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One characteristic which developed in youth, to increase in manhood, was his overwhelming pride. He was of the upper class, and plumed himself on that fact.
This pride was manifested in his youth, and estranged him from many who might have been his playmates, just as it estranged him in manhood from those who might have been his colleagues. It made him constantly an object of suspicion to the lower classes, a suspicion which, as we have seen, was unjust. caused him to be accused of coldness in youth and cruelty in manhood, when reserve and lack of ostentatious sympathy would better have described his condition. Of bluff, hearty good-will, with its attendant manner, he displayed not even a trace. This pride manifested itself in his oratory. Grand as was his speaking, filled with metaphor, simile, allusion, and flights of fancy, one felt, in listening to him, a serious lack of sympathetic power. In his great contemporary, Fox, this sympathy was a prominent element of oratory, and all hearts were drawn toward him. Pitt depended on power of argument and skill in rhetoric, for his success in debate. It goes without saying that if Pitt had suppressed in manhood this characteristic of his youth, his success in public affairs would have been more pronounced and lasting. No man can hope to gain so much by repellant as by magnetic measures in public. If Pitt had realized this fact and acted upon it he might have been saved disappointment and ultimate failure.
Pitt rose to overwhelming power, and the zenith of his fame, at the age of twenty-five. He was then the greatest man in England, and one of the greatest in the world. An old head, ripe with learning and wisdom, sat upon his young shoulders. King and counsellors waited upon him and bowed in acknowledgment of his power. Whether such authority at such an age is a good thing for its possessor, may be a serious question. No matter how great a genius a man may be, his head is likely to be turned by the accumulation of so much authority at so early a stage of his public life. It happened so in the case of Napoleon, and I think the same judgment may be passed upon Pitt. His pride was intensified, his reserve increased. While men might admire him more, they loved him rather less. A zenith always implies a
horizon and a nadir. The more quickly the sun of a man's fame reaches its highest point, the sooner will it descend toward its setting. This turning point in Pitt's life occurred in 1792, after some eight years of almost absolute rule. During the remaining fourteen years of his life, disaster after disaster overtook him and his party. The French revolution was in progress, and Napoleon was entering upon his wonderful
The test of Pitt's ministry was in its contest with Napoleon. That it should not have been equal to the test, is not surprising. By rapid successive steps, Napoleon arose to the zenith of his power. It is a singular coincidence that Ulm and Austerlitz, the two battles which marked the highest point of Napoleon's fame, caused the death of Pitt. He had never been robust; and when the news of Ulm reached him, he received it as a death blow. The report of Austerlitz came to him as he was approaching his death. “Roll up the map of Europe," he cried. "It will not be wanted these teu years." Then after a short silence, he exclaimed, "Alas my country!" The remaining days of his life were but a living death. Therefore, he may be compared to the Greek Isocrates, the “old man eloquent,” referred to by Milton as having been “killed with report” of the victory of Philip at Chaeronea. A victory “fatal to liberty."
In one particular Pitt stands out in pleasing contrast to many public men of his own and other times, his strict morality of life. The careful training given by his father in youth had much to do with this. From boyhood he was taught to regard himself as a gentleman, elevated above gross sensualism. He was always true to this training. No men are more exposed to temptation than those whose lives are devoted to the public. No one yielded less to such temptations than Pitt. The coldness of his nature did much to preserve him from excesses, and the strength gained by the blamelessness of his life fortified him against personal attacks which might otherwise have been made upon him.
In conclusion, it may be well to recapituate, in brief form, the youthful qualities developed in Pitt, to fit him for the task of parliamentary leadership. His studiousness has already been referred to. So marked was it that his mother
said of him, “The fineness of William's mind makes him enjoy with the greatest pleasure what would be above the reach of any other creature of his small age.” His study of debates attracted the attention of Fox, who sat by the boy while a discussion was in progress. When a point was made by one of the speakers, Pitt would exclaim, “But surely, Mr. Fox, that might be met thus,” or “Yes; but he lays himself open to this retort." So keen were the answers he suggested that Mr. Fox was astonished at his penetration. His ready and complete mastery of mathematics increased this quality, and enabled him to develop wonderful logical method. His study of English, Greek and Latin classics was profound and critical, and tended to the development of a correct, and, at the same time, attractive style. The strict purity of his private life disarmed opposition and destroyed calumny, while his contempt for the "spoils of office” won him universal respect. From his early training in English arose his wonderful control over language, which enabled him either to express his thought with the clearness of a mountain stream, or, when occasion arose (as it frequently did in his diplomatic discourse) to hide it under a turgid Jordan of verbiage. Lastly, his untiring energy and indefatigable zeal resembled the incessant striking of a hammer on malleable iron-sure to make a lasting impress.
While slave drivers have quoted Pitt in support of their oppressions; anarchists in vindication of their vagaries; opponents of parliamentary reform in defence of their oppressive measures; and radical Protestants against the emancipation of Catholics—still in every case his course gives the lie to their claims. "History will vindicate him from calumny disguised under the semblance of adulation, and will exhibit him as what he was—a minister of great talents, honest intentions, and liberal opinions, pre-eminently qualified, intellectually and morally, for the part of a parliamentary leader, and capable of administering with prudence and moderation the government of a prosperous country, but unequal to surprising and terrible emergencies, and liable in such emergencies to err grievously, both on the side of weakness and on the side of violence."
TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS are as often a source of amusement as they are of annoyance; and it is some times to be more than half suspected that the "errors” are the sly work of some typographical “wag," rather than the result of accident. It has now become a saw that it is but one step from the sublime to the ridiculous, and no one has such opportunity as the typo for making writers and speakers take that step; and the impulse to make them take it, we suspect, becomes irresistible-hence many of the supposed typographical slips in literary work, especially in periodical literature. The following from a contemporary presents cases in point: A theatrical critic, in a notice of a charming young actress, whose treatment of Portia had afforded him much pleasure, wrote, “Her love for Portia made acting easy.” That was right enough, but what the types made him say was, “Her love for Porter," &c. A compositor, who was better acquainted with the geography of the West than with Biblical lore, set up the phrase, "From Alpha to Omega," as "From Alton to Omaha," and possibly found himself compelled to start for those places next morning. In the earlier half of the present century it was announced in a London newspaper that "Sir Robert Peel, with a party of friends, was shooting peasants in Ireland," whereas the minister and his friends were only indulging in the comparatively harmless pastime of pheasant-shooting. Shortly after the battle of Inkerman, one of the morning papers informed its readers that “after a desperate struggle the enemy was repulsed with great laughter,"instead of slaughter. What the bridesmaids at a recent wedding must have thought when they read that they had all worn
American magazines, is remembered for a brief correspondence he read to the delighted house. speech delivered in debate on the Irish Sunday-closing bill.
"handsome breeches, the gift of the bridegroom," one can only guess. But, whatever their thoughts may have been at seeing their pretty brooches thus transformed, their language at any rate cannot, we may assume, have matched that of the politician who read the following comment on one of his speeches—«Them asses believed him." Possibly he was not much consoled by being assured that the reporter had merely wished to signify that “The masses believed him.” On another occasion a reporter wrote, “At these words the entire audience arose and rent the air with their snouts.”
A COUPLE OF sailors, just returned from a long voyage, strolled into the bar-parlor of a public-house near the docks at Hull. Above the rumble of the traffic in the street could be heard at intervals a harsh unmusical voice. After listening intently for a moment, one of the sailors turned to his companion and said, "Eh, Jack, lad, it's a long time since we heard that song!" "What song?" "The one that fellow's singing in the street-'The Light o' Other Days.'” "Stow it!" ejaculated the other gruffly. “That fellow ain't singing The Light of Other days' at all, man. I've been listening to him. He's a-piping 'The Banks of Allan Water.'” Each sailor was certain he was right, and, with characteristic contempt for money, a wager was made—a month's wages depending on the result. “Here, Tommy," called out one of the men to the little son of the landlord, “run out and get to know what that fellow's singing.” Tommy departed on his errand, which did not take many minutes.
minutes. “Well,” demanded Jack, when the youngster returned, “which of us is right?" "Naythur,” replied Tommy, grinning. “The feller’s not singing. He's hawking fly-papers.”
A SERIOUS-mannered Irish member of the British parliament, relates a well-known English writer, in one of our
It was introduced in a
The member referred to had, he confidentially informed the