The Miscellaneous Writings and Speeches of Lord Macaulay [Encyclopaedia Britannica, Poems, etc.]

Part 3 out of 4

however, the bill was supported in every stage by great
majorities, was rapidly passed and was sent up to the Lords. To
the general astonishment, when the second reading was moved in
the Upper House, the opposition proposed an adjournment, and
carried it by eighty-seven votes to seventy-nine. The cause of
this strange turn of fortune was soon known. Pitt's cousin, Earl
Temple, had been in the royal closet, and had there been
authorised to let it be known that His Majesty would consider all
who voted for the bill as his enemies. The ignominious
commission was performed; and instantly a troop of Lords of the
Bedchamber, of Bishops who wished to be translated, and of Scotch
peers who wished to be re-elected, made haste to change sides.
On a later day, the Lords rejected the bill. Fox and North were
immediately directed to send their seals to the palace by their
Under Secretaries; and Pitt was appointed First Lord of the
Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The general opinion was, that there would be an immediate
dissolution. But Pitt wisely determined to give the public
feeling time to gather strength. On this point he differed from
his kinsman Temple. The consequence was, that Temple, who had
been appointed one of the Secretaries of State, resigned his
office forty-eight hours after he had accepted it, and thus
relieved the new government from a great load of unpopularity;
for all men of sense and honour, however strong might be their
dislike of the India Bill, disapproved of the manner in which
that bill had been thrown out. Temple carried away with him the
scandal which the best friends of the new government could not
but lament. The fame of the young prime minister preserved its
whiteness. He could declare with perfect truth that, if
unconstitutional machinations had been employed, he had been no
party to them.

He was, however, surrounded by difficulties and dangers. In the
House of Lords, indeed, he had a majority; nor could any orator
of the opposition in that assembly be considered as a match for
Thurlow, who was now again Chancellor, or for Camden, who
cordially supported the son of his old friend Chatham. But in
the other House there was not a single eminent speaker among the
official men who sate round Pitt. His most useful assistant was
Dundas, who, though he had not eloquence, had sense, knowledge,
readiness, and boldness. On the opposite benches was a powerful
majority, led by Fox, who was supported by Burke, North, and
Sheridan. The heart of the young minister, stout as it was,
almost died within him. He could not once close his eyes on the
night which followed Temple's resignation. But, whatever his
internal emotions might be, his language and deportment indicated
nothing but unconquerable firmness and haughty confidence in his
own powers. His contest against the House of Commons lasted from
the 17th of December 1783, to the 8th of March 1784. In sixteen
divisions the opposition triumphed. Again and again the King was
requested to dismiss his ministers. But he was determined to go
to Germany rather than yield. Pitt's resolution never wavered.
The cry of the nation in his favour became vehement and almost
furious. Addresses assuring him of public support came up daily
from every part of the kingdom. The freedom of the city of
London was presented to him in a gold box. He went in state to
receive this mark of distinction. He was sumptuously feasted in
Grocers' Hall; and the shopkeepers of the Strand and Fleet Street
illuminated their houses in his honour. These things could not
but produce an effect within the walls of Parliament. The ranks
of the majority began to waver; a few passed over to the enemy;
some skulked away; many were for capitulating while it was still
possible to capitulate with the honours of war. Negotiations
were opened with the view of forming an administration on a wide
basis; but they had scarcely been opened when they were closed.
The opposition demanded, as a preliminary article of the treaty,
that Pitt should resign the Treasury; and with this demand Pit
steadfastly refused to comply. While the contest was raging, the
Clerkship of the Pells, a sinecure place for life, worth three
thousand a year, and tenable with a seat in the House of Commons,
became vacant. The appointment was with the Chancellor of the
Exchequer: nobody doubted that he would appoint himself; and
nobody could have blamed him if he had done so: for such
sinecure offices had always been defended on the ground that they
enabled a few men of eminent abilities and small incomes to live
without any profession, and to devote themselves to the service
of the state. Pitt, in spite of the remonstrances of his
friends, gave the Pells to his father's old adherent, Colonel
Barre, a man distinguished by talent and eloquence, but poor and
afflicted with blindness. By this arrangement a pension which
the Rockingham administration had granted to Barre was saved to
the public. Never was there a happier stroke of policy. About
treaties, wars, expeditions, tariffs, budgets, there will always
be room for dispute. The policy which is applauded by half the
nation may be condemned by the other half. But pecuniary
disinterestedness everybody comprehends. It is a great thing for
a man who has only three hundred a year to be able to show that
he considers three thousand a year as mere dirt beneath his feet,
when compared with the public interest and the public esteem.
Pitt had his reward. No minister was ever more rancorously
libelled; but, even when he was known to be overwhelmed with
debt, when millions were passing through his hands, when the
wealthiest magnates of the realm were soliciting him for
marquisates and garters, his bitterest enemies did not dare to
accuse him of touching unlawful gain.

At length the hard fought fight ended. A final remonstrance,
drawn up by Burke with admirable skill, was carried on the 8th of
March by a single vote in a full House. Had the experiment been
repeated, the supporters of the coalition would probably have
been in a minority. But the supplies had been voted; the Mutiny
Bill had been passed; and the Parliament was dissolved.

The popular constituent bodies all over the country were in
general enthusiastic on the side of the new government. A
hundred and sixty of the supporters of the coalition lost their
seats. The First Lord of the Treasury himself came in at the
head of the poll for the University of Cambridge. His young
friend, Wilberforce, was elected knight of the great shire of
York, in opposition to the whole influence of the Fitzwilliams,
Cavendishes, Dundases, and Saviles. In the midst of such
triumphs Pitt completed his twenty-fifth year. He was now the
greatest subject that England had seen during many generations.
He domineered absolutely over the cabinet, and was the favourite
at once of the Sovereign, of the Parliament, and of the nation.
His father had never been so powerful, nor Walpole, nor

This narrative has now reached a point, beyond which a full
history of the life of Pitt would be a history of England, or
rather of the whole civilised world; and for such a history this
is not the proper place. Here a very slight sketch must suffice;
and in that sketch prominence will be given to such points as may
enable a reader who is already acquainted with the general course
of events to form a just notion of the character of the man on
whom so much depended.

If we wish to arrive at a correct judgment of Pitt's merits and
defects, we must never forget that he belonged to a peculiar
class of statesmen, and that he must be tried by a peculiar
standard. It is not easy to compare him fairly with such men as
Ximenes and Sully, Richelieu and Oxenstiern, John de Witt, and
Warren Hastings. The means by which those politicians governed
great communities were of quite a different kind from those which
Pitt was under the necessity of employing. Some talents, which
they never had any opportunity of showing that they possessed,
were developed in him to an extraordinary degree. In some
qualities, on the other hand, to which they owe a large part of
their fame, he was decidedly their inferior. They transacted
business in their closets, or at boards where a few confidential
councillors sate. It was his lot to be born in an age and in a
country in which parliamentary government was completely
established. His whole training from infancy was such as fitted
him to bear a part in parliamentary government; and, from the
prime of his manhood to his death, all the powers of his vigorous
mind were almost constantly exerted in the work of parliamentary
government. He accordingly became the greatest master of the
whole art of parliamentary government that has ever existed, a
greater than Montague or Walpole, a greater than his father
Chatham, or his rival Fox, a greater than either of his
illustrious successors, Canning and Peel.

Parliamentary government, like every other contrivance of man,
has its advantages and disadvantages. On the advantages there is
no need to dilate. The history of England during the hundred and
seventy years which have elapsed since the House of Commons
became the most powerful body in the state, her immense and still
growing prosperity, her freedom, her tranquillity, her greatness
in arts, in sciences, and in arms, her maritime ascendency, the
marvels of her public credit, her American, her African, her
Australian, her Asiatic empires, sufficiently prove the
excellence of her institutions. But those institutions, though
excellent, are assuredly not perfect. Parliamentary government
is government by speaking. In such a government, the power of
speaking is the most highly prized of all the qualities which a
politician can possess: and that power may exist, in the highest
degree, without judgment, without fortitude, without skill in
reading the characters of men or the signs of the times, without
any knowledge of the principles of legislation or of political
economy, and without any skill in diplomacy or in the
administration of war. Nay, it may well happen that those very
intellectual qualities which give a peculiar charm to the
speeches of a public man may be incompatible with the qualities
which would fit him to meet a pressing emergency with promptitude
and firmness. It was thus with Charles Townshend. It was thus
with Windham. It was a privilege to listen to those accomplished
and ingenious orators. But in a perilous crisis they would have
been found far inferior in all the qualities of rulers to such a
man as Oliver Cromwell, who talked nonsense, or as William the
Silent, who did not talk at all. When parliamentary government
is established, a Charles Townshend or a Windham will almost
always exercise much greater influence than such men as the great
Protector of England, or as the founder of the Batavian
commonwealth. In such a government, parliamentary talent, though
quite distinct from the talents of a good executive or judicial
officer, will be a chief qualification for executive and judicial
office. From the Book of Dignities a curious list might be made
out of Chancellors ignorant of the principles of equity, and
First Lords of the Admiralty ignorant of the principles of
navigation, of Colonial ministers who could not repeat the names
of the Colonies, of Lords of the Treasury who did not know the
difference between funded and unfunded debt, and of Secretaries
of the India Board who did not know whether the Mahrattas were
Mahometans or Hindoos. On these grounds, some persons, incapable
of seeing more than one side of a question, have pronounced
parliamentary government a positive evil, and have maintained
that the administration would be greatly improved if the power,
now exercised by a large assembly, were transferred to a single
person. Men of sense will probably think the remedy very much
worse than the disease, and will be of opinion that there would
be small gain in exchanging Charles Townshend and Windham for the
Prince of the Peace, or the poor slave and dog Steenie.

Pitt was emphatically the man of parliamentary government, the
type of his class, the minion, the child, the spoiled child, of
the House of Commons. For the House of Commons he had a
hereditary, an infantine love. Through his whole boyhood, the
House of Commons was never out of his thoughts, or out of the
thoughts of his instructors. Reciting at his father's knee,
reading Thucydides and Cicero into English, analysing the great
Attic speeches on the Embassy and on the Crown, he was constantly
in training for the conflicts of the House of Commons. He was a
distinguished member of the House of Commons at twenty-one. The
ability which he had displayed in the House of Commons made him
the most powerful subject in Europe before he was twenty-five.
It would have been happy for himself and for his country if his
elevation had been deferred. Eight or ten years, during which he
would have had leisure and opportunity for reading and
reflection, for foreign travel, for social intercourse and free
exchange of thought on equal terms with a great variety of
companions, would have supplied what, without any fault on his
part, was wanting to his powerful intellect. He had all the
knowledge that he could be expected to have; that is to say, all
the knowledge that a man can acquire while he is a student at
Cambridge, and all the knowledge that a man can acquire when he
is First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer.
But the stock of general information which he brought from
college, extraordinary for a boy, was far inferior to what Fox
possessed, and beggarly when compared with the massy, the
splendid, the various treasures laid up in the large mind of
Burke. After Pitt became minister, he had no leisure to learn
more than was necessary for the purposes of the day which was
passing over him. What was necessary for those purposes such a
man could learn with little difficulty. He was surrounded by
experienced and able public servants. He could at any moment
command their best assistance. From the stores which they
produced his vigorous mind rapidly collected the materials for a
good parliamentary case; and that was enough. Legislation and
administration were with him secondary matters. To the work of
framing statutes, of negotiating treaties, of organising fleets
and armies, of sending forth expeditions, he gave only the
leavings of his time and the dregs of his fine intellect. The
strength and sap of his mind were all drawn in a different
direction. It was when the House of Commons was to be convinced
and persuaded that he put forth all his powers.

Of those powers we must form our estimate chiefly from tradition;
for of all the eminent speakers of the last age Pitt has suffered
most from the reporters. Even while he was still living, critics
remarked that his eloquence could not be preserved, that he must
be heard to be appreciated. They more than once applied to him
the sentence in which Tacitus describes the fate of a senator
whose rhetoric was admired in the Augustan age: "Haterii canorum
illud et profluens cum ipso simul exstinctum est." There is,
however, abundant evidence that nature had bestowed on Pitt the
talents of a great orator; and those talents had been developed
in a very peculiar manner, first by his education, and secondly
by the high official position to which he rose early, and in
which he passed the greater part of his public life.

At his first appearance in Parliament he showed himself superior
to all his contemporaries in command of language. He could pour
forth a long succession of round and stately periods, without
premeditation, without ever pausing for a word, without ever
repeating a word, in a voice of silver clearness, and with a
pronunciation so articulate that not a letter was slurred over.
He had less amplitude of mind and less richness of imagination
than Burke, less ingenuity than Windham, less wit than Sheridan,
less perfect mastery of dialectical fence, and less of that
highest sort of eloquence which consists of reason and passion
fused together, than Fox. Yet the almost unanimous judgment of
those who were in the habit of listening to that remarkable race
of men placed Pitt, as a speaker, above Burke, above Windham,
above Sheridan, and not below Fox. His declamation was copious,
polished, and splendid. In power of sarcasm he was probably not
surpassed by any speaker, ancient or modern; and of this
formidable weapon he made merciless use. In two parts of the
oratorical art which are of the highest value to a minister of
state he was singularly expert. No man knew better how to be
luminous or how to be obscure. When he wished to be understood,
he never failed to make himself understood. He could with ease
present to his audience, not perhaps an exact or profound, but a
clear, popular, and plausible view of the most extensive and
complicated subject. Nothing was out of place; nothing was
forgotten; minute details, dates, sums of money, were all
faithfully preserved in his memory. Even intricate questions of
finance, when explained by him, seemed clear to the plainest man
among his hearers. On the other hand, when he did not wish to be
explicit,--and no man who is at the head of affairs always wishes
to be explicit,--he had a marvellous power of saying nothing in
language which left on his audience the impression that he had
said a great deal. He was at once the only man who could open a
budget without notes, and the only man who, as Windham said,
could speak that most elaborately evasive and unmeaning of human
compositions, a King's speech, without premeditation.

The effect of oratory will always to a great extent depend on the
character of the orator. There perhaps never were two speakers
whose eloquence had more of what may be called the race, more of
the flavour imparted by moral qualities, than Fox and Pitt. The
speeches of Fox owe a great part of their charm to that warmth
and softness of heart, that sympathy with human suffering, that
admiration for everything great and beautiful, and that hatred of
cruelty and injustice, which interest and delight us even in the
most defective reports. No person, on the other hand, could hear
Pitt without perceiving him to be a man of high, intrepid, and
commanding spirit, proudly conscious of his own rectitude and of
his own intellectual superiority, incapable of the low vices of
fear and envy, but too prone to feel and to show disdain. Pride,
indeed, pervaded the whole man, was written in the harsh, rigid
lines of his face, was marked by the way in which he walked, in
which he sate, in which he stood, and, above all, in which he
bowed. Such pride, of course, inflicted many wounds. It may
confidently be affirmed that there cannot be found, in all the
ten thousand invectives written against Fox, a word indicating
that his demeanour had ever made a single personal enemy. On the
other hand, several men of note who had been partial to Pitt, and
who to the last continued to approve his public conduct and to
support his administration, Cumberland, for example, Boswell, and
Matthias, were so much irritated by the contempt with which he
treated them, that they complained in print of their wrongs. But
his pride, though it made him bitterly disliked by individuals,
inspired the great body of his followers in Parliament and
throughout the country with respect and confidence. They took
him at his own valuation. They saw that his self-esteem was not
that of an upstart, who was drunk with good luck and with
applause, and who, if fortune turned, would sink from arrogance
into abject humility. It was that of the magnanimous man so
finely described by Aristotle in the Ethics, of the man who
thinks himself worthy of great things, being in truth worthy. It
sprang from a consciousness of great powers and great virtues,
and was never so conspicuously displayed as in the midst of
difficulties and dangers which would have unnerved and bowed down
any ordinary mind. It was closely connected, too, with an
ambition which had no mixture of low cupidity. There was
something noble in the cynical disdain with which the mighty
minister scattered riches and titles to right and left among
those who valued them, while he spurned them out of his own way.
Poor himself, he was surrounded by friends on whom he had
bestowed three thousand, six thousand, ten thousand a year.
Plain Mister himself, he had made more lords than any three
ministers that had preceded him. The garter, for which the first
dukes in the kingdom were contending, was repeatedly offered to
him, and offered in vain.

The correctness of his private life added much to the dignity of
his public character. In the relations of son, brother, uncle,
master, friend, his conduct was exemplary. In the small circle
of his intimate associates, he was amiable, affectionate, even
playful. They loved him sincerely; they regretted him long; and
they would hardly admit that he who was so kind and gentle with
them could be stern and haughty with others. He indulged,
indeed, somewhat too freely in wine, which he had early been
directed to take as a medicine, and which use had made a
necessary of life to him. But it was very seldom that any
indication of undue excess could be detected in his tones or
gestures; and, in truth, two bottles of port were little more to
him than two dishes of tea. He had, when he was first introduced
into the clubs of Saint James's Street, shown a strong taste for
play; but he had the prudence and the resolution to stop before
this taste had acquired the strength of habit. From the passion
which generally exercises the most tyrannical dominion over the
young he possessed an immunity, which is probably to be ascribed
partly to his temperament and partly to his situation. His
constitution was feeble; he was very shy; and he was very busy.
The strictness of his morals furnished such buffoons as Peter
Pindar and Captain Morris with an inexhaustible theme for
merriment of no very delicate kind. But the great body of the
middle class of Englishmen could not see the joke. They warmly
praised the young statesman for commanding his passions, and for
covering his frailties, if he had frailties, with decorous
obscurity, and would have been very far indeed from thinking
better of him if he had vindicated himself from the taunts of his
enemies by taking under his protection a Nancy Parsons or a
Marianne Clark.

No part of the immense popularity which Pitt long enjoyed is to
be attributed to the eulogies of wits and poets. It might have
been naturally expected that a man of genius, of learning, of
taste, an orator whose diction was often compared to that of
Tully, the representative, too, of a great university, would have
taken a peculiar pleasure in befriending eminent writers, to
whatever political party they might have belonged. The love of
literature had induced Augustus to heap benefits on Pompeians,
Somers to be the protector of nonjurors, Harley to make the
fortunes of Whigs. But it could not move Pitt to show any favour
even to Pittites. He was doubtless right in thinking that, in
general, poetry, history, and philosophy ought to be suffered,
like calico and cutlery, to find their proper price in the
market, and that to teach men of letters to look habitually to
the state for their recompense is bad for the state and bad for
letters. Assuredly nothing can be more absurd or mischievous
than to waste the public money in bounties for the purpose of
inducing people who ought to be weighing out grocery or measuring
out drapery to write bad or middling books. But, though the
sound rule is that authors should be left to be remunerated by
their readers, there will, in every generation, be a few
exceptions to this rule. To distinguish these special cases from
the mass is an employment well worthy of the faculties of a great
and accomplished ruler; and Pitt would assuredly have had little
difficulty in finding such cases. While he was in power, the
greatest philologist of the age, his own contemporary at
Cambridge, was reduced to earn a livelihood by the lowest
literary drudgery, and to spend in writing squibs for the
"Morning Chronicle" years to which we might have owed an all but
perfect text of the whole tragic and comic drama of Athens. The
greatest historian of the age, forced by poverty to leave his
country, completed his immortal work on the shores of Lake Leman.
The political heterodoxy of Porson, and the religious heterodoxy
of Gibbon, may perhaps be pleaded in defence of the minister by
whom those eminent men were neglected. But there were other
cases in which no such excuse could be set up. Scarcely had Pitt
obtained possession of unbounded power when an aged writer of the
highest eminence, who had made very little by his writings, and
who was sinking into the grave under a load of infirmities and
sorrows, wanted five or six hundred pounds to enable him, during
the winter or two which might still remain to him, to draw his
breath more easily in the soft climate of Italy. Not a farthing
was to be obtained; and before Christmas the author of the
English Dictionary and of the Lives of the Poets had gasped his
last in the river fog and coal smoke of Fleet Street. A few
months after the death of Johnson appeared the Task, incomparably
the best poem that any Englishman then living had produced--a
poem, too, which could hardly fail to excite in a well
constituted mind a feeling of esteem and compassion for the poet,
a man of genius and virtue, whose means were scanty, and whom the
most cruel of all the calamities incident to humanity had made
incapable of supporting himself by vigorous and sustained
exertion. Nowhere had Chatham been praised with more enthusiasm,
or in verse more worthy of the subject, than in the Task. The
son of Chatham, however, contented himself with reading and
admiring the book, and left the author to starve. The pension
which, long after, enabled poor Cowper to close his melancholy
life, unmolested by duns and bailiffs, was obtained for him by
the strenuous kindness of Lord Spencer. What a contrast between
the way in which Pitt acted towards Johnson and the way in which
Lord Grey acted towards his political enemy Scott, when Scott,
worn out by misfortune and disease, was advised to try the effect
of the Italian air! What a contrast between the way in which
Pitt acted towards Cowper and the way in which Burke, a poor man
and out of place, acted towards Crabbe! Even Dundas, who made no
pretensions to literary taste, and was content to be considered
as a hardheaded and somewhat coarse man of business, was, when
compared with his eloquent and classically educated friend, a
Maecenas or a Leo. Dundas made Burns an exciseman, with seventy
pounds a year; and this was more than Pitt, during his long
tenure of power, did for the encouragement of letters. Even
those who may think that it is, in general, no part of the duty
of a government to reward literary merit will hardly deny that a
government, which has much lucrative church preferment in its
gift, is bound, in distributing that preferment, not to overlook
divines whose writings have rendered great service to the cause
of religion. But it seems never to have occurred to Pitt that he
lay under any such obligation. All the theological works of all
the numerous bishops whom he made and translated are not, when
put together, worth fifty pages of the Horae Paulinae, of the
Natural Theology, or of the View of the Evidences of
Christianity. But on Paley the all-powerful minister never
bestowed the small benefice. Artists Pitt reasoned as
contemptuously as writers. For painting he did simply nothing.
Sculptors, who had been selected to execute monuments voted by
Parliament, had to haunt the ante-chambers of the Treasury during
many years before they could obtain a farthing from him. One of
them, after vainly soliciting the minister for payment during
fourteen years, had the courage to present a memorial to the
King, and thus obtained tardy and ungracious justice. Architects
it was absolutely necessary to employ; and the worst that could
be found seem to have been employed. Not a single fine public
building of any kind or in any style was erected during his long
administration. It may be confidently affirmed that no ruler
whose abilities and attainments would bear any comparison with
his has ever shown such cold disdain for what is excellent in
arts and letters.

His first administration lasted seventeen years. That long
period is divided by a strongly marked line into two almost
exactly equal parts. The first part ended and the second began
in the autumn of 1792. Throughout both parts Pitt displayed in
the highest degree the talents of a parliamentary leader. During
the first part he was a fortunate and, in many respects, a
skilful administrator. With the difficulties which he had to
encounter during the second part he was altogether incapable of
contending: but his eloquence and his perfect mastery of the
tactics of the House of Commons concealed his incapacity from the

The eight years which followed the general election of 1784 were
as tranquil and prosperous as any eight years in the whole
history of England. Neighbouring nations which had lately been
in arms against her, and which had flattered themselves that, in
losing her American colonies, she had lost a chief source of her
wealth and of her power, saw, with wonder and vexation, that she
was more wealthy and more powerful than ever. Her trade
increased. Her manufactures flourished. Her exchequer was full
to overflowing. Very idle apprehensions were generally
entertained, that the public debt, though much less than a third
of the debt which we now bear with ease, would be found too heavy
for the strength of the nation. Those apprehensions might not
perhaps have been easily quieted by reason. But Pitt quieted
them by a juggle. He succeeded in persuading first himself, and
then the whole nation, his opponents included, that a new sinking
fund, which, so far as it differed from former sinking funds,
differed for the worse, would, by virtue of some mysterious power
of propagation belonging to money, put into the pocket of the
public creditor great sums not taken out of the pocket of the
tax-payer. The country, terrified by a danger which was no
danger, hailed with delight and boundless confidence a remedy
which was no remedy. The minister was almost universally
extolled as the greatest of financiers. Meanwhile both the
branches of the House of Bourbon found that England was as
formidable an antagonist as she had ever been. France had formed
a plan for reducing Holland to vassalage. But England
interposed; and France receded. Spain interrupted by violence
the trade of our merchants with the regions near the Oregon. But
England armed; and Spain receded. Within the island there was
profound tranquillity. The King was, for the first time,
popular. During the twenty-three years which had followed his
accession he had not been loved by his subjects. His domestic
virtues were acknowledged. But it was generally thought that the
good qualities by which he was distinguished in private life were
wanting to his political character. As a Sovereign, he was
resentful, unforgiving, stubborn, cunning. Under his rule the
country had sustained cruel disgraces and disasters; and every
one of those disgraces and disasters was imputed to his strong
antipathies, and to his perverse obstinacy in the wrong. One
statesman after another complained that he had been induced by
royal caresses, intreaties, and promises, to undertake the
direction of affairs at a difficult conjuncture, and that, as
soon as he had, not without sullying his fame, and alienating his
best friends, served the turn for which he was wanted, his
ungrateful master began to intrigue against him, and to canvass
against him. Grenville, Rockingham, Chatham, men of widely
different characters, but all three upright and high-spirited,
agreed in thinking that the Prince under whom they had
successively held the highest place in government was one of the
most insincere of mankind. His confidence was reposed, they
said, not in those known and responsible counsellors to whom he
had delivered the seals of office, but in secret advisers who
stole up the back stairs into his closet. In Parliament his
ministers, while defending themselves against the attacks of the
opposition in front, were perpetually, at his instigation,
assailed on the flank or in the rear by a vile band of
mercenaries who called themselves his friends. These men
constantly, while in possession of lucrative places in his
service, spoke and voted against bills which he had authorised
the First Lord of the Treasury or the Secretary of State to bring
in. But from the day on which Pitt was placed at the head of
affairs there was an end of secret influence. His haughty and
aspiring spirit was not to be satisfied with the mere show of
power. Any attempt to undermine him at Court, any mutinous
movement among his followers in the House of Commons, was certain
to be at once put down. He had only to tender his resignation;
and he could dictate his own terms. For he, and he alone, stood
between the King and the Coalition. He was therefore little less
than Mayor of the Palace. The nation loudly applauded the King
for having the wisdom to repose entire confidence in so excellent
a minister. His Majesty's private virtues now began to produce
their full effect. He was generally regarded as the model of a
respectable country gentleman, honest, good-natured, sober,
religious. He rose early: he dined temperately: he was
strictly faithful to his wife: he never missed church; and at
church he never missed a response. His people heartily prayed
that he might long reign over them; and they prayed the more
heartily because his virtues were set off to the best advantage
by the vices and follies of the Prince of Wales, who lived in
close intimacy with the chiefs of the opposition.

How strong this feeling was in the public mind appeared signally
on one great occasion. In the autumn of 1788 the King became
insane. The opposition, eager for office, committed the great
indiscretion of asserting that the heir apparent had, by the
fundamental laws of England, a right to be Regent with the full
powers of royalty. Pitt, on the other hand, maintained it to be
the constitutional doctrine that, when a Sovereign is, by reason
of infancy, disease, or absence, incapable of exercising the
regal functions, it belongs to the Estates of the realm to
determine who shall be the vicegerent and with what portion of
the executive authority such vicegerent shall be entrusted. A
long and violent contest followed, in which Pitt was supported by
the great body of the people with as much enthusiasm as during
the first months of his administration. Tories with one voice
applauded him for defending the sick-bed of a virtuous and
unhappy Sovereign against a disloyal faction and an undutiful
son. Not a few Whigs applauded him for asserting the authority
of Parliaments and the principles of the Revolution, in
opposition to a doctrine which seemed to have too much affinity
with the servile theory of indefeasible hereditary right. The
middle class, always zealous on the side of decency and the
domestic virtues, looked forward with dismay to a reign
resembling that of Charles II. The palace, which had now been,
during thirty years, the pattern of an English home, would be a
public nuisance, a school of profligacy. To the good King's
repast of mutton and lemonade, despatched at three o'clock, would
succeed midnight banquets, from which the guests would be carried
home speechless. To the backgammon board at which the good King
played for a little silver with his equerries, would succeed faro
tables from which young patricians who had sate down rich would
rise up beggars. The drawing-room, from which the frown of the
Queen had repelled a whole generation of frail beauties, would
now be again what it had been in the days of Barbara Palmer and
Louisa de Querouaille. Nay, severely as the public reprobated
the Prince's many illicit attachments, his one virtuous
attachment was reprobated more severely still. Even in grave and
pious circles his Protestant mistresses gave less scandal than
his Popish wife. That he must be Regent nobody ventured to deny.
But he and his friends were so unpopular that Pitt could, with
general approbation, propose to limit the powers of the Regent by
restrictions to which it would have been impossible to subject a
Prince beloved and trusted by the country. Some interested men,
fully expecting a change of administration, went over to the
opposition. But the majority, purified by these desertions,
closed its ranks, and presented a more firm array than ever to
the enemy. In every division Pitt was victorious. When at
length, after a stormy interregnum of three months, it was
announced, on the very eve of the inauguration of the Regent,
that the King was himself again, the nation was wild with
delight. On the evening of the day on which His Majesty resumed
his functions, a spontaneous illumination, the most general that
had ever been seen in England, brightened the whole vast space
from Highgate to Tooting, and from Hammersmith to Greenwich. On
the day on which he returned thanks in the cathedral of his
capital, all the horses and carriages within a hundred miles of
London were too few for the multitudes which flocked to see him
pass through the streets. A second illumination followed, which
was even superior to the first in magnificence. Pitt with
difficulty escaped from the tumultuous kindness of an innumerable
multitude which insisted on drawing his coach from Saint Paul's
Churchyard to Downing Street. This was the moment at which his
fame and fortune may be said to have reached the zenith. His
influence in the closet was as great as that of Carr or Villiers
had been. His dominion over the Parliament was more absolute
than that of Walpole of Pelham had been. He was at the same time
as high in the favour of the populace as ever Wilkes or
Sacheverell had been. Nothing did more to raise his character
than his noble poverty. It was well-known that, if he had been
dismissed from office after more than five years of boundless
power, he would hardly have carried out with him a sum sufficient
to furnish the set of chambers in which, as he cheerfully
declared, he meant to resume the practice of the law. His
admirers, however, were by no means disposed to suffer him to
depend on daily toil for his daily bread. The voluntary
contributions which were awaiting his acceptance in the city of
London alone would have sufficed to make him a rich man. But it
may be doubted whether his haughty spirit would have stooped to
accept a provision so honourably earned and so honourably

To such a height of power and glory had this extraordinary man
risen at twenty-nine years of age. And now the tide was on the
turn. Only ten days after the triumphal procession to Saint
Paul's, the States-General of France, after an interval of a
hundred and seventy-four years, met at Versailles.

The nature of the great Revolution which followed was long very
imperfectly understood in this country. Burke saw much further
than any of his contemporaries: but whatever his sagacity
descried was refracted and discoloured by his passions and his
imagination. More than three years elapsed before the principles
of the English administration underwent any material change.
Nothing could as yet be milder or more strictly constitutional
than the minister's domestic policy. Not a single act indicating
an arbitrary temper or a jealousy of the people could be imputed
to him. He had never applied to Parliament for any extraordinary
powers. He had never used with harshness the ordinary powers
entrusted by the constitution to the executive government. Not a
single state prosecution which would even now be called
oppressive had been instituted by him. Indeed, the only
oppressive state prosecution instituted during the first eight
years of his administration was that of Stockdale, which is to be
attributed not to the government, but to the chiefs of the
opposition. In office Pitt had redeemed the pledges which he
had, at his entrance into public life, given to the supporters of
parliamentary reform. He had, in 1785, brought forward a
judicious plan for the improvement of the representative system,
and had prevailed on the King, not only to refrain from talking
against that plan, but to recommend it to the Houses in a speech
from the throne. (The speech with which the King opened the
session of 1785, concluded with an assurance that His Majesty
would heartily concur in every measure which could tend to secure
the true principles of the constitution. These words were at the
time understood to refer to Pitt's Reform Bill.) This attempt
failed; but there can be little doubt that, if the French
Revolution had not produced a violent reaction of public feeling,
Pitt would have performed, with little difficulty and no danger,
that great work which, at a later period, Lord Grey could
accomplish only by means which for a time loosened the very
foundations of the commonwealth. When the atrocities of the
slave trade were first brought under the consideration of
Parliament, no abolitionist was more zealous than Pitt. When
sickness prevented Wilberforce from appearing in public, his
place was most efficiently supplied by his friend the minister.
A humane bill, which mitigated the horrors of the middle passage,
was, in 1788, carried by the eloquence and determined spirit of
Pitt, in spite of the opposition of some of his own colleagues;
and it ought always to be remembered to his honour that, in order
to carry that bill, he kept the Houses sitting, in spite of many
murmurs, long after the business of the government had been done,
and the Appropriation Act passed. In 1791 he cordially concurred
with Fox in maintaining the sound constitutional doctrine, that
an impeachment is not terminated by a dissolution. In the course
of the same year the two great rivals contended side by side in a
far more important cause. They are fairly entitled to divide the
high honour of having added to our statute-book the inestimable
law which places the liberty of the press under the protection of
juries. On one occasion, and one alone, Pitt, during the first
half of his long administration, acted in a manner unworthy of an
enlightened Whig. In the debate on the Test Act, he stooped to
gratify the master whom he served, the university which he
represented, and the great body of clergymen and country
gentlemen on whose support he rested, by talking, with little
heartiness, indeed, and with no asperity, the language of a Tory.
With this single exception, his conduct from the end of 1783 to
the middle of 1792 was that of an honest friend of civil and
religious liberty.

Nor did anything, during that period, indicate that he loved war,
or harboured any malevolent feeling against any neighbouring
nation. Those French writers who have represented him as a
Hannibal sworn in childhood by his father to bear eternal hatred
to France, as having by mysterious intrigues and lavish bribes,
instigated the leading Jacobins to commit those excesses which
dishonoured the Revolution, as having been the real author of the
first coalition, know nothing of his character or of his history.
So far was he from being a deadly enemy to France, that his
laudable attempts to bring about a closer connection with that
country by means of a wise and liberal treaty of commerce brought
on him the severe censure of the opposition. He was told in the
House of Commons that he was a degenerate son, and that his
partiality for the hereditary foes of our island was enough to
make his great father's bones stir under the pavement of the

And this man, whose name, if he had been so fortunate as to die
in 1792, would now have been associated with peace, with freedom,
with philanthropy, with temperate reform, with mild and
constitutional administration, lived to associate his name with
arbitrary government, with harsh laws harshly executed, with
alien bills, with gagging bills, with suspensions of the Habeas
Corpus Act, with cruel punishments inflicted on some political
agitators, with unjustifiable prosecutions instituted against
others, and with the most costly and most sanguinary wars of
modern times. He lived to be held up to obloquy as the stern
oppressor of England, and the indefatigable disturber of Europe.
Poets, contrasting his earlier with his later years, likened him
sometimes to the apostle who kissed in order to betray, and
sometimes to the evil angels who kept not their first estate. A
satirist of great genius introduced the fiends of Famine,
Slaughter, and Fire, proclaiming that they had received their
commission from One whose name was formed of four letters, and
promising to give their employer ample proofs of gratitude.
Famine would gnaw the multitude till they should rise up against
him in madness. The demon of slaughter would impel them to tear
him from limb to limb. But Fire boasted that she alone could
reward him as he deserved, and that she would cling round him to
all eternity. By the French press and the French tribune every
crime that disgraced and every calamity that afflicted France was
ascribed to the monster Pitt and his guineas. While the Jacobins
were dominant, it was he who had corrupted the Gironde, who had
raised Lyons and Bordeaux against the Convention, who had
suborned Paris to assassinate Lepelletier, and Cecilia Regnault
to assassinate Robespierre. When the Thermidorian reaction came,
all the atrocities of the Reign of Terror were imputed to him.
Collet D'Herbois and Fouquier Tinville had been his pensioners.
It was he who had hired the murderers of September, who had
dictated the pamphlets of Marat and the Carmagnoles of Barere,
who had paid Lebon to deluge Arras with blood, and Carrier to
choke the Loire with corpses.

The truth is, that he liked neither war nor arbitrary government.
He was a lover of peace and freedom, driven, by a stress against
which it was hardly possible for any will or any intellect to
struggle, out of the course to which his inclinations pointed,
and for which his abilities and acquirements fitted him, and
forced into a policy repugnant to his feelings and unsuited to
his talents.

The charge of apostasy is grossly unjust. A man ought no more to
be called an apostate because his opinions alter with the
opinions of the great body of his contemporaries than he ought to
be called an oriental traveller because he is always going round
from west to east with the globe and everything that is upon it.
Between the spring of 1789 and the close of 1792, the public mind
of England underwent a great change. If the change of Pitt's
sentiments attracted peculiar notice, it was not because he
changed more than his neighbours; for in fact he changed less
than most of them; but because his position was far more
conspicuous than theirs, because he was, till Bonaparte appeared,
the individual who filled the greatest space in the eyes of the
inhabitants of the civilised world. During a short time the
nation, and Pitt, as one of the nation, looked with interest and
approbation on the French Revolution. But soon vast
confiscations, the violent sweeping away of ancient institutions,
the domination of clubs, the barbarities of mobs maddened by
famine and hatred, produced a reaction here. The court, the
nobility, the gentry, the clergy, the manufacturers, the
merchants, in short, nineteen-twentieths of those who had good
roofs over their heads and good coats on their backs, became
eager and intolerant Antijacobins. This feeling was at least as
strong among the minister's adversaries as among his supporters.
Fox in vain attempted to restrain his followers. All his genius,
all his vast personal influence, could not prevent them from
rising up against him in general mutiny. Burke set the example
of revolt; and Burke was in no long time joined by Portland,
Spencer, Fitzwilliam, Loughborough, Carlisle, Malmesbury,
Windham, Elliot. In the House of Commons, the followers of the
great Whig statesman and orator diminished from about a hundred
and sixty to fifty. In the House of Lords he had but ten or
twelve adherents left. There can be no doubt that there would
have been a similar mutiny on the ministerial benches if Pitt had
obstinately resisted the general wish. Pressed at once by his
master and by his colleagues, by old friends and by old
opponents, he abandoned, slowly and reluctantly, the policy which
was dear to his heart. He laboured hard to avert the European
war. When the European war broke out, he still flattered himself
that it would not be necessary for this country to take either
side. In the spring of 1792 he congratulated the Parliament on
the prospect of long and profound peace, and proved his sincerity
by proposing large remissions of taxation. Down to the end of
that year he continued to cherish the hope that England might be
able to preserve neutrality. But the passions which raged on
both sides of the Channel were not to be restrained. The
republicans who ruled France were inflamed by a fanaticism
resembling that of the Mussulmans who, with the Koran in one hand
and the sword in the other, went forth, conquering and
converting, eastward to the Bay of Bengal, and westward to the
Pillars of Hercules. The higher and middle classes of England
were animated by zeal not less fiery than that of the Crusaders
who raised the cry of Deus vult at Clermont. The impulse which
drove the two nations to a collision was not to be arrested by
the abilities or by the authority of any single man. As Pitt was
in front of his fellows, and towered high above them, he seemed
to lead them. But in fact he was violently pushed on by them,
and, had he held back but a little more than he did, would have
been thrust out of their way or trampled under their feet.

He yielded to the current: and from that day his misfortunes
began. The truth is that there were only two consistent courses
before him. Since he did not choose to oppose himself, side by
side with Fox, to the public feeling, he should have taken the
advice of Burke, and should have availed himself of that feeling
to the full extent. If it was impossible to preserve peace, he
should have adopted the only policy which could lead to victory.
He should have proclaimed a Holy War for religion, morality,
property, order, public law, and should have thus opposed to the
Jacobins an energy equal to their own. Unhappily he tried to
find a middle path; and he found one which united all that was
worst in both extremes. He went to war: but he would not
understand the peculiar character of that war. He was
obstinately blind to the plain fact, that he was contending
against a state which was also a sect, and that the new quarrel
between England and France was of quite a different kind from the
old quarrels about colonies in America and fortresses in the
Netherlands. He had to combat frantic enthusiasm, boundless
ambition, restless activity, the wildest and most audacious
spirit of innovation; and he acted as if he had to deal with the
harlots and fops of the old Court of Versailles, with Madame de
Pompadour and the Abbe de Bernis. It was pitiable to hear him,
year after year, proving to an admiring audience that the wicked
Republic was exhausted, that she could not hold out, that her
credit was gone, and her assignats were not worth more than the
paper of which they were made; as if credit was necessary to a
government of which the principle was rapine, as if Alboin could
not turn Italy into a desert till he had negotiated a loan at
five per cent., as if the exchequer bills of Attila had been at
par. It was impossible that a man who so completely mistook the
nature of a contest could carry on that contest successfully.
Great as Pitt's abilities were, his military administration was
that of a driveller. He was at the head of a nation engaged in a
struggle for life and death, of a nation eminently distinguished
by all the physical and all the moral qualities which make
excellent soldiers. The resources at his command were unlimited.
The Parliament was even more ready to grant him men and money
than he was to ask for them. In such an emergency, and with such
means, such a statesman as Richelieu, as Louvois, as Chatham, as
Wellesley, would have created in a few months one of the finest
armies in the world, and would soon have discovered and brought
forward generals worthy to command such an army. Germany might
have been saved by another Blenheim; Flanders recovered by
another Ramilies; another Poitiers might have delivered the
Royalist and Catholic provinces of France from a yoke which they
abhorred, and might have spread terror even to the barriers of
Paris. But the fact is, that, after eight years of war, after a
vast destruction of life, after an expenditure of wealth far
exceeding the expenditure of the American war, of the Seven
Years' War, of the war of the Austrian Succession, and of the war
of the Spanish Succession, united, the English army, under Pitt,
was the laughing-stock of all Europe. It could not boast of one
single brilliant exploit. It had never shown itself on the
Continent but to be beaten, chased, forced to re-embark, or
forced to capitulate. To take some sugar island in the West
Indies, to scatter some mob of half-naked Irish peasants, such
were the most splendid victories won by the British troops under
Pitt's auspices.

The English navy no mismanagement could ruin. But during a long
period whatever mismanagement could do was done. The Earl of
Chatham, without a single qualification for high public trust,
was made, by fraternal partiality, First Lord of the Admiralty,
and was kept in that great post during two years of a war in
which the very existence of the state depended on the efficiency
of the fleet. He continued to doze away and trifle away the time
which ought to have been devoted to the public service, till the
whole mercantile body, though generally disposed to support the
government, complained bitterly that our flag gave no protection
to our trade. Fortunately he was succeeded by George Earl
Spencer, one of those chiefs of the Whig party who, in the great
schism caused by the French Revolution, had followed Burke. Lord
Spencer, though inferior to many of his colleagues as an orator,
was decidedly the best administrator among them. To him it was
owing that a long and gloomy succession of days of fasting, and,
most emphatically, of humiliation, was interrupted, twice in the
short space of eleven months, by days of thanksgiving for great

It may seem paradoxical to say that the incapacity which Pitt
showed in all that related to the conduct of the war is, in some
sense, the most decisive proof that he was a man of very
extraordinary abilities. Yet this is the simple truth. For
assuredly one-tenth part of his errors and disasters would have
been fatal to the power and influence of any minister who had not
possessed, in the highest degree, the talents of a parliamentary
leader. While his schemes were confounded, while his predictions
were falsified, while the coalitions which he had laboured to
form were falling to pieces, while the expeditions which he had
sent forth at enormous cost were ending in rout and disgrace,
while the enemy against whom he was feebly contending was
subjugating Flanders and Brabant, the Electorate of Mentz, and
the Electorate of Treves, Holland, Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy,
his authority over the House of Commons was constantly becoming
more and more absolute. There was his empire. There were his
victories, his Lodi and his Arcola, his Rivoli and his Marengo.
If some great misfortune, a pitched battle lost by the allies,
the annexation of a new department to the French Republic, a
sanguinary insurrection in Ireland, a mutiny in the fleet, a
panic in the city, a run on the bank, had spread dismay through
the ranks of his majority, that dismay lasted only till he rose
from the Treasury bench, drew up his haughty head, stretched his
arm with commanding gesture, and poured forth, in deep and
sonorous tones, the lofty language of inextinguishable hope and
inflexible resolution. Thus, through a long and calamitous
period, every disaster that happened without the walls of
Parliament was regularly followed by a triumph within them. At
length he had no longer an opposition to encounter. Of the great
party which had contended against him during the first eight
years of his administration more than one half now marched under
his standard, with his old competitor the Duke of Portland at
their head; and the rest had, after many vain struggles, quitted
the field in despair. Fox had retired to the shades of St Anne's
Hill, and had there found, in the society of friends whom no
vicissitude could estrange from him, of a woman whom he tenderly
loved, and of the illustrious dead of Athens, of Rome, and of
Florence, ample compensation for all the misfortunes of his
public life. Session followed session with scarcely a single
division. In the eventful year 1799, the largest minority that
could be mustered against the government was twenty-five.

In Pitt's domestic policy there was at this time assuredly no
want of vigour. While he offered to French Jacobinism a
resistance so feeble that it only encouraged the evil which he
wished to suppress, he put down English Jacobinism with a strong
hand. The Habeas Corpus Act was repeatedly suspended. Public
meetings were placed under severe restraints. The government
obtained from parliament power to send out of the country aliens
who were suspected of evil designs; and that power was not
suffered to be idle. Writers who propounded doctrines adverse to
monarchy and aristocracy were proscribed and punished without
mercy. It was hardly safe for a republican to avow his political
creed over his beefsteak and his bottle of port at a chop-house.
The old laws of Scotland against sedition, laws which were
considered by Englishmen as barbarous, and which a succession of
governments had suffered to rust, were now furbished up and
sharpened anew. Men of cultivated minds and polished manners
were, for offences which at Westminster would have been treated
as mere misdemeanours, sent to herd with felons at Botany Bay.
Some reformers, whose opinions were extravagant, and whose
language was intemperate, but who had never dreamed of subverting
the government by physical force, were indicted for high treason,
and were saved from the gallows only by the righteous verdicts of
juries. This severity was at the time loudly applauded by
alarmists whom fear had made cruel, but will be seen in a very
different light by posterity. The truth is, that the Englishmen
who wished for a revolution were, even in number, not formidable,
and in everything but number, a faction utterly contemptible,
without arms, or funds, or plans, or organisation, or leader.
There can be no doubt that Pitt, strong as he was in the support
of the great body of the nation, might easily have repressed the
turbulence of the discontented minority by firmly yet temperately
enforcing the ordinary law. Whatever vigour he showed during
this unfortunate part of his life was vigour out of place and
season. He was all feebleness and langour in his conflict with
the foreign enemy who was really to be dreaded, and reserved all
his energy and resolution for the domestic enemy who might safely
have been despised.

One part only of Pitt's conduct during the last eight years of
the eighteenth century deserves high praise. He was the first
English minister who formed great designs for the benefit of
Ireland. The manner in which the Roman Catholic population of
that unfortunate country had been kept down during many
generations seemed to him unjust and cruel; and it was scarcely
possible for a man of his abilities not to perceive that, in a
contest against the Jacobins, the Roman Catholics were his
natural allies. Had he been able to do all that he wished, it is
probable that a wise and liberal policy would have averted the
rebellion of 1798. But the difficulties which he encountered
were great, perhaps insurmountable; and the Roman Catholics were,
rather by his misfortune than by his fault, thrown into the hands
of the Jacobins. There was a third great rising of the Irishry
against the Englishry, a rising not less formidable than the
risings of 1641 and 1689. The Englishry remained victorious, and
it was necessary for Pitt, as it had been necessary for Oliver
Cromwell and William of Orange before him, to consider how the
victory should be used. It is only just to his memory to say
that he formed a scheme of policy, so grand and so simple, so
righteous and so humane, that it would alone entitle him to a
high place among statesmen. He determined to make Ireland one
kingdom with England, and, at the same time, to relieve the Roman
Catholic laity from civil disabilities, and to grant a public
maintenance to the Roman Catholic clergy. Had he been able to
carry these noble designs into effect, the Union would have been
an Union indeed. It would have been inseparably associated in
the minds of the great majority of Irishmen with civil and
religious freedom; and the old Parliament in College Green would
have been regretted only by a small knot of discarded jobbers and
oppressors, and would have been remembered by the body of the
nation with the loathing and contempt due to the most tyrannical
and the most corrupt assembly that had ever sate in Europe. But
Pitt could execute only one half of what he had projected. He
succeeded in obtaining the consent of the Parliaments of both
kingdoms to the Union; but that reconciliation of races and
sects, without which the Union could exist only in name, was not
accomplished. He was well aware that he was likely to find
difficulties in the closet. But he flattered himself, that by
cautious and dexterous management, those difficulties might be
overcome. Unhappily, there were traitors and sycophants in high
place who did not suffer him to take his own time, and his own
way, but prematurely disclosed his scheme to the King, and
disclosed it in the manner most likely to irritate and alarm a
weak and diseased mind. His Majesty absurdly imagined that his
Coronation oath bound him to refuse his assent to any bill for
relieving Roman Catholics from civil disabilities. To argue with
him was impossible. Dundas tried to explain the matter, but was
told to keep his Scotch metaphysics to himself. Pitt, and Pitt's
ablest colleagues, resigned their offices. It was necessary that
the King should make a new arrangement. But by this time his
anger and distress had brought back the malady which had, many
years before, incapacitated him for the discharge of his
functions. He actually assembled his family, read the Coronation
oath to them, and told them that, if he broke it, the Crown would
immediately pass to the House of Savoy. It was not until after
an interregnum of several weeks that he regained the full use of
his small faculties, and that a ministry after his own heart was
at length formed.

The materials out of which he had to construct a government were
neither solid nor splendid. To that party, weak in numbers, but
strong in every kind of talent, which was hostile to the domestic
and foreign policy of his late advisers, he could not have
recourse. For that party, while it differed from his late
advisers on every point on which they had been honoured with his
approbation, cordially agreed with them as to the single matter
which had brought on them his displeasure. All that was left to
him was to call up the rear ranks of the old ministry to form the
front rank of a new ministry. In an age pre-eminently fruitful
of parliamentary talents, a cabinet was formed containing hardly
a single man who, in parliamentary talents, could be considered
as even of the second rate. The most important offices in the
state were bestowed on decorous and laborious mediocrity. Henry
Addington was at the head of the Treasury. He had been an early,
indeed a hereditary, friend of Pitt, and had by Pitt's influence
been placed, while still a young man, in the chair of the House
of Commons. He was universally admitted to have been the best
speaker that had sate in that chair since the retirement of
Onslow. But nature had not bestowed on him very vigorous
faculties; and the highly respectable situation which he had long
occupied with honour had rather unfitted than fitted him for the
discharge of his new duties. His business had been to bear
himself evenly between contending factions. He had taken no part
in the war of words; and he had always been addressed with marked
deference by the great orators who thundered against each other
from his right and from his left. It was not strange that, when,
for the first time, he had to encounter keen and vigorous
antagonists, who dealt hard blows without the smallest ceremony,
he should have been awkward and unready, or that the air of
dignity and authority which he had acquired in his former post,
and of which he had not divested himself, should have made his
helplessness laughable and pitiable. Nevertheless, during many
months, his power seemed to stand firm. He was a favourite with
the King, whom he resembled in narrowness of mind, and to whom he
was more obsequious than Pitt had ever been. The nation was put
into high good humour by a peace with France. The enthusiasm
with which the upper and middle classes had rushed into the war
had spent itself. Jacobinism was no longer formidable.
Everywhere there was a strong reaction against what was called
the atheistical and anarchical philosophy of the eighteenth
century. Bonaparte, now First Consul, was busied in constructing
out of the ruins of old institutions a new ecclesiastical
establishment and a new order of knighthood. That nothing less
than the dominion of the whole civilised world would satisfy his
selfish ambition was not yet suspected; nor did even wise men see
any reason to doubt that he might be as safe a neighbour as any
prince of the House of Bourbon had been. The treaty of Amiens
was therefore hailed by the great body of the English people with
extravagant joy. The popularity of the minister was for the
moment immense. His want of parliamentary ability was, as yet,
of little consequence: for he had scarcely any adversary to
encounter. The old opposition, delighted by the peace, regarded
him with favour. A new opposition had indeed been formed by some
of the late ministers, and was led by Grenville in the House of
Lords, and by Windham in the House of Commons. But the new
opposition could scarcely muster ten votes, and was regarded with
no favour by the country. On Pitt the ministers relied as on
their firmest support. He had not, like some of his colleagues,
retired in anger. He had expressed the greatest respect for the
conscientious scruple which had taken possession of the royal
mind; and he had promised his successors all the help in his
power. In private his advice was at their service. In
Parliament he took his seat on the bench behind them; and, in
more than one debate, defended them with powers far superior to
their own. The King perfectly understood the value of such
assistance. On one occasion, at the palace, he took the old
minister and the new minister aside. "If we three," he said,
"keep together, all will go well."

But it was hardly possible, human nature being what it is, and,
more especially, Pitt and Addington being what they were, that
this union should be durable. Pitt, conscious of superior
powers, imagined that the place which he had quitted was now
occupied by a mere puppet which he had set up, which he was to
govern while he suffered it to remain, and which he was to fling
aside as soon as he wished to resume his old position. Nor was
it long before he began to pine for the power which he had
relinquished. He had been so early raised to supreme authority
in the state, and had enjoyed that authority so long, that it had
become necessary to him. In retirement his days passed heavily.
He could not, like Fox, forget the pleasures and cares of
ambition in the company of Euripides or Herodotus. Pride
restrained him from intimating, even to his dearest friends, that
he wished to be again minister. But he thought it strange,
almost ungrateful, that his wish had not been divined, that it
had not been anticipated, by one whom he regarded as his deputy.

Addington, on the other hand, was by no means inclined to descend
from his high position. He was, indeed, under a delusion much
resembling that of Abon Hassan in the Arabian tale. His brain
was turned by his short and unreal Caliphate. He took his
elevation quite seriously, attributed it to his own merit, and
considered himself as one of the great triumvirate of English
statesmen, as worthy to make a third with Pitt and Fox.

Such being the feelings of the late minister and of the present
minister, a rupture was inevitable; and there was no want of
persons bent on making that rupture speedy and violent. Some of
these persons wounded Addington's pride by representing him as a
lacquey, sent to keep a place on the Treasury bench till his
master should find it convenient to come. Others took every
opportunity of praising him at Pitt's expense. Pitt had waged a
long, a bloody, a costly, an unsuccessful war. Addington had
made peace. Pitt had suspended the constitutional liberties of
Englishmen. Under Addington those liberties were again enjoyed.
Pitt had wasted the public resources. Addington was carefully
nursing them. It was sometimes but too evident that these
compliments were not unpleasing to Addington. Pitt became cold
and reserved. During many months he remained at a distance from
London. Meanwhile his most intimate friends, in spite of his
declarations that he made no complaint, and that he had no wish
for office, exerted themselves to effect a change of ministry.
His favourite disciple, George Canning, young, ardent, ambitious,
with great powers and great virtues, but with a temper too
restless and a wit too satirical for his own happiness, was
indefatigable. He spoke; he wrote; he intrigued; he tried to
induce a large number of the supporters of the government to sign
a round robin desiring a change; he made game of Addington and of
Addington's relations in a succession of lively pasquinades. The
minister's partisans retorted with equal acrimony, if not with
equal vivacity. Pitt could keep out of the affray only by
keeping out of politics altogether; and this it soon became
impossible for him to do. Had Napoleon, content with the first
place among the Sovereigns of the Continent, and with a military
reputation surpassing that of Marlborough or of Turenne, devoted
himself to the noble task of making France happy by mild
administration and wise legislation, our country might have long
continued to tolerate a government of fair intentions and feeble
abilities. Unhappily, the treaty of Amiens had scarcely been
signed, when the restless ambition and the insupportable
insolence of the First Consul convinced the great body of the
English people that the peace, so eagerly welcomed, was only a
precarious armistice. As it became clearer and clearer that a
war for the dignity, the independence, the very existence of the
nation was at hand, men looked with increasing uneasiness on the
weak and languid cabinet which would have to contend against an
enemy who united more than the power of Louis the Great to more
than the genius of Frederick the Great. It is true that
Addington might easily have been a better war minister than Pitt,
and could not possibly have been a worse. But Pitt had cast a
spell on the public mind. The eloquence, the judgment, the calm
and disdainful firmness, which he had, during many years,
displayed in Parliament, deluded the world into the belief that
he must be eminently qualified to superintend every department of
politics, and they imagined, even after the miserable failures of
Dunkirk, of Quiberon, and of the Helder, that he was the only
statesman who could cope with Bonaparte. This feeling was
nowhere stronger than among Addington's own colleagues. The
pressure put on him was so strong that he could not help yielding
to it; yet, even in yielding, he showed how far he was from
knowing his own place. His first proposition was, that some
insignificant nobleman should be First Lord of the Treasury and
nominal head of the administration, and that the real power
should be divided between Pitt and himself, who were to be
secretaries of state. Pitt, as might have been expected, refused
even to discuss such a scheme, and talked of it with bitter
mirth. "Which secretaryship was offered to you?" his friend
Wilberforce asked. "Really," said Pitt, "I had not the curiosity
to inquire." Addington was frightened into bidding higher. He
offered to resign the Treasury to Pitt, on condition that there
should be no extensive change in the government. But Pitt would
listen to no such terms. Then came a dispute such as often
arises after negotiations orally conducted, even when the
negotiators are men of strict honour. Pitt gave one account of
what had passed; Addington gave another: and though the
discrepancies were not such as necessarily implied any
intentional violation of truth on either side, both were greatly

Meanwhile the quarrel with the First Consul had come to a crisis.
On the 16th of May, 1803, the King sent a message calling on the
House of Commons to support him in withstanding the ambitious and
encroaching policy of France; and, on the 22d, the House took the
message into consideration.

Pitt had now been living many months in retirement. There had
been a general election since he had spoken in Parliament; and
there were two hundred members who had never heard him. It was
known that on this occasion he would be in his place; and
curiosity was wound up to the highest point. Unfortunately the
short-hand writers were, in consequence of some mistake, shut out
on that day from the gallery, so that the newspapers contained
only a very meagre report of the proceedings. But several
accounts of what passed are extant; and of those accounts the
most interesting is contained in an unpublished letter, written
by a very young member, John William Ward, afterwards Earl of
Dudley. When Pitt rose, he was received with loud cheering. At
every pause in his speech there was a burst of applause. The
peroration is said to have been one of the most animated and
magnificent ever heard in Parliament. "Pitt's speech," Fox wrote
a few days later, "was admired very much, and very justly. I
think it was the best he ever made in that style." The debate
was adjourned; and on the second night Fox replied in an oration
which, as the most zealous Pittites were forced to acknowledge,
left the palm of eloquence doubtful. Addington made a pitiable
appearance between the two great rivals; and it was observed that
Pitt, while exhorting the Commons to stand resolutely by the
executive government against France, said not a word indicating
esteem or friendship for the Prime Minister.

War was speedily declared. The first consul threatened to invade
England at the head of the conquerors of Belgium and Italy, and
formed a great camp near the Straits of Dover. On the other side
of those Straits the whole population of our island was ready to
rise up as one man in defence of the soil. At this conjuncture,
as at some other great conjunctures in our history, the
conjuncture of 1660, for example, and the conjuncture of 1688,
there was a general disposition among honest and patriotic men to
forget old quarrels, and to regard as a friend every person who
was ready, in the existing emergency, to do his part towards the
saving of the state. A coalition of all the first men in the
country would, at that moment, have been as popular as the
coalition of 1783 had been unpopular. Alone in the kingdom the
King looked with perfect complacency on a cabinet in which no man
superior to himself in genius was to be found, and was so far
from being willing to admit all his ablest subjects to office
that he was bent on excluding them all.

A few months passed before the different parties which agreed in
regarding the government with dislike and contempt came to an
understanding with each other. But in the spring of 1804 it
became evident that the weakest of ministries would have to
defend itself against the strongest of oppositions, an opposition
made up of three oppositions, each of which would, separately,
have been formidable from ability, and which, when united, were
also formidable from number. The party which had opposed the
peace, headed by Grenville and Windham, and the party which had
opposed the renewal of the war, headed by Fox, concurred in
thinking that the men now in power were incapable of either
making a good peace or waging a vigorous war. Pitt had, in 1802,
spoken for peace against the party of Grenville, and had, in
1803, spoken for war against the party of Fox. But of the
capacity of the cabinet, and especially of its chief, for the
conduct of great affairs, he thought as meanly as either Fox or
Grenville. Questions were easily found on which all the enemies
of the government could act cordially together. The unfortunate
First Lord of the Treasury, who had, during the earlier months of
his administration, been supported by Pitt on one side, and by
Fox on the other, now had to answer Pitt, and to be answered by
Fox. Two sharp debates, followed by close divisions, made him
weary of his post. It was known, too, that the Upper House was
even more hostile to him than the Lower, that the Scotch
representative peers wavered, that there were signs of mutiny
among the bishops. In the cabinet itself there was discord, and,
worse than discord, treachery. It was necessary to give way:
the ministry was dissolved; and the task of forming a government
was entrusted to Pitt.

Pitt was of opinion that there was now an opportunity, such as
had never before offered itself, and such as might never offer
itself again, of uniting in the public service, on honourable
terms, all the eminent talents of the kingdom. The passions to
which the French revolution had given birth were extinct. The
madness of the innovator and the madness of the alarmist had
alike had their day. Jacobinism and anti-Jacobinism had gone out
of fashion together. The most liberal statesman did not think
that season propitious for schemes of parliamentary reform; and
the most conservative statesman could not pretend that there was
any occasion for gagging bills and suspensions of the Habeas
Corpus Act. The great struggle for independence and national
honour occupied all minds; and those who were agreed as to the
duty of maintaining that struggle with vigour might well postpone
to a more convenient time all disputes about matters
comparatively unimportant. Strongly impressed by these
considerations, Pitt wished to form a ministry including all the
first men in the country. The Treasury he reserved for himself;
and to Fox he proposed to assign a share of power little inferior
to his own.

The plan was excellent; but the King would not hear of it. Dull,
obstinate, unforgiving, and, at that time half mad, he positively
refused to admit Fox into his service. Anybody else, even men
who had gone as far as Fox, or further than Fox, in what his
Majesty considered as Jacobinism, Sheridan, Grey, Erskine, should
be graciously received; but Fox never. During several hours Pitt
laboured in vain to reason down this senseless antipathy. That
he was perfectly sincere there can be no doubt: but it was not
enough to be sincere; he should have been resolute. Had he
declared himself determined not to take office without Fox, the
royal obstinacy would have given way, as it gave way, a few
months later, when opposed to the immutable resolution of Lord
Grenville. In an evil hour Pitt yielded. He flattered himself
with the hope that, though he consented to forego the aid of his
illustrious rival, there would still remain ample materials for
the formation of an efficient ministry. That hope was cruelly
disappointed. Fox entreated his friends to leave personal
considerations out of the question, and declared that he would
support, with the utmost cordiality, an efficient and patriotic
ministry from which he should be himself excluded. Not only his
friends, however, but Grenville, and Grenville's adherents,
answered, with one voice, that the question was not personal,
that a great constitutional principle was at stake, and that they
would not take office while a man eminently qualified to render
service to the commonwealth was placed under a ban merely because
he was disliked at Court. All that was left to Pitt was to
construct a government out of the wreck of Addington's feeble
administration. The small circle of his personal retainers
furnished him with a very few useful assistants, particularly
Dundas, who had been created Viscount Melville, Lord Harrowby,
and Canning.

Such was the inauspicious manner in which Pitt entered on his
second administration. The whole history of that administration
was of a piece with the commencement. Almost every month brought
some new disaster or disgrace. To the war with France was soon
added a war with Spain. The opponents of the minister were
numerous, able, and active. His most useful coadjutors he soon
lost. Sickness deprived him of the help of Lord Harrowby. It
was discovered that Lord Melville had been guilty of highly
culpable laxity in transactions relating to public money. He was
censured by the House of Commons, driven from office, ejected
from the Privy Council, and impeached of high crimes and
misdemeanours. The blow fell heavy on Pitt. It gave him, he
said in Parliament, a deep pang; and, as he uttered the word
pang, his lip quivered, his voice shook, he paused, and his
hearers thought that he was about to burst into tears. Such
tears shed by Eldon would have moved nothing but laughter. Shed
by the warm-hearted and open-hearted Fox, they would have moved
sympathy, but would have caused no surprise. But a tear from
Pitt would have been something portentous. He suppressed his
emotion, however, and proceeded with his usual majestic self-

His difficulties compelled him to resort to various expedients.
At one time Addington was persuaded to accept office with a
peerage; but he brought no additional strength to the government.
Though he went through the form of reconciliation, it was
impossible for him to forget the past. While he remained in
place he was jealous and punctilious; and he soon retired again.
At another time Pitt renewed his efforts to overcome his master's
aversion to Fox; and it was rumoured that the King's obstinacy
was gradually giving way. But, meanwhile, it was impossible for
the minister to conceal from the public eye the decay of his
health, and the constant anxiety which gnawed at his heart. His
sleep was broken. His food ceased to nourish him. All who
passed him in the Park, all who had interviews with him in
Downing Street, saw misery written in his face. The peculiar
look which he wore during the last months of his life was often
pathetically described by Wilberforce, who used to call it the
Austerlitz look.

Still the vigour of Pitt's intellectual faculties, and the
intrepid haughtiness of his spirit, remained unaltered. He had
staked everything on a great venture. He had succeeded in
forming another mighty coalition against the French ascendency.
The united forces of Austria, Russia, and England might, he
hoped, oppose an insurmountable barrier to the ambition of the
common enemy. But the genius and energy of Napoleon prevailed.
While the English troops were preparing to embark for Germany,
while the Russian troops were slowly coming up from Poland, he,
with rapidity unprecedented in modern war, moved a hundred
thousand men from the shores of the Ocean to the Black Forest,
and compelled a great Austrian army to surrender at Ulm. To the
first faint rumours of this calamity Pitt would give no credit.
He was irritated by the alarms of those around him. "Do not
believe a word of it," he said: "It is all a fiction." The next
day he received a Dutch newspaper containing the capitulation.
He knew no Dutch. It was Sunday; and the public offices were
shut. He carried the paper to Lord Malmesbury, who had been
minister in Holland; and Lord Malmesbury translated it. Pitt
tried to bear up; but the shock was too great; and he went away
with death in his face.

The news of the battle of Trafalgar arrived four days later, and
seemed for a moment to revive him. Forty-eight hours after that
most glorious and most mournful of victories had been announced
to the country came the Lord Mayor's day; and Pitt dined at
Guildhall. His popularity had declined. But on this occasion
the multitude, greatly excited by the recent tidings, welcomed
him enthusiastically, took off his horses in Cheapside, and drew
his carriage up King Street. When his health was drunk, he
returned thanks in two or three of those stately sentences of
which he had a boundless command. Several of those who heard him
laid up his words in their hearts; for they were the last words
that he ever uttered in public: "Let us hope that England,
having saved herself by her energy, may save Europe by her

This was but a momentary rally. Austerlitz soon completed what
Ulm had begun. Early in December Pitt had retired to Bath, in
the hope that he might there gather strength for the approaching
session. While he was languishing there on his sofa arrived the
news that a decisive battle had been fought and lost in Moravia,
that the coalition was dissolved, that the Continent was at the
feet of France. He sank down under the blow. Ten days later he
was so emaciated that his most intimate friends hardly knew him.
He came up from Bath by slow journeys, and, on the 11th of
January 1806, reached his villa at Putney. Parliament was to
meet on the 21st. On the 20th was to be the parliamentary dinner
at the house of the First Lord of the Treasury in Downing Street;
and the cards were already issued. But the days of the great
minister were numbered. The only chance for his life, and that a
very slight chance, was that he should resign his office, and
pass some months in profound repose. His colleagues paid him
very short visits, and carefully avoided political conversation.
But his spirit, long accustomed to dominion, could not, even in
that extremity, relinquish hopes which everybody but himself
perceived to be vain. On the day on which he was carried into
his bedroom at Putney, the Marquess Wellesley, whom he had long
loved, whom he had sent to govern India, and whose administration
had been eminently able, energetic, and successful, arrived in
London after an absence of eight years. The friends saw each
other once more. There was an affectionate meeting, and a last
parting. That it was a last parting Pitt did not seem to be
aware. He fancied himself to be recovering, talked on various
subjects cheerfully, and with an unclouded mind, and pronounced a
warm and discerning eulogium on the Marquess's brother Arthur.
"I never," he said, "met with any military man with whom it was
so satisfactory to converse." The excitement and exertion of
this interview were too much for the sick man. He fainted away;
and Lord Wellesley left the house, convinced that the close was
fast approaching.

And now members of Parliament were fast coming up to London. The
chiefs of the opposition met for the purpose of considering the
course to be taken on the first day of the session. It was easy
to guess what would be the language of the King's speech, and of
the address which would be moved in answer to that speech. An
amendment condemning the policy of the government had been
prepared, and was to have been proposed in the House of Commons
by Lord Henry Petty, a young nobleman who had already won for
himself that place in the esteem of his country which, after the
lapse of more than half a century, he still retains. He was
unwilling, however, to come forward as the accuser of one who was
incapable of defending himself. Lord Grenville, who had been
informed of Pitt's state by Lord Wellesley, and had been deeply
affected by it, earnestly recommended forbearance; and Fox, with
characteristic generosity and good nature, gave his voice against
attacking his now helpless rival. "Sunt lacrymae rerum," he
said, "et mentem mortalia tangunt." On the first day, therefore,
there was no debate. It was rumoured that evening that Pitt was
better. But on the following morning his physicians pronounced
that there were no hopes. The commanding faculties of which he
had been too proud were beginning to fail. His old tutor and
friend, the Bishop of Lincoln, informed him of his danger, and
gave such religious advice and consolation as a confused and
obscured mind could receive. Stories were told of devout
sentiments fervently uttered by the dying man. But these stories
found no credit with anybody who knew him. Wilberforce
pronounced it impossible that they could be true. "Pitt," he
added, "was a man who always said less than he thought on such
topics." It was asserted in many after-dinner speeches, Grub
Street elegies, and academic prize poems and prize declamations,
that the great minister died exclaiming, "Oh my country!" This
is a fable; but it is true that the last words which he uttered,
while he knew what he said, were broken exclamations about the
alarming state of public affairs. He ceased to breathe on the
morning of the 23rd of January, 1806, the twenty-fifth
anniversary of the day on which he first took his seat in
Parliament. He was in his forty-seventh year, and had been,
during near nineteen years, First Lord of the Treasury, and
undisputed chief of the administration. Since parliamentary
government was established in England, no English statesman has
held supreme power so long. Walpole, it is true, was First Lord
of the Treasury during more than twenty years: but it was not
till Walpole had been some time First Lord of the Treasury that
he could be properly called Prime Minister.

It was moved in the House of Commons that Pitt should be honoured
with a public funeral and a monument. The motion was opposed by
Fox in a speech which deserves to be studied as a model of good
taste and good feeling. The task was the most invidious that
ever an orator undertook: but it was performed with a humanity
and delicacy which were warmly acknowledged by the mourning
friends of him who was gone. The motion was carried by 288 votes
to 89.

The 22d of February was fixed for the funeral. The corpse having
lain in state during two days in the Painted Chamber, was borne
with great pomp to the northern transept of the Abbey. A
splendid train of princes, nobles, bishops, and privy councillors
followed. The grave of Pitt had been made near to the spot where
his great father lay, near also to the spot where his great rival
was soon to lie. The sadness of the assistants was beyond that
of ordinary mourners. For he whom they were committing to the
dust had died of sorrows and anxieties of which none of the
survivors could be altogether without a share. Wilberforce, who
carried the banner before the hearse, described the awful
ceremony with deep feeling. As the coffin descended into the
earth, he said, the eagle face of Chatham from above seemed to
look down with consternation into the dark house which was
receiving all that remained of so much power and glory.

All parties in the House of Commons readily concurred in voting
forty thousand pounds to satisfy the demands of Pitt's creditors.
Some of his admirers seemed to consider the magnitude of his
embarrassments as a circumstance highly honourable to him; but
men of sense will probably be of a different opinion. It is far
better, no doubt, that a great minister should carry his contempt
of money to excess than that he should contaminate his hands with
unlawful gain. But it is neither right nor becoming in a man to
whom the public has given an income more than sufficient for his
comfort and dignity to bequeath to that public a great debt, the
effect of mere negligence and profusion. As first Lord of the
Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer, Pitt never had less
than six thousand a year, besides an excellent house. In 1792 he
was forced by his royal master's friendly importunity to accept
for life the office of Warden of the Cinque Ports, with near four
thousand a year more. He had neither wife nor child; he had no
needy relations: he had no expensive tastes: he had no long
election bills. Had he given but a quarter of an hour a week to
the regulation of his household, he would have kept his
expenditure within bounds. Or, if he could not spare even a
quarter of an hour a week for that purpose, he had numerous
friends, excellent men of business, who would have been proud to
act as his stewards. One of those friends, the chief of a great
commercial house in the city, made an attempt to put the
establishment in Downing Street to rights; but in vain. He found
that the waste of the servants' hall was almost fabulous. The
quantity of butcher's meat charged in the bills was nine
hundredweight a week. The consumption of poultry, of fish, and
of tea was in proportion. The character of Pitt would have stood
higher if with the disinterestedness of Pericles and of De Witt,
he had united their dignified frugality.

The memory of Pitt has been assailed, times innumerable, often
justly, often unjustly; but it has suffered much less from his
assailants than from his eulogists. For, during many years, his
name was the rallying cry of a class of men with whom, at one of
those terrible conjunctures which confound all ordinary
distinctions, he was accidentally and temporarily connected, but
to whom, on almost all great questions of principle, he was
diametrically opposed. The haters of parliamentary reform called
themselves Pittites, not choosing to remember that Pitt made
three motions for parliamentary reform, and that, though he
thought that such a reform could not safely be made while the
passions excited by the French revolution were raging, he never
uttered a word indicating that he should not be prepared at a
more convenient season to bring the question forward a fourth
time. The toast of Protestant ascendency was drunk on Pitt's
birthday by a set of Pittites who could not but be aware that
Pitt had resigned his office because he could not carry Catholic
emancipation. The defenders of the Test Act called themselves
Pittites, though they could not be ignorant that Pitt had laid
before George the Third unanswerable reasons for abolishing the
Test Act. The enemies of free trade called themselves Pittites,
though Pitt was far more deeply imbued with the doctrines of Adam
Smith than either Fox or Grey. The very negro-drivers invoked
the name of Pitt, whose eloquence was never more conspicuously
displayed than when he spoke of the wrongs of the negro. This
mythical Pitt, who resembles the genuine Pitt as little as
Charlemagne of Ariosto resembles the Charlemagne of Eginhard, has
had his day. History will vindicate the real man from calumny
disguised under the semblance of adulation, and will exhibit him
as what he was, a minister of great talents, honest intentions,
and liberal opinions, pre-eminently qualified, intellectually and
morally, for the part of a parliamentary leader, and capable of
administering with prudence and moderation the government of a
prosperous and tranquil country, but unequal to surprising and
terrible emergencies, and liable, in such emergencies, to err
grievously, both on the side of weakness and on the side of





Here Martyn lies. In Manhood's early bloom
The Christian Hero finds a Pagan tomb.
Religion, sorrowing o'er her favourite son,
Points to the glorious trophies that he won.
Eternal trophies! not with carnage red,
Not stained with tears by hapless captives shed,
But trophies of the Cross! for that dear name,
Through every form of danger, death, and shame,
Onward he journeyed to a happier shore,
Where danger, death, and shame assault no more.




Oh Britain! dear Isle, when the annals of story
Shall tell of the deeds that thy children have done,
When the strains of each poet shall sing of their glory,
And the triumphs their skill and their valour have won.

When the olive and palm in thy chaplet are blended,
When thy arts, and thy fame, and thy commerce increase,
When thy arms through the uttermost coasts are extended,
And thy war is triumphant, and happy thy peace;

When the ocean, whose waves like a rampart flow round thee,
Conveying thy mandates to every shore,
And the empire of nature no longer can bound thee,
And the world be the scene of thy conquests no more:

Remember the man who in sorrow and danger,
When thy glory was set, and thy spirit was low,
When thy hopes were o'erturned by the arms of the stranger,
And thy banners displayed in the halls of the foe,

Stood forth in the tempest of doubt and disaster,
Unaided, and single, the danger to brave.
Asserted thy claims, and the rights of his master,
Preserved thee to conquer, and saved thee to save.




Awake, arise, the hour is come,
For rows and revolutions;
There's no receipt like pike and drum
For crazy constitutions.
Close, close the shop! Break, break the loom,
Desert your hearths and furrows,
And throng in arms to seal the doom
Of England's rotten boroughs.

We'll stretch that tort'ring Castlereagh
On his own Dublin rack, sir;
We'll drown the King in Eau de vie,
The Laureate in his sack, sir,
Old Eldon and his sordid hag
In molten gold we'll smother,
And stifle in his own green bag
The Doctor and his brother.

In chains we'll hang in fair Guildhall
The City's famed recorder,
And next on proud St Stephen's fall,
Though Wynne should squeak to order.
In vain our tyrants then shall try
To 'scape our martial law, sir;
In vain the trembling Speaker cry
That "Strangers must withdraw," sir.

Copley to hang offends no text;
A rat is not a man, sir:
With schedules, and with tax bills next
We'll bury pious Van, sir.
The slaves who loved the income Tax,
We'll crush by scores, like mites, sir,
And him, the wretch who freed the blacks,
And more enslaved the whites, sir.

The peer shall dangle from his gate,
The bishop from his steeple,
Till all recanting, own, the State
Means nothing but the People.
We'll fix the church's revenues
On Apostolic basis,
One coat, one scrip, one pair of shoes
Shall pay their strange grimaces.

We'll strap the bar's deluding train
In their own darling halter,
And with his big church bible brain
The parson at the altar.
Hail glorious hour, when fair Reform
Shall bless our longing nation,
And Hunt receive commands to form
A new administration.

Carlisle shall sit enthroned, where sat
Our Cranmer and our Secker;
And Watson show his snow-white hat
In England's rich Exchequer.
The breast of Thistlewood shall wear
Our Wellesley's star and sash, man:
And many a mausoleum fair
Shall rise to honest Cashman.

Then, then beneath the nine-tailed cat
Shall they who used it writhe, sir;
And curates lean, and rectors fat,
Shall dig the ground they tithe, sir.
Down with your Bayleys, and your Bests,
Your Giffords, and your Gurneys:
We'll clear the island of the pests,
Which mortals name attorneys.

Down with your sheriffs, and your mayors,
Your registrars, and proctors,
We'll live without the lawyer's cares,
And die without the doctor's.
No discontented fair shall pout
To see her spouse so stupid;
We'll tread the torch of Hymen out,
And live content with Cupid.

Then, when the high-born and the great
Are humbled to our level,
On all the wealth of Church and State,
Like aldermen, we'll revel.
We'll live when hushed the battle's din,
In smoking and in cards, sir,
In drinking unexcised gin,
And wooing fair Poissardes, sir.




Oh, weep for Moncontour! Oh! weep for the hour,
When the children of darkness and evil had power,
When the horsemen of Valois triumphantly trod
On the bosoms that bled for their rights and their God.

Oh, weep for Moncontour! Oh! weep for the slain,
Who for faith and for freedom lay slaughtered in vain;
Oh, weep for the living, who linger to bear
The renegade's shame, or the exile's despair.

One look, one last look, to our cots and our towers,
To the rows of our vines, and the beds of our flowers,
To the church where the bones of our fathers decayed,
Where we fondly had deemed that our own would be laid.

Alas! we must leave thee, dear desolate home,
To the spearmen of Uri, the shavelings of Rome,
To the serpent of Florence, the vulture of Spain,
To the pride of Anjou, and the guile of Lorraine.

Farewell to thy fountains, farewell to thy shades,
To the song of thy youths, and the dance of thy maids,
To the breath of thy gardens, the hum of thy bees,
And the long waving line of the blue Pyrenees.

Farewell, and for ever. The priest and the slave
May rule in the halls of the free and the brave.
Our hearths we abandon; our lands we resign;
But, Father, we kneel to no altar but thine.




Oh! wherefore come ye forth, in triumph from the North,
With your hands, and your feet, and your raiment all red?
And wherefore doth your rout send forth a joyous shout?
And whence be the grapes of the wine-press which ye tread?

Oh evil was the root, and bitter was the fruit,
And crimson was the juice of the vintage that we trod;
For we trampled on the throng of the haughty and the strong,
Who sate in the high places, and slew the saints of God.

It was about the noon of a glorious day of June,
That we saw their banners dance, and their cuirasses shine,
And the Man of Blood was there, with his long essenced hair,
And Astley, and Sir Marmaduke, and Rupert of the Rhine.

Like a servant of the Lord, with his Bible and his sword,
The General rode along us to form us to the fight,
When a murmuring sound broke out, and swell'd into a shout,
Among the godless horsemen upon the tyrant's right.

And hark! like the roar of the billows on the shore,
The cry of battle rises along their charging line!
For God! for the Cause! for the Church! for the Laws!
For Charles King of England and Rupert of the Rhine!

The furious German comes, with his clarions and his drums,
His bravoes of Alsatia, and pages of Whitehall;
They are bursting on our flanks. Grasp your pikes, close your
For Rupert never comes but to conquer or to fall.

They are here! They rush on! We are broken! We are gone!
Our left is borne before them like stubble on the blast.
O Lord, put forth thy might! O Lord, defend the right!
Stand back to back, in God's name, and fight it to the last.

Stout Skippon hath a wound; the centre hath given ground:
Hark! hark!--What means the trampling of horsemen on our rear?
Whose banner do I see, boys? 'Tis he, thank God, 'tis he, boys,
Bear up another minute: brave Oliver is here.

Their heads all stooping low, their points all in a row,
Like a whirlwind on the trees, like a deluge on the dykes,
Our cuirassiers have burst on the ranks of the Accurst,
And at a shock have scattered the forest of his pikes.

Fast, fast, the gallants ride, in some safe nook to hide
Their coward heads, predestined to rot on Temple Bar;
And he--he turns, he flies:--shame on those cruel eyes
That bore to look on torture, and dare not look on war.

Ho! comrades, scour the plain; and, ere ye strip the slain,
First give another stab to make your search secure,
Then shake from sleeves and pockets their broad-pieces and
The tokens of the wanton, the plunder of the poor.

Fools! your doublets shone with gold, and your hearts were gay
and bold,
When you kissed your lily hands to your lemans to-day;
And to-morrow shall the fox, from her chambers in the rocks,
Lead forth her tawny cubs to howl above the prey.

Where be your tongues that late mocked at heaven and hell and
And the fingers that once were so busy with your blades,
Your perfum'd satin clothes, your catches and your oaths,
Your stage-plays and your sonnets, your diamonds and your spades?

Down, down, for ever down with the mitre and the crown,
With the Belial of the Court and the Mammon of the Pope;
There is woe in Oxford halls: there is wail in Durham's Stalls:
The Jesuit smites his bosom: the Bishop rends his cope.

And She of the seven hills shall mourn her children's ills,
And tremble when she thinks on the edge of England's sword;
And the Kings of earth in fear shall shudder when they hear
What the hand of God hath wrought for the Houses and the Word.




Let pious Damon take his seat,
With mincing step and languid smile,
And scatter from his 'kerchief sweet,
Sabaean odours o'er the aisle;
And spread his little jewelled hand,
And smile round all the parish beauties,
And pat his curls, and smooth his band,
Meet prelude to his saintly duties.

Let the thronged audience press and stare,
Let stifled maidens ply the fan,
Admire his doctrines, and his hair,
And whisper, "What a good young man!"
While he explains what seems most clear,
So clearly that it seems perplexed,
I'll stay and read my sermon here;
And skulls, and bones, shall be the text.

Art thou the jilted dupe of fame?
Dost thou with jealous anger pine
Whene'er she sounds some other name,
With fonder emphasis than thine?
To thee I preach; draw near; attend!
Look on these bones, thou fool, and see
Where all her scorns and favours end,
What Byron is, and thou must be.

Dost thou revere, or praise, or trust
Some clod like those that here we spurn;
Some thing that sprang like thee from dust,
And shall like thee to dust return?
Dost thou rate statesmen, heroes, wits,
At one sear leaf, or wandering feather?
Behold the black, damp narrow pits,
Where they and thou must lie together.

Dost thou beneath the smile or frown
Of some vain woman bend thy knee?
Here take thy stand, and trample down
Things that were once as fair as she.
Here rave of her ten thousand graces,
Bosom, and lip, and eye, and chin,
While, as in scorn, the fleshless faces
Of Hamiltons and Waldegraves grin.

Whate'er thy losses or thy gains,
Whate'er thy projects or thy fears,
Whate'er the joys, whate'er the pains,
That prompt thy baby smiles and tears;
Come to my school, and thou shalt learn,
In one short hour of placid thought,
A stoicism, more deep, more stern,
Than ever Zeno's porch hath taught.

The plots and feats of those that press
To seize on titles, wealth, or power,
Shall seem to thee a game of chess,
Devised to pass a tedious hour.
What matters it to him who fights
For shows of unsubstantial good,
Whether his Kings, and Queens, and Knights,
Be things of flesh, or things of wood?

We check, and take; exult, and fret;
Our plans extend, our passions rise,
Till in our ardour we forget
How worthless is the victor's prize.
Soon fades the spell, soon comes the night:
Say will it not be then the same,
Whether we played the black or white,
Whether we lost or won the game?

Dost thou among these hillocks stray,
O'er some dear idol's tomb to moan?
Know that thy foot is on the clay
Of hearts once wretched as thy own.
How many a father's anxious schemes,
How many rapturous thoughts of lovers,
How many a mother's cherished dreams,
The swelling turf before thee covers!

Here for the living, and the dead,
The weepers and the friends they weep,
Hath been ordained the same cold bed,
The same dark night, the same long sleep;
Why shouldest thou writhe, and sob, and rave
O'er those with whom thou soon must be?
Death his own sting shall cure--the grave
Shall vanquish its own victory.

Here learn that all the griefs and joys,
Which now torment, which now beguile,
Are children's hurts, and children's toys,
Scarce worthy of one bitter smile.
Here learn that pulpit, throne, and press,
Sword, sceptre, lyre, alike are frail,
That science is a blind man's guess,
And History a nurse's tale.

Here learn that glory and disgrace,
Wisdom and folly, pass away,
That mirth hath its appointed space,
That sorrow is but for a day;
That all we love, and all we hate,
That all we hope, and all we fear,
Each mood of mind, each turn of fate,
Must end in dust and silence here.



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