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its political ideals and canons of taste, to impart to it the qualities that distinguish it most widely from the Eastern world. But how much of this influence would have arisen or have survived if, as might easily have hap
pened, the invasion of Xerxes had succeeded, and an 5 Asiatic despotism been planted in Greece? It is a mere question of strategy whether Hannibal, after Cannæ, might not have marched upon Rome and burned it to the ground, and had he done so, the long train of momentous consequences that flowed from the Roman Empire would never have taken place, and a nation widely different in its position, its character, and its pursuits, would have 6 presided over the developments of civilization. It is, no
doubt, true that the degradation or disintegration of Oriental Christianity assisted the triumph of Mohammedanism; but if Mohammed had been killed in one of the first skirmishes of his career, there is no reason to believe that a great monotheistic and military religion would have been organized in Arabia, destined to sweep with resistless fanaticism over an immense part both of the Pagan and of the Christian world, and to establish itself for many centuries and in three continents as a serious rival 7 to Christianity. As Gibbon truly says, had Charles
Martel been defeated at the battle of Poitiers, Mohammedanism would have almost certainly overspread the whole of Gallic and Teutonic Europe, and the victory of the Christians was only gained after several days of doubtful and indecisive struggle. The obscure blunder of some forgotten captain, who perhaps moved his troops to the right when he should have moved them to the left, may have turned the scale, and determined the future of Eu8 rope. Even the changes of the French Revolution, prepared as they undoubtedly were by a long train of irresistible causes, might have worn a wholly different com
plexion had the Duke of Burgundy succeeded Lewis XIV, and directed, with the intelligence and the liberality that were generally expected from the pupil of Fénelon, the government of his country. Profound and searching changes in the institutions of France were inevitable, but had they been effected peacefully, legally, and gradually, had the shameless scenes of the Regency and of Lewis XV been avoided, that frenzy of democratic enthusiasm which has been the most distinctive product of the Revolution, and which has passed, almost like a new religion, into European life, might never have arisen, and the whole Napoleonic episode, with its innumerable consequences, would never have occurred.
WILLIAM PITT (EARL OF CHATHAM).—DESCRIPTION
OF HIS ORATORY.
ENGLAND IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.
This elaborate description of the genius and eloquence of William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, represents Mr. Lecky's style at its best. Pitt was the greatest statesman that England produced during the eighteenth century, and one of the greatest of all time. A mind comprehensive, bold, vigorous in execution, and vast in resources, an eloquence fascinating and irresistible, rendered him, during much of his career, the idol of the English people. No man contributed so much to place upon an enduring basis the power of England in America. To him, more than to any other, is to be attributed the fact that America became an English instead of a French country. The brilliant campaign which led to the capture of Quebec by Wolfe (1759) was planned by the genius of Pitt. By the treaty of Paris (1763), England acquired control of the territory out of which the United States was principally formed. In Pitt's time, newspaper reporting had not grown to be an art, nor was the right of
reporting entirely conceded, so that many of the greatest efforts of parliamentary eloquence have descended to us in an imperfect, fragmentary state. What great statesman was the son of the Earl of Chatham? What American city preserves the name of Pitt? Why did it receive the name? What was Chatham's policy toward the American colonies during the American Revolution?
1 We may here, then, conveniently pause to examine in some detail the character and policy of this most remarkable man, who, in spite of many and glaring defects, was undoubtedly one of the noblest, as he was one of the greatest, who have ever appeared in English politics. There have, perhaps, been English statesmen who have produced on the whole greater and more enduring benefits to their country than the elder Pitt, and there have certainly been some whose careers have exhibited fewer errors and fewer defects; but there has been no other statesman whose fame has been so dazzling and so universal, or concerning whose genius and character there 2 has been so little dispute. As an orator, if the best test
of eloquence be the influence it exercises on weighty matters upon a highly cultivated assembly, he must rank with the very greatest who have ever lived. His speeches appear, indeed, to have exhibited no pathos, and not much wit; he was not, like his son, skillful in elaborate statements; nor like Fox, an exhaustive debater; nor like Burke, a profound philosopher; nor like Canning, a great master of sparkling fancy and of playful sarcasm; but he far surpassed them all in the blasting fury of his invective, in the force, fire, and majesty of a declamation which thrilled and awed the most fastidious audience, in the burning and piercing power with which he could im3 print his views upon the minds of his hearers. Like
most men of real and original genius, but unlike the great majority even of very eminent speakers, his elo
quence did not consist solely or mainly in the skillful structure and the rhetorical collocation of his sentences. It abounded in noble thoughts nobly expressed, in almost rhythmical phrases of imaginative beauty which clung like poetry to the memory, in picturesque images and vivid epithets which illumined with a sudden gleam the subjects he treated. He lived at a time when there were 4 no regular parliamentary reporters; he never appears to have himself corrected a speech ; the remains we possess are but disjointed fragments or palpably inaccurate recollections, and nearly a hundred years have elapsed since his death ; but yet, in spite of all these disadvantages, there are few English orators who have left so many passages or sentences or turns of phraseology which are still remembered. His comparison of the coalition of Fox 5 and Newcastle to the junction of the Rhone and of the Saône, his denunciation of the employment of Indians in warfare, his defense of the Dissenters against the charge of secret ambition, his appeal to the historical memories recorded on the tapestry of the House of Lords, his contrast between the iron barons of the past and the silken barons of the present, his eulogy of Magna Charta, his expansion of the trite maxim that every Englishman's house is his castle, his descriptions of the Church of England as “a Calvinistic creed, a Popish liturgy, and an Arminian clergy," and of the press as “like the air, a chartered libertine,” are all familiar, while hardly a sentence is remembered from the oratory of his son, of Fox, of Plunket, or of Brougham. He possessed every per-6 sonal advantage that an orator could desire--a singularly graceful and imposing form, a voice of wonderful compass and melody, which he modulated with consummate skill; an eye of such piercing brightness and such commanding power that it gave an air of inspiration to his
speaking, and added a peculiar terror to his invective. The weight and dignity of a great character and a great intellect appeared in all he said, and a certain sustained loftiness of diction and of manner kept him continually on a higher level than his audience, and imposed respect upon the most petulant opposition. 7 In the histrionic part of oratory, in the power of conveying deep impressions by gesture, look, or tone, he appears, indeed, to have been unequaled among orators. Probably the greatest actor who ever lived was his contemporary, and the most critical and at the same time hostile observers declared that in grace and dignity of gesture Chatham was not inferior to Garrick. But notwithstanding the exquisitely finished acting displayed in their delivery, his speeches exhibited in the highest perfection that quality of spontaneity which so broadly distinguishes the best modern speaking from the prepared 8 harangues of antiquity. They were scarcely ever of the nature of formal orations, and they were little governed by rule, symmetry, or method. They usually took the tone of a singularly elevated, rapid, and easy conversation, following the course of the debate, passing with unforced transitions, and with the utmost variety of voice and manner, through all the modes of statement, argument, sarcasm, and invective; abounding in ingenious illustrations and in unlooked-for flashes, digressing readily to answer objections or to resent interruption, and rising in a moment under the influence of a strong pas
sion or of a great theme into the grandest and most 9 majestic declamation. In his best days he used to speak for hours with a power that never flagged, but in his latter years his voice often sank, whole passages were scarcely audible to the listeners, and his eloquence shone with a fitful and occasional, though still a dazzling splen