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Commons were confused and blundering Confederacy. In following the order which
- he referred to it by saying, “ The he took, I must begin with his doubts and end speech of the honorable and learned gen- with his certainties; and I cannot help obtleman was not, he supposed, designed for serving that the honorable gentleman was a complete and systematic view of the singularly, unfortunate upon this subject, for subject; ”and subsequently spoke of "the
he entertained doubts where there was not the scruples of the honorable gentleman's slightest ground for hesitation ; and he con
trived to make his mind to absolute cerconscience which he was so desirous to tainty upon points in which both argument and dispel;” and of Erskine as one “whose fact are decidedly against him. important suffrage he would do so much to obtain ; " until one turns froin the exhi
It should be remembered that these are bition as almost too painful, and needs to the words of a seventeen years' premier remind oneself of all the provocation to an opponent who had never held office, which Pitt had received from Erskine and and that the question is one of interna. his friends.
tional law (rights of neutrals, etc.), which Other fine displays of irony are afforded seems naturally to belong to the province
of a minister. us in Pitt's speech on the negotiations for peace at the beginning of 1800, on every
Or for a piece of quiet irony — which count one of his very greatest efforts. surely must have been uttered solely on Erskine had preceded him, and in his the art for art principle, for it seems too
I will speech had indulged the House with copi- subtle to be taken by the House ous quotations from a pamphlet of his choose the following, which is part of a own which had run through a number of reply to Tierney, and stands thus in the editions, and of which he was not a little reports: vain.
He (Pitt) began by saying that the hon. “ From the pages of the learned gentle-orable member at first appeared to ask for man's pamphlet," said Pitt, " which after an enquiry upon the high prices, and had all its editions is now fresher in his mem- promised an examination of the governor ory than in that of any other person in the of the Bank of England with regard to the House or in the country, he has been fur effect upon them of the paper money. nished with an argument on which he But he had abandoned that notion. appears confidently to rely."
We have not heard a word of the examina. There is a lazy scorn in that passage tion of the Governor of the Bank. He has which it would not be easy to match. Ör thought it better to move for a Committee of take the following:
the whole House upon the state of the nation,
as best fitted to investigate that infinite variety Unwilling, Sir, as I am to go into much de- of subjects which he dwelt upon as the ground tail on ground which has been so often trodden of enquiry. It is natural, therefore, that the before, yet when I find the learned gentleman, honorable gentleman's topics should be numer. after all the information which he must have ous. The question of peace or war; the op. received if he had read any of the answers to erations of our military force; the conduct of his work (however ignorant he may have been those by whom they were planned or executed; when he wrote it), still giving the sanction of our alliances; our financial situation ; the staté his authority to the supposition that the order of our constitutional rights (though touched to M. Chauvelin to depart from the kingdom upon by the honorable gentleman in a parenwas the cause of the war between this country thesis); our internal circumstances, with which and France, I do feel it necessary to say a few the dearness of provisions and its remedies are words upon that part of the subject.
all connected – these form the natural topics Inaccuracy of dates seems to be a fatality towards which a motion like that which has common to all who have written upon this been made must be directed. subject; for the author of the note to His Majesty [i.e., Napoleon Bonaparte] is not The passage is an admirable satire upon much more correct than if he had drawn his the debating.club style of oratory which information from the pages of the learned marked the speeches of the Opposition at gentleman's pamphlet.
this period. Grey, who came into the House of Com Pitt's speeches even upon the dullest sub
Such bright spots as these illuminate mons after Pitt's early years in it had jects. But they must, one fancies, have been passed, the latter generally treated been put in more for the satisfaction of like a boy.
the speaker than for the sake of gaining I shall now, Sir, endeavor to follow the hon- the suffrages of his audience. For of all orable gentleman through his argument [he kinds of wit, sarcasm is the kind which says on one occasion], as far as I can recollect men least understand and least appreciate. it, upon the important question of the Northern | During the first nine years of Pitt's tenure
those nine pacific years when From an opening sentence of Miltonic all danger seemed far removed from his stateliness the speaker proceeds to comgovernment, and the hopes of the Opposio bat one by one the arguments of his tion grew fainter and fainter, there was opponents, which were in truth of the no reason for Pitt to exert himself to weakest, and rested chiefly upon two make any extraordinary display. But just points: 1. That the slave trade was now at the end of this period, which may be necessary to keep up the supply of labor called the first volume of Pitt's life - it is in the West Indies, however much the a public life of three such volumes - – an practice of slavery might be condemned occasion arose which called from him a on abstract grounds; 2. That even if En. display of eloquence such as he never ex. gland abstained from taking part in it, it hibited in any other passage of his career, would be carried on just as much by other either before it or after. It may be partly nations, so that our Quixotism would by reason of its superior reporting that profit the world nothing. Then in the Pitt's great anti slave-trade speech, de second half of his speech he passes on to livered in the spring of 1792, appears to a more direct appeal: stand quite apart from his other utterBut this cannot be the principal ground on which I rest.
And now, Sir, I turn to Africa. This is the It is different in style and man- trade to be abolished? Because it is incurable
Why ought the slave ner from any of his other deliverances; injustice. How much stronger is the argument different, too, for the occasion that called for immediate than for gradual abolition ? By it forth. And this last fact is remarkable, allowing the trade to continue even for one for it shows — in despite of Macaulay – hour, do not my right honorable friends weaken how little Pitt really did rely in the first their own argument of its injustice? [But it place upon his Parliamentary triumphs. had been alleged that some greater evil would Pilt gained his office, it is true, by means
be the consequence of this abolition.] I know of his abilities as a speaker.' li is true of no evil which ever has existed, or can be that a Cromwell, or a William the Silent, 80,000 persons annually from their native land,
imagined to exist, worse than the tearing of would not in the circumstances in which by'a combination of the most civilized nations be stood have risen to power at the time in the most enlightened quarter of the globe at wbich Pitt rose: But people do not, Think of 80,000 persons carried out of save in a democracy much more advanced the country by we know not what means For than England's was then, retain power crimes imputed, for light or inconsiderable through mere gifts of speech. Pitt was faults, for debt, perhaps, for the crime of witchretained as minister because men saw craft, or a thousand other weak and scandalous that he was the only man who could ade- pretexts Do you think nothing of the quately perform the duties of a minister. families that are left behind ; of the connecAnd that it was not his eloquence that attachments, and relationships that are burst
tions that are broken; of the friendships, kept him there is, I say, sufficiently proved asunder?... Thus, Sir, has British commerce by this, that his greatest speech was ut. carried misery instead of happiness to one tered upon a question that in no way con. whole quarter of the globe. False to the very cerned the fate of the government, and principles of trade, misguided in our policy that it failed, though supported on this and unmindful of our luty, what astonishing occasion alone by speeches from the best - I had almost said what irreparable — mis. meo of the Opposition, to carry a majority chief have we brought upon that continent ! in the division.
But, Sir, I trust we shall no longer conThe history of this speech, and of the tinue this commerce, to the destruction of circumstances of its delivery, have been every improvement on that wide continent; often told. Rising at four o'clock in the too great a boon in restoring its inhabitants to
and shall not consider ourselves as conferring morning, Pitt spoke for about three hours. the rank of human beings. I trust we shall not “During the last twenty minutes he think ourselves too liberal if, by abolishing the seemed to be inspired," notes Wilber- slave trade, we give them the same cominon force. Before he sat down the April chance of civilization with the other parts of suplight had begun to steal through the the world; and that we shall now allow to windows
Africa the opportunity, the hope, the prospect
of attaining the same blessings which we nur. Guardai in alto e vide le sue spalle, selves, through the favorable dispensations of Vestite gia dei raggi del pianeta,
Divine Providence, have been permitted, at a Che mena dritto altrui per ogni calle, much more early period, to enjoy. We
may live to behold the natives of Africa en. and seemed to gild with a fresh beauty gaged in the calm occupations of industry, in bis words, and to suggest the splendid the pursuits of a just and legitimate commerce. simile by which his speech was closed. We may behold the beams of science and phil.
Hic demum exactis
osophy breaking in upon that land, which, at diminished popularity. In reality the some happy period in later times, may blaze great body of the nation entertained for with full lustre; and, joining their influence to no instant a doubt that he was the only that of pure religion, may illumine and invigo man equal to the circumstances which rate the most distant extremities of that immense continent. Then may we hope that now opened around them, the only pilot even Africa, though last of all the quarters of who could weather the threatening storm. the globe, shall enjoy at length, in the evening But the recognition of the indispensabilof her days, those blessings which have deity of a public servant does not preclude scended so plentifully upon us in a much earlier - least of all does it preclude in England period of the world. Then also will Europe, - plenty of grumbling and discontent with participating in her improvement and pros- that servant. Pitt knew that with the perity, receive an ample recompense for the changed state of things his owo popular. tardy kindness, if kindness it can be called, of ity had waned. But he likewise knew no longer hindering that continent from extri- better than any one else that it was abso. cating herself out of the darkness which, in other more fortunate regions, has been so much the nation that he should remain in office.
lutely necessary for the preservation of more speedily dispelled.
In 1793, when at dinner with Lord Mora. Nos . i. primus equis oriens afflavit anhelis Illic sera rubens accendit lumina Vesper.
ington and another friend, he incidentally Then, Sir, may be applied to Africa the observed that if he were to resign then words originally, indeed, used with a different his head would be off in three weeks. view :
In this condition of affairs it is highly
interesting to see how Pitt comported Devenere locos lætos, et amena vireta
himself, what means he took to retain Fortunatorum memorum, sedesque beatas;
the confidence of the nation. His finan. Largior hic campus Æther et lumine vestit Purpureo..
cial statements were now exchanged for It is in this view, Sir - it is as an atonement speeches in defence of the war. Had he for our long and cruel injustice towards Africa been of the temper of some modern states.
- that the measure proposed by my honorable men, we know of what character these friend most forcibly recommends itself to my speeches would partake. There would mind. The great and happy change to be ex. have been constant assurances that the pected in the state of her inhabitants is, of all government contemplated a very early, the various and important benefits, in my esti cessation of hostilities. At the end of mation, incomparably the most extensive and each session the public would have been important.
left with so strong an impression that the This speech, we have said, marks the war was just drawing to a close, that it termination of the first period of Pitt's would have seemed a mere accident that ministry, and in consequence of his ora at the begioning of the next session we tory. For now broke out the Revolution found ourselves still in arms. Constant ary War. And anon there arose that star negotiations for peace would have been which was destined to have a baleful opened, even when the government knew influence upon all his future life, and that they could have no result, just for the beneath the ascendancy of which at Aus. sake of keeping the people of England in terlitz he died. It was the genius of good humor; and ministers would have Napoleon which furnished the greatest inaintained a fictitious view of the whole support to the low fortunes of the Whig situation, in the hope that the public party; the genius of Napoleon following would have lost memory of the events beupon the enthusiasm of the Revolution. fore it was possible for it to ascertain In Parliamentary power Fox was not their true character. It need not be said stronger than before. He was, on the that the conduct of Pitt was very differ. contrary, much weaker, through the defec. ent; nor do I think that any series of tion of Burke and Windham, and their speeches are more worthy of study than following. But he was supported by a those which between 1793 and 1800 he large section of the community, though from time to time delivered upon the con. chiefly the section which had no share in duct of the war. Their intellectual excel. the franchise, and he was supported by lence is very great, in the case of one or the triumphs of the French arms all over two it is superlatively great; but their the Continent. From this date, therefore, moral excellence is still more noticeable. we enter, as it were, upon the second vol. I do not believe it would be possible to ume of Pitt's speeches, a volume which collect from the lips of any public man a closes with his resignation of the premier series of utterances at once more resolute, ship in 1801.
more candid, and more modest. Some of We now see Pitt under the cloud of a Bismarck's speeches are as distinguished
for the first two qualities, but they are ular violence — against the enemies of the remarkably deficient in the last. The atti- government under the lead of Protestants tude which Pitt takes up seems to me to against the violent and inflamed spirit and be precisely that which, in a constitutional fierce attack of the Irish Catholics - and country, a minister ought to maintain. He against the aggregate of all evils, the spirit of dever distorts the facts; he never hesi. all mischief, the implacable opposition and tates to state his own opinion of what They had to meet [he goes on, aiming at his
determined hostility of furious Jacobinism. should be done in reference to them; but opponents in the House) the infamed passion dejther does he attempt to deny that if of disappointed ambition, which, under the these views are not those of Parliament name and pretext of superior patriotism, under if will be his duty to resign. He never color of jealousy for others' freedom, under assumes a tone of arrogant dictation nor affected tenderness for landed interest, affected of arrogant triumph. He frankly ac.
care for commercial welfare, would reduce the knowledges the defeat of his hopes.
State to ruin because they were not its rulers. It has pleased inscrutable Providence [he It is to such passages as these, far more says once] that the power of France should than to any extraordinary excellence in triumph over everything that has been opposed imagery or eloquence, that Pitt's effec. to it. But let us not therefore fall without tiveness as a speaker is to be mainly atmaking every effort to resist that power ; let tributed. And this power could only have us not sink without measuring its strength. been gained by one to whom nature had If anything could make me agree to retire from the contest, it would only be the consciousness given an ascendancy over the minds of of not being able to continue it. I should others. Without this ascendancy, and then have, at least, no cause to reproach my- the talent to preserve it, even Pitt's lofty self on the retrospect. I should not yield till character would not have sufficed. Burke I could exclaim :
could look back upon a public life as blame. Potuit quæ plurima virtus less as Pitt's; his ideas were as lofty, and Esse, fuit; toto certatum est corpore regoi. he had, without question, a greater literary lo another speech he describes the un.
gift for giving them expression. But he provoked attack of the French republic subject to strange gusts of passion and of
was not always master of himself, he was upon Switzerland:
violent enthusiasm; and the result was It collected into one view many of the char- that he never gained from the House of acteristic features of that revolutionary system Commons a consideration at all coinmenwhich I have endeavored to trace. The perfidy surate with his deserts. To understand, which alone rendered their arms successful; therefore, the enthusiasm which Pitt's the pretext of which they availed themselves to produce disunion and to prepare the en.
speeches called forth we must not forget trance of Jacobinism into that country; the the personal enthusiasm which his char. proposal of armistice, one of the known and acter excited. And we must heighten the regular engines of the Revolution, which was, effect of both these gifts by the dignity of as usual, the immediate prelude of military his bearing and the singular melody of his execution, attended with cruelty and barbarities voice. One who was an auditor of the of which there were few examples: all these last great speech which Pitt ever made are known to the world. The country which (that on the renewal of the war in 1803), they attacked is one which had been the faithful after describing the general effect of his allý of France; which, instead of giving cause of jealousy to any other Power, had been for speech, goes on to lament the evideat ages pre-eminent for the simplicity and inno signs of ill-health in the speaker :cence of its manners, and which had acquired Though his voice has not lost any of its and preserved the esteem of all the nations of depth and harınony, his lungs seem to labor Europe; which has almost, by the common with those prodigious sentences which he once consent of mankind, been exempted from the thundered 'forth without effort, and which sound of war, and marked out as a kind of other men “have neither the understanding to Goshen, safe and untouched in the midst of form nor the vigor to utter." surrounding calamities.
The above passages from his speeches And once again, in his speech on the show the spirit in which Pitt warred union of Ireland, he dwells in the follow. against the revolutionary, principle. It ing terms upon the difficulties which, in may be true that this principle was almost carrying through their measure, the govo sure one day to run its course. But eroment had had to encounter :
surely we have reason to thank Provi. It was not because the measure was not dence – and our fathers had still more vigorously opposed; the friends of the measure
that the triumphs of this revolu. have had to stand against the threats of pop- tion have been so long delayed. How much less bloody and disastrous is a pure After this the second half of his long democracy likely to be in these days than administration, the second volume of his it would have been in 1793! It was pre- history, Pitt fell upon evil days and evil cisely the staving-off of democracy in tongues. Addington came into power England that Pitt considered his legiti. through the Catholic difficulty, and in so mate ground of triumph.
doing reaped the harvest which Pitt had This country alone of all Europe [he says] sown, reaped no small share of the popular. presented barriers the best fitted to resist the ity of the peace which presently followed. progress of Jacobinism, We alone recognized Once in, he showed no signs of wishing to the necessity of open war, as well with the go out again; and the public, with the principles as with the practice of the French fickleness which public opinion always Revolution.
shows, began to forget the services of their And surely this is a legitimate boast. old minister, to associate his name with the It is a shallow sort of judgment which is trials of the war, and to transfer their af. grounded solely upon a consideration of fections to the new, whom they associated tangible results, without any considera. with the blessings of the peace. Pitt was tion of the circumstances in which those left to sulk like Achilles in his tent; to results were achieved; which waits upon declare to his friends that he did not de. events and is only wise after the event. sire to return to office, and to eat his By people who judge after this fashion it heart in the solitude of pride. But one is the common habit to contrast the more triumph was in store for him, the younger Pitt's military failures with his greatest almost, and certainly the most father's successes, and thence to conclude dramatic of his whole life. While the that one was among the greatest, the peace of Amiens lasted Pitt had for a other among the least, of our war ininis- period entirely withdrawn himself from ters. As though the forces against which Parliament. When the war was again rethe two had to contend could in any way newed in May, 1803, the public voice and be compared! As if the France of Louis Pitt's own sense of duty alike called him XV. were in anything but in name the back to Parliament. So great was the same as the France of the Revolution and excitement at this return of Achilles to of the Consulate! As if Napoleon were the Grecian ramparts, that on the first to be likened to the Soubises or the Con- night on which he spoke the crowd in the tades of the Seven Years' War !
House prevented the reporters from findBut,” says Macaulay," he should ing a place ; so that scarcely even a frag. have proclaimed a holy war in the name ment has been preserved of this, one of of religion, morality, property, order, pub- the finest, by contemporary accounts, of lic law !' I will admit the force of this all Pitt's speeches, and certainly in the complaint against Pitt when it has been circumstances of its delivery the most in. shown how often those who preached a teresting of them all. But some account crusade have brought it to a successful of the reception accorded by the House conclusion, how successful was Peter as to its late leader has been preserved: a leader of armies, or how much preach
When he came in [says a contemporary leting was done by Godefroi de Bouillon. ter] the attention of the House was withdrawn That Pitt was not a Mahomet I will read. [from Lord Hawkesbury, who was speaking] ily admit, if that is the point for which and fixed upon him; and as he walked up to Macaulay is contending. But the truth his place his name was repeated aloud by many is neither a Peter the Hermit nor a Ma- persons, for want, I imagine, of some other homet would have found the elements of way to express their feelings. Erskine and a crusade in the England of the Revolu. Whitbread were heard with impatience, and tionary War. And Macaulay's assertion when, at the end of a tedious hour and a half
, that "the higher and middle classes of he rose (20 minutes to 8) there was first a vio the country were animated by a zeal not Mr. Pitt !” He was then cheered before he
lent and almost universal cry of “Mr. Pitt! less fiery than that of the Crusaders who had uttered a syllable, a mark of approbation raised the cry of Deus vult at Cler. which was repeated at almost all the brilliant mont,” is a grotesque exaggeration such passages and remarkable sentiments; and when as one could never have found save in the he sat down (9) there were three of the longest, pages of this writer, on whoin surely some most eager, and most enthusiastic bursis of god at the same time that he endowed applause that I ever heard in any place on any him with his vast and varied powers,
occasion. added this curse, that he should be men- This was Pitt's last and greatest tri. tally incapable of seeing or presenting any umph. Henceforth the clouds continued facts quite in their true color !
to gather round him till his end. His