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Whigs”; and though historical evidence will always prevent common opinion from becoming so absurd as this, it is undeniable that in the popular fancy of younger men, Sir Robert Peel is the Liberal minister who repealed the Corn Laws and carried Catholic emancipation, — the world is forgetting that he was once the favorite leader of the old Tory party, the steady opponent of Mr. Canning and the steady adherent of Lord Sidmouth and Lord Eldon. We remember his great reforms, of which we daily feel the benefit ; we forget that during a complete political generation he was the most plausible supporter of ancient prejudices and the most decent advocate of inveterate abuses. Mr. Pitt's fate has been very similar, but far less fortunate. The event in his life most deeply implanted in the popular memory is his resistance to the French revolution; it is this which has made him the object of affection to extreme Tories and of suspicion and distrust to reasonable Liberals: yet no rash inference was ever more unfounded and more false. It can be proved that in all the other parts of Mr. Pitt's life, the natural tendency of his favorite plan was uniformly Liberal; that at the time of the French revolution itself he only did what the immense majority of the English people, even of the cultivated English people, deliberately desired; that he did it anxiously, with many misgivings, and in opposition to his natural inclinations; that it is very dubious whether, in the temper of the French nation and the temper of the English nation, a war between them could by possibility have been avoided at that juncture; that in his administration, and under his auspices, the spirit of legislative improvement which characterizes modern times may almost be said to begin; that he was the first English minister who discussed political questions with the cultivated thoughtfulness and considerate discretion which seem to characterize us now; that in political instruction he was immeasurably superior to Fox, and that in the
practical application of just principles to ordinary events he was equally superior to Burke.
There are two kinds of statesmen to whom, at different times, representative government gives an opportunity and a career,-- dictators and administrators. There are certain men who are called in conjunctures of great danger to save the state. When national peril was imminent, all nations have felt it needful to select the best man who could be found, for better, for worse; to put unlimited trust in him ; to allow him to do whatever he wished and to leave undone whatever he did not approve of. The qualities which are necessary for a dictator are two, commanding character and an original intellect; all other qualities are secondary. Regular industry, a conciliatory disposition, a power of logical exposition and argumentative discussion, which are necessary to a parliamentary statesman in ordinary times, are not essential to the selected dictator of a particular juncture. If he have force of character to overawe men into trusting him, and originality of intellect sufficient to enable him to cope with the pressing, terrible, and critical events with which he is selected to cope, it is enough; every subordinate shortcoming, every incidental defect will be pardoned. "Save us! is the cry of the moment, and in the confident hope of safety, any deficiency will be overlooked and any frailty pardoned.
The genius requisite for a great administrator is not so imposing, but it is perhaps equally rare, and needs a more peculiar combination of qualities. Ordinary administrators are very common, -every-day life requires and produces every-day persons : but a really great administrator thinks not only of the day but of the morrow; does not only what he must, but what he wants; is eager to extirpate every abuse, and on the watch for every improvement; is on a level with the highest political thought of his time, and persuades his age to be ruled according to it, to permit him to embody it in policy and in laws. Administration in this large sense includes legislation, for it is concerned with the far-seeing regulation of future conduct as well as with the limited management of the present.
Great dictators are doubtless rare in political history; but they are not more so than great administrators, such as we have just defined them. It is not easy to manage any age; it is not easy to be on a level with the highest thought of any age : but to manage that age according to that highest thought is among the most arduous tasks of the world. The intellectual character of a dictator is noble but simple; that of a great administrator and legislator is also complex.
The exact description of Mr. Pitt is, that he had in the most complete perfection the faculties of a great administrator, and that he added to it the commanding temperament, though not the creative intellect, of a great dictator. He was tried by long and prosperous years, which exercised to the utmost his peculiar faculties, which enabled him to effect brilliant triumphs of policy and of legislation ; he was tried likewise by a terrible crisis, with which he had not the originality entirely to cope, which he did not understand as we understand it now, but in which he showed a hardihood of resolution and a consistency of action which captivated the English people and which impressed the whole world.
A very slight survey of Mr. Pitt's career is all we have room for here; indeed, it is not easy within the compass of an article to make any survey, however slight: but we hope at least to show that peculiar training, peculiar opportunity, and peculiar ability combined to make him what he was.
It may seem silly to observe that Mr. Pitt was the son of his father, and yet there is no doubt that it was a critical circumstance in the formation of his character. When he was born, as Lord Macaulay has described, his father's name was the most celebrated in the whole civilized world ; every post brought the news of some victory or some great stroke of policy, and his imagination dwelt upon the realities before him. “I am glad I am not the eldest son,” he said, “I want to speak in the House of Commons like papa ;'
»* and there are other sayings indicating an early ambition and an early consciousness of power. There is nothing extraordinary in this : most boys are conceited; most boys have a wonderful belief in their own power. “At sixteen,” says Mr. Disraeli, “every one believes he is the most peculiar man who ever lived”; and there is certainly no difficulty in imagining Mr. Disraeli thinking so. The difficulty is, not to entertain this proud belief, but to keep it ; not to have these lofty visions, but to hold them. Manhood comes, and with it come the plain facts of the world: there is no illusion in them; they have a distinct teaching. “The world,” they say definitely, “does not believe in you. You fancy you have a call to a great career, but no one else even imagines that you fancy it; yoų do not dare to say it out loud.": Before the fear of ridicule and the touch of reality, the illusions of youth pass away, and with them goes all intellectual courage.
We have no longer the hardihood, we have scarcely the wish, to form our own creed, to think our own thoughts, to act upon our own belief: we try to be sensible, and we end in being ordinary; we fear to be eccentric, and we end in being commonplace. It is from this fate that the son of a commanding Prime Minister is at any rate preserved: the world thinks about him, the world alludes to him ; he can speak “in the grand style” and he will not be laughed at, or not much. When we wonder at the indomitable resolution and the inflexible self-reliance which Mr. Pitt through life displayed, we may lessen our wonder by remembering that he never endured the bitter ignominy of youth; that his self-confidence was never disheartened by being “an unknown man"; that he early received from fortune the inestimable permission to be himself.
* Letter to his mother, Aug. 2, 1766; in Chatham Correspondence.
The education of Mr. Pitt was as favorable to the development of his peculiar powers as his position. The public education of England has very great merits, and is well fitted for the cultivation of the average Englishman; but one at least of the qualities which fit it for training ordinary men unfit it for training an extraordinary man. Its greatest value to the mass of those who are brought up in it is its influence in diminishing their self-confidence: they are early brought into a little but rough world, which effects on a small scale what the real world will afterwards effect still more thoroughly on a large one. It teaches boys who are no better than other boys, that they are no better than other boys; that the advantages of one are compensated by the advantages of others; that the world is a miscellaneous and motley medley, in which it is not easy to conquer and over which it is impossible to rule. But it is not desirable that a young man in Pitt's position should learn this lesson. If you are to train a man to be Prime Minister at five-and-twenty, you must not dishearten his self-confidence, though it be overweening; you must not tame his energy, though it seem presumptuous. Ordinary men should and must be taught to fear the face of the world,- they are to be guided by its laws and regulated by its manners ; the one exceptional man, who is in his first youth to rule the world, must be trained not to fear it, but to despise it.
The legitimate food of a self-relying nature is early solitude, and the most stimulating solitude is solitude in the midst of society: Mr. Pitt's education was of this kind entirely. He was educated at home during his whole boyhood. He was sent to Cambridge at a most unusually early age; he lived there
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