Page:Lord Chatham as an Orator.djvu/31

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
Lord Chatham as an Orator

matters of both home and foreign policy, each showing that the energy of the veteran orator was scarcely diminished, especially in that department of oratory which Mr. Disraeli once described as 'that ornament of debate, invective'.

Time forbids me to invite your attention to any of these debates, stirring as they were. We must hasten on to the years 1774 and 1775, when Parliament was again called upon to deal with renewed troubles in America.

In 1772 and 1773 Lord Chatham had rarely been well enough to be in his place. But in May, 1774, when Lord North's Government brought in a Bill for quartering troops in America, he braced himself up for a fresh effort. It is, I think, the one of all his speeches which has the least colouring of invective. Its appeal, coming from such a man and at such an hour, is even pathetic.

I will quote but a few sentences. We must reserve ourselves for a later speech on almost the same subject but differing widely in its tone.

'My Lords,' he now says, 'I am an old man'—sixty-five in fact—'and would advise the noble Lords in office to adopt a more gentle method of governing America; for the day is not far distant when America may vie with these kingdoms, not only in arms but in arts also. It is no new doctrine, but has always been my received and unalterable opinion, and I will carry it to my grave, that this country had no right under heaven to tax America. Such proceedings will never meet with their wished-for success.... Rather I would urge you to adopt some lenient measures, which may lure them to their duty. Act like a kind and affectionate parent towards a child whom he tenderly loves.... Pass an amnesty on all their youthful errors. Clasp