Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

“ hangs as a pensioner for bread on its neigh« bours, and a bad season uniformly threatens “ us with famine. This (it is replied) is owing to “our PROSPERITY,-all prosperous nations are in “ great distress for food !—Still PROSPERITY, still “ GENERAL PHRASES, unenforced by one single “ image, one single fact of real national amelio“ ration; of any one comfort enjoyed, where it “ was not before enjoyed; of any one class of “ society becoming healthier, or wiser, or happier. “ These are things, these are realities, and these “ Mr. Pitt has neither the imagination to body “ forth, or the sensibility to feel for. Once, in“ deed, in an evil hour, intriguing for popularity, “ he suffered himself to be persuaded to evince “ a talent for the real, the individual; and he “ brought in his POOR BILL!! When we hear “ the minister's talents for finance so loudly “ trumpeted, we turn involuntarily to his POOR

BILL—to that acknowledged abortion—that un“ answerable evidence of his ignorance respect“ing all the fundamental relations and actions “ of property, and of the social union!

“ As his reasonings, even so is his eloquence. “ One character pervades his whole being : “ words on words, finely arranged, and so dex“ terously consequent, that the whole bears the “ semblance of argument, and still keeps awake “ a sense of surprise; but when all is done, no“thing rememberable has been said, no one

“ philosophical remark, no one image, not even “a pointed aphorism. Not a sentence of Mr. “ Pitt's has ever been quoted, or formed the “ favourite phrase of the day, a thing unex“ ampled in any man of equal reputation ; but “ while he speaks, the effect varies according to " the character of his auditor. The man of no “ talent is swallowed up in surprise; and when “ the speech is ended, he remembers his feelings, “ but nothing distinct of that which produced “ them : (how opposite an effect to that of nature “ and genius, from whose works the idea still “ remains, when the feeling is passed away, re“ mains to connect itself with the other feelings, " and combine with new impressions !) The *** mere man of talent hears him with admiration ; “the mere man of genius with contempt; the “ philosopher neither admires nor contemns, but “ listens to him with a deep and solemn interest, “ tracing in the effects of his eloquence the power “ of words and phrases, and that peculiar consti“ tution of human affairs in their present state, “ which so eminently favours this power.

“ Such appears to us to be the prime minister “ of Great Britain, whether we consider him as “ a statesman or an orator. The same character “ betrays itself in his private life; the same cold“ness to realities, to images of realities, and to “ all whose excellence relates to reality : he has “ patronized no science, he has raised no man “ of genius from obscurity, he counts no one “ prime work of God among his friends. From “ the same source, he has no attachment to fe

male society, no fondness for children, no “ perceptions of beauty in natural scenery ; but “ he is fond of convivial indulgences, of that “ stimulation, which, keeping up the glow of “self-importance, and the sense of internal “ power, gives feelings without the mediation of “ ideas. :

“ These are the elements of his mind; the “ accidents of his fortune, the circumstances that “ enabled such a mind to acquire and retain “ such a power, would form the subject of a “ philosophical history, and that too of no scanty “size. We can scarcely furnish the chapter of “ contents to a work, which would comprise “ subjects so important and delicate as the causes “ of the diffusion and intensity of secret influ“ ence; the machinery and state intrigue of “ marriages; the overbalance of the commercial “ interest; the panic of property struck by the “ late revolution; the short-sightedness of the “ careful; the carelessness of the far-sighted ; “ and all those many and various events which “ have given to a decorous profession of religion, “ and a seemliness of private morals, such an “ unwonted weight in the attainment aud preser“vation of public power. We are unable to “ determine whether it be more consolatory or

“ humiliating to human nature, that so many “ complexities of event, situation, character, age, " and country, should be necessary in order to " the production of a Mr. Pitt.”

On the day following the editor promised the character of Buonaparte, but the surmise of a visit from the French minister, then at our court, was sufficient to put a stop to its publication ; accordingly it never appeared. Coleridge was requested by the proprietor and editor to report a speech of Pitt's, which at this time was expected to be one of great éclat. .

Accordingly, early in the morning off Coleridge set, carrying with him his supplies for the campaign : those who are acquainted with the gallery of the house on a press night, when a man can scarcely find elbow room, will better understand how incompetent Coleridge was for such an undertaking; he, however, started by seven in the morning, but was exhausted long before night. Mr. Pitt, for the first quarter of an hour spoke fluently, and in his usual manner, and sufficiently to give a notion of his best style; this was followed by a repetition of words, and words only; he appeared to “talk against time,” as the phrase is. Coleridge fell asleep, and listened occasionally only to the speeches * that followed. On his return,

* Those who spoke after Pitt were Wilberforce, Tierney, Sheridan, &c.

the proprietor being anxious for the report, Coleridge informed him of the result, and finding his anxiety great, immediately volunteered a speech for Mr. Pitt, which he wrote off-hand, and which answered the purpose exceedingly well : it is here presented. The following day, and for days after the publication, the proprietor received complimentary letters announcing the pleasure received at the report, and wishing to know who was the reporter. The secret was, however, kept, and the real author of the speech concealed; but one day Mr. Canning calling on business, made similar inquiries, and received the same answer. Canning replied, “ It does more credit to the author's head than to his memory.”

*“ The honourable gentleman calls upon mi-“ nisters to state the object of the war in one “ sentence. I can state it in one word : it is “ Security. I can state it in one word, though “ it is not to be explained but in many. The “ object of the war is security: security against “ a danger, the greatest that ever threatened “ this country ; the greatest that ever threatened “ mankind; a danger the more terrible, because “ it is unexampled and novel. It is a danger “ which has more than menaced the safety and “ independence of all nations; it is a danger

· * This speech of Mr. Pitt's is extracted from the Morning Post, February 18th, 1800.

« ПредишнаНапред »