페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

a man which gave him his surprising ascendency over the niinds of his countrymen There was a fascination for all hearts in his lofty bearing; his generous sentimer.te , 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 inferios material interests. There was a fascination, too, for the hearts of all who loved frcedom, 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 daye, 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 clevation of principle which we now find among English politicians, dates back for its commencement to his noble cxample. 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 prof. ligacy, 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 διαφθαρέν. των απάντων, αρξαμένων από σέ, πρότερον μέν υπό Φιλίππα, νύν δ' υπ' 'Αλεξάνδρα, έμε ότε καιρός, ότε φιλανθρωπία λόγων, ότε επαγγελιών μέγεθος, ότ' ελπίς, ότε φόβος, άτε χάρις, έτ' άλλο δεν επηρεν, έδε προηγάγετο, ών έκρινα δικαίων και συμDEPÓVTOV natpidi, odèv nepodoval : “When all our statesmen, beginning with your self, 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 my country." 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 cloquence. “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 plausi. ble 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 oftea tor. tured Lord Mansfield, and the open, withering invective with which he tripled 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 knero ne could save England, and that no one else could do it! Such a spirit, in great crises 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 poiency 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 hata -what they can not resist.

The leading characteristic of eloquence is force; and force in the orator depende painly on the action of strongly-excited feeling on a powerful intellect. The intel. lect Chatham was of the highest order, and was peculiarly fitted for the broad mi rapid combinations of oratory. It was at once comprehensive, acute, and vig. prous ; 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 copart. ments, one designed to convince the understanding, and another to move the pas. sions 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 thoughte 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 ir ermediate 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, kun Tòv åvridikov oúuhovàov tolňoaolai iepi TOù tās åkoúEv úpac tuoù 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 ovulovov—an argument the inore 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 re:narked, that "Lord Chatham struck on the results of reasoning as a cannon-sho: sti:kes the mark, witnout your seeing its course through the air." Perhaps a bomb-shell would have furnished even a better illustration It explodes when it strikes, and thus becomes the most powerful of arguments.

Fourthly, this ardor of feeling, in connection with his keen penetration of mind. made him often indulge in political prophecy. His predictions were, in many instances, surprisingly verified. We have already seen it in the case of Admiral Hawke's victory, and in his quick foresight of a war with Spain in 1762. Eight years after, in the midst of a profound peace, he declared to the House of Lords that the inveterate enemies of England were, at the moment he spoke, striking “a blow of hostility” at her possessions in some quarter of the globe. News arrived at tho end of four months that the Spanish governor of Buenos Ayres was, at that very time, in the act of seizing the Falkland Islands, and expelling the English. When this prediction was afterward referred to in Parliament, he remarked, “I will tell these young ministers the true secret of intelligence. It is sagacity-sagacity to compare causes and effects; to judge of the present state of things, and discern the future by a careful review of the past. Oliver Cromwell, who astonished mankind by his intelligence, did not derive it from spies in the cabinet of every prince in Europe ; he drew it from the cabinet of his own sagacious mind.” As he advanced in years, his tone of admonition, especially on American affairs, became more and more lofty and oracular. He spoke as no other man ever spoke in a great deliberative assembly—as one who felt that the time of his departure was at hand; who, with. drawn from the ordinary concerns of life, in the words of his great eulogist, “came occasionally into our system to counsel and decide,"

Fifthly, his great preponderance of feeling made him, in the strictest sense of the term, an extemporaneous speaker. His mind was, indeed, richly furnished with thought upon every subject which came up for debate, and the matter he brought forward was always thoroughly matured and strikingly appropriate ; but he seems never to have studied its arrangement, much less to have bestowed any care on the language, imagery, or illustrations. Every thing fell into its place at the moment Hle poured out his thoughts and feelings just as they arose in his mind; and hence, on one occasion, when dispatches had been received which could not safely be made public, he said to one of his colleagues, “I must not speak to day; I shall let out the secret.” It is also worthy of remark, that nearly all these great passages, which came with such startling power upon the House, arose out of some unexpected turn of the debate, some incident or expression which called forth, at the moment, these sudden bursts of eloquence. In his attack on Lord Suffolk, he caught a single glance at “the tapestry which adorned the walls” around him, and one flash of his genius gave us the most magnificent passage in our eloquence. His highest power lay in these sudden bursts of passion. To call them hits, with Lord Brougham, is beneath their dignity and force. “They form," as his Lordship justly observes, “ the grand charm of Lord Chatham's oratory; they were the distinguishing excellence of his great predecessor, and gave him at will to wield the fierce democratie of Athens and to fulmine over Greece.”

- To this intense emotion, thus actuating all his powers, Lord Chatham united a vigorous and lofty imagination, which formed his crowning excellence as an orator. It is this faculty which exalts force into the truest and most sublime eloquence. In this respect he approached more nearly than any speaker of modern times, to the great master of Athenian art. It was here, chiefly, that he surpassed Mr. Fox, who was not at all his inferior in ardor of feeling or robust vigor of intellect. Mr. Burke had oven more imagination, but it was wild and irregular. It was too often on the wing, cireling around the subject, as if to display the grace of its movements or the beauty of its plumage. The in:agination of Lord Chatham struck directly at its object. It “flew an eagle flight, forth and right on.” It never became his master. Nor do we ever find it degenerating into fancy, in the limited sense of that term : it was never fanciful. It was, in fact, so perfectly blended with the other powers of his mind—so simple, so true to nature even in its loftiest flights—that we rarely think of it as imagination at all.

The style and language of Lord Chatham are not to be judged of by the early speeches in this volume, down to 1743. Reporters at that day made little or no atteinpt to give the exact words of a speaker. They sought only to convey his sentiments, though they might occasionally be led, in writing out his speeches, to catch some of his marked peculiarities of thought or expression. In 1766, his speech against the American Stamp Act was reported, with a considerable degree of verbal accuracy, by Sir Robert Dean, aided by Lord Charlemont. Much, however, was obviously omitted ; and passages having an admirable felicity of expression were strangely intermingled with tame and broken sentences, showing how imperfectly they had succeeded in giving the precise language of the speaker. Five speeches (to be mentioned hereafter) were written out, from notes taken on the spot by Sir Philip Francis and Mr. Hugh Boyd. One of them is said to have been revised by Lord Chatham himself. These are the best specimens we possess of his style and diction; and it would be difficult, in the whole range of our literature, to find more perfect models for the study and imitation of the young orator. The words are admirably chosen. The sentences are not rounded or balanced periods, but are made up of short clauses, which flash themselves upon the mind with all the vividness of distinct ideas, and yet are closely connected together as tending to the same point, and uniting to form larger masses of thought. Nothing can be more easy, varied, and natural than the style of these speeches. There is nomannerism about them. They coutain some of the most vehement passages in English oratory; and yet there is no appearance of effort, no straining after effect. They have this infallible mark of genius--they make every one feel, that is placed in like circumstances, he would nave said exactly the same things in the same manner. “Upon the whole,” in the words of Mr. Grattan, “there was in i his man something that could create, subvert, or reform; an understanding, a spirit, and an cloquence to summon mankind to society, or to break the bonds of slavery asunder, and rule the wildness of free minde with unbounded authority; something that could establish or overwhelm caipire, and strike a blow in the world that should resound through its history."

SPEECH

OF LORD CHATHAM ON A MOTION FOR AN ADDRESS ON THE MIRRIAGE OF THE PRINCE OF

WALES, DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, APRIL, 29, 1736.

INTRODUCTION. Tais was Mr. Pitt's maiden speech; and, literally understood, it is a mere string of courtly compl nents, expressed in elegant diction. But it seems plainly to have had a deeper meaning. The King. who was extremely irritable, had quarreled with the Prince of Wales, and treated him with great sever ity. The.e was an open breach between them. They could not even speak to each other; and although the King desired the marriage, he would not allow the usual Address of Congratulation to be brought ir by his ministers. In view of this extraordinary departure from established usage, and the feelings which it indicated on the King's part, Mr. Pitt's emphatic commendations of the young prince have a peculiar significance ; wbile the manner in which he speaks of the tender, paternal delight” which che King must feel in yielding to "the most dutiful application" of his son, has an air of the keenest irony. Viewed in this light, the speech shows great tact and talent in asserting the cause of the Prince, and goading the feelings of the King, in language of the highest respect--the very language which could alone be ap propriate to such an occasion.

SPEECH, &c. I am unable, sir, to offer any thing suitable to personage through his hours of retirement, in the dignity and importance of the subject, which view him in the milder light of domestic life, we has not already been said by my honorable friend should find him engaged in the noblest exercise who made the motion. But I am so affected of humanity, benevolence, and every social vir. with the prospect of the blessings io be derived tue. But, sir, however pleasing, howe'er captiby my country from this most desirable, this long. vating such a scene may be, yet, as iis a pridesired measure-the marriage of his Royalvate one, I fear I should offend the delicacy ol Highness the Prince of Wales--that I can not that virtue to which I so ardently desire to do forbear troubling the House with a few words justice, were I to offer it to the consic eration of expressive of my joy. I can not help mingling this House. But, sir, filial duty to his royal pamy offering, inconsiderable as it is, with this ob- rents, a generous love of liberty, and a just rev. lation of thanks and congratulation to His Maj. erence for the British Constitution— hese are esty.

public virtues, and can not escape the applause However great, sir, the joy of the public may and benedictions of the public. These are vir. be and great undoubtedly it is-in receiving tues, sir, which render his Royal Highness not this benefit from his Majesty, it must yet be in- only a noble ornament, but a firm support, if any ferior to that high satisfaction which he himself could possibly be wanting, of that throne so greatenjoys in bestowing it. If I may be allowed to ly filled by his royal father. suppose that any thing in a royal mind can trans. I have been led to say thus much of his Royal cend the pleasure of gratifying the earnest wishes Highness's character, because it is the consider. of a loyal people, it can only be the tender, pa-ation of that character which, above all things, ternal delight of indulging the most dutiful ap- enforces the justice and goodness of his Majes. vlication, the most humble request, of a submis. ty in the measure now before us-a measure ise and obedient son. I mention, sir, his Royal which the nation thought could never be taker Higiness's having asked a marriage, because too soon, because it brings with it the promise something is in justice due to him for having of an additional strength to the Protestant sucasked what we are so strongly bound, by all the cession in his Majesty's illustrious and royal ties of duty and gratitude, to return his Majesty house. The spirit of liberty dictated that sucour humble acknowledgments for having grant- cession; the same spirit now rejoices in the ed.

prospect of its being perpetuated to the latest The marriage of a Prince of Wales, sir, has posterity. It rejoices in the wise and happy at all times been a matter of the highest import. choice which his Majesty has been pleased to ance to the public welfare, to present and to fu- make of a princess so amiably distinguished in ture generations. But at no time (if a charac-herself, so illustrious in the merit of her family, ter at once amiable and respectable can embelthe glory of whose great ancestor it is to hare lish, and even dignify, the elevated rank of a sacrificed himself in the noblest cause for which Prince of Wales) has it been a more important, a prince can draw a sword—the cause of liberty a dearer consideration than at this day. Were and the Protestant religion. it not a sort of presumption to follow so great al Such, sir, is the marriage for which our moss

« 이전계속 »