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points of resemblance between the real and the fictitious statesman. There are, however, several important points of difference; and we recollect one sentiment put by Miss Edgeworth into the mouth of Lord Oldborough, which Lord Chatham, had he consulted his own quiet, would have done well to adopt. “ Never,” says the statesman in the novel, “never acknowledge an error--it is enough if you repair it.” Unluckily for himself, Mr. Pitt was deficient in this species of prudence; for he sometimes laid himself open to the charge of inconsistency, and even of weakness, by the candour with which he acknowledged any political error of which he might have been guilty. To such a mạn as Horace Walpole, a candour so incomprehensible must have appeared to be the grossest folly, or even something worse ; and accordingly we find, that he speaks of it in the following terms.
“Pitt was undoubtedly one of the greatest masters of ornamental eloquence. His language was amazingly fine and flowing; his voice admirable; his action most expressive; his figure genteel and commanding. Bitter satire was his forte; when he attempted ridicule, which was very seldom, he succeeded happily; when he attempted to reason, poorly. But where he chiefly shone was in exposing his own conduct; having waded through the most notorious apostacy in politics, he treated it with an impudent confidence, that made all reflec
poor and spiritless, when worded by any other man.” -Memoires, i. 79.
We introduce this passage for two reasons: first, that we may appeal to our readers whether such a degree of frankness in Lord Chatham was not likely to expose him to misrepresentations, similar to that of which Horace Walpole has been guilty; and secondly, that we may ask whether it does not call for the praises, rather than the censures, of every unprejudiced
We think, that the considerations already urged are calculated to make us view with some distrust any censures which may have been thrown upon Lord Chatham by his political contemporaries. It will be observed, that we are compelled to confine ourselves solely to general observations ; since the limits of a single article are obviously too narrow to permit any detailed or minute examination of a public life, so busy and so long. General observations, we are aware, can hardly ever produce conviction; but they may lead to it. They may furnish us with a rule by which our judgements should be guided in the examination of any doubtful question; they may guard us against error; they may indicate, though faintly, the path of candour and of reason, and may thus bring us, at last, to a rational and satisfactory result. When a reader enters
upon such a work as that of Lord Waldegrave, he is in imminent danger of adopting most of the opinions of a writer so obviously sensible and candid; he is likely to repose with peculiar confidence upon every account, which an author, so qualified, may give of those, of whom he must have seen, and heard, and known a great deal. Surely it cannot be superfluous to inform such a reader, that Lord Waldegrave, rational and candid as he was, nevertheless wrote in times of universal distrust; that he was himself a fallen minister; that many of those whose characters he has sketched (Lord Chatham among the rest) were violently opposed to his administration; and that with Lord Chatham he never seems to have had such a degree of intimate acquaintance, as could unfold to him that statesman's real character.
If it were necessary to assign any other reasons for examining with caution those sketches of Mr. Pitt, which have been left us by his political contemporaries and rivals, we might find them in the austerity (and perhaps harshness) of his public demeanour. That decision of character, which so eminently belonged to him, assumed, not unfrequently, an appearance
of severity and dogmatism, which must have offended, in nearly equal degree, his opponents and his own partisans. His was the very character which has been so admirably depicted by a most nervous writer of the present day :
“ A decisive man is in danger of extending but little tolerance to the prejudices, hesitation, and timidity, of those with whom he has
If full scope be allowed to this tendency, it will make even a man of elevated virtue a tyrant, who, in the consciousness of the right intention, and the assurance of the wise contrivance of his designs, will hold himself justified in being regardless of every thing but the accomplishment of them. He will forget all respect for the feelings and liberties of beings who are to be regarded as but a subordinate machinery, to be actuated or to be thrown aside when not actuated, by the spring of his commanding spirit.”-Foster's Essays.
In speaking of his political opponents, he frequently assumed the language of mingled scorn and detestation, with a manner so authoritative and bitter, as would not have been tolerated for a moment in any man but himself. Nor was his conduct towards those with whom he acted in politics — especially towards his colleagues, when he was in office, conciliatory or even respectful. Many instances of this impolitic severity of character are given in the volumes before us : we shall select two.
“ The rule or custom is, the secretary of state sends all the orders respecting the navy, which have been agreed to in the cabinet, to the Admiralty, and the secretary to the board writes these orders again, in the form of instructions, from the Admiralty to the admiral or captain of the fleet, expedition, &c. for whom they are designed; which instructions must be signed by three of the board. But during Mr. Pitt's administration, he wrote the instructions himself, and sent them to their lordships to be signed; always ordering his secretary to put a sheet of white paper over the writing. Thus they were left in perfect ignorance of what they signed; and the secretary and clerks of the board were all in the same state of exclusion.”-1. 229.
On another occasion we find, that he contents himself with giving a bare opinion in the cabinet, and then threatens to resign if his colleagues refuse to adopt it. It will be observed, that he does not favour them with a single reason.
“ When the fleet returned from Rochefort, a puerile scheme was proposed by those whose impolitic measures had given birth to the Baltic alliance against us, to send the fleet to the assistance of the Duke of Cumberland, who was flying before the French in Hanover. Mr. Pitt alone resisted the proposal ; upon which the Duke of Newcastle and Lord Hardwicke, who had pressed it, gave it up. Mr. Pitt had not a thorough confidence in his coadjutors, and therefore he did not always assign his reasons for his opinion. On this occasion, he only said, that the assistance of a naval armament in the north had been frustrated; and therefore the scene, as well as the instrument of war, must be changed, before any hopes of success could be entertained; but if a contrary opinion prevailed, he would lay the seals at his majesty's feet, and retire from his situation. The cabinet ministers from this time resigned their judgement; in which they were influenced by two motives : one was, a dread of his superior abilities, which threw their minor talents into the shade; the other was, an expectation, that by permitting him to indulge in the exercise of his own opinions, he would precipitate his own exclusion from power, by drawing upon himself some capital disgrace."-I. 241.
This method of guiding a cabinet-so imperious, as even to remind one of the manner in which a point was carried by the Prince d'Anhalt-aux-Moustaches*_was not unfrequently
* “ The King (of Prussia) appointed a council of war, composed of a certain number of generals, under the presidency of the Prince d'Anhalt-Dessau, known by the name of d’Anhalt-aux-Moustaches (d’Anhalt with the mustachios). Frederic was tried at this tribunal; and when sentence was about to be passed, the president, with his formidable mustachios, rose and declared, that on his honour and conscience, he, for his part, perceived no cause for passing sentence of death on the accused prince, and that none among them had a right to pass such a sentence; then drawing his sword, he swore he would
practised by Lord Chatham. And we may ask, whether every tittle of praise, which might be given to such a man in his lifetime, by those who had come into contact with him in almost any way, must not have been either involuntary or insidious ? On the other hand, could he fail to incur, whether he deserved them or not, hostility the most rancorous, and censures the most unmeasured ?
We lament, in common with all who can deplore the errors of a great and virtuous character, that Lord Chatham should have been deficient in even one of the requisites to a minister's success--we mean, some degree of complaisance to the feelings of others. Every other requisite he possessed in the highest perfection ; for the history of his administration, from the year 1756 to 1761, will abundantly shew how eminently qualified he was to promote the honour and interests of his country. So much as the energies of a single individual could effect, certainly was effected. But it is undeniable, that the austerity and hauteur which characterized the minister, were considerably prejudicial to the country, inasmuch as they not only precluded any association of other men's talents, but also accelerated his own fall from power. Our last extract may shew the very natural discontents which prevailed in Mr. Pitt's cabinet of 1757 ; and the following passage will serve to indicate some of the difficulties in which the same failing involved him at a subsequent period.
“ Before Lord Chatham had finally settled his arrangements, he made several offers to different persons of great weight and consideration, with a view of strengthening his ministry, and of detaching them from their friends. But that superiority of mind, which had denied him the usual habits of intercourse with the world, gave an air of austerity to his manners, and precluded the policy of a convenient condescension to the minutiæ of politeness and fascinating powers of address. He made offers to Lord Scarborough, Mr. Dowdeswell, and several others, but in such terms of hauteur, as seemed to provoke, though unintentionally, the necessity of refusal.* They were all rejected. He then waited upon Lord Rockingham, at his house in Grosvenor Square; but Lord Rockingham, who was at home, refused
cut off the ears of any man who should differ from him in opinion. In this manner he collected the suffrages, and the prince was unanimously acquitted."-Thiebault's Anecdotes of Frederic II. King of Prussia, vol. i.
107. * To the first, an abrupt message was sent, “ that he might have an office if he would.” To the second, 66 that such an office was still vacant.” To a third, “ that he must take such an office or none.”—Note by the author.
to see him. These circumstances chagrined him considerably. He now found, for the first time in his life, that splendid talents alone were not sufficient to support the highest situations.”--11. 31.
At the time referred to in this passage, Lord Chatham was forming that administration which was characterized, above all others that have ever existed in this country, by the inconsistency of its principles, and the consequent imbecility of its conduct. It was this administration which Burke has immortalized, in spite of itself, by his famous descrip
an administration, so checkered and speckled ; a piece of joinery, so crossly indented and whimsically dovetailed; a cabinet, so variously inlaid ; such a piece of diversified mosaic; such a tesselated pavement without cement, here a bit of black stone and there a bit of white; patriots and courtiers; king's friends and republicans; whigs and tories; treacherous friends and open enemies; that it was indeed a very curious show; but utterly unsafe to touch, and unsure to stand on."*
Many, however, as were the inconveniences both to the country and to Lord Chatham himself, which were produced by his impracticable decision of character, we cannot help admiring the great and beneficial results which generally flowed from it. Decision of character, indeed, is à virtue which, above all others, commands the veneration of those who only witness its effects; though it is almost equally sure to excite the dislike, and even hatred, of those who are either its agents or its coadjutors. It is the very foremost of that class of severe and restrictive virtues, which-to borrow another expression from Burke—are at a market almost too high for humanity. So bitter is the reproach which a man of great decision almost tacitly casts upon the weakness and irresolution of those with whom he acts; so intolerable the contempt which he makes them feel for themselves; that he is nearly certain to provoke hostility, both open and concealed. It is difficult to say, what might not be done by the energies of a single powerful, collected, and daring mind, but for the clog which other men's jealousies are sure to fix upon
its exertions. Such, however, is the lot of our nature, and in such a way do we act upon one another, for evil as well as for good, that when a man seems likely far to outstrip his species in any manner, he must count upon opposition from without, though all his own powers may be full of consistency and vigour.
The boldness and rapidity of Mr. Pitt's measures have never been surpassed. Active and unwearied in collecting all the