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He rose upon
After an entire seclusion from the world for nearly three years, Lord Chathain, to the surprise of all, made his appearance in Parliament with his health greatly improved, and in full possession of his gigantic powers. He was still so infirm, how. ever, that he went on crutches, and was swathed in flannels, when he entered the House of Lords at the opening of the session, January 9, 1770. In commenting on the ad ss, he came out at nce in a loftier strain of eloquence than ever in reply to Lord Mansfield on the case of John Wilkes 13 This speech gave a decisive turn to political affairs. A leader had now appeared to array the Whigs against the Duke of Grafton. Lord Camden, who as Chancellor had continued in the Cabinet, though hostile to the measures which prevailed, came down from the wool-sack at the close of Lord Chatham's speech, and declared against the minister. “ I have,” said he, "hung down my head in council, and disapproved by my looks those steps which I knew my avowed opposition could not prevent. I will do so no longer. I wow proclaim to the world that I entirely coincide in the opinion expressed by my noble trend—whose presence again reanimates us—respecting this unconstitutional vote of the House of Commons." He was of course dismissed ; and united with Lord Chatham, Lord Rockingham, and the rest of the Whigs, to oppose the Grafton ministry. They succeeded in nineteen days: the Duke resigned on the twenty-eighth of the same month. But the Whigs did not profit by their victory. The hostility of the King excluded them from power, and Lord North was placed at the head of affairs. An attempt was now made to put down Lord Chatham by personal insult. He was taunted before the House, March 14, 1770, with having received a pension from the Crown, and having unjustifiably recommended pensions for others.
his antagonist, as he always did on such occasions, and turned his defense into an attack. He at once took up the case of Lord Camden, whom he had brought in as Chancellor three years before, with a pension of fifteen hundred pounds. "I could not,” said he, “expect such a man to quit the Chief-justiceship of the Common Pleas, which he held for life, and put himself in the power of those who were not to be trusted, to be dismissed from the Chancery at any moment, without making some slight provision for such an event. The public has not been deceived by his conduct. My suspicions have been justified. His integrity has made him once more a poor and a private man; he was dismissed for the vote he gave in favor of the right of election in the people.” Here an attempt was made to overwhelm him with clamor. Some Lords called out, “ To the bar! to the bar !” and Lord Marchmont moved that his words be taken down. Lord Chatham seconded the motion ; and went on to say, “ I neither deny, retract, nor explain these words. I do reaffirm the fact, and I desire to meet the sense of the House. I appeal to the honor of every Lord in this House whether he has not the same conviction.” Lord Rockingham, Lord Temple, and many others, rose, and, upon their honor, affirmed the same. The ministry were now desirous to drop the subject; but Lord Marchmont, encouraged by Lord Mansfield, persisted, and moved that nothing had appeared to justify the assertion. Lord Chatham again declared, “My words remain unretractof his own actions. It is, therefore, uncandid in the extreme to represent Lord Chatham as feigning illness in order to escape from the responsibilities of his station.
13 Though Lord Chatham had a high sense of Mansfield's learning and abilities, he continued to regard him with aversion and distrust on account of his extreme Tory sentiments. In reply to Mansfield, when the case of Wilkes again came up at a late evening session, he quoted Lord Somers and Chief-justice Holt on the points of law, and drew their characters in bis own masterly style. He pronounced them “ honest men who knew and loved the Constitution.” Then turning to Mansfield, he said, “I vow to God, I think the noble Lord equals them both-in abilities !" He complained bitterly, in conclusion, of the motion being pressed by Lord Marchmont and Lord Mans feld at so unreasonable an hour, and called for an adjournment. “ If the Constitution must be wounded," said he, "let it not receive its mortal stab at this dark and midnight hour, when honest men are asleep in their beds, and when only felons and assassins are seeking for prey!"
- Not con
ed, unexplained, and reaffirmed. I desire to know whether I am condemned or acquitted ; and whether I may still presume to hold my head as high as the noble Lord who moved to have my words taken down.” To this no answer was given. It was easy for the ministry to pass what vote they pleased ; but they found that every attempt to disgrace such a man only recoiled on themselves. His glowing defense of the people's rights regained him the popularity he had lost by his accession to the peerage. The city of London addressed him in terms of grateful acknowledgment, thanking him for “the zeal he had shown in support of those most valuable privileges, the right of election and the right of petition.” The people looked up to him again as their best and truest friend; and though promoted to an earldom, they felt, in the language of his grandson, Lord Mahon, “ that his elevation over them was like that of Rochester Castle over his own shores of Chatham -that he was raised above them only for their protection and defense.”
After this session, Lord Chatham was unable to attend upon Parliament except occasionally and at distant intervals. He spent his time chiefly on his estate at Burton Pynsent, superintending the education of his children, and mingling in their amusements with the liveliest pleasure, notwithstanding his many infirmities. He sought to interest them not only in their books, but in rural employments and rural scenery. He delighted in landscape gardening; and, in speaking of its fine arrangements for future effect, called it, with his usual felicity of expression, “ the prophetic eye of Taste."
“When his health would permit,” says the tutor of his son," he never suffered a day to pass without giving instruction of some sort to his children, and seldom without reading the Bible with them.” He seems, indeed, to have studied the Scriptures with great care and attention from early life. He read them not only for the guidance of his faith, but for improvement in oratory. tent,” says Lord Lyttleton, “ to correct and instruct his imagination by the works of men, he borrowed his noblest images from the language of inspiration.” His practice, in this respect, was imitated by Burke, Junius, and other distinguished writers of the day. At no period in later times, has secular eloquence gathered so many of her images and allusions from the pages of the Bible.
Thus withdrawn from the cares and labors of public life, there was only one subject that could ever induce him to appear in Parliament. It was the contest with America. He knew more of this country than any man in England except Burke. During the war in which he wrested Canada from the French, he was brought into the most intimate communication with the leading men of the colonies. He knew their spirit and the resources of the country. Two of the smallest states (Massachusetts and Connecticut) had, in answer to his call, raised twelve thousand men for that war in a single year. Feelings of personal attachment united, therefore, with a sense of justice, to make him the champion of America. Feeble and decrepit as he was, he forgot his age and sufferings. He stood forth, in presence of the whole empire, to arraign, as a breach of the Constitution, every attempt to tax a people who had no representatives in Parliament. It was the era of his sublimest efforts in oratory. With no private ends or party purposes to accomplish, with a consciousness of the exalted services he had rendered to his country, he spoke one having authority,” and denounced the war with a prophetic sense of the shame and disaster attending such a conflict. His voice of warning was lost, indeed, upon the ministry and on the great body of the nation, who welcomed a relief from their burdens at the expense of America. But it rang throughout every town and hamlet of the colonies ; and when he proclaimed in the ears of Parliament, “ I rejoice that America has resisted,” millions of hearts on the other side of the Atlantic swelled with a prouder determination to resist even to the end."
14 Lord Chatham received numerous tokens of respect and gratitude from the colonies. At
of his age.
But while he thus acted as the champion of America, he never for a moment yielded to the thought of her separation from the mother country. When the Duke of Richmond, therefore, brought forward his motion, in April, 1778, advising the King to withdraw his fleets and armies, and to effect a conciliation with America involving her independence, Lord Chatham heard of his design“ with unspeakable concern,” and resolved to go once more to the House of Lords for the purpose of resisting the motion. The effort cost him his life. A detailed account of the scene presented on that occasion will be given hereafter, in connection with his speech. At the close, he sunk into the arms of his attendants, apparently in a dying state. He revived a little when conveyed to his dwelling; and, after lingering for a few days, died on the 11th of May, 1778, in the seventieth
year Lord Chatham has been generally regarded as the most powerful orator of modern times. He certainly ruled the British Senate as no other man has ever ruled over a great deliberative assembly. There have been stronger minds in that body, abler reasoners, profounder statesmen, but no man has ever controlled it with such absolute sway by the force of his eloquence. He did things which no human being but himself would ever have attempted. He carried through triumphantly, what would have covered any other man with ridicule and disgrace.
His success, no doubt, was owing, in part, to his extraordinary personal advantages. Few men have ever received from the hand of Nature so many of the outward qualifications of an orator. In his best days, before he was crippled by the gout, his figure was tall and erect; his attitude imposing ; his gestures energetic even to vehemence, yet tempered with dignity and grace. Such was the power of his eye, that he very often cowed down an antagonist in the midst of his speech, and threw him into utter confusion, by a single glance of scorn or contempt. Whenever he rose to speak, his countenance glowed with animation, and was lighted up with all the varied emotions of his soul, so that Cowper describes him, in one of his bursts of patriotic feeling,
“With all his country beaming in his face." “ His voice,” says a contemporary,
was both full and clear. His lowest whisper was distinctly heard ; his middle notes were sweet and beautifully varied ; and, when he elevated his voice to its highest pitch, the House was completely filled with the volume of sound. The effect was awful, except when he wished to cheer or animate ; then he had spirit-stirring notes which were perfectly irresistible.” The prevailing character of his delivery was majesty and force. “The crutch in his hand became a weapon of oratory."'16
Much, however, as he owed to these personal advantages, it was his character as Charleston, S. C., a colossal statue of him, in white marble, was erected by order of the Commons, who say, in their inscription upon the pedestal,
SHALL SOONER DESTROY
THIS MARK OF THEIR ESTEEM,
ERASE FROM THEIR MINDS
THE JUST SENSE
OF HIS PATRIOTIC VIRTUE.
15 Lord Brougham speaks of him as having “a peculiarly defective and even awkward action." This is directly opposed to the testimony of all his contemporaries. Hugh Boyd speaks of “ the persuasive gracefulness of his action;" and Lord Orford says, that his action, on many occasions, was worthy of Garrick. The younger Pitt had an awkwardness of the kind referred to; and Lord Brougham, who was often hasty and incorrect, probably confounded the father and the son.
16 Telum Oratoris.-Cicero. "You talk, my Lords, of conquering America; of your numerous friends there to annihilate the Congress; of your powerful forces to disperse her armies; I might as well talk of driving them before me with this crutch."
a man which gave him his surprising ascendency over the minds of his countrymen. There was a fascination for all hearts in his lofty bearing; his generous sentiments; his comprehensive policy ; his grand conceptions of the height to which England might be raised as arbiter of Europe ; his preference of her honor over all inferior material interests. There was a fascination, too, for the hearts of all who loved freedom, in that intense spirit of liberty which was the animating principle of his life. From the day when he opposed Sir Charles Wager's bill for breaking open private houses to press seamen, declaring that he would shoot any man, even an officer of justice, who should thus enter his dwelling, he stood forth, to the end of his days, the Defender of the People's Rights. It was no vain ostentation of liberal principles, no idle pretense to gain influence or office. The nation saw it; and while Pulteney's defection brought disgrace on the name of " Patriot," the character of Pitt stood higher than ever in the public estimation. His political integrity, no less than his eloquence, formed “ an era in the Senate ;” and that comparative elevation of principle which we now find among English politicians, dates back for its commencement to his noble example. It was his glory as a statesman, not that he was always in the right, or even consistent with himself upon minor points; but that, in an age of shameless profligacy, when political principle was universally laughed at, and every one, in the words of Walpole,“ had his price,” he stood forth to “stem the torrent of a downward age.”
He could truly say to an opponent, as the great Athenian orator did to Eschines, Εγώ δή σοι λέγω, ότι των πολιτευομένων παρά τοις "Ελλησι διαφθαρέντων απάντων, αρξαμένων από σέ, πρότερον μέν υπό Φιλίππε, νύν δ' υπ' 'Αλεξάνδρα, έμε ότε καιρός, έτε φιλανθρωπία λόγων, έτε επαγγελιών μέγεθος, έτ' ελπίς, ότε φόβος, έτε χάρις, έτ' άλλο δεν επήρεν, έδε προηγάγετο, ών έκρινα δικαίων και συμDepóVTWV TÕ Tarpidi, &dèv poděvai : “When all our statesmen, beginning with yourself, were corrupted by bribes or office, no convenience of opportunity, or insinuation of address, or magnificence of promises or hope, or fear, or favor—could induce me to give up for a moment what I considered the rights and interests of the people.” Even his enemies were forced to pay homage to his noble assertion of his principles -his courage, his frankness, his perfect sincerity. Eloquent as he was, he impressed every hearer with the conviction, that there was in him something higher than all eloquence. “ Every one felt,” says a contemporary, “that the man was infinitely greater than the orator.” Even Franklin lost his coolness when speaking of Lord Chatham. “I have sometimes," said he, “seen eloquence without wisdom, and often wisdom without eloquence ; but in him I have seen them united in the highest possible degree."
The range of his powers as a speaker was uncommonly wide. He was equally qualified to conciliate and subdue. When he saw fit, no man could be more plausible and ingratiating ; no one had ever a more winning address, or was more adroit in obviating objections and allaying prejudice. When he changed his tone, and chose rather to subdue, he had the sharpest and most massy weapons at command—wit, humor, irony, overwhelming ridicule and contempt. His forte was the terrible ; and he employed with equal ease the indirect mode of attack with which he so often tortured Lord Mansfield, and the open, withering invective with which he trampled down Lord Suffolk. His burst of astonishment and horror at the proposal of the latter to let loose the Indians on the settlers of America, is without a parallel in our language for severity and force. In all such conflicts, the energy of his will and his boundless self-confidence secured him the victory. Never did that “erect countenance” sink before the eye of an antagonist. Never was he known to hesitate or falter. He had a feeling of superiority over every one around him, which acted on his mind with the force of an inspiration. He knew he was right! He knew he could save England, and that no one else could do it! Such a spirit, in great crises,
is the unfailing instrument of command both to the general and the orator. We
may call it arrogance ; but even arrogance here operates upon most minds with the potency of a charm ; and when united to a vigor of genius and a firmness of purpose like his, men of the strongest intellect fall down before it, and admire—perhaps hate -what they can not resist.
The leading characteristic of eloquence is force; and force in the orator depends mainly on the action of strongly-excited feeling on a powerful intellect. The intellect of Chatham was of the highest order, and was peculiarly fitted for the broad and rapid combinations of oratory. It was at once comprehensive, acute, and vigorous ; enabling him to embrace the largest range of thought; to see at a glance what most men labor out by slow degrees; and to grasp his subject with a vigor, and hold on to it with a firmness, which have rarely, if ever, been equaled. But his intellect never acted alone. It was impossible for him to speak on any subject in a dry or abstract manner; all the operations of his mind were pervaded and governed by intense feeling. This gave rise to certain characteristics of his eloquence which may here be mentioned.
First, he did not, like many in modern times, divide a speech into distinct copartments, one designed to convince the understanding, and another to move the passions and the will. They were too closely united in his own mind to allow of such a separation. All went together, conviction and persuasion, intellect and feeling, like chain-shot.
Secondly, the rapidity and abruptness with which he often flashed his thoughts upon the mind arose from the same source. Deep emotion strikes directly at its object. It struggles to get free from all secondary ideas—all mere accessories. Hence the simplicity, and even bareness of thought, which we usually find in the great passages of Chatham and Demosthenes. The whole turns often on a single phrase, a word, an allusion. They put forward a few great objects, sharply defined, and standing boldly out in the glowing atmosphere of emotion. They pour their burning thoughts instantaneously upon the mind, as a person might catch the rays of the sun in a concave mirror, and turn them on their object with a sudden and consuming power.
Thirdly, his mode of reasoning, or, rather, of dispensing with the forms of argument, resulted from the same cause. It is not the fact, though sometimes said, that Lord Chatham never reasoned. In most of his early speeches, and in some of his later ones, especially those on the right of taxing America, we find many examples of argument; brief, indeed, but remarkably clear and stringent. It is true, however, that he endeavored, as far as possible, to escape from the trammels of formal reasoning. When the mind is all a-glow with a subject, and sees its conclusions with the vividness and certainty of intuitive truths, it is impatient of the slow process of logical deduction. It seeks rather to reach the point by a bold and rapid progress, throwing away the intermediate steps, and putting the subject at once under such aspects and relations, as to carry its own evidence along with it. Demosthenes was remarkable for thus crushing together proof and statement in a single mass. When, for example, he calls on his judges, μη τον αντίδικον σύμβουλον ποιήσασθαι περί του πως ακούElv újas čuoù dei, 'not to make his enemy their counselor as to the manner in which they should hear his reply,' there is an argument involved in the very ideas brought together-in the juxtaposition of the words åvridikov and ovulovàov—an argument the more forcible because not drawn out in a regular form. It was so with Lord Chatham. The strength of his feelings bore him directly forward to the results of argument. He affirmed them earnestly, positively; not as mere assertions, but on the ground of their intrinsic evidence and certainty. John Foster has finely remarked,
Lord Chatham struck on the results of reasoning as a cannon-shot strikes the