BLTC Press Titles

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Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett

The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

The Worm Ouroboros

E. R. Eddison

Life of the Right Honourable William Pitt

by Philip Henry Stanhope Stanhope (Earl)


On the 23rd of January, 1781, when the Parliament met again, Mr. Pitt took his seat as member for Appleby. That date marks both the commencement and the close of his public life, for it was on the anniversary of the same day that he died.

At the time when Mr. Pitt first entered the House of Commons Lord North was still at the head of public yf affairs. Himself the most good-humoured and amiable / of men, he might often as a Minister seem harsh, and ; still more often unfortunate. Yielding his own better judgment to the personal wishes of the King, he continued to maintain the fatal war against the revolted, colonies, with a failing popularity and with a doubtful mind. His principal reliance at this time in debate was on Lord George Germaine, the Secretary of State, and on Henry Dundas, the Lord Advocate for Scotland.

The Opposition arrayed against him consisted, in fact, of two parties. They had been recently recon


ciled, and almost always voted together; yet still, as appeared shortly afterwards, the union between them was by no means thorough and complete. Of these two parties the largest by far in point of numbers was founded on the old Whig connexion of the Great Houses, or, as they loved to call themselves, the " Revolution Families." Men of this stamp could seldom— as Horace Walpole once complained of the Duke of Portland — extend their views beyond the high wall / of Burlington House. To them birth and rank seemed I I the principal qualities for leadership. In former years they had chafed at the ascendency of the elder Pitt; ! and now they could never look on Burke in any other light than as a toiling and useful subordinate, to be rewarded on occasion with some second-rate place, and not worthy to sit in council with a Wentworth or a Cavendish.

With such views they had for many years acknowledged as their leader the Marquis of Rockingham, ! head of the house of Wentworth, a nobleman of vast: i estates, of highly honourable character, but of very ' slender ability either for business or debate. But their leader in the Commons and the true impelling and , / guiding spirit of their whole party was Charles James V i Fox. Born in 1749, a younger son of the first Lord 1 Holland, he had entered Parliament at only nineteen as member for the close borough of Midhurst His youth. had been marked by a course of wild extravagance and' by the assertion of strong anti-popular politics. On . two occasions he had held a subordinate office under , Lord North. But soon breaking loose from these tram- \

mels and joining the ranks of Opposition, side by side with Burke, he had made himself most formidable to his recent chief. His admirable eloquence and his powers of debate—never exceeded in any age or in any nation —his generous and open temper, and the warm attachment, which ensued from it, of his political friends, cast into the shade his irregular life and his ruined fortunes, and extorted the wonder even of his enemies. Under him at this time were two men whose genius ' would have made them capable of leading, but who were proud to serve under so great a chief. There was A Edmund Burke, the first philosophical statesman of / his country; there was Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the J first of her dramatists in recent times, who had already i' produced some masterpieces of wit upon the stage, and was shortly to produce other masterpieces of oratory in ' the House of Commons.

Besides this main body of the old Whig aristocracy, there was also in Opposition a smaller band of the old adherents of Lord Chatham. It comprised the Earl of Shelburne and Lord Camden, who had filled the offices of Secretary of State and Chancellor in Chatham's last administration, and who to the close of his life had enjoyed his highest confidence. Lord Shelburne was indeed looked upon as the leader of his party since his death. There were also among its chief men Mr. Thomas Townshend, an active and useful politician, who spoke often and not without effect; Mr. Dunning, , unrivalled in his own time for success at the Bar; and Colonel Barre, a bold and unsparing, and therefore the ' more applauded debater.

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