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Title: Critical, Historical, and Miscellaneous Essays; Vol. (6 of 6) - With a Memoir and Index
Author: Macaulay, Thomas Babbington
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Critical, Historical, and Miscellaneous Essays; Vol. (6 of 6) - With a Memoir and Index" ***

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By Lord Macaulay

With a Memoir and Index

In Six Volumes

Vol. VI.

New York: Published by Sheldon and Company


[Illustration: 0009]



(_Edinburgh Review_, October 1844.)

More {1}than ten years ago we commenced a sketch of the political life
of the great Lord Chatham. We then stopped at the death of George the
Second, with the intention of speedily resuming our task. Circumstances,
which it would be tedious to explain, long prevented us from carrying
this intention into effect. Nor can we regret the delay. For the
materials which were within our reach in 1834 were scanty and
unsatisfactory, when compared with those which we at present possess.
Even now, though we have had access to some valuable sources of
information which have not yet been opened to the public, we cannot but
feel that the history of the first ten years of the reign of George the
Third is but imperfectly known to us. Nevertheless, we are inclined to
think that we are in a condition to lay before our readers a narrative
neither uninstructive nor uninteresting. We therefore return with
pleasure to our long interrupted labour.

We left Pitt in the zenith of prosperity and glory,

     (1)  1._Correspondence of William Pitt, Earl of Chatham_. 4
     vols. 8vo. London: 1840.

     2. _Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford, to Horace
     Mann_. 4 vols. 8vo. London: 1843-4.

{2}the idol of England, the terror of France, the admiration of the
whole civilised world. The wind, from whatever quarter it blew, carried
to England tidings of battles won, fortresses taken, provinces added
to the empire. At home, factions had sunk into a lethargy, such as
had never been known since the great religious schism of the sixteenth
century had roused the public mind from repose.

In order that the events which we have to relate may be clearly
understood, it may be desirable that we should advert to the causes
which had for a time suspended the animation of both the great English

If, rejecting all that is merely accidental, we look at the essential
characteristics of the Whig and the Tory, we may consider each of them
as the representative of a great principle, essential to the welfare of
nations. One is, in an especial manner, the guardian of liberty, and the
other, of order. One is the moving power, and the other the steadying
power of the state. One is the sail, without which society would make
no progress, the other the ballast, without which there would be small
safety in a tempest. But, during the forty-six years which followed
the accession of the House of Hanover, these distinctive peculiarities
seemed to be effaced. The Whig conceived that he could not better serve
the cause of civil and religious freedom than by strenuously supporting
the Protestant dynasty. The Tory conceived that he could not better
prove his hatred of revolutions than by attacking a government to
which a revolution had given birth. Both came by degrees to attach more
importance to the means than to the end. Both were thrown into unnatural
situations; and both, like animals transported to an uncongenial
{3}climate, languished and degenerated. The Tory, removed from the
sunshine of the court, was as a camel in the snows of Lapland. The Whig,
basking in the rays of royal favour, was as a reindeer in the sands of

Dante tells us that he saw, in Maleholge, a strange encounter between
a human form and a serpent. The enemies, after cruel wounds inflicted,
stood for a time glaring on each other. A great cloud surrounded them,
and then a wonderful metamorphosis began. Each creature was transfigured
into the likeness of its antagonist. The serpent’s tail divided itself
into two legs; the man’s legs intertwined themselves into a tail. The
body of the serpent put forth arms; the arms of the man shrank into his
body. At length the serpent stood up a man, and spake; the man sank
down a serpent, and glided hissing away. Something like this was the
transformation which, during the reign of George the First, befell the
two English parties. Each gradually took the shape and colour of its
foe, till at length the Tory rose up erect the zealot of freedom, and
the Whig crawled and licked the dust at the feet of power.

It is true that, when these degenerate politicians discussed questions
merely speculative, and, above all, when they discussed questions
relating to the conduct of their own grandfathers, they still seemed to
differ as their grandfathers had differed. The Whig, who, during three
Parliaments, had never given one vote against the court, and who was
ready to sell his soul for the Comptroller’s staff or for the Great
Wardrobe, still professed to draw his political doctrines from Locke and
Milton, still worshipped the memory of Pym and Hampden, and would still,
on the thirtieth of January, {4}take his class, first to the man in the
mask, and then to the man who would do it without a mask. The Tory, on
the other hand, while he reviled the mild and temperate Walpole as a
deadly enemy of liberty, could see nothing to reprobate in the iron
tyranny of Strafford and Land. But, whatever judgment the Whig or the
Tory of that age might pronounce on transactions long past, there can
be no doubt that, as respected the practical questions then pending, the
Tory was a reformer, and indeed an intemperate and indiscreet reformer,
while the Whig; was conservative even to bigotry. We have ourselves,
seen similar effects produced in a neighbouring country by similar
causes. Who would have believed, fifteen years ago, that M. Guizot and
M. Villemain would have to defend property and social order against the
attacks of such enemies as M. Genoude and M. de La Roche Jaquelin?

Thus the successors of the old Cavaliers had turned demagogues; the
successors of the old Roundheads had turned courtiers. Yet was it long
before their mutual animosity began to abate; for it is the nature of
parties to retain their original enmities far more firmly than their
original principles. During many years, a generation of Whigs, whom
Sidney would have spurned as slaves, continued to wage deadly war with a
generation of Tories whom Jeffreys would have hanged for Republicans.

Through the whole reign of George the First, and through nearly half of
the reign of George the Second, a Tory was regarded as an enemy of the
reigning house, and was excluded from all the favours of the crown.
Though most of the country gentlemen were Tories, none but Whigs were
created peers and baronets. {5}Though most of the clergy were Tories,
none but Whigs were appointed deans and bishops. In every county,
opulent and well descended Tory squires complained that their names were
left out of the commission of the peace, while men of small estate and
mean birth, who were for toleration and excise, septennial parliaments
and standing armies, presided at quarter sessions, and became deputy

By degrees some approaches were made towards a reconciliation. While
Walpole was at the head of affairs, enmity to his power induced a large
and powerful body of Whigs, headed by the heir apparent of the
throne, to make an alliance with the Tories, and a truce even with the
Jacobites. After Sir Robert’s fall, the ban which lay on the Tory party
was taken off. The chief places in the administration continued to be
filled by Whigs, and, indeed, could scarcely have been filled otherwise;
for the Tory nobility and gentry, though strong in numbers and in
property, had among them scarcely a single man distinguished by talents,
either for business or for debate. A few of them, however, were admitted
to subordinate offices; and this indulgence produced a softening effect
on the temper of the whole body. The first levee of George the Second
after Walpole’s resignation was a remarkable spectacle. Mingled with the
constant supporters of the House of Brunswick, with the Russells, the
Cavendishes, and the Pelhams, appeared a crowd of faces utterly unknown
to the pages and gentlemen ushers, lords of rural manors, whose ale and
fox-hounds were renowned in the neighbourhood of the Mendip hills, or
round the Wrekin, but who had never crossed the threshold of the palace
since the days when Oxford, with the white staff in his hand, stood
behind Queen Anne. {6}During the eighteen years which followed this
clay, both factions were gradually sinking deeper and deeper into
repose. The apathy of the public mind is partly to be ascribed to
the unjust violence with which the administration of Walpole had been
assailed. In the body politic, as in the natural body, morbid languor
generally succeeds morbid excitement. The people had been maddened
by sophistry, by calumny, by rhetoric, by stimulants applied to the
national pride. In the fulness of bread, they had raved as if famine had
been in the land. While enjoying such a measure of civil and religious
freedom as, till then, no great society had ever known, they had cried
out for a Timoleon or a Brutus to stab their oppressor to the heart.
They were in this frame of mind when the change of administration took
place; and they soon found that there was to be no change whatever in
the system of government. The natural consequences followed. To frantic
zeal succeeded sullen indifference. The cant of patriotism had not
merely ceased to charm the public ear, but had become as nauseous as the
cant of Puritanism after the downfall of the Rump. The hot fit was over:
the cold fit had begun: and it was long before seditious arts, or even
real grievances, could bring back the fiery paroxysm which had run its
course and reached its termination.

Two attempts were made to disturb this tranquillity. The banished heir
of the House of Stewart headed a rebellion; the discontented heir of
the House of Brunswick headed an opposition. Both the rebellion and
the opposition came to nothing. The battle of Culloden annihilated
the Jacobite party. The death of Prince Frederic dissolved the faction
which, under his guidance, had feebly striven to annoy his father’s
government. {7}His chief followers hastened to make their peace with the
ministry; and the political torpor became complete.

Five years after the death of Prince Frederic, the public mind was for
a time violently excited. But this excitement had nothing to do with the
old disputes between Whigs and Tories. England was at war with France.
The war had been feebly conducted. Minorca had been torn from us. Our
fleet had retired before the white flag of the House of Bourbon. A
bitter sense of humiliation, new to the proudest and bravest of nations,
superseded every other feeling. The cry of all the counties and great
towns of the realm was for a government which would retrieve the honour
of the English arms. The two most powerful men in the country were the
Duke of Newcastle and Pitt. Alternate victories and defeats had made
them sensible that neither of them could stand alone. The interest of
the state, and the interest of their own ambition, impelled them to
coalesce. By their coalition was formed the ministry which was in power
when George the Third ascended the throne.

The more carefully the structure of this celebrated ministry is
examined, the more shall we see reason to marvel at the skill or the
luck which had combined in one harmonious whole such various and, as it
seemed, incompatible elements of force. The influence which is derived
from stainless integrity, the influence which is derived from the vilest
arts of corruption, the strength of aristocratical connection, the
strength of democratical enthusiasm, all these things were for the
first time found together. Newcastle brought to the coalition a vast
mass of power, which had descended to him from Walpole and Pelham. The
public offices, the church, {8}the courts of law, the army, the navy,
the diplomatic service, swarmed with his creatures. The boroughs,
which long afterwards made up the memorable schedules A and B, were
represented by his nominees. The great Whig families, which, during
several generations, had been trained in the discipline of party
warfare, and were accustomed to stand together in a firm phalanx,
acknowledged him as their captain. Pitt, on the other hand, had what
Newcastle wanted, an eloquence which stirred the passions and charmed
the imagination, a high reputation for purity, and the confidence and
ardent love of millions.

The partition which the two ministers made of the powers of government
was singularly happy. Each occupied a province for which he was well
qualified; and neither had any inclination to intrude himself into
the province of the other. Newcastle took the treasury, the civil and
ecclesiastical patronage, and the disposal of that part of the secret
service money which was then employed in bribing members of Parliament.
Pitt was Secretary of State, with the direction of the war and of
foreign affairs. Thus the filth of all the noisome and pestilential
sewers of government was poured into one channel. Through the other
passed only what was bright and stainless. Mean and selfish politicians,
pining for commissionerships, gold sticks, and ribands, flocked to
the great house at the corner of Lincoln’s Inn Fields. There, at every
levee, appeared eighteen or twenty pair of lawn sleeves; for there was
not, it was said, a single Prelate who had not owed either his first
elevation or some subsequent translation to Newcastle. There appeared
those members of the House of Commons in whose silent votes the main
strength of the government lay. One wanted a {9}place in the excise for
his butler. Another came about a prebend for his son. A third whispered
that he had always stood by his Grace and the Protestant succession;
that his last election had been very expensive; that potwallopers had
now no conscience; that he had been forced to take up money on mortgage;
and that he hardly knew where to turn for five hundred pounds. The Duke
pressed all their hands, passed his arms round all their shoulders,
patted all their backs, and sent away some with wages, and some with
promises. From this traffic Pitt stood haughtily aloof. Not only was
he himself incorruptible, but he shrank from the loathsome drudgery of
corrupting others. He had not, however, been twenty years in Parliament,
and ten in office, without discovering how the government was carried
on. He was perfectly aware that bribery was practised on a large scale
by his colleagues. Hating the practice, yet despairing of putting it
down, and doubting whether, in those times, any ministry could stand
without it, he determined to be blind to it. He would see nothing, know
nothing, believe nothing. People who came to talk to him about shares
in lucrative contracts, or about the means of securing a Cornish
corporation, were soon put out of countenance by his arrogant humility.
They did him too much honour. Such matters were beyond his capacity.
It was true that his poor advice about expeditions and treaties was
listened to with indulgence by a gracious sovereign. If the question
were, who should command in North America, or who should be ambassador
at Berlin, his colleagues would probably condescend to take his
opinion. But he had not the smallest influence with the Secretary of the
Treasury, and could not venture to ask even for a tidewaiter’s place.
{10}It may be doubted whether he did not owe as much of his popularity
to his ostentatious purity as to his eloquence, or to his talents for
the administration of war. It was every where said with delight and
admiration that the great Commoner, without any advantages of birth
or fortune, had, in spite of the dislike of the Court and of the
aristocracy, made himself the first, man in England, and made England
the first country in the world; that his name was mentioned with awe in
every palace from Lisbon to Moscow; that his trophies were in all the
four quarters of the globe; yet that he was still plain William Pitt,
without title or riband, without pension or sinecure place. Whenever he
should retire, after saving the state, he must sell his coach horses and
his silver candlesticks. Widely as the taint of corruption had spread,
his hands were clean. They had never received, they had never given, the
price of infamy. Thus the coalition gathered to itself support from all
the high and all the low parts of human nature, and was strong with the
whole united strength of virtue and of Mammon.

Pitt and Newcastle were co-ordinate chief ministers. The subordinate
places had been filled on the principle of including in the government
every party and shade of party, the avowed Jacobites alone excepted,
nay, every public man who, from his abilities or from his situation,
seemed likely to be either useful in office or formidable in opposition.

The Whigs, according to what was then considered as their prescriptive
right, held by far the largest share of power. The main support of
the administration was what may be called the great Whig connection, a
connection which, during near half a century, had {11}generally had the
chief sway in the country, and which derived an immense authority from
rank, wealth, borough interest, and firm union. To this connection, of
which Newcastle was the head, belonged the houses of Cavendish, Lennox,
Fitzroy, Bentinck, Manners, Conway, Wentworth, and many others of high

There were two other powerful Whig connections, either of which might
have been a nucleus for a strong opposition. But room had been found
in the government for both. They were known as the Grenvilles and the

The head of the Grenvilles was Richard Earl Temple. His talents
for administration and debate were of no high order. But his great
possessions, his turbulent and unscrupulous character, his restless
activity, and his skill in the most ignoble tactics of faction, made him
one of the most formidable enemies that a ministry could have. He was
keeper of the privy seal. His brother George was treasurer of the navy.
They were supposed to be on terms of close friendship with Pitt, who had
married their sister, and was the most uxorious of husbands.

The Bedfords, or, as they were called by their enemies, the Bloomsbury
gang, professed to be led by John Duke of Bedford, but in truth led him
wherever they chose, and very often led him where he never would have
gone of his own accord. He had many good qualities of head and
heart, and would have been certainly a respectable, and possibly a
distinguished man, if he had been less under the influence of his
friends, or more fortunate in choosing them. Some of them were indeed,
to do them justice, men of parts. But here, we are afraid, eulogy
must end. {12}Sandwich and Rigby were able debaters, pleasant boon
companions, dexterous intriguers, masters of all the arts of jobbing
and electioneering, and both in public and private life, shamelessly
immoral. Weymouth had a natural eloquence, which sometimes astonished
those who knew how little he owed to study. But he was indolent and
dissolute, and had early impaired a fine estate with the dice box, and a
fine constitution with the bottle. The wealth and power of the Duke, and
the talents and audacity of some of his retainers, might have seriously
annoyed the strongest ministry. But his assistance had been secured. He
was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; Rigby was his secretary; and the whole
party dutifully supported the measures of the Government.

Two men had, a short time before, been thought likely to contest with
Pitt the lead of the House of Commons, William Murray and Henry Fox. But
Murray had been removed to the Lords, and was Chief Justice of the Kings
Bench. Fox was indeed still in the Commons: but means had been
found to secure, if not his strenuous support, at least his silent
acquiescence. He was a poor man; he was a doting father. The office of
Paymaster-General durum an expensive war was, in that age, perhaps the
most lucrative situation in the gift of the government. This office was
bestowed on Fox. The prospect of making a noble fortune in a few years,
and of providing amply for his darling boy Charles, was irresistibly
tempting. To hold a subordinate place, however profitable, after having
led the House of Commons, and having been intrusted with the business of
forming a ministry, was indeed a great descent. But a punctilious sense
of personal dignity was no part of the character of Henry Fox. {13}We
have not time to enumerate all the other men of weight who were, by
some tie or other, attached to the government. We may mention Hardwicke,
reputed the first lawyer of the age; Legge, reputed the first financier
of the age; the acute and ready Oswald; the bold and humorous Nugent;
Charles Townshend, the most brilliant and versatile of mankind; Elliot,
Barrington, North, Pratt. Indeed, as far as we recollect, there were in
the whole House of Commons only two men of distinguished abilities who
were not connected with the government; and those two men stood so
low in public estimation, that the only service which they could have
rendered to any government would have been to oppose it. We speak of
Lord George Sackville and Bubb Dodington.

Though most of the official men, and all the members of the cabinet,
were reputed Whigs, the Tories were by no means excluded from
employment. Pitt had gratified many of them with commands in the
militia, which increased both their income and their importance in their
own counties; and they were therefore in better humour than at any time
since the death of Anne. Some of the party still continued to grumble
over their punch at the Cocoa Tree; but in the House of Commons not a
single one of the malecontents durst lift his eyes above the buckle of
Pitt’s shoe.

Thus there was absolutely no opposition. Nay, there was no sign from
which it could be guessed in what quarter opposition was likely to
arise. Several years passed during which Parliament seemed to have
abdicated its chief functions. The Journals of the House of Commons,
during four sessions, contain no trace of a division on a party
question. The supplies, {14}though beyond precedent great, were voted
without discussion. The most animated debates of that period were on
road bills and inclosure bills.

The old King was content; and it mattered little whether he were content
or not. It would have been impossible for him to emancipate himself from
a ministry so powerful, even if he had been inclined to do so. But he
had no such inclination. He had once, indeed, been strongly prejudiced
against Pitt, and had repeatedly been ill used by Newcastle; but the
vigour and success with which the war had been waged in Germany, and the
smoothness with which all public business was carried on, had produced a
favourable change in the royal mind.

Such was the posture of affairs when, on the twenty-fifth of October,
1760, George the Second suddenly died, and George the Third, then
twenty-two years old, became King. The situation of George the
Third differed widely from that of his grandfather and that of his
greatgrandfather. Many years had elapsed since a sovereign of England
had been an object of affection to any part of his people. The first two
Kings of the House of Hanover had neither those hereditary rights which
have often supplied the defect of merit, nor those personal qualities
which have often supplied the defect of title. A prince may be popular
with little virtue or capacity, if he reigns by birthright derived from
a long line of illustrious predecessors. An usurper may be popular, if
his genius has saved or aggrandised the nation which he governs. Perhaps
no rulers have in our time had a stronger hold on the affection of
subjects than the Emperor Francis, and his son-inlaw the Emperor
Napoleon. But imagine a ruler with no better title than Napoleon, and
no better understanding {15}than Francis. Richard Cromwell was such a
ruler; and, as soon as an arm was lifted up against him, he fell without
a struggle, amidst universal derision. George the First and George
the Second were in a situation which bore some resemblance to that of
Richard Cromwell. They were saved from the fate of Richard Cromwell by
the strenuous and able exertions of the Whig party, and by the general
conviction that the nation had no choice but between the House of
Brunswick and popery. But by no class were the Guelphs regarded with
that devoted affection, of which Charles the First, Charles the Second,
and James the Second, in spite of the greatest faults, and in the midst
of the greatest misfortunes, received innumerable proofs. Those Whigs
who stood by the new dynasty so manfully with purse and sword did so
on principles independent of, and indeed almost incompatible with, the
sentiment of devoted loyalty. The moderate Tories regarded the foreign
dynasty as a great evil, which must be endured for fear of a greater
evil. In the eyes of the high Tories, the Elector was the most hateful
of robbers and tyrants. The crown of another was on his head; the blood
of the brave and loyal was on his hands. Thus, during many years, the
Kings of England were objects of strong personal aversion to many of
their subjects, and of strong personal attachment to none. They found,
indeed, firm and cordial support against the pretender to their throne;
but this support was given, not at all for their sake, but for the sake
of a religious and political system which would have been endangered
by their fall. This support, too, they were compelled to purchase by
perpetually sacrificing their private inclinations to the party which
had set them on the throne, and which maintained them there. {16}At the
close of the reign of George the Second, the feeling of aversion with
which the House of Brunswick had long been regarded by half the nation
had died away: but no feeling of affection to that house had yet sprung
up. There was little, indeed, in the old King’s character to inspire
esteem or tenderness. He was not our countryman. He never set foot on
our soil till he was more than thirty years old. His speech betrayed
his foreign origin and breeding. His love for his native land, though
the most amiable part of his character, was not likely to endear him to
his British subjects. He was never so happy as when he could exchange
St. James’s for Hernhansen. Year after year, our fleets were employed
to convoy him to the Continent, and the interests of his kingdom were as
nothing to him when compared with the interests of his Electorate. As to
the rest, he had neither the qualities which make dulness respectable,
nor the qualities which make libertinism attractive. He had been a bad
son and a worse father, an unfaithful husband and an ungraceful lover.
Not one magnanimous or humane action is recorded of him; but many
instances of meanness, and of a harshness which, but for the strong
constitutional restraints under which he was placed, might have made the
misery of his people.

He died; and at once a new world opened. The young King was a born
Englishman. All his tastes and habits, good or bad, were English. No
portion of his subjects had anything to reproach him with. Even the
remaining adherents of the House of Stuart could scarcely impute to him
the guilt of usurpation. He was not responsible for the Revolution, for
the Act of Settlement, for the suppression of the risings of 1715 and of
1745. He was innocent of the blood {17}of Derwentwater and Kilmarnock,
of Balmerino and Cameron. Born fifty years after the old line had been
expelled, fourth in descent and third in succession of the Hanoverian
dynasty, he might plead some show of hereditary right. His age, his
appearance, and all that was known of his character, conciliated public
favour. He was in the bloom of youth; his person and address were
pleasing. Scandal imputed to him no vice; and flattery might, without
any glaring absurdity, ascribe to him many princely virtues.

It is not strange, therefore, that the sentiment of loyalty, a sentiment
which had lately seemed to be as much out of date as the belief in
witches or the practice of pilgrimage, should, from the day of his
accession, have begun to revive. The Tories in particular, who had
always been inclined to Kingworship, and who had long felt with pain
the want of an idol before whom they could bow themselves down, were
as joyful as the priests of Apis, when, after a long interval, they had
found a new calf to adore. It was soon clear that George the Third was
regarded by a portion of the nation with a very different feeling from
that which his two predecessors had inspired. They had been merely
First Magistrates, Doges, Stadtholders; he was emphatically a King, the
anointed of heaven, the breath of his people’s nostrils. The years of
the widowhood and mourning of the Tory party were over. Dido had kept
faith long enough to the cold ashes of a former lord; she had at last
found a comforter, and recognised the vestigus of the old flame. The
golden days of Harley would return. The Somersets, the Lees, and the
Wyndhams would again surround the throne. The latitudinarian Prelates,
who had not been ashamed to correspond with Doddridge and to {18}shake
hands with Winston, would he succeeded by divines of the temper of South
and Atterbury. The devotion which had been so signally shown to the
House of Stuart, which had been proof against defeats, confiscations,
and proscriptions, which perfidy, oppression, ingratitude, could not
weary out, was now transferred entire to the House of Brunswick. If
George the Third would but accept the homage of the Cavaliers and High
Churchmen, he should be to them all that Charles the First and Charles
the Second had been.

The Prince, whose accession was thus hailed by a great party long
estranged from his house, had received from nature a strong will, a
firmness of temper to which a harsher name might perhaps be given, and
an understanding not, indeed, acute or enlarged, but such as qualified
him to be a good man of business. But his character had not yet fully
developed itself. He had been brought up in strict seclusion. The
detractors of the Princess Dowager of Wales affirmed that she had kept
her children from commerce with society, in order that she might hold an
undivided empire over their minds. She gave a very different explanation
of her conduct. She would gladly, she said, see her sons and daughters
mix in the world, if they could do so without risk to their morals. But
the profligacy of the people of quality alarmed her. The young men were
all rakes; the young women made love, instead of waiting till it was
made to them. She could not bear to expose those whom she loved best to
the contaminating influence of such society. The moral advantages of
the system of education which formed the Duke of York, the Duke of
Cumberland, and the Queen of Denmark, may perhaps be questioned. George
the Third was indeed no libertine; but he brought to the {19}throne
a mind only half opened, and was for some time entirely under the
influence of his mother and of his Groom of the Stole, John Stuart, Earl
of Bute.

The Earl of Bute was scarcely known even by name, to the country which
he was soon to govern. He had indeed, a short time after he came of age,
been chosen to fill a vacancy, which, in the middle of a parliament, had
taken place among the Scotch representative peers. He had disobliged
the Whig ministers by giving some silent votes with the Tories, had
consequently lost his seat at the next dissolution, and had never been
reelected. Near twenty years had elapsed since he had borne any part in
politics. He had passed some of those years at his seat, in one of
the Hebrides, and from that retirement he had emerged as one of the
household of Prince Frederick. Lord Bute, excluded from public life, had
found out many ways of amusing his leisure. He was a tolerable actor
in private theatricals, and was particularly successful in the part of
Lothario. A handsome leg, to which both painters and satirists took care
to give prominence, was among his chief qualifications for the stage.
He devised quaint dresses for masquerades. He dabbled in geometry,
mechanics, and botany. He paid some attention to antiquities and works
of art, and was considered in his own circle as a judge of painting,
architecture, and poetry. It is said that his spelling was incorrect.
But though, in our time, incorrect spelling is justly considered as a
proof of sordid ignorance, it would be unjust to apply the same rule to
people who lived a century ago. The novel of Sir Charles Grandison
was published about the time at which Lord Bute made his appearance
at Leicester House. Our readers may perhaps remember the account
which Charlotte {20}Grandison gives of her two lovers. One of them, a
fashionable baronet who talks French and Italian fluently, cannot write
a line in his own language without some sin against orthography: the
other, who is represented as a most respectable specimen of the young
aristocracy, and something of a virtuoso, is described as spelling
pretty well for a lord. On the whole, the Earl of Bute might fairly be
called a man of cultivated mind. He was also a man of undoubted honour.
But his understanding was narrow, and his manners cold and haughty.
His qualifications for the part of a statesman were best described by
Frederic, who often indulged in the unprincely luxury of sneering at his
dependents. “Bute,” said his Royal Highness, “you are the very man to
be envoy at some small proud German court where there is nothing to do.”
 Scandal represented the Groom of the Stole as the favoured lover of
the Princess Dowager. He was undoubtedly her confidential friend. The
influence which the two united exercised over the mind of the King was
for a time unbounded. The Princess, a woman and a foreigner, was not
likely to be a judicious adviser about affairs of state. The Earl
could scarcely be said to have served even a noviciate in politics. His
notions of government had been acquired in the society which had been in
the habit of assembling round Frederic at Kew and Leicester House, That
society consisted principally of Tories, who had been reconciled to the
House of Hanover by the civility with which the Prince had treated them,
and by the hope of obtaining high preferment when he should come to the
throne. Their political creed was a peculiar modification of Toryism. It
was the creed neither of the Tories of the seventeenth nor of the Tories
of {21}the nineteenth century. It was the creed, not of Filmer and
Sacheverell, not of Perceval and Eldon, but of the sect of which
Bolingbroke may be considered as the chief doctor. This sect deserves
commendation for having pointed out and justly reprobated some great
abuses which sprang up during the long domination of the Whigs. But
it is far easier to point out and reprobate abuses than to propose
beneficial reforms: and the reforms which Bolingbroke proposed would
either have been utterly inefficient, or would have produced much more
mischief than they would have removed.

The Revolution had saved the nation from one class of evils, but had at
the same time--such is the imperfection of all things human--engendered
or aggravated another class of evils which required new remedies.
Liberty and property were secure from the attacks of prerogative.
Conscience was respected. No government ventured to infringe any of
the-rights solemnly recognised by the instrument which had called
William and Mary to the throne. But it cannot be denied that, under the
new system, the public interests and the public morals were seriously
endangered by corruption and faction. During the long struggle against
the Stuarts, the chief object of the most enlightened statesmen had been
to strengthen the House of Commons. The struggle was over; the victory
was won; the House of Commons was supreme in the state: and all the
vices which had till then been latent in the representative system were
rapidly developed by prosperity and power. Scarcely had the executive
government become really responsible to the House of Commons, when it
began to appear that the House of Commons was not really responsible
to the nation. Many of the constituent bodies were under the absolute
control {22}of individuals; many were notoriously at the command of the
highest bidder. The debates were not published. It was very seldom known
out of doors how a gentleman had voted. Thus, while the ministry was
accountable to the Parliament, the majority of the Parliament was
accountable to nobody. In such circumstances, nothing could be more
natural than that the members should insist on being paid for their
votes, should form themselves into combinations for the purpose of
raising the price of their votes, and should at critical conjunctures
extort large wages by threatening a strike. Thus the Whig ministers
of George the First and George the Second were com-pelled to reduce
corruption to a system, and to practise it on a gigantic scale.

If we are right as to the cause of these abuses, we can scarcely be
wrong as to the remedy. The remedy was surely not to deprive the House
of Commons of its weight in the state. Such a course would undoubtedly
have put an end to parliamentary corruption and to parliamentary
factions: for, when votes cease to be of importance, they will cease
to be bought; and, when knaves can get nothing by combining, they will
cease to combine. But to destroy corruption and faction by introducing
despotism would have been to cure bad by worse. The proper remedy
evidently was, to make the House of Commons responsible to the nation;
and this was to be effected in two ways; first, by giving-publicity to
parliamentary proceedings, and thus placing every member on his trial
before the tribunal of public opinion; and secondly, by so reforming the
constitution of the House that no man should be able to sit in it
who had not been returned by a respectable and independent body of
constituents. {23}Bolingbroke and Bolingbroke’s disciples recommended
a very different mode of treating the diseases of the state. Their
doctrine was that a vigorous use of the prerogative by a patriot
King would at once break all factious combinations, and supersede the
pretended necessity of bribing members of Parliament. The King had
only to resolve that he would be master, that he would not be held in
thraldom by any set of men, that he would take for ministers any persons
in whom he had confidence, without distinction of party, and that he
would restrain his servants from influencing by immoral means either
the constituent bodies or the representative body. This childish scheme
proved that those who proposed it knew nothing of the nature of the evil
with which they pretended to deal. The real cause of the prevalence of
corruption and fiction was that a House of Commons, not accountable to
the people, was more powerful than the King. Bolingbroke’s remedy could
be applied only by a King more powerful than the House of Commons. How
was the patriot Prince to govern in defiance of the body without whose
consent he could not equip a sloop, keep a battalion under arms, send
an embassy, or defray even the charges of his own household? Was he to
dissolve the Parliament? And what was he likely to gain by appealing to
Sudbury and Old Sarum against the venality of their representatives?
Was he to send out privy seals? Was he to levy ship-money? If so, this
boasted reform must commence in all probability by civil war, and,
if consummated, must be consummated by the establishment of absolute
monarchy. Or was the patriot King to carry the House of Commons with him
in his upright designs? By what means? Interdicting himself from the
use of corrupt influence, what motive {24}was he to address to the
Dodingtons and Winningtons? Was cupidity, strengthened by habit, to be
laid asleep by a few fine sentences about virtue and union?

Absurd as this theory was, it had many admirers, particularly among men
of letters. It was now to be reduced to practice; and the result was, as
any man of sagacity must have foreseen, the most piteous and ridiculous
of failures.

On the very day of the young King’s accession, appeared some signs which
indicated the approach of a great change. The speech which he made to
his council was not submitted to the cabinet. It was drawn up by Bute,
and contained some expressions which might be construed into reflections
on the conduct of affairs during the late reign. Pitt remonstrated,
and begged that these expressions might be softened down in the printed
copy; but it was not till after some hours of altercation that Bute
yielded; and, even after Bute had yielded, the King affected to hold
out till the following afternoon. On the same day on which this singular
contest took place, Bute was not only sworn of the privy council, but
introduced into the cabinet.

Soon after this, Lord Holdernesse, one of the Secretaries of State, in
pursuance of a plan concerted with the court, resigned the seals. Bute
was instantly appointed to the vacant place. A general election speedily
followed, and the new Secretary entered parliament in the only way in
which he then could enter it, as one of the sixteen representative peers
of Scotland. (1)

     (1) In the reign of Anne, the House of Lords had resolved
     that, under the 23d article of Union, no Scotch peer could
     be created a peer of Great Britain. This resolution was not
     annulled till the year 1782.

{25}Had the ministers been firmly united it can scarcely be doubted
that they would have been able to withstand the court. The parliamentary
influence of the Whig aristocracy, combined with the genius, the virtue,
and the firmness of Pitt, would have been irresistible. But there had been
in the cabinet of George the Second latent jealousies and enmities,
which now began to show themselves. Pitt had been estranged from his old
ally Legge, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Some of the ministers were
envious of Pitt’s popularity. Others were, not altogether without cause,
disgusted by his imperious and haughty demeanour. Others, again, were
honestly opposed to some parts of his policy. They admitted that he had
found the country in the depths of humiliation, and had raised it to
the height of glory: they admitted that he had conducted the war with
energy, ability, and splendid success; but they began to hint that the
drain on the resources of the state was unexampled, and that the public
debt was increasing with a speed at which Montague or Godolphin would
have stood aghast. Some of the acquisitions made by our fleets and
armies were, it was acknowledged, profitable as well as honourable; but,
now that George the Second was dead, a courtier might venture to ask why
England was to become a party in a dispute between two German powers.
What was it to her whether the House of Hapsburg or the House of
Brandenburg ruled in Silesia? Why were the best English regiments
fighting on the Main? Why were the Prussian battalions paid with English
gold? The great minister seemed to think it beneath him to calculate the
price of victory. As long as the Tower guns were fired, as the streets
were illuminated, as French banners were carried in triumph through
London, it was to him matter of indifference to what extent {26}the
public burdens were augmented. Nay, he seemed to glory in the magnitude
of those sacrifices which the people, fascinated by his eloquence and
success, had too readily made, and would long and bitterly regret. There
was no check on waste or embezzlement. Our commissaries returned from
the camp of Prince Ferdinand to buy boroughs, to rear palaces, to rival
the magnificence of the old aristocracy of the realm. Already had
we borrowed, in four years of war, more than the most skilful and
economical government would pay in forty years of peace. But the
prospect of peace was as remote as ever. It could not be doubted
that France, smarting and prostrate, would consent to fair terms of
accommodation; but this was not what Pitt wanted. War had made him
powerful and popular; with war, all that was brightest in his life was
associated: for war his talents were peculiarly fitted. He had at length
begun to love war for its own sake, and was more disposed to quarrel
with neutrals than to make peace with enemies.

Such were the views of the Duke of Bedford and of the Earl of Hardwicke;
but no member of the government held these opinions so strongly as
George Grenville, the treasurer of the navy. George Grenville was
brother-in-law of Pitt, and had always been reckoned one of Pitt’s
personal and political friends. But it is difficult to conceive two men
of talents and integrity more utterly unlike each other. Pitt, as his
sister often said, knew nothing accurately except Spenser’s Fairy Queen.
He had never applied himself steadily to any branch of knowledge. He was
a wretched financier. He never became familiar even with the rules of
that House of which he was the brightest ornament. He had never studied
public law {27}as a system; and was, indeed, so ignorant of the whole
subject, that George the Second, on one occasion, complained bitterly
that a man who had never read Vattel should presume to undertake the
direction of foreign affairs. But these defects were more than redeemed
by high and rare gifts, by a strange power of inspiring great masses
of men with confidence and affection, by an eloquence which not only
delighted the ear, but stirred the blood, and brought tears into the
eyes, by originality in devising plans, by vigour in executing them.
Grenville, on the other hand, was by nature and habit a man of details.
He had been bred a lawyer; and he had brought the industry and acuteness
of the Temple into official and parliamentary life. He was supposed to
be intimately acquainted with the whole fiscal system of the country. He
had paid especial attention to the law of Parliament, and was so learned
in all things relating to the privileges and orders of the House of
Commons that those who loved him least pronounced him the only person
competent to succeed Onslow in the Chair. His speeches were generally
instructive, and sometimes, from the gravity and earnestness with which
he spoke, even impressive, but never brilliant, and generally tedious.
Indeed, even when he was at the head of affairs, he sometimes found it
difficult to obtain the ear of the House. In disposition as well as in
intellect, he differed widely from his brother-in-law. Pitt was utterly
regardless of money. He would scarcely stretch out his hand to take it;
and, when it came, he threw it away with childish profusion. Grenville,
though strictly upright, was grasping and parsimonious. Pitt was a man
of excitable nerves, sanguine in hope, easily elated by success
and popularity, keenly sensible of injury, but prompt to forgive;
{28}Grenville’s character was stern, melancholy, and pertinacious.
Nothing was more remarkable in him than his inclination always to look
on the dark side of things. He was the raven of the House of Commons,
always croaking defeat in the midst of triumphs, and bankruptcy with an
overflowing exchequer. Burke, with general applause, compared him, in a
time of quiet and plenty, to the evil spirit whom Ovid described looking
down on the stately temples and wealthy haven of Athens, and scarce able
to refrain from weeping because she could find nothing at which to weep.
Such a man was not likely to be popular. But to unpopularity Grenville
opposed a dogged determination, which sometimes forced even those who
hated him to respect him.

It was natural that Pitt and Grenville, being such as they were, should
take very different views of the situation of affairs. Pitt could see
nothing but the trophies; Grenville could see nothing but the bill. Pitt
boasted that England was victorious at once in America, in India, and in
Germany, the umpire of the Continent, the mistress of the sea. Grenville
cast up the subsidies, sighed over the army extraordinaries, and groaned
in spirit to think that the nation had borrowed eight millions in one

With a ministry thus divided it was not difficult for Bute to deal.
Legge was the first who fell. He had given offence to the young King in
the late reign, by refusing to support a creature of Bute at a Hampshire
election. He was now not only turned out, but in the closet, when he
delivered up his seal of office, was treated with gross incivility.

Pitt, who did not love Legge, saw this event with indifference. But the
danger was now fast approaching {29}himself. Charles the Third of Spain
had early conceived a deadly hatred of England. Twenty years before,
when he was King of the Two Sicilies, he had been eager to join the
coalition against Maria Theresa, But an English fleet had suddenly
appeared in the Bay of Naples. An English captain had landed, had
proceeded to the palace, had laid a watch on the table, and had told his
majesty that, within an hour, a treaty of neutrality must be signed, or
a bombardment would commence. The treaty was signed; the squadron sailed
out of the bay twenty-four hours after it had sailed in; and from that
day the ruling passion of the humbled Prince was aversion to the English
name. He was at length in a situation in which he might hope to gratify
that passion. He had recently become King of Spain and the Indies. He
saw, with envy and apprehension, the triumphs of our navy, and the rapid
extension of our colonial Empire. He was a Bourbon, and sympathized with
the distress of the house from which he sprang. He was a Spaniard; and
no Spaniard could bear to see Gibraltar and Minorca in the possession of
a foreign power. Impelled by such feelings, Charles concluded a secret
treaty with France. By this treaty, known as the Family Compact, the
two powers bound themselves not in express words, but by the clearest
implication, to make war on England in common. Spain postponed the
declaration of hostilities only till her fleet, laden with the treasures
of America, should have arrived.

The existence of the treaty could not be kept a secret from Pitt. He
acted as a man of his capacity and energy might be expected to act. He
at once proposed to declare war against Spain, and to intercept {30}the
American fleet. He had determined, it is said, to attack without delay
both Havanna and the Philippines.

His wise and resolute counsel was rejected. Bute was foremost in
opposing it, and was supported by almost the whole cabinet. Some of
the ministers doubted, or affected to doubt, the correctness of Pitt’s
intelligence; some shrank from the responsibility of advising a course
so bold and decided as that which he proposed; some were weary of his
ascendency, and were glad to be rid of him on any pretext. One only of
his colleagues agreed with him, his brother-in-law, Earl Temple.

Pitt and Temple resigned their offices. To Pitt the young King behaved
at parting in the most gracious manner. Pitt, who, proud and fiery every
where else, was always meek and humble in the closet, was moved even to
tears. The King and the favourite urged him to accept some substantial
mark of royal gratitude. Would he like to be appointed governor of
Canada? A salary of five thousand pounds a year should be annexed to the
office. Residence would not be required. It was true that the governor
of Canada, as the law then stood, could not be a member of the House of
Commons. But a bill should be brought in, authorising Pitt to hold
his government together with a seat in Parliament, and in the preamble
should be set forth his claims to the gratitude of his country. Pitt
answered, with all delicacy, that his anxieties were rather for his wife
and family than for himself, and that nothing would be so acceptable to
him as a mark of royal goodness which might be beneficial to those
who were dearest to him. The hint was taken. The same Gazette which
announced the retirement of the Secretary of {31}State announced also
that, in consideration of his great public services, his wife had been
created a peeress in her own right, and that a pension of three thousand
pounds a year, for three lives, had been bestowed on himself. It was
doubtless thought that the rewards and honours conferred on the great
minister would have a conciliatory effect on the public mind. Perhaps,
too, it was thought that his popularity, which had partly arisen from
the contempt which he had always shown for money, would be damaged by a
pension; and, indeed, a crowd of libels instantly appeared, in which he
was accused of having sold his country. Many of his true friends thought
that he would have best consulted the dignity of his character by
refusing to accept any pecuniary reward from the court. Nevertheless,
the general opinion of his talents, virtues, and services, remained
unaltered. Addresses were presented to him from several large towns.
London showed its admiration and affection in a still more marked
manner. Soon after his resignation came the Lord Mayor’s day. The King
and the royal family dined at Guildhall. Pitt was one of the guests.
The young Sovereign, seated by his bride in his state coach, received a
remarkable lesson. He was scarcely noticed. All eyes were fixed on the
fallen minister; all acclamations directed to him. The streets, the
balconies, the chimney tops, burst into a roar of delight as his chariot
passed by. The ladies waved their handkerchiefs from the windows. The
common people clung to the wheels, shook hands with the footmen, and
even kissed the horses. Cries of “No Bute!”

“No Newcastle salmon!” were mingled with the shouts of “Pitt for ever!”
 When Pitt entered Guildhall, he was welcomed by loud huzzas and clapping
of hands, {32}in which the very magistrates of the city joined. Lord
Bute, in the mean time, was hooted and pelted through Cheapside, and
would, it was thought, have been in some danger, if he had not taken
the precaution of surrounding his carriage with a strong body guard
of boxers. Many persons blamed the conduct of Pitt on this occasion as
disrespectful to the King. Indeed, Pitt himself afterwards owned that
he had done wrong. He was led into this error, as he was afterwards
led into more serious errors, by the influence of his turbulent and
mischievous brother-in-law, Temple.

The events which immediately followed Pitt’s retirement raised his fame
higher than ever. War with Spain proved to be, as he had predicted,
inevitable. News came from the West Indies that Martinique had been
taken by an expedition which he had sent forth. Havanna fell; and it was
known that he had planned an attack on Favanna. Manilla capitulated;
and it was believed that he had meditated a blow against Manilla. The
American fleet, which he had proposed to intercept, had unloaded an
immense cargo of bullion in the haven of Cadiz, before Bute could
be convinced that the Court of Madrid really entertained hostile

The session of Parliament which followed Pitt’s retirement passed over
without any violent storm. Lord Bute took on himself the most prominent
part in the House of Lords. He had become Secretary of State, and indeed
prime minister, without having once opened his lips in public except as
an actor. There was, therefore, no small curiosity to know how he would
acquit himself. Members of the House of Commons crowded the bar of the
Lords, and covered the steps of the throne. It was generally expected
{33}that the orator would break down; but his most malicious hearers
were forced to own that he had made a better figure than they expected.
They, indeed, ridiculed his action as theatrical, and his style as
tumid. They were especially amused by the long pauses which, not from
hesitation, but from affectation, he made at all the emphatic words, and
Charles Townshend cried out, “Minute guns!” The general opinion however
was, that, if Bute had been early practised in debate, he might have
become an impressive speaker.

In the Commons, George Grenville had been intrusted with the lead. The
task was not, as yet, a very difficult one: for Pitt did not think fit
to raise the standard of opposition. His speeches at this time were
distinguished, not only by that eloquence in which he excelled all his
rivals, but also by a temperance and a modesty which had too often been
wanting to his character. When war was declared against Spain, he justly
laid claim to the merit of having foreseen what had at length
become manifest to all, but he carefully abstained from arrogant and
acrimonious expressions; and this abstinence was the more honourable to
him, because his temper, never very placid, was now severely tried, both
by gout and by calumny. The courtiers had adopted a mode of warfare,
which was soon turned with far more formidable effect against
themselves. Half the inhabitants of the Grub Street garrets paid their
milk scores, and got their shirts out of pawn, by abusing Pitt. His
German war, his subsidies, his pension, his wife’s peerage, were shin
of beef and gin, blankets and baskets of small coal, to the starving
poetasters of the Fleet. Even in the House of Commons, he was, on one
occasion during {34}this session, assailed with an insolence and malice
which called forth the indignation of men of all parties; but he endured
the outrage with majestic patience. In his younger days he had been but
too prompt to retaliate on those who attacked him; but now, conscious of
his great services, and of the space which he filled in the eyes of all
mankind, he would not stoop to personal squabbles. “This is no season,”
 he said, in the debate on the Spanish war, “for altercation and
recrimination. A day has arrived when every Englishman should stand
forth for his country. Arm the whole; be one people; forget every thing
but the public. I set you the example. Harassed by slanderers, sinking
under pain and disease, for the publie I forget both my wrongs and my
infirmities!” On a general review of his life, we are inclined to think
that his genius and virtue never shone with so pure an effulgence as
during the session of 1762.

The session drew towards the close; and Bute, emboldened by the
acquiescence of the Houses, resolved to strike another great blow, and
to become first minister in name as well as in reality. That coalition,
which a few months before had seemed all powerful, had been dissolved.
The retreat of Pitt had deprived the government of popularity. Newcastle
had exulted in the fall of the illustrious colleague whom he envied and
dreaded, and had not foreseen that his own doom was at hand; he still
tried to flatter himself that he was at the head of the government; but
insults heaped on insults at length undeceived him. Places which
had always been considered as in his gift, were bestowed without any
reference to him. His expostulations only called forth significant hints
that it was time for him to retire. {35}One day he pressed on Bute the
claims of a Whig Prelate to the archbishopric of York. “If your grace
thinks so highly of him,” answered Bute, “I wonder that you did not
promote him when you had the power.” Still the old man clung with a
desperate grasp to the wreck. Seldom, indeed, have Christian meekness
and Christian humility equalled the meekness and humility of his patient
and abject ambition. At length he was forced to understand that all
was over. He quitted that Court where he had held high office during
forty-five years, and hid his shame and regret among the cedars of
Claremont. Bute became first lord of the treasury.

The favourite had undoubtedly committed a great error. It is impossible
to imagine a tool better suited to his purposes than that which he thus
threw away, or rather put into the hands of his enemies. If Newcastle
had been suffered to play at being first minister, Bute might
securely and quietly have enjoyed the substance of power. The gradual
introduction of Tories into all the departments of the government might
have been effected without any violent clamour, if the chief of the
great Whig connection had been ostensibly at the head of affairs. This
was strongly represented to Bute by Lord Mansfield, a man who may justly
be called the father of modern Toryism, of Toryism modified to suit an
order of things under which the House of Commons is the most powerful
body in the state. The theories which had dazzled Bute could not
impose on the fine intellect of Mansfield. The temerity with which Bute
provoked the hostility of powerful and deeply rooted interests,
was displeasing to Mansfield’s cold and timid nature. Expostulation,
however, was vain. Bute was impatient of advice, {36}drunk with success,
eager to he, in show as well as in reality, the head of the government.
He had engaged in an undertaking in which a screen was absolutely
necessary to his success, and even to his safety. He found an excellent
screen ready in the very place where it was most needed; and he rudely
pushed it away.

And now the new system of government came into full operation. For the
first time since the accession of the House of Hanover, the Tory party
was in the ascendant. The prime minister himself was a Tory. Lord
Egremont, who had succeeded Pitt as Secretary of State, was a Tory, and
the son of a Tory. Sir Francis Dash wood, a man of slender parts,
of small experience, and of notoriously immoral character, was made
Chancellor of the Exchequer, for no reason that could be imagined,
except that he was a Tory, and had been a Jacobite. The royal household
was filled with men whose favourite toast, a few years before, had been
the King over the water. The relative position of the two great national
seats of learning was suddenly changed. The University of Oxford had
long been the chief seat of disaffection. In troubled times, the High
Street had been lined with bayonets; the colleges had been searched by
the King’s messengers. Grave doctors were in the habit of talking very
Ciceronian treason in the theatre; and the undergraduates drank bumpers
to Jacobite toasts, and chanted Jacobite airs. Of four successive
Chancellors of the University, one had notoriously been in the
Pretender’s service; the other three were fully believed to be in secret
correspondence with the exiled family. Cambridge had therefore been
especially favoured by the Hanoverian Princes, and had shown herself
grateful {37}for their patronage. George the First had enriched her
library; George the Second had contributed munificently to her Senate
House. Bishoprics and deaneries were showered on her children. Her
Chancellor was Newcastle, the chief of the Whig aristocracy; her High
Steward was Hardwicke, the Whig head of the law. Both her burgesses
had held office under the Whig ministry. Times had now changed. The
University of Cambridge was received at St. James’s with comparative
coldness. The answers to the addresses of Oxford were all graciousness
and warmth.

The watchwords of the new government were prerogative and purity. The
sovereign was no longer to be a puppet in the hands of any subject, or
of any combination of subjects. George the Third would not be forced to
take ministers whom he disliked, as his grandfather had been forced to
take Pitt. George the Third would not be forced to part with any whom
he delighted to honour, as his grandfather had been forced to part with
Carteret. At the same time, the system of bribery which had grown up
during the late reigns was to cease. It was ostentatiously proclaimed
that, since the accession of the young King, neither constituents nor
representatives had been bought with the secret service money. To free
Britain from corruption and oligarchical cabals, to detach her from
continental connections, to bring the bloody and expensive war with
France and Spain to a close, such were the specious objects which Bute
professed to procure.

Some of these objects he attained. England withdrew, at the cost of
a deep stain on her faith, from her German connections. The war with
France and Spain was terminated by a peace, honourable indeed
and advantageous {38}to our country, yet less honourable and less
advantageous than might have been expected from a long and almost
unbroken series of victories, by land and sea, in every part of the
world. But the only effect of Bute’s domestic administration was to make
faction wilder, and corruption fouler than ever.

The mutual animosity of the Whig and Tory parties had begun to languish
after the fall of Walpole, and had seemed to be almost extinct at the
close of the reign of George the Second. It now revived in all its
force. Many Whigs, it is true, were still in office. The Duke of Bedford
had signed the treaty with France. The Duke of Devonshire, though much
out of humour, still continued to be Lord Chamberlain. Grenville, who
led the House of Commons, and Fox, who still enjoyed in silence the
immense gains of the Pay Office, had always been regarded as strong
Whigs. But the bulk of the party throughout the country regarded the new
minister with abhorrence. There was, indeed, no want of popular themes
for invective against his character. He was a favourite; and favourites
have always been odious in this country. No mere favourite had been at
the head of the government since the dagger of Felton had reached the
heart of the Duke of Buckingham. After that event the most arbitrary and
the most frivolous of the Stuarts had felt the necessity of confiding
the chief direction of affairs to men who had given some proof of
parliamentary or official talent. Strafford, Falkland, Clarendon,
Clifford, Shaftesbury, Lauderdale, Dauby, Temple, Halifax, Rochester,
Sunderland, whatever their faults might be, were all men of acknowledged
ability. They did not owe their eminence merely to the favour of the
sovereign. On the contrary, they owed the favour of the {39}sovereign to
their eminence. Most of them, indeed, had first attracted the notice of
the court by the capacity and vigour which they had shown in opposition.
The Revolution seemed to have for ever secured the state against the
domination of a Carr or a Villiers. Now, however, the personal regard
of the King had at once raised a man who had seen nothing of public
business, who had never opened his lips in parliament, over the heads
of a crowd of eminent orators, financiers, diplomatists. From a
private gentleman, this fortunate minion had at once been turned into
a Secretary of State. He had made his maiden speech when at the head of
the administration. The vulgar resorted to a simple explanation of the
phenomenon, and the coarsest ribaldry against the Princess Mother was
scrawled on every wall and sung in every alley.

This was not all. The spirit of party, roused by impolitic provocation
from its long sleep, roused in turn a still fiercer and more malignant
Fury, the spirit of national animosity. The grudge of Whig against Tory
was mingled with the grudge of Englishman against Scot. The two sections
of the great British people had not yet been indissolubly blended
together. The events of 1715 and of 1745 had left painful and enduring
traces. The tradesmen of Cornhill had been in dread of seeing their
tills and warehouses plundered by barelegged mountaineers from the
Grampians. They still recollected that Black Friday, when the news
came that the rebels were at Derby, when all the shops in the city were
closed, and when the Bank of England began to pay in sixpences. The
Scots, on the other hand, remembered, with natural resentment, the
severity with which the insurgents had been chastised, the military
outrages, the humiliating laws, the heads {40}fixed on Temple Bar, the
fires and quartering blocks on Kennington Common. The favourite did not
suffer the English to forget from what part of the island he came. The
cry of all the south was that the public offices, the army, the navy,
were filled with highcheeked Drummonds and Erskines, Macdonalds and
Macgillivrays, who could not talk a Christian tongue, and some of whom
had but lately begun to wear Christian breeches. All the old jokes on
hills without trees, girls without stockings, men eating the food of
horses, pails emptied from the fourteenth story, were pointed against
these lucky adventurers. To the honour of the Scots it must be said,
that their prudence and their pride restrained them from retaliation.
Like the princess in the Arabian tale, they stopped their ears tight,
and, unmoved by the shrillest notes of abuse, walked on, without once
looking round, straight towards the Golden Fountain.

Bute, who had always been considered as a man of taste and reading,
affected, from the moment of his elevation, the character of a Mæcenas.
If he expected to conciliate the public by encouraging literature and
art, he was grievously mistaken. Indeed, none of the objects of his
munificence, with the single exception of Johnson, can be said to
have been well selected; and the public, not unnaturally, ascribed the
selection of Johnson rather to the Doctor’s political prejudices than to
his literary merits: for a wretched scribbler named Shebbeare, who had
nothing in common with Johnson except violent Jacobitism, and who had
stood in the pillory for a libel on the Revolution, was honoured with
a mark of royal approbation, similar to that which was bestowed on the
author of the English Dictionary, and of the Vanity of Human Wishes. It
{41}was remarked that Adam, a Scotchman, was the court architect, and
that Ramsay, a Scotchman, was the court painter, and was preferred to
Reynolds. Mallet, a Scotchman, of no high literary fame, and of infamous
character, partook largely of the liberality of the government. John
Home, a Scotchman, was rewarded for the tragedy of Douglas, both with a
pension and with a sinecure place. But, when the author of the Bard,
and of the Elegy in a Country Churchyard, ventured to ask for a
Professorship, the emoluments of which he much needed, and for the
duties of which he was, in many respects, better qualified than any man
living, he was refused; and the post was bestowed on the pedagogue under
whose care the favourite’s son-in-law, Sir James Lowther, had made such
signal proficiency in the graces and in the humane virtues.

Thus, the first lord of the treasury was detested by many as a Tory, by
many as a favourite, and by many as a Scot. All the hatred which flowed
from these various sources soon mingled, and was directed in one torrent
of obloquy against the treaty of peace. The Duke of Bedford, who
had negotiated that treaty, was hooted through the streets. Bute was
attacked in his chair, and was with difficulty rescued by a troop of the
guards. He could hardly walk the streets in safety without disguising
himself. A gentleman who died not many years ago used to say that he
once recognised the favourite Earl in the piazza of Covent Garden,
muffled in a large coat, and with a hat and wig drawn down over his
brows. His lordship’s established type with the mob was a jack boot,
a wretched pun on his Christian name and title. A jack boot, generally
accompanied by a petticoat, was sometimes fastened on a {42}gallows,
and sometimes committed to the flames. Libels on the court, exceeding
in audacity and rancour any that had been published for many years, now
appeared daily, both in prose and verse. Wilkes, with lively insolence,
compared the mother of George the Third to the mother of Edward the
Third, and the Scotch minister to the gentle Mortimer. Churchill, with
all the energy of hatred, deplored the fate of his country, invaded by
a new race of savages, more cruel and ravenous than the Picts or the
Danes, the poor, proud children of Leprosy and Hunger. It is a
slight circumstance, but deserves to be recorded, that in this year
pamphleteers first ventured to print at length the names of the great
men whom they lampooned. George the Second had always been the K------.
His ministers had been Sir R------W------, Mr. P------, and the Duke of
N------. But the libellers of George the Third, of the Princess Mother,
and of Lord Bute did not give quarter to a single vowel.

It was supposed that Lord Temple secretly encouraged the most scurrilous
assailants of the government. In truth, those who knew his habits
tracked him as men track a mole. It was his nature to grub underground.
Whenever a heap of dirt was flung up it might well be suspected that he
was at work in some foul crooked labyrinth below. Pitt turned away from
the filthy work of opposition, with the same scorn with which he had
turned away from the filthy work of government. He had the magnanimity
to proclaim every where the disgust which he felt at the insults offered
by his own adherents to the Scottish nation, and missed no opportunity
of extolling the courage and fidelity which the Highland regiments had
displayed through the whole war. But, though he disdained to {43}use any
but lawful and honourable weapons, it was well known that his fair blows
were likely to be far more formidable than the privy thrusts of his
brother-in-law’s stiletto.

Bute’s heart began to fail him. The Houses were about to meet. The
treaty would instantly be the subject of discussion. It was probable
that Pitt, the great Whig connection, and the multitude, would all be on
the same side. The favourite had professed to hold in abhorrence those
means by which preceding ministers had kept the House of Commons in
good humour. He now began to think that he had been too scrupulous. His
Utopian visions were at an end. It was necessary, not only to bribe,
but to bribe more shamelessly and flagitiously than his predecessors, in
order to make up for lost time. A majority must be secured, no matter
by what means. Could Grenville do this? Would he do it? His firmness
and ability had not yet been tried in any perilous crisis. He had been
generally regarded as a humble follower of his brother Temple, and of
his brother-in-law Pitt, and was supposed, though with little reason, to
be still favourably inclined towards them. Other aid must be called in.
And where was other aid to be found?

There was one man, whose sharp and manly logic had often in debate been
found a match for the lofty and impassioned rhetoric of Pitt, whose
talents for jobbing were not inferior to his talents for debate, whose
dauntless spirit shrank from no difficulty or danger, and who was as
little troubled with scruples as with fears. Henry Fox, or nobody, could
weather the storm which was about to burst. Yet was he a person to whom
the court, even in that extremity, was unwilling to have recourse. He
had always been regarded {44}as a Whig of the Whigs. He had been the
friend and disciple of Walpole. He had long been connected by close ties
with William Duke of Cumberland. By the Tories he was more hated than
any man living. So strong was their aversion to him that when, in
the late reign, he had attempted to form a party against the Duke of
Newcastle, they had thrown all their weight into Newcastle’s scale. By
the Scots, Fox was abhorred as the confidential friend of the conqueror
of Culloden. He was, on personal grounds, most obnoxious to the Princess
Mother. For he had, immediately after her husband’s death, advised the
late King to take the education of her son, the heir apparent, entirely
out of her hands. He had recently given, if possible, still deeper
offence; for he had indulged, not without some ground, the ambitious
hope that his beautiful sister-in-law, the Lady Sarah Lennox, might be
queen of England. It had been observed that the King at one time
rode every morning by the grounds of Holland House, and that, on such
occasions, Lady Sarah, dressed like a shepherdess at a masquerade, was
making hay close to the road, which was then separated by no wall from
the lawn. On account of the part which Fox had taken in this singular
love affair, he was the only member of the Privy Council who was not
summoned to the meeting at which his Majesty announced his intended
marriage with the Princess of Mecklenburg. Of all the statesmen of the
age, therefore, it seemed that Fox was the last with whom Bute the
Tory, the Scot, the favourite of the Princess Mother, could, under any
circumstances, act. Yet to Fox Bute was now compelled to apply.

Fox had many noble and amiable qualities, which in private life shone
forth in full lustre, and made him {45}dear to his children, to his
dependents, and to his friends; but as a public man he had no title
to esteem. In him the vices which were common to the whole school of
Walpole appeared, not perhaps in then-worst, but certainly in their most
prominent form; for his parliamentary and official talents made all his
faults conspicuous. His courage, his vehement temper, his contempt for
appearances, led him to display much that others, quite as unscrupulous
as himself, covered with a decent veil. He was the most unpopular of the
statesmen of his time, not because he sinned more than many of them, but
because he canted less.

He felt his unpopularity; but he felt it after the fashion of strong
minds. He became, not cautious, but reckless, and faced the rage of the
whole nation with a scowl of inflexible defiance. He was born with a
sweet and generous temper; but he had been goaded and baited into a
savageness which was not natural to him, and which amazed and shocked
those who knew him best. Such was the man to whom Bute, in extreme need,
applied for succour.

That succour Fox was not unwilling to afford. Though by no means of
an envious temper, he had undoubtedly contemplated the success and
popularity of Pitt with bitter mortification. He thought himself Pitt’s
match as a debater, and Pitt’s superior as a man of business. They had
long been regarded as well-paired rivals. They had started fair in the
career of ambition. They had long run side by side. At length Fox had
taken the lead, and Pitt had fallen behind. Then had come a sudden turn
of fortune, like that in Virgil’s foot-race. Fox had stumbled in the
mire, and had not only been defeated, but befouled. Pitt had reached the
goal, and received the prize. The emoluments {46}of the Pay Office might
induce the defeated statesman to submit in silence to the ascendency of
his competitor, but, could not satisfy a mind conscious of great powers,
and sore from great vexations. As soon, therefore, as a party arose
adverse to the war and to the supremacy of the great war minister, the
hopes of Fox began to revive. His fends with the Princess Mother, with
the Scots, with the Tories, he was ready to forget, if, by the help of
his old enemies, he could now regain the importance which he had lost,
and confront Pitt on equal terms.

The alliance was, therefore, soon concluded. Fox was assured that, if he
would pilot the government out of its embarrassing situation, he should
be rewarded with a peerage, of which he had long been desirous. He
undertook on his side to obtain, by fair or foul means, a vote in favour
of the peace. In consequence of this arrangement he became leader of
the House of Commons; and Grenville, stifling his vexation as well as he
could, sullenly acquiesced in the change.

Fox had expected that his influence would secure to the court the
cordial support of some eminent Whigs who were his personal friends,
particularly of the Duke of Cumberland and of the Duke of Devonshire.
He was disappointed, and soon found that, in addition to all his other
difficulties, he must reckon on the opposition of the ablest prince of
the blood, and of the great house of Cavendish.

But he had pledged himself to win the battle; and he was not a man to go
back. It was no time for squeamishness. Bute was made to comprehend that
the ministry could be saved only by practising the tactics of Walpole to
an extent at which Walpole {47}himself would have stared. The Pay Office
was turned into a mart for votes. Hundreds of members were closeted
there with Fox, and, as there is too much reason to believe, departed
carrying with them the wages of infamy. It was affirmed by persons who
had the best opportunities of obtaining information, that twenty-five
thousand pounds were thus paid away in a single morning. The lowest
bribe given, it was said, was a bank-note for two hundred pounds.

Intimidation was joined with corruption. All ranks, from the highest to
the lowest, were to be taught that the King would be obeyed. The Lords
Lieutenants of several counties were dismissed. The Duke of Devonshire
was especially singled out as the victim by whose fate the magnates
of England were to take warning. His wealth, rank, and influence, his
stainless private character, and the constant attachment of his
family to the House of Hanover did not secure him from gross personal
indignity. It was known that he disapproved of the course which the
government had taken; and it was accordingly determined to humble the
Prince of the Whigs, as he had been nicknamed by the Princess Mother. He
went to the palace to pay his duty. “Tell him,” said the King to a page,
“that I will not see him.” The page hesitated. “Go to him,” said the
King, “and tell him those very words.” The message was delivered.
The Duke tore off his gold key, and went away boiling with anger. His
relations who were in office instantly resigned. A few days later, the
King called for the list of Privy Councillors, and with his own hand
struck out the Duke’s name.

In this step there was at least courage, though little wisdom or good
nature. But, as nothing was too high {48}For the revenge of the court,
so also was nothing too low. A persecution, such as had never been
known before, and has never been known since, raged in every public
department. Great numbers of humble and laborious clerks were deprived
of their bread, not because they had neglected their duties, not because
they had taken an active part against the ministry, but merely because
they had owed their situations to the recommendation of some nobleman
or gentleman who was against the peace. The proscription extended to
tidewaiters, to gaugers, to doorkeepers. One poor man to whom a pension
had been given for his gallantry in a fight with smugglers, was deprived
of it because he had been befriended by the Duke of Grafton. An aged
widow, who, on account of her husband’s services in the navy, had, many
years before, been made housekeeper to a public office, was dismissed
from her situation, because it was imagined that she was distantly
connected by marriage with the Cavendish family. The public clamour, as
may well be supposed, grew daily louder and louder. But the louder
it grew, the more resolutely did Fox go on with the work which he had
begun. His old friends could not conceive what had possessed him. “I
could forgive,” said the Duke of Cumberland, “Fox’s political vagaries;
but I am quite confounded by his inhumanity. Surely he used to be the
best-natured of men.”

At last Fox went so far as to take a legal opinion on the question,
whether the patents granted by George the Second were binding on George
the Third. It is said, that, if his colleagues had not flinched, he
would at once have turned out the Tellers of the Exchequer and Justices
in Eyre.

Meanwhile the Parliament met. The ministers, more {49}hated by the
people than ever, were secure of a majority, and they had also reason to
hope that they would have the advantage in the debates as well as in the
divisions; for Pitt was confined to his chamber by a severe attack of
gout. His friends moved to defer the consideration of the treaty till
he should be able to attend: but the motion was rejected. The great
day arrived. The discussion had lasted some time, when a loud huzza was
heard in Palace Yard. The noise came nearer and nearer, up the stairs,
through the lobby. The door opened, and from the midst of a shouting
multitude came forth Pitt, borne in the arms of his attendants. His face
was thin and ghastly, his limbs swathed in flannel, his crutch in his
hand. The bearers set him down within the bar. His friends instantly
surrounded him, and with their help he crawled to his seat near the
table. In this condition he spoke three hours and a half against the
peace. During that time he was repeatedly forced to sit down and to use
cordials. It may well be supposed that his voice was faint, that his
action was languid, and that his speech, though occasionally brilliant
and impressive, was feeble when compared with his best oratorical
performances. But those who remembered what he had done, and who saw
what he suffered, listened to him with emotions stronger than any that
mere eloquence can produce. He was unable to stay for the division, and
was carried away from the House amidst shouts as loud as those which had
announced his arrival.

A large majority approved the peace. The exultation of the court was
boundless. “Now,” exclaimed the Princess Mother, “my son is really
King.” The young sovereign spoke of himself as freed from the
{50}bondage in which his grandfather had been held. On one point, it
was announced, his mind was unalterably made up. Under no circumstances
whatever should those Whig grandees, who had enslaved his predecessors
and endeavoured to enslave himself, be restored to power.

This vaunting was premature. The real strength of the favourite was
by no means proportioned to the number of votes which he had, on
one particular division, been able to command. He was soon again in
difficulties. The most important part of his budget was a tax on cider.
This measure was opposed, not only by those who were generally hostile
to his administration, but also by many of his supporters. The name of
excise had always been hateful to the Tories. One of the chief crimes of
Walpole in their eyes, had been his partiality for this mode of raising
money. The Tory Johnson had in his Dictionary given so scurrilous a
definition of the word Excise, that the Commissioners of Excise had
seriously thought of prosecuting him. The counties which the new impost
particularly affected had always been Tory counties. It was the boast of
John Philips, the poet of the English vintage, that the Cider-land had
ever been faithful to the throne, and that all the pruning-hooks of her
thousand orchards had been beaten into swords for the service of the
ill fated Stuarts. The effect of Bute’s fiscal scheme was to produce an
union between the gentry and yeomanry of the Cider-land and the Whigs of
the capital. Herefordshire and Worcestershire were in a flame. The city
of London, though not so directly interested, was, if possible, still
more excited. The debates on this question irreparably damaged the
government. Dashwood’s financial statement {51}had been confused and
absurd beyond belief, and had been received by the House with roars of
laughter. He had sense enough to be conscious of his unfitness for the
high situation which he held, and exclaimed in a comical fit of despair,
“What shall I do? The boys will point at me in the street, and cry,
‘There goes the worst Chancellor of the Exchequer that ever was.’”
 George Grenville came to the rescue, and spoke strongly on his favourite
theme, the profusion with which the late war had been carried on. That
profusion, he said, had made taxes necessary. He called on the gentlemen
opposite to him to say where they would have a tax laid, and dwelt
on this topic with his usual prolixity. “Let them tell me where,” he
repeated in a monotonous and somewhat fretful tone. “I say, sir, let
them tell me where. I repeat it, sir; I am entitled to say to them,
Tell me where.” Unluckily for him, Pitt had come down to the House that
night, and had been bitterly provoked by the reflections thrown on
the war. He revenged himself by murmuring, in a whine resembling
Grenville’s, a line of a well known song, “Gentle Shepherd, tell me

“If,” cried Grenville, “gentlemen are to be treated in this way----”

Pitt, as was his fashion, when he meant to mark extreme contempt, rose
deliberately, made his bow, and walked out of the House, leaving
his brother-in-law in convulsions of rage, and every body else in
convulsions of laughter. It was long before Grenville lost the nickname
of the Gentle Shepherd.

But the ministry had vexations still more serious to endure. The hatred
which the Tories and Scots bore to Fox was implacable. In a moment of
extreme peril, they had consented to put themselves under his guidance.
{52}But the aversion with which they regarded him broke forth as soon
as the crisis seemed to be over. Some of them attacked him about the
accounts of the Pay Office. Some of them rudely interrupted him when
speaking, by laughter and ironical cheers, he was naturally desirous to
escape from so disagreeable a situation, and demanded the peerage which
had been promised as the reward of his services.

It was clear that there must be some change in the composition of the
ministry. But scarcely any, even of those who, from their situation,
might be supposed to be in all the secrets of the government,
anticipated what really took place. To the amazement of the Parliament
and the nation, it was suddenly announced that Bute had resigned.

Twenty different explanations of this strange step were suggested. Some
attributed it to profound design, and some to sudden panic. Some said
that the lampoons of the opposition had driven the Earl from the field;
some that he had taken office only in order to bring the war to a close,
and had always meant to retire when that object had been accomplished.
He publicly assigned ill health as his reason for quitting business,
and privately complained that he was not cordially seconded by his
colleagues, and that Lord Mansfield, in particular, whom he had himself
brought into the cabinet, gave him no support in the House of Peers.
Mansfield was, indeed, far too sagacious not to perceive that Bute’s
situation was one of great peril, and far too timorous to thrust himself
into peril for the sake of another. The probability, however, is that
Bute’s conduct on this occasion, like the conduct of most men on most
occasions, was determined by mixed motives. We suspect that he was sick
of office; for {53}this is a feeling much more common among ministers
than persons who see public life from a distance are disposed to
believe; and nothing could be more natural than that this feeling should
take possession of the mind of Bute. In general, a statesman climbs by
slow degrees. Many laborious years elapse before he reaches the topmost
pinnacle of preferment. In the earlier part of his career, therefore, he
is constantly lured on by seeing something above him. During his ascent
he gradually becomes inured to the annoyances which belong to a life
of ambition. By the time that he has attained the highest point, he has
become patient of labour and callous to abuse. He is kept constant to
his vocation, in spite of all its discomforts, at first by hope, and
at last by habit. It was not so with Bute. His whole public life lasted
little more than two years. On the day on which he became a politician
he became a cabinet minister. In a few months he was, both in name and
in show, chief of the administration. Greater than he had been he could
not be. If what he already possessed was vanity and vexation of spirit,
no delusion remained to entice him onward. He had been cloyed with the
pleasures of ambition before he had been seasoned to its pains. His
habits had not been such as were likely to fortify his mind against
obloquy and public hatred. He had reached his forty-eighth year in
dignified ease, without knowing, by personal experience, what it was
to be ridiculed and slandered. All at once, without any previous
initiation, he had found himself exposed to such a storm of invective
and satire as had never burst on the head of any statesman. The
emoluments of office were now nothing to him; for he had just succeeded
to a princely property by the death of his father-in-law. All the
honours {54}which could be bestowed on him he had already secured. He
had obtained the Garter for himself, and a British peerage for his son.
He seems also to have imagined that by quitting the treasury he should
escape from danger and abuse without really resigning power, and should
still be able to exercise in private supreme influence over the royal

Whatever may have been his motives, he retired. Fox at the same time
took refuse in the House of Lords; and George Grenville became First
Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer.

We believe that those who made this arrangement fully intended that
Grenville should be a mere puppet in the hands of Bute; for Grenville
was as yet very imperfectly known even to those who had observed him
long. He passed for a mere official drudge; and he had all the industry,
the minute accuracy, the formality, the tediousness, which belong to
the character. But he had other qualities which had not yet shown
themselves, devouring ambition, dauntless courage, selfconfidence
amounting to presumption, and a temper which could not endure
opposition. He was not disposed to be any body’s tool; and he had no
attachment, political or personal, to Bute. The two men had, indeed,
nothing in common, except a strong propensity towards harsh and
unpopular courses. Their principles were fundamentally different. Bute
was a Tory. Grenville would have been very angry with any person
who should have denied his claim to be a Whig. He was more prone to
tyrannical measures than Bute; but he loved tyranny only when disguised
under the forms of constitutional liberty. He mixed up, after a
fashion then not very unusual, the theories of the republicans of the
seventeenth century with the technical maxims {55}of English law,
and thus succeeded in combining anarchical speculation with arbitrary
practice. The voice of the people was the voice of God; but the only
legitimate organ through which the voice of the people could be uttered
was the Parliament. All power was from the people; but to the Parliament
the whole power of the people had been delegated. No Oxonian divine had
ever, even in the years which immediately follow ed the Restoration,
demanded for the King so abject, so unreasoning a homage, as Grenville
on what he considered as the purest Whig principles, demanded for the
Parliament. As he wished to see the Parliament despotic over the nation,
so he wished to see it also despotic over the court. In his view the
prime minister, possessed of the confidence of the House of Commons,
ought to be Mayor of the Palace. The King was a mere Childeric or
Chilperic, who might well think himself lucky in being permitted to
enjoy such handsome apartments at St. James’s, and so fine a park at

Thus the opinions of Bute and those of Grenville were diametrically
opposed. Nor was there any private friendship between the two statesmen.
Grenville’s nature was not forgiving; and he well remembered how, a few
months before, he had been compelled to yield the lead of the House of
Commons to Fox.

We are inclined to think, on the whole, that the worst administration
which has governed England since the Revolution was that of George
Grenville. His public acts may be classed under two heads, outrages on
the liberty of the people, and outrages on the dignity of the crown.

He began by making war on the press. John Wilkes, member of Parliament
for Aylesbury, was singled out {56}for persecution. Wilkes had, till
very lately, been known chiefly as one of the most profane, licentious,
and agreeable rakes about town. He was a man of taste, reading, and
engaging manners. His sprightly conversation was the delight of
green rooms and taverns, and pleased even grave hearers when he was
sufficiently under restraint to abstain from detailing the particulars
of his amours, and from breaking jests on the New Testament. His
expensive debaucheries forced him to have recourse to the Jews. He
was soon a ruined man, and determined to try his chance as a political
adventurer. In parliament he did not succeed. His speaking, though pert,
was feeble, and by no means interested his hearers so much as to make
them forget his face, which was so hideous that the caricaturists were
forced, in their own despite, to flatter him. As a writer, he made a
better figure. He set up a weekly paper, called the North Briton.
This journal, written with some pleasantry, and great, audacity and
impudence, had a considerable number of readers. Forty-four numbers had
been published when Bute resigned; and, though almost every number had
contained matter grossly libellous, no prosecution had been instituted.
The forty-fifth number was innocent when compared with the majority of
those which had preceded it, and indeed contained nothing so strong as
may in our time be found daily in the leading articles of the Times and
Morning Chronicle. But Grenville was now at the head of affairs. A new
spirit had been infused into the administration. Authority was to be
upheld. The government was no longer to be braved with impunity.
Wilkes was arrested under a general warrant, conveyed to the Tower, and
confined there with circumstances of unusual severity. His papers were
{57}seized, and carried to the Secretary of State. These harsh and
illegal measures produced a violent outbreak of popular rage, which
was soon changed to delight and exultation. The arrest was pronounced
unlawful by the Court of Common Pleas, in which Chief Justice Pratt
presided, and the prisoner was discharged. This victory over the
government was celebrated with enthusiasm both in London and in the
cider counties.

While the ministers were daily becoming more odious to the nation, they
were doing their best to make themselves also odious to the court. They
gave the King plainly to understand that they were determined not to
be Lord Bute’s creatures, and exacted a promise that no secret adviser
should have access to the royal ear. They soon found reason to suspect
that this promise had not been observed. They remonstrated in terms less
respectful than their master had been accustomed to hear, and gave him a
fortnight to make his choice between his favourite and his cabinet.

George the Third was greatly disturbed. He had but a few weeks before
exulted in his deliverance from the yoke of the great Whig connection.
He had even declared that his honour would not permit him ever again to
admit the members of that connection into his service. He now found that
he had only exchanged one set of masters for another set still harsher
and more imperious. In his distress he thought on Pitt. From Pitt it was
possible that better terms might be obtained than either from Grenville,
or from the party of which Newcastle was the head.

Grenville, on his return from an excursion into the country, repaired to
Buckingham House. He was astonished to find at the entrance a chair, the
shape of which {58}was well known to him, and indeed to all London. It
was distinguished by a large boot, made for the purpose of accommodating
the great Commoner’s gouty leg. Grenville guessed the whole. His
brother-in-law was closeted with the King. Bute, provoked by what he
considered as the unfriendly and ungrateful conduct of his successors,
had himself proposed that Pitt should be summoned to the palace.

Pitt had two audiences on two successive days. What passed at the first
interview led him to expect that the negotiation would be brought to a
satisfactory close; but on the morrow he found the King less complying.
The best account, indeed the only trustworthy account of the conference,
is that which was taken from Pitt’s own mouth by Lord Hardwicke. It
appears that Pitt strongly represented the importance of conciliating
those chiefs of the Whig party who had been so unhappy as to incur the
royal displeasure. They had, he said, been the most constant friends of
the House of Hanover. Their power was great; they had been long versed
in public business. If they were to be under sentence of exclusion, a
solid administration could not be formed. His Majesty could not bear to
think of putting himself into the hands of those whom he had recently
chased from his court with the strongest marks of anger. “I am sorry,
Mr. Pitt,” he said, “but I see this will not do. My honour is concerned.
I must support my honour.” How his Majesty succeeded in supporting his
honour, we shall soon see.

Pitt retired, and the King was reduced to request the ministers, whom he
had been on the point of discarding to remain in office. During the
two years which followed, Grenville, now closely leagued with the
{59}Bedfords, was the master of the court; and a hard master he proved.
He knew that he was kept in place only because there was no choice
except between himself and the Whigs. That under any circumstances the
Whigs would be forgiven, he thought impossible. The late attempt to get
rid of him had roused his resentment; the failure of that attempt had
liberated him from all fear. He had never been very courtly. He now
begun to hold a language, to which, since the days of Cornet Joyce and
President Bradshaw, no English King had been compelled to listen.

In one matter, indeed, Grenville, at the expense of justice and liberty,
gratified the passions of the court while gratifying his own. The
persecution of Wilkes was eagerly pressed. He had written a parody on
Pope’s Essay on Man, entitled the Essay on Woman, and had appended to it
notes, in ridicule of Waburton’s famous Commentary. This composition was
exceedingly profligate, but not more so, we think, than some of Pope’s
own works, the imitation of the second satire of the first book of
Horace, for example; and, to do Wilkes justice, he had not, like Pope,
given his ribaldry to the world. He had merely printed at a private
press a very small number of copies, which he meant to present to some
of his boon companions, whose morals were in no more danger of being
corrupted by a loose book than a negro of being tanned by a warm sun.
A tool of the government, by giving a bribe to the printer, procured
a copy of this trash, and placed it in the hands of the ministers. The
ministers resolved to visit Wilkes’s offence against decorum with the
utmost rigour of the law. What share piety and respect for morals had in
dictating this resolution, our readers may judge from the fact that no
person was more {60}eager for bringing the libertine poet to punishment
than Lord March, afterwards Duke of Queensberry.

On the first day of the session of Parliament, the book, thus
disgracefully obtained, was laid on the table of the Lords by the Earl
of Sandwich, whom the Duke of Bedford’s interest had made Secretary of
State. The unfortunate author had not the slightest suspicion that his
licentious poem had ever been seen, except by his printer and by a few
of his dissipated companions, till it was produced in full Parliament.
Though he was a man of easy temper, averse from danger, and not very
susceptible of shame, the surprise, the disgrace, the prospect of utter
ruin, put him beside himself. He picked a quarrel with one of Lord
Bute’s dependents, fought a duel, was seriously wounded, and when half
recovered, fled to France. His enemies had now their own way both in the
Parliament and in the King’s Bench. He was censured, expelled from the
House of Commons, outlawed. His works were ordered to be burned by the
common hangman. Yet was the multitude still true to him. In the minds
even of many moral and religious men, his crime seemed light when
compared with the crime of his accusers. The conduct of Sandwich, in
particular, excited universal disgust. His own vices were notorious;
and, only a fortnight before he laid the Essay on Woman before the House
of Lords, he had been drinking and singing loose catches with Wilkes at
one of the most dissolute clubs in London. Shortly after the meeting of
Parliament, the Beggar’s Opera was acted at Covent Garden theatre. When
Macheath uttered the words--“That Jemmy Twitcher should peach me I
own surprised me,”--pit, boxes, and galleries, burst into a roar which
seemed likely to bring the roof down.

From {61}that day Sandwich was universally known by the nickname of
Jemmy Twitcher. The ceremony of burning the North Briton was interrupted
by a riot. The constables were beaten; the paper was rescued; and,
instead of it, a jack boot and a petticoat were committed to the flames.
Wilkes had instituted an action for the seizure of his papers against
the Undersecretary of State. The jury gave a thousand pounds damages.
But neither these nor any other indications of public feeling had power
to move Grenville. He had the Parliament with him: and, according to his
political creed, the sense of the nation was to be collected from the
Parliament alone.

Soon, however, he found reason to fear that even the Parliament might
fail him. On the question of the legality of general warrants, the
Opposition, having on its side all sound principles, all constitutional
authorities, and the voice of the whole nation, mustered in great
force, and was joined by many who did not ordinarily vote against the
government. On one occasion the ministry, in a very full House, had
a majority of only fourteen votes. The storm, however, blew over. The
spirit of the Opposition, from whatever cause, began to flag at the
moment when success seemed almost certain. The session ended without any
change. Pitt, whose eloquence had shone with its usual lustre in all the
principal debates, and whose popularity was greater than ever, was still
a private man. Grenville, detested alike by the court and by the people,
was still minister.

As soon as the Houses had risen, Grenville took a step which proved,
even more signally than any of his past acts, how despotic, how
acrimonious, and how fearless his nature was. Among the gentlemen
not ordinarily {62}opposed to the government, who, on the great
constitutional question of general variants, had voted with the
minority was Henry Conway, brother of the Earl of Hertford, a brave
soldier, a tolerable speaker, and a well-meaning, though not a wise or
vigorous politician, he was now deprived of his regiment, the merited
reward of faithful and gallant service in two wars. It was confidently
asserted that in this violent measure the King heartily concurred.

But whatever pleasure the persecution of Wilkes, or the dismissal
of Conway, may have given to the royal mind, it is certain that his
Majesty’s aversion to his ministers increased day by day. Grenville was
as frugal of the public money as of his own, and morosely refused
to accede to the King’s request, that a few thousand pounds might
be expended in buying some open fields to the west of the gardens of
Buckingham House. In consequence of this refusal, the fields were soon
covered with buildings, and the King and Queen were overlooked in their
most private walks by the upper windows of a hundred houses. Nor was
this the worst. Grenville was as liberal of words as he was sparing
of guineas. Instead of explaining himself in that clear, concise, and
lively manner, which alone could win the attention of a young mind new
to business, he spoke in the closet just as he spoke in the House of
Commons. When he had harangued two hours, he looked at his watch, as
he had been in the habit of looking at the clock opposite the Speaker’s
chair, apologised for the length of his discourse, and then went on for
an hour more. The members of the House of Commons can cough an orator
down, or can walk away to dinner; and they were by no means sparing in
the use of these privileges when Grenville was {63}on his legs. But the
poor young King had to endure all this eloquence with mournful civility.
To the end of his life he continued to talk with horror of Grenville’s

About this time took place one of the most singular events in Pitt’s
life. There was a certain Sir William Pynsent, a Somersetshire baronet
of Whig politics, who had been a Member of the House of Commons in
the days of Queen Anne, and had retired to rural privacy when the Tory
party, towards the end of her reign, obtained the ascendency in her
councils. His manners were eccentric. His morals lay under very odious
imputations. But his fidelity to his political opinions was unalterable.
During fifty years of seclusion he continued to brood over the
circumstances which had driven him from public life, the dismissal of
the Whigs, the peace of Utrecht, the desertion of our allies. He now
thought that he perceived a close analogy between the well remembered
events of his youth and the events which he had witnessed in extreme
old age; between the disgrace of Marlborough and the disgrace of Pitt;
between the elevation of Harley and the elevation of Bute; between the
treaty negotiated by St. John and the treaty negotiated by Bedford;
between the wrongs of the House of Austria in 1712 and the wrongs of the
House of Brandenburgh in 1762.

This fancy took such possession of the old man’s mind that he determined
to leave his whole property to Pitt. In this way Pitt unexpectedly came
into possession of near three thousand pounds a year. Nor could all the
malice of his enemies find any ground for reproach in the transaction.
Nobody could call him a legacy hunter. Nobody could accuse him of
seizing that to which others had a better claim.

For {64}he had never in his life seen Sir William; and Sir William had
left no relation so near as to be entitled to form any expectations
respecting the estate.

The fortunes of Pitt seemed to flourish; but his health was worse than
ever. We cannot find that, during the session which began in January
1760, he once appeared in parliament. He remained some months in
profound retirement at Hayes, his favourite villa, scarcely moving
except from his armchair to his bed, and from his bed to his armchair,
and often employing his wife as his amanuensis in his most confidential
correspondence. Some of his detractors whispered that his invisibility
was to be ascribed quite as much to affectation as to gout. In truth his
character, high and splendid as it was, wanted simplicity. With genius
which did not need the aid of stage tricks, and with a spirit which
should have been far above them, he had yet been, through life, in the
habit of practising them. It was, therefore, now surmised that, having
acquired all the consideration which could be derived from eloquence and
from great services to the state, he had determined not to make himself
cheap by often appearing in public, but, under the pretext of ill
health, to surround himself with mystery, to emerge only at long
intervals and on momentous occasions, and at other times to deliver
his oracles only to a few favoured votaries, who were suffered to make
pilgrimages to his shrine. If such were his object, it was for a time
fully attained. Never was the magic of his name so powerful, never was
he regarded by his country with such superstitious veneration, as during
this year of silence and seclusion.

While Pitt was thus absent from Parliament, Grenville proposed a measure
destined to produce a great revolution, {65}the effects of which will
long be felt by the whole human race. We speak of the act for imposing
stamp duties on the North American colonies. The plan was eminently
characteristic of its author. Every feature of the parent was found in
the child. A timid statesman would have shrunk from a step, of which
Walpole, at a time when the colonies were far less powerful, had
said--“He who shall propose it will be a much bolder man than I.” But
the nature of Grenville was insensible to fear. A statesman of large
views would have felt that to lay taxes at Westminster on New England
and New York, was a course opposed, not indeed to the letter of the
Statute Book, or to any decision contained in the Term Reports, but
to the principles of good government, and to the spirit of the
constitution. A statesman of large views would also have felt, that
ten times the estimated produce of the American stamps would have been
dearly purchased by even a transient quarrel between the mother country
and the colonies. But Grenville knew of no spirit of the constitution
distinct from the letter of the law, and of no national interests except
those which are expressed by pounds, shillings, and pence. That his
policy might give birth to deep discontents in all the provinces, from
the shore of the Great Lakes to the Mexican sea; that France and
Spain might seize the opportunity of revenge; that the empire might
be dismembered; that the debt, that debt with the amount of which he
perpetually reproached Pitt, might, in consequence of his own policy,
be doubled; these were possibilities which never occurred to that small,
sharp mind.

The Stamp Act will be remembered as long as the globe lasts. But, at
the time, it attracted much less notice in this country than another Act
which is now almost {66}utterly forgotten. The King fell ill, and was
thought to be in a dangerous state. His complaint, we believe, was the
same which, at a later period, repeatedly incapacitated him for the
performance of his regal functions. The heir apparent was only two years
old. It was clearly proper to make provision for the administration of
the government, in case of a minority. The discussions on this point
brought the quarrel between the court and the ministry to a crisis. The
King wished to be intrusted with the power of naming a regent by will.
The ministers feared, or affected to fear, that, if this power were
conceded to him, he would name the Princess Mother, nay, possibly the
Earl of Bute. They, therefore, insisted on introducing into the bill
words confining the King’s choice to the royal family. Having thus
excluded Bute, they urged the King to let them, in the most marked
manner, exclude the Princess Dowager also. They assured him that the
House of Commons would undoubtedly strike her name out, and by this
threat they wrung from him a reluctant assent. In a few days, it
appeared that the representations by which they had induced the King
to put this gross and public affront on his mother were unfounded. The
friends of the Princess in the House of Commons moved that her name
should be inserted. The ministers could not decently attack the parent
of their master. They hoped that the Opposition would come to their
help, and put on them a force to which they would gladly have yielded.
But the majority of the Opposition, though hating the Princess, hated
Grenville more, beheld his embarrassment with delight, and would do
nothing to extricate him from it. The Princess’s name was accordingly
placed in the list of persons qualified to hold the regency.

The {67}King’s resentment was now at the height. The present evil seemed
to him more intolerable than any other. Even the junta of Whig grandees
could not treat him worse than he had been treated by his present
ministers. In his distress, he poured out his whole heart to his uncle,
the Duke of Cumberland. The Duke was not a man to be loved; but he
was eminently a man to be trusted. He had an intrepid temper, a strong
understanding, and a high sense of honour and duty. As a general, he
belonged to a remarkable class of captains, captains, we mean, whose
fate it has been to lose almost all the battles which they have fought,
and yet to be reputed stout and skilful soldiers. Such captains were
Coligni and William the Third. We might, perhaps, add Marshal Soult
to the list. The bravery of the Duke of Cumberland was such as
distinguished him even among the princes of his brave house. The
indifference with which he rode about amidst musket balls and cannon
balls was not the highest proof of his fortitude. Hopeless maladies,
horrible surgical operations, far from unmanning him, did not even
discompose him. With courage, he had the virtues which are akin to
courage. He spoke the truth, was open in enmity and friendship, and
upright in all his dealings. But his nature was hard; and what seemed
to him justice was rarely tempered with mercy. He was, therefore, during
many years one of the most unpopular men in England. The severity with
which he had treated the rebels after the battle of Culloden, had gained
for him the name of the Butcher. His attempts to introduce into the army
of England, then in a most disorderly state, the rigorous discipline of
Potsdam, had excited still stronger disgust. Nothing was too bad to be
believed of him. Many honest people were {68}so absurd as to fancy that,
if he were left Regent during the minority of his nephews, there would
be another smothering in the Tower. These feelings, however, had passed
away. The Duke had been living, during some years, in retirement. The
English, full of animosity against the Scots, now blamed his Royal
Highness only for having left so many Camerons and Macphersons to be
made gaugers and customhouse officers. He was, therefore, at present,
a favourite with his countrymen, and especially with the inhabitants of

He had little reason to love the King, and had shown clearly, though not
obtrusively, his dislike of the system which had lately been pursued.
But he had high and almost romantic notions of the duty which, as a
prince of the blood, he owed to the head of his house. He determined
to extricate his nephew from bondage, and to effect a reconciliation
between the Whig party and the throne, on terms honourable to both.

In this mind he set off for Hayes, and was admitted to Pitt’s sick room;
for Pitt would not leave his chamber, and would not communicate with any
messenger of inferior dignity. And now began a long series of errors on
the part of the illustrious statesman, errors which involved his country
in difficulties and distresses more serious even than those from
which his genius had formerly rescued her. His language was haughty,
unreasonable, almost unintelligible. The only thing which could be
discerned through a cloud of vague and not very gracious phrases, was
that he would not at that moment take office. The truth, we believe,
was this. Lord Temple, who was Pitt’s evil genius, had just formed a
new scheme of politics. Hatred of Bute and {69}of the Princess had, it
should seem, taken entire possession of Temple’s soul. He had quarrelled
with his brother George, because George had been connected with Bute and
the Princess. Now that George appeared to be the enemy of Bute and
of the Princess, Temple was eager to bring about a general family
reconciliation. The three brothers, as Temple, Grenville, and Pitt, were
popularly called, might make a ministry, without leaning for aid either
on Bute or on the Whig connection. With such views, Temple used all his
influence to dissuade Pitt from acceding to the propositions of the Duke
of Cumberland. Pitt was not convinced. But Temple had an influence
over him such as no other person had ever possessed. They were very old
friends, very near relations. If Pitt’s talents and fame had been useful
to Temple, Temple’s purse had formerly, in times of great need, been
useful to Pitt. They had never been parted in politics. Twice they had
come into the cabinet together; twice they had left it together. Pitt
could not bear to think of taking office without his chief ally. Yet
he felt that he was doing wrong, that he was throwing away a great
opportunity of serving his country. The obscure and unconciliatory
style of the answers which he returned to the overtures of the Duke of
Cumberland, may be ascribed to the embarrassment and vexation of a mind
not at peace with itself. It is said that he mournfully exclaimed to

               “Extinxti te meque, soror, populumque, putresque

               Siclonios, urbemque tuam.”

The prediction was but too just.

Finding Pitt impracticable, the Duke of Cumberland advised the King to
submit to necessity, and to keep Grenville and the Bedfords. It was,
indeed, not a {70}time at which offices could safely be left vacant.
The unsettled state of the government had produced a general relaxation
through all the departments of the public service. Meetings, which at
another time would have been harmless, now turned to riots, and rapidly
rose almost to the dignity of rebellions. The Houses of Parliament were
blockaded by the Spitalfields weavers.

Bedford House was assailed on all sides by a furious rabble, and was
strongly garrisoned with horse and foot. Some people attributed these
disturbances to the friends of Bute, and some to the friends of Wilkes.
But, whatever might be the cause, the effect was general insecurity.
Under such circumstances the King had no choice. With bitter feelings of
mortification, he informed the ministers that he meant to retain them.

They answered by demanding from him a promise on his royal word never
more to consult Lord Bute.

The promise was given. They then demanded something more. Lord Bute’s
brother, Mr. Mackenzie, held a lucrative office in Scotland. Mr.
Mackenzie must be dismissed. The King replied that the office had been
given under very peculiar circumstances, and that he had promised never
to take it away while he lived. Grenville was obstinate; and the King,
with a very bad grace, yielded.

The session of Parliament was over. The triumph of the ministers was
complete. The King was almost as much a prisoner as Charles the First
had been, when in the Isle of Wight. Such were the fruits of the policy
which, only a few months before, was represented as having for ever
secured the throne against the dictation of insolent subjects.

His Majesty’s natural resentment showed itself in every {71}look and
word. In his extremity he looked wistfully towards that Whig connection,
once the object of his dread and hatred. The Duke of Devonshire, who had
been treated with such unjustifiable harshness, had lately died, and had
been succeeded by his son, who was still a boy. The King condescended to
express his regret for what had passed, and to invite the young Duke to
court. The noble youth came, attended by his uncles, and was received
with marked graciousness.

This and many other symptoms of the same kind irritated the ministers.
They had still in store for their sovereign an insult which would have
provoked his grandfather to kick them out of the room. Grenville and
Bedford demanded an audience of him, and read him a remonstrance of many
pages, which they had drawn up with great care. His Majesty was
accused of breaking his word, and of treating his advisers with
gross unfairness. The Princess was mentioned in language by no means
eulogistic. Hints were thrown out that Bute’s head was in danger. The
King was plainly told that he must not continue to show, as he had done,
that he disliked the situation in which he was placed, that he must
frown upon the Opposition, that he must carry it fair towards his
ministers in public. He several times interrupted the reading, by
declaring that he had ceased to hold any communication with Bute. But
the ministers, disregarding his denial, went on; and the King listened
in silence, almost choked by rage. When they ceased to read, he merely
made a gesture expressive of his wish to be left alone. He afterwards
owned that he thought he should have gone into a fit.

Driven to despair, he again had recourse to the Duke of {72}Cumberland;
and the Duke of Cumberland again had recourse to Pitt. Pitt was really
desirous to undertake the direction of affairs, and owned, with many
dutiful expressions, that the terms offered by the King were all that
any subject could desire. But Temple was impracticable; and Pitt, with
great regret, declared that he could not, without the concurrence of his
brother-in-law, undertake the administration.

The Duke now saw only one way of delivering his nephew. An
administration must be formed of the Whigs in opposition, without Pitt’s
help. The difficulties seemed almost insuperable. Death and desertion
had grievously thinned the ranks of the party lately supreme in the
state. Those among whom the Duke’s choice lay might be divided into two
classes, nun too old for important offices, and men who had never been
in any important office before. The cabinet must be composed of broken
invalids or of raw recruits.

This was an evil, yet not an unmixed evil. If the new Whig statesmen had
little experience in business and debate, they were, on the other
hand, pure from the taint of that political immorality which had deeply
infected their predecessors. Long prosperity had corrupted that great
party which had expelled the Stuarts, limited the prerogatives of
the Crown, and curbed the intolerance of the Hierarchy. Adversity had
already produced a salutary effect. On the dav of the accession of
George the Third, the ascendency of the Whig party terminated; and on
that day the purification of the Whig party began. The rising chiefs of
that party were men of a very different sort from Sandys and Wilmington,
from Sir William Yonge and Henry Fox. They were men worthy to have
charged by the side of Hampden {73}at Chalgrove, or to have exchanged
the last embrace with Russell on the scaffold in Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
They carried into politics the same high principles of virtue which
regulated their private dealings, nor would they stoop to promote even
the noblest and most salutary ends by means which honour and probity
condemn. Such men were Lord John Cavendish, Sir George Savile, and
others whom we hold in honour as the second founders of the Whig party,
as the restorers of its pristine health and energy after half a century
of degeneracy.

The chief of this respectable band was the Marquess of Rockingham, a man
of splendid fortune, excellent sense, and stainless character. He was
indeed nervous to such a degree that, to the very close of his life,
he never rose without great reluctance and embarrassment to address the
House of Lords. But, though not a great orator, he had in a high degree
some of the qualities of a statesman. He chose his friends well; and
he had, in an extraordinary degree, the art of attaching them to him by
ties of the most honourable kind. The cheerful fidelity with which they
adhered to him through many years of almost hopeless opposition was less
admirable than the disinterestedness and delicacy which they showed when
he rose to power.

We are inclined to think that the use and the abuse of party cannot be
better illustrated than by a parallel between two powerful connections
of that time, the Rockinghams and the Bedfords. The Rockingham party
was, in our view, exactly what a party should be. It consisted of men
bound together by common opinions, by common public objects, by mutual
esteem. That they desired to obtain, by honest and constitutional means,
the direction of affairs they openly avowed. {74}But, though often
invited to accept the hon-oui’s and emoluments of office, they steadily
refused to do so on any conditions inconsistent with their principles.
The Bedford party, as a party, had, as far as we can discover, no
principle whatever. Rigby and Sandwich wanted public money, and
thought that they should fetch a higher price jointly than singly. They
therefore acted in concert, and prevailed on a much more important and a
much better man than themselves to act with them.

It was to Rockingham that the Duke of Cumberland now had recourse.
The Marquess consented to take the treasury. Newcastle, so long the
recognized chief of the Whigs, could not well be excluded from the
ministry. He was appointed keeper of the privy seal. A very honest
clear-headed country gentleman, of the name of Dowdeswell, became
Chancellor of the Exchequer. General Conway, who had served under the
Duke of Cumberland, and was strongly attached to his royal highness, was
made Secretary of State, with the lead in the House of Commons. A great
Whig nobleman, in the prime of manhood, from whom much was at that time
expected, Augustus Duke of Grafton, was the other Secretary.

The oldest man living could remember no government so weak in oratorical
talents and in official experience. The general opinion was, that the
ministers might hold office during the recess, but that the first day
of debate in Parliament would be the last day of their power. Charles
Townshend was asked what he thought of the new administration. “It is,”
 said he, “mere lutestring; pretty summer wear. It will never do for the

At this conjuncture Lord Rockingham had the wisdom {75}to discern the
value, and secure the aid, of an ally, who, to eloquence surpassing
the eloquence of Pitt, and to industry which shamed the industry of
Grenville, united an amplitude of comprehension to which neither Pitt
nor Grenville could lay claim. A young Irishman had, some time before,
come over to push his fortune in London. He had written much for the
booksellers; but he was best known by a little treatise, in which the
style and reasoning of Bolingbroke were mimicked with exquisite
skill, and by a theory, of more ingenuity than soundness, touching
the pleasures which we receive from the objects of taste. He had also
attained a high reputation as a talker, and was regarded by the men
of letters who supped together at the Turk’s Head as the only match in
conversation for Dr. Johnson. He now became private secretary to Lord
Rockingham, and was brought into Parliament by his patron’s influence.
These arrangements, indeed, were not made without some difficulty. The
Duke of Newcastle, who was always meddling and chattering, adjured the
first lord of the treasury to be on his guard against this adventurer,
whose real name was O’Rourke, and whom his grace knew to be a wild
Irishman, a Jacobite, a Papist, a concealed Jesuit. Lord Rockingham
treated the calumny as it deserved; and the Whig party was strengthened
and adorned by the accession of Edmund Burke.

The party, indeed, stood in need of accessions; for it sustained about
this time an almost irreparable loss. The Duke of Cumberland had formed
the government, and was its main support. His exalted rank and great
name in some degree balanced the fame of Pitt. As mediator between the
Whigs and the Court, he held a place {76}which no other person could
fill. The strength of his character supplied that which was the chief
defect of the new ministry. Conway, in particular, who, with excellent
intentions and respectable talents, was the most dependent, and
irresolute of human bennes, drew from the counsels of that masculine
mind a determination not his own. Before the meeting of Parliament the
Duke suddenly died. His death was generally regarded as the signal of
great troubles, and on this account, as well as from respect for his
personal qualities, was greatly lamented. It was remarked that the
mourning in London was the most general ever known, and wars both deeper
and longer than the Gazette had prescribed.

In the mean time, every mail from America brought alarming tidings.
The crop which Grenville had sown his successors had now to reap. The
colonies were in a state bordering on rebellion. The stamps were burned.
The revenue officers were tarred and feathered. All traffic between
the discontented provinces and the mother country was interrupted.
The Exchange of London was in dismay. Half the firms of Bristol and
Liverpool were threatened with bankruptcy. In Leeds, Manchester,
Nottingham, it was said that three artisans out of every ten had been
turned adrift. Civil war seemed to be at hand; and it could not be
doubted that, if once the British nation were divided against itself,
France and Spain would soon take part in the quarrel.

Three courses were open to the ministers. The first was to enforce
the Stamp Act by the sword. This was the course on which the King, and
Grenville, whom the King hated beyond all living men, were alike bent.
The natures of both were arbitrary and stubborn. {77}They resembled each
other so much that they could never be friends; but they resembled
each other also so much that they saw almost all important practical
questions in the same point of view. Neither of them would bear to be
governed by the other; but they were perfectly agreed as to the best way
of governing the people.

Another course was that which Pitt recommended. He held that the British
Parliament was not constitutionally competent to pass a law for taxing
the colonies. He therefore considered the Stamp Act as a nullity, as
a document of no more validity than Charles’s writ of shipmoney, or
James’s proclamation dispensing with the penal laws. This doctrine seems
to us, we must own, to be altogether untenable.

Between these extreme courses lay a third way. The opinion of the most
judicious and temperate statesmen of those times was that the British
constitution had set no limit whatever to the legislative power of
the British King, Lords, and Commons, over the whole British Empire.
Parliament, they held, was legally competent to tax America, as
Parliament was legally competent to commit any other act of folly or
wickedness, to confiscate the property of all the merchants in Lombard
Street, or to attaint any man in the kingdom of high treason, without
examining witnesses against him, or hearing him in his own defence. The
most atrocious act of confiscation or of attainder is just as valid an
act as the Toleration Act or the Habeas Corpus Act. But from acts
of confiscation and acts of attainder lawgivers are bound, by every
obligation of morality, systematically to refrain. In the same manner
ought the British legislature to refrain from taxing the American
colonies. The Stamp Act {78}was indefensible, not because it was beyond
the constitutional competence of Parliament, but because it was unjust
and impolitic, sterile of revenue, and fertile of discontents. These
sound doctrines were adopted by Lord Rockingham and his colleagues, and
were, during a long course of years, inculcated by Burke, in orations,
some of which will last as long as the English language.

The winter came; the Parliament met; and the state of the colonies
instantly became the subject of fierce contention. Pitt, whose health
had been somewhat restored by the waters of Bath, reappeared in the
House of Commons, and, with ardent and pathetic eloquence, not only
condemned the Stamp Act, but applauded the resistance of Massachusetts
and Virginia, and vehemently maintained, in defiance, we must say,
of all reason and of all authority, that, according to the British
constitution, the supreme legislative power does not include the power
to tax. The language of Grenville, on the other hand, was such as
Strafford might have used at the council table of Charles the First,
when news came of the resistance to the liturgy at Edinburgh. The
colonists were traitors; those who excused them were little better.
Frigates, mortars, bayonets, sabres, were the proper remedies for such

The ministers occupied an intermediate position; they proposed to
declare that the legislative authority of the British Parliament over
the whole Empire was in all cases supreme; and they proposed, at the
same time, to repeal the Stamp Act. To the former measure Pitt objected;
but it was carried with scarcely a dissentient voice. The repeal of
the Stamp Act Pitt strongly supported; but against the Government was
arrayed {79}a formidable assemblage of opponents. Grenville and the
Bedfords were furious. Temple, who had now allied himself closely with
his brother, and separated himself from Pitt, was no despicable enemy.
This, however, was not the worst. The ministry was without its natural
strength. It had to struggle, not only against its avowed enemies, but
against the insidious hostility of the King, and of a set of persons
who, about this time, began to be designated as the King’s friends.

The character of this faction has been drawn by Burke with even more
than his usual force and vivacity. Those who know how strongly, through
his whole life, his judgment was biassed by his passions, may not
unnaturally suspect that he has left us rather a caricature than a
likeness; and yet there is scarcely, in the whole portrait, a single
touch of which the fidelity is not proved by facts of unquestionable

The public generally regarded the King’s friends as a body of which Bute
was the directing soul. It was to no purpose that the Earl professed to
have done with politics, that he absented himself year after year from
the levee and the drawing-room, that he went to the north, that he went
to Rome. The notion that, in some inexplicable manner, he dictated
all the measures of the court, was fixed in the minds, not only of
the multitude, but of some who had good opportunities of obtaining
information, and who ought to have been superior to vulgar prejudices.
Our own belief is that these suspicions were unfounded, and that he
ceased to have any communication with the King on political matters some
time before the dismissal of George Grenville. The supposition of
Bute’s influence is, indeed, by {80}no means necessary to explain
the phænomena. The King in 1765, was no longer the ignorant and
inexperienced boy who had, in 1760, been managed by his mother and his
Groom of the Stole. He had, during several years, observed the struggles
of parties, and conferred daily on high questions of state with able and
experienced politicians. His way of life had developed his understanding
and character. He was now no longer a puppet, but had very decided
opinions both of men and things. Nothing could be more natural than that
he should have high notions of his own prerogatives, should be impatient
of opposition, and should wish all public men to be detached from each
other and dependent on himself alone; nor could anything be more natural
than that, in the state in which the political world then was, he should
find instruments fit for his purposes.

Thus sprang into existence and into note a reptile species of
politicians never before and never since known in our country. These
men disclaimed all political ties, except those which bound them to the
throne. They were willing to coalesce with any party, to abandon any
party, to undermine any party, to assault any party, at a moment’s
notice. To them, all administrations, and all oppositions were the same.
They regarded Bute, Grenville, Rockingham, Pitt, without one sentiment
either of predilection or of aversion. They were the Kings friends. It
is to be observed that this friendship implied no personal intimacy.
These people had never lived with their master as Dodington at one time
lived with his father, or as Sheridan afterwards lived with his son.
They never hunted with him in the morning, or played cards with him in
the evening, never shared his mutton or walked {81}with him among his
turnips. Only one or two of them ever saw his face, except on public
days. The whole band, however, always had early and accurate information
as to his personal inclinations. These people were never high in the
administration. They were generally to be found in places of much
emolument, little labour, and no responsibility; and these places they
continued to occupy securely while the cabinet was six or seven times
reconstructed. Their peculiar business was not to support the ministry
against the opposition, but to support the King against the ministry.
Whenever his Majesty was induced to give a reluctant assent to the
introduction of some bill which his constitutional advisers regarded
as necessary, his friends in the House of Commons were sure to speak
against it, to vote against it, to throw in its way every obstruction
compatible with the forms of Parliament. If his Majesty found it
necessary to admit into his closet a Secretary of State or a First
Lord of the Treasury whom he disliked, his friends were sure to miss no
opportunity of thwarting and humbling the obnoxious minister. In return
for these services, the King covered them with his protection. It was
to no purpose that his responsible servants complained to him that they
were daily betrayed and impeded by men who were eating the bread of
the government. He sometimes justified the offenders, sometimes excused
them, sometimes owned that they were to blame, but said that he must
take time to consider whether he could part with them. He never would
turn them out; and, while every thing else in the state was constantly
changing, these sycophants seemed to have a life estate in their

It {82}was well known to the King’s friends that, though his Majesty had
consented to the repeal of Stamp Aet, he had consented with a very bad
grace, and that though he had eagerly welcomed the Whigs, when, in his
extreme need and at his earnest entreaty, they had undertaken to free
him from an insupportable yoke, he had by no means got over his early
prejudices against his deliverers. The ministers soon found that,
while they were encountered in front by the whole force of a strong
opposition, their rear was assailed by a large body of those whom they
had regarded as auxiliaries.

Nevertheless, Lord Rockingham and his adherents went on resolutely with
the bill for repealing the Stamp Act. They had on their side all the
manufacturing and commercial interests of the realm. In the debates the
government was powerfully supported. Two great orators and statesmen,
belonging to two different generations, repeatedly put forth all their
powers in defence of the bill. The House of Commons heard Pitt for the
last time, and Burke for the first time, and was in doubt to which of
them the palm of eloquence should be assigned. It was indeed a splendid
sunset and a splendid dawn.

For a time the event seemed doubtful. In several divisions the ministers
were hard pressed. On one occasion, not less than twelve of the King’s
friends, all men in office, voted against the government. It was to no
purpose that Lord Rockingham remonstrated with the King. His Majesty
confessed that there was ground for complaint, but hoped that gentle
means would bring the mutineers to a better mind. If they persisted in
their misconduct, he would dismiss them.

At length the decisive day arrived. The gallery, the lobby, the Court of
Requests, the staircases, were crowded {83}with merchants from all the
great ports of the island. The debate lasted till long after midnight.
On the division the ministers had a great majority. The dread of civil
war, and the outcry of all the trading towns of the kingdom, had been
too strong for the combined strength of the court and the opposition.

It was in the first dim twilight of a February morning that the doors
were thrown open, and that the chiefs of the hostile parties showed
themselves to the multitude. Conway was received with loud applause.
But, when Pitt appeared, all eyes were fixed on him alone. All hats were
in the air. Loud and long huzzas accompanied him to his chair, and a
train of admirers escorted him all the way to his home. Then came forth
Grenville. As soon as he was recognised, a storm of hisses and curses
broke forth. He turned fiercely on the crowd, and caught one man by the
throat. The bystanders were in great alarm. If a scuffle began, none
could say how it might end. Fortunately the person who had been collared
only said, “If I may not hiss, sir, I hope I may laugh,” and laughed in
Grenville’s face.

The majority had been so decisive, that all the opponents of the
ministry, save one, were disposed to let the bill pass without any
further contention. But solicitation and expostulation were thrown away
on Grenville.

His indomitable spirit rose up stronger and stronger under the load of
public hatred. He fought out the battle obstinately to the end. On the
last reading he had a sharp altercation with his brother-in-law, the
last of their many sharp altercations. Pitt thundered in his loftiest
tones against the man who had wished to dip the ermine of a British King
in the blood of the British people. Grenville replied with his wonted
intrepidity {84}and asperity. “If the tax,”’ he said, “were still to
be laid on, I would lay it on. For the evils which it may produce my
accuser is answerable. His profusion made it necessary. His declarations
against the constitutional powers of Kings, Lords, and Commons, have
made it doubly necessary. I do not envy him the huzza. I glory in the
hiss. If it were to be done again, I would do it.”

The repeal of the Stamp Act was the chief measure of Lord Rockingham’s
government. But that government is entitled to the praise of having
put a stop to two oppressive practices, which, in Wilkes’s case, had
attracted the notice and excited the just indignation of the public.
The House of Commons was induced by the ministers to pass a resolution
condemning the use of general warrants, and another resolution
condemning the seizure of papers in cases of libel.

It must be added, to the lasting honour of Lord Rockingham, that his
administration was the first which, during a long course of years,
had the courage and the virtue to refrain from bribing members of
Parliament. His enemies accused him and his friends of weakness, of
haughtiness, of party spirit; but calumny itself never dared to couple
his name with corruption.

Unhappily his government, though one of the best that has ever existed
in our country, was also one of the weakest. The King’s friends assailed
and obstructed the ministers at every turn. To appeal to the King was
only to draw forth new promises and new evasions. His Majesty was sure
that there must be some misunderstanding. Lord Rockingham had better
speak to the gentlemen. They should be dismissed on the next fault. The
next fault was soon committed, and his Majesty {85}still continued to
shuffle. It was too bad. It was quite abominable; but it mattered less
as the prorogation was at hand. He would give the delinquents one more
chance. If they did not alter their conduct next session, he should not
have one word to say for them. He had already resolved that, long before
the commencement of the next session, Lord Rockingham should cease to be

We have now come to a part of our story which, admiring as we do the
genius and the many noble qualities of Pitt, we cannot relate without
much pain. We believe that, at this conjuncture, he had it in his power
to give the victory either to the Whigs or to the King’s friends. If he
had allied himself closely with Lord Rockingham, what could the court
have done? There would have been only one alternative, the Whigs or
Grenville; and there conld be no doubt what the King’s choice woidd be.
He still remembered, as well he might, with the uttermost bitterness,
the thraldom from which his uncle had freed him, and said about this
time, with great vehemence, that he would sooner see the Devil come into
his closet than Grenville.

And what was there to prevent Pitt from allying himself with Lord
Rockingham? On all the most important questions their views were the
same. They had agreed in condemning the peace, the Stamp Act, the
general warrant, the seizure of papers. The points on which they
differed were few and unimportant. In integrity, in disinterestedness,
in hatred of corruption, they resembled each other. Their personal
interests could not clash. They sat in different Houses, and Pitt had
always declared that nothing should induce him to be first lord of the

If the opportunity of forming a coalition beneficial to {86}the state,
and honourable to all concerned, was suffered to escape, the fault
was not with the Whig ministers. They behaved towards Pitt with an
obsequiousness which, had it not been the effect of sincere admiration
and of anxiety for the public interests, might have been justly called
servile. They repeatedly gave him to understand that, if he chose to
join their ranks, they were ready to receive him, not as an associate,
but as a leader. They had proved their respect for him by bestowing a
peerage on the person who, at that time, enjoyed the largest share of
his confidence, Chief Justice Pratt. What then was there to divide Pitt
from the Whigs? What, on the other hand, was there in common between him
and the King’s friends, that he should lend himself to their purposes,
he who had never owed any thing to flattery or intrigue, he whose
eloquence and independent spirit had overawed two generations of slaves
and jobbers, he who had twice been forced by the enthusiasm of an
admiring nation on a reluctant Prince?

Unhappily the court had gained Pitt, not, it is true, by those ignoble
means which were employed when such men as Rigby and Wedderburn were
to be won, but by allurements suited to a nature noble even in its
aberrations. The King set himself to seduce the one man who could turn
the Whigs out without letting Grenville in. Praise, caresses, promises,
were lavished on the idol of the nation. He, and he alone, could put an
end to fiction, could bid defiance to all the powerful connections
in the land united, Whigs and Tories, Rockinghams, Bedfords, and
Grenvilles. These blandishments produced a great effect. For though
Pitt’s spirit was high and manly, though his eloquence was often exerted
with formidable effect against the court, {87}and though his theory of
government had been learned in the school of Locke and Sydney, he had
always regarded the person of the sovereign with profound veneration.
As soon as he was brought face to face with royalty, his imagination and
sensibility were too strong for his principles. His Whiggism thawed
and disappeared; and he became, for the time, a Tory of the old Ormond
pattern. Nor was he by any means unwilling to assist in the work of
dissolving all political connections. His own weight in the state was
wholly independent of such connections. He was therefore inclined to
look on them with dislike, and made far too little distinction between
gangs of knaves associated for the mere purpose of robbing the public,
and confederacies of honourable men for the promotion of great public
objects. Nor had he the sagacity to perceive that the strenuous efforts
which he made to annihilate all parties tended only to establish the
ascendency of one party, and that the basest and most hateful of all.

It may be doubted whether he would have been thus misled, if his mind
had been in full health and vigour. But the truth is that he had for
some time been in an unnatural state of excitement. No suspicion of
this sort had yet got abroad. His eloquence had never shone with more
splendour than during the recent debates. But people afterwards called
to mind many things which ought to have roused their apprehensions. His
habits were gradually becoming more and more eccentric. A horror of all
loud sounds, such as is said to have been one of the many oddities of
Wallenstein, grew upon him. Though the most affectionate of fathers, he
could not at this time bear to hear the voices of his own children, and
laid out great {88}sums at Hayes in buying up houses contiguous to his
own, merely that he might have no neighbours to disturb him with their
noise. He then sold Hayes, and took possession of a villa at Hampstead,
where he again began to purchase houses to right and left. In expense,
indeed, he vied, during this part of his life, with the wealthiest of
the conquerors of Bengal and Tanjore. At Burton Pynsent, he ordered a
great extent of ground to be planted with cedars. Cedars enough for
the purpose were not to be found in Somersetshire. They were therefore
collected in London, and sent down by land carriage. Relays of labourers
were hired; and the work went on all night by torchlight. No man could
be more abstemious than Pitt: yet the profusion of his kitchen was a
wonder even to epicures. Several dinners were always dressing; for his
appetite was capricious and fanciful; and at whatever moment he felt
inclined to eat, he expected a meal to be instantly on the table. Other
circumstances might be mentioned, such as separately are of little
moment, but such as, when taken together, and when viewed in connection
with the strange events which followed, justify us in believing that his
mind was already in a morbid state.

Soon after the close of the session of Parliament, Lord Rockingham
received his dismissal. He retired, accompanied by a firm body of
friends, whose consistency and uprightness enmity itself was forced to
admit. None of them had asked or obtained any pension or any sinecure,
either in possession or in reversion. Such disinterestedness was then
rare among politicians. Their chief, though not a man of brilliant
talents, had won for himself an honourable fame, which he kept pure
to the last. He had, in spite of difficulties which seemed {89}almost
insurmountable, removed great abuses and averted a civil war. Sixteen
years later, in a dark and terrible day, he was again called upon to
save the state, brought to the very brink of ruin by the same perfidy
and obstinacy which had embarrassed, and at length overthrown, his first

Pitt was planting in Somersetshire when he was summoned to court by a
letter written by the royal hand. He instantly hastened to London. The
irritability of his mind and body were increased by the rapidity
with which he travelled; and when he reached his journey’s end he was
suffering from fever. Ill as he was, he saw the King at Richmond, and
undertook to form an administration.

Pitt was scarcely in the state in which a man should be who has to
conduct delicate and arduous negotiations. In his letters to his wife,
he complained that the conferences in which it was necessary for him
to bear a part heated his blood and accelerated his pulse. From other
sources of information we learn, that his language, even to those whose
co-operation he wished to engage, was strangely peremptory and despotic.
Some of his notes written at this time have been preserved, and are in a
style which Lewis the Fourteenth would have been too well bred to employ
in addressing any French gentleman.

In the attempt to dissolve all parties, Pitt met with some difficulties.
Some Whigs, whom the court would gladly have detached from Lord
Rockingham, rejected all offers. The Bedfords were perfectly willing to
break with Grenville; but Pitt would not come up to their terms. Temple,
whom Pitt at first meant to place at the head of the treasury, proved
intractable. A coldness indeed had, during some months, been fast
growing {90}between the brothers-in-law, so long and so closely allied
in politics. Pitt was angry with Temple for opposing the repeal of the
Stamp Act. Temple was angry with Pitt for refusing to accede to that
family league which was now the favorite plan at Stowe. At length the
Earl proposed an equal partition of power and patronage, and offered, on
this condition, to give up his brother George. Pitt thought the
demand exorbitant, and positively refused compliance. A bitter quarrel
followed. Each of the kinsmen was true to his character. Temple’s
soul festered with spite, and Pitt’s swelled into contempt. Temple
represented Pitt as the most odious of hypocrites and traitors. Pitt
held a different and perhaps a more provoking tone. Temple was a good
sort of man enough, whose single title to distinction was, that he had
a large garden, with a large piece of water, and a great many pavilions
and summer-houses. To his fortunate connection with a great, orator and
statesman he was indebted for an importance in the state which his own
talents could never have gained for him. That importance had turned
his head. He had begun to fancy that he could form administrations, and
govern empires. It was piteous to see a well meaning man under such a

In spite of all these difficulties, a ministry was made such as the
King wished to see, a ministry in which all his Majesty’s friends were
comfortably accommodated, and which, with the exception of his Majesty’s
friends, contained no four persons who had ever in their lives been in
the habit of acting together. Men who had never concurred in a single
vote found themselves seated at the same board. The office of paymaster
was divided between two persons who had never {91}exchanged a word. Most
of the chief posts were filled either by personal adherents of Pitt, or
by members of the late ministry, who had been induced to remain in place
after the dismissal of Lord Rockingham. To the former class belonged
Pratt, now Lord Camden, who accepted the great seal, and Lord Shelburne,
who was made one of the Secretaries of State. To the latter class
belonged the Duke of Grafton, who became First Lord of the Treasury,
and Conway, who kept his old position both in the government and in the
House of Commons. Charles Townshend, who had belonged to every party,
and cared for none, was Chancellor of the Exchequer. Pitt himself was
declared prime minister, but refused to take any laborious office. He
was created Earl of Chatham, and the privy seal was delivered to him.

It is scarcely necessary to say, that the failure, the complete and
disgraceful failure, of this arrangement, is not to be ascribed to any
want of capacity in the persons whom we have named. None of them was
deficient in abilities; and four of them, Pitt himself, Shelburne,
Camden, and Townshend, were men of high intellectual eminence. The fault
was not in the materials, but in the principle on which the materials
were put together. Pitt had mixed up these conflicting elements, in
the full confidence that he should be able to keep them all in perfect
subordination to himself, and in perfect harmony with each other. We
shall soon see how the experiment succeeded.

On the very day on which the new prime minister kissed hands, three
fourths of that popularity which he had long enjoyed without a rival,
and to which he owed the greater part of his authority, departed from
him. A violent outcry was raised, not against that part {92}of his
conduct which really deserved severe condemnation, but against a step
in which we can see nothing to censure. His acceptance of a peerage
produced a general burst of indignation. Yet surely no peerage had ever
been better earned; nor was there ever a statesman who more needed the
repose of the Upper House. Pitt was now growing old. He was much older
in constitution than in years. It was with imminent risk to his
life that he had, on some important occasions, attended his duty in
Parliament. During the session of 1764, he had not been able to take
part in a single debate. It was impossible that he should go through the
nightly labour of conducting the business of the government in the House
of Commons. His wish to be transferred, under such circumstances, to a
less busy and a less turbulent assembly,-was natural and reasonable. The
nation, however, overlooked all these considerations. Those who had most
loved and honoured the great Commoner were loudest in invective against
the new made Lord. London had hitherto been true to him through every
vicissitude. When the citizens learned that he had been sent for from
Somersetshire, that he had been closeted with the King at Richmond, and
that he was to be first minister, they had been in transports of joy.
Preparations were made for a grand entertainment and for a general
illumination. The lamps had actually been placed round the monument,
when the Gazette announced that the object of all this enthusiasm was
an Earl. Instantly the feast was countermanded. The lamps were taken
down. The newspapers raised the roar of obloquy. Pamphlets, made up of
calumny and scurrility, filled the shops of all the booksellers; and of
those pamphlets, the most galling were written under {93}the direction
of the malignant Temple. It was now the fashion to compare the two
Williams, William Pulteney and William Pitt. Both, it was said, had, by
eloquence and simulated patriotism, acquired a great ascendency in the
House of Commons and in the country. Both had been intrusted with the
office of reforming the government. Both had, when at the height of
power and popularity, been seduced by the splendour of the coronet. Both
had been made earls, and both had at once become objects of aversion
and scorn to the nation which a few hours before had regarded them with
affection and veneration.

The clamour against Pitt appears to have had a serious effect on the
foreign relations of the country. His name had till now acted like
a spell at Versailles and Saint Ildefonso. English travellers on the
Continent had remarked that nothing more was necessary to silence
a whole room full of boasting Frenchmen than to drop a hint of the
probability that Mr. Pitt would return to power. In an instant there was
deep silence: all shoulders rose, and all faces were lengthened. Now,
unhappily, every foreign court, in learning that he was recalled to
office, learned also that he no longer possessed the hearts of his
countrymen. Ceasing to be loved at home, he ceased to be feared abroad.
The name of Pitt had been a charmed name. Our envoys tried in vain to
conjure with the name of Chatham.

The difficulties which beset Chatham were daily increased by the
despotic manner in which he treated all around him. Lord Rockingham had,
at the time of the change of ministry, acted with great moderation, had
expressed a hope that the new government would act on the principles
of the late government, and had even interfered to prevent many of his
friends from quitting {94}office. Thus Saunders and Keppel, two
naval commanders of great eminence, had been induced to remain at the
Admiralty, where their services were much needed. The Duke of Portland
was still Lord Chamberlain, and Lord Besborough Postmaster. But within a
quarter of a year, Lord Chatham had so deeply affronted these men,
that they all retired in disgust. In truth, his tone, submissive in the
closet, was at this time insupportably tyrannical in the cabinet. His
colleagues were merely his clerks for naval, financial, and diplomatic
business. Conway, meek as he was, was on one occasion provoked into
declaring that such language as Lord Chatham’s had never been heard west
of Constantinople, and was with difficulty prevented by Horace Walpole
from resigning, and rejoining the standard of Lord Rockingham.

The breach which had been made in the government by the defection of
so many of the Rockinghams, Chatham hoped to supply by the help of the
Bedfords. But with the Bedfords he could not deal as he had dealt with
other parties. It was to no purpose that he bade high for one or two
members of the faction, in the hope of detaching them from the rest.
They were to be had; but they were to be had only in the lot. There was
indeed for a moment some wavering and some disputing among them. But
at length the counsels of the shrewd and resolute Rigby prevailed. They
determined to stand firmly together, and plainly intimated to Chatham
that he must take them all, or that he should get none of them. The
event proved that they were wiser in their generation than any other
connection in the state. In a few months they were able to dictate their
own terms.

The most important public measure of Lord Chatham’s {95}administration
was his celebrated interference with the corn trade. The harvest had
been bad; the price of food was high; and he thought it necessary
to take on himself the responsibility of laying an embargo on the
exportation of grain. When Parliament met, this proceeding was attacked
by the opposition as unconstitutional, and defended by the ministers as
indispensably necessary. At last an act was passed to indemnify all who
had been concerned in the embargo.

The first words uttered by Chatham, in the House of Lords, were in
defence of his conduct on this occasion. He spoke with a calmness,
sobriety, and dignity, well suited to the audience which he was
addressing. A subsequent speech which he made on the same subject was
less successful. He bade defiance to aristocratical connections, with a
superciliousness to which the Peers were not accustomed, and with tones
and gestures better suited to a large and stormy assembly than to the
body of which he was now a member. A short altercation followed, and he
was told very plainly that he should not be suffered to browbeat the old
nobility of England.

It gradually became clearer and clearer that he was in a distempered
state of mind. His attention had been drawn to the territorial
acquisitions of the East India Company, and he determined to bring the
whole of that great subject before Parliament. He would not, however,
confer on the subject with any of his colleagues. It was in vain that
Conway, who was charged with the conduct of business in the House of
Commons, and Charles Townshend, who was responsible for the direction
of the finances, begged for some glimpse of light as to what was in

Chatham’s {96}answers were sullen and mysterious. He must decline any
discussion with them; he did not want their assistance; he had fixed
on a person to take charge of his measure in the House of Commons. This
person was a member who was not connected with the government, and
who neither had, nor deserved to have, the ear of the House, a noisy,
purse-proud, illiterate demagogue, whose Cockney English and scraps of
mispronounced Latin were the jest of the newspapers, Alderman Beckford.
It may well be supposed that these strange proceedings produced a
ferment through the whole political world. The city was in commotion.
The East India Company invoked the faith of charters. Burke thundered
against the minis-tors. The ministers looked at each other, and knew
not what to say. In the midst of the confusion, Lord Chatham proclaimed
himself gouty, and retired to Bath. It was announced, after some time,
that he was better, that he would shortly return, that he would soon
put every thing in order. A day was fixed for his arrival in London. But
when he reached the Castle inn at Marlborough, he stopped, shut himself
up in his room, and remained there some weeks. Every body who travelled
that road was amazed by the number of his attendants. Footmen and
grooms, dressed in his family livery, filled the whole inn, though one
of the largest in England, and Swarmed in the streets of the little
town. The truth was, that the invalid had insisted that, during his
stay, all the waiters and stable-boys of the Castle should wear his

His colleagues were in despair. The Duke of Grafton proposed to go down
to Marlborough in order to consult the oracle. But he was informed that
Lord Chatham must decline all conversation on business.

In {97}the mean time, all the parties which were out of office,
Bedfords, Grenvilles, and Rockinghams, joined to oppose the distracted
government on the vote for the land tax. They were reinforced by almost
all the county members, and had a considerable majority. This was the
first time that a ministry had been beaten on an important division
in the House of Commons since the fall of Sir Robert Walpole. The
administration, thus furiously assailed from without, was torn by
internal dissensions. It had been formed on no principle whatever.
From the very first, nothing but Chatham’s authority had prevented the
hostile contingents which made up his ranks from going to blows with
each other. That authority was now withdrawn, and every thing was in
commotion. Conway, a brave soldier, but in civil affairs the most timid
and irresolute of men, afraid of disobliging the King, afraid of being
abused in the newspapers, afraid of being thought factious if he went
out, afraid of being thought interested if he stayed in, afraid of every
thing, and afraid of being known to be afraid of any thing, was beaten
backwards and forwards like a shuttlecock between Horace Walpole who
wished to make him prime minister, and Lord John Cavendish who wished
to draw him into opposition. Charles Townshend, a man of splendid
eloquence, of lax principles, and of boundless vanity and presumption,
would submit to no control. The full extent of his parts, of his
ambition, and of his arrogance, had not yet been made manifest; for he
had always quailed before the genius and the lofty character of Pitt.
But now that Pitt had quitted the House of Commons, and seemed to have
abdicated the part of chief minister, Townshend broke loose from all

While {98}things were in this state, Chatnam at length returned to
London. He might as well have remained at Marlborough. He would see
nobody. He would give no opinion on any public matter. The Duke of
Grafton begged piteously for an interview, for an hour, for half an
hour, for five minutes. The answer was, that it was impossible. The King
himself repeatedly condescended to expostulate and implore. “Your duty,”
 he wrote, “your own honour, require you to make an effort.” The answers
to these appeals were commonly written in Lady Chatham’s hand, from her
lord’s dictation; for he had not energy even to use a pen. He flings
himself at the King’s feet. He is penetrated by the royal goodness so
signally shown to the most unhappy of men. He implores a little more
indulgence. He cannot as yet transact business. He cannot see his
colleagues. Least of all can he bear the excitement of an interview with

Some were half inclined to suspect that he was, to use a military
phrase, malingering. He had made, they said, a great blunder, and
had found it out. His immense popularity, his high reputation for
statesmanship, were gone for ever. Intoxicated by pride, he had
undertaken a task beyond his abilities. He now saw nothing before him
but distresses and humiliations; and he had therefore simulated illness,
in order to escape from vexations which he had not fortitude to meet.
This suspicion, though it derived some colour from that weakness which
was the most striking blemish of his character, was certainly unfounded.
His mind, before he became first minister, had been, as we have said,
in an unsound state; and physical and moral causes now concurred to make
the derangement of his faculties complete. The gout, which had been the
torment {99}of his whole life, had been suppressed by strong remedies.
For the first time since he was a boy at Oxford, he had passed several
months without a twinge. But his hand and foot had been relieved at the
expense of his nerves. He became melancholy, fanciful, irritable. The
embarrassing state of public affairs, the grave responsibility which lay
on him, the consciousness of his errors, the disputes of his colleagues,
the savage clamours raised by his detractors, bewildered his enfeebled
mind. One thing alone, he said, could save him. He must repurchase
Hayes. The unwilling consent of the new occupant was extorted by Lady
Chatham’s entreaties and tears; and her lord was somewhat easier. But
if business were mentioned to him, he, once the proudest and boldest of
mankind, behaved like a hysterical girl, trembled from head to foot, and
burst into a flood of tears.

His colleagues for a time continued to entertain the expectation that
his health would soon be restored, and that he would emerge from his
retirement. But month followed month, and still he remained hidden
in mysterious seclusion, and sunk, as far as they could learn, in the
deepest dejection of spirits. They at length ceased to hope or to fear
any thing from him; and though he was still nominally Prime Minister,
took without scruple steps which they knew to be diametrically opposed
to all his opinions and feelings, allied themselves with those whom he
had proscribed, disgraced those whom he most esteemed, and laid taxes
on the colonies, in the face of the strong declarations which he had
recently made.

When he had passed about a year and three quarters in gloomy privacy,
the King received a few lines in Lady Chatham’s hand. They contained a
request, dictated {100}by her lord, that he might be permitted to resign
the Privy Seal. After some civil show of reluctance, the resignation was
accepted. Indeed Chatham was, by this time, almost as much forgotten as
if he had already been lying in Westminster Abbey.

At length the clouds which had gathered over his mind broke and passed
away, his gout returned, and freed him from a more cruel malady. His
nerves were newly braced. His spirits became buoyant. He woke as from
a sickly dream. It was a strange recovery. Men had been in the habit of
talking of him as of one dead, and, when he first showed himself at the
King’s levee, started as if they had seen a ghost. It was more than two
years and a half since he had appeared in public.

He, too, had cause for wonder. The world which he now entered was not
the world which he had quitted. The administration which he had formed
had never been, at any one moment, entirely changed. But there had been
so many losses and so many accessions, that he could scarcely recognise
his own work. Charles Townshend was dead. Lord Shelburne had been
dismissed. Conway had sunk into utter insignificance. The Duke of
Grafton had fallen into the hands of the Bedfords. The Bedfords had
deserted Grenville, had made their peace with the King and the King’s
friends, and had been admitted to office. Lord North was Chancellor of
the Exchequer, and was rising fast in importance. Corsica had been given
up to France without a struggle. The disputes with the American colonies
had been revived. A general election had taken place. Wilkes had
returned from exile, and, outlaw as he was, had been chosen knight of
the shire for Middlesex. The multitude was on his side. {101}The Court
was obstinately bent on ruining him, and was prepared to shake the very
foundations of the constitution for the sake of a paltry revenge. The
House of Commons, assuming to itself an authority which of right belongs
only to the whole legislature, had declared Wilkes incapable of sitting
in Parliament. Nor had it been thought sufficient to keep him out.
Another must be brought in. Since the freeholders of Middlesex had
obstinately refused to choose a member acceptable to the Court, the
House had chosen a member for them. This was not the only instance,
perhaps not the most disgraceful instance, of the inveterate malignity
of the Court. Exasperated by the steady opposition of the Rockingham
party, the King’s friends had tried to rob a distinguished Whig nobleman
of his private estate, and had persisted in their mean wickedness till
their own servile majority had revolted from mere disgust and shame.
Discontent had spread throughout the nation, and was kept up by
stimulants such as had rarely been applied to the public mind. Junius
had taken the field, had trampled Sir William Draper in the dust,
had well nigh broken the heart of Blackstone, and had so mangled the
reputation of the Duke of Grafton, that his grace had become sick
of office, and was beginning to look wistfully towards the shades of
Euston. Every principle of foreign, domestic, and colonial policy which
was dear to the heart of Chatham, had, during the eclipse of his genius,
been violated by the government which he had formed.

The remaining years of his life were spent in vainly struggling against
that fatal policy which, at the moment when he might have given it
a death blow, he had been induced to take under his protection. His
exertions {102}redeemed his own fame, but they effected little for his

He found two parties arrayed against the government, the party of his
own brothers-in-law, the Grenvilles, and the party of Lord Rockingham.
On the question of the Middlesex election these parties were agreed. But
on many other important questions they differed widely; and they
were, in truth, not less hostile to each other than to the Court. The
Grenvilles had, during several years, annoyed the Rockinghams with a
succession of acrimonious pamphlets. It was long before the Rockinghams
could be induced to retaliate. But an ill natured tract, written under
Grenville’s direction, and entitled a State of the Nation, was too much
for their patience. Burke undertook to defend and avenge his friends,
and executed the task with admirable skill and vigour. On every point
he was victorious, and nowhere more completely victorious than when
he joined issue on those dry and minute questions of statistical and
financial detail in which the main strength of Grenville lay. The
official drudge, even on his own chosen ground, was utterly unable
to maintain the fight against the great orator and philosopher. When
Chatham reappeared, Grenville was still writhing with the recent shame
and smart of this well merited chastisement. Cordial cooperation between
the two sections of the Opposition was impossible. Nor could Chatham
easily connect himself with either. His feelings, in spite of many
affronts given and received, drew him towards the Grenvilles. For he had
strong domestic affections; and his nature, which, though haughty, was
by no means obdurate, had been softened by affliction. But from his
kinsmen he was separated by a wide difference {103}of opinion on the
question of colonial taxation. A reconciliation, however, took place.
He visited Stowe: he shook hands with George Grenville; and the Whig
freeholders of Buckinghamshire, at their public dinners, drank many
bumpers to the union of the three brothers.

In opinions, Chatham was much nearer to the Rockinghams than to his
own relatives. But between him and the Rockinghams there was a gulf not
easily to be passed. He had deeply injured them, and in injuring them,
had deeply injured his country. When the balance was trembling between
them and the Court, he had thrown the whole weight of his genius, of his
renown, of his popularity, into the scale of misgovernment.

It must be added, that many eminent members of the party still retained
a bitter recollection of the asperity and disdain with which they
had been treated by him at the time when he assumed the direction of
affairs. It is clear from Burke’s pamphlets and speeches, and still more
clear from his private letters, and from the language which he held in
conversation, that he regarded Chatham with a feeling not far removed
from dislike. Chatham was undoubtedly conscious of his error, and
desirous to atone for it. But his overtures of friendship, though
made with earnestness, and even with unwonted humility, were at first
received by Lord Rockingham with cold and austere reserve. Gradually the
intercourse of the two statesmen became courteous and even amicable. But
the past was never wholly forgotten.

Chatham did not, however, stand alone. Round him gathered a party, small
in number, but strong in great and various talents. Lord Camden,
Lord Shelburne, Colonel Barré, and Dunning, afterwards Lord
Ashburton, {104}were the principal members of this connection. There
is no reason to believe that, from this time till within a few weeks
of Chatham’s death, his intellect suffered any decay. His eloquence
was almost to the last heard with delight. But it was not exactly the
eloquence of the House of Lords. That lofty and passionate, but somewhat
desultory declamation, in which he excelled all men, and which was set
off by looks, tones, and gestures, worthy of Garrick or Talma, was out
of place in a small apartment where the audience often consisted of
three or four drowsy prelates, three or four old judges, accustomed
during many years to disregard rhetorick, and to look only at facts and
arguments, and three or four listless and supercilious men of fashion,
whom any thing like enthusiasm moved to a sneer. In the House of
Commons, a flash of his eye, a wave of his arm, had sometimes cowed
Murray. But, in the House of Peers, his utmost vehemence and pathos
produced less effect than the moderation, the reasonableness, the
luminous order and the serene dignity, which characterized the speeches
of Lord Mansfield.

On the question of the Middlesex election, all the three divisions of
the Opposition acted in concert. No orator in either House defended what
is now universally admitted to have been the constitutional cause with
more ardour or eloquence than Chatham. Before this subject had ceased to
occupy the public mind, George Grenville died. His party rapidly
melted away; and in a short time most of his adherents appeared on the
ministerial benches.

Had George Grenville lived many months longer, the friendly ties which,
after years of estrangement and {105}hostility, had been renewed between
him and his brother-in-law, would, in all probability, have been a
second time violently dissolved. For now the quarrel between England
and the North American colonies took a gloomy and terrible aspect.
Oppression provoked resistance; resistance was made the pretext for
fresh oppression. The warnings of all the greatest statesmen of the age
were lost on an imperious court and a deluded nation. Soon a colonial
senate confronted the British Parliament. Then the colonial militia
crossed bayonets with the British regiments. At length the commonwealth
was torn asunder. Two millions of Englishmen, who, fifteen years before,
had been as loyal to their prince and as proud of their country as the
people of Kent or Yorkshire, separated themselves by a solemn act from
the Empire. For a time it seemed that the insurgents would struggle
to small purpose against the vast financial and military means of
the mother country. But disasters, following one another in rapid
succession, rapidly dispelled the illusions of national vanity. At
length a great British force, exhausted, famished, harassed on every
side by a hostile peasantry, was compelled to deliver up its arms. Those
governments which England had, in the late war, so signally humbled,
and which had during many years been sullenly brooding over the
recollections of Quebec, of Minden, and of the Moro, now saw with
exultation that the day of revenge was at hand. France recognised the
independence of the United States; and there could be little doubt that
the example would soon be followed by Spain.

Chatham and Rockingham had cordially concurred in opposing every part
of the fatal policy which had brought the state into this dangerous
situation. But their {106}paths now diverged. Lord Rockingham thought,
and, as the event proved, thought most justly, that the revolted
colonies were separated from the Empire for ever, and that the only
effect of prolonging the war on the American continent would be to
divide resources which it was desirable to concentrate. If the hopeless
attempt to subjugate Pennsylvania and Virginia were abandoned,
war against the House of Bourbon might possibly be avoided, or, if
inevitable, might be carried on with success and glory. We might even
indemnify ourselves for part of what we had lost, at the expense
of those foreign enemies who had hoped to profit by our domestic
dissensions. Lord Rockingham, therefore, and those who acted with him,
conceived that the wisest course now open to England was to acknowledge
the independence of the United States, and to turn her whole force
against her European enemies.

Chatham, it should seem, ought to have taken the same side. Before
France had taken any part in our quarrel with the colonies, he had
repeatedly, and with great energy of language, declared that it was
impossible to conquer America, and he could not without absurdity
maintain that it was easier to conquer France and America together than
America alone. But his passions overpowered his judgment, and made him
blind to his own inconsistency. The very circumstances which made
the separation of the colonies inevitable made it to him altogether
insupportable. The dismemberment of the Empire seemed to him less
ruinous and humiliating, when produced by domestic dissensions,
than when produced by foreign interference. His blood boiled at the
degradation of his country. Whatever lowered her among the nations
of {107}the earth, he felt as a personal outrage to himself. And the
feeling was natural. He had made her so great. He had been so proud
of her; and she had been so proud of him. He remembered how, more than
twenty years before, in a day of gloom and dismay, when her possessions
were torn from her, when her flag was dishonoured, she had called on
him to save her. He remembered the sudden and glorious change which
his energy had wrought, the long series of triumphs, the days of
thanksgiving, the nights of illumination. Fired by such recollections,
he determined to separate himself from those who advised that the
independence of the colonies should be acknowledged. That he was in
error will scarcely, we think, be disputed by his warmest admirers.
Indeed, the treaty, by which, a few years later, the republic of
the United States was recognised, was the work of his most attached
adherents and of his favourite son.

The Duke of Richmond had given notice of an address to the throne,
against the further prosecution of hostilities with America. Chatham
had, during some time, absented himself from Parliament, in consequence
of his growing infirmities. He determined to appear in his place on this
occasion, and to declare that his opinions were decidedly at variance
with those of the Rockingham party. He was in a state of great
excitement. His medical attendants were uneasy, and strongly advised him
to calm himself, and to remain at home. But he was not to be controlled.
His son William, and his son-in-law Lord Mahon, accompanied him to
Westminster. He rested himself in the Chancellor’s room till the debate
commenced, and then, leaning on his two young relations, limped to his
seat. The slightest particulars of that day {108}were remembered, and
have been carefully recorded. He bowed, it was remarked, with great
courtliness to those peers who rose to make way for him and his
supporters. His crutch was in his hand, he wore, as was his fashion,
a rich velvet coat. His legs were swathed in flannel. His wig was so
large, and his face so emaciated, that none of his features could be
discerned, except the high curve of his nose, and his eyes, which still
retained a gleam of the old fire.

When the Duke of Richmond had spoken, Chatham rose. For some time his
voice was inaudible. At length his tones became distinct and his action
animated. Here and there his hearers caught a thought or an expression
which reminded them of William Pitt. But it was clear that he was not
himself. He lost the thread of his discourse, hesitated, repeated the
same words several times, and was so confused that, in speaking of the
Act of Settlement, he could not recall the name of the Electress Sophia.
The House listened in solemn silence, and with the aspect of profound
respect and compassion. The stillness was so deep that the dropping of
a handkerchief would have been heard. The Duke of Richmond replied
with great tenderness and courtesy; but while he spoke, the old man was
observed to be restless and irritable. The Duke sat down. Chatham stood
up again, pressed his hand on his breast, and sank down in an apoplectic
fit. Three or four lords who sat near him caught him in his fall. The
House broke up in confusion. The dying man was carried to the residence
of one of the officers of Parliament, and was so far restored as to be
able to bear a journey to Hayes. At Hayes, after lingering a few weeks,
he expired in his {109}seventieth year. His bed was watched to the last,
with anxious tenderness, by his wife and children; and he well deserved
their care. Too often haughty and wayward to others, to them he had
been almost effeminately kind. He had through life been dreaded by his
political opponents, and regarded with more awe than love even by
his political associates. But no fear seems to have mingled with the
affection which his fondness, constantly overflowing in a thousand
endearing forms, had inspired in the little circle at Hayes.

Chatham, at the time of his decease, had not, in both Houses of
Parliament, ten personal adherents. Half the public men of the age
had been estranged from him by his errors, and the other half by the
exertions which he had made to repair his errors. His last speech had
been an attack at once on the policy pursued by the government, and on
the policy recommended by the opposition. But death restored him to his
old place in the affection of his country. Who could hear unmoved of the
fall of that which had been so great, and which had stood so long? The
circumstances, too, seemed rather to belong to the tragic stage than to
real life. A great statesman, full of years and honours, led forth
to the Senate House by a son of rare hopes, and stricken down in full
council while straining his feeble voice to rouse the drooping spirit
of his country, could not but be remembered with peculiar veneration and
tenderness. The few detractors who ventured to murmur were silenced
by the indignant clamours of a nation which remembered only the lofty
genius, the unsullied probity, the undisputed services, of him who
was no more. For once, the chiefs of all parties were agreed. A public
funeral, a {110}public monument, were eagerly voted. The debts of the
deceased were paid. A provision was made for his family. The City of
London requested that the remains of the great man whom she had so
long loved and honoured might rest under the dome of her magnificent
cathedral. But the petition came too late. Every thing was already
prepared for the interment in Westminster Abbey.

Though men of all parties had concurred in decreeing posthumous honours
to Chatham, his corpse was attended to the grave almost exclusively by
opponents of the government. The banner of the lordship of Chatham
was borne by Colonel Barré, attended by the Duke of Richmond and Lord
Rockingham. Burke, Savile, and Dunning upheld the pall. Lord Camden was
conspicuous in the procession. The chief mourner was young William Pitt.
After the lapse of more than twenty-seven years, in a season as dark and
perilous, his own shattered frame and broken heart were laid, with the
same pomp, in the same consecrated mould.

Chatham sleeps near the northern door of the Church, in a spot which has
ever since been appropriated to statesmen, as the other end of the same
transept has long been to poets. Mansfield rests there, and the second
William Pitt, and Fox, and Grattan, and Canning, and Wilberforce. In no
other cemetery do so many great citizens he within so narrow a space.
High over those venerable graves towers the stately monument of Chatham,
and from above, his effigy, graven by a cunning hand, seems still, with
eagle face and outstretched arm, to bid England be of good cheer, and to
hurl defiance at her foes. The generation which reared that memorial of
him has disappeared. The time has come when the rash and indiscriminate
judgments {111}which his contemporaries passed on his character may
be calmly revised by history. And history, while, for the warning of
vehement, high, and daring natures, she notes his many errors, will yet
deliberately pronounce, that, among the eminent men whose bones he near
his, scarcely one has left a more stainless, and none a more splendid


(_Encyclopodia Britannica_, December 1853.)

Francis Atterbury, {112}a man who holds a conspicuous place in the
political, ecclesiastical, and literary history of England, was born in
the year 1662, at Middleton in Buckinghamshire, a parish of which his
father was rector. Francis was educated at Westminster School, and
carried thence to Christ Church a stock of learning which, though really
scanty, he through life exhibited with such judicious ostentation that
superficial observers believed his attainments to be immense. At Oxford,
his parts, his taste, and his bold, contemptuous, and imperious spirit,
soon made him conspicuous. Here he published, at twenty, his first work,
a translation of the noble poem of Absalom and Achitophel into Latin
verse. Neither the style nor the versification of the young scholar
was that of the Augustan age. In English composition he succeeded much
better. In 1687 he distinguished himself among many able men who wrote
in defence of the Church of England, then persecuted by James II., and
calumniated by apostates who had for lucre quitted her communion. Among
these apostates none was more active or malignant than Obadiah Walker,
who was master of University College, and who had set up there, under
the royal patronage, a press for printing tracts {113}against the
established religion. In one of these tracts, written apparently by
Walker himself, many aspersions were thrown on Martin Luther. Atterbury
undertook to defend the great Saxon Reformer, and performed that task
in a manner singularly characteristic. Whoever examines his reply to
Walker will be struck by the contrast between the feebleness of those
parts which are argumentative and defensive, and the vigour of those
parts which are rhetorical and aggressive. The Papists were so much
galled by the sarcasms and invectives of the young polemic that they
raised a cry of treason, and accused him of having, by implication,
called King James a Judas.

After the Revolution, Atterbury, though bred in the doctrines of
non-resistance and passive obedience, readily swore fealty to the
new government. In no long time he took holy orders. He occasionally
preached in London with an eloquence which raised his reputation, and
soon had the honour of being appointed one of the royal chaplains.
But he ordinarily resided at Oxford, where he took an active part
in academical business, directed the classical studies of the
undergraduates of his college, and was the chief adviser and assistant
of Dean Aldrich, a divine now chiefly remembered by his catches,
but renowned among his contemporaries as a scholar, a Tory, and a
high-churchman. It was the practice, not a very judicious practice, of
Aldrich to employ the most promising youths of his college in editing
Greek and Latin books. Among the studious and well-disposed lads who
were, unfortunately for themselves, induced to become teachers of
philology when they should have been content to be learners, was Charles
Boyle, son of the Earl of Orrery, and nephew of Robert Boyle, the great
experimental {114}philosopher. The task assigned to Charles Boyle was to
prepare a new edition of one of the most worthless books in existence.
It was a fashion, amoung those Greeks and Romans who cultivated rhetoric
as an art, to compose epistles and harangues in the names of eminent
men. Some of these counterfeits are fabricated with such exquisite taste
and skill that it is the highest achievement of criticism to distinguish
them from originals.

Others are so feebly and rudely executed that they can hardly impose on
an intelligent school-boy. The best specimen which has come down to
us is perhaps the oration for Marcellus, such an imitation of Tully’s
eloquence as Tally would himself have read with wonder and delight. The
worst specimen is perhaps a collection of letters purporting to have
been written by that Phalaris who governed Agrigentum more than
500 years before the Christian era. The evidence, both internal and
external, against the genuineness of these letters is overwhelming.
When, in the fifteenth century, they emerged, in company with much
that was far more valuable, from their obscurity, they were pronounced
spurious by Politian, the greatest scholar of Italy, and by Erasmus, the
greatest scholar on our side of the Alps. In truth, it would be as easy
to persuade an educated Englishman that one of Johnson’s Ramblers was
the work of William Wallace as to persuade a man like Erasmus that a
pedantic exercise, composed in the trim and artificial Attic of the time
of Julian, was a despatch written by a crafty and ferocious Dorian, who
roasted people alive many years before there existed a volume of prose
in the Greek language. But, though Christ-Church could boast of many
good Latinists, of many good English writers, and of a greater number of
clever and fashionable {115}men of the world than belonged to any other
academic body, there was not then in the college a single man capable of
distinguishing between the infancy and the dotage of Greek literature.
So superficial indeed was the learning; of the rulers of this celebrated
society that they were charmed by an essay which Sir William Temple
published in praise of the ancient writers. It now seems strange that
even the eminent public services, the deserved popularity, and the
graceful style of Temple should have saved so silly a performance from
universal contempt. Of the books which he most vehemently eulogised his
eulogies proved that he knew nothing. In fact, he could not read a line
of the language in which they were written. Among many other foolish
things, he said that the letters of Phalaris were the oldest letters
and also the best in the world. Whatever Temple wrote attracted notice.
People who had never heard of the Epistles of Phalaris began to inquire
about them. Aldrich, who knew very little Greek, took the word of Temple
who knew none, and desired Boyle to prepare a new edition of these
admirable compositions which, having long slept in obscurity, had become
on a sudden objects of general interest.

The edition was prepared with the help of Atterbury, who was Boyle’s
tutor, and of some other members of the college. It was an edition such
as might be expected from people who would stoop to édité such a book.
The notes were worthy of the text; the Latin version worthy of the Greek
original. The volume would have been forgotten in a month, had not a
misunderstanding about a manuscript arisen between the young editor and
the greatest scholar that had appeared in Europe since the revival of
letters, Richard Bentley. {116}The manuscript was in Bentley’s keeping.
Boyle wished it to be collated. A mischief-making bookseller informed
him that Bentley had refused to lend it, which was false and also that
Bentley had spoken contemptuously of the letters attributed to Phalaris,
and of the critics who were taken in by such counterfeits, which was
perfectly true. Boyle, much provoked, paid, in his preface, a bitterly
ironical compliment to Bentley’s courtesy. Bentley revenged himself by a
short dissertation, in which he proved that the epistles were spurious,
and the new edition of them worthless: but he treated Boyle personally
with civility as a young gentleman of great hopes, whose love of
learning was highly commendable, and who deserved to have had better

Few things in literary history are more extraordinary than the storm
which this little dissertation raised. Bentley had treated Boyle with
forbearance; but he had treated Christ-Church with contempt; and the
Christ-Church-men, wherever dispersed, were as much attached to their
college as a Scotchman to his country, or a Jesuit to his order. Their
influence was great. They were dominant at Oxford, powerful in the Inns
of Court and in the College of Physicians, conspicuous in Parliament and
in the literary and fashionable circles of London. Their unanimous
cry was, that the honour of the college must be vindicated, that the
insolent Cambridge pedant must be put down. Poor Boyle was unequal to
the task, and disinclined to it. It was, therefore, assigned to his
tutor Atterbury.

The answer to Bentley, which bears the name of Boyle, but which was,
in truth, no more the work of Boyle than the letters to which the
controversy related were the work of Phalaris, is now read only by the
curious, {117}and will in all probability never be reprinted again. But
it had its day of noisy popularity. It was to be found, not only in
the studies of men of letters, but on the tables of the most brilliant
drawing-rooms of Soho Square and Covent Garden. Even the beaus and
coquettes of that age, the Wildairs and the Lady Lurewells, the
Mirabells and the Millamants, congratulated each other on the way in
which the gay young gentleman, whose erudition sate so easily upon him,
and who wrote with so much pleasantry and good breeding about the Attic
dialect and the anapæstic measure, Sicilian talents and Therielean cups,
had bantered the queer prig of a doctor. Nor was the applause of the
multitude undeserved. The book is, indeed, Atterbury’s masterpiece, and
gives a higher notion of his powers than any of those works to which he
put his name. That he was altogether in the wrong on the main question,
and on all the collateral questions springing out of it, that his
knowledge of the language, the literature, and the history of Greece was
not equal to what many freshmen now bring up every year to Cambridge and
Oxford, and that some of his blunders seem rather to deserve a flogging
than a refutation, is true; and therefore it is that his performance is,
in the highest degree, interesting and valuable to a judicious
reader. It is good by reason of its exceeding badness. It is the most
extraordinary instance that exists of the art of making much show with
little substance. There is no difficulty, says the steward of Molière’s
miser, in giving a fine dinner with plenty of money: the really great
cook is he who can set out a banquet with no money at all. That Bentley
should have written excellently on ancient chronology and geography, on
the development of the Greek language, and the origin of the {118}Greek
drama, is not strange. But that Atterbury should, during some years,
have been thought to have treated these subjects much better than
Bentley is strange indeed. It is true that the champion of Christ-Church
had all the help which the most celebrated members of that society could
give him. Smalridge contributed some very good wit; Friend and others
some very bad archaeology and philology. But the greater part of the
volume was entirely Atterbury’s: what was not his own was revised and
retouched by him; and the whole bears the mark of his mind, a mind
inexhaustibly rich in all the resources of controversy, and familiar with
all the artifices which make falsehood look like truth, and ignorance
like knowledge. He had little gold; but he beat that little out to the
very thinnest leaf, and spread it over so vast a surface that to those
who judged by a glance, and who did not resort to balances and tests,
the glittering heap of worthless matter which he produced seemed to be
an inestimable treasure of massy bullion. Such arguments as he had he
placed in the clearest light. Where he had no arguments, he resorted to
personalities, sometimes serious, generally ludicrous, always clever
and cutting. But, whether he was grave or merry, whether he reasoned or
sneered, his style was always pure, polished, and easy.

Party spirit then ran high; yet, though Bentley ranked among Whigs, and
Christ-Church was a stronghold of Toryism, Whigs joined with Tories
in applauding Atterbury’s volume. Garth insulted Bentley, and extolled
Boyle in lines which are now never quoted except to be laughed at.
Swift, in his “Battle of the Books,” introduced with much pleasantry
Boyle, clad in armour, the gift of all the gods, and directed by Apollo
{110}in the form of a human friend, for whose name a blank is left which
may easily be filled up. The youth, so accoutred, and so assisted, gains
an easy victory over his uncourteous and boastful antagonist Bentley,
meanwhile, was supported by the consciousness of an immeasurable
superiority, and encouraged by the voices of the few who were really
competent to judge the combat. “No man,” he said, justly and nobly, “was
ever written down but by himself.” He spent two years in preparing a
reply, which will never cease to be read and prized while the literature
of ancient Greece is studied in any part of the world. This reply
proved, not only that the letters ascribed to Phalaris were spurious,
but that Atterbury, with all his wit, his eloquence, his skill in
controversial fence, was the most audacious pretender that ever wrote
about what he did not understand. But to Atterbury this exposure was
matter of indifference. He was now engaged in a dispute about matters
far more important and exciting than the laws of Zaleucus and the law’s
of Charondas. The rage of religions factions was extreme. High church
and Low church divided the nation. The great majority of the clergy were
on the high-church side; the majority of King William’s bishops were
inclined to latitudinarianism.

A dispute arose between the two parties touching the extent of the
powers of the Lower House of Convocation. Atterbury thrust himself
eagerly into the front rank of the high-churchmen. Those who take
a comprehensive and impartial view of his whole career will not be
disposed to give him credit for religious zeal. But it was his nature to
be vehement and pugnacious in the cause of every fraternity of which he
was a member. He had defended the genuineness of {120}a spurious book
simply because Christ-Church had put forth an edition of that book; he
now stood up for the clergy against the civil power, simply because he
was a clergyman, and for the priests against the episcopal order, simply
because he was as yet only a priest, he asserted the pretensions of the
class to which he belonged in several treatises written with much wit,
ingenuity, audacity, and acrimony. In this, as in his first controversy,
he was opposed to antagonists whose knowledge of the subject in dispute
was far superior to his; but in this, as in his first controversy, he
imposed on the multitude by bold assertion, by sarcasm, by declamation,
and, above all, by his peculiar knack of exhibiting a little erudition
in such a manner as to make it look like a great deal. Having passed
himself off on the world as a greater master of classical learning than
Bentley, he now passed himself off as a greater master of ecclesiastical
learning than Wake or Gibson. By the great body of the clergy he was
regarded as the ablest and most intrepid tribune that had ever defended
their rights against the oligarchy of prelates. The Lower House of
Convocation voted him thanks for his services; the University of Oxford
created him a doctor of divinity; and soon after the accession of Anne,
while the Tories still had the chief weight in the government, he was
promoted to the deanery of Carlisle.

Soon after he had obtained this preferment, the Whig party rose to
ascendency in the state. From that party he could expect no favour. Six
years elapsed before a change of fortune took place. At length, in
the year 1710, the prosecution of Sacheverell produced a formidable
explosion of high-church fanaticism. At such a moment Atterbury could
not fail to {121}be conspicuous. His inordinate zeal for the body to
which he belonged, his turbulent and aspiring temper, his rare talents
for agitation and for controversy, were again signally displayed. He
bore a chief part in framing that artful and eloquent speech which the
accused divine pronounced at the bar of the Lords, and which presents
a singular contrast to the absurd and scurrilous sermon which had very
unwisely been honoured with impeachment. During the troubled and anxious
months which followed the trial, Atterbury was among the most active of
those pamphleteers who inflamed the nation against the Whig ministry
and the Whig parliament. When the ministry had been changed and the
parliament dissolved, rewards were showered upon him. The Lower House
of Convocation elected him prolocutor. The Queen appointed him Dean of
Christ-Church on the death of his old friend and patron Aldrich. The
college would have preferred a gentler ruler. Nevertheless, the new
head was received with every mark of honour. A congratulatory oration in
Latin was addressed to him in the magnificent vestibule of the hall; and
he in reply professed the warmest attachment to the venerable house in
which he had been educated, and paid many gracious compliments to those
over whom he was to preside. But it was not in his nature to be a mild
or an equitable governor. He had left the chapter of Carlisle distracted
by quarrels. He found Christ-Church at peace; but in three months his
despotic and contentious temper did at Christ-Church what it had done
at Carlisle. He was succeeded in both his deaneries by the humane and
accomplished Smalridge, who gently complained of the state in which both
had been left. Atterbury goes before, and sets everything on fire.

“I {122}come after him with a bucket of water.” It was said by
Atterbury’s enemies that he was made a bishop because he was
so bad a dean. Under his administration Christ-Church was in
confusion; scandalous altercations took place, opprobrious words were
exchanged; and there was reason to fear that the great Tory college
would be ruined by the tyranny of the great Tory doctor. He was soon
removed to the bishopric of Rochester, which was then always united with
the deanery of Westminster. Still higher dignities seemed to be before
him. For, though there were many able men on the episcopal bench, there
was none who equalled or approached him in parliamentary talents. Had
his party continued in power, it is not improbable that he would have
been raised to the archbishopric of Canterbury. The more splendid his
prospects, the more reason he had to dread the accession of a family
which was well known to be partial to the Whigs. There is every reason
to believe that he was one of those politicians who hoped that they
might be able, during the life of Anne, to prepare matters in such a way
that at her decease there might be little difficulty in setting aside
the Act of Settlement and placing the Pretender on the throne. Her
sudden death confounded the projects of these conspirators. Atterbury,
who wanted no kind of courage, implored his confederates to proclaim
James III., and offered to accompany the heralds in lawn sleeves. But he
found even the bravest soldiers of his party irresolute, and exclaimed,
not, it is said, without interjections which ill became the mouth of a
father of the church, that the best of all causes and the most precious
of all moments had been pusillanimously thrown away. He acquiesced in
what he could not prevent, took the oaths to the House of {123}Hanover,
and at the coronation officiated with the outward show of zeal, and did
his best to ingratiate himself with the royal family. But his servility
was requited with cold contempt. No creature is so revengeful as a proud
man who has humbled himself in vain. Atterbury became the most factious
and pertinacious of all the opponents of the government. In the House of
Lords his oratory, lucid, pointed, lively, and set off with every grace
of pronunciation and of gesture, extorted the attention and admiration
even of a hostile majority. Some of the most remarkable protests which
appear in the journals of the peers were drawn up by him; and, in some
of the bitterest of those pamphlets which called on the English to
stand up for their country against the aliens who had come from beyond
the seas to oppress and plunder her, critics easily detected his’ style.
When the rebellion of 1715 broke out, he refused to sign the paper
in which the bishops of the province of Canterbury declared their
attachment to the Protestant succession. He busied himself in
electioneering, especially at Westminster, where, as dean, he possessed
great influence; and was, indeed, strongly suspected of having once set
on a riotous mob to prevent his Whig fellow-citizens from polling.

After having been long in indirect communication with the exiled family,
he, in 1717, began to correspond directly with the Pretender. The first
letter of the correspondence is extant. In that letter Atterbury boasts
of having, during many years past, neglected no opportunity of serving
the Jacobite cause. “My daily prayer,” he says, “is that you may have
success. May I live to see that day, and live no longer than I do what
is in my power to forward it.” It is to be remembered that he who wrote
thus was a man bound to set {124}to the church of which he was overseer
an example of strict probity; that he had repeatedly sworn allegiance to
the House of Brunswick; that he had assisted in placing the crown on
the head of George I.; and that he had abjured James III., “without
equivocation or mental reservation, on the true faith of a Christian.”

It is agreeable to turn from his public to his private life. His
turbulent spirit, wearied with faction and treason, now and then
required repose, and found it in domestic endearments, and in the
society of the most illustrious of the living and of the dead. Of his
wife little is known: but between him and his daughter there was an
affection singularly close and tender. The gentleness of his manners
when he was in the company of a few friends was such as seemed hardly
credible to those who knew him only by his writings and speeches. The
charm of his “softer hour” has been commemorated by one of those friends
in imperishable verse. Though Atterbury’s classical attainments were not
great, his taste in English literature was excellent; and his admiration
of genius was so strong that it overpowered even his political and
religions antipathies. His fondness fur Milton, the mortal enemy of the
Stuarts and of the church, was such as to many Tories seemed a crime. On
the sad night on which Addison was laid in the chapel of Henry VII., the
Westminster boys remarked that Atterbury read the funeral service with
a peculiar tenderness and solemnity. The favourite companions, however,
of the great Tory prelate were, as might have been expected, men whose
politics had at least a tinge of Toryism. He lived on friendly terms
with Swift, Arbuthnot, and Gay. With Prior he had a close intimacy,
{125}which some misunderstanding about public affairs at last dissolved.
Pope found in Atterbury, not only a warm admirer, but a most faithful,
fearless, and judicious adviser. The poet was a frequent guest at the
episcopal palace among the elms of Bromley, and entertained not the
slightest suspicion that his host, now declining in years, confined to
an easy chair by front, and apparently devoted to literature, was deeply
concerned in criminal and perilous designs against the government.

The spirit of the Jacobites had been cowed by the events of 1715. It
revived in 1721. The failure of the South Sea project, the panic in the
money market, the downfall of great commercial houses, the distress
from which no part of the kingdom was exempt, had produced general
discontent. It seemed not improbable that at such a moment an
insurrection might be successful. An insurrection was planned. The
streets, of London were to be barricaded; the Tower and the Bank were
to be surprised; King George, his family, and his chief captains and
councillors, were to be arrested; and King James was to be proclaimed.
The design became known to the Duke of Orleans, regent of France, who
was on terms of friendship with the House of Hanover. He put the English
government on its guard. Some of the chief malcontents were committed to
prison; and among them was Atterbury. No bishop of the Church of England
had been taken into custody since that memorable day when the applauses
and prayers of all London had followed the seven bishops to the gate
of the Tower. The Opposition entertained some hope that it might be
possible to excite among the people an enthusiasm resembling that of
their fathers, who rushed into the waters of the Thames {126}to implore
the blessing of Saneroft. Pictures of the heroic confessor in his cell
were exhibited at the shop windows. Verses in his praise were sung about
the streets. The restraints by which he was prevented from communicating
with his accomplices were represented as cruelties worthy of the
dungeons of the Inquisition. Strong appeals were made to the priesthood.
Would they tamely permit so gross an insult to be offered to their
cloth? Would they suffer the ablest, the most eloquent member of their
profession, the man who had so often stood up for their rights against
the civil power, to be treated like the vilest of mankind? There was
considerable excitement; but it was allayed by a temperate and artful
letter to the clergy, the work, in all probability, of Bishop Gibson,
who stood high in the favour of Walpole, and shortly after became
minister for ecclesiastical affairs.

Atterbury remained in close confinement during some months. He had
carried on his correspondence with the exiled family so cautiously that
the circumstantial proofs of his guilt, though sufficient to produce
entire moral conviction, were not sufficient to justify legal
conviction. He could be reached only by a bill of pains and penalties.
Such a bill the Whig party, then decidedly predominant in both houses,
was quite prepared to support. Many hot-headed members of that party
were eager to follow the precedent which had been set in the case of
Sir John Fenwick, and to pass an act for cutting off the bishop’s head.
Cadogan, who commanded the army, a brave soldier, but a headstrong
politician, is said to have exclaimed with great vehemence: “Fling him
to the lions in the Tower.” But the wiser and more humane Walpole was
always unwilling to shed blood; and his influence prevailed. {127}When
parliament met, the evidence against the bishop was laid before
committees of both houses. Those committees reported that his guilt
was proved. In the Commons a resolution, pronouncing him a traitor, was
carried by nearly two to one. A bill was then introduced which provided
that he should be deprived of his spiritual dignities, that he should
be banished for life, and that no British subject should hold any
intercourse with him except by the royal permission.

This bill passed the Commons with little difficulty. For the bishop,
though invited to defend himself, chose to reserve his defence for the
assembly of which he was a member. In the Lords the contest was
sharp. The young Duke of Wharton, distinguished by his parts, his
dissoluteness, and his versatility, spoke for Atterbury with great
effect; and Atterbury’s own voice was heard for the last time by that
unfriendly audience which had so often listened to him with mingled
aversion and delight. He produced few witnesses; nor did those witnesses
say much that could be of service to him. Among them was Pope. He was
called to prove that, while he was an inmate of the palace at Bromley,
the bishop’s time was completely occupied by literary and domestic
matters, and that no leisure was left for plotting. But Pope, who
was quite unaccustomed to speak in public, lost his head, and, as he
afterwards owned, though he had only ten words to say, made two or three

The bill finally passed the Lords by eighty-three votes to forty-three.
The bishops, with a single exception, were in the majority. Their
conduct drew on them a sharp taunt from Lord Bathurst, a warm friend
of Atterbury and a zealous Tory. “The wild Indians,” he said, “give no
quarter, because they believe {128}that they shall inherit the skill and
prowess of every adversary whom they destroy. Perhaps the animosity of
the right reverend prelates to their brother may be explained in the
same way.”

Atterbury took leave of those whom he loved with a dignity and
tenderness worthy of a better man. Three fine lines of his favourite
poet were often in his mouth:

               “Some natural tears he dropped, but wiped them soon:

               The world was all before him, where to chuse

               His place of rest, and Providence his guide.”

At parting he presented Pope with a Bible, and said, with a
disingenuousness of which no man who had studied the Bible to much
purpose would have been guilty: “If ever you learn that I have any
dealings with the Pretender, I give you leave to say that my punishment
is just.” Pope at this time really believed the bishop to be an injured
man. Arbuthnot seems to have been of the same opinion. Swift, a few
months later, ridiculed with great bitterness, in the “Voyage to
Laputa,” the evidence which had satisfied the two Houses of Parliament.
Soon, however, the most partial friends of the banished prelate ceased
to assert his innocence, and contented themselves with lamenting and
excusing what they could not defend. After a short stay at Brussels, he
had taken up his abode at Paris, and had become the leading man among
the Jacobite refugees who were assembled there. He was invited to Rome
by the Pretender, who then held his mock court under the immediate
protection of the Pope. But Atterbury felt that a bishop of the Church
of England would be strangely out of place at the Vatican, and declined
the invitation. During some months, however, he might flatter himself
that he stood high {129}in the good graces of James. The correspondence
between the master and the servant was constant. Atterbury’s merits were
warmly acknowledged; his advice was respectfully received; and he
was, as Bolingbroke had found before him, the prime minister of a king
without a kingdom. But the new favourite found, as Bolingbroke had found
before him, that it was quite as hard to keep the shadow of power
under a vagrant and mendicant prince as to keep the reality of power at
Westminster. Though James had neither territories nor revenues, neither
army nor navy, there was more faction and more intrigue among his
courtiers than among those of his successful rival. Atterbury soon
perceived that his counsels were disregarded, if not distrusted. His
proud spirit was deeply wounded. He quitted Paris, fixed his residence
at Montpellier, gave up politics, and devoted himself entirely to
letters. In the sixth year of his exile he had so severe an illness that
his daughter, herself in very delicate health, determined to run all
risks that she might see him once more. Having obtained a license from
the English Government, she went by sea to Bordeaux, but landed there
in such a state that she could travel only by boat or in a litter. Her
father, in spite of his infirmities, set out from Montpellier to meet
her; and she, with the impatience which is often the sign of approaching
death, hastened towards him. Those who were about her in vain implored
her to travel slowly. She said that every hour was precious, that
she only wished to see her papa and to die. She met him at Toulouse,
embraced him, received from his hand the sacred bread and wine, and
thanked God that they had passed one day in each other’s society before
they parted for ever. She died that night.

It {130}was some time before even the strong mind of Atterbury recovered
from this cruel blow. As soon as he was himself again he became eager
for action and conflict; for grief, which disposes gentle natures to
retirement, to inaction, and to meditation, only makes restless spirits
more restless. The Pretender, dull and bigoted as he was, had found out
that he had not acted wisely in parting with one who, though a heretic,
was, in abilities and accomplishments, the foremost man of the Jacobite
party. The bishop was courted back, and was without much difficulty
induced to return to Paris and to become once more the phantom minister
of a phantom monarchy. But his long and troubled life was drawing to a
close. To the last, however, his intellect retained all its keenness
and vigour. He learned, in the ninth year of his banishment, that he had
been accused by Oldmixon, as dishonest and malignant a scribbler as any
that has been saved from oblivion by the Dunciad, of having, in concert
with other Christ-Church men, garbled Clarendon’s History of the
Rebellion. The charge, as respected Atterbury, had not the slightest
foundation: for he was not one of the editors of the History, and never
saw it till it was printed. He published a short vindication of himself,
which is a model in its kind, luminous, temperate, and dignified. A copy
of this little work he sent to the Pretender, with a letter singularly
eloquent and graceful. It was impossible, the old man said, that he
should write anything on such a subject without being reminded of the
resemblance between his own fate and that of Clarendon. They were the
only two English subjects that had ever been banished from their
country and debarred from all communication with their friends by act of
parliament. But here the resemblance ended.

One {131}of the exiles had been so happy as to bear a chief part in the
restoration of the Royal house. All that the other could now do was to
die asserting the rights of that house to the last. A few weeks after
this letter was written Atterbury died. He had just completed his
seventieth year.

His body was brought to England, and laid, with great privacy, under the
nave of Westminster Abbey. Only three mourners followed the coffin. No
inscription marks the grave. That the epitaph with which Pope honoured
the memory of his friend does not appear on the walls of the great
national cemetery is no subject of regret: for nothing worse was ever
written by Colley Cibber.

Those who wish for more complete information about Atterbury may easily
collect it from his sermons and his controversial writings, from the
report of the parliamentary proceedings against him, which will be found
in the State Trials, from the five volumes of his correspondence, edited
by Mr. Nichols, and from the first volume of the Stuart papers, edited
by Mr. Glover. A very indulgent but a very interesting account of the
bishop’s political career will be found in Lord Mahon’s valuable History
of England.


(_Encyclopaedia Britannica_, May 1854.)

John Bunyan, {132}the most popular religious writer in the English
language, was born at Elstow, about a mile from Bedford, in the year
1628. He may be said to have been born a tinker. The tinkers then formed
an hereditary caste, which was held in no high estimation. They were
generally vagrants and pilferers, and were often confounded with the
gipsies, whom in truth they nearly resembled. Bunyan’s father was more
respectable than most of the tribe. He had a fixed residence, and was
able to send his son to a village school where reading and writing were

The years of John’s boyhood were those during which the puritan spirit
was in the highest vigour all over England; and nowhere had that spirit
more influence than in Bedfordshire. It is not wonderful, therefore,
that a lad to whom nature had given a powerful imagination, and
sensibility which amounted to a disease, should have been early haunted
by religious terrors. Before he was ten, his sports were interrupted by
fits of remorse and despair; and his sleep was disturbed by dreams
of fiends trying to fly away with him. As he grew older, his mental
conflicts became still more violent. The strong language in which he
described them has strangely misled all his biographers except {133}Mr.
Southey. It has long been an ordinary practice with pious writers to
cite Bunyan as an instance of the supernatural power of divine grace to
rescue the human soul from the lowest depths of wickedness. He is called
in one book the most notorious of profligates; in another, the brand
plucked from the burning. He is designated in Mr. Ivimey’s History of
the Baptists as the depraved Bunyan, the wicked tinker of Elstow. Mr.
Byland, a man once of great note among the Dissenters, breaks out into
the following rhapsody:--“No man of common sense and common integrity
can deny that Bunyan was a practical atheist, a worthless contemptible
infidel, a vile rebel to God and goodness, a common profligate, a
soul-despising, a soul-murdering, a soul-damning, thoughtless wretch as
could exist on the face of the earth. Now be astonished, O heavens, to
eternity! and wonder, O earth and hell! while time endures. Behold
this very man become a miracle of mercy, a mirror of wisdom, goodness,
holiness, truth, and love.” But whoever takes the trouble to examine the
evidence will find that the good men who wrote this had been deceived by
a phraseology which, as they had been hearing it and using it all their
lives, they ought to have understood better. There cannot be a greater
mistake than to infer, from the strong expressions in which a devout man
bemoans his exceeding sinfulness, that he has led a worse life than his
neighbours. Many excellent persons, whose moral character from boyhood
to old age has been free from any stain discernible to their fellow
creatures, have, in their autobiographies and diaries, applied to
themselves, and doubtless with sincerity, epithets as severe as could
be applied to Titus Oates or Mrs. Brownrigg. It is quite certain that
Bunyan was, at {134}eighteen, what, in any but the most austerely
puritanical circles, would have been considered as a young man of
singular gravity and innocence. Indeed, it may be remarked that he, like
many other penitents who, in general terms, acknowledge themselves to
have been the worst of mankind, fired up and stood vigorously on his
defence, whenever any particular charge was brought against him by
others. He declares, it is true, that he had let loose the reins on the
neck of his lusts, that he had delighted in all transgressions against
the divine law, and that he had been the ringleader of the youth of
Elstow in all manner of vice. But, when those who wished him ill accused
him of licentious amours, he called on God and the angels to attest his
purity. No woman, he said, in heaven, earth, or hell, could charge him
with having ever made any improper advances to her. Not only had he been
strictly faithful to his wife; but he had, even before his marriage,
been perfectly spotless. It does not appear from his own confessions,
or from the railings of his enemies, that he ever was drunk in his life.
One bad habit he contracted, that of using profane language; but he
tells us that a single reproof cured him so effectually that he never
offended again. The worst that can be laid to the charge of this poor
youth, whom it has been the fashion to represent as the most desperate
of reprobates, as a village Rochester, is that he had a great liking
for some diversions, quite harmless in themselves, but condemned by the
rigid precisians among whom he lived, and for whose opinion he had a
great respect. The four chief sins of which he was guilty were dancing,
ringing the bells of the parish church, playing at tipcat, and reading
the History of Sir Bevis of Southampton. A rector of the school of Laud
would {135}have held such a young man up to the whole parish as a
model. But Bunyan’s notions of good and evil had been learned in a very
different school; and he was made miserable by the conflict between his
tastes and his scruples.

When he was about seventeen, the ordinary course of his life was
interrupted by an event which gave a lasting colour to his thoughts.
He enlisted in the parliamentary army, and served during the decisive
campaign of 1645. All that we know of his military career is that, at
the siege of Leicester, one of his comrades, who had taken his post, was
killed by a shot from the town. Bnnyan ever after considered himself as
having been saved from death by the special interference of Providence.
It may be observed that his imagination was strongly impressed by the
glimpse which he had caught of the pomp of war. To the last he loved to
draw his illustrations of sacred things from camps and fortresses, from
guns, drums, trumpets, flags of truce, and regiments arrayed, each under
its own banner. His Greatheart, his Captain Boanerges, and his Captain
Credence, are evidently portraits, of which the originals were among
those martial saints who fought and expounded in Fairfax’s army.

In a few months Bunyan returned home and married. His wife had some
pious relations, and brought him as her only portion some pious books.
And now his mind, excitable by nature, very imperfectly disciplined
by education, and exposed, without any protection, to the infections
virulence of the enthusiasm which was then epidemic in England, began
to be fearfully disordered. In outward things he soon became a strict
Pharisee. He was constant in attendance at prayers and sermons. His
favourite amusements were {136}one after another relinquished, though
not without many painful smuggles. In the middle of a game at tipcat he
paused, and stood staring wildly upwards with his stick in his hand. He
had heard a voice asking him whether he would leave his sins and go
to heaven, or keep his sins and go to hell; and he had seen an
awful countenance frowning on him from the sky. The odious vice of
bell-ringing he renounced: but he still for a time ventured to so to
the church tower and look on while others pulled the ropes. But soon the
thought struck him that, if he persisted in such wickedness, the steeple
would fall on his head; and he fled in terror from the accursed place.
To give up dancing on the village green was still harder; and some
months elapsed before he had the fortitude to part with this darling
sin. When this last sacrifice had been made, he was, even when tried by
the maxims of that austere time, faultless. All Elstow talked of him as
an eminently pious youth. But his own mind was more unquiet than ever.
Having nothing more to do in the way of visible reformation, yet finding
in religion no pleasures to supply the place of the juvenile amusements
which he had relinquished, he began to apprehend that he lay under some
special malediction; and he was tormented by a succession of fantasies
which seemed likely to drive him to suicide or to Bedlam.

At one time he took it into his head that all persons of Israelite blood
would be saved, and tried to make out that he partook of that blood; but
his hopes were speedily destroyed by his father, who seems to have had
no ambition to be regarded as a Jew.

At another time Bunyan was disturbed by a strange dilemma: “If I have
not faith, I am lost; if I have faith, {137}I can work miracles.” He was
tempted to cry to the puddles between Elstow and Bedford, “Be ye dry,”
 and to stake his eternal hopes on the event.

Then he took up a notion that the day of grace for Bedford and the
neighbouring villages was past; that all who were to be saved in that
part of England were already converted; and that he had begun to pray
and strive some months too late.

Then he was harassed by doubts whether the Turks were not in the right,
and the Christians in the wrong. Then he was troubled by a maniacal
impulse which prompted him to pray to the trees, to a broomstick, to
the parish bull. As yet, however, he was only entering the Valley of the
Shadow of Death. Soon the darkness grew thicker. Hideous forms floated
before him. Sounds of cursing and wailing were in his ears. His way ran
through stench and fire, close to the mouth of the bottomless pit. He
began to be haunted by a strange curiosity about the unpardonable sin,
and by a morbid longing to commit it. But the most frightful of all the
forms which his disease took was a propensity to utter blasphemy, and
especially to renounce his share in the benefits of the redemption.
Night and day, in bed, at table, at work, evil spirits, as he imagined,
were repeating close to his ear the words, “Sell him, sell him.” He
struck at the hobgoblins; he pushed them from him; but still they were
ever at his side. He cried out in answer to them, hour after hour:
“Never, never; not for thousands of worlds; not for thousands.” At
length, worn out by this long agony, he suffered the fatal words to
escape him, “Let him go, if he will.” Then his misery became more
fearful than ever. He had done what could not be forgiven. He had
forfeited his part of {138}the great sacrifice. Like Esau, he had
sold his birthright; and there was no longer any place for repentance.
“None,” he afterwards wrote, “knows the terrors of those days but
myself.” he has described his sufferings with singular energy,
simplicity, and pathos, he envied the brutes; he envied the very stones
in the street, and the tiles on the houses. The sun seemed to withhold
its light and warmth from him. His body, though cast in a sturdy mould,
and though still in the highest vigour of youth, trembled whole days
together with the fear of death and judgment. He fancied that this
trembling was the sign set on the worst reprobates, the sign which
God had put on Cain. The unhappy man’s emotion destroyed his power of
digestion. He had such pains that he expected to burst asunder like
Judas, whom he regarded as his prototype.

Neither the books which Bunyan read, nor the advisers whom he consulted,
were likely to do much good in a case like his. His small library had
received a most unseasonable addition, the account of the lamentable
end of Francis Spira. One ancient man of high repute for piety, whom the
sufferer consulted, gave an opinion which might well have produced fatal
consequences. “I am afraid,” said Bunyan, “that I have committed the sin
against the Holy Ghost.”

“Indeed,” said the old fanatic, “I am afraid that you have.”

At length the clouds broke; the light became clearer and clearer; and
the enthusiast, who had imagined that he was branded with the mark of
the first murderer, and destined to the end of the arch traitor, enjoyed
peace and a cheerful confidence in the mercy of God. Years elapsed,
however, before his nerves, which had been so perilously overstrained,
recovered their tone.

When {139}he had joined a Baptist society at Bedford, and was for the
first time admitted to partake of the Eucharist, it was with difficulty
that he could refrain from imprecating destruction on his brethren while
the cup was passing from hand to hand. After he had been some time a
member of the congregation, he began to preach; and his sermons produced
a powerful effect. He was indeed illiterate; but he spoke to illiterate
men. The severe training through which he had passed had given him such
an experimental knowledge of all the modes of religious melancholy as he
could never have gathered from books; and his vigorous genius, animated
by a fervent spirit of devotion, enabled him, not only to exercise
a great influence over the vulgar, but even to extort the half
contemptuous admiration of scholars. Yet it was long before he ceased
to be tormented by an impulse which urged him to utter words of horrible
impiety in the pulpit.

Counter-irritants are of as great use in moral as in physical diseases.
It should seem that Bunyan was finally relieved from the internal
sufferings which had embittered his life by sharp persecution from
without. He had been five years a preacher, when the Restoration put
it in the power of the Cavalier gentlemen and clergymen all over the
country to oppress the Dissenters; and, of all the Dissenters whose
history is known to us, he was perhaps the most hardly treated. In
November 1660, he was flung into Bedford gaol; and there he remained,
with some intervals of partial and precarious liberty, during twelve
years. His persecutors tried to extort from him a promise that he would
abstain from preaching; but he was convinced that he was divinely set
apart and commissioned to be a teacher of righteousness: and he was
fully {140}determined to obey God rather than man. He was brought before
several tribunals, laughed at, caressed, reviled, menaced, but in vain.
He was facetiously told that he was quite right in thinking that
he ought not to hide his gift: but that his real gift was skill in
repairing old kettles. He was compared to Alexander the coppersmith.
he was told that, if he would give up preaching, he should be instantly
liberated. He was warned that, if he persisted in disobeying the law,
he would be liable to banishment, and that, if he were found in England
after a certain time, his neck would be stretched. His answer was, “If
you let me out to-day, I will preach again tomorrow.” Year after year he
lay patiently in a dungeon, compared with which the worst prison now
to be found in the island is a palace. His fortitude is the more
extraordinary, because his domestic feelings were unusually strong.
Indeed, he was considered by his stern brethren as somewhat too fond
and indulgent a parent. He had several small children, and among them a
daughter who was blind, and whom he loved with peculiar tenderness. He
could not, he said, bear even to let the wind blow on her; and now she
must suffer cold and hunger: she must beg; she must be beaten; “yet,”
 he added, “I must, I must do it.” While he lay in prison he could do
nothing in the way of his old trade for the support of his family. He
determined, therefore, to take up a new trade. He learned to make long
tagged thread laces; and many thousands of these articles were furnished
by him to the hawkers. While his hands were thus busied, he had other
employment for his mind and his lips. He gave religious instruction to
his fellow-captives, and formed from among them a little flock, of which
he {141}was himself the pastor. He studied indefatigably the few books
which he possessed. His two chief companions were the Bible and Fox’s
Book of Martyrs. His knowledge of the Bible was such that he might have
been called a living concordance; and on the margin of his copy of the
Book of Martyrs are still legible the ill spelt lines of doggrel in
which he expressed his reverence for the brave sufferers, and his
implacable enmity to the mystical Babylon.

At length he began to write; and, though it was some time before he
discovered where his strength lay, his writings were not unsuccessful.
They were coarse, indeed; but they showed a keen mother wit, a great
command of the homely mother tongue, an intimate knowledge of the
English Bible, and a vast and dearly bought spiritual experience. They
therefore, when the corrector of the press had improved the syntax and
the spelling, were well received by the humbler class of Dissenters.

Much of Bunyan’s time was spent in controversy. He wrote sharply against
the Quakers, whom he seems always to have held in utter abhorrence. It
is, however, a remarkable fact that he adopted one of their peculiar
fashions: his practice was to write, not November or December, but
eleventh month and twelfth month.

He wrote against the liturgy of the Church of England. No two things,
according to him, had less affinity than the form of prayer and the
spirit of prayer. Those, he said with much point, who have most of the
spirit of prayer are all to be found in gaol; and those who have most
zeal for the form of prayer are all to be found at the alehouse. The
doctrinal articles, on the other hand, he warmly praised, and defended
against some {142}Arminian clergymen who had signed them. The most
acrimonious of all his works is his answer to Edward Fowler, afterwards
Bishop of Gloucester, an excellent man, but not free from the taint of

Banyan had also a dispute with some of the chiefs of the sect to which
he belonged. He doubtless held with perfect sincerity the distinguishing
tenet of that sect; but he did not consider that tenet as one of high
importance, and willingly joined in communion with quiet Presbyterians
and Independents. The sterner Baptists, therefore, loudly pronounced him
a false brother. A controversy arose which long survived the original
combatants. In our own time the cause which Bunyan had defended with
rude logic and rhetoric against Kiffin and Danvers was pleaded by Robert
Hall with an ingenuity and eloquence such as no polemical Writer has
ever surpassed.

During the years which immediately followed the

Restoration, Bunyan’s confinement seems to have been strict. But, as the
passions of 1660 cooled, as the hatred with which the Puritans had been
regarded while their reign was recent gave place to pity, he was less
and less harshly treated. The distress of his family, and his own
patience, courage, and piety softened the hearts of his persecutors.
Like his own Christian in the cage, he found protectors even among the
crowd of Vanity Fair. The bishop of the diocese, Dr. Barlow, is said
to have interceded for him. At length the prisoner was suffered to
pass most of his time beyond the walls of the gaol, on condition, as it
should seem, that he remained within the town of Bedford.

He owed his complete liberation to one of the worst acts of one of the
worst governments that England has ever {143}seen. In 1671 the Cabal was
in power. Charles II. had concluded the treaty by which he bound himself
to set up the Roman Catholic religion in England. The first step which
he took towards that end was to annul, by an unconstitutional exercise
of his prerogative, all the penal statutes against the Roman Catholics;
and, in order to disguise his real design, he annulled at the same
time the penal statutes against Protestant nonconformists. Bunyan was
consequently set at large. In the first warmth of his gratitude he
published a tract in which he compared Charles to that humane and
generous Persian king who, though not himself blessed with the light of
the true religion, favoured the chosen people, and permitted them, after
years of captivity, to rebuild their beloved temple. To candid men, who
consider how much Bunyan had suffered, and how little he could guess the
secret designs of the court, the unsuspicious thankfulness with which
he accepted the precious boon of freedom will not appear to require any

Before he left his prison he had begun the book which has made his nane
immortal. The history of that book is remarkable. The author was, as he
tells us, writing a treatise, in which he had occasion to speak of the
stages of the Christian progress. He compared that progress, as many
others had compared it, to a pilgrimage. Soon his quick wit discovered
innumerable points of similarity which had escaped his predecessors.
Imams came crowding on his mind faster than he could put them into
words, quagmires and pits, steep hills, dark and horrible glens, soft
vales, sunny pastures, a gloomy castle of which the courtyard was strewn
with the skulls and bones of murdered prisoners, a town all bustle and
splendour, like London on the Lord {144}Mayor’s Day, and the narrow
path, straight as a rule could make it, running on up hill and down
hill, through city and through wilderness, to the Black River and the
Shining Gate. He had found out, as most people would have said,
by accident, as he would doubtless have said, by the guidance of
Providence, where his powers lay. He had no suspicion, indeed, that he
was producing a masterpiece. He could not guess what place his allegory
would occupy in English literature; for of English literature he knew
nothing. Those who suppose him to have studied the Fairy Queen might
easily be confuted, if this were the proper place for a detailed
examination of the passages in which the two allegories have been
thought to resemble each other. The only work of fiction, in all
probability, with which he could compare his pilgrim, was his old
favourite, the legend of Sir Bevis of Southampton. He would have thought
it a sin to borrow any time from the serious business of his life, from
his expositions, his controversies, and his lace tags, for the purpose
of amusing himself with what he considered merely as a trifle. It was
only, he assures us, at spare moments that he returned to the House
Beautiful, the Delectable Mountains, and the Enchanted Ground. He had no
assistance. Nobody but himself saw a line till the whole was complete.
He then consulted his pious friends. Some were pleased. Others were
much scandalised. It was a vain story, a mere romance, about giants, and
lions, and goblins, and warriors, sometimes fighting with monsters
and sometimes regaled by fair ladies in stately palaces. The loose
atheistical wits at Will’s might write such stuff to divert the painted
Jezebels of the court: but did it become a minister of the gospel to
copy the evil fashions of the world? There had {145}been a time when the
cant of such fools would have made Bunyan miserable. But that time was
passed; and his mind was now in a firm and healthy state. He saw that,
in employing fiction to make truth clear and goodness attractive, he
was only following the example which every Christian ought to propose to
himself; and he determined to print.

The _Pilgrim’s Progress_ stole silently into the world. Not a single
copy of the first edition is known to be in existence. The year of
publication has not been ascertained. It is probable that, during
some months, the little volume circulated only among poor and obscure
sectaries. But soon the irresistible charm of a book which gratified
the imagination of the reader with all the action and scenery of a
fairy tale, which exercised Ins ingenuity by setting him to discover a
multitude of curious analogies, which interested his feelings for human
beings, frail like himself, and struggling with temptations from within
and from without, which every moment drew a smile from him by some
stroke of quaint yet simple pleasantry, and nevertheless left on his
mind a sentiment of reverence for God and of sympathy for man, began to
produce its effect. In puritanical circles, from which plays and novels
were strictly excluded, that effect was such as no work of genius,
though it were superior to the Iliad, to Don Quixote, or to Othello, can
ever produce on a mind accustomed to indulge in literary luxury. In 1678
came forth a second edition with additions; and then the demand became
immense. In the four following years the book was reprinted six times.
The eighth edition, which contains the last improvements made by the
author, was published in 1682, the ninth in 1684, the tenth in 1685.
The help of the engraver had early been {146}called in; and tens of
thousands of children looked with terror and delight on execrable
copperplates, which represented Christian thrusting his sword into
Apollyon, or writhing in the grasp of Giant Despair. In Scotland, and
in some of the colonies, the Pilgrim was even more popular than in his
native country. Bunyan has told us, with very pardonable vanity, that
in New England his dream was the daily subject of the conversation of
thousands, and was thought worthy to appear in the most superb binding.
He had numerous admirers in Holland, and amoung the Huegonots of France.
With the pleasures, however, he experienced some of the pains of
eminence. Knavish booksellers put forth volumes of trash under his name;
and envious scribblers maintained it to be impossible that the poor
ignorant tinker should really be the author of the book which was called

He took the best way to confound both those who counterfeited him and
those who slandered him. He continued to work the gold-field which he
had discovered, and to draw from it new treasures, not indeed with quite
such ease and in quite such abundance as when the precious soil was
still virgin, but yet with success which left all competition far
behind. In 1684 appeared the second part of the “Pilgrim’s Progress.” It
was soon followed by the “Holy War,” which, if the “Pilgrim’s Progress”
 did not exist, would be the best allegory that ever was written.

Bunyan’s place in society was now very different from what it had been.
There had been a time when many Dissenting ministers, who could talk
Latin and read Greek, had affected to treat him with scorn. But his
fame and influence now far exceeded theirs. He had so great an authority
among the Baptists that he was popularly {147}called Bishop Banyan. His
episcopal visitations were annual. From Bedford he rode every year to
London, and preached there to large and attentive congregations. From
London he went his circuit through the country, animating the zeal of
his brethren, collecting and distributing alms, and making up quarrels.
The magistrates seem in general to have given him little trouble. But
there is reason to believe that, in the year 1685, he was in some danger
of again occupying his old quarters in Bedford gaol. In that year the
rash and wicked enterprise of Monmouth gave the Government a pretext for
prosecuting the Nonconformists; and scarcely one eminent divine of the
Presbyterian, Independent, or Baptist persuasion remained unmolested.
Baxter was in prison: Howe was driven into exile: Henry was arrested.
Two eminent Baptists, with whom Bunyan had been engaged in controversy,
were in great peril and distress. Danvers was in danger of being hanged:
and Kiffin’s grandsons were actually hanged. The tradition is that,
during those evil days, Bunyan was forced to disguise himself as a
waggoner, and that he preached to his congregation at Bedford in a
smock-frock, with a cart-whip in his hand. But soon a great change took
place. James the Second was at open war with the church, and found
it necessary to court the Dissenters. Some of the creatures of the
government tried to secure the aid of Bunyan. They probably knew that
he had written in praise of the indulgence of 1672, and therefore
hoped that he might be equally pleased with the indulgence of 1687. But
fifteen years of thought, observation, and commerce with the world
had made him wiser. Nor were the cases exactly parallel. Charles was a
professed Protestant: James was a {148}professed Papist. The object of
Charles’s indulgence was disguised: the object of James’s indulgence
was patent. Bunyan was not deceived, he exhorted his hearers to prepare
themselves by fasting and prayer for the danger which menaced their
civil and religious liberties, and refused even to speak to the courtier
who came down to remodel the corporation of Bedford, and who, as was
supposed, had it in charge to offer some municipal dignity to the Bishop
of the Baptists.

Bunyan did not live to see the Revolution. In the summer of 1688 he
undertook to plead the cause of a son with an angry father, and at
length prevailed on the old man not to disinherit the young one. This
good work cost the benevolent intercessor his life. He had to ride
through heavy rain. He came drenched to his lodgings on Snow Hill, was
seized with a violent fever, and died in a few days. He was buried in
Bunhill Fields; and the spot where he lies is still regarded by the
Nonconformists with a feeling which, seems scarcely in harmony with the
stern spirit of their theology. Many puritans, to whom the respect paid
by Roman Catholics to the reliques and tombs of saints seemed childish
or sinful, are said to have begged with their dying breath that their
coffins might be placed as near as possible to the coffin of the author
of the “Pilgrim’s Progress.”

The fame of Bunyan during his life, and during the century which
followed his death, was indeed great, but was almost entirely confined
to religious families of the middle and lower classes. Very seldom
was he during that time mentioned with respect by any writer of great
literary eminence. Young coupled his prose with the poetry of the
wretched D’Urfey. In the Spiritual Quixote, the adventures of
Christian are ranked {149}with those of Jack the Giant-Killer and John
Hickathrift. Cowper ventured to praise the great allegorist, but did
not venture to name him. It is a significant circumstance that, till
a recent period, all the numerous editions of the “Pilgrim’s Progress”
 were evidently meant for the cottage and the servants’ hall. The paper,
the printing, the plates, were all of the meanest description. In
general, when the educated minority and the common people differ about
the merit of a book, the opinion of the educated minority finally
prevails. The “Pilgrim’s Progress” is perhaps the only book about which,
after the lapse of a hundred years, the educated minority has come over
to the opinion of the common people.

The attempts which have been made to improve and to imitate this book
are not to be numbered. It has been done into verse: it has been
done into modern English. “The Pilgrimage of Tender Conscience,” the
“Pilgrimage of Good Intent,” “The Pilgrimage of Seek Truth,” “The
Pilgrimage of Theophilus,” “The Infant Pilgrim,” “The Hindoo Pilgrim,”
 are among the many feeble copies of the great original. But the peculiar
glory of Bunyan is that those who most hated his doctrines have tried to
borrow the help of his genius. A Catholic version of his parable may be
seen with the head of the Virgin in the title page. On the other hand,
those Antinomians for whom his Calvinism is not strong enough may study
the pilgrimage of Hephzibah, in which nothing will be found which can be
construed into an admission of free agency and universal redemption. But
the most extraordinary of all the acts of Vandalism by which a fine work
of art was ever defaced was committed so late as the year 1853. It was
determined to transform {150}the “Pilgrim’s Progress” into a Tractarian
book. The task was not easy: for it was necessary to make the two
sacraments the most prominent objects in the allegory; and of all
Christian theologians, avowed Quakers excepted, Bunyan was the one in
whose system the sacraments held the least prominent place. However,
the Wicket Gate became a type of Baptism, and the House Beautiful of the
Eucharist. The effect of this change is such as assuredly the ingenious
person who made it never contemplated. For, as not a single pilgrim
passes through the Wicket Gate in infancy, and as Faithful hurries past
the House Beautiful without stopping, the lesson, which the fable in its
altered shape teaches, is that none but adults ought to be baptized, and
that the Eucharist may safely be neglected. Nobody would have discovered
from the original “Pilgrim’s Progress” that the author was not a
Pædobaptist. To turn his book into a book against Pædobaptism was an
achievement reserved for an Anglo-Catholic divine. Such blunders must
necessarily be committed by every man who mutilates parts of a great
work, without taking a comprehensive view of the whole.


(_Encyclopaedia Britannica_, February 1856.)

Oliver Goldsmith, {151}one of the most pleasing English writers of the
eighteenth century. He was of a Protestant and Saxon family which had
been long settled in Ireland, and which had, like most other Protestant
and Saxon families, been, in troubled times, harassed and put in fear
by the native population. His father, Charles Goldsmith, studied in the
reign of Queen Anne at the diocesan school of Elphin, became attached to
the daughter of the schoolmaster, married her, took orders, and settled
at a place called Pallas in the county of Longford. There he with
difficulty supported his wife and children on what he could earn, partly
as a curate and partly as a farmer.

At Pallas Oliver Goldsmith was born in November 1728. The spot was then,
for all practical purposes, almost as remote from the busy and splendid
capital in which his later years were passed, as any clearing in Upper
Canada or any sheep-walk in Australasia now is. Even at this day those
enthusiasts who venture to make a pilgrimage to the birthplace of the
poet are forced to perform the latter part of their journey on foot.
The hamlet lies far from any high road, on a dreary plain which, in wet
weather, is often a lake. {152}The lanes would break any jaunting ear to
pieces; and there are ruts and sloughs through which the most strongly
built wheels cannot be dragged.

While Oliver was still a child, his father was presented to a living
worth about 200l. a year, in the county of Westmeath. The family
accordingly quitted their cottage in the wilderness for a spacious
house on a frequented road, near the village of Lissoy. Here the boy was
taught his letters by a maid-servant, and was sent in his seventh
year to a village school kept by an old quartermaster on half-pay, who
professed to teach nothing but reading, writing and arithmetic, but who
had an inexhaustible fund of stories about ghosts, banshees and fairies,
about the great Rapparee chiefs, Baldearg O’Donnell and galloping Hogan,
and about the exploits of Peterborough and Stanhope, the surprise of
Monjuich, and the glorious disaster of Brihuega.

This man must have been of the Protestant religion; but he was of the
aboriginal race, and not only spoke the Irish language, but could pour
forth unpremeditated Irish verses. Oliver early became, and through life
continued to be, a passionate admirer of the Irish music, and especially
of the compositions of Carolan, some of the last notes of whose harp
he heard. It ought to be added that Oliver, though by birth one of the
Englishry, and though connected by numerous ties with the Established
Church, never showed the least sign of that contemptuous antipathy
with which, in his days, the ruling minority in Ireland too generally
regarded the subject majority. So far indeed was he from sharing in
the opinions and feelings of the caste to which he belonged, that he
conceived an aversion to the Glorious and Immortal Memory, and, even
when George the Third was on the throne, maintained {153}that nothing
but the restoration of the banished dynasty could save the country.

From the humble academy kept by the old soldier Goldsmith was removed
in his ninth year. He went to several grammar-schools, and acquired some
knowledge of the ancient languages. His life at this time seems to have
been far from happy. He had, as appears from the admirable portrait of
him at Knowle, features harsh even to ugliness. The small-pox had set
its mark on him with more than usual severity. His stature was small,
and his limbs ill put together. Among boys little tenderness is shown to
personal defects; and the ridicule excited by poor Oliver’s appearance
was heightened by a peculiar simplicity and a disposition to blunder
which he retained to the last. He became the common butt of boys and
masters, was pointed at as a fright in the play-ground, and flogged as
a dunce in the school-room. When he had risen to eminence, those who
had once derided him ransacked their memory for the events of his early
years, and recited repartees and couplets which had dropped from him,
and which, though little noticed at the time, were supposed, a quarter
of a century later, to indicate the powers which produced the “Vicar of
Wakefield” and the “Deserted Village.”

In his seventeenth year Oliver went up to Trinity College, Dublin, as a
sizar. The sizars paid nothing for food and tuition, and very little for
lodging; but they had to perform some menial services from which they
have long been relieved. They swept the court: they carried up the
dinner to the fellows’ table, and changed the plates and poured out the
ale of the rulers of the society. Goldsmith was quartered, not alone, in
a garret, on the window of which {154}his name, scrawled by himself, is
still read with interest. (1) From such garrots many men of less parts
than his have made their way to the wool-sack or to the episcopal bench.
But Goldsmith, while he suffered all the humiliations, threw away all
the advantages, of his situation. He neglected the studies of the place,
stood low at the examinations, was turned down to the bottom of
his class for playing the buffoon in the lecture room, was severely
reprimanded for pumping on a constable, and was caned by a brutal tutor
for giving a ball in the attic story of the college to some gay youths
and damsels from the city.

While Oliver was leading at Dublin a life divided between squalid
distress and squalid dissipation, his father died, leaving a mere
pittance. The youth obtained his bachelor’s degree, and left the
university. Durum some time the humble dwelling to which his widowed
mother had retired was his home. He was now in his twenty-first year; it
was necessary that he should do something; and his education seemed to
have fitted him to do nothing but to dress himself in gaudy colours, of
which he was as fond as a magpie, to take a hand at cards, to sing Irish
airs, to play the flute, to angle in summer, and to tell ghost stories
by the fire in winter. He tried five or six professions in turn without
success. He applied for ordination; but, as he applied in scarlet
clothes, he was speedily turned out of the episcopal palace. He then
became tutor in an opulent family, but soon quitted his situation in
consequence of a dispute about play. Then he determined

     (1) The glass on which the name is written has, as we are
     informed by a writer in _Notes and Queries_ (2nd S. ix. p.
     91), been inclosed in a frame and deposited in the
     Manuscript Room of the College Library, where it is still to
     be seen.

to {155}emigrate to America. His relations, with much satisfaction, saw
him set out for Cork on a good horse, with thirty pounds in his pocket.
But in six weeks he came back on a miserable hack, without a penny, and
informed his mother that the ship in which he had taken his passage,
having got a fair wind while he was at a party of pleasure, had sailed
without him. Then he resolved to study the law. A generous kinsman
advanced fifty pounds. With this sum Goldsmith went to Dublin, was
enticed into a gaming house, and lost every shilling. He then thought
of medicine. A small purse was made up; and in his twenty-fourth year he
was sent to Edinburgh. At Edinburgh he passed eighteen months in nominal
attendance on lectures, and picked up some superficial information
about chemistry and natural history. Thence he went to Leyden, still
pretending to study physic. He left that celebrated university, the
third university at which he had resided, in his twenty-seventh year,
without a degree, with the merest smattering of medical knowledge, and
with no property but his clothes and his flute. His flute, however,
proved a useful friend. He rambled on foot through Flanders, France, and
Switzerland, playing tunes which everywhere set the peasantry dancing,
and which often procured for him a supper and a bed. He wandered as far
as Italy. His musical performances, indeed, were not to the taste of
the Italians; but he contrived to live on the alms whieh he obtained at
the gates of convents. It should, however, be observed that the stories
which he told about this part of his life ought to be received with
great caution; for strict veracity was never one of his virtues; and a
man who is ordinarily inaccurate in narration is likely to be more
than ordinarily inaccurate when he talks about his {156}own travels.
Goldsmith, indeed, was so regardless of truth as to assert in print that
he was present at a most interesting conversation between Voltaire and
Foutenelle, and that this conversation took place at Paris. Now it is
certain that Voltaire never was within a hundred leagues of Paris during
the whole time which Goldsmith passed on the Continent.

In 1756 the wanderer landed at Dover, without a shilling, without a
friend, and without a calling. He had, indeed, if his own unsupported
evidence may be trusted, obtained from the university of Padua a
doctor’s degree; but this dignity proved utterly useless to him. In
England his flute was not in request: there were no convents; and he was
forced to have recourse to a series of desperate expedients. He turned
strolling player; but his face and figure were ill suited to the boards
even of the humblest theatre. He pounded drugs and ran about London with
phials for charitable chemists. He joined a swarm of beggars, which made
its nest in Axe Yard. He was for a time usher of a school, and felt the
miseries and humiliations of this situation so keenly that he thought
it a promotion to be permitted to earn his bread as a bookseller’s hack;
but he soon found the new yoke more galling than the old one, and was
glad to become an usher again. He obtained a medical appointment in
the service of the East India Company; but the appointment was speedily
revoked. Why it was revoked we are not told. The subject was one on
which he never liked to talk. It is probable that he was incompetent to
perform the duties of the place. Then he presented himself at Surgeons’
Hall for examination, as mate to a naval hospital. Even to so humble
a post he was found unequal. By this time the schoolmaster whom he had
served for a morsel {157}of food and the third part of a bed was
no more. Nothing remained but to return to the lowest drudgery of
literature. Goldsmith took a garret in a miserable court, to which
he had to climb from the brink of Fleet Ditch by a dizzy ladder of
flag-stones called Breakneck Steps. The court and the ascent have long
disappeared; but old Londoners will remember both. (1) Here, at thirty,
the unlucky adventurer sat down to toil like a galley slave.

In the succeeding six years he sent to the press some things which have
survived and many which have perished. He produced articles for reviews,
magazines, and newspapers: children’s books which, bound in gilt paper
and adorned with hideous woodcuts, appeared in the window of the once
far-finned shop at the corner of St. Paul’s Churchyard; “An Inquiry into
the State of Polite Learning in Europe,” which, though of little or no
value, is still reprinted among his works; a “Life of Beau Nash,” which
is not reprinted, though it well deserves to be so; (2) a superficial
and incorrect, but very readable, “History of England,” in a series of
letters purporting to be addressed by a nobleman to his son; and some
very lively and amusing “Sketches of London Society,” in a series
of letters purporting to be addressed by a Chinese traveller to his
friends. All these works were anonymous; but some of them were

     (1) A gentleman, who states that he has known the
     neighbourhood for thirty years, corrects this account, and
     informs the present publisher that the Breakneck Steps,
     thirty-two in number, divided into two flights, are still in
     existence, and that, according to tradition, Goldsmith’s
     house was not on the steps, but was the first house at the
     head of the court, on the left hand, going from the Old
     Bailey. See _Notes and Queries_ (2nd S. ix. 280).

     (2) Mr. Black has pointed out that this is inaccurate: the
     life of Nash has been twice reprinted; once in  Mr. Prior’s
     edition (vol. iii. p. 249), and once in Mr. Cunningham’s
     edition (vol. iv. p. 351.

well {158}known to be Goldsmith’s: and he gradually rose in the
estimation of the booksellers for whom he drudged. He was, indeed,
emphatically a popular writer. For accurate research or grave
disquisition he was not well qualified by nature or by education, he
knew nothing accurately: his reading had been desultory; nor had he
meditated deeply on what he had read. He had seen much of the world; but
he had noticed and retained little more of what he had seen than some
grotesque incidents and characters which had happened to strike his
fancy. But, though his mind was very scantily stored with materials,
he used what materials he had in such a way as to produce a wonderful
effect. There have been many greater writers; but perhaps no writer was
ever more uniformly agreeable. His style was always pure and easy, and,
on proper occasions, pointed and energetic. His narratives were always
amusing, his descriptions always picturesque, his humour rich and
joyous, yet not without an occasional tinge of amiable sadness. About
everything that he wrote, serious or sportive, there was a certain
natural grace and decorum, hardly to be expected from a man a great part
of whose life had been passed among thieves and beggars, street-walkers
and merry andrews, in those squalid dens which are the reproach of great

As his name gradually became known, the circle of his acquaintance
widened. He was introduced to Johnson, who was then considered as the
first of living English writers; to Reynolds, the first of English
painters; and to Burke, who had not yet entered parliament, but had
distinguished himself greatly by his writings and by the eloquence of
his conversation. With these eminent men Goldsmith became intimate. In
1763 he was {159}one of the nine original members of that celebrated
fraternity which has sometimes been called the Literary Club, but which
has always disclaimed that epithet, and still glories in the simple name
of The Club.

By this time Goldsmith had quitted his miserable dwelling at the top of
Breakneck Steps, and had taken chambers in the more civilised region of
the Inns of Court. But he was still often reduced to pitiable shifts.
Towards the close of 1764 his rent was so long in arrear that his
landlady one morning called in the help of a sheriff’s officer. The
debtor, in great perplexity, despatched a messenger to Johnson; and
Johnson, always friendly, though often surly, sent back the messenger
with a guinea, and promised to follow speedily. He came, and found that
Goldsmith had changed the guinea, and was railing at the landlady over
a bottle of Madeira. Johnson put the cork into the bottle, and entreated
his friend to consider calmly how money was to be procured. Goldsmith
said that he had a novel ready for the press. Johnson glanced at
the manuscript, saw that there were good things in it, took it to a
bookseller, sold it for 60l, and soon returned with the money. The rent
was paid; and the sheriff’s officer withdrew. According to one story,
Goldsmith gave his landlady a sharp reprimand for her treatment of him;
according to another, he insisted on her joining him in a bowl of punch.
Both stories are probably true. The novel which was thus ushered into
the world was the “Vicar of Wakefield.”

But, before the “Vicar of Wakefield” appeared in print, came the
great crisis of Goldsmith’s literary life. In Christmas week, 1764, he
published a poem, entitled the “Traveller.” It was the first work to
which he had {160}put, his name; and it at once raised him to the rank
of a legitimate English classic. The opinion of the most skilful critics
was, that nothing finer had appeared in verse since the fourth book of
the “Dunciad.”

In one respect the “Traveller” differs from all Goldsmith’s other
writings. In general his designs were bad, and his execution good. In
the “Traveller,” the execution, though deserving of much praise, is far
inferior to the design. No philosophical poem, ancient or modern, lias
a plan so noble, and at the same time so simple. An English, wanderer,
seated on a crag among the Alps, near the point where three great
countries meet, looks down on the boundless prospect, reviews his long
pilgrimage, recalls the varieties of scenery, of climate, of government,
of religion, of national character, which he has observed, and comes
to the conclusion, just or unjust, that our happiness depends little on
political institutions, and much on the temper and regulation of our own

While the fourth edition of the “Traveller” was on the counters of the
booksellers, the “Vicar of Wakefield” appeared, and rapidly obtained a
popularity which has lasted down to our own time, and which is likely to
last as long as our language. The fable is indeed one of the worst that
ever was constructed. It wants, not merely that probability which ought
to be found in a tale of common English life, but that consistency which
ought to be found even in the wildest fiction about witches, giants,
and fairies. But the earlier chapters have all the Sweetness of
pastoral poetry, together with all the vivacity of comedy. Moses and his
spectacles, the vicar and his monogamy, the sharper and his cosmogony,
the squire proving from Aristotle that relatives are related, Olivia
preparing {161}herself for the arduous task of converting a rakish lover
by studying the controversy between Robinson Crusoe and Friday, the
great ladies with their scandal about Sir Tomkyn’s amours and Dr.
Burdock’s verses, and Mr. Burchell with his “Fudge,” have caused as much
harmless mirth as has ever been caused by matter packed into so small
a number of pages. The latter part of the tale is unworthy of the
beginning. As we approach the catastrophe, the absurdities lie thicker
and thicker; and the gleams of pleasantry become rarer and rarer.

The success which had attended Goldsmith as a novelist emboldened him to
try his fortune as a dramatist. He wrote the “Goodnatured Man,” a piece
which had a worse fate than it deserved. Garrick refused to produce it
at Drury Lane. It was acted at Covent Garden in 1768, but was coldly
received. The author, however, cleared by his benefit nights, and by the
sale of the copyright, no less than 500l., five times as much as he had
made by the “Traveller” and the “Vicar of Wakefield” together. The plot
of the “Good-natured Man” is, like almost all Goldsmith’s plots, very
ill constructed. But some passages are exquisitely ludicrous; much more
ludicrous, indeed, than suited the taste of the town at that time. A
canting, mawkish play, entitled “False Delicacy,” had just had an
immense run. Sentimentality was all the mode. During some years, more
tears were shed at comedies than at tragedies; and a pleasantry which
moved the audience to anything more than a grave smile was reprobated
as low. It is not strange, therefore, that the very best scene in the
“Goodnatured Man,” that in which Miss Richland finds her lover attended
by the bailiff and the bailiff’s follower in full court dresses, should
{162}have been mercilessly hissed, and should have been omitted after
the first night.

In 1770 appeared the “Deserted Village.” In mere diction and
versification this celebrated poem is fully equal, perhaps superior,
to the “Traveller;” and it is generally preferred to the “Traveller” by
that large class of readers who think, with Bayes in the “Rehearsal,”
 that the only use of a plan is to bring in fine things. More discerning
judges, however, while they admire the beauty of the details, are
shocked by one unpardonable fault which pervades the whole. The fault we
mean is not that theory about wealth and luxury which has so often been
censured by political economists. The theory is indeed false: but the
poem, considered merely as a poem, is not necessarily the worse on
that account. The finest poem in the Latin language, indeed the finest
didactic poem in any language, was written in defence of the silliest
and meanest of all systems of natural and moral philosophy. A poet may
easily be pardoned for reasoning ill; but he cannot be pardoned for
describing ill, for observing the world in which he lives so carelessly
that his portraits bear no resemblance to the originals, for exhibiting
as copies from real life monstrous combinations of things which never
were and never could be found together. What would be thought of a
painter who should mix August and January in one landscape, who should
introduce a frozen river into a harvest scene? Would it be a sufficient
defence of such a picture to say that every part was exquisitely
coloured, that the green hedges, the apple-trees loaded with fruit, the
waggons reeling under the yellow sheaves, and the sun-burned reapers
wiping their foreheads, were very fine, and that the ice and the boys
sliding were also very {163}fine? To such a picture the “Deserted
Village” bears a great resemblance. It is made up of incongruous parts.
The village in its happy days is a true English village. The village
in its decay is an Irish village. The felicity and the misery which
Goldsmith has brought close together belong to two different countries,
and to two different stages in the progress of society. He had assuredly
never seen in his native island such a rural paradise, such a seat of
plenty, content, and tranquillity, as his “Auburn.” He had assuredly
never seen in England all the inhabitants of such a paradise turned out
of their homes in one day and forced to emigrate in a body to America.
The hamlet he had probably seen in Kent; the ejectment he had probably
seen in Minister: but, by joining the two, he has produced something
which never was and never will be seen in any part of the world.

In 1778 Goldsmith tried his chance at Covent Garden with a second play,
“She Stoops to Conquer.” The manager was not without great difficulty
induced to bring this piece out. The sentimental comedy still reigned:
and Goldsmith’s comedies were not sentimental. The “Goodnatured Man” had
been too funny to succeed; yet the mirth of the “Goodnatured? Man” was
sober when compared with the rich drollery# of “She Stoops to Conquer,”
 which is, in truth, an incomparable farce in five acts. On this
occasion, however, genius triumphed. Pit, boxes, and galleries, were
in a constant roar of laughter. If any bigoted admirer of Kelly and
Cumberland ventured to hiss or groan, he was speedily silenced by a
general cry of “turn him out,” or “throw him over.” Two generations have
since confirmed the verdict which was pronounced on that night.

While {164}Goldsmith was writing the “Deserted Village” and “She Stoops
to Conquer,” he was employed on works of a very different kind, works
from which he derived little reputation but much profit, he compiled
for the use of schools a “History of Rome,” by which he made 300l., a
“History of England,” by which he made 500l., a “History of Greece,”
 for which he received 250l., a “Natural History,” for which the
booksellers covenanted to pay him 800 guineas. These works he produced
without any elaborate research, by merely selecting, abridging, and
translating into his own clear, pure, and flowing language what he found
in books well known to the world, but too bulky or too dry for boys
and girls. He committed some strange blunders; for he knew nothing with
accuracy. Thus in his “History of England” he tells us that Naseby is in
Yorkshire; nor did he correct this mistake when the book was reprinted.
He was very nearly hoaxed into putting into the “History of Greece” an
account of a battle between Alexander the Great and Montezuma. In his
“Animated Nature” he relates, with faith and with perfect gravity,
all the most absurd lies which he could find in books of travels about
gigantic Patagonians, monkeys that preach sermons, nightingales that
repeat long conversations. “If he can tell a horse from a cow,” said
Johnson, “that is the extent of his knowledge of zoology.” How little
Goldsmith was qualified to write about the physical sciences is
sufficiently proved by two anecdotes. He on one occasion denied that the
sun is longer in the northern than in the southern skies. It was vain to
cite the authority of Maupertuis. “Maupertuis!” he cried, “I understand
those matters better than Maupertuis.” On another occasion he, {165}in
defiance of the evidence of his own senses, maintained obstinately, and
even angrily, that he chewed his dinner by moving his upper jaw.

Yet, ignorant as Goldsmith was, few writers have done more to make the
first steps in the laborious road to knowledge easy and pleasant. His
compilations are widely distinguished from the compilations of ordinary
book-makers. He was a great, perhaps an unequalled, master of the arts
of selection and condensation. In these respects his histories of Rome
and of England, and still more his own abridgments of these histories,
well deserve to be studied. In general nothing is less attractive than
an epitome: but the epitomes of Goldsmith, even when most concise, are
always amusing; and to read them is considered by intelligent children,
not as a task, but as a pleasure.

Goldsmith might now be considered as a prosperous man. He had the means
of living in comfort, and even in what to one who had so often slept
in barns and on bulks must have been luxury. His fame was great and
was constantly rising. He lived in what was intellectually far the
best society of the kingdom, in a society in which no talent or
accomplishment was wanting, and in which the art of conversation was
cultivated with splendid success. There probably were never four talkers
more admirable in four different ways than Johnson, Burke, Beauclerk,
and Garrick; and Goldsmith was on terms of intimacy with all the four.
He aspired to share in their colloquial renown; but never was ambition
more unfortunate. It may seem strange that a man who wrote with so much
perspicuity, vivacity, and grace, should have been, whenever he took a
part in conversation, an empty, noisy, blundering rattle. But on this
point the evidence is overwhelming. {166}So extraordinary was the
contrast between Goldsmith’s published works and the silly things
which he said, that Horace Walpole described him as an inspired idiot.
“Noll,” said Garrick, “wrote like an angel, and talked like poor Pol.”
 Charnier declared that it was a hard exercise of faith to believe that
so foolish a chatterer could have really written the “Traveller.” Even
Boswell could say, with contemptuous compassion, that he liked very
well to hear honest Goldsmith run on. “Yes, sir,” said Johnson; “but he
should not like to hear himself.” Minds differ as rivers differ. There
are transparent and sparkling rivers from which it is delightful to
drink as they flow; to such rivers the minds of such men as Burke and
Johnson may be compared. But there are rivers of which the water when
first drawn is turbid and noisome, but becomes pellucid as crystal, and
delicious to the taste, if it be suffered to stand till it has deposited
a sediment; and such a river is a type of the mind of Goldsmith. His
first thoughts on every subject were confused even to absurdity; but
they required only a little time to work themselves clear. When he wrote
they had that time; and therefore his readers pronounced him a man of
genius: but when he talked he talked nonsense, and made himself
the laughing-stock of his hearers. He was painfully sensible of his
inferiority in conversation; he felt every failure keenly: yet he had
not sufficient judgment and self-command to hold his tongue. His animal
spirits and vanity were always impelling him to try to do the one thing
whieh he could not do. After every attempt he felt that he had exposed
himself, and writhed with shame and vexation; yet the next moment he
began again.

His {167}associates seem to have regarded him with kindness, which,
in spite of their admiration of his writings, was not unmixed with
contempt. In truth, there was in Ins character much to love, but very
little to respect. His heart was soft even to weakness: he was so
generous that he quite forgot to be just; he forgave injuries so readily
that he might be said to invite them; and was so liberal to beggars
that he had nothing left for his tailor and his butcher. He was vain,
sensual, frivolous, profuse, improvident. One vice of a darker shade was
imputed to him, envy. But there is not the least reason to believe that
this bad passion, though it sometimes made him wince and utter fretful
exclamations, ever impelled him to injure by wicked arts the reputation
of any of his rivals. The truth probably is, that he was not more
envious, but merely less prudent, than his neighbours. His heart was on
his lips. All those small jealousies, which are but too common among men
of letters, but which a man of letters who is also a man of the world
does his best to conceal, Goldsmith avowed with the simplicity of a
child. When he was envious, instead of affecting indifference, instead
of damning with faint praise, instead of doing-injuries slily and in the
dark, he told every body that he was envious. “Do not, pray, do not talk
of Johnson in such terms,” he said to Boswell; “you harrow up my very
soul.” George Steevens and Cumberland were men far too cunning to say
such a thing. They would have echoed the praises of the man whom they
envied, and then have sent to the newspapers anonymous libels upon him.
Both what was good and what was bad in Goldsmith’s character was to his
associates a perfect security that he would never commit such villany.
He was neither ill-natured enough, nor longheaded {168}enough, to be
guilty of any malicious act which required contrivance and disguise.

Goldsmith has sometimes been represented as a man of genius, cruelly
treated by the world, and doomed to struggle with difficulties which at
last broke his heart. But no representation can be more remote from the
truth. He did, indeed, go through much sharp misery before he had done
anything considerable in literature. But, after his name had appeared on
the title-page of the “Traveller,” he had none but himself to blame for
his distresses. His average income, during the last seven years of his
life, certainly exceeded 400l. a year; and 400l. a year ranked, among
the incomes of that day, at least as high as 800l. a year would rank at
present. A single man living in the Temple with 400l. a year might
then be called opulent. Not one in ten of the young gentlemen of good
families who were studying the law there had so much. But all the wealth
which Lord Clive had brought from Bengal, and Sir Lawrence Dundas from
Germany, joined together, would not have sufficed for Goldsmith. He
spent twice as much as he had. He wore fine clothes, gave dinners of
several courses, paid court to venal beauties. He had also, it should
be remembered, to the honour of his heart, though not of his head, a
guinea, or five, or ten, according to the state of his purse, ready
for any tale of distress, true or false. But it was not in dress or
feasting, in promiscuous amours or promiscuous charities, that his chief
expense lay. He had been from boyhood a gambler, and at once the most
sanguine and the most unskilful of gamblers. For a time he put off the
day of inevitable ruin by temporary expedients. He obtained advances
from booksellers, by promising to execute works {169}which he never
began. But at length this source of supply failed. He owed more than
2000l. and he saw no hope of extrication from his embarrassments. His
spirits and health gave way. He was attacked by a nervous fever, which
he thought himself competent to treat, It would have been happy for him
if his medical skill had been appreciated as justly by himself as by
others. Notwithstanding the degree which he pretended to have received
at Padua, he could procure no patients. “I do not practise,” he once
said; “I make it a rule to prescribe only for my friends.”

“Pray, dear Doctor,” said Beauclerk, “alter your rule; and prescribe
only for your enemies.” Goldsmith now, in spite of this excellent
advice, prescribed for himself. The remedy aggravated the malady. The
sick man was induced to call in real physicians; and they at one
time imagined that they had cured the disease. Still his weakness and
restlessness continued. He could get no sleep. He could take no food.
“You are worse,” said one of his medical attendants, “than you should be
from the degree of fever which you have. Is your mind at ease?” “No, it
is not,” were the last recorded words of Oliver Goldsmith. He died on
the third of April 1774, in his forty-sixth year. He was laid in
the churchyard of the Temple; but the spot was not marked by any
inscription, and is now forgotten. The coffin was followed by Burke and
Reynolds. Both these great men were sincere mourners. Burke, when he
heard of Goldsmith’s death, had burst into a flood of tears. Reynolds
had been so much moved by the news that he had flung aside his brush and
palette for the day.

A short time after Goldsmith’s death, a little poem appeared, {170}which
will, as long as our language lasts, associate the names of his two
illustrious friends with his own. It has already been mentioned that he
sometimes felt keenly the sarcasm which his wild blundering talk brought
upon him. He was, not long before his last illness, provoked into
retaliating. He wisely betook himself to his pen; and at that weapon he
proved himself a match for all his assailants together. Within a
small compass he drew with a singularly easy and vigorous pencil the
characters of nine or ten of his intimate associates. Though this little
work did not receive his last touches, it must always be regarded as a
masterpiece. It is impossible, however, not to wish that four or five
likenesses which have no interest for posterity were wanting to that
noble gallery, and that their places were supplied by sketches of
Johnson and Gibbon, as happy and vivid as the sketches of Burke and

Some of Goldsmith’s friends and admirers honoured him with a cenotaph
in Westminster Abbey. Nollekens was the sculptor; and Johnson wrote the
inscription. It is much to be lamented that Johnson did not leave to
posterity a more durable and a more valuable memorial of his friend. A
life of Goldsmith would have been an inestimable addition to the Lives
of the Poets. No man appreciated Goldsmith’s writings more justly than
Johnson: no man was better acquainted with Goldsmith’s character and
habits; and no man was more competent to delineate with truth and spirit
the peculiarities of a mind in which great powers were found in company
with great weaknesses. But the list of poets to whose works Johnson was
requested by the booksellers to furnish prefaces ended with Lyttleton,
who died in 1773. The line seems to have {171}been drawn expressly for
the purpose of excluding the person whose portrait would have most
fitly closed the series. Goldsmith, however, has been fortunate in his
biographers. Within a few years his life has been written by Mr. Prior,
by Mr. Washington Irving, and by Mr. Forster. The diligence of Mr. Prior
deserves great praise: the style of Mr. Washington Irving is always
pleasing; but the highest place must, in justice, be assigned to the
eminently interesting work of Mr. Forster.


(_Encyclopodia Britannica_, December 1856.)

Samuel Johnson, {172}one of the most eminent English writers of the
eighteenth century, was the son of Michael Johnson, who was, at the
beginning of that century, a magistrate of Lichfield, and a bookseller
of great note in the midland counties. Michael’s abilities and
attainments seem to have been considerable. He was so well acquainted
with the contents of the volumes which he exposed to sale, that the
country rectors of Staffordshire and Worcestershire thought him an
oracle on points of learning. Between him and the clergy, indeed,
there was a strong religious and political sympathy. He was a zealous
churchman, and, though he had qualified himself for municipal office
by taking the oaths to the sovereigns in possession, was to the last a
Jacobite in heart. At his house, a house which is still pointed out to
every traveller who visits Lichfield, Samuel was born on the 18th of
September 1709. In the child, the physical, intellectual, and moral
peculiarities which afterwards distinguished the man were plainly
discernible; great muscular strength accompanied by much awkwardness and
many infirmities; great quickness of parts, with a morbid propensity to
sloth and procrastination; a kind and generous heart, {173}with a gloomy
and irritable temper. He had inherited from his ancestors a scrofulous
taint, which it was beyond the power of medicine to remove. His parents
were weak enough to believe that the royal touch was a specific for this
malady. In his third year he was taken up to London, inspected by the
court surgeon, prayed over by the court chaplains, and stroked and
presented with a piece of gold by Queen Anne. One of his earliest
recollections was that of a stately lady in a diamond stomacher and a
long black hood. Her hand was applied in vain. The boy’s features, which
were originally noble and not irregular, were distorted by his malady.
His cheeks were deeply scarred. He lost for a time the sight of one eye;
and he saw but very imperfectly with the other. But the force of
his mind overcame every impediment. Indolent as he was, he acquired
knowledge with such ease and rapidity that at every school to which
he was sent he was soon the best scholar. From sixteen to eighteen he
resided at home, and was left to his own devices. He learned much at
this time, though his studies were without guidance and without plan. He
ransacked his father’s shelves, dipped into a multitude of books, read
what was interesting, and passed over what was dull. An ordinary lad
would have acquired little or no useful knowledge in such a way: but
much that was dull to ordinary lads was interesting to Samuel. He read
little Greek; for his proficiency in that language was not such that he
could take much pleasure in the masters of Attic poetry and eloquence.
But he had left school a good Latinist; and he soon acquired, in the
large and miscellaneous library of which he now had the command, an
extensive knowledge of Latin literature. {174}That Augustan delicacy of
taste which is the boast of the great public schools of England he never
possessed. But he was early familiar with some classical writers who
were quite unknown to the best scholars in the sixth form at Eton.
He was peculiarly attracted by the works of the great restorers of
learning. Once, while searching for some apples, he found a large folio
volume of Petrarch’s works. The name excited his curiosity; and
he eagerly devoured hundreds of pages. Indeed, the diction and
versification of his own Latin compositions show that he had paid at
least as much attention to modern copies from the antique as to the
original models.

While he was thus irregularly educating himself, his family was sinking
into hopeless poverty. Old Michael Johnson was much better qualified
to pore upon books, and to talk about them, than to trade in them. His
business declined; his debts increased; it was with difficulty that the
daily expenses of his household were defrayed. It was out of his power
to support his son at either university: but a wealthy neighbour offered
assistance; and, in reliance on promises which proved to be of very
little value, Samuel was entered at Pembroke College, Oxford. When the
young scholar presented himself to the rulers of that society, they were
amazed not more by his ungainly figure and eccentric manners than by
the quantity of extensive and curious information which he had picked up
during many months of desultory but not unprofitable study. On the first
day of his residence he surprised his teachers by quoting Macrobius; and
one of the most learned among them declared that he had never known a
freshman of equal attainments.

At Oxford, Johnson resided during about three years. {175}He was poor,
even to raggedness; and his appearance excited a mirth and a pity winch
were equally intolerable to his haughty spirit. He was driven from the
quadrangle of Christ Church by the sneering looks which the members
of that aristocratical society cast at the holes in his shoes. Some
charitable person placed a new pair at his door; but he spurned them
away in a fury. Distress made him, not servile, but reckless and
ungovernable. No opulent gentleman commoner, panting for one-and-twenty,
could have treated the academical authorities with more gross
disrespect. The needy scholar was generally to be seen under the gate
of Pembroke, a gate now adorned with his effigy, haranguing a circle of
lads, over whom, in spite of his tattered gown and dirty linen, his wit
and audacity gave him an undisputed ascendency. In every mutiny against
the discipline of the college he was the ringleader. Much was
pardoned, however, to a youth so highly distinguished by abilities and
acquirements. He had early made himself known by turning Pope’s Messiah
into Latin verse. The style and rhythm, indeed, were not exactly
Virgilian; but the translation found many admirers, and was read with
pleasure by Pope himself.

The time drew near at which Johnson would, in the ordinary course of
things, have become a Bachelor of Arts: but he was at the end of his
resources. Those promises of support on which he had relied had not been
kept. His family could do nothing for him. His debts to Oxford tradesmen
were small indeed, yet larger than he could pay. In the autumn of 1731,
he was under the necessity of quitting the university without a
degree. In the following winter his father died. The old man left but a
pittance; and of that thought grounds sufficient for absolving felons,
and for setting aside wills. His grimaces, his gestures, his mutterings,
sometimes diverted and sometimes terrified people who did not know him.
At a dinner table he would, in a fit of absence, stoop down and twitch
off a lady’s shoe. He would amaze a drawing room by suddenly ejaculating
a clause of the Lord’s Prayer.

He would conceive an unintelligible aversion to a particular alley, and
perform a great circuit rather than see the hateful place. He would set
his heart on touching every post in the streets through which he walked.
If by any chance he missed a post, he would go back a hundred yards
and repair the omission. Under the influence of his disease, his senses
became morbidly torpid, and his imagination morbidly active.

At one time he would stand poring on the town clock without being able
to tell the hour. At another, he would distinctly hear his mother, who
was many miles off, calling him by his name. But this was not the worst.
A deep melancholy took possession of him, and gave a dark tinge to all
his views of human napittance {176}almost the whole was appropriated
to the support of his widow. The property to which Samuel succeeded
amounted to no more than twenty pounds.

His life, during the thirty years which followed, was one hard struggle
with poverty. The misery of that struggle needed no aggravation, but
was aggravated by the sufferings of an unsound body and an unsound mind.
Before the young man left the university, his hereditary malady had
broken forth in a singularly cruel form. He had become an incurable
hypochondriac. He said long after that he had been mad all his life, or
at least not perfectly sane; and, in truth, eccentricities less
strange than his have often been ture {177}and of human destiny. Such
wretchedness as he endured has driven many men to shoot themselves or
drown themselves. But he was under no temptation to commit suicide. He
was sick of life; but he was afraid of death; and he shuddered at every
sight or sound which reminded him of the inevitable hour. In religion he
found but little comfort during his long and frequent fits of dejection;
for his religion partook of his own character. The light from heaven
shone on him indeed, but not in a direct line, or with its own pure
splendour. The rays had to struggle through a disturbing medium; they
reached him refracted, dulled and discoloured by the thick gloom which
had settled on his soul; and, though they might be sufficiently clear to
guide him, were too dim to cheer him.

With such infirmities of body and of mind, this celebrated man was
left, at two-and-twenty, to fight his way through the world. He remained
during about five years in the midland counties. At Lichfield, his
birth-place and his early home, he had inherited some friends and
acquired others. He was kindly noticed by Henry Hervey, a gay officer
of noble family, who happened to be quartered there. Gilbert Walmesley,
registrar of the ecclesiastical court of the diocese, a man of
distinguished parts, learning, and knowledge of the world, did himself
honour by patronising the young adventurer, whose repulsive person,
unpolished manners and squalid garb moved many of the petty aristocracy
of the neighbourhood to laughter or to disgust. At Lichfield, however,
Johnson could find no way of earning a livelihood. He became usher of
a grammar school in Leicestershire; he resided as a humble companion
in the house of a country gentleman; but a life of dependence was
insupportable to his haughty spirit. He repaired {178}to Birmingham, and
there earned a few guineas by literary drudgery. In that town he printed
a translation, little noticed at the time, and long forgotten, of a
Latin book about Abyssinia. He then put forth proposals for publishing
by subscription the poems of Politian, with notes containing a history
of modern Latin verse: but subscriptions did not come in; and the volume
never appeared.

While leading this vagrant and miserable life, Johnson fell in love.
The object of his passion was Mrs. Elizabeth Porter, a widow who had
children as old as himself. To ordinary spectators, the lady appeared
to be a short, fat, coarse woman, painted half an inch thick, dressed in
gaudy colours, and fond of exhibiting provincial airs and graces which
were not exactly those of the Queensberrys and Lepels. To Johnson,
however, whose passions were strong, whose eyesight was too weak to
distinguish ceruse from natural bloom, and who had seldom or never been
in the same room with a woman of real fashion, his Titty, as he called
her, was the most beautiful, graceful and accomplished of her sex. That
his admiration was unfeigned cannot be doubted; for she was as poor as
himself. She accepted, with a readiness which did her little honour,
the addresses of a suitor who might have been her son. The marriage,
however, in spite of occasional wranglings, proved happier than might
have been expected. The lover continued to be under the illusions of the
wedding-day till the lady died in her sixty-fourth year. On her monument
he placed an inscription extolling the charms of her person and of her
manners; and, when, long after her decease, he had occasion to mention
her, he exclaimed, with a tenderness half ludicrous, half pathetic,
“Pretty creature!”

His {179}marriage made it necessary for him to exert himself more
strenuously than he had hitherto done. He took a house in the
neighbourhood of his native town, and advertised for pupils. But
eighteen months passed away; and only three pupils came to his academy.
Indeed, his appearance was so strange, and his temper so violent, that
his schoolroom must have resembled an ogre’s den. Nor was the tawdry
painted grandmother whom he called his Titty well qualified to make
provision for the comfort of young gentlemen. David Garrick, who was
one of the pupils, used, many years later, to throw the best company of
London into convulsions of laughter by mimicking the endearments of this
extraordinary pair.

At length Johnson, in the twenty-eighth year of his age, determined to
seek his fortune in the capital as a literary adventurer. He set out
with a few guineas, three acts of the tragedy of Irene in manuscript,
and two or three letters of introduction from his friend Walmesley.

Never, since literature became a calling in England, had it been a less
gainful calling than at the time when Johnson took up his residence in
London. In the preceding generation a writer of eminent merit was sure
to be munificently rewarded by the government. The least that he could
expect was a pension or a sinecure place; and, if he showed any aptitude
for politics, he might hope to be a member of parliament, a lord of the
treasury, an ambassador, a secretary of state. It would be easy, on the
other hand, to name several writers of the nineteenth century of
whom the least successful has received forty thousand pounds from the
booksellers. But Johnson entered on his vocation in the most dreary
part of the dreary interval which {180}separated two ages of prosperity.
Literature had ceased to flourish under the patronage of the great, and
had not begun to flourish under the patronage of the public. One man of
letters, indeed. Pope, had acquired by his pen what was then considered
as a handsome fortune, and lived on a footing of equality with nobles
and ministers of state. But this was a solitary exception. Even an
author whose reputation was established, and whose works were popular,
such an author as Thomson, whose Seasons were in every library, such an
author as Fielding, whose Pasquin had had a greater run than any drama
since The Begar’s Opera, was sometimes glad to obtain, by pawning his
best coat, the means of dining on tripe at a cook-shop underground,
where he could wipe his hands, after his greasy meal, on the back of a
Newfoundland dog. It is easy, therefore, to imagine what humiliations
and privations must have awaited the novice who had still to earn a
name. One of the publishers to whom Johnson applied for employment
measured with a scornful eye that athletic though uncouth frame, and
exclaimed, “You had better get a porter’s knot, and carry trunks.” Nor
was the advice bad; for a porter was likely to be as plentifully fed,
and as comfortably lodged, as a poet.

Some time appears to have elapsed before Johnson was able to form any
literary connection from which he could expect more than bread for the
day which was passing g over him. He never forgot the generosity with
which Hervey, who was now residing in London, relieved his wants during
this time of trial. “Harry Hervey,” said the old philosopher many years
later, “was a vicious man; but he was very kind to me. If you call a dog
Hervey I shall love him.”

At {181}Hervey’s table Johnson sometimes enjoyed feasts which were made
more agreeable by contrast. But in general be dined, and thought that he
dined well, on sixpenny worth of meat, and a pennyworth of bread, at an
alehouse near Drury Lane.

The effect of the privations and sufferings which he endured at this
time was discernible to the last in his temper and his deportment. His
manners had never been courtly. They now became almost savage. Being
frequently under the necessity of wearing shabby coats and dirty shirts,
he became a confirmed sloven. Being often very hungry when he sat down
to his meals, he contracted a habit of eating with ravenous greediness.
Even to the end of his life, and even at the tables of the great, the
sight of food affected him as it affects wild beasts and birds of prey.
His taste in cookery, formed in subterranean ordinaries and ala mode
beefshops, was far from delicate. Whenever he was so fortunate as to
have near him a hare that had been kept too long, or a meat pie made
with rancid butter, he gorged himself with such violence that his veins
swelled, and the moisture broke out on his forehead. The affronts which
his poverty emboldened stupid and low-minded men to offer to him would
have broken a mean spirit into sycophancy, but made him rude even to
ferocity. Unhappily the insolence which, while it was defensive,
was pardonable, and in some sense respectable, accompanied him into
societies where he was treated with courtesy and kindness. He was
repeatedly provoked into striking those who had taken liberties with
him. All the sufferers, however, were wise enough to abstain from
talking about their beatings, except Osborne, the most rapacious and
brutal of booksellers, who proclaimed every where that he had been
{182}knocked down by the huge fellow whom he had hired to puff the
Harleian Library.

About, a year after Johnson had begun to reside in London, he was
fortunate enough to obtain regular employment from Cave, an enterprising
and intelligent bookseller, who was proprietor and editor of the
“Gentleman’s Magazine.” That journal, just entering on the ninth year
of its long existence, was the only periodical work in the kingdom which
then had what would now be called a large circulation. It was, indeed,
the chief source of parliamentary intelligence. It was not then safe,
even during a recess, to publish an account of the proceedings of either
House without some disguise. Cave, however, ventured to entertain his
readers with what he called “Reports of the Debates of the Senate of
Lilliput.” France was Blefuseu; London was Mildendo: pounds were sprugs:
the Duke of Newcastle was the Nardac secretary of State: Lord Hardwicke
was the Hurgo Hickrad: and William Pulteney was Wingul Pulnub. To write
the speeches, was, during several years, the business of Johnson. He was
generally furnished with notes, meagre indeed, and inaccurate, of what
had been said; but sometimes he had to find arguments and eloquence both
for the ministry and for the opposition. He was himself a Tory, not
from rational conviction--for his serious opinion was that one form of
government was just as good or as bad as another--but from mere passion,
such as inflamed the Capulets against the Montagues, or the Blues of
the Roman circus against the Greens. In his infancy he had heard so much
talk about the villanies of the Whigs, and the dangers of the Church,
that he had become a furious partisan when he could scarcely speak.
Before he was three he {183}had insisted on being taken to hear
Saeheverell preach at Lichfield Cathedral, and had listened to the
sermon with as much respect, and probably with as much intelligence, as
any Staffordshire squire in the congregation. The work which had been
begun in the nursery had been completed by the university. Oxford, when
Johnson resided there, was the most Jacobitical place in England;
and Pembroke was one of the most Jacobitical colleges in Oxford. The
prejudices which he brought up to London were scarcely less absurd than
those of his own Tom Tempest. Charles II. and James II. were two of the
best kings that ever reigned. Laud, a poor creature who never did, said,
or wrote anything indicating more than the ordinary capacity of an
old woman, was a prodigy of parts and learning over whose tomb Art and
Genius still continued to weep. Hampden deserved no more honourable name
than that of “the zealot of rebellion.” Even the ship money, condemned
not less decidedly by Falkland and Clarendon than by the bitterest
Roundheads, Johnson would not pronounce to have been an unconstitutional
impost. Under a government, the mildest that had ever been known in the
world--under a government which allowed to the people an unprecedented
liberty of speech and action--he fancied that he was a slave; he
assailed the ministry with obloquy which refuted itself, and regretted
the lost freedom and happiness of those golden days in which a writer
who had taken but one-tenth part of the license allowed to him would
have been pilloried, mangled with the shears, whipped at the cart’s
tail, and flung into a noisome dungeon to die. He hated dissenters and
stock-jobbers, the excise and the army, septennial parliaments, and
continental connections.

He {184}long had an aversion to the Scotch, an aversion of which he
could not remember the commencement, but which, he owned, had probably
originated in his abhorrence of the conduct of the nation during the
Great Rebellion. It is easy to guess in what manner debates on great
party questions were likely to be reported by a man whose judgment
was so much disordered by party spirit, A show of fairness was indeed
necessary to the prosperity of the Magazine. But Johnson long afterwards
owned that, though he had saved appearances, he had taken care that the
Whig dogs should not have the best of it; and, in fact, every passage
which has lived, every passage which bears the marks of his higher
faculties, is put into the mouth of some member of the opposition.

A few weeks after Johnson had entered on these obscure labours, he
published a work which at once placed him high among the writers of his
age. It is probable that what he had suffered during his first year in
London had often reminded him of some parts of that noble poem in which
Juvenal had described the misery and degradation of a needy man of
letters, lodged among the pigeons’ nests in the tottering garrets which
overhung the streets of Rome. Pope’s admirable imitations of Horace’s
Satires and Epistles had recently appeared, were in every hand, and were
by many readers thought superior to the originals. What Pope had done
for Horace, Johnson aspired to do for Juvenal. The enterprise was bold,
and yet judicious. For between Johnson and Juvenal there was much in
common, much more certainly than between Pope and Horace.

Johnson’s London appeared without his name in May 1738. He received only
ten guineas for this stately {185}and vigorous poem: but the sale was
rapid, and the success complete. A second edition was required within a
week. Those small critics who are always desirous to lower established
reputations ran about proclaiming that the anonymous satirist was
superior to Pope in Pope’s own peculiar department of literature. It
ought to be remembered, to the honour of Pope, that he joined heartily
in the applause with which the appearance of a rival genius was
welcomed. He made inquiries about the author of London. Such a man, he
said, could not long be concealed. The name was soon discovered; and
Pope, with great kindness, exerted himself to obtain an academical
degree and the mastership of a grammar school for the poor young poet.
The attempt failed; and Johnson remained a bookseller’s hack.

It does not appear that these two men, the most eminent writer of the
generation which was going out, and the most eminent writer of the
generation which was coming in, ever saw each other. They lived in
very different circles, one surrounded by dukes and earls, the other by
starving pamphleteers and index-makers. Among Johnson’s associates at
this time may be mentioned Boyse, who, when his shirts were pledged,
scrawled Latin verses sitting up in bed with his arms through two holes
in his blanket; who composed very respectable sacred poetry when he
was sober; and who was at last run over by a hackney coach when he
was drunk: Hoole, surnamed the metaphysical tailor, who, instead of
attending to his measures, used to trace geometrical diagrams on the
board where he sate cross-legged: and the penitent impostor, George
Psalmanazar, who, after poring all day, in a humble lodging, on the
folios of Jewish rabbis {186}and Christian fathers, indulged himself at
night with literary and theological conversation at an alehouse in the
city. But the most remarkable of the persons with whom at this time
Johnson consorted was Richard Savage, an earl’s son, a shoemaker’s
apprentice, who had seen life in all its forms, who had feasted among
blue ribands in Saint James’s Square, and had lain with fifty pounds’
weight of irons on his legs in the condemned ward of Newgate. This man
had, after many vicissitudes of fortune, sunk at last into abject and
hopeless poverty. His pen had failed him. His patrons had been taken
away by death, or estranged by the riotous profusion with which he
squandered their bounty, and the ungrateful insolence with which he
rejected their advice. He now lived by begging. He dined on venison and
champagne whenever he had been so fortunate as to borrow a guinea. If
his questing had been unsuccessful, he appeased the rage of hunger with
some scraps of broken meat, and lay down to rest under the Piazza of
Covent Garden in warm weather, and, in cold weather, as near as he could
get to the furnace of a glass house. Yet, in his misery, he was still
an agreeable companion. He had an inexhaustible store of anecdotes about
that gay and brilliant world from which he was now an outcast. He had
observed the great men of both parties in hours of careless relaxation,
had seen the leaders of opposition without the mask of patriotism, and
had heard the prime minister roar with laughter and tell stories not
over decent. During some months Savage lived in the closest familiarity
with Johnson; and then the friends parted, not without tears. Johnson
remained in London to drudge for Cave. Savage went to the West of
England, {187}lived there as he had lived everywhere, and, in 1748,
died, penniless and heart-broken, in Bristol gaol.

Soon after his death, while the public curiosity was strongly excited
about his extraordinary character, and his not less extraordinary
adventures, a life of him appeared widely different from the catchpenny
lives of eminent men which were then a staple article of manufacture in
Grub Street. The style was indeed deficient in ease and variety; and the
writer was evidently too partial to the Latin element of our language.
But the little work, with all its faults, was a masterpiece. No finer
specimen of literary biography existed in any language, living or dead;
and a discerning critic might have confidently predicted that the author
was destined to be the founder of a new school of English eloquence.

The Life of Savage was anonymous; but it was well known in literary
circles that Johnson was the writer. During the three years which
followed, he produced no important work; but he was not, and indeed
could not be, idle. The fame of his abilities and learning continued to
grow. Warburton pronounced him a man of parts and genius; and the praise
of Warburton was then no light thing. Such was Johnson’s reputation
that, in 1747, several eminent booksellers combined to employ him in the
arduous work of preparing a Dictionary of the English Language, in two
folio volumes. The sum which they agreed to pay him was only fifteen
hundred guineas; and out of this sum he had to pay several poor men of
letters who assisted him in the humbler parts of his task.

The prospectus of the Dictionary he addressed to the Earl of
Chesterfield. Chesterfield had long been celebrated {188}for the
politeness of his manners, the brilliancy of his wit, and the delicacy
of his taste. He was acknowledged to be the finest speaker in the House
of Lords. He had recently governed Ireland, at a momentous conjuncture,
with eminent firmness, wisdom, and humanity; and he had since became
Secretary of State. He received Johnson’s homage with the most winning
affability, and requited it with a few guineas, bestowed doubtless in
a very graceful manner, but was by no means desirous to see all his
carpets blackened with the London mud, and his soups and wines thrown to
right and left over the gowns of fine ladies and the waistcoats of fine
gentlemen, by an absent, awkward scholar, who gave strange starts and
uttered strange growls, who dressed like a scarecrow, and ate like a
cormorant. During some time Johnson continued to call on his patron,
but, after being repeatedly told by the porter that his lordship was
not at home, took the hint, and ceased to present himself at the
inhospitable door.

Johnson had flattered himself that he should have completed his
Dictionary by the end of 1750; but it was not till 1755 that he at
length gave his huge vol-nines to the world. During the seven years
which he passed in the drudgery of penning definitions and marking
quotations for transcription, he sought for relaxation in literary
labour of a more agreeable kind.

In 1749 he published the Vanity of Human Wishes, an excellent imitation
of the Tenth Satire of Juvenal.

It is in truth not easy to say whether the palm belongs to the ancient
or to the modern poet. The couplets in which the fall of Wolsey is
described, though lofty and sonorous, are feeble when compared with
the wonderful lines which bring before us all Rome in tumult on the day
{189}of the fall of Sejanus, the laurels on the doorposts, the white
bull stalking towards the Capitol, the statues rolling down from their
pedestals, the flatterers of the disgraced minister running to see
him dragged with a hook through the streets, and to have a kick at his
carcase before it is hurled into the Tiber. It must be owned too that in
the concluding passage the Christian moralist has not made the most of
his advantages, and has fallen decidedly short of the sublimity of
his Pagan model. On the other hand, Juvenal’s Hannibal must yield to
Johnson’s Charles: and Johnson’s vigorous and pathetic enumeration
of the miseries of a literary life must be allowed to be superior to
Juvenal’s lamentation over the fate of Demosthenes and Cicero.

For the copyright of the Vanity of Human Wishes Johnson received only
fifteen guineas.

A few days after the publication of this poem, his tragedy, begun many
years before, was brought on the stage. His pupil, David Garrick, had,
in 1741, made his appearance on a humble stage in Goodman’s Fields,
had at once risen to the first place among actors, and was now, after
several years of almost uninterrupted success, manager of Drury Lane
Theatre. The relation between him and his old preceptor was of a very
singular kind. They repelled each other strongly, and yet attracted
each other strongly. Nature had made them of very different clay; and
circumstances had fully brought out the natural peculiarities of both.
Sudden prosperity had turned Garrick’s head. Continued adversity had
soured Johnson’s temper. Johnson saw with more envy than became so great
a man the villa, the plate, the china, the Brussels carpet, which the
little mimic had got by repeating, with grimaces and gesticulations,
what wiser men had written; and the {190}exquisitely sensitive vanity of
Garrick was galled by the thought that, while all the rest of the world
was applauding him, he could obtain from one morose cynic, whose opinion
it was impossible to despise, scarcely any compliment not acidulated
with scorn. Yet the two Lichfield men had so many early recollections in
common, and sympathised with each other on so many points on which they
sympathised with nobody else in the vast population of the capital,
that, though the master was often provoked by the monkey-like
impertinence of the pupil, and the pupil by the bearish rudeness of the
master, they remained friends till they were parted by death. Garrick
now brought Irene out, with alterations sufficient to displease the
author, yet not sufficient to make the piece pleasing to the audience.
The public, however, listened with little emotion, but with much
civility, to five acts of monotonous declamation.

After nine representations the play was withdrawn. It is, indeed,
altogether unsuited to the stage, and, even when perused in the closet,
will be found hardly worthy of the author. He had not the slightest
notion of what blank verse should be. A change in the last syllable of
every other line would make the versification of the Vanity of Human
Wishes closely resemble the versification of Irene. The poet, however,
cleared, by his benefit nights, and by the sale of the copyright of his
tragedy, about three hundred pounds, then a great sum in his estimation.

About a year after the representation of Irene, he began to publish a
series of short essays on morals, manners, and literature. This species
of composition had been brought into fashion by the success of the
Tatler, and by the still more brilliant success of the Spectator. A
crowd of small writers had vainly attempted {191}to rival Addison.
The Lay Monastery, the Censor, the Freethinker, the Plain Dealer, the
Champion, and other works of the same kind, had had their short day.
None of them had obtained a permanent place in our literature; and they
are now to be found only in the libraries of the curious. At length
Johnson undertook the adventure in which so many aspirants had failed.
In the thirty-sixth year after the appearance of the last number of the
Spectator appeared the first number of the Rambler. From March 1750 to
March 1752, this paper continued to come out every Tuesday and Saturday.

From the first the Rambler was enthusiastically admired by a few eminent
men. Richardson, when only five numbers had appeared, pronounced it
equal, if not superior, to the Spectator. Young and Hartley expressed
their approbation not less warmly. Bubb Dodington, among whose many
faults indifference to the claims of genius and learning cannot be
reckoned, solicited the acquaintance of the writer. In consequence
probably of the good offices of Dodington, who was then the confidential
adviser of Prince Frederic, two of his Royal Highness’s gentlemen
carried a gracious message to the printing office, and ordered seven
copies for Leicester House. But these overtures seem to have been very
coldly received. Johnson had had enough of the patronage of the great to
last him all his life, and was not disposed to haunt any other door as
he had haunted the door of Chesterfield.

By the public the Rambler was at first very coldly received. Though the
price of a number was only twopence, the sale did not amount to five
hundred. The profits were therefore very small. But as soon as the
flying leaves were collected and reprinted they became {192}popular. The
author lived to see thirteen thousand copies spread over England alone.
Separate editions were published for the Scotch and Irish markets. A
large party pronounced the style perfect, so absolutely perfect that in
some essays it would be impossible for the writer himself to alter a
single word for the better. Another party, not less numerous, vehemently
accused him of having corrupted the purity of the English tongue. The
best critics admitted that his diction was too monotonous, too obviously
artificial, and now and then turgid even to absurdity. But they did
justice to the acuteness of his observations on morals and manners, to
the constant precision and frequent brilliancy of his language, to the
weighty and magnificent eloquence of many serious passages, and to
the solemn yet pleasing humour of some of the lighter papers. On the
question of precedence between Addison and Johnson, a question which,
seventy years ago, was much disputed, posterity has pronounced a
decision from which there is no appeal. Sir Roger, his chaplain and his
butler, Will Wimble and Will Honeycomb, the Vision of Mirza, the Journal
of the Retired Citizen, the Everlasting Club, the Dunmow Flitch, the
Loves of Hilpah and Slialum, the Visit to the Exchange, and the Visit
to the Abbey, are known to everybody. But many men and women, even of
highly cultivated minds, are unacquainted with Squire Bluster and Mrs.
Busy, Quisquilius and Venustulus, the Allegory of Wit and Learning, the
Chronicle of the Revolutions of a Garret, and the sad fate of Aningait
and Ajut.

The last Rambler was written in a sad and gloomy hour. Mrs. Johnson had
been given over by the physicians. Three days later she died. She left
her husband {193}almost broken-hearted. Many people had been surprised
to see a man of his genius and learning stooping to every drudgery, and
denying himself almost every comfort, for the purpose of supplying a
silly, affected old woman with superfluities, which she accepted with
but little gratitude. But all his affection had been concentrated on
her. He had neither brother nor sister, neither son nor daughter. To him
she was beautiful as the Gunnings, and witty as Lady Mary. Her opinion
of his writings was more important to him than the voice of the pit
of Drury Lane Theatre or the judgment of the Monthly Review. The chief
support which had sustained him through the most arduous labour of his
life was the hope that she would enjoy the fame and the profit which
he anticipated from his Dictionary. She was gone; and in that vast
labyrinth of streets, peopled by eight hundred thousand human beings, he
was alone. Yet it was necessary for him to set himself, as he expressed
it, doggedly to work. After three more laborious years, the Dictionary
was at length complete.

It had been generally supposed that this great work would be dedicated
to the eloquent and accomplished nobleman to whom the prospectus
had been addressed. He well knew the value of such a compliment; and
therefore, when the day of publication drew near, he exerted himself
to soothe, by a show of zealous and at the same time of delicate and
judicious kindness, the pride which he had so cruelly wounded. Since
the Ramblers had ceased to appear, the town had been entertained by a
journal called The World, to which many men of high rank and fashion
contributed. In two successive numbers of The World the Dictionary was,
to use the modern phrase, puffed with {194}wonderful skill. The writings
of Johnson were warmly praised. It was proposed that he should be
invested with the authority of a Dictator, nay, of a Pope, over our
language, and that his decisions about the meaning and the spelling of
words should be received as final. His two folios, it was said, would of
course be bought by everybody who could afford to buy them. It was
soon known that these papers were written by Chesterfield. But the just
resentment of Johnson was not to be so appeased. In a letter written
with singular energy and dignity of thought and language, he repelled
the tardy advances of his patron. The Dictionary came forth without
a dedication. In the preface the author truly declared that he owed
nothing to the great, and described the difficulties with which he had
been left to struggle so forcibly and pathetically that the ablest and
most malevolent of all the enemies of his fame, Horne Tooke, never could
read that passage without tears.

The public, on this occasion, did Johnson full justice, and something
more than justice. The best lexicographer may well be content if his
productions are received by the world with cold esteem. But Johnson’s
Dictionary was hailed with an enthusiasm such as no similar work has
ever excited. It was indeed the first dictionary which could be read
with pleasure. The definitions show so much acuteness of thought and
command of language, and the passages quoted from poets, divines and
philosophers are so skilfully selected, that a leisure hour may always
be very agreeably spent in turning over the pages. The faults of the
book resolve themselves, for the most part, into one great fault.
Johnson was a wretched etymologist. He knew little or nothing of any
Teutonic language {195}except English, which indeed, as he wrote it, was
scarcely a Teutonic language; and thus he was absolutely at the mercy of
Junius and Skinner.

The Dictionary, though it raised Johnson’s fame, added nothing to his
pecuniary means. The fifteen hundred guineas which the booksellers had
agreed to pay him had been advanced and spent before the last sheets
issued from the press. It is painful to relate that, twice in the course
of the year which followed the publication of this great work, he was
arrested and carried to spunging-houses, and that he was twice indebted
for his liberty to his excellent friend Richardson. It was still
necessary for the man who had been formally saluted by the highest
authority as Dictator of the English language to supply his wants by
constant toil. He abridged his Dictionary. He proposed to bring out
an edition of Shakspeare by subscription; and many subscribers sent in
their names, and laid down their money; but he soon found the task so
little to his taste that he turned to more attractive employments. He
contributed many papers to a new monthly journal, which was called the
Literary Magazine. Few of these papers have much interest; but among
them was the very best thing that he ever wrote, a masterpiece both of
reasoning and of satirical pleasantry, the review of Jenyns’s Inquiry
into The Nature and Origin of Evil.

In the spring of 1758 Johnson put forth the first of a series of essays,
entitled The Idler. During two years these essays continued to appear
weekly. They were eagerly read, widely circulated, and, indeed,
impudently pirated, while they were still in the original form, and had
a large sale when collected into volumes. The Idler may be described as
a second part of The {196}Rambler, somewhat livelier and somewhat weaker
than the first part.

While Johnson was busied with his Idlers, his mother, who had
accomplished her ninetieth year, died at Lichfield. It was long since
he had seen her; but he had not failed to contribute largely, out of
his small means, to her comfort. In order to defray the charges of her
funeral, and to pay some debts which she had left, he wrote a little
book in a single week, and sent off the sheets to the press without
reading them over. A hundred pounds were paid him for the copyright; and
the purchasers had great cause to be pleased with their bargain; for the
book was Rasselas.

The success of Rasselas was great, though such ladies as Miss Lydia
Languish must have been grievously disappointed when they found that
the new volume from the circulating library was little more than a
dissertation on the author’s favourite theme, the Vanity of Human
Wishes; that the Prince of Abyssinia was without a mistress, and the
Princess without a lover; and that the story set the hero and the
heroine down exactly where it had taken them up. The style was the
subject of much eager controversy. The Monthly Review and the Critical
Review took different sides. Many readers pronounced tire writer a
pompous pedant, who would never use a word of two syllables where it was
possible to use a word of six, and who could not make a waiting woman
relate her adventures without balancing every noun with another noun,
and every epithet with another epithet. Another party, not less zealous,
cited with delight numerous passages in which weighty meaning was
expressed with accuracy and illustrated with splendour. And both the
censure and the praise were merited.

About {197}the plan of Rasselas little was said by the critics; and yet
the faults of the plan might seem to invite severe criticism. Johnson
has frequently blamed Shakspeare for neglecting the proprieties of
time and place, and for ascribing to one age or nation the manners and
opinions of another. Yet Shakspeare has not sinned in this way more
grievously than Johnson. Rasselas and Imlac, Nekayah and Pekuah, are
evidently meant to be Abyssinians of the eighteenth century: for the
Europe which Imlac describes is the Europe of the eighteenth century;
and the inmates of the Happy Valley talk familiarly of that law of
gravitation which Newton discovered, and which was not fully received
even at Cambridge till the eighteenth century. What a real company of
Abyssinians would have been may be learned from Bruce’s Travels. But
Johnson, not content with turning filthy savages, ignorant of their
letters, and gorged with raw steaks cut from living cows, into
philosophers as eloquent and enlightened as himself or his friend Burke,
and into ladies as highly accomplished as Mrs. Lennox or Mrs. Sheridan,
transferred the whole domestic system of England to Egypt. Into a land
of harems, a land of polygamy, a land where women are married without
ever being seen, he introduced the flirtations and jealousies of our
ball-rooms. In a land where there is boundless liberty of divorce,
wedlock is described as the indissoluble compact. “A youth and maiden
meeting by chance, or brought together by artifice, exchange glances,
reciprocate civilities, go home, and dream of each other. Such,” says
Rasselas, “is the common process of marriage.” Such it may have been,
and may still be, in London, but assuredly not at Cairo. A writer who
was guilty of such improprieties had {198}little right to blame the
poet who made Hector quote Aristotle, and represented Julio Romano as
flourishing in the days of the oracle of Delphi.

By such exertions as have been described, Johnson supported himself till
the year 1702. In that year a great change in his circumstances took
place. He had from a child been an enemy of the reigning dynasty. His
Jacobite prejudices had been exhibited with little disguise both in
his works and in his conversation. Even in his massy and elaborate
Dictionary, he had, with a strange want of taste and judgment, inserted
bitter and contumelious reflections on the Whig party. The excise, which
was a favourite resource of Whig financiers, he had designated as
a hateful tax. He had railed against the commissioners of excise in
language so coarse that they had seriously thought of prosecuting him.
He had with difficulty been prevented from holding up the Lord Privy
Seal by name as an example of the meaning of the word “renegade.”’ A
pension he had defined as pay given to a state hireling to betray his
country; a pensioner as a slave of state hired by a stipend to obey a
master. It seemed un-likely that the author of these definitions would
himself be pensioned. But that was a time of wonders. George the
Third had ascended the throne; and had, in the course of a few months,
disgusted many of the old friends and conciliated many of the old
enemies of his house. The city was becoming mutinous. Oxford was
becoming loyal. Cavendishes and Bentincks were murmuring. Somersets and
Wyndhams were hastening to kiss hands. The head of the treasury was
now Lord Bute, who was a Tory, and could have no objection to Johnson’s
Toryism. Bute wished to be thought a patron of men of letters; and
Johnson was one of the {199}most eminent and one of the most needy men
of letters in Europe. A pension of three hundred a year was graciously
offered, and with very little hesitation accepted.

This event produced a change in Johnson’s whole way of life. For the
first time since his boyhood he no longer felt the daily goad urging him
to the daily toil. He was at liberty, after thirty years of anxiety and
drudgery, to indulge his constitutional indolence, to be in bed till
two in the afternoon, and to sit up talking till four in the morning,
without fearing either the printer’s devil or the sheriff’s officer.

One laborious task indeed he had bound himself to perform. He had
received large subscriptions for his promised edition of Shakspeare;
he had lived on those subscriptions during some years; and he could not
without disgrace omit to perform his part of the contract. His friends
repeatedly exhorted him to make an effort; and he repeatedly resolved
to do so. But, notwithstanding their exhortations and his resolutions,
month followed month, year followed year, and nothing was done. He
prayed fervently against his idleness; he determined, as often as he
received the sacrament, that he would no longer doze away and trifle
away his time; but the spell under which he lay resisted prayer
and sacrament. His private notes at this time are made up of
self-reproaches. “My indolence,” he wrote on Easter eve in 1764,
“has sunk into grosser sluggishness. A kind of strange oblivion has
overspread me, so that I know not what has become of the last year.”
 Easter 1765 came, and found him still in the same state, “My time,” he
wrote, “has been unprofitably spent, and seems as a dream that has left
nothing behind. My memory grows confused, {200}and I know not how the
days pass over me.” Happily for his honour, the charm which held him
captive was at length broken by no gentle or friendly hand. He had been
weak enough to pay serious attention to a story about a ghost which
haunted a house in Cock Lane, and had actually gone himself, with
some of his friends, at one in the morning, to St. John’s Church,
Clerkenwell, in the hope of receiving a communication from the perturbed
spirit. But the spirit, though adjured with all solemnity, remained
obstinately silent; and it soon appeared that a naughty girl of eleven
had been amusing herself by making fools of so many philosophers.
Churchill, who, confident in his powers, drunk with popularity, and
burning with party spirit, was looking for some man of established fame
and Tory politics to insult, celebrated the Cock Lane Ghost in three
cantos, nicknamed Johnson Pomposo, asked where the book was which had
been so long promised and so liberally paid for, and directly accused
the great moralist of cheating. This terrible word proved effectual; and
in October 1765 appeared, after a delay of nine years, the new edition
of Shakspeare.

This publication saved Johnson’s character for honesty, but added
nothing to the fame of his abilities and learning. The preface, though
it contains some good passages, is not in his best manner. The most
valuable notes are those in which he had an opportunity of showing
how attentively he had during many years observed human life and human
nature. The best specimen is the note on the character of Polonius.
Nothing so good is to be found even in Wilhelm Meister’s admirable
examination of Hamlet. But here praise must end. It would be difficult
to name a more {201}slovenly, a more worthless, edition of any great
classic. The reader may turn over play after play without finding
one happy conjectural emendation, or one ingenious and satisfactory
explanation of a passage which had baffled preceding commentators.
Johnson had, in his Prospectus, told the world that he was peculiarly
fitted for the task which he had undertaken, because he had, as a
lexicographer, been under the necessity of taking a wider view of the
English lan guage than any of his predecessors. That his knowledge of
our literature was extensive is indisputable. But, unfortunately, he had
altogether neglected that very part of our literature with which it is
especially desirable that an editor of Shakspeare should be conversant.
It is dangerous to assert a negative. Yet little will be risked by the
assertion, that in the two folio volumes of the English Dictionary there
is not a single passage quoted from any dramatist of the Elizabethan
age, except Shakspeare and Ben. Even from Ben the quotations are few.
Johnson might easily, in a few months, have made himself well acquainted
with every old play that was extant. But it never seems to have occurred
to him that this was a necessary preparation for the work which he had
undertaken. He would doubtless have admitted that it would be the height
of absurdity in a man who was not familiar with the works of Æsehylus
and Euripides to publish an edition of Sophocles. Yet he ventured to
publish an edition of Shakspeare, without having ever in his life,
as far as can be discovered, read a single scene of Massinger, Ford,
Decker, Webster, Marlow, Beaumont, or Fletcher. His detractors were
noisy and scurrilous. Those who most loved and honoured him had little
to say in praise of the manner in which he had {202}discharged the duty
of a commentator. He had, however, acquitted himself of a debt which had
long lain heavy on his conscience; and he sank back into the repose from
which the sting of satire had roused him. He long continued to
live upon the fame which he had already won. He was honoured by the
University of Oxford with a Doctor’s degree, by the Royal Academy with
a professorship, and by the King with an interview, in which his Majesty
most graciously expressed a hope that so excellent a writer would not
cease to write. In the interval, however, between 1765 and 1775 Johnson
published only two or three political tracts, the longest of which he
could have produced in forty-eight hours, if he had worked as he worked
on the Life of Savage and on Rasselas.

But, though his pen was now idle, his tongue was active. The influence
exercised by his conversation, directly upon those with whom he lived,
and indirectly on the whole literary world, was altogether without a
parallel. His colloquial talents were indeed of the highest order. He
had strong sense, quick discernment, wit, humour, immense knowledge of
literature and of life, and an infinite store of curious anecdotes.

As respected style, he spoke far better than he wrote Every sentence
which dropped from his lips was as correct in structure as the most
nicely balanced period of the Rambler. But in his talk there were no
pompous triads, and little more than a fair proportion of words in
_osity_ and _ation_. All was simplicity, ease, and vigour. He uttered
his short, weighty, and pointed sentences with a power of voice, and
a justness and energy of emphasis, of which the effect was rather
increased than diminished by the rollings of his huge form, and by the
asthmatic gaspings and puffings in which the peals {203}of his eloquence
generally ended. Nor did the laziness which made him unwilling to sit
down to his desk prevent him from giving instruction or entertainment
orally. To discuss questions of taste, of learning, of casuistry,
in language so exact and so forcible that it might have been printed
without the alteration of a word, was to him no exertion, but a
pleasure. He loved, as he said, to fold his legs and have his talk out.
He was ready to bestow the overflowings of his full, mind on anybody who
would start a subject, on a fellow-passenger in a stage coach, or on the
person who sate at the same table with him in an eating house. But
his conversation was nowhere so brilliant and striking as when he was
surrounded by a few friends, whose abilities and knowledge enabled them,
as he once expressed it, to send him back every ball that he threw. Some
of these, in 1704, formed themselves into a club, which gradually
became a formidable power in the commonwealth of letters. The verdicts
pronounced by this conclave on new books were speedily known over all
London, and were sufficient to sell off a whole edition in a day, or
to condemn the sheets to the service of the trunk-maker and the
pastry-cook. Nor shall we think this strange when we consider what
great and various talents and acquirements met in the little fraternity.
Goldsmith was the representative of poetry and light literature,
Reynolds of the arts, Burke of political eloquence and political
philosophy. There, too, were Gibbon, the greatest historian, and Jones,
the greatest linguist, of the age. Garrick brought to the meetings his
inexhaustible pleasantry, his incomparable mimicry, and his consummate
knowledge of stage effect. Among the most constant attendants were
two high-born and high-bred gentlemen, closely bound together {204}by
friendship, but of widely different characters and habits; Bennet
Langton, distinguished by his skill in Greek literature, by the
orthodoxy of his opinions, and by the sanctity of his life; and Topham
Beauclerk, renowned for his amours, his knowledge of the gay world,
his fastidious taste, and his sarcastic wit. To predominate over such a
society was not easy. Yet even over such a society Johnson predominated.
Burke might indeed have disputed the supremacy to which others were
under the necessity of submitting. But Burke, though not generally a
very patient listener, was content to take the second part when Johnson
was present; and the club itself, consisting of so many eminent men, is
to this day popularly designated as Johnson’s Club.

Among the members of this celebrated body was one to whom it has owed
the greater part of its celebrity, yet who was regarded with little
respect by his brethren, and had not without difficulty obtained a seat
among them. This was James Boswell, a young Scotch lawyer, heir to an
honourable name and a fair estate. That he was a coxcomb, and a bore,
weak, vain, pushing, curious, garrulous, was obvious to all who were
acquainted with him. That he could not reason, that he had no wit,
no humour, no eloquence, is apparent from his writings. And yet his
writings are read beyond the Mississippi, and under the Southern Cross,
and are likely to be read as long as the English exists, either as
a living or as a dead language. Nature had made him a slave and an
idolater. His mind resembled those creepers which the botanists call
parasites, and which can subsist only by clinging round the stems and
imbibing the juices of stronger plants. He must have fastened himself on
somebody. He might {205}have fastened himself on Wilkes, and have
become the fiercest patriot in the Bill of Rights Society. He might
have fastened himself on Whitfield, and have become the loudest field
preacher among the Calvinistic Methodists. In a happy hour he fastened
himself on Johnson. The pair might seem ill matched. For Johnson had
early been prejudiced against Boswell’s country. To a man of Johnson’s
strong understanding and irritable temper, the silly egotism and
adulation of Boswell must have been as teasing as the constant buzz of
a fly. Johnson hated to be questioned; and Boswell was eternally
catechising him on all kinds of subjects, and sometimes propounded such
questions as “What would you do, sir, if you were locked up in a
tower with a baby?” Johnson was a water-drinker; and Boswell was a
wine-bibber, and indeed little better than a habitual sot. It was
impossible that there should be perfect harmony between two such
companions. Indeed, the great man was sometimes provoked into fits of
passion in which he said things which the small man, during a few hours,
seriously resented. Every quarrel, however, was soon made up. During
twenty years the disciple continued to worship the master: the master
continued to scold the disciple, to sneer at him, and to love him. The
two friends ordinarily resided at a great distance from each other.
Boswell practised in the Parliament House of Edinburgh, and could pay
only occasional visits to London. During those visits his chief business
was to watch Johnson, to discover all Johnson’s habits, to turn the
conversation to subjects about which Johnson was likely to say something
remarkable, and to fill quarto note books with minutes of what Johnson
had said. In this way were gathered the materials {206}out of which was
afterwards constructed the most interesting biographical work in the

Soon after the club began to exist, Johnson formed a connection less
important indeed to his fame, but much more important to his happiness,
than his connection with Boswell. Henry Thrale, one of the most opulent
brewers in the kingdom, a man of sound and cultivated understanding,
rigid principles, and liberal spirit, was married to one of those
clever, kind-hearted, engaging, vain, pert young women, who are
perpetually doing or saying what is not exactly right, but who do or
say what they may, are always agreeable. In 1765 the Thrales became
acquainted with Johnson; and the acquaintance ripened last into
friendship. They were astonished and delighted by the brilliancy of
his conversation. They were flattered by finding that a man so widely
celebrated preferred their house to any other in London. Even the
peculiarities which seemed to unfit him for civilised society, his
gesticulations, his rollings, his puffings, his mutterings, the strange
way in which he put on his clothes, the ravenous eagerness with which
he devoured his dinner, his fits of melancholy, his fits of anger, his
frequent rudeness, his occasional ferocity, increased the interest which
his new associates took in him. For these things were the cruel marks
left behind by a life which had been one long conflict with disease and
with adversity. In a vulgar hack writer such oddities would have excited
only disgust. But in a man of genius, learning, and virtue their effect
was to add pity to admiration and esteem. Johnson soon had an apartment
at the brewery in Southwark, and a still more pleasant apartment at the
villa of his friends on Streatham Common. A large part of every year he
passed in those abodes, abodes {207}which must have seemed magnificent
and luxurious indeed, when compared with the dens in which he had
generally been lodged. But his chief pleasures were derived from what
the astronomer of his Abyssinian tale called “the endearing elegance of
female friendship.” Mrs. Thrale rallied him, soothed him, coaxed him,
and, if she sometimes provoked him by her flippancy, made ample amends
by listening to his reproofs with angelic sweetness of temper. When he
was diseased in body and in mind, she was the most tender of nurses.
No comfort that wealth could purchase, no contrivance that womanly
ingenuity, set to work by womanly compassion, could devise, was wanting
to his sick room. He requited her kindness by an affection pure as the
affection of a father, yet delicately tinged with a gallantry, which,
though awkward, must have been more flattering than the attentions of a
crowd of the fools who gloried in the names, now obsolete, of Buck and
Maccaroni. It should seem that a full half of Johnson’s life, during
about sixteen years, was passed under the roof of the Thrales. He
accompanied the family sometimes to Bath, and sometimes to Brighton,
once to Wales, and once to Paris. But he had at the same time a house in
one of the narrow and gloomy courts on the north of Fleet Street. In the
garrets was his library, a large and miscellaneous collection of books,
falling to pieces and begrimed with dust. On a lower floor he sometimes,
but very rarely, regaled a friend with a plain dinner, a veal pie, or
a leg of lamb and spinage, and a rice pudding. Nor was the dwelling
uninhabited during his long absences. It was the home of the most
extraordinary assemblage of inmates that ever was brought together. At
the head of the establishment Johnson {208}had placed an old lady
named Williams, whose chief recommendations were her blindness and her
poverty. But, in spite of her murmurs and reproaches, he gave an asylum
to another lady who was as poor as herself, Mrs. Desmoulins, whose
family he had known many years before in Staffordshire. Room was found
for the daughter of Mrs. Desmoulins, and for another destitute damsel,
who was generally addressed as Miss Carmichael, but whom her generous
host called Polly. An old quack doctor named Levett, who bled and dosed
coal-heavers and hackney coachmen, and received for fees crusts of
bread, bits of bacon, glasses of gin, and sometimes a little copper,
completed this strange menagerie. All these poor creatures were at
constant war with each other, and with Johnson’s negro servant Frank.
Sometimes, indeed, they transferred their hostilities from the servant
to the master, complained that a better table was not kept for them, and
railed or maundered till their benefactor was glad to make his escape
to Streatham, or to the Mitre Tavern. And yet he, who was generally
the haughtiest and most irritable of mankind, who was but too prompt to
resent anything which looked like a slight on the part of a purse-proud
bookseller, or of a noble and powerful patron, bore patiently from
mendicants, who, but for his bounty, must have gone to the workhouse,
insults more provoking than those for which he had knocked down Osborne
and bidden defiance to Chesterfield. Year after year Mrs. Williams and
Mrs. Desmoulins, Polly and Levett, continued to torment him and to live
upon him.

The course of life which has been described was interrupted in Johnson’s
sixty-fourth year by an important event. He had early read an account of
the Hebrides, {209}and had been much interested by learning that there
was so near him a land peopled by a race which was still as rude and
simple as in the middle ages. A wish to become intimately acquainted
with a state of society so utterly unlike all that he had ever seen
frequently crossed his mind. But it is not probable that his curiosity
would have overcome his habitual sluggishness, and his love of the
smoke, the mud, and the cries of London, had not Boswell importuned him
to attempt the adventure, and offered to be his squire. At length, in
August 1773, Johnson crossed the Highland line, and plunged courageously
into what was then considered, by most Englishmen, as a dreary and
perilous wilderness. After wandering about two months through the Celtic
region, sometimes in rude boats which did not protect him from the rain,
and sometimes on small shaggy ponies which could hardly bear his weight,
he returned to his old haunts with a mind full of new images and new
theories. During the following year he employed himself in recording his
adventures. About the beginning of 1775, his Journey to the Hebrides was
published, and was, during some weeks, the chief subject of conversation
in all circles in which any attention was paid to literature. The
book is still read with pleasure. The narrative is entertaining; the
speculations, whether sound or unsound, are always ingenious; and
the style, though too stiff and pompous, is somewhat easier and more
graceful than that of his early writings. His prejudice against the
Scotch had at length become little more than matter of jest; and
whatever remained of the old feeling had been effectually removed by the
kind and respectful hospitality with which he had been received in every
part of Scotland. {210}It was, of course, not to be expected that an
Oxonian Tory should praise the Presbyterian polity and ritual, or that
an eye accustomed to the hedgerows and parks of England should not be
struck by the bareness of Berwickshire and East Lothian. But even
in censure Johnson’s tone is not unfriendly. The most enlightened
Scotchmen, with Lord Mansfield at their head, were well pleased. But
some foolish and ignorant Scotchmen were moved to anger by a little
unpalatable truth which was mingled with much eulogy, and assailed him
whom they chose to consider as the enemy of their country with libels
much more dishonourable to their country than anything that he had ever
said or written. They published paragraphs in the newspapers, articles
in the magazines, sixpenny pamphlets, five shilling books. One scribbler
abused Johnson for being blear-eved: another for being a pensioner;
a third informed the world that one of the Doctor’s uncles had been
convicted of felony in Scotland, and had found that there was in that
country one tree capable of supporting the weight of an Englishman.
Macpherson, whose Fingal had been proved in the Journey to be an
impudent forgery, threatened to take vengeance with a cane. The only
effect of this threat was that Johnson reiterated the charge of forgery
in the most contemptuous terms, and walked about, during some time, with
a cudgel, which, if the impostor had not been too wise to encounter it,
would assuredly have descended upon him, to borrow the sublime language
of his own epic poem, “like a hammer on the red son of the furnace.”

Of other assailants Johnson took no notice whatever. He had early
resolved never to be drawn into controversy; and he adhered to his
resolution with a steadfastness {211}which is the more extraordinary,
because he was, both intellectually and morally, of the stuff of which
controversialists, are made. In conversation, he was a singularly eager,
acute, and pertinacious disputant. When at a loss for good reasons,
he had recourse to sophistry; and, when heated by altercation, he made
unsparing use of sarcasm and invective. But, when he took his pen in his
hand, his whole character seemed to be changed. A hundred bad writers
misrepresented him and reviled him; but not one of the hundred could
boast of having been thought by him worthy of a refutation, or even of
a retort. The Ken-ricks, Campbells, MacNicols, and Hendersons, did their
best to annoy him, in the hope that he would give them importance by
answering them. But the reader will in vain search his works for
any allusion to Kenrick or Campbell, to MacNicol or Henderson. One
Scotchman, bent on vindicating the fame of Scotch learning, defied him
to the combat in a detestable Latin hexameter.

                   “Maxime, si tu vis, cupio contendere tecum.”

But Johnson took no notice of the challenge. He had learned, both from
his own observation and from literary history, in which he was deeply
read, that the place of books in the public estimation is fixed, not by
what is written about them, but by what is written in them; and that
an author whose works are likely to live is very unwise if he stoops
to wrangle with detractors whose works are certain to die. He always
maintained that fame was a shuttlecock which could be kept up only by
being beaten back, as well as beaten forward, and which would soon fall
if there were only one battledore. No saying was oftener in his mouth
than that, {212}fine apophthegm of Bentley, that no man was ever written
down but by himself.

Unhappily, a few months after the appearance of the Journey to the
Hebrides, Johnson did what none of his envious assailants could have
done, and to a certain extent succeeded in writing himself down. The
disputes between England and her American colonies had reached a point
at which no amicable adjustment was possible. Civil war was evidently
impending; and the ministers seem to have thought that the eloquence of
Johnson might, with advantage be employed to inflame the nation against
the opposition here, and against the rebels beyond the Atlantic. He
had already written two or three tracts in defence of the foreign and
domestic policy of the government; and those tracts, though hardly
worthy of him, were much superior to the crowd of pamphlets which lay on
the counters of Ahnon and Stockdale. But his Taxation No Tyranny was a
pitiable failure. The very title was a silly phrase, which can have been
recommended to his choice by nothing but a jingling alliteration which
he ought to have despised. The arguments were such as boys use in
debating societies. The pleasantry was as awkward as the gambols of a
hippopotamus. Even Boswell was forced to own that, in this unfortunate
piece, he could detect no trace of his master s powers. The general
opinion was that the strong faculties which had produced the Dictionary
and the Rambler were beginning to feel the effect of time and of
disease, and that the old man would best consult his credit by writing
no more.

But this was a great mistake. Johnson had failed, not because his mind
was less vigorous than when he wrote Rasselas in the evenings of a week,
but because he {213}had foolishly chosen, or suffered others to choose
for him, a subject such as he would at no time have been competent
to treat. He was in no sense a statesman. He never willingly read or
thought or talked about affairs of state. He loved biography, literary
history, the history of manners; but political history was positively
distasteful to him. The question at issue between the colonies and the
mother country was a question about which he had really nothing to say.
He failed, therefore, as the greatest men must fail when they attempt
to do that for which they are unfit; as Burke would have failed if Burke
had tried to write comedies like those of Sheridan; as Reynolds would
have failed if Reynolds had tried to paint landscapes like those
of Wilson. Happily, Johnson soon had an opportunity of proving most
signally that his failure was not to be ascribed to intellectual decay.

On Easter Eve 1777, some persons, deputed by a meeting which consisted
of forty of the first booksellers in London, called upon him. Though he
had some scruples about doing business at that season, he received his
visitors with much civility. They came to inform him that a new edition
of the English poets, from Cowley downwards, was in contemplation, and
to ask him to furnish short biographical prefaces. He readily undertook
the task, a task for which he was pre-eminently qualified. His knowledge
of the literary history of England since the Restoration was unrivalled.
That knowledge he had derived partly from books, and partly from sources
which had long been closed; from old Grub Street traditions; from the
talk of forgotten poetasters and pamphleteers who had long been lying in
parish vaults; from the recollections of such men as Gilbert Walmesley,
who had conversed with {214}the wits of Button; Cibber, who had
mutilated the plays of two generations of dramatists; Orrery, who had
been admitted to the society of Swift; and Savage, who had rendered
services of no very honourable kind to Pope. The biographer therefore
sate down to his task with a mind full of matter, he had at first
intended to give only a paragraph to every minor poet, and only four or
five pages to the greatest name. But the flood of anecdote and criticism
overflowed the narrow channel. The work, which was originally meant to
consist only of a few sheets, swelled into ten volumes, small volumes,
it is true, and not closely printed. The first four appeared in 1779,
the remaining six in 1781.

The Lives of the Poets, are, on the whole, the best of Johnson’s works.
The narratives are as entertaining as any novel. The remarks on life and
on human nature are eminently shrewd and profound. The criticisms are
often excellent, and, even when grossly and provokingly unjust, well
deserve to be studied. For, however erroneous they may be, they are
never silly. They are the judgments of a mind trammelled by prejudice
and deficient in sensibility, but vigorous and acute. They therefore
generally contain a portion of valuable truth which deserves to be
separated from the alloy; and, at the very worst, they mean something,
a praise to which much of what is called criticism in our time has no

Savage’s Life Johnson reprinted nearly as it had appeared in 1744.
Whoever, after reading that life, will turn to the other lives will be
struck by the difference of style. Since Johnson had been at ease in
his circumstances he had written little and had talked much. When,
therefore, he, after the lapse of years, resumed his {215}pen, the
mannerism which he had contracted while he was in the constant habit
of elaborate composition was less perceptible than formerly; and his
diction frequently had a colloquial ease which it had formerly wanted.
The improvement may be discerned by a skilful critic in the Journey to
the Hebrides, and in the Lives of the Poets is so obvious that it cannot
escape the notice of the most careless reader.

Among the lives the best are perhaps those of Cowley, Dryden, and Pope.
The very worst is, beyond all doubt, that of Gray.

This great work at once became popular. There was, indeed, much just
and much unjust censure: but even those who were loudest in blame were
attracted by the book in spite of themselves. Malone computed the gains
of the publishers at five or six thousand pounds. But the writer
was very poorly remunerated. Intending at first to write very
short prefaces, he had stipulated for only two hundred guineas. The
booksellers, when they saw how far his performance had surpassed his
promise, added only another hundred. Indeed, Johnson, though he did not
despise, or affect to despise, money, and though his strong sense
and long experience ought to have qualified him to protect his own
interests, seems to have been singularly unskilful and unlucky in his
literary bargains. He was generally reputed the first English writer of
his time. Yet several writers of his time sold their copyrights for sums
such as he never ventured to ask. To give a single instance, Robertson
received four thousand five hundred pounds for the History of Charles
V.; and it is no disrespect to the memory of Robertson to say that the
History of Charles V. is both a less valuable and a less amusing book
than the Lives of the Poets.

Johnson {216}was now in his seventy-second year. The infirmities of
age were coming last upon him. That inevitable event of which he never
thought without horror was brought near to him; and his whole life was
darkened by the shadow of death. He had often to pay the cruel price of
longevity. Every year he lost what could never be replaced. The strange
dependents to whom he had given shelter, and to whom, in spite of their
faults, he was strongly attached by habit, dropped off one by one;
and, in the silence of his home, he regretted even the noise of their
scolding matches. The kind and generous Thrale was no more; and it would
have been well if his wife had been laid beside him. But she survived to
be the laughing-stock of those who had envied her, and to draw from the
eyes of the old man who had loved her beyond anything in the world
tears far more bitter than he would have shed over her grave. With
some estimable and many agreeable qualities, she was not made to be
independent. The control of a mind more steadfast than her own was
necessary to her respectability. While she was restrained by her
husband, a man of sense and firmness, indulgent to her taste in trifles,
but always the undisputed master of his house, her worst offences had
been impertinent jokes, white lies, and short fits of pettishness ending
in sunny good humour. But he was gone; and she was left an opulent widow
of forty, with strong sensibility, volatile fancy, and slender judgment.
She soon fell in love with a music-master from Brescia, in whom nobody
but herself could discover anything to admire. Her pride, and perhaps
some better feelings, struggled hard against this degrading passion.
But the struggle irritated her nerves, soured her temper, and at length
endangered her health. {217}Conscious that her choice was one which
Johnson could not approve, she became desirous to escape from his
inspection. Her manner towards him changed. She was sometimes cold and
sometimes petulant. She did not conceal her joy when he left Streatham;
she never pressed him to return; and, if he came unbidden, she received
him in a manner which convinced him that he was no longer a welcome
guest. He took the very intelligible hints which she gave. He read, for
the last time, a chapter of the Greek Testament in the library which had
been formed by himself. In a solemn and tender prayer he commended the
house and its inmates to the Divine protection, and, with emotions which
choked his voice and convulsed his powerful frame, left for ever that
beloved home for the gloomy and desolate house behind Fleet Street,
where the few and evil days which still remained to him were to run out.
Here, in June 1788, he had a paralytic stroke, from which, however,
he recovered, and which does not appear to have at all impaired his
intellectual faculties. But other maladies came thick upon him. His
asthma tormented him day and night. Dropsical symptoms made their
appearance. While sinking under a Complication of diseases, he heard
that the woman whose friendship had been the chief happiness of sixteen
years of his life had married an Italian fiddler; that all London was
crying shame upon her; and that the newspapers and magazines were filled
with allusions to the Ephesian matron, and the two pictures in Hamlet.
He vehemently said that he would try to forget her existence. He never
uttered her name. Every memorial of her which met his eye he flung
into the fire. She meanwhile fled from the laughter and hisses of
her countrymen and countrywomen {218}to a land where she was unknown,
hastened across Mount Cenis, and learned, while passing a merry
Christmas of concerts and lemonade parties at Milan, that the great man
with whose name hers is inseparably associated had ceased to exist.

He had, in spite of much mental and bodily affliction, clung vehemently
to life. The feeling described in that fine but gloomy paper which
closes the series of his Idlers seemed to grow stronger in him as his
last hour drew near. He fancied that he should be able to draw his
breath more easily in a southern climate, and would probably have set
out for Rome and Naples, but for his fear of the expense of the journey.
That expense, indeed, he had the means of defraying; for he had laid
up about two thousand pounds, the fruit of labours which had made the
fortune of several publishers. But he was unwilling to break in upon
this hoard; and he seems to have wished even to keep its existence a
secret. Some of his friends hoped that the government might be induced
to increase his pension to six hundred pounds a year: but this hope was
disappointed; and he resolved to stand one English winter more. That
winter was his last. His legs grew weaker; his breath grew shorter; the
fatal water gathered fast, in spite of incisions which he, courageous
against pain, but timid against death, urged his surgeons to make deeper
and deeper. Though the tender care which had mitigated his sufferings
during months of sickness at Streatham was withdrawn, he was not left
desolate. The ablest physicians and surgeons attended him, and refused
to accept fees from him. Burke parted from him with deep emotion.
Windham sate much in the sick-room, arranged the pillows, and sent his
own servant to watch a night by the bed.

Frances {219}Burney, whom the old man had cherished with fatherly
kindness, stood weeping at the door; while Langton, whose piety
eminently qualified him to be an adviser and comforter at such a time,
received the last pressure of his friend’s hand within. When at length
the moment, dreaded through so many years, came close, the dark cloud
passed away from Johnson’s mind. His temper became unusually patient and
gentle; he ceased to think with terror of death, and of that which
lies beyond death; and he spoke much of the mercy of God, and of the
propitiation of Christ. In this serene frame of mind he died on the
13th of December, 1781. He was laid, a week later, in Westminster Abbey,
among the eminent men of whom he had been the historian,--Cowley and
Denham, Dry-den and Congreve, Gay, Prior, and Addison.

Since his death the popularity of his works--the Lives of the Poets,
and, perhaps, the Vanity of Human Wishes, excepted--has greatly
diminished. His Dictionary has been altered by editors till it can
scarcely be called his. An allusion to his Rambler or his Idler is not
readily apprehended in literary circles. The fame even of Rasselas has
grown somewhat dim. But, though the celebrity of the writings may have
declined, the celebrity of the writer, strange to say, is as great as
ever. Boswell’s book has done for him more than the best of his own
books could do. The memory of other authors is kept alive by their
works. But the memory of Johnson keeps many of his works alive. The old
philosopher is still among us in the brown coat with the metal buttons
and the shirt which ought to be at wash, blinking, puffing, rolling
his head, drumming with his fingers, tearing his meat like a tiger, and
swallowing his tea in oceans. No human being who {220}has been more than
seventy years in the grave is so well known to us. And it is but just
to say that our intimate acquaintance with what he would himself have
called the aufractuosities of his intellect and of his temper serves
only to strengthen our conviction that he was both a great and a good


(_Encyclopædia Britannica_, January 1859.)

William Pitt, {221}the second son of William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, and
of Lady Hester Grenville, daughter of Hester, Countess Temple, was born
on the 28th of May, 1759. The child inherited a name which, at the time
of his birth, was the most illustrious in the civilised world, and was
pronounced by every Englishman with pride, and by every enemy of England
with mingled admiration and terror. During the first year of his life,
every month had its illuminations and bonfires, and every wind brought
some messenger charged with joyful tidings and hostile standards. In
Westphalia the English infantry won a great battle which arrested the
armies of Louis the Fifteenth in the midst of a career of conquest;
Boscawen defeated one French fleet on the coast of Portugal; Hawke put
to flight another in the Bay of Biscay; Johnson took Niagara; Amherst
took Ticonderoga; Wolfe died by the most enviable of deaths under the
walls of Quebec; Clive destroyed a Dutch armament in the Hooghly, and
established the English supremacy in Bengal; Coote routed Lally at
Wandewash, and established the English supremacy in the Carnatic. The
nation, while loudly applauding the successful warriors, considered them
all, on sea and on land, in Europe, in America, {222}and in Asia, merely
as instruments which received their direction from one superior mind.
It was the great William Pitt, the great commoner, who had vanquished
French marshals in Germany, and French admirals on the Atlantic; who
had conquered for his country one great empire on the frozen shores
of Ontario, and another under the tropical sun near the mouths of the
Ganges, it was not in the nature of things that popularity such as he
at this time enjoyed should be permanent. That popularity had lost
its gloss before his children were old enough to understand that their
father was a great man. He was at length placed in situations in which
neither his talents for administration nor his talents for debate
appeared to the best advantage. The energy and decision which Lad
eminently fitted him for the direction of war were not needed in time
of peace. The lofty and spirit-stirring eloquence which had made him
supreme in the House of Commons often fell dead on the House of Lords. A
cruel malady racked his joints, and left his joints only to fall on his
nerves and on his brain. During the closing years of his life, he was
odious to the court, and yet was not on cordial terms with the great
body of the opposition. Chatham was only the ruin of Pitt, but an
awful and majestic ruin, not to be contemplated by any man of sense
and feeling without emotions resembling those which are excited by the
remains of the Parthenon and of the Coliseum. In one respect the old
statesman was eminently happy. Whatever might be the vicissitudes of his
public life, he never failed to find peace and love by his own hearth.
Fie loved all his children, and was loved by them; and, of all his
children, the one of whom he was fondest and proudest was his second

The {223}child’s genius and ambition displayed themselves with a rare
and almost unnatural precocity. At seven, the interest which he took in
grave subjects, the ardour with which he pursued his studies, and the
sense and vivacity of his remarks on books and on events, amazed his
parents and instructors. One of his sayings of this date was reported to
his mother by his tutor. In August, 1706, when the world was agitated
by the news that Mr. Pitt had become Earl of Chatham, little William
exclaimed: “I am glad that I am not the eldest son. I want to speak
in the House of Commons like papa.” A letter is extant in which Lady
Chatham, a woman of considerable abilities, remarked to her lord, that
their younger son at twelve had left far behind him his elder brother,
who was fifteen. “The fineness,” she wrote, “of William’s mind makes him
enjoy with the greatest pleasure what would be above the reach of any
other creature of his small age.” At fourteen the lad was in intellect a
man. Hayley, who met him at Lyme in the summer of 1773, was astonished,
delighted, and somewhat overawed, by hearing wit and wisdom from so
young a mouth. The poet, indeed, was afterwards sorry that his shyness
had prevented him from submitting the plan of an extensive literary
work, which he was then meditating, to the judgment of this
extraordinary boy. The boy, indeed, had already written a tragedy, bad
of course, but not worse than the tragedies of his friend. This piece
is still preserved at Chevening, and is in some respects highly curious.
There is no love. The whole plot is political; and it is remarkable that
the interest, such as it is, turns on a contest about a regency. On one
side is a faithful servant of the Crown, on the other an ambitious and
unprincipled conspirator. At length the King, {224}who had been missing,
reappears, resumes his power, and rewards the faithful defender of his
rights. A reader who should judge only by internal evidence would have
no hesitation in pronouncing that the play was written by some Pittite
poetaster at the time of the rejoicings for the recovery of George the
Third in 1780.

The pleasure with which William’s parents observed the rapid development
of his intellectual powers was alloyed by apprehensions about his
health. He shot up alarmingly fast; he was often ill, and always weak;
and it was feared that it would be impossible to rear a stripling so
tall, so slender, and so feeble. Port wine was prescribed by his medical
advisers: and it is said that he was, at fourteen, accustomed to take
this agreeable physic in quantities which would, in our abstemious
age, be thought much more than sufficient for any full-grown man. This
regimen, though it would probably have killed ninety-nine boys out of
a hundred, seems to have been well suited to the peculiarities of
William’s constitution; for at fifteen he ceased to be molested by
disease, and, though never a strong man, continued, during many years of
labour and anxiety, of nights passed in debate and of summers passed in
London, to be a tolerably healthy one. It was probably on account of the
delicacy of his frame that he was not educated like other boys of the
same rank. Almost all the eminent English statesmen and orators to whom
he was afterwards opposed or allied, North, Fox, Shelburne, Windham,
Grey, Wellesley, Grenville, Sheridan, Canning, went through the training
of great public schools. Lord Chatham had himself been a distinguished
Etonian: and it is seldom that a distinguished Etonian forgets his
obligations to Eton. But William’s {225}infirmities required a vigilance
and tenderness such as could be found only at home. He was therefore
bred under the paternal roof. His studies were superintended by a
clergyman named Wilson; and those studies, though often interrupted by
illness, were prosecuted with extraordinary success. Before the lad
had completed his fifteenth year, his knowledge both of the ancient
languages and of mathematics was such as very few men of eighteen then
carried up to college. He was therefore sent, towards the close of the
year 1773, to Pembroke Hall, in the university of Cambridge. So young a
student required much more than the ordinary care which a college
tutor bestows on undergraduates. The governor, to whom the direction
of William’s academical life was confided, was a bachelor of arts named
Pretyman, who had been senior wrangler in the preceding year, and who,
though not a man of prepossessing appearance or brilliant parts,
was eminently acute and laborious, a sound scholar, and an excellent
geometrician. At Cambridge, Pretyman was, during more than two years,
the inseparable companion, and indeed almost the only companion, of his
pupil. A close and lasting friendship sprang up between the pair. The
disciple was able, before he completed his twenty-eighth year, to
make his preceptor Bishop of Lincoln and Dean of St. Paul’s; and the
preceptor showed his gratitude by writing a life of the disciple, which
enjoys the distinction of being the worst biographical work of its size
in the world.

Pitt, till he graduated, had scarcely one acquaintance, attended chapel
regularly morning and evening, dined every day in hall, and never went
to a single evening party. At seventeen, he was admitted, after the bad
fashion of those times, by right of birth, without {226}any examination,
to the degree of Master of Arts. But he continued during some years to
reside at college, and to apply himself vigorously, under Prettyman’s
direction, to the studies of the place, while mixing freely in the best
academic society.

The stock of learning which Pitt laid in during this part of his life
was certainly very extraordinary. In fact, it was all that he ever
possessed; for he very early became too busy to have any spare time
for books. The work in which he took the greatest delight was Newton’s
Principia. His liking for mathematics, indeed, amounted to a passion,
which, in the opinion of his instructors, themselves distinguished
mathematicians, required to be cheeked rather than encouraged. The
acuteness and readiness with which he solved problems was pronounced by
one of the ablest of the moderators, who in those days presided over
the disputations in the schools, and conducted the examinations of the
Senate House, to be unrivalled in the university. Nor was the youth’s
proficiency in classical learning less remarkable. In one respect,
indeed, he appeared to disadvantage when compared with even second-rate
and third-rate men from public schools. He had never, while under
Wilson’s care, been in the habit of composing in the ancient languages;
and he therefore never acquired that knack of versification which is
sometimes possessed by clever boys whose knowledge of the language and
literature of Greece and Rome is very superficial. It would have been
utterly out of his power to produce such charming elegiac lines as those
in which Wellesley bade farewell to Eton, or such Virgilian hexameters
as those in which Canning described the pilgrimage to Mecca. But it
may be doubted whether any scholar has ever, at twenty, {227}had a
more solid and profound knowledge of the two great tongues of the old
civilised world. The facility with which he penetrated the meaning of
the most intricate sentences in the Attic writers astonished veteran
critics. He had set his heart on being intimately acquainted with all
the extant poetry of Greece, and was not satisfied till he had mastered
Lycophron’s Cassandra, the most obscure work in the whole range of
ancient literature. This strange rhapsody, the difficulties of which
have perplexed and repelled many excellent scholars, “he read,” says his
preceptor, “with an ease at first sight, which, if I had not witnessed
it, I should have thought beyond the compass of human intellect.”

To modern literature Pitt paid comparatively little attention. He knew
no living language except French; and French he knew very imperfectly.
With a few of the best English writers he was intimate, particularly
with Shakspeare and Milton. The debate in Pandemonium, was, as it well
deserved to be, one of his favourite passages; and his early friends
used to talk, long after his death, of the just emphasis and the
melodious cadence with which they had heard him recite the incomparable
speech of Belial. He had indeed been carefully trained from infancy in
the art of managing his voice, a voice naturally clear and deep-toned.
His father, whose oratory owed no small part of its effect to that art,
had been a most skilful and judicious instructor. At a later period,
the wits of Brookes’s, irritated by observing, night after night, how
powerfully Pitt’s sonorous elocution fascinated the rows of country
gentlemen, reproached him with having been “taught by his dad on a

His education, indeed, was well adapted to form a great
{228}parliamentary speaker. One argument often urged against those
classical studies which occupy so large a part of the early life of
every gentleman bred in the south of our island is, that they prevent
him from acquiring a command of his mother tongue, and that it is not
unusual to meet with a youth of excellent parts, who writes Ciceronian
Latin prose and Horatian Latin Aleaics, but who would find it impossible
to express his thoughts in pure, perspicuous, and forcible English.
There may perhaps be some truth in this observation. But the classical
studies of Pitt were carried on in a peculiar manner, and had the effect
of enriching his English vocabulary, and of making him wonderfully
expert in the art of constructing correct English sentences. His
practice was to look over a page or two of a Greek or Latin author,
to make himself master of the meaning, and then to read the passage
straight-forward into his own language. This practice, begun under his
first teacher Wilson, was continued under Pretyman. It is not strange
that a young man of great abilities, who had been exercised daily in
this way during ten years, should have acquired an almost unrivalled
power of putting his thoughts, without premeditation, into words well
selected and well arranged.

Of all the remains of antiquity, the orations were those on which he
bestowed the most minute examination. His favourite employment was to
compare harangues on opposite sides of the same question, to analyse
them, and to observe which of the arguments of the first speaker were
refuted by the second, which were evaded, and which were left untouched.
Nor was it only in books that he at this time studied the art
of parliamentary fencing. When he was at home, he had frequent
opportunities of hearing important debates {229}at Westminster; and
he heard them, not only with interest and enjoyment, but with a close
scientific attention resembling that with which a diligent pupil at
Guy’s Hospital watches every turn of the hand of a great surgeon through
a difficult operation. On one of these occasions, Pitt, a youth whose
abilities were as yet known onlv to his own family and to a small knot
of college friends, was introduced on the steps of the throne in the
House of Lords to Fox, who was his senior by eleven years, and who was
already the greatest debater, and one of the greatest orators, that
had appeared in England. Fox used afterwards to relate that, as the
discussion proceeded, Pitt repeatedly turned to him, and said, “But
surely, Mr. Fox, that might be met thus;” or, “Yes; but he lays himself
open to this retort.” What the particular criticisms were Fox had
forgotten; but he said that he was much struck at the time by the
precocity of a lad who, through the whole sitting, seemed to be thinking
only how all the speeches on both sides could be answered.

One of the young man’s visits to the House of Lords was a sad and
memorable era in his life. He had not quite completed his nineteenth
year, when, on the 7th of April, 1778, he attended his father to
Westminster. A great debate was expected. It was known that France had
recognised the independence of the United States. The Duke of Richmond
was about to declare his opinion that all thought of sublimating those
states ought to be relinquished. Chatham had always maintained that the
resistance of the colonies to the mother country was justifiable. But he
conceived, very erroneously, that on the day on which their independence
should be acknowledged the greatness of England would be at an end.
Though sinking under the weight of years and infirmities, {230}he
determined, in spite of the entreaties of his family, to be in his
place. His son supported him to a seat. The excitement and exertion were
too much for the old man. In the very act of addressing the peers, he
fell back in convulsions. A few weeks later his corpse was borne, with
gloomy pomp, from the Painted Chamber to the Abbey. The favourite child
and namesake of the deceased statesman followed the coffin as chief
mourner, and saw it deposited in the transept where his own was destined
to he.

His elder brother, now Earl of Chatham, had means sufficient, and barely
sufficient, to support the dignity of the peerage. The other members of
the family were poorly provided for. William had little more than three
hundred a year. It was necessary for him to follow a profession. He had
already begun to eat his terms. In the spring of 1780 he came of age.
He then quitted Cambridge, was called to the bar, took Chambers in
Lincoln’s Inn, and joined the western circuit. In the autumn of
that year a General election took place; and he offered himself as a
candidate for the university; but he was at the bottom of the poll. It
is said that the grave doctors, who then sate, robed in scarlet, on the
benches of Golgotha, thought it great presumption in so young a man
to solicit so high a distinction. He was, however, at the request of a
hereditary friend, the Duke of Rutland, brought into Parliament by Sir
James Lowther for the borough of Appleby.

The dangers of the country were at that time such as might well have
disturbed even a constant mind. Army after army had been sent in vain
against the rebellious colonists of North America. On pitched fields of
battle the advantage had been with the disciplined troops {231}of the
mother country. But it was not on pitched fields of battle that the
event of such a contest could be decided. An armed nation, with hunger
and the Atlantic for auxiliaries, was not to be subjugated. Meanwhile
the House of Bourbon, humbled to the dust a few years before by the
genius and vigour of Chatham, had seized the opportunity of revenge.
France and Spain were united against us, and had recently been joined by
Holland. The command of the Mediterranean had been for a time lost. The
British flag had been scarcely able to maintain itself in the British
Channel. The northern powers professed neutrality; but their neutrality
had a menacing aspect. In the East, Hyder had descended on the Carnatic,
had destroyed the little army of Baillie, and had spread terror even to
the ramparts of Fort St. George. The discontents of Ireland threatened
nothing less than civil war. In England the authority of the government
had sunk to the lowest point. The King and the House of Commons were
alike unpopular. The cry for parliamentary reform was scarcely less
loud and vehement than in the autumn of 1830. Formidable associations,
headed, not by ordinary demagogues, but by men of high rank, stainless
character, and distinguished ability, demanded a revision of the
representative system. The populace, emboldened by the impotence and
irresolution of the government, had recently broken loose from all
restraint, besieged the chambers of the legislature, hustled peers,
hunted bishops, attacked the residences of ambassadors, opened prisons,
burned and pulled down houses. London had presented during some days
the aspect of a city taken by storm; and it had been necessary to form a
camp among the trees of Saint James’s Park.

In {232}spite of dangers and difficulties abroad and at home, George
the Third, with a firmness which had little affinity with virtue or with
wisdom, persisted in his determination to put down the American rebels
by force of arms; and his ministers submitted their judgment to his.
Some of them were probably actuated merely by selfish cupidity; but
their chief, Lord North, a man of high honour, amiable temper, winning
manners, lively wit, and excellent talents both for business and for
debate, must be acquitted of all sordid motives. He remained at a post
from which he had long wished and had repeatedly tried to escape, only
because he had not sufficient fortitude to resist the entreaties and
reproaches of the King, who silenced all arguments by passionately
asking whether any gentleman, any man of spirit, could have the heart to
desert a kind master in the hour of extremity.

The opposition consisted of two parties which had once been hostile to
each other, and which had been very slowly, and, as it soon appeared,
very imperfectly reconciled, but which at this conjuncture seemed to act
together with cordiality. The larger of these parties consisted of the
great body of the Whig aristocracy. Its head was Charles, Marquess of
Rockingham, a man of sense and virtue, and in wealth and parliamentary
interest equalled by very few of the English nobles, but afflicted with
a nervous timidity which prevented him from taking a prominent part in
debate, In the House of Commons, the adherents of Rockingham were led
by Fox, whose dissipated habits and ruined fortunes were the talk of the
whole town, but whose commanding genius, and whose sweet, generous, and
affectionate disposition, extorted the admiration and love of those who
most lamented the errors of his private {233}life. Burke, superior
to Fox in largeness of comprehension, in extent of knowledge, and in
splendour of imagination, but less skilled in that kind of logic and in
that kind of rhetoric which convince and persuade great assemblies, was
willing to be the lieutenant of a young chief who might have been his

A smaller section of the opposition was composed of the old followers
of Chatham. At their head was William, Earl of Shelburne, distinguished
both as a statesman and as a lover of science and letters. With him were
leagued Lord Camden, who had formerly held the Great Seal, and whose
integrity, ability, and constitutional knowledge commanded the public
respect; Barré, an eloquent and acrimonious declaimer; and Dunning, who
had long held the first place at the English bar. It was to this party
that Pitt was naturally attracted.

On the 26th of February 1781 he made his first speech, in favour of
Burke’s plan of economical reform. Fox stood up at the same moment,
but instantly gave way. The lofty yet animated deportment of the young
member, his perfect self-possession, the readiness with which he replied
to the orators who had preceded him, the silver tones of his voice,
the perfect structure of his unpremeditated sentences, astonished and
delighted his hearers. Burke, moved even to tears, exclaimed, “It is not
a chip of the old block; it is the old block itself.” “Pitt will be one
of the first men in Parliament,” said a member of the opposition to Fox.
“He is so already,” answered Fox, in whose nature envy had no place.
It is a curious fact, well remembered by some who were very recently
living, that soon after this debate Pitt’s name was put up by Fox at

On two subsequent occasions during that session Pitt {234}addressed the
house, and on both fully sustained the reputation which he had acquired
on his first appearance. In the summer, after the prorogation, he again
went the western circuit, held several briefs, and acquitted himself in
such a manner that he was highly complimented by Puller from the bench,
and by Dunning at the bar.

On the 27th of November the Parliament reassembled. Only forty-eight
hours before had arrived tidings of the surrender of Cornwallis and
his army; and it had consequently been necessary to rewrite the royal
speech. Every man in the kingdom, except the King, was now convinced
that it was mere madness to think of conquering the United States.
In the debate on the report of the address, Pitt spoke with even
more energy and brilliancy than on any former occasion. He was warmly
applauded by his allies; but it was remarked that no person on his
own side of the house was so loud in eulogy as Henry Dundas, the Lord
Advocate of Scotland, who spoke from the ministerial ranks. That able
and versatile politician distinctly foresaw the approaching downfall of
the government with which he was connected, and was preparing to make
his own escape from the ruin. From that night dates his connection with
Pitt, a connection which soon became a close intimacy, and which lasted
till it was dissolved by death.

About a fortnight later, Pitt spoke in the committee of supply on
the army estimates. Symptoms of dissension had begun to appear on the
Treasury bench. Lord George Germaine, the Secretary of State who was
especially charged with the direction of the war in America, had held
language not easily to be reconciled with declarations made by the First
Lord of the Treasury. {235}Pitt noticed the discrepancy with much force
and keenness. Lord George and Lord North began to whisper together; and
Welbore Ellis, an ancient placeman who had been drawing salary almost
every quarter since the days of Henry Pelham, bent down between them to
put in a word. Such interruptions sometimes discompose veteran speakers.
Pitt stopped, and, looking at the group, said, with admirable readiness,
“I shall wait till Nestor has composed the dispute between Agamemnon and

After several defeats, or victories hardly to be distinguished from
defeats, the ministry resigned. The King, reluctantly and ungraciously,
consented to accept Rockingham as first minister. Fox and Shelburne
became Secretaries of State. Lord John Cavendish, one of the most
upright and honourable of men, was made Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Thurlow, whose abilities and force of character had made him the
dictator of the House of Lords, continued to hold the great seal.

To Pitt was offered, through Shelburne, the Vice-Treasurership of
Ireland, one of the easiest and most highly paid places in the gift of
the Crown; but the offer was, without hesitation, declined. The young
statesman had resolved to accept no post which did not entitle him to a
seat in the cabinet: and, a few days later, he announced that resolution
in the House of Commons. It must be remembered that the cabinet was
then a much smaller and more select body than at present. We have seen
cabinets of sixteen. In the time of our grandfathers a cabinet of ten or
eleven was thought inconveniently large. Seven was an usual number. Even
Burke, who had taken the lucrative office of paymaster, was not in the
cabinet. Many therefore {236}thought Pitt’s declaration indecent. He
himself was sorry that he had made it. The words, he said in private,
had escaped him in the heat of speaking; and he had no sooner uttered
them than he would have given the world to recall them. They, however,
did him no harm with the public. The second William Pitt, it was said,
had shown that he had inherited the spirit, as well as the genius, of
the first. In the son, as in the father, there might perhaps be too much
pride; but there was nothing low or sordid. It might be called arrogance
in a young barrister, living in chambers on three hundred a year, to
refuse a salary of five thousand a year, merely because he did not
choose to bind himself to speak or vote for plans which he had no share
in framing; but surely such arrogance was not very far removed from

Pitt gave a general support to the administration of Rockingham, but
omitted, in the meantime, no opportunity of courting that Ultra-Whig
party which the persecution of Wilkes and the Middlesex election had
called into existence, and which the disastrous events of the war, and
the triumph of republican principles in America, had made formidable
both in numbers and in temper. He supported a motion for shortening the
duration of Parliaments. He made a motion for a committee to examine
into the state of the representation, and, in the speech by which that
motion was introduced, avowed himself the enemy of the close boroughs,
the strongholds of that corruption to which he attributed all the
calamities of the nation, and which, as he phrased it in one of those
exact and sonorous sentences of which he had a boundless command, had
grown with the growth of England and strengthened with her strength, but
had not diminished with her diminution {237}or decayed with her decay.
On this occasion he was supported by Fox. The motion was lost by
only twenty votes in a house of more than three hundred members. The
reformers never again had so good a division till the year 1881.

The new administration was strong in abilities, and was more popular
than any administration which had held office since the first year of
George the Third, but was hated by the King, hesitatingly supported by
the Parliament, and torn by internal dissensions. The Chancellor
was disliked and distrusted by almost all his colleagues. The two
Secretaries of State regarded each other with no friendly feeling. The
line between their departments had not been traced with precision; and
there were consequently jealousies, encroachments, and complaints. It
was all that Rockingham could do to keep the peace in his cabinet; and,
before the cabinet had existed three months, Rockingham died.

In an instant all was confusion. The adherents of the deceased statesman
looked on the Duke of Portland as their chief. The King placed Shelburne
at the head of the Treasury. Fox, Lord John Cavendish, and Burke,
immediately resigned their offices; and the new prime minister was left
to constitute a government out of very defective materials. His own
parliamentary talents were great; but he could not be in the place where
parliamentary talents were most needed. It was necessary to find some
member of the House of Commons who could confront the great orators of
the opposition; and Pitt alone had the eloquence and the courage which
were required. He was offered the great place of Chancellor of
the Exchequer; and he accepted it. He had scarcely completed his
twenty-third year.

The {238}Parliament was speedily prorogued. During the recess, a
negotiation for peace which had been commenced under Rockingham
was brought to a successful termination. England acknowledged the
independence of her revolted colonies; and she ceded to her European
enemies some places in the Mediterranean and in the Gulf of Mexico. But
the terms which she obtained were quite as advantageous and honourable
as the events of the war entitled her to expect, or as she was likely to
obtain by persevering in a contest against immense odds. All her vital
parts, all the real sources of her power, remained uninjured. She
preserved even her dignity; for she ceded to the House of Bourbon only
part of what she had won from that House in previous wars. She retained
her Indian empire undiminished; and, in spite of the mightiest efforts
of two great monarchies, her flag still waved on the rock of Gibraltar.
There is not the slightest reason to believe that Fox, if he had
remained in office, would have hesitated one moment about concluding
a treaty on such conditions. Unhappily that great and most amiable man
was, at this crisis, hurried by his passions into an error which made
his genius and his virtues, during a long course of years, almost
useless to his country.

He saw that the great body of the House of Commons was divided into
three parties, his own, that of North, and that of Shelburne; that none
of those three parties was large enough to stand alone; that,
therefore, unless two of them united, there must be a miserably feeble
administration, or, more probably, a rapid succession of miserably
feeble administrations, and this at a time when a strong government was
essential to the prosperity and respectability of the nation. It was
then necessary and right that there should be a coalition. {239}To
every possible coalition there were objections. But, of all possible
coalitions, that to which there were the fewest objections was
undoubtedly a coalition between Shelburne and Fox. It would have been
generally applauded by the followers of both. It might have been
made without any sacrifice of public principle on the part of either.
Unhappily, recent bickerings had left in the mind of Fox a profound
dislike and distrust of Shelburne. Pitt attempted to mediate, and was
authorised to invite Fox to return to the service of the Crown. “Is Lord
Shelburne,” said Fox, “to remain prime minister?” Pitt answered in the
affirmative. “It is impossible that I can act under him,” said Fox.
“Then negotiation is at an end,” said Pitt; “for I cannot betray him.”
 Thus the two statesmen parted. They were never again in a private room

As Fox and his friends would not treat with Shelburne, nothing
remained to them but to treat with North. That fatal coalition which is
emphatically called “The Coalition” was formed. Not three quarters of
a year had elapsed since Fox and Burke had threatened North with
impeachment, and had described him, night after night, as the most
arbitrary, the most corrupt, the most incapable of ministers. They now
allied themselves with him for the purpose of driving from office a
statesman with whom they cannot be said to have differed as to any
important question. Nor had they even the prudence and the patience to
wait for some occasion on which they might, without inconsistency, have
combined with their old enemies in opposition to the government. That
nothing might be wanting to the scandal, the great orators, who had,
during seven years, thundered against the war, determined {240}to join
with the authors of that war in passing a vote of censure on the peace.

The Parliament met before Christmas 1782. But it was not till January
1783 that the preliminary treaties were signed. On the 17th of February
they were taken into consideration by the House of Commons. There
had been, during some days, floating rumours that Fox and North had
coalesced; and the debate indicated but too clearly that those rumours
were not unfounded. Pitt was suffering from indisposition: he did not
rise till his own strength and that of his hearers were exhausted; and
he was consequently less successful than on any former occasion. His
admirers owned that his speech was feeble and petulant. He so far forgot
himself as to advise Sheridan to confine himself to amusing theatrical
audiences. This ignoble sarcasm gave Sheridan an opportunity of
retorting with great felicity. “After what I have seen and heard
tonight,” he said, “I really feel strongly tempted to venture on a
competition with so great an artist as Ben Jonson, and to bring on the
stage a second Angry Boy.” On a division, the address proposed by the
supporters of the government was rejected by a majority of sixteen.

But Pitt was not a man to be disheartened by a single failure, or to
be put down by the most lively repartee. When, a few days later, the
opposition proposed a resolution directly censuring the treaties, he
spoke with an eloquence, energy, and dignity, which raised his fame
and popularity higher than ever. To the coalition of Fox and North
he alluded in language which drew forth tumultuous applause from his
followers. “If,” he said, “this ill-omened and unnatural marriage be not
yet consummated, I know of a just and {241}lawful impediment; and, in
the name of the public weal, I forbid the banns.”

The ministers were again left in a minority; and Shelburne consequently
tendered his resignation. It was accepted; but the King struggled long
and hard before he submitted to the terms dictated by Fox, whose faults
he detested, and whose high spirit and powerful intellect he detested
still more. The first place at the board of Treasury was repeatedly
offered to Pitt; but the offer, though tempting, was steadfastly
declined. The young man, whose judgment was as precocious as his
eloquence, saw that his time was coming, but was not come, and was deaf
to royal importunities and reproaches. His Majesty, bitterly complaining
of Pitt’s faintheartedness, tried to break the coalition. Every art of
seduction was practised on North, but in vain. During several weeks the
country remained without a government. It was not till all devices had
failed, and till the aspect of the House of Commons became threatening,
that the King gave way. The Duke of Portland was declared First Lord of
the Treasury. Thurlow was dismissed. Fox and North became Secretaries of
State, with power ostensibly equal. But Fox was the real prime minister.

The year was far advanced before the new arrangements were completed;
and nothing very important was done during the remainder of the session.
Pitt, now seated on the opposition bench, brought the question of
parliamentary reform a second time under the consideration of the
Commons. He proposed to add to the House at once a hundred county
members and several members for metropolitan districts, and to enact
that every borough of which an election committee {242}should report
that the majority of voters appeared to be corrupt should lose the
franchise. The motion was rejected by 203 votes to 140.

After the prorogation, Pitt visited the Continent for the first and last
time. His travelling companion was one of his most intimate friends,
a young man of his own age, who had already distinguished himself in
Parliament by an engaging natural eloquence, set off by the sweetest
and most exquisitely modulated of human voices, and whose affectionate
heart, caressing manners, and brilliant wit, made him the most
delightful of companions, William Wilberforce. That was the time of
Anglomania in France; and at Paris the son of the great Chatham was
absolutely hunted by men of letters and women of fashion, and forced,
much against his will, into political disputation. One remarkable saying
which dropped from him during this tour has been preserved. A French
gentleman expressed some surprise at the immense influence which Fox, a
man of pleasure, ruined by the dice-box and the turf, exercised over the
English nation. “You have not,” said Pitt, “been under the wand of the

In November 1783 the Parliament met again. The government had
irresistible strength in the House of Commons, and seemed to be scarcely
less strong in the House of Lords, but was, in truth, surrounded on
every side by dangers. The King was impatiently waiting for the moment
fit which he could emancipate himself from a yoke which galled him so
severely that he had more than once seriously thought of retiring to
Hanover; and the King was scarcely more eager for a change than the
nation. Fox and North had committed a fatal error. They ought to have
known that coalitions {243}between parties which have long been hostile
can succeed only when the wish for coalition pervades the lower ranks
of both. If the leaders unite before there is any disposition to union
among the followers, the probability is that there will be a mutiny in
both camps, and that the two revolted armies will make a truce with each
other, in order to be revenged on those by whom they think that they
have been betrayed. Thus it was in 1783. At the beginning of that
eventful year, North had been the recognised head of the old Tory party,
which, though for a moment prostrated by the disastrous issue of the
American war, was still a great power in the state. To him the clergy,
the universities, and that large body of country gentlemen whose
rallying cry was “Church and King,” had long looked up with respect and
confidence. Fox had, on the other hand, been the idol of the Whigs,
and of the whole body of Protestant dissenters. The coalition at once
alienated the most zealous Tories from North, and the most zealous Whigs
from Fox. The University of Oxford, which had marked its approbation of
North’s orthodoxy by electing him chancellor, the city of London, which
had been during two and twenty years at war with the Court, were equally
disgusted. Squires and rectors, who had inherited the principles of the
cavaliers of the preceding century, could not forgive their old leader
for combining with disloyal subjects in order to put a force on the
sovereign. The members of the Bill of Rights Society and of the Reform
Associations were enraged by learning that their favourite orator now
called the great champion of tyranny and corruption his noble friend.
Two great multitudes were at once left without any head, and both at
once turned their eyes on Pitt. One party saw {244}in him the only man
who could rescue the King; the other saw in him the only man who could
purify the Parliament. He was supported on one side by Archbishop
Markham, the preacher of divine right, and by Jenkinson, the captain of
the Praetorian band of the King’s friends; on the other side by Jebb and
Priestley, Sawbridge and Cartwright, Jack Wilkes and Horne Tooke. On the
benches of the House of Commons, however, the ranks of the ministerial
majority were unbroken; and that any statesman would venture to brave
such a majority was thought impossible. No prince of the Hanoverian
line had ever, under any provocation, ventured to appeal from the
representative body to the constituent body. The ministers, therefore,
notwithstanding the sullen looks and muttered words of displeasure with
which their suggestions were received in the closet, notwithstanding the
roar of obloquy which was rising louder and louder every day from every
corner of the island, thought themselves secure.

Such was their confidence in their strength that, as soon as the
Parliament had met, they brought forward a singularly bold and original
plan for the government of the British territories in India. What was
proposed was that the whole authority, which till that time had been
exercised over those territories by the East India Company, should be
transferred to seven Commissioners who were to be named by Parliament,
and were not to be removable at the pleasure of the Crown. Earl
Fitzwilliam, the most intimate personal friend of Fox, was to be
chairman of this board; and the eldest son of North was to be one of the

As soon as the outlines of the scheme were known, all the hatred which
the coalition had excited burst forth {245}with an astounding explosion.
The question which ought undoubtedly to have been considered as
paramount to every other was, whether the proposed change was likely to
be beneficial or injurious to the thirty millions of people who were
subject to the Company. But that question cannot be said to have been
even seriously discussed. Burke, who, whether right or wrong in the
conclusions to which he came, had at least the merit of looking at the
subject in the right point of view, vainly reminded his hearers of that
mighty population whose daily rice might depend on a vote of the British
Parliament. He spoke, with even more than his wonted power of thought
and language, about the desolation of Rohilcund, about the spoliation
of Benares, about the evil policy which had suffered the tanks of the
Carnatic to go to ruin; but he could scarcely obtain a hearing. The
contending parties, to their shame it must be said, would listen to none
but English topics. Out of doors the cry against the ministry was almost
universal. Town and country were united. Corporations exclaimed against
the violation of the charter of the greatest corporation in the realm.
Tories and democrats joined in pronouncing the proposed board an
unconstitutional body. It was to consist of Fox’s nominees. The effect
of his bill was to give, not to the Crown, but to him personally,
whether in office or in opposition, an enormous power, a patronage
sufficient to counterbalance the patronage of the Treasury and of the
Admiralty, and to decide the elections for fifty boroughs. He knew,
it was said, that he was hateful alike to King and people; and he had
devised a plan which would make him independent of both. Some nicknamed
him Cromwell, and some Carlo Khan. Wilberforce, with his usual felicity
of expression, {246}and with very unusual bitterness of feeling,
described the scheme as the genuine offspring of the coalition, as
marked with the features of both its parents, the corruption of one and
the violence of the other. In spite of all opposition, however, the bill
was supported in every stage by great majorities, was rapidly passed,
and was sent up to the Lords. To the general astonishment, when the
second readme was moved in the Upper House, the opposition proposed an
adjournment, and carried it by eighty-seven votes to seventy-nine. The
cause of this strange turn of fortune was soon known. Pitt’s cousin,
Earl Temple, had been in the royal closet, and had there been authorised
to let it be known that His Majesty would consider all who voted for
the bill as his enemies. The ignominious commission was performed; and
instantly a troop of Lords of the Bedchamber, of Bishops who wished to
be translated, and of Scotch peers who wished to be re-elected, made
haste to change sides. On a later day, the Lords rejected the bill. Fox
and North were immediately directed to send their seals to the palace
by their Under Secretaries; and Pitt was appointed First Lord of the
Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The general opinion was, that there would be an immediate dissolution.
But Pitt wisely determined to give the public feeling time to gather
strength. On this point he differed from his kinsman Temple. The
consequence was, that Temple, who had been appointed one of the
Secretaries of State, resigned his office forty-eight hours after he had
accepted it, and thus relieved the new government from a great load of
unpopularity; for all men of sense and honour, however strong might be
their dislike of the India Bill, disapproved of the manner {247}in which
that bill had been thrown out. Temple carried away with him the scandal
which the best friends of the new government could not but lament.
The fame of the young prime minister preserved its whiteness. He could
declare with perfect truth that, if unconstitutional machinations had
been employed, he had been no party to them.

He was, however, surrounded by difficulties and dangers. In the House of
Lords, indeed, he had a majority; nor could any orator of the opposition
in that assembly be considered as a match for Thurlow, who was now again
Chancellor, or for Camden, who cordially supported the son of his old
friend Chatham. But in the other House there was not a single eminent
speaker among the official men who sate round Pitt. His most useful
assistant was Dundas, who, though he had not eloquence, had sense,
knowledge, readiness, and boldness. On the opposite benches was a
powerful majority, led by Fox, who was supported by Burke, North, and
Sheridan. The heart of the young minister, stout as it was, almost died
within him. He could not once close his eyes on the night which followed
Temple’s resignation. But, whatever his internal emotions might be, his
language and deportment indicated nothing but unconquerable firmness and
haughty confidence in his own powers. His contest against the House of
Commons lasted from the 17th of December, 1783, to the 8th of March,
1781. In sixteen divisions the opposition triumphed. Again and again the
King was requested to dismiss his ministers. But he was determined to go
to Germany rather than yield. Pitt’s resolution never wavered. The
cry of the nation in his favour became vehement and almost furious.
Addresses assuring him of public support came up daily from {248}every
part of the kingdom. The freedom of the city of London was presented to
him in a gold box. He went in state to receive this mark of distinction.
he was sumptuously feasted in Grocers’ Hall; and the shopkeepers of the
Strand and Fleet Street illuminated their houses in his honour. These
things could not but produce an effect within the walls of Parliament.
The ranks of the majority began to waver; a few passed over to the
enemy; some skulked away; many were for capitulating while it was still
possible to capitulate with the honours of war. Negotiations were opened
with the view of forming an administration on a wide basis; but they had
scarcely been opened when they were closed. The opposition demanded,
as a preliminary article of the treaty, that Pitt should resign the
Treasury; and with this demand Pitt steadfastly refused to comply. While
the contest was raging, the Clerkship of the Pells, a sinecure place for
life, worth three thousand a year, and tenable with a seat in the House
of Commons, became vacant. The appointment was with the Chancellor of
the Exchequer: nobody doubted that he would appoint himself; and nobody
could have blamed him if he had done so: for such sinecure offices
had always been defended on the ground that they enabled a few men of
eminent abilities and small incomes to live without any profession, and
to devote themselves to the service of the state. Pitt, in spite of
the remonstrances of his friends, gave the Pells to his father’s old
adherent, Colonel Barré, a man distinguished by talent and eloquence,
but poor and afflicted with blindness. By this arrangement a pension
which the Rockingham administration had granted to Barré was saved to
the public. Never was there a happier stroke of policy. About treaties,
{249}wars, expeditions, tariffs, budgets, there will always be room
for dispute. The policy which is applauded by half the nation may be
condemned by the other half. But pecuniary disinterestedness everybody
comprehends. It is a great thing for a man who has only three hundred a
year to be able to show that he considers three thousand a year as mere
dirt beneath his feet, when compared with the public interest and
the public esteem. Pitt had his reward. No minister was ever more
rancorously libelled; but, even when he was known to be overwhelmed with
debt, when millions were passing through his hands, when the wealthiest
magnates of the realm were soliciting him for marquisates and garters,
his bitterest enemies did not dare to accuse him of touching unlawful

At length the hard fought fight ended. A final remonstrance, drawn up by
Burke with admirable skill, was carried on the 8th of March by a single
vote in a full House. Had the experiment been repeated, the supporters
of the coalition would probably have been in a minority. But the
supplies had been voted; the Mutiny Bill had been passed; and the
Parliament was dissolved.

The popular constituent bodies all over the country were in general
enthusiastic on the side of the new government. A hundred and sixty of
the supporters of the coalition lost their seats. The First Lord of the
Treasury himself came in at the head of the poll for the University
of Cambridge. His young friend, Wilberforce, was elected knight of
the great shire of York, in opposition to the whole influence of the
Fitzwilliams, Cavendishes, Dundases, and Saviles. In the midst of such
triumphs Pitt completed his twenty-fifth year. He was now the greatest
subject that England had seen {250}during many generations. He
domineered absolutely over the cabinet, and was the favourite at once of
the Sovereign, of the Parliament, and of the nation. His father had never
been so powerful, nor Walpole, nor Marlborough.

This narrative has now reached a point, beyond which a full history of
the life of Pitt would be a history of England, or rather of the whole
civilised world; and for such a history this is not the proper place.
Here a very slight sketch must suffice; and in that sketch prominence
will be given to such points as may enable a reader who is already
acquainted with the general course of events to form a just notion of
the character of the man on whom so much depended.

If we wish to arrive at a correct judgment of Pitt’s merits and defects,
we must never forget that he belonged to a peculiar class of statesmen,
and that he must be tried by a peculiar standard. It is not easy to
compare him fairly with such men as Ximenes and Sully, Richelieu and
Oxenstiern, John de Witt and Warren Hastings. The means by which those
politicians governed great communities were of quite a different
kind from those which Pitt was under the necessity of employing. Some
talents, which they never had any opportunity of showing that they
possessed, were developed in him to an extraordinary degree. In some
qualities, on the other hand, to which they owe a large part of their
fame, he was decidedly their inferior. They transacted business in their
closets, or at boards where a few confidential councillors sate. It was
his lot to be born in an age and in a country in which parliamentary
government was completely established; his whole training from infancy
was such as fitted him to bear a part in parliamentary {251}government;
and, from the prime of his manhood to his death, all the powers of
his vigorous mind were almost constantly exerted in the work of
parliamentary government. He accordingly became the greatest master
of the whole art of parliamentary government that has ever existed, a
greater than Montagne or Walpole, a greater than his father Chatham
or his rival Fox, a greater than either of his illustrious successors
Canning and Peel.

Parliamentary government, like every other contrivance of man, has its
advantages and its disadvantages. On the advantages there is no need
to dilate. The history of England during the hundred and seventy years
which have elapsed since the House of Commons became the most powerful
body in the state, her immense and still growing prosperity, her
freedom, her tranquillity, her greatness in arts, in sciences, and in
arms, her maritime ascendency, the marvels of her public credit, her
American, her African, her Australian, her Asiatic empires, sufficiently
prove the excellence of her institutions. But those institutions,
though excellent, are assuredly not perfect. Parliamentary government is
government by speaking. In such a government, the power of speaking
is the most highly prized of all the qualities which a politician
can possess; and that power may exist, in the highest degree, without
judgment, without fortitude, without skill in reading the characters of
men or the signs of the times, without any knowledge of the principles
of legislation or of political economy, and without any skill in
diplomacy or in the administration of war. Nay, it may well happen that
those very intellectual qualities which give a peculiar charm to the
speeches of a public man may be incompatible with the qualities which
would {252}fit him to meet a pressing emergency with promptitude and
firmness. It was thus with Charles Townshend. It was thus with Windham.
It was a privilege to listen to those accomplished and ingenious
orators. But in a perilous crisis they would have been found far
inferior in all the qualities of rulers to such a man as Oliver
Cromwell, who talked nonsense, or as William the Silent, who did not
talk at all. When parliamentary government is established, a Charles
Townshend or a Windham will almost always exercise much greater
influence than such men as the great Protector of England, or as
the founder of the Batavian commonwealth. In such a government,
parliamentary talent, though quite distinct from the talents of a
good executive or judicial official, will be a chief qualification for
executive and judicial office. From the Book of Dignities a curious list
might be made out of Chancellors ignorant of the principles of
equity, and First Lords of the Admiralty ignorant of the principles of
navigation, of Colonial ministers who could not repeat the names of
the Colonies, of Lords of the Treasury who did not know the difference
between funded and unfunded debt, and of Secretaries of the India Board
who did not know whether the Mahrattas were Mahometans or Hindoos. On
these grounds, some persons, incapable of seeing more than one side of a
question, have pronounced parliamentary government a positive evil, and
have maintained that the administration would be greatly improved if the
power, now exercised by a large assembly, were transferred to a single
person. Men of sense will probably think the remedy very much worse than
the disease, and will be of opinion that there would be small gain in
exchanging Charles Townshend {253}and Windham for the Prince of the
Peace, or the poor slave and dog Steenie.

Pitt was emphatically the man of parliamentary government, the type of
his class, the minion, the child, the spoiled child, of the House of
Commons. For the House of Commons he had a hereditary, an infantine
love. Through his whole boyhood, the House of Commons was never out of
his thoughts, or out of the thoughts of his instructors. Reciting at his
father’s knee, reading Thucydides and Cicero into English, analysing the
great Attic speeches on the Embassy and on the Crown, he was constantly
in training for the conflicts of the House of Commons. He was a
distinguished member of the House of Commons at twenty-one. The ability
which he had displayed in the House of Commons made him the most
powerful subject in Europe before he was twenty-five. It would have
been happy for himself and for his country if his elevation had been
deferred. Eight or ten years, during which he would have had leisure and
opportunity for reading and reflection, for foreign travel, for social
intercourse and free exchange of thought on equal terms with a great
variety of companions, would have supplied what, without any fault
on his part, was wanting to his powerful intellect. He had all the
knowledge that he could be expected to have; that is to say, all the
knowledge that a man can acquire while he is a student at Cambridge, and
all the knowledge that a man can acquire when he is First Lord of the
Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer. But the stock of general
information which he brought from college, extraordinary for a boy, was
far inferior to what Fox possessed, and beggarly when compared with
the massy, the splendid, the various treasures laid up in the large
{254}mind of Burke. After Pitt became minister, he had no leisure to
learn more than was necessary for the purposes of the day which was
passing over him. What was necessary for those purposes such a man could
learn with little difficulty, he was surrounded by experienced and able
public servants, he could at any moment command their best assistance.
From the stores which they produced his vigorous mind rapidly collected
the materials for a good parliamentary case: and that was enough.
Legislation and administration were with him secondary matters. To the
work of framing statutes, of negotiating treaties, of organising fleets
and armies, of sending forth expeditions, he gave only the leavings of
his time and the dregs of his fine intellect. The strength and sap of
his mind were all drawn in a different direction. It was when the House
of Commons was to be convinced and persuaded that he put forth all his

Of those powers we must form our estimate chiefly from tradition; for of
all the eminent speakers of the last age Pitt has suffered most from
the reporters. Even while he was still living, critics remarked that
his eloquence could not be preserved, that he must be heard to be
appreciated. They more than once applied to him the sentence in which
Tacitus describes the fate of a senator whose rhetoric was admired in
the Augustan age: “Haterii canorum illud et profluens cum ipso simul
exstinctum est.” There is, however, abundant evidence that nature had
bestowed on Pitt the talents of a great orator; and those talents had
been developed in a very peculiar manner, first by his education, and
secondly by the high official position to which he rose early, and in
which he passed the greater part of his public life.

At {255}his first appearance in Parliament he showed himself superior
to all his contemporaries in command of language. He could pour forth
a long succession of round and stately periods, without premeditation,
without ever pausing for a word, without ever repeating a word, in a
voice of silver clearness, and with a pronunciation so articulate that
not a letter was slurred over. He had less amplitude of mind and less
richness of imagination than Burke, less ingenuity than Windham, less
wit than Sheridan, less perfect mastery of dialectical fence, and less
of that highest sort of eloquence which consists of reason and passion
fused together, than Fox. Yet the almost unanimous judgment of those
who were in the habit of listening to that remarkable race of men placed
Pitt, as a speaker, above Burke, above Windham, above Sheridan, and not
below Fox. His declamation was copious, polished, and splendid. In power
of sarcasm he was probably not surpassed by any speaker, ancient or
modern; and of this formidable weapon he made merciless use. In two
parts of the oratorical art which are of the highest value to a minister
of state he was singularly expert. No man knew better how to be luminous
or how to be obscure. When he wished to be understood, he never failed
to make himself understood. He could with ease present to his audience,
not perhaps an exact or profound, but a clear, popular, and plausible
view of the most extensive and complicated subject. Nothing was out of
place; nothing was forgotten; minute details, dates, sums of money,
were all faithfully preserved in his memory. Even intricate questions of
finance, when explained by him, seemed clear to the plainest man
among his hearers. On the other hand, when he did not wish to be
explicit,--and {256}no man who is at the head of affairs always wishes
to be explicit,--he had a marvellous power of saying nothing in language
which left on his audience the impression that he had said a great deal.
He was at once the only man who could open a budget without notes, and
the only man who, as Windham said, could speak that most elaborately
evasive and unmeaning of human compositions, a King’s speech, without

The effect of oratory will always to a great extent depend on the
character of the orator. There perhaps never were two speakers whose
eloquence had more of what may be called the race, more of the flavour
imparted by moral qualities, than Fox and Pitt. The speeches of Fox owe
a great part of their charm to that warmth and softness of heart, that
sympathy with human suffering, that admiration for everything great and
beautiful, and that hatred of cruelty and injustice, which interest and
delight us even in the most defective reports. No person, on the other
hand, could hear Pitt without perceiving him to be a man of high,
intrepid, and commanding spirit, proudly conscious of his own rectitude
and of his own intellectual superiority, incapable of the low vices of
fear and envy, but too prone to feel and to show disdain. Pride, indeed,
pervaded the whole man, was written in the harsh, rigid lines of his
face, was marked by the way in which he walked, in which he sate,
in which he stood, and, above all, in which he bowed. Such pride, of
course, inflicted many wounds. It may confidently be affirmed that there
cannot be found, in all the ten thousand invectives written against Fox,
a word indicating that his demeanour had ever made a single personal
enemy. On the other hand, several men of note who had been partial
{257}to Pitt, and who to the last continued to approve his public
conduct and to support his administration, Cumberland, for example,
Boswell, and Matthias, were so much irritated by the contempt with which
he treated them, that they complained in print of their wrongs. But his
pride, though it made him bitterly disliked by individuals, inspired
the great body of his followers in Parliament and throughout the country
with respect and confidence. They took him at his own valuation. They
saw that his self-esteem was not that of an upstart, who was drunk with
good luck and with applause, and who, if fortune turned, would sink from
arrogance into abject humility. It was that of the magnanimous man
so finely described by Aristotle in the Ethics, of the man who thinks
himself worthy of great things, being in truth worthy. It sprang from
a consciousness of great powers and great virtues, and was never so
conspicuously displayed as in the midst of difficulties and dangers
which would have unnerved and bowed down any ordinary mind. It was
closely connected, too, with an ambition which had no mixture of low
cupidity. There was something noble in the cynical disdain with which
the mighty minister scattered riches and titles to right and left among
those who valued them, while he spurned them out of his own way. Poor
himself, he was surrounded by friends on whom he had bestowed three
thousand, six thousand, ten thousand a year. Plain Mister himself, he
had made more lords than any three ministers that had preceded him. The
garter, for which the first dukes in the kingdom were contending, was
repeatedly offered to him, and offered in vain.

The correctness of his private life added much to the dignity of his
public character. In the relations of son, brother, {258}uncle, master,
friend, his conduct was exemplary. In the small circle of his intimate
associates, he was amiable, affectionate, even playful. They loved him
sincerely; they regretted him long; and they would hardly admit that
he who was so kind and gentle with them could be stern and haughty with
others. He indulged, indeed, somewhat too freely in wine, which he had
early been directed to take as a medicine, and which use had made a
necessary of life to him. But it was very seldom that any indication of
undue excess could be detected in his tones or gestures; and, in truth,
two bottles of port were little more to him than two dishes of tea.
He had, when he was first introduced into the clubs of Saint James’s
Street, shown a strong taste for play; but he had the prudence and the
resolution to stop before this taste had acquired the strength of habit.
From the passion which generally exercises the most tyrannical dominion
Over the young he possessed an immunity, which is probably to be
ascribed partly to his temperament and partly to his situation. His
constitution was feeble; he was very shy; and he was very busy. The
strictness of his morals furnished such buffoons as Peter Pindar and
Captain Morris with an inexhaustible theme for merriment of no very
delicate kind. But the great body of the middle class of Englishmen
could not see the joke. They warmly praised the young statesman for
commanding his passions, and for covering his frailties, if he had
frailties, with decorous obscurity, and would have been very far indeed
from thinking better of him if he had vindicated himself from the taunts
of his enemies by taking under his protection a Nancy Parsons or a
Marianne Clark.

No part of the immense popularity which Pitt long enjoyed {259}is to
be attributed to the eulogies of wits and poets. It might have been
naturally expected that a man of genius, of learning, of taste,
an orator whose diction was often compared to that of Tully, the
representative, too, of a great university, would have taken a peculiar
pleasure in befriending eminent writers, to whatever political party
they might have belonged. The love of literature had induced Augustus
to heap benefits on Pompeians, Somers to be the protector of nonjurors,
Harley to make the fortunes of Whigs. But it could not move Pitt to show
any favour even to Pittites. He was doubtless right in thinking that,
in general, poetry, history and philosophy ought to be suffered, like
calico and cutlery, to find their proper price in the market, and
that to teach men of letters to look habitually to the state for their
recompense is bad for the state and bad for letters. Assuredly nothing
can be more absurd or mischievous than to waste the public money in
bounties for the purpose of inducing people who ought to be weighing out
grocery or measuring out drapery to write bad or middling books. But,
though the sound rule is that authors should be left to be remunerated
by their readers, there will, in every generation, be a few exceptions
to this rule. To distinguish these special cases from the mass is an
employment well worthy of the faculties of a great and accomplished
ruler; and Pitt would assuredly have had little difficulty in finding
such eases. While he was in power, the greatest philologist of the age,
his own contemporary at Cambridge, was reduced to earn a livelihood by
the lowest literary drudgery, and to spend in writing squibs for the
_Morning Chronicle_. years to which we might have owed an all but
perfect text of the whole tragic and comic drama of Athens. {260}The
greatest historian of the age, forced by poverty to leave his country,
completed his immortal work on the shores of Lake Leman. The political
heterodoxy of Person, and the religious heterodoxy of Gibbon, may
perhaps be pleaded in defence of the minister by whom those eminent men
were neglected. But there were other cases in which no such excuse could
be set up. Scarcely had Pitt obtained possession of unbounded power when
an aged writer of the highest eminence, who had made very little by his
writings, and who was sinking into the grave under a load of infirmities
and sorrows, wanted five or six hundred pounds to enable him, during the
winter or two which might still remain to him, to draw his breath more
easily in the soft climate of Italy. Not a farthing was to be obtained;
and before Christmas the author of the English Dictionary and of the
Lives of the Poets had gasped his last in the river fog and coal smoke
of Fleet Street. A few months after the death of Johnson appeared the
Task, incomparably the best poem that any Englishman then living had
produced--a poem, too, which could hardly fail to excite in a well
constituted mind a feeling of esteem and compassion for the poet, a man
of genius and virtue, whose means were scanty, and whom the most
cruel of all the calamities incident to humanity had made incapable
of supporting himself by vigorous and sustained exertion. Nowhere had
Chatham been praised with more enthusiasm, or in verse more worthy of
the subject, than in the Task. The son of Chatham, however, contented
himself with reading and admiring the book, and left the author to
starve. The pension which, long after, enabled poor Cowper to close his
melancholy life, unmolested by duns and bailiffs, was obtained for him
by the {261}strenuous kindness of Lord Spencer. What a contrast between
the way in which Pitt acted towards Johnson and the way in which Lord
Grey acted towards his political enemy Scott, when Scott, worn out by
misfortune and disease, was advised to try the effect of the Italian
air! What a contrast between the way in which Pitt acted towards Cowper
and the way in which Burke, a poor man and out of place, acted towards
Crabbe! Even Dundas, who made no pretensions to literary taste, and was
content to be considered as a hard-headed and somewhat coarse man of
business, was, when compared with his eloquent and classically educated
friend, a Maecenas or a Leo. Dundas made Burns an exciseman, with
seventy pounds a year; and this was more than Pitt, during his long
tenure of power, did for the encouragement of letters. Even those who
may think that it is, in general, no part of the duty of a government to
reward literary merit will hardly deny that a government, which has much
lucrative church preferment in its gift, is bound, in distributing that
preferment, not to overlook divines whose writings have rendered great
service to the cause of religion. But it seems never to have occurred to
Pitt that he lay under any such obligation. All the theological works of
all the numerous bishops whom he made and translated are not, when
put together, worth fifty pages of the Horæ Paulinæ, of the Natural
Theology, or of the View of the Evidences of Christianity. But on Paley
the all-powerful minister never bestowed the smallest benefice. Artists
Pitt treated as contemptuously as writers. For painting he did simply
nothing. Sculptors, who had been selected to execute monuments voted by
Parliament, had to haunt the ante-chambers of the Treasury during many
years before {262}they could obtain a farthing from him. One of them,
after vainly soliciting the minister for payment during fourteen years,
had the courage to present a memorial to the King, and thus obtained
tardy and ungracious justice. Architects it was absolutely necessary to
employ; and the worst that could be found seem to have been employed.
Not a single fine public building of any kind or in any style was
erected during his long administration. It may be confidently affirmed
that no ruler whose abilities and attainments would bear any comparison
with his has ever shown such cold disdain for what is excellent in arts
and letters.

His first administration lasted seventeen years. That long period is
divided by a strongly marked line into two almost exactly equal parts.
The first part ended and the second began in the autumn of 1792.
Throughout both parts Pitt displayed in the highest degree the talents
of a parliamentary leader. During the first part he was a fortunate and,
in many respects, a skilful administrator. With the difficulties which
he had to encounter during the second part he was altogether incapable
of contending: but his eloquence and his perfect mastery of the tactics
of the House of Commons concealed his incapacity from the multitude.

The eight years which followed the general election of 1784 were as
tranquil and prosperous as any eight years in the whole history of
England. Neighbouring nations which had lately been in arms against
her, and which had flattered themselves that, in losing her American
colonies, she had lost a chief source of her wealth and of her power,
saw, with wonder and vexation, that she was more wealthy and more
powerful than ever. Her trade increased. Her manufactures flourished.
Her exchequer was full to overflowing.

Very {263}idle apprehensions were generally entertained, that the public
debt, though much less than a third of the debt which we now bear with
ease, would be found too heavy for the strength of the nation. Those
apprehensions might not perhaps have been easily quieted by reason. But
Pitt quieted them by a juggle. He succeeded in persuading first himself,
and then the whole nation, his opponents included, that a new sinking
fund, which, so far as it differed from former sinking funds, differed
for the worse, would, by virtue of some mysterious power of propagation
belonging to money, put into the pocket of the public creditor great
sums not taken out of the pocket of the tax-payer. The country,
terrified by a danger which was no danger, hailed with delight and
boundless confidence a remedy which was no remedy. The minister was
almost universally extolled as the greatest of financiers. Meanwhile
both the branches of the House of Bourbon found that England was as
formidable an antagonist as she had ever been. France had formed a plan
for reducing Holland to vassalage. But England interposed; and France
receded. Spain interrupted by violence the trade of our merchants with
the regions near the Oregon. But England armed; and Spain receded.
Within the island there was profound tranquillity. The King was, for the
first time, popular. During the twenty-three years which had followed
his accession he had not been loved by his subjects. His domestic
virtues were acknowledged. But it was generally thought that the good
qualities by which he was distinguished in private life were wanting to
his political character. As a Sovereign, he was resentful, unforgiving,
stubborn, cunning. Under his rule the country had sustained cruel
disgraces and disasters; and {264}every one of those disgraces and
disasters was imputed to his strong antipathies, and to his perverse
obstinacy in the wrong. One statesman after another complained that
he had been induced by royal caresses, entreaties, and promises, to
undertake the direction of affairs at a difficult conjuncture, and that,
as soon as he had, not without sullying his fame and alienating his best
friends, served the turn for which he was wanted, his ungrateful master
began to intrigue against him, and to canvass against him. Grenville,
Rockingham, Chatham, men of widely different characters, but all three
upright and high-spirited, agreed in thinking that the Prince under whom
they had successively held the highest place in the government was one
of the most insincere of mankind. His confidence was reposed, they said,
not in those known and responsible counsellors to whom he had delivered
the seals of office, but in secret advisers who stole up the back
stairs into his closet. In Parliament, his ministers, while defending
themselves against the attacks of the opposition in front, were
perpetually, at his instigation, assailed on the flank or in the rear by
a vile band of mercenaries who called themselves his friends. These
men constantly, while in possession of lucrative places in his service,
spoke and voted against bills which he had authorised the First Lord of
the Treasury or the Secretary of State to bring in. But from the day on
which Pitt was placed at the head of affairs there was an end of secret
influence. His haughty and aspiring spirit was not to be satisfied
with the mere show of power. Any attempt to undermine him at Court,
any mutinous movement among his followers in the House of Commons, was
certain to be at once put down. He had only to tender his resignation;
and he could dictate {265}his own terms. For he, and he alone, stood
between the Ivinp; and the Coalition. He was therefore little less than
Mayor of the Palace. The nation loudly applauded the King for having
the wisdom to repose entire confidence in so excellent a minister. His
Majesty’s private virtues now began to produce their full effect. He
was generally regarded as the model of a respectable country gentleman,
honest, good-natured, sober, religious. He rose early: he dined
temperately: he was strictly faithful to his wife: he never missed
church; and at church he never missed a response. His people heartily
prayed that he might long reign over them; and they prayed the more
heartily because his virtues were set off to the best advantage by the
vices and follies of the Prince of Wales, who lived in close intimacy
with the chiefs of the opposition.

How strong this feeling was in the public mind appeared signally on
one great occasion. In the autumn of 1788 the King became insane.
The opposition, eager for office, committed the great indiscretion
of asserting that the heir apparent had, by the fundamental laws of
England, a right to be Regent with the full powers of royalty. Pitt, on
the other hand, maintained it to be the constitutional doctrine
that, when a Sovereign is, by reason of infancy, disease, or absence,
incapable of exercising the regal functions, it belongs to the estates
of the realm to determine who shall be the vicegerent, and with what
portion of the executive authority such vicegerent shall be entrusted.
A long and violent contest followed, in which Pitt was supported by the
great body of the people with as much enthusiasm as during the first
months of his administration. Tories with one voice applauded him for
{266}defending the sick-bed of a virtuous and unhappy Sovereign against
a disloyal faction and an undutiful son. Not a few Whigs applauded him
for asserting the authority of Parliaments and the principles of the
Revolution, in opposition to a doctrine which seemed to have too much
affinity with the servile theory of indefeasible hereditary right. The
middle class, always zealous on the side of decency and the domestic
virtues, looked forward with dismay to a reign resembling that of
Charles II. The palace, which had now been, during thirty years, the
pattern of an English home, would be a public nuisance, a school of
profligacy. To the good King’s repast of mutton and lemonade, despatched
at three o’clock, would succeed midnight banquets, from which the guests
would be carried home speechless. To the backgammon board at which the
good King played for a little silver with his equerries, would succeed
faro tables from which young patricians who had sate down rich would
rise up beggars. The drawing-room, from which the frown of the Queen had
repelled a whole generation of frail beauties, would now be again what
it had been in the days of Barbara Palmer and Louisa de Querouaille.
Nay, severely as the public reprobated the Prince’s many illicit
attachments, his one virtuous attachment was reprobated more severely
still. Even in grave and pious circles his Protestant mistresses
gave less scandal than his Popish wife. That he must be Regent nobody
ventured to deny. But he and his friends were so unpopular that Pitt
could, with general approbation, propose to limit the powers of the
Regent by restrictions to which it would have been impossible to subject
a Prince beloved and trusted by the country. Some interested men, fully
expecting a change of administration, went over {267}to the opposition.
But the majority, purified by these desertions, closed its ranks, and
presented a more firm array than ever to the enemy. In every division
Pitt was victorious. When at length, after a stormy interregnum of three
months, it was announced, on the very eve of the inauguration of the
Regent, that the King was himself again, the nation was wild with
delight. On the evening of the day on which His Majesty resumed his
functions, a spontaneous illumination, the most general that had ever
been seen in England, brightened the whole vast space from Highgate
to Tooting, and from Hammersmith to Greenwich. On the day on which he
returned thanks in the cathedral of his capital, all the horses
and carriages within a hundred miles of London were too few for the
multitudes which flocked to see him pass through the streets. A
second illumination followed, which was even superior to the first in
magnificence. Pitt with difficulty escaped from the tumultuous kindness
of an innumerable multitude which insisted on drawing his coach from
Saint Paul’s Churchyard to Downing Street. This was the moment at
which his fame and fortune may be said to have reached the zenith. His
influence in the closet was as great as that of Carr or Milliers had
been. His dominion over the Parliament was more absolute than that
of Walpole or Pelham had been. He was at the same time as high in the
favour of the populace as ever Wilkes or Sacheverell had been. Nothing
did more to raise his character than his noble poverty. It was well
known that, if he had been dismissed from office after more than five
years of boundless power, he would hardly have carried out with him a
sum sufficient to furnish the set of chambers in which, as he cheerfully
declared, he meant to resume the {268}practice of the law. His admirers,
however, were by no means disposed to suffer him to depend on daily toil
for his daily bread. The voluntary contributions which were awaiting his
acceptance in the city of London alone would have sufficed to make him
a rich man. But it may be doubted whether his haughty spirit would have
stooped to accept a provision so honourably earned and so honourably

To such a height of power and glory had this extraordinary man risen
at twenty-nine years of age. And now the tide was on the turn. Only ten
davs after the triumphant procession to Saint Paul’s, the States-General
of France, after an interval of a hundred and seventy-four years, met at

The nature of the great Revolution which followed was long very
imperfectly understood in this country. Burke saw much further than any
of his contemporaries: but whatever his sagacity descried was refracted
and discoloured by his passions and his imagination. More than three
years elapsed before the principles of the English administration
underwent any material change. Nothing could as yet be milder or more
strictly constitutional than the minister’s domestic policy. Not a
single act indicating an arbitrary temper or a jealousy of the people
could be imputed to him. He had never applied to Parliament for any
extraordinary powers. He had never used with harshness the ordinary
powers entrusted by the constitution to the executive government. Not a
single state prosecution which would even now be called oppressive had
been instituted by him. Indeed, the only oppressive state prosecution
instituted during the first eight years of his administration was that
of Stockdale, which is to be attributed, not to the government, but
to the chiefs of {269}the opposition. In office, Pitt had redeemed the
pledges which he had, at his entrance into public life, given to the
supporters of parliamentary reform. He had, in 1785, brought forward a
judicious plan for the improvement of the representative system, and
had prevailed on the King, not only to refrain from talking against that
plan, but to recommend it to the Houses in a speech from the throne. (1)
This attempt failed; but there can be little doubt that, if the French
Revolution had not produced a violent reaction of public feeling, Pitt
would have performed, with little difficulty and no danger, that great
work which, at a later period, Lord Grey could accomplish only by means
which for a time loosened the very foundations of the commonwealth.
When the atrocities of the slave trade were first brought under the
consideration of Parliament, no abolitionist was more zealous than Pitt.
When sickness prevented Wilberforce from appearing in public, his place
was most efficiently supplied by his friend the minister. A humane bill,
which mitigated the horrors of the middle passage, was, in 1788,
carried by the eloquence and determined spirit of Pitt, in spite of
the opposition of some of his own colleagues; and it ought always to be
remembered to his honour that, in order to carry that bill, he kept the
Houses sitting, in spite of many murmurs, long after the business of the
government had been done, and the Appropriation Act passed. In 1791 he
cordially concurred with Fox in maintaining the sound constitutional
doctrine, that an impeachment is not terminated by a

     (1) The speech with which the King opened the session of
     1785, concluded with an assurance that His Majesty would
     heartily concur in every measure which could tend to secure
     the true principles of the constitution. These words were at
     the time understood to refer to Pitt’s Reform Bill.

dissolution. {270}In the course of the some year the two great rivals
contended side by side in a far more important cause. They are fairly
entitled to divide the high honour of having added to our statute-book
the inestimable law which places the liberty of the press under the
protection of juries. On one occasion, and one alone, Pitt, during the
first half of his long administration, acted in a manner unworthy of an
enlightened Whig. In the debate on the Test Act, he stooped to gratify
the master whom he served, the university which he represented, and
the great body of clergymen and country gentlemen on whose support
he rested, by talking, with little heartiness, indeed, and with no
asperity, the language of a Tory. With this single exception, his
conduct from the end of 1783 to the middle of 1792 was that of an honest
friend of civil and religious liberty.

Nor did anything, during that period, indicate that he loved war, or
harboured any malevolent feeling against any neighbouring nation. Those
French writers who have represented him as a Hannibal sworn in childhood
by his father to bear eternal hatred to France, as having, by mysterious
intrigues and lavish bribes, instigated the leading Jacobins to commit
those excesses which dishonoured the Revolution, as having been the real
author of the first coalition, know nothing of his character or of his
history. So far was he from being a deadly enemy to France, that his
laudable attempts to bring about a closer connection with that country
by means of a wise and liberal treaty of commerce brought on him the
severe censure of the opposition. He was told in the House of Commons
that he was a degenerate son, and that his partiality, for the
hereditary foes of our island was enough to make his {271}great father’s
hones stir under the pavement of the Abbey.

And this man, whose name, if he had been so fortunate as to die in
1792, would now have been associated with peace, with freedom, with
philanthropy, with temperate reform, with mild and constitutional
administration, lived to associate his name with arbitrary government,
with harsh laws harshly executed, with alien bills, with gagging bills,
with suspensions of the Habeas Corpus Act, with cruel punishments
inflicted on some political agitators, with unjustifiable prosecutions
instituted against others, and with the most costly and most sanguinary
wars of modern times. He lived to be held up to obloquy as the stern
oppressor of England, and the indefatigable disturber of Europe. Poets,
contrasting his earlier with his later years, likened him sometimes to
the apostle who kissed in order to betray, and sometimes to the evil
angels who kept not their first estate. A satirist of great genius
introduced the fiends of Famine, Slaughter, and Fire, proclaiming that
they had received their commission from One whose name was formed of
four letters, and promising to give their employer ample proofs of
gratitude. Famine would gnaw the multitude till they should rise up
against him in madness. The demon of Slaughter would impel them to tear
him from limb to limb. But Fire boasted that she alone could reward him
as he deserved, and that she would cling round him to all eternity. By
the French press and the French tribune every crime that disgraced and
every calamity that afflicted France was ascribed to the monster Pitt
and his guineas. While the Jacobins were dominant, it was he who had
corrupted the Gironde, who had raised Lyons and Bordeaux against the
Convention, who {272}had suborned Paris to assassinate Lepelletier,
and Cecilia Régnault to assassinate Robespierre. When the Thermidorian
reaction came, all the atrocities of the Reign of Terror were imputed to
him. Cullot D’Herbois and Fouquier Tinville had been his pensioners. It
was he who had hired the murderers of September, who had dictated the
pamphlets of Marat and the Carmagnoles of Barrere, who had paid Lebon to
deluge Arras with blood, and Carrier to choice the Loire with corpses.

The truth is, that he liked neither war nor arbitrary government. He was
a lover of peace and freedom, driven, by a stress against which it was
hardly possible for any will or any intellect to struggle, out of the
course to which his inclinations pointed, and for which his abilities
and acquirements fitted him, and forced into a policy repugnant to his
feelings and unsuited to his talents.

The charge of apostasy is grossly unjust. A man ought no more to be
called an apostate because his opinions alter with the opinions of the
great body of his contemporaries than he ought to be called an oriental
traveller because he is always going round from west to east with the
globe and everything that is upon it. Between the spring of 1789 and the
close of 1792, the public mind of England underwent a great change. If
the change of Pitt’s sentiments attracted peculiar notice, it was not
because he changed more than his neighbours; for in fact he changed less
than most of them; but because his position was far more conspicuous
than theirs; because he was, till Bonaparte appeared, the individual
who filled the greatest space in the eyes of the inhabitants of the
civilised world. During a short time the nation, and Pitt, as one of
the {273}nation, looked with interest and approbation on the French
Revolution. But soon vast confiscations, the violent sweeping away of
ancient institutions, the domination of clubs, the barbarities of mobs
maddened by famine and hatred, produced a reaction here. The court, the
nobility, the gentry, the clergy, the manufacturers, the merchants, in
short, nineteen twentieths of those who had good roofs over their heads
and good coats on their backs, became eager and intolerant Antijacobins.
This feeling was at least as strong among the minister’s adversaries as
among his supporters. Fox in vain attempted to restrain his followers.
All his genius, all his vast personal influence, could not prevent them
from rising up against him in general mutiny. Burke set the example
of revolt; and Burke was in no long time joined by Portland, Spencer,
Fitz-william, Loughborough, Carlisle, Malmesbury, Windham, Elliot. In
the House of Commons, the followers of the great Whig statesman and
orator diminished from about a hundred and sixty to fifty. In the House
of Lords he had but ten or twelve adherents left. There can be no doubt
that there would have been a similar mutiny on the ministerial benches
if Pitt had obstinately resisted the general wish. Pressed at once by
his master and by his colleagues, by old friends and by old opponents,
he abandoned, slowly and reluctantly, the policy which was dear to his
heart. He laboured hard to avert the European war. When the European war
broke out, he still flattered himself that it would not be necessary for
this country to take either side. In the spring of 1792 he congratulated
the Parliament on the prospect of long and profound peace, and proved
his sincerity by proposing large remissions of taxation. Down to the end
of that year he {274}continued to cherish the hope that England might be
able to preserve neutrality. But the passions which raged on both sides
of the Channel were not to be restrained. The republicans who ruled
France were inflamed by a fanaticism resembling that of the Mussulmans,
who, with the Koran in one hand and the sword in the other, went forth,
conquering and converting, eastward to the Bay of Bengal, and westward
to the Pillars of Hercules. The higher and middle classes of England
were animated by zeal not less fiery than that of the Crusaders who
raised the cry of _Deus vult_ at Clermont. The impulse which drove the
two nations to a collision was not to be arrested by the abilities or
by the authority of any single man. As Pitt was in front of his fellows,
and towered high above them, he seemed to lead them. But in fact he was
violently pushed on by them, and, had he held back but a little more
than he did, would have been thrust out of their way or trampled under
their feet.

He yielded to the current: and from that day his misfortunes began. The
truth is that there were only two consistent courses before him. Since
he did not choose to oppose himself, side by side with Fox, to the
public feeling, he should have taken the advice of Burke, and should
have availed himself of that feeling to the full extent. If it was
impossible to preserve peace, he should have adopted the only policy
which could lead to victory. He should have proclaimed a Holy War for
religion, morality, property, order, public law, and should have thus
opposed to the Jacobins an energy equal to their own. Unhappily he tried
to find a middle path; and he found one which united all that was
worst in both extremes. He went to war: but he would not understand the
peculiar character of that {275}war. He was obstinately blind to the
plain fact, that he was contending; against a state which was also a
sect, and that the new quarrel between England and France was of quite
a different kind from the old quarrels about colonies in America and
fortresses in the Netherlands. He had to combat frantic enthusiasm,
boundless ambition, restless activity, the wildest and most audacious
spirit of innovation; and he acted as if he had to deal with the harlots
and fops of the old Court of Versailles, with Madame de Pompadour
and the Abbé de Bernis. It was pitiable to hear him, year after year,
proving to an admiring audience that the wicked Republic was exhausted,
that she could not hold out, that her credit was gone, and her assignats
were not worth more than the paper of which they were made; as if credit
was necessary to a government of which the principle was rapine, as if
Alboin could not turn Italy into a desert till he had negotiated a loan
at five per cent., as if the exchequer bills of Attila had been at par.
It was impossible that a man who so completely mistook the nature of
a contest could carry on that contest successfully. Great as Pitt’s
abilities were, his military administration was that of a driveller. He
was at the head of a nation engaged in a struggle for life and death, of
a nation eminently distinguished by all the physical and all the moral
qualities which make excellent soldiers. The resources at his command
were unlimited. The Parliament was even more ready to grant him men and
money than he was to ask for them. In such an emergency, and with
such means, such a statesman as Richelieu, as Louvois, as Chatham, as
Wellesley, would have created in a few months one of the finest armies
in the world, and would soon have discovered and {276}brought forward
generals worthy to command such an army. Germany might have been saved
by another Blenheim; Flanders recovered by another Families; another
Poitiers might have delivered the Royalist and Catholic provinces of
France from a yoke which they abhorred, and might have spread terror
even to the barriers of Paris. But the fact is, that, after eight years
of war, after a vast destruction of life, after an expenditure of wealth
far exceeding the expenditure of the American war, of the Seven Years’
War, of the war of the Austrian Succession, and of the war of the
Spanish Succession, united, the English army, under Pitt, was the
laughing-stock of all Europe. It could not boast of one single brilliant
exploit. It had never shown itself on the Continent but to be beaten,
chased, forced to reëmbark, or forced to capitulate. To take some sugar
island in the West Indies, to scatter some mob of half-naked Irish
peasants, such were the most splendid victories won by the British
troops under Pitt’s auspices.

The English navy no mismanagement could ruin. But during a long period
whatever mismanagement could do was done. The Earl of Chatham, without
a single qualification for high public trust, was made, by fraternal
partiality, First Lord of the Admiralty, and was kept in that great
post during two years of a war in which the very existence of the state
depended on the efficiency of the fleet. He continued to doze away and
trifle away the time which ought to have been do-voted to the public
service, till the whole mercantile body, though generally disposed
to support the government, complained bitterly that our flag gave no
protection to our trade. Fortunately he was succeeded by George Earl
Spencer, one of those chiefs of the Whig party {277}who, in the great
schism caused by the French Revolution, had followed Burke. Lord
Spencer, though inferior to many of his colleagues as an orator, was
decidedly the best administrator among them. To him it was owing that a
long and gloomy succession of days of fasting, and, most emphatically,
of humiliation, was interrupted, twice in the short space of eleven
months, by days of thanksgiving for great victories.

It may seem paradoxical to say that the incapacity which Pitt showed in
all that related to the conduct of the war is, in some sense, the most
decisive proof that he was a man of very extraordinary abilities. Yet
this is the simple truth. For assuredly one-tenth part of his errors
and disasters would have been fatal to the power and influence of any
minister who had not possessed, in the highest degree, the talents of
a parliamentary leader. While his schemes were confounded, while his
predictions were falsified, while the coalitions which he had laboured
to form were falling to pieces, while the expeditions which he had sent
forth at enormous cost were ending in rout and disgrace, while the
enemy against whom he was feebly contending was subjugating Flanders and
Brabant, the Electorate of Mentz, and the Electorate of Treves, Holland,
Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy, his authority over the House of Commons was
constantly becoming more and more absolute. There was his empire. There
were his victories, his Lodi and his Areola, his Rivoli and his Marengo.
If some great misfortune, a pitched battle lost by the allies, the
annexation of a new department to the French Republic, a sanguinary
insurrection in Ireland, a mutiny in the fleet, a panic in the city, a
run on the bank, had spread dismay through the ranks of his majority,
that dismay lasted only till he rose from the Treasury {278}bench, drew
up his haughty head, stretched his arm with commanding gesture,
and poured forth, in deep and sonorous tones, the lofty language of
inextinguishable hope and inflexible resolution. Thus, through a long
and calamitous period, every disaster that happened without the walls of
Parliament was regularly followed by a triumph within them. At length he
had no longer an opposition to encounter. Of the great party which had
contended against him during the first eight years of his administration
more than one half now marched under his standard, with his old
competitor the Duke of Portland at their head; and the rest had, after
many vain struggles, quitted the field in despair. Fox had retired to
the shades of St. Anne’s Hill, and had there found, in the society of
friends whom no vicissitude could estrange from him, of a woman whom he
tenderly loved, and of the illustrious dead of Athens, of Home, and of
Florence, ample compensation for all the misfortunes of his public
life. Session followed session with scarcely a single division. In the
eventful year 1799, the largest minority that could be mustered against
the government was twenty-five.

In Pitt’s domestic policy there was at this time assuredly no want of
vigour. While he offered to French Jacobinism a resistance so feeble
that it only encouraged the evil which he wished to suppress, he put
down English Jacobinism with a strong hand. The Habeas Corpus Act
was repeatedly suspended. Public meetings were placed under severe
restraints. The government obtained from Parliament power to send out
of the country aliens who were suspected of evil designs; and that power
was not suffered to be idle. Writers who propounded doctrines adverse
to monarchy {279}and aristocracy were proscribed and punished without
mercy. It was hardly safe for a republican to avow his political creed
over his beefsteak and his bottle of port at a chop-house. The old laws
of Scotland against sedition, laws which were considered by Englishmen
as barbarous, and which a succession of governments had suffered to
rust, were now furbished up and sharpened anew. Men of cultivated minds
and polished manners were, for offences which at Westminster would have
been treated as mere misdemeanours, sent to herd with felons at Botany
Bay. Some reformers, whose opinions were extravagant, and whose language
was intemperate, but who had never dreamed of subverting the government
by physical force, were indicted for high treason, and were saved from
the gallows only by the righteous verdicts of juries. This severity was
at the time loudly applauded by alarmists whom fear, had made cruel, but
will be seen in a very different light by posterity. The truth is, that
the Englishmen who wished for a revolution were, even in number,
not formidable, and, in every thing but number, a faction utterly
contemptible, without arms, or funds, or plans, or organisation, or
leader. There can be no doubt that Pitt, strong as he was in the
support of the great body of the nation, might easily have repressed
the turbulence of the discontented minority by firmly yet temperately
enforcing the ordinary law. Whatever vigour he showed during this
unfortunate part of his life was vigour out of place and season. He was
all feebleness and languor in his conflict with the foreign enemy who
was really to be dreaded, and reserved all his energy and resolution
for the domestic enemy who might safely have been despised.

One part only of Pitt’s conduct during the last eight years {280}of
the eighteenth century deserves high praise, he was the first English
minister who formed great designs for the benefit of Ireland. The manner
in which the Roman Catholic population of that unfortunate country had
been kept down during many generations seemed to him unjust and cruel;
and it was scarcely possible for a man of his abilities not to perceive
that, in a contest against the Jacobins, the Roman Catholics were
his natural allies. Had he been able to do all that he wished, it is
probable that a wise and liberal policy would have averted the rebellion
of 1708. But the difficulties which he encountered were great, perhaps
insurmountable; and the Roman Catholics were, rather by his misfortune
than by his fault, thrown into the hands of the Jacobins. There was a
third great rising of the Irishry against the Englishry, a rising
not less formidable than the risings of 1641 and 1689. The Englishry
remained victorious; and it was necessary for Pitt, as it had been
necessary for Oliver Cromwell and William of Orange before him, to
consider how the victory should be used. It is only just to his memory
to say that he formed a scheme of policy, so grand and so simple, so
righteous and so humane, that it would alone entitle him to a high place
among statesmen. He determined to make Ireland one kingdom with England,
and, at the same time, to relieve the Roman Catholic laity from civil
disabilities, and to grant a public maintenance to the Roman Catholic
clergy. Had he been able to carry these noble designs into effect, the
Union would have been an Union indeed. It would have been inseparably
associated in the minds of the great majority of Irishmen with civil and
religious freedom; and the old Parliament in College Green would have
been regretted only {281}by a small knot of discarded jobbers and
oppressors, and would have been remembered by the body of the nation
with the loathing and contempt due to the most tyrannical and the most
corrupt assembly that had ever sate in Europe. But Pitt could execute
only one half of what he had projected. He succeeded in obtaining the
consent of the Parliaments of both kingdoms to the Union; but that
reconciliation of races and sects, without which the Union could exist
only in name, was not accomplished. He was well aware that he was likely
to find difficulties in the closet. But he flattered himself that, by
cautious and dexterous management, those difficulties might be overcome.
Unhappily, there were traitors and sycophants in high place who did
not suffer him to take his own time and his own way, but prematurely
disclosed his scheme to the King, and disclosed it in the manner most
likely to irritate and alarm a weak and diseased mind. His Majesty
absurdly imagined that his Coronation oath bound him to refuse
his assent to any bill for relieving Roman Catholics from civil
disabilities. To argue with him was impossible. Dundas tried to explain
the matter, but was told to keep his Scotch metaphysics to himself.
Pitt, and Pitt’s ablest colleagues, resigned their offices. It was
necessary that the King should make a new arrangement. But by this time
his anger and distress had brought back the malady which had, many
years before, incapacitated him for the discharge of his functions. He
actually assembled his family, read the Coronation oath to them, and
told them that, if he broke it, the Crown would immediately pass to the
House of Savoy. It was not until after an interregnum of several weeks
that he regained the full use of his small faculties, and that {282}a
ministry after his own heart was at length formed.

The materials out of which he had to construct a government were neither
solid nor splendid. To that party, weak in numbers, but strong in every
kind of talent, which was hostile to the domestic and foreign policy of
his late advisers, he could not have recourse. For that party, while it
differed from his late advisers on every point on which they had been
honoured with his approbation, cordially agreed with them as to the
single matter which had brought on them his displeasure. All that was
left to him was to call up the rear ranks of the old ministry to form
the front rank of a new ministry. In an age pre-eminently fruitful of
parliamentary talents, a cabinet was formed containing hardly a single
man who, in parliamentary talents, could be considered as even of the
second rate. The most important offices in the state were bestowed on
decorous and laborious mediocrity. Henry Addington was at the head of
the Treasury. He had been an early, indeed a hereditary, friend of Pitt,
and had by Pitt’s influence been placed, while still a young man, in the
chair of the House of Commons. He was universally admitted to have been
the best speaker that had sate in that chair since the retirement of
Onslow. But nature had not bestowed on him very vigorous faculties; and
the highly respectable situation which he had long occupied with honour
had rather unfitted than fitted him for the discharge of his new
duties. His business had been to bear himself evenly between contending
factions. He had taken no part in the war of words; and he had always
been addressed with marked deference by the great orators who thundered
against each other from his right and from his left. It was {283}not
strange that, when, for the first time, he had to encounter keen
and vigorous antagonists, who dealt hard blows without the smallest
ceremony, he should have been awkward and unready, or, that the air of
dignity and authority which he had acquired in his former post, and of
which he had not divested himself, should have made his helplessness
laughable and pitiable. Nevertheless, during many months, his power
seemed to stand firm. He was a favourite with the King, whom he
resembled in narrowness of mind, and to whom he was more obsequious than
Pitt had ever been. The nation was put into high good humour by a peace
with France. The enthusiasm with which the upper and middle, classes had
rushed into the war spent itself. Jacobinism was no longer formidable.
Everywhere there was a strong reaction against what was called the
atheistical and anarchical philosophy of the eighteenth century.
Bonaparte, now First Consul, was busied in constructing out of the ruins
of old institutions a new ecclesiastical establishment and a new
order of knighthood. That nothing less than the dominion of the
whole civilised world would satisfy his selfish ambition was not yet
suspected; nor did even wise men see any reason to doubt that he might
be as safe a neighbour as any prince of the House of Bourbon had been.
The treaty of Amiens was therefore hailed by the great body of the
English people with extravagant joy. The popularity of the minister was
for the moment immense. His want of parliamentary ability was, as yet,
of little consequence; for he had scarcely any adversary to encounter.
The old opposition, delighted by the peace, regarded him with favour.
A new opposition had indeed been formed by some of the late ministers,
{284}and was led by Grenville in the House of Lords, and by Windham in
the House of Commons. But the new opposition could scarcely muster
ten votes, and was regarded with no favour by the country. On Pitt the
ministers relied as on their firmest support. He had not, like some of
his colleagues, retired in anger. He had expressed the greatest respect
for the conscientious scruple which had taken possession of the royal
mind; and he had promised his successors all the help in his power. In
private his advice was at their service. In Parliament he took his seat
on the bench behind them; and, in more than one debate, defended them
with powers far superior to their own. The King perfectly understood the
value of such assistance. On one occasion, at the palace, he took the
old minister and the new minister aside. “If we three,” he said, “keep
together, all will go well.”

But it was hardly possible, human nature being what it is, and, more
especially, Pitt and Addington being what they were, that this union
should be durable. Pitt, conscious of superior powers, imagined that the
place which he had quitted was now occupied by a mere puppet which he
had set up, which he was to govern while he suffered it to remain,
and which he was to fling aside as soon as he wished to resume his old
position. Nor was it long before he began to pine for the power which
he had relinquished. He had been so early raised to supreme authority
in the state, and had enjoyed that authority so long, that it had become
necessary to him. In retirement his days passed heavily. He could not,
like Fox, forget the pleasures and cares of ambition in the company of
Euripides or Herodotus. Pride restrained him from intimating, even to
his dearest friends, that he wished to be again minister. {285}But
he thought it strange, almost ungrateful, that his wish had not been
divined, that it had not been anticipated, by one whom he regarded as
his deputy.

Addington, on the other hand, was by no means inclined to descend from
his high position. He was, indeed, under a delusion much resembling that
of Abon Hassan in the Arabian tale. His brain was turned by his short
and unreal Caliphate. He took his elevation quite seriously, attributed
it to his own merit, and considered himself as one of the great
triumvirate of English statesmen, as worthy to make a third with Pitt
and Fox.

Such being the feelings of the late minister and of the present
minister, a rupture was inevitable; and there was no want of persons
bent on making that rupture speedy and violent. Some of these persons
wounded Addington’s pride by representing him as a lacquey, sent to keep
a place on the Treasury bench till his master should find it convenient
to come. Others took every opportunity of praising him at Pitt’s
expense. Pitt had waged a long, a bloody, a costly, an unsuccessful
war. Addington had made peace. Pitt had suspended the constitutional
liberties of Englishmen. Under Addington those liberties were again
enjoyed. Pitt had wasted the public resources. Addington was carefully
nursing them. It was sometimes but too evident that these compliments
were not unpleasing to Addington. Pitt became cold and reserved. During
many months he remained at a distance from London. Meanwhile his
most intimate friends, in spite of his declarations that he made no
complaint, and that he had no wish for office, exerted themselves
to effect a change of ministry. His favourite disciple, George
{286}Canning, young, ardent, ambitious, with great powers and great
virtues, but with a temper too restless and a wit too satirical tor his
own happiness, was indefatigable. He spoke; he wrote; he intrigued; he
tried to induce a large number of the supporters of the government to
sign a round robin desiring a change; he made game of Addington and
of Addington’s relations in a succession of lively pasquinades. The
minister’s partisans retorted with equal acrimony, if not with equal
vivacity. Pitt could keep out of the affray only by keeping out of
politics altogether; and this it soon became impossible for him to do.
Had Napoleon, content with the first place amoung the sovereigns of the
Continent, and with a military reputation surpassing that of Marlborough
or of Turenne, devoted himself to the noble task of making France happy
by mild administration and wise legislation, our country might have
long continued to tolerate a government of fair intentions and feeble
abilities. Unhappily, the treaty of Amiens had scarcely been signed,
when the restless ambition and the insupportable insolence of the First
Consul convinced the great body of the English people that the peace, so
eagerly welcomed, was only a precarious armistice. As it became clearer
and clearer that a war for the dignity, the independence, the very
existence of the nation was at hand, men looked with increasing
uneasiness on the weak and languid cabinet which would have to contend
against an enemy who united more than the power of Lewis the Great to
more than the genius of Frederick the Great. It is true that Addington
might easily have been a better war minister than Pitt, and could not
possibly have been a worse. But Pitt had cast a spell on the public
mind. The eloquence, the judgment, {287}the calm and disdainful
firmness, which he had, during many years, displayed in Parliament,
deluded the world into the belief that he must be eminently qualified to
superintend every department of politics; and they imagined, even after
the miserable failures of Dunkirk, of Quiberon, and of the Helder, that
he was the only statesman who could cope with Bonaparte. This feeling
was nowhere stronger than among Addington’s own colleagues. The pressure
put on him was so strong that he could not help yielding to it; yet,
even in yielding, he showed how far he was from knowing his own place.
His first proposition was, that some insignificant nobleman should be
First Lord of the Treasury and nominal head of the administration, and
that the real power should be divided between Pitt and himself, who were
to be secretaries of state. Pitt, as might have been expected, refused
even to discuss such a scheme, and talked of it with bitter mirth.
“Which secretaryship was offered to you?” his friend Wilberforce asked.
“Really,” said Pitt, “I had not the curiosity to inquire.” Addington
was frightened into bidding higher. He offered to resign the Treasury
to Pitt, on condition that there should be no extensive change in the
government. But Pitt would listen to no such terms. Then came a dispute
such as often arises after negotiations orally conducted, even when the
negotiators are men of strict honour. Pitt gave one account of what had
passed; Addington gave another: and, though the discrepancies were not
such as necessarily implied any intentional violation of truth on either
side, both were greatly exasperated.

Meanwhile the quarrel with the First Consul had come to a crisis. On the
16th of May, 1803, the King {288}sent a message calling on the House of
Commons to support him in withstanding the ambitious and encroaching
policy of France; and, on the 22nd, the House took the message into

Pitt had now been living many months in retirement. There had been a
general election since he had spoken in Parliament; and there were
two hundred members who had never heard him. It was known that on this
occasion he would be in his place; and curiosity was wound up to
the highest point. Unfortunately, the short-hand writers were, in
consequence of some mistake, shut out on that day from the gallery,
so that the newspapers contained only a very meagre report of the
proceedings. But several accounts of what passed are extant; and of
those accounts the most interesting is contained in an unpublished
letter, written by a very young member, John William Ward, afterwards
Earl of Dudley. When Pitt rose, he was received with loud cheering. At
every pause in his speech there was a burst of applause. The peroration
is said to have been one of the most animated and magnificent ever heard
in Parliament. “Pitt’s speech,” Fox wrote a few days later, “was admired
very much, and very justly. I think it was the best he ever made in that
style.” The debate was adjourned; and on the second night Fox replied
in an oration which, as the most zealous Pittites were forced to
acknowledge, left the palm of eloquence doubtful. Addington made a
pitiable appearance between the two great rivals; and it was observed
that Pitt, while exhorting the Commons to stand resolutely by the
executive government against France, said not a word indicating esteem
or friendship for the Prime Minister.

War {289}was speedily declared. The First Consul threatened to invade
England at the head of the conquerors of Belgium and Italy, and formed a
great camp near the Straits of Dover. On the other side of those Straits
the whole population of our island was ready to rise up as one man
in defence of the soil. At this conjuncture, as at some other great
conjunctures in our history, the conjuncture of 1660, for example, and
the conjuncture of 1688, there was a general disposition among honest
and patriotic men to forget old quarrels, and to regard as a friend
every person who was ready, in the existing emergency, to do his part
towards the saving of the state. A coalition of all the first, men in
the country would, at that moment, have been as popular as the coalition
of 1783 had been unpopular. Alone in the kingdom the King looked with
perfect complacency on a cabinet in which no man superior to himself in
genius was to be found, and was so far from being willing to admit all
his ablest subjects to office that he was bent on excluding them all.

A few months passed before the different parties which agreed
in regarding the government with dislike and contempt came to an
understanding with each other. But in the spring of 1804 it became
evident that the weakest of ministries would have to defend itself
against the strongest of oppositions, an opposition made up of three
oppositions, each of which would, separately, have been formidable from
ability, and which, when united, were also formidable from number. The
party which had opposed the peace, headed by Grenville and Windham,
and the party which had opposed the renewal of the war, headed by Fox,
concurred in thinking that the men now in power were {290}incapable of
either making a good peace or waging a vigorous war. Pitt had, in 1802,
spoken for peace against the party of Grenville, and had, in 1803,
spoken for war against the party of Fox. But of the capacity of the
cabinet, and especially of its chief, for the conduct of great affairs,
he thought as meanly as either Fox or Grenville. Questions were easily
found on which all the enemies of the government could act cordially
together. The unfortunate First Lord of the Treasury, who had, during
the earlier months of his administration, been supported by Pitt on
one side, and by Fox on the other, now had to answer Pitt, and to be
answered by Fox. Two sharp debates, followed by close divisions, made
him weary of his post. It was known, too, that the Upper House was even
more hostile to him than the Lower, that the Scotch representative
peers wavered, that there were signs of mutiny among the bishops. In the
cabinet itself there was discord, and, worse than discord, treachery.
It was necessary to giveway: the ministry was dissolved: and the task of
forming a government was entrusted to Pitt.

Pitt was of opinion that there was now an opportunity, such as had never
before offered itself, and such as might never offer itself again, of
uniting in the public service, on honourable terms, all the eminent
talents of the kingdom. The passions to which the French Revolution had
given birth were extinct. The madness of the innovator and the madness
of the alarmist had alike had their day. Jacobinism and Anti-Jacobinism
had gone out of fashion together. The most liberal statesman did not
think that season propitious for schemes of parliamentary reform;
and the most conservative statesman could not pretend that there was
{291}any occasion for gagging bills and suspensions of the Habeas Corpus
Act. The great struggle for independence and national honour occupied
all minds; and those who were agreed as to the duty of maintaining that
struggle with vigour might well postpone to a more convenient time all
disputes about matters comparatively unimportant. Strongly impressed by
these considerations, Pitt wished to form a ministry including all the
first men in the country. The Treasury he reserved for himself; and to
Fox he proposed to assign a share of power little inferior to his own.

The plan was excellent; but the king would not hear of it. Dull,
obstinate, unforgiving, and, at that time, half mad, he positively
refused to admit Fox into his service. Anybody else, even men who had
gone as far as Fox, or further than Fox, in what his Majesty considered
as Jacobinism, Sheridan, Grey, Erskine, should be graciously received;
but Fox never. During several hours Pitt laboured in vain to reason down
this senseless antipathy. That he was perfectly sincere there can be
no doubt: but it was not enough to be sincere; he should have been
resolute. Had he declared himself determined not to take office without
Fox, the royal obstinacy would have given way, as it gave way, a
few months later, when opposed to the immutable resolution of Lord
Grenville. In an evil hour Pitt yielded. He flattered himself with the
hope that, though he consented to forego the aid of his illustrious
rival, there would still remain ample materials for the formation of an
efficient ministry. That hope was cruelly disappointed. Fox entreated
his friends to leave personal considerations out of the question, and
declared that he would support, with the utmost cordiality, an efficient
and patriotic ministry from which he {292}should be himself excluded.
Not only his friends, however, but Grenville, and Grenville’s adherents,
answered, with one voice, that the question was not personal, that a
great constitutional principle was at stake, and that they would not
take office while a man eminently qualified to render service to the
commonwealth was placed under a ban merely because he was disliked at
Court. All that was left to Pitt was to construct a government out of
the wreck of Addington’s feeble administration. The small circle of
his personal retainers furnished him with a very few useful assistants,
particularly Dundas, who had been created Viscount Melville, Lord
Harrowby, and Canning.

Such was the inauspicious manner in which Pitt entered on his second
administration. The whole history of that administration was of a piece
with the commencement. Almost every month brought some new disaster or
disgrace. To the war with France was soon added a war with Spain. The
opponents of the minister were numerous, able, and active. His most
useful coadjutors he soon lost. Sickness deprived him of the help of
Lord Harrowby. It was discovered that Lord Melville had been guilty of
highly culpable laxity in transactions relating to public money. He was
censured by the House of Commons, driven from office, ejected from the
Privy Council, and impeached of high crimes and misdemeanours. The blow
fell heavy on Pitt. It gave him, he said in Parliament, a deep pang;
and, as he uttered the word pang, his lip quivered, his voice shook, he
paused, and his hearers thought that he was about to burst into tears.
Such tears shed by Eldon would have moved nothing but laughter. Shed
by the warm-hearted and open-hearted Fox, {293}they would have moved
sympathy, but would have caused no surprise. But a tear from Pitt would
have been something portentous. He suppressed his emotion, however, and
proceeded with his usual majestic self-possession.

His difficulties compelled him to resort to various expedients. At one
time Addington was persuaded to accept office with a peerage; but he
brought no additional strength to the government. Though he went through
the form of reconciliation, it was impossible for him to forget the
past. While he remained in place he was jealous and punctilious; and he
soon retired again. At another time Pitt renewed his efforts to overcome
his master’s aversion to Fox; and it was rumoured that the King’s
obstinacy was gradually giving away. But, meanwhile, it was impossible
for the minister to conceal from the public eye the decay of his health,
and the constant anxiety which gnawed at his heart. His sleep was
broken. His food ceased to nourish him. All who passed him in the Park,
all who had interviews with him in Downing Street, saw misery written in
his face. The peculiar look which he wore during the last months of his
life was often pathetically described by Wilberforce, who used to call
it the Austerlitz look.

Still the vigour of Pitt’s intellectual faculties, and the intrepid
haughtiness of his spirit, remained unaltered. He had staked everything
on a great venture. He had succeeded in forming another mighty coalition
against the French ascendency. The united forces of Austria, Russia
and England might, he hoped, oppose an insurmountable barrier to the
ambition of the common enemy. But the genius and energy of Napoleon
prevailed. While the English troops were preparing to {294}embark for
Germany, while the Russian troops were slowly coming up from Poland, he,
with rapidity unprecedented in modern war, moved a hundred thousand men
from the shores of the Ocean to the Black Forest, and compelled a great
Austrian army to surrender at Ulm. To the first faint rumours of this
calamity Pitt would give no credit. He was irritated by the alarms of
those around him. “Do not believe a word of it,” he said: “it is all
a fiction.” The next day he received a Dutch newspaper containing the
capitulation. He knew no Dutch. It was Sunday; and the public offices
were shut. He carried the paper to Lord Malmesbury, who had been
minister in Holland; and Lord Malmesbury translated it. Pitt tried to
bear up; but the shock was too great; and he went away with death in his

The news of the battle of Trafalgar arrived four days later, and seemed
for a moment to revive him. Forty-eight hours after that most glorious
and most mournful of victories had been announced to the country came
the Lord Mayor’s day; and Pitt dined at Guildhall. His popularity had
declined. But on this occasion the multitude, greatly excited by the
recent tidings, welcomed him enthusiastically, took off his horses in
Cheapside, and drew his carriage up King Street. When his health was
drunk, he returned thanks in two or three of those stately sentences of
which he had a boundless command. Several of those who heard him laid
up his words in their hearts; for they were the last words that he ever
uttered in public: “Let us hope that England, having saved herself by
her energy, may save Europe by her example.”

This was but a momentary rally. Austerlitz soon completed what Ulm had
begun. Early in December Pitt {295}had retired to Bath, in the hope that
he might there gather strength for the approaching session. While he was
languishing there on his sofa arrived the news that a decisive battle
had been fought and lost in Moravia, that the coalition was dissolved,
that the Continent was at the feet of France. He sank down under the
blow. Ten days later, he was, so emaciated that his most intimate
friends hardly knew him. He came up from Bath by slow journeys, and, on
the 11th of January, 1806, reached his villa at Putney. Parliament was
to meet on the 21st. On the 20th was to be the parliamentary dinner at
the house of the First Lord of the Treasury in Downing Street; and the
cards were already issued. But the days of the great minister were
numbered. The only chance for his life, and that a very slight chance,
was, that he should resign his office, and pass some months in profound
repose. His colleagues paid him very short visits, and carefully avoided
political conversation. But his spirit, long accustomed to dominion,
could not, even in that extremity, relinquish hopes which everybody but
himself perceived to be vain. On the day on which he was carried into
his bedroom at Putney, the Marquess Wellesley, whom he had long loved,
whom he had sent to govern India, and whose administration had been
eminently able, energetic, and successful, arrived in London after an
absence of eight years. The friends saw each other once more. There was
an affectionate meeting, and a last parting. That it was a last parting
Pitt did not seem to be aware. He fancied himself to be recovering,
talked on various subjects cheerfully, and with an unclouded mind, and
pronounced a warm and discerning eulogium on the Marquess’s brother

“I {296}never,” he said, “met with any military man with whom it was so
satisfactory to converse.” The excitement and exertion of this interview
were too much for the sick man. He fainted away; and Lord Wellesley left
the house, convinced that the close was fast approaching.

And now members of Parliament were fast coming up to London. The chiefs
of the opposition met for the purpose of considering the course to be
taken on the first day of the session. It was easy to guess what would
be the language of the King’s speech, and of the address which would be
moved in answer to that speech. An amendment condemning the policy of
the government had been prepared, and was to have been proposed in the
House of Commons by Lord Henry Petty, a young nobleman who had already
won for himself that place in the esteem of his country which, after the
lapse of more than half a century, he still retains. He was unwilling,
however, to come forward as the accuser of one who was incapable of
defending himself. Lord Grenville, who had been informed of Pitt’s
state by Lord Wellesley, and had been deeply affected by it, earnestly
recommended forbearance; and Fox, with characteristic generosity and
good nature, gave his voice against attacking his now helpless rival.
“Sunt lacryrmæ rerum,” he said, “et men-tem mortalia tangunt.” On the
first day, therefore, there was no debate. It was rumoured that evening
that Pitt was better. But on the following morning his physicians
pronounced that there were no hopes. The commanding faculties of which
he had been too proud were beginning to fail. His old tutor and friend,
the Bishop of Lincoln, informed him of his danger, and gave such
religious advice and consolation as a confused {297}and obscured mind
could receive. Stories were told of devout sentiments fervently uttered
by the dying man. But these stories found no credit with anybody who
knew him. Wilberforce pronounced it impossible that they could be true.
“Pitt,” he added, “was a man who always said less than he thought on
such topics.” It was asserted in many after-dinner speeches, Grub Street
elegies, and academic prize poems and prize declamations, that the great
minister died exclaiming, “Oh my country!” This is a fable: but it is
true that the last words which he uttered, while he knew what he said,
were broken exclamations about the alarming state of public affairs.
He ceased to breathe on the morning of the 23rd of January, 1806, the
twenty-fifth anniversary of the day on which he first took his seat in
Parliament. He was in his forty-seventh year, and had been, during near
nineteen years, First Lord of the Treasury, and undisputed chief of
the administration. Since parliamentary government was established in
England, no English statesman has held supreme power so long. Walpole,
it is true, was first Lord of the Treasury during more than twenty
years: but it was not till Walpole had been some time First Lord of the
Treasury that he could be properly called Prime Minister.

It was moved in the House of Commons that Pitt should be honoured with a
public funeral and a monument. The motion was opposed by Fox in a speech
which deserves to be studied as a model of good taste and good feeling.
The task was the most invidious that ever an orator undertook: but
it was performed with a humanity and delicacy which were warmly
acknowledged by the mourning friends of him who was gone. The motion was
carried by 288 votes to 89.

The {298}22nd of February was fixed for the funeral. The corpse, having
lain in state during two days in the Painted Chamber, was borne with
great pomp to the northern transept of the Abbey. A splendid train of
princes, nobles, bishops, and privy councillors followed. The grave of
Pitt had been made near to the spot where his great father lay, near
also to the spot where his great rival was soon to be. The sadness of
the assistants was beyond that of ordinary mourners. For he whom they
were committing to the dust had died of sorrows and anxieties of which
none of the survivors could be altogether without a share. Wilberforce,
who carried the banner before the hearse, described the awful ceremony
with deep feeling. As the coffin descended into the earth, he said, the
eagle face of Chatham from above seemed to look down with consternation
into the dark house which was receiving: all that remained of so much
power and glory.

All parties in the House of Commons readily concurred in voting forty
thousand pounds to satisfy the demands of Pitt’s creditors. Some of his
admirers seemed to consider the magnitude of his embarrassments as a
circumstance highly honourable to him; but men of sense will probably
be of a different opinion. It is far better, no doubt, that a great
minister should carry his contempt of money to excess than that he
should contaminate his hands with unlawful gain. But it is neither right
nor becoming in a man to whom the public has given an income more than
sufficient for his comfort and dignity to bequeath to that public a
great debt, the effect of mere negligence and profusion. As First Lord
of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer, Pitt never had less
than six thousand a year, besides an excellent house. In 1792 {299}he
was forced by his royal master’s friendly importunity to accept for life
the office of Warden of the Cinque Ports, with near four thousand a year
more. He had neither wife nor child: he had no needy relations: he had
no expensive tastes: he had no long election bills. Had he given but a
quarter of an hour a week to the regulation of his household, he would
have kept his expenditure within bounds. Or, if he could not spare even
a quarter of an hour a week for that purpose, he had numerous friends,
excellent men of business, who would have been proud to act as his
stewards. One of those friends, the chief of a great commercial house in
the city, made an attempt to put the establishment in Downing Street to
rights; but in vain. He found that the waste of the servants’ hall was
almost fabulous. The quantity of butcher’s meat charged in the bills was
nine hundred-weight a week. The consumption of poultry, of fish, and of
tea was in proportion. The character of Pitt would have stood higher
if, with the disinterestedness of Pericles and of De Witt, he had united
their dignified frugality.

The memory of Pitt has been assailed, times innumerable, often justly,
often unjustly; but it has suffered much less from his assailants than
from his eulogists.

For, during many years, his name was the rallying cry of a class of
men with whom, at one of those terrible conjunctures which confound all
ordinary distinctions, he was accidentally and temporarily connected,
but to whom, on almost all great questions of principle, he was
diametrically opposed. The haters of parliamentary reform called
themselves Pittites, not choosing to remember that Pitt made three
motions for parliamentary reform, and, that, though he thought that such
a reform {300}could not safely be made while the passions excited by the
French revolution were raging, he never uttered a word indicating that
he should not be prepared at a more convenient season to bring the
question forward a fourth time. The toast of protestant ascendency was
drunk on Pitt’s birthday by a set of Pittites who could not but be aware
that Pitt had resigned his office because he could not carry Catholic
emancipation. The defenders of the Test Act called themselves Pittites,
though they could not be ignorant that Pitt had laid before George the
Third unanswerable reasons for abolishing the Test Act. The enemies of
free trade called themselves Pittites, though Pitt was far more deeply
imbued with the doctrines of Adam Smith than either Fox or Grey. The
very negro-drivers invoked the name of Pitt, whose eloquence was never
more conspicuously displayed than when he spoke of the wrongs of the
negro. This mythical Pitt, who resembles the genuine Pitt as little as
the Charlemagne of Ariosto resembles the Charlemagne of Effinhard, has
had his day. History will vindicate the real man from calumny disguised
under the semblance of adulation, and will exhibit him as what he was,
a minister of great talents, honest intentions, and liberal opinions,
pre-eminently qualified, intellectually and morally, for the part of a
parliamentary leader, and capable of administering, with prudence and
moderation, the government of a prosperous and tranquil country, but
unequal to surprising and terrible emergencies, and liable, in such
emergencies, to err grievously, both on the side of weakness and on the
side of violence.

A P P E N D I X.


(_Edinburgh Review_, January 1825.)


Of {303}the numerous excellent works in which this important
subject has lately been discussed, that of Mr. Stephen is the most
comprehensive, and, in many respects, the most valuable. We are not
aware that any opponent has appeared, sufficiently intrepid to deny
his statements, or to dispute their results. The decent and cautious
advocates of slavery carefully avoid all allusion to a publication which
they feel to be unanswerable; and the boldest content themselves with
misrepresenting and reviling what they cannot even pretend to confute.
In truth, it is not too much to assert that, on the part of the
slave-drivers and their supporters, this controversy has, for the most
part, been conducted with a disingenuousness and a bitterness to which
literary history furnishes no parallel. Most of the honourable and
intelligent men whose names give respectability to the Colonial party,
have, in prudence or in disgust, stood aloof from the contest. In their
absence, the warfare has been carried on by a race of scribblers, who,
like the mercenary Mohawks, so often our auxiliaries in Transatlantic
campaigns, unite the indifference of the hireling to the ferocity of the
cannibal; who take aim from an ambush, and who desire victory only that
they may have the pleasure of scalping and torturing the vanquished.

     (1) _The Slavery of the British West India Colonies
     delineated, as it exists both in Law and Practice, and
     compared with the Slavery of other Counties, Ancient and
     Modern_. By James Stephen, Esq. Vol. I, being a Delineation
     of the State in point of Law. London, Butterworth, 1824.

The friends of humanity and freedom have often boasted, with {304}honest
pride, that the wise and good of hostile sects and factions seemed, when
slavery or the slave-trade were in question, to forget their mutual
antipathies:--that the introduction of this subject was to such men what
the proclamation of a Crusade was to the warriors of the dark ages--a
signal to suspend all their petty disputes, and to array themselves
under the same holy banner, against the same accursed enemy. In this
respect the slave-drivers are now even with us. They, too, may boast
that, if our cause has received support from honest men of all religious
and political parties, theirs has tended, in as great a degree, to
combine and conciliate every form of violence and illiberally. Tories
and Radicals, prebendaries and field-preachers, are to be found in their
ranks. The only requisites for one who aspires to enlist, are a front of
brass and a tongue of venom.

               “Omnigenumque Defim monstra, et latrator Anubis,

               Contra Neptunum et Venerem, contraque Minervam

               Tela tenent.”

But it is neither on facts nor on arguments that slavery seems now to
depend for protection. It neither doubles, nor stands at bay. It has
neither the ingenuity of the hare, nor the intrepidity of the lion. It
defends itself, like the hunted polecat, by the loathsomeness with which
it taints the atmosphere around it; and hopes to escape, by disgusting
those whom it can neither weary nor subdue. We could say much on this
subject. But the sum is, that “the worm will do his kind”--and we have
a more important task to perform. It is our intention to analyse, very
concisely, the valuable work of Mr. Stephen, (1) and afterwards to offer
to our readers some remarks which the perusal of it has suggested.

Mr. Stephen begins, by inquiring into the origin and authority of the
Colonial Slave-laws. It has been commonly supposed in England, that
there exists some known local law in the Colonies, distinct from the law
of England, by which the bondage of the Negro has been introduced and
defined. There is, however, no such law. The Colonists could, at no
time, venture to present an act for such a purpose to an

     (1) Mr. Stephen’s work cannot, of course, embrace any
     changes which may have taken place in West Indian
     Legislation during the last eighteen months or two years.
     Some partial modifications of the former code may have taken
     place during that time in three or four of the colonies, but
     these do not affect the general results.

English {305}sovereign. The Spanish conquerors and the roving pirates
of the Antilles had established that state: and the English settlers
considered themselves as succeeding to the rights of the original
despoilers of America. Those rights, as they at that time existed, may
be summed up in one short and terrible maxim,--that the slave is _the
absolute property_ of the master. It is desirable that this should be
known; because, although a few restraining statutes have of late years
been passed, this odious principle is still the basis of all West Indian
legislation. It is pre-supposed in all meliorating acts. It is the rule,
and the restraints are exceptions. In the benefits which every other
English subject derives from the common law, the Negro has no share. His
master may lawfully treat him as he pleases, except in points regulated
by express enactment.

Mr. Stephen proceeds to analyze the legal nature of the relation between
the master and the slave. Throughout the West Indies, slavery is a
constrained service,--a service without wages. In some of the colonies,
indeed, there are acts which regulate the time of labour, and the amount
of the subsistence which shall be given in return. But, from causes
to which we shall hereafter advert, these acts are nugatory. In other
islands, even these ostensible reforms have not taken place: and the
owner may legally give his slaves as much to do, and as little to eat,
as he thinks fit.

In all the islands, the master may legally imprison his slave. In all
the islands he may legally flog him; and in some of the islands he may
legally flog him at his discretion. The best of the meliorating acts
promise little, and perform less. By some of them it is enacted, that
the slave shall not be flogged, till recovered from the effects of his
last flogging--by others, that he shall not receive more than a certain
number of lashes in one day. These laws, useless as they are, have a
meaning. But there are others which add insult to cruelty. In some of
the Colonial Codes, there are facetious provisions that the slave shall
not receive more than a certain number of lashes at one time, or for
one fault. What is the legal definition of a time? Or who are the legal
judges of a fault? If the master should chuse to say that it is a
fault in his slave to have woolly hair, whom does the law authorize to
contradict him?

It is just to say, that the murder of a slave is now a capital
{306}crime. But the West Indian rules of evidence, to which we shall
hereafter call the attention of onr readers, render the execution of
the laws on this subject almost impossible. The most atrocious kinds of
mutilation,--even those which in England are punished with death,--when
committed upon the person of a slave, subject the offender only to a
fine, or to a short imprisonment. In Dominica, for instance, “to maim,
deface, mutilate, or cruelly torture” a slave, is a crime which is to
be expiated by a line not exceeding one hundred pounds currency, or
by imprisonment not exceeding the term of three months, By the law of
Jamaica, a master who perpetrates any outrage short of murder on the
person of a slave, is subject to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds
currency, or to imprisonment not exceeding the term of 12 months. In
very atrocious cases, the court may direct the enfranchisement of the
slave. But this, though a benefit, as far as it goes, to the Negro, is a
very slight aggravation of the punishment of the master. At most, it is
only an addition of a few pounds to the fine. And as the possession of a
slave who has been maimed in such a maimer as to render him helpless, is
rather burdensome than profitable, it would, in many eases, be really an
advantage to the criminal.

If these terrible prerogatives were confined to the master alone, the
condition of the slave would be suficiently wretched. Yet it would not
be without alleviations. The proprietor might sometimes be restrained by
a sense of his pecuniary interest, if not by higher considerations,
from those extreme outrages, against which the law affords so scanty a
protection. At all events, during his absence, his Negroes would enjoy
an interval of security. Unhappily, the Colonial Codes permit all the
representatives and agents of the master, black and white, bond and
free, to exercise most of his despotic powers.

We have seen that the slave has no legal property in his own body. It
is almost unnecessary to say, that he has no property in any thing
else,--that all his acquisitions belong, like himself, to his master. He
is, in fact, a chattel. We should rather say, that to serve the purpose
of rapacity and tyranny, he is alternately considered as real and as
personal property. He may be sold or bequeathed at the pleasure of his
master, he may be put up to auction by process of law, for {307}the
benefit of the creditors or legatees of his master. In either of
these ways he may be, in a moment, torn for ever from his home, his
associates, his own children. He is, in addition to this, legally
a subject of mortgages, demises, leases, settlements in tail, in
remainder, and in reversion. The practice of raising money on this
species of property, is favoured by the laws of all the Colonies, and
has been equally fatal to the owner and to the slave. It is fatal to
the owner, because it enables him to risk capital not his own, in the
precarious lottery of the West Indian sugar trade. It is fatal to the
slave, because, in the first place, while it leaves to the master all
his power to oppress, it deprives hi in of his power to manumit; and
secondly, because it leads the master to keep possession of his Negroes,
and to compel them to labour, when he has no prospect of holding them
long, and is therefore naturally inclined to make as much by them, and
to spend as little upon them as possible,--a fact amply proved by the
miserable state in which the gang is generally found, when transferred
from the ruined planter to the half ruined mortgagee.

Such is the legal condition of the Negro, considered with reference to
his master. We shall proceed to examine into the nature of the relation
in which he stands towards free persons in general.

He is not competent to be a party to any civil action, either as
plaintiff or defendant; nor can he be received as informant or
prosecutor against any person of free condition. He is protected only
as a horse is protected in this country. His owner may bring an action
against any person who may have occasioned the loss of his services.
But it is plain that the slave may sustain many civil injuries, to which
this circuitous mode of obtaining redress is not applicable; and even
when it is applicable, the damages are awarded, not to the injured
party, but to his master. The protection which indictments and criminal
informations afford, is also of very narrow extent. Many crimes which,
when committed against a white man, are considered as most atrocious,
may be committed by any white man against a slave with perfect impunity.
To rob a slave, for instance, is, in most of the islands, not even
a misdemeanour. In this case, the grand principle of Colonial law is
suspended. The property of a slave, it seems, is considered as belonging
to his owner for the purpose {308}of oppression, but not for the purpose
of protection. By the meliorating laws of some of the Colonies, the
crime of highway robbery upon a Negro, is punished by fines, which, as
far as we are informed, in no case exceed thirty pounds currency.

But this is not all. The natural right of self-defence is denied to the
slave. By the laws of almost all the islands, a slave who should defend
himself from murder or torture, to the injury of a White person, though
such White person should posess no authority whatever over him might be
punished with death.

We now come to the laws respecting the evidence of slaves,--laws which
the Colonists stoutly defend,--and with reason; for, while these remain
unaltered, the meliorating acts, feeble at best, must always be utterly
inefficient. The testimony of these unfortunate beings is not admissible
in any cause, civil or criminal, against a White person. To this general
rule there are, in a very few of the smaller Colonies, some partial
exceptions. It is needless to say, that every crime may be easily
perpetrated in a community of which only one member in ten is a
competent witness. The Government have pressed this point on the
consideration of the Colonial Assemblies. In Jamaica, the proposed
amendments were recently negatived by a majority of 34 to 1. In
Barbadoes they have met with a similar reception. The only excuse we
ever heard made for so disgraceful a law, is this, that the Negroes are
ignorant of the nature and obligations of an oath, and, in fact, are
scarcely responsible beings. But from this excuse the legislators of
Jamaica have excluded themselves, by enacting, that a slave who commits
perjury, in a criminal cause, against another slave, shall suffer the
same punishment as the prisoner, if convicted, would have suffered. If
a slave be ignorant of the nature of an oath, why is he admitted as a
witness against any human being? Why is he punished, in some cases,
with death, for an offence which subjects his more enlightened, and
therefore, more guilty master, only to transportation? If, on the other
hand, he possesses the moral and intellectual qualifications which
are required in a witness, why is he not suffered to appear against an

But we must proceed. The slave, thus excluded from the protection of the
law, is subject to all its restraints. He undergoes {309}the miseries
of a beast of burden, without enjoying its immunities. He is bound,
notwithstanding that alleged inferiority of his understanding, which is
admitted as a reason for curtailing his rights, but not for lightening
his responsibility, by the whole of the criminal code which is in force
against free persons. And, in addition to this, he is subjected to
another most unjust and cruel code, made for his class alone. If he
flies from the colony, he is put to death. If he goes beyond the limits
of the plantation to which he is attached, without a written permission,
he is liable to be severely punished. Actions in themselves perfectly
innocent,--buying or selling certain goods in a market,--raising certain
descriptions of produce,--possessing certain species of live stock,--are
crimes for which the Negro is punished, unless he can produce a written
authority from his owner. In some of the Glands, not even the command of
his owner is admitted as an excuse. To beat a drum, to blow a horn, to
dance, to play at quoits, to throw squibs, to make fireworks, are
all offences when committed by a slave, and subject him to the cruel
chastisement of the whip. When things merely indifferent are visited
with such severe penalties, it may easily be imagined that real
delinquencies are not very mercifully dealt with. In fact, many
actions for which a White man is only imprisoned, or otherwise slightly
punished, if punished at all, are capital crimes when committed by a
slave. Such are stealing, or attempting to steal, to the value of 12d.
currency, killing any animal of the value of 6s., uttering mutinous
words, and a long list of equally heinous crimes. We have already
mentioned the infamous law which exists in Jamaica on the subject of
perjury. Another of a most kingly character is in force in the same
Isand. To compass or imagine the death of any of the White inhabitants,
(God bless their Majesties!) is an enormity for which a slave is
punished with death. It is contrary to the duty of their allegiance!

Such is the penal code to which the slaves are subject. The manner in
which they are tried is, if possible, still more disgraceful. On charges
which do not affect their lives, a single justice is, for the most part,
competent to decide. In capital cases, several justices must attend,
and, in most of the Colonies, a Jury is summoned, if that name can
be applied where there is neither parity of condition nor right of
challenge. {310}No indictment is preferred No previous investigation
takes place before a Grand Jury. In most of the Islands no record is
drawn up. In some, it is enacted, that the execution shall immediately
follow the sentence. The prisoner is now sufficiently lucky to be
hanged. But formerly it was not unusual to inflict what the Colonial
codes style “exemplary punishment.”

When it was thought expedient to exercise this right, the offender was
roasted alive, hung up in irons to perish by thirst, or shut up in a
cage and starved to death! These punishments were commonly reserved for
wretches who had committed the diabolical crime of insurrection against
the just and paternal government, of which we have feebly attempted to
delineate the excellence.

The bondage, of which we have given this description, is hereditary. It
is entailed on the posterity of the slave to the remotest generations.
The law does not compel his master to enfranchise him, on receiving a
fair price. On the contrary, it interferes to prevent the master, even
when so inclined, from giving him his liberty. In some of the islands
a direct tax is imposed on manumission; and in all, the encouragement
which is given to the practice of raising money on Negroes by mortgage,
tends to obstruct their liberation.

Slavery in the West Indies is confined to Negroes and people of colour.
This circumstance is peculiar to the slavery of the New World; and its
effects are most calamitous. The external peculiarities of the African
race are thus associated in the minds of the Colonists with every thing
degrading, and are considered as the disgusting livery of the most
abject servitude. Hence it is, that the free Negroes and Mulattoes
he under so many legal disabilities, and experience such contemptuous
treatment, that their condition can be esteemed desirable only when
compared with the bondage to which it lias succeeded. Of the rules to
which this class is subjected, we shall notice only one of the most
odious. We speak of the presumption against liberty, which is a
recognised principle of colonial law. The West Indian maxim is, that
every Negro and Mulatto is to be considered as a slave, till, by
documentary evidence, he can be proved to be otherwise. It may
be notorious, that he has been free since he first resided in the
colony,--that he has lived twenty years in England,--that he is a
citizen of Hayti or Columbia. {311}All this is immaterial. If he cannot
produce a deed of manumission, he is liable to be put up to sale by
public auction! On this subject remarks would be superfluous. Thank God,
we are writing; for a free people.

We have now accompanied Mr. Stephen through most of the leading topics
of his work. We have occasionally departed from his arrangement, which
indeed is not always the most convenient. This, however, is to be
attributed, not to the author, but to the circumstances under which
the work was composed. If there be any thing else to which we should be
inclined to object, it is to the lengthened parallels which Mr. Stephen
draws between the Slave laws of the West Indies and those which have
existed in other countries. He is not, we think, too severe upon our
Colonists. But we suspect that he is a little too indulgent to the
Greeks and Romans. These passages are, at the same time, in a high
degree curious and ingenious, though perhaps too long and too frequent.
Such blemishes, however, if they can be called such, detract but in a
very slight degree from the value of a book eminently distinguished by
the copiousness and novelty of the information which it affords, by the
force of its reasoning, and by the energy and animation of its style.

We have not alluded to that part of the work, in which the lamentable
state of the law, on the subject of religious instruction, is described;
because the evil has been universally acknowledged, and something
intended for a remedy has at last been provided. The imagined specific,
as our readers are aware, is an Ecclesiastical Establishment. This
measure, we doubt not, is well intended. But we feel convinced that,
unless combined with other reforms, it will prove almost wholly
useless. The immorality and irreligion of the slaves are the necessary
consequences of their political and personal degradation. They are not
considered by the law as human beings. And they have therefore, in some
measure, ceased to be human beings. They must become men before they can
become Christians. A great effect may, under fortunate circumstances,
have been wrought on particular individuals: But those who believe that
any extensive effect can be produced by religious instruction on this
miserable race, may believe in the famous conversion wrought by St.
Anthony on the fish. Can a preacher prevail on his bearers strictly to
fulfil their conjugal duties in a country where {312}no protection is
given to their conjugal rights.--in a country where the husband and
wife may, at the pleasure of the master, or by process of law, be in an
instant, separated for ever? Can he persuade them to rest on the Sunday,
in Colonies where the law appoints that time for the markets? Is
there any lesson which a Christian minister is more solemnly bound
to teach,--is there any lesson which it is, in a religious point of
view,--more important for a convert to learn, than that it is a duty
to refuse obedience to the unlawful commands of superiors? Are the
new pastors of the slaves to inculcate this principle or not? In other
words, are the slaves to remain uninstruted in the fundamental laws
of Christian morality, or are their teachers to be hanged? This is
the alternative. We all remember that it was made a charge against Mr.
Smith, that he had read an inflammatory chapter of the Bible to his
congregation,--excellent encouragement for their future teachers to
“declare unto them,” according to the expression of an old divine, far
too methodistical to be considered as an authority in the West Indies,
“the whole counsel of God.”

The great body of the Colonists have resolutely opposed religious
instruction; and they are in the right. They know, though their
misinformed friends in England do not know, that Christianity and
slavery cannot long exist together. We have already given it us our
opinion, that the great body of the Negroes can never, while their
political state remains the same, be expected to become Christians. But,
if that were possible, we are sure that their political state would
very speedily be changed. At every step which the Negro makes in the
knowledge and discrimination of right and wrong, he will learn to
reprobate more and more the system under which he lives. He will not
indeed be so prone to engage in rash and foolish tumults; but he will be
as willing as he now is to struggle for liberty, and far more capable
of struggling with effect. The forms in which Christianity has been
at different times disguised, have been often hostile to liberty. But
wherever the spirit has surmounted the forms,--in France, during the
wars of the Huguenots,--in Holland, during the reign of Philip II.,--in
Scotland, at the time of the Reformation,--in England, through the
whole contest against the Stuarts, from their accession to their
expulsion.--in New-England, through its whole history,--in every
place,--{313}in every age,--it lias inspired a hatred of oppression,
and a love of freedom! It would be thus in the West-Indies. The attempts
which have been made to press a few detached texts into the cause of
tyranny, have never produced any extensive effect. Those who cannot
refute them by reasoning and comparison, will be hurried forward by the
sense of intolerable wrongs, and the madness of wounded affection. All
this the Colonists have discovered; and we feel assured that they will
never suffer religious instruction to be unreservedly given to the
slaves. In that case, the Establishment will degenerate into a job.
This is no chimerical apprehension. There have been clergymen in
the West-Indies for many years past; and what have they done for the
Negroes? In what have they conduced, either to their temporal or to
their spiritual welfare? Doubtless there have been respectable men among
them. But is it not notorious, that the benefices of the colonies have
been repeatedly given to the outcasts of English society,--men whom the
inhabitants would not venture to employ as book-keepers, yet whom they
desired to retain as boon companions? Any person who will look over the
Parliamentary papers which contain the answers returned by the colonial
clergy to certain queries sent out a few years ago by Lord Bathurst,
will see some curious instances of the ignorance, the idleness, and the
levity of that body. Why should the new Establishment be less corrupt
than the old? The dangers to which it is exposed are the same; we do not
see that its securities are much greater. It has Bishops, no doubt; and
when we observe that Bishops are more active than their inferiors on
this side of the Atlantic, we shall begin to hope that they may be
useful on the other.

These reforms have begun at the wrong end. “God,” says old Hooker, no
enemy to Episcopal Establishments, “first assigned Adam maintenance for
life, and then appointed him a law to observe.” Our rulers would have
done well to imitate the example,--to give some security to the hearth
and to the back of the slave, before they sent him Bishops, Archdeacons,
and Chancellors and Chapters.

The work of Mr. Stephen has, we think, disposed forever of some of
the principal arguments which are urged by the Colonists. If those who
conscientiously support slavery be open to conviction, if its dishonest
advocates be susceptible of {314}shame, they can surely never again
resort to that mode of defence, which they have so often employed when
hard pressed by some particular case of oppression. On such occasions
their cry has been, “There are individual instances. You must not
deduce general conclusions from them. What would you say, if we were
to form our estimate of English society from the Police Reports, or the
Newgate Calendar? Look at the rules, and not at the exceptions.” Here,
then, we have those boasted rides. And what are they? We find that the
actions which other societies punish as crimes, are in the West Indies
sanctioned by law;--that practices, of which England affords no example
but in the records of the jail and the gibbet, are there suffered to
exist unpunished;--that atrocities may there be perpetrated in the
drawing-room or in the market-place, on the persons of untried and
unconvicted individuals, which here would scarcely find an asylum in the
vaults of the Blood-Bowl House.

Is it any answer to this charge, now most fully established, to say that
we too have our crimes? Unquestionably, under all systems, however wise,
under all circumstances, however fortunate, the passions of men will
incite them to evil. The most vigilant police, the most rigid tribunals,
the severest penalties, are but imperfect restraints upon avarice and
revenge. What then must be the ease when these restraints are withdrawn?
In England there is a legal remedy for every injury. If the first prince
of the blood, were to treat the poorest pauper in St. Giles’s as the
best code in the West Indies authorizes a master to treat his slave, it
would be better for him that he had never been born. Yet even here we
find, that wherever power is given, it is occasionally abused; that
magistrates, not having the fear of the Court of King’s Bench before
their eyes, will sometimes be guilty of injustice and tyranny, that even
parents will sometimes starve, torture, murder the helpless beings to
whom they have given life. And is it not evident, that where there are
fewer checks, there will be more cruelty?

But we are told, the manners of a people, the state of public opinion,
are of more real consequence than any written code. Many things, it is
confessed, in the Colonial laws, are cruel and unjust in theory: but
we are assured that the feeling of the Colonists renders the practical
operation of the system lenient and liberal. We answer, that publie
feeling, though {315}an excellent auxiliary to laws, always has been,
and always must be, a miserable and inefficient substitute for them. The
rules of evidence on which public opinion proceeds are defective, and
its decisions are capricious. Its condemnation frequently spares the
guilty, and falls on the innocent. It is terrible to sensitive and
generous minds; but it is disregarded by those whose hardened depravity
most requires restraint. Hence its decrees, however salutary, unless
supported by the clearer definitions and stronger sanctions of
legislation, will be daily and hourly infringed; and with principles
which rest only on public opinion, frequent infraction amounts to a
repeal. Nothing that is very common can be very disgraceful. Thus public
opinion, when not strengthened by positive enactment, is first defied,
and then vitiated. At best it is a feeble check to wickedness, and at
last it becomes its most powerful auxiliary.

As a remedy for the evils of a system of slavery, public opinion must be
utterly inefficacious; and that for this simple reason, that the opinion
of the slaves themselves goes for nothing. The desire which we feel to
obtain the approbation, and to avoid the censure of our neighbours,
is no innate or universal sentiment. It always springs, directly or
indirectly, from consideration of the power which others possess to
serve or to injure us. The good will of the lower orders, is courted
only in countries where they possess political privileges, and where
there is much they can give, and much that they can take away. Their
opinion is important or unimportant, in proportion as their legal rights
are great or small. It can, therefore, never be a substitute for legal
rights. Does a Smithfield drover care for the love or hatred of his
oxen? and yet his oxen, since the passing of Mr. Martin’s meliorating
act, are scarcely in a more unprotected condition than the slaves in our

The opinion then, which is to guard the slaves from the oppressions of
the privileged order, is the opinion of the privileged order itself. A
vast authority is intrusted to the master--the law imposes scarcely tiny
restraints upon him--and we are required to believe, that the place of
all other checks will be fully supplied by the general sense of those
who participate in his power and his temptations. This may be reason at
Kingston; but will it pass at Westminster? We are not inveighing against
the white inhabitants of the West {316}Indies. We do not say that they
are naturally more cruel or more sensual than ourselves. But we say that
they are men; and they desire to be considered as angels!--we say as
angels, for to no human being, however generous and beneficent, to no
philanthropist, to no fathers of the church, could powers like theirs be
safely intrusted. Such authority a parent ought not to have over his
children. They ask very complacently, “Are we men of a different species
from yourselves? We come among you;--we mingle with you in all your
kinds of business and pleasure;--we buy and sell with you on Change in
the morning;--we dance with your daughters in the evening. Are not our
manners civil? Are not our dinners good? Are we not kind friends, fair
dealers, generous benefactors? Are not our names in the subscription
lists of all your charities? And can you believe that we are such
monsters as the saints represent us to be? Can you imagine that, by
merely crossing the Atlantic, we acquire a new nature?” We reply, You
are not men of a different species from ourselves; and, therefore, we
will not give you powers with which we would not dare to trust
ourselves. We know that your passions are like ours. We know that your
restraints are fewer; and, therefore, we know that your crimes must be
greater. Are despotic sovereigns men of harder hearts by nature than
their subjects? Are they born with a hereditary thirst for blood--with a
natural incapacity for friendship? Surely not. Yet what is their general
character? False--cruel--licentious---ungrateful. Many of them have
performed single acts of splendid generosity and heroism; a few may be
named whose general administration has been salutary; but scarcely one
has passed through life without committing at least some one atrocious
act, from the guilt and infamy of which restricting laws would have
saved him and his victims. If Henry VIII. had been a private man, he
might have torn his wife’s ruff, and kicked her lap-dog. He was a King,
and he cutoff her head--not that his passions were more brutal than
those of many other men, but that they were less restrained. How many of
the West Indian overseers can boast of the piety and magnanimity of
Theodosius? Yet, in a single moment of anger, that amiable prince
destroyed more innocent people than all the ruffians in Europe stab in
fifty years. Thus it is with a master in the Colonies. We will suppose
him to be {317}a good natured man, but subject, like other men, to
occasional fits of passion. He gives an order. It is slowly or
negligently executed. In England he would grumble, perhaps swear a
little. In the West Indies, the law empowers him to indict a severe
flogging on the loiterer. Are we very uncharitable in supposing that he
will sometimes exercise his privilege?

It by no means follows that a person who is humane in England will be
humane to his Negroes in the West Indies. Nothing is so capricious and
inconsistent as the compassion of men. The Romans were people of the
same flesh and blood with ourselves--they loved their friends--they
cried at tragedies--they gave money to beggars;--yet we know their
fondness for gladiatorial shows. When, by order of Pompey, some
elephants were tortured in the amphitheatre, the audience was so shocked
at the yells and contortions by which the poor creatures expressed their
agony, that they burst forth into execrations against their favourite
general. The same people, in the same place, had probably often given
the fatal twirl of the thumb which condemned some gallant barbarian to
receive the sword. In our own time, many a man shoots partridges in such
numbers that he is compelled to bury them, who would chastise his son
for amusing himself with the equally interesting, and not more cruel
diversion, of catching flies and tearing them to pieces. The
drover goads oxen--the fishmonger crimps cod--the dragoon sabres a
Frenchman--the Spanish Inquisition burns a Jew--the Irish gentleman
torments a Catholic. These persons are not necessarily destitute of
feeling. Each of them would shrink from any cruel employment, except
that to which his situation has familiarized him.

There is only one way in which the West Indians will ever convince
the people of England that their practice is merciful, and that is,
by making their laws merciful. We cannot understand why men should so
tenaciously fight for powers which they do not mean to exercise. If the
oppressive privileges of the master be nominal and not real, let him
cede them, and silence calumny at once and for ever. Let him cede them
for his own honour. Let him cede them in compliance with the desire, the
vain and superfluous desire, we will suppose, of the people of England.
Is the repeal of laws which have become obsolete,--is the prohibition
{318}of crimes which are never committed, too great a return for a
bounty of twelve hundred thousand pounds, for a protecting duty most
injurious to the manufacturers of England and the cultivators of
Hindustan, for an army which alone protects from inevitable ruin the
lives and possessions of the Colonists?

The fact notoriously is, that West Indian manners give protection even
to those extreme enormities against which the West Indian laws provide.
We have already adverted to one of the most ordinary sophisms of our
opponents. “Why,” they exclaim, “is our whole body to be censured for
the depravity of a few? Every society has its miscreants. If we had our
Hodge, you had your Thurtell. If we had our Huggins, you had your Wall.
No candid reasoner will ground general charges on individual eases.” The
refutation is simple. When a community does nothing to prevent guilt, it
ought to bear the blame of it. Wickedness, when punished, is disgraceful
only to the offender. Unpunished, it is disgraceful to the whole
society. Our charge against the Colonists is not that crimes are
perpetrated among them, but that they are tolerated. We will give a
single instance. Since the West Indians are fond of referring to
our Newgate Calendar, we will place, side by side, a leaf from that
melancholy Register, and another from the West Indian Annals.

Mr. Wall was Governor at Goree. In that situation he flogged a man to
death, on pretence of mutiny. On his return to England, he was indicted
for murder. He escaped to the Continent. For twenty years he remained
in exile. For twenty years the English people retained the impression
of his crime uneffaced within their hearts. He shifted his residence--he
disguised his person--he changed his name,--still their eyes were upon
him, for evil, and not for good. At length, conceiving that all danger
was at an end, he returned. He was tried, convicted, and hanged, amidst
the huzzas of an innumerable multitude. (1)

Edward Huggins of Nevis, about fifteen years ago, flogged upwards of
twenty slaves in the public market-place, with such severity as to
produce the death of one, and to ruin the

     (1) We should be far, indeed, from applauding those shouts,
     if they were the exultation of cruelty; but they arose from
     the apprehension that Court favour was about to save the
     criminal; and the feeling expressed was for the triumph of

constitutions {319}of many. He had grossly violated the law of the
Colony, which prescribes a limit to such inflictions. He had violated it
in open day, and in the presence of a magistrate. He was indicted by
the law officer of the crown. His advocate acknowledged the facts, but
argued that the act on which he was tried, was passed only to silence
the zealots in England, and was never intended to be enforced. Huggins
was acquitted! But that was a trifle. Some members of the House of
Assembly lost their seats at the next election, for taking part against
him. A printer of a neighbouring island was convicted of a libel, merely
for publishing an official report of the evidence, transmitted to him by
authority. In a word, he was considered as a martyr to the common cause,
and grew in influence and popularity; while a most respectable planter,
an enlightened and accomplished gentleman, Mr. Tobin, who, nobly
despising the prejudices of his class, had called the attention of the
government to these diabolical outrages, was menaced with prosecutions,
assailed with slanders, and preserved only by blindness from challenges.

Let these cases be compared. We do not say that Wall was not as bad a
man as Huggins; but we do say that the English people have nothing to do
with the crime of Wall, and that the public character of the people of
Nevis suffers seriously by the crime of Huggins. They have adopted the
guilt, and they must share in the infamy. We know that the advocates
of slavery affect to deride this and similar narratives as old and
threadbare. They sneer at them in conversation, and cough them down in
the House of Commons. But it is in vain. They are written on the hearts
of the people; and they will be remembered when all the smooth nothings
of all the official defenders of such transactions are forgotten.

The truth is simply this. Bad laws and bad customs, reciprocally
producing and produced by each other, have given to the Whites in
all the slave islands--Dutch, Spanish, French and English--a peculiar
character, in which almost all the traits, which, in this quarter of the
world, distinguish the different nations, are lost. We think we describe
that character sufficiently when we call it the despotic character.
In nothing does this temper more strongly appear than in the rage and
contempt with which the Colonists receive{320} every command, and indeed
every admonition, from the authorities of the mother country. When the
territorial power and the commercial monopoly of the East India Company
haws been at stake, has that great body conducted itself thus? Do even
foreign powers treat us in this manner? We have often remonstrated with
the greatest sovereigns of the Continent on the subject of the slave
trade. We have been repulsed--we have been deluded. But by whom have
we been insulted? The representations of the King and people of England
have never been met with outrageous scorn and anger,--except by the men
who owe their food to our bounties, and their lives to our troops.
To the most gentle and moderate advice, to the suggestions of the most
respectable of the West Indian proprietors resident in England, they
reply only in ravings of absurd slander, or impotent defiance. The
essays in their newspapers, the speeches of their legislators, the
resolutions of their vestries, are, almost without exception,
mere collections of rancorous abuse, unmixed with argument. If the
Antislavery Society would publish a small tract, containing simply the
leading articles of five or six numbers of the Jamaica Gazette, without
note or comment, they would, we believe, do more to illustrate the
character of their adversaries than by any other means which can be
devised. Such a collection would exhibit to the country the real nature
of that malignant spirit which banished Salisbury, which destroyed
Smith, and which broke the honest heart of Ramsay.

It is remarkable, that most of these zealots of slavery have little or
no pecuniary interest in the question. If the colonies should be ruined,
the loss will fall, not upon the book-keepers, the overseers, the herd
of needy emigrants who make up the noisy circles of Jamaica; but upon
the Ellises, the Hibberts, the Mannings, men of the most respectable
characters and enlightened minds in the country. _They_ might have
been excused, if any person could be excused, for employing violent
and abusive language. Yet they have conducted themselves, not perhaps
exactly as we might wish them, but still like gentlemen, like men of
sense, like men of feeling. Why is this? Simply because they live in
England, and participate in English feelings. The Colonists, on the
other hand, are degraded by familiarity with oppression. Let us not be
deceived. The cry which resounds from the West {321}Indies is raised by
men, who are trembling less for their property than for the privileges
of their caste. These are the persons who love slavery for its own sake.
The declarations so often made by the Parliament, by the Ministers, by
the deadliest enemies of slavery, that the interests of all parties will
be fairly considered, and that wherever a just claim to compensation can
be established, compensation will be given, bring no comfort to
them. They may have no possessions, but they have white faces. Should
compensation be given, few of them will receive a sixpence; but they
will lose the power of oppressing with impunity every man who has a
black skin. And it is to these men, who have scarcely any interest
in the value of colonial property, but who have a deep interest,--the
interest of a petty tyranny, and a despicable pride in the maintenance
of colonial injustice, that the British Parliament is required to give
up its unquestionable right of superintendence over every part of our
empire. If this were requested as a matter of indulgence, or recommended
as a matter of expediency, we might well be surprised. But it is
demanded as a constitutional right. On what does this right rest? On
what statute? On what charter? On what precedent? On what analogy? That
the uniform practice of past ages has been against their claim, they
themselves do not venture to deny. Do they mean to assert, that a
parliament in which they are not represented ought not to legislate for
them? That question we leave them to settle with their friends of
the Quarterly Review and the John Bull newspaper, who, we hope, will
enlighten them on the subject of virtual representation. If ever that
expression could be justly used, it would be in the present case; for
probably there is no interest more fully represented in both Houses of
Parliament, than that of the colonial proprietors. But for ourselves we
answer, What have you to do with such doctrines? If you will adopt the
principles of liberty, adopt them altogether. Every argument which you
can urge in support of your own claims, might be employed, with far
greater justice, in favour of the emancipation of your bondsmen.
When that event shall have taken place, your demand will deserve
consideration. At present, what you require under the name of freedom is
nothing but unlimited power to oppress. It is the freedom of Nero.

“But {322}we will rebel!” Who can refrain from thinking of Captain
Lemuel Gulliver, who, while raised sixty feet from the ground on the
hand of the King of Brohdignag, claps his hand on his sword and tells
his Majesty that he knows how to defend himself? You will rebel! Bravely
resolved, most magnanimous Grildrig! But remember the wise remark of
Lord Beelington--“courage without power,” said that illustrious
exile, “is like a consumptive running footman.” What are your means of
resistance? Are there, in all the islands put together, ten thousand
white men capable of hearing arms? Are not your forces, such as they
are, divided into small portions which can never act in concert? But
this is mere trifling. Are you, in point of fact, at this moment able
to protect yourselves against your slaves without our assistance? If
you can still rise up and be down in security--if you can still eat the
bread of the fatherless, and grind the faces of the poor--if you can
still hold your petty parliaments, and say your little speeches, and
move, your little motions--if you can still outrage and insult the
Parliament and people of England, to what do you owe it? To nothing but
to our contemptuous mercy. If we suspend our protection--if we recall
our troops--in a week the knife is at your throats!

Look to it, that we do not take you at your word. What are you to us
that we should pamper and defend you? If the Atlantic Ocean should pass
over you, and your place know you no more, what should we lose? Could
we find no other cultivators to accept of our enormous bounties on
sugar?--no other pestilential region to which we might send our soldiers
to catch the yellow fever?--no other community for which we might pour
forth our blood and lavish our money, to purchase nothing but injuries
and insults? What do we make by you? If England is no longer to be the
_mistress_ of her colonies,--if she is to be only the handmaid of their
pleasures, or the accomplice of their crimes, she may at least venture
to ask, as a handmaid, what are to be the wages of her service,--as
an accomplice, what is to be her portion of the spoil? If justice, and
mercy, and liberty, and the law of God, and the happiness of man, be
words without a meaning, we at least talk to the purpose when we talk of
pounds, shillings, and pence.

Let us count our gains. Let us bring to the test the lofty phrases
{323}of Colonial declamation. The West Indies, we are told, are a source
of vast wealth and revenue to the country. They are a nursery of
seamen. They take great quantities of our manufactures. They add to
our political importance. They are useful posts in time of war. These
absurdities have been repeated, till they have begun to impose upon the
impostors who invented them. Let us examine them briefly.

Our commercial connexion with the West Indies is simply this. We buy our
sugar from them at a higher price than is given for it in any other part
of the world. The surplus they export to the Continent, where the price
is lower; and we pay them the difference out of our own pockets. Our
trade with the West Indies is saddled with almost all the expense
of their civil and military establishments, and with a bounty of
1,200,000l. Let these be deducted from the profits of which we hear so
much, and their amount will shrink indeed. Let us then deduct from the
residue the advantages which we relinquish in order to obtain it,--that
is to say, the profits of a free sugar trade all over the world; and
then we shall be able to estimate the boasted gains of a connexion to
which we have sacrificed the Negroes in one hemisphere, and the Hindoos
in the other.

But the West Indians take great quantities of our manufactures! They
can take only a return for the commodities which they send us. And from
whatever country we may import the same commodities, to that country
must we send out the same returns. What is it that now limits the
demands of our Eastern empire? Absolutely nothing but the want of
an adequate return. From that immense market--from the custom of one
hundred millions of consumers, our manufacturers are in a great measure
excluded, by the protecting duties on East Indian sugar.

But a great revenue is derived from the West Indian trade! Here, again,
we have the same fallacy. As long as the present quantity of sugar is
imported into England, no matter from what country, the revenue will
not suffer; and, in proportion as the price of sugar is diminished, the
consumption, and, consequently, the revenue, must increase. But the
West Indian trade affords extensive employment to British shipping and
seamen! Why more than any equally extensive trade with any other part of
the world? The more {324}active our trade, the more demand there will
be for shipping and seamen; and every one who has learnt the alphabet of
Political Economy, knows that trade is active, in proportion only as it
is free.

There are some who assert that, in a military and political point of
view, the West Indies are of great importance to this country. This is
a common, but a monstrous misrepresentation. We venture to say, that
Colonial empire has been one of the greatest curses of modern Europe.
What nation has it ever strengthened? What nation has it ever enriched?
What have been its fruits? Wars of frequent occurrence and immense cost,
fettered trade, lavish expenditure, clashing jurisdiction, corruption in
governments, and indigence among the people. What have Mexico and Peru
done for Spain, the Brazils for Portugal, Batavia for Holland? Or, if the
experience of others is lost upon us, shall we not profit by our own?
What have we not sacrificed to our infatuated passion for transatlantic
dominion? This it is that has so often led us to ri.-k our own smiling
gardens and dear firesides for some snowy desert or infections morass
on the other side of the globe: This inspired us with the project
of conquering America in Germany: This induced us to resign all the
advantages of our insular situation--to embroil ourselves in the
intrigues, and fight the battles of half the Continent--to form
coalitions which were instantly broken---and to give subsidies which
were never earned: This gave birth to the fratricidal war against
American liberty, with all its disgraceful defeats, and all its barren
victories, and all the massacres of the Indian hatchet, and all the
bloody contracts of the Hessian slaughterhouse: This it was which, in
the war against the French republic, induced us to send thousands and
tens of thousands of our bravest troops to die in West Indian hospitals,
while the armies of our enemies were pouring over the Rhine and the
Alps. When a colonial acquisition has been in prospect, we have thought
no expenditure extravagant, no interference perilous. Gold has been to
us as dust, and blood as water. Shall we never learn wisdom? Shall we
never cease to prosecute a pursuit wilder than the wildest dream of
alchemy, with all the credulity and all the profusion of Sir Epicure

Those who maintain that settlements so remote conduce to the military or
maritime power of nations, fly in the face of history. {325}The colonies
of Spain were far more extensive and populous than ours. Has Spain, at
any time within the last two centuries, been a match for England either
by land or by sea? Fifty years ago, our colonial dominions in America
were far larger and more prosperous than those which we at present
possess. Have we since that time experienced any decay in our political
influence, in our opulence, or in our security? Or shall we say that
Virginia was a less valuable possession than Jamaica, or Massachusetts
than Barbadoes?

The fact is, that all the evils of our Colonial system are immensely
aggravated in the West Indies by the peculiar character of the state of
slavery which exists there. Our other settlements we have to defend only
against foreign invasion. These we must protect against the constant
enmity of the miserable bondsmen, who are always waiting for the moment
of deliverance, if not of revenge. With our other establishments we may
establish commercial relations advantageous to both parties. But these
are in a state of absolute pauperism; for what are bounties and forced
prices but an enormous poor-rate in disguise?

These are the benefits for which we are to be thankful. These are the
benefits, in return for which we are to suffer a handful of managers
and attorneys to insult the King, Lords, and Commons of England, in the
exercise of rights as old and sacred as any part of our Constitution. It
the proudest potentate in Europe, if the King of France, or the Emperor
of all the Russias, had treated our Government as these creatures of
our own have dared to do, should we not have taken such satisfaction as
would have made the ears of all that heard of it to tingle? Would there
not have been a stately manifesto, and a warlike message to both
Houses, and vehement speeches from all parties, and unanimous addresses
abounding in offers of lives and fortunes? If any _English mob_,
composed of the disciples of Paine and Carlile, should dare to pull down
a place of religious worship, to drive the minister from his residence,
to threaten with destruction any other who should dare to take his
place, would not the yeomanry be called out? Would not Parliament be
summoned before the appointed time? Would there not be sealed bags
and secret committees, and suspensions of the Habeas Corpus act? In
Barbadoes all this has been done.

It {326}has been done openly. It has _not_ been punished. It is at this
hour a theme of boasting and merriment. And what is the language of our
rulers? “We must not irritate them. We must try lenient measures. It is
better that such unfortunate occurrences should not be brought before
the Parliament.” Surely the mantle, or rather the cassock, of Sir Hugh
Evans, has descended on these gentlemen. “It is not meet the council
hear a riot. There is no fear of Got in a riot. The council, look you,
shall desire to hear the fear of Got, and not to hear a riot.” We have
outdone all the most memorable examples of patience. The Job of Holy
Writ, the Griselda of profane romance, were but types of our philosophy.
Surely our endurance must be drawing to a close.

We do not wish that England should drive forth her prodigal offspring
to wear the rags and feed on the husks which they have desired. The
Colonists have deserved such a punishment. But, for the sake of the
slaves, for the sake of those persons, residing in this country, who are
interested in West Indian property, we should grieve to see it indicted.
That the slaves, when no longer restrained by our troops, would, in
no very long time, achieve their own liberation, cannot be doubted. As
little do we doubt that such a revolution, violent as it would doubtless
be, would be desirable, if it were the only possible means of subverting
the present system. The horrors of a battle or a massacre force
themselves upon our senses. The effects of protracted tyranny,
the terror, the degradation, the blighted affections, the stunted
intellects, the pining of the heart, the premature decay of the frame,
are evils less obvious, but equally certain; and, when continued through
successive generations, make up a greater sum of human misery than was
ever indicted in the paroxysm of any revolution. Still we cannot
doubt that savages, rude in understanding, exasperated by injuries,
intoxicated by recent freedom, would be much benefited by the wise and
merciful control of an enlightened people.

We feel also for the West Indian proprietors who reside in England.
Between them and the inhabitants of the Colonies we see a great
distinction. There may be in this body individuals infected with the
worst vices of the colonial character. But there are also among them
many gentlemen of benevolent feelings and enlarged minds, who have done
much to {327}alleviate the condition of their slaves, and who would
willingly see the meliorating measures which his Majesty’s ministers
have suggested, adopted by the West Indian legislators. They have
scarcely any thing in common with the Colonists, or with the scribblers
whom the Colonists feed and clothe. They have taken little part in the
controversy, ashamed probably of the infamous allies with whom they
would have to cooperate. But what they have said has, upon the whole,
been said manfully and courteously. Their influence, however, is at
present exerted decidedly in favour of slavery, not, we verily believe,
from any love of slavery in the abstract, but partly because they think
that their own characters are in some degree affected by the attacks
which are made on the Colonial system, and partly because they apprehend
that their property is likely to suffer in consequence of the feeling
which at present prevails throughout the country.

On both points they are mistaken. We are convinced that there is not, in
any quarter, a feeling unfriendly to them, or an indisposition to give a
fair consideration to their interests. The honest, but uninformed zeal,
of individuals, may sometimes break forth into intemperate expressions:
But the great body of the people make a wide distinction between the
class of which we speak and the Colonial mob. Let it be their care to
preserve that distinction indelible.

We call for their support. They are our natural allies. Scarcely have
the Ministers of the Crown, scarcely have the Abolitionists themselves,
been more rancorously abused by the orators of Jamaica, than those
persons. The objects of the two classes are wholly different. The one
consists of English gentlemen, naturally solicitous to preserve the
source from which they derive a part of their revenue. The other is
composed, in a great measure, of hungry adventurers, who are too poor
to buy the pleasure of tyranny, and are therefore attached to the only
system under which they can enjoy it gratis. The former wish only to
secure their possessions; the latter are desirous to perpetuate the
oppressive privileges of the white skin. Against those privileges let us
declare interminable war, war for ourselves, and for our children,
and for our grand-children,--war without peace--war without truce--war
without quarter! But we respect the rights of property as much as we
detest the prerogatives of colour.

We {328}entreat these respectable persons to reflect on the precarious
nature of the tenure by which they hold their property. Even if it were
in their power to put a stop to this controversy,--if the subject of
slavery were no longer to occupy the attention of the British public,
could they think themselves secure from ruin? Are no ominous signs
visible in the political horizon? How is it that they do not discern
this time? All the ancient fabrics of colonial empire are falling
to pieces. The old equilibrium of power has been disturbed by the
introduction of a crowd of new States into the system. Our West-India
po-sessions are not now surrounded, as they formerly were, by the
oppressed and impoverished colonies of a superannuated monarchy, in
the last stage of dotage and debility, but by young, and vigorous, and
warlike republics. We have defended our colonies against Spain. Does it
therefore follow that we shall be able to defend them against Mexico or
Hayti? We are told, that a pamphlet of Mr. Stephen, or a speech of Mr.
Brougham, is sufficient to excite all the slaves in our colonies to
rebel. What, then, would be the effect produced in Jamaica by the
appearance of three or four Black regiments, with thirty or forty
thousand stand of arms? The colony would be lost. Would it ever be
recovered? Would England engage in a contest for that object, at so vast
a distance, and in so deadly a climate? Would she not take warning by
the fate of that mighty expedition which perished in St. Domingo? Let
us suppose, however, that a force were sent, and that, in the field, it
were successful. Have we forgotten how long a few Maroons defended the
central mountains of the island against all the efforts of disciplined
valour? A similar contest on a larger scale might be protracted for half
a century, keeping our forces in continual employment, and depriving
property of all its security. The country might spend fifty millions
of pounds, and bury fifty thousand men, before the contest could be
terminated. Nor is this all. In a servile war, the master _must_ be the
loser--for his enemies are his chattels. Whether the slave conquer or
fall, he is alike lost to the owner. In the mean time, the soil lies
uncultivated; the machinery is destroyed. And when the possessions of
the planter are restored to him, they have been changed into a desert.

Our policy is clear. If we wish to keep the Colonies, we must take
prompt and effectual measures for raising the condition {329}of the
slaves. We must give them institutions which they may have no temptation
to change. We have governed the Canadians liberally and leniently;
and the consequence is, that we can trust to them to defend themselves
against the most formidable power that anywhere threatens our Colonial
dominions. This is the only safeguard. You may renew all the atrocities
of Barbadoes and Demerara. You may inflict all the most hateful
punishments authorised by the insular codes. You may massacre by the
thousand, and hang by the score. You may even once more roast your
captives in slow fires, and starve them in iron cages, or flay them
alive with the cart-whip. You will only hasten the day of retribution.
Therefore, we say, “Let them go forth from the house of bondage. For woe
unto you, if you wait for the plagues and the signs, the wonders and the
war, the mighty hand and the outstretched arm!”

If the great West Indian proprietors shall persist in a different line
of conduct, and ally themselves with the petty tyrants of the Antilles,
it matters little. We should gladly accept of their assistance: But we
feel assured that their opposition cannot affect the ultimate result of
the controversy. It is not to any particular party in the church or in
the state; it is not to the right or to the left hand of the speaker; it
is not to the cathedral or to the Meeting, that we look exclusively for
support. We believe that, on this subject, the hearts of the English
People burn within them. They hate slavery. They have hated it for
ages. If has, indeed, hidden itself for a time in a remote nook of
their dominions: but it is now discovered and dragged to light. That is
sufficient. Its sentence is pronounced; and it never can escape! never,
though all the efforts of its supporters should be redoubled,--never,
though sophistry, and falsehood, and slander, and the jests of the
pothouse, the ribaldry of the brothel, and the slang of the ring or
lives’ court, should do their utmost in its defence,--never, though
fresh insurrections should be got up to frighten the people out of their
judgment, and fresh companies to bubble them out of their money,--never,
though it should find in the highest ranks of the peerage, or on the
steps of the throne itself, the purveyors of its slander, and the
mercenaries of its defence! (1)

     (1) Since the above article was prepared for the press, we
     have met with a new and very important work on the subject
     of West-India Slavery. It is entitled, “The {330}West Indies
     as they are, or a real Picture of Slavery, particularly in
     Jamaica,” by the Rev. H. Bickell, a clergyman of the Church
     of England, who resided a considerable time in that island.
     The work is ill written; and it might have been reduced with
     advantage to half its present size. It produces, however, an
     irresistible impression of the honesty and right intentions
     of the author, who was an eyewitness of the scenes he
     describes: and it continues, in a remarkable manner, all the
     leading statements which, on the authority of Mr. Cooper,
     Dr. Williamson, and Mr. Meabing, were laid before the public
     two years ago, in the pamphlet called “Negro Slavery.” Mr.
     Bickell has also brought forward various new facts of the
     most damning description, in illustration both of the
     rigours of Negro bondage, and of the extraordinary
     dissoluteness of manners prevailing in Jamaica. We strongly
     recommend the work to general perusal, as a most seasonable
     antidote to those delusive tales of colonial amelioration,
     by which it has been attempted to abate the horror so
     universally felt in contemplating the cruel and debasing
     effects of the slave system.


(Edinburgh, Review, February 1826.)

Few {331}things have ever appeared to us more inexplicable than the
cry which it has pleased those who arrogate to themselves the exclusive
praise of loyalty and orthodoxy, to raise against the projected
University of London. In most of those publications which are
distinguished by zeal for the Church and the Government, the scheme
is never mentioned but with affected contempt, or unaffected fury. The
Academic pulpits have resounded with invectives against it; and many
even of the most liberal and enlightened members of the old foundations
seem to contemplate it with very uncomfortable feelings.

We were startled at this. For surely no undertaking of equal importance
was ever commenced in a manner more pacific and conciliatory. If the
management has fallen, in a great measure, into the hands of persons
whose political opinions are at variance with those of the dominant
party, this was not the cause, but the effect of the jealousy which that
party thought fit to entertain. Oxford and Cambridge, to all appearance,
had nothing to dread. Hostilities were not declared. Even rivalry was
disclaimed. The new Institution did not aspire to participate in
the privileges which had been so long monopolised by those ancient
corporations. It asked for no franchises, no lands, no advowsons. It
did not interfere with that mysterious scale of degrees on which good
churchmen look with as much veneration as the Patriarch on the ladder
up which he saw angels ascending. It did not ask permission to search
houses without warrants, or to take books from publishers without paying
for them.

     (1)_Thoughts on the Advancement of Academical Education in
     England._ 1826.

There {332}was to be no melo-dramatic pageantry, no ancient ceremonial,
no silver mace, no gowns either black or red, no hoods either of fur or
of satin, no public orator to make speeches which nobody hears, no oaths
sworn only to be broken. Nobody thought of emulating the cloisters, the
organs, the painted glass, the withered mummies, the busts of great men,
and the pictures of naked women, which attract visitors from every part
of the isand to the banks of Isis and Cam. The persons whose advantage
was quietly in view belonged to a class of which very few ever find
their way to the old colleges. The name of University was indeed
assumed; and it has been said that this gave offence. But we are
confident that so ridiculous an objection can have been entertained by
very few. It reminds us of the whimsical cruelty with which Mercury, in
Plautus, knocks down poor Soda for being so impudent as to have the same
name with himself!

We know indeed that there are many to whom knowledge is hateful for its
own sake,--owl-like beings, creatures of darkness, and rapine, and
evil omen, who are sensible that their organs fit them only for the
night,--and that, as soon as the day arises, they shall be pecked back
to their nooks by those on whom they now prey with impunity. By the arts
of those, enemies of mankind, a large and influential party has been led
to look with suspicion, if not with horror, on all schemes of education,
and to doubt whether the ignorance of the people be not the best
security for its virtue and repose.

We will not at present attack the principles of these persons, because
we think that, even on those principles, they are bound to support the
London University. If indeed it were possible to bring back, in all
their ancient loveliness, the times of venerable absurdities and good
old nuisances--if we could hope that gentlemen might again put their
marks to deeds without blushing--that it might again be thought a
miracle if any body in a parish could read, except the Vicar, or if the
Vicar were to read any thing but the Service,--that all the literature
of the multitude might again be comprised in a ballad or a prayer,--that
the Bishop of Norwich might be burned for a heretic, and Sir Humphry
Davy hanged for a conjurer,--that the Chancellor of the Exchequer might
negotiate loans with Mr. Rothschild, by extracting {333}one of his
teeth daily till he brought him to term--then indeed the case would be
different. But, ala! who can venture to anticipate such a millennium of
stupidity? The zealots of ignorance will therefore do well to consider,
whether, since the evils of knowledge cannot be altogether excluded, it
may not be desirable to set them in array against each other. The best
state of things, we will concede to them, would be that in which all
men should be dunces together. That might be called the age of gold.
The silver age would be that in which no man should be taught to spell,
unless he could produce letters of ordination, or, like a candidate for
a German order of knighthood, prove his sixty-four quarters. Next in the
scale would stand a community in which the higher and middling orders
should be well educated, and the labouring people utterly uninformed.
But the iron age would be that in which the lower classes should be
rising in intelligence, while no corresponding improvement was taking,
place in the rank immediately above them.

England is in the last of these states. From one end of the country to
the other the artisans, the draymen, the very ploughboys, are learning
to read and write. Thousands of them attend lectures. Hundreds of
thousands read newspapers. Whether this be a blessing or a curse, we are
not now inquiring. But such is the fact. Education is spreading amongst
the working people, and cannot be prevented from spreading amongst them.
The change which has taken place in this respect within twenty years is
prodigious. No person surely, will venture to say that information has
increased in the same degree amongst those who constitute what may be
called the lower part of the middling class,--farmers for instance,
shopkeepers, or clerks in commercial houses.

If there be any truth in the principles held by the enemies of
education, this is the most dangerous state in which a country can
be placed. They maintain that knowledge renders the poor arrogant and
discontented. It will hardly be disputed, we presume, that arrogance is
the result, not of the absolute situation in which a man may be placed,
but of the relation in which he stands to others. Where a whole society
is equably rising in intelligence; where the distance between its
different orders remains the same, though every order advances, that
feeling is not likely to be excited. An individual {334}is not more vain
of his knowledge, because he participates in the universal improvement,
than he is vain of his speed, because he is dying along with the earth
and every thing upon it, at the rate of seventy thousand miles an hour.
But if he feels that _he_ is going forward, while those before him are
standing still, the case is altered. If ever the diffusion of knowledge
can be attended with the danger of which we hear so much, it is in
England at the present moment. And this danger can be obviated in two
ways only. Unteach the pool-,--or teach those who may, by comparison,
be called the rich. The former it is plainly impossible to do: And
therefore, if those whom we are addressing be consistent, they will
exert themselves to do the latter; and, by increasing the knowledge,
increase also the power of an extensive and important class,--a class
which is as deeply interested as the peerage or the hierarchy in the
prosperity and tranquillity of the country; a class which, while it is
too numerous to be corrupted by government, is too intelligent to be
duped by demagogues, and which, though naturally hostile to oppression
and profusion, is not likely to carry its zeal for reform to lengths
inconsistent with the security of property and the maintenance of social

“But an University without religion!” softly expostulates the Quarterly
Review.--“An University without religion!” roars John Bull, wedging
in his pious horror between a slander and a double-entendre. And from
pulpits and visitation-dinners and combination-rooms innumerable, the
cry is echoed and re-echoed, “An University without religion!”

This objection has really imposed on many excellent people, who have
not adverted to the immense difference which exists between the new
Institution and those foundations of which the members form a sort of
family, living under the same roof, governed by the same regulations,
compelled to eat at the same table, and to return to their apartments at
the same hours. Have none of those who censure the London University on
this account, daughters who are educated at home, and who are attended
by different teachers? The music-master, a good Protestant, comes at
twelve; the dancing-master, a French philosopher, at two; the Italian
master, a believer in the blood of Saint Januarius, at three. The
parents take upon themselves the office of instructing their child in
religion. She hears the preachers whom they prefer, {335}and reads the
theological works which they put into her hands. Who can deny that this
is the case in innumerable families? Who can point ont any material
difference between the situation in which this girl is placed, and
that of a pupil at the new University? Why then is so crying an abuse
suffered to exist without reprehension? Is there no Sacheverell to raise
the old cry,--the Church is in danger,--that cry which was never uttered
by any voice however feeble., or for any end however base, without being
instantly caught up and repeated through all the dark and loathsome
nooks where bigotry nestles with corruption? Where is the charge of the
Bishop and the sermon of the Chaplain, the tear of the Chancellor and
the oath of the Heir-apparent, the speech of Mr. William Bankes and the
pamphlet of Sir Harcourt Lees? What means the silence of those filthy
and malignant baboons, whose favourite diversion is to grin and sputter
at innocence and beauty through the grates of their spunging-houses?
Why not attempt to blast the reputation of the poor ladies who are so
irreligiously brought up? Why not search into all the secrets of their
families? Why not enliven the Sunday breakfast-tables of priests and
placemen with elopements of their great-aunts and the bankruptcies of
their second cousins?

Or, to make the parallel still clearer, take the case of a young man, a
student, we will suppose, of surgery, resident in London. He wishes
to become master of his profession, without neglecting other useful
branches of knowledge. In the morning he attends Mr. M’Culloch’s lecture
on Political Economy. He then repairs to the Hospital, and hears Sir
Astley Cooper explain the mode of reducing fractures. In the afternoon
he joins one of the classes which Mr. Hamilton instructs in French or
German. With regard to religions observances, he acts as he himself,
or those under whose care he is, may think most advisable. Is there
any thing objectionable in this? Is it not the most common case in the
world? And in what does it differ from that of a young man at the London
University? Our surgeon, it is true, will have to run over half
London in search of his instructors; and the other will find all the
lecture-rooms which he attends standing conveniently together, at the
end of Gower Street. Is it in the local situation that the mischief
lies? We have observed that, since Mr. Croker, in the last session
of {336}Parliament, declared himself ignorant of the site of
Russell Square, the plan of forming an University in so inelegant a
neighbourhood has excited much contempt amongst those estimable persons
who think that the whole dignity of man consists in living within
certain districts, wearing coats made by certain tailors, and eschewing
certain meats and drinks. We should be sorry to think that the reports
which any lying Mandeville from Bond Street may have circulated
respecting that Terra Incognita, could seriously prejudice the new
College. The Secretary of the Admiralty, however, has the remedy in his
own hands. When Captain Franklin returns, as we trust he soon will, from
his American expedition, he will, we hope, he sent to explore that other
North-West passage which connects the city with the Regent’s Park. It
would then be found, that, though the natives generally belong to the
same race with those Oriental barbarians whose irruptions have long been
the terror of Hamilton Place and Grosvenor Square, they are, upon the
whole, quiet and inoffensive; that, though they possess no architectural
monument which can be compared to the Pavilion at Brighton, their
habitations are neat and commodious; and that their language has many
roots in common with that which is spoken in St. James’s Street. One
thing more we must mention, which will astonish some of our readers,
as much as the discovery of the Syrian Christians of St. Thomas on the
coast of Malabar. Our religion has been introduced by some Xavier or
Augustin of former times into these tracts. Churches, with all their
appurtenances of hassocks and organs, are to be found there; and even
the tithe, that great _articulum stantis aut lahantis ecclesiae_, is by
no means unknown.

The writer of the article on this subject in the last Number of
the Quarterly Review, severely censures the omission of religious
instruction, in a place styling itself an University,--never perceiving
that, with the inconsistency which belongs to error, he has already
answered the objection. “A place of education,” says he, “is the least
of all proper to be made the arena of disputable and untried doctrine.”
 He severely censures those academies in which “a perpetual vacillation
of doctrine is observable, whether in morals, metaphysics, or religion,
according to the frequency of change in the professional chair.” Now,
we venture to say, that these {337}considerations, if they are worth any
thing at all, are decisive against any scheme of religions instruction
in the London University. That University was intended to admit not only
Christians of all persuasions, but even Jews. But suppose that it were
to narrow its limits, to adopt the formularies of the Church of England,
to require subscription, or the sacramental test, from every professor
and from every pupil; still, we say, there would be more field for
controversy, more danger of that vacillation of doctrine which seems to
the Reviewer to be so great an evil, on subjects of theology, than on
all other subjects together. Take a science which is still young, a
science of considerable intricacy, a science, we may add, which the
passions and interests of men have rendered more intricate than it is in
its own nature, the science of Political Economy. Who will deny, that,
for one schism which is to be found among those who are engaged in that
study, there are twenty on points of divinity, _within the Church of

Is it not notorious that Arminiens, who stand on the very frontier of
Pelagianism, and Calvinists, whom a line scarcely discernible separates
from Antinomianism, are to be found among those who eat the bread of
the Establishment? Is it not notorious that predestination, final
perseverance, the operation of grace, the efficacy of the sacraments,
and a hundred other subjects which we could name, have been themes of
violent disputes between eminent churchmen? The ethics of Christianity,
as well as its theory, have been the theme of dispute. One party calls
the other latitudinarian and worldly. The other retorts accusations of
fanaticism and asceticism. The curate has been set against the rector,
the dean against the bishop. There is scarcely a parish in England into
which the controversy has not found its way. There is scarcely an action
of human life so trivial and familiar as not to be in some way or other
affected by it. Whether it is proper to take in a Sunday newspaper, to
shoot a partridge, to course a hare, to subscribe to a Bible Society, to
dance, to play at whist, to read Tom Jones, to see Othello,--all these
are questions on which the strongest difference of opinion exists
between persons of high eminence in the hierarchy. The Quarterly
Reviewer thinks it a very bad thing, that “the first object of a
new professor should be to refute the fundamental positions of his
predecessors.” What would be {338}the case if a High Churchman should
succeed a Low Churchman, or a Low Churchman a High Churchman, in
the chair of religion? And what possible security could the London
University have against such an event? What security have Oxford or
Cambridge now? In fact, all that we know of the state of religious
parties at those place, fully bears out our statement. One of the most
famous divines of our time. Dr. Marsh, Bishop of Peterborough, Margaret
Professor of Theology at Cambridge, and author of eighty-seven of the
most unanswerable questions that ever man propounded to his fellow-men,
published a very singular hypothesis respecting the origin of the
Gospels. With the truth or falsehood of the hypothesis we have nothing
to do. We have, however, heard another eminent Professor of the same
University, high in the Church, condemn the theory as utterly unfounded,
and of most dangerous consequence to the orthodox faith. Nay, the very
pulpit of Saint Mary’s has been “the arena of disputable and untried
doctrine,” as much as ever was the chair of any Scotch or German
professor,--a fact, of which any person may easily satisfy himself,
who will take the trouble to rescue from the hands of trunk-makers and
pastry-cooks, a few of the sermons which have been preached there, and
subsequently published. And if, in the course of his researches, he
should happen to light on that which was preached by a very eminent
scholar on a very remarkable occasion, the installation of the Duke
Gloucester, he will see, that not only dispute, but something very like
abuse, may take place between those whose office it is to instruct our
young collegians in the doctrines and duties of Christianity.

“But,” it is said, “would it not be shocking to expose the morals of
young men to the contaminating influence of a great city, to all the
fascinations of the Fives’ Court and the gaming table, the tavern and
the saloon?” Shocking, indeed, we grant, if it were possible to send
them all to Oxford and Cambridge, those blessed spots where, to use the
imagery of their own prize-poems, the Saturnian age still lingers,
and where white-robed Innocence has left the print of her departing
footsteps. There, we know, all the men are philosophers, and all the
women vestals. There, simple and bloodless repasts support the body
without distressing the mind. There, while the sluggish world is still
sleeping, the ingenious {339}youth hasten to pour forth their fervent
orisons in the chapel; and in the evening, elsewhere the season of
riot and license, indulge themselves with a solitary walk beneath the
venerable avenues, musing on the vanity of sensual pursuits, and the
eternity and sublimity of virtue. But, alas! these blissful abodes of
the Seven Cardinal Virtues are neither large enough nor cheap enough for
those who stand in need of instruction. Many thousands of young men will
live in London, whether an University be established there or not,--and
that for this simple reason, that they cannot afford to live elsewhere.
That they should be condemned to one misfortune because they labour
under another, and debarred from knowledge because they are surrounded
with temptations to vice, seems to be not a very rational or humane mode
of proceeding.

To speak seriously, in comparing the dangers to which the morals
of young men are exposed in London, with those which exist at the
Universities, there is something to be said on both sides. The
temptations of London may be greater. But with the temptation there is a
way to escape. If the student live with his family, he will be under the
influence of restraints more powerful, and, we will add, infinitely more
salutary and respectable, than those which the best disciplined colleges
can impose. Even if he be left completely to his own devices, he will
still have within his reach two inestimable advantages, from which the
students of Oxford and Cambridge are almost wholly excluded, the society
of men older than himself, and of modest women.

There are no intimacies more valuable than those which a young man forms
with one who is his senior by ten or twelve years. Those years do
not destroy the sympathy and the sense of equality without which no
cordiality can exist. Yet they strengthen the principles, and form the
judgment. They make one of the parties a sensible adviser, and the other
a docile listener. Such friendships it is almost impossible to form
at College. Between the man of twenty and the man of thirty there is a
great gulf, a distinction which cannot be mistaken, which is marked by
the dress and by the seat, at prayers and at table. We do not believe
that, of the young students at our ancient seats of learning, one in ten
lives in confidence and familiarity with any member of the University
who is a Master of Arts. When the members of {340}the University are
deducted, the society of Oxford and Cambridge is no more than that of
an ordinary county town.

This state of things, it is clear, does more harm than all the exertions
of Proctors and Proproctors can do good. The errors of young men are of
a nature with which it is very difficult to deal. Slight punishments are
inefficient; severe punishments generally and justly odious. The best
course is to give them over to the arm of public opinion. To restrain
them, it is necessary to make them discreditable. But how can they be
made discreditable while the offenders associate only with those who are
of the same age, who are exposed to the same temptations, and who are
willing to grant the indulgence which they themselves may need? It is
utterly impossible that a code of morality and honour, enacted by the
young only, can be so severe against juvenile irregularities as that
which is in force in general society, where manhood and ape have the
deciding voice, and where the partial inclinations of those whose
passions are strong, and whose reason is weak, are withstood by those
whom time and domestic life have sobered. The difference resembles
that which would be found between laws passed by an assembly consisting
solely of farmers, or solely of weavers, and those of a senate fairly
representing every interest of the community.

A student in London, even though he may not live with his own relatives,
will generally have it in his power to mix with respectable female
society. This is not only a very pleasant thing, but it is one which,
though it may not make him moral, is likely to make him decorous, and to
preserve him from that brainless and heartless Yahooism, that disdain
of the character of women, and that brutal indifference to their misery,
which is the worst offence, and the severest punishment of the finished
libertine. Many of the pupils will, in all probability, continue to
reside with their parents or friends. We own that we can conceive no
situation more agreeable or more salutary. One of the worst effects
of College habits is that distaste for domestic life which they almost
inevitably generate. The system is monastic; and it tends to produce
the monastic selfishness, inattention to the convenience of others,
and impatience of petty privations. We mean no reproach. It is utterly
impossible that the most amiable man in the world can be accustomed to
live for {341}years independent of his neighbours, and to lay all his
plans with a view only to himself, without becoming, in some degree,
unfitted for a family. A course of education which should combine the
enjoyments of a home with the excitements of a University, would be more
likely than any other to form characters at once affectionate and manly.
Homebred boys, it is often said, are idle. The cause, we suspect, is the
want of competitors. We no more believe that a young man at the London
University would be made idle by the society of his mothers and sisters,
than that the old German warriors, or the combatants in the tournaments
of the middle ages, were made cowards by the presence of female
spectators. On the contrary, we are convinced that his ambition would
be at once animated and consecrated by daily intercourse with those who
would be dearest to him, and most inclined to rejoice in his success.

The eulogists of the old Universities are fond of dwelling on the
glorious associations connected with them. It has often been said that
the young scholar is likely to catch a generous enthusiasm from looking
upon spots ennobled by so many great names--that he can scarcely see the
chair in which Bentley sat, the tree which Alilton planted, the wadis
within which Wickliffe presided, the books illustrated by the autographs
of famous men, the halls hung with their pictures, the chapels hallowed
by their tombs, without aspiring to imitate those whom he admires. Far
be it from us to speak with disrespect of such feelings. It is possible
that the memorials of those who have asserted the freedom, and extended
the empire of the mind, may produce a strong impression on a sensitive
and ardent disposition. But these instances are rare. “Coram Lepidis
male vivitur.” Young academicians venture to get drunk within a few
yards of the grave of Newton, and to commit solecisms, though the
awful eye of Erasmus frowns upon them from the canvas. Some more homely
sentiment, some more obvious association is necessary. For our part,
when a young man is to be urged to persevering industry, and fortified
against the seductions of pleasure, we would rather send him to the
fireside of his own family, than to the abodes of philosophers who
died centuries ago,--and to those kind familiar faces which are always
anxious in his anxiety, and joyful in his success, than to the portrait
of any waiter that ever wore cap and gown.

The {342}cry against the London University lias been swelled by the
voices of many really conscientious persons. Many have joined in it from
the mere wanton love of mischief. But we believe that it has principally
originated in the jealousy of those who are attached to Cambridge
and Oxford, either by their interests, or by those feelings which men
naturally entertain towards the place of their education, and which,
when they do not interfere with schemes of public advantage, are
entitled to respect. Many of these persons, we suspect, entertain
a vague apprehension, scarcely avowed even to themselves, that some
defects in the constitution of their favourite Academies will be
rendered more glaring by the contrast which the system of this new
College will exhibit.

That there are such defects, great and radical defects in the structure
of the two Universities, we are strongly inclined to believe: and
the jealousy which many of their members have expressed of the new
Institution greatly strengthens our opinion. What those defects appear
to us to be, we shall attempt to state with frankness, but, at the same
time, we trust, with candour.

We are sensible that we have undertaken a dangerous task. There is
perhaps no subject on which more people have made up their minds without
knowing why. Whenever this is the case, discussion ends in scurrility,
the last resource of the disputant who cannot answer, and who will not
submit. The scurrility of those who are scurrilous on all occasions, and
against all opponents, by nature and by habit, by taste and by trade,
can excite only the mirth or the pity of a well regulated mind. But we
neither posess, nor affect to possess, that degree of philosophy, which
would render us indifferent to the pain and resentment of sincere and
respectable persons, whose prejudices we are compelled to assail. It is
not in the bitterness of party spirit, it is not in the wantonness of
paradox and declamation, that we would put to hazard the good will
of learned and estimable men. Such a sacrifice must be powerful, and
nothing but a sense of public duty would lead us to make it. We would
earnestly entreat the admirers of the two Universities to reflect on the
importance of this subject, the advantages of calm investigation, and
the folly of trusting, in an age like the present, to mere dogmatism
and invective. If the system which {343}they love and venerate rest upon
just principles, the examination which we propose to institute, into
the state of its foundations, can only serve to prove their solidity. If
they be unsound, we will not permit ourselves to think, that intelligent
and honourable men can wish to disguise a fact which, for the sake of
this country, and of the whole human race, ought to be widely known. Let
them, instead of reiterating assertions which leave the question exactly
where they found it; instead of turning away from all argument, as
if the subject were one on which doubt partook of the nature of sin;
instead of attributing to selfishness or malevolence, that which may at
worst be harmless error, join us in coolly studying so interesting and
momentous a point.--As to this, however, they will please themselves. We
speak to the English people. The public mind, if we are not deceived, is
approaching to manhood. It has outgrown its swaddling-bands, and thrown
away its play-things. It can no longer be amused by a rattle, or laid
asleep by a song, or awed by a fairy tale. At such a time, we cannot
doubt that we shall obtain an impartial hearing.

Our objections to Oxford and Cambridge may be summed up in two words,
their Wealth and their Privileges. Their prosperity does not depend on
the public approbation. It would therefore be strange if they deserved
the public approbation. Their revenues are immense. Their degrees are,
in some professions, indispensable. Like manufacturers who enjoy a
monopoly, they work at such an advantage, that they can venture to work

Every person, we presume, will acknowledge that, to establish an
academic system on immutable principles, would be the height of
absurdity. Every year sees the empire of science enlarged by the
acquisition of some new province, or improved by the construction of
some easier road. Surely the change which daily takes place in the state
of knowledge, ought to be accompanied by a corresponding change in the
method of instruction. In many cases the rude and imperfect works of
early speculators ought to give place to the more complete and luminous
performances of those who succeed them. Even the comparative value of
languages is subject to great fluctuations. The same tongue which at
one period may be richer than any other in valuable works, may, some
centuries after, be poorer than any. That, while such revolutions
{344}take place, education ought to remain unchanged, is a proposition
too absurd to be maintained for a moment.

If it be desirable that education should, by a gradual and constant
change, adapt itself to the circumstances of every generation, how
is this object to be secured? We answer--only by perfect freedom of
competition. Under such a system, every possible exigence would be met.
Whatever language, whatever art, whatever science, it might at any time
be useful to know, _that_, men would surely learn, and woidd as surely
find instructors to teach. The professor who should persist in devoting
his attention to branches of knowledge which had become useless, would
soon be deserted by his pupils. There would be as much of every sort of
information as would afford profit and pleasure to the possessor--and no

But the riches and the franchises of our Universities prevent this
salutary rivalry from taking place. In its stead is introduced an
unnatural system of premiums, prohibitions, and apprenticeships.
Enormous bounties are lavished on particular acquirements; and, in
consequence, there is among our youth a glut of Greek, Latin, and
Mathematics, and a lamentable scarcity of every thing else.

We are by no means inclined to depreciate the studies which are
encouraged at Oxford and Cambridge. We should reprobate with the same
severity a system tinder which a like exclusive protection should be
extended to French or Spanish, Chemistry or Mineralogy, Metaphysics
or Political Economy. Some of these branches of knowledge are very
important. But they may not always be equally important. Five hundred
years hence, the Burmese language may contain the most valuable books
in the world. Sciences, for which there is now no name, and of which
the first rudiments are still undiscovered, may then be in the greatest
demand. Our objection is to the principle. We abhor intellectual
perpetuities. A chartered and endowed College, strong in its wealth
and in its degrees, does not find it necessary to teach what is useful,
because it can pay men to learn what is useless. Every fashion which was
in vogue at the time of its foundation, enters into its constitution and
partakes of its immortality. Its abuses savour of the reality, and its
prejudices vest in mortmain, with its lands. In the present instance,
the consequences are notorious. We every day see clever {345}men of
four and five-and-twenty, loaded with academical honours and
rewards,---scholarships, fellowships, whole cabinets of medals, whole
shelves of prize books,--enter into life with their education still to
begin, unacquainted with the history, the literature, we might almost
say, the language of their country, unacquainted with the first
principles of the laws under which they live, unacquainted with the very
rudiments of moral and political science! Who will deny that this is the
state of things? Or who will venture to defend it?

This is no new complaint. Long before society had so far outstripped the
Colleges in the career of improvement as it has since done, the evil was
noticed and traced to its true cause, by that great philosopher who most
accurately mapped all the regions of science, and furnished the human
intellect with its most complete Itinerary. “It is not to be forgotten,”
 says Lord Bacon, “that the dedicating of foundations and donations
to professory learning, hath not only had a malign influence upon
the growth of sciences, but hath also been prejudicial to states and
governments: For hence it proceed-eth, that princes find a solitude in
respect of able men to serve them in causes of state, _because there is
no education collegiate which is free_, where such as were so disposed
might give themselves to histories, modern languages, books of policy
and civil discourse, and other like enablements unto causes of state.”
 The warmest admirers of the present system will hardly deny, that, if
this was an evil in the sixteenth century, it must be a much greater
evil in the nineteenth. The literature of Greece and Rome is now what
it was then. That of every modern language has received considerable
accessions. And surely, “books of policy and civil discourse” are as
important to an English gentleman of the present day, as they could be
to a subject of James the First.

We repeat, that we are not disparaging either the dead languages or the
exact sciences. We only say, that if they are useful they will not need
peculiar encouragement, and that, if they are useless, they ought not to
receive it. Those who maintain that the present system is necessary
to promote the study of classical and mathematical knowledge, are the
persons who really depreciate those pursuits. They do in (1) Advancement
of Learning, Book II.

In fact {346}declare, by implication, that neither amusement nor profit
is to be derived from them, and that no man has any motive to employ
his time upon them, unless he expects that they may help him to a

The utility of mathematical knowledge is felt in every part of the
system of life, and acknowledged by every rational man. But does it
therefore follow, that people ought to be paid to acquire it. A scarcity
of persons capable of making almanacks and measuring land, is as little
to be apprehended as a scarcity of blacksmiths. In fact, very few of
our academical mathematicians turn their knowledge to such practical
purposes. There are many wranglers who have never touched a quadrant.
What peculiar title then has the mere speculative knowledge of
mathematical truth to such costly remuneration? The answer is well
known. It makes men good reasoners: it habituates them to strict
accuracy in drawing inferences. In this statement there is
unquestionably some truth. A man who understands the nature of
mathematical reasoning, the closest of all kinds of reasoning, is likely
to reason better than another on points not mathematical, as a man who
can dance generally walks better than a man who cannot.. But no people
walk so ill as dancing-masters, and no people reason so ill as mere
mathematicians. They are accustomed to look only for one species of
evidence; a species of evidence of which the transactions of life do
not admit. When they come from certainties to probabilities, from a
syllogism to a witness, their superiority is at an end. They resemble
a man who, never having seen any object which was not either black or
white, should be required to discriminate between two near shades
of grey. Hence, on questions of religion, policy, or common life,
we perpetually see these boasted demonstrators either extravagantly
credulous, or extravagantly sceptical. That the science is a necessary
ingredient in a liberal education, we admit. But it is only an
ingredient, and an ingredient which is peculiarly dangerous, unless
diluted by a large admixture of others. To encourage it by such rewards
as are bestowed at Cambridge, is to make the occasional tonic of the
mind its morning and evening nutriment.

The partisans of classical literature are both more numerous and more
enthusiastic than the mathematicians; and the ignorant violence with
which their cause has sometimes been assailed, {347}has added to its
popularity. On this subject we are sure that we are at least impartial
judges. We feel the warmest admiration for the great remains of
antiquity. We gratefully acknowledge the benefits which mankind has owed
to them. But we would no more sutler a pernicious system to be protected
by the reverence which is due to them, than we would show our reverence
for a saint by erecting his shrine into a sanctuary for criminals.

An eloquent scholar has said, that ancient literature was the ark in
which all the civilization of the world was preserved during the deluge
of barbarism. We confess it. But we do not read that Noah thought
himself bound to live in the ark after the deluge had subsided. When
our ancestors first began to consider the study of the classics as the
principal part of education, little or nothing worth reading was to be
found in any modern language. Circumstances have confessedly changed. Is
it not possible that a change of system may be desirable?

Our opinion of the Latin tongue will, we fear, be considered heretical.
We cannot but think that its vocabulary is miserably poor, and its
mechanism deficient both in power and precision. The want of a definite
article, and of a distinction between the preterite and the aorist
tenses, are two defects which are alone sufficient to place it below any
other language with which we are acquainted. In its most flourishing
era it was reproached with poverty of expression. Cicero, indeed, was
induced, by his patriotic feelings to deny the charge. But the perpetual
recurrence of Greek words in his most hurried and familiar letters, and
the frequent use which he is compelled to make of them, in spite of all
his exertions to avoid them, in his philosophical works, fully prove
that even this great master of the Latin tongue felt the evil which he
laboured to conceal from others.

We do not think much better of the writers, as a body, than of the
language. The literature of Rome was born old. All the signs of
decrepitude were on it in the cradle. We look in vain for the sweet lisp
and the graceful wildness of an infant dialect. We look in vain for a
single great creative mind,--for a Homer or a Dante, a Shakspeare or a
Cervantes. In their place we have a crowd of fourth-rate and fifth-rate
authors, translators, and imitators without end. The rich heritage of
Grecian philosophy and poetry was fatal {348}to the Romans. They would
have acquired more wealth, if they had succeeded to less. Instead of
accumulating fresh intellectual treasures, they contented themselves
with enjoying, disposing in new forms, or impairing by an injudicious
management, those which they took by descent. Hence, in most of their
works, there is scarcely any thing spontaneous and racy, scarcely any
originality in the thoughts, scarcely any idiom in the style. Their
poetry tastes of the hot-house. It is trail-planted from Greece, with
the earth of Pindus clinging round its roots. It is nursed in careful
seclusion from the Italian air. The gardeners are often skilful; but the
fruit is almost always sickly. One hardy and prickly shrub, of genuine
Latin growth, must indeed be excepted. Satire was the only indigenous
produce of Roman talent; and, in our judgment, by far the best.

We are often told the Latin language is more strictly grammatical than
the English; and that it is, therefore, necessary to study it, in
order to speak English with elegance and accuracy. This is one of those
remarks which are repeated till they pass into axioms, only because they
have so little meaning, that nobody thinks it worth while to refute them
at their first appearance. If those who say that the Latin language is
more strictly grammatical than the English, mean only that it is
more regular, that there are fewer exceptions to its general laws of
derivation, inflection, and construction, we grant it. This is, at least
for the purposes of the orator and the poet, rather a defect than a
merit; but be it merit or defect, it can in no possible way facilitate
the acquisition of any other language. It would be about as reasonable
to say, that the simplicity of the Code Napoleon renders the study of
the laws of England easier than formerly. If it be meant, that the Latin
language is formed in more strict accordance with the general principles
of grammar than the English, that is to say, that the relations which
words bear to each other are more strictly analogous to the relations
between the ideas which they represent in Latin than in English, we
venture to doubt the fact. We are quite sure, that not one in ten
thousand of those who repeat the hackneyed remark on which we are
commenting, have ever considered whether there be any principles of
grammar whatever, anterior to positive enactment,--any solecism which is
a _malum in se_, as distinct from a _malum prohibitum_.

Or, if {349}we suppose that there exist such principles, is not the
circumstance, that a particular rule is found in one language and not in
another, a sufficient proof that it is not one of those principles? That
a man who knows Latin is likely to know English better than one who does
not, we do not dispute. But this advantage is not peculiar to the study
of Latin. Every language throws light on every other. There is not a
single foreign tongue which will not suggest to a man of sense some new
considerations respecting his own. We acknowledge, too, that the great
body of our educated countrymen learn to grammatieise their English by
means of their Latin. This, however, proves, not the usefulness of their
Latin, but the folly of their other instructors. Instead of being a
vindication of the present system of education, it is a high charge
against it. A man who thinks the knowledge of Latin essential to
the purity of English diction, either has never conversed with an
accomplished woman, or does not deserve to have conversed with her.
We are sure, that all persons who are in the habit of hearing public
speaking must have observed, that the orators who are fondest of quoting
Latin, are by no means the most scrupulous about marring their native
tongue. We could mention several Members of Parliament, who never fail
to usher in their scraps of Horace and Juvenal with half a dozen false
con cords.

The Latin language is principally valuable as an introduction to the
Greek, the insignificant portico of a most chaste and majestic fabric.
On this subject, our Confession of Faith will, we trust, be approved by
the most orthodox scholar. We cannot refuse our admiration to that most
wonderful and perfect machine of human thought, to the flexibility, the
harmony, the gigantic power, the exquisite delicacy, the infinite wealth
of words, the incomparable felicity of expression, in which are united
the energy of the English, the neatness of the French, the sweet and
infantine simplicity of the Tuscan. Of all dialects, it is the best
fitted for the purposes both of science and of elegant literature. The
philosophical vocabularies of ancient Rome, and of modern Europe, have
been derived from that of Athens. Yet none of the imitations has ever
approached the richness and precision of the original. It traces with
ease distinctions so subtle, as to be lost in every other language. It
draws lines where all the other instruments {350}of the reason only make
blots. Nor is it less distinguished by the facilities which it affords
to the poet. There are pages even in the Greek Dictionaries over which
it is impossible to glance without delight. Every word suggests some
pleasant or striking image, which, wholly unconnected as it is with that
which precedes or that which follows, gives the same, sort of pleasure
with that which we derive from reading the Adonais of poor Shelley, or
from looking at those elegant, though unmeaning friezes, in which the
eye wanders along a line of beautiful faces, graceful draperies, stags,
chariots, altars, and garlands. The literature is not unworthy of the
language. It may boast of four poets of the very first order, Homer,
Æschylus. Sophocles, and Aristophanes,--of Demosthenes, the greatest of
orators--of Aristotle, who is perhaps entitled to the same rank among
philosophers, and of Plato, who, if not the most satisfactory of
philosophers, is at least the most fascinating. These are the great
names of Greece; and to these is to be added a long list of ingenious
moralists, wits, and rhetoricians, of poets who, in the lower
departments of their art, deserve the greatest praise, and of historians
who, at least in the talent of narration, have never been equalled.

It was justly said by the Emperor Charles the Fifth, that to learn a new
language was to acquire a new soul. He who is acquainted only with the
writers of his native tongue, is in perpetual danger of confounding what
is accidental with what is essential, and of supposing that tastes and
habits of thought, which belong only to his own age and country, are
inseparable from the nature of man. Initiated into foreign literature,
he finds that principles of politics and morals, directly contrary to
those which he has hitherto supposed to be unquestionable, because he
never heard them questioned, have been held by large and enlightened
communities; that feelings, which are so universal among his
contemporaries, that he had supposed them instinctive, have been unknown
to whole generations; that images, which have never failed to excite the
ridicule of those among whom he has lived, have been thought sublime by
millions. He thus loses that Chinese cast of mind, that stupid contempt
for every thing beyond the wall of his celestial empire, which was the
effect of his former ignorance. New associations take place among his
ideas. He doubts where he formerly dogmatised. He tolerates {351}where
he formerly execrated. He ceases to confound that which is universal
and eternal in human passions and opinions with that which is local and
temporary. This is one of the most useful effects which results from
studying the literature of other countries; and it is one which the
remains of Greece, composed at a remote period, and in a state of
society widely different from our own, are peculiarly calculated to

But, though we are sensible that great advantages may be derived from
the study of the Greek language, we think that they may be purchased at
too high a price: And we think that seven or eight years of the life of
a man who is to enter into active life at two or three-and-twenty,
is too high a price. Those are bad economists who look only to the
excellence of the article for which they are bargaining, and never ask
about the cost. The cost, in the present instance, is too often
the whole of that invaluable portion of time during which a fund of
intellectual pleasure is to be stored up and the foundations of
wisdom and usefulness laid. No person doubts that much knowledge may be
obtained from the Classics. It is equally certain that much gold may be
found in Spain. But it by no moans necessarily follows, that it is wise
to work the Spanish mines, or to learn the ancient languages. Before the
voyage of Columbus, Spain supplied all Europe with the precious metals.
The discovery of America changed the state of things. New mines were
found, from which gold could be procured in greater plenty, and with
less labour. The old works were therefore abandoned--it being manifest
those who persisted in laying out capital on them would be undersold and
ruined. A new world of literature and science has also been discovered.
New veins of intellectual wealth have been laid open. But a monstrous
system of bounties and prohibitions compels us still to go on delving
for a few glittering grains in the dark and laborious shaft of
antiquity, instead of penetrating a district which would reward a less
painful search with a more lucrative return. If, after the conquest
of Pern, Spain had enacted that, in order to enable the old mines to
maintain a competition against the new, a hundred pistoles should be
given to every person who should extract an ounce of gold from them, the
parallel would be complete.

We will admit that the Greek language is a more valuable language
{352}than the French, the Italian, or the Spanish. But whether it be
more valuable than all the three together, may be doubted; and that
all the three may be acquired in less than half the time in which it is
possible to become thoroughly acquainted with the Greek, admits of
no doubt at all. Nor does the evil end here. Not only do the modern
dialects of the Continent receive less attention than they deserve, but
our own tongue, second to that of Greece alone in force and copiousness,
our own literature, second to none that ever existed, so rich in poetry,
in eloquence, in philosophy, is unpardonably neglected. All the nineteen
plays of Euripides are digested, from the first bubbling froth of the
Hecuba to the last vapid dregs of the Electra; while our own sweet
Fletcher, the second name of the modern drama, in spite of all the
brilliancy of his wit, and all the luxury of his tenderness, is suffered
to be neglected. The Essay on the Human Understanding is abandoned for
the Theotetus and the Phoedon. We have known the dates of all the petty
skirmisher, of the Peloponnesian war carefully transcribed and committed
to memory, by a man who thought that Hyde and Clarendon were two
different persons! That such a man has paid a dear price for his
learning, will be admitted. But, it may be said, he has at least
something to show for it. Unhappily he has sacrificed, in order to
acquire it, the very things without which it was impossible for him to
use it. He has acted like a man living in a small lodging, who, instead
of spending his money in enlarging his apartments and fitting them up
commodiously, should lay it all out on furniture fit only for Chatsworth
or Belvoir. His little rooms are blocked up with bales of rich stuffs
and heaps of gilded ornaments, which have cost more than he ean afford,
yet which he has no opportunity and no room to display. Elegant and
precious in themselves, they are here utterly out of place; and their
possessor finds that, at a ruinous expense, he has bought nothing
but inconvenience and ridicule. Who has not seen men to whom ancient
learning is an absolute curse, who have laboured only to accumulate what
they cannot enjoy? They come forth into the world, expecting to find
only a larger university. They find that they are surrounded by people
who have not the least respect for the skill with which they detect
etymologies, and twist corrupt Epodes into something like meaning.
Classical knowledge is indeed valued by all intelligent {353}men; but
not such classical knowledge as theirs. To be prized by the public, it
must be refined from its grosser particles, burnished into splendour,
formed into graceful ornaments, or into current coin. Learning in the
ore, learning with all the dross around it, is nothing to the common
spectator. He prefers the cheapest tinsel; and leaves the rare and
valuable clod, to the few who have the skill to detect its qualities,
and the curiosity to prize them.

No man, we allow, can be said to have received a complete and liberal
education, unless he have acquired a knowledge of the ancient languages.
But not one gentleman in fifty can possibly receive what we should
call a complete and liberal education. That term includes not only the
ancient languages, but those of France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. It
includes mathematics, the experimental sciences, and moral philosophy.
An intimate acquaintance both with the profound and polite parts of
English literature is indispensable. Few of those who are intended for
professional or commercial life can find time for all these studies. It
necessarily follows, that some portion of them must be given up: And the
question is, what portion? We say, provide for the mind as you provide
for the body,--first necessaries,--then conveniences,--lastly luxuries.
Under which of those heads do the Greek and Latin languages come?
Surely under the last. Of all the pursuits which we have mentioned, they
require the greatest sacrifice of time. He who can afford time for them,
and for the others also, is perfectly right in acquiring them. He who
cannot, will, if he is wise, be content to go without them. If a man is
able to continue his studies till his twenty-eighth or thirtieth year,
by all means let him learn Latin and Greek. If he must terminate them at
one-and-twenty, we should in general advise him to be satisfied with the
modern languages. If he is forced to enter into active life at fifteen
or sixteen, we should think it best that he should confine himself
almost entirely to his native tongue, and thoroughly imbue his mind with
the spirit of its best writers. But no! The artificial restraints and
encouragements which our academic system has introduced have altogether
_reversed_ this natural and salutary order of things. We deny ourselves
what is indispensable, that we may procure what is superfluous. We act
like a day-labourer who should stint himself in bread, that he might
now and then treat {354}himself with a pottle of January strawberries.
Cicero tells us, in the Offices, a whimsical anecdote of Cato the
Censor. Somebody asked him what was the best mode of employing capital,
he said, To farm pood pasture land. What the next? To farm middling
pasture land. What next? To farm bad pasture land. Now the notions which
prevail in England respecting classical learning seem to us very much
to resemble those which the old Roman entertained with regard to his
favourite method of cultivation. Is a young man able to spare the time
necessary for passing through the University? Make him a good classical
scholar! But a second, instead of residing at the University, must go
into business when he leaves school. Make him then a tolerable classical
scholar! A third has still less time for snatching up knowledge, and
is destined for active employment while still a boy. Make him a bad
classical scholar! If he does not become a Flaminius, or a Buchanan, he
may learn to write nonsense verses. If he does not get on to Horace, he
may read the first book of Cæsar. If there is not time even for such
a degree of improvement, he may at least be flogged through that
immemorial vestibule of learning. “Quis doeet? Who teacheth? Magister
doeet. The master teacheth.” Would to heaven that he taught something
better worth knowing!

All these evils are produced by the state of our Universities. Where
they lead, those who prepare pupils for them, are forced to follow.
Under a free system, the ancient languages would be less read, but quite
as much enjoyed. We should not see so many lads who have a smattering of
Latin and Greek, from which they derive no pleasure, and which, as soon
as they are at liberty, they make all possible haste to forget. It
must be owned, also, that there would be fewer young men really well
acquainted with the ancient tongues. But there would be many more
who had treasured up useful and agreeable information. Those who were
compelled to bring their studies to an early close, would turn their
attention to objects easily attainable. Those who enjoyed a longer
space of literary leisure, would still exert themselves to acquire the
classical languages. They would study them, not for any direct emolument
which they would expect from the acquisition, but for their own
intrinsic value. Their number would be smaller, no doubt, than that of
present aspirants after {355}classical honours. But they would not, like
most of those aspirants, leave Homer and Demosthenes to gather dust on
the shelves, as soon as the temporary purpose had been served. There
would be fewer good scholars of twenty-five; but we believe that there
would be quite as many of fifty.

Hitherto we have argued on the hypothesis most favourable to the
Universities. We have supposed that the bounties which they offer to
certain studies are fairly bestowed on those who excel. The fact however
is, that they are in many cases appropriated to particular counties,
parishes, or names. The effect of the former system is to encourage
studies of secondary importance, at the expense of those which are
entitled to preference. The effect of the latter is to encourage
total idleness. It has been also asserted, that at some Colleges the
distributors of fellowships and scholarships have allowed themselves
to be influenced by party spirit, or personal animosity. On this
point, however, we will not insist. We wish to expose the vices, not
of individuals, but of the system. Indeed, in what we have hitherto
written, we have generally had in our eye a College which exhibits that
system in the most favourable light,--a College in which the evils which
we have noticed are as much as possible alleviated by an enlightened
and liberal administration,--a College not less distinguished by its
opulence and splendour, than by the eminent talents of many of its
members, by the freedom and impartiality of its elections, by the
disposition which it has always shown to adopt improvements not
inconsistent with its original constitution, and by the noble spirit
with which it has supported the cause of civil and religious liberty.

We have hitherto reasoned as if all the students at our Universities
learnt those things which the Universities profess to teach. But this
is, notoriously, not the fact--and the cause is evident. All who wish
for degrees must reside at College; but only those who expect to obtain
prizes and fellowships apply themselves with vigour to classical and
mathematical pursuits. The great majority have no inducement whatever
to exert themselves. They have no hope of obtaining the premium; and
no value for the knowledge without the premium. For the acquisition of
other kinds of knowledge the Universities afford no peculiar facilities.

Hence {356}proceeds the general idleness of collegians. Not one in ten
we venture to say, ever makes any considerable proficiency in those
pursuits to which every thing else is sacrificed. A very large
proportion carry away from the University less of ancient literature
than they brought thither. It is quite absurd to attribute such a state
of tilings to the indolence and levity of youth. Nothing like it is
seen elsewhere. There are idle lads, no doubt, among those who walk the
hospitals, who sit at the desks of bankers, and serve at the counters of
tradesmen. But what, after all, is the degree of _their_ idleness, and
what proportion do they bear to those who are active? Is it not the most
common thing in the world, to see men who have passed their time at
College in mere trifling, display the greatest energy as soon as they
enter on the business of life, and become profound lawyers, skilful
physicians, eminent writers? How can those things be explained, but
by supposing that most of those who are compelled to reside at the
Universities have no motive to learn what is taught there? Who ever
employed a French master for four years without improving himself in
French? The reason is plain. No man employs such a master, but from a
wish to become acquainted with the language; and the same wish leads him
to apply vigorously to it. Of those who go to our Universities, on the
other hand, a large proportion are attracted, not by their desire to
learn the things studied there, but by their wish to acquire certain
privileges, which residence confers alike on the idle and on the
diligent. Try the same experiment with the French language. Erect the
teachers of it into a corporation. Give them the power of conferring
degrees. Enact that no person who cannot produce a certificate,
attesting that he has been for a certain number of years a student at
this academy, shall be suffered to keep a shop; and we will venture to
predict, that there will soon be thousands, who, after having wasted
their money and their time in a formal attendance on lectures and
examinations, will not understand the meaning of _Parlez-vous Français?_

It is the general course of those who patronise an abuse to attribute to
it every thing good which exists in spite of it. Thus, the defenders of
our Universities commonly take it for granted, that we are indebted to
them for all the talent which they have not been able to destroy. It is
usual, when their merits {357}come under discussion, to enumerate very
pompously all the great men whom they have produced; as if great men had
not appeared under every system of education. Great men were trained
in the schools of the Greek sophists and Arabian astrologers, of the
Jesuits and the Jansenists. There were great men when nothing was taught
but School Divinity and Canon Law; and there would still be great men
if nothing were taught but the fooleries of Spurzheim and Swedenberg. A
long list of eminent names is no more a proof of the excellence of onr
Academic institutions, than the commercial prosperity of the country
is a proof of the utility of restrictions in trade. No financial
regulations, however absurd and pernicious, can prevent a people amongst
whom property is secure, and the motive to accumulate consequently
strong, from becoming rich. The energy with which every individual
struggles to advance, more than counteracts the retarding force, and
carries him forward, though at a slower rate, than if he were left at
liberty. It is the same with restrictions which prevent the intellect
from taking the direction which existing circumstances point out. They
do harm. But they cannot wholly prevent other causes from producing
good. In a country in which public opinion is powerful, in which talents
properly directed are sure to raise their professor to distinction,
ardent and aspiring minds will surmount all the obstacles which may
oppose their career. It is amongst persons who are engaged in public and
professional life that genius is most likely to be developed. Of these a
large portion is necessarily sent to our English Universities. It would,
therefore, be wonderful if the Universities could not boast of many
considerable men. Yet, after all, we are not sure whether, if we were
to pass in review the Houses of Parliament and the English and Scottish
Bar, the result of the investigation would be so favourable as is
commonly supposed to Oxford and Cambridge. And of this we are sure, that
many persons who, since they have risen to eminence, are perpetually
cited as proofs of the beneficial tendency of English education, were
at College never mentioned but as idle, frivolous men, fond of desultory
reading, and negligent of the studies of the place. It would be.
indelicate to name the living; but we may venture to speak more
particularly of the dead. It is truly curious to observe the use which
is made in such discussions {358}as those, of names which we acknowledge
to be glorious, but in which the Colleges have no reason to glory,--that
of Bacon, who reprobated their fundamental constitution; of Dryden, who
abjured his _Alma Muter_, and regretted that he had passed his youth
under her cure; of Locke, who was censured and expelled; of Milton,
whose person was outraged at one University, and whose works were
committed to the flames at the other!

That in particular cases an University education may have produced
good effects, we do not dispute. But as to the great body of those
who receive it, we have no hesitation in saying, that their minds
permanently suffer from it. All the time which they can devote to the
acquisition of speculative knowledge is wasted, and they have to enter
into active life without it. They are compelled to plunge into the
details of business, and are left to pick up general principles as they
may. From all that we have seen and heard, we are inclined to suspect,
in spite of all our patriotic prejudices, that the young men, we mean
the very young men, of England, are not equal as a body to those of
France, Germany, or Russia. They reason less justly, and the subjects
with which they are chiefly conversant are less manly. As they grow
older, they doubtless improve. Surrounded by a free people, enlightened
by a free press, with the means of knowledge placed within their reach,
and the rewards of exertion sparkling in their sight, it would indeed be
strange if they did not in a great measure recover the superiority which
they had lost. The finished men of England may, we allow, challenge a
comparison with those of any nation. Yet our advantages are not so
great that we can afford to sacrifice any of them. We do not proceed so
rapidly, that we can prudently imitate the example of Lightfoot in
the Nursery Tale, who never ran a race without tying his legs. The bad
effects of our University system may be traced to the very last, in many
eminent and respectable men. They have acquired great skill in business,
they have laid up great stores of information. But something is still
wanting. The superstructure is vast and splendid; but the foundations
are unsound. It is evident that their knowledge is not systematised;
that, however well they may argue on particular points, they have not
that amplitude and intrepidity of intellect which it is the first object
of education to produce. They hate abstract reasoning. {359}The very
name of theory is terrible to them. They seem to think that the use of
experience is not to lead men to the knowledge of general principles,
but to prevent them from ever thinking about general principles at all.
They may play at bo-peep with truth; but they never get a full view
of it in all its proportions. The cause we believe is, that they
have passed those years during which the mind frequently acquires
the character which it ever after retains, in studies, which, when
exclusively pursued, have no tendency to strengthen or expand it.

From these radical defects of the old foundations the London University
is free. It cannot cry up one study or cry down another. It has no means
of bribing one man to learn what it is of no use to him to know, or of
exacting a mock attendance from another who learns nothing at all. To be
prosperous, it must be useful.

We would not be too sanguine. But there are signs of these times, and
principles of human nature, to which we trust as firmly as ever any
ancient astrologer trusted to the rules of his science. Judging from
these, we will venture to cast the horoscope of the infant Institution.
We predict, that the clamour by which it has been assailed will die
away,--that it is destined to a long, a glorious, and a beneficent
existence,--that, while the spirit of its system remains unchanged, the
details will vary with the varying necessities and facilities of every
age,--that it will be the model of many future establishments--that even
those haughty foundations which now treat it with contempt, will in some
degree feel its salutary influence,--and that the approbation of a great
people, to whose wisdom, energy and virtue, its exertions will have
largely contributed, will confer on it a dignity more imposing than any
which it could derive from the most lucrative patronage, or the most
splendid ceremonial.

Even those who think our hopes extravagant, must own that no positive
harm has been even suggested as likely to result from this Institution.
All the imputed sins of its founders are sins of omission. Whatever
may be thought of them, it is surely better that something should be
omitted, than that nothing should be done. The Universities it can
injure in one way only--by surpassing them. This danger no sincere
admirer of these bodies can apprehend. As for those who, believing that
the project really tends to the good of {360}the country, continue to
throw obloquy upon it--and that there are such men we believe--to them
we have nothing to say. We have no hope of converting them; no wish
to revile them. Let them quibble, declaim, sneer, calumniate. Their
punishment is to be what they are.

For us, our part has been deliberately chosen--and shall be manfully
sustained. We entertain a firm conviction that the principles of
liberty, as in government and trade, so also in education, are
all-important to the happiness of mankind. To the triumph of those
principles we look forward, not, we trust, with a fanatical confidence,
but assuredly with a cheerful and steadfast hope. Their nature may be
misunderstood. Their progress may be retarded. They may be maligned,
derided, nay at times exploded, and apparently forgotten. But we do,
in our souls, believe that they are strong with the strength, and quick
with the vitality of truth; that when they fall, it is to rebound; that
when they recede, it is to spring forward with greater elasticity; that
when they seem to perish, there are the seeds of renovation in their
very decay--and that their influence will continue to bless distant
generations, when infamy itself shall have ceased to rescue from
oblivion the arts and the names of those who have opposed them, the
dupe, the dissembler, the bigot, the hireling--the buffoon and the
sarcasm, the liar and the he!


(_Edinburgh Review_, March, 1827.)

It {361}was not till a short time back that we entertained the
slightest intention of criticising the speculations of Major Moody. We
had supposed that they would of course pass in their infancy to that
Limbo which is ordained for Laureate Odes, old Court Kalendars, and
Sermons printed at the request of Congregations. That a Commissioner
should write a dull Report, and that the Government should give him a
place for it, are events by no means so rare as to call for notice. Of
late, however, we have with great surprise discovered, that the books of
the Major have been added to the political canon of Downing-Street,
and that it has become quite a fashion among statesmen who are still
in their novitiate, to talk about physical causes and the philosophy
of labour. As the doctrines which, from some inexplicable cause, have
acquired so much popularity, appear to us both false and pernicious,
we shall attempt, with as much brevity as possible, to expose their

There are stars, it is said, of which the light has not yet travelled
through the space that separates them from the eye of man; and it is
possible that the blaze of glory which dazzles all the young politicians
between Charing-Cross and Westminster Hall may not yet have reached our

     (1) Art. VI. 1. _Papers relating to Captured Negroes. No. I.
     Tortola_ Schedules. Ordered by the House of Commons to be
     printed, 16th, March 1825.

     2. _Further Papers relating to Captured Negroes. No. II.
     Separate Report of John Dougan, Esq. No. III. Separate
     Report of Major Thomas Moody._ Ordered by the House of
     Commons to be printed, 10th Mardi 1825.

     3. _Second Part of Major Moody’s Report_. Ordered by the
     House of Commons to be printed, 24th February 1820.

remote {362}readers. In order, therefore, that our remarks on the Report
of Major Moody may he clearly understood, we shall give a short account
of the circumstances under which it appeared.

By the Act which abolished the trade in slaves, the King was empowered
to make regulations for the employment and support of Negroes, who,
under the provisions of that Act, or in the course of hostilities with
foreign States, might be rescued from their kidnappers. Some of these
liberated Africans were, in consequence, admitted into the army and the
navy. Others were bound apprentices in the colonies: and of these last
many were settled at Tortola.

In the year 1821, the House of Commons presented an address to the King,
requesting that commissioners might be sent to ascertain the condition
of these people, and to report it to the Government. Major Moody
was selected for this purpose by the Colonial Office. Mr. Dougan, a
gentleman to whose talents and integrity the Major bears the highest
testimony, was joined with him in the commission. But Mr. Dougan,
whatever his good qualities may have been, was under the influence of
some unhappy prejudices, from which his colleague appears to have been
wholly free, he had been led to adopt the extravagant notion that the
Africans were his fellow-creatures; and this delusion betrayed him into
errors which Major Moody, to his eternal honour, endeavours to palliate,
but which a less candid and amiable censor would have stigmatized with
the severest reprehension. Our readers will be shocked to hear that an
English gentleman actually desired a black apprentice, during a long
examination, to take a seat! and they will be touched by the delicacy
and generosity of the Major, who mentions this disgrace! ill occurrence
“only,” as he says, “to show the bias on the mind of his colleague when
one of the African race was concerned with a white person.” (1)

At length some female Africans in the service of a person named Maclean,
were brought before the Commissioners. By their statement, and by the
confession of the master himself, it appeared that they had been cruelly
treated. Maclean, too, it appeared, had no legal right to them: for they
had been originally apprenticed to another person, and the

     (1) First Part of Major Moody’s Report, page 103.

indentures {363}had never been transferred. Mr. Dougan thought it
desirable to take advantage of this circumstance, and at once to place
them in a more comfortable situation; and he prevailed on his
colleague to concur with him in recommending the case to the particular
consideration of the collector. In the mean time, however, Maclean wrote
to the Commissioners, requesting them to revise their proceedings, and
most impudently telling them, at the same time, _that he had whipped the
apprentices with tamarind switches for daring to bear evidence against
him!_ Mr. Dougan seems to have imagined that such conduct was grossly
insulting to the Commissioners, and to the government which employed
them. He probably thought, too, that to re-examine persons who had been
flogged for what they had stated on a former examination, would be to
violate every principle of equity and reason. On this point, it Appears
that Major Moody was of a different opinion; and conceived that truth
was likely enough to be obtained from a witness who had just learned
that if his evidence be disagreeable to the accused party, he will
undergo severe chastisement. A rupture took place. The apprentices, we
should perhaps say the slaves, remained with Maclean; and Mr. Dougan
returned to England.

But we really cannot continue to speak ironically on a subject so
serious. We do earnestly and gravely assure Major Moody, that we think
his conduct, on this occasion, most unjust and unreasonable. Lord
Bathurst seems to have entertained the same opinion: For in consequence
of orders sent out from England, the wretched women were taken from
Maclean and apprenticed to another master.

Mr. Dougan now returned to the West Indies; and the disputes between him
and his colleague recommenced. At length both were recalled. Mr. Dougan
drew up a report of the proceedings under the commission. The Major
refused to concur in it, and presented a separate statement in answer to
it. Mr. Dougan, while labouring under a fatal malady, prepared a reply.
This document has, since his death, been transmitted to the Colonial
Office, and will, of course, be published with all expedition.

Mr. Dougan thought it sufficient to perform the duty with which he was
charged. His report is therefore, what it professes to be, an account
of the condition of the liberated Africans. {364}But the genius of the
Major was not to be confined within limits so narrow. He had command,
without stint, of the public paper and the publie type. He conceived
that the opportunity was not to be lost--that now or never was the time
to be a philosopher like his neighbours, and to have a system of his
own, which might be called after his name. The history of the liberated
Africans forms, therefore, a mere episode in his plan. His report is, in
substance, a defence of West Indian slavery, on certain new principles,
which constitute what he is pleased to call the Philosophy of Labour.

His theory has met with a very flattering reception from those who
are favourably inclined to the Colonial system, because they dread
innovation, because they hate the saints, or because they have mortgages
on West Indian plantations. Unable themselves to defend their opinion,
but obstinately determined not to renounce it, they are pleased with a
writer who abounds in phrases which sound as if they meant something,
and which, in the chat of a drawing-room, or in the leading article of a
newspaper, supply the place of a reason very creditably.

We come to the consideration of the Report with no such bias upon our
minds, and we have, therefore, formed a very different estimate of it.
We think that it is, in matter and manner, the worst state-paper that we
ever saw. The style is the jargon of a tenth-rate novelist, engrafted
on that of a tenth-rate pamphleteer. It abounds with that vague diction
which the political winters of France have invented, and by which they
often contrive to keep up appearances in spite of the most abject mental
poverty. At certain distances, and in certain lights, this paltry
and pinchbeck logic serves its purpose respectably; and to this,
unquestionably, the Major owes the greater part of his reputation. The
highest compliment which we can, with any sincerity, pay to him, is to
say, that he has some faults in common with Montesquieu--a writer whom
he evidently regards with great admiration. He calls one of the silliest
remarks of the lively president profound--an epithet which would have
amazed us if we had not recollected that the terms in which we describe
magnitudes, whether material or intellectual, are only relative,--that
the Grildrig of Brobdignag may be the Quinbus Flestrin of Lilliput. The
theories of Montesquieu are gone where the {365}theories of the Major
will soon go. But though Montesquieu could not keep his doctrines alive,
he understood how to embalm them. Their mummies are beyond all price.
The mouldering remains are valued, for the sake of the intricate folds
in which they are swathed up, the sweet and pungent spices with which
they are seasoned, and the gilded hieroglyphics with which they are
emblazoned. The Major has no such skill. Abundance of italics, and
occasional flowers of speech from the Emmelines and Adelines of the
Minerva Press, are the only ornaments which set off his speculations. If
our object were to render him ridiculous, we could easily fill our
pages with solecisms, with affected phrases, with sentences of which
the obscurity would leave the most sagacious interpreter at a fault. But
this is not our intention. We shall direct our attacks against the great
principles of his theory. To find these out, indeed, is no easy task.
For the work has neither beginning nor end. The author, instead of
taking the trouble to state his propositions, and class his arguments
for himself, has left the whole of that task to his opponents, and
has made it as difficult as possible by the most elaborate artifice of
disorder. We shall do our best, however, to perform it faithfully,
and to separate the most important passages from much curious matter
concerning the feudal system--the chisel of Phidias--the marriage in
Cana of Galilee--the difference between Theory and Practice--the choice
of Hercules--the peace and happiness of rural life--the rape of the
Sabines--the Supreme Being--and Major Moody himself.

The first great principle, then, which the Major professes to have
discovered is this, that there exists between the White and Black races
an instinctive and unconquerable aversion, which must forever frustrate
all hopes of seeing them unite in one society on equal terms. We
shall consider in succession the facts from which he draws this bold

By the constitution of Hayti, it seems, no white man of any nation can
be a master or proprietor in that island. From this circumstance the
Major deduces the following inferences.

“_It seems as if each party, when in power, acts as if it was mutually
thought the two races could not exist together, in the same community,
with equal political powers, from the operation of some powerful causes,
{366}which do not appear to have been felt in England in former ages,
when lier inhabitants were composed of freemen and slaves, or when
national distinctions among people living in the same country formed a
political barrier between Britons and Romans, or Saxons and Normans.”_(1)

Moreover a young Haytian, named Moyse, about thirty years ago,
complained of the attention which Toussaint Louvertu re paid to the
interests of the Europeans, and declared that he should never like the
whites till they should restore to him the eye which he had lost in
battle, with them! This last important anecdote, the Major prints in
italics, as quite decisive. (2) The poor Haytian must have been best
acquainted with the origin of his own feelings; and, as he ascribed them
to a cause which might well account for them, it is difficult to divine
why any other should be assigned. The liberality of Toussaint, also, is
at least as strong an argument against the hypothesis of Major Moody, as
the animosity of Moyse can be in its favour.

From the law which declares white men incapable of becoming proprietors
in Hayti, nothing can be inferred. Such prohibitions are exceedingly
foolish; but they have existed, as every person knows who knows any
thing of history, in cases where no natural antipathy can be supposed to
have produced them. We need not refer to the measures which the Kings of
Spain adopted against their Moorish subjects--to that tyranny of nation
over nation which has, in every age, been the curse of Asia--or to the
jealous policy which excludes strangers, of all races, from the interior
of China and Japan. Our own country will furnish an example strictly in
point. By the common law of England, no alien whatever can hold
land, even as a tenant. The natives of Scotland remained under this
incapacity, till the two divisions of the island were united under James
the First: and even then, the national prejudice was strong against the
removal of the disability. The House of Commons was decidedly averse
to it. The Court, in consequence, had recourse to a measure grossly
unconstitutional. The Judges were persuaded to _declare_ that to be law
which the Parliament could not be persuaded to _make_ law; and even thus
it was found impossible to remove the restriction from Scotchmen born
before the Union of the Crowns.

     (1) Major Moody’s Second Report, p. 29.

     (2) Ibid. p. 45.

The {367}Major ought to be well acquainted with these proceedings. For
Lord Bacon, of whom he professes himself a disciple, appeared as counsel
for the post-nati. It is amusing to consider what the feelings of that
illustrious man would have been, if some half-taught smatterer of his
philosophy had risen to oppose him with such arguments as these. “The
English can never amalgamate with any foreign nation. The existence
and the popularity of such a law as this sufficiently prove that
some powerful cause operates upon our countrymen, which does not act
elsewhere. Our ancestors always felt that, although in other countries
foreigners may be permitted and even encouraged by the natives to settle
among them, no such mixture could take place here. I have been credibly
informed also, that a Scotchman whose eye was struck out in a fray
forty years back, swore that he never could bear the sight of a Southern
after.” With what a look would Sir Francis have risen to annihilate such
an argument! What mirth would have shone in his eyes! What unsavoury
similitudes would have risen to his lips! With what confusion would the
dabbler in experimental science have shrunk from a conflict with that
all-embracing and all-penetrating mind, which fancy had elevated but
not inebriated, which professional study had rendered subtle, but could
not render narrow. As the Major seems very willing to be an experimental
philosopher, if he knew how to set about it, we will give him one
general rule, of which he seems never to have heard. It is this. When
the phenomena can be explained by circumstances which, on grounds
distinct from those phenomena, we know to exist, we must not resort
to hypothetical solutions. We are not entitled to attribute the hatred
which the Haytian Blacks may have felt towards the Whites to any latent
physical cause, till we have shown that the ordinary principles of human
nature will not explain it. Is it not natural, then, that men should
hate those by whom they have been held in slavery, and to whom they have
subsequently been opposed in a war of peculiar ferocity? Is it not also
perfectly agreeable to that law of association, from which so large a
portion of our pains and pleasures is derived, that what we have long
regarded as a distinguishing badge of those whom we hate should itself
become hateful to us? If these questions be answered in the affirmative,
the aversion {368}which the Haytian Negroes are said to entertain
towards the Whites is at once explained.

The same remark applies to all that the Major has said respecting the
state of public feeling in North America. The facts of the case he has
stated quite correctly. It is true that, even in those States of the
Union which have abolished slavery, the free Blacks are still regarded
with disgust and contempt. The most benevolent inhabitants of New
England and New York, conceive that liberty itself will scarcely be a
blessing to the African, unless measures be taken for removing him to
some country where he may not be reminded of his inferiority by daily
insults and privations. Hence Major Moody thought himself, as he tells
us,--“_justified in the inference, that some powerful causes must be
in action, and that those of a physical nature had not been overcome by
mere legal exactments_.” (1)

It cannot be doubted that some powerful cause has been in action. But
that it is a physical cause, is not quite so clear. The old laws have no
doubt produced a state of public feeling, which their repeal cannot at
once correct. In all the States the Negro colour _has been_ the livery
of servitude. In some it still _is_ so. The connexion between the
different commonwealths of the confederation is so close, that the state
of feeling in one place must be influenced by the state of the laws
in another. This consideration is surely sufficient to explain all the
circumstances to which the Major refers. It is for him to show, that an
aversion for which _slavery_ alone will sufficiently account is really
the effect of _blackness_. He would, we believe, find it as easy to
prove that there is something _naturally_ and universally loathsome in
the cut and colour of a prison uniform.

That the complexion of the free African renders his condition more
unfortunate, we acknowledge. But why does it produce this effect? Not,
surely, because _it is_ the degrading circumstance, but because it
is clear, instantaneous, and irrefragable _evidence_ of the degrading
circumstance. It is the only brand which cannot be counterfeited, and
which cannot be effaced. It is borne by slaves and their descendants;
and it is borne by no others. Let the Major prove, that, in any society
where personal bondage has never existed, the

     (1) Second Part of Major Moody’s Report, p. 27.

whites {369}and blacks have felt this mutual dislike. Till he can show
this, he does nothing.

But, it seems, an anonymous writer in South America, some years ago,
declared, that the blacks never could amalgamate with the whites. (1)
That a man who had passed his life among negro _slaves_ should transfer
to their colour the feelings of contempt with which he regarded their
condition, and the mean vices to which that condition necessarily gave
birth, was perfectly natural. That he should suppose a feeling, of which
he could not remember the origin, to be instinctive, was also natural.
The most profound thinkers have fallen into similar errors. But that
a man in England should believe all this, only because a man at Bogota
chose to write it, argues a strange degree of credulity. Such vague
authority is not sufficient to establish a fact. To quote it in support
of a general proposition, is an insult to common sense. The expressions
of this Columbian prove only, what the refusal of the Major to let a
negro sit in his presence proves as satisfactorily, that there are very
weak and very prejudiced people in the world.

Feelings exactly similar to those which are unhappily so common among
the whites of the United States, have often existed in cases where it is
impossible to attribute them to physical causes. From a time beyond the
researches of historians, an impassable gulf has separated the Brahmin
from the Paria. The Jews were long regarded by the Spaniards and
Portuguese with as much contempt and hatred as the white North American
feels for the man of colour. The cases, indeed, are strikingly similar.
The national features and rites of the Hebrews, like the black skin and
woolly hair of the Africans, visibly distinguished them from the rest of
the community. Every individual of the race bore about him the badges
of the synagogue. Baptism itself could not wash away the distinction.
Conversion might save him from the flames; but the stigma was
indelible--he bore it to the grave--he bequeathed it to his
children--his descendants, as long as their genealogy could be traced,
were objects of scorn to the poorest Castilian peasant, who gloried in
the name of an old Christian.

But we will not multiply examples in a case so plain. We hasten to
another argument, on which Major Moody

     (1) Second Part of Major Moody’s Report, p. 23. 24

dwells {370}with peculiar complacency. At this, indeed, we do not much
wonder. It is entirely his own. He is the first writer who ever used
it, and we venture to prophesy that he will be the last. We speak of
his remarks on the influence of the sexual passion. We will give his own

“_In such committees as I have referred to, an observer will not fail to
discover the want of a certain class of sympathies, which are daily seen
in action when men of the same race live together, even in republics,
like the United States of America, although a portion of the community
consisted of men of different nations and habits, but yet resembling
each other in external form, colour, features, &c.

“I allude to the extraordinary rarity of virtuous unions having taken
place between the males and females of the pure Negroes and the pure
Whites in America. I certainly have heard of such unions as in certain
classes of society are seen in London; but in America, they were
considered rather as very extraordinary occurrences, particularly if the
male should be a pure negro, and the female a pure white. On the other
hand, when the female is an African, lust, aided by fear or avarice, has
often led to an illicit union between the sexes....

“In the New World of America, virtuous unions between the extreme
colours of black and white are always considered something in violation
of the ordinary sympathies which spring from a pure affection, and
therefore derogatory to the feelings of caste; for even the free
coloured females, I understand, would have a reluctance, if advanced in
civilization, to form a virtuous union with a pure negro....

“Some of the intelligent free negroes of the United States, with whom I
often conversed, for the express purpose of personal observation, felt
the ban under which they were put, by the influence of prejudice, as
they considered it, after the laws of the country had declared
them free, and equal to any other citizen of the State; and, in the
confidence inspired by my inquiries about their situation, I was often
asked if, in England, white women did not marry black men? And, with
apparent simplicity, it was inquired why the American white women were
so prejudiced against black men?...

“Those who merely refer the degraded state of the free Africans or
blacks to their having been formerly slaves, and leave out of their
consideration the consequences arising from physical differences in
form, colour, feature, and smell, influencing those general ideas of
beauty, creating that passion of love that most commonly leads to a
virtuous union of the sexes of different nations, must be considered
as having taken a very narrow view of the question, from the prevalent
custom of merely referring to moral causes alone, and omitting all
references to those of a physical nature, though still more powerful in
their effect._” (1)

This extraordinary argument is concluded by a touching representation of
the refinement which modesty gives to pleasure, and of the happiness
of being cherished and beloved, which, we hope, will edify the young
gentlemen of the

     (1) Second Part of Major Moody’s Report, pages 19 and 20.

Colonial {371}Office, but which has, we think, little to do with the
question. This, therefore, we omit, as well as the pious appeal to the
God of Truth, which follows it.

Is it possible that the Major does not perceive how directly all his
statement leads towards a conclusion, diametrically opposite to that at
which, by some inconceivable process, he has managed to arrive? We will
give him an answer. But we really hope that he is the only one of our
readers who will need it.

The passion of the sexes is a natural appetite. Marriage is a civil and
religious institution. Where, therefore, between two classes of people,
the passion exists, but marriage is not practised, it is evident that
nature impels them to unite, and that acquired feelings only keep them

Now, Major Moody just reverses this mode of reasoning. Because the
Whites form with the Blacks those illicit unions, to which the motive is
physical, but do not form those legitimate unions to which the motive
is moral, he actually infers that the cause which separates the races
is not moral, but physical! In the same manner, we presume, he would
maintain, that a man who dines heartily without saying grace, is
deficient, not in devotion, but in appetite.

The story which he tells respecting the free blacks, with whom he
conversed in the United States, is alone sufficient to show the
absurdity of his hypothesis. From his own account, it is plain that
these blacks had no antipathy to white women. The repugnance was all on
one side. And on which side? On that of the privileged class, of those
whose superiority was till lately recognised by law, and is still
established by custom. Is this a phenomenon so extraordinary that we
must have recourse to a new instinct to account for it? Or may it not
be explained into the same causes which in England prevent a lady from
marrying a tinker, though the tinker would gladly marry the lady?

In the last century, the dissipated nobles of France lavished their
wealth with the wildest profusion on actresses and opera girls. The
favour of a distinguished heroine of this class, was thought to be
cheaply purchased at the price of jewels, gilded coaches, palaces
blazing with mirrors, or even of some drops of aristocratic blood. Yet
the poorest gentleman in the kingdom would not have married Clairon.
This, Major Moody would say, proves that men who wear swords, feather,
{372}and red-heeled shoes, entertain a natural aversion to women who
recite verses out of Andromaque and Tartuffe. _We_ think that we could
hit on a different explanation.

It happed, indeed, rather unluckily, that, of the phenomena which the
Major recounts, there is none which cannot be satisfactorily explained
into moral cause, and none which can possibly be explained into
physical causes. White women, says he, much more rarely form licentious
connections with black men, than white men with black women. And this is
a proof that the aversion of the two races is natural. Why, if it were
natural, does it not influence both sexes alike? The principles to
which these facts must be referred, are principles which we see in daily
operation among ourselves. Men of the highest rank in our country, are
frequently engaged in low amours. The wife or daughter of an English
gentleman very seldom forgets herself so far. But who ever thought of
attributing this to physical causes?

The Major, however, is resolved not to leave himself unrefuted in
any point. “Even the free coloured females,” says he, “would have a
reluctance, if advanced in civilization, to form a virtuous union with
a pure negro.” He cannot pretend to believe that any physical cause
operates here: and, indeed, distinctly attributes the reluctance of the
coloured female to her advancement in civilization. That is to say,
he distinctly acknowledges that certain acquired habits, and certain
advantages of rank and education, are alone sufficient to produce those
effects which, according to his own theory laid down in the same page,
can only result from natural organization.

The Major tells us, the colour, the features, and the other
peculiarities of the black race, excite the disgust of Europeans. Here
his testimony is at variance with that of almost all the writers on
the subject with whom we are acquainted. Travellers and historians
innumerable, have asserted, that white men in the torrid zone,
generally prefer black females to those of their own country, Raynal,
if we remember rightly, gives a very rational explanation of the
circumstance. It is needless, however, to attack the Major with
authorities from other writers. He may easily be refuted out of his own
mouth. How can the physical peculiarities of {373}the African race be
more offensive in the wife than in the concubine? It is quite needless
to inquire into the origin of the different opinions which people, in
different situations, form on the subject of beauty. It is quite enough
for us at present to discover, that if a man does not think a woman too
ugly to make her his mistress, it cannot surely be on account of her
ugliness that he does not make her his wife.

In England white women not unfrequently marry black men. We have
ourselves known several such instances. Yet if the external appearance
of the negro were such as naturally to inspire aversion, that feeling
would be more strongly excited in a country of which the inhabitants are
not familiarized by use to the revolting spectacle. This consideration
alone would satisfy us that the real cause of the horror with which the
Whites in some other countries shrink from the thought of marriage with
an African is to be found, not in physical, but in political and moral
circumstances. We entertain little doubt, that when the laws which
create a distinction between the races shall be completely abolished, a
very few generations will mitigate the prejudices which those laws have
created, and which they still maintain. At that time, the black girl,
who, as a slave, would have attracted a white lover, will, when her
father has given her a good education, and can leave her a hundred
thousand dollars, find no difficulty in procuring a white husband.

We have perhaps dwelt too long on the feeble and inconsistent arguments
which the Major has urged in support of his hypothesis. But we were
desirous, before we entered on that part of his work which relates to
questions of more difficulty, to furnish our readers with a specimen of
his logical powers. They will perhaps be inclined to suspect, that a man
who reasons thus on one subject, is not very likely to reason justly on

We now come to the second great principle which Major Moody conceives
himself to have established. It may be stated thus. The inhabitants
of countries lying within the torrid zone ean be induced to engage in
steady agricultural labour only by necessity. The barrenness of the
soil, or the density of the population, may create that necessity. In
Hindostan, for example, the peasant must work or starve. But where a few
inhabitants are thinly scattered over the {374}country, they will
be able to procure a subsistence with very little exertion. With a
subsistence they will be content. The heat renders agricultural
labour so painful that those who are their own masters will prefer the
enjoyment of repose to any of the comforts which they might be able to
procure by regular industry. For this evil the only remedy is coercion,
or, in other words, slavery. Such are the elements of the new philosophy
of labour.

It may be doubted whether these doctrines, if admitted, would amount to
a vindication of slavery. It does not appear to us quite certain that
we are justified in compelling our fellow-creatures to engage in
a particular employment, merely because that employment gives them
exquisite pain. If a large portion of the human race be really placed in
regions where rest and shade are the most delightful luxuries which they
can enjoy, a benevolent man may perhaps be of opinion that they ought to
be suffered to doze in their huts, except when necessity may drive
them to employ an occasional hour in angling, gathering berries, or
scattering a little rice in the marshes. We are entitled to demand that
this point shall be saved to us; but we do not foresee that we shall
need it. We assert, and will prove, that Major Moody has not established
his theory; that he has not even raised a presumption in its favour; and
that the tacts on which he relies are either such as have no relation to
the question, or such as occur daily in every climate of the globe.

We will begin with the case with which Major Moody would have done
well both to begin and end--the case of the liberated Africans who were
placed in Tortola. We must premise, that no experiment was ever made
under circumstances less favourable. The Negroes, when received from
the holds of the slave ships, were in a state of extreme weakness and
disease. Of six hundred and seventeen Blacks who were taken from the
Venus and the Manuella, two hundred and twenty-two died before they
could be settled as apprentices. (1) The constitutions of many who
survived were completely broken. By the masters to whom they were
apprenticed, they were frequently treated with inhumanity. The laws and
institutions of Tortola, framed for

     (1) Mr. Dougan’s Report, p. 7.

a {375}society made up of masters and slaves, were, as the Major himself
states, by no means fitted for the regulation of such a class of persons
as the apprenticed Africans. The poorer freemen of every colour felt an
enmity towards people who were about to intrude themselves into those
trades of which they possessed a monopoly. The planters were not
inclined to look with favour on the first fruits of the abolition.
Apprentices are, in every part of the world, noted for idleness. The
degree of that idleness is in general proportioned to the length of
the term for which they are bound to an unrequited service. The man who
expects soon to be his own master, may exert himself to acquire skill
in the business by which he is to subsist. He, on the other hand, who
expects to waste half of his life in labour without remuneration, will
generally do as little as he possibly can. The liberated Africans were
most injudiciously apprenticed for fourteen years, and some even for a
longer time. They had neither the motive of the freeman, nor that of the
slave. They could not legally demand wages. They could not legally be
subjected to the driver. Under these disadvantages was the trial made.
And what was the result?

Major Moody examined into the conduct of sixty-one apprenticed negroes
who had been rescued from the Manuella. The masters and mistresses were
carefully interrogated. It appears from the schedules signed by the
Major himself, that good characters were given to forty, and only
appeared to be idle and disorderly. With respect to twelve, no decisive
information was obtained. A similar inquiry took place respecting
fifty-five apprentices who had formed a part of the cargo of the Venus.
Good accounts were received of forty. Only six were described as idle
and disorderly.

Among sixty-five negroes who had been taken from the Candelario, there
was not a single instance of grossly bad conduct. Fifty-seven received
fair characters for honesty and industry.

Lastly, of one hundred and ten negroes who had been on board of the
Atrevido, only four are characterized as decidedly worthless. Nine may
be considered as doubtful. A favourable report is given of the remaining

These facts, as we have said, we find in the papers signed by the Major
himself. He has not, it is true, thought it necessary {376}to give us
the result of his inquiries in the Report so compendiously as we now
exhibit it. He dwells at great length on particular cases which prove
nothing. He fills page after page with the nonsense of planters who had
no apprentices, who evidently knew nothing about the apprentices,
and who, in general terms, proving nothing but their own
malevolence, characterized the whole race as idle, disorderly,
quarrelsome, drunken, greedy. But, from the beginning to the end of the
Report, he has not been able to spare three lines for the simple fact,
that four fifths of these vilified people receive excellent characters
from their actual employers, from those who must have been best
acquainted with their disposition, and who would have lost most by their
idleness. Whoever wishes to know how Daniel Quabott broke his wife’s
nose--how Penelope glum whipped a slave who had the yaws, how the Major,
seventeen years ago, went without his supper in Guiana--how the arts and
sciences proceeded northward from Carthage till they were stopped by the
frozen zone, may find in the Report all this interesting information,
and much more of the same kind. But those who wish to know that which
Major Moody was commissioned to ascertain, and which it was his peculiar
duty to state, must turn over three hundred folio pages of schedules.
The Report does not, as far as we have been able to discover, give the
most distant hint of the discoveries which they will make there.

We have no idea of charging the Major with intentional unfairness. But
his prejudices really seem to have blinded him as to the effect of the
evidence which he had himself collected. He hints that his colleague had
privately prepared the apprentices for the examination. Of the justice
of this charge we shall be better able to judge when the answer of Mr.
Dougan shall make its appearance. But be it well founded or not, it
cannot affect _our_ argument. The Major does not pretend to insinuate,
that any arts were practised with _the masters_, and it is on the
testimony of the masters alone that we are willing to rest onr case.
Indeed, the evidence which was collected by the Major in the absence of
his colleague, and which we must therefore suppose to be perfectly pure,
tends to the same effect, and would alone be sufficient to show, that
the apprentices have, as a body, conducted themselves in a manner which,
under any circumstances, would have been most satisfactory.

It {377}is perfectly true, that a knot of slave-owners, forming the
legislature of Tortola, petitioned the Government to remove these
apprentices from the island. From internal evidence, from the peculiar
cant in which the petition abounds, and from the sprinkling of bad
grammar which adorns it, we are half inclined to suspect that it is
the Major’s own handywork. At all events, it is curious to see how
he reasons on it. It is curious to see how the Major reasons on this

“_Doubtless, the legislature of Tortola may be mistaken in their
opinions; but the mere fact of their agreeing to sign such a petition,
shows they really did think, that the labour of the African apprentices,
when free, would not be useful to them or the colonists generally.

“And this fact alone, my Lord, is calculated to excite important
reflections, as to the character of the free Africans, for industry in
West Indian agriculture.

“Is it probable, that mere prejudice against the colour of a man’s skin
could ever induce anybody of people, like the Tortola petitioners, to
make a request so apparently absurd, as that of removing from their
colony a numerous body of Africans, consisting of able bodied men and
women, If they were as willing as they were capable of working, and
increasing the value of the land now given to pasturage, for want of
cultivators to be employed therein._” (1)

We earnestly request our readers to observe the consistency of Major
Moody. When his object is to prove, that whites and blacks cannot
amalgamate on equal terms, in one political society, he exaggerates
every circumstance which tends to keep them asunder. The physical
differences between the races, he tells us, practically defeat
benevolent laws. No Act of Parliament, no order in Council, can surmount
the difficulty. (2) Where these differences exist, the principles of
republican equality are forgotten by the strongest republican. Marriage
becomes an unnatural prostitution. The Haytian refuses to admit the
white to possess property within the sphere of negro domination. The
most humane and enlightened citizen of the United States, can discover
no means of benefiting the free African, but by sending him to a
distance from men of European blood. “I should ill-perform my duty,”
 says the Major, “if I suppressed all mention of a physical cause like
this, which in practice is found to have an effect so powerful, however
the philanthropist

     (1) First Part of Major Moody’s Report, p. 125.

     (2) Second Part of Major Moody’s Report, p. 20 and 21

{378}or the philosopher may regret it, and however it may be beyond
their power to remove it by legislative means.” (1) But, when it is
desirable to prove the idleness of the free African, this omnipotent
physical cause, this instinct against which the best and wisest men
struggle in vain, which counteracts the attraction of sex, and defies
the authority of law, sinks into a “mere prejudice against the colour
of a man’s skin,” an idle fancy, which never could induce any body of
people to remove able bodied men and women from their country, if those
men and women were willing to work. Are all the free negroes of North
America infirm, or are they all unwilling to work? They live in a
temperate climate, and to them the Major’s theory does not apply. Yet
the whites are subscribing to transport them to another country. Why
should we suppose the planters of Tortola to be superior to feelings
which some of the most respectable men in the world are disposed to
gratify, by sending thousands of people, at a great expense, from a
country greatly understocked with hands?

It is true that the apprenticed Africans were not employed in the
cultivation of the soil. The cause is evident. They could not legally be
so employed. The Older in Council under the authority of which they
were put out to service, provided that no woman should be employed
in tillage. The blank form of indenture sent out by the government
contained a similar restriction with regard to the males.

We are, however, inclined to believe with the Major, that these people,
if they had been left to take their own course, would not have employed
themselves in agriculture. Those who have become masters of their time,
rarely do so employ themselves. We will go further. We allow that very
few of the free blacks in our West Indian Islands, will undergo the
drudgery of cultivating the ground. Major Moody seems to think that,
when this is grunted, all his principles follow of course. But we can by
no means agree with him. In order to prove that the natives of tropical
countries entertain a peculiar aversion to agricultural labour, it is by
no means sufficient to show that certain freemen, living in the torrid
zone, do not choose to engage in agricultural labour. It is, we humbly
conceive, necessary also to show, that the wages of agricultural labour
are, at the place and time in

     (1) Second Part of Major Moody’s Report, p. 21.

question, {379}at least as high as those which can be obtained by
industry of another description. It by no means follows, that a man
feels an insurmountable dislike to the business of setting canes,
because he will not set eanes for sixpence a day, when he can earn
a shilling by making baskets. We might as well say, that the English
people dislike agricultural labour, because Major Moody prefers making
systems to making ditches.

Obvious as these considerations are, it is perfectly clear that Major
Moody has overlooked them. From the Appendix to his own Report it
appears, that in every West Indian island the wages of the artisan are
much greater than those of the cultivator. In Tortola, for example, a
carpenter earns three shillings sterling a day, a cartwright or a cooper
four shillings and sixpence, a sawyer six shillings; an ablebodied field
negro, under the most advantageous circumstances, nine pounds a year,
about seven pence a day, allowing for holidays. And because a free
African prefers six shillings to seven pence, we are told that he has
a natural and invincible aversion to agriculture!--because he prefers
wealth to poverty, we are to conclude that he prefers repose to
wealth. Such is the mode of reasoning which the Major designates as the
philosophy of labour.

But, says the Major, all employments, excepting those of the cultivator
and the domestic servant, are only occasional. There is little demand
for the labour of the carpenter, the cooper, and the sawyer. Let us
suppose the demand to be so incredibly small, that the carpenter can
obtain work only one day in six, the cooper one day in nine, and the
sawyer one day in twelve; still the amount of their earnings will be
greater than if they broke clods almost daily through the whole year.
Of two employments which yield equal wages, the inhabitants of all
countries, both within and without the tropics, will choose that whieh
requires the least labour Major Moody seems throughout his Report
to imagine, that people in the temperate zone work for the sake of
working; that they consider labour, not as an evil to be endured for the
sake of a good produced by it, but as a blessing, from which the wages
are a sort of drawback; that they would rather work three days for a
shilling, than one day for half a crown. The case, he may be assured,
is by no means such as he supposes. If he will make proper inquiries he
will {380}learn, that, even where the thermometer stands at the lowest,
no man will choose a laborious employment, when he can obtain equal
remuneration with less trouble in another line. But it, is unnecessary
to resort to this argument; for it is perfectly clear, on Major Moody’s
own showing, that the demand for mechanical industry, though occasional
and small, is still sufficient to render the business of an artisan much
more lucrative than that of a field labourer.

“I have shown,” says he, “that the sugar-planter himself, obtaining 287
days labour on the very cheapest terms, could not have afforded to give
more than about 9l. per annum for labourers, and therefore, that he
never could hope to induce any liberated African to work steadily for
such wages, when the liberated African could obtain from 15l. to 21l.
per annum by the irregular labour of occasionally cutting firewood,
grass, or catching fish, &c....

“This is the most favourable view of the case; for the fact is, the
sugar-planter, on the very best soils in Tortola, could only a fiord
to give 91. per annum; but in soils of average fertility, he could only
afford 6l. 15s. per annum to the labourer, even if the planter gave up
all profits on his stock, consisting of lands, buildings, and machinery.
If the liberated Negro would not labour steadily for 9l. per annum, it
is clear he would be less likely to work for 6l. 15s. per annum; but
if he did not work for less than that sum, the planter in Tortola could
obtain no profit on stock, and consequently could have no motive for
employing any person to work for such wages. The white race, being
unable to work, must in this, as in all similar cases, perish, or
abandon their country and property to the blacks, who can work, but
who, as I have shown, are not likely to make use of more voluntary
steady exertion than will afford the means of subsistence in the
lowlands of the torrid zone, where the pleasure of repose forms so great
an ingredient in the happiness of mankind, whether whites, blacks, or

We really stand aghast at the extravagance of a writer who supposes that
the principle which leads a man to prefer light labour and twenty-one
pounds, to hard labour and six Bounds fifteen shillings, is a principle
of which the operation is confined to the torrid zone! But the matter
may be put on a very short issue. Let Major Moody find any tropical
country in which the inhabitants prefer mechanical trades to field
labour when higher advantages are offered to the field labourer than to
the mechanic. He will then have done what he has not done hitherto. He
will have adduced one fact bearing on the question.

If the circumstances which we have been considering prove any thing,
they appear to prove the inexpediency of the {381}coercive system. The
effect of that system in the West Indies has been to produce a glut
of agricultural labour, and a scarcity of mechanical dexterity. The
discipline of a plantation may stimulate a sluggish body; but it has no
tendency to stimulate a sluggish mind. It calls forth a certain quantity
of muscular exertion; but it does not encourage that ingenuity which is
necessary to the artisan. This is the only explanation which at present
occurs to us of the enormous price which skilled labour fetches in a
country in which the cultivator can barely obtain a subsistence. We
offer it, however, with diffidence, as the result of a very hasty
consideration of the subject. But it is with no feeling of diffidence
that we pronounce the whole argument of the Major absurd. That he has
convinced himself we do not doubt. Indeed he has given the best proof
of sincerity: For he has acted up to his theory; and left us, we must
confess, in some doubt whether to admire him more as an active or as a
speculative politician.

Many of the African apprentices emigrated from Tortola to the Danish
island of St. Thomas, some with the consent of their masters, and others
without it. Why they did so, is evident from the account which the Major
himself gives. The wages were higher in St. Thomas than in Tortola. But
such theorists as the Major are subject to illusions as strange as
those which haunted Don Quixote. To the visionary Knight every inn was
a castle, every ass a charger, and every basin a helmet. To the Major
every fact, though explicable on ten thousand obvious suppositions, is
a confirmation of his darling hypothesis. He gives the following account
of his opinions and of his consequent measures.

“The occupations followed by the apprentices in the Danish island of St.
Thomas, on these occasions were generally the irregular and occasional
industry of porters, servants on hoard vessels, &e., in which they often
got comparatively high wages, which enabled them to work for money
at one time in order to live, without working for a longer or shorter
period; such a mode of existence being more agreeable to them than
steady and regular industry affording employment during the whole year.

“From this irregular application to certain kinds of labour and dislike
to that of agriculture, it was my wish to turn the attention of the
African apprentices, and therefore I was anxious to prevent their
running away to the Danish island of St. Thomas, or being sent there.
His Excellency Governor Van Seholton afforded me every facility in
removing them; but they soon returned again. It will also be seen that
in St. Thomas they were liable to be taken up and sold as slaves, it was
actually the case with one apprentice. It is not undeserving of remark,
that not one of the apprentices who thus withdrew themselves from
Tortola, ever {382}hired themselves to agricultural labor for any fixed

“The occasional high wages in irregular kinds of industry, however
uncertain, appear to have pleased them belter than the permanent
rewards procured by an employment less exposed to uncertainty, but which
required a steady exertion.”

What the permanent rewards of agricultural labour were in Tortola, we
have seen. The planter would have found it ruinous on most estates to
give more than six pounds fifteen shillings a year, or about fourpence
a day. Unless, therefore, they were much higher in St. Thomas, it is
surely not extraordinary that they did not induce these apprentices
to quit the employments to which, not by their own choice, but by
the orders of the Government, they had been trained, for a pursuit
uncongenial to all their habits. How often is it that an Englishman,
who has served his apprenticeship to an artisan, hires himself to
agricultural labour when he can find work in his own line?

But we will pass by the absurdity of condemning people for preferring
high wages with little labour, to low wages with severe labour. We
have other objections to make. The Major has told us that the African
apprentices could not legally be employed in agriculture on the island
of Tortola. If so, we wish to know how their dislike of agricultural
labour could be their motive for quitting Tortola, or how, by bringing
them back to Tortola, he could improve their habits in that respect? To
bring a man by main force from a residence which he likes, and to place
him in the hands of an employer acknowledged to be cruel, for fear that
he may possibly be made a slave, seems to us also a somewhat curious
proceeding, and deserves notice, as being the only indication of zeal
for liberty which the Major appears to have betrayed during the whole
course of his mission.

The Major might perhaps be justified in exerting himself to recover
those apprentices who had emigrated without the consent of their
masters. But with regard to the rest, his conduct {383}appears to have
been equally absurd and mischievous. He repeatedly tells us that Tortola
is a poor island. It appears from the schedules, that he was in the
habit of asking the masters and mistresses, whether their apprentices,
after the term of service should have expired, would be able to support
themselves. In the ease of some most respectable and industrious
workmen, the answer was, that they possessed all the qualifications
which would enable them to earn a livelihood; but that Tortola was too
poor to afford them an adequate field: And this was evidently the cause
which induced so many to transport themselves to St. Thomas. Of all the
innumerable instances in which public, functionaries have exposed their
ignorance by officiously meddling with matters of which individuals
ought to be left to judge for themselves, we remember none more
conspicuous than that which Major Moody has thus recorded against

But it seems the industry of these emigrants, and indeed of the free
Blacks generally, is not regular or steady. These are words of which
Major Moody is particularly fond, and which he generally honours with
Italics. We have, throughout this article, taken the facts as he states
them, and contented ourselves with exposing the absurdity of his
inferences. We shall do so now. We will grant that the free blacks do
not work so steadily as the slaves, or as the labourers in many other
countries. But how does Major Moody connect this unsteadiness with the
climate? To us it appears to be the universal effect of an advance
in wages, an effeet not confined to tropical countries, but daily and
hourly witnessed in England by every man who attends to the habits
of the lower orders. Let us suppose, that an English manufacturer can
provide himself with those indulgences which use has rendered necessary
to his comfort for ten shillings a week, and that he ean earn ten
shillings a week by working steadily twelve hours a day. In that case,
he will probably work twelve hours a day. But let us suppose that the
wages of his labour rise to thirty shillings. Will he still continue
to work twelve hours a day, for the purpose of trebling his present
enjoyments, or of laying up a hoard against bad tunes? Notoriously
not. He will perhaps work four days in the week, and thus earn twenty
shillings, a sum larger than that whieh he formerly obtained, but less
than that which he might obtain if he chose to labour as he formerly

When {384}the wages of the workman rise, he Everywhere takes out, if
we may so express ourselves, some portion of the rise in the form of
repose. This is the real explanation of that unsteadiness on which Major
Moody dwells so much--an unsteadiness which cannot surprise any person
who has ever talked with an English manufacturer, or ever heard the name
of Saint Monday. It appears by his own report, that a negro slave works
from Monday morning to Saturday night on the sugar grounds of Tortola,
and receives what is equivalent to something less than half-a-crown in
return, then he ceases to be a slave, and becomes his own master; and
then he finds that by cutting firewood, an employment which requires
no great skill, he can earn eight shillings and fourpence a week. By
working every other day he can procure better food and better clothes
than ever he had before. In no country from the Pole to the Equator,
would a labourer under such circumstances work steadily. The Major
considers it as a strange phenomenon, peculiar to the torrid zone, that
these people lay up little against seasons of sickness and distress--as
if this were not almost universally the case among the far more
intelligent population of England--as if we did not regularly see our
artisans thronging to the alehouse when wages are high, and to the
pawnbroker’s shop when they are low--as if we were not annually raising
millions, in order to save the working classes from the misery which
otherwise would be the consequence of their own improvidence.

We are not the advocates of idleness and imprudence. The question before
us is, not whether it be desirable that men all over the world should
labour more steadily than they now do; but whether the laws which
regulate labour within the tropics differ from those which are in
operation elsewhere. This is a question which never can be settled,
merely by comparing the quantity of work done in different places. By
pursuing such a course, we should establish a separate law of labour for
every country, and for every trade in every country. The free African
does not work so steadily as the Englishman. But the wild Indian, by
the Major’s own account, works still less steadily than the African.
The Chinese labourer, on the other hand, works more steadily than the
Englishman. In this island, the industry of the porter or the waterman,
is less steady than the industry {385}of the ploughman. But the great
general principle is the same in all. All will work extremely hard
rather than miss the comforts to which they have been habituated; and
all, when they find it possible to obtain their accustomed comforts
with less than their accustomed labour, will not work so hard as
they formerly worked, merely to increase them. The real point to be
ascertained, therefore, is, whether the free African is content to miss
his usual enjoyments, not whether he works steadily or not; for the
Chinese peasant would work as irregularly as the Englishman, and the
Englishman as irregularly as the negro, if this could be done without
any diminution of comforts. Now, it does not appear from any passage in
the v hole Report, that the free blacks are retrograding in their
mode of living. It appears on the contrary, that their work, however
irregular, does in fact enable them to live more comfortably than they
ever did as slaves. The unsteadiness, therefore, of which they are
accused, if it be an argument for coercing them, is equally an argument
for coercing the spinners of Manchester and the grinders of Sheffield.

The next ease which we shall notice is, that of the native Indians
within the tropics. That these savages have a great aversion to
steady labour, and that they have made scarcely any advances toward
civilization we readily admit. Major Moody speaks on this subject with
authority; for it seems that, when he visited one of their tribes, they
forgot to boil the pot for him, and put him off with a speech, which
he has reported at length, instead of a meal.1 He, as usual, attributes
their habits to the heat of the climate. But let us consider that the
Indians of North America, with much greater advantages, live in the same
manner. A most enlightened and prosperous community has arisen in their
vicinity. Many benevolent men have attempted to correct their roving
propensities, and to inspire them with a taste for those comforts which
industry alone can procure. They still obstinately adhere to their old
mode of life. The independence, the strong excitement, the occasional
periods of intense exertion, the long intervals of repose, have
become delightful and almost necessary to them. It is well known
that Europeans, who have lived among them for any length of time, are
strangely fascinated by the pleasures of that state {386}of society, and
even by its sufferings and hazards. Among ourselves, the Gypsey race,
one of the most beautiful and intelligent on the face of the earth, has
lived for centuries in a similar manner. Those singular outcasts have
been surrounded on every side by the great works of human labour. The
advantage’s of industry were forced upon their notice. The roads on
which they travelled, the hedges under which they rested, the hen-roosts
which furnished their repast, the silver which crossed their palms--all
must have constantly reminded them of the conveniences and luxuries
which are to be obtained by steady exertion. They were persecuted under
a thousand pretexts, whipped for vagrants, imprisoned for poachers,
ducked for witches. The severest laws were enacted against them. To
consort with them was long a capital offence. Yet a remnant of the
race still preserves its peculiar language and manners--still prefers
a tattered tent and a chance-meal of carrion to a warm house and a
comfortable dinner. If the habits of the Indians of Guiana prove that
slavery is necessary within the tropics, the habits of the Mohawks and
Gypsies will equally prove, that it is necessary in the temperate zone.
The heat cannot be the cause of that which is found alike in the coldest
and in the hottest countries.

Major Moody gives a long account of the Maroon settlements near Surinam.
These settlements were first formed by slaves, who fled from the
plantations on the coast, about the year 1667. The society was,
during the following century, augmented from time to time by fresh
reinforcements of fugitive negroes. This supply, however, has now been
for many years stopped. It is perfectly true, that these people were
long contented with a bare subsistence, and that little of steady
agricultural industry has ever existed amongst them. The Major again
recurs to physical causes, and the heat of the sun. A better explanation
may be given in one word, insecurity. During about one hundred years,
the Maroons were absolutely run down like mad dogs. It appears from the
work of Captain Stedman, to which the Major himself alludes, that those
who fell into the hands of the whites were hung up by hooks thrust into
their ribs, torn to pieces on the rack, or roasted on slow fires. They
attempted to avoid the danger, by frequently changing, and carefully
concealing their residence. The accidental crowing of a cock, {387}had
brought destruction on a whole tribe. That a people thus situated should
labour to acquire property which they could not enjoy--that they
should engage in employments which would necessarily attach them to a
particular spot, was not to be expected. Their habits necessarily became
irregular and ferocious. They plundered the colony--they plundered each
other--they lived by hunting and fishing. The only productions of the
earth which they cultivated, were such as could be speedily reared, and
easily concealed. But during the last fifty years, these tribes have
enjoyed a greater degree of security; and from the statement of Major
Moody, who has himself visited that country, and who, though a wretched
logician, is an unexceptionable witness, it appears, that they are
rapidly advancing in civilization; that they have acquired a sense of
new wants, and a relish for new pleasures; that agriculture has taken
a more regular form; and that the vices and miseries of savage life are
disappearing together.

“The young men among the Maroons acknowledged, that the conduct of the
chiefs had become much better, in respect of not interfering with the
wives of others, and that everybody now could have his own wife.”.......

“I observed, that they had adopted the system of sometimes domesticating
wild animals, and rearing those already domesticated for food; that
instead of always boucaning their meats, like the Indians, they now
often used salt when they could get it; and, finally, that instead of
depending on the forests for fruits, or cultivating roots which were
soon reaped, and conld easily be concealed, they had generally adopted
the banana and plantain as a food, which requires about twelve months to
produce its fruits, and the tree obtains a considerable height.”....

“I also found, that a certain degree of occasional industry had taken
place among the Maroons. Some of these young men had devoted a few days
in the year to cutting down trees which nature had planted. From such
occasional labour they were enabled to procure finery for a favourite
female, a better, gun, or a new axe.”

Surely this statement is most encouraging. No sooner was security given
to these Maroons, than improvement commenced. A single generation has
sufficed to change these hunters into cultivators of the earth, to teach
them the use of domestic animals, to awaken among them a taste for the
luxuries and distinctions of polished societies. That their labour is
still only occasional, we grant. But this, we cannot too often
repeat, is not the question. If occasional labour {388}will supply the
inhabitant of the temperate zone with comforts greater than those to
which he is accustomed, he will labour only occasionally. These negroes
are not only willing to work rather than forego their usual comforts,
but are also willing to make some addition to their labour, for the sake
of some addition to their comforts. Nothing more can be said for the
labourers of any country. The principle which has made England and
Holland what they are, is evidently at work in the thickets of Surinam.

That the habits of the fugitives were altogether idle and irregular
till within the last fifty years, is nothing to the purpose. How much
of regular industry was formerly to be found among the outlawed
moss-troopers of our Border, or in the proscribed elan of the
Macgregors? Down to a very late period, a large part of the Scotch
people were as averse to steady industry as any tribe of Maroons. In
the year 1698, Fletcher of Saltonn called the attention of the Scottish
Parliament to this horrible evil. “This country,” says he, “has always
swarmed with such numbers of idle vagabonds as no laws could ever
restrain. There are at this day in Scotland two hundred thousand people
begging from door to door, living without any regard or subjection to
the laws of the land, or to even those of God and nature. No magistrate
could ever discover or be informed which way one in a hundred of
these wretches died, or that ever they were baptised.” He advises
the Government to set them to work; but he strongly represents
the difficulty of such an undertaking. That sort of people is so
desperately wicked, such enemies of all work and labour, and, which is
yet more amazing, so proud in esteeming their own condition above that
which they will be sure to call slavery, that, unless prevented by the
utmost industry and diligence, upon the first publication of any orders
for putting in execution such a design, they will rather die with hunger
in caves and dens, and murder their young children. Fletcher was a
brave, honest, and sensible man. He had fought and suffered for liberty.
Yet the circumstances of his country shook his faith in the true
principles of government. He looked with dismay on the mountains
occupied by lawless chiefs and their gangs, and the lowlands cursed
by the depredations of some plunderers and the protection of others.
Everywhere he saw swarms of robbers and beggars. He contrasted this
desolate prospect {389}with the spectacle which Holland presented, the
miracles which human industry had there achieved, a country rescued from
the ocean, vast and splendid cities, ports crowded with ships, meadows
cultivated to the highest point, canals along which hundreds of boats
were constantly passing, mercantile houses of which the daily payments
exceeded the whole rental of the Highlands, an immense population whose
habits were sober and laborious, and who acquired their comforts, not
by injuring, but by benefiting their neighbours. He did not sufficiently
consider that this state of things sprung from the wisdom and vigour of
a government, which insured to every man the fruits of his exertions,
and protected equally the pleasures of every class, from the pipe of
the mechanic to the picture-gallery and the tulip-garden of the
Burgomaster;--that in Scotland, on the contrary, the police was feeble,
and the gentry rich in men and destitute of money; that robbery was in
consequence common; that people will not build barns to be burned,
or rear cattle to be lifted; that insecurity produced idleness, and
idleness crimes, that these crimes again augmented the insecurity from
which they had sprung. He overlooked these circumstances, and attributed
the evil to the want of coercion. He censured the wreak humanity of
those fathers of the church who had represented slavery as inconsistent
with Christianity. He cited those texts with which the controversies
of our own times have rendered us so familiar. Finally, he proposed to
convert the lower classes into domestic bondsmen. His arguments were
at least as plausible as those of Major Moody. But how signally has
the event refuted them! Slavery was not established in Scotland. On the
contrary, the changes which have taken place there have been favourable
to personal liberty. The power of the chiefs has been destroyed.
Security has been given to the capitalist and to the labourer. Could
Fletcher now revisit Scotland, he would find a country which might well
bear a comparison with his favourite Holland.

The History of the Maroons of Surinam appears to us strictly analogous
to that of the Scottish peasantry. In both cases insecurity produced
idleness. In both security produces industry. The African community
indeed, in the middle of the last century was far more barbarous than
any part of the Scotch nation has ever been since the dawn of authentic
{390}history. Not one of the fugitives had ever been taught to read and
write. The traces of civilization which they brought from the colony
were very slight, and were soon effaced by the habits of a lawless and
perilous life. Of late, however, their progress has been rapid. Judging
of the future by the past, we entertain a strong hope that they will
soon form a flourishing and respectable society. At all events, we
are sure that their condition affords no ground for believing that the
labourer, within the tropics, acts on principles different from those
which regulate his conduct elsewhere.

We now come to the case of Hayti, a ease on which Major Moody and his
disciples place the strongest reliance. The report tells us, that
Toussaint, Christophe and Boyer, have all found it necessary to
compel the free negroes of that island to employ themselves in
agriculture--that exportation has diminished--that the quantity of
coffee now produced is much smaller than that which was grown under the
French government--that the cultivation of sugar is abandoned--that the
Haytians have not only ceased to export that article, but have begun
to import it--that the men indulge themselves in repose, and force the
women to work for them; and, finally, that this dislike of labour can
be explained only by the heat of the climate, and can be subdued only by

Now we have to say, in the first place, that the proofs which the Major
brings refute each other. If, as he states, the Haytians are coerced,
and have been coerced during the la>t thirty years, their idleness maybe
an excellent argument against slavery, but can be no argument against
liberty. If it be said that the coercion employed in Hayti is not
sufficiently severe, we answer thus:--We never denied, that of two kinds
of coercion, the more severe is likely to be the more efficient. Men can
be induced to work only by two motives, hope and fear; the former is the
motive of the free labourer, the latter of the slave. We hold that,
in the long run, hope will answer best. But we are perfectly ready to
admit, that a strong fear will stimulate industry more powerfully than
a weak fear. The case of llayti, therefore, can at most only prove that
severe slavery answers its purpose better than lenient slavery. It can
prove nothing for slavery against freedom. But the Major is not entitled
to use two contradictory {391}arguments. One or the other he must
abandon. It’ he chooses to reason on the decrees of Toussaint and
Christophe, he has no right to talk of the decrease of production. If,
on the other hand, he insists on the idleness of the Haytians, he must
admit their liberty. If they are not free, their idleness can be no
argument against freedom.

But we will do more than expose the inconsistency of the Major. We will
take both suppositions successively, and show that neither of them can
affect the present question.

First, then, let it be supposed that a coercive system is established
in Hayti. Major Moody seems to think that this fact, if admitted, is
sufficient to decide the controversy.

“The annexed regulations,” says he, “of Toussaint, Desformomi, and
Christophe, as well as those of President Boyer, intended for people
in circumstances similar to those of the liberated Africans, appear to
prove practically that some such measures are necessary as those which
I have submitted as the result of my own personal observation ami
experience, in the control of human labour in different climes, and
under various circumstances.”

We must altogether dissent from this doctrine. It does not appear to us
quite self-evident, that every law which every government may choose
to make is necessarily a wise law. We have sometimes been inclined
to suspect that, even in this enlightened country, legislators have
interfered in matters which should have been left to take their own
course. An English Parliament formerly thought fit to limit the wages
of labour. This proceeding does not perfectly satisfy us, that wages
had previously been higher than they should have been. Elizabeth,
unquestionably the greatest sovereign that ever governed England, passed
those laws for the support of the poor, which, though in seeming and
intention most humane, have produced more evil than all the cruelties
of Aero and Maximin. We have just seen that, at the close of the
seventeenth century, a most respectable and enlightened Scotch
gentleman thought slavery the only cure for the maladies of his country.
Christophe was not destitute of talent:-. Toussaint was a man of great
genius and unblemished integrity, a brave soldier, and in many respects
a wise statesman. But both these men had been slaves. Both were ignorant
of history and political economy. That idleness {392}and disorders
should follow a general civil war, was perfectly natural. That rulers,
accustomed to a system of compulsory labour, should think such a system
the only cure for those evils, is equally natural. But what inference
can be drawn from such circumstances?

The negligence with which Major Moody has arranged his Appendix, is most
extraordinary. He has, with strange inconsistency, given us no copy
of the decree of Toussaint in the original, and no translation of the
decree of Christophe. The decree of Boyer, the most important of the
three, he has not thought fit to publish at all; though he repeatedly
mentions it in terms which seem to imply that he has seen it. Our
readers are probably aware, that the decree of Toussaint, or rather the
Major’s translation of it, was retouched by some of the statesmen of
Jamaica, docked of the first and last paragraphs, which would at once
have betrayed its date, and sent over by the Assembly to England, as a
new law of President Boyer. This forgery, the silliest and most impudent
that has been attempted within our remembrance, was at once exposed. The
real decree, if there be such a decree, is not yet before the public.

The decree of Toussaint was issued in a time of such extreme confusion,
that even if we were to admit its expediency, which we are very far from
doing, we should not be bound to draw any general conclusion from it.
All the reasonings which Major Moody founds on the decree of Christophe,
maybe refuted by this simple answer--that decree lays at least as many
restraints on the capitalist as on the labourer. It directs him to
provide machinery and mills. It limits the amount of Ins live-stock. It
prescribes the circumstances under which he may form new plantations of
coffee. It enjoins the manner in which he is to press his canes and
to clean his cotton. The Major reasons: Christophe compelled the
field-negroes to work. Hence it follows, that men who live in hot
climates will not cultivate the soil steadily without compulsion. We
may surely say, with equal justice, Christophe prescribed the manner in
which the proprietor was to employ his capital, it is, therefore, to
be inferred, that a capitalist in a hot climate cannot judge of his own
interests, and that the government ought to take the management of his
concerns out of his hands. If the Major will not adopt this conclusion,
he must abandon {393}his own. All our readers will admit, that a Prince
who could lay the capitalists under such restrictions as those which we
have mentioned, must have been ignorant of political science, and prone
to interfere in cases where legislative interference is foolish
and pernicious. What conclusion, then, can be justly drawn from the
restraints imposed by such a ruler on the freedom of the peasant?

We have thus disposed of the first hypothesis, namely, that the
Haytians are coerced. We will proceed to the second. Let it be supposed,
that the Haytians are not coerced. In that case we say, that if they do
not export as much as formerly, it will not necessarily follow that they
do not work as much as formerly; and that, if they do not work as much
as formerly, it still will not follow that their idleness proceeds from
physical causes, or forms any exception to the general principles which
regulate labour.

The first great cause which depresses the industry of the Haytians, is
the necessity of keeping up large and costly establishments. All who,
since the expulsion of the French, have governed that country, have
wisely and honourably sacrificed every other consideration to the
preservation of independence. Large armies have been kept up. A
considerable part of the population has consequently been supported
in an unproductive employment; and a heavy burden has been laid on the
industry of the rest. Major Moody quotes the following passage from the
narrative of a most respectable and benevolent American, Mr. Dewey:--

“Throughout the island the women perform the principal part of the
labour in the field and in the house.... I was often moved with
pity for their lot, though I rejoiced that the burden was now voluntary,
and admired the spirit of women who could so readily perform the work of
the men, that the men may be employed in the defence and preservation of
their liberties.”

The Major pounces on the fact stated by Mr. Dewey; but, with the amiable
condescension of a superior nature, gently corrects his inferences.

“That Mr. Dewey, and pious persons like him, do state the facts which
he observed correctly, I am quite convinced: but when he, and those who
reason in his manner, assign causes as solely producing the effect, it
is then that error glides into their statements.”

We are not so completely convinced as the Major seems to {394}be, that
all pious persons state correctly such facts as Mr. Dewey has observed:
but we are sure, that Mr. Dewey must be the most ungrateful of men,
if he is not grateful for such compliments. Indeed, the style which
the Major always adopts towards philanthropists reminds us of Dogberry
patting Verges on the back:--“A good old man. Sir! he will be talking.
Well said, i’faith, neighbour. An two men ride of a horse, one must ride
behind. An honest soid, i’faith, as ever broke bread. But God is to be
worshipped. All men are not alike.” But we must go on with the argument
of our philosophical commissioner.

“Any person who has travelled among people in a backward state of
knowledge and social civilization, people who never experienced what
slavery was, must have observed, as I have done, that the burden
of agricultural labour is generally imposed on the females, by the
arbitrary power exercised over them by the males....”

“Whilst an examination into the actual population of Hayti, and the real
number of the males actually withdrawn from agricultural pursuits for
those of military service, at the time Mr. Dewey made his observations,
would show, that, though the cause assigned by him might have some
effect, that, in point of fact, a more powerful influence would probably
be found in the action of causes springing from a different source than
that assigned by him as the true cause; and whilst these other powerful
causes are left in action, little practical good is effected by the
removal of a minor influence.” (1)

We have not time to notice the innumerable beauties of this headless and
endless sentence, in which a double allowance of thats compensates for
the absence of a nominative case and a verb:--those who study the works
of the Major must take such grammar as they can get, and be thankful.
But, does be advance any reason, or the shadow of tiny reason,
for dissenting from the opinion formed by a man whose honesty he
acknowledges, on a point on which it is scarcely possible to be
mistaken? No man of common sense can live three days in a country
without finding out, whether it is by idleness, or by military duties,
that the males are prevented from working. But Major Moody reasons
thus--Savages, from their propensity to indolence, make their women work
for them. The Haytians make their women work for them; therefore the
Haytians are indolent savages;--an exquisite specimen of syllogistic
reasoning! Horses are quadrupeds: but a pig is a quadruped; therefore a
pig is a horse. The

     (1) Ibid. p. 39.

dullest {395}of the gravediggers in Hamlet would have been ashamed of
such an argal.

The Major surely does not mean to deny, that, in civilized and
industrious nations, circumstances similar to those which exist in
Hayti, have compelled the women to engage in agricultural labour.
History abounds with such instances. When, fourteen years ago, the
Prussians rose against the French, almost the whole harvest of Silesia
and Upper Saxony was gathered in by females. The conscriptions of
Buonaparte frequently produced the same effect. The Major says, indeed,
or rather we, endowing his purposes with Syntax, say for him, that
if the numbers of the Haytian people and of the Haytian army were
ascertained, the causes assigned by Mr. Dewey would be found to have
produced only part of the effect. But what evidence does he offer? Where
are his facts, and his reasonings on these facts? Does he know what the
population of Hayti may be? Does he know how large its army may be? If
he knows, why does he not tell us? If he does not know, how can he tell
what might be the result of an examination into those particulars? It
is something too much that a writer, who, when he tries to demonstrate,
never demonstrates any thing but his own ignorance of the art of
reasoning, should expect to be implicitly believed, when he merely

We grant, that the Haytians do not rear any great quantity of sugar.
But can this circumstance be explained only by supposing that they
are averse to the labour necessary for that purpose? When capital is
withdrawn from a particular trade, a political economist is commonly
inclined to suspect that the profits are smaller than those which may be
obtained in other lines of business. Now, it is a notorious fact, that
the profits which the cultivation of sugar yields are, in all our West
Indian islands, extremely low; that the business is carried on only
because a large quantity of capital has already been fixed in forms
useless for every other purpose; and that, if this fixed capital were to
be suddenly destroyed, no fresh investment would take place. A man
who has purchased a costly apparatus for the purpose of carrying on a
particular manufacture, will not necessarily change his business because
he finds that his gains are smaller than those which he might obtain
elsewhere, he will generally prefer a small profit to a dead loss, and
rather take two per cent upon {396}his first investment than let that
investment perish altogether, suffer his machinery to be idle, and turn
the remains of his fortune to a pursuit in which he might make five per
cent. This, we believe, is the only cause which keeps up the cultivation
of sugar in Jamaica and Antigua.

In Hayti this cause has ceased to operate. Most of the fixed capital
necessary for the sugar-trade was destroyed by the war which followed
the liberation of the negroes. The machinery which remained was employed
as formerly. But it was not replaced as it fell to decay. This at once
explains the gradual decrease of production. A similar decrease, from
similar causes, is taking place in our oldest colonies. But let us
even suppose that the cultivation of sugar was likely, under ordinary
circumstances, to flourish in Hayti, it still remains to be considered
what security capital invested in that business would have enjoyed.
A short time back it seemed by no means improbable that France would
assert her rights to the sovereignty of the island by arms. In the
year 1814, the strongest apprehensions were entertained. A murderous and
devastating war, a war in which quarter would neither have been given
or taken, was to be expected. The plan of defence which the rulers of
ti contemplated was suited to so terrible a crisis. It was intended
to turn the coast into a desert, to set fire to the buildings, to
tall back on the interior fastnesses of the country, and by constant
skirmishes, by hunger, and by the effects of a climate so fatal to
Europeans, to wear out the invading army. This design was avowed by the
Government in publications which have found their way to England. It
was justified by circumstances, and it could scarcely have failed
of success. But it is evident that the remotest prospect of such an
emergency would alone have deterred any capitalist from sinking
his property in the extensive and valuable machinery necessary to a

It is true that there is a diminution in the quantity of coffee exported
from Hayti. But the cause of the diminution is obvious. The taxes on
that article are exorbitantly high. The territorial impost raised on the
plantation, and the customs which must be paid previous to exportation,
make up a duty of sixty per cent, on the prime cost. If the Haytians
are to be free, they must have an army. If they are to have an army,
they must raise money; and this may possibly {397}be the best way
of raising it. But it is evidently impossible that a commodity thus
burdened can maintain a competition with the produce of countries where
no taxes exist.

We therefore think it by no means improbable that the Haytians may have
abandoned the cultivation of sugar and coffee, not from idleness, but
from prudence; that they may have been as industriously employed
as their enslaved ancestors, though in a different manner. All the
testimony which we have ever been able to procure tends to prove that
they are at least industrious enough to live comfortably, and multiply
rapidly under the weight of a very heavy taxation.

We have shown that the decrease in the exports of Hayti does not
necessarily prove a decrease in the industry of the people. But we also
maintain, that, even if we were to admit that the Haytians work less
steadily than formerly, Major Moody has no right to attribute that
circumstance to the influence of climate. His error in this and in many
other parts of his work proceeds from an utter ignorance of the habits
of labourers in the temperate zone. What those habits are, we have
already stated. If an English labourer, who lias hitherto been unable
to obtain the enjoyments to which he is accustomed without working three
hundred days a year, should find himself able to obtain those enjoyments
by working a hundred days a year, he will not continue to work three
hundred days a year. He will make some addition to his pleasures, but he
will abate largely of his exertions. He will probably work only on
the alternate days. The ease of the Haytian is the same. As a slave he
worked twelve months in the year, and received perhaps as much as he
would have been able to raise in one month, if he had worked on his own
account. He was liberated--he found that, by working for two months,
he could procure luxuries of which he had never dreamed. If he worked
unsteadily, he did only what an Englishman, in the same circumstances,
would have done. In order to prove that labour in Hayti follows a
law different from that which is in operation among ourselves, it is
necessary to prove, not merely that the Haytian works unsteadily, but
that he will forego comforts to which he is accustomed, rather than work

This Major Moody has not even asserted of the Haytians, or {398}of any
other class of tropical labourers. He has, therefore, altogether failed
to show, that the natives of the torrid zone cannot be safely left to
the influence of those principles which have most effectually promoted
civilization in Europe. If the law of labour be everywhere the same,
and he has said nothing which induces us to doubt that it is so, that
unsteadiness of which he speaks will, at least in its extreme degree,
last only for a time, which, compared with the life of a nation, is but
as a day in the life of man. The luxuries of one generation will become
the necessaries of the next. As new desires are awakened, greater
exertions will be necessary. This cause, cooperating with that increase
of population of which the Major himself admits the effect, will,
in less than a century, make the llayti an labourer what the English
labourer now is.

The last case which we shall consider is, that of the free negroes who
emigrated from North America to llayti. They were in number about six
thousand. President Boyer undertook to defray the whole expense of their
passage, and to support them for four months after their arrival--a
clear proof that the people of Hayti are industrious enough to place at
the disposal of the Government funds more than sufficient to defray
its ordinary charges. We give the sixth and seventh articles of Boyer’s
instruction to the agent employed by him on this occasion, as Major
Moody states them. It is on these that his whole argument turns.

“Article VI.--To regulate better the interests of the emigrants, it
will be proper to let them know in detail, what the government of the
republic is disposed to do, to assure their future well-being and
that of their children, on the sole condition of their being good and
industrious citizens. You are authorized, in concert with the agents
of the different societies, and before civil authority, to make
arrangements with heads of families, or other emigrants who can unite
twelve people able to work, and also to stipulate that the government
will give them a portion of land sufficient to employ twelve persons,
and on which may be raised coffee, cotton, maize, peas and other
vegetables and provisions; and after they have well improved the said
quantity of land which will not be less than thirty-six acres in extent,
government will give a perpetual title to the said land to these twelve
people, their heirs, and assigns.

“Article VII.--Those of the emigrants who prefer applying themselves
individually to the culture of the earth, either by renting lands
already improved, which they will till, or by working in the field to
share the produce with the proprietor, must also engage themselves by
a legal act that, on arriving in llayti, they will make the above
mentioned {399}arrangements; and this they must do before judges of the
peace; so that, on their arrival here, they will be obliged to apply
themselves to agriculture, and not be liable to become vagrants.” (1)

On these passages the Major reasons thus--

“In Hayti, even at present, tinder the judicious government of President
Boyer, we find the free and intelligent American Blacks receiving land
for nothing, having their expenses paid, and the produce of the land to
be for their own advantage, obliged, by a legal act, to apply themselves
to a kind of labour which is manifestly and clearly intended to better
their condition.

“Why should a free man be thus obliged to act in a manner which the most
ignorant person might discover was a duty incumbent on him, and that
the result would be for his advantage? The legal act and its penalties,
after such a grant of land, would appear pre-eminently absurd in
England.” (2)

We, for our own parts, can conceive nothing more preeminently absurd,
than for a man to quote and comment on what he has never read. This is
clearly the case with the Major. The emigrants who were to be obliged
by a legal act to apply themselves to labour, were not those who were
to receive land for nothing, but those who were to rent it, or to hire
themselves out as labourers under others.. The Major has applied the
provisions of the Seventh Article to the class mentioned in the Sixth.
So disgraceful an instance of carelessness we never saw in any official

Whether the President acted well or ill, is not the question. The
principle on which he proceeded cannot be mistaken. He was about to
advance a considerable sum for the purpose of transporting these people
to Hayti. He appears, as far as we can judge from these instructions, to
have exacted no security from the higher and most respectable class.
But he thought it probable, we suppose, that many of those idle
and profligate persons who abound in all great cities, and who are
peculiarly likely to abound in a degraded caste, beggars and thieves,
the refuse of the North American bridewells, might accept his proposals,
merely that they might live for some months at free costs, and
then return to their old habits. He therefore naturally required some
assurance that the poorer emigrants intended to support themselves by
their industry before he would agree to advance their subsistence.

     1 Second Tart of Major Moody’s Report, p. 30.

     2 Ibid, p 32.

The {400}Major proceeds thus:--

“Your Lordship may observe, in the instructions of the President, that
onlv certain modes of rewarding the labour of the free American Black
are mentioned, viz. rentin’; land already improved, working in the field
to share the produce with the labourer, or, by being proprietors of
land, to cultivate on their own account without either rent or purchase,
having land from the free gift of the Government.

“The ordinary mode of rewarding the labourer by the payment of wages.
as in England or the Last Indies, where the country is fully peopled,
is never once mentioned or alluded to by President Boyer, who may
be fairly supposed to understand the situation of the country which he
governs.” (1)

For the sake of the Tytians, we hope that Boyer understands the
country which he governs better than the Major understands the subject
on which he writes. Who before, ever thought of mentioning the renting
of land as a mode of rewarding the labourer? The renting of land is a
transaction between the proprietor of the soil and the capitalist.
Can Major Moody possibly imagine, that, in any part of the world, the
labourer, as a labourer, pays rent, or receives it? He surely must
know, that those emigrants who rented land, must have rented it in the
capacity, not of labourers, but of capitalists; that they must have
paid the rent out of the profits of their stock, not out of the gains of
their labour; that even when a man works on his own account, the gains
of his labour, though not generally called wages, are wages to all
intents and purposes, and though popularly confounded with his profits,
follow a law altogether different. But Boyer, says Major Moody, never
mentions wages. How can wages be better defined, than as the share of
the produce allowed to the labourer? Does Major Moody conceive that
wages can be paid only in money, or that money wages represent any thing
but that share of the produce of which the President speaks? he goes on,
however, floundering deeper and deeper in absurdity at every step.

“In the present constitution of Hayti, as administered by President
Boyer, in “Titre sur l’Lrat Politique des Citoyens,” I find, under the
act, that the rights of citizenship are suspended, as regards domestics
working for wages (par l’etât de domestique à gages), in that very
republican country, where a person, ignorant of the effect of physical
causes, would naturally conclude that it would be most unjust to deprive
a man of his right of citizenship, because he preferred one mode of
subsisting himself to another, which the Government wished to encourage.”

     (1) Second Part of Major Moody’s Report, p. 32.

Physical {401}causes again! We should like to know whether these
physical causes operate in France. In the French Constitution of the
year 1791, we find the following Article.

“To be an active citizen, it is necessary not to be in a menial
situation, namely, that of a servant receiving wages.”

It seems, therefore, that this law which, in the opinion of Major Moody,
nothing but the heat of the torrid zone will explain--this law, which
any person, ignorant of physical causes, would consider as grossly
unjust, is copied from the Institutions of a great and enlightened
European nation. AYe can assure him, that a little knowledge of history
is now and then very useful to a person who undertakes to speculate on

We must return for a moment to the North American emigrants. Much
mismanagement seems to have taken place with respect to them. They were
received with cordiality, and pampered with the utmost profusion, by
the liberal inhabitants of Port-au-Prince. They had left a country where
they had always been treated as the lowest of mankind; they had landed
in a country where they were overwhelmed with caresses and presents.
The heads of many were turned by the change. Many came from cities,
and, totally unaccustomed to agricultural labour, found themselves
transported into the midst of an agricultural community. The Government,
with more generosity than wisdom, suffered them to eat their rations in
idleness. This is a short summary of the narrative of Dr. Dewey, who was
himself on the spot. He continues thus.

“Although these and other circumstances damped the ardour of some of the
emigrants, and rendered the in dissatisfied with their situation, yet I
have uniformly found the industrious and the most respectable, and
such as were fitted to be cultivators of the soil, contented with their
condition and prospects, and convinced that great advantages were put
within their reach. By far the greater part of the emigrants I saw were
satisfied with their change of country, and many were so much pleased
that they would not return on any consideration, and said, that they
never felt at home before, that they have never felt what it was to be
in a country where their colour was not despised. But these were such
as went out expecting to meet difficulties and not to live in the
city; and they are so numerous, and pursuing their course with so much
enterprise, that I feel there is no more reason for surprise at the
industry and contentment which they exhibit, than at the dissatisfaction
which has brought back 200, and will perhaps bring back a few more.” (1)

     (1) Second Part of Major Moody’s Report, p. 35. 26

All {402}this statement the Major quotes as triumphantly as if it were
favourable to his hypothesis, or as if it were not of itself sufficient
to refute every syllable that he has written. Those who came from towns
shrunk from agricultural labour. Is this a circumstance peculiar to any
climate? Lei Major Moody try the same experiment in this country with
the footmen and shopmen of London, and see what success he will have.
But those who were accustomed to tillage, applied themselves to it
with vigour; and this though they came from a cold country, and must
therefore be supposed to have been peculiarly sensible of the influence
of tropical heat. It is clear, therefore, that their desire to better
their Condition surmounted that love of repose which, according to the
new philosophy of labour, can, in warm, fertile, and thinly peopled
countries, be surmounted only by the fear of punishment.

We have now gone through the principal topics of which the Major has
treated. We have done him more than justice. We have arranged his
chaotic mass of facts and theories; we have frequently translated his
language into English; we have refrained from quoting the exquisitely
ridiculous similitudes and allusions with which he has set off his
reasonings; we have repeatedly taken on ourselves the burden of the
proof in cases where, by all the rules of logic, we might have imposed
it on him. Against us, he cannot resort to his ordinary modes of
defence. He cannot charge us with ignorance of local circumstances,
for almost all the facts on which we have argued are taken from his own
report. He cannot sneer at us as pious, benevolent people, misled by a
blind hatred of slavery, eager in the pursuit of a laudable, end, but
ignorant of the means by which alone it can be obtained. We have treated
the question as a question purely scientific. We have reasoned as if we
had been reasoning, not about men and women, but about spinning-jeanies
and power-looms.

Point by point we have refuted his whole theory. We have shown that the
phenomena which he attributes to the atmosphere of the torrid zone, are
found in the most temperate climates; and that, if coercion be desirable
in the case of the West Indian labourer, the stocks, the branding iron,
and the forty stripes save one, ought to be, without delay introduced
into England.

There {403}are still some parts of the subject on which, if the article
were not already too long, we should wish to dwell. Coercion, according
to Major Moody, is necessary only in those tropical countries in which
the population does not press on the means of subsistence. He holds,
that the multiplication of the species will at length render it
superfluous. It would be easy to show that this remedy is incompatible
with the evil; that the deadly labour, or, as he would call it, the
steady labour, which the West Indian sugar-planter exacts, destroys life
with frightful rapidity; that the only colonics in which the slaves
keep up their numbers are those in which the cultivation of sugar
has altogether ceased, or has greatly diminished; and that, in those
settlements in which it is extensively and profitably carried on, the
population _decreases_ at a rate which portends its speedy extinction.
To say, therefore, that the negroes of the sugar colonies must continue
slaves till their numbers shall have greatly increased, is to say, in
decent and humane phraseology, that they must continue slaves till the
whole race is exterminated.

At some future time we may resume this subject. We may then attempt to
explain a principle, which, though established by long experience, still
appears to many people paradoxical, namely, that a rise in the price of
sugar, while it renders the slave more valuable, tends at the same time
to abridge his life. We may then also endeavour to show how completely
such a system is at variance with the principles on which alone
colonization can be defended. When a great country scatters, in some
vast and fertile wilderness, the seeds of a civilized population,
fosters and protects the infant community through the period of
helplessness, and rears it into a mighty nation, the measure, is not
only beneficial to mankind, but may answer as a mercantile speculation.
The sums which were advanced for the support and defence of a few
emigrants, struggling with difficulties and surrounded by dangers,
are repaid by an extensive and lucrative commerce with flourishing and
populous regions, which, but for those emigrants, would still have been
inhabited only by savages and beasts of prey. Thus, in spite of all the
errors which our ancestors committed, both during their connexion with
the North American provinces, and at the time of separation, we are
inclined to think that England has, on the whole, obtained great
benefits from them. From our dominions in New South Wales, if
judiciously governed, great advantages may {404}also be derived. But
what advantage can we derive from colonies in which the population,
under a cruel and grinding system of oppression, is rapidly wasting
away? The planter, we must suppose, knows his own interest. If he
chooses to wear his slave to death by exacting from him an exorbitant
quantity of work, we must suppose that he gains more by the work than he
loses by the death.

But his capital is not the only capital which has been sunk in those
countries. Who is to repay the English nation for the treasure which has
been expended in governing and defending them? If we had made Jamaica
what we have made Massachusetts, if we had raised up in Guiana a
population like that of New York, we should indeed have been repaid. But
of such a result under the present system there is no hope. It is not
improbable that some who are now alive may see the last negro disappear
from our Transatlantic possessions. After having squandered a sum,
which, if judiciously employed, might have called into existence a
great, rich, and enlightened people, which might have spread our arts,
our laws, and our language from the banks of the Maragnon to the Mexican
sea, we shall again leave our territories deserts as we found them,
without one memorial to prove that a civilized man ever set foot on
their shores.

But we must absolutely conclude. This subject is far too extensive to
be fully discussed at present; and we have another duty to perform. With
the Major we began, and with the Major we mean to end. That he is a very
respectable officer, and a very respectable man, we have no reason to
doubt. But we do, with all seriousness and good-will assure him, that
he has no vocation to be a philosopher. If he has set his heart on
constructing theories, we are sorry for him; for we cannot flatter him
with the faintest hope of success. A few undigested facts, and a few
long words that mean nothing, are but a slender stock for so extensive a
business. For a time he may play the politician among philosophers, and
the philosopher among politicians. He may bewilder speculative men with
the cant of office, and practical men with the cant of metaphysics.
But at last he must find his level. He is very fit to be a collector of
facts, a purveyor of details to those who know how to reason on them;
but he is no more qualified to speculate on political science, than a
bricklayer is to rival Palladio, or a nurseryman to confute Linuæus.


(_Edinburgh Review_,) June, 1827.

We {405}ought to apologize to our readers for prefixing to this article
the name of such a publication. The two numbers which lie on our table
contain nothing which could be endured, even at a dinner of the Pitt
Club, unless, as the newspapers express it, the hilarity had been
continued to a very late hour. We have met, we confess, with nobody
who has ever seen them; and, should our account excite any curiosity
respecting them, we fear that an application to the booksellers will
already be too late. Some tidings of them may perhaps be obtained from
the trunk-makers. In order to console our readers, however, under this
disappointment, we will venture to assure them, that the only subject on
which the reasonings of these Antijacobin Reviewers throw any light,
is one in which we take very little interest--the state of their own
understandings; and that the only feeling which their pathetic appeals
have excited in us, is that of deep regret for our four shillings, which
are gone and will return no more.

It is not a very cleanly, or a very agreeable task, to rake up from the
kennels of oblivion the remains of drowned abortions, which have never
opened their eyes on the day, or even been heard to whimper, but have
been at once transferred from the filth in which they were littered, to
the filth with which they are to rot. But unhappily we have no choice.
Bad as this work is, it is quite as good as any which has appeared
against the present administration. We have looked everywhere, without
being able to find any antagonist who can possibly be as much ashamed of
defeat as we shall be of victory.

     (1) _The New Antijacobin Review_.--Nos. I. and II. 8vo.
     London, 1827.

The {406}manner in which the influence of the press has, at this crisis,
been exercised, is indeed, very remarkable. All the talent has been on
one side. With an unanimity which, as Lord Londonderry wisely supposes,
can be ascribed only to a dexterous use of the secret-service money, the
able and respectable journals of the metropolis have all supported the
new government. It has been attacked, on the other hand, by writers who
make every cause which they espouse despicable or odious,--by one paper
which owes all its notoriety to its reports of the slang uttered by
drunken lads who are brought to Bow Street for breaking windows--by
another, which barely contrives to subsist on intelligence from butlers,
and advertisements from perfumers. With these are joined all the
scribblers who rest their claim to orthodoxy and loyalty on the
perfection to which they have carried the arts of ribaldry and slander.
What part these gentlemen would take in the present contest, seemed
at first doubtful. We feared, for a moment, that their servility might
overpower their malignity, and that they would be even more inclined to
flatter the powerful than to calumniate the innocent. It turn-out that
we were mistaken; and we are most thankful for it. They have been kind
enough to spare us the discredit of their alliance. We know not how we
should have borne to be of the same party with them. It is bad enough,
God knows, to be of the same species.

The writers of the book before us, who are also, we believe, the great
majority of its readers, can scarcely be said to belong to this class.
They rather resemble those snakes with which Indian jugglers perform
so many curious tricks: The bags of venom are left, but the teeth are
extracted. That they might omit nothing tending to make them ridiculous.
they have adopted a title on which no judicious writer would have
ventured; and challenged comparison with one of the most ingenious and
amusing volumes in our language. Whether they have assumed this name on
the principle which influenced Mr. Shandy in christening his children,
or from a whim similar to that which induced the proprietors of the most
frightful Hottentot that ever lived, to give her the name of Venus,
we shall not pretend to decide; but we would seriously advise them
to consider, whether it is for their interest, that people should be
reminded of the celebrated imitations of Darwin and Kotzebue, while they
are reading {407}such parodies on the Bible as the following:--“In those
days, a strange person shall appear in the land, and he shall cry to the
people. Behold, I am possessed by the Demon of Ultra-Liberalism; I have
received the gift of incoherence; I am a political philosopher, and a
professor of paradoxes.”

We would also, with great respect, ask the gentleman who has lampooned
Mr. Canning in such Drydenian couplets as this:

                   “When he said if they would but let him in,

                   He would never try to turn them out again,”

whether his performance gains much by being compared with New Morality?
and, indeed, whether such satire as this is likely to make anybody laugh
but himself, or to make anybody wince but his publisher?

But we must take leave of the _New Antijacobin Review_; and we do so,
hoping that we have secured the gratitude of its conductors. We once
heard a schoolboy relate, with evident satisfaction and pride, that he
had been horsewhipped by a Duke: we trust that our present condescension
will be as highly appreciated.

But it is not for the purpose of making a scarecrow of a ridiculous
publication, that we address our readers at the present important
crisis. We are convinced, that the cause of the present Ministers is
the cause of liberty, the cause of toleration, the cause of political
science,--the cause of the people, who are entitled to expect from
their wisdom and liberality many judicious reforms,--the cause of the
aristocracy, who, unless those reforms be adopted, must inevitably be
the victims of a violent and desolating revolution. We are convinced,
that the government of the country was never intrusted to men who more
thoroughly understood its interest, or were more sincerely disposed to
promote it--to men who, in forming their arrangements, thought so much
of what they could _do_, and so little of what they could _get_. On
the other side, we see a party which, for ignorance, intemperance, and
inconsistency, has no parallel in our annals,--which, as an Opposition,
we really think, is a scandal to the nation, and, as a Ministry, would
speedily be its ruin. Under these circumstances, we think it our duty to
give our best support to those with whose power are inseparably bound
up all the dearest interests of the community,--the freedom {408}of
worship, of discussion, and of trade,--our honour abroad, and our
tranquillity at home.

In undertaking the defence of the Ministers, we feel ourselves
enbarrassed by one difficulty: we are unable to comprehend distinctly of
what they are accused. A statement of facts may be contradicted; but the
gentlemen of the Opposition do not deal in statements. Reasonings may
be refuted; but the gentlemen of the Opposition do not reason. There is
something impassive and elastic about their dulness, on which all the
weapons of controversy are thrown away. It makes no resistance, and
receives no impression. To argue with it, is like stabbing the water,
or cudgelling a woolpack. Buonaparte is said to have remarked, that the
English soldiers at Waterloo did not know when they were beaten. The
Duke of Wellington, equally fortunate in polities and in war, has
the rare felicity of being supported a second time by a force of
this description,--men whose desperate hardihood in argument sets all
assailants at defiance,--who fight on, though borne down on every side
by overwhelming proofs, rush enthusiastically into the mouth of an
absurdity, or stake themselves with cool intrepidity on the horn of a
dilemma. We doubt whether this unconquerable pertinacity be quite as
honourable in debate as in battle; but we are sure, that it is a very
difficult task for persons trained in the old school of logical tactics
to contend with antagonists who possess such a quality.

The species of argument in which the members of the Opposition appear
chiefly to excel, is that of which the Marquis, in the _Critique de
l’Ecole des Femmes_, showed himself so great a master:--

“Tarte, à la creme--morbleu, tarte à la creme!”

“Hé bien, que veux tu dire, tarte à la erême?”

“Parbleu, tarte à la crème, chevalier!”

“Mais encore?”

“Tarte à la crème!”

“Dî-nous un peu tes raisons.”

“Tarte à la crème!”

“Mais il faut expliquer ta pensée, ce me semble.”

“Tarte à la crème, Madame.”

“Que trouvez-vouz là à redire?”

“Moi, rien;--tarte à la crème!” With equal taste and judgment,
the writers and speakers of the Opposition repeat their favourite
phrases,--“deserted principles,” “unnatural coalition,” “base love of
office.” They have not, we must allow, been unfortunate in their choice
of a topic. The English are but too much accustomed to consider
every public virtue as comprised in consistency; and {409}the name of
coalition has to many ears a startling and ominous sound. Of all the
charges brought, against the Ministry, this alone, as far as we can
discover, has any meaning; and even to this we can allow no force.

To condemn coalitions in the abstract, is manifestly absurd: Since in a
popular government, no good can be done without concert, and no
concert can be obtained without compromise. Those who will not stoop to
compliances which the condition of human nature renders necessary, are
fitter to be hermits than to be statesmen. Their virtue, like gold which
is too refined to be coined, must be alloyed before it can be of any
use in the commerce of society. But most peculiarly inconsistent and
unreasonable is the conduct of those who, while they profess strong
Party-feelings, yet entertain a superstitious aversion to Coalitions.
Every argument which can be urged against coalitions, as such, is also
an argument against party connexions. Every argument by which party
connexions can be defended, is a defence of coalitions. What coalitions
are to parties, parties are to individuals. The members of a party,
in order to promote some great common object, consent to wave all
subordinate considerations:--That they may co-operate with more effect
where they agree, they contrive, by reciprocal concessions, to preserve
the semblance of unanimity, even where they differ. Men are not thought
unprincipled for acting thus; because it is evident that without such
mutual sacrifices of individual opinions, no government can be formed,
nor any important measures carried, in a world of which the inhabitants
resemble each other so little, and depend on each other so much,--in
which there are as many varieties of mind as of countenance, yet in
which great effects can be produced only by combined exertions. We must
extend the same indulgence to a coalition between parties. If they agree
on every important practical question, if they differ only about objects
which are either insignificant or unattainable, no party man can, on his
own principles, blame them for uniting. These doctrines, like all other
doctrines, may be pushed to extremes by the injudicious, or employed
by the designing as a pretext for profligacy. But that they are not in
themselves unreasonable or pernicious, the whole history of our country

The Revolution itself was the fruit of a coalition between parties,
{410}which had attacked each other with a fury unknown in later times.
In the preceding generation their hostility had covered England with
blood and mourning. They had subsequently exchanged the sword for the
axe: But their enmity was not the less deadly because it was disguised
by the forms of justice. By popular clamour, by infamous testimony, by
perverted law, they had shed innocent and noble blood like water.
Yet all their animosities were forgotten in the sense of their common
danger. Whigs and Tories signed the same associations. Bishops and
field-preachers thundered out the same exhortations. The doctors of
Oxford and the goldsmiths of London sent in their plate with equal zeal.
The administration which, in the reign of Queen Anne, defended Holland,
rescued Germany, conquered Flanders, dismembered the monarchy of Spain,
shook the throne of France, vindicated the independence of Europe, and
established the empire of the sea, was formed by a junction between men
who had many political contests and many personal injuries to forget.
Somers had been a member of the ministry which had sent Marlborough to
the Tower. Marlborough had assisted in harassing Somers by a vexatious
impeachment. But would these great men have acted wisely or honourably
if, on such grounds, they had refused to serve their country in concert?
The Cabinet which conducted the seven years’ war with such distinguished
ability and success, was composed of members who had a short time before
been leaders of opposite parties. The Union between Fox and North is,
we own, condemned by that argument which it will never be possible
to answer in a manner satisfactory to the great body of mankind,--the
argument from the event. But we should feel some surprise at the dislike
which some zealous Pittites affect to entertain for coalitions, did we
not know that a Pittite means, in the phraseology of the present day, a
person who differs from Mr. Pitt on every subject of importance. There
are, indeed, two Pitts,--the real and the imaginary,--the Pitt of
history, a Parliamentary reformer, an enemy of the Test and Corporation
Acts, an advocate of Catholic Emancipation and of free trade,--and the
canonized Pitt of the legend,--as unlike to his namesake as Virgil the
magician to Virgil the poet, or St. James the slayer of Moors to St.
James the fisherman. What may have been the opinions of that unreal
being whose birthday {411}is celebrated by libations to Protestant
Ascendency, on the subject, of coalitions, we leave it to his veracious
hagiographers, Lord Eldon and Lord Westmoreland, to determine. The
sentiments of the real Mr. Pitt may be easily ascertained from
his conduct. At the time of the revolutionary war he admitted to
participation in his power those who had formerly been his most
determined enemies. In 1804 he connected himself with Mr. Fox, and,
on his return to office, attempted to procure a high situation in the
government for his new ally. One more instance we will mention, which
has little weight with us, but which ought to have much weight with
our opponents. They talk of Mr. Pitt;--but the real object of their
adoration is unquestionably the late Mr. Percival, a gentleman whose
acknowledged private virtues were but a poor compensation to his country
for the narrowness and feebleness of his policy. In 1809 that minister
offered to serve, not only _with_ Lord Grenville and Earl Grey, but even
_under_ them. No approximation of feeling between the members of the
government and their opponents had then taken place: there had not even
been the slightest remission of hostilities. On no question of
foreign or domestic policy were the two parties agreed. Yet under such
circumstances was this proposition made. It was, as might have been
anticipated, rejected by the Whigs and derided by the country. But the
recollection of it ought certainly to prevent those who concurred in
it, and their devoted followers, from talking of the baseness and
selfishness of coalitions.

These general reasonings, it may be said, are superfluous. It is not to
coalitions in the abstract, but to the present coalition in particular,
that objection is made. We answer, that an attack on the present
coalition can only be maintained by succeeding in the most signal way in
an attack on coalitions in the abstract. For never has the world seen,
and never is it likely to see, a junction between parties agreeing on
so many points, and differing on so few. The Whigs and the supporters of
Mr. Canning were united in principle. They were separated only by names,
by badges, and by recollections. Opposition, on such grounds as these,
would have been disgraceful to English statesmen. It would have been
as unreasonable and as profligate as the disputes of the blue and green
factions in the Hippodrome of Constantinople. {412}One man admires Mr.
Pitt, and another Mr. Fox. Are they therefore never to act together?
Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox were themselves willing to coalesce while they were
alive; and it would therefore be strange, if, after they have been lying
for twenty years in Westminster Abbey, their names should keep parties
asunder. One man approves of the revolutionary war. Another thinks it
unjust and impolitic. But the war is over. It is now merely a matter
of historical controversy. And the statesman who should require his
colleagues to adopt his confession of faith respecting it, would act
as madly as Don Quixote when he went to blows with Cardenio about the
chastity of Queen Madasima. On these points, and on many such points as
these, our new Ministers, no doubt, hold different opinions. They may
also, for aught we know, hold different opinions about the title of
Perkin Warbeck, and the genuineness of the [Greek] But we shall hardly,
on such grounds as these, pronounce their union a sacrifice of principle
to place.

It is, in short, of very little importance whether the parties which
have lately united entertain the same sentiments respecting things
which have been done and cannot be undone. It is of as little importance
whether they have adopted the same speculative notions on questions
which could not at present be brought forward with the slightest chance
of success, and which, in all probability, they will never be required
to discuss. The real questions are these: Do they differ as to the
policy which present circumstances require? Or is any great cause,
which they may have heretofore espoused, placed in a more unfavourable
situation by their junction?

That this is the ease, no person has even attempted to prove. Bold
assertions have indeed been made by a class of writers, who seem to
think that their readers are as completely destitute of memory as they
themselves are of shame. For the last two years they have been abusing
Mr. Canning for adopting the principles of the Whigs; and they now
claim that, in joining Mr. Canning, the Whigs have abandoned all their
principles! “The Whigs,” said one of their writers, but a few months
ago, “are exercising more real power by means of the present Ministers
than if they were themselves in office.”

“The Ministers,” said another, “are no longer Tories. What they call
conciliation is mere Whiggism.” {413}A third observed that the jest of
Mr. Canning about Dennis and his thunder had lost all its point, and
that it was a lamentable truth, that all the late measures of the
government seemed to have been dictated by the Whigs. Yet these very
authors have now the effrontery to assert that the Whigs could not
possibly support Mr. Canning without renouncing every opinion which they
had formerly professed.

We confidently affirm, on the other hand, that no principle whatever
has been sacrificed. With respect to our foreign relations and our
commercial policy, the two parties have for years been perfectly agreed.
On the Catholic question the views of the Whigs are the same with those
of a great majority of their new colleagues. It is true that, in an
illustrious assembly, which was formerly suspected of great dulness and
great decorum, and which has of late effectually redeemed itself from
one half of the reproach, the conduct of the Whigs towards the Catholics
has been represented in a very unfavourable light. The arguments
employed against them belong, we suppose, to a kind of logic which the
privileged orders alone are qualified to use, and which, with their
other constitutional distinctions, we earnestly pray that they may long
keep to themselves. An ingenious member of this assembly is said to have
observed, that the Protestant alarmists were bound to oppose the new
Ministers as friends to the Catholic cause, and that the Catholics ought
to oppose them as traitors to the same cause. He reminded the former of
the infinite danger of trusting power to a Cabinet composed principally
of persons favourable to emancipation: and, at the same time, pointed
the indignation of the latter against the perfidy of the pretended
friends who had not stipulated that emancipation should be made a
ministerial measure! We cannot sufficiently admire the exquisite
dexterity of an assailant who, in the same breath, blames the same
people for doing, and for _not_ doing the same thing. To ordinary
plebeian understandings we should think it undeniable that the Catholic
question must be now--either in the same situation in which it was
before the late change; or it must have lost; or it must have gained. If
it have gained, the Whigs are justified; if it have lost, the enemies
of the claims ought zealously to support the new government; if it be
exactly where it was before, no person who acted with Lord Liverpool
can, on this ground, consistently oppose Mr. Canning.

In {414}this view, indeed, the cause of the Whigs is the cause of the
ministers who have seceded from the Cabinet. Both parties have put in
the same plea; and both must be acquitted or condemned together. If it
be allowed that the elevation of Mr. Canning was not an event favourable
to the Catholic cause, the Whigs will certainly stand convicted of
inconsistency. But at the same time, the only argument by which the
ex-Ministers have attempted to vindicate their secession, must fall to
the ground; and it will be difficult to consider that proceeding in any
other light than as a factious expedient to which they have resorted, in
order to embarrass a colleague whom they envied. If, on the other hand,
the effect of the late change were such, that it became the duty of
those who objected to Catholic Emancipation, to decline all connexion
with the Ministry, it must surely have become, at the same time, the
duty of the friends of Emancipation to support the Ministry. Those who
take the one ground, when their object is to vindicate the seceders, and
the other, when their object is to blacken the Whigs, who, in the same
speech, do not scruple to represent the Catholic cause as triumphant and
as hopeless, may, we fear, draw down some ridicule on themselves, but
will hardly convince the country. But why did not the Whigs stipulate
that some proposition for the relief of the Catholics should be
immediately brought forward, and supported by the whole influence of
the Administration? We answer, simply because they could not obtain
such conditions, and because, by insisting upon them, they would have
irreparably injured those whom they meant to serve, and have thrown the
government into the hands of men who would have employed all its power
and patronage to support a system which, we do not scruple to say, is
the shame of England, and the curse of Ireland. By the course which they
have taken, they have insured to the sister kingdom every alleviation
which its calamities can receive from the lenient administration of an
oppressive system. Under their government, it will at least be no man’s
interest to espouse the side of bigotry. Truth will have a fair chance
against prejudice. And whenever the dislike with which the majority of
the English people regard the Catholic claims shall have been overcome
by discussion, no other obstacle will remain to be surmounted.

The friends of the Catholics have, indeed, too long kept out {415}of
sight the real difficulty which impedes the progress of all measures
for their relief. There has been a nervous reluctance--perhaps a
natural unwillingness, to approach this subject. Yet it is of the utmost
importance that it should at last be fully understood. The difficulty,
we believe, is neither with the King nor with the Cabinet,--neither with
the Commons nor with the Lords. It is with the People of England;
and not with the corrupt, not with the servile, not with the rude and
uneducated, not with the dissolute and turbulent, but with the great
body of the middling orders;--of those who live in comfort, and have
received some instruction. Of the higher classes, the decided majority
is, beyond all dispute, with the Catholics. The lower classes care
nothing at all about the question. It is among those whose influence is
generally exerted for the most salutary purposes,--among those from
whom liberal statesmen have, in general, received the strongest
support,--among those who feel the deepest detestation of oppression and
corruption, that erroneous opinions on this subject are most frequent.
A faction with which they have no other feeling in common, has, on
this question, repeatedly made them its tools, and has diverted their
attention more than once from its own folly and profligacy, by raising
the cry of No Popery. They have espoused their opinions, not from want
of honesty, not from want of sense, but simply from want of information
and reflection. They think as the most enlightened men in England
thought seventy or eighty years ago. Pulteney and Pelham would no
more have given political power to Papists than to ourang-outangs. A
proposition for mitigating the severity of the penal laws would, in
their time, have been received with suspicion. The full discussion which
the subject has since undergone, has produced a great change. Among
intelligent men in that rank of life from which our ministers and
the members of our legislature are selected, the feeling in favour
of concession is strong and general. But, unfortunately, sufficient
attention has not been paid to a lower, but most influential and
respectable class. The friends of the Catholic claims, content with
numbering in their ranks all the most distinguished statesmen of two
generations, proud of lists of minorities and majorities adorned
by every name which commands the respect of the country, have not
sufficiently excited themselves to {416}combat popular prejudices.
Pamphlets against Emancipation are circulated, and no answers appear.
Sermons are preached against it, and no pains are taken to obliterate
the impression. The rector carries a petition round to every
shop-keeper and every farmer in his parish, talks of Smith-field and
the inquisition, Bishop Bonner and Judge Jeffries. No person takes the
trouble to canvass on the other side. At an election, the candidate who
is favourable to the Catholic claims, is almost always content to stand
on the defensive, he shrinks from the odium of a bold avowal. While his
antagonist asserts and reviles, he palliates, evades, and distinguishes.
he is unwilling to give a pledge: he has not made up his mind: he hopes
that adequate securities for the Church may be obtained: he will wait
to see how the Catholic States of South America behave themselves! And
thus, as fast as he can, he gets away from the obnoxious subject, to
retrenchment, reform, or negro slavery. If such a man succeeds, his vote
does not benefit the Catholics half so much as his shuffling injures
them. How can the people understand the question, when those whose
business it is to enlighten them, will not state it to them plainly?
Is it strange that they should dislike a cause of which almost all its
advocates seem to be ashamed? If, at the late election, all our publie
men who are favourable to Emancipation had dared to speak out, had
introduced the subject of their own accord, and discussed it day after
day, they might have lost a few votes; they might have been compelled
to face a few dead cats; but they would have put down the prejudice
effectually. Five or six friends of the claims might have been unseated,
but the claims would have been carried.

The popular aversion to them is an honest aversion; according to the
measure of knowledge which the people possess, it is a just aversion.
It has been reasoned down wherever the experiment has been fearlessly
tried. It may be reasoned down everywhere. The war should be carried
on in every quarter. No misrepresentation should be suffered to pass
unrefuted. When a silly letter from Philo-Melancthon, or Anti-Doyle,
about the Coronation Oath, or divided allegiance, makes its appearance
in the corner of a provincial newspaper, it will not do merely to
say, “What stuff!” We must remember that such statements constantly
reiterated, and seldom answered, will assuredly be believed.

Plain, {417}spirited, moderate treatises on the subject, should find
their way into every cottage;--not such rancorous nonsense as that for
which the Catholics formerly contracted with the fiercest and basest
libeller of the age, the apostate politician, the fraudulent debtor, the
ungrateful friend, whom England has twice spewed out to America; whom
America, though far from squeamish, has twice vomited back to England.
They will not, they may be assured, serve their cause by pouring forth
unmeasured abuse on men whose memory is justly dear to the hearts of
a great people;--men mighty even in their weaknesses, and wise even in
their fanaticism;--the goodly fellowship of our reformers,--the noble
army of our martyrs. Their scandal about Queen Elizabeth, and their
wood-cuts of the devil whispering in the ear of John Fox, will produce
nothing but disgust. They must conduct the controversy with good sense
and good temper, and there cannot be the slightest doubt of the issue.
But of this they may be fully assured, that, while the general feeling
of the Nation remains unchanged, a Ministry which should stake its
existence on the success of their claims, would ruin itself, without
benefiting them.

The conduct of the Catholics, on the present occasion, deserves the
highest praise. They have shown that experience has at last taught them
to know their enemies from their friends. Indeed there are few scenes in
this tragicomic world of ours more amusing than that which the leaders
of the Opposition are now performing. The very men who have so long
obstructed Emancipation,---who have stirred up the public feeling in
England against Emancipation,--who, in fine, have just resigned their
offices, because a supporter of Emancipation was placed at the head of
the government,--are now weeping over the disappointed hopes of the
poor Papists, and execrating the perfidious Whigs who have taken office
without stipulating for their relief! The Catholics are, in the mean
time, in the highest spirits, congratulating themselves on the success
of their old friends, and laughing at the condoling visages of their new

Something not very dissimilar is taking place with respect to
Parliamentary Reform. The reformers are delighted with the new Ministry.
Their opponents are trying to convince them that they ought to be
dissatisfied with it. The Whigs, we suppose, ought to have insisted that
Reform should {418}be made a Ministerial measure. We will not at present
inquire whether they have, as a body, ever declared any decided opinion
on the subject. A much shorter answer will suffice, he Reform good or
bad, it is at present evidently unattainable. No man can, by coming into
office, or by going out of office, either effect it or prevent it. As we
are arguing with people who are more influenced by one name than by ten
reasons, we will remind them of the conduct pursued by Mr. Pitt with
regard to this question. At the very time when he publicly pledged
himself to use his whole power “_as a man and as a minister, honestly
and boldly_” to carry a proposition of Parliamentary Reform, he was
sitting in the same Cabinet with persons decidedly hostile to every
measure of the kind. At the present juncture, we own that we should
think it as absurd in any man to decline office for the sake of this
object, as it would have been in Sir Thomas More to refuse the Great
Seal, because he could not introduce all the institutions of Utopia into
England. The world would be in a wretched state indeed, if no person
were to accept of power, under a form of government which he thinks
susceptible of improvement. The effect of such scrupulosity would be,
that the best and wisest men would always be out of place; that all
authority would be committed to those who might be too stupid or too
selfish to see abuses in any system by which they could profit, and who,
by their follies and vices, would aggravate all the evils springing from
defective institutions.

But were we to admit the truth of every charge which personal enemies
or professional slanderers have brought against the present ministers
of the Crown, were we to admit that they had abandoned their principles,
that they had betrayed the Catholics and the Reformers, it would still
remain to be considered, whether we might not change for the worse. We
trust in God that there is no danger. We think that this country
never will, never can, be subjected to the rule of a party so weak, so
violent, so ostentatiously selfish, as that which is now in Opposition.
Has the Cabinet been formed by a coalition? How, let us ask, has the
Opposition been formed? Is it not composed of men who have, all their
lives, been thwarting and abusing each other, Jacobins, Whigs, Tories,
friends of Catholic Emancipation, enemies of Catholic Emancipation,--men
united only by their common {419}love of high rents, by their common
envy of superior abilities, by their common wish to depress the people
and to dictate to the throne? Did Lord Lansdowne at any time differ so
widely from Mr. Canning as Lord Redesdale from Lord Lauderdale--sometime
needle-maker, and candidate for the shrievalty of London? Are the
Ministers charged with deserting their opinions? and can we find no
instances of miraculous conversion on the left of the woolsack? What
was the influence which transformed the _Friend of the People_ into an
aristocrat, “resolved to stand or fall with his order?” Whence was
the sudden illumination, which at once disclosed to all the discarded
Ministers the imperfections of the Corn Bill? Let us suppose that the
Whigs had, as a party, brought forward some great measure before the
late changes, that they had carried it through the Commons, that they
had sent it up, with the fairest prospect of success, to the Lords, and
that they had then, in order to gratify Mr. Canning, consented, in the
face of all their previous declarations, to defeat it, what a tempest of
execration and derision would have burst upon them! Yet the conduct of
the ex-Ministers, according to the best lights we can obtain upon it,
was even more culpable than this. Not content with doing a bad thing,
they did it in the worst way. The bill which had been prepared by the
leader for whom they professed boundless veneration, which had been
brought in under their own sanction, which, as they positively declared,
had received their fullest consideration, which one of themselves had
undertaken to conduct through the House of Lords, that very bill they
contrived to defeat:--and, in the act of defeating it, they attempted
to lay upon the colleagues whom they had deserted, the burden of public
resentment which they alone had incurred. We would speak with indulgence
of men who had done their country noble service before--and of many of
whom, individually, it must be impossible to think otherwise than
with respect. But the scene lately passed in that great assembly has
afflicted and disgusted the country at large; and it is not the least
of its evil consequences, that it has lessened in the public estimation,
not only a body which ought always to be looked up to with respect, but
many individuals of whose motives we cannot bring ourselves to judge
unfavourably, and from whose high qualities we trust the country may
yet receive {420}both benefit and honour. Mr. Peel fortunately did not
expose himself quite as effectually as his associates; though we regret
that the tone he adopted was so undecided and equivocal. It was not for
him to pronounce any judgment on the wisdom of their conduct. He was
fully convinced of the purity of their motives. And finally it was the
eighteenth of June!--a day on which, it seems, the Duke of Wellington is
privileged to commit all sorts of mischief with impunity to the end of
his life. The Duke of Wellington, however, though the part which he took
was unfortunately prominent, seems to have been comparatively innocent.
He might not, while in office, have paid much attention to the measure
in its original form. He might not have understood the real nature of
his own unlucky amendment. But what were the motives of Earl Bathurst?
Or where were they when he undertook the care of the bill in its former
shape? Nothing had been changed since, excepting his own situation.
And it would be the very madness of charity to believe, that, if he had
still been a colleague of Lord Liverpool, or had been able to come to
terms with Mr. Canning, he would have pursued such a line of conduct.
Culpably as all his coadjutors have acted in this transaction, his share
of it is the most indefensible.

And it is for these men,--for men who, before they have been two months
out of office, have retracted the declarations which they made on a
most important subject just before they quitted office,--that we are
to discard the present ministers as inconsistent and unprincipled! And
these men are the idols of those who entertain so virtuous a loathing
for unnatural coalitions, and base compromises. These men think
themselves entitled to boast of the purity of their public virtues,
and to repel, with indignant amazement, any imputation of interested or
factious motives.

We dwell long on this event; because it is one which enables the country
to estimate correctly the practical principles of those who, if the
present ministers should fall, will assuredly take their places. To call
their conduct merely factious, is to deal with it far too mildly. It has
been factious at the expense of consistency, and of all concern for
the wishes and interests of the people. Was there no other mode of
embarrassing the government? Could no other opportunity be found or made
for a division? Was there no other {421}pledge which could be violated,
if not with less awkwardness to themselves, at least with less injury to
the state? Was it necessary that they should make a handle of a question
on which the passions of the people were roused to the highest point,
and on which its daily bread might depend, that they should condemn the
country to another year of agitation, and expose it to dangers, which,
only a few months before, they had themselves thought it necessary to
avert, by advising an extraordinary exercise of the prerogative? There
is one explanation, and only one. They were out, and they longed to be
in. Decency, consistency, the prosperity and peace of the country, were
as dust in the balance. They knew this question had divided men who were
generally united, and united others who were usually opposed; and though
they themselves had already taken their part with their colleagues in
office and the more intelligent part of their habitual opponents, they
did not scruple, for the sake of embarrassing those they had deserted,
to purchase the appearance of a numerous following, by opposing a
measure which they had themselves concocted, and pledged themselves to
support. From the expedients to which they have resorted in Opposition,
we may judge of what we have to expect if they should ever return to

They will return too, it must be remembered, not, as before, the
colleagues of men by whose superior talents they were overawed, and to
whose beneficial measures they were often compelled to yield a reluctant
consent. The late change has separated the greater part of them from all
such associates forever: it has divided the light from the darkness: it
has set all the wisdom, all the liberality, all the public spirit on
one side; the imbecility, the bigotry, and the rashness on the other. If
they rule again, they will rule alone.

They will return to situations which they will owe neither to their
talents nor to their virtues, neither to the choice of their King nor to
the love of their country; but solely to the support of an Oligarchical
Faction, richly endowed with every quality which ensures to its
possessors the hatred of a nation,--a faction arbitrary, bigoted, and
insolent,--a faction which makes parade of its contempt for the dearest
interests of mankind, which loves to make the people feel of how little
weight, in its deliberations, is the consideration of their happiness.

On {422}this party, and on this alone, must such ministers, returning
from such a secession, rely to uphold them against the public opinion,
against the wishes of a King who has wisely and nobly performed his
duty to the state, against the most beloved and respected portion of the
aristocracy, against a formidable union of all the great statesmen and
orators of the age. It was believed by those of whose wisdom Lord
Eldon and the Duke of Newcastle think with reverence, that, in the bond
between a sorcerer and his familiar demon, there was a stipulation that
the gifts bestowed by the Powers of Evil should never be employed but
for purposes of evil. Omnipotent for mischief, these obligors of the
fiend were powerless for good. Such will be the compact between the
Ex-Ministers, if ever they should return to power, and the only party
which can then support them. That they may be masters, they must be
slaves. They will be able to stand only by abject submission and by
boundless profusion--by giving up the People to be oppressed, first for
the profit of the Great, and then for their amusement,--by corn-laws,
and game-laws, and pensions for Lord Robert, and places for Lord John.

They will return pledged to oppose every reform, to maintain a constant
struggle against the spirit of the age, to defend abuses to which the
nation is every day becoming more quick-sighted. Even Mr. Peel, if,
unluckily, he should at last identity himself with their faction, must
restrain his propensity to innovation. Mutterings have already been
heard in high places against his tendencies to liberality; and all his
schemes for the reformation of our code or our courts must be abandoned.

Then will come all those desperate and cruel expedients of which none
but bad governments stand in need. The press is troublesome. There must
be fresh laws against the press. Secret societies are formed. The Habeas
Corpus act must be suspended. The people are distressed and tumultuous.
They must be kept down by force. The army must be increased; and the
taxes must be increased. Then the distress and tumult are increased: and
then the army must be increased again! The country will be governed as a
child is governed by an ill-tempered nurse,--first beaten till it cries,
and then beaten because it cries!

Our firm conviction is, that if the seceders return to office, they
will act thus; and that they will not have the power, even {423}if they
should have the inclination, to act otherwise. And what must the end of
these things be? We answer, without hesitation, that, if this course be
persisted in, if these counsels and these counsellors are maintained,
the end must be, a revolution, a bloody and unsparing revolution--a
revolution which will make the ears of those who hear of it tingle in
the remotest countries, and in the remotest times. The middling orders
in England are, we well know, attached to the institutions of their
country, but not with a blindly partial attachment. They see the merits
of the system; but they also see its faults; and they have a strong and
growing desire that these faults should be removed. If, while their wish
for improvement is becoming stronger and stronger, the government is to
become worse and worse, the consequences are obvious. Even now, it is
impossible to disguise, that there is arising in the bosom of that class
a Republican sect, as audacious, as paradoxical, as little inclined
to respect antiquity, as enthusiastically attached to its ends,
as unscrupulous in the choice of its means, as the French Jacobins
themselves,--but far superior to the French Jacobins in acuteness and
information--in caution, in patience, and in resolution. They are men
whose minds have been put into training for violent exertion. All that
is merely ornamental--? all that gives the roundness, the smoothness,
and the bloom, has been exuded. Nothing is left but nerve, and muscle,
and bone. Their love of liberty is no boyish fancy. It is not nourished
by rhetoric, and it does not evaporate in rhetoric. They care nothing
for Leonidas, and Epaminondas, and Brutus, and Codes. They profess to
derive their opinions from demonstration alone; and are never so little
satisfied with them as when they see them exhibited in a romantic
form. Metaphysical and political science engage their whole attention.
Philosophical pride has done for them what spiritual pride did for the
Puritans in a former age; it has generated in them an aversion for the
fine arts, for elegant literature, and for the sentiments of chivalry.
It has made them arrogant, intolerant, and impatient of all superiority.
These qualities will, in spite of their real claims to respect, render
them unpopular, as long as the people are satisfied with their rulers.
But under an ignorant and tyrannical ministry, obstinately opposed to
the most moderate and judicious innovations, their principles would
spread as rapidly {424}as those of the Puritans formerly spread, in
spite of their offensive peculiarities. The public, disgusted with the
blind adherence of its rulers to ancient abuses, would be reconciled to
the most startling novelties. A strong democratic party would be formed
in the educated class. In the lowest, and the most numerous order of the
population, those who have any opinions at all are democrats already. In
our manufacturing towns, the feeling is even now formidably strong; and
it is not strange that it should be so: For it is on persons in this
station that the abuses of our system press most heavily; while its
advantages, on the other hand, are comparatively little felt by them.
An abundant supply of the necessaries of life is, with them, almost the
only consideration. The difference between an arbitrary and a limited
monarchy vanishes, when compared with the difference between one meal
a-day and three meals a-day. It is poor consolation to a man who has had
no breakfast, and expects no supper, that the King does not possess a
dispensing power, and that troops cannot be raised in time of peace,
without the consent of Parliament. With this class, our government, free
as it is, is even now as unpopular as if it were despotic,--nay, much
more so. In despotic states, the multitude is unaccustomed to general
speculations on politics. Even when men suffer most severely, they look
no further than the proximate cause. They demand the abolition of a
particular duty, or tear an obnoxious individual to pieces. But they
never think of attacking the whole system. If Constantinople were in the
state in which Manchester and Leeds have lately been, there would be a
cry against the Grand Vizier or the bakers. The head of the Vizier would
be thrown to the mob, over the wall of the Seraglio--a score of bakers
would be smothered in their own ovens; and every thing would go on as
before. Not a single rioter would think of curtailing the prerogatives
of the Sultan, or of demanding a representative divan. But people
familiar with political inquiries carry their scrutiny further; and,
justly or unjustly, attribute the grievances under which they labour, to
defects in the original constitution of the government. Thus it is with
a large portion of our spinners, our grinders, and our weavers. It is
not too much to say, that in a season of distress, they are ripe for any
revolution. This, indeed, is acknowledged by all the Tory writers of our
time. But all {425}this, they tell us, comes of education--it is all the
fault of the Liberals. We will not take up the time of our readers with
answering such observations. We will only remind our gentry and clergy,
that the question at present is not about the _cause_ of the evil, but
about its _cure_; and that, unless due precaution be used, let the fault
be whose it may, the punishment will inevitably be their own.

The history of our country, since the peace of 1815, is almost entirely
made up of the struggles of the lower orders against the government,
and of the efforts of the government to keep them down. In 1816, immense
assemblies were convened, secret societies were formed, and gross
outrages were committed. In 1817, the Habeas Corpus Act was twice
suspended. In 1819, the disturbances broke out afresh. Meetings were
held, so formidable, from their numbers and their spirit, that the
Ministry, and the Parliament, approved of the conduct of magistrates who
had dispersed one of them by the sword. Fresh laws were passed against
seditious writings and practices. Yet the following year commenced
with a desperate and extended conspiracy for the assassination of the
cabinet, and the subversion of the government. A few months after this
event, the Queen landed. On that occasion, the majority of the middling
orders joined with the mob. The effect of the union was irresistible.
The Ministers and the Parliament stood aghast; the bill of pains and
penalties was dropped; and a convulsion, which seemed inevitable, was
averted. But the events of that year ought to impress one lesson on
the mind of every public man,--that an alliance between the disaffected
multitude and a large portion of the middling orders, is one with
which no government can venture to cope, without imminent danger to the

A government like that with which England would be cursed, if the
present Ministry should fall before the present Opposition, would render
such an alliance not only inevitable, but permanent. In less than ten
years, it would goad every Reformer in the country into a Revolutionist.
It would place at the head of the multitude, persons possessing all the
education, all the judgment, and all the habits of cooperation in which
the multitude itself is deficient. That great body is physically the
most powerful in the state. Like the Hebrew champion, it is yet held
in captivity by its blindness. {426}But if once the eyeless Giant shall
find a guide to put his hand on the props of the State--if once he shall
bow himself upon the pillars, woe to all those who have made him their
laughing-stock, or chained him to grind at their mill!

We do, therefore, firmly believe, that, even if no external cause were
to precipitate a fatal crisis, this country could not be governed for
a single generation by such men as Lord Westmoreland and Lord Eldon,
without extreme risk of revolution. But there are other symptoms in the
body politic, not less alarming than those which we have described. In
Ireland, there are several millions of Catholics, who do not love our
government; and who detest, with all their heart, with all their soul,
with all their mind, and with all their strength, the party now in
Opposition. The accession of that party to power, would be a death-blow
to their hopes of obtaining their demands by constitutional means: and
we may fairly expect, that all the events which followed the recall
of Lord Fitzwilliam, will take place again, on a greater and more
formidable scale. One thing, indeed, we have no right to expect, that
a second Hoche will be as unfortunate as the former. A civil war in
Ireland will lead almost necessarily to a war with France. Maritime
hostilities with France, and the clash of neutral and belligerent
pretensions, will then produce war with America. Then come expeditions
to Canada and expeditions to Java. The Cape of Good Hope must be
garrisoned. Lisbon must be defended. Let us suppose the best. That best
must be, a long conflict, a dear-bought victory, a great addition to a
debt already most burdensome, fresh taxes, and fresh discontents.
All these are events which may not improbably happen under any
government--events which the next month may bring forth--events, against
which no minister, however able and honest, can with perfect certainty
provide,--but which Ministers, whose policy should exasperate the people
of Ireland, would almost unavoidably bring upon us. A Cabinet formed by
the Ex-Ministers could scarcely exist for a year, without incensing the
lower classes of the English to frenzy, by giving them up to the selfish
tyranny of its aristocratical supporters, without driving Ireland into
rebellion, and without tempting France to war.

There is one hope, and one hope only for our country; and {427}that hope
is in a liberal Administration,--in Administration which will follow
with cautions, but with constantly advancing steps, the progress of the
public mind; which, by promptitude to redress practical grievances, will
enable itself to oppose with authority and effect, the propositions of
turbulent theorists; which by kindness and fairness in all its dealings
with the People, will entitle itself to their confidence and esteem.

The state of England at the present moment, bears a close resemblance
to that of France at the time when Turgot was called to the head
of affairs. Abuses were numerous; public burdens heavy; a spirit of
innovation was abroad among the people. The philosophical Minister
attempted to secure the ancient institutions, by amending them. The mild
reforms which he projected, had they been carried into execution, would
have conciliated the people, and saved from the most tremendous of all
commotions the Church, the Aristocracy, and the Throne. But a crowd of
narrow-minded nobles, ignorant of their own interest, though solicitous
for nothing else, the Newcastles and the Salisburys of France, began to
tremble for their oppressive franchises. Their clamours overpowered the
mild good sense of a King who wanted only firmness to be the best of
Sovereigns. The Minister was discarded for councillors more obsequious
to the privileged orders; and the aristocracy and clergy exulted in
their success.

Then came a new period of profusion and misrule. And then, swiftly, like
an armed man, came poverty and dismay. The acclamation of the nobles,
and the _Te Deums_ of the church, grew fainter and fainter. The very
courtiers muttered disapprobation. The Ministers stammered out feeble
and inconsistent counsels. But all other voices were soon drowned in
one, which every moment waxed louder and more terrible,--in the fierce
and tumultuous roar of a great people, conscious of irresistible
strength, maddened by intolerable wrongs, and sick of deferred hopes!
That cry, so long stifled, now rose from every corner of France, made
itself heard in the presence-chamber of her King, in the salons of her
nobles, and in the refectories of her luxurious priesthood. Then, at
length, concessions were made which the subjects of Louis the Fourteenth
would have thought it impious even to desire,--which the most factious
opponent of {428}Louis the Fifteenth had never ventured to ask,--which,
but a few years before, would have been received with ecstasies of
gratitude. But it was too late!

The imprisoned Genie of the Arabian Tales, during the early period of
his confinement, promised wealth, empire, and supernatural powers to the
man who should extricate him. But when he had waited long in vain, mad
with rage at the continuance of his captivity, he vowed to destroy his
deliverer without mercy! Such is the gratitude of nations exasperated
by misgovernment to rulers who are slow to concede. The first use which
they make of freedom is to avenge themselves on those who have been so
slow to grant it.

Never was this disposition more remarkably displayed than at the period
of which we speak. Abuses were swept away with unsparing severity. The
royal prerogatives, the feudal privileges, the provincial distinctions,
were sacrificed to the passions of the people. Every thing was given;
and every thing was given in vain. Distrust and hatred were not to be
thus eradicated from the minds of men who thought that they were not
receiving favours but extorting rights; and that, if they deserved
blame, it was not for their insensibility to tardy benefits, but for
their forgetfulness of past oppression.

What followed was the necessary consequence of such a state of feeling.
The recollection of old grievances made the people suspicious and
cruel. The fear of popular outrages produced emigrations, intrigues with
foreign courts; and, finally, a. general war. Then came the barbarity
of fear; the triple despotism of the clubs, the committees, and the
commune; the organized anarchy, the fanatical atheism, the scheming and
far-sighted madness, the butcheries of the Châtelet, and the accursed
marriages of the Loire. The whole property of the nation changed hands.
Its best and wisest citizens were banished or murdered. Dungeons were
emptied by assassins as fast as they were filled by spies. Provinces
were made desolate. Towns were unpeopled. Old things passed away. All
things became new.

The paroxysm terminated. A singular train of events restored the house
of Bourbon to the French throne. The exiles have returned. But they have
returned as the few survivors of the deluge returned to a world in which
they could {429}recognise nothing; in which the valleys had been raised,
and the mountains depressed, and the courses of the rivers changed,--in
which sand and sea-weed had covered the cultivated fields and the walls
of imperial cities. They have returned to seek in vain, amidst the
mouldering relics of a former system, and the fermenting elements of a
new creation, the traces of any remembered object. The old boundaries
are obliterated. The old laws are forgotten. The old titles have become
laughing-stocks. The gravity of the parliaments, and the pomp of the
hierarchy; the Doctors whose disputes agitated the Sorbonne, and the
embroidered multitude whose footsteps wore out the marble pavements of
Versailles,--all have disappeared. The proud and voluptuous prelates who
feasted on silver, and dozed amidst curtains of massy velvet, have been
replaced by curates who undergo every drudgery and every humiliation
for the wages of lackeys. To those gay and elegant nobles who studied
military science as a fashionable accomplishment, and expected military
rank as a part of their birthright, have succeeded men born in lofts and
cellars; educated in the halfnaked ranks of the revolutionary armies,
and raised by ferocious valour and self-taught skill, to dignities with
which the coarseness of their manners and language forms a grotesque
contrast. The government may amuse itself by playing at despotism, by
reviving the names and aping the style of the old court--as Helenus in
Epirus consoled himself for the lost magnificence of Troy, by calling
his book Xanthus, and the entrance of his little capital the Seæan gate.
But the law of entail is gone, and cannot be restored. The liberty
of the press is established, and the feeble struggles of the Minister
cannot permanently put it down. The Bastille is fallen, and can
never more rise from its ruins. A few words, a few ceremonies, a few
rhetorical topics, make up all that remains of that system which was
founded so deeply by the policy of the house of Valois, and adorned so
splendidly by the pride of Louis the Great.

Is this a romance? Or is it a faithful picture of what has lately been
in a neighbouring land--of what may shortly be, within the borders of
our own? Has the warning been given in vain? Have our Mannerses and
Clintons so soon forgotten the fate of houses as wealthy and as noble as
their own: Have they forgotten how the tender and delicate woman,--the
{430}woman who would not set her foot on the earth for tenderness and
delicateness, the idol of gilded drawing-rooms, the pole-star of
crowded theatres, the standard of beauty, the arbitress of fashion,
the patroness of genius,--was compelled to exchange her luxurious and
dignified ease for labour and dependence, the sighs of Dukes and the
flattery of bowing Abbés for the insults of rude pupils and exacting
mothers;--perhaps, even to draw an infamous and miserable subsistence
from those charms which had been the glory of royal circles--to sell for
a morsel of bread her’ reluctant caresses and her haggard smiles--to be
turned over from a garret to a hospital, and from a hospital to a parish
vault? Have they forgotten how the gallant and luxurious nobleman,
sprung from illustrious ancestors, marked out from his cradle for the
highest honours of the State and of the army, impatient of all control,
exquisitely sensible of the slightest affront, with all his high spirit,
his polished manners, his voluptuous habits, was reduced to request,
with tears in his eyes, credit for half-a-crown,--to pass day after
day in hearing the auxiliary verbs mis-recited, or the first page
of Télémaque misconstrued, by petulant boys, who infested him with
nicknames and caricatures, who mimicked his foreign accent, and laughed
at his thread-bare coat? Have they forgotten all this? God grant
that they may never remember it with unavailing self-accusation, when
desolation shall have visited wealthier cities and fairer gardens;--when
Manchester shall be as Lyons, and Stowe as Chantilly;--when he who now,
in the pride of rank and opulence, sneers at what we have written in
the bitter sincerity of our hearts, shall be thankful for a porringer of
broth at the door of some Spanish convent, or shall implore some Italian
money-lender to advance another pistole on his George!


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