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Polar Publishing Co.; London: Arlen and Co., 1911.
QUARTERLY REVIEW .
No. 431,-APRIL, 1912,
Art. 1.—THE YOUNGER PITT.
1. William Pitt der Jüngere. By Felix Salomon. Band 1.
Leipzig and Berlin : Trübner, 1906. 2. William Pitt and National Revival. William Pitt
and the Great War. By J. Holland Rose. London:
Bell, 1911. 3. British Statesmen of the Great War. By the Hon.
J. W. Fortescue. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1911. 4. The Political History of England. Edited by W. Hunt
and R. L. Poole. Vol. x, 1760-1801. By William Hunt.
London: Longmans, 1905. 5. England under the Hanoverians. By C. Grant Robert
son, M.A. (Vol. vi of a History of England edited by
Prof. C. W. Oman.) London : Methuen, 1911. 6. Le Directoire et La Paix de l'Europe (1795-1799). By
R. Guyot. Paris : Alcan, 1911. 7. The Manuscripts of J. B. Fortescue, preserved at Drop
Historical Manuscripts Commission, Thirteenth Report. Vols I-VII. 1892-1910.
1It is very nearly fifty years since the appearance of Lord Stanhope's Life of the Younger Pitt was marked by an article in this Review from the pen of a writer, himself destined to lead Pitt's party, hold Pitt's office of Prime Minister, and direct the foreign policy of our country during critical phases. The late Lord Salisbury's lengthy study of what Dr Rose calls 'a monumental work,' and Mr Fortescue, with more contempt than justice, terms
four watery volumes,' has a literary and political interest of its own; but a comparison of its treatment of the problems and issues of Pitt's career with the books at the head of this article brings out very clearly the Vol. 216.-No 431.
immense addition to our knowledge in the last half century and the more critical temper of the scholar of to-day. M. Guyot's volume, for example, shows that, if foreign savants and archivists have re-written the history of the leading European States, the sources are not yet exhausted nor the verdicts of a Sorel, a Masson, a Fournier, a Philipson or a Hüffer yet accepted as final; while the special contributions to Irish and British, naval, military and economic history of Mr Lecky, Captain Mahan, Mr Fortescue, Mr and Mrs Webb, and Prof. Cunningham are being continuously supplemented and revised by the discovery of documentary material unknown to or not touched by Lord Stanhope, or Erskine May, whose •Constitutional History' dates from the same year. Old controversies have taken new forms, and new controversies have arisen on points regarded as settled by Stanhope's generation. Happily too to-day we are freed alike from the fetters of the Pontiffs of Holland House, whose infallibility the genius of Macaulay made an article of faith, and from burying with Canning and Lord Stanhope our political allegiance in the grave of the Master.
In the list of these new and original materials, which includes such important sources as Auckland's Diary and Correspondence, the Wyvill Papers, Windham's Diary, the Creevey Papers and the Journals of Lady Holland, the Dropmore Papers stand without a rival. On the lives of Pitt and Grenville this wonderful collection has lifted the curtain; and, as M. Guyot is well aware, in these precious pages we can trace the genesis and development of important political measures at home and abroad, and the motives, fears and hopes of two of the great Triumvirate in Pitt's Cabinet. So far the third Triumvir, Henry Dundas, has remained shrouded in a protective obscurity; but, when the Arniston archives have yielded their harvest too, the evidence will be pretty complete.
Modern scholars accordingly are steadily endeavouring to codify the most recent results of research in accessible works of reasonable compass. In the admirably planned • Political History of England,' Dr Hunt, who shares the general editorship with Dr Poole, is able to devote a whole volume to the period from the accession of George III to the Legislative Union with Ireland, and to provide a critical narrative based throughout on a faithful and learned collation of the new with the old material. Those who are deep in Dr Hunt's debt may perhaps be permitted a presumptuous wish to cross swords with him over this or that interpretation of character or motive, or this or that judgment of a policy or transaction, without impairing their respect for his knowledge and fairness or his capacity to furnish the student with a clear and scholarly presentation of the controversial issues as well as of the achievements which make Pitt's epoch inexhaustible in its appeal. And Dr Hunt would be the first to admit that the younger Pitt deserves on every ground more comprehensive reexamination than can be allotted even in the most excellent of general histories, and that the time has come for a new biography. Fortunately Dr Holland Rose has saved British scholarship from the reproach of allowing the duty and the honour to fall to German erudition. Prof. Salomon's Life of Pitt promises to be a very valuable contribution to the subject, for it is based on a painstaking and impartial investigation of our archives, but so far the story has only reached the momentous year 1793; if the second volume is as thorough, as critical and as clear as the first, Prof. Salomon will have earned the sincere gratitude of British students, and we hope that his work will soon be available in an English translation.
That Pitt's own university of Cambridge should provide a successor to Lord Stanhope is peculiarly appropriate; and Dr Rose's two solid volumes are undoubtedly happy in the opportunity of their birth. As the biographer of Napoleon, Dr Rose has studied European history with breadth and thoroughness; and he has supplemented his researches on Pitt's life in the British Museum and the Record Office by valuable material drawn from private papers and collections, notably the Pitt Mss. (now in our national archives), the MSS. preserved at Chevening and Orwell Park, and others of less importance noted in the Preface. If, as Bagehot pregnantly remarked, the chief difficulty of historical investigators and of posterity lies, not in pronouncing judgment on the results of a policy, which is always easy, but in truly understanding the problem which that policy was devised to solve, we cannot have too much help from the industry of unwearied erudition. Dr Rose has done an indispensable service in collecting and testing the evidence necessary for understanding and judging Pitt's statecraft; and, as a piece of research, his biography merits and will command the unstinted respect of every serious student.
But the biographer of a great statesman admittedly requires first-rate intellectual power as well as learning. Biography is a criticism of life; and on the range and depth of the biographer's knowledge of life depend his insight into personality and his judgment of great affairs. Viewed as a contribution to biography and literature and not simply as a contribution to knowledge, Dr Rose's book falls short of the ideal. Neither its construction nor its execution quite satisfies the rigorous tests which we are bound to apply. The book is too long and loaded for a biography pure and simple, which it professes to be; it is not long enough and is too disproportioned for a general history of the epoch. The allotment of space, indeed, suggests that the writer has worked primarily with reference to, and been dominated by, the results of his researches. The numerous episodes on which his investigations have yielded new and important light are allowed to overshadow those where he has not been so fortunate. In an organic and artistic biography the size of the canvas and the character of the background never invite more attention than the central figure. Too often in Dr Rose's pages we are encouraged to forget the actor and concentrate on the scenery. As with Seeley's book on Stein, unity is lost in diversity, Nor is this defect redeemed by any excellence of literary technique. A passage may, perhaps, be cited : • The lives of English statesmen have very rarely, if ever, been enervated by that excessive zeal for education which the great German thinker discerned as a possible danger for his fellow-countrymen. Certainly to those who had drunk deep of the learning of Leipzig, Heidelberg or Göttingen, the transference to a Staats-Secretariat at Weimar, Cassel, or even at Berlin, must have been a life of sheer drudgery. Doubtless, the doctrinaire policy of many a Continental State sprang from the persistent attempts of some Pegasus in