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venteen he was entered at Trinity College, Oxford. During the second year of his resi dence at the University, George the First died; and the event was, after the fashion of that generation, celebrated by the Oxonians in many very middling copies of verses. On this occasion Pitt published some Latin lines, which Mr. Thackeray has preserved. They prove that he had but a very limited knowledge even of the mechanical part of his art. All true Etonians will hear with concern, that their illustrious school-fellow is guilty of making the first syllable in labenti short. The matter of the poem is as worthless as that of any college exercise that was ever written before or since. There is, of course, much about Mars, Themis, Neptune, and Cocytus. The Muses are earnestly entreated to weep for Cæsar; for Cæsar, says the poet, loved the Muses;-Cæsar, who could not read a line of Pope, and who loved nothing but punch and fat women.
without having received much benefit from his excursion, and continued, till the close of his life, to suffer most severely from his constitutional malady.
His father was now dead, and had left very little to the younger children. It was neces sary that William should choose a profession. He decided for the army, and a cornet's com mission was procured for him in the Blues.
In an age of low and dirty prostitution-in the age of Doddington and Sandys-it was something to have a man who might, perhaps, under some strong excitement, have been tempted to ruin his country, but who never would have stooped to pilfer from her;-a man whose errors arose, not from a sordid desire Pitt had been, from his schooldays, cruelly of gain, but from a fierce thirst for power, for tormented by the gout; and was at last advised glory, and for vengeance. History owes to to travel for his health. He accordingly left him this attestation-that, at a time when any Oxford without taking a degree, and visited thing short of direct embezzlement of the pub-France and Italy. He returned, however, lic money was considered as quite fair in public men, he showed the most scrupulous disinterestedness; that, at a time when it seemed to be generally taken for granted that government could be upheld only by the basest and most immoral arts, he appealed to the better and nobler parts of human nature; that he made a brave and splendid attempt to do, by means of public opinion, what no other statesman of his day thought it possible to do, except by means of corruption; that he looked for support, not like the Pelhams, to a strong aristocratical connection, not, like Bute, to the personal favour of the sovereign, but to the middle class of Englishmen; that he inspired that class with a firm confidence in his integrity and ability; that, backed by them, he forced an unwilling court and an unwilling oligarchy to admit him to an ample share of power; and that he used his power in such a manner as clearly proved that he had sought it, not for the sake of profit or patronage, but from a wish to establish for himself a great and durable reputation by means of eminent services rendered to the state.
But, small as his fortune was, his family had both the power and the inclination to serve him. At the general election of 1734, his elder brother Thomas was chosen both for Old Sa rum and for Oakhampton. When Parliament met in 1735, Thomas made his election to serve for Oakhampton, and William was returned for Old Sarum.
Walpole had now been, during fourteen years, at the head of affairs. He had risen to power under the most favourable circumstances. The whole of the Whig party-of that party which professed peculiar attachment to the principles of the Revolution, and which exclusively enjoyed the confidence of the reigning house-had been united in support The family of Pitt was wealthy and respect- of his administration. Happily for him, he able. His grandfather was Governor of Madras; had been out of office when the South Sea Act and brought back from India that celebrated was passed; and, though he does not appear diamond which the Regent Orleans, by the ad- to have foreseen all the consequences of that vice of Saint Simon, purchased for upwards measure, he had strenuously opposed it, as he of three millions of livres, and which is still opposed almost all the measures, good or bad, considered as the most precious of the crown of Sunderland's administration. When the jewels of France. Governor Pitt bought estates South Sea Company were voting dividends of and rotten boroughs, and sat in the House of fifty per cent.-when a hundred pounds of their Commons for Old Sarum. His son Robert was stock were selling for eleven hundred pounds at one time member for Old Sarum, and at an--when Threadneedle street was daily crowdother for Oakhampton. Robert had two sons. Thomas, the elder, inherited the estates and the parliamentary interest of his father. The second was the celebrated William Pitt.
He was born in November, 1708. About the early part of his life little more is known than that he was educated at Eton, and that at se
ed with the coaches of dukes and prelates when divines and philosophers turned gamblers
when a thousand kindred bubbles were daily blown into existence-the periwig company, and the Spanish-jackass company, and the quicksilver-fixation company-Walpole's calm good sense preserved him from the general in
an offer. He indignantly refused to accept For some time he continued to brood over his wrongs, and to watch for an opportunity of revenge. As soon as a favourable conjuncture arrived, he joined the minority, and be came the greatest leader of Opposition that the House of Commons had ever seen.
Of all the members of the cabinet, Carteret was the most eloquent and accomplished. His talents for debate were of the first order; his knowledge of foreign affairs superior to that of any living statesman; his attachment to the Protestant succession was undoubted. But there was not room in one government for him and Walpole. Carteret retired, and was, from that time forward, one of the most persevering and formidable enemies of his old colleague.
fatuation. He condemned the prevailing madness in public, and turned a considerable sum by taking advantage of it in private. When the crash came-when ten thousand families were reduced to beggary in a day--when the people, in the frenzy of their rage and despair, clamoured not only against the lower agents in the juggle, but against the Hanoverian favourites, against the English ministers, against the king himself-when Parliament met, eager for confiscation and blood-when members of the House of Commons proposed that the directors should be treated like parricides in ancient Rome, tied up in sacks, and thrown into the Thames, Walpole was the man on whom all parties turned their eyes. Four years before he had been driven from power by the intrigues of Sunderland and Stanhope, and the If there was any man with whom Walpole lead in the House of Commons had been in- could have consented to make a partition of trusted to Craggs and Aislabie. Stanhope was power, that man was Lord Townshend. They no more. Aislabie was expelled from Parlia- were distant kinsmen by birth, near kinsmen ment, on account of his disgraceful conduct by marriage. They had been friends from regarding the South Sea scheme. Craggs was childhood. They had been schoolfellows at saved by a timely death from a similar mark Eton. They were country-neighbours in Norof infamy. A large minority in the House of folk. They had been in office together under Commons voted for a severe censure on Sun- Godolphin. They had gone into opposition derland, who, finding it impossible to withstand together when Harley rose to power. They the force of the prevailing sentiment, retired had been persecuted by the same House of from office, and outlived his retirement but a Commons. They had, after the death of Anne, very short time. The schism which had di- been recailed together to office. They had vided the Whig party was now completely again been driven out by Sunderland, and had healed. Walpole had no opposition to en-again come back together when the influence counter except that of the Tories, and the of Sunderland had declined. Their opinions Tories were naturally regarded by the king on public affairs almost always coincided with the strongest suspicion and dislike. They were both men of frank, generous, and For a time business went on with a smooth-compassionate natures; their intercourse had ness and a despatch such as had not been been for many years most affectionate and corknown since the days of the Tudors. During dial. But the ties of blood, of marriage, and the session of 1724, for example, there was of friendship, the memory of mutual services only a single division. It was not impossible and common persecutions, were insufficient to that, by taking the course which Pelham after-restrain that ambition which domineered over wards took-by admitting into the government all the virtues and vices of Walpole. He was all the rising talents and ambition of the Whig resolved, to use his own metaphor, that the firm party, and by making room here and there for of the house should be, not "Townshend and a Tory not unfriendly to the House of Bruns- Walpole," but "Walpole and Townshend." wick-Walpole might have averted the tre- At length the rivals proceeded to personal mendous conflict in which he passed the lat-abuse before witnesses, seized each other by ter years of his administration, and in which the collar, and grasped their swords. The he was at length vanquished. The Opposition women squalled. The men parted the combatwhich overthrew him was an opposition cre- ants. By friendly intervention the scandal ated by his own policy, by his own insatiable of a duel between cousins, brothers-in-law, old love of power. friends, and old colleagues, was prevented. In the very act of forming his ministry, he But the disputants could not long continue to turned one of the ablest and most attached of act together. Townshend retired, and with his supporters into a deadly enemy. Pulteney rare moderation and public spirit, refused to had strong public and private claims to a high take any part in politics. He could not, he situation in the new arrangement. His fortune said, trust his temper. He feared that the rewas immense. His private character was collection of his private wrongs might impel respectable. He was already a distinguished him to follow the example of Pulteney, and to speaker. He had acquired official experience oppose measures which he thought generally in an important post. He had been, through beneficial to the country. He, therefore, never all changes of fortune, a consistent Whig. visited London after his resignation; but passWhen the Whig party was split into two sec-ed the closing years of his life in dignity and tions, Pulteney had resigned a valuable place, repose among his trees and pictures at Rainand had followed the fortunes of Walpole. Yet ham. when Walpole returned to power, Pulteney was not invited to take office. An angry disenssion took place between the friends. The minister offered a peerage. It was impossible for Pulteney not to discern the motive of such
Next went Chesterfield. He too was a Whig
The scene of this extraordinary quarrel war we beMr. Ellice, the Secretary at War. It was then the resi lieve, a house in Cleveland Square, now occupied by dence of Colonel Selwyn.
character could drag down such parts; and Winnington, whose private morals lay, justly or unjustly, under imputations of the worst kind. The discontented Whigs were, not perhaps in number, but certainly in ability, experience, and weight, by far the most important part of the Opposition. The Tories furnished little more than rows of ponderous fox-hunters, fat with Staffordshire or Devonshire ale-men who drank to the king over the water, and be lieved that all the fundholders were Jewsmen whose religion consisted in hating the Dissenters, and whose political researches had
and a friend of the Protestant succession. He was an orator, a courtier, a wit, and a man of etters. He was at the head of ton in days when, in order to be at the head of ton, it was not sufficient to be dull and supercilious. It was evident that he submitted impatiently to the ascendency of Walpole. He murmured against the Excise Bill. His brothers voted against it in the House of Commons. The minister acted with characteristic caution and characteristic energy;--caution in the conduct of public affairs; energy where his own administration was concerned. He withdrew his bill, and turned out all his hostile or waver-led them to fear, like Squire Western, that their ing colleagues. Chesterfield was stopped on the great staircase of St. James's, and summoned to deliver up the staff which he bore as Lord Steward of the Household. A crowd of noble and powerful functionaries-the Dukes of Montrose and Bolton, Lord Burlington, Lord Stair, Lord Cobham, Lord Marchmont, Lord Clinton-were at the same time dismissed from the service of the crown.
land might be sent over to Hanover to be put into the sinking-fund. The eloquence of these patriotic squires, the remnant of the one formidable October Club, seldom went beyond a hearty Ay or No. Very few members of this party had distinguished themselves much in Parliament, or could, under any circumstances, have been called to fill any high office; and those few had generally, like Sir William Not long after these events, the Opposition Wyndham, learned in the company of their was reinforced by the Duke of Argyle, a man new associates the doctrines of toleration and vainglorious indeed and fickle, but brave, elo-political liberty, and might indeed with strict quent, and popular. It was in a great mea- propriety be called Whigs. sure owing to his exertions that the Act of Set- It was to the Whigs in opposition, the patlement had been peaceably executed in Eng-triots, as they were called, that the most disland immediately after the death of Anne, and tinguished of the English youth, who at this that the Jacobite rebellion which, during the season entered into public life, attached themfollowing year, broke out in Scotland, was sup-selves. These inexperienced politicians felt pressed. He too carried over to the minority all the enthusiasm which the name of liberty the aid of his great name, his talents, and his naturally excites in young and ardent minds. paramount influence in his native country. They conceived that the theory of the Tory In each of these cases taken separately, a Opposition, and the practice of Walpole's goskilful defender of Walpole might perhaps | vernment, were alike inconsistent with the 'make out a case for him. But when we see principles of liberty. They accordingly rethat during a long course of years all the foot-paired to the standard which Pulteney had set steps are turned the same way-that all the up. While opposing the Whig minister, they most eminent of those public men who agreed professed a firm adherence to the purest docwith the minister in their general views of trines of Whigism. He was the schismatic; policy left him, one after ancther, with sore and they were the true Catholics, the peculiar peoirritated minds, we find it impossible not to ple, the depositaries of the orthodox faith of believe that the real explanation of the phe-Hampden and Russell; the one sect which, nomenon is to be found in the words of his son, "Sir Robert Walpole loved power so much that he would not endure a rival."* Hume has described this famous minister with great felicity in one short sentence-" moderate in exercising power, not equitable in engrossing it." Kind-hearted, jovial, and placible as Walpole was, he was yet a man with whom no person of high pretensions and high spirit could long continue to act. He had, therefore, to stand against an Opposition containing all the most accomplished statesmen of the age, with no better support than that which he received from persons like his brother Horace, or Henry Pelham, whose industrious mediocrity gave him no cause for jealousy; or from clever adventurers, whose situation and character diminish- Nothing is more natural than that, in a mo ed the dread which their talents might other-narchy, where a constitutional Opposition ex wise have inspired. To this last class belonged Fox, who was too poor to live without office; Sir William Yonge, of whom Walpole himself said, that nothing but such parts could buoy up such a character, that nothing but such a
Memoirs, vol. i. p. 201.
amidst the corruptions generated by time, and by the long possession of power, had preserved inviolate the principles of the Revolution. Of the young men who attached themselves to this portion of the Opposition, the most distinguished were Lyttleton and Pitt.
When Pitt entered Parliament, the whole political world was attentively watching the progress of an event which soon added great strength to the Opposition, and particularly to that section of the Opposition in which the young statesman enrolled himself. The Prince of Wales was gradually becoming more and more estranged from his father and his fa ther's ministers, and more and more friendly to the patriots.
ists, the heir-apparent of the throne should put himself at the head of that Opposition. He is impelled to such a course by every feeling of ambition and of vanity. He cannot be more than second in the estimation of the party which is in. He is sure to be the first mem
ber of the party which is out. The highest
favour which the existing administration can expect from him is, that he will not discard them. But, if he joins the Opposition, all his associates expect that he will promote them; and the feelings which men entertain towards one from whom they hope to obtain great advantages which they have not, are far warmer than the feelings with which they regard one who, at the very utmost, can only leave them in possession of what they already have. An heir-apparent, therefore, who wishes to enjoy, in the highest perfection, all the pleasure that can be derived from eloquent flattery and profound respect, will always join those who are struggling to force themselves into power. This is, we believe, the true explanation of a fact which Lord Granville attributed to some natural peculiarity in the illustrious house of Brunswick. "This family," said he at Council, we suppose after his daily half-gallon of Burgundy, "always has quarrelled and always wil! quarrel, from generation to generation." He should have known something of the matter; for he had been a favourite with three successive generations of the royal house. We cannot quite admit his explanation; but the fact is indisputable. Since the accession of George the First, there have been four Princes of Wales, and they have all been almost constantly in opposition.
of politicians, who had considered themselves as placed under sentence of perpetual exclusion from office, and who, in their despair, had been almost ready to join in a counter-revolution, as the only mode of removing the proscription under which they lay, now saw with pleasure an easier and safer road to power opening before them, and thought it far better to wait till, in the natural course of things, the crown should descend to the heir of the house of Brunswick, than to risk their lands and their necks in a rising for the house of Stuart. The situation of the royal family resembled the situation of those Scotch families in which father and son took opposite sides during the rebellion, in order that, come what might, the estate might not be forfeited.
In April, 1736, Frederic was married to the Princess of Saxe-Gotha, with whom he afterwards lived on terms very similar to those on which his father had lived with Queen Caroline. The prince adored his wife, and thought her in mind and person the most attractive of her sex. But he thought that conjugal fidelity was an unprincely virtue; and, in order to be like Henry the Fourth and the Regent Orleans, he affected a libertinism for which he had no taste, and frequently quitted the only woman whom he loved for ugly and disagreeable mistresses.
Whatever might have been the motives The address which the House of Commons which induced Prince Frederic to join the presented to the king on occasion of the party opposed to Sir Robert Walpole, his sup- prince's marriage, was moved, not by the miport infused into many members of that party nister, but by Pulteney, the leader of the Whigs a courage and an energy, of which they stood in opposition. It was on this motion that Pitt, greatly in need. Hitherto, it had been impos- who had not broken silence during the session sible for the discontented Whigs not to feel in which he took his seat, addressed the House some misgivings when they found themselves for the first time. "A contemporary historian," dividing night after night, with uncompromis- says Mr. Thackeray, "describes Mr. Pitt's first ing Jacobites, who were known to be in con- speech as superior even to the models of anstant communication with the exiled family; cient eloquence. According to Tindal, it was or with Tories who had impeached Somers, more ornamented than the speeches of Dewho had murmured against Harley and St. mosthenes, and less diffuse than those of CiJohn as too remiss in the cause of the Church cero." This unmeaning phrase has been a and the landed interest; and who, if they were hundred times quoted. That it should ever not inclined to attack the reigning family, yet have been quoted, except to be laughed at, is considered the introduction of that family as, strange. The vogue which it has obtained at best, only the less of two great evils-as a may serve to show in how slovenly a way necessary, but a painful and humiliating pre- most people are content to think. Did Tindal, servative against Popery. The minister might who first used it, or Archdeacon Coxe, or Mr. plausibly say that Pulteney and Carteret, in Thackeray, who have borrowed it, ever in their the hope of gratifying their own appetite for lives hear any speaking which did not deserve office and for revenge, did not scruple to serve the same compliment? Did they ever hear the purposes of a faction hostile to the Pro- speaking less ornamented than that of Detestant succession. The appearance of Fre-mosthenes, or more diffuse than that of Cideric at the head of the patriots silenced this reproach. The leaders of the Opposition might now boast that their proceedings were sanctioned by a person as deeply interested as the king himself in maintaining the Act of Settleinent; and that, instead of serving the purposes of the Tory party, they had brought that party over to the side of Whigism. It must indeed be admitted that, though both the king and the prince behaved in a manner little to their honour-though the father acted harshly, the son disrespectfully, and both childishly-the royal family was rather strengthened than weakened by the disagreement of its two most distinguished members. A large class
cero? We know no living orator, from Lord Brougham down to Mr. Hunt, who is not en titled to the same magnificent eulogy. It would be no very flattering compliment to a man's figure to say, that he was taller than the Polish Count, and shorter than Giant O'Brien ;-fatter than the Anatomie Vivante, and more slender than Daniel Lambert.
Pitt's speech, as it is reported in the Gentleman's Magazine, certainly deserves Tindal's compliment, and deserves no other. It is just as empty and wordy as a maiden speech on such an occasion might be expected to be But the fluency and the personal advantages of the young orator instantly caught the ear
and eye of his audience. He was, from the day of his first appearance, always heard with attention; and exercise soon developed the great powers which he possessed.
But it was not solely or principally to outward accomplishments that Pitt owed the vast influence which, during nearly thirty years, he exercised over the House of Commons. He was undoubtedly a great orator; and, from the descriptions of his contemporaries, and the fragments of his speeches which still remain, it is not difficult to discover the nature and extent of his oratorical powers.
He was no speaker of set speeches. His few prepared discourses were complete failures. The elaborate panegyric which he pronounced on General Wolfe was considered as the very worst of all his performances. "No man," says a critic who had often heard him, "ever knew so little what he was going to say." Indeed his facility amounted to a vice. He was not the master, but the slave of his own speech. So little self-command had he when once he felt the impulse, that he did not
was full of an important secret of state. “I must sit still," he once said to Lord Shelburne on such an occasion; "for when once I am up, every thing that is in my mind comes out."
Yet he was not a great debater. That he should not have been so when first he entered the House of Commons, is not strange. Scarcely any person had ever become so without long practice an 1 many failures. It was by slow degrees, as Burke said, that the late Mr. Fox became the most brilliant and powerful debater that ever Parliament saw. Mr. Fox himself attributed his own success to the resolution which he formed when very young, of speaking, well or ill, at least once every night. "During five whole sessions," he used to say, "I spoke every night but one: and I regret only that I did not speak on that night too." Indeed, it would be difficult to name any great debater, except Mr. Stanley whose knowledge of the science of parliament. ary defence resembles an instinct, who has not made himself a master of his art at the expense of his audience.
In our time, the audience of a member of Parliament is the nation. The three or four hundred persons who may be present while a speech is delivered may be pleased or disgusted by the voice and action of the orator; but in the reports which are read the next day by hundreds of thousands, the difference between the noblest and the meanest figure, between the richest and the shrillest tones, between the most graceful and the most uncouth gesture, altogether vanishes. A hundred years ago, scarcely any report of what passed within the walls of the House of Commons was suffered to get abroad. In those times, therefore, the impression which a speaker might make on the persons who actually heard him was every thing. The impression out of doors was hard-like to take part in a debate when his mind ly worth a thought. In the Parliaments of that time, therefore, as in the ancient commonwealths, those qualifications which enhance the immediate effect of a speech, were far more important ingredients in the composition of an orator than they would appear to be in our time. All those qualifications Pitt possessed in the highest degree. On the stage, he would have been the finest Brutus or Coriolanus ever seen. Those who saw him in his decay, when his health was broken, when his mind was jangled, when he had been removed from that stormy assembly of which he thoroughly knew the temper, and over which he possessed unbounded influence, to a small, a torpid, and an unfriendly audience, say that his speaking was then, for the most part, a low, monotonous muttering, audible only to those who sat close to him-that, when violently excited, he sometimes raised his voice for a few minutes, but that it soon sank again into an unintelligible murmur. Such was the Earl of Chatham; but such was not William Pitt. His figure, when he first appeared in Parliament, was strikingly graceful and commanding, his features high and noble, his eye full of fire. His voice, even when it sank to a whisper, was heard to the remotest benches; when he strained it to its full extent, the sound rose like the swell of the organ of a great cathedral, shook the house with its peal, and was heard through lobbies and down staircases, to the Court of Requests and the precincts of Westminster Hall. He cultivated all these eminent advantages with the most assiduous care. His action is described by a very malignant observer as equal to that of Garrick. His play of countenance was wonderful; he frequently disconcerted a hostile orator by a single glance of indignation or scorn. Every tone, from the impassioned cry to the thrilling aside, was perfectly at his command. It is by no means improbable that the pains which he took to improve his great personal advantages had, in some respects, a prejudicial operation, and tended to nourish in him that passion for theatrical effect which, as we have already remarked, was one of the most conspicuous blemishes in his character.
But as this art is one which even the ablest men have seldom acquired without long practice, so it is one which men of respectable abilities, with assiduous and intrepid practice, seldom fail to acquire. It is singular that in such an art, Pitt, a man of splendid talents, cr great fluency, of great boldness--a man whose whole life was passed in parliamentary conflict-a man who, during several years, was the leading minister of the crown in the House of Commons-should never have attained to high excellence. He spoke without premedi tation; but his speech followed the course of his own thoughts, and not the course of the previous discussion. He could, indeed, treasure up in his memory some detached expres sion of a hostile orator, and make it the text for sparkling ridicule or burning invecuve Some of the most celebrated bursts of his eloquence were called forth by an unguarded word, a laugh, or a cheer. But this was the only sort of reply in which he appears to have excelled. He was perhaps the only great English orator who did not think it any advantage