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this; and the consequence is, that though we have many striking passages preserved in the volumes before us, and though Horace Walpole furnishes a few more, we must despair of ever beholding a complete specimen of that eloquence, to the great success of which men of all parties have borne the most unqualified testimony.
The specimens, however, which have been preserved, are sufficient to make us understand the praises that have been heapde upon Lord Chatham's oratory; and, perhaps, this is all. For we cannot help thinking, that it is impossible to perceive, in any
of them, even a probable resemblance to those wonderworking speeches of which they profess to give us a just notion. True, many limbs of fine orations are scattered up and down these volumes, which, taken separately, are worthy of the highest admiration; but when bound up and knitted together into bodies by the unskilful hands of the compilers, it is not easy to conceive figures more heterogeneous and distorted.
Lord Chatham seems to have been the only eloquent man of his time--at least of the earlier part of it. Sir William Wyndham, indeed, and Lord Bolingbroke, are said to have been clever and impressive declaimers; Sir Robert Walpole, Sir William Yonge, Pulteney, Hume Campbell, Henry Fox, and, above all, Murray, were very able debaters; but Mr. Pitt was the only man who was always and unquestionably the orator. This is expressly acknowledged by Horace Walpole, who had often heard all the eminent speakers of his day. During the few last years of Lord Chatham's life, indeed, there were not wanting in the Lower House of Parliament men of the most splendid oratorical talents; for, in the language of one of those to whom we are alluding—" before this splendid orb was entirely set, and while the western horizon was in a blaze with his descending glory, on the opposite quarter of the heavens arose other luminaries, and for their hour, became lords of the ascendant."
Perhaps no orator ever possessed a more absolute dominion over his audience than Lord Chatham. He owed it, no doubt, to the united influence of his great talents, and of the universal (in many cases, the involuntary) belief in his sincerity. Horace Walpole, who professed to disbelieve in his honesty, gives us some anecdotes of the effect produced by his speeches—some of them of such a nature, as to make us doubt whether Walpole himself could attribute effects so striking to any merits purely oratorical. We shall borrow from his work a single anecdote, which we select, rather because it is the shortest, than because it illustrates our meaning with the greatest clearness :
" 1754. Nov. 25. Another petition being in agitation, the house
thin and idle, a younger Delaval had spoken pompously and abusively against the petition, and had thrown the house into a laughter on the topics of bribery and corruption. Pitt, who was in the gallery, started, and came down with impetuosity, and with all his former fire said, “ He had asked what occasioned such an uproar: lamented to hear a laugh on such a subject as bribery! Did we try within the house to diminish our own dignity, when such attacks were made upon it from without? That it was almost lost! That it wanted spirit! That it had long been vanishing! Scarce possible to recover it! That he hoped the Speaker would extend a saving hand to raise it! He only could do it -yet scarce he! He called on all to assist, or else we should only sit to register the arbitrary edicts of one too powerful a subject ! This thunderbolt, thrown in a sky so long serene, confounded the audience. Murray crouched silent and terrified. Legge scarce rose to say, with great humility, that he had been raised solely by the whigs, and if he fell, sooner or later, he should pride himself in nothing but in being a whig.'”-Memoires, i. 353.
A good deal, too, of the success which attended his eloquence, was probably attributable to his fine voice and person, and his most expressive and graceful action. In the latter part of his life, his very infirmities became subservient to the purposes of his oratory. It is well known, that he was a perfect martyr to the gout. He would often come to the house from a bed of sickness and pain; and, swathed in bandages, and
propped by a crutch, he would make his most eloquent, and by far his most impressive speeches. Horace Walpole gives a striking description of his appearance on one of these occasions; though, as will be seen, he has the hardihood to pretend that the gout was all a fiction.
“ The weather,” he says, was unseasonably warm, yet he was dressed in an old coat and waistcoat “ of beaver laced with gold; over that, a red surtout, the right
arm lined with fur, and appendant with many black ribbons, “ to indicate his inability of drawing it over his right arm, “which hung in a crape sling, but which, in the warmth of
speaking, he drew out with unlucky activity, and brandished " as usual. On his legs were riding stockings. In short, no
aspiring cardinal ever coughed for the tiara with more spe“ cious debility.” We need not point out the falsehood of this insinuation; it is as improbable that a man like Lord Chatham should have been guilty of such a piece of quackery, as it is that Horace Walpole should ever have deviated into candour. Moreover, he was unquestionably disabled for years by this disease, and died of it at last.
The great characters of his eloquence seem to have been plainness, boldness, sententiousness, dignity, and strength. His language corresponded with his mind ; it was lofty and austere. He was not so fluent a talker as his son: it would
never have been said of him, “ that he could speak a king's speech off hand.” He had all the impetuosity and force which distinguished Fox, (Charles Fox we mean) without ever reasoning so accurately, or speaking with so little art. To Burke the resemblance is still more faint; though, in the brevity and point which characterized Lord Chatham, he sometimes reminds us of what may be called the philosophical parts of Burke's great orations. We believe that Demosthenes would have thought him superior to any of the three whose names we have mentioned-even to Fox; Cicero, perhaps, would have ranked him the lowest.
We had intended to lay before our readers several extracts from those speeches which appear to be the best reported; and also to enter into a much fuller examination of their merits. But we have left ourselves no space to do so.
We cannot, however, conclude without giving two or three specimens, which we select, because they appear to us to convey the clear est idea of Lord Chatham's peculiar style. The first is upon the American Stamp Act, in reply to Mr. Grenville, the author of that ill-fated measure :
"Sir, I have been charged with giving birth to sedition in America. They have spoken their sentiments with freedom against this unhappy act, and that freedom has become their crime. Sorry I am to hear the liberty of speech in this house imputed as a crime. But the imputation shall not discourage me. It is a liberty I mean to exercise. No gentleman ought to be afraid to exercise it. It is a liberty by which the gentleman who calumniates it might have profited. He ought to have desisted from his project. The gentleman tells us, America is obstinate; America is almost in open rebellion. I rejoice that America has resisted. Three millions of people so dead to all the feelings of liberty, as voluntarily to submit to be slaves, would have been fit instruments to make slaves of the rest. I come not here armed at all points, with law cases and acts of parliament, with the statute-book doubled down in dogs'-ears, to defend the cause of liberty: if I had, I myself would have cited the two cases of Chester and Durham. I would have cited them, to have shewn that, even under former arbitrary reigns, parliaments were ashamed of taxing a people without their consent, and allowed them representatives. Why did the gentleman confine himself to Chester and Durham? he might have taken an higher example in Wales; Wales that never was taxed by parliament till it was incorporated. I would not debate a particular point of law with the gentleman. I know his abilities. I have been obliged to his diligent researches. But, for the defence of liberty, upon a general principle, upon a constitutional principle, it is a ground on which I stand firm, on which I dare meet any man. The gentleman tells us of many who are taxed, and are not represented,—the India company, merchants, stockholders, manufacturers. Surely many of these are represented in other capacities, as owners of land, or as freemen of boroughs.
It is a misfortune that more are not equally represented. They have connections with those that elect, and they have influence over them. The gentleman mentioned the stockholders: I hope he does not reckon the debts of the nation as a part of the national estate. Since the accession of King William, many ministers, some of great, others of more moderate abilities, have taken the lead of government.”
“He then went through the list of them, bringing it down till he came to himself, giving a short sketch of the characters of each of them. • None of these (he said) thought, or even dreamed, of robbing the colonies of their constitutional rights. That was reserved to mark the æra of the late administration : not that there were wanting some, when I had the honour to serve his majesty, to propose to me to burn my fingers with an American stamp act. With the enemy at their back, with our bayonets at their breasts, in the day of their distress, perhaps the Americans would have submitted to the imposition ; but it would have been taking an ungenerous and unjust advantage. The gentleman boasts of his bounties to America. Are not these bounties intended finally for the benefit of this kingdom? If they are not, he has misapplied the national treasures. I am no courtier of AmericaI stand up for this kingdom. I maintain, that the parliament has a right to bind, to restrain America. Our legislative power over the colonies is sovereign and supreme. When it ceases to be sovereign and supreme, I would advise every gentleman to sell his lands, if he can, and embark for that country. When two countries are connected together, like England and her colonies, without being incorporated, the one must necessarily govern; the greater must rule the less; but so rule it, as not to contradict the fundamental principles that are common to both.
“ • If the gentleman does not understand the difference between external and internal taxes, I cannot help it; but there is a plain distinction between taxes levied for the purpose of raising a revenue, and duties imposed for the regulation of trade, for the accommodation of the subject; although, in the consequence, some revenue might incidentally arise from the latter.
“The gentleman asks, when were the colonies emancipated? But I desire to know, when they were made slaves ? But I dwell not
When I had the honour of serving his majesty, I availed myself of the means of information, which I derived from my office: I speak, therefore, from knowledge. My materials were good, I was at pains to collect, to digest, to consider them; and I will be bold to affirm, that the profits to Great Britain from the trade of the colonies, through all its branches, are two millions a year. This is the price America
pays for her protection. And shall a miserable financier come with a boast, that he can bring a pepper-corn into the exchequer, to the loss of millions to the nation!
“« The gentleman must not wonder he was not contradicted, when, as the minister, he asserts the right of parliament to tax America. I know not how it is, but there is a modesty in this house, which does not chuse to contradict a minister. I wish gentlemen would get the better of this modesty. Even that chair, sir, sometimes looks to
wards St. James's. If they do not, perhaps, the collective body may begin to abate of its respect for the representative. Lord Bacon had told me, that a great question would not fail of being agitated at one time or another. I was willing to agitate that at the proper season; the German war, my German war, they called it. Every session I called out, has any body any objections to the German war? Nobody would object to it, one gentleman only excepted, since removed to the upper house, by succession to an ancient barony, (meaning Lord Le Despencer, formerly Sir Francis Dashwood :) he told me, " he did not like a German war.' I honoured the man for it, and was sorry when he was turned out of his post.
“ • A great deal has been said without doors, of the power, of the strength of America. It is a topic that ought to be cautiously meddled with. In a good cause, on a sound bottom, the force of this country can crush America to atoms. I know the valour of your troops. I know the skill of your officers. There is not a company of foot that has served in America, out of which you may not pick a man of sufficient knowledge and experience to make a governor of a colony there. But on this ground, on the stamp act, when so many here will think it a crying injustice, I am one who will lift up my hands against it.
« • In such a cause, your success would be hazardous. America, if she fell, would fall like the strong man. She would embrace the pillars of the state, and pull down the constitution along with her. Is this your boasted peace ? Not to sheath the sword in its scabbard, but to sheath it in the bowels of your countrymen ?
“ « The Americans have not acted in all things with prudence and temper. The Americans have been wronged. They have been driven to madness by injustice. Will you punish them for the madness you have occasioned? Rather let prudence and temper come first from this side. I will undertake for America, that she will follow the example. There are two lines in a ballad of Prior's, of a man's behaviour to his wife, so applicable to you, and your colonies, that I cannot help repeating them :
Be to her faults a little blind :
" Upon the whole, I beg leave to tell the house what is really my opinion. It is, that the stamp act be repealed absolutely, totally, and immediately.'”
Our second extract is one with which many of our readers are undoubtedly familiar. But those to whom it is not new will find no fault with us for bringing such a passage to their recollection ; and they who have never seen it, are likely, we hope, to thank us for introducing it here.
“ In the course of the debate, Lord Suffolk, secretary of state for the northern department, undertook to defend the employment of the Indians in the war against the Americans. His lordship contended, that, besides its policy and necessity, the measure was also allow