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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 preju. dices, hesitation, and timidity, of those with whom he has to act. 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.”-I. 229.
On another occasion we find, that he contents himself with giying 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 feet 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 Hying 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 judgment; 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.”-1. 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 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 show 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 show 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 bis 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 hauteur, as seemed to provoke, though unintentionally, the necessity of refusal.f They were all rejected. He then waited upon Lord Rockingham, at his house in Grosvenor Square; but Lord Rockingham, who was at
* “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). Frederick 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 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 Frederick 11. King of Prussia, vol. i. p. 107. + To the
first, an abrupt message was sent, “ that he might have an office if he would.” To the second, " that such an office was still vacant.” To a third, “ that he must take such an office or none."-Note by the author.
home, refused to see him. These circumstances chagrined him considerably. He now found, for the first time in his life, that splendid talents alone were not suffi. cient 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 description; "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 a 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 information which could throw light upon the objects of his designs; sagacious in exploring both the difficulties of every enterprise, and the manner in which they might be removed or conquered; firm in his decisions; instant in their execution; he made the resources of his country and the powers of her minister felt throughout the world. During the last four years of George II. and the first year of his successor, England assumed an attitude more commanding
Speech on American Taxation, A. D. 1774. VOL. III. No. 13.-Museum.
than any in which she had formerly stood; not even during the protectorate of the mighty usurper, nor in the most “high and palmy” days of Marlborough, had her strength been so extensively felt, so tremblingly acknowledged. It was, indeed, a splendid sight to behold a single man-surrounded by treacherous friends and open enemies—extorting for his country a tribute of involuntary homage from every quarter of the globe.
In the work now before us, we find many anecdotes illustrative of the qualities which commanded this extraordinary success. We shall extract two of the shortest.
“A fleet and an army were assembled. The destination was kept a profound secret. Sir Edward Hawke was commander of the feet, and Mr. Pitt correspond. ed with him. It is not a little remarkable, that when Mr. Pitt ordered the fleet to be equipped, and appointed the period for its being at the place of rendezvous, Lord Anson (then first lord of the admiralty) said, it was impossible to comply with the order; the ships could not be got ready in the time limited; and he want. ed to know where they were going, in order to victual them accordingly. Mr. Pitt replied, that if the ships were not ready at the time required, he would lay the matter before the king, and impeach his lordship in the house of commons. This spirited menace produced the men of war and transports all ready, in perfect compliance with the order.”—I. 231.
“ Parliament had been appointed to meet on the 15th of November. Intelligence of the King of Prussia's great victory at Rosbach, over the French and Germans, arrived at St. James's on the 9th. The moment the despatches were read, the minister resolved to prorogue the parliament for a fortnight, notwithstanding every preparation had been made for opening the session on the 15th. The reason of this sudden prorogation was, to give time to concert a new plan of operations, and. to write another speech for the king. Whether there was any precedent for this extraordinary step was not in the contemplation of the minister. In taking a resolution that involved concerns of the greatest magnitude, he was not to be infuenced by precedents.”-I. 243.
And with respect to the successes themselves, we shall content ourselves with the testimony of Horace Walpole. Our readers will readily believe, that such a witness is not very likely to exaggerate them. Moreover, the following extract will show in what manner the opponents of Lord Chatham contrived to qualify their reluctant praises.
“ Mr. Pitt, on entering into office, had found the nation at the lowest ebb, in point of power and reputation. His predecessors, now his coadjutors, wanted genius, spirit, and system. The fleet had many able officers; but the army, since the resignation of the Duke of Cumberland, had lost sight of discipline, and was destitute of generals in whom either the nation or the soldiery had any confidence. France, who meant to be feared, was feared heartily; and the heavy debt of the nation, which was above fourscore millions, served as an excuse to those who un. derstood nothing but little temporary expedients, to preach up our impossibility of making an effectual stand. They were willing to trust that France would be so good as to ruin us by inches. Pitt had roused us from this ignoble lethargy. He had asserted, that our resources were still prodigious; he found them so; and the intrepidity of our troops and navies; but he went farther, and perhaps too far. He staked our revenues with as little management as he played with the lives of the subjects, as if we could never have another war to wage, and as if he meant (which was impracticable) that his administration should decide which alone should exist as a nation, Britain or France. He lavished the last treasures* of this country
* Last treasures! Our national debt is now ten times as great, and we are not bankrupts yet.
with a prodigality beyond example and beyond excuse. Yet even that profusion was not so blameable as his negligence. Ignorant of the whole circle of finance, and constantly averse from corresponding with financiers, a plain sort of men, who are never to be paid with words instead of figures, he kept aloof from all details, drew magnificent plans, and left others to find the magnificent means. Disdaining, too, to enter into the operations of an office which he did not fill, he affected to throw on the treasury the execution of measures which he dictated, but for which he thus held himself not responsible. This conduct was artful, new,
and grand, and to him proved most advantageous. Secluded from all eyes, his orders were received as oracles, and their success of consequence was imputed to his inspiration. Misfortunes and miscarriages fell to the lot of the mere human agents. Corruption and waste were charged on the subordinate priests.
The admirers of Mr. Pitt extol the reverberation he gave to our counsels, the despondence he banished, the spirit he infused, the conquests he made, the security he afforded to our trade and plantations, the humiliation of France, the glory of Britain carried under his administration to a pitch at which it never had arrived. And all this is exactly true. When they add, that all this could not be purchased too dearly, and that there was no option between this conduct and tame submission to the yoke of France; even this is just in a degree; but a material objection still remains, not depreciating a grain from this bill of merits, which must be gratefully acknowledged by whoever calls himself Englishman, yet very derogatory from Mr. Pitt's character, as virtually trusted with the revenues, the property of his country. A few plain words will explain my meaning. All this was done, but might have been done for many millions less.-Posterity thus see an impartial picture. I am neither dazzled by the blaze of the times in which I have lived, nor, if there are spots in the sun, do I deny that I see them. It is a man I am describing, and one whose greatness will bear to have his blemishes fairly delivered."-Walpole's Memoires, ii. 346-349.
Some of the censures which Horace Walpole has here mixed up with his praises, will remind our readers of the objections with which, about fifty years before, the Marlborough administration had been assailed by the faction of Harley and St. John. Whoever reads Swift's History of the last years of Queen Anne will find, that at that time England had nearly ruined herself by the exuberance of her successes, and that she was then expending her last her
very last-treasures. Indeed, there is another point of resemblance between the two cases; the Marlborough administration and that of Mr. Pitt were both checked in their courses of disastrous success, and timely remedies found in the substitution of men, who restored their country by copious draughts of calamity and disgrace.
We must refer our readers to this work itself for a minute account of the different measures adopted by Lord Chatham while minister. Our business is merely to sketch an outline, which we have neither time nor space to fill up. There is, however, one measure of his administration to which we must particularly allude; we mean, the recruiting for the British army in the Highlands of Scotland. Up to this time, the Highlands had been governed with a rod of iron. The successive administrations which had existed since the accession of George I. had agreed in one hostile and arbitrary policy towards the north of Scotland; the later ministries differing from the earlier only in the increased measure of their severities. Terror was the only specific in their pharmacy; and that failed. Lord Chatham, on the contrary, determined, on his very entrance into office, to abate the rebellious spirit of the high