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bodies of the commonalty to which the Crown had originally granted it. An event has lately happened which has rendered it more necessary for the people of England to turn its immediate attention to this reform
; I mean the death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent. The late Duke of Ként, from his sound health and habits of life, was considered as a man likely to live to
In him the nation hoped to avoid the mischiefs arising from a long minority. But from the present state of the dynasty, on the death of the King and his two brothers, a minority must probably take place. Who will have the government during that minority ? The answer is obvious; those who nominate the members of the House of Commons: and as more than one half of those members are nominated by proprietors and patrons, the people at large may find it difficult to protect the rights of an infant sovereign. I may be told, perhaps, the three Princes to whom I have alluded may live to old age. I sincerely wish they may: but men will fear impending dangers, and it is the duty of Parliament to guard
Effects produced by the French Revolution
in England. Mr. Pitt's Conduct till his Death in 1806.
WILL now consider the effects which the French Revolution produced in England.
The French Revolution certainly created much sensation in the people of England. They were naturally led to think of the reform of abuses in their own government; but I do not think that this sentiment was by any means universal : they were in a state of prosperity, and those who are in a state of prosperity are not desirous of a change of government. Mr. Pitt was at that time Minister with uncommon power, for the Opposition was sunk to nothing; and he seemed to possess the confidence of the King. One would be led to think from his conduct, that he never felt how much the transactions in France required his vigilant attention. In 1790 he had an unnecessary
dispute with Spain about a smuggling transaction at Nootka Sound. In 1791, he seemed to wish for a dispute with Russia about the fortress of Oczakow, though it is impossible to believe that he could have entertained at that time the idea of a serious quarrel with Russia. In 1791, the treaty of Pilnitz was negotiated : in this treaty, the invasion of France was decided
I believe Mr. Pitt took no part in this treaty; but the King, as Elector of Hanover, approved of it. Mr. Pitt acted with great wisdom in determining to take no share in hostile operations against France. A little reflection ought to have pointed out to every Statesman, that if France were attacked by hostile armies, she would be under the necessity of becoming herself an armed nation.
It is much to be regretted that in 1792 Mr. Pitt refused the application of the French government to prevent, by his influence, the intended hostilities : I will give Mr. Pitt credit for his wish to avoid entering into a war on account of the French Revolution ; but he seemed to me never to have
viewed the French Revolution with the eye of a Statesman. He never appeared to feel the effect which the agitations in France must have on the other States of Europe. He seemed wholly ignorant of the causes of that Revolution. Mr. Pitt was a great Parliamentary debater ; perhaps he deserves the title of a good financier in times of tranquillity; and from the period when he became Minister, in 1783, the prosperity of England had revived; but he was wholly unacquainted with the internal state of other nations. In one word, he was a good pilot in calm weather, but not equal to conduct the vessel of the State in a stormy season.
But although I cannot consider Mr. Pitt as a great Statesman, yet I think that his conduct of public affairs for the first nine years of his Administration, viz. from the end of December, 1783, to the end of the year 1792, was highly beneficial to his country. I think he made several mistakes: those mistakes arose from his not being sufficiently acquainted with the interests and views of foreign nations. He became a Minister at too early a period of his life ; for he was made Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1782, when he
was little more than twenty-three years of age; and he was made First Lord of the Treasury, and Prime Minister, on the 20th of December, 1783, when he was only of the age of twenty-four and a half. Before Mr. Pitt had attained the age of twenty-five, he was as powerful a debater in Parliament as he ever was in the whole course of his life. We have many instances of men who have become able public speakers at an early period; but I believe that there is no instance of any man who became a great Statesman at the same early period. Mr. Fox obtained the summit of that eloquence which he ever attained to, at as early an age as Mr. Pitt: Charles Townshend, and Lord Bolingbroke, were also instances of the practicability of attaining Parliamentary eloquence in early life. Perhaps there is no art in which men are so rapidly improved by practice as in the knack of Parliamentary debate. Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox had both of them great advantages ; for at his outset each was supported by a powerful party. This circumstance relieved them from apprehensions ; and confidence is a necessary ingredient in a Parliamentary speaker. But though a man