Abbildungen der Seite

protecting every species of neutral trade. It was evident to every one acquainted with the maritime power and situation of the several llations, that this plan, ostensibly impartial, was really meant to injure Britain. Thus, from Norway to Spain, the naval powers were either avowedly hostile, or really inimical to Great Britain. All Europe seemed to have combined to pull down her naval power. Such a situation, though alarming, was not without its use.





SACRIFICE NARROWNESS OF PARTY SPIRIT TO GENUINE PATRIOTISM. The question was not now, were or were we not right in attempting to impose taxes on America, but what were the most efficacious means for defending ourselves against so formidable a combination? Those were to be considered as true patriots, not who declaimed most fluently against the war, but who endeavoured to find out the most efficacious measures for national vigour, as the only means

Out of Parliament, disappro

of peace.

bation of the individual Ministers was in many

absorbed in their wishes to support Government in general.

On February 19th, 1781, Burke revived his plan of æconomy, in hopes of better success than he had experienced the preceding session. He supported bis motion by a speech necessarily consisting, as the subject was the same, of many arguments similar to those which he had used the

year before; but there was a great accession of new reasoning, new imagery, new illustrations, which the extent of his knowledge and fertility of his invention never failed to throw on any subject, however much it might to other orators appear exhausted.

A circumstance distinct from the intrinsic merit of the question rendered it at this time remarkable: on it WILLIAM Pitt made his first speech in the House of Cominons.

Mr. Pitt was now in the twenty-second year of his age, when he entered Parliament, with the expectations of all ranks and parties highly excited in his favour. It was publicly known that the illustrious Earl of Chatham had conceived the highest opinion of the talents and acquirements of his second son. William had been educated and formed under the eye of that eminent statesman, who, oppressed with bodily infirmities, immersed in public business, and loaded with years, with the most earnest anxiety and delight tutored and directed the opening understanding of his favourite son.

From his earliest age the youth had given the most undoubted proofs of intellectual vigour. A regular, judicious, and persevering application did justice to his great powers. . After he had acquired a considerable share of classical literature, he applied himself sedulously to mathematical studies. This branch of learning was probably instrumental in forming his masculine understanding to the precision of thought and closeness of argument which distinguish his speeches. He was sent to an University, of which the exercises have a peculiar ten

[blocks in formation]

dency to sharpen, invigorate, methodize, and expand the mind; and soon impressed both the scholars and masters of Cambridge with an idea of the superior figure he was destined to make. Devoting himself to the studies most prevalent at his college, more, as Burke had done at Dublin, for the sake of acquirement than display, he also treasured


in his mind moral and political history and science. Nature had given him uncommon talents. The plan of his education was peculiarly adapted for forming and strengthening his faculties, his own choice afforded him the most useful materials, and his judgment directed his powers and exertions to the most important objects. So qualified and prepared, on leaving the University, he betook himself to the study of the law; and with his powers, previous acquirements, and persevering industry, made very distinguished progress. He early formed one of the most beneficial habits which an understanding can contract-a habit of INDUCTION, or of thoroughly examining particulars before he admitted a

general principle in any new case; and when he did admit a principle, he accustomed himself to consider it in its application to the circumstances and situations, and not to receive it implicitly, and without the proper limits and qualifications. Perhaps, indeed, there is not a more striking difference between the reasonings of the personage before us and his great opponent, than in the extent in which each adopts a general principle. The former squares it to the case, the latter often takes it in a much greater latitude than will apply to the

This difference, however, respects the appositeness of the means to the end. Mr. Pitt not only formed a habit of just and apposite thinking, but of reasoning to the point at issue, and to no other. To this appropriation, the studies to which, from his father's recommendation, and his own choice, Mr. Pitt devoted a considerable part of his time, were peculiarly subservient. He applied himself with great assiduity to mathematics; and while, by geometry, he improved himself in clearness of argument,



« ZurückWeiter »