« AnteriorContinuar »
himself with the history of Indian affairs. He knew, therefore, how to give his descriptions the true local coloring. British relations to India were as well known to him as were home politics. To interest the Englishspeaking world in these matters required the magic of his pen. Many persons in England and America to-day know something about India and the conquest of it by Great Britain; but very few there are who can trace their knowledge to any other source than the essays of Macaulay on Clive and Hastings.
In the present edition no attempt has been made to have the notes take the place of dictionary, encyclopædia, and such histories as are within the reach of highschool students. It is taken for granted that such books will be provided, and that it is part of the business of the school to train pupils in the use of them. The laboratory method, teaching pupils to handle apparatus, is as appropriate in English as in science teaching. A map of India has been added, which contains the nomenclature of the essays. It is intended to include all places mentioned in the text, and few others.
In the preparation of the notes, as well as in the proof-reading of the entire book, I have to acknowledge the very material assistance of Mr. George A. Bacon, by whose help the volume is ready for the press much sooner than would otherwise have been possible.
S. T. August, 1892.
HISTORICAL ESSAYS OF MACAULAY.
WILLIAM PITT, EARL OF CHATHAM.
A History of the Right Honorable William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, con
taining his Speeches in Parliament, a considerable Portion of his Correspondence when Secretary of State, upon French, Spanish, and American Affairs, never before published; and an Account of the principal Events and Persons of his Time, connected with his Life, Sentiments, and Administration. By the Rev. FRANCIS THACKERAY, A.M. 2 vols. 4to. London: 1827.
Though several years have elapsed since the publication of this work, it is still, we believe, a new publication to most of our readers. Nor are we surprised at this. The book is large, and the style heavy. The information which Mr. Thackeray has obtained from the State Paper Office is new; but much of it is very uninteresting. The rest of his narrative is very little better than Gifford's or Tomline's Life of the second Pitt, and tells us little or nothing that may not be found quite as well told in the Parliamentary History, the Annual Register, and other works equally
Almost every mechanical employment, it is said, has a tendency to injure some one or other of the bodily organs of the artisan. Grinders of cutlery die of consumption; weavers are stunted in their growth ; smiths become bleareyed. In the same manner almost every intellectual
employment has a tendency to produce some intellectual malady. Biographers, translators, editors, all, in short, who employ themselves in illustrating the lives or the writings of others, are peculiarly exposed to the Lues Boswelliana, or disease of admiration. But we scarcely remember ever to have seen a patient so far gone in this distemper as Mr. Thackeray. He is not satisfied with forcing us to confess that Pitt was a great orator, a vigorous minister, an honorable and high-spirited gentleman. He will have it that all virtues and all accomplishments met in his hero. In spite of Gods, men, and columns, Pitt must be a poet, a poet capable of producing a heroic poem of the first order; and we are assured that we ought to find many charms in such lines as these :
" Midst all the tumults of the warring sphere,
My light-charged bark may haply glide;
Pitt was in the army for a few months in time of peace. Mr. Thackeray accordingly insists on our confessing that, if the young cornet had remained in the service, he would have been one of the ablest commanders that ever lived. But this is not all. Pitt, it seems, was not merely a great poet in esse, and a great general in posse, but a finished example of moral excellence, the just man made perfect. He was in the right when he attempted to establish an inquisition, and to give bounties for perjury, in order to get Walpole's head. He was in the right when he declared Walpole to have been an excellent minister. He was in the right when, being in opposition, he maintained that no peace ought to be made with Spain, till she should formally renounce the right of search. He was in the right when,
1 The quotation is faithfully made from Mr. Thackeray. Perhaps Pitt wrote guide in the fourth line.
being in office, he silently acquiesced in a treaty by which Spain did not renounce the right of search. When he left the Duke of Newcastle, when he coalesced with the Duke of Newcastle, when he thundered against subsidies, when he lavished subsidies with unexampled profusion, when he execrated the Hanoverian connection, when he declared that Hanover ought to be as dear to us as Hampshire, he was still invariably speaking the language of a virtuous and enlightened statesman.
The truth is that there scarcely ever lived a person who had so little claim to this sort of praise as Pitt. He was undoubtedly a great man. But his was not a complete and well-proportioned greatness. The public life of Hampden or of Somers resembles a regular drama, which can be criticised as a whole, and every scene of which is to be viewed in connection with the main action. The public life of Pitt, on the other hand, is a rude though striking piece, a piece abounding in incongruities, a piece without any unity of plan, but redeemed by some noble passages, the effect of which is increased by the tameness or extravagance of what precedes and of what follows. His opinions were unfixed. His conduct at some of the most important conjunctures of his life was evidently determined by pride and resentment. He had one fault, which of all human faults is most rarely found in company with true greatness. He was extremely affected. He was an almost solitary instance of a man of real genius, and of a brave, lofty, and commanding spirit, without simplicity of character. He was an actor in the Closet, an actor at Council, an actor in Parliament; and even in private society he could not lay aside his theatrical tones and attitudes. We know that one of the most distinguished of his partisans often complained that he could never obtain admittance to Lord Chatham's room till every thing was ready for the representation, till the dresses and properties were all correctly disposed, till the light was