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standard of political honor was extremely low, having, it is said, at first a private fortune of not more than one hundred pounds a year, and being at the same time almost destitute of parliamentary connection, conscious of the possession of great administrative powers, and intensely desirous of office, he exhibited in all matters connected with money the most transparent and fastidious purity. He once spoke of “that sense of honor which makes ambition virtue,” and he illustrated it admirably himself. He was entirely inaccessible to corrupt offers, and, unlike the great majority of his contemporaries, not content with declaiming when in opposition, he attested in the most emphatic manner his sincerity when in power. 21 On his appointment as Paymaster of the Forces, in 1746, he at once and for ever established his character by two striking instances of magnanimity. His predecessors had long been accustomed to invest in government securities the large floating balance which was left in their hands for the payment of the troops and to appropriate the interest, and also to receive as a perquisite of office one half per cent. of all subsidies voted by parliament to foreign princes. These two sources of emolument, being united to the regular salary of the office, made it in time of war extremely lucrative; and though they had never been legalized they were universally recognized, and had been received without question and without opposition by a long line of distinguished statesmen. Pitt, who was probably the poorest man who had ever filled the office, refused them as illegal, and when the King of Sardinia pressed upon him as a free gift a sum equivalent to the usual deduction from his subsidy, he at once declined to accept it. 22 Such a course speedily made him the idol of the nation, which had long chafed bitterly under the corruption of its representatiyes. Pitt had, indeed, every quality that was required for a great popular leader. His splendid eloquence, his disinterestedness, his position outside the charmed circle of aristocratic connections, the popular cast and tendency of his politics, filled the people with admiration, and their enthusiasm was by no means diminished by the pride with which, relying on their favor, he encountered every aristocratic cabal, or by the insatiable ambition which was the most conspicuous element of his character. His pride was indeed of that kind which is the guardian of many virtues, and his ambition was indissolubly linked with the greatness of his country. Beyond all other statesmen of the eighteenth century he understood and sympathized with the feelings of the English people, and recognized the great unrepresented forces of the nation, and amid all the variations of his career his love of freedom never faltered, and a burning, passionate patriotism remained the guiding principle of his life.
INTELLECTUAL AND LITERARY CHARACTERISTICS OF ENGLAND IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.
LECKY’s “ENGLAND IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.”
The study of the intellectual, and especially the literary, characteristics of the eighteenth century has received a new impulse of late years. The Introduction to Matthew Arnold's edition of Johnson’s “Lives of the Poets,” is valuable as an exposition of its literary side. Morley’s “English Writers” and Morley’s “First Sketch of English Literature” are full of information. We have already spoken of the age of Queen Anne and its literary characteristics– the culture of style, and the systematic endeavor to lay down can
ons of criticism. It is hoped that the student will read the “Spectator” and the “Tatler.” They are valuable both as historical and literary studies. 1 I shall conclude this volume with a brief sketch of the leading intellectual and social changes of the period we have been examining which have not fallen within the scope of the preceding narrative. In the higher forms of intellect, if we omit the best works of Pope and Swift, who belong chiefly to the reign of Anne, the reigns of George I and George II were, on the whole, not prolific, but the influence of the press was great and growing, though periodical writing was far less brilliant than in the preceding period. Among other writers, Fielding, Lyttelton, and Chesterfield occasionally contributed to it. The “Craftsman” especially, though now utterly neglected, is said to have once attained a circulation of ten thousand, was believed to have eclipsed the “Spectator,” and undoubtedly 2contributed largely to the downfall of Walpole. Though set up by Bolingbroke and Pulteney, it was edited by an obscure and disreputable writer named Amhurst, who devoted nearly twenty years to the service of the faction, but who was utterly neglected by them in the compromise of 1742. He died of a broken heart, and owed his grave to the charity of a bookseller. We have already seen the large sum which Walpole, though in general wholly indifferent to literary merit, bestowed upon the government press, and its writers were also occasionally rewarded by government patronage. Thus Trenchard, the author of “Cato's Letters,” obtained the post of “commissioner of wine-licenses” from Walpole; and Concannon, another ministerial writer, was made Attorney-General of Jamaica by Newcastle. In 1724 there were three daily and five weekly papers printed in London, as well as ten which appeared three times a week. The number steadily increased, and a provincial press gradually grew up. The first trace of newspapers outside London is in 3 the time of the Commonwealth, when the contending armies carried with them printing presses for the purpose of issuing reports of their proceedings; but the first regu. lar provincial papers appear to have been created in the last decade of the seventeenth century, and by the middle of the eighteenth century almost every important provincial town had its local organ. Political caricatures, which were probably Italian in their origin, came into fashion in England during the South Sea panic. Caricatures on cards, which were for a time exceedingly popular, were invented by George Townshend, in 1756. As the century advanced, the political importance of the press became very apparent. “Newspapers,” said a writer in the “Gentleman's Magazine” of 1731, “are of late so multiplied as to render it impossible, unless a man makes it his business, to consult them all. Upon calculating the num-4 ber of newspapers, it is found that (besides divers written accounts) no less than two hundred half-sheets per month are thrown from the press, only in London, and about as many printed elsewhere in the three kingdoms; . . . so that they are become the chief channels of amusement and intelligence.” “The people of Great Britain,” said Mr. Danvers in 1738, “are governed by a power that never was heard of as a supreme authority in any age or country before. . . . It is the government of the press. The stuff which our weekly newspapers are filled with is received with greater reverence than Acts of Parliament, and the sentiments of one of these scribblers have more weight with the multitude than the opinion of the best politician in the kingdom.” “ No species of literary 5 men,” wrote Dr. Johnson in 1758, “has lately been so much multiplied as the writers of news. Not many years
ago the nation was content with one Gazette, but now we have, not only in the metropolis, papers of every morning and every evening, but almost every large town has its weekly historian.” One of the consequences of the complete subjection of literary men to the booksellers was the creation of magazines, which afforded a more certain and rapid remuneration than books, and gave many writers a scanty and precarious subsistence. The “Gentleman's Magazine” appeared in 1731. It was speedily followed by its rival, the “London Magazine”; and in 1750 there were eight periodicals of this kind. In the middle of the eighteenth century, also, literary reviews began in England. In 1752 there were three—the “Literary,” the
6‘Critical,” and the “Monthly.” Under George II an ad. ditional tax of one half-penny had been imposed on newspapers, and an additional duty of a shilling on advertisements; but the demand for this form of literature was so great that these impositions do not appear to have seriously checked it. The essay writers had made it their great object as much as possible to popularize and diffuse knowledge, and to bring down every question to a level with the capacities of the idlest reader; and without any great change in education, any display of extraordinary genius, or any real enthusiasm for knowledge, the circle of intelligence was slowly enlarged. The progress was probably even greater among women than among men. Swift, in one of his latest letters, noticed the great improvement which had taken place during his lifetime in the education and in the writing of ladies; and it is to this period that some of the best female correspondence in our litera. ture belongs.