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From The National Review.

Justum ac tenacem propositi virum
Non civium ardor prava jubentium
Non vultus instantis tyranni
Mente quatit solida.



It was still uncertain whether it would finally take the shape which William the Third would have impressed upon it, or the form which it ultimately assumed under the Whig oligarchy. LORD ROSEBERY'S "Life of Mr. Pitt" government fell into a groove in which it tled this question. Walpole setUnder him, party is one of the best books of its kind. It is worked for the best part of a century. wholly free from any taint of party spirit; Discipline was enforced, and the authority though the author would be more than of leaders was extended. After Walpole's mortal if he did not occasionally betray time, though the experiment was often the presence of political sympathies not tried, it was never again possible to govern exactly in harmony with the idiosyncrasy" without distinction of party," never of his hero. He penetrates to the heart of again possible to revive the system of his subject when he tells us that Pitt's Godolphin. title to fame rests rather on his character than his actions, rather on his moral great-acquiring consistency and cohesion, the But, while the party system was thus ness than the splendor of his genius, sovereigns of the new dynasty were graduthough he thinks that as a war minister ally waking up to the fact that it was enhe has been greatly underrated; and he croaching on their own prerogative and winds up with a generous tribute to the reducing the crown to a cypher. purity of his patriotism, and the dauntless Whig boroughmongers had learned their intrepidity with which he carried out its own strength, and were determined to exdictates. Pitt's imperial intellect, intol-ercise it. George the Second and Carteerant of mediocrity, made him to some ret, George the Second and Chatham, extent unpopular within the limited circle made ineffectual struggles to throw off the of which the political world then con- yoke of party, and to rely on merit only sisted. But the nation at large saw in him for securing the support of the House of only the godlike man described by the Commons. But it was all in vain. The Roman poet, unmoved amid a thousand struggle was continued by George the dangers, superior to all calamities, and Third with varying success, till at length finally teaching his country how to "save a fatal error on the part of the oligarchy herself by her exertions, and to Europe by her example." This is the opportunity, like Wellington at Salamanca, save placed them at his mercy. He seized his Pitt that Lord Rosebery sets before us, and inflicted a defeat on his opponents, and as much praise is due to the style as from which it took them half a century to to the matter of his volume. He has a natural literary grace which a little culti- gave the chief command was Pitt. But recover. The young hero to whom he vation would raise to a high level of excel- Pitt was a born statesman, far too able lence, while throughout we are conscious and clear-sighted to attempt anything so of that nameless charm which tells us that fantastic as the realization of the patriot we are in the presence of a mind of no king, on which George the Third's boyordinary depth and strength. enough that the party system was too hood had been nurtured. He saw well firmly established to be overthrown. The question was how to bring the prerogative into harmony with it, so as to secure to the sovereign the right to choose his own ministers, and to exercise a substantive voice in the government of the country, without making him independent of the majority of the House of Commons. Pitt solved this problem. It is his distinction to have found a modus vivendi for prerog

Pitt may be considered under three heads in reference to his principles, to his policy, and to his character. As we look back upon the history of the last two hundred years, we see that Pitt is one of three great statesmen who since the revolution of 1688 have marked distinct epochs in our parliamentary and party history. For some time after the accession of the house of Hanover, party government remained on a very indeterminate footing.

ative and Parliament, for personal govern- | himself.

So did almost everybody in ment and party government, which existed Pitt's childhood. The Jacobites were dein full force down to the Reform Bill of funct. The old Tory party so well de1832, and made a brief attempt to reassert scribed by Lord Shelburne, the party of itself two years afterwards. This was his Wyndham and Barnard and Bromley, had work. There was to be no attempt to never taken very kindly to Leicester govern without party, or to discredit House, and, with the death of Frederick party organization. But the king was to Prince of Wales, had lost whatever rallyname the ministers whom he chose to ing point it afforded them. The only employ, and his will was to be taken into Tories whom the new generation knew account in deciding on the policy of the anything about were men of the Bute government. It was to remain a latent, stamp. Pitt could not call himself a Tory but not a dormant, power in the constitu- of that kind, nor yet of the type of Lord tion. What the king would say was a North. He was obliged to call himself a question which the ministry and the House Whig to differentiate himself from these. of Commons were always to be obliged But Pitt created a new party for himself, to ask themselves when any important which embodied the essential principle of measure was in contemplation. It is diffi- Toryism, the maintenance of the preroga cult to define such a system. It was im- tive at its proper level in the Constitution, possible to base it upon any distinct rules. while throwing off the abuses with which It must be worked, if at all, through a Bute and North had associated it. All general understanding having regard to the world called it the Tory party, and the the popular judgment which had been creator and leader of it a Tory. In procgiven in favor of the crown. Protests ess of time the Tory oligarchy, demoragainst it were from time to time renewed alized by long possession of power, had by the Whig party. But it continued to contracted some of the worst vices of the be recognized and regularly acted upon Whig oligarchy. But Canning was the down to the period we have mentioned; depository of the Pitt tradition and what and when in 1827 there was an aristocratic was the essence of Whiggism was only combination to keep Mr. Canning out of the accident of Toryism. office, and the king was threatened with the opposition of the Tory oligarchy, Mr. Canning decided him at once by appealing to the example of his father. On the 3rd April, 1827, Canning wrote to Croker that if the king were obliged to give way, "then had George the Third reigned, and Mr. Pitt and his father administered the government, in vain."

Thus the great Tory victory of 1783 ended in a compromise, which forms the second landing-place in the history of party. Pitt wrested from the Whig oligarchy the powers and prerogatives which they had appropriated to themselves during the last fifty years, and this was so much clear gain to the crown. But he let George the Third understand that the policy of the government must, as a rule, be determined by the prime minister, and not by himself, as had been the case under Lord North. It has been said that Pitt always called himself a Whig. But so, be it remembered, did George the Third call

The second stage of party government inaugurated by Pitt came to an end with the Reform Bill, and the minister who started it on its fresh course was Sir Robert Peel. The natural consequences of substituting for the old Tory party, which represented a method of government, a new Conservative party which represented existing institutions, was the division of parties into the destructive and defensive. Down to 1830 the pure Tory party was not essentially more conservative than the Whigs. Peel changed all this, having, in fact, no alternative, and arranged the two forces against each other on the footing which they still occupy.

Walpole, Pitt, and Peel, then, were the three ministers who mark the three changes through which the party system has passed, or rather, perhaps, the three stages of its existence, from the reign of George the First to our own time-the oligarchical, the monarchical, and the

democratic. Pitt was the statesman who in 1800, began in 1785. It was in that reconciled party with monarchy and the year that Pitt introduced his famous independence of the House of Commons "Irish Propositions," intended to place with the freedom of the sovereign. If Ireland on a commercial equality with we are to have monarchy at all, such, I England. They were vehemently resisted think, are the conditions under which it by the English manufacturers, hounded on shows to most advantage; and this was by Fox, and, when modified to conciliate the work of Mr. Pitt. Peel succeeded for the English, were as vehemently resisted a time in reconciling party with democ- by the Irish, who also had the support of racy. But signs are not wanting that this that ingenuous statesman. Pitt found it phase, also, after lasting nearly as long as impossible to pass a measure which should the previous one, is gradually approaching satisfy both the English protectionists and its termination. the Irish patriots, and reluctantly abanPitt's policy, whether foreign or domes-doned his design. "So passed away," tic, is quite another question. Lord Rose- says Lord Rosebery,bery is an admirer of Pitt's finance, and believes in the soundness of the sinking fund. His commercial doctrines he, of course, applauds. And he might have added what Sir George Cornewall Lewis has told us of Pitt's contemplated reforms. "His policy was founded on the continuance of peace. We have reason to know that he, an early disciple of Adam Smith, contemplated at this time a larger measure of free trade than the national debt accumulated during the subsequent war now permits; we mean an abolition of all customs duties, and a limitation of the national income to internal taxation."* Of Pitt's India Bill, Lord Rosebery says little, except that it effected a settlement which endured for three-quarters of a century, and, whatever its faults, we may add, was the parent of a mighty empire. But we have no space to devote to even matters so important as these. Our business, at present, is with Lord Rosebery's treatment of the two great questions by which Pitt's statesmanship will be tried, probably to the end of time-the Union with Ireland and the war with France, reserving some space for another subject which has risen into great importance in our own time, but of which very little notice has been taken in the current biographies of Pitt; we mean his contemplated mode of dealing with the condition of the peasantry, then, perhaps, about the middle of George the Third's reign, at its lowest ebb.

The Irish question, as far as it concerns Pitt, which ended with the Act of Union

• Administration of Great Britain, p. 134.


another of the rare and irrevocable opportuni-
ties of uniting the two countries. It is im-
possible to blame the Irish, jealous of any
reflection on their new legislative indepen-
dence, and who had seen the resolutions
which they had passed suspiciously transmuted
in this direction. Nothing, again, can be
more admirable than the energy, the foresight,
and the disregard of popular clamor displayed
by the young Minister. There is also some
excuse for the opposition of Fox, because
Fox openly professed that he had never been
able to understand political economy.
when we consider the object and the price;
that the price was Free Trade and the object
commercial, and, in all probability, incom-
plete, union with Ireland; that there was, in
fact, no price to pay, but only a double boon,
to use Pitt's happy quotation, "twice blessed,
it is difficult to avoid the impression that
it blesses him that gives and him that takes,'
there has been throughout the past history of
England and Ireland a malignant fate waving
away every auspicious chance, and blighting
every opportunity of beneficence as it arises.

The commercial treaty with France, which followed, in 1786, and in which Ireland was included, was resisted by the Whigs on the ground that France was our natural enemy. Pitt laughed at this idea as childish, and in this instance he rather had the country with him. Spain at that time, rather than France, was the traditional enemy of England. But the suc cess of this measure brought him no nearer to what he had so deeply at heart, namely, the termination of Irish misgovernment, and the reconciliation of that country with England. He now, therefore, turned his mind to some other means of effecting the same end; and that the Union would cer

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and army of baronets, to buy the rotten boroughs at the price of palaces, than to go on in the vile old way, hiring, haggling, jobbing, from one dirty day to another, from one miserable year to another, without hope or betraying the honest judgment of the country, self-respect; poisoning the moral sense, and in the futile, endless attempt to maintain the unnatural predominance, and the unreal connection, of an alien executive and a sectional legislature? If the answer be Yes, the means are to that extent justified, for there were no others. . . .

With regard to the Union two separate questions have to be considered. Firstly, were the means by which it was carried justifiable? Secondly, was it a right measure in itself? On both these points it was necessary to keep in mind the preliminary remark that It is Pitt's sinister destiny to be judged by has been made. It is easy on the brink of the the petty fragment of a large policy which he twentieth century to censure much in the did not live to carry out: a policy unhappy in eighteenth; but is it candid to do so without execution and results, but which was, it may placing oneself as far as possible in the atmo-be fairly maintained, as generous and comsphere, circumstances, and conditions of the period which one is considering? Have Pitt's critics done this? Have they judged him by the standards and ideas of his time, and not by the standards and ideas of their own?

It is in this spirit that history, truly and justly written, apportions blame and praise to men, judging by contemporary canons and not by ours. It is thus that history weighs in her balance Cæsar, and Richelieu, and William III., and Ximenes, and Oxenstiern. Were it otherwise, she would hold the third Duke of Richmond, with his universal suffrage and annual parliaments, a greater statesman than Pitt, or Burke, or any of his contemporaries. To Pitt alone is meted out a different measHe alone is judged, not by the end of the eighteenth, but by the end of the nineteenth century. And why? Because the Irish question, which he attempted to settle, is an unsettled question still. He alone of the statesmen of the eighteenth century, with the


prehensive in conception as it was patriotic in motive. It was at any rate worth trying, where so many had failed. But it had no trial, the experiment was scarcely even commenced; and the ruinous part that remains, exposed as it has been to the harshest storms of nine decades, is judged and venerated as if it were the entire structure.

Lord Rosebery agrees with Frere that in Pitt's judgment Roman Catholic emanCipation was a more important object than the Union, and that he regarded the latter only as the means to an end. "The Union was to pave the way." But we wish he had said something of Lord Cornwallis's suggestion, namely, that the removal of Roman Catholic disabilities should form an integral part of the Act of Union. I have often thought that Cornwallis was right and Pitt wrong on this point. Many men who would have acquiesced in emanexception of Burke and perhaps Chesterfield, cipation as an inseparable condition of the saw its importance and grappled with it man- Union changed their minds when the fully. Since then many ministers have nibbled at it whose efforts are buried in decent ob- Union had been passed without it. Would scurity. But Pitt's career is still the battle- not the king himself have been more field of historians and politicians, because he likely to swallow the pill had it come to is responsible for the treaty of Union; and him originally wrapped up with the other because he resigned and did not do some-provisions of the act, and represented to thing, neither known nor specified, but cer- him as an essential element of one comtainly impossible, to carry what remained of prehensive measure which could not surCatholic Emancipation. Of the corruption vive the excision of it? by which the Union was carried something remains to be noted. It was admittedly wholesale and horrible. But it must in fair-lowed Lord Rosebery to speak for himself, ness be remembered that this was the only method known of carrying on Irish Government; the only means of passing any measure through the Irish Parliament; that, so far from being an exceptional phase of politics, it was only three or four years of Irish administration rolled into one.

It must be understood, then, that corruption was not a monstrous, abnormal characteristic of the times; it was the every-day life and atmosphere of Irish politics. Was it not better, it may be then urged, that this system should end? Was it not better, at the worst, and once for all, to make a regiment of peers

On the subject of Ireland we have al

because it is desirable to give as wide a circulation as possible to his own words, constituting, as they do, so important and valuable a testimony both to the political exigencies which dictated the Union and to the character of the minister who passed to quote at equal length his description of it. If our space permitted, we should like Pitt's earlier attitude towards the French Revolution. It is generally recognized now that Pitt was cruelly mortified by the necessity of going to war, deranging, as it did, his whole system of domestic policy,

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