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• had a vast fund of anecdotes which he narrated admirably, • and with much power of mimicry.' Lord Wellesley even went so far as to assert, that in all places, and at all
times, his constant delight was society. There he shone with • a degree of calm and steady lustre more astonishing than his most splendid efforts in Parliament. He was endowed beyond any man of his time whom I knew with a gay heart and a
social spirit.' But great as the authority of Lord Wellesley is, his enthusiasm seems to have tinged this description of his friend. Whatever Mr. Pitt's social talents may have been, they were certainly confined within a narrow circle, and he appears to have been indifferent through life to the amusements and distinctions of general society. Men duller than most of his intimate friends were scarcely to be found in Britain.
One solitary incident in his life appears to bear a more romantic character, and as this passage has been made the subject of contradictory statements, we shall here advert to it. Lord Stanhope relates the occurrence in the following terms :
“Busy and anxious as was the year 1796, Mr. Pitt had found opportunities to pass some short intervals of leisure at Holwood. There his nearest neighbour was now Lord Auckland at Beckenham. A close intimacy sprang up between them.* Lord Auckland would often pass a day or two at Holwood, and Mr. Pitt a day or two at Beckenham.
" It was not only the conversation of Lord Auckland in which Mr. Pitt took pleasure. He was much attracted by the grace and beauty as well as the superior mind of Lord Auckland's eldest daughter, the Hon. Eleanor Eden. She was born in July 1777, and therefore only eight years younger than Pitt. It would have been a very suitable marriage ; and a report of it was not long in arising.
• This strong attachment-for such on Pitt's side it certainly was - did not, as many persons hoped, proceed to a proposal and a marriage. Shortly afterwards, however, some correspondence did take place between Mr. Pitt and Lord Auckland. The letters remain in the possession of Lord Auckland's family, and there are neither copies nor originals among the manuscripts of Pitt. But I have heard them described by a person entirely to be relied on who has more than once perused them. Mr. Pitt began the subject. In his letter to Lord Auckland he avows in the warmest terms his affection for Miss Eden, but explains that in his circumstances he feels that he cannot presume to make her an offer of marriage. He further says that he finds each
* The intimacy between Mr. Pitt and Lord Auckland may be said to have commenced fully ten years before, when he quitted the Whigs and was employed in the negotiation of the French Treaty. Miss Eden was not eight, but eighteen years younger than Mr. Pitt, she being at this time nineteen, and he thirty-seven.
of his succeeding visits add so much to his unhappiness, that he thinks it will be best to remit them for the present.
* The reply of Lord Auckland, as I am informed, acknowledges as adequate the explanation of Mr. Pitt. He was already, he says, aware in general of the circumstances of pecuniary debt and difficulty in which Mr. Pitt had become involved. He does not deny that the attachment of Mr. Pitt may have been fully appreciated; but he cannot wish any more than Mr. Pitt that his daughter, who, as one of many children, had a very small fortune of her own, should, under some contingencies of office or of life, be left wholly unprovided.
• There were yet two further letters as to the manner in which the notes of congratulation which had already begun to arrive at Beckenham might best be answered. Pitt answered that the blame, if any, should be borne wholly by himself.
• Thus most honourably, and without any breach of friendship on either side, ended this "love-passage”- the only one, as I believe, in the life of Pitt. More than two years afterwards, in June 1799, Miss Eden became the second wife of Lord Hobart, who succeeded in 1804 as Earl of Buckinghamshire. She had no children, and she died in 1851.' (Stanhope, vol. iii. p. 1.)
This statement is, however, impugned by the Editor of the * Auckland Correspondence' in a postscript to his fourth volume, in which he states that a long and painful discussion took place
on that occasion, which terminated honourably to all parties concerned.' The Editor denies that Lord Auckland was in the slightest degree averse to the marriage on account of Mr. Pitt's pecuniary difficulties: on the contrary, believing that * his daughter was attached to Mr. Pitt, he was naturally
anxious that it should take place. In point of fact, it would seem, from a previous passage of the Auckland Papers (vol. iii. p. 374.), that several letters passed between Lord Auckland and Mr. Pitt suggesting arrangements by which the marriage might take place in time without imprudence; but they were unavailing, and Mr. Pitt declared that though he was sacrificing his 'best hopes and dearest wishes to his convictions and judge 'ment, further discussion would only lead to prolonged sus
pense and increased anxiety.' We therefore conclude that the arrangements favourable to the marriage were in fact suggested by Lord Auckland - a man certainly not insensible to the dignity and advantage of having Mr. Pitt for his son-in-law-and that it was Mr. Pitt who broke off the negotiation,, having apparently acted throughout the transaction with great delicacy and self-command. Traces occur in the Auckland Papers indicating the affectionate interest with which Mr. Pitt continued to regard Miss Eden until her marriage was declared with Lord Hobart, in 1799. On that occasion he addressed to her father the following expressive note :
Private. • My dear Lord, I have heard from the Speaker the circumstance you desired him to mention, and give you many thanks for your very kind attention in making the communication, and in making him the channel of it. There could be no event interesting to any part of your family which would not be so to me, and certainly this is not the instance when I feel that sentiment the least. I congratulate you and all around you with the most cordial good wishes. • Ever affectionately yours,
· W. Pitt.' And some short time later, soon after the marriage, which was celebrated by a ball, he writes from Bromley:
My dear Lord,—I dine here with some of your guests, but shall pursue my ride to Holwood when they repair to the crowd and gaiety of
your ball. I hope very soon to have leisure to come to you when you are with a smaller party.' (Auckland Papers, vol. iv. p. 98.)
It is not our intention on the present occasion to revert to the ministerial changes and combinations in which Mr. Pitt was engaged, or to discuss his conduct in reference to those transactions. These topics have recently been examined at length in our own pages, and in several other contemporary publications, and we have nothing now to add to our former comments upon them. We shall, therefore, attempt rather to point out from Lord Stanhope's volumes what were the leading features of Mr. Pitt's administration, and to show how far Mr. Pitt's actual achievements fell short of the principles from which he started. The standard, after all, by which the reputation of a statesman must stand or fall in the great account of history, is not by what he said, however wise or eloquent, nor even by what he was, however firm and disinterested, but by what he did for the greatness of his country and the good of mankind : and this is the test which we shall endeavour to apply to the political career and public services of Pitt.
Lord Macaulay has recorded his opinion that Pitt was emphatically the man of Parliamentary Government—that it was his lot to be born in a country and at a time when the power of speaking in public assemblies and the art of conducting their debates and their divisions are the surest elements of political power ; and that legislation and administration were with him secondary matters in comparison with the all-pervading necessity of convincing and persuading the House of Commons. But if these had been the sole, or the chief characteristics of Mr. Pitt's genius, his fame would not have come down to us with the increasing majesty which it has now acquired. Of his speeches, it is admitted that no more than the merest skeleton remains:
and in spite of the ascendancy which he owed in Parliament to his extraordinary argumentative powers, it cannot be asserted that in the gifts of oratory or langnage he was the superior of Burke, Fox, or Sheridan. The influence which rests on parliamentary tactics is short-lived, and no man ever passed for a great statesman merely because he kept together a working majority. The talents of Mr. Pitt were therefore of a higher order than mere parliamentary eloquence or parliamentary tactics: and the best proof of his political superiority to most of his contemporaries is the fact that the germs of almost all the great legislative and administrative reforms accomplished in the last thirty years may be traced in some portion of his designs. Had Mr. Pitt been invested with a more absolute power than he ever possessed, we think it highly probable that he would have carried a variety of measures of the greatest merit-measures, in fact, based on the liberal principles which it took another half century to establish in this country. But the minister had to deal with a sovereign of narrow intellect and of intense prejudices. It is evident from numerous details in these volumes that Mr. Pitt could very seldom rely on any appeal to the reason of George III., and that he was obliged to watch and wait, perhaps for years, for an opportunity to work upon that contracted mind, which was liable to be inflamed, by sudden emotions, to a paroxysm of insanity. Not less had Mr. Pitt to manage the prejudices of his own party - a duty which ever weighs heavily on an intelligent leader of the Tory phalanx, and to which the Cannings and Peels of our own time have, like Mr. Pitt, been compelled to sacrifice either themselves or their convictions. These prejudices were excited to madness by the horrors of the French Revolution, the sufferings of protracted war, the dread of invasion; until all liberal opinions were confounded in one extravagant denunciation of Jacobin principles, and the very objects which Mr. Pitt himself had once eagerly advocated were looked upon as treasonable designs to overthrow the Constitution.
The charge, therefore, which we are compelled to maintain against the administration of Pitt is this: We admire the profound and prophetic sagacity with which his youthful genius seized, as it were by intuition, on the true solution of most of the grent problems of our national economy; but we find that scarcely in any single instance, even while he was at the height of undisputed power over a peaceful kingdom, did he really execute any one of these salutary reforms, which he comprehended better than any other man of his time. By some strange
infelicity, arising either from obstacles he could not overcome, or from a want of determination in his own mind, Mr. Pitt, who is supposed to have governed this country with almost absolute sway for eighteen years, did practically and effectually realise but a very small number of his own conceptions; and the reverses of his foreign policy in the war, which clouded the later years of his life, were prefigured by the singular reverses to which he had been compelled to submit at an earlier period in his domestic policy. * As this statement is very much at variance with Lord Stanhope's conclusions, and may sound to some of our readers līke a paradox, we must illustrate it by some details.
Parliamentary Reform, Free Trade with Ireland and subsequently with foreign countries, Commutation of Tithes, the Abolition of the Slave Trade, the Reduction of the National Debt, the Reduction of duties with a view to increased revenue and diminished smuggling, the Repeal of the Test Act, the payment of the Roman Catholic Clergy in Ireland, the education of the Roman Catholic Clergy in Ireland, Catholic Emancipation ---and the list might be still more extended-are all measures which have been carried by the influence of the Liberal party in the last fifty years ; but every one of these measures was at one time or another advocated, proposed, or contemplated · by Mr. Pitt during his tenure of office, though not carried by him. We do not doubt that Mr. Pitt was perfectly convinced of the wisdom of each of these measures : we do not doubt that he was sincere in his desire to carry them; yet, by an unparalleled contradiction, he left every one of them where he found it, or rather he allowed himself to become the chief of the very party which was most bitterly opposed to these steps of progress, and he served a king who would in all probability have tripped him up, if the most important of these reforms had been accepted by the House of Commons. So that even the first eight years of Mr. Pitt's administration, which are now referred to as the most splendid example of his great ability, present us with a painful and humiliating contrast between the admirable and enlightened designs he formed and the measures he carried. The fact is that Mr. Pitt was as far before most of his contemporaries and immediate successors in political wisdom and sagacity,
* Curiously enough, the India Bill, which brought him into power in 1784, was the most long-lived of all his measures, and the only example of a great administrative institution founded or remodelled by Mr. Pitt. The double government of the East Indies survived till 1858, and the wonder is it endured so long.