Page:Lord Chatham as an Orator.djvu/39

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34
Lord Chatham as an Orator

VII

It is impossible to close our sketch without at least naming the final scene, which, like the death-bed on the conquered heights of Abraham, and the death-bed in the cockpit of the Victory, and the death-bed in the house at Putney Heath with the rolling up of the map of Europe and the last sad words, 'How I leave my country!', is one of the august and mournful memories that Englishmen have agreed to cherish as a nation's heirlooms. The scene has been again and again depicted by skilled hands.

Lord Stanhope and Macaulay described it very beautifully more than fifty years ago. Mr. Frederic Harrison, Dr. Holland Rose, and Sir George Trevelyan have in recent works again refreshed our memories. It is one of the most touching passages in Sir George's latest volume, George the Third and Charles Fox. For ourselves at this moment a few plain words must suffice.

The news from America grows worse and worse. There is a growing conviction in the country, and among Ministers themselves, that Lord Chatham must be called in; that he and he alone is equal to the crisis. Lord Stanhope's words[1] seem to me at once moderate and forcible. 'The tide', he says, 'in favour of Lord Chatham was setting in too strong to be resisted. Great as was the King's aversion, he must soon have yielded. It seems to me beyond all doubt that had Lord Chatham's last and fatal illness been delayed a few weeks, perhaps even a few days longer, he would have been called to the head of public affairs, and invited, with such friends as he might choose, to solve the problem he had himself propounded—to regain the affections, while refusing the independence, of America.'

  1. History of England, vol. vi, chap. lvii, p. 226.