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James Fox upon
their own since the famous adventure of ground.
catching the horses with such Meanwhile he had taken his admirable address and alacdegree, jure natalium, when he rity ?” Alas, the adventure is was seventeen; he had learned no longer famous, and we know as much civil law as Cam- not what the strays of science bridge had to teach ; and he were. . But it is clear that Pitt had hardened his wits against was once guilty of some childish the craggy philosophy of John prank, and it is easy to underLocke. Nor had his amuse- stand even his father's austere ments been less strenuous than satisfaction at the breach of his duties. At the outset youth discipline. For the rest, as and ill-health had shut him out has been said, his amusements from the society of the place, were strenuous. His favourite and even if games had then recreation to visit the been fashionable he would not Houses of Parliament and to have joined in them. He listen to the debates. It was wished no more than his father on one of his excursions to the wished him to play the part of House of Lords that he first the young barbarian. “Cham- met Fox, whom he astonished bers, Hall, and tufted Robe con- by explaining through the tinued to please” him, because whole sitting how best the they gave him the training speeches on either side could best suited to his temperament. be answered. He had been at Pembroke Hall But it was to his father that but a few days when his father be listened with the greatest in a letter struck the true note admiration. “His first speech of his character. “How happy, lasted an hour,” he wrote to my loved boy, is it,” wrote his mother in 1775, “and the Lord Chatham in his superb, second half an hour — surely magisterial way, “that your the two finest speeches that mamma and I can tell
ever were made before, unless selves there is at Cambridge by himself !” And he was one without a beard, “and all present in the House on the the elements so mixed in him, 7th of April, when Chatham that Nature might stand up made his last speech of deand say, This is a man.' And fiance. He heard the noble a man he was, for all his few peroration of a noble career: years,-a man in dignity and “Shall this great kingdom now erudition. Once only do we find fall prostrate before the House evidence of a boyish escapade. of Bourbon ? If we must fall, A pompous reference in let us fall like men !” He supletter of his father's suggests ported his father with Mahon's that even Pitt could unbend help as he stumbled from the on occasion. “Whose fences House, and never did he waver have you broken?" asks Chat- in his allegiance to Chatham's ham; “and in what lord of illustrious memory. The first the manor's pound have any act of his public life was to strays of science been found vindicate his father's honour
in the public prints. Not long confidence were ready for any before the statesman's death strain put upon them. But he a couple of busy bodies had was in no sense a prig. It attempted to patch up a friend- pleased his opponents in after ship between Chatham and years to jeer at him as “imBute. But Chatham would maculate," to pretend that he hear nothing of the negotia- spent his time in a miserable tion, boldly declaring that isolation. And, as when they while Bute had “brought the declared he was no scholar, so king and kingdom to ruin,” when they denounced him for he "would sincerely endeavour a prig, they had in their mind to save it.” After Chatham's
comparison with Charles death in 1778 the story was
James Fox. That Pitt never repeated, and it fell to Pitt to descended to the dissipation deny in his driest and most which allured Fox is true lucid style that Chatham was enough, and though it is not ever “looking out for a negoci- for us to play the censor, it ation with Lord Bute,” or that may
be admitted without he would under any circum- pedantry that his health and stances have served with him. his purse were all the better The debate was admirably con- for his caution. It is the old ducted, and is a sufficient proof story of the industrious and that Pitt, young as he was, the idle apprentice, and the had already a firm hold upon idle Fox inevitably shines with the principles of political con- a brighter lustre than the introversy.
dustrious Pitt. Fox,' as his panThus when he
to egyrist confesses, was “dissolLondon in 1780 he was ad- ute, dissipated, idle beyond meamirably equipped for the sure.” One day he lost many career which he had chosen thousands at Newmarket; he An excellent scholar,
sat up the whole night drinking have seen, he was also an alert at Hocherel; and he had not politician, trained in the best been to bed when he came down school by his father's precept to the House to and example. Truly his birth- important bill. “This,” cries right of statesmanship had Lord John Russell with a probeen improved by careful hus- per enthusiasm, “was genius, bandry, and his energy and was almost inspiration."
” So it
1 It was at Almack's in Pall Mall that Fox's most daring feats at play were accomplished, and the history of manners can hardly show us a stranger picture than that drawn by Horace Walpole of Fox and his brother gamesters. They began by pulling off their embroidered clothes,” says Walpole, “and put on frieze greatcoats, or turned their coats inside outwards for luck. They put on pieces of leather (such as are worn by footmen when they clean the knives) to save their laced ruffles ; and to guard their eyes from the light and to prevent tumbling their hair, wore high- crowned straw hats with broad brims and adorned with flowers and ribbons ; masks to conceal their emotions when they played at quinze.” The high spirits necessary for such a performance are admirable, and it must be sorrowfully admitted that Pitt was never young enough to play such antics.
was, but it was not the only were remarkable enough. He sort of genius, and it is foolish was always glad to escape from to blame Pitt because he could the duties and pleasures of not take his pleasures as boister- London. He could at last ously as did his rival. While find pleasure in the practical in his youth Pitt knew not the jokes which were denied to his splendid recklessness of Fox, childhood. “One morning, the cares of state soon made says Wilberforce, “we found the it impossible that he should fruits of Pitt's early rising in devote himself either to scholar- the careful sowing of the garship or to dissipation with the den - beds with the fragments zest and ardour of his rival. of a dress hat, with which Moreover, his early career may Ryder had over - night come appear less interesting than it down from the opera. And was, because a perfect adapta- George Selwyn, whose standtion of means to an end, and ard of manners was as high instant
in as that of any of his contemarduous profession, do not poraries, who had lived in the wear the likeness of romance. company of wits for nearly But that he was joyous, lively, half a century, bears irrefutand affable in society there is able testimony to his gaiety no doubt.
During the last of heart. " When I left the years of his life at Cambridge House," wrote he, “I left in he had formed many friend- one room a party of young men ships, none of which
who made me, from their life broken when he
to and spirits, wish for one night London; and he met his friends to be twenty.
There was Eliot, Wilberforce,
Wilberforce, Bankes, table full of them, drinkingPepper Arden,
many young Pitt, Lord Euston, Berkeothers at Goostree's, a club ley, North, &c., &c., singing which presently assumed no and laughing à gorge deployée ; small political importance. some of them sang very good Here he learned to gamble, catches ; one Wilberforce, a and, we are told,
“the vehe- Member of Parliament, sang mence with which he
the best.” So Pitt spent the animated was very great." It first year of his life in London, was indeed this very vehe- like many another young barrismence which made him desist ter, between Westminster Hall from play, for he feared a and the West End. Zealous growing interest, and knew in the profession which he was well that there were more destined so soon to desert, he serious things in the world loitered many days in the exthan games
of chance. But pectation of a brief, and on cirhis energy and high spirits cuit won the highest opinions
1 This fact has persuaded Lord Holland to declare that Pitt “kept a faro-bank at Goostree's." Of course there is no truth in the statement, but it is a clear proof of prejudice. Not content with calling him a prig, the Whigs must prove him a gambler also, even at the risk of contradicting themselves.
of his colleagues. Now we hear dined with the Cardinal de of him going to a masquerade, Perigord, made the acquaintand finishing the evening at ance of Talleyrand, and disthe Pantheon, “which I had cussed English politics with
seen illuminated, and the Abbé de la Garde. Thence which is really a glorious scene. they went to Paris, saw the Now he takes part in a supper, Court at Fontainebleau, paid given to celebrate Shakespeare's their respects to King and memory, at the Boar's Head in Queen, conversed with Mr Eastcheap, at which “many Franklin, and duly admired professed wits were present, the pompous simplicity of M. but Pitt was the most amusingle Marquis de la Fayette. of the party, and the readiest Though Pitt's imperfect knowand most apt in the required ledge of French "prevented allusions.” However, in a few his doing justice to his sentimonths began his career politi- ments," we are assured that cal, which henceforth deprived "he was yet able to give him of leisure, and wore him some impression of his superior out by the time that he was powers-his language, so far forty - five. Rejected by the
Rejected by the as it did extend, being reUniversity of Cambridge, he markable for its propriety and
, was returned towards the end purity." ” But by far the of 1780 for Sir James Low- strangest result of Pitt's ther's borough of Appleby, journey
suggestion and from that time his life made by Mr Walpole to Lord belonged not to himself but Camden, “that, if Mr Pitt to his country.
should be disposed to offer It is a curious fact that his hand
Mademoiselle William Pitt, whose name for Necker, afterwards Madame so many years stood for Eng. de Staël, such was the reland in the courts of Europe, spect entertained for him crossed the Channel but once. by M. and Madame Necker, It was not for him to make the that he had no doubt the grand tour, like so many of his proposal would be accepted. ” 1 idler contemporaries, or to im- Pitt, of course, declined the
, prove by foreign travel the honour, to the manifest adexcellent qualities of his mind. vantage of himself and of his The only country that ever he country, .
Such à marriage saw, save his own, was France; would have turned the course and in that country, after- of history. France was not wards his bitterest antagonist, large enough to hold both he passed but six brief weeks Napoleon and
Napoleon and Madame de in
the autumn of 1783. Staël, and how, with the In company with Eliot and author of Corinne' at his Wilberforce he visited Rheims, side, could Pitt have cham
1 This story has been dismissed by Lord Stanhope and others as ridiculous. But it is given in Wilberforce's ‘Sketch of Pitt' without a word of doubt, and nobody was in a better position than Wilberforce to test its truth.
pioned successfully the cause ordinary interest, and he of England ? The journey to had not been a member of France was but an interlude. the House for more than a As Pitt had surrendered litera- month when, in response to ture to the claims of politics,
a universal cry,
“ Mr Pitt! so he renounced the pleasures Mr Pitt !” he made his first of foreign travel. Henceforth speech. The imperious wish it was his business to wage of the House to hear him war or to make peace upon the was proof enough of the reContinent, not to visit it; and spect which his appearance even the charms of Made- inspired. If he was not moiselle Necker were soon for- member of a ruling house, he gotten in the bustle of affairs. was something yet greater: he When Pitt in December 1780
of the Great took his seat in the House of Commoner, who had saved Commons, the political outlook England from ruin and was black enough to appal the brought two_empires beneath stoutest patriot. England was her sway. But, as the tall, at war with France, Spain, gaunt youth, sharp-nosed and and Holland. The American small-chinned, rose to address colonies were independent in the House, he was heard no all except name. At the head less for his own than for his of affairs
amiable father's sake. His reputation gentleman “in a blue ribbon, was already as high as his whose devotion to his King courage, and all men expected
far greater than his success, though few foresaw ability to combat his King's the marvellous triumph which enemies. Lord George Ger- he achieved. Truly the day, maine, who had displayed as the 26th of February 1781, will little talent in the council as always be glorious in the on the battlefield, was a Secre- annals of Parliament, since it tary of State. The old parties began the career of one of the were replaced by small groups, greatest Ministers that ever none of which could act inde- held the reins of government. pendently of all the others. The occasion was the debate Fox, North, and Shelburne, each on Mr Burke's Bill for the had his following. What Eng. Regulation of the Civil List, land needed
a single- and Pitt's speech was received minded statesman, who would with a chorus of enthusiastic combine the discordant ele- applause. Before what seemed ments of Parliament, and face his genius the dissension of the country's enemies abroad. parties was hushed. Whigs The coming of Pitt, therefore, and Tories, the partisans of was watched with more than peace and war, combined to
1 Even that uninspired compilation, The Parliamentary History,' takes a lofty flight, when it considers this first effort of William Pitt. “ His voice is rich and striking," it says, “full of melody and force ; his manner easy and elegant; his language beautiful and luxuriant. He gave in this first essay a speci. men of eloquence not unworthy the son of his immortal parent."