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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 confiscatien 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 lead in the House of Commons had been intrusted to Craggs and Aislabie. Stanhope was no more. Aislabie was expelled from Parliament, on account of his disgracesul conduct regarding the South Sea scheme. Craggs was saved by a timely death from a similar mark of infamy. A large minority in the House of Commons voted for a severe censure on Sunderland, who, finding it impossible to withstand the force of the prevailing sentiment, retired from office, and outlived his retirement but a very short time. The schism which had divided the Whig party was now completely healed. Walpole had no opposition to encounter except that of the Tories, and the Tories were naturally regarded by the king with the strongest suspicion and dislike. For a time business went on with a smoothness and a despatch such as had not been known since the days of the Tudors. During the session of 1724, for example, there was only a single division. It was not impossible that, by taking the course which Pelham afterwards took—by admitting into the government all the rising talents and ambition of the Whig party, and by making room here and there for a Tory not unfriendly to the House of Brunswick—Walpole might have averted the tremendous conflict in which he passed the latter years of his administration, and in which he was at length vanquished. The Opposition which overthrew him was an opposition created by his own policy, by his own insatiable love of power. In the very act of forming his ministry, he turned one of the ablest and most attached of his supporters into a deadly enemy. Pulteney had strong public and private claims to a high situation in the new arrangement. His fortune was immense. His private character was respectable. He was already a distinguished speaker. He had acquired official experience in an important post. He had been, through all changes of fortune, a consistent Whig. When the Whig party was split into two sections, Pulteney had resigned a valuable place, and had followed the fortunes of Walpole. Yet when Walpole returned to power, Pulteney was not invited to take office. An angry discussion took place between the friends. The minister offered a peerage. It was impossible for Pulteney not to discern the motive of such
an offer. He indignantly refused to accept it. 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 became 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. If there was any man with whom Walpole could have consented to make a partition of power, that man was Lord Townshend. They were distant kinsmen by birth, near kinsmen by marriage. They had been friends from childhood. They had been schoolfellows at Eton. They were country-neighbours in Norfolk. They had been in office together under Godolphin. They had gone into opposition together when Harley rose to power. They had been persecuted by the same House of Commons. They had, after the death of Anne, been recalled together to office. They had again been driven out by Sunderland, and had again come back together when the influence of Sunderland had declined. Their opinions on public affairs almost always coincided. They were both men of frank, generous, and compassionate natures; their intercourse had been for many years most affectionate and cordial. But the ties of blood, of marriage, and of friendship, the memory of mutual services and common persecutions, were insufficient to restrain that ambition which domineered over all the virtues and vices of Walpole. He was resolved, to use his own metaphor, that the firm of the house should be, not “Townshend and Walpole,” but “Walpole and Townshend." At length the rivals proceeded to personal abuse before witnesses, seized each other by the collar, and grasped their swords. The women squalled. The men parted the combatants.” By friendly intervention the scandal of a duel between cousins, brothers-in-law, old friends, and old colleagues, was prevented. But the disputants could not long continue to act together. Townshend retired, and with rare moderation and public spirit, refused to take any part in politics. He could not, he said, trust his temper. He feared that the recollection of his private wrongs might impel him to follow the example of Pulteney, and to oppose measures which he thought generally beneficial to the country. He, therefore, never visited London after his resignation; but passed the closing years of his life in dignity and repose among his trees and pictures at Rainham. Next went Chesterfield. He too was a Whig and a friend of the Protestant succession. He was an orator, a courtier, a wit, and a man of letters. 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 wavering 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. Not long after these events, the Opposition was reinforced by the Duke of Argyle, a man vainglorious indeed and fickle, but brave, eloquent, and popular. It was in a great measure owing to his exertions that the Act of Settlement had been peaceably executed in England immediately after the death of Anne, and that the Jacobite rebellion which, during the following year, broke out in Scotland, was suppressed. He too carried over to the minority the aid of his great name, his talents, and his paramount influence in his native country. In each of these cases taken separately, a skilful defender of Walpole might perhaps make out a case for him. But when we see that during a long course of years all the footsteps are turned the same way—that all the most eminent of those public men who agreed with the minister in their general views of policy left him, one after another, with sore and irritated minds, we find it impossible not to believe that the real explanation of the phenomenon 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 rsons like his brother Horace, or Henry Pelam, whose industrious mediocrity gave him no cause for jealousy; or from clever adventurers, whose situation and character diminished the dread which their talents might otherwise 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
* The scene of this extraordinary quarrel was, we believe, n house in Cleveland Square, now occupied b Mr. Ellice, the Secretary at War. It was then the residence of Cokonel 8elwwn.
*Memoirs, vol. i. p. 201.
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 believed that all the fundholders were Jews— men whose religion consisted in hating the Dissenters, and whose political researches had led them to fear, like Squire Western, that their land might be sent over to Hanover to be put into the sinking-fund. The eloquence of these patriotic squires, the remnant of the on :e formidable October Club, seldom went beyond a hearty Ay or No. Very few members c f 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 Wyndham, learned in the company of their new associates the doctrines of toleration and political liberty, and might indeed with strict propriety be called Whigs. It was to the Whigs in opposition, the patriots, as they were called, that the most distinguished of the English youth, who at this season entered into public life, attached themselves. These inexperienced politicians felt all the enthusiasm which the name of liberty naturally excites in young and ardent minds. They conceived that the theory of the Tory Opposition, and the practice of Walpole's government, were alike inconsistent with the principles of liberty. They accordingly repaired to the standard which Pulteney had set up. While opposing the Whig minister, they professed a firm adherence to the purest doctrines of Whigism. He was the schismatic; they were the true Catholics, the peculiar people, the depositaries of the orthodox faith of Hampden and Russell; the one sect which, 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 father's ministers, and more and more friendly to the patriots. Nothing is more natural than that, in a mo narchy, where a constitutional Opposition ex 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 member of the party who is out. The highest favour which the existing administration can
of politicians, who had considered themselves
expect from him is, that he will not discard as placed under sentence of perpetual exclu
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 supposé after his daily half-gallon of Burgundy, “always has quarrelled and always will 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. Whatever might have been the motives which induced Prince Frederic to join the party opposed to Sir Robert Walpole, his support infused into many members of that party a courage and an energy, of which they stood greatly in need. Hitherto, it had been impossible for the discontented Whigs not to feel some misgivings when they found themselves dividing night after night, with uncompromising Jacobites, who were known to be in constant communication with the exiled family; or with Tories who had impeached Somers, who had murmured against Harley and St. John as too remiss in the cause of thc Church and the landed interest; and who, if they were not inclined to attack the reigning family, yet considered the introduction of that family as, at best, only the less of two great evils—as a necessary, but a painful and humiliating preservative against Popery. The minister might plausibly say that Pulteney and Carteret, in the hope of gratifying their own appetite for office and for revenge, did not scruple to serve the purposes of a faction hostile to the Protestant succession. The appearance of Frederic 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 Settlement; and that, instead of serving the purposes of the Tory party, they had brought that arty 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 an weakened by the disagreement of its two whost distinguished members. A large class
sion 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. The address which the House of Commons presented to the king on occasion of the prince's marriage, was moved, not by the minister, but by Pulteney, the leader of the Whigs in opposition. It was on this motion that Pitt, who had not broken silence during the session in which he took his seat, addressed the House for the first time. “A contemporary historian,” says Mr. Thackeray, “describes Mr. Pitt's first speech as superior even to the models of ancient eloquence. According to Tindal, it was more ornamented than the speeches of Demosthenes, and less diffuse than those of Cicero.” This unmeaning phrase has been a hundred times quoted. That it should ever have been quoted, except to be laughed at, is strange. The vogue which it has obtained may serve to show in how slovenly a way most people are content to think. Did Tindal,
who first used it, or Archdeacon Coxe, or Mr.
Thackeray, who have borrowed it, ever in their lives hear any speaking which did not deserve the same compliment? Did they ever hear speaking less ornamented than that of Demosthenes, or more diffuse than that of Cicero? 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 .4natomic 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. . 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 hardly 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 it was not solely or principally to out. ward 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 ts, 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 like to take part in a debate when his mind 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 I 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. But as this art is one which even the ablest men have seldom acquired without long prac. tice, 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, of 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 premeditation: 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 expression of a hostile orator, and make it the text for sparkling ridicule or burning invective. 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 to have the last word; and who generally spoke by choice before his most formidable opponents. His merit was almost entirely rhetorical. He did not succeed either in exposition or in refutation; but his speeches abounded with lively illustrations, striking apophthegms, well-told anecdotes, happy allusions, passionate appeals. His invective and sarcasm were tremendous. Perhaps no English orator was ever so much feared. But that which gave most effect to his declamation, was the air of sincerity, of vehement feeling, of moral elevation, which belonged to all that he said. His style was not always in the purest taste. Several contemporary judges pronounced it too florid. Walpole, in the midst of the rapturous eulogy which he pronounces on one of Pitt's greatest orations, owns that some of the metaphors were too forced. The quotations and classical stories of the great orator are sometimes too trite for a clever schoolboy. But these were niceties for which the audience cared little. The enthusiasm of the orator infected all who were near him; his ardour and his noble bearing put fire into the most frigid conceit, and gave dignity to the most puerile allusion. His powers soon began to give annoyance to the government, and Walpole determined to make an example of the patriotic cornet. Pitt was accordingly dismissed from the service. Mr. Thackeray absurdly says that the minister took this step, because he plainly saw that it would have been vain to think of buying over so honourable and disinterested an opponent. We do not dispute Pitt's integrity; but we do not know what proof he had given of it, when he was turned out of the army; and we are sure that Walpole was not likely to give credit for inflexible honesty to a young adventurer who had never had an opportunity of refusing any thing. The truth is, that it was not Walpole's practice to buy off enemies. Mr. Burke truly says, in the Appeal to the old Whigs, “Walpole gained very few over from the Opposition.” He knew his business far too well. He knew that for one mouth that is stopped with a place, fifty other mouths will instantly be opened. He knew that it would have been very bad policy in him to give the world to understand that more was to be got by thwarting his measures than by supporting them. These maxims are as old as the origin of parliamentary corruption in England. Pepys learned them, as he tells us, from the counsellors of Charles the Second. Pitt was no loser. He was made Groom of the Bed-chamber to the Prince of Wales, and continued to declaim against the minister with unabated violence and with increasing ability. The question of maritime right, then agitated between Spain and England, called forth all his powers. He clamoured for war with a vehemence which it is not easy to reconcile with reason or humanity, but which appears to Mr. Thackeray worthy of the highest admiration. We will not stop to argue a point on which we had long thought that all well-informed people were agreed. We could easily how, we think, that, if any respect be due to
international law—if right, where societies of men are concerned, be any thing but another name for might—if we do not adopt the doctrine of the Buccaniers, which seems to be also the doctrine of Mr. Thackeray, that treaties mean nothing within thirty degrees of the line—the war with Spain was altogether unjustifiable. But the truth is, that the promoters of that war have saved the historian the trouble of trying them: they have pleaded guilty. “I have seen,” says Burke, “and with some care examined, the original documents concerning certain important transactions of those times. They perfectly satisfied me of the extreme injustice of that war, and of the falsehood of the colours which Walpole, to his ruin, and guided by a mistaken policy, suffered to be daubed over that measure. Some years after, it was my fortune to converse with many of the principal actors against that minister, and with those who principally excited that clamour. None of them, no, not one, did in the least defend the measure, or attempt to justify their conduct. They condemned it as freely as they would have done in commenting upon any proceeding in history in which they were totally unconcerned.” Pitt, on subsequent occasions, gave ample proof that he was not one of those tardy penitents. The elections of 1741 were unfavourable to Walpole; and after a long and obstinate struggle he found it necessary to resign. The Duke of Newcastle and Lord Hardwicke opened a negotiation with the leading patriots, in the hope of forming an administration on a Whig basis. At this conjuncture, Pitt, Lyttleton, and those persons who were most nearly connected with them, acted in a manner very little to their honour. They attempted to come to an understanding with Walpole, and offered, if he would use his influence with the king in their favour, to screen him from prosecution. They even went so far as to engage for the concurrence of the Prince of Wales. But Walpole knew that the assistance of the Boys, as he called the young patriots, would avail him nothing if Pulteney and Carteret should prove intractable, and would be superfluous, if the great leaders of the Opposition could be gained. He, therefore, declined the proposal. It is remarkable that Mr. Thackeray, who has thought it worth while to preserve Pitt's bad college verses, has not even alluded to this story—a story which is supported by strong testimony, and which may be found in so common a book as Coxe's Life of Walpole. The new arrangements disappointed almost every member of the Opposition, and none more than Pitt. He was not invited to become a placeman; and he, therefore, stuck firmly to his old trade of patriot. Fortunate it was for him that he did so. Had he taken office at this time. he would in all probability have shared largely in the unpopularity of Pulteney, Sandys, and Carteret. He was now the fiercest and most implacable of those who called for vengeance on Walpole. He spoke with great energy and ability in favour of the most unjust and violent
* Letter on a Regicide Peace.