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honour the youthful statesman. tacks and more concealed in its North proved his magnanimity operation than the power of by declaring it the best first prerogative.” He thought no speech he had ever heard. object could be “so fair, so “ "He is a chip of the old block,” probable, or so flattering said one; “he is the old block economy.
At the same time, itself," retorted Burke. An- he would jealously guard the thony Storer told Lord Car- right of the Commons' House lisle that in the whole course of Parliament to hold the of the speech “there was not a strings of the national purse, word or a look which one would and to correct the expenditure have wished to correct.” Pitt's of the public money; but with own account was more modest: a yet greater zeal than that “I heard my own voice yester- wherewith he advocated econday,” he wrote to his mother. omy, he pleaded for the cessa“... All I can say is that I tion of the war. In so doing, was able to execute in some he was not merely pleading a measure what I intended, and cause in which he devoutly bethat I have at least every lieved; he was also defending
to be happy beyond the memory of his father from measure in the reception I the assaults of his enemies. He met with.” When we turn to attacked the war both in its the speech itself, disappoint- inception and in its conduct, ment is inevitable. The orator's and the subject gave him a art is as fleeting as the actor's. far better chance for emphasis A speech, composed for the ear, and invective than the sometoo often makes but a cold what arid topic of finance. He impression upon the eye, and belaboured North and his colthe meagre report that we leagues with all the energy of have of Pitt's first speech youth and with the added auhardly justifies the applause of thority which his relationship his contemporaries. But the with Chatham gave him. A credit which it gave him was noble lord had called the war confirmed by his next two a holy war.
Pitt did not agree essays, and henceforth Pitt was with him : "he was persuaded one of the few that King, and would affirm that it was people, and Parliament were a most accursed, wicked, barbound to consult.
barous, cruel, unnatural, and It is characteristic of him diabolical war. Thus, with that the subjects which thus the exuberance of his twentyearly engrossed his attention one years, he accumulated his were retrenchment, peace, and epithets and increased his scorn. reform. With all the enthu- Nor was this the sum of his siasm of youth he hoped to vituperation. The war, said serve the public treasury and he, "was conceived in injustice; to reduce the influence of the it was matured and brought Crown,—"an influence,"said he, forth in folly; its footsteps “which was more to be dreaded, were
marked with blood, because more secret in its at- slaughter, persecution, and de
vastation ; in truth, everything tion—the most arrogant speech which went to constitute moral ever delivered by a of depravity and human turpitude twenty-two- he made his inwere found in it." The lan- tention perfectly clear.
- With guage was the language of his regard to a new administration,” father, which he was presently he said, “it was not for him to to abandon for a drier and say, nor for that House to promore practical style. But his nounce, who was to form it; all father would not have approved he felt himself obliged to declare his unmeasured argument in was, that he himself could not favour of
peace. Though expect to take any share in a Chatham had denounced the new administration, and were war at the outset, though he his doing so more within his had deplored the miserable con- reach, he would never accept a duct of its aimless campaigns, subordinate position."
It is no he would not readily have made wonder that George Selwyn was terms in consequence of defeat. astonished at his independence. “If we must fall,” he would “Young Pitt will not be subhave said again, “let us fall ordinate,” he wrote ; "he is not like men.”
so in his own society; he is Pitt's mind, however, was at the head of a dozen young made up. Day after day he
Day after day he people, and it is a corps sepassailed “the lord in the blue arate from Charles's; so there ribbon” with increasing fer. is another premier at the ocity, and there is no doubt starting-post who, as yet, has that the fall of North's ministry never been showed.” But was brought about by his untir- Pitt's arrogant insubordination ing eloquence. He knew neither was justified, and the corps, pity nor fatigue, and since his separate from Charles's, was time only two politicians — strong enough to keep Charles Disraeli and Lord Randolph out of office, with the exception Churchill have caught a
of brief interludes, for more breath of his careless frenzy in than twenty years. attack. Thus he put the ques- In the last speech, which he tion in its simplest form: “Will delivered against Lord North, you change your Ministers and he rose to a height of political keep the empire, or keep your sagacity that hitherto he had Ministers and lose the king, not touched. He spoke in dom?” But while he was re- support of a motion for withsolved that the Government drawing the confidence of Parshould resign, there was no liament from the present Mintaint of selfishness in his re- isters. The orator thanked solution. He neither wished God that an end would soon be nor hoped to gain any ad- put to a worthless administravantage for himself. He would tion, and he trusted the House only accept such an office as he would not contaminate their knew was out of his reach. In own purpose by suffering the a speech delivered five days present Ministers to nominate before Lord North's resigna- their successors.
the peroration, which has had Commons had ceased to be conmore influence on the followers nected with the people. There of Pitt than many of his more were some boroughs that were famous speeches. “ He most
mere appanages of the Treastrenuously recommended the sury; there were others that motion,” said he, “as the only had no existence save in the way of presenting to the eyes members which they sent to of the world what he had read Westminster; there were yet of with rapture, but almost others “in the lofty possesdespaired of seeing-a patriot sion of English freedom,” that king presiding over a united claimed the right to bring their people.” The reference to Bol- votes to market. Those last ingbroke was eagerly caught were the most dangerous of all, up. From Pitt to Canning, and seven of them had been from Canning to Disraeli, the knocked down to the Nabob idea of the patriot king has of Arcot as the highest bidder. been handed piously onward, It needed no eloquence to prove and nothing better, in thought that a great country should or phrase, can be set before the not expose itself thus to the Tories of to-day.
risk of foreign interference; and To the lord in the blue so clear was Pitt's argument, ribbon there succeeded Lord so sound his demand for a reRockingham, and Pitt, true to turn to first principles, that he his profession, refused the all but carried the House with Treasurership of Ireland, though him. His proposal for a Comit carried with it light duties mittee of Inquiry was rejected and five thousand à - year. only by twenty votes : and Holding no office, he was free thus, as early as 1782, England to express his own opinions was not far from the attainand to follow his own judg- ment of parliamentary reform. ment. It is not surprising, But the reform which Pitt adtherefore, to find him advocat- vocated was different, both in ing a reform of the boroughs, form and substance, from that shorter parliaments, and
which was accepted after years bribery. But he handled the of agitation in 1832. It was question of reform in no spirit not his purpose to transfer of radicalism. He did not political power from one class desire to change but to restore to another. He did not claim the constitution, whose very that the people had a divine vestiges he reverenced; his aim right to govern by virtue of was to remove certain defects, its ignorance, and he no more which had grown with the wished to extend the franchise.. years, and not to lay a sacri- than to make this party or legious hand upon excellences that “the rulers for life” of which all patriots admired. an unwilling country. HowAnd he certainly made out a ever, his suggestion, supported very good case for reform. He by Fox and opposed by Burke, declared that the representa- was not accepted by the House, tives who sat in the House of and never again did Pitt have
the opportunity of passing a who had once been a prodigy measure of whose justice he was himself, thought it worth while firmly convinced.
to laugh at Pitt's years; and In July 1782 Lord Rocking. Sheridan, stung to anger by ham died, and the Government a reference to his plays, dewhich he had attempted to con- clared that “if ever again he trol fell to pieces. Lord Shel- engaged in the compositions burne became Prime Minister; alluded to, he might be tempted Fox laid the foundation of his to an act of presumption to subsequent unpopularity by de- attempt an improvement on clining to serve under him; and one of Ben Jonson's best charWilliam Pitt, a few weeks after acters the character of the his twenty-third birthday, was Angry Boy in the ‘Alchemist.'” appointed Chancellor of the Ex. Burke's heavy-footed pleasantry chequer. Never before in the suggested nothing better than annals of the country had so that the Chancellor of the Exyoung a man been admitted to chequer had no need of a barthe Cabinet, and friends and ber. Pitt, doubtless annoyed foes expressed an equal sur- by the repetition of a jest that prise. Although he had sat had never been worth making, two years in the House, al- was driven to an apology, though he had distinguished which did more credit to his himself as well in conduct as dignity than to his sense of in debate, he was still looked humour. “The calamity under upon as a freak of nature. which he chiefly laboured," said Men discussed the infant he, “was his youth-a calamity statesman very much as at a which he could not sufficiently later date they talked of the lament, as it had been made Young Roscius. Even Lord the subject of animadversion Mornington was appalled at by the hon. gentlemen on the the bold experiment. “ We other side. His youth,” he are all thrown into the utmost allowed, “was very exceptional consternation,” he wrote to W. to that situation, yet he trusted Grenville on July 12, “by the that the system of his conduct, apparent confusion in the Brit- and his strict discharge of the ish Cabinet; at this time in- duties of his high office, would stability of counsels will be ab- in a great measure make away solute destruction. W. Pitt, with what he felt himself to be Secretary of State! And Lord an objection.” No apology was Shelburne, Premier! Surely necessary. In a few months the first cannot be qualified for the House and the country had such an office, and the last is, forgotten that Pitt carried on in my opinion, little to be de- his shoulders so light a load of pended on.” The wits of the years, and Temple himself, selOpposition made merry at the dom enthusiastic where Pitt expense
of Pitt's youth. was concerned, “could not con“Billy's too young to drive ceive a substitute for him.” us," sung Captain Morris, to And to read the speeches the delight of Brookes's. Fox, delivered by Pitt while he was
Chancellor of the Exchequer high above vanity as above is to understand the perfect intrigue. His one object was confidence reposed in him, the conclusion of a lasting Though Townsend was tech- peace with all the Powers, and nically leader of the Commons, he was not deterred by the fache cheerfully delegated his tious Opposition. None knew duties to Pitt, who met and better than he that Fox's routed single-handed the com- vehemence was inspired by his bined forces of the multifarious dislike not of measures but of Opposition led by Fox, Burke, men. “It is not the treaty,” and Sheridan. Their attack, said he, “but Lord Shelburne it need hardly be said, was that the Opposition hopes to factious and unscrupulous. wound.” Most of all, he was They jested, they raved, they intolerant of a levity which ranted, and to no purpose. could find a jest in the disPitt met them without fear, comfiture of the country. Boy and repelled them without as he was, he rebuked the favour. Nothing is more re- leaders of the other side with markable in the debates of a severity which should have 1782 - 83 than than Pitt's lofty shamed them.
“The present superiority to all considera
moment for serioustions of party or interest. ness,
said he in answer to Where England is concerned Burke, “not for mirth.” And he can be neither flippant nor so he rose to bring back the light-hearted. Contrast his House to sobriety and serioustone with the tone of
his ness. He told his opponents rivals, and you may measure that “this was neither a fit the distance between patriot- time nor a proper subject for ism and display. First, there the exhibition of a
of a gaudy was Burke, drunk with rhet- fancy or the wanton blandoric, exulting in his purple ishments of theatrical enchantpassages, making phrases for ment : it was their duty and their own sake, and laughing business to break the main his ponderous way at the gician's wand and to dispel efforts of the Government to the cloud, beautiful as it was, make honourable peace. which had been thrown over Then there was Fox, variable their heads and consider very and unprincipled, bent on seriously the perilous situation nothing more than a momen- of the country.”
But the tary advantage, happy if only perilous situation of the counhe could shine in debate, and try was not of supreme interest hear his words received with to Fox and his friends, who approving hilarity by his faith- merely proposed to govern ful henchmen. Lastly, there England, not to save it. was Sheridan, following his During the months of Lord leaders with amiable obedience, Shelburne's Ministry, indeed, and thinking the country well Pitt fought the battle of the lost if the last quip came whole Cabinet with a tireless easily to his tongue. Pitt, energy and superb confidence, on the other hand, was and made on February 21,