Page:The American Review Volume 02.djvu/585

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
A Chapter on Chatham.569

my Greek and Latin books; they are the history of a little people. The Romans never conquered the world till they had conquered three parts of it, and were three hundred years about it; we subdue the world in three campaigns, and a globe, let me tell you, as big again as it was in their days."[1]

Nor was, as we have said, Mr, Pitt's power more strongly illustrated in his foreign than in his domestic policy, or rather in his political relations at home. He was master in the cabinet, and the intrigues which had been actively perplexing the government since the termination of Mr. Pelham's, if not of Sir Robert Walpole's administration, were forced to rest by his single predominance. On the 14th January, 1760, Lord Barrington thus describes this state of things: "If I were to give you an account of the past and present state of things here since I wrote last, I should compose a volume. For the present it may suffice that I assure you of the union, cordiality and good-will which reign at present among the king's servants. It (fortunately for them, our master and the public) is such that there never was more at any period of our time. I could not have said this three months ago, but I can safely assert it now; and I think there is every appearance that the same happy temper will continue. I verily believe that the Duke of Newcastle and' his brother (Mr. Pelham) did not more cordially wish each other to continue in their respective stations, than the Duke of Newcastle and Mr. Pitt do now; and there are less disputes and coldness by a great deal than there used to be between the two brothers. This union, great and extraordinary as it may seem, is nothing in comparison with that of the Parliament and the nation; and seem to have one mind and one object. What is most astonishing, the object in which the whole people is united is wise and good. Do not, however, imagine that this proceeds from any improvement made by our countrymen in either wisdom or virtue; for it arises solely from this: no man who can raise any sort of disturbance, finds it either convenient or agreeable to be out of humor at this time. These are happy conjunctures, and I hope and believe the proper use will be made of them."

How different was the condition of things when the influence of Mr. Pitt's unimpaired vigor was removed, cannot be better shown than from the following extract, having reference to the ministry of 1769, but which is applicable to each portion of that interval of impotent intrigue and perplexity, beginning with Mr. Pitt's resignation in 1761, and ending with Lord North's premiership, in 1770: "An opinion has too long prevailed, that all ministers are alike, and that the measures proposed by all will have the same tendency. Many think the form of government not worth contending for, and very little attachment is discoverable, in the body of our people, to our excellent constitution; no reverence for the customs or opinions of our ancestors, no attachment but to private interest, nor any zeal but for selfish gratification. While party distinctions of Whig and Tory, High-Church and Low-Church, Court and Country, subsisted, the nation was divided, and each side held an opinion for which they would have hazarded everything; for both acted upon principle. If there were some who sought to alter the constitution, there were many others who would have spilt their blood to preserve it from violation. If divine hereditary right had its partisans, there were multitudes to stand up for the superior sanctity of a title founded upon an act of Parliament, and the consent of a free people. But the abolition of party names seems to have destroyed all public principles among the people; and the frequent changes of ministers, having exposed all sets of men to the public odium, and broke all bands of compact and association, has left the people but few objects for their confidence. The power of the crown was, indeed, never more visibly extensive over the great men of the nation; but then the great men have lost their influence over the lower order of the people. Even Parliament has lost much of its reverence with the subjects of the realm, and the voice of the multitude is set up against the sense of the Legislature. An impoverished and heavily burdened public; a declining trade and decreasing specie; a people luxurious and licentious, impatient of rule and despising all authority; government relaxed in every sinew, and a corrupt, selfish

  1. Letter to George Montague, 22d March, 1762. (IV. Walpole, 219.) The news of the capture of Martinico was brought to England by Mr. Horatio Gates, who, it seems, was Walpole's god-son, and who is pleasantly referred to in the above letter. (p. 220.)