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Title: Private Papers of William Wilberforce
Author: Wilberforce, William, 1759-1833
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Collected and Edited, with a Preface, by


With Portraits



William Wilberforce is remembered on account of his long and successful
efforts for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. In a House of Commons
that counted Pitt, Fox, Burke, and Sheridan amongst its members, he
held a front rank both as a speaker and debater. Of one of his speeches
in 1789 Burke said, "it equalled anything he had heard in modern
times, and was not, perhaps, to be surpassed in the remains of Grecian
eloquence." And Pitt said, "Of all the men I ever knew Wilberforce has
the greatest natural eloquence." But an even greater power than his
oratory was perhaps the influence that he acquired over all ranks of
society. Friendship is often the means by which influence is gained,
and Wilberforce's friendship with Pitt, beginning long before his
anti-Slave Trade days and continued till the end of Pitt's life, was
no doubt the source of a strong personal influence.

It has been said that nothing in history is more creditable and
interesting than Pitt's long and brotherly intimacy with Wilberforce,
widely as they differed in their views of life.

To give an idea of the terms of their friendship these letters,
possibly mislaid by the biographers of Wilberforce, from Pitt to
Wilberforce are now published.[1]

Lord Rosebery thought the letters "among the most interesting we
possess of Pitt," and we gladly acceded to his wish to print a few
copies privately.

The Rev. W. F. Wilberforce has kindly consented to the publication of
the matured estimate of Pitt's character mentioned in the "Life of
Wilberforce," with an intimation that "it might hereafter appear in a
separate form."

Other letters from some of the most distinguished men of the time show
the many and varied interests of Wilberforce's life, and seem to us too
valuable to remain hidden in obscurity.

The home letters published are from Wilberforce to his daughter
Elizabeth, and to his son Samuel, afterwards Bishop of Oxford and
Winchester. The letters to the latter are from the collection of 600
letters written by the father to the son.


  LAVINGTON, _September 1, 1897_.



  LETTERS FROM PITT                      1


  LETTERS FROM FRIENDS                  83

  HOME LETTERS                         163



  OF YORK                                               _Frontispiece._
  (_From a picture by J. Rising._)

  2. WILBERFORCE OAK                              _Facing page_      17
  (At the foot of an old tree at Hollwood, after a conversation
  with Pitt, Wilberforce resolved to give notice in
  the House of Commons of his intention to bring forward
  the Abolition of the Slave Trade.)

  3. THE RIGHT HONOURABLE WILLIAM PITT            _Facing page_      79
  (_From a plate taken from an original drawing by the late
  Mr. Sayers._)

  4. BIRTHPLACE OF WILLIAM WILBERFORCE AT        _Facing page_      163

  5. SAMUEL WILBERFORCE, AGED 29                    "               245
  (_From a drawing by George Richmond._)



THE first of Pitt's letters to Wilberforce is "perhaps the only one
extant that is racy of those rollicking times when the 'fruits of
Pitt's earlier rising' appeared in the careful sowing of the garden
beds with the fragments of Ryder's opera hat."[2]

  "_July 31, 1782_.

"DEAR WILBERFORCE,--I shall not have the least difficulty in applying
immediately to Lord Shelburne in behalf of your friend Mr. Thompson,
and the favour is not such as to require a great exertion of interest,
if there has been no prior engagement. I will let you know the result
as soon as I can. Pray have no delicacy in mentioning to me whatever
occurs of any kind in which I can be of any use to you. Whenever there
is anything to prevent my doing as I should wish in consequence, I
will tell you, so we shall be upon fair terms. I trust you find all
possible advantage from sea-bathing and sea-air.... I am as well as it
is possible in the midst of all this _sin and sea coal_, and, for a
Chancellor of the Exchequer who has exchanged his _happier hour_, pass
my time very tolerably. Even Goostree's is not absolutely extinct, but
has a chance of living thro' the dog days. I shall be happy to hear
from you, whether in the shape of an official despatch or a familiar
epistle. I am very glad to see you write without the assistance of a
secretary. Perhaps, however, you will not be able to read without the
assistance of a decypherer. At least in compassion to your eyesight it
is as well for me to try it no further.

  "So adieu. Yrs. ever sincerely,
  "W. PITT."

  "_Wednesday, Aug. 6, 1783_.

"DEAR WILBERFORCE,--_Anderson's Dictionary_ I have received, and am
much obliged to you for it. I will return it safe, I hope not dirtied,
and possibly not read. I am sorry that you give so bad an account of
your eyes, especially as this very letter looks as if it would put
them to a severe trial, and might even defy the decypherer St. John,
almost without the help of an ænigma. I have only to tell you that
I have _no news_, which I consider as making it pretty certain that
there will be none now before the meeting of Parliament. The party
to Rheims hold of course, at least as far as depends upon me; which
is at least one good effect certain. I wrote yesterday to Eliot,[3]
apprising him, that I should be ready to meet him at Bankes's[4] before
the last day of August; that I conceived we must proceed from thence
to London, and that we ought to start within the three or four first
days of September. I hope you will bear all these things in mind, and
recollect that you have to do with punctual men, who would not risk
their characters by being an hour too late for any appointment. The
lounge here is excellent, principally owing to our keeping very much
to ourselves--that is Pulchritudo, Steele, Pretyman, and myself. The
Woodlys have been here in high foining, and have talked me to death.
I would not bind myself to be a listener for life for a good deal.
Your friend the Commodore treated us with his company at one or two
assemblies, but was called back to defend some prizes, which there are
those who contest with him, and which I fancy he thinks _the greatest
instance of malignity he ever knew_. Mrs. Johnstone and Mrs. Walpole
are left to dispute the prize here. The first is clearly the handsomer
woman, but the husband of the latter looks the quieter man, and the
better part of love as well as valor is discretion. I conclude as
you did, by desiring you to write immediately. I go from hence to
Somersetshire this day sennight, and stay till Bankes's. Direct to
Burton Pynsent, Somerset, and _if you will_, by London.

  "Ever sincerely yrs.,
  "W. PITT."

Pitt's next letter refers to the General Election of 1784, and William
Wilberforce's candidature for Yorkshire, which county he represented in
Parliament for twenty-eight years.

  "_Tuesday, April 6, 1784_.

"DEAR WILBERFORCE,--I have received your two expresses, and one this
morning from Mr. Wyvill. I could not get to town till late last night,
but sent forward the letters you desired, and have done all I can on
the several subjects you mention.

"I have applied to our friends in town to pay in the subscriptions, and
I hope it will be done speedily. I inquired at Cambridge with regard
to the different colleges. Trinity and St. John's have, I believe,
as might be expected, the most interest, and will both exert it for
you. Christ's has some, and I left that in a good train. I have spoken
to Lord Temple, which is the only channel that has yet occurred to
me about Oxford, who thinks he can be of use there. Wesley I have
no doubt may be secured, and I will lose no time in seeing him if
necessary, which I shall not think _at all awkward_ at such a time.
Steps are taking to procure a meeting of freeholders in your and
Duncombe's interest, which I hope will answer. I have sent to Robinson
and Hamilton. Lady Downe has been applied to, but can be brought to
nothing more than perfect neutrality. Nesbitt's interest is secured,
and he is thoroughly zealous. I do not well know how to get at his
Grace of York, but will try every way I can. Lord Percy, I am afraid,
cannot be brought to subscribe, tho' I do not quite despair of it.
His objection seems now from some delicacy towards Weddell, with whom
he has been much connected. He has, however, written to exert all his
interest in your cause--particularly to Major Pallerne and Mr. Rayne,
whom Mr. Wyvill mentions in his last letter. Lord Grantham, as I wrote
you word before, must go with Weddell. I expect to hear something more
of Lord Hawke, but I know he is now in the best disposition. I shall
keep my messenger an hour or two to send the account of to-day's poll
in Westminster, yesterday and to-day having been considered as the
great push. Pray send me as quick an account as possible, and continue
it from time to time, if a poll goes on. I hope you will be ready
with a candidate at Hull on the supposition of your being seated for
Yorkshire, which I am sanguine enough hardly to doubt. We are more
successful everywhere, with only a very few exceptions, than can be
imagined. I hope you bear all the fatigue tolerably. I wish it was
over. God bless you.

  "Most truly yours,
  "W. PITT.

"Compts. to Smith, and many thanks for his letter. I hope he is still
with you. The numbers at Westminster to-day are--

  Hood.   Wray.   Fox.
  3936    3622    3413

Sawbridge has beat Atkinson only by seven, and there is to be a
scrutiny. The other members are Watson, Lewes, and Newnham. Sir R.
Clayton declines for Surrey. Byng will probably be beat."

  "_Sunday, December 19, 1784_.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--I have been so diligently _turning my thoughts_
on all sides since we parted, that tho' they have been turned to you
as often as to any other quarter, I have never found the moment to put
them into writing till now. I have not time to thank you sufficiently
for the picturesque and poetical epistle I received from you dated,
as I remember, from your boat, from the inside and the imperial of
your postchaise, and two or three places more, and containing among a
variety of accurate descriptions one in particular, viewed from all
those different situations, of the sun setting in the middle of the
day. I hope the whole of your tour has continued to be embellished
by these happy incidents, and has kept you throughout in as mad and
rhapsodical a mood as at that moment. I have some remorse in the
immediate occasion of my writing to you just now; which, however, all
things considered, I am bound to overcome. Be it known to you, then,
that as much as I wish you to bask on, under an Italian sun, I am
perhaps likely to be the instrument of snatching you from your present
paradise, and hurrying you back to 'the rank vapours of this sin-worn
mould.' A variety of circumstances concur to make it necessary to
give notice immediately on the meeting of Parliament of the day on
which I shall move the question of the Reform. We meet on the _25th of
January_, and I think _about three weeks after_, which will allow full
time for a call of the House, will be as late as I can easily defer it.
I would not for a thousand reasons have you absent, tho' I hate that
you should come before your time, and if any particular circumstances
made a week or ten days a matter of real importance to you, I think I
could postpone it as long as that.

"Only let me hear from you positively before the meeting of Parliament.
The chief thing necessary is that I should then be able to name _some_
day, and the precise day is of less consequence. You will hardly
believe me if I tell you that I entertain the strongest hope of coming
very near, if not absolutely succeeding. I have seen the Oracle of
Yorkshire, Wyvill, and made him completely happy with the prospect.

"All things are going, on the whole, exceeding well. You will have
learnt that the _Old Boy_ at last overcame his doubts, and has ventured
single into the Cabinet, which is a great point happily settled. God
bless you.

  "Ever most faithfully yours.
  "W. PITT."


"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--I am sorry to find from your letter from
Nottingham that the Knight of Yorkshire is in so much dudgeon. Tho',
to say the truth the instances of neglect you mention are enough to
provoke common patience. What is worse, I know no remedy for it. My
letter, which missed you, contained no other information than that
the place of Marshall of the Admiralty had been long since filled up.
Some of the world is here at present, and will be multiplying every
day till the meeting of Parliament. I expect Eliot in a very few days.
I know nothing of Bankes very lately. Pray come to Wimbledon as soon
as possible; I want to talk with you about your navy bills, which,
tho' all your ideas now must go to landed property, you should not
entirely forget, and about ten thousand other things. By the by, Lord
Scarborough is risen from the dead, as you probably know. I have just
received an account from Whitbread that St. Andrew loses his election
by three; and would probably lose by more if he chooses a scrutiny or a
petition. Adieu.

  "Ever yrs.,
  "W. PITT.

"For the sake of this letter I am leaving a thousand others unanswered,
and a thousand projects unread. You will probably think it was hardly
worth while."

The brotherly intimacy between Pitt and Wilberforce is clearly shown
in the next letter. Wilberforce had written to Pitt to tell him of
the change in his religious opinions, and, in consequence, of his
probable retirement from political life. He no doubt thought that
Pitt would fail to sympathise with his altered views, but the man who
was "so absorbed in politics that he had never given himself time for
due reflection on religion"[5] wished to understand the religious
difficulties of his friend, and with the greatest tenderness begs
him to open his mind to "one who does not know how to separate your
happiness from his own."

  "_December 2, 1785_.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--Bob Smith[6] mentioned to me on Wednesday
the letters he had received from you, which prepared me for that I
received from you yesterday. I am indeed too deeply interested in
whatever concerns you not to be very sensibly affected by what has
the appearance of a new æra in your life, and so important in its
consequences for yourself and your friends. As to any public conduct
which your opinions may ever lead you to, I will not disguise to you
that few things could go nearer my heart than to find myself differing
from you essentially on any great principle.

"I trust and believe that it is a circumstance which can hardly occur.
But if it ever should, and even if I should experience as much pain
in such an event, as I have found hitherto encouragement and pleasure
in the reverse, believe me it is impossible that it should shake the
sentiments of affection and friendship which I bear towards you, and
which I must be forgetful and insensible indeed if I ever could part
with. They are sentiments engraved in my heart, and will never be
effaced or weakened. If I knew how to state all I feel, and could
hope that you are open to consider it, I should say a great deal more
on the subject of the resolution you seem to have formed. You will not
suspect me of thinking lightly of any moral or religious motives which
guide you. As little will you believe that I think your understanding
or judgment easily misled. But forgive me if I cannot help expressing
my fear that you are nevertheless deluding yourself into principles
which have but too much tendency to counteract your own object, and
to render your virtues and your talents useless both to yourself and
mankind. I am not, however, without hopes that my anxiety paints this
too strongly. For you confess that the character of religion is not
a gloomy one, and that it is not that of an enthusiast. But why then
this preparation of solitude, which can hardly avoid tincturing the
mind either with melancholy or superstition? If a Christian may act
in the several relations of life, must he seclude himself from them
all to become so? Surely the principles as well as the practice of
Christianity are simple, and lead not to meditation only but to action.
I will not, however, enlarge upon these subjects now. What I would ask
of you, as a mark both of your friendship and of the candour which
belongs to your mind, is to open yourself fully and without reserve to
one, who, believe me, does not know how to separate your happiness
from his own. You do not explain either the degree or the duration of
the retirement which you have prescribed to yourself; you do not tell
me how the future course of your life is to be directed, when you think
the same privacy no longer necessary; nor, in short, what idea you
have formed of the duties which you are from this time to practise. I
am sure you will not wonder if I am inquisitive on such a subject. The
only way in which you can satisfy me is by conversation. There ought
to be no awkwardness or embarrassment to either of us, tho' there may
be some anxiety; and if you will open to me fairly the whole state
of your mind on these subjects, tho' I shall venture to state to you
fairly the points where I fear we may differ, and to desire you to
re-examine your own ideas where I think you are mistaken, I will not
importune you with fruitless discussion on any opinion which you have
deliberately formed. You will, I am sure, do justice to the motives and
feelings which induce me to urge this so strongly to you. I think you
will not refuse it; if you do not, name any hour at which I can call
upon you to-morrow. I am going into Kent, and can take Wimbledon in my
way. Reflect, I beg of you, that no principles are the worse for being
discussed, and believe me that at all events the full knowledge of the
nature and extent of your opinions and intentions will be to me a
lasting satisfaction.

  "Believe me, affectionately and unalterably yours,
  "W. PITT."

Pitt came the next morning according to his proposal in this remarkable
letter: when Wilberforce[7] "conversed with Pitt near two hours, and
opened myself completely to him.... He tried to reason me out of my
convictions, but soon found himself unable to combat their correctness
if Christianity were true." To quote Lord Rosebery's Preface[8] to
these letters: "Surely a memorable episode, this heart-searching of the
young saint and the young minister. They went their different ways,
each following their high ideal in the way that seemed best to him. And
so it went on to the end, Wilberforce ever hoping to renew the sacred

  "_September, 23, 1786_.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--At length all the obstacles of business, of
idleness, and of procrastination are so far overcome that I find myself
with my pen in my hand to answer your three letters. I have seriously
had it upon my conscience for some time; but yet I believe it is
another influence to which this present writing is to be immediately
ascribed. Having yesterday parted with the ornament on my cheek, and
two or three handkerchiefs for the present occupying the place of it,
my appearance is better suited to correspondence than conversation; and
in addition to this I happen to have an interval freer from business
than at any time since Parliament rose. Our French Treaty is probably
by this time actually signed, or will at most not require more than
one more messenger to settle everything; but the winds have been so
unfavourable that I have been, for some days longer than I expected,
in suspense as to the issue of it. Two or three more treaties are
on the anvil, and I think we shall meet with the appearance of not
having spent an idle or (as I flatter myself) a fruitless summer. The
multitude of things depending has made the Penitentiary House long in
deciding upon. But I still think a beginning will be made in it before
the season for building is over; and if its progress is as quick as
that of my room at Hollwood, bolts and bars will be useless before
another season. I am very glad you like our new Board of Trade, which
I have long felt to be one of the most necessary, and will be now one
of the most efficient departments of Government. The colony for Botany
Bay will be much indebted to you for your assistance in providing a
chaplain. The enclosed will, however, show you that its interests have
not been neglected, as well as that you have a nearer connection with
them than perhaps you were yourself aware of. Seriously speaking, if
you can find such a clergyman as you mention we shall be very glad of
it; but it must be soon. My sister was brought to bed of a daughter on
Wednesday, and was at first surprising well; but she has since had some
fever, which was to such a degree yesterday as to make us very uneasy.
She is now, however, almost entirely free from it, and going on as well
as possible. I am in hopes of getting into Somersetshire the middle
of next week for about ten days. Soon after I hope I may see you at
Hollwood. Bob Smith was in town lately, much better on the whole, but
not quite so well as I hoped to see him. Adieu.

  "Ever yours,
  "W. PITT."

[Illustration: WILBERFORCE OAK.]

  "_Tuesday, April 8, 1788_.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--I have just received your letter of yesterday,
and as I can easily imagine how much the subject of it interests you, I
will not lose a moment in answering it. As to the Slave Trade, I wish
on every account it should come forward in your hands rather than any
other. But that in the present year is impracticable; and I only hope
you will resolve to dismiss it as much as possible from your mind. It
is both the rightest and wisest thing you can do. If it will contribute
to setting you at ease, that _I_ should personally bring it forward
(supposing circumstances will admit of its being brought forward this
session) your wish will decide. At all events, if it is in such a state
that it can be brought on, I will take care that it shall be moved in a
respectable way, and I will take my part in it as actively as if I was
myself the mover. And if I was to consult entirely my own inclination
or opinion, I am not sure whether this may not be best for the business
itself; but on this, as I have said already, your wish shall decide me.
With regard to the possibility of its being brought on and finished
this session, I can hardly yet judge. The inquiry has been constantly
going on, and we have made a great progress. But it takes unavoidably
more time than I expected. In one word, however, be assured that I will
continue to give the business constant attention, and do everything to
forward it. Whenever it is in such a state that you could yourself have
brought it on with advantage to the cause, I will do it or undertake
for its being done, in whatever way seems most proper. I mean,
therefore, to accept it as a trust from you to the whole extent you can
wish, and to make myself responsible for it, unless it is necessarily
delayed till you are able to resume it yourself.

"Any applications from your Society shall most certainly be attended
to. Justice Addington's grievance in particular, which I was before
acquainted with by a memorial, will be immediately removed. I do not
like to write you a longer letter than is absolutely necessary. I
trust I need not lengthen it to tell how impatiently I look to the
satisfaction of seeing you again, as stout and strong as I hope you
will return to us. Let me have from time to time a line from any hand
you can most conveniently employ, to tell me how you go on, and what
are your motions during the summer. I wish I may be able to arrange
mine, when holidays come, so as to fall in with you somewhere or other.
As soon as I can judge about Parliament meeting before Christmas or
not, you shall hear. If it sits pretty late now, it probably will not
meet till after. Adieu for the present. Every good wish attend you.

  "Ever affectionately yours,
  "W. PITT."

I have had very good accounts of you from two or three quarters.

  "_Saturday, June 28, 1788_.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--I have no small pleasure in writing to you
quietly from hence, after hearing the good account you sent me of
yourself confirmed by those who saw you then, and especially by our
friend Glynn. I am lucky enough to have a wet evening, which, besides
the good I hope it will do to the country at large, has the peculiar
advantage of preventing me from paying my personal respects to anyone
of my constituents, and so gives me the leisure to answer _seriatim_
the several sections of your letter. The business respecting the Slave
Trade meets just now with some rub in the House of Lords, even in the
temporary regulation respecting the conveyance, which I wonder how any
human being can resist, and which I therefore believe we shall carry;
tho' it creates some trouble, and will still protract the session a
week or ten days. We hear very little yet from the West Indies, but
a few weeks must bring more, and I have no doubt the summer may be
employed in treating with foreign Powers to advantage. I shall set
about it with the utmost activity and with good hopes of success, tho'
founded as yet rather on general grounds than any positive information.
There seems not a shadow of doubt as to the conduct of the House of
Commons next year, and I think with good management the difficulties
in the other House may be got over. Your plan of a mission to Bengal I
mention only to show the punctuality of answering your letter, as you
reserve the discussion till we meet. As for Dr. Glass, I was obliged to
answer Thornton, who applied to me for some such person (I think for
this same Dr. Glass), that the state of my engagements leaves me not
at liberty at present, and if you have any occasion to say anything
about it to them, be so good to speak of it in the same style. Of the
Penitentiary Houses what can I say more? But in due time they shall not
be forgotten.

"My plan of visiting you and your lakes is, I assure you, not at all
laid aside. I cannot speak quite certainly as to the time, but if
there happens nothing which I do not now foresee, it will be either
the beginning or middle of August; I rather think the former, but I
shall be able to judge better in about a fortnight, and then you shall
hear from me. Nothing is decided about the meeting of Parliament, but
it is clear the trial will not go on till February. I rather believe,
however, that we ought to meet and employ a month before Christmas;
as what with Slave Trade, Quebec Petition, Poor Laws, Tobacco, &c.,
we shall have more on our hands than can be got through in any decent
time while we are exposed to the interruption from Westminster Hall. I
think I have now dispatched all the points to which I was called upon
to reply, and come now to open my own budget; which must be done,
however, in a _whisper_, and must not as yet be repeated even to the
most solitary echoes of Windermere. You will wonder what mystery I have
to impart. At the first part you will not be much surprised, which is
that Lord Howe and his friend Brett are to quit the Admiralty as soon
as the session closes. The cause (tho' its effects have slept so long)
is what passed last summer respecting the promotion of Sir Charles
Middleton. You will not come to the surprising part when I add that
Lord Howe's successor must be a landman, as there is no seaman who is
altogether fit for the first place at that board. But what will you
say when I tell you that the landman in question is no other than my
brother? He undertakes it very readily, and will I am sure set about
the business in earnest, to which I believe you think him as equal as
I do. Lord Hood is to be at the board; not without some risk of losing
Westminster, but by keeping our secret till the moment, I hope even
that may be saved; but it is comparatively of little consequence. I
feel the arrangement is liable to some invidious objections, but I am
satisfied they are more than counterbalanced by the solid advantage of
establishing a complete concert with so essential a department, and
removing all appearance of a separate interest. I shall be impatient,
however, to hear what you think of my scheme. There is nothing else
that occurs worth adding to this long scrawl, and I am obliged to
seal it up, as in spite of the rain which keeps me at home, I am in
expectation of an agreeable collection of dons whom Turner has convened
to smoke and sleep round his table this evening. God bless you.

  "Believe me, ever affectionately yours,
  "W. PITT."

  "_Monday, September 1, 1788_.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--I have certainly given a considerable latitude
to my promise of writing in a fortnight, in defence of which I have
nothing to say, but that in addition to the common causes of delaying
a letter I could not easily resolve to tell you that my northern
scheme has for some time grown desperate. Powers farther north and
the unsettled state of all the Continent (tho' not at all likely to
involve us in anything disagreeable) require in our present system
too much watching to allow for a long absence. I have not yet got
even to Burton, which you will allow must be my first object. But I
assure you I am not the more in love with Continental politics for
having interfered with a prospect I had set my heart so much upon, as
spending some quiet days on the bank of your lake. Pray let me know in
your turn what your motions are likely to be, and when you think of
being in this part of the world. Parliament will not meet till after
Christmas. As to the Slave Trade, we are digesting our Report as far as
present materials go, and you shall then have it; but we are still in
expectation of the answer from the Islands. I had a long conversation
with the French Ambassador on the subject some time ago, just before
his going to France. He promised to represent it properly, and seemed
to think there would be a favourable disposition. Their confusion has
been such since that scarce anything was likely to be attended to; but
I am in hopes Necker's coming in will prove very favourable to this
object. The moment I hear anything respecting it I will write again;
and at all events in less than _my last fortnight_. I must end now in
haste to save the post and my dinner.

  "Ever affectionately yours,
  "W. PITT."

  "_Monday, April 20, 1789_.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--We have found it necessary to make some
corrections on looking over the proof sheets of the Report, which will
delay the presenting it till Wednesday. I shall have no difficulty
in saying then that the business must of course be postponed on the
grounds you mention, and I will move to fix it for this day fortnight
if you see no objection. I imagine the House must meet on Friday on
account of Hastings's business, but that will probably be a reason for
their adjourning as soon as they come back from Westminster Hall, and
your business may, I dare say, wait till Monday. In that case I would
certainly meet you at Hollwood on Friday, as I wish extremely to talk
over with you the whole business, and show you our project, with which,
like most projectors, we are much delighted. From what you mention of
the parts you have been studying, I do not imagine there is anything
behind more material than what you have seen, but I see no part of our
case that is not made out upon the strongest grounds. Steele has shown
me your letter to him. There certainly cannot be the least reason for
your coming up merely to attend St. Paul's.

  "Ever affectionately yours,
  "W. PITT."

  "_Wednesday, February 2, 1796_.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--I have seen Sir W. Fawcett, &c., and settled
with them that they shall take _immediately_ the necessary measures for
having a sufficient number of officers to receive men at additional
places of rendezvous. They propose for the West Riding (in addition
to Pontefract), Bradford and Barnsley, as appearing to take in all
the most material districts, and will send the orders accordingly;
but any farther arrangement may be made afterwards which may appear
to be wanting. This and the explanatory act will, I trust, quiet the
difficulty. My cold is much better, and I have hardly any doubt of
being in condition for service on Friday, to which day, you probably
know, the business is put off.

  "Yours ever,
  "W. P."

  "_August 4, 1796_.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--I am anxious not to let the post go without
telling you that I cannot have a moment's hesitation in assuring you
that in case of the Deanery of York becoming vacant, I shall with the
utmost pleasure recommend Mr. Clarke to succeed to it. On the important
points in your other letter, I have not time just now to write at
large; but I think the idea you suggest very desirable to be carried
into execution, and I will turn in my mind the means of putting it into
train. I certainly am not inclined even now to think gloomily of public
affairs; but I must at the same time own that I feel the crisis to be a
most serious one, and to require the utmost exertion and management.

  "Ever yours sincerely,
  "W. PITT."

  "_September 7, 1796_.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--I think it nearly certain that Parliament will
meet on the 27th, and I wish much it may suit you to come this way some
time before.

"Our application is gone for a passport for a person to go directly to
Paris. The message of the Directory confessing in such strong terms
their distress (and the Archduke's recent victory on the 22nd, the
account of which is in last night's _Gazette_, may be relied on), give
some chance that our overtures may be successful. In the meantime it
will be indispensable to take very strong measures indeed, both of
finance and military defence; and if the spirit of the country is equal
to the exigency, I am confident all will yet end well. An immediate
Spanish war is, I think, nearly certain. The only motive to it is the
fear of France preponderating over their fear of us; and the pretexts
as futile as could be wished. The alarm respecting the effect on our
trade is greatly overrated, as the whole proportion of our exports
thither compared with the rest of the world is inconsiderable. You
will see that an Order of Council is published giving liberty for the
export of manufactures and the payment of bills, which will, I hope,
be satisfactory in your part of the world. I delayed writing to Mr.
Cookson till I could tell him the measure was taken; and when it was
taken, being in the hurry of a journey to Weymouth and back, I deferred
it again, so that it was already announced in the _Gazette_, and it
became too late to write. Perhaps you can make my excuses.

  "Ever yours,
  "W. P."

  "_September 20, 1797_.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--I know what your feelings will be on receiving
the melancholy account which I have to send you, and which reached me
from Cornwall this morning, that a renewal of Eliot's complaint has
ended fatally and deprived us of him.

"After the attacks he has had, it is impossible to say that the blow
could ever be wholly unexpected, but I had derived great hopes from the
accounts for some time, and was not at this moment at all prepared for
what has happened. You will not wonder that I cannot write to you on
any other subject, but I will as soon as I can.

  "Ever sincerely yours,
  "W. PITT."

  "_Friday, 4_ P.M.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--I am only anxious to avoid embarrassment to your
question as well as to the general course of business; and will call
on you in a few minutes on my way to the House.

  "Ever aff. yours,
  "W. P."

  "_Thursday, August 14, 1800_.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--I have no thoughts of going to Walmer till the
very end of the month, and it is doubtful whether I can accomplish it
then. In the interval the Castle is quite disengaged, and it will give
me great pleasure if it can afford you any accommodation. If you should
not find any situation before the 1st of September perfectly to your
mind, I beg you to believe that your prolonging your stay will be no
inconvenience and a great pleasure to me, supposing I am able to come.
The improvements made since you were there, with the help of a cottage
with some tolerable bedrooms, are quite sufficient for your family, and
for myself and the only two or three persons who would be likely to
come with me, such as perhaps Carrington, the Master of the Rolls, and
Long. Be so good, therefore, to consult entirely your own convenience.

  "Ever yours,
  "W. P.

"Let me know what day next week you fix for being there, and everything
shall be ready for you. You may as well send your servant to my
manager Bullock, who will arrange everything about cellar and other
household concerns."


  "_October 1, 1801_.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--I cannot refrain from congratulating you most
sincerely on the happy event of the Signature of Preliminaries, which
you will, I believe, hear from Addington. The terms are such as I am
persuaded you will be well satisfied with, and tho' they are not in
every point (particularly one material one) exactly all that I should
have wished, I have no hesitation in saying that I think them on the
whole highly honourable to the country and very advantageous. The event
is most fortunate both for Government and the public, and for the sake
of both, gives me infinite satisfaction. I am but just in time for the

  "Ever sincerely yours,
  "W. PITT."

  "DOWNING STREET, _Saturday_.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--I shall be very glad if you can call here any
time after nine this evening, as I wish to show you a paper from the
other side of the water, of a very interesting nature, tho' not such as
was most to be wished or at all to be expected.

  "W. P."


  "_May 31, 1802_.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--I found your letter on my arrival here
yesterday, having escaped to Hollwood on Friday only as a preparation
for pursuing my journey hither with less interruption than I should
have been exposed to, starting from town. An absence of ten days or
a fortnight has been so much recommended, and indeed I began myself
to feel so much in want of it, that I am afraid I must not think of
returning for your motion. Indeed, tho' I should most eagerly support
it (supposing you can provide, as I trust you can, means of making the
execution in the detail practicable and effectual). I see no chance in
the present state of the session of your carrying it, unless Addington
can be brought really to see the propriety of it, and to concur in it
at once without debate. This last I should hope might be managed, and
whatever impression parts of his speech may have made on your mind, I
am sure I need not suggest to you that the best chance of doing this
will be to endeavour coolly to lay before him the case as it really is,
unmixed as far as possible with any topics of soreness, which evidently
were not absent from his mind on Canning's motion. I certainly, on the
whole, judge much more favourably of his general intentions on the
whole subject (or, I should rather say, of his probable conduct) than
you do. But I admit that one part of his speech was as unsatisfactory
as possible. This I really believe proceeded in a great measure from
the evident embarrassment and distress under which he was speaking,
and which I am persuaded prevented him from doing any justice to his
own ideas. I may deceive and flatter myself, but tho' I know we shall
be far from obtaining all that you and I wish, I really think there is
much chance of great real and substantial ground being gained towards
the ultimate and not remote object of total abolition next session.
This is far from a reason for not endeavouring, if possible, to prevent
the aggravation of the evil in the meantime, and I heartily wish you
may be successful in the attempt.

  "Ever affy. yrs.,

  "W. P."


  "_September 22, 1802_.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE, I am much obliged to you for your kind letter of
inquiry. My complaint has entirely left me, I am recovering my strength
every day, and I have no doubt of being in a very short time as well
as I was before the attack. Farquhar, however, seems strongly disposed
to recommend Bath before the winter, and if you make your usual visit
thither, I hope it is not impossible we may meet. Perhaps you will let
me know whether you propose going before Parliament meets, and at what
time. I hardly imagine that the session before Christmas can produce
much business that will require attendance. I ought long since to have
written to you on the subject of our friend Morritt. It would give me
great pleasure to see him come back to Parliament, tho' I hardly think
the occasion was one on which I

[Rest of letter torn off.]


  "_October 31, 1802_.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--As you are among the persons to whom the author
of the enclosed high-flown compliments refers for his character for
a very important purpose, I shall be much obliged to you if you will
tell me what you know of him. A man's qualifications to give a dinner
certainly depend more on the excellence of his cook and his wine, than
on himself but I have still some curiosity to know what sort of company
he and his guests are likely to prove; and should therefore be glad
to know a little more about them than I collect from his list of the
_dramatis personæ_, which for instruction might as well have been taken
from any old play-bill. In the meantime I have been obliged out of
common civility, _provisoirement_ to accept his invitation. I was very
sorry that I had too little time to spare in passing thro' town to try
to see you. I should have much wished to have talked over with you the
events which have been passing and the consequences to which they seem
to lead. You know how much under all the circumstances I wished for
peace, and my wishes remain the same, if Bonaparte can be made to feel
that he is not to trample in succession on every nation in Europe. But
of this I fear there is little chance, and without it I see no prospect
but war.

"I have not yet been here long enough to judge much of the effect of
these waters, but as far as I can in a few days, I think I am likely
to find them of material use to me. I mean to be in town by the 18th
of next month. Paley's work, which you mentioned in your last letter,
I had already read on the recommendation of my friend Sir W. Farquhar,
who had met with it by accident, and was struck with its containing the
most compendious and correct view of anatomy which he had ever seen.
I do not mean that he thought this its only merit. It certainly has a
great deal, but I think he carries some of his details and refinements
further than is at all necessary for his purpose, and perhaps than will
quite stand the test of examination.

  "Ever affy. yrs.,

  "W. P."


  "_August 8, 1803_ (?).

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--Not having returned from a visit to some of my
corps on the Isle of Thanet till Friday evening, I could not answer
your letter by that day's post, and I was interrupted when I was going
to write to you yesterday. It was scarce possible for me, consistent
with very material business in this district, to have reached town
to-day; and besides, I confess, I do not think any great good could
have been done by anything I could say in the House on any of the
points you mention. I feel most of them, however, and some others of
the same sort, as of most essential importance; and I have thoughts of
coming to town for a couple of days (which is as much as I can spare
from my duties here) towards the end of the week, to try whether I
cannot find some channel by which a remedy may be suggested on some
of the points which are now most defective. I think I shall probably
reach town on Saturday morning, and I should wish much if you could
contrive to meet me in Palace Yard or anywhere else, to have an
hour's conversation with you. I will write to you again as soon as I
can precisely fix any day. We are going on here most rapidly, and in
proportion to our population, most extensively, in every species of
local defence, both naval and military, and I trust shall both add
very much to the security of essential points on this coast, and set
not a bad example to other maritime districts.

  "Ever affy. yours,

  "W. P."


  "_January 5, 1804_.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE--Your letter reached me very safe this morning,
and I thank you very much for its contents. I hope it will not be long
before I have an opportunity of talking over with you fully the subject
to which it relates. From what I have heard since I saw you, it will be
necessary for me pretty soon to make up my mind on the line to pursue
under the new state of things which is approaching. In the meantime,
I shall not commit myself to anything without looking to _all_ the
consequences as cautiously as you can wish; and before I form any final
decision, I shall much wish to consult yourself and a few others whose
opinions I most value. If no new circumstance arises to revive the
expectation of the enemy, I mean to be in town the beginning of next
week, and will immediately let you know. Perhaps I may be able to go on
to Bath for a fortnight.

  "Ever affy. yours,

  "W. P."

Two examples are here given of Wilberforce's letters to Pitt. The
first is written in the character of a country member and political
friend. The second is one in reference to his work on Practical
Religion.[9] They are both, as is generally the case with his letters
to Pitt, undated, but the post-mark of the second bears "1797."

_Mr. Wilberforce to Right Hon. William Pitt._

"MY DEAR PITT,--My head and heart have been long full of some thoughts
which I wished to state to you when a little less under extreme
pressure than when Parliament is sitting. But my eyes have been very
poorly. I am now extremely hurried, but I will mention two or three
things as briefly as possible that I may not waste your time. First,
perhaps even yet you may not have happened to see an Order in Council
allowing, notwithstanding the War, an intercourse to subsist between
our West Indian Colonies and those of Spain, in which negro slaves are
the chief articles we are to supply. I know these commercial matters
are not within your department, and that therefore your assent is
asked, if at all, when your mind is full of other subjects. But let me
only remind you, for it would be foolish to write what will suggest
itself to your own mind, that the House of Commons did actually pass
the Bill for abolishing the foreign slave trade; and that if contracts
are made again for supplying Spain for a term of years, it may throw
obstacles in the way of a foreign slave-trade abolition. It would give
me more pleasure than I can express to find any further measures, or
even thoughts, on this to me painful subject, for many reasons, by
hearing the order was revoked. Second, I promised by compulsion (I
mean because I dislike to bore you) to state to you on the part of the
Deputy Receiver General for the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire
and Hull that it would tend materially both to facilitate and cheapen
the collection of the new assessed taxes to let them be collected at
the same time as the old ones. This will make the rounds four times
per annum instead of ten, and he says the expense of collecting, if
incurred six times per annum, will amount to full one-half of all the
present salaries of the Receivers General in the Kingdom. As he is a
most respectable man, I ought to say that he gives it as his opinion
that the Receivers General are not overpaid, all things considered.
But for my own opinion let me add that his principal really has none
of the labours of the office, and the deputy even finds his securities
for him. Third, surely there ought at the Bank to be a distinction
between what is paid for assessed taxes and what as free donation, when
the subscription includes both: your own and those of many others are
under that head. Fourth, I suppose you are now thinking of your taxes.
Do, I beseech you, let one of them be a tax on all public diversions
of every kind, including card-playing. I can't tell you how much their
not being taxed has been mentioned with censure, and I promised to
send you the enclosed letter from a very respectable man. I am sorry I
did, but now have no option. But my first great object in writing to
you is most earnestly to press on your attention a manuscript, which I
have been desired to lay before you, relative to Naval Discipline. You
must allow the writer to express himself with some perhaps unpleasant
idea of self-importance. But he clearly foresaw the late Mutiny, and
most strongly urged the adoption of preventive measures, which, had
they been taken, I verily believe the greatest misfortune this country
ever suffered would not have happened. That nothing was done is in my
mind--But I need not run on upon this to me most painful topic, because
it often suggests doubts whether I have not been myself to blame, who
perused the scheme two years ago. Let me earnestly entreat you, my dear
Pitt, to peruse it most seriously and impartially, and then let Dundas
read it. If you judge it proper, then either send it Lord Spencer or
to the writer, who is a good deal nettled at his former communications
to Lord Spencer not being attended to. I will send the manuscript by
to-morrow's mail.

  "Yours ever sincerely,

  "W. W.

"Every one is calling out for you to summon the nation to arm itself
in the common defence. You hear how nobly my Yorkshire men are acting.
I must have more discussion on that head, for they still wish you to
impose an equal rate on all property."

  "BATH, _Easter Sunday_.

"MY DEAR PITT,--I am not unreasonable enough to ask you to read my
book: but as it is more likely that when you are extremely busy than at
any other time you may take it up for ten minutes, let me recommend it
to you in that case to open on the last section of the fourth chapter,
wherein you will see wherein the religion which I espouse differs
practically from the common orthodox system. Also the sixth chapter
has almost a right to a perusal, being the basis of all politics, and
particularly addressed to such as you. At the same time I know you will
scold me for introducing your name. May God bless you. This is the
frequent prayer of your affectionate and faithful.

  "W. W."

  [Postmarked 1797.]

Here ends the hitherto unpublished correspondence between Pitt and
Wilberforce. On the occasion of Pitt's death, his brother, Lord
Chatham, writes with regard to his funeral:

_Lord Chatham to Mr. Wilberforce._

  "_February 15, 1806_.

"I have many thanks to offer you for your very kind letter which I
received this morning. Knowing, as I do, how truly the sentiments of
friendship and affection you express, were returned on the part of my
poor brother towards you, I can only assure you that it will afford me
a most sensible gratification that you should have, as an old, intimate
friend, some particular situation allotted to you in the last sad
tribute to be paid to his memory. Believe me, with sincere regard, my
dear sir,

  "Yours very faithfully,

Pitt was one of the few men whose lives have affected the destiny
of nations. The actions of such men are so far-reaching, and the
possibilities of the might-have-been so great, that history hardly
ever passes a final verdict upon them. Wilberforce had unexampled
opportunities of gauging the character and motives of Pitt, and
certainly had no strong partisan bias to warp his judgment. His matured
estimate of Pitt cannot fail therefore to be of peculiar interest. It
was written in 1821, sixteen years after Pitt's death, and is printed
exactly as Wilberforce left it. It will no doubt recall to the mind of
the reader Scott's well-known lines:

    "With Palinure's undaunted mood,
    Firm at his dangerous post he stood;
    Each call for needful rest repelled
    With dying hand the rudder held
    Till, in his fall, with fateful sway
    The steerage of the realm gave way!"[10]



Considering the effect of party spirit in producing a distrust of all
that is said in favour of a public man by those who have supported
him, and the equal measure of incredulity as to all that is stated of
him by his opponents, it may not be without its use for the character
of Mr. Pitt to be delineated by one who, though personally attached
to him, was by no means one of his partisans; who even opposed him on
some most important occasions, but who, always preserving an intimacy
with him, had an opportunity of seeing him in all circumstances and
situations, and of judging as much as any one could of his principles,
dispositions, habits, and manners.

It seems indeed no more than the payment of a debt justly due to
that great man that the friend who occasionally differed from him
should prevent any mistake as to the grounds of those differences;
and that as he can do it consistently with truth, he should aver,
as in consistency with truth he can aver, that in every instance
(with perhaps one exception only) in which his conscience prompted
him to dissent from Mr. Pitt's _measures_, he nevertheless respected
Mr. Pitt's _principles_; the differences arose commonly from a
different view of facts, or a different estimate of contingencies and
probabilities. Where there was a difference of political principles, it
scarcely ever was such as arose from moral considerations; still less
such as was produced by any distrust of Mr. Pitt's main intention being
to promote the well-being and prosperity of his country.

Mr. Pitt from his early childhood had but an indifferent constitution;
the gouty habit of body which harassed him throughout his life, was
manifested by an actual fit of that disorder when he was still a boy.
As early as fourteen years of age he was placed at Pembroke Hall,
Cambridge; he had even then excited sanguine expectations of future
eminence. His father had manifested a peculiar regard for him; he had
never, I believe, been under any other than the paternal roof, where
his studies had been superintended by a private tutor; and besides
a considerable proficiency in the Greek and Latin languages, he had
written a play in English, which was spoken of in high terms by those
who had perused it. I am sorry to hear that this early fruit of genius
is not anywhere to be found.

While he was at the University his studies, I understand, were carried
on with steady diligence both in classics and mathematics, and though
as a nobleman he could not establish his superiority over the other
young men of his time by his place upon the tripos, I have been assured
that his proficiency in every branch of study was such as would have
placed him above almost all competitors. He continued at the University
till he was near one-and-twenty, and it was during the latter part of
that period that I became acquainted with him. I knew him, however,
very little till the winter of 1779-80, when he occupied chambers in
Lincoln's Inn, and I myself was a good deal in London. During that
winter we became more acquainted with each other; we used often to meet
in the Gallery of the House of Commons, and occasionally at Lady St.
John's and at other places, and it was impossible not to be sensible of
his extraordinary powers.

On the calling of a new Parliament in the beginning of September,
1780, I was elected one of the Members for Hull. Mr. Pitt, if I
mistake not, was an unsuccessful candidate for the University of
Cambridge; but about Christmas 1780-81, through the intervention of
some common friends (more than one have claimed the honour of the
first suggestion, Governor Johnston, the Duke of Rutland, &c.), he
received and accepted an offer of a seat in Parliament made to him in
the most handsome terms by Sir James Lowther. From the time of his
taking his seat he became a constant attendant, and a club was formed
of a considerable number of young men who had about the same time left
the University and most of them entered into public life. The chief
members were Mr. Pitt, Lord Euston, now Duke of Grafton, Lord Chatham,
the Marquis of Graham, now Duke of Montrose, the Hon. Mr. Pratt, now
Marquis of Camden, the Hon. St. Andrew St. John, Henry Bankes, Esq.,
the Hon. Maurice Robinson, now Lord Rokeby, Lord Duncannon, now Lord
Besborough, Lord Herbert, postea Earl of Pembroke, Lord Althorp, now
Lord Spencer, Robert Smith, Esq., now Lord Carrington, Mr. Bridgeman,
Mr. Steele, several others, and myself. To these were soon afterwards
added Lord Apsley, Mr. Grenville, now Lord Grenville, Pepper Arden,
afterwards Lord Alvanley, Charles Long, afterwards Lord Farnborough,
Sir William Molesworth, &c. &c. Of the whole number Mr. Pitt was
perhaps the most constant attendant, and as we frequently dined,
and still more frequently supped together, and as our Parliamentary
attendance gave us so many occasions for mutual conference and
discussion, our acquaintance grew into great intimacy. Mr. Bankes
and I (Lord Westmoreland only excepted, with whom, on account of his
politics, Mr. Pitt had little connection) were the only members of
the society who had houses of their own, Mr. Bankes in London, and I
at Wimbolton[11] in Surrey. Mr. Bankes often received his friends to
dinner at his own house, and they frequently visited me in the country,
but more in the following Parliamentary session or two. In the spring
of one of these years Mr. Pitt, who was remarkably fond of sleeping in
the country, and would often go out of town for that purpose as late as
eleven or twelve o'clock at night, slept at Wimbolton for two or three
months together. It was, I believe, rather at a later period that he
often used to sleep also at Mr. Robert Smith's house at Hamstead.[12]

Mr. Pitt was not long in the House of Commons before he took a part
in the debates: I was present the first time he spoke, and I well
recollect the effect produced on the whole House; his friends had
expected much from him, but he surpassed all their expectations,
and Mr. Hatsell, the chief clerk and a few of the older members who
recollected his father, declared that Mr. Pitt gave indications of
being his superior. I remember to this day the great pain I suffered
from finding myself compelled by my judgment to vote against him on
the _second_ occasion of his coming forward, when the question was
whether some Commissioners of public accounts should, or should not,
be members of Parliament: indeed I never can forget the mixed emotions
I experienced when my feelings had all the warmth and freshness of
early youth, between my admiration of his powers, my sympathy with his
rising reputation, and hopes of his anticipated greatness, while I
nevertheless deemed it my duty in this instance to deny him my support.

Mr. Pitt was a decided and warm opponent of Lord North's
administration; so indeed were most of our society, though I
occasionally supported him. From the first, however, I concurred with
Mr. Pitt in opposing the American War, and we rejoiced together in
putting an end to it in about March, 1782, when Lord North's ministry
terminated; and after a painful, and I think considerable, interval,
during which it was said the King had even talked of going over to
Hanover, and was supposed at last to yield to the counsels of the
Earl of Mansfield, a new administration was formed consisting of the
Rockingham and Shelburne parties, the Marquis of Rockingham being
First Lord of the Treasury, and Lord Shelburne and Mr. Fox the two
Secretaries of State. But though the parties had combined together
against their common enemy, no sooner had he been removed than mutual
jealousies immediately began to show themselves between the Rockingham
and Shelburne parties. I well remember attending by invitation at Mr.
Thomas Townshend's, since Lord Sydney, with Mr. Pitt and most of the
young members who had voted with the Opposition, when Mr. Fox with
apparent reluctance stated that Lord Rockingham had not then been
admitted into the King's presence, but had only received communications
through Lord Shelburne; and little circumstances soon afterwards arose
which plainly indicated the mutual distrust of the two parties. Lord
Rockingham's constitution was much shaken, and after a short illness
his death took place before the end of the session of Parliament, about
the middle of June, 1782.[13] Mr. Pitt had taken occasion to declare
in the House of Commons that he would accept no subordinate situation,
otherwise there is no doubt he would have been offered a seat at the
Treasury Board, or indeed any office out of the Cabinet; but on Lord
Rockingham's death, notwithstanding Mr. Fox's endeavour to prevent a
rupture by declaring that _no disunion existed_,[14] the disagreement
between the parties, of which so many symptoms had before manifested
themselves, became complete and notorious. Lord Shelburne being invited
by the King to supply Lord Rockingham's place, Mr. Fox with most of the
Rockingham's party retired from office, and Mr. Pitt accepted the offer
made him by Lord Shelburne of becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer: he
had completed his twenty-third year the 28th of May preceding.

There was more than one day of debate even during that session, in
which Mr. Pitt indicated that gravity and dignity which became the high
station which he had assumed at so early an age. He continued in office
till the ensuing winter, when, after peace had been made both with
America and her continental allies France and Spain, Lord Shelburne's
administration was removed through the unprincipled coalition between
Lord North and Mr. Fox and their respective parties. It was supposed to
have been brought about in a great degree through the influence of Lord
North's eldest son, who had maintained a friendly acquaintance with
Mr. Fox, a man the fascination of whose manners and temper was such as
to render it impossible for any one to maintain a personal intercourse
with him without conceiving for him sincere and even affectionate
attachment. I seconded the motion for the address on the peace, and I
well remember a little before the business began writing a note in my
place with a pencil to Bankes, who was, I saw, at a little distance,
inquiring of him whether a union between North and Fox was really
formed, and whether I might publicly notice it; "Yes," he replied, "the
more strongly the better." Mr. Pitt on that night was very unwell; he
was obliged to retire from the House into Solomon's Porch by a violent
sickness at the very moment when Mr. Fox was speaking. He himself
afterwards replied in a speech of some hours' length, but he certainly
on that night fell short of our expectations; a second discussion,
however, took place a few days after, and his speech on that occasion
was one of the finest that was ever made in Parliament, both in point
of argument and power of oratory. I never shall forget the impression
produced by that part of it in which he spoke of his own retirement,
closing with that passage out of Horace, "Laudo manentem," &c., though
I must add that I retain no recollection whatever of the circumstance
mentioned by Sir N. Wraxall; indeed I cannot but be strongly persuaded
that he must have been misinformed. Well also do I remember our all
going to Mr. Pitt's from the House of Commons after our defeat about
eight in the morning, where a dinner had been waiting for us from
eleven or twelve the preceding night, and where we all laughed heartily
at some characteristic traits exhibited by Lord Stanhope,[15] then
Lord Mahon. An administration was then formed of which the Duke of
Portland was at the head, and Lord North and Mr. Fox joint Secretaries
of State. It was in the autumn of this year, 1783, during the recess of
Parliament, that I accompanied Mr. Pitt and Mr. Eliot, who afterwards
became his brother-in-law, to France: our plan was to spend a few weeks
in a provincial town, there to acquire something of the language,
and afterwards to make a short stay at Paris. Accordingly we went to
Rheims, where we continued for about six weeks. It was not until we
were on the point of going abroad (when Mr. Eliot came out of Cornwall,
Mr. Pitt from seeing his mother in Somersetshire, and I met them
both at Sittingbourne) that we recollected that we were unprovided
with letters of recommendation, which each of the party had perhaps
trusted to the other for obtaining. Accordingly we requested Mr. Smith
to obtain them for us of Mr. Thellusson, afterwards Lord Rendlesham,
who, we knew, had correspondencies all over France. Thellusson replied
that he would gladly do his best for us, but that he rather conceived
from circumstances that his correspondent at Rheims was not a person
of any commercial distinction. We, however, abided by our decision
in favour of Rheims. The day after we arrived there, having sent our
letter of recommendation the preceding evening to the person to whom
it was addressed, we were waited upon by a very well-behaved man with
a velvet coat, a bag, and sword, who conversed with us for a short
time. The next day we repaid his visit, and were a good deal surprised
to find that he was a very little grocer, his very small shop being
separated by a partition from his very small room. But he was an
unaffected, well-behaved man, and he offered to render us every service
in his power, but stated distinctly that he was not acquainted with
the higher people of the place and neighbourhood. For a few days we
lived very comfortably together, but no French was learned except from
the grammar, we not having a single French acquaintance. At length we
desired our friend the _épicier_ to mention us to the Lieutenant of
Police, who, I think we had made out, had been employed to collect
evidence in the great Douglas cause, and was therefore likely to
know something of our country and its inhabitants. This expedient
answered its intended purpose, though somewhat slowly and by degrees.
The Lieutenant of Police, Du Chatel, an intelligent and apparently
a respectable family man, came to visit us, and he having stated to
the Archbishop of Rheims, the present Cardinal de Perigord, whose
palace was about a mile from the city, that three English Members of
Parliament were then residing in it, one of whom was Mr. Pitt, who had
recently been Chancellor of the Exchequer, his Grace sent his Grand
Vicaire, the Abbé de la Garde, to ascertain the truth or falsehood of
this statement. The Abbé executed his commission with great address,
and reporting in our favour, we soon received an invitation to the
Archbishop's table, followed by the expression of a wish that during
the remainder of our stay at Rheims we would take up our residence in
his palace. This we declined, but we occasionally dined with him, and
from the time of our having been noticed by the Lieutenant we received
continual invitations, chiefly to supper, from the gentry in and about
the place. They were chiefly persons whose land produced the wine of
the country, which, without scruple, they sold on their own account.
And I remember the widow of the former Marshal Detrée intimating a wish
that Mr. Pitt would become her customer.

Thence we went to Paris, having an opportunity during that time of
spending four or five days at Fontainebleau, where the whole Court
was assembled. There we were every evening at the parties of one or
other of the French Ministers, in whose apartments we also dined--the
Queen being always among the company present in the evening, and
mixing in conversation with the greatest affability; there were also
Madame la Princesse de Lamballe, M. Segur, M. de Castres, &c. Mr.
George Ellis, who spoke French admirably, was in high favour for the
elegance of his manners and the ease and brilliancy of his wit; and
Mr. Pitt, though his imperfect knowledge of French prevented his doing
justice to his sentiments, was yet able to give some impression of
his superior powers--his language, so far as it did extend, being
remarkable, I was assured, for its propriety and purity. There M. le
Marquis de la Fayette appeared with a somewhat affected simplicity of
manner, and I remember the fine ladies on one occasion dragging him
to the card-table, while he shrugged up his shoulders and apparently
resisted their importunities that he would join their party: very few,
however, played at cards, the Queen, I think, never. During our stay
at Paris we dined one day with M. le Marquis de la Fayette with a very
small party, one of whom was Dr. Franklin; and it is due to M. le
Marquis de la Fayette to declare that the opinion which we all formed
of his principles and sentiments, so far as such a slight acquaintance
could enable us to form a judgment, was certainly favourable, and his
family appeared to be conducted more in the style of an English house
than any other French family which we visited. We commonly supped in
different parties, and I recollect one night when we English manifested
our too common indisposition to conform ourselves to foreign customs,
or rather to put ourselves out of our own way, by all going together
to one table, to the number of twelve or fourteen of us, and admitting
only one Frenchman, the Marquis de Noailles, M. de la Fayette's
brother-in-law, who spoke our own language like an Englishman, and
appeared more than any of the other French to be one of ourselves.
We, however, who were all young men, were more excusable than our
Ambassador at the Court of France, who, I remember, joined our party.

It was at Paris, in October, that Mr. Pitt first became acquainted
with Mr. Rose, who was introduced to him by Lord Thurlow, whose
fellow-traveller he was on the Continent; and it was then, or
immediately afterwards, that it was suggested to the late Lord Camden
by Mr. Walpole, a particular friend of M. Necker's, that if Mr. Pitt
should be disposed to offer his hand to Mademoiselle N., afterwards
Madame de Staël, such was the respect entertained for him by M. and
Madame Necker, that he had no doubt the proposal would be accepted.

We returned from France about November. Circumstances then soon
commenced which issued in the turning out of the Fox administration,
the King resenting grievously, as was said, the treatment he
experienced from them, especially in what regarded the settlement
of the Prince of Wales. I need only allude to the long course of
political contention which took place in the winter of 1783-84, when
at length Mr. Pitt became First Lord of the Treasury; and after a
violent struggle, the King dissolved the Parliament about March, and
in the new House of Commons a decisive majority attested the truth of
Mr. Pitt's assertion that he possessed the confidence of his country.
In many counties and cities the friends of Mr. Fox were turned out,
thence denominated Fox's Martyrs.[16] I myself became member for
Yorkshire in the place of Mr. Foljambe, Sir George Savile's nephew, who
had succeeded that excellent public man in the representation of the
county not many weeks before. I may be allowed to take this occasion of
mentioning a circumstance honourable to myself, since it is much more
honourable to him, that some years after he came to York on purpose to
support me in my contest for the county. It is remarkable that Lord
Stanhope first foresaw the necessity there would be for Mr. Pitt's
continuing in office notwithstanding his being out-voted in the House
of Commons, maintaining that the Opposition would not venture to refuse
the supplies, and that at the proper moment he should dissolve the

And now having traced Mr. Pitt's course from childhood to the period
when he commenced his administration of sixteen or seventeen years
during times the most stormy and dangerous almost ever experienced
by this country, it may be no improper occasion for describing his
character, and specifying the leading talents, dispositions, and
qualifications by which he was distinguished. But before I proceed to
this delineation it may be right to mention that seldom has any man had
a better opportunity of knowing another than I have possessed of being
thoroughly acquainted with Mr. Pitt. For weeks and months together I
have spent hours with him every morning while he was transacting his
common business with his secretaries. Hundreds of times, probably,
I have called him out of bed, and have, in short, seen him in every
situation and in his most unreserved moments. As he knew I should not
ask anything of him, and as he reposed so much confidence in me as to
be persuaded that I should never use any information I might obtain
from him for any unfair purpose, he talked freely before me of men and
things, of actual, meditated, or questionable appointments and plans,
projects, speculations, &c., &c. No man, it has been said, is a hero to
his _valet de chambre_, and if, with all the opportunities I enjoyed
of seeing Mr. Pitt in his most inartificial and unguarded moments, he
nevertheless appeared to me to be a man of extraordinary intellectual
and moral powers, it is due to him that it should be known that this
opinion was formed by one in whose instance Mr. Pitt's character was
subjected to its most severe test, which Rochefoucault appeared to
think could be stood by no human hero.

Mr. Pitt's intellectual powers were of the highest order, and in
private no less than in public, when he was explaining his sentiments
in any complicated question and stating the arguments on both sides,
it was impossible not to admire the clearness of his conceptions, the
precision with which he contemplated every particular object, and a
variety of objects, without confusion. They who have had occasion
to discuss political questions with him in private will acknowledge
that there never was a fairer reasoner, never anyone more promptly
recognising, and allowing its full weight to every consideration and
argument which was urged against the opinion he had embraced. You
always saw _where_ you differed from him and _why_. The difference
arose commonly from his sanguine temper leading him to give credit to
information which others might distrust, and to expect that doubtful
contingencies would have a more favourable issue than others might
venture to anticipate. I never met with any man who combined in an
equal degree this extraordinary precision of understanding with the
same intuitive apprehension of every shade of opinion, or of feeling,
which might be indicated by those with whom he was conversant. In
taking an estimate of Mr. Pitt's intellectual powers, his extraordinary
memory ought to be specially noticed. It was indeed remarkable for
two excellencies which are seldom found united in the same person--a
facility of receiving impressions, and a firmness and precision in
retaining them. His great rival, Mr. Fox, was also endowed with a
memory which to myself used to appear perfectly wonderful. Often in
the earlier part of my Parliamentary life I have heard him (Fox) at a
very late hour speak, without having taken any notes, for two or three
hours, noticing every material argument that had been urged by every
speaker of the opposite party: this he commonly did in the order in
which those arguments had been delivered, whereas it was rather Mr.
Pitt's habit to form the plan of a speech in his mind while the debate
was going forward, and to distribute his comments on the various
statements and remarks of his opponents according to the arrangement
which he had made. Such was his (Pitt's) recollection of the great
classical authors of antiquity that scarcely a passage could be
quoted of their works, whether in verse or prose, with which he was
not so familiar as to be able to take up the clue and go on with what
immediately followed. This was particularly the case in the works of
Virgil, Horace, and Cicero, and I am assured that he was also scarcely
less familiar with Homer and Thucydides.

He had considerable powers of imagination and much ready wit, but this
quality appeared more to arise from every idea, and every expression
that belonged to it, being at once present to his mind, so as to enable
him at will to make such combinations as suited the purpose of the
moment, than as if his mind was only conscious at the time of that
particular coruscation which the collision of objects caused to flash
before the mental eye. It arose out of this distinctive peculiarity
that he was not carried away by his own wit, though he could at any
time command its exercise, and no man, perhaps, at proper seasons
ever indulged more freely or happily in that playful facetiousness
which gratifies all without wounding any. He had great natural courage
and fortitude, and though always of a disordered stomach and gouty
tendencies (on account of which port wine had been recommended to him
in his earliest youth, and drinking French wine for a day or two would
at any time produce gouty pains in the extremities), yet his bodily
temperament never produced the smallest appearance of mental weakness
or sinking. I think it was from this source, combined with that of his
naturally sanguine temper, that though manifestly showing how deeply he
felt on public affairs, he never was harassed or distressed by them,
and till his last illness, when his bodily powers were almost utterly
exhausted, his inward emotions never appeared to cloud his spirits, or
affect his temper. Always he was ready in the little intervals of a
busy man to indulge in those sallies of wit and good humour which were
naturally called forth.

Excepting only the cases of those who have had reason to apprehend the
loss of life or liberty, never was a public man in circumstances more
harassing than those of Mr. Pitt in 1784: for several weeks the fate
of his administration and that of his opponents were trembling on the
beam, sometimes one scale preponderating, sometimes the other; almost
daily it appeared doubtful whether he was to continue Prime Minister
or retire into private life. Yet though then not five-and-twenty I do
not believe that the anxiety of his situation ever kept him awake for
a single minute, or ever appeared to sadden or cast a gloom over his
hours of relaxation.

It cannot perhaps be affirmed that he was altogether free from
pride, but great natural shyness,[18] and even awkwardness (French
_gaucherie_), often produced effects for which pride was falsely
charged on him; and really that confidence which might be justly
placed in his own powers by a man who could not but be conscious of
their superiority might sometimes appear like pride, though not fairly
deserving that appellation; and this should be the rather conceded,
because from most of the acknowledged effects of pride upon the
character he was eminently free. No man, as I have already remarked,
ever listened more attentively to what was stated against his own
opinions; no man appeared to feel more for others when in distress; no
man was ever more kind and indulgent to his inferiors and dependents
of every class, and never were there any of those little acts of
superciliousness, or indifference to the feelings and comforts of
others, by which secret pride is sometimes betrayed. But if Mr. Pitt
was not wholly free from pride, it may truly be affirmed that no man
was perhaps ever more devoid of vanity in all its forms. One particular
more in Mr. Pitt's character, scarcely ever found in a proud man, was
the extraordinary good humour and candour with which he explained and
discussed any plan or measure, of which he had formed the outline
in his mind, with those professional men who were necessarily to be
employed in giving it a Parliamentary form and language. I do not
believe that there is a single professional man or the head of any
board who ever did business with him, who would not acknowledge that
he was on such occasions the most easy and accommodable man with whom
they ever carried on official intercourse. One instance of this kind
shall be mentioned as a specimen of the others. He had formed a plan of
importance (I think in some Revenue matter) on which it was necessary
for him to consult with the Attorney-General of the day, I believe
Chief Baron Macdonald; Mr. Pitt had been for some time ruminating
on the measure, his mind had been occupied for perhaps a month in
moulding it into form and in devising expedients for its more complete
execution. It may here be not out of place to mention as a peculiarity
of his character that he was habitually apt to have almost his whole
thoughts and attention and time occupied with the particular object
or plan which he was then devising and wishing to introduce into
practice. He was as usual full of his scheme, and detailed it to his
professional friend with the warmth and ability natural to him on such
occasions. But the Attorney-General soon became convinced that there
were legal objections to the measure, which must be decisive against
its adoption. These therefore he explained to Mr. Pitt, who immediately
gave up his plan with the most unruffled good-humour, without
attempting to hang by it, or to devise methods of propping it up, but,
casting it at once aside, he pursued his other business as cheerfully
and pleasantly as usual.

But there are many who with undisturbed composure and with a good grace
can on _important_ occasions thus change their line of conduct and
assume a course contrary to that which they would have preferred. It
is, however, far more rare to find men who on little occasions, which
are not of sufficient moment to call a man's dignity into action, and
which are not under the public eye, can bear to have their opinions
opposed and their plans set aside, without manifesting some irritation
or momentary fretfulness. But on the lesser scale as well as on the
greater Mr. Pitt's good-humour was preserved. This same disposition of
mind was attended with the most important advantages, and in truth was
one which eminently qualified him to be the Minister of a free country.

If towards the latter end of his life his temper was not so entirely
free from those occasional approaches to fretfulness which continued
disease and the necessity of struggling against it too often produce,
it ought to be taken into account that another powerful cause
besides human infirmity might have tended to lessen that kindness
and good-humour for which he was for the greater part of his life
so remarkable. The deference that was paid to him was justly great,
but though no man less than himself exacted anything like servility
from his companions, it is impossible to deny that there were those
who attempted to cultivate his favour by this species of adulation.
Another particular in Mr. Pitt, seldom connected with pride, was the
kind interest he took in the rising talents of every young public man
of any promise whose politics were congenial with his own; as well as
the justice which he did to the powers of his opponents--a quality
which it is but fair to say was no less apparent in Mr. Fox also. If he
sometimes appeared to be desirous of letting a debate come to a close
without hearing some friends who wished to take a part in it, this
arose in some degree in his wishing to get away, from his being tired
out with Parliamentary speaking and hearing, or from thinking that the
debate would close more advantageously at the point at which he stopped.

In society he was remarkably cheerful and pleasant, full of wit and
playfulness, neither, like Mr. Fox, fond of arguing a question, nor yet
holding forth, like some others.[19] He was always ready to hear others
as well as to talk himself. In very early life he now and then engaged
in games of chance, and the vehemence with which he was animated was
certainly very great; but finding that he was too much interested by
them, all at once he entirely and for life desisted from gambling.

His regard for truth was greater than I ever saw in any man who was
not strongly under the influence of a powerful principle of religion:
he appeared to adhere to it out of respect to himself, from a certain
moral purity which appeared to be a part of his nature. A little
incident may afford an example of his delicacy in this respect. A
common friend of ours, a member of the House of Lords, was reflected
upon with considerable acrimony in the House of Commons by one of Mr.
Pitt's political opponents. Being with him, as often happened, the next
morning, while he was at breakfast, I told him that the animadversions
which had been made on our friend the night before were stated in
the newspaper, and I expressed some surprise that he himself had not
contradicted the fact which was the ground of the reprehension. "This,"
said he, "I might have done, but you will remember that it was a
circumstance in which, if I deviated from strict truth, no other man
could know of it, and in such a case it is peculiarly requisite to keep
within the strictest limits of veracity."

The remark I am about to make may deserve the more attention on account
of its general application, and because it may probably tend to
illustrate other characters. It may, I believe, be truly affirmed that
the imputations which were sometimes thrown out against Mr. Pitt, that
he was wanting in simplicity and frankness, and the answers he made to
questions put to him concerning his future conduct, or the principles
which were regulating the course of measures he pursued, were in truth
a direct consequence of that very strictness and veracity for which
he was so remarkable. When men are not very scrupulous as to truth,
they naturally deal in broad assertions, especially in cases in which
their feelings are at all warmly engaged; but it seldom happens that
a political man can thus assume a principle and apply it to all the
cases, which, in the use he is about to make of it, it may be supposed
to comprehend, without some qualifications and distinctions; and a man
of strict veracity therefore makes a conditional declaration or gives
a qualified assurance. The same remark applies to the judgments we
may express of the character and conduct of public men. In order to
be strictly correct we cannot always use broad and strong colouring,
but there must be shades and gradations in our draught. Yet such is
the natural and even commendable love which men generally have of
truth and honesty, that we feel an instinctive preference of simple
and strong affirmations or negations as indicating more blunt and
straightforward principles and dispositions, than where men express
themselves in measured and qualified and conditional propositions. No
man, I believe, ever loved his country with a warmer or more sincere
affection; it was highly gratifying to converse familiarly with him
on the plans he was forming for the public good; or to witness the
pleasure he experienced from indulging speculations of the benefits
which his country might derive from the realising of such or such a

But notwithstanding all my admiration of Mr. Pitt's extraordinary
powers, and still more, with the deepest and most assured conviction
of his public spirit and patriotism, I cannot but think that even his
uncommon excellencies were not without some alloy of human infirmity.
In particular he appeared to me to be defective in his knowledge of
human nature, or that from some cause or other he was less sagacious
than might have been expected from his superior talents, in his
estimate of future events, and sometimes in his judgment of character.
This might probably arise in part from his naturally sanguine temper,
which in estimating future contingencies might lead him to assign
too little weight to those probabilities which were opposed to his
ultimate conclusion. But if I must be honest in delineating Mr. Pitt's
character and qualities, I must also confess that in considering their
practical influence on the fortunes of his country, I have sometimes
been almost ready to believe that powers far inferior to his, under
the direction of a mind equally sincere and equally warm in its zeal
for the public good, might have been the instrument of conferring far
greater benefits on his country. His great qualities, under the impulse
and guidance of true religion, would probably have been the means of
obtaining for his country much greater temporal blessings, together
with others of a far higher order, and more durable effects. The
circumstances of the period at which he first came into the situation
of Prime Minister were such as almost to invest him with absolute
power. All his faculties then possessed the bloom of youthful beauty
as well as the full vigour of maturer age: his mind was ardent, his
principles were pure, his patriotism warm, his mind as yet altogether
unsullied by habitually associating with men of worldly ways of
thinking and acting, in short, with a class which may be not unfitly
termed trading politicians; this is a class with which perhaps no
one, however originally pure, can habitually associate, especially in
the hours of friendly intercourse and of social recreation, without
contracting insensibly more or less defilement. No one who had not
been an eye-witness could conceive the ascendency which Mr. Pitt then
possessed over the House of Commons, and if he had then generously
adopted the resolution to govern his country by _principle_ rather
than by _influence_, it was a resolution which he could then have
carried into execution with success, and the full effects of which,
both on the national character, interests, and happiness, it is
scarcely possible perhaps to estimate; but it would be a curious
and no unprofitable speculation to trace the probable effects which
would have resulted from the assumption of this high moral tone, in
the actual circumstances of this country, in reference both to our
internal interests and our foreign relations. This is a task I cannot
now undertake, but I may remind the reader that the principles were
then beginning to propagate themselves with the greatest success which
not long after exhibited their true nature and ruinous effects in the
French Revolution. Such a spirit of patriotism would have been kindled,
such a generous confidence in the King's government would have been
diffused throughout all classes, that the very idea of the danger of
our being infected with the principles of French licentiousness, which
might have produced among our people a general taint of disloyalty,
would have been an apprehension not to be admitted into the bosom of
the most timid politician; while the various reforms which would have
taken place, and the manifest independence of Parliament would have
generated and ensured in the minds of all reasonable men a continually
increasing gratitude and affection for the constitution and laws of our
country. On the other hand, the French, infatuated as they were, and
wicked as were the men who then possessed the chief influence in the
counsels of that country, could never have been so blind to their own
manifest interest, as to have engaged their people in a war with Great
Britain from any idea of our confederating with the Crowned Heads of
Europe to crush the rising spirit of liberty in France. Hence we should
have escaped that long and bloody war, which, however, in its ultimate
issue justly deserving the epithet of glorious, is nevertheless the
cause of all our present dangers and sufferings, from the insupportable
burdens with which it has loaded us. Nor is it only _Financial_ evils
of which our long protracted warfare has been the cause; to this
source also we must probably trace much of that _Moral_ evil, which
in so many different forms has been of late beginning to manifest
itself, especially among the lower orders of our people. The gracious
Providence of God has indeed abundantly answered the prayers of many
among us, who I trust have all along been looking up to the Giver of
all Good for their country's safety and prosperity; and while those
causes were in operation which were hereafter to manifest themselves
in various forms of social and domestic evil, it pleased God to
diffuse a spirit of an opposite kind, which began to display its love
of God and love of man by the formation of societies of a religious
and moral nature, which have already contributed in no small degree
to bless almost all nations, while they have invested our own country
with a moral glory never before enjoyed by any nation upon earth. The
diffusion of the Sacred Scriptures, the establishment of societies for
spreading throughout the world the blessings of religious light and
of moral improvement, the growing attention to the education of our
people, with societies and institutions for relieving every species
of suffering which vice and misery can ever produce among the human
race,--what would have been the effects of all this, if not obstructed
and counteracted in all the various ways by which war, that greatest
scourge of the human race, carries on its baleful and wide wasting

Is it not a melancholy consideration that this very country, the
constitution and laws of which have been the objects of the highest
possible admiration of the wisest men, should be in such a state
that but too large a part of the great body of our people, instead of
looking up to Heaven with gratitude for being favoured with blessings
never before enjoyed by any nation, should be led by their sufferings
to regard that very constitution and those very laws with disgust and
aversion? Of this unhappy state of things the war, as having been
the cause of our financial distresses and difficulties, is in fact
the source. But there is nothing in which we are so apt to deceive
ourselves as in conceiving that we are capable of estimating the
full amount of moral good or evil; short-sighted as we are, there is
nothing in which our views are more manifestly narrow and contracted;
an important, nay, an awful consideration, which, while it may well
encourage to activity in all good, should make us tremble to admit
(the slightest speck) the smallest seed of moral evil to pollute our
country's soil. But I have been led to expatiate more than I intended
on this topic, though merely glancing at some of the most important
of the considerations which it presents to the view even of the most
superficial observer.

Returning to the consideration of the effect of true religion on the
character and conduct of the great man who has been the subject of this
inquiry, I am naturally led to remark that there can be no possible
occasion on which the application of the principle on which I have been
lately speaking would suggest wider scope for our reflection. But if
we consider the effect which true religion would have produced either
in himself or in others around him, how immense would appear the mass
of benefits, in the employment of his time, in the application of his
faculties, in the selection of his companions, perhaps, above all, in
his giving their just weight to religious and moral principles and
character in the exercise of his unlimited patronage, both in Church
and State; and considering that every religious and good man, who by
him should have been invested with power and influence, would _himself_
have selected others of similar principles and character, throughout
the descending series of official appointments, and through all the
variety of social occupations, who can say what would have been the
effect of these religious and moral secretions, if they may be so
termed, which throughout the whole political body would have been
gradually producing their blessed effects in augmenting its fulness,
symmetry, and strength?[21] And these effects, remember, would have
been of a merely public, still less of a merely political character.
They would have been, to say the least, full as manifest, and even more
fertile in the production of happiness in all the walks of private
life and all the varieties of social combination.

In considering the estimates which were formed of Mr. Pitt's and Mr.
Fox's characters respectively, more especially in point of what may be
called popularity; and also as to their reputation for genius, wit,
and classical taste, it should be remembered that Mr. Fox happened to
have become connected, both at school and at Oxford, with a circle of
men eminent for talents and classical proficiency, men also who were
not shut up in cloisters, but who lived in the world, and gave the
tone in the highest and most polished societies of the metropolis.
Among these were Mr. Hare, General Fitzpatrick, Lord John Townshend;
and to these must be added Mr. Windham, Mr. Erskine, and, above all,
Mr. Sheridan. Mr. Pitt had also several college friends who came into
Parliament about the same period with himself, men of no inferior
consideration­--Mr. Bankes, Mr. Eliot, Lord Abercorn, Lord Spencer, and
several others. But these, it must be confessed, were by no means men
of the same degree of brilliancy as the former set; nor did they in
the same degree live in the circle of fashion and there diffuse their
own opinions. Again Mr. Fox's political connections were numerous, and
such as naturally tended to stamp a high value on his character. Burke,
Barré­--for there were those also who though not of Fox's party,
often associated with him in private, and tended to sustain the general
estimate of his superiority; of these were Gibbon, Lord Thurlow,
Dunning, Jeykell.


Again, the necessity under which Mr. Pitt often lay of opening and
speaking upon subjects of a low and vulgarising quality, such as
the excise on tobacco, wine, &c., &c., topics almost incapable with
propriety, of an association with wit or grace, especially in one
who was so utterly devoid of all disposition to seek occasions for
shining, tended to produce a real mediocrity of sentiment and a lack
of ornament, as well as to increase the impression that such was
the nature of his oratory. Also the speeches of a minister were of
necessity more guarded, and his subjects, except where he was opening
some new proposition or plan, were rather prescribed to him by others,
than selected by himself.[22]

       *       *       *       *       *

The MS. of Canning's lines on Pitt is amongst the Wilberforce Papers;
they are so little known that no apology is needed for inserting them
here. Canning wrote them for the feast in honour of Pitt's birthday,
May 28, 1802. It will be remembered that Pitt had resigned in 1801,
because the King would not accept his Irish policy. A vote of censure
had been moved, and was not merely rejected, but, by an overwhelming
majority, it was carried "that the Right Hon. William Pitt has rendered
great and important services to his country, and especially deserved
the gratitude of this House."[23]


    (_A Song written in 1802._)

    If hush'd the loud whirlwind that ruffled the deep,
      The sky, if no longer dark tempests deform;
    When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?
      No! Here's to the Pilot that weather'd the storm!

    At the footstool of Power let flattery fawn,
      Let faction her idols extol to the skies;
    To Virtue, in humble retirement withdrawn,
      Unblam'd may the merits of gratitude rise.

    And shall not his memory to Britain be dear,
      Whose example with envy all nations behold;
    A Statesman unbias'd by int'rest or fear,
      By pow'r uncorrupted, untainted by gold?

    Who, when terror and doubt through the universe reigned,
      While rapine and treason their standards unfurl'd,
    The heart and the hopes of his country maintained,
      And one kingdom preserv'd midst the wreck of the world.

    Unheeding, unthankful, we bask in the blaze,
      While the beams of the sun in full majesty shine;
    When he sinks into twilight, with fondness we gaze,
      And mark the mild lustre that gilds his decline.

    Lo! Pitt, when the course of thy greatness is o'er,
      Thy talents, thy virtues, we fondly recall!
    Now justly we prize thee, when lost we deplore;
      Admir'd in thy zenith, but lov'd in thy fall.

    Oh! take, then--for dangers by wisdom repelled,
      For evils, by courage and constancy brav'd--
    Oh take! for a throne by thy counsels upheld
      The thanks of a people thy firmness has sav'd.

    And oh! if again the rude whirlwind should rise!
      The dawning of peace should fresh darkness deform,
    The regrets of the good, and the fears of the wise,
      Shall turn to the Pilot that weather'd the storm.


_The letters which follow are from friends of Wilberforce between the
years 1786-1832: they touch on a variety of subjects. George Rose[24]
writes in 1790 in the full flush of excitement on the news of "peace
certain and unequivocal on the very terms prescribed from hence."_


_Right Hon. George Rose to Mr. Wilberforce._


  "_November 4, 1790_.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--I was shocked this morning in putting my papers
in order on my table to find a letter I wrote to you before I went into
the country; you must have thought me shamefully inattentive to you,
which I trust I never shall be while I retain my senses, for anxious
as I am to avoid such an imputation in general I do assure you I am
particularly so to stand clear of that in your opinion. I will now,
however, make you ample amends for the seeming neglect by telling you
that the expected messenger is arrived and brings us an account of
peace _certain_ and _unequivocal_, on the very terms (I may say to you)
_prescribed_ from hence; they secure to us great and essential points
important to the interests of the country, and must prevent future
occasions of quarrel with Spain; war with all its certain and possible
consequences are (_sic_) avoided. So much for public benefits; what
it must produce to the individual[25] to whom the merit is justly and
fairly to be ascribed it is impossible at once to foresee--I mean with
respect to character of everything that can be valuable to a man in his

"I have actually been drunk ever since ten o'clock this morning, and
have not yet quite the use of my reason, but I am

  "Yours most faithfully and cordially,


Pitt's views as to a bounty on corn in the scarcity then[26] prevailing
are given by Rose in the next letter.

_Right Hon. G. Rose to Mr. Wilberforce._

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--It would be very odd if your writing to me on
the subject of your last, or indeed on any other, could require an
apology; I regret only that I cannot give you the light upon it you

"With respect to measures within the reach of Government to relieve the
scarcity I fear none can be effectual. Mr. Pitt cannot, as you know,
after his declaration in Parliament, import at the expense or risk
of the public, but he is inclined to give a bounty on corn imported
when it shall be _below_ a certain price within a limited time. This
is a new principle, but I really believe it would produce much good.
The idea occurred to him on reading Mr. Richardson's letter to you,
who stated the great discouragement of individuals importing to be the
risk of prices being low on the arrival of cargoes in the spring; I was
so much struck with Mr. Richardson's observations that I wrote to beg
him to call on me last Monday, but he had unfortunately set off that
morning for Liverpool. I am more than half disposed to take the chance
of prevailing with him to come up again.

"During our late sitting the Scotch distilleries were stopped, but
the prices of barley in England were not _then_ such as to induce any
man to hint even at the English; and of course there is now no power
to prevent them going on. We did prohibit the distillation of wheat;
and allowed the importation of starch at the Home Duty, which will
stop that manufactory; but I deplore most sincerely and earnestly any
agreement against the use of hair powder, not merely for the sake of a
large revenue, but to avoid other mischief which I am very sure is not
enough attended to, the distinction of dress and external appearance.
The inattention to that has been a great support of Jacobinism.

"The resolutions which were taken in the last scarcity for restraining
the use of flour, &c., were so little attended, and were on the whole
productive of so little good that Mr. Pitt has not thought it yet
advisable to recur to them. I believe _much_ may be done, especially in
towns, by soup shops, respecting which I should think Mr. Bernard can
inform you as fully as any one, from the share he took in the conduct
of them in London last winter. Perhaps the article may be made somewhat
cheaper here than anywhere else from there being a larger quantity of
coarse parts of the meat than in any country place, but the soup was
made admirably good, palatable and nutritive for twopence a quart,
and retailed at half that price; one pint an ample allowance for each
person, taking adults and children together, so that for one halfpenny
a day a comfortable mess was provided for a poor person. I am making
the experiment both at Christ Church and Lyndhurst and I shall soon
see how it will answer. I am not sure but that some general plan of
that sort will be as likely as any other to be useful now. I think also
of importing a cargo of corn now, as I did pork on the last occasion,
and it may be a good thing to encourage others to do the same for the
supply of their respective neighbourhoods, which people will be more
disposed to do if Mr. Pitt should propose the bounty I have alluded to.

"The dry weather during the last twelve days I hope will be productive
of infinite good; nothing could be more fortunate, as the seed I hope
will now be all well got in, which may have an immediate effect in
lowering the prices."

A letter of a later date from Rose follows as to the payment of Pitt's
debts by subscription amongst his friends. Wilberforce was sanguine as
to the success of this plan "considering the number of affluent men
connected with Pitt, some of whom have got great and lucrative places
from him." Wilberforce drew up a list of sixty-three persons who "might
be expected to contribute." But the plan of a private subscription fell
to the ground.

_Right Hon. G. Rose to Mr. Wilberforce._


  "_January 25, 1806, Saturday_.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--I told you, immediately after the receipt of
your former letters, that all thought of applying to Parliament for
payment of Mr. Pitt's debts was abandoned; and measures are taking for
the attainment of that object, which will be very greatly assisted by
your endeavours I am sure. Mr. Samuel Thornton and Mr. Angerstein are
to meet several gentlemen in the city on Tuesday morning to promote a
private subscription, and whatever may be necessary to be done at this
end of the town I trust will be effected. I hope I expressed myself
intelligibly respecting your motives--you cannot be more certain of
them than I am--and I felt deeply obliged by the plainness with which
you expressed your sentiments; they decided my conduct instantly, as I
told you before.

"As to the wish expressed by our late inestimable friend relative to
the Stanhopes, I suggested to you that as provision had been made
for the husbands of the two elder ones, equal to £1,000 a year, I
believe, for each, I thought a further one by Parliament could hardly
be acquiesced in. For Lady Hester I hoped no difficulty would be made
in providing an annuity to that amount. The two young men are in the
army--_they_ are not of Mr. Pitt's blood and small sinecure employments
are given to them which will aid their income.

"Three gentlemen are to meet in the city on Monday to concert the best
measures for promoting the subscription, and you shall know the result.
You will, I am persuaded, come in to attend the House on that day.

  "The Bishop of Lincoln is at the Deanery.
  "I am, my dear Wilberforce,
  "Most truly yours,

The next two letters are from Dundas, afterwards Lord Melville,[27]
"the only minister to whose judgment Pitt greatly deferred."
Wilberforce writes of him as "an excellent man of business and a fine,
warm-hearted fellow," but later on he says, "his connection with Dundas
was Pitt's great misfortune."[28] The first letter is on the subject of
free exports of our manufactures to Holland.

_Right Hon. Henry Dundas to Mr. Wilberforce._

  "WIMBLEDON, _August 15, 1796_.

"MY DEAR W.,--I have spoke both with Mr. Pitt and Lord Grenville
on the subject of a free exportation of our manufactures from this
country to Holland. I think they agree with me in thinking that if the
restraint was ever a politick one the time is passed. Lord Liverpool, I
believe, is of a different opinion, but it will immediately come under
discussion, and I would hope he will act wisely upon it. For my own
part, I am of opinion that it is a degree of infatuation at the present
moment to prevent the trade and manufactures of the country finding an
exit and a vent in any mode and by any channel the enterprise of the
merchants can devise. I am as well as can be under all the anxieties
which the state of the country naturally suggests, and the pain
arising from that anxiety is not diminished by feeling oneself free
from the blame of all the mischief which is going on. Who would have
thought not many years ago that in the year 1796 Great Britain should
be the only nation to be found true to its own interests, or in a
situation to maintain them. But I find my pen running away with me, and
must conclude with congratulating you on the fine weather and luxuriant
crops, and with being, my dear Wil,

  "Yours sincerely,

Dundas's remarks on the defence of the country and the raising of
volunteer and yeomanry corps in 1798 are not without interest in 1897.

  "WIMBLEDON, _January 29, 1798_.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--There can not be a doubt of the wishes of
Government to bring forward the zeal and exertions of the country in
every practicable shape; at present I am not aware that any thing
cheaper (if really efficient) can be resorted to than the system of
volunteer corps and yeomanry corps to which every encouragement is
given. At the same time if any proposal through the regular channel
can be laid before Government having the same tendency, there can
not be a doubt of its being duly attended to. The only satisfactory
answer therefore which I can make to your letter is to suggest to you
the propriety of mentioning to your friends who have applied to you,
that it would be best for them to put in writing the specified plan
they would severally wish to adopt, and if that is sent to the Duke
of Portland by the Lord Lieutenant, I have no reason to doubt that it
will be duly attended to. If a copy of the proposal is at the same time
extra officially laid before me, it might be the means of expediting
the consideration of it, as I have frequent opportunities of conversing
with the Dukes of York and Portland, and likewise with Mr. Pitt on all
subjects of that nature. Indeed the proper defence of the country by
every possible means it can be done with effect and economy occupies my
unremitting attention, and if I observe it neglected in any department,
it vexes and distresses me more than I can describe, and perhaps more
than is convenient consistently with keeping one's mind in a constant
tenor of steady and unruffled attention. I was sorry to learn within
these two days that Mrs. Wilberforce is ailing, and

  "I remain, my dear Wilberforce,
  "Yours very sincerely,

  In his later days when he had withdrawn to
  a great extent from the society which he had
  charmed in his youth Wilberforce's chief female
  friends were Hannah More, of whose letters hundreds
  remain, Martha More, Mrs. Fry, Maria
  Edgeworth. In strong contrast stand out the
  friendships of the youthful days, when Wilberforce's
  Wimbledon villa was the resort of witty
  and fashionable, rather than of learned and charitable
  ladies, when he was "sitting up all night
  singing" and when the society he frequented
  included Mrs. Siddons, Mrs. Crewe, Mrs. Sheridan,
  the Duchess of Portland, and last but not
  least, the beautiful and bewitching Jane Duchess
  of Gordon, she who raised the regiment of Gordon
  Highlanders by giving, as was said, the
  shilling from her mouth to the recruits.

  The Duchess of Gordon writes to William
  Wilberforce in July, 1788, of "the many happy
  hours I have spent at Wimbledon," and from
  Keswick this versatile woman tells him of the
  "sweet church" she had passed by and how she
  "found myself repeating the lines, 'Remote from
  man with God he passed his days, Prayer all
  his business, all his pleasure praise': it is thus
  I should like to live, the world forgetting, by
  the world forgot." She tries to tempt him to
  Gordon Castle in these words: "I know that
  'silent glens have charms for thee,' and this is the
  country in which you will find those silent and
  peaceful abodes. Nature bestowed every wild,
  uncultivated beauty, with a purer air and brighter
  horizon. Here Hygeia is to be found; we lead
  the lives of hermits. Dr. Beattie shall be our
  companion. We go to bed at eleven, and sometimes
  visit the majestic ocean before breakfast.
  I am certain the air of this country would perfectly
  re-establish your health, which would give
  joy to thousands, and no one more than, &c.,

  "J. GORDON."

In this letter the Duchess encloses her correspondence with Dundas, who
was one of the circle at that Liberty Hall of Wimbledon.

The Duchess had had a misunderstanding with Dundas which she wished
Wilberforce to heal through his influence with Pitt. She had "dropped
some words" respecting Dundas to Pitt which had "got round" to the
former. Dundas writes to her:


  "_July 4, 1788_.

"DEAR DUCHESS,--I received your affectionate note previous to your
departure for Scotland. A great part of its contents are more fit for
discussion in free conversation than by letter. I have only to beg of
you always to keep in remembrance the long letter I wrote to you in
consequence of some words you dropped to Mr. Pitt respecting me last

"It is scarcely possible for you to put me out of humour, because
however much you may at times forget yourself, and get into sallies
of unguarded expression, you would be almost the worst of beings if
you was seriously to entertain for me any other sentiments than those
of perfect regard and affection. I therefore never suspect you of any
serious alteration of your regard. But let me for your own sake entreat
you to reflect that everybody does not make the same allowance that
I do. You judge truly when you think that you have many enemies, and
be assured that there is no such good receipt for having enemies than
to talk rashly or disrespectfully behind their backs; and be sure of
it these things in some way or other get round, and no after-civility
is received as an expiation. On the contrary, it brings upon you the
imputation of duplicity which of all other ingredients in a character
ought (even the suspicion of it) to be avoided.

"After so long a lecture, I think it right to console you with
enclosing Sir George Young's note just received. I leave you to say
anything you please about me to Mrs. Gordon, only let her not imagine
that I made professions even in the middle of a country dance without a
perfect determination to realise them. Remember me affectionately to
everybody, and

  "I remain,
  "Yours sincerely,

The Duchess's answer to Dundas is so full of piquancy that it helps one
to realise the personality of this remarkable woman.

_Duchess of Gordon to Right Hon. Henry Dundas._

  "_July 13, 1788_.

"I have this morning yours, and though not a little confused with the
bustle of joy that surrounds me, cannot delay answering it. There is
something in the strain of your letters so unlike the ideas that you
convey in our conversation that I cannot think they are wrote by the
same person.

"Why mention duplicity to me? You know there is not a human being
further from it; and I know you don't in your heart believe one word
upon the subject. If you do, you have not the penetration the world
gives you; for I can assure you with the firmest confidence you are
most egregiously mistaken. It would be better for me if I had a
little more of that detestable vice, or even the policy to conceal my
sentiments, for I am convinced my enemies are the offspring of too much
openness; far, very far, from that detested duplicity, or any of its
hateful train. I never expressed an idea of you or your conduct that
I did not express to yourself. It was the impulse of the moment; and
I feel too independent of any man's power, however much I may choose
to depend upon their good opinion and friendship, to suppress my
sentiments when justly founded. For many years of my life my confidence
in you was unbounded. You said you loved me with all the extravagance
of passion; at the same time that respect, esteem, and veneration made
you express sentiments that did you honour to feel and me to follow.
You certainly did not act to my brother as I would have done to yours
or to anyone you protected. What Mr. Pitt told you I could not tell
him as a secret. You have often told me he has none from you. I do
not doubt--I could not doubt--that the Duke and I were the persons
on earth you wished most to serve, and yet my brother has met with
the most cruel disappointments. In this, my good friend, there is no
duplicity. Not even to your enemies did I express an idea that could
lead them to think that I ever doubted your honour, your sincerity, or
your talents as a statesman. No dark hints and half-sentences; but an
open declaration of my friendship and a dependence upon yours. That
your friends and that society was where we spent the happiest hours.
However impolitic, I always openly declared my decided preference to
those parties, and I don't doubt it but it made enemies of those that
had felt and expressed very different sentiments--I know it did. But
to gain one friend such as I could name, more than repaid a legion of
such insipid triflers and ignorant puppies. When I wrote you my note
from London I had resolved to obliterate all causes of complaint, and
only remember with gratitude the pleasant parties we had enjoyed at
your house; but your letter makes it necessary that I bring to your
view from how many different sources any dissatisfaction on my part
arose. The last cause--your conduct relative to our politics--I thought
both impolitic as a statesman and unkind as a friend. You say you
thought otherwise, and your kind proposal of the Duke's succeeding to
Lord Marchmont's office will more than cancel his disappointment. This
is a true picture of my mind. After eighteen years' acquaintance, you
would have drawn a much more flattering one; indeed, till the last few
months of my life, you certainly thought me all perfection--so no more
duplicity, or I must attribute eighteen years of that most horrid vice
to you, and only a few months' sincerity. So I know, whatever you may
amuse yourself with writing, that it is still, and must be, your firm
belief. I would not have said so much upon the subject, but I tremble
for I don't know what. I had hints in London. I had forgot them, till
your letter brings them with redoubled force to my remembrance. I
could not believe them; for you had convinced me Mr. Pitt had some
unfavourable impressions of me, and that you had removed them. For no
one favour did I feel more grateful. But I shall never have done. I
was happy to see all your family in Edinburgh well and happy; I found
my little boy the most lovely creature I ever saw. My Duke is most
sincerely yours; he cannot doubt your friendship, as that office had
long been the object of his wishes and expectations. No one is better
entitled and no one more worthy of it. Once more adieu. May the races
afford you much amusement, and may the paths of Melville and Duneira
be strewed with roses, without one care from public or private life to
cause a gloom.

  &c., &c.,
  "J. GORDON."

The Duchess, in enclosing this correspondence, begs Wilberforce to
be her defender if he hears her character attacked on the ground of
"duplicity" or "inaccuracy;" his influence with Pitt was one reason for
her troubling him with the subject.

Later on she writes to Wilberforce, who was gradually withdrawing
himself from fashionable society, a note docketed "before 1800," to

"Am I never to see you more? The Duchess of Leeds and her sister sing
here Monday evening. Pray come; I shall be delighted to see you, and
much mortified if you don't come.

  "Ever yours most truly, &c.,
  "J. GORDON."

After 1800 Wilberforce seems in great measure to have cut himself
loose from society that he considered frivolous; and to have used
the extraordinary influence he possessed over his friends to
endeavour to induce them also to forsake the world of fashion. The
long letter which follows is from Lord Calthorpe (a relation of
Barbara,[29] Wilberforce's wife), who had been strongly advised by
Wilberforce not to spend a Sunday with the Duchess of Gordon in
Scotland. Lord Calthorpe writes in great chagrin at having neglected
the good advice of his mentor, had found the warnings against her
fascinations very necessary, and had had the mortification of seeing
her go to sleep while he read Leighton's "Commentary" to her. It would
be of interest to know what were the "full and useful directions for
public speaking" for which Lord Calthorpe is grateful to Wilberforce.

_Lord Calthorpe to Mr. Wilberforce._

  "_September 2, 1801, Saturday_.

"MY DEAR SIR,--I have just evinced a proof of want of vigilance and
self-discipline which vexes me so much that I am endeavouring to find
relief from my vexation by telling it to you, as it is a satisfaction
to me to think that you will pity me, in spite of the neglect of your
advice, which I have betrayed. After having had the carriage at the
door to leave this place (the Duchess of Gordon's) in order that we
might spend to-morrow quietly, about twenty miles off, I have suffered
myself to be persuaded to stay here till Monday. O how subtle are the
devices of the enemy of our peace, and how weak our natural means of
defence; the real cause of my falling into this temptation is now plain
enough, but the shadow of delusion that for a moment imposed upon me
was the idea of having some serious conversation with the Duchess, when
we were likely to be almost alone, and which company has hitherto given
me but little opportunity for; and this I was weak enough to indulge in
spite of more sober convictions and the advice of Mr. Gorham and other
objections, and I am just awakened to see the extent of my folly,
conceit, and wilful depravity, by finding that we are to have no chance
of having my imagination gratified, as Sir Wm. Scott has written word
that he is coming to-morrow, and the delight with which the Duchess
welcomed the intelligence has opened my eyes to my sottishness in
thinking her sincere in her wish that I might pass a Sunday with her. I
cannot conceive a scene more calculated to excite feelings of devotion
and to expose worldly vanities than this spot, which is quite lovely,
yet here I have found how strongly the world may engage the affections;
there is something in the Duchess that pleases, although against the
judgment (perhaps a little in the way of Falstaff), and makes her
entertaining even when she is the subject of melancholy reflections;
indeed, I feel how necessary your warnings against her fascinations
were; she talked a great deal about her friend Wilberforce, and
threatens you with a letter about me, and told me all my faults which
she intended to report to you; I have not spent a Sunday (for it is
now over) with so much self-reproach since I came into Scotland. She
seems to be on the same kind of terms with religion as she is with
her Duke, that is, on terms of great nominal familiarity without ever
meeting each other except in an hotel or in the streets of Edinburgh.
She fell asleep on Sunday while I was reading to her part of Leighton's
Commentary and awoke with lively expressions of admiration at what
she had not heard; she talks of setting off for Ireland in a few weeks
and of going to London afterwards, so I hope that she will do no harm
at Edinburgh next winter. I left Kinrara on Monday and got to Blair at
night; I found there more of ancient stateliness than I have yet seen,
and I think the Duke of Athol is fond of keeping it up; he has some
very fine scenery about him there, and his other place Dunkeld, which
is twenty miles off, is perhaps more beautiful although less wild and
magnificent. Sir W. Scott (whom I never see without thinking of you) is
on a visiting tour, and went from Blair with Lord Frederick Campbell
to Lord Melville's and from thence goes to the Duke of Argyle's and
Montrose's back to Edinburgh; he was very tortuous and amusing. I have
written this by scraps, and am ashamed to have been so long about it.
Many thanks for your last letter, and especially for your kindness in
giving me such full and useful directions for acquiring a talent for
public speaking; I will endeavour, as far as I am able, to do justice
to them, and I expect to find your technical lines of great service to
me. I believe that the plan of religious reading which you mention is
the best, and surely I have no small encouragement to pursue it, and
when I am so great a gainer by its beneficial effects in your case.
I spent yesterday at Lord Mansfield's, at Scoone, where the Kings of
Scotland used to be crowned; the old palace has been pulled down, and
a very large Gothic house built upon its site. I hope you are enjoying
health and quiet where you are, and every other blessing. Give my
kindest remembrance to Mrs. W.

  "Believe me, my dear sir,
  "Affectly yours,

"You shall hear from me again."

Wilberforce's influence with Pitt was also known to Maria, Duchess of
Gloucester.[30] It will be remembered that Henry William, third son of
George II. (created Duke of Gloucester in 1764), married Maria, Dowager
Countess of Waldegrave, in 1766. This lady writes to Wilberforce,
hoping that through his "mediation with Pitt" a regiment of dragoons
may be given to her son Lord Waldegrave.

_The Duchess of Gloucester to Mr. Wilberforce._

  "GENOA, _February 4, 1786_.

"SIR,--Although you did not succeed in one of my requests to Mr.
Pitt, you were more successful in the other; and for that I return
you my thanks. I did not very much flatter myself that Mr. Pitt would
add a place to what Lord Waldegrave at present possesses, indeed a
regiment is almost the only addition he is likely to gain; and as Mr.
Pitt has expressed his satisfaction in the marks of favour already
received from the King, may I hope, through your mediation, that Mr.
Pitt will be so good as to remind His Majesty how very acceptable a
regiment of dragoons will be to Lord Waldegrave. If Lord Waldegrave
was distressed from his own extravagance I would not trouble Mr. Pitt,
but my daughter's father left his brother a clear estate which is now
encumbered as much as if the late Lord Waldegrave had come to the
title and estate, at twenty-four, instead of forty-four. The Duke of
Grafton's reconciliation with his son is now so old a story that I only
mention it as a fact that I am sensible gives you pleasure? Mr. Pitt
is so much attached to Lord Euston, that I must take part in an event
that I know gives him so much pleasure. I hope Lord Lucan will suffer
the match to take place, but till it is over I shall have my doubts. If
Mrs. Wilberforce and your sister are in town will you give them my best
compliments. Sophia and William are both as tall as yourself.

  "I remain yours, &c., &c.,

The next letter is from the same lady, thanking Wilberforce for having
written "so full an explanation of what so few people understand" in
his work on "Practical Christianity."

  "_April 14, 1797_.

"I received your inimitable book the day before I got your letter, and
had read a good way in it. I have continued to read in it with the
greatest satisfaction, and beg of you to accept of my thanks for having
written so full an explanation of what so few people understand. I hope
and trust it will be universally read, and that with attention, as then
the good it will do will be infinite. Mrs. H. More was with me last
night; she is so exalted by your book that she almost forgets humility
is one of the Christian requisites.

  "I remain, dear sir,
  "Your _very_ much obliged, &c.,

Let us turn to the more serious friendships of Wilberforce's middle
age. So much of his correspondence with Hannah More has been published
that it is only lightly touched on here.

In 1809 Hannah More wrote to Mr. Wilberforce: "Oh, if I could have had
the benefit of your assistance in Cœlebs![31] but I could not be such
an unfeeling brute as to ask it. 'Tis not to _make a speech_ when I say
that _you_ are the _only being_ whose counsels would _in all points_
have exactly fallen in with my own ideas from your uniting a critical
knowledge of the world in its higher classes with such deep religious
feelings--either of these I might have found in a very few, but not
both in any."

Hannah More and her friends had apparently unfortunate experiences with
regard to the spiritual help to be obtained from the higher ranks of
the clergy at that time, as she writes: "I have had many interviews
with Ladies Waldegrave and Euston. They told me that, though acquainted
with several bishops, they never could get a word of seriousness or
profit from any of them." Whether it was the "critical knowledge of
the world in its higher classes" joined to "deep religious feeling"
mentioned by Hannah More, or the "indulgent benevolent temper, with
no pretension to superior sanctity or strictness," of which Maria
Edgeworth writes,[32] certain it is that Wilberforce became a guide
of the religious life of many of his friends. For instance, Mr. Eliot,
the brother-in-law of Pitt, writes from Burton Pynsent a letter, marked
"very pleasing and serious" by Wilberforce, in which he says in answer
to Wilberforce, who "hoped he had been going on in a regular, steady
way," that he had been "endeavouring to work a good will into a good
habit, that so the habit may come in turn to the assistance of the
will, which, as you very truly say, I am sure (except under the special
favour of God's grace), will flag and waver in its best pursuits and
firmest intention. My chief reading for the month has been Warburton."

Mrs. Elizabeth Fry writes to Wilberforce to say:--

"When thou hast leisure, advise with me as with a child if thou hast
any hint to give me in my new circumstances. I look before long once
more to entering the prisons. The cause is near my heart, and I do not
see that my husband, having lost his property, should, when he and my
family do not want me, prevent my yet attending to these duties; in
this I should like to have thy advice."

In 1801 the question of Irish Union divided educated opinion. Dr.
Burgh,[33] a well-known man at this time and friend of Wilberforce,
takes one side, and Lord Hardwicke, Viceroy of Ireland, the other.

  _Dr. Burgh to Mr. Wilberforce._

  "YORK, _February 9, 1801_.

"MY DEAR WILBER.,--I sincerely thank you for the communication you
have made to me, and assure you that you may rely upon my profoundest
silence. The cruel and corrupt means that were adequately resorted to,
in order to effect the revolutionary Union which has subverted the
prescriptive constitution of both these kingdoms, have so entirely
infected the sweetness of affiance in my bosom, that whatever systems
or changes are adopted my eye sets instantly to search among all
possible motives in order to find the worst of issues. Can I see
Addington climb upon the stooping neck of Mr. Pitt, and not believe
that it is done in hostility, or in a masked confederacy? If the
former, how am I to estimate the man who comes in? If the latter,
what judgment can I form of the man who goes out? Is a retiring
administration to be allowed, in a temporary agreement with opposition,
to support the claims of Irish Popery, and by carrying their point in
their new character, to exonerate the Cabinet of the charge; and are
they to re-occupy their posts when there are no farther measures to be
carried by them in their unresponsible situations? All this I foresaw,
though not perhaps in the detail; and, indeed, it required no prophet's
eye to foresee it, when hints which bind not were conscientiously
substituted for promises in order to purchase a momentary calm. The
downfall of the Church of England is still involved, and however the
Papists of Ireland, on merging the two kingdoms into each other, may
be considered as outnumbered by the Protestants, it is not by the
Protestants of the Establishment, who will, on the whole, be outweighed
by the incorporated force of the Protestant Dissenters with those of
the same description in Ireland, who will derive the most unqualified
assistance from the Romish body. Show favour to Popery, and the
Dissenters' claims will be abetted by millions who will only infer a
kind of right against all anticipation of consequences; or, on the
other hand, deny the demands of Popery, and you instantly and directly
unite the two denominations against the Church of England. I know but
one mode to prevent all these, and ten thousand other unconsidered
evils; at once declare the impracticability of carrying conditions into
execution, and dissolve this ill-starred Union, from which no benefit
will ever flow, but every evil that imagination can picture.

"I will trouble you no farther now except to desire that you will not
charge me with defective candour; the things that are already done will
surely too clearly justify whatever inference I have drawn from them.

"May every happiness attend you and yours--in opposition to prospects I
say it; but if a few good men may not save a nation, they yet may save
and purchase favour to themselves.

  "I am ever, my dear Wilber.,
  "Most fervently yours,
  "W. B."

  _Lord Hardwicke to Mr. Wilberforce._

  "_September 30, 1801._

"I think the alterations made by the Union are in some respects
likely to facilitate the conduct of public business in this country
with a view to the public benefit. I have hitherto had great reason
to be satisfied with my reception. The city of Dublin, I mean the
leading part of it, is extremely loyal and attached to Government,
but they still consider the Union as having affected in some degree
their local interests, and it will be some time before this feeling
is entirely removed. There can however be little doubt that when they
see the United Parliament as attentive to Irish as they have been to
British interests, and disposed to promote them by the same liberal
encouragement, that whatever partial dissatisfaction may remain
will gradually wear off. If the French do not succeed in landing a
considerable body of troops in this country we shall certainly continue
to enjoy tranquillity, but if the enemy effect a landing in force, we
must expect rebellion to revive."

The state of Ireland at a later date after the Union is alluded to
in the next letter from Lord Redesdale,[34] who was apparently much
aggrieved at the treatment which he had experienced in giving up
the Lord Chancellorship of that country. The letter is marked by
Wilberforce "Lord Redesdale shamefully used on being turned out of

_Lord Redesdale to Mr. Wilberforce._

  "_March 5, 1806_.

"MY DEAR SIR,--I rely upon your letter, desiring to know whether
there was any establishment in this country by contribution to which
you could forward its civilisation, for excusing my sending you
'observations on the necessity of publishing the Scriptures in the
Irish language,' by Dr. Stokes, of the College, who is engaged in
such a work, without any view of emolument, but merely to promote
the civilisation of the country, and the propagation, as much as
possible, of the Christian religion in its purity. He is supported by
contribution of the college, and some private contributions; but such
is the temper of the Irish that even their charities, liberal as they
frequently are, are more the result of pride and vanity than of any of
the true feelings of the charitable mind. I think Dr. Stokes's work
will be very useful; and that in spite of all the arts of the priests,
the circulation of the Scriptures will prevail amongst the lower
orders, and must reform even the Irish Catholic Church, which I take to
be the most corrupt now remaining of all the members of the Church of
Rome. It will also have the effect of enabling the Protestant clergy
of the Establishment to perform their duty; namely, to endeavour to
instruct those who do not understand the English language; and I think
it will also enable the gentlemen of the country to gain so much of
the Irish language as will give them some intercourse with their poor
neighbours, where the English language is not spoken; and I think it
will also contribute to diffuse the English language, which I think
is a most important advantage. I have thought it my duty to subscribe
ten guineas for the encouragement of Dr. Stokes, and I believe a
few subscriptions with what the College proposes to give him, will
encourage him to proceed with activity; as I have strong assurances
that he seeks for nothing but indemnity and desires no compensation
for his time or his labour. I yesterday gave up the Great Seal, in
consequence of Lord Spencer's having thought fit to advise His Majesty,
after he had signed a warrant for Mr. Ponsonby's appointment, to sign
another for putting the Great Seal in commission, and then to send
it _by express_, directing the Lord Lieutenant to _lose no time_ in
procuring the Commission to pass the Seal. This has been done in so
much hurry that I have great doubts of its regularity; and if it had
been the case of any man but myself, I should have refused to put the
Great Seal to the patent, without further consideration; and I find the
Lords Commissioners are very much puzzled how to act. But this I feel
principally as a marked and gross personal affront to me, and through
me to the Lord Lieutenant.

"I could do nothing (without the Lord Lieutenant's warrant) but
despatch the business of the Court of Chancery; and yet I am not to be
trusted with the Great Seal _for a few days_ till the arrival of Mr.
Ponsonby for that purpose; and the suitors of the Court of Chancery
were to be equally injured; for the Commissioners being the Chief
Justice and Chief Baron, who have too much business in their own
courts to sit in the Court of Chancery, and the Master of the Rolls who
cannot (from the state of his health) do more business than he does
as Master of the Rolls, very little of the business which would have
been dispatched by me can be done till the arrival of Mr. Ponsonby; and
by that time all the counsel will be gone the circuit. I must confess
I resent this wanton and childish insult (for I have no doubt the
affront was intended by Lord Spencer) much more than my removal from
my office, and nothing could be more insulting than the terms of the
letters written by my old friend C. W. Wynne, by order of Lord Spencer,
with the directions to have the patent to the Commissioners sealed
forthwith. From Lord Spencer and from Wynne I had certainly a claim at
least to personal civility. But it is the miserable effect of party
violence to blind all those who suffer themselves to be led by it. I
have the satisfaction of knowing that all those persons here whose
good opinion is of any value regret my removal, and have given me most
affectionate testimonies of their regard. I am sorry to add that the
conduct of His Majesty's ministers, in various instances, has raised
in the Protestant inhabitants of this country great and serious alarm.
The expressions of Mr. Fox on the subject of the Union have sunk deep
into their minds; and though it has been contrived to quiet those
adverse to the Union for the moment, with a view to prevent alarm, the
poison is working in their minds, and you will probably soon perceive
its effects. Mr. Fox's answer to Lord Shrewsbury and Mr. Scully, as
stated in the papers, has also had a very unfortunate effect. It is
a libel on the Government of the country in all its parts; imputing
to it gross partiality even in the administration of justice, and it
promises the Roman Catholics a different order of things; not by the
interposition of the legislature, but _by the influence and favour
of the executive_ government; and it applies itself directly and
particularly to the _army_, as if it were intended to frighten the
Protestants into acquiescence. It should be recollected that Lord
Shrewsbury is not connected in any way with Ireland, except by a claim
of peerage; and that Mr. Scully is the author of a pamphlet in which
he writes of James the Second as _the lawful King of Ireland_ at the
battle of the Boyne, and King William as a _Dutch invader_. You can
have no conception of the gloom which prevails in the minds of thinking
people in this country. Our Chief Justice and Chief Baron, both very
sound men and highly esteemed, are very strongly affected. The Chief
Justice forebodes every species of mischief. Lord Norbury, who is
Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, is of a lighter turn of mind, and
irritated by a gross and ridiculous affront in omitting his name in the
Commission for custody of the Great Seal--evidently a mere piece of
party malice. But he also is full of gloomy apprehensions of the result
of the measures likely to be adopted.

"But my apprehensions are greatly increased by observing that Lord
Grenville and Lord Spencer are mere dupes to the other party in the
Cabinet with respect to Ireland, if not generally so. Lord Grenville
and Lord Spencer perhaps imagine that they may have some influence in
Ireland through Mr. Elliott and Sir J. Newport. Most certainly they
will have none. The Ponsonby family will govern Ireland through the
Lord Lieutenant, who is completely in their hands. Lord Grenville and
Lord Spencer seem also to have put Scotland and India out of their
control; and with the influence of all the great appendages of the
Empire against them, and a majority in the Cabinet to contend with at
home, what can they hope for? As the least of two evils, I shall yet
feel it my duty to support them against their rivals in the Cabinet,
though the personal insults I have received have come through them,
and their rivals have been comparatively civil. I shall get rid of
my property here as soon as I can, and with the miserable remains
transport myself to England for the rest of my days.

"I have had enough of office, and especially in my last change, which
has had the effect of making me pay a fine of at least twenty thousand
pounds for the honour of serving four years in a laborious office,
separated from my family and all my old friends, I shall return to
England, however, with pleasure; for though I shall be reduced to
practise an economy to which for thirty years I have been a stranger,
I shall return to my old friends, and to a country where my life will
probably be in no greater danger than that of any other person, and
where Lady Redesdale will be relieved from the fear and anxieties
which have long agitated her mind, and made her ardently wish that I
had never taken the office of Chancellor of Ireland; a wish in which I
most heartily concur. The remainder of my life I trust will be passed
more quietly than the last three years. Lady Redesdale begs to join in
respects to Mrs. Wilberforce, and I am

  "Truly, my dear sir,
  "Your faithful, humble servant,

Sydney Smith writes in 1807 with regard to the Yorkshire election,
and the state of Ireland: his letter is marked "characteristic" by

"DEAR SIR,--If Mrs. S. remains in her present state of health I hardly
know how I can go down to Yorkshire at all. It is eight weeks since
her lying-in, and she cannot yet stand upon her feet. If I do come I
will certainly vote for Lord Milton and for you. I hope now you have
done with Africa you will do something for Ireland, which is surely
the greatest question and interest connected with this Empire. There
is no man in England who from activity, understanding, character, and
neutrality could do it so effectually as Mr. Wilberforce--and when this
country conceded a century ago an establishment to the Presbyterian
Church, it is horrible to see four millions of Christians of another
persuasion instructed by ragged priests, and praising their Creator
in wet ditches. I hope to God you will stir in this great business,
and then we will vote you the consulship for life, and you shall be
perpetual member for Yorkshire.

"In the meantime I remain, with great respect,

  "Your obedient servant,

Wilberforce had evidently written to Lord Eldon begging him not to
take up the great question of abolition of slavery on party grounds;
and Lord Eldon wrote that he wished that the House of Lords might
not disgrace itself by its mode of proceeding, as he saw a strong
inclination to do justice, "if abolition be justice, in a most unjust
mode." This letter is undated; it was probably written in 1802.

_Lord Eldon to Mr. Wilberforce._

"DEAR SIR,--I thank you for your book, and I add my thanks for your
letter. You may be assured that I am incapable of 'taking up this
great question on party grounds.' As a proof of that, I may mention
that after listening more than once, with the partiality which my love
of his virtues created, to Mr. Pitt himself in the House of Commons,
and discussing the subject with him in private, again and again, the
difficulties which I had upon immediate abolition, and abolition
without compensation previously pledged (not compensation for British
debts out of African blood, but out of British treasure) never were so
far surmounted, as to induce me to think I had clear grounds for voting
_with him_. After such a statement, I need not say that, although
my political life has, at least so I fancy, for near twenty-four
years been so far really regulated by a sincere belief that I am
acting according to the dictates of duty in an uniform uninterrupted
opposition to some persons now in power that I feel it very difficult
to class among my honourable friends gentlemen who have never, that I
know of, disavowed the principles against which I have been waging war,
and who, I presume, have never disavowed them because they entertained
them, as sincerely as I detest them; yet, in a case of this sort, I
know that I must either stand or fall by taking diligent heed that in
what I do or forbear to do I am governed by the best lights, which my
own reason, aided by information, can afford me; and I should think
myself a worse man, if I was influenced by party considerations in
such a business, than indiscreet zeal has yet represented a West India
planter to be.

"What I shall finally do I know not. I wish the House of Lords may
not disgrace itself by its mode of proceeding. I see or think I see a
strong inclination, if abolition be justice, to do justice in a most
unjust mode. Perhaps the dilatory conduct of that House formerly, it
is now thought, can be atoned for by hurry and precipitation. And that
its character will be best maintained by its being doubly disgraced.
I wish my mind had been so framed as to feel no doubts on this awful
and fearful business, but as that is not the case, I must endeavour to
do as rightly as, with my infirmities of mind I may be able to act.
I shall see to-day what course the matters take, and if my view of
the subject leads me to determine to vote and I feel it likely to be
beneficial to converse upon facts, as well as to read all I can find,
I shall seek the benefit you kindly offer me.

  "Yours sincerely,

Wilberforce had met Lord Ellenborough on the Continent in 1785, and
had maintained a friendly intercourse with him. The following letter
from Lord Ellenborough shows his attitude towards abolition. Though he
acknowledged the viciousness of the system he was extremely alarmed at
the consequences of disturbing it (especially in the then convulsed
state of the world). At the same time he said that he should not be
governed by any supposed policy of man, if he were clear as to the
will of God on the point. His letter is marked "truly pleasing" by

_Lord Ellenborough to Mr. Wilberforce._

  "_June 27, 1802_.

"MY DEAR SIR,--I recollect perfectly the conversation between us
in the House of Commons to which you allude, and should be extreme
happy to appoint a time when I might have the benefit, which I should
certainly derive from a communication with you upon the important
subject mentioned in your letter,--if I could do so with convenience
to you, and without breaking in upon my necessary attendance during
the sittings at Westminster and Guildhall--and which occupy me from
half-past eight to four or later every day--and on some days I am
afterwards obliged to attend the House of Lords till between five and
six. If there be any morning this week during which my sittings will
continue at Westminster, when it might be convenient to you to be at my
chamber at Westminster, called the King's Bench Treasury Chamber, by
half-past eight, I would be down there by that time, which would allow
me the satisfaction of seeing you for half hour before my sittings,
which commence at nine, begin. I feel the infinite importance of the
question of abolition, and will give no vote upon it at all, unless I
can do so with a much more satisfied judgment and conscience on the
subject than I have attained at present. I have always felt a great
abhorrence of the mode by which these unfortunate creatures are torn
from their families and country, and have doubted whether any sound
policy could grow out of a system which seemed to be so vicious in
its foundation; but I am extremely alarmed at the consequences of
disturbing it, particularly in the present convulsed state of the
world. In short, my dear sir, I am almost ashamed to say that I tremble
at giving their full effect to the impressions which the subject
naturally makes on my mind, in the first view of it, as a man and a
Christian. I am frightened at the consequences of any innovation upon
a long-established practice, at a period so full of danger as the
present. At the same time I cannot well reconcile it with the will of
God,--and if I was quite clear on that head, I should be decided by it,
and should not be governed by any supposed policy of man which might be
set up in opposition to it. I write this in confidence to yourself. I
remain, my dear sir, with very sincere respect,

  "Your obedient servant,

Wilberforce had written to Lord Ellenborough on the evils of his having
a seat in the Cabinet, Lord Ellenborough being at that time Lord
Chief Justice of the King's Bench, and the next letter contains Lord
Ellenborough's defence of his conduct, which does not err on the side
of brevity and which Wilberforce describes as "a very handsome answer."

_Lord Ellenborough to Mr. Wilberforce._

  "_February 4, 1806_.

"MY DEAR SIR,--I sit down to thank you for the favour of your letter
in the very instant in which I have received it. I regret very much
that I have no opportunity of personal communication with you on the
subject of it: if I had I could explain more perfectly and unreservedly
than I can do by letter all the motives which have induced my reluctant
acquiescence in a nomination of myself to a place in the Cabinet.
The situation has not only not been sought by me, but I appeal to
every member of the Government about to be formed who is acquainted
with the transaction, whether it was not accepted by me with extreme
reluctance, and after objections raised by myself which nothing but a
superior sense of the present duty and a prospect of present usefulness
to the public would have surmounted. If I had felt that a situation
in the Cabinet would have placed me under circumstances inconsistent
with the due and impartial discharge of my judicial functions, no
consideration on earth would have induced me to accept it. A member
of the Cabinet is only a member of a Select Committee of the Privy
Council, of which Privy Council at large every justice of the K.B. is
of course a member. In that larger Privy Council his Majesty may and
frequently does take the opinion of its members on matters which may
come in question judicially before some of them. But I think that no
man can correctly act in both capacities, and therefore when a question
of a high criminal nature was about a year ago under discussion at a
Privy Council at which I was particularly desired by the Chancellor to
attend, I stipulated expressly with my Lord Chancellor that I should
not be included in a Special Commission to try the offence then under
consideration. I think both my Lord C. J. Holt, and very lately my
Lord C. J. Eyre would have done better to have forborne being present
at the preliminary inquiries before the Privy Council, the subjects
of which in the result might be, and afterwards in fact were, tried
before them; but the objection is not so much in my opinion that I
might be led to participate in the counsels of the Executive Government
upon questions connected with the criminal jurisdiction which I am to
exercise elsewhere (because from these I should of course invariably
withdraw myself) but because it might give a political cast and bias
to a judicial mind, might generate views of ambition, and destroy
that indifference and impartiality on all questions which is the
proper characteristic of a British judge, and even if it had not that
effect, it might be supposed by the world at large to produce it, which
very opinion of others would detract much from the public credit and
consequent usefulness of the person so circumstanced.

"The consideration of this objection at first gave my mind no small
degree of anxiety. I was conscious to myself that I had no views of
ambition to gratify. Those views, if I had entertained any such, would
have been better consulted by accepting the Great Seal, and with it a
highly efficient place in the public Councils--but which I had already
refused--indeed every view of that kind has been long since more than
satisfied. I lent myself at the earnest solicitation of others to the
great public object of forming a strong and united administration,
which, perhaps, without my consent to accept this situation could
not, from particular circumstances and difficulties which I am not at
liberty to state, have been formed.

"In accepting it I have stipulated that I should not be expected
to attend except on particularly important occasions, and on such
occasions some of my predecessors and particularly Lord Mansfield has,
I understand, been called upon for his advice, and indeed, in virtue
of my oath as Privy Councillor I am bound to give that advice when

"Will you acquit me of vanity?--I hope you will, when I give one reason
more for my consenting to become for a time (I hope it will be a short
one) an ostensible member of his Majesty's select and confidential
Council. As I had, so I hoped I should be understood to have, no motive
of ambition or interest inducing me to take this place in his Majesty's
Councils. I had in general been supposed on most subjects to think
for myself. I had, I believe, been considered in general as a zealous
friend to the just prerogatives of the Crown. I had no particular stain
upon my private character: in the miscellaneous composition of every
administration, and of this, amongst others, I thought a person such
as I might be esteemed to be, and on the ground of that estimation
particularly, would be an ingredient not wholly without its use.

"So it appeared to some of my friends. So it did (I speak it in
confidence) particularly to Lord Sidmouth, as to the purity of whose
views and conduct in the formation of the present arrangement I can
bear the fullest testimony, and whose earnest request (I speak it still
in the same confidence) overcame my reluctance, and induced me to make
this sacrifice of private convenience and to incur the hazard which
your kind and honourable letter represents to me as greater than I had
thought it, of suffering in the good opinion of others. If, after this
explanation, unavoidably less perfect than I could have wished to make
it, you shall still retain your unfavourable opinion of the step I have
taken, I shall learn it from you (and I am sure in that case you will
have the frankness to tell me so) with inexpressible pain. As long as
I shall continue a member of his Majesty's Councils (and I hope the
necessity which induced my acceptance of the situation will not be of
long continuance) I will give a faithful, honest, and fearless opinion
upon the subjects under consideration, and, although it is possible
that good men may doubt of the prudence or propriety of my conduct in
accepting it, I am confident that no good man who shall have the means
of knowing the actual course I shall pursue in that situation will
have reason to blame it. The explanation I have given you is entirely
confidential. With an anxious wish consistently to perform all the
various duties which press upon me at this moment and to preserve the
good opinion of good men, and especially of one whom on many accounts I
have so long and so highly esteemed as yourself,

  "I remain, my dear sir,
  "Most sincerely and faithfully yours,

In 1802, on the supposition that Lord Wellesley's resignation as
Governor-General of India was imminent, an idea had been entertained
that Lord Castlereagh should be offered the Governor-Generalship, and
Wilberforce had been asked to approach him on the subject. From Lord
Camden's letter to Wilberforce, given below, it will be seen that Pitt
had objected to an appointment that would take Lord Castlereagh from
the House of Commons, which he thought should be the theatre of his
future fame.

_Lord Camden to Mr. Wilberforce._

  "_January 7, 1802._

"DEAR WILBERFORCE,--I lament extremely that Lady Camden and I have been
deprived of the pleasure we should have had in receiving you and Mrs.
Wilberforce here, and still more that you should have been confined
to London by the very anxious attendance you have undergone. I thank
you for communicating with me on the subject of Lord Castlereagh, and
I will explain to you all I know of his objects as connected with the
situation you have mentioned.

"Amongst the many unpleasant circumstances attending our secession
from office I have considered Lord Castlereagh's actual situation as
one peculiarly awkward to himself, and I have also thought that in the
present dearth of men of spirit and sense who _can_ take office it was
unfortunate for the country that he should be excluded. With a view of
relieving him, if possible, from such exclusion, I contrived that he
should meet Pitt here about a month ago, and have a full and explicit
conversation with him and me relative to the future views of the one
and the future prospects of the other. (I confess I was not indifferent
at the same time to the consideration of the line I may myself
hereafter think it right to adopt.) In a previous conversation I had
with Pitt respecting Lord Castlereagh, he expressed his anxiety that
he should take office, and he is desirous of contriving it if possible
with credit to him; and amongst the objects to which Lord Castlereagh
might look, he took notice to me of an idea which he knew had been
entertained of sending him to the East Indies as Governor-General. He
(Pitt), however, expressed an objection to this appointment, as it
would take him from the House of Commons, which _he_ thought should be
the theatre of his future fame, and where, whenever Lord Hawkesbury
is removed, he will be much wanted. In preparing Lord Castlereagh for
his conversation with Pitt I mentioned to him the idea which had been
entertained of his going to India, but I took notice of it as a mere
floating idea that had not been matured, and in the short conversation
upon that part of the subject which ensued, his impression appeared to
be an unwillingness to banish himself from his country and to withdraw
for ever (as he should conceive he did, by now abandoning it) from
the situation he had a right to look for in the House of Commons. In
the subsequent conversation with Pitt at which I was present, not a
word passed on this subject, and I should therefore conceive that Lord
Castlereagh has never had the subject fairly before him. I am convinced
he would have communicated with me if he had; and although I should
conceive it very doubtful if the event might turn out as you wish, if
the proposition were made to him, I yet think if the directors of the
East India Company have really thought of him, he ought to have the
opportunity of weighing a subject of this great importance in his mind
before he has been understood to decline the offer. By way of apprising
Lord Castlereagh upon the subject I will enclose him your letter (if
you have no objection), which I think will give him the opinion of
a person indifferent to everything concerning him except his public
character, and open the business in as advantageous a manner as it can
be done.

  "Believe me,

  "Ever most sincerely yours,


In 1803 the tardiness of our military preparations had been accentuated
in a debate on the second reading of the Army Reserve Bill. Windham,
of whom Wilberforce says that "he had many of the true characteristics
of a hero, but he had one great fault as a statesman, he hated the
popular side of any question," gives as his opinion in the next letter,
that he saw no impossibility in two armies of from twenty to thirty
thousand men being landed in different places, and being opposed only
by yeomanry and volunteers they might advance to London or wherever
else they pleased. "Government acknowledge that there is an utter want
of firearms."[35] Windham's hope was that Buonaparte might, for some
reason or other, not come; though he confesses that he did not know of
any foundation for such hope.

  _Right Hon. William Windham to Mr. Wilberforce._
  "_August 18, 1803_.

"DEAR WILBERFORCE,--The breaking up of Parliament, advanced as the
season is, I can hardly help regretting on another account. One wants
a means of publishing the abominable backwardness in which things are
with respect to defence: so as literally to put us in the situation,
described by some writer in the _Moniteur_, namely that if fifty
thousand men can anyhow get on shore, they must conquer the island.
What shall we say to the fact, that at the end of now more than five
months since the King's message not a single ball cartridge (I suppose)
has been fired from one end of the country to the other, unless
perhaps a few that I have desired to be fired just by me in Norfolk,
and some that I hear Grey has been using upon the same principle in
Northumberland?--that the corps, which have been raising, such as they
are, remain to this moment for the greater part without arms?--that
excepting, I am afraid, a very few thousand men to the army of reserve,
not the smallest addition has been or can be made to a force truly
regular, such as can alone be opposed upon equal terms to the troops
by which we shall be invaded?--and that the whole assistance, that
would be to be received from works, of whatever sort, is all yet to
be begun, and even settled? When men talk of the difficulties and
impracticability of invasion, of the impossibility of conquering a
country such as this, they say what may be true, but which is certainly
not so for any reasons which they can, or at least which they do,
give. It is all a kind of loose, general vague notion founded on what
they have been accustomed to see and to conceive, to which the answer
is that so was everything which we have seen successively happen for
these last fourteen years. Considering things not in much detail, but
upon principles somewhat less general than those which I have been
alluding to, I can see no impossibility in the supposition of two
armies landing in different places of from twenty to thirty thousand
men each, of their beating, severally, the troops immediately opposed
to them, and that having nothing then to encounter but volunteers and
yeomanry, and other troops of this description, in the midst of all the
confusion and panick which would then prevail, that they might advance
to London or wherever else they pleased. What the further consequences
might be, one has no pleasure in attempting to trace; but I should be
obliged to anyone who would show me some distinct limits to them. The
persons to do this are, I am sure, not those who talk so glibly of
crushing and overwhelming, and smothering, and I know not what all;
without the least idea how any of these things are to be done, while
the persons attacking us know how these things are, sometimes at least,
not done, by the example of the numerous countries which they have
overrun in spite of all such threatened opposition. I shall go from
here, that is from London, as soon as I have settled some necessary
business, and see whether I can be of any use in Norfolk, though I do
not perceive how with the aid of only a single regiment of militia (all
our present force) we are to stop a body of even one thousand men, or
how for the present, anything at all can be done, when there is not
as yet a provision for even the delivery of arms. All the firelocks
which they have as yet got immediately about here have been sent down
at my own expense. My chief hopes are I confess that Buonaparte may,
for some reason or another, not come, or at least for some time; but
what foundation there is for any such hope I confess I do not know.
Forgive my running on at this rate. The importance of the subject would
certainly warrant me if I had anything new to say.

  "Yours very truly,


Lord Chatham[36] at that time Master-General of the Ordnance, writes on
the same subject: at any rate there were "one hundred thousand pikes
ready for the defence of the country, but there was an indisposition to
take them."

  _Lord Chatham to Mr. Wilberforce._


  "_September 2, 1803._

"I had certainly felt it my duty (as only following up the plan
proposed before I came to the Ordnance) to endeavour to restore at
the Peace, and with such improvements as could be suggested, the
manufacture of the old Tower musquet, which our troops used to have,
but which the necessities of the late war, and the naked state of
our arsenals at its commencement, had obliged us to depart from, and
to have recourse to an inferior arm. I found of course considerable
opposition to any improvement, not only from the manufacturers, but
from all the inferior servants of the Ordnance. This was, however,
nearly surmounted, and the manufacture of the better sort of arm on the
point of taking place, when this sudden and unprecedented demand for
arms took place. I ought here to state that had it not been with a view
to improvement, and intending gradually to dispose of those of inferior
quality through the medium of the India Company, we should not have
been, previous to the war breaking out, carrying on any manufacture
of arms, our arsenals being overflowing, calculating on the most
extended scale the Department had ever been called upon to furnish. I
have, however, in consequence of the extraordinary calls of the present
crisis, determined to use every effort to meet it, and directions have
been given to the Board of Ordnance to revert to the same arm as was
made last war, and to manufacture to the utmost possible extent the
musquet of the India pattern. You will easily believe I must have felt
some reluctance in being obliged to take this step after all the pains
I have bestowed, but I hope I have judged for the best. I have great
satisfaction in thinking that the stock of arms we possess will enable
us in the first instance, to arm to a considerable extent perhaps all
that is really useful, and as arms come in, which with the exertions
of the manufacturers they will do quickly, and with the aid of what we
expect from abroad the remainder will be provided before long. We have
already one hundred thousand pikes, and can increase them rapidly, but
in general there is an indisposition to take them. I should like much
to talk over with you, not only the subject of arms, but the whole
question of volunteering which I contemplate as a most serious one.
Excuse great haste with which I have written, and with Lady Chatham's
very best remembrances to you,

  "Believe me, yours very sincerely,

Henry Bankes, the old friend of both Pitt and Wilberforce, writes on
the political situation in 1807 as follows:--

  _Mr. Bankes to Mr. Wilberforce._
  "_January 1, 1807_.

"MY DEAR WILBERFORCE,--Upon perusing the French papers I am well
satisfied with the conduct of our Government. The tone is firm and
uniform, and the demands such that we might have felt extremely happy
to have made peace if we could have obtained them. There is somewhat of
a blundering about the basis, which you will recollect Lord Malmesbury
wrote so much ingenious nonsense about upon a former occasion, and it
is to be lamented that Mr. Fox (whose letters upon the whole do him
great honour) laid down an indistinct and indefinite basis in general
terms of loose construction instead of binding that Proteus, his friend
Talleyrand, to whom in his first address he professes the most perfect
_attachment_ (what a word from a Minister not born in the days of
Charles II.!) to the sense in which he meant to interpret, fairly as I
think, his words, and the words of his master.

"Nothing can equal the shabbiness, chicanery, and double dealing of the
French negotiators, and their proceedings do in fact but little credit
to their understandings, if they have any opinion of ours.

  "Believe me, my dear Wilberforce,
  "Most sincerely yours,

Lord Harrowby, who twice refused the Premiership, writes of the state
of parties in 1809.

  _Lord Harrowby to Mr. Wilberforce._
  _Friday, September 22, 1809._

"DEAR WILBERFORCE,--You must have thought me a great bear not to have
thanked you sooner for your kind recollection of my wish to see a
sketch of Mrs. H. More's rustic building. It is much more finished than
I wished, and shall be sent to Kensington as soon as Mrs. Ryder has
taken a slight sketch of it.

"I have, since I received it, taken two journies into Devonshire, upon
Maynooth business, and have not had, when in town, a spare moment
from Indian and domestic torments. The history of the latter could
not be put upon paper, and if it could, would be as voluminous as an
Indian despatch. You know enough of the parties not to suspend your
opinion till you know as much as is necessary to form it. The Duke
of Portland's resignation has only accelerated the crisis, and you
know enough of Perceval to be sure that we are not broken up, because
_he_ insists upon having the whole power in his own hands, and will
not serve under any third person. Under these circumstances, and a
thousand others, there seemed no resource left, but to attempt an
overture to Lord Grey and Grenville jointly, which is made with the
King's consent and authority. If it is met in the spirit in which it
is made, I trust it will be successful. Whatever we may be _driven_
to do, if they shut their ears to the proposal of an extended and
combined administration, we shall not, in my opinion, have been
justified in our own eyes or in those of the country, if any party
feelings prevented us from _endeavouring bonâ fide_ to form such a
Government as may both protect the King, and be fit for these times.
They are, I believe, as little able to form a separate Government as
ourselves, unless they mean to re-unite themselves with those at whose
proceedings they were so evidently alarmed last year. If they come in
alone by force, they will have the Catholic question as a millstone
round their necks. The very fact of an union with us who are known to
entertain a decidedly opposite opinion upon that question (some of us
for ever, and all during the King's life) would enable them to get rid
of it for the present, as, without any pledge, which, after all that
has passed, could neither be asked nor given, that question could never
be made a Government question without the immediate dissolution of the

"You express a very flattering satisfaction at my return to public
life. It will probably be a very short excursion, and certainly a most
painful one. I look for no comfort but in planting turnips in my Sabine

  "Yours ever most sincerely,


Lord Erskine writes in 1813, to Wilberforce:--

"I cannot sufficiently discharge a duty I owe to the public without
telling you what I think of the speech you sent me on the Christian
question in India. The subject, though great and important, was local
and temporary; but the manner in which you treated it made your speech
of the greatest value in the shield of Christianity that eloquence and
faith could possibly have manufactured.

"I read it with the highest admiration, and as I am now a private man
for the remaining years of my life, I may say, without the presumption
of station to give weight to my opinion, that it deserves a place in
the library of every man of letters, even if he were an atheist, for
its merit in everything that characterises an appeal to a Christian
assembly on the subject of Christianity. With the greatest regard I
ever am,

  "My dear sir,

  "Your most faithful servant,


Rowland Hill, the celebrated preacher, the disciple of Whitefield, and
the founder of the Surrey Chapel, writes to bring before Wilberforce's
notice the question of "untaxed worship," with regard to his chapel.

_Rev. Rowland Hill to Mr. Wilberforce._


"_April 16, 1814_.

"MY DEAR SIR,--Another prosecution for poor rates on our chapel has
commenced. Though the appellant, Mr. Farquarson, a man of no character
and involved in debt, is the ostensible person, yet all the evil arises
from a Mr. Whitlock, who has a place in the lottery office under
Government, who probably might have been quiet had he received a hint
from the Government that his designs were not correspondent with their
wishes. As matters are, the most vexatious and perplexing consequences
must be the result. Different persons are subpœna'd down as far as
Rygate, while these large expenses _a third time over_ is the least
of the evil that must result. If they gain a verdict, for the sake of
thousands of religious people that must be ruined by such a taxation,
we must and shall resist. Surely the present mild Government will not
suffer us to be deprived of the privilege of untaxed worship that we
have uninterruptedly so long enjoyed.

"If, dear sir, you could but hint to Mr. Vansittart what must be the
result of his neglecting to answer our respectful petitions so as to
obtain some redress on our behalves, thousands would have to bless you,
and none more so than

  "Yours most respectfully,


"It should appear according to the new French constitution that our
religious liberties in England are soon likely to be much inferior to
those in France.

"We humbly conceive we have some little claim on the attention of
the Government against these vexatious disputes, having made the
largest collection of any place of worship in the kingdom on different
patriotic calls."

It will be remembered that when the Duke of Wellington was ambassador
to Paris in 1814 he took up very warmly the question of the Slave
Trade, himself circulating in Paris Wilberforce's letter to his
Yorkshire constituents on the subject, which Madam de Staël had
translated at the Duke's suggestion, and also undertaking to disperse
Wilberforce's pamphlet to Talleyrand. The Duke writes from Paris,
December 14, 1814.

_The Duke of Wellington to Mr. Wilberforce._

"It is impossible to describe the prejudice of all classes here
upon the subject, particularly those of our determined enemies, the
principal officers and _employés_ in the public departments. I was
in hopes that the King's measures had changed the public opinion in
some degree, of which the silence of the public journals appeared an
evidence. But I found yesterday that I was much mistaken and that the
desire to obtain the gain expected in the trade is surpassed only by
that of misrepresenting our views and measures, and depreciating the
merit we have in the abolition. I was yesterday told gravely by the
Directeur de la Marine that one of our objects in abolishing the Slave
Trade was to get recruits to fight our battles in America! and it was
hinted that a man might as well be a slave for agricultural labour as a
soldier for life, and that the difference was not worth the trouble of
discussing it."

The Duke goes on to complain that what was taking place in Paris as to
the Slavery question had got into the English newspapers.

_The Duke of Wellington to Mr. Wilberforce._

"I am quite convinced that the only mode in which the public opinion
upon it here can be brought to the state in which we wish to see it,
is to keep the question out of discussion in England by public bodies
and by the newspapers, and I must say that it is but fair towards the
King of France not to make public in England that which he has not
published to his subjects. We shall do good in this question in France
only in proportion as we shall anticipate and carry the public opinion
with us; and in recommending to avoid discussion at present in order
to make some progress in the opinion of France, I may lay claim to the
merit of sacrificing the popularity which I should have acquired by
having been the instrument to prevail upon the French Government to
prevent the renewal of the trade on that part of the coast on which we
had effectually abolished it during the war. I see that Mr. Whitbread
mentioned the subject at a public meeting in the city, which I hope
will be avoided at least till the French Government will have carried
into execution all it proposes to do at present.

  "Ever, my dear sir, yours most faithfully,


The Duke of Wellington's letter to General Macaulay is on the same
subject: he says that in the case of the Slave Trade he could only be
successful in France by being secret. He evidently disapproves of the
people "who will have news and newspapers at their breakfasts," and
thinks that the great cause had suffered from prematurely published

  _The Duke of Wellington to General Macaulay._

  "PARIS, _December 22, 1814_.

"MY DEAR MACAULAY,--I received only yesterday your letter of the 9th,
and I had already received one from Mr. Wilberforce on the same
subject, to which I have written an answer. I am quite certain that he
has nothing to say to the publication in question.

"It is, I believe, very true that secrecy in such a matter cannot
be expected, but the people of England ought to advert to this
circumstance when they are pushing their objects, and if they will
have news and newspapers at their breakfasts they should show a little
forbearance towards their Governments, if Foreign Courts are a little
close towards their agents. In the case of the Slave Trade I could be
successful in this country only by being secret, and in proportion as
we should be secret. And in point of fact I have found the agents of
this Government much more disposed lately to oppose our views than they
were six weeks ago, and I have been reproached with having allowed what
has been done to be published in our newspapers.

"I must observe also that though Mr. Wilberforce could not prevent what
was published from appearing in the newspapers, Mr. Whitbread might
have avoided to mention the subject at a public meeting held in London
upon some other subject; but the truth is that we mix up our party
politics with our philanthropy and everything else, and I suspect we
don't much care what object succeeds or fails provided it affects the
Ministers of the day.

"Matters here are apparently in the same state as when you went
away, but I believe are really in a better state; the appointments
of Monsieur Didule to the Police and of Marshal Soult to the War
Department have done some good.

  "Ever yours,

Wilberforce was a member of a committee for the relief of the "poor
German sufferers," the wounded Prussians in 1814-15. The translation of
Marshal Blucher's letter to the Managing Committee after Waterloo is as

  "_June 24, 1815_.

"Are you now satisfied? In eight days I have fought two bloody battles,
besides five considerable engagements. I have taken one fortress, and
keep three more surrounded. Yesterday the worthy Wellington was with
me: we are agreed, we go hand in hand: the blockaded fortresses will
not stop our operations, and if the Austrians and Russians do not
speedily push forward, we shall finish the game ourselves. Farewell,
and remember me to all England.


"It is all very well, but I have twenty-two thousand killed and
wounded. It is one consolation that they fell in the cause of humanity.
I hope in England care will be taken of our suffering brethren; put it
to the feelings of Mr. Wilberforce and other friends."

In a later letter to Wilberforce, Marshal Blucher disclaims the idea
that personal affection for himself had had anything to do with
the unexampled liberality of the English to his suffering fellow
countrymen. For this liberality he begs to be allowed to offer other
motives. 1. The flattering description by the Duke of Wellington of
the conduct of the Prussians at the Battle of Waterloo; 2. The command
of the Prince Regent to make collections for them in all the churches
of Great Britain; and 3. Wilberforce's "own noble exertions in their
behalf." He entreats Wilberforce to be the organ of his gratitude to
the whole English nation.

  _Marshal Blucher to Mr. Wilberforce._
  "BONN, _December 7, 1815_.

"SIR,--Your letter dated the 31st of October, reached me in safety, and
with it the cheering intelligence that the English nation, and all the
subscribers for the relief of the Prussians who have suffered in the
present war, and for the survivors of those who have fallen, have borne
an honourable testimony to their lively interest in the cause, by the
greatest and most unexampled liberality.

"In your letter, sir, you are so good as to say, that it is in some
measure owing to the personal affection felt for me by your countrymen,
that this liberality has exceeded any which in similar circumstances
has ever been exhibited; and you appeal to my own experience in the
support of this assertion. It is true that during my residence in
England I met everywhere with the most flattering reception; and I hope
I shall always remember it with gratitude. But this very recollection
confirms my belief, that the imagination of my services was magnified
by that affectionate goodwill which is always the result of personal
intercourse. I cannot otherwise account for the attentions which I

"But, sir, allow me to say that other motives than those of personal
goodwill to me have quickened the exertions of the British nation for
the relief of the suffering Prussians. I allude to the flattering
description of their conduct at the battle of Waterloo, by the most
noble the Duke of Wellington, and to the command of His Royal Highness
the Prince Regent, to make collections for them in all the churches
of Great Britain; neither let me forget to mention as a most powerful
cause your own noble exertions in their behalf.

"Allow me, sir, to present you my most cordial thanks for this fresh
service which you have rendered to suffering humanity. Let me also
entreat you, my truly noble friend, you, who so richly deserve the
blessings of the whole human race, for having so courageously defended
their rights, to be the organ of my gratitude, and to present my
acknowledgments to the whole English nation for their very generous
assistance to my brave companions in arms, and to the survivors of
those who have fallen. May this liberality, which we cannot but
receive as an undoubted proof of the truest friendship and esteem,
prove a fresh bond of union between us. We fought for the highest
blessings which human nature is capable of enjoying--for Liberality
and Peace. May our high-spirited people be firmly united in so noble a
confederacy, and may that union never be interrupted.

"Much as, at my advanced age, I cannot but feel the necessity of
repose, still should it please Providence to prolong my life, I shall
yet hope once more to revisit England, and to repeat my thanks for the
sympathy of that generous nation.

"I entreat you to accept the assurances of my sincere esteem and high
consideration; and I have the honour to remain, sir, your most devoted


Lord Holland,[38] described as "truly fascinating, having something of
his uncle's good humour," by Wilberforce, writes of Abolition to him
in 1815, and thinks "the cause had been very coldly supported, if not
actually betrayed, at Paris, at Madrid, and at Rio Janeiro; and that we
ought to have imposed conditions on this subject when Ferdinand VII.
wanted money, instead of giving him the money first."

  _Lord Holland to Mr. Wilberforce_.

    "_November 13, 1815_.

"DEAR SIR,--I heard that you were anxious to get some paper on the
Slave Trade translated into Italian. An Italian gentleman who is upon
a visit to me will, I am sure, very willingly undertake it, and is
well qualified for the task, as he writes his language with great
elegance and understands ours. I am afraid you will not find his
Holiness as much disposed to anathematise rapine and murder committed
under the sanction of the powerful Crown of Spain, as to disdain the
extravagances of the Catholicks in Ireland. There was no difficulty
in abolishing the French Slave Trade last year but in the breasts of
the Bourbons and their adherents. Bonaparte by doing it at once lost
no adherents either in France or in the colonies, and the repugnance
felt in 1814 to the measure _at Court_ originated from their persuasion
that the principles of all Abolitionists, as well as of all toleration
in religion, are more or less connected with notions of political
liberty which they know to be incompatible with their system of
Government. True French Royalists, and many English Royalists too, make
no difference between you and me or between me and Tom Paine. We are
all equally heretics in Religion and Jacobins in Politics. There is
therefore nothing to be done with that class of men in the great cause
of Abolition, but by fear. We have already lost many opportunities, and
if we do not now insist on Portugal and Spain abandoning the trade, and
on France and the other powers treating it as piracy if they do not, we
shall have shifted the ignominy from ourselves, but we shall not have
rescued the world from the evil. May I ask if you understand why the
complete abolition in France (if that measure of Bonaparte be really
and in proper form confirmed) does not make part of the treaty? It
seems to me that at Paris, at Madrid, and at Rio Janeiro the cause has
been very coldly, or at least very inefficiently, supported, if it has
not been actually betrayed. When Ferdinand VII. wanted money we might
have imposed conditions on this and on other subjects, but we gave the
money first, and he now sets us at defiance. With many apologies for
the length of my letter,

  "I am, sir, yours truly,


Early in 1825, William Wilberforce's brilliant Parliamentary career
came to an end by his own voluntary retirement. The Speaker's[39]
letter is the expression of a very general feeling both in the House
and outside it.

  _The Right Hon. Speaker of the House of
  Commons to Mr. Wilberforce._


  "_February 19, 1825_

"MY DEAR SIR,--With respect to your quitting us for more private
retirement, permit me to say with the truest sincerity, and in
accordance I am persuaded with the unanimous sentiment of the whole
House, that we shall feel we have lost one of our brightest ornaments,
and whatever may be the honest variance of opinion on political
questions, I know we must all be of one mind in regretting the absence
of one as distinguished for every moral virtue as for the brilliancy of
his talents.

"That retirement into more private life may contribute largely to your
personal ease, and to the entire restoration of your health, is, my
dear sir, the sincere wish of your most faithful and respectful

  "Friend and servant,


Lord John Russell's answer to Wilberforce's anti-bribery suggestions at
the time of the first Reform Bill is given below. It is marked "kind
and pleasing" by Wilberforce.

  _Lord John Russell to Mr. Wilberforce._


      "_June 3_.

"MY DEAR SIR,--I was very much gratified at receiving your letter, not
only for the kind sentiments personally expressed towards me, but still
more for the high testimony of your authority in favour of the course
I have been pursuing. The resolutions I lately moved were directed
against the very practice of which you complain in your letter; only
instead of an election committee I propose a separate public committee
for the purpose. The expenses of an election committee are such as to
deter any from seeking that remedy but a candidate who has hopes of
acquiring the seat himself, and the public is wronged for want of some
one bound over to prosecute these offences.

"After all, we must trust more to the frequent canvassing of the
question, and the improvement of moral feeling, which may be expected
from education, than to the letter of any law that we can frame.

"I showed your letter to Mr. Pitt and Mr. Wynne, and should have
been glad to have read it to the House, but I did not like to do so
without your permission. Wishing you many years of happiness in your
retirement, enhanced by reflecting on the usefulness of your past life,

  "I remain, yours faithfully,
    "J. RUSSELL."

Wilberforce writes on the same subject in October, 1831, to an old

"I cannot but think the Lords managed it very ill not to attempt the
discovery of some compromise, giving up the rotten boroughs, granting
members to great towns, accepting the new county members, and yet
somewhat raising the qualification (surely no pauper should have the
right of voting); this must at least have prevented the common fraud
now practised on the people, that of imputing to those who voted at
all against the Bill that they wished to retain all the worst abuses,
which, in fact, they were as willing as the reformers to abolish. But
I must break off. You, and I hope I, are prompted to say with old
Hooker, I have lived long enough to see that the world is made up of
perturbations. But, blessed be God, there remaineth a rest for the
people of God. May I be permitted to meet you there, my dear sir."

On the different effects of the Oxford and Cambridge system on the
minds of young men, Wilberforce writes to a friend:--

  _Mr. Wilberforce to Mr. William Gray._
    "_December 31_, 1830.

"It is curious to observe the effects of the Oxford system in producing
on the minds of young men a strong propensity to what may be termed
Tory principles. From myself and the general tenour of our family and
social circle, it might have been supposed that my children, though
averse to party, would be inclined to adopt Liberal or, so far as would
be consistent with party, Whig principles, but all my three Oxonians
are strong friends to High Church and King doctrines. The effects I
myself have witnessed would certainly induce me, had I to decide on
the University to which any young protegé of mine should go, were he
by natural temper or any other causes too prone to excess on the Tory
side, I should decidedly send him to Cambridge, Trinity; were the
opposite the case he should be fixed at Oriel, Oxford.

"As for the gentleman you mention,[40] his character is not to be
expressed in a few words. Of his extraordinary powers no one ever
entertained a doubt. There are also very pleasing traits of private
character: I have been assured of his incessant and kind attentions to
his old mother. On his brother's failing, I believe, in business, he
paid his debts to a large amount and took on himself, I am assured,
before being in office, the charge of his eight or nine children. Of
his own little girl he was excessively fond, and he was always kind in
what concerned friends or acquaintances. I cannot also but hope that he
has seen so much of religious men as almost to have superior confidence
in them. But you suppose me to be more personally acquainted with him
than I am."

The next letter, to Mr. Manning, contains an allusion to his son Henry,
afterwards Cardinal Manning, of whom it will be noted that Wilberforce
"forms sanguine hopes that he will be a blessing to his fellow

At the time the letter was written, Wilberforce's large fortune had
been seriously diminished, though he was far from being, as his letter
would lead one to suppose, in the same unfortunate position as Mr.
Manning.[41] The effect of his own loss was as he says, "greatly to
augment his happiness." Enough was left for his comfort. It is true he
gave up his home, and was no longer able to practise indiscriminate
hospitality; also his subscriptions had to be curtailed, such as those
to the York charities, as to which he "had been reminded in 1831 that
they were larger than those of any other subscriber."

  _Mr. Wilberforce to Mr. Manning.
  "June 11, 1832._

"I am truly rejoiced, my dear friend, to hear that you are so
comfortably circumstanced. I also have abundant cause for thankfulness.
The loss of fortune was graciously delayed in my instance until all
my children having been educated, and two of them supplied with
comfortable residences (Robert, my second son, recently by the
perfectly spontaneous kindness of Lord Brougham), so that the effect
of my loss of fortune has been greatly to augment Mrs. W.'s and my own
happiness. What can be more delightful than to be the daily witness of
our children having a large measure of conjugal happiness, the best
of this world's goods, while at the same time they are discharging
conscientiously and zealously the important duties of the pastoral
office. It gave me real pleasure that your son had given up the
situation at the Treasury for the Church. I have heard such an account
of him from my sons, as gives me reason to form sanguine hopes that he
will be a blessing to his fellow creatures."

The next extract refers to the painting of the well-known picture of
Wilberforce now in the National Portrait Gallery.

  _Sir Thomas Lawrence to Mr. Wilberforce._

"You make a too flattering apology for sending me but your name in your
own handwriting. I hardly know what other word in our language could
boast of equal interest, and you may be assured, my dear sir, that by
those the nearest to me it will be equally prized when the person to
whom it is written can no longer produce it as evidence of his too
fortunate career."

The date of the following lines of Cowper and also of Hayley is not
given. They are marked "Verses sent to me by Cowper and Hayley."

  _To William Wilberforce, Esqre._


    Thy country, Wilberforce, with just disdain,
        Hears thee by cruel men and impious called
        Fanatic, for thy zeal to loose th' enthralled
    From exile, public sale, and slav'ry's chain.
        Friend of the poor, the wronged, the fetter gall'd,
    Fear not lest labour such as thine be vain.
        Thou hast achieved a part--hast gained the ear
    Of Britain's senate to thy glorious cause;
    Hope smiles, joy springs, and though cold caution pause
        And weave delay, the better hour is near
        That shall remunerate thy toils severe
    By peace for Afric fenced with British laws.
        Enjoy what thou hast won, esteem and love
        From all the good on earth, and all the Blest above!


_To William Wilberforce, Esqre, on the preceding Sonnet._

    When Virtue saw with brave disdain
    Lucre's infuriate sons profane
      Her Wilberforce's worth;
    As she beheld with generous ire,
    His image fashioned for the fire
      Of diabolic mirth:

    "Firm friend of suffering slaves!" she cried,
    "These frantic outrages deride,
      While I protect thy name!
    Soon shall one dear selected hand
    Richly o'erpay at my command,
      Indignity with Fame:

    "Since thou hast won, in Nature's cause,
    My fondest love, my prime applause,
      Thy Honour is my care;
    Now shall my favourite Bard be thine:
    My Cowper, guard of glory's shine!
      Shall grave thy merits there."





The family letters which follow are some of a religious character,
while others turn on more general topics.

Four letters written by Wilberforce to his daughter Elizabeth, aged
fifteen at the date the correspondence begins, show the care with which
he instilled into her mind all that he considered of most moment; also
how he exercised "the privilege of a friend," for such he considered
himself to his daughter, and "told her frankly all her faults."

  _Mr. Wilberforce to his daughter Elizabeth.
  "November 30, 1816._

"This is but a short letter to my dear Elizabeth. When I do address my
dear girl, I ought to consider how I can best testify my friendship:
for friendship let there be between us; never can you have a friend
more warmly attached to you or more interested in your welldoing and
happiness than myself. But if we are to be friends, you must allow
me the privilege of a friend, a privilege by far the most valuable of
all its excellencies. So thought your dear Uncle Stephen,[42] when
in the very extreme bitterness of his grief, which was as great as
that of any one I ever witnessed, though he is now able to control
his feelings before company, he said to me while enlarging on the
various particulars of my dear sister's extraordinary character, 'O,
she was a friend to my soul! She told me frankly all my faults,' an
office in which, I am obliged to confess, he charged me with having
been deficient. This has arisen, however, solely from my scarcely
ever having seen him alone, when only I could converse with him
confidentially. But if I am to exercise this best prerogative, this
most sacred and indispensable duty of friendship, it will be necessary
for my dear Elizabeth to prepare her mind and temper for receiving it
properly, and for deriving from it all the benefits it is capable of
imparting. Shall I be honest, and I must be so or be silent; were I
otherwise, the very sheet which I am writing would rise up in judgment
against me at the last day; if then, I am frank and honest, I must
declare to you, that it is on this quarter that it will be necessary
for my dear girl to guard herself with the utmost watchfulness, and,
still more, to _prepare herself_ with conscientious care. This is what
St. Paul terms "exercising herself to maintain a conscience void of
offence towards God and towards man": what the Book of Proverbs styles,
"keeping the heart _with all diligence_:" for unless we have accustomed
ourselves to _self-suspicion_, if I may use such a phrase, we never
benefit as we might from the friendly reproofs of a real friend. We may
receive his remarks with civility, and even give him credit for his
kind intentions, but we shall be almost sure to let it appear to any
acute observer at least, that we rather tolerate his frankness out of
principle, or put up with it in consideration of the friendly motives
by which it has been prompted, than that we listen to it with a sincere
desire of profiting from it, still less that we welcome it as one of
the most valuable services in design, even when not in fact, that could
be rendered to us. The grand preparation that is needed is, Humility:
that sense of our own infirmities and our own weakness, which is felt
by every true, at least by every flourishing Christian. We read in the
Scripture that 'our hearts are deceitful above all things:' by which
is meant, that we are all prone to flatter ourselves, to form too high
an estimate of our own good qualities, and too low an idea of our bad
ones. Now it is the first office of the Holy Spirit to teach us to
know ourselves, and immediately to _suspect_ ourselves as the first
effect of that knowledge. Now be honest with yourself, my very dear
child. Have you been accustomed to distrust the judgment you have been
in the habit of forming of your own character, as you would have done
if it had been formed and stated to you by any one whom you knew to be
a notorious liar? Yet this is really the way in which we ought to feel;
I know how difficult it is in practice from my own experience; and
because it is so difficult, it is here that we need the special aid of
the Holy Spirit, and should earnestly pray for His blessed influence to
teach us to know ourselves. Be earnest, then, in prayer, my very dear
Elizabeth, and frequent in self-examination on this very point. I have
often detected my own self-partiality and self-deceit by observing how
differently the same fault, be it small or great, appears to me when
committed by myself, and when committed by others, how much more ready
I am with apologies for it, or with extenuations for its guilt. If a
servant has done anything wrong, or omitted some act of duty, I observe
_how_ it appears to me, and if I have done much the same fault, or been
guilty of the same omission, how much less does it impress itself on
me, how much sooner do I forget it. I assure you, I speak sincerely
when I tell you I find this the case with myself: now observe
whether you do; and if so, then it will be a subject for humiliation
before God, and a motive for earnest prayer. Let my dearest Lizzie be
particularly watchful to improve the present season; for as you have
heard me say, Christ--as is stated in Rev. iii.--'stands at the door
and knocks,' that is, He uses particular events and circumstances of
our lives, for impressing us with the importance of spiritual things,
and if the event and the circumstances pass over without producing
their proper effect, there is always a positive bad consequence. So
much grace is, as it were expended on us in vain. The heart becomes
harder and less favourably disposed on another occasion. And though
we must not limit the grace and power of God, yet it is a great point
to know what the Scripture (2 Cor. vi.) terms "our appointed time,
our day of salvation." I am sure you find your heart softened and
affected more than usual just now. O try, my beloved girl, to render
this permanently, let me say eternally, useful to you. I understand
you are reading Doddridge's 'Rise and Progress.' You cannot read a
better book. I hope it was one of the means of turning my heart to God.
Certainly, there are few books which have been so extensively useful.
Pray over some of the prayers at the conclusion of the chapters; as,
for instance, if I remember right, that at the end of the chapter,
'After a state of spiritual decay.' But I have not the book at hand,
and cannot quote it from memory. Don't read this till you have half an
hour's leisure."

Of the privilege of friendship alluded to in this letter, Wilberforce
also writes later to his daughter Elizabeth: "You will never find
telling Robert" (afterwards Archdeacon Wilberforce), "of any fault
offend him, if you do it when you are _tête à tête_, and when he sees
from your manner and from the circumstances that you can only have his
happiness at heart, I mean that this friendly regard can alone prompt
you to such a proof of real attachment."

  _Mr. Wilberforce to his daughter Elizabeth._
      "_January 17, 1817._

"MY DEAREST LIZZY,--Your letter to-day gives me pleasure. We heard
from Marianne (Thornton) of her having paid you a visit. Her friendly
attachment to Barbara[43] and you, I account as one of the special
blessings of Providence; and there are many particulars, though not
all, in which I should be very glad to have her the object of your
imitation. I am half asleep from not having had a good night, and find
myself occasionally writing one word instead of another--a slip which
I sometimes witness in my dear Lizzy's case; I know not whether it
be from the same cause, I hope not. For my last night's wakefulness
arose in part from my thinking on some subjects of deep interest from
which, though I made several efforts, I could not altogether withdraw
my thoughts. My mind obeyed me indeed while I continued wide awake,
but when dropping half asleep, it started aside from the serious and
composing train of ideas to which I had forced it up, and like a
swerving horse, it chose to go its own way rather than mine. It is a
delightful consideration, my dearest child, that there is a gracious
and tender Saviour who, in our sleeping as well as waking hours, is
watching over us for good, if we are of the number of those who look to
Him habitually for consolation and peace, and such I trust will be more
and more the case of my dear Elizabeth."

The next letter is in a more lively strain and explains to Elizabeth
the system of Bishop Berkeley.

  _Mr. Wilberforce to his daughter Elizabeth._
  "_July 13, 1830_.

"MY DEAR LIZZY,--If many intentions to write could be admitted as
making up one letter, you would have to thank me for being so good a
correspondent. But I fear that this is a mode of calculation that
will only come into use, when the system of good Bishop Berkeley has
become established. I cannot explain what this is so well as Robert
could, but its distinctive principle is that there are no such things
as substances. You may suppose that you have had the pleasure of
re-visiting a very dear friend, called Miss Palmer, and you probably
would assure me, if I asked you whether they still continued at the
Hall any such vulgar practice as that of eating, that the turkies and
fowls were as good and as freely bestowed as when I used to partake of
them in earlier years. All mere delusion. All imagination. All ideal.
There is no Elizabeth (she only _appeared_ to occupy an ideal place
in an ideal carriage, when she travelled down to Mosely and Elmdon),
there is no Miss Palmer, nor are the fowls and turkies a whit more
substantial than the supposed eaters of them, I really am serious--such
is the system of one of the ablest and best of men (he was spoken
of by Pope as 'Having every virtue under heaven'); he held that the
Almighty formed us so as to have impressions produced on us as if these
were realities, but that this was all. I little intended when I took
up my pen to give you such a Lecture in Metaphysics. I am sure I have
had a Lecture, a practical one, on the duty of bearing interruptions
with good humour. This morning (it is now 4 p.m. and dinner taking on
the table) I took up my pen at 10 o'clock, and my first thoughts were
naturally drawn to you. Scarcely had I finished my first sentence when
in came Knowles (as queer he is as ever) and announced Lord Teignmouth.
Up I went to him in the drawing-room, and as cordial a shake of the
hand he received from me as one friend can give to another. But I
own I began to wish I could be in two places at once. I had secured
as I thought, several hours of quiet, and my eyes happened to be
better than for sometime past, and I was therefore hoping to pay away
a great part of my epistolary arrears, when in comes my friend, and
remains with me between three and four hours, refusing to stay dinner,
but not departing till after the post had gone out. However, such
incidents are salutary, they accustom us to bear with cheerfulness
the little vexatious interruptions which people sometimes bear with
less equanimity than more serious grievances. Here enter Uncle
Stephen----But with some pressing I have got him to agree to stay till
to-morrow morning, so I may finish my letter. I must first tell you
what I think a remarkably well-expressed description of Lady Raffles,
contained in a letter from the Duchesse de Broglie, to whom I gave Lady
R. a letter of introduction--'C'est une personne qui inspire un profond
interêt. Elle a tant de dignité et de douceur.' The epithets appear
to me very happy. And now, my dear Lizzy, I must conclude my very
disjointed letter, written _à plusiers reprises_ as the French phrase

Elizabeth would seem to have written to her father as to her
solitariness of spirit in so confidential a strain that his sympathy
had been thoroughly awakened. In his answer he excuses himself for
not having been more of a companion to her on the ground that he had
been so long engaged in public business, and also that as he had been
almost an old bachelor before he married, he had got out of the habit
of tender attention to young women of education and delicacy; but
he assures her she will always find in him unfeigned tenderness of
spirit for all her feelings, and all her infirmities. His remedies for
"solitariness of spirit" are most practical.

  _Mr. Wilberforce to his daughter Elizabeth._
       "_July 26, 1830_.

"MY VERY DEAR LIZZY,--Though, owing to my having been betrayed into
forgetfulness of the flight of time while sitting under the shade of
the lime tree it is now so late that I shall not be able to write to
you so fully as I wished and intended, I must not be so unjust to
myself or so unkind to you as I certainly should be if I were not
to reply to your last interesting letter as soon as possible. And
yet, my dear girl, it could be only from nervous sensibility that you
could doubt of my putting the right construction on your opening your
heart to me without disguise. I wish you could have seen the whole
interior of mine when I had read through it: I am not ashamed to say
that I melted into tears of affectionate sympathy. Your letter really
contained nothing but what tended to call forth feelings of esteem
and regard for you. My dear Lizzy, I will return your openness by a
similar display of it. I will confess to you that I have not seldom
blamed myself for not endeavouring more to cheer your solitary hours,
when you have had no friend of your own sex to whom you could open your
heart, and I will try to amend of this fault. My not walking with you
more frequently has, however, been often caused by the circumstance you
mention, that at the very hour at which I can get out, just when the
post has departed, you are yourself employed in a way of which I always
think with pleasure, and which I doubt not will bring down a blessing
on your head. But there is another cause which may have some effect
in rendering me less tenderly attentive than young women of education
and delicacy like persons to be, and must in some measure find them,
before they can open their hearts to them with unreserved freedom. I
allude to my having been so long and so constantly engaged in public
business and having been almost an old bachelor before I married. Let
my dear child, however, be assured that she will always experience from
me an unfeigned tenderness of spirit and a kind consideration for all
her feelings and even, shall I say it, all her infirmities. Meanwhile
let me advise you, my dear child, whenever you do feel anything of that
solitariness of spirit of which you speak, to endeavour to find an
antidote for it in prayer. There is often much of bodily nervousness
in it. I am ashamed to acknowledge that I am sometimes conscious of
it myself. Another method which I would recommend to you for getting
the better of it, is to engage in some active exertion, teaching
some child, instructing some servant, comforting some poor sufferer
from poverty and sickness. I deeply feel the Bishop and Mrs. Ryder's
kindness to you, but it is of a piece with all their conduct towards me
and mine. God bless them, I say from the heart."

In 1814, Mr. Wilberforce at the age of fifty-five, begins his
correspondence with his son Samuel, aged nine. The father is already
seeking for a proof of the grand change of conversion in his child.

  _Mr. Wilberforce to his son Samuel.
    "September 13, 1814._

"I was shocked to hear that you are nine years old; I thought it was
eight. You must take great pains to prove to me that you are nine not
in years only, but in head and heart and mind. Above all, my dearest
Samuel, I am anxious to see decisive marks of your having begun to
undergo the _great change_. I come again and again to look to see if it
really be begun, just as a gardener walks up again and again to examine
his fruit trees and see if his peaches are set; if they are swelling
and becoming larger, finally if they are becoming ripe and rosy. I
would willingly walk barefoot from this place to Sandgate to see a
clear proof of the _grand change_ being begun in my dear Samuel at the
end of my journey."[44]

  _"March 25, 1817._

"I do hope, my dear Samuel, like his great namesake at a still earlier
period of life, is beginning to turn in earnest to his God. Oh,
remember prayer is the great means of spiritual improvement, and guard
as you would against a wild beast which was lying in a bush by which
you were to pass, ready to spring upon you--guard in like manner,
I say, against wandering thoughts when you are at prayer either by
yourself or in the family.[45] Nothing grieves the Spirit more than
our willingly suffering our thoughts to wander and fix themselves on
any object which happens at the time to interest us."

  "_June 5, 1817._

"MY DEAR SAMUEL,--Loving you as dearly as I do, it might seem strange
to some thoughtless people that I am glad to hear you are unhappy. But
as it is about your soul, and as I know that a short unhappiness of
this kind often leads to lasting happiness and peace and joy, I cannot
but rejoice. I trust, my dear boy, it is the Spirit of God knocking at
the door of your heart, as the Scripture expresses it, and making you
feel uneasy, that you may be driven to find pardon and the sanctifying
influences of the Holy Spirit, and so be made one of Christ's flock and
be taken care of in this world and be delivered from hell, and be taken
when you die, whether sooner or later, to everlasting happiness in
heaven. My dearest boy, whenever you feel in this way, I beseech you,
get alone and fall on your knees, and pray as earnestly as you can to
God for Christ's sake to forgive you and to sanctify you, and in short
to make you to be born again, as our Saviour expressed it to Nicodemus."

  "_July 19th._

"I will procure and send you Goldsmith's 'Grecian History,' if you will
read it attentively, though it is by no means so good a history as
Mitford's; it is little better than an epitome. Let me tell you I was
pleased with your skeleton of Mr. Langston's sermon, and I should be
glad of such another bag of bones. My dear boy, whenever you feel any
meltings of mind, any sorrow for sin, or any concern about your soul,
do not, I beg of you, stifle it or turn away your thoughts to another
subject, but get alone and pray to God to hear and bless you, to take
away the stony heart and substitute a heart of flesh in its place."

  "_August 15th, 1817._

"The great rule practically for pleasing our Saviour in all the little
events of the day is to be thinking of Him occasionally and trying to
please Him, by not merely not doing evil, but by doing good; not merely
negatively trying not to be unkind, not to be disobedient, not to give
pain, but trying positively, to _be kind_, to be obedient, to give

  "_November 1, 1817._

"MY VERY DEAR SAMUEL,--Though some company who are to dine with me are
already in the drawing-room, I must leave them to themselves for two
minutes while I express the very great pleasure I have received from
Mr. Marsh's account of both my dear boys. Being a political economist,
I cannot but admit the beneficial effects which always flow from the
division of labour, and must therefore rather commend than blame the
instance of it which is afforded by your writing the letter while Bob
is building the house. It is quite a drop of balm into my heart when I
hear of my dear boys going on well."

  "_May 2, 1818._

"Could you both but look into my heart and there see the tender and
warm love I feel for you! How my heart bleeds at the idea of your being
drawn into the paths of sin and bringing the grey hairs of your poor
old father with sorrow to the grave--a most unlikely issue I do really
hope; and, on the other hand, could you witness the glow of affection
which is kindled by the prospect of your becoming the consolation of my
declining years, you would want no more powerful motives to Christian

  "_April 25, 1818._

"Our West Indian warfare is begun, and our opponents are commencing
in the way of some (I won't add an epithet) classes of enemies by the
poisoned arrows of calumny and falsehood. But how thankful should we be
to live in a country in which the law protects us from personal injury!"

  "_June 26, 1818._

"My dear children little think how often we parents are ruminating
about them when we are absent from them, perhaps in very bustling
scenes like that from which I come. Mr. Babington is a candidate
for the county of Leicester, and I really trust he will succeed; the
two other candidates are Lord Robert Manners, the Duke of Rutland's
brother, and Mr. Phillips, a country gentleman of large property. My
dear Samuel, keep going on well. Prayer and self-denial, as you used to
be taught when a very little boy, are the grand things."

  "_February 13, 1819._

"I am very glad that you like your new situation. One of the grand
secrets to be remembered, in order to enable us to pass through life
with comfort, is not to expect too much from any new place or plan, or
from the accomplishment of any new purpose."

  "_March 12, 1819._

"On the whole, Mr. Hodson's report of you is a gratifying one. But
there is one ground for doubts and fears, and I hope my beloved child
will endeavour to brighten that quarter of my prospect. I fear you
do not apply to your business with energy. This, remember, was your
fault at Mr. Marsh's, and you alleged, not without plausibility, that
this arose in a great degree from your wanting spirits, in consequence
of your having no play-fellows for your hours of recreation, no
schoolmates for your season of business. A horse never goes so
cheerfully alone as when animated by the presence of a companion, and a
boy profits from the same quickening principle. But my dearest Samuel
has not now this danger to plead at Mr. Hodson's, and I hope he will
now bear in mind that this indisposition to work strenuously[46] is one
of his besetting sins."[47]

  "_May 22, 1819._

"I hear with pleasure of your goings on, and I may add that we all
thought our dear boy greatly improved when he was last with us. How
delightful will it be to me in my declining years to hear that my
dearest Samuel is doing credit to his name and family!"

  "_May 25, 1819._

"I do not like to write merely on the _outside_ of this cover, though I
have time to insert very little within, yet as when you were a little
boy I used to delight in taking a passing kiss of you, so now it is
quite gratifying to exchange a salutation with you on paper, though but
for a minute or two. The sight of my handwriting will call forth in the
mind of my dear, affectionate Samuel all those images of parental and
family tenderness with which the Almighty permits us to be refreshed
when children or parents are separated from each other far asunder. You
have a Heavenly Father, too, my dearest boy, who loves you dearly, and
who has promised He will never leave you nor forsake you if you will
but devote yourself to His service in His appointed way. And so I trust
you are resolved to do. I hope you got your parcel safe, and that the
lavender-water had not oozed out of the bottle; the cork did not seem
tight. Farewell, my very dear Samuel."

  "_September 17, 1819._

"MY DEAR BOY,--It is a great pleasure to me that you wish to know your
faults. Even if we are a little nettled when we first hear of them,
especially when they are such as we thought we were free from, or such
as we are ashamed that others should discover, yet if we soon recover
our good-humour, and treat with kindness the person who has told us
of them, it is a very good sign. It may help us to do this to reflect
that such persons are rendering us, even when they themselves may not
mean it, but may even only be gratifying their own dislike of us, the
greatest almost of all services, perhaps may be helping us to obtain an
eternal increase of our happiness and glory. For we never should forget
that though we are reconciled to God through the atoning blood of
Christ, altogether freely and of mere undeserved mercy, yet when once
reconciled, and become the children of God, the degrees of happiness
and glory which He will grant to us will be proportioned to the degree
of holiness we have obtained, the degree (in other words) in which we
have improved the talents committed to our stewardship."

  "WEYMOUTH, _September, 1820_.

"I have this day learned for the first time that there were to be
oratorios at Gloucester, and that some of the boys were to go to them.
I will be very honest with you. When I heard that the cost was to be
half a guinea, I greatly doubted whether it would be warrantable to
pay such a sum for such a performance for such _youth_. This last
consideration has considerable weight with me, both as it renders
the pleasure of the entertainment less, and as at your early age the
sources of pleasure are so numerous. But my difficulties were all
removed by finding that the money would not merely be applied to the
use of tweedledum and tweedledee (though I write this, no one is fonder
than myself of music), but was to go to the relief of the clergy widows
and children. I say therefore yes. Q.E.D."

  "_September 4, 1820._

"I am persuaded that my dear Samuel will endeavour to keep his
mind in such a right frame as to enable him to enjoy the pleasures
of the scenes through which he is passing, and to be cheered by the
consciousness that he is now carrying forward all the necessary
agricultural processes in order to his hereafter reaping a rich and
abundant harvest. Use yourself, dear boy, to take time occasionally for
reflection. Let this be done especially before you engage in prayer,
a duty which I hope you always endeavour to perform with all possible
seriousness. As I have often told you, it is the grand test by which
the state of a Christian may always be best estimated."

  "BATH, _September 23, 1820_.

"Did you ever cross a river with a horse in a ferry boat? If so, you
must have observed, if you are an observing creature, which if you are
not I beg you will become with all possible celerity, that the said
horse is perfectly quiet after he is once fairly in the boat--a line
of conduct in which it would be well if this four-footed navigator
were imitated by some young bipeds I have known in their aquatic
exercitations. And so said animal continues--the quadruped I mean,
mind--perfectly quiet until he begins to approach the opposite shore.
Then he begins to show manifest signs of impatience by dancing and
frisking sometimes to such a degree as to overset the boat, to the
no small injury of others (for whom he very little cares) as well as
himself. This is what may be well called making more haste than good
speed. None the less, though I am fully aware that the same frisking
quadruped is a very improper subject of imitation, not only to an
old biped but to an experienced M.P. of forty years' standing, yet I
find myself in a state of mind exactly like that of the horse above
mentioned, though it has not the same effects on my animal powers, and
though, being on dry land and in a parlour, not a boat, I might frisk
away if I chose with perfect impunity to myself and others. But to
quit metaphor which I have fairly worn out, or, rather, rode to death,
when I was a hundred miles from my dear Samuel, though my affection
for him was as strong and my sentiments and feelings as much employed
in him as now, yet these are now accompanied with an impatient longing
to extinguish the comparatively little distance that is between us,
and to have my dearest boy not only in my heart but in my arms, and
yet on reflection this very feeling is beneficial. I recollect that
our separation is an act of self-denial, and I offer it up to my
Saviour with a humble sense of His goodness, in subjecting me to such
few and those comparatively such easy crosses. My dearest Samuel will
remember to have our blessed Lord continually in remembrance, and by
associating Him thus with all the little circumstances of life, it is
that we are to live in His love and fear continually."

  "_November 20, 1820._

"We quite enjoyed your pleasure in Robert's visit. In truth the
gratification we parents derive from our children's innocent, much more
their commendable, enjoyments is one of the greatest of our pleasures."

  "BATH, _November 18, 1820_.

"MY DEAR SAMUEL.--I am sorry to hear that your examination is, or
part of it at least, disadvantageous to you. Does not this arise in
part from your having stayed with us when your school-fellows were at
Maisemore? If so, the lesson is one which, if my dear boy duly digests
it and bottles it up for future use, may be a most valuable one for
the rest of his life. It illustrates a remark which I well remember
in Bishop Butler's 'Analogy,' that our faults often bring on some bad
consequence long after they have been committed, and when they perhaps
have been entirely banished from our memory. Some self-indulgence
perhaps may have lost us an advantage, the benefit of which might have
extended through life. But it is due to my dear Samuel to remark that,
though his stay was protracted a very little out of self-indulgence (as
much ours as his), yet it was chiefly occasioned by the necessity of
his going up to London on account of his ancle. (By the way, tell me in
two words--ancle better or worse or _idem._) But my Samuel must not vex
himself with the idea of falling below the boy who has commonly been
his competitor, owing to his stay having prevented his reading what
is to be in part the subject of the examination. It would really be
quite wrong to feel much on this account, and that for several reasons.
First, everybody about you will know the disadvantages under which you
start, and will make allowances accordingly. Next, if you do as well
or better in the parts you _have_ read, you will show the probability
of your having done well in the other also, if you had possessed with
it the same advantage. And what I wish my dearest boy seriously to
consider is, that any uneasiness he might feel on account of this
circumstance would deserve no better a name than emulation, which the
apostle enumerates as one of the lusts of the flesh. You should do your
business and try to excel in it, to please your Saviour, as a small
return for all He has done for you, but a return which He will by no
means despise. It is this which constitutes the character of a real
Christian: that, considering himself as bought with a price--viz., that
of the blood of Jesus Christ--he regards it as his duty to try and
please his Saviour in everything. And to be honest with you, my very
dear boy, let me tell you that it appears to me very probable that
the Heavenly Shepherd, whose tender care of His people is, you must
remember, described to us as like that of a shepherd towards the tender
lambs of his flock, may have designed by this very incident to discover
to you that you were too much under the influence of emulation, and
to impress you with a sense of the duty of rooting it out. Emulation
has a great tendency to lessen love. It is scarcely possible to have
a fellow-feeling (that is, duly to sympathise) with anyone if we are
thinking much about, and setting our hearts on, getting before him, or
his not getting before us. This disposition of mind, which includes
in it an over-estimation of the praise of our fellow-creatures, is
perhaps the most subtle and powerful of all our corruptions, and that
which costs a real Christian the most trouble and pain; for he will
never be satisfied in his mind unless the chief motive in his mind and
feelings is the way to please his Saviour. The best way to promote
the right temper of mind will be after earnest prayer to God to bless
your endeavours, to try to keep the idea of Jesus Christ and of His
sufferings, and of the love which prompted Him willingly to undergo
them, in your mind continually, and especially when you are going to
do, occasionally when you are doing, your business. And then recollect
that He has declared He will kindly accept as a tribute of gratitude
whatever we do to please Him, and call to mind all His kindness, all
His sacrifices; what glory and happiness He left, what humiliation and
shame and agony He endured; and then reflect that the only return He,
who is then, remember, at that very moment actually looking upon you,
expects from you, is that you should remember His Heavenly Father who
sent Him, and Him Himself, and (as I said before) endeavour to please
Him. This He tells us is to be done by keeping God's commandments.
And my dear Samuel knows that this obedience must be universal--all
God's commandments. Not that we shall be able actually to do this;
but then we must wish and desire to do it. And when, from our natural
corruption, infirmities do break out we must sincerely lament them, and
try to guard against them in future. Thus a true Christian endeavours
to have the idea of his Saviour continually present with him. To do his
business as the Scripture phrases it, unto the Lord and not unto men.
To enjoy his gratifications as allowed to him by his merciful and kind
Saviour, who knows that we need recreations, and when they are neither
wrong in kind nor excessive in degree they may and should be enjoyed
with a grateful recollection of Him who intends for us still nobler and
higher pleasures hereafter. This is the very perfection of religion;
'Whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, do all to the glory of God.'

"All I am now contending for is that my dearest Samuel may at least
endeavour to do his school business with a recollection of his Saviour,
and a wish to please Him, and when he finds the feeling of emulation
taking the place of this right principle look up and beg God's pardon
for it, and implore the Holy Spirit's help to enable you to feel as you
ought and wish to feel. But let me also ask my dear Samuel to reflect
if he did not stay too long at home in the last holidays. Too much
prosperity and self-indulgence (and staying at home may be said to be a
young person's indulgence and prosperity) are good neither for man nor
boy, neither for you nor for myself."[48]

  "DOWNING STREET, _December 11, 1820_.

"Three words, or, rather, five lines, just to assure you that in the
midst of all our Parliamentary business I do not forget my very dear
Samuel; on the contrary, he is endeared to me by all the turbulence of
the element in which I commonly breathe, as I thereby am led still more
highly to prize and, I hope, to be thankful to God for domestic peace
and love. Pray God bless you, my dearest boy, and enable you to devote
to Him your various faculties and powers."

The mutual affection of father and son is touchingly shown in many
passages scattered through their letters. Two may serve as specimens:--

  "_February 24, 1821._

"Perhaps at the very time of your being occupied in reading my
sentiments, I may be engaged in calling you up before my mind's eye and
recommending you to the throne of grace."

  "_September 5._

"Probably at the very same time you will be thinking of me and holding
a conversation with me."

  "LONDON, _June 30, 1821_.

"MY VERY DEAR BOY,--I congratulate you cordially on your success, and I
rejoice to hear of your literary progress. But I should have been still
more gratified, indeed beyond all comparison more, had Mr. Hodson's
certificate of your scholarship been accompanied, as it formerly was,
with an assurance that you were advancing in the still more important
particulars of self-control, of humility, of love--in short, in all
the various forms and phases, if I may so term them, which St. Paul
ascribes to it in his beautiful eulogium (1 Cor. xiii.). Oh, my dear
boy, I should be even an unnatural father instead of what I trust I
am, an affectionate one, if, believing as I do, and bearing in mind
that you are an immortal being who must be happy or miserable for
ever, I were not, above all things, anxious to see you manifest those
buds and shoots which alone are true indications of a celestial plant,
the fruits of which are the produce of the Garden of God. My dear
Samuel, be honest with yourself; you have enjoyed and still enjoy many
advantages for which you are responsible. Use them _honestly_; that is,
according to their just intention and fair employment and improvement.
Above all things, my dearest boy, cultivate a spirit of prayer. Never
hurry over your devotions, still less omit them. Farewell, my dearest


"In speaking of the pros and cons of Maisemore, you spoke of one
great boy with whom you disagreed. I always meant to ask you about
the nature, causes, and extent of your difference. And the very idea
of a standing feud is so opposite to the Christian character that I
can scarcely understand it. I can, however, conceive a youth of such
crabbed and wayward temper that the only way of going on with him
is that of avoiding all intercourse with him as much as possible.
But, nine times out of ten, if one of two parties be really intent
on healing the breach and preventing the renewal of it, the thing
may be done. Now, my dear Samuel, may not you be partly in fault? If
so, I beg of you to strive to get the better of it. I have recently
had occasion to observe how much a frank and kind demeanour, when we
conceive we have really just cause for complaint, disarms resentment
and conciliates regard. Remember, my dearest boy, that you have
enjoyed advantages which probably R. has not, and that therefore more
Christian kindness and patience may be expected from you than from him.
Again, you would be glad, I am sure, to produce in his mind an opinion
favourable to true religion, and not that he should say, 'I don't see
what effect Christianity has produced in Samuel Wilberforce.' Oh, my
dear Samuel, I love you most affectionately, and I wish you could see
how earnestly I long hereafter (perhaps from the world of spirits) to
witness my dearest boy's progress into professional life that of a
growing Christian, 'shining more and more into the perfect day.' My
Samuel's conduct as it respects his studies, and, what I value much
more, his disposition and behaviour, has been such for some time as
to draw on him Mr. Hodson's eulogium, and so I trust he will continue

  "_October 12, 1821._

"It is quite delightful to me to receive such an account of you as is
contained in the letter Mama has this day had from Mr. Hodson. Oh that
I may continue to have such reports of my dear Samuel wherever he may
be. They quite warm his old father's heart, and melt his mother's."

  "_February 20, 1822._

"You never can have a friend, your dear affectionate mother alone
excepted, whose interests and sympathies are so identically the
same. Yet I have known instances in which, though children have been
convinced in their understandings of this being the case between them
and their parents, yet from not having begun at an early period of life
to make a father a confidant, they could not bring themselves to do it
when they grew older, but felt a strange shrinking back from opening
their minds to the parent they cordially loved, and of whose love to
them they were fully satisfied. I hope you will continue, my dear
Samuel, to speak to me without constraint or concealment.

"The two chief questions you ask relate to Repentance and to
Predestination. As to the former--sorrow for sin is certainly a part
of it, but the degree of the feelings of different people will be as
different as their various tempers and dispositions. If the same person
whose feelings were very tender and susceptible on other topics and
occasions were very cold in religion, that doubtless of itself is no
good sign. But remember, repentance in the Greek means a change of
heart, and the test of its sincerity is more its rendering us serious
and watchful in our endeavours to abstain from sin and to practise
known duty, than its causing many tears to flow, which effect may be
produced in a susceptible nature with very little solid impression
on the heart and character. The grand mark, I repeat it, of true
repentance, is its providing a dread of sin and a watchfulness against
it. As for Predestination, the subject is one the depths of which no
human intellect can fathom. But even the most decided Predestinarians I
have ever known have acknowledged that the invitations of God were made
to all without exception, and that it was men's own fault that they
did not accept these invitations. Again, does it not appear undeniably
from one end of Scripture to the other that men's perishing, where they
do perish, is always represented as their own bringing on? Indeed the
passage in Ezekiel, 'As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in
the death of a sinner, but that he should repent and live.' Again, do
compare the ninth of Romans, in which that awful passage is contained:
'Hath not the potter power over the clay to make one vessel to honour,
and another to dishonour? What if God,' &c., &c.; and compare this with
Jeremiah, I think xviiith, to which passage St. Paul manifestly refers,
and you will see there that the executing or remitting a threatening
of vengeance is made to depend on the object of the threats turning
from his evil way or continuing in it. This is very remarkable. Only
pray, my dearest boy, and all will be well; and strive not to grieve
the Holy Spirit. Before you actually engage in prayer always pause
a minute or two and recollect yourself, and especially practise my
rule of endeavouring to imagine myself in the presence of God, and to
remember that to God all the bad actions, bad tempers, bad words of my
whole life are all open in their entire freshness of circumstances and
colouring; and when I recollect how I felt on the first committing of
a wrong action, and then call to mind that to God sin must appear in
itself far more hateful than to me, this reflection I often find to
produce in me a deep humiliation; and then the promise is sure--the
Lord is nigh to them that are of a contrite heart, and will save such
as be of a humble spirit. I rejoice that it has pleased God to touch
your heart. May I live, if it please God, to see you an honour to your
family and a blessing to your fellow-creatures."

  "_March 30, 1822._

"It is scarcely possible for children to have an adequate conception of
the delight it gives to a parent's heart to receive a favourable report
of a dear child. And of late God has been very gracious to me in this
particular. I trust I shall continue to enjoy such gratification, and
that the day will come when my dear Samuel will in his turn become a
parent and be solaced and cheered with such accounts as he himself will
now furnish. And then, when I am dead and gone, he will remember his
old father, and the letter he had from him on Sunday, 31st March, 1822."

  "_April, 1822._

"Though honestly my purse is in such a state that I cannot buy books
except very sparingly, I beg you will buy Hume and Smollett, 13 vols.
large 8vo, for £5 10s., and Gibbon's 'Rome' you may also purchase, if
you wish it, for £4 10s., 12 vols. But you must take these two birthday
presents for Scotch pints--each double. Had I as much money as I have
good will you should wish for no book that I would not get you."

  "_October 22, 1822._

"The train of your idea and feelings is precisely that which I believe
is commonly experienced at the outset of a religious course. It was
my own, I am sure; I mean specially that painful apprehension of
which you speak, lest your sorrow for sin should be less on account
of its guilt than its danger, less on account of its hatefulness in
the sight of God, and its ingratitude towards your Redeemer, than on
that of its subjecting you to the wrath and punishment of God. But, my
dear Samuel, blessed be God, we serve a gracious Master, a merciful
Sovereign, who has denounced those threatenings for the very purpose
of exciting our fears; and thereby being driven to flee from the wrath
to come and lay hold on eternal life. By degrees the humble hope of
your having obtained the pardon of your sins and the possession of the
Divine favour will enable you to look up to God with feelings of filial
confidence and love, and to Christ as to an advocate and a friend. The
more you do this the better. Use yourself, my dearest Samuel, to take
now and then a solitary walk, and in it to indulge in these spiritual
meditations. The disposition to do this will gradually become a habit,
and a habit of unspeakable value. I have long considered it as a great
misfortune, or rather, I should say, as having been very injurious to
your brother William, that he never courted solitude in his walks, or
indeed at any time. Some people are too much inclined to it, I grant;
they often thereby lose the inestimable benefit which results from
having a friend to whom we open our hearts, one of the most valuable
of all possessions both for this world and the next. When I was led
into speaking of occasional intervals of solitude ('when Isaac, like
the solitary saint, Walks forth to meditate at eventide,' you remember
the passage, I doubt not), I was mentioning that holy, peaceful,
childlike trust in the fatherly love of our God and Saviour which
gradually diffuses itself through the soul and takes possession of it,
when we are habitually striving to walk by faith under the influence
of the Holy Spirit. When we allow ourselves to slacken or be indolent
in our religious exercises, much more when we fall into actual sin,
or have not watched over our tempers so as to be ashamed of looking
our Heavenly Father in the face (if I may so express myself, I am sure
with no irreverent meaning), then this holy confidence lessens and
its diminution is a warning to us that we are going on ill. We must
then renew our repentance and supplications, and endeavour to obtain
a renewed supply of the blessed influences of the divine Spirit; and
then we shall again enjoy the light of God's countenance. There are
two or three beautiful sections in Doddridge's 'Rise and Progress'
on these heads, and I earnestly recommend especially to you that,
the subject of which is, I think, the Christian under the hiding of
God's presence. I have been looking, and I find the section, or rather
chapter I allude to, is that entitled, 'Case of spiritual decay and
languor in religion.' There is a following one on 'Case of a relapse
into known sin,' and I trust you have a pretty good edition of this
super-excellent book.

"I have a word to say on another topic--that, I mean, of purity--the
necessity of most scrupulous guarding against the very first
commencement or even against the appearance of evil is in no instance
so just and so important as in the case of all sins of this class.
Many a man who would have been restrained from the commission of sins
of this class by motives of worldly prudence or considerations of
humanity, has been hurried into sin by not attending to this warning.
I myself remember an instance of this kind in two people, both of whom
I knew. And as Paley truly remarks that there is no class of vices
which so depraves the character as illicit intercourse with the female
sex, so he likewise mentions it as a striking proof of the superior
excellence of Christ's moral precepts, that in the case of chastity and
purity it lays the restraint on the _heart_ and on the _thoughts_ as
the only way of providing against the grossest acts of disobedience.
Oh, my dear Samuel, guard here with especial care, and may God protect
and keep you. Indeed, I trust He will, and it is with exceeding
pleasure that I think of you, and humbly and hopefully look forward on
your advancing course in life. I did not intend saying half so much,
but when I enter into conversation with my Samuel I know not how to
stop. 'With thee conversing I forget all course of seasons and their

  "_October 26, 1822._

"I cannot to-day send you the account of _time_, but I will transmit
it to you. It was a very simple business, and the chief object was to
take precautions against the disposition to waste time at breakfast and
other _rendezvous_, which I have found in myself when with agreeable
companions, and to prove to myself by the decisive test of figures that
I was not working so hard as I should have supposed from a general
survey of my day. The grand point is to maintain an habitual sense of
responsibility and to practise self-examination daily as to the past
and the future day."

  "_March 17, 1822._

"No man has perhaps more cause for gratitude to God than myself. But
of all the various instances of His goodness, the greatest of all,
excepting only His Heavenly Grace, is the many kind friends with whom
a Gracious Providence has blessed me. Oh remember, my dearest boy, to
form friendships with those only who love and serve God, and when once
you have formed them, then preserve them as the most valuable of all

"One of my chief motives now for paying visits is to cultivate the
friendship of worthy people who, I trust, will be kind to my dearest
children when I am no more. I hope you and the rest will never act so
as to be unworthy of the connections I have formed."

  "_November 22, 1822._

"Robert Grant's[49] election has cost my eyes more than they could well
expend on such a business. But both his hereditary, and his personal,
claim to all I could do was irresistible. Your mother, Elizabeth, and
I have of late been moving from place to place, staying a few days
with the Whitmores, with the Gisbornes and Evans's, and from them with
a Mr. Smith Wright and his wife, Lady Sitwell. She is a sensible,
interesting woman. They live in a residence, Okeover, which is in the
most beautiful part of Derbyshire, very near Dovedale, close to Ilam,
&c. My dear Samuel will one day, I trust, delight himself in these
beautiful and romantic vallies. My chief object in these visits was
to provide future intimacies and I hope friendships for you and your
brothers. And how thankful ought we to be, to be enabled thus to select
for our associates the best families in so many different counties;
best, I mean, in the true sense of the word,--men of real worth, who,
I am sure, will always receive you with kindness for my sake. I often
look up with gratitude to the Giver of all good, for the favour with
men--which it would be affectation not to confess where it is not
improper to mention such things, that He has graciously given me,
chiefly in the view of its ensuring for my children the friendly regard
and personal kindnesses of many good people after I shall be laid low
in the grave.

"I could have made them acquainted with great people, but I have always
avoided it, from a conviction that such connections would tend neither
to their temporal comfort in the long run, nor to the advancement of
their eternal interests. But it is most gratifying to me to reflect
that they will be known to some of the very best people in the kingdom,
and to good people of other countries also. Oh, my dear Samuel, how
thankful should we be to our Heavenly Father who has made our cup to
overflow with mercies. How rich will our portion appear when compared
with that of so many of our fellow-creatures. It used, when I was a
bachelor especially, when I often spent my Sundays alone, to be my
frequent Sunday habit to number up my blessings, and I assure you it is
a most useful practice; _e.g._, that I had been born in Great Britain,
in such a century, such a part of it, such a rank in life, such a class
and character of parents, then my personal privileges. But I have no
time to-day for long conversation."

The next letter touches on topics of the day, and then refers to the
son's question, Why had not his father a settled home? Evidently Samuel
felt it a desolate arrangement, but Wilberforce, as was his wont, finds
certain advantages in the very discomforts of the plan.

  "_December 5, 1822._

"I believe I never answered your question who it was that advised me to
retire from Parliament. I entirely forget. Your question, Will there
be war? I answer, I know no more than you do, but I am inclined to
believe the French will attack Spain, very unadvisedly in my opinion,
and I shall be surprised if the French Government itself, however
priding itself on its policy, will not ultimately have reason to form
the same judgment.... Never was there before a country on earth, the
public affairs of which (for many years past at least I may affirm it,)
were administered with such a simple and strong desire to promote the
public welfare as those of Great Britain. And it is very remarkable
that some of those very measures which were brought forward and carried
through with the most general concurrence have subsequently appeared
most doubtful. The present extreme distress of the agricultural class
throughout the whole kingdom, is admitted by all to have been in some
degree, by many to have been entirely, caused by our ill-managed if
not ill-advised return to cash payments, in which nearly the whole of
both Houses concurred. Surely this should teach us to be diffident in
our judgments of others, and to hold our own opinions with moderation.
In short, my dear Samuel, the best preparation for being a good
politician, as well as a superior man in every other line, is to be a
truly religious man. For this includes in it all those qualities which
fit men to pass through life with benefit to others and with reputation
to ourselves. Whatever is to be the effect produced by the subordinate
machinery, the main-spring must be the desire to please God, which,
in a Christian, implies faith in Christ and a grateful sense of the
mercies of God through a Redeemer, and an aspiration after increasing
holiness of heart and life. And I am reminded (you will soon see the
connection of my ideas) of a passage in a former letter of yours
about a home, and I do not deny that your remarks were very natural.
Yet every human situation has its advantages as well as its evils.
And if the want of a home deprive us of the many and great pleasures
which arise out of the relations and associations, especially in the
case of a large family, with which it is connected, yet there is an
advantage, and of a very high order, in our not having this well-known
anchoring ground, if I may so term it. We are less likely to lose the
consciousness of our true condition in this life; less likely to forget
that while sailing in the ocean of life we are always exposed to the
buffeting of the billows, nay, more, to the rock and the quicksand.
The very feeling of desolateness of which you speak--for I do not deny
having formerly experienced some sensations of this kind, chiefly when
I used to be long an inmate of the houses of friends who had wives and
families to welcome them home again after a temporary absence--this
very feeling led me, and taught me in some measure habitually to look
upwards to my permanent and never failing inheritance, and to feel that
I was to consider myself here as a pilgrim and a stranger who had no
continuing city but who sought one to come. Yet this very conviction is
by no means incompatible with the attachment and enjoyment of home-born
pleasures, which doubtless are natural and virtuous pleasures, such as
it gratifies me and fills me with hope to see that my very dear Sam
relishes with such vivid delight and that he looks forward to them with
such grateful anticipations.

"I have not time now to explain to you, as otherwise I would, how it
happened that I do not possess a country house. But I may state to
you in general, that it arose from my not having a large fortune,
compared, I mean, with my situation, and from the peculiar duties and
circumstances of my life."

  "_March 23, 1823._

"Above all remember _the one thing needful_. I had far rather that
you should be a true Christian than a learned man, but I wish you to
become the latter through the influence of the former. I had far rather
see you unlearned than learned from the impulse of the love of human
estimation as your main principle."

On the 15th of May Mr. F. Buxton moved this resolution in the House of
Commons: "That the state of slavery is repugnant to the principles of
the British Constitution and of the Christian Religion, and that it
ought to be abolished gradually throughout the British Colonies with
as much expedition as may be found consistent with a due regard to the
well-being of the parties concerned." The main point was that all negro
children born after a certain day were to be free.

  "_May 17, 1823._

"The debate was by no means so interesting as we expected. Buxton's
opening speech was not so good as his openings have before been. His
reply however, though short, was, not sweet indeed, but excellent. I
was myself placed in very embarrassing circumstances from having at
once to decide, without consulting my friends, on Mr. Canning's offers,
if I may so term them. However, I thank God, I judged rightly, that
it would not be wise to press for more on that night, as subsequent
conversation with our friends rendered indubitably clear; and on the
whole we have done good service, I trust, by getting Mr. Canning
pledged to certain important reforms. I should speak of our gain in
still stronger terms but for his (Canning's) chief friend being a West
Indian, Mr. Charles Ellis, a very gentlemanly, humane man, but by no
means free from the prejudices of his caste.

"Dear Robert has just been prevailed on by William's kind importunity
to try to study for a while at Brompton Grove. I am glad of it on all
accounts. It would add substantially to the pleasures of my life, if
my dear boys could acquire firmness enough to study at home. I would
do my best to promote the success of the experiment; but, believe me,
it is a sad habit that of being able to study only when you have 'all
appliances and means to boot.'

"I just recollect this letter will reach you on the Sunday. Allow me,
therefore, to repeat my emphatic valediction _Remember_. You will be
in my heart and in my prayers, and probably we shall be celebrating
about the same time the memorial of our blessed Lord's suffering and
the bond of the mutual affection of His disciples towards each other.
The anniversaries which have passed remind me forcibly of the rapid
flight of time. My course must be nearly run, though perhaps it may
please that God who has hitherto caused goodness and mercy to follow me
all my days, to allow me to see my dear boys entered into the exercise
of their several professions, if they are several. But how glad shall I
be if they all can conscientiously enter into the ministry, that most
useful and most honourable of all human employments."[50]

  "_June 14._

"All may be done through prayer--almighty prayer, I am ready to say;
and why not? for that it is almighty is only through the gracious
ordination of the God of love and truth. Oh then, pray, pray,
pray, my dearest boy. But then remember to estimate your state on
self-examination not by your prayers, but by what you find to be the
effects of them on your character, tempers, and life."

  "_July 12, 1823._

"It has often been a matter of grief to me that both Henry and Robert
have a sad habit of appearing, if not of being, inattentive at church.
The former I have known turn half or even quite round and stare (I use
the word designedly) into the opposite pew. I am not aware whether you
have the same disposition (real or apparent) to inattention at public
worship. I trust I need not endeavour to enforce on you that it is a
practice to be watched against with the utmost care. It is not only a
crime in ourselves, but it is a great stumbling-block of offence to
others. The late Mr. Scott, though an excellent man, had contracted a
habit of staring in general while reading the prayers of our excellent
liturgy; and he once told me himself he actually did it most, when
his mind was most intent on the solemn service he was performing. But
to others he appeared looking at the congregation, especially at any
persons entering the chapel, and many I fear were encouraged to a
degree of distraction and inattention in prayer by the unseemly habit
he had contracted. Now let me entreat you, my dearest boy, to watch
against every approach to inattention in yourself, and to help dear
Henry, in whom I have remarked the practice, to get the better of it. I
have always found it a great aid in keeping my thoughts from wandering
at church to repeat the prayers to myself, either in a whisper or
mentally, as the minister has being going along, and I highly approve
of making responses, and always when you were children tried to have
you make them; but I used to think your mother did not join me in this
when you were next to her, partly probably from her own mind being
more closely engaged in the service--prayer being the grand means of
maintaining our communication with heaven, and the life of religion in
the soul claiming all possible attention."

In the next letter Wilberforce mentions that he had limited his
personal expenditure so as to have larger sums to give away. He
says that he had left off giving claret, then a costly wine, and
some other expensive articles still exhibited by those of his rank.
He speaks strongly against gratifying all the cravings of fashion,
thoughtlessness, or caprice.

  "BARMOUTH, _October 14, 1823._

"MY VERY DEAR SAMUEL,--I again take up my pen to give you my sentiments
on the important subject on which I promised to write to you, and on
which you have kindly asked my advice. But before I proceed to fulfil
this engagement let me mention what I had intended to state in my last,
but omitted, that I have reason to believe dear Robert has suffered
in the estimation of some of my friends, whether rightly or wrongly I
really know not, from the idea that his associates were not religious
men (irreligious in its common acceptation would convey more than
I mean), and therefore that he preferred that class of companions.
Now when people have once conceived anything of a prejudice against
another, on whatever grounds, they are disposed to view all he says and
does with different eyes, and to draw from it different conclusions
from those which would otherwise have been produced, and I suspect dear
Robert has suffered unjustly in this way. However, he will, I doubt
not, live through it, and so long as all is really right, I care less
for such temporary misconceptions, though, by the way, they may be
very injurious to the temporal interests, and to the acceptance of the
subject of them.

"But now let me state to you my sentiments concerning your principles
and conduct as to society, and first I must say that if I were in your
case I should be very slow in forming new acquaintances. Having already
such good companions in Robert, Sir G. Prevost, and I hope Ryder, it
would surely be wise to be satisfied with them at the first, unless
there were any in whose instance I was sure I was on safe and good
ground. But now to your question itself. There are two points of view
in which this subject of good associates must naturally be regarded.
The one in that which is the ordinary object of social intercourse,
that I mean of recreation: for it certainly is one of the very best
recreations, and may be rendered indeed not merely such, but conducive
to higher and better ends. On this first head, however, I trust I
need say nothing in your case, I will therefore pass it by for the
present. It would, I am persuaded, be no recreation to you to be in a
party which should be disgraced by obscenity or profaneness. But the
second view is that which most belongs to our present inquiry--that,
I mean, of the society in which it may appear necessary to take a
share on grounds of conformity (where there is nothing wrong) to the
ordinary customs of life, and even on the principle of 'providing
things honest in the sight of all men' (honest in the Greek is δικαιος)
and not suffering your good to be evil spoken of. Now in considering
this question, I am persuaded I need not begin in my dear Samuel's
instance with arguing for, but may assume the principle that
there are no indifferent actions properly speaking, I should rather
say none with which religion has nothing to do. This however is the
commonly received doctrine of those who consider themselves as very
good Christians. Just as in Law it is an axiom, 'De minimis non curat
lex.' On the contrary, a true Christian holds, in obedience to the
injunction, 'Whatever you do in word or deed' that the desire to please
his God and Saviour must be universal. It is thus that the habit of
living in Christ, and to Christ is to be formed. And the difference
between real and nominal Christians is more manifest on small occasions
than on greater. In the latter all who do not disclaim the authority
of Christ's commands must obey them, but in the former only they will
apply them who do make religion their grand business, and pleasing
their God and Saviour, and pleasing, instead of grieving the Spirit,
their continual and habitual aim. We are therefore to decide the
question of the company you should keep on Scriptural principles, and
the principle I lately quoted 'Provide things honest,' &c. (There
are several others of a like import, and I think they are not always
sufficiently borne in mind by really good people, this of course
forbids all needless singularities, &c.) That principle must doubtless
be kept in view. But again, _you_ will not require me to prove that
it can only have any jurisdiction where there is nothing wrong to be
participated in or encouraged. And therefore I am sure you will not
deny that you ought not to make a part of any society in which you
will be hearing what is indecent or profane. I hope that there are
not many of the Oriel undergraduates from whom you would be likely to
hear obscenity or profaneness, and I trust that you will not knowingly
visit any such. As to the wine parties, if I have a correct idea of
them they are the young men going after dinner to each other's rooms
to drink their wine, eat their fruit, &c.; and with the qualification
above specified, I see no reason for your absenting yourself from them,
if your so doing would fairly subject you to the charge of moroseness
or any other evil imputation. I understand there is no excess, and that
you separate after a short time. Its being more _agreeable_ to you to
stay away I should not deem a legitimate motive if alone. But in all
these questions the _practical_ question often is, how the expenditure
of any given amount of time and money (for the former I estimate full
as highly as the latter) can be made productive of the best effect.
There is one particular member of your college with whom I hope you
will form no acquaintance. Would it make it more easy for you to avoid
this, if you were able to allege that I had exacted from you a promise
to that effect? It was not from Robert, but from another person, that I
heard of him a particular instance of misconduct, which I believe even
in the more relaxed discipline of Cambridge would have drawn on the
offender exemplary punishment. Such a man must, I am sure, be a very
dangerous companion. If it be necessary for you to know him, of course
you will treat him like a gentleman; but further than this I hope you
will not go. From what Robert said to me I have a notion that there is
a very foolish practice, to call it by the softest name, of spending
considerable sums in the fruit and wine of these wine drinkings, where
I understood that there was no excess, every man also being allowed
to please himself as to the wine he drinks. But for a young man, the
son perhaps of a clergyman who is straining to the utmost to maintain
him at college, stinting himself, his wife and daughters in comforts
necessary to their health, for such a young man to be giving claret
and buying expensive fruit for his young companions is absolutely
criminal. And what is more, I will say that young men are much altered
if any youth of spirit who should frankly declare, 'My father cannot
afford such expensive indulgences, and I will not deprive him or my
brothers and sisters for my own gratification,' would not be respected
for his manliness and right feeling. Your situation is different,
though, by the way, your father has left off giving claret except
in some very special cases, and has entirely left off several other
expensive articles, which are still exhibited by others of his rank.
But then I know this will not commonly be imputed to improper parsimony
in me. And if you or any other Oxonian could lighten the pressure on
young men going to college, you would be rendering a highly valuable
service to the community, besides the too little considered obligation
of limiting our own expenditure for our own indulgence as much as we
can, consistently with 'good report,' and with not suffering our good
to be evil spoken of. I say this deliberately, that it is a duty not
sufficiently borne in mind even by real Christians, when we read the
_strong_ passage in the 15th of Deuteronomy, and still more when we
remember our Saviour's language in the 25th of St. Matthew, we shall
see reason to be astonished that the _generality_ of those who do
fear God, and mean in the main to please Him, can give away so small
a proportion of their fortunes, and so little appear sensible of the
obligation under which they lie to economise as much as they can for
the purpose of having the funds for giving away within their power. We
serve a kind Master, who will even accept the will for the deed when
the deed was not in our power. But this will not be held to be the case
when we can gratify all the cravings of fashion and self-indulgence,
or even thoughtlessness or caprice. What pleasure will a true Christian
sometimes feel in sparing himself some article which he would be glad
to possess, and putting the price instead into his charity purse,
looking up to his Saviour and in heart offering it up to His use. Oh,
my very dear Samuel, be not satisfied with the name of Christian.
But strive to be a Christian 'in life and in power and in the Holy
Ghost.' I think a solitary walk or ride now and then would afford an
excellent opportunity for cultivating _spirituality of mind_, the grand
characteristic of the thriving Christian.

"But my feelings draw me off from the proper subject I was writing
upon--expense. And really, when I consider it merely in the view of the
misery that may be alleviated, and the tears that may be wiped away
by a very little money judiciously employed, I grow ashamed of myself
for not practising more self-denial that I may apply my savings to
such a purpose. Then think of the benefits to be rendered to mankind
by missionary societies. Besides all this, I really believe there is
commonly a special blessing on the liberal, even in this life, and on
their children; and I hesitate not to say to you that, as you will,
I hope, possess from me what, with the ordinary emoluments of a
profession, may afford you a comfortable competence, I am persuaded I
shall leave you far more likely to be happy than if you were to have
inherited from me £10,000 more (and I say the same for your brothers
also), the fruits of my bachelor savings. In truth, it would be so
if the Word of God be true, for it is full of declarations to that
effect. Now all this is general doctrine. I am aware of it. I can only
give you principles here. It must be for you to apply them, and if you
apply them with simplicity of intention, all, I doubt not, will be
well. But again I cannot help intimating my persuasion that you would
do well to confine yourself at first to the few friends you already
have and on whom you can depend. And also let me suggest that it would
be truly wise to be looking around you, and if you should see anyone
whose principles, and character, and manners are such as suggest the
hope that he might be desirable even for a friend, then to cultivate
his acquaintance. May our Heavenly Father direct and prosper you, carry
you safely through the ordeal into which you are just about to enter,
and at length receive you into that blessed world where danger will be
over, and all will be love and peace and joy for evermore.

  "I am ever affectionately yours,


  "_November 5, 1823._

"I trust I scarcely need assure you that I must always wish to make you
comfortable _quoad_ money matters, and on the other hand that the less
the cost of rendering you so, the more convenient to me. My income is
much diminished within the last few years, while the expenses of my
family have greatly increased....

"What a comfort it is to know that our Heavenly Father is ever
ready to receive all who call upon Him. He delighteth in mercy,
and ever remember that as you have heard me say, mercy is kindness
to the guilty, to those who deserve punishment. What a delightful
consideration it is that our Saviour loves His people better than we
love each other, than an earthly parent loves his child."

  "_November 7, 1823._

"There is a vile and base sentiment current among men of the world
that, if you want to preserve a friend you must guard against having
any pecuniary transactions with him. But it is a caution altogether
unworthy of a Christian bosom. It is bottomed in the mistakenly
supposed superior value of money to every other object, and in a very
low estimate of human friendship. I hope I do not undervalue my money,
but I prize my time at a still higher rate, and have no fear that any
money transaction can ever lessen the mutual confidence and affection
which subsists between us and which I trust will never be diminished.
And let me take this opportunity also of stating that you would give me
real pleasure by making me your friend and opening your heart to me as
much in every other particular. I trust you would never find me abusing
your confidence. Even any indiscretions or faults, if there should be
any, if I can help to prevent your being involved in difficulties by
them. But I hate to put such a case. It is no more than what is due to
my dear Samuel, to say that my anticipations are of a very different
sort. And I can truly declare that the good conduct and kindness of my
children towards me is a source of the purest and greatest pleasure I
do or can enjoy."[51]

  "_August 6, 1824._

"I can bear silence no longer, and I beg you will in future send me
or your dear mother a something, be it ever so short, in the way of a
letter once a week, if it be merely a certificate of your existence.
I have been for some days thinking of writing to you, in consequence
of my having heard that your friend Ryder and Sir George Prevost were
reading classics with Mr. Keble. Could you not have been allowed to
make it a triumvirate? Much as I value classical scholarship, I prize
still more highly the superior benefit to be derived from associating
with such good young men as I trust the two gentlemen are whose names
I have mentioned, and I have the satisfaction of knowing that you have
the privilege of calling them your friends. Is it yet too late?"

  "_September 10, 1824._

"As I was talking to your mother this morning on money matters it shot
across my mind that you had desired me to send you a supply, which I
had neglected to do. I am truly sorry for my inadvertency, and will
send you the half of a £20 bank note which I happen to possess, the
other half following of course to-morrow. Ask for what you want, and
we will settle when you are here. It gives me real pleasure to believe
that you are economical on principle, and it is only by being so that
one can be duly liberal. Without self-denial every man, be his fortune
what it may, will find himself unable to act as he ought in this
particular, not that _giving_ is always the best charity, far from it;
employing people is often a far preferable mode of serving them. To
you I may say that if I have been able to be liberal not less before
my marriage than after it, it was from denying myself many articles
which persons in my own rank of life and pecuniary circumstances
almost universally indulged in. Now when I find my income considerably
decreased on the one hand, and my expenses (from my four sons) greatly
increased on the other, economy must even be made parsimony, which,
justly construed, does not in my meaning at all exclude generosity."

This letter is here interrupted, he says, by "two young widows--both of
whom had recently lost their husbands in India--with their four little
children, all in deep mourning. Yet the two widows have the best of
all supports in the assured persuasion that their husbands were truly
pious, and in the hope that they themselves are so."

It is easy to imagine the reception given to the "two young widows"
by Wilberforce. He had not yet learned the lesson of "economy or even
parsimony" as regarded his charities--even when he had to reduce his
expenses he spent £3,000[52] in one year on charity.

  "_December 10, 1824._

"I have deemed it quite a duty on this delicious day to prolong my
country walk in a _tête-à-tête_ with your dear mother, a _tête-à-tête_,
however, from which our dear children's images are not excluded. I
own that those who are termed Methodists by the world do give more
liberally to the distressed than others, yet that I think they do
not in this duty come up to the full demands of Scripture. The great
mistake that prevails as I conceive is, it's being thought right that
all persons who are received on the footing of gentlemen are to live
alike. And without economy there cannot be sufficient liberality. I can
sincerely declare that my wish that my sons should be economical, which
is quite consistent with being generous, nay, as I said before, is even
necessary to it, arises far more from my conviction of the effects of
economical habits on their minds and happiness in future life, than on
account of the money that will be thereby saved. You have heard me, I
doubt not, praise Paley's excellent remark on the degree in which a
right constitution of the habits tends to produce happiness, and you
may proceed with the train of ideas I have called up in your mind."

  "_October 26, 1825._

"You ask me about your Uncle Stephen's having been a newspaper
reporter. He was. The case was this. At the age of, I believe,
eighteen, he came up to town to study the law, when the sudden death of
his father not only stopped his supplies, but threw on his hands the
junior branches of the family, more especially three or four sisters.
Seeing no other resource, he embraced an offer, made to him I believe
through or by Mr. Richardson, the friend of poor Sheridan. Richardson
afterwards came into Parliament, and the fact respecting Stephen came
out thus, a few years ago. A regulation was proposed by some of the
benchers of Lincoln's Inn that no one should be permitted to be called
to the Bar who ever had practised the reporting art. Sheridan brought
the question forward in the House of Commons. Stephen, who was then in
Parliament, spoke to the question, and in arguing against the illiberal
and even cruel severity of the regulation, put a supposed case, that
the son of a gentleman, by a father's sudden death was at once deprived
of the means of pursuing the legal profession on which he was just
entering, being also harassed in his mind by the distressed state of
some affectionate sisters. Thus embarrassed, he received an offer of
employment as a reporter, and gladly accepted it and discharged its
duties, thereby being enabled to prosecute his professional studies
as well as to assist his relatives. 'But,' added Stephen, 'the case
I have just stated is no imaginary one. It is the story of a living
individual. It is that, sir, of the individual who has now the honour
to address you.' There is in all bodies of Englishmen a generous
feeling which is always called forth powerfully when a man confesses,
or rather boldly avows any circumstance respecting himself which,
according to the false estimate of the world, might be supposed to
disparage him; as when Peel at the meeting for a monument to James Watt
declared that, 'owing all his prosperity to the successful industry
of a person originally in the humble walks of life,' the applause was
overpowering. And I never remember a more general or louder acclamation
than immediately broke out when Stephen had (indeed before he had
completely) closed his declaration."

  "_December 16, 1825._

"It is Henry Thornton[53] that was connected with the house of Pole
& Co. He became a partner about five months ago. The storm through
which he has been passing has been indeed violent; but the call
for self-possession, temper, judgment, and above all scrupulous,
punctilious integrity has been abundantly answered. He has behaved so
as to draw on him the universal applause of all who have witnessed
his conduct. Mr. Jno. Smith especially speaks of it in the highest
terms, and has been acting towards him with corresponding generosity
and kindness. It has been very strikingly evidenced that commercial
transactions on a great scale enlarge the mind, and the obedience
which, with men of real principle, is paid to the point of mercantile
honour, produces a habit of prompt, decisive integrity in circumstances
of embarrassment and distress. I am happy to be able to tell you that
there is reason to believe that while Henry will gain great credit
he will lose no money. He has borne the trial with the calmness of a

  "_Sunday, January 22, 1826._

"You may have heard me mention, that when in my solitary bachelor state
I was alone all day on the Sunday, I used after dinner to call up
before me the images of my friends and acquaintances, and to consider
how I could benefit or gratify them. And when the mind is scarcely
awake, or, at least, active enough for any superior purpose, this is
no bad employment for a part of the day, especially if practised with
religious associations and purposes. The day is so raw here that I have
yielded to your mother's kind entreaties that I would not go to church,
where the greater part of the family now is at afternoon service. So I
am glad to spend a part of my day with my dearest Samuel.

"I will remind you of an idea which I threw out on the day preceding
your departure--that I feared I had scarcely enough endeavoured to
impress on my children the idea that they must as Christians be a
peculiar people. I am persuaded that you cannot misunderstand me to
mean that I wish you to affect singularity in indifferent matters.
The very contrary is our duty. But from that very circumstance of its
being right that we should be like the rest of the world in exterior,
manners, &c., &c., results an augmentation of the danger of our not
maintaining that diversity, nay, that contrast, which the Eye of God
ought to see in us to the worldly way of thinking and feeling on
all the various occasions of life, and in relation to its various
interests. The man of the world considers religion as having nothing to
do with 99-100ths of the affairs of life, considering it as a medicine
and not as his food, least of all as his refreshment and cordial. He
naturally takes no more of it than his health requires. How opposite
this to the apostle's admonition, 'Whatever ye do in word or deed, do
all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father
through Him.' This is being spiritually-minded, and being so is truly
declared to be life and peace. By the way, if you do not possess that
duodecimo volume, 'Owen on Spiritual Mindedness,' let me beg you to
get and read it carefully. There are some obscure and mystic passages,
but much that I think is likely to be eminently useful; and may our
Heavenly Father bless to you the perusal of it...."

  "_February 27, 1826._

"Let me assure you that you give me great pleasure by telling me
unreservedly any doubts you may entertain of the propriety of my
principles or conduct. I love your considering and treating me as a
friend, and I trust you will never have reason to regret your having so
done, either in relation to your benefit or your comfort. In stating
my suspicions that I had not sufficiently endeavoured to impress on
my children, and that you were scarcely enough aware of the force of
the dictum that Christians were to be a peculiar people, I scarcely
need assure you that I think the commands, 'Provide things honest in
the sight of all men, whatever things are lovely, whatsoever of good
report,' &c. (admirably illustrated and enforced by St. Paul's account
of his own principles of becoming all things to all men), clearly prove
that so far from being needlessly singular, we never ought to be so,
but for some special and good reason. Again, I am aware of what you
suggest that, in our days, in which the number of those who profess a
stricter kind of religion than the world of _soi-disant_ Christians in
general, there is danger lest a party spirit should creep in with its
usual effects and evils. Against this, therefore, we should be on the
watch. And yet, though not enlisting ourselves in a party, we ought, as
I think you will admit, to assign considerable weight to any opinions
or practices which have been sanctioned by the authority of good men in
general. As again, you will I think admit, that in any case in which
the more advanced Christians and the less advanced are both affected,
the former and their interests deserve more of our consideration than
the latter. For instance, it is alleged in behalf of certain worldly
compliances, that by making them you will give a favourable idea,
produce a pleasing impression of your religious principles, and dispose
people the rather to adopt them. But then, if you thereby are likely
to become an _offence_ (in the Scripture sense) to weaker Christians,
(persons, with all their infirmities, eminently dear to Christ,)
you may do more harm than good, and that to the class which had the
stronger claim to your kind offices. Let my dear Samuel think over
the topic to which I was about next to proceed. I mean our Saviour's
language to the Laodicean Church expressing His abhorrence and disgust
at lukewarmness, and the danger of damping the religious affections
by such recreations as He had in mind. Of course I don't object to
domestic dances. It is not the act, the _saltus_, but the _whole tone_
of an assembly."

  "CLIFTON, _May 27, 1826._

"I am very glad to think that you will be with us. Your dear mother's
spirits are not always the most buoyant, and, coming first to reside
in a large, new house without having some of her children around her,
would be very likely to infuse a secret melancholy which might sadden
the whole scene, and even produce, by permanent association, a lasting
impression of despondency. I finish this letter after hearing an
excellent sermon from Robert Hall. It was not merely an exhibition
of powerful intellect, but of fervent and feeling piety, especially
impressing on his hearers to live by the faith of the love of Christ
daily, habitually looking to Him in all His characters. Prayer,
prayer, my dear Samuel; let your religion consist much in prayer. May
you be enabled more and more to walk by faith and not by sight, to
feel habitually as well as to recognise in all your more deliberate
calculations and plans, that the things that are seen are temporal,
but the things that are not seen are eternal. Then you will live above
the world, as one who is waiting for the coming of the Lord Jesus

  "_April 20, 1826._

"I would gladly fill my sheet, yet I can prescribe what may do almost
as well. Shut your door and muse until you fancy me by your side, and
then think what I should say to you, which I dare say your own mind
would supply."

  "_September 30._

"I am thankful to reflect that at the very moment I am now thinking of
you and addressing you; you also are probably engaged in some religious
exercise, solitary or social (for I was much gratified by learning from
a passage in one of your letters to your mother that you and Anderson
went through the service of our beautiful liturgy together). Perhaps
you are thinking of your poor old father, and, my dear boy, I hope you
often pray for me, and I beg you will continue to do so.

"I am not sure whether or not I told you of our having been for a
week at Lea,[55] having been detained there by my being slightly
indisposed. But it was worth while to be so, if it were only to
witness, or rather to experience, Lady Anderson's exceeding kindness. I
really do not recollect having ever before known such high merits and
accomplishments--the pencil and music combined with such unpretending
humility, such true simplicity and benevolence. With these last
Sir Charles is also eminently endowed. He reads his family prayers
with great feeling, and especially with a reverence which is always
particularly pleasing to me. There is, in 'Jonathan Edwards on the
Religious Affections,' a book from which you will, I think, gain much
useful matter, a very striking passage, in which he condemns with great
severity, but not at all too great, _me judice_, that familiarity
with the Supreme King which was affected by some of the religionists
of his day, as well as by Dr. Hawker recently, and remarks very truly
that Moses and Elijah, and Abraham the friend of God (and all of them
honoured by such especial marks of the Divine condescension), always
manifested a holy awe and reverence when in the Divine presence."

Samuel Wilberforce had written to his father asking him what advice he
should give to a friend whose family was very irreligious. In the house
of this friend 'it was a common phrase accompanying a shake of each
other's hands on meeting, "May we meet together in _hell_."' The answer
to the appeal for advice is as follows:--

  "_July 28, 1826._

"I will frankly confess to you that the clearness and strength of the
command of the apostle, 'Children, obey your parents in all things'
(though in one passage it is added, 'in the Lord') weighed so strongly
with me as to lead me, at first, to doubt whether or not it did not
overbalance all opposing considerations and injunctions, yet more
reflection has brought me to the conclusion, to which almost all those
whom I consulted came still more promptly, that it is the duty of
your young friend to resist his parents' injunction to go to the play
or the opera. That they are quite hotbeds of vice no one, I think,
can deny, for much more might be said against them than is contained
in my 'Practical View,' though I own the considerations there stated
appear to my understanding such as must to anyone who means to act on
Christian principles be perfectly decisive. One argument against the
young man's giving up the point in these instances, which has great
weight with me, is this, that he must either give himself entirely up
to his friends and suffer them at least to dictate to him his course
of conduct, or make a stand somewhere. Now I know not what ground he
will be likely to find so strong as this must be confessed to be, by
all who will argue the question with him on Scriptural principles, and
more especially on those I have suggested in my 'Practical View' of the
love of God, and I might have added, that of the apostle's injunction,
'Whatever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord
Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father through Him.' I scarcely
need remark that the refusal should be rendered as unobjectionable as
possible by the modest and affectionate manner of urging it, and by
endeavouring to render the whole conduct and demeanour doubly kind and
assiduous. I well remember that when first it pleased God to touch
my heart, now rather above forty years ago, it had been reported of
me that I was deranged, and various other rumours were propagated to
my disadvantage. It was under the cloud of these prejudices that I
presented myself to some old friends, and spent some time with them
(after the close of the session) at Scarborough. I conversed and
behaved in the spirit above recommended, and I was careful to embrace
any little opportunity of pleasing them (little presents often have no
small effects), and I endeavoured to impress them with a persuasion
that I was not less happy than before. The consequence was all I could
desire, and I well recollect that the late Mrs. Henry Thornton's
mother, a woman of very superior powers and of great influence in our
social circle, one day broke out to my mother--she afterwards said to
me something of the same kind, not without tears--'Well, I can only
say if _he_ is deranged I hope we all shall become so.' To your young
friend again I need not suggest the duty of constant prayer for his
nearest relatives. By degrees they will become softened, and he will
probably enjoy the delight of finding them come over to the blessed
path he is himself pursuing. He will also find that self-denial, and a
disposition to subject himself to any trouble or annoyance in order to
promote his friends' comfort, or exemption from some grievance, will
have a very powerful effect in conciliating his friends. With all the
courtesy that prevails in high life, no one, I think, can associate
with those who move in it, without seeing how great a share selfishness
has in deciding their language and conduct, saving themselves trouble
or money, &c., &c. Happily the objections of worldly parents to their
children becoming religious are considerably weakened since it has
pleased God to diffuse serious religion so much through the higher
ranks in society: they no longer despair, as they once did, of their
sons and daughters not forming any eligible matrimonial alliance or
any respectable acquaintances or friendships. The grand blessing of
acting in the way I recommend is the peace of conscience it is likely
to produce. There are, we know, occasions to which our Saviour's words
must apply, 'He that loveth father and mother more than Me is not
worthy of Me,' and I doubt not that if your friend does the violence
to his natural feelings which the case supposes, in the spirit of
faith and prayer, he will be rewarded even by a present enjoyment of
spiritual comfort. If I mistake not I wrote to you lately on the topic
of the joy which Christians ought to find familiar to them, still more
the peace; and the course he would pursue would, I believe, be very
likely to ensure the possession of them. We have been, and still are,
highly gratified by finding true religion establishing itself more and
more widely. Lord Mandeville, whose parent stock on both sides must
be confessed to be as unfavourable as could be well imagined in this
highly favoured country, is truly in earnest. He, you may have forgot,
married Lady Olivia's only daughter. He is a man of very good sense;
though having been destined to the Navy, which had been for generations
a family service, his education was probably not quite such as one
would wish. He is a man of the greatest simplicity of character, only
rather too quiet and silent."

    "_November 27, 1826._

"I hope you are pleased, I assure you I am, with the result of your
B.A. course. And I scarcely dare allow myself to wish that you may be
in the 1st class, or at least to wish it with any degree of earnestness
or still less of anxiety. The Almighty has been so signally kind to me
even in my worldly affairs, and so much more gracious than I deserved
in my domestic concerns, that it would indicate a heart never to be
satisfied were I not disposed in all that concerns my children, to cast
all my care on Him: indeed, you pleased me not a little by stating your
persuasion that it _might be_ better for you ultimately not to have
succeeded (to the utmost) on this very occasion. And I rejoice the more
in this impression of yours, because I am sure it does not in your
instance arise from the want of feeling; from that cold-blooded and
torpid temperament that often tends to indolence, and if it sometimes
saves its proprietor a disappointment, estranges him from many who
might otherwise attach themselves to him, and shuts him out from many
sources of pure and virtuous pleasure.

"Your dear mother in all weather that is not bad enough to drive the
labourers within doors, is herself _sub dio_, studying the grounds,
giving directions for new walks, new plantations, flower-beds, &c. And
I am thankful for being able to say that the exposure to cold and dew
hitherto has not hurt her--perhaps it has been beneficial."

  "_August 25, 1827._

"I was lately looking into Wrangham's 'British Biography,' and I
was forcibly struck by observing that by far the larger part of the
worthies the work commemorates were carried off before they reached
to the age I have attained to. And yet, as I think, I must have told
you, Dr. Warren, the first medical authority of that day, declared in
1788 that I could not then last above two or three weeks, not so much
from the violence of an illness from which I had then suffered, as
from the utter want of stamina. Yet a gracious Providence has not only
spared my life, but permitted me to see several of my dear children
advancing into life, and you, my dear Samuel, as well as Robert,
about to enter into Holy Orders so early that if it should please God
to spare my life for about a couple of years, which according to my
present state of health seems by no means improbable, I may have the
first and great pleasure of witnessing your performance of the sacred
service of the Church. It is little in me--I mean a very ordinary
proof of my preference of spiritual to earthly things, of my desiring
to walk rather by faith than by sight--that I rejoice in the prospect
of your becoming a clergyman rather than a lawyer, which appeared the
alternative in your instance; but it is due to you, my dear Samuel,
to say that it is a very striking proof of your having been enabled
by, I humbly trust, the highest of all influences, to form this
decision, when from your talents and qualifications it appeared by no
means improbable that in the legal line you might not improbably rise
into the enjoyment of rank and affluence. It is but too true that my
feelings would, at your time of life, have been powerfully active in
another direction. Perhaps this very determination may have been in
part produced by that connection to which you look forward. And may it
please God, my dear Samuel, to grant you the desire of your heart in
this particular and to render the union conducive to your spiritual
benefit and that of your partner also, so that it may be looked back
upon with gratitude even in a better world, as that which has tended
not only to your mutual happiness during the journey of life, but has
contributed to bring you both after its blessed termination to the
enjoyment of the rest that remaineth for the people of God."

This letter refers to Samuel Wilberforce's marriage with Emily Sargent,
as to which his father remarks: "Viewed in a worldly light, the
connection cannot be deemed favourable to either of you."

  "_March 20, 1828._

"The cheerfulness, which at an earlier period of my life might have
been a copious spring supplying my letters with a stream of pleasant
sentiments and feelings, has been chilled even to freezing by advancing
years, and yet, to do myself justice, though this may have dulled the
activity and liveliness of my epistles, I think it has not cooled the
kindly warmth of heart with which I write to my friends and least of
all to my children."

  "_July 22, 1828._

"I am glad that any opportunity for your coming forward as a public
speaker has occurred, I mean an opportunity proper for you to
embrace, in which you were rather a drawn (though not a pressed) man
and not a volunteer. We have had the great pleasure of having dear
Robert officiate twice, both in the reading-desk and the pulpit.
The apparent, as well as real, simplicity of his whole performance
must have impressed every observant and feeling hearer with a very
favourable view of his character. His language remarkably simple,
much every way in his sermon to esteem and love. It suggested one
or two important topics for consideration, which I shall be glad to
talk over with you hereafter, as well as with Robert himself. One is,
whether he did not fall into what I have often thought an error in the
sermons of sound divines, and in those perhaps of Oxonians more than
Cantabs--that I mean of addressing their congregations as being all
real Christians--children of God, &c.--who needed (to use our Saviour's
figure in John xiii.) only to have their feet washed. Whatever may be
the right doctrinal opinion as to baptismal regeneration, all really
orthodox men will grant, I presume, that as people grow up they may
lose that privilege of being children of God which we trust they who
were baptised in their infancy did enjoy, and would have reaped the
benefit of it had they died before, by the gradual development of their
mental powers, they became moral agents capable of responsibility.
And if so, should not their particular sins of disposition, temper,
or conduct be used rather to convince them of their being in a sinful
state, and as therefore requiring the converting grace of God, than as
merely wanting a little reformation?"

  "_November 20, 1828._

"Has Sargent[56] heard of the fresh explosion in the British and
Foreign Bible Society? I truly and deeply regret it. It has proceeded
from a proposal to print the Septuagint. In the discussion that
took place on that topic it was perhaps unwarily said there was no
proper standard of the Holy Scriptures. No standard!!!!! Then we
have no Bible! You see how a little Christian candour would have
prevented this rupture. Oh that they would all remember that the end
of the commandment is Love. I fear this is not the test by which in
our days Christians are to be ascertained: may we all cultivate in
ourselves this blessed principle and pray for it more earnestly. I
am quite pleased myself, Robert is delighted, by the appointment to
the Professorship (Hebrew) of Pusey--above £1,200 per annum. Pusey
had opposition, and is appointed by the Duke of Wellington, solely we
suppose on the ground of superior merit."

  "_February 20, 1829._

"Legh Richmond,[57] though an excellent man, was not a man of
refinement or of taste. I cannot deny the justice of your remarks
as far as I can fairly allow myself to form a judgment without
referring to the book. I entirely concur in your censure of Richmond's
commonplace, I had almost termed it profane, way in which he speaks of
the Evil Spirit. This falls under the condemnation justly pronounced by
Paley against levity in religion.

"When I can spare a little eyesight or time, I feel myself warranted
to indulge the pleasure I always have in the exercise of the domestic
affections, and in gratifying you (as I hope it is not vanity to think
I do) in writing to you at a time when you are in circumstances of more
quiet than usual, though I am aware that a man of your age, who is
spending his first year of married life with a partner, between whom
and himself there was great mutual attachment, grounded on esteem, and
a mutual acquaintance with each other's characters and dispositions,
can never be so happy as when he is enjoying a _tête-à-tête_ with his
bride. By the way, do you keep anything in the nature of a journal?
A commonplace book I take it for granted you keep; and speaking of
books, let me strongly urge you to keep your accounts regularly, and
somewhat at least in the mode in which we keep ours--under different
heads. If you have not the plan, tell me and I will send it to you.
Its excellence is that it enables you with ease to see how your money
goes; and remember we live in days in which a single sovereign given by
an individual is often productive of great effects. Where is it that a
single drop (stalactite) from a roof, falling into the ocean, is made
to bemoan itself on being lost in the abyss of waters, when afterwards
it became the seminal principle of the great pearl that constituted the
glory of the Great Mogul? And now also, remember the Church Missionary
Society is so poor, that it will be compelled to quit some fields
whitening to the harvest, unless it can have its funds considerably

[Illustration: SAMUEL WILBERFORCE, Aged 29.]

The next letter refers to the offer of the vicarage of Ribchester,
near Preston, in Lancashire, made by the Bishop of Chester to Samuel

  "_March 3, 1829._

"Whether regarded in relation to your bodily strength, your spiritual
interests, or to prudence in affairs, I should be disposed to advise
you to decline, with a due sense of kindness, &c., the Bishop's offer.
Your constitution is not a strong one, and it is highly desirable in
that view alone that you should for a time officiate in a small sphere,
and if it may be in a place where, as from your vicinity to Oxford,
you can have assistance when you are not equal yourself to the whole
duty. With such a scattered population, there must be a call I conceive
for great bodily strength. Secondly, the situation appears to me still
less eligible considered on higher grounds. It is no ground of blame
to you that your studies have not hitherto been of divinity. Supply
all that I should say under that head, were I not writing to one who
is capable himself of suggesting it to his own mind. Again, you cannot
have that acquaintance with human nature, either in general, or in
your own self, which it would be desirable for any one to possess who
was to be placed in so wide and populous a field, especially in one so
circumstanced as this particular place. Then you would be at a distance
from almost all your friends, which I mention now in reference to
the spiritual disadvantages of the situation, not in relation to your
comfort and Emily's, in which, however, it may be fairly admitted to
some weight. Again, _I_ should much regret your being placed where you
would naturally be called to study controversial anti-Roman Catholic
divinity, rather than that which expects the cultivation of personal
holiness in yourself and your parishioners. I could say much on this
head. Thirdly, Mr. Neale sees the objections on the ground of pecuniary
interest, as alone of so much weight, as to warrant your refusing the
offer--a vicarage. Its income is commonly derived from small payments,
and in that district probably of poor people whom you would not, could
not squeeze, and yet without squeezing from whom you probably would get
nothing. Most likely a curate would be indispensable."

On the same topic Wilberforce writes again:--

  "_March 17th, 1829._

"I ought to tell you that in the reasons I assigned to the Bishop
for declining his offer, one, and in itself perhaps the strongest,
(nay, certainly so, not perhaps,) was my persuasion that for any
one educated and associated as you have been, it was of very great
importance with a view to your spiritual state, (more especially for
the cultivation of devotional feelings and spirituality of mind,)
that he should in the outset of his ministerial course be for some
time in a quiet and retired situation, where he could live in the
enjoyment of domestic comfort, of leisure for religious reading and
meditation, and devotional exercises; while, on the contrary, it was
very undesirable in lieu of these to be placed in circumstances in
which he would almost necessarily be almost incessantly arguing for
Protestant principles--in short, would be occupied in the religion of
the head rather than of the heart. I own to you in confidence (though
I believe I shall make the avowal to my dear Robert himself) that I am
sometimes uneasy on a ground somewhat congenial with this, about the
tutor of Oriel. For though I doubt not the solidity of his religious
character, yet I fear his situation is far from favourable to the
growth in grace, and would, alas! need every help we can have for the
advancement of personal religion within us, and can scarcely bear
without injury any circumstances that have an unfavourable tendency. I
trust my dear Samuel will himself consider that he is now responsible
for living in circumstances peculiarly favourable to the growth of
personal piety, and therefore that he should use his utmost endeavours
to derive the benefits that appear, (humanly speaking,) to be placed
within his reach. Oh, my dearest boy, we are all too sadly lukewarm,
sadly too little urging forward with the earnestness that might justly
be expected from those that are contending for an incorruptible crown.
Did you ever read Owen on spiritual-mindedness? There are some passages
that to me appear almost unintelligible (one at least), but it is in
the main, I think, a highly useful book. I need not say how sorry we
are to hear of Emily being poorly. But our gourds must have something
to alloy their sweets. D. G. your mother is recovering gradually,
and now profits much from a jumbling pony-chair; its shaking quality
renders its value to her double what it would be otherwise."[58]

  "_March 19, 1829._

"In speaking of Whately's book I ought to have said that I had not got
to the part in which he speaks of imputed righteousness. I remember it
was an objection made to my 'Practical View' by a certain strange head
of a college that I was silent on that point. The honest truth is, I
never considered it. I have always been disposed to believe it to be
in some sort true, but not to deem it a matter of importance, if the
doctrine of free grace and justification by faith be held, which are,
I believe, of primary importance. Hooker, unless I forget, is clearly
for it; see his sermon on Justification. I trust I need not fear your
misconstruing me, and supposing I can be advising you, either to be
roguish, or shabbily reserved. But really I do think that you may
produce an unfavourable and false impression of your principles and
professional character, by talking unguardedly about _Methodistical_
persons and opinions. Mrs. R. may report you as UNSOUND to the Bishop
of Winchester, and he imbibe a prejudice against you. Besides, my
dear Samuel, I am sure you will not _fire_ when I say that you may
see reason on farther reading, and reflection, and more experience to
change or qualify some of the opinions you may now hold. I own, (I
should not be honest if I did not say so,) that I think I have myself
witnessed occasions which have strengthened with me the impression that
you may need this hint.... Have you any parishioners who have been
used to hear Methodists or Dissenters, or have you any who appear to
have had, or still to have, much feeling of religion? I cannot help
suspecting that it is a mistaken notion that the lower orders are to
be chiefly instructed in the ordinary practical duties of religion,
whereas I own I believe them to be quite capable of impressions on
their affections: on the infinite love of their God and Redeemer, and
of their corresponding obligation to Love and Obedience. We found
peasants more open to attacks on their consciences, on the score of
being wanting in gratitude, than on any other."

"_April 3, 1829._

"Articles sent to Mr. Samuel--Bewick, Venn's Sermons (2 vols.), White's
'Selborne' (2 vols. bound in one), 2nd vol. of 'The Monastery.' A
lending library is, I think, likely to be considerably beneficial.
It cannot but have a tendency to generate in the poor a disposition
favourable to domestic habits and pleasures, and to seek their
enjoyments at home rather than in the alehouse, and it strikes me as
likely to confirm this taste, to encourage the poor people's children
to read to them. Send me a list of any books you will like to have for
your lending library, and I will by degrees pick them up for you....

"We ought to be always making it our endeavour to be experiencing peace
and joy in believing, and that we do not enjoy more of this sunshine
of the breast is, I fear, almost always our own fault. We ought not to
acquiesce quietly in the want of them, whereas we are too apt to be
satisfied if our consciences do not reproach us with anything wrong,
if we can on good grounds entertain the persuasion that we are safe;
and we do not sufficiently consider that we serve a gracious and kind
master who is willing that we should taste that He is gracious. Both
in St. John's first general Epistle, and in our Lord's declaration in
John xv., we are assured that our Lord's object and the apostles' in
telling us of our having spiritual supplies and communion, is that
our joy may be full. It is a great comfort to me to reflect that you
are in circumstances peculiarly favourable to your best interests. To
be spiritually-minded is both life and peace. How much happier would
your dear mother be if she were living the quiet life you and Emily do,
instead of being cumbered about many things; yet she is in the path of
duty, and that is all in all."

  "_September 7, 1829._

"An admirable expedient has this moment suggested itself to me, which
will supersede the necessity for my giving expression to sentiments and
feelings, for which you will give me full credit, though unexpressed.
It is that of following the precedent set by a candidate for the City
of Bristol in conjunction with Mr. Burke. The latter had addressed his
electors in a fuller effusion of eloquence than was used to flow even
from his lips, when his colleague, conscious that he should appear to
great disadvantage were he to attempt a speech, very wisely confined
himself to, 'Gentlemen, you have heard Mr. Burke's excellent speech. I
say ditto to the whole of it.' Sure I am that no language of mine could
give you warmer or more sincere assurances of parental affection than
you will have received in the letter of your dear mother, which she
has just put into my hands to be inserted into my letter. To all she
has said, therefore, I say ditto. My dear Samuel, I must tell you the
pleasure with which I look back on what I witnessed at Checkendon,[59]
and how it combines with, and augments the joyful gratulations with
which I welcome the 7th of September.[60] I hope I am deeply thankful
to the bountiful Giver of all good for having granted me in you a
son to whose future course I can look with so much humble hope, and
even joyful confidence. It is also with no little thankfulness that
I reflect on your domestic prospects, from the excellent qualities
of your, let me say _our_, dear Emily. I must stop, the rest shall
be prayer, prayer for both of you, that your course in this life may
be useful and honourable, and that you may at length, accompanied by
a large assemblage of the sheep of Christ, whom you have been the
honoured instrument of bringing to the fold of Christ, have an abundant
entrance into the everlasting kingdom of God."

  "_September 28, 1829._

"How much do they lose of comfort, as well as, I believe, in incentives
to gratitude and love, and if it be not their own fault thereby in
the means of practical improvement, who do not accustom themselves to
watch the operations of the Divine Hand. I have often thought that,
had it not been for the positive declarations of the Holy Scriptures
concerning the attention of the Almighty Governor of the universe to
our minutest comforts and interests enforced by a comparison with
the στοργἡ of parental affection, we should not dare to be so
presumptuous as to believe, that He who rolls the spheres along,
would condescend thus to sympathise with our feelings, and attend
to our minutest interests. Here also Dr. Chalmers' suggestions,
derived from the discoveries made to us through the microscope, come
in to confirm the same delightful persuasion. I am persuaded that
many true Christians lose much pleasure they might otherwise enjoy
from not sufficiently watching the various events of their lives,
more especially in those little incidents, as we rather unfitly term
them; for, considering them as links in the chain, they maintain the
continuity, as much as those which we are apt to regard as of greater
size and consequence."

  "_November 21, 1829._

"We have been for a few days at Battersea Rise. But your mother will, I
doubt not, have told you the memorabilia of this visit, and especially
the inexhaustible conversational powers of Sir James Mackintosh. I
wish I may be able, some time or other, to enable you to hear these
powers exerted. Poor fellow! he is, however, the victim of his own
social dispositions and excellences. For I cannot but believe, that
the superfluous hours dissipated in these talks, might suffice for
the performance of a great work. They are to him, what, alas! in some
degree, my letters were to me during my Parliamentary life, and even to
this day."

  "_December 17, 1829._

"We ought not to expect this life to flow on smoothly without rubs
or mortification. Indeed, it is a sentiment which I often inculcate
on myself that, to use a familiar phrase, we here have more than our
bargain, as Christians, in the days in which we live; for I apprehend
the promise of the life that now is, combined with that which is to
come, was meant to refer rather to mental peace and comfort, than to
temporal prosperity. My thoughts have been of late often led into
reflections on the degree in which we are wanting to ourselves, in
relation to the rich and bright prospects set before us as attainable
in the Word of God. More especially I refer to that of the Christian's
hope and peace and joy. Again and again we are assured that joy is
ordinarily and generally to be the portion of the Christian. Yet how
prone are but too commonly those, whom we really believe to be entitled
to the name of Christians, disposed to remain contented without the
possession of this delightful state of heart; and to regard it as the
privilege of some rarely gifted, and eminently favoured Christians,
rather than as the general character of all, yet I believe that except
for some hypochondriacal affection, or state of spirits arising from
bodily ailments, every Christian ought to be very distrustful of
himself, _and to call himself to account, as it were_, if he is not
able to maintain a settled frame of 'inward peace,' if not joy. It is
to be obtained through the Holy Spirit, and therefore when St. Paul
prays for the Roman Christians that they may be filled with all _peace_
and _joy_ in believing, and may abound in hope, it is added, through
the power of the Holy Ghost."

    "_December 31, 1829._

"MY DEAR CHILDREN,--For to both of you I address myself. An idea, which
for so old a fellow as myself you will allow somewhat to be deserving
the praise of brightness, has just struck my mind, and I proceed to act
upon it. Are you Yorkshireman enough to know the article (an excellent
one it is) entitled a Christmas, or sometimes a goose or a turkey pie?
Its composition is this. Take first the smallest of eatable birds,
as a snipe, for instance, then put it within its next neighbour of
the feathered race, I mean in point of size, the woodcock, insert the
two into a teal, the teal into a duck, the duck and Co. into a fowl,
the fowl into a goose, the goose and Co. into a turkey. In imitation
of this laudable precedent, I propose, though with a variation, as
our Speaker would say, in the order of our proceeding, that this
large sheet which I have selected for the purpose should contain the
united epistles of all the family circle, from the fullest grown if
not largest in dimensions, myself, to the most diminutive, little
William.[61] As the thought is my own, I will begin the execution of
it, and if any vacant space should remain, I will fill it, just as any
orifices left vacant in said pie are supplied by the pouring in of the
jelly. But I begin to be ashamed of this jocoseness when I call to mind
on what day I am writing--the day which, combined with the succeeding
one, the 1st of January, I consider, except perhaps my birthday, as
the most important of the whole year. For a long period (as long as
I lived in the neighbourhood of the Lock, or rather not far from it)
I used to receive the Sacrament, which was always administered there
on New Year's Day. And the heart must be hard and cold, which that
sacred ordinance in such a relation, would not soften and warm into
religious sensibility and tenderness. I was naturally led into looking
backwards to the past days of my life, and forward to the future; led
to consider in what pleasant places my lines were fallen, how goodly
was my heritage, that the bounds of my life should be fixed in that
little spot, in which, of the whole earth, there has been the greatest
measure of temporal comforts, and of spiritual privileges. That it
should be also in the eighteenth century, for where should I have
been, a small, weakly man, had I been born either among our painted or
skin-clothed ancestors, or in almost any other before or after it? As
they would have begun by exposing me, there need be no more inquiry as
to the sequel of the piece. Next take my station in life, neither so
high as naturally to intoxicate me, nor so low as to excite to envy
or degradation. Take then the other particulars of my condition, both
personal and circumstantial. But I need go no farther, but leave it to
you to supply the rest. And you will likewise, I doubt not, pursue the
same mental process in your own instance also, and find, as may well be
the case, that the retrospect and prospect afford abundant matter for
gratitude and humiliation, (I am sure I find the latter most powerfully
called forth in my heart by my own survey). Many thanks for your last
kind letter. You have precisely anticipated what was said by the
several _dramatis personæ_. It is a real sacrifice for Emily and you
to be absent from my family circle. But the sacrifice is to duty, and
that is enough. And you have no small ground for comfort, from your not
having to go through the 'experiment solitary,' as Lord Bacon terms
it, but to have one, to whom you may say that solitude is sweet. But I
must surrender the pen to your dear mother."

The country was at that time extremely disturbed by what were known
as the "Swing Riots."[62] Bands of rioters went about, burning ricks
and threshing machines, then newly introduced, and considered by the
labourers as depriving them of the winter threshing work. Wilberforce
seems to have shared this feeling.

    "_November 25, 1830._

"Your mother suggests that a threshing machine used to be kept in one
of your barns. If so I really think it should be removed. I should be
very sorry to have it stated that a threshing machine had been burnt
on the premises of the Rev. Samuel Wilberforce; they take away one of
the surest sources of occupation for farmers in frost and snow times.
In what a dreadful state the country now is! Gisborne, I find, has
stated his opinion, that the present is the period of pouring out the
7th Vial, when there was to be general confusion, insubordination,
and misery. It really appears in the political world, like what the
abolition of some of the great elements in the physical world would
be; the extinction, for instance, of the principle of gravity."

  "_December 9, 1830._

"I have been delaying the books that all might go together. Mather's
'Magnalia'[63] shall be one of them. There is a very curious passage in
it early in the volume, in which in Charles I's time, he says, expenses
have been increasing so much of late years that men can no longer
maintain their rank in society. Assuredly this Government is greatly to
be preferred before the last. Brougham better than Copley, and several
highly respectable besides, the Grants (Charles is in the Cabinet),
Lord Althorp, Sir James Graham, Lord Grey himself, highly respectable
as family men; Denman a very honest fellow. The worst appointment is
Holland, Duchy of Lancaster; he has much church patronage which, though
I love the man, I cannot think decorous. Lord Lansdowne, very decent,
Lord Goderich ditto. But your mother is worrying me all this time to
force me out, and Joseph declares the letters will be too late. So

  "_December 17, 1830._

"I have always thought that your having a strong virtuous attachment
when you first went to the University was a great security to you. The
blessed effects of this safeguard we shall one day know. It will be a
mutual augmentation of attachment and happiness to find that those whom
we loved best had been rendered the instruments more or less of our

"That religious feelings are contagious (if I may use the word so), is
undeniable, and there may be temporary accesses of religious feeling,
which may produce a temporary effervescence, with little or none of the
real work of God on the heart. But you and I, who are not Calvinists,
believe that even where the influence of the Holy Spirit was in the
heart, that Spirit may be grieved and quenched. The good seed in the
hearts of the stony-ground hearers is just an instance in point. When
my friend Terrot was chaplain, of the _Defence_ I think, great numbers
of the rough sailors were deeply affected by his conversation and
sermons, of whom, I think he said, thirty only appeared in the sequel
to be permanently changed."

  "_January 4, 1831._

"You are now a man possessed of as much leisure as you are ever likely
to possess. What think you of laying in materials for a Doctrinal and
practical History of Religion in England, in different classes of
society, and of males and females, from the time of the Reformation to
the present time or perhaps to 1760. It was once my wish to write such
a work, but the state of my eyes long ago rendered it impracticable.
The sources from whence the particulars for the work must be derived
are chiefly Lives and Memoirs. Numbers of these have been published
of late years, and the object is one which would give opportunities
for exercising sagacity, as well as candour. There is this also of
good in it that, _nullus dies sine lineâ_, you might be continually
finding some fresh fact or hint, which would afterwards be capable of
being turned to good account. The Annual Registers and the different
magazines and reviews would be rich mines of raw material. Do meditate
on these suggestions. How very strong has dear Henry become both in
his opinions and his language! Really if he were to go into the law,
which Robert seems to think not improbable, there would be considerable
danger of his getting into quarrels which might draw on him challenges,
the more probably because people might suppose from his parentage,
&c., that he most likely would not answer a call to the field. I must
say that the becoming exempt, even in the world's estimate, from the
obligation to challenge or being challenged may be no unfair principle
of preference of an ecclesiastical profession to any other. The subject
of duelling is one which I never saw well treated; a very worthy and
sensible man, a Scotchman who was shipwrecked in Madagascar, I forget
his name (was it Duncan?) sent me one, his own writing, but I thought
it _naught_. And now my very dear boy farewell."

Wilberforce writes to Mrs. Samuel Wilberforce the day after his
daughter Elizabeth's marriage.

_Mr. Wilberforce to Mrs. Samuel Wilberforce._

    "_January 12, 1831._

"MY DEAR EMILY,--We had a delightful day yesterday for our ceremony,
and after the indissoluble knot had been tied in due form, the parties
drove off about 12 o'clock to spend a few days at Mr. Stephen's
favourite residence of Healthy Hill, as he terms it, Missenden. I
really augur well of this connection, having strong reasons for
believing Mr. James to be a truly amiable as well as pious man, and my
dear Lizzy is really well fitted for the office of a parson's aider
and comforter. It has given me no little pleasure to have been assured
by Mr. Dupré, the curate of the parish, that she has been truly useful
to the poor cottagers around us. His expression was, 'She has done
more good than she knows of.' This event, combined with the close of
another year and the anniversary of my own dear wife's birthday, has
called forth in me a lively sense of the goodness of that gracious
Being who has dealt so bountifully with me during a long succession
of years. Dr. Warren, in 1788, as I was reminded when at Brighstone,
declared that for want of stamina there would be an end of my feeble
frame in two or three weeks, and then I was a bachelor. After this,
near ten years after, I became a husband, and now I have assured me
full grown descendants, and an offset in my Elizabeth. I have been
receiving many congratulations from being perhaps the only living
father of three first-class men, one of them a double first and the
two others in the second also. Above all their literary acquirements
I value their having, as I verily believe, passed through the fiery
trial of an university, for such I honestly account it, without injury.
And it gives me no little pleasure (as I think I have before assured
you), to add that I ascribe this in part to the instrumentality of a
certain young lady, who was a sort of guardian angel hovering around
him in fancy and exerting a benign influence over the sensibility and
tenderness of his lively spirit. Farewell, my dear Emily.

  "Believe me, begging a kiss to baby,
    "Ever affectionately yours,

_Mr. Wilberforce to the Rev. Samuel Wilberforce._

  "_February 8, 1831._

"MY DEAR SAMUEL,--Pray both for your mother and for poor William
that they may be delivered from μἑριμνα. The former, alas! lies
awake for hours in the morning, and cannot banish from her mind the
carking cares that haunt and worry her. We profess to believe in the
efficacy of prayer. Let us prove the truth of our profession by at
least not acquiescing, without resistance, in such assailments. It is
more from natural temperament than from any higher attainment that
I am not the prey of these corrosions. Something may be ascribed to
the habit of controlling my thoughts which I acquired when in public
life.... You might, I believe, have shone in political life; but you
have chosen the better part. And if you can think so now when in your
younger blood, much more will you become sensible of it by and by when
you look back, if God should so permit, on a long retrospect, studded
with records of the Divine blessing on your ministerial exertions.
Kindest remembrances to dear Emily, and a kiss to little Emily, and the
blessing of your affectionate father,


    "_March 4, 1831._

"I will frankly confess to you that I almost tremble for the
consequences of Lord Russell's plan of Reform if it should be carried.
I wish the qualification had been higher. The addition to the County
Representation lessens the danger. Much in the judgments we form on
such practical questions depends on our period of life. I find myself
now at seventy-one and a half far more timid and more indisposed to
great changes, and less inclined to promise myself great benefit from
political plans. I own I scarcely can expect the plan to succeed,
especially in the House of Lords. We understand your invitation to be
for July and August. But I foretell you plainly you shall not regularly
walk with me, or break off any habits which can in any degree interfere
with duty. We have not yet settled our plans. Indeed, they may greatly
depend on the convenience of our friends. I well remember the Dean of
Carlisle used to say when invitations multiplied, 'Do you think that
if you wanted a dinner there would be so many disposed to give you
one?' We are now about to put this to the proof. I own now that it
comes to the point I am a little disposed to exclaim, 'O happy hills! O
pleasing shades!' &c. But I should be ashamed were I to have any other
prevailing feeling than thankfulness. I feel most the separation from
my books. However, _sursum corda_."

Wilberforce writes to his friend Babington on Lord Russell's

_Mr. Wilberforce to Mr. Babington._

    "_March 14, 1831._

"MY DEAR TOM,--I fear you will be again disposed to accuse me of
treating you with neglect (not, I hope, with unkindness) in suffering
week after week to pass away without returning answers to your kind
letters. I have really had as much necessary writing on my hands,
as even when I was member for Yorkshire. But I cannot bear to think
that you are, day after day, looking out for my handwriting (as you
are opening your daily packets), and looking out in vain. There have
been many topics, I assure you, on which I should have been glad to
communicate with you had I been able. I know not how you have felt,
but I must say I felt glad by the consciousness that I was not now in
a situation to be compelled to approach, and act upon, the important
question of Lord John Russell's proposition. On the whole, I think I
should have been favourable to it; chiefly, or rather most confidently,
from trusting that we shall do away with much vice and much bribery
which now prevail. I am persuaded also that the change will be for the
benefit, and greatly so, of our poor West India clients. I should like
to know your sentiments on the plan."

_Mr. Wilberforce to the Rev. Samuel Wilberforce._

  "_April 8, 1831._

"And now, my dear Samuel, we have commenced our wanderings. I write
from Daniel Wilson's, who treats us with the utmost kindness."

From this time Wilberforce had no house of his own, but spent the
remaining years of his life with his sons and with his friends. In his
own language, he "became a wanderer without any certain dwelling-place."

    "_April 20th._

"It must be three weeks or more since Lord Brougham, when on the
woolsack, called Stephen,[64] then attending the House of Lords, quasi
master (two of their description you perhaps know are required to be
always present; they take down their Lordships' Bills to the House of
Commons), and after expressing in very strong language his concern at
having heard such an account as had reached him of the state of my
finances, and more particularly of its being necessary for me to quit
my own house, and become a wanderer without any certain dwelling-place,
he stated that he had lately heard of my having sons and a son-in-law
in the Church, and that he should be most happy to do what he could
for them. Lord Milton afterwards, as I understand from Dan Sykes,
expressed to Lord Brougham some kind intentions towards me, and more
especially that he waived a claim or an application he had been making
for the living of Rawmarsh, as soon as he learned that Lord Brougham
had destined it to me. Robert would not accept any living which would
not afford me a suitable residence."

  "_April 23, 1831._

"You cannot conceive how little time I appear to have at my own command
while passing our lives in this vagarious mode, which, however, calls
forth emotions of gratitude to the Giver of all good, who has raised
up for me so many and so kind friends. I ought not to forget, while a
Gracious Providence has granted me a good name which is better than
great riches, that many public men as upright as myself have been the
victims of calumny. I myself indeed have had its envenomed shafts at
times directed against me. But on the whole few men have suffered from
them so little as myself."

  "BATH, _October 19, 1831._

"I am but poorly, and I am bothered (a vulgar phrase, but having been
used in the House of Lords I may condescend to adopt it) with incessant
visitors. There is a person come over to this country from the United
States, of the Society of Quakers, for the excellent purpose of
obtaining popularity and support for a society which has been in being
for nine or ten years--the American Colonisation Society. I could not
but assent to his proposal to pay me a visit at this place. The time
was when such a visitor would have been no encumbrance to me. But now
that he takes me in hand when I am already tired by others, (though
it is only justice to him to say no one can be less intrusive or more
obliging than he is), I do sink under it. My dear Samuel, it is one of
the bad consequences of the plan you prescribed that I exhibit myself
to you in the state of mind in which I am at the moment, though I
should not otherwise have selected it for that purpose.

  "_Friday, 12 o'clock, October 21st._

"Our American friend has left us this morning But, alas! he has
requested me to write in his album. What a vile system is the album
system! No, I do not, I cannot think so, though I am somewhat ruffled
by being called on for my contingent, when I have little or no supplies
left to furnish it."

Wilberforce goes on to express his gratitude for the safety of his
daughter Elizabeth (Mrs. James), who had been confined of a daughter.

"The mere circumstance that a new immortal being is produced and
committed to our keeping is a consideration of extreme moment. Though I
own it sometimes tends to produce emotions of a saddening character,
to consider into what a world our new grandchild has entered, what
stormy seas she will have to navigate. I will enclose an interesting
passage I have received from Tom Babington, giving an account of Dr.
Chalmer's speculations.

"I own I am sadly alarmed for the Church. There is such a combination
of noxious elements fermenting together, that I am ready to exclaim,
'There is death in the pot,' and there will be, I fear, no Elisha
granted to us to render the mess harmless. But yet I am encouraged to
hope that the same gracious and longsuffering Being who would have
spared Sodom for ten, and Jerusalem even for one righteous man's sake,
may spare us to the prayers of the many who do, I trust, sincerely
sigh and cry in behalf of our proud, ungrateful land. Yet, again, when
I consider what light we have enjoyed, what mercies we have received,
and how self-sufficient and ungrateful we have been, I am again tempted
to despond. I wish I could be a less unprofitable servant. Yet I must
remember Milton's sonnet, 'They also serve who only stand and wait.'
Let us all be found in our several stations doing therein the Lord's
work diligently and zealously. What do you think of Shuttleworth's new
translation of St. Paul's Epistles? I have borrowed but not yet read
them. Affectionate remembrances to dear Emily, and a kiss to sweet

    "_October 31, 1831._

"You will hear what dreadful work has been going on at Bristol for the
last eight and forty hours. Sir Charles Wetherell[66] escaped from
the fury of the mob by first hiding himself in some upper room in the
Mansion House and then passing, disguised in a sack jacket, from the
roof of the Mansion House to that of another house, whence he got to
a distant part of the town, and in a chaise and four returned in all
haste, (they say) to London. He was, as Recorder, to have opened the
Commission and tried all the prisoners to-day. However, the latter
are now all at work again in their accustomed callings. Not a single
gaol, I am assured, is left undestroyed. The Bishop's Palace, (and
Deanery too I am told), burnt to the ground. The Custom House ditto,
Mansion House ditto. Poor Pinney, the Mayor, I was assured, behaved on
Saturday with great presence of mind. The populace, however, got into
the Mansion House before the corporation went to dinner; so all
the good things regaled the ὁι πολλοι. Strange to say, (just as
in the London riots), people were allowed to walk the streets in peace,
and last night half the people in the square were looking on at the
depredations committing by the other half. Well-dressed ladies walked
about great part of the night staring as at a raree show. The redness
of the sky from the conflagration was quite a dreadful sight to us in
the distance. It is said they are endeavouring to organise a force for
the defence of the city. It is very strange that this has been so long
delayed. I'm assured pillage has latterly been the grand object. The
deputation, I am told, were followed by a cart, in which, as they went
along, they stowed the plunder. I have not said it to your mother, for
fear of her becoming still more nervous,[67] (which need not be), by
her finding me entertaining such cogitations, but if I perceive any
grumblings of the volcano at Bath, before the lava bursts forth I shall
hurry your mother to a certain quiet parsonage--though, alas! I cannot
but fear for the Church in these days."

  "BLAIZE CASTLE, _November 2._

"The Bristol riots, though in some particulars the accounts were
as usual exaggerated, were quite horrible, and the _great_ events
as reported. But a striking instance was afforded how easily
perpetrations, if I may use the word, the most horrible may be at
once arrested by determined opposition. On Monday morning early the
mobs were parading about without resistance. But on that morning the
troops, a small body of dragoons, charged them repeatedly at full
speed, and not sparing either the momentum or the sharpness of their
swords, no attempt at making a head afterwards appeared. Afterwards
the day was properly employed in appointing a great number of special
constables and other civil force, and every night, as well as day,
since has passed in perfect quiet. A great part of the plunder has been
recovered, and numbers of criminals have been seized--some of them sent
to a gaol about seven miles off; and happily the condemned cells have
escaped the fury of the mob, and have afforded a stronghold for keeping
the prisoners. I need not tell you in what a ferment the mind of our
host was thrown, indeed with great reason. He had been threatened with
a visit at this place, and the best pictures were stowed away in safe
custody. I am persuaded it has become indispensably necessary to form
in all our great cities and neighbourhoods a civil police, properly
armed and drilled. And thus, as usual, out of evil good may arise."

  "BATH, _November 13, 1831._

"I think you know Mr. Pearse of this place, an excellent and very
agreeable man, and master of the Grammar School at this place, a large
and flourishing one. He is a very musical man, an intimate and long
attached friend of Dr. Crotch. I will consult him about your organ. I
believe I told you that I scarcely ever remember finding my time so
little equal to the claims on it as at this place, though were I asked
'What are you doing?' I should, alas! say 'Nothing'; and even, 'What
have you to do?' still the same reply, 'Nothing'. I have one occupation
of an interesting and in some degree of an embarrassing nature. Soon
after our arrival, I learnt that the only other inmate of our house was
a gentleman who had been confined to his sofa for many months from the
effects of a rheumatic fever. He had no friends with him, only a family
servant who attended on him. Naturally feeling for the poor man, he
and ourselves being the only inmates, I sent a message to him to say
that, if agreeable, I should be happy to wait on him for a few minutes.
He returned an assenting and courteous reply. Accordingly I called,
and found a very civil and well-behaved man. I found that he had been
fond of game, and had expressed his regret that he could not purchase
it (this was his servant's report). Accordingly I sent him some now
and then. I soon afterwards was told that he was a Roman Catholic.
He is by profession a lawyer at Pontypool. I have since had several
conversations with him, and find him a decided Roman Catholic, but a
man apparently of great candour and moderation. I was not surprised to
find him strongly prejudiced against Blanco White.[68] 'Oh,' he cried,
'I assure you, sir, that book is full of the grossest falsehood.' But
I was a good deal surprised to receive from him an assurance that he
had been reading with great pleasure in a book of my writing; and I
found, to my surprise, that quite unknown to me Kendal had lent him the
book. I durst not have done it, but the event has taught me that we may
sometimes be too timid or delicate. Can you suggest any mode of dealing
with my fellow lodger? Hitherto I have gone on the plan of cultivating
his favourable opinion by general kindness, sending him game, &c.,
and endeavouring to press on him the most important doctrines of true
Christianity and of showing where the case is really so, that he may
embrace those doctrines and still continue a good Roman Catholic.
There is in the _Christian Observer_ for September last a critique on
Dr. Whately's sermons by the Bishop of Chichester. He is said, in the
outset, to have stated in a pamphlet on the Bible Society controversy,
that the only books in the Scriptures which were fit or useful for
general circulation were Genesis, Exodus, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, I
think Isaiah, but am not sure, the four Gospels, Acts, 1st Timothy,
1st Peter, 1st John and Jude; all the rest likely to do more harm than

  "BATH, _December 6, 1831._

"I am unaffectedly sorry for having been apparently so dilatory in
complying with your request for hymns and tunes. I use the word
_apparently_, because to any charge of suffering any opportunity of
executing the commission to pass by unimproved, I may boldly plead
not guilty. There never, surely, was such a place as this for the
frittering away of time. Two visits before breakfast to the Pump Room,
and two again from 2 to 3 1/4 o'clock in the afternoon, make such a
chasm in the day, that little before dinner (about 4 3/4) is left for
any rational occupation. Then not being able, for many reasons, to
receive company at dinner, we often invite friends to breakfast, and as
we cannot begin the meal till 10 1/2 at the soonest, we seldom have a
clear room till after 12. Sometimes morning callers come in before the
breakfasters are gone (as has been the case this morning, when my old
friend Bankes has entered, taking Bath in his way from his son in North
Wales into Dorsetshire). You owe this account of expenditure of my
time to my feeling quite uncomfortable, from the idea of neglecting a
commission you wished to consign to me for prompt execution. I will put
down in any letter I may write to you any hymns and hymn tunes which I
like ('Happy the heart where graces reign,' Lock tune), and you may add
together the _disjecta membra_ into one list. But I have not hymn-books
here except G. Noel's. At Highwood I have a considerable number. Your
poor mother is worried to pieces by company and business. I am fully
persuaded, my dear Samuel, that you wish to lighten the pressure on me
as much as possible, and on the other hand I doubt not you give me full
credit for wishing to make you as comfortable as I can, and I really
hope I shall be able to go on allowing my children what is necessary
for their comfort."

  "_January 19, 1832._

"St. John says, you will remember, 'I have no greater joy than to
know that my children walk in the truth.' This he could declare
concerning his figurative children. And well, therefore, ought we to
be able, at least, to desire to feel similar sensations on witnessing
the graces of our true, real children. And I am in a situation to
feel this with peculiar force. Indeed, I hope I can say with truth
that the more frequent, more continued and closer opportunities of
witnessing your conscientious and diligent discharge of your pastoral
duties--opportunities which I probably should not have enjoyed in the
same degree had I still a residence of my own--more than compensate
all I suffer from the want of a proper home. Indeed, there are but
two particulars that I at all feel, _i.e._, the absence of my books,
and the not being able to practise hospitality; though that is rather
a vulgar word for expressing my meaning, which is, the pleasure of
receiving those we love under our own roof, joining with them morning
and night in family prayers, shaking hands with them, and interchanging
continual intercourse of mutual affection. Well, the time is short,
even for those who are far less advanced than myself in the journey of

  "BATH, _June 14, 1832._

"I forget whether you know the Dean of Winchester[69] or not. We have
many a discussion together, and I now and then stroke his plumage
the wrong way to make him set up his bristles. He holds the great
degeneracy of these times. I, on the contrary, declared to him that,
though I acknowledged the more open prevalence of profaneness, and of
all the vices which grow out of insubordination, yet that there had
been also a marked and a great increase of religion within the last
forty years. And as a proof I assigned the numerous editions of almost
all the publications of family prayers, beginning with the Rector of
St. Botolph's (Bishop of London's)."

  "_July 12, 1832._

"Though I do not like to mention it to your mother, I feel myself
becoming more and more stupid and inefficient. I think it is chiefly
a bodily disease, at least there, I hope, is the root of the disease.
I am so languid after breakfast that, if I am read to, I infallibly
subside into a drowsiness, which, if not resisted by my getting up and
walking, or taking for a few minutes the book Joseph may be reading
to me, gradually slides into a state of complete stupor. Yet it is
downright shocking in me to use language which may at all subject me
justly to the imputation of repining. And to be just to myself, I do
not think I am fairly chargeable with that fault. I hope that which
might at first sight seem to have somewhat of that appearance is rather
the compunctious visitings of my better part grieving over my utter
uselessness. I do not like to give expression to these distressing
risings, because I may not unreasonably appear to be calling for
friendly assurances in return of my having been an active labourer.
Yet when I am pouring forth the effusions of my heart to a child to
whom I may open myself with the freedom I may justly practise towards
you, I do not like to keep in reserve my real feelings. My memory is
continually giving me fresh proofs of its decaying at an accelerated
rate of progress. But I will not harass your affectionate feelings;
and however I may lament my unprofitableness, and at times really feel
depressed by it, yet my natural cheerfulness of temper produces in my
exterior such an appearance of good spirits that I might be supposed by
my daily associates to be living in an atmosphere of unclouded comfort.
So you need not be distressing yourself on my account."

The rest of this letter shows that Wilberforce had asked the advice of
Samuel as to the wisdom of engaging a Roman Catholic tutor for his
grandson "dear little William."[70] Samuel's answer was couched in
decisive terms against this step. Wilberforce, however, was reconciled
to the idea by the knowledge that "dear little William's mother will
be always on the spot, always on her guard, watchful and ready to
detect and proceed against any attempt whatever which might be made to
bias William's mind into undervaluing the importance of the difference
between the Roman Catholic and the Protestant system, or still more to
infuse into his pupil's mind any prejudices against our principles or
personages, or any palliations of the Popish tenets."

In the concluding year of Wilberforce's life, though he complains of
"becoming more and more stupid and inefficient," the feelings and
thoughts which animated his life appear in full vigour. His watchful
love for his children, his hospitality, the steady, faithful looking
forward to the life everlasting--all are there. Nor, until he has made
one more effort to secure the freedom of the slaves, does the weary,
diligent hand finally "lay down the pen."

  "_December 18, 1832._

"Although we should use great modesty in speculating on the invisible
and eternal world, yet we may reasonably presume from intimations
conveyed to us in the Holy Scriptures, and from inferences which they
fairly suggest, that we shall retain of our earthly character and
feelings in that which is not sinful, and therefore we may expect
(this, I think, is very clear), to know each other, and to think and
talk over the various circumstances of our lives, our several hopes and
fears and plans and speculations; and you and I, if it please God, may
talk over the incidents of our respective lives, and connected with
them, those of our nearest and dearest relatives. And, then, probably
we shall be enabled to understand the causes of various events which at
the time had appeared mysterious."

  "_December 28, 1832._

"I should wish to suggest to you an idea that arises from a passage in
a letter from William Smith.[71] The idea is that it might have a very
good effect, for any of my reverend children to be known to manifest
their zeal in the great cause of West Indian emancipation, and slaves'
improvement. And as I am on that topic let me tell you, I need not
say with how much pleasure, that I really believe we are now going on
admirably. The slaves will, I trust, be immediately placed under the
government of the same laws as other members of the community, instead
of being under the arbitrary commands of their masters, and (perhaps
after a year) they will be still more completely emancipated. I was
truly glad to find in the evidence taken before the House of Commons'
Committee (which the indefatigable Zachary[72] is analysing), highly
honourable testimony to our friend's (Wildman's) treatment of his
slaves. But I ought not to conceal from you the connection in which W.
Smith's suggestion of the great benefit that would result from my sons
taking a forward part in befriending the attempts that would be made to
stir up a petitioning spirit in support of our cause, (for he informed
me that efforts for that purpose would be made). He stated that it had
been observed almost everywhere that the clergy had been shamefully
lukewarm in our cause; and of course this, which I fear cannot be
denied, has been used in many instances for the injury of the Church.
You and I see plainly how this has happened: that the most active
supporters of our cause have too often been democrats, and radicals,
with whom the regular clergy could not bring themselves to associate.
Yet even when subjected to such a painful alternative, to unite with
them, or to suffer the interests of justice and humanity, and latterly
of religion too, to be in question without receiving any support from
them, or to do violence to, I will not say their prejudices, but their
natural repugnance to appearing to have anything of a fellow-feeling
with men who are commonly fomenting vicious principles and propositions
of all sorts; when placed, I say, in such distressing circumstances,
they should remember that their coming forward, in accordance with
those with whom they agree in no other particular, will give additional
weight to their exertions, and prove still more clearly how strongly
they feel the cause of God, and the well-being of man to be implicated,
when they can consent to take part with those to whom in general
they have been opposed most strongly. The conduct of the Jamaica
people towards the missionaries has shown of late, more clearly than
ever before, that the spiritual interests of the slaves, no less
than their civil rights, are at stake. In such a case as this, it is
not without pain and almost shame that I urge any argument grounded
on the interests of the clergy; and yet it would be wrong to keep
considerations of this sort altogether out of sight, because one sees
how malignantly and injuriously to the cause of religion the apathy
of the clergy may, and will, be used, to the discredit of the Church,
and its most attached adherents. It is not a little vexatious to find
people so ignorant, as too many are, concerning the real state of the
slaves, notwithstanding all the pains that have been taken to enlighten
them. Stephen's book in particular has, I fear, been very little read.
When we were at Lord Bathurst's I saw plainly that the speeches of a
Mr. Borthwick, who had been going about giving lectures in favour of
the West Indians, had made a great impression on Lady Georgiana. But I
must lay down my pen."


[Footnote 1: All Pitt's letters are carefully preserved in the library
of Lavington House with the exception of this series which was found in
a disused cupboard.]

[Footnote 2: Lord Rosebery's preface to "Pitt and Wilberforce Letters,"
privately printed.]

[Footnote 3: Hon. Edward James Eliot, brother-in-law of Pitt.]

[Footnote 4: Mr. Henry Bankes, Wilberforce's life-long friend.]

[Footnote 5: "Life of Wilberforce," vol. i. p. 95.]

[Footnote 6: Afterwards first Lord Carrington.]

[Footnote 7: "Life of Wilberforce," vol. i. p. 95.]

[Footnote 8: Privately printed.]

[Footnote 9: "A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of
Professed Christians," &c., London, 1797.]

[Footnote 10: "Marmion," Introduction to Canto 1.]

[Footnote 11: Wimbledon.]

[Footnote 12: Hampstead.]

[Footnote 13: Here Mr. Wilberforce adds a pencilled note: "Devonshire
House Ball. King."]

[Footnote 14: Mr. Wilberforce has written over this in pencil:
"Qy.--Not a stroke of Providence could sever."]

[Footnote 15: Mr. Wilberforce has erased here "for desiring Mr. Pitt
before he went out to pass his register bills."]

[Footnote 16: Mr. Wilberforce has written here in pencil on the margin,
"Fox's Martyrs. Qy. number."]

[Footnote 17: Mr. Wilberforce adds here a pencil note in his own
handwriting: "Remarkable that when I entered York, in order to attend
a public meeting which was about to take place, there was but one
gentleman with whom I had the smallest acquaintance, the Rev. Wm.
Mason, the poet."]

[Footnote 18: Here there is a pencil note: "For he was one of the
shyest men I ever knew."]

[Footnote 19: Pencil note: "Wyndham."]

[Footnote 20: A note: "Vary here."]

[Footnote 21: A note:--"Dilate, and Figure."]

[Footnote 22: Here is added in pencil, "2nd Nov. 1821."]

[Footnote 23: Rosebery's "Life of Pitt," p. 233.]

[Footnote 24: Then Clerk of Parliaments. Rose writes to Wilberforce
later: "I shall never find words, either in speaking or writing, to
express what I think of you."]

[Footnote 25: Pitt.]

[Footnote 26: About 1802.]

[Footnote 27: Lecky, vol. vii. p. 32.]

[Footnote 28: Dundas, who had been Treasurer to the Navy, was impeached
on April 29, 1805, on a charge of misappropriating £10,000 worth of
public money. He was acquitted June 12, 1805.]

[Footnote 29: William Wilberforce married Barbara, daughter of Isaac
Spooner; she was the seventh Barbara in her family, the name having
been handed down from mother to daughter. The first Barbara was
daughter of Viscount Fauconberg and wife of Sir Henry Slingsby, Bart.,
who was beheaded on Tower Hill June 8, 1658, by Oliver Cromwell, for

[Footnote 30: She was second daughter of Sir Edward Walpole; her uncle
Horace Walpole writes of her: "For beauty I think she is the first
match in England, she has infinite wit and vivacity."]

[Footnote 31: "Cœlebs in Search of a Wife," published 1809. Of her
publishing experiences, Hannah More writes: "One effect of Cœlebs has
pleased me. I always consider a bookseller in respect to a book as I do
an undertaker with regard to death--one considers a publication as the
other does a corpse, as a thing to grow rich by, but not to be affected
with. Davies (Cadell's partner) seems deeply struck, and earnestly
implores me to follow up some of the hints respecting Scripture in a
work of which he suggests the subject."]

[Footnote 32: "Life and Letters of Maria Edgeworth," by Augustus J. C.

[Footnote 33: "Poor Burgh almost mad about the Union" ("Life of
Wilberforce," vol. ii. p. 359).]

[Footnote 34: Lord Redesdale was appointed Lord High Chancellor of
Ireland March 15, 1802; he resigned February, 1806.]

[Footnote 35: Wilberforce to Henry Bankes. "Life of W. Wilberforce."]

[Footnote 36: Brother to Mr. Pitt, of whom Lord Eldon gave it as his
deliberate opinion that "the ablest man I ever knew in the Cabinet was
Lord Chatham."]

[Footnote 37: Part of this letter only is printed in "Life of William

[Footnote 38: The third Lord Holland was Fox's nephew, and converted
his palace at Kensington into a sort of temple in honour of Fox's

[Footnote 39: Charles Manners Sutton, Speaker of the House of Commons,
1817-1834; created Viscount Canterbury 1835; died 1845.]

[Footnote 40: Mr., afterwards Lord, Brougham.]

[Footnote 41: Mr. Manning became bankrupt in the winter of 1830-31.]

[Footnote 42: Mr. James Stephen married Wilberforce's sister.]

[Footnote 43: Mr. Wilberforce's second daughter.]

[Footnote 44: Part of this letter is in "Life of Wilberforce."]

[Footnote 45: This thought, thus strongly impressed on Samuel's mind,
was many years afterwards expanded by him into the lovely allegory of
the "Children and the Lion," published in "Agathos and other Stories."]

[Footnote 46: Bishop Wilberforce once told Dr. Woodford (Bishop of Ely)
that he was naturally indolent and had at first "to flog himself up
to his work." (Life, vol. iii. p. 305). To those who remember Bishop
Wilberforce, and to readers of his Life, these passages must appear
surprising indeed. They afford a striking instance of a natural defect
turned into the contrary Christian grace.]

[Footnote 47: Part of this letter is in the "Life of Wilberforce."]

[Footnote 48: Part of this letter is in Bishop Wilberforce's Life.]

[Footnote 49: Born 1779, younger son of Wilberforce's intimate friend,
Right Hon. Charles Grant. Robert was in Parliament, 1818-34: was
Judge-Advocate-General: knighted, 1834, and made Governor-General
of Bombay: a persistent advocate of Jewish emancipation: author of
pamphlets on Indian affairs and many well-known hymns: died 1838.]

[Footnote 50: Part of this letter is in the "Life of Wilberforce."]

[Footnote 51: Part of this letter is in the "Life of Wilberforce."]

[Footnote 52: A single year's almsgiving exceeded £3,000. "Life of
Bishop Wilberforce," vol. i. p. 22.]

[Footnote 53: Eldest son of Wilberforce's old friend and ally, Henry
Thornton, of Battersea, Rise, who died in 1815. The Henry Thornton of
the text was only twenty-five years old when this letter was written.]

[Footnote 54: The beginning of this letter is in the "Life of

[Footnote 55: Lea, Lincolnshire--the residence of Sir C. and Lady
Anderson. The son, in his turn, Sir Charles Anderson, was Bishop
Wilberforce's life-long friend.]

[Footnote 56: The Rev. John Sargent, of Lavington, father of Mrs.
Samuel Wilberforce.]

[Footnote 57: His life had been recently published.]

[Footnote 58: The first few lines of this letter are in the "Life of
Bishop Wilberforce."]

[Footnote 59: Checkendon, on the Chiltern Hills in Oxfordshire, Samuel
Wilberforce's first curacy, where his memory was long cherished.]

[Footnote 60: Samuel's birthday.]

[Footnote 61: Only son of Wilberforce's eldest son William.]

[Footnote 62: The leader of these riots, whose exact personality is
unknown, was called "Jack Swing," and in this name the mob sent their
threats and summonses.]

[Footnote 63: "Magnalia Christi Americana, or Ecclesiastical History of
New England," by Cotton Mather, D.D. It was a costly book with a large
map. Southey considered it one of the most "singular books in this or
any other language."]

[Footnote 64: Mr. Wilberforce's brother-in-law.]

[Footnote 65: The seat of J. S. Harford, Esq.]

[Footnote 66: Lord Grey's Reform Bill had amongst its most vehement
opponents Sir C. Wetherell, Recorder of Bristol. On his arrival in
that city the riots began there by an attack upon his carriage, after
which "Bristol was the theatre of the most disgraceful outrages that
have been perpetrated in this country since the riots of London, 1780."
(_An. Reg._ 1831.)]

[Footnote 67: Mrs. Wilberforce writes to her son Samuel: "Shall I send
you the deeds, &c., to take care of for the family, and the plate to
bury in your garden? I think you will be safe in the Isle of Wight. Do
not let my fears be mentioned; they say we should all appear brave and

[Footnote 68: T. Blanco White, a Spaniard by birth, left the Church of
Rome and joined the Church of England, and also became a naturalised
Englishman. He was closely connected with the Oxford movement, but
lapsed into Socinianism. He died in 1841.]

[Footnote 69: Dr. Thomas Rennell: he was appointed in 1805 and was
succeeded in 1840 by Dr. Garnier.]

[Footnote 70: Only son of Wilberforce's eldest son William.]

[Footnote 71: "My most faithful friend, William Smith" ("Life of
Wilberforce," vol. iii. p. 536).]

[Footnote 72: Macaulay.]

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber's note:

The following corrections have been made:

Page 10, "compleatly" changed to "completely" (completely happy)

Page 22, "compleat" changed to "complete" (complete concert)

Page 241, "worldy" changed to "worldly" (viewed in a worldly)

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