominious black-mail. The camp-fires
of one rapacious leader were seen from the walls of the palace of
Delhi. Another, at the head of his innumerable cavalry, descended
year after year on the rice-fields of Bengal. Even the European
factors trembled for their magazines. Less than a hundred years
ago, it was thought necessary to fortify Calcutta against the
horsemen of Berar, and the name of the Mahratta ditch still
preserves the memory of the danger.

Wherever the viceroys of the Mogul retained authority they became
sovereigns. They might still acknowledge in words the superiority
of the house of Tamerlane; as a Count of Flanders or a Duke of
Burgundy might have acknowledged the superiority of the most
helpless driveller among the later Carlovingians. They might
occasionally send to their titular sovereign a complimentary
present, or solicit from him a title of honour. In truth,
however, they were no longer lieutenants removable at pleasure,
but independent hereditary princes. In this way originated those
great Mussulman houses which formerly ruled Bengal and the
Carnatic, and those which still, though in a state of vassalage,
exercise some of the powers of royalty at Lucknow and Hyderabad.

In what was this confusion to end? Was the strife to continue
during centuries? Was it to terminate in the rise of another
great monarchy ? Was the Mussulman or the Mahratta to be the Lord
of India? Was another Baber to descend from the mountains, and to
lead the hardy tribes of Cabul and Chorasan against a wealthier
and less warlike race? None of these events seemed improbable.
But scarcely any man, however sagacious, would have thought it
possible that a trading company, separated from India by fifteen
thousand miles of sea, and possessing in India only a few acres
for purposes of commerce, would, in less than a hundred years,
spread its empire from Cape Comorin to the eternal snow of the
Himalayas; would compel Mahratta and Mahommedan to forget their
mutual feuds in common subjection; would tame down even those
wild races which had resisted the most powerful of the Moguls;
and, having united under its laws a hundred millions of subjects,
would carry its victorious arms far to the cast of the
Burrampooter, and far to the west of the Hydaspes, dictate terms
of peace at the gates of Ava, and seat its vassal on the throne
of Candahar.

The man who first saw that it was possible to found an European
empire on the ruins of the Mogul monarchy was Dupleix. His
restless, capacious, and inventive mind had formed this scheme,
at a time when the ablest servants of the English Company were
busied only about invoices and bills of lading. Nor had he only
proposed to himself the end. He had also a just and distinct view
of the means by which it was to be attained. He clearly saw that
the greatest force which the princes of India could bring into
the field would be no match for a small body of men trained in
the discipline, and guided by the tactics, of the West. He saw
also that the natives of India might, under European commanders,
be formed into armies, such as Saxe or Frederic would be proud to
command. He was perfectly aware that the most easy and convenient
way in which an European adventurer could exercise sovereignty in
India, was to govern the motions, and to speak through the mouth
of some glittering puppet dignified by the title of Nabob or
Nizam. The arts both of war and policy, which a few years later
were employed with such signal success by the English, were first
understood and practised by this ingenious and aspiring

The situation of India was such that scarcely any aggression
could be without a pretext, either in old laws or in recent
practice. All rights were in a state of utter uncertainty; and
the Europeans who took part in the disputes of the natives
confounded the confusion, by applying to Asiatic politics the
public law of the West, and analogies drawn from the feudal
system. If it was convenient to treat a Nabob as an independent
prince, there was an excellent plea for doing so. He was
independent, in fact. If it was convenient to treat him as a mere
deputy of the Court of Delhi, there was no difficulty; for he was
so in theory. If it was convenient to consider his office as an
hereditary dignity, or as a dignity held during life only, or as
a dignity held only during the good pleasure of the Mogul,
arguments and precedents might be found for every one of those
views. The party who had the heir of Baber in their hands,
represented him as the undoubted, the legitimate, the absolute
sovereign, whom all subordinate authorities were bound to obey.
The party against whom his name was used did not want plausible
pretexts for maintaining that the empire was in fact dissolved,
and that though it might be decent to treat the Mogul with
respect, as a venerable relic of an order of things which had
passed away, it was absurd to regard him as the real master of

In the year 1748, died one of the most powerful of the new
masters of India, the great Nizam al Mulk, Viceroy of the Deccan.
His authority descended to his son, Nazir Jung. Of the provinces
subject to this high functionary, the Carnatic was the wealthiest
and the most extensive. It was governed by an ancient Nabob,
whose name the English corrupted into Anaverdy Khan.

But there were pretenders to the government both of the
viceroyalty and of the subordinate province. Mirzapha Jung, a
grandson of Nizam al Mulk, appeared as the competitor of Nazir
Jung. Chunda Sahib, son-in-law of a former Nabob of the Carnatic,
disputed the title of Anaverdy Khan. In the unsettled state of
Indian law it was easy for both Mirzapha Jung and Chunda Sahib to
make out something like a claim of right. In a society altogether
disorganised, they had no difficulty in finding greedy
adventurers to follow their standards. They united their
interests, invaded the Carnatic, and applied for assistance to
the French, whose fame had been raised by their success against
the English in a recent war on the coast of Coromandel.

Nothing could have happened more pleasing to the subtle and
ambitious Dupleix. To make a Nabob of the Carnatic, to make a
Viceroy of the Deccan, to rule under their names the whole of
Southern India; this was indeed an attractive prospect. He allied
himself with the pretenders, and sent four hundred French
soldiers, and two thousand sepoys, disciplined after the European
fashion, to the assistance of his confederates. A battle was
fought. The French distinguished themselves greatly. Anaverdy
Khan was defeated and slain. His son, Mahommed Ali, who was
afterwards well known in England as the Nabob of Arcot, and who
owes to the eloquence of Burke a most unenviable immortality,
fled with a scanty remnant of his army to Trichinopoly; and the
conquerors became at once masters of almost every part of the

This was but the beginning of the greatness of Dupleix. After
some months of fighting, negotiation and intrigue, his ability
and good fortune seemed to have prevailed everywhere. Nazir Jung
perished by the hands of his own followers; Mirzapha Jung was
master of the Deccan; and the triumph of French arms and French
policy was complete. At Pondicherry all was exultation and
festivity. Salutes were fired from the batteries, and Te Deum
sung in the churches. The new Nizam came thither to visit his
allies; and the ceremony of his installation was performed there
with great pomp. Dupleix, dressed in the garb worn by Mahommedans
of the highest rank, entered the town in the same palanquin with
the Nizam, and, in the pageant which followed, took precedence of
all the court. He was declared Governor of India from the river
Kristna to Cape Comorin, a country about as large as France, with
authority superior even to that of Chunda Sahib. He was intrusted
with the command of seven thousand cavalry. It was announced that
no mint would be suffered to exist in the Carnatic except that at
Pondicherry. A large portion of the treasures which former
Viceroys of the Deccan had accumulated had found its way into the
coffers of the French governor. It was rumoured that he had
received two hundred thousand pounds sterling in money, besides
many valuable jewels. In fact, there could scarcely be any limit
to his gains. He now ruled thirty millions of people with almost
absolute power. No honour or emolument could be obtained from the
government but by his intervention. No petition, unless signed by
him, was perused by the Nizam.

Mirzapha Jung survived his elevation only a few months, But
another prince of the same house was raised to the throne by
French influence, and ratified all the promises of his
predecessor. Dupleix was now the greatest potentate in India.

His countrymen boasted that his name was mentioned with awe even
in the chambers of the palace of Delhi. The native population
looked with amazement on the progress which, in the short space
of four years, an European adventurer had made towards dominion
in Asia. Nor was the vainglorious Frenchman content with the
reality of power. He loved to display his greatness with
arrogant ostentation before the eyes of his subjects and of
his rivals. Near the spot where his policy had obtained its
chief triumph, by the fall of Nazir Jung, and the elevation
of Mirzapha, he determined to erect a column, on the four
sides of which four pompous inscriptions, in four languages,
should proclaim his glory to all the nations of the East. Medals
stamped with emblems of his successes were buried beneath the
foundations of his stately pillar, and round it arose a town
bearing the haughty name of Dupleix Fatihabad, which is, being
interpreted, the City of the Victory of Dupleix.

The English had made some feeble and irresolute attempts to stop
the rapid and brilliant career of the rival Company, and
continued to recognise Mahommed Ali as Nabob of the Carnatic. But
the dominions of Mahommed Ali consisted of Trichinopoly alone:
and Trichinopoly was now invested by Chunda Sahib and his French
auxiliaries. To raise the siege seemed impossible. The small
force which was then at Madras had no commander. Major Lawrence
had returned to England; and not a single officer of established
character remained in the settlement. The natives had learned to
look with contempt on the mighty nation which was soon to conquer
and to rule them. They had seen the French colours flying on Fort
St. George; they had seen the chiefs of the English factory led
in triumph through the streets of Pondicherry; they had seen the
arms and counsels of Dupleix everywhere successful, while the
opposition which the authorities of Madras had made to his
progress, had served only to expose their own weakness, and to
heighten his glory. At this moment, the valour and genius of an
obscure English youth suddenly turned the tide of fortune.

Clive was now twenty-five years old. After hesitating for some
time between a military and a commercial life, he had at length
been placed in a post which partook of both characters, that of
commissary to the troops, with the rank of captain. The present
emergency called forth all his powers. He represented to his
superiors that unless some vigorous effort were made,
Trichinopoly would fall, the house of Anaverdy Khan would perish,
and the French would become the real masters of the whole
peninsula of India. It was absolutely necessary to strike some
daring blow. If an attack were made on Arcot, the capital of the
Carnatic, and the favourite residence of the Nabobs, it was not
impossible that the siege of Trichinopoly would be raised. The
heads of the English settlement, now thoroughly alarmed by the
success of Dupleix, and apprehensive that, in the event of a new
war between France and Great Britain, Madras would be instantly
taken and destroyed, approved of Clive's plan, and intrusted the
execution of it to himself. The young captain was put at the head
of two hundred English soldiers, and three hundred sepoys, armed
and disciplined after the European fashion. Of the eight officers
who commanded this little force under him, only two had ever been
in action, and four of the eight were factors of the Company,
whom Clive's example had induced to offer their services. The
weather was stormy; but Clive pushed on, through thunder,
lightning, and rain, to the gates of Arcot. The garrison, in a
panic, evacuated the fort, and the English entered it without a

But Clive well knew that he should not be suffered to retain
undisturbed possession of his conquest. He instantly began to
collect provisions, to throw up works, and to make preparations
for sustaining a siege. The garrison, which had fled at his
approach, had now recovered from its dismay, and, having been
swelled by large reinforcements from the neighbourhood to a force
of three thousand men, encamped close to the town. At dead of
night, Clive marched out of the fort, attacked the camp by
surprise, slew great numbers, dispersed the rest, and returned to
his quarters without having lost a single man.

The intelligence of these events was soon carried to Chunda
Sahib, who, with his French allies, was besieging Trichinopoly.
He immediately detached four thousand men from his camp, and sent
them to Arcot. They were speedily joined by the remains of the
force which Clive had lately scattered. They were further
strengthened by two thousand men from Vellore, and by a still
more important reinforcement of a hundred and fifty French
soldiers whom Dupleix despatched from Pondicherry. The whole of
his army, amounting to about ten thousand men, was under the
command of Rajah Sahib, son of Chunda Sahib.

Rajah Sahib proceeded to invest the fort of Arcot, which seemed
quite incapable of sustaining a siege. The walls were ruinous,
the ditches dry, the ramparts too narrow to admit the guns, the
battlements too low to protect the soldiers. The little garrison
had been greatly reduced by casualties. It now consisted of a
hundred and twenty Europeans and two hundred sepoys. Only four
officers were left; the stock of provisions was scanty; and the
commander, who had to conduct the defence under circumstances so
discouraging, was a young man of five-and-twenty, who had been
bred a bookkeeper.

During fifty days the siege went on. During fifty days the young
captain maintained the defence, with a firmness, vigilance, and
ability, which would have done honour to the oldest marshal in
Europe. The breach, however, increased day by day. The garrison
began to feel the pressure of hunger. Under such circumstances,
any troops so scantily provided with officers might have been
expected to show signs of insubordination; and the danger was
peculiarly great in a force composed of men differing widely from
each other in extraction, colour, language, manners, and
religion. But the devotion of the little band to its chief
surpassed anything that is related of the Tenth Legion of Caesar,
or of the Old Guard of Napoleon. The sepoys came to Clive, not to
complain of their scanty fare, but to propose that all the grain
should be given to the Europeans, who required more nourishment
than the natives of Asia. The thin gruel, they said, which was
strained away from the rice, would suffice for themselves.
History contains no more touching instance of military fidelity,
or of the influence of a commanding mind.

An attempt made by the government of Madras to relieve the place
had failed. But there was hope from another quarter. A body of
six thousand Mahrattas, half soldiers, half robbers, under the
command of a chief named Morari Row, had been hired to assist
Mahommed Ali; but thinking the French power irresistible, and the
triumph of Chunda Sahib certain, they had hitherto remained
inactive on the frontiers of the Carnatic. The fame of the
defence of Arcot roused them from their torpor. Morari Row
declared that he had never before believed that Englishmen could
fight, but that he would willingly help them since he saw that
they had spirit to help themselves. Rajah Sahib learned that the
Mahrattas were in motion. It was necessary for him to be
expeditious. He first tried negotiation. He offered large bribes
to Clive, which were rejected with scorn. He vowed that, if his
proposals were not accepted, he would instantly storm the fort,
and put every man in it to the sword. Clive told him in reply,
with characteristic haughtiness, that his father was an usurper,
that his army was a rabble, and that he would do well to think
twice before he sent such poltroons into a breach defended by
English soldiers.

Rajah Sahib determined to storm the fort. The day was well suited
to a bold military enterprise. It was the great Mahommedan
festival which is sacred to the memory of Hosein, the son of Ali.
The history of Islam contains nothing more touching than the
event which gave rise to that solemnity. The mournful legend
relates how the chief of the Fatimites, when all his brave
followers had perished round him, drank his latest draught of
water, and uttered his latest prayer, how the assassins carried
his head in triumph, how the tyrant smote the lifeless lips with
his staff, and how a few old men recollected with tears that they
had seen those lips pressed to the lips of the Prophet of God.
After the lapse of near twelve centuries, the recurrence of this
solemn season excites the fiercest and saddest emotions in the
bosoms of the devout Moslem of India. They work themselves up to
such agonies of rage and lamentation that some, it is said, have
given up the ghost from the mere effect of mental excitement.
They believe that, whoever, during this festival, falls in arms
against the infidels, atones by his death for all the sins of his
life, and passes at once to the garden of the Houris. It was at
this time that Rajah Sahib determined to assault Arcot.
Stimulating drugs were employed to aid the effect of religious
zeal, and the besiegers, drunk with enthusiasm, drunk with bang,
rushed furiously to the attack.

Clive had received secret intelligence of the design, had made
his arrangements, and, exhausted by fatigue, had thrown himself
on his bed. He was awakened by the alarm, and was instantly at
his post. The enemy advanced, driving before them elephants whose
foreheads were armed with iron plates. It was expected that the
gates would yield to the shock of these living battering-rams.
But the huge beasts no sooner felt the English musket-balls than
they turned round, and rushed furiously away, trampling on the
multitude which had urged them forward. A raft was launched on
the water which filled one part of the ditch. Clive, perceiving
that his gunners at that post did not understand their business,
took the management of a piece of artillery himself, and cleared
the raft in a few minutes. When the moat was dry the assailants
mounted with great boldness; but they were received with a fire
so heavy and so well directed, that it soon quelled the courage
even of fanaticism and of intoxication. The rear ranks of the
English kept the front ranks supplied with a constant succession
of loaded muskets, and every shot told on the living mass below.
After three desperate onsets, the besiegers retired behind the ditch.

The struggle lasted about an hour. Four hundred of the assailants
fell. The garrison lost only five or six men. The besieged passed
an anxious night, looking for a renewal of the attack. But when
the day broke, the enemy were no more to be seen. They had
retired, leaving to the English several guns and a large quantity
of ammunition.

The news was received at Fort St. George with transports of joy
and pride. Clive was justly regarded as a man equal to any
command. Two hundred English soldiers and seven hundred sepoys
were sent to him, and with this force he instantly commenced
offensive operations. He took the fort of Timery, effected a
junction with a division of Morari Row's army, and hastened, by
forced marches, to attack Rajah Sahib, who was at the head of
about five thousand men, of whom three hundred were French. The
action was sharp; but Clive gained a complete victory. The
military chest of Rajah Sahib fell into the hands of the
conquerors. Six hundred sepoys, who had served in the enemy's
army, came over to Clive's quarters, and were taken into the
British service. Conjeveram surrendered without a blow. The
governor of Arnee deserted Chunda Sahib, and recognised the title
of Mahommed Ali.

Had the entire direction of the war been intrusted to Clive, it
would probably have been brought to a speedy close. But the
timidity and incapacity which appeared in all the movements of
the English, except where he was personally present, protracted
the struggle. The Mahrattas muttered that his soldiers were of a
different race from the British whom they found elsewhere. The
effect of this languor was that in no long time Rajah Sahib, at
the head of a considerable army, in which were four hundred
French troops, appeared almost under the guns of Fort St. George,
and laid waste the villas and gardens of the gentlemen of the
English settlement. But he was again encountered and defeated by
Clive. More than a hundred of the French were killed or taken, a
loss more serious than that of thousands of natives. The
victorious army marched from the field of battle to Fort St.
David. On the road lay the City of the Victory of Dupleix, and
the stately monument which was designed to commemorate the
triumphs of France in the East. Clive ordered both the city and
the monument to be razed to the ground. He was induced, we
believe, to take this step, not by personal or national
malevolence, but by a just and profound policy. The town and its
pompous name, the pillar and its vaunting inscriptions, were
among the devices by which Dupleix had laid the public mind of
India under a spell. This spell it was Clive's business to break.
The natives had been taught that France was confessedly the first
power in Europe, and that the English did not presume to dispute
her supremacy. No measure could be more effectual for the
removing of this delusion than the public and solemn demolition
of the French trophies.

The government of Madras, encouraged by these events, determined
to send a strong detachment, under Clive, to reinforce the
garrison of Trichinopoly. But just at this conjuncture, Major
Lawrence arrived from England, and assumed the chief command.
From the waywardness and impatience of control which had
characterised Clive, both at school and in the counting-house, it
might have been expected that he would not, after such
achievements, act with zeal and good humour in a subordinate
capacity. But Lawrence had early treated him with kindness; and
it is bare justice to Clive, to say that, proud and overbearing
as he was, kindness was never thrown away upon him. He cheerfully
placed himself under the orders of his old friend, and exerted
himself as strenuously in the second post as he could have done
in the first. Lawrence well knew the value of such assistance.
Though himself gifted with no intellectual faculty higher than
plain good sense, he fully appreciated the powers of his
brilliant coadjutor. Though he had made a methodical study of
military tactics, and, like all men regularly bred to a
profession, was disposed to look with disdain on interlopers, he
had yet liberality enough to acknowledge that Clive was an
exception to common rules. "Some people," he wrote, "are pleased
to term Captain Clive fortunate and lucky; but, in my opinion,
from the knowledge I have of the gentleman, he deserved and might
expect from his conduct everything as it fell out;--a man of an
undaunted resolution, of a cool temper, and of a presence of mind
which never left him in the greatest danger--born a soldier; for,
without a military education of any sort, or much conversing with
any of the profession, from his judgment and good sense, he led
on an army like an experienced officer and a brave soldier, with
a prudence that certainly warranted success."

The French had no commander to oppose to the two friends.
Dupleix, not inferior in talents for negotiation and intrigue to
any European who has borne a part in the revolutions of India,
was ill qualified to direct in person military operations. He had
not been bred a soldier, and had no inclination to become one.
His enemies accused him of personal cowardice; and he defended
himself in a strain worthy of Captain Bobadil. He kept away from

Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest