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promote, must be favorable to moral improvement. Still more does it appear evident, that such a conclusion must be acceptable to a pious and philanthropic mind. It is not probable, still less is it desirable, that the Deity should have fitted and destined society to make a continual progress, impeded only by slothful and negligent habits, by war, rapine, and oppression (in short, by violation of divine commands), which progress inevitably tends towards a greater and greater moral corruption.
And yet there are some who appear not only to think, but to wish to think, that a condition but little removed from the savage state, one of ignorance, grossness, and poverty, – unenlightened, semibarbarous, and stationary, is the most favorable to virtue. You will meet with persons who will be even offended if you attempt to awaken them from their dreams about primitive rural simplicity, and to convince them that the spread of civilization, which they must see has a tendency to spread, does not tend to increase depravity. Supposing their notion true, it must at least, one would think, be a melancholy truth.
It may be said as a reason, not for wishing, but for believing this, that the moral dangers which beset a wealthy community are designed as a trial. Undoubtedly they are; since no state in which man is placed is exempt from trials. And let it be admitted, also, if you will, that the temptations to evil, to which civilized man is exposed, are absolutely stronger than those which exist in a ruder state of society; still, if they are also relatively stronger — stronger in proportion to the counteracting forces, and stronger than the augmented motives to good conduct and are such, consequently, that, as society advances in civilization, there is less and less virtue, and a continually decreasing prospect of its being attained — this amounts to something more than a state of trial; it is a distinct provision made by the Deity for the moral degradation of his rational creatures.
This can hardly be a desirable conclusion; but if it be, nevertheless, a true one (and our wishes should not be allowed to bias our judgment), those who hold it, ought at least to follow it up in practice, by diminishing, as far as is possible, the severity of the trial. *** Let us put away from us “the accursed thing.” If national wealth be, in a moral point of view, an evil, let us, in the name of all that is good, set about to diminish it. Let us, as he advises, burn our fleets, block up our ports, destroy our manufactories, break up our roads, and betake ourselves to a life of frugal and rustic simplicity; like Mandeville's bees, who
“ flew into a hollow tree, Blest with content and honesty."
347. William Pitt, EARL OF CHATHAM. 1708–1778.
The character of Lord Chatham's eloquence is thus described by Mr. Charles Butler (1750-1832) in his “Reminiscences” :
Of those by whom Lord North was preceded, none, probably, except Lord Chatham, will be remembered by posterity; but the nature of the eloquence of this extraordinary man it is extremely difficult to describe.
No person in his external appearance was ever more bountifully gifted by nature for an orator. In his look and his gesture, grace and dignity were combined, but dignity presided; the “terrors of his beak, the lightnings of his eye,” were insufferable. His voice was both full and clear; his lowest whisper was distinctly heard; his middle tones were sweet, rich, and beautifully varied. When he elevated his voice to its highest pitch, the house was completely filled with the volume of the sound. The effect was awful, except when he wished to cheer or animate; he then had spirit-stirring notes, which were perfectly irresistible. He frequently rose, on a sudden, from a very low to a very high key, but it seemed to be without effort. His diction was remarkably simple; but words were never chosen with greater
He mentioned to a friend that he had read Bailey's Dictionary twice, from beginning to end, and that he had perused some of Dr. Barrow's Sermons so often as to know them by heart.
His sentiments, too, were apparently simple; but sentiments were never adopted or uttered with greater skill. He was often familiar, and even playful; but it was the familiarity and playfulness of condescension the lion that dandled with the kid. The terrible, however, was his peculiar power. Then the whole house sunk before him. Still he was dignified; and wonderful as was his eloquence, it was attended with this most important effect, that it impressed every hearer with a conviction that there was something in him even finer than his words; that the man was infinitely greater than the orator. No impression of this kind was made by the eloquence of his son, or his son's antagonist.
But with this great man - - for great he certainly was — manner did
much. One of the fairest specimens which we possess of his lordship’s oratory is his speech, in 1776, for the repeal of the Stamp Act.
Most, perhaps, who read the report of this speech in “Almon's Register,” will wonder at the effect which it is known to have produced on the hearers; yet the report is tolerably exact, and exhibits, although faintly, its leading features. But they should have seen the look of ineffable contempt with which he surveyed the late Mr. Grenville, who sat within one of him, and should have heard him say with that look, “As to the late ministry, every capital measure they have taken has been entirely wrong.” They should also have beheld him, when, addressing himself to Mr. Grenville's successors, he said,
“ As to the present gentlemen — those, at least, whom I have in my eye (looking at the bench on which Mr. Conway sat) — “I have no objection; I have never been made a sacrifice by any of them. Some of them have done me the honor to ask my poor opinion before they would engage to repeal the act: they will do me the justice to own, I did advise them to engage to do it; but notwithstanding (for I love to be explicit) - I cannot give them my confidence. Pardon me, gentlemen” – (bowing to them) — "confidence is a plant of slow growth.” Those who remember the air of condescending protection with which the bow was made, and the look given, when he spoke these words, will recollect how much they themselves, at the moment, were both delighted and awed, and what they themselves then conceived of the immeasurable superiority of the orator over every human being that surrounded him. In the passages which we have cited, there is nothing which an ordinary speaker might not have said; it was the manner, and the manner only, which produced the effect.
Once, while he was speaking, Sir William Young called out, Question, question!” Lord Chatham paused — then, fixing on Sir William a look of inexpressible disgust, exclaimed, “Pardon me, Mr. Speaker, my agitation : - when that member calls for the question, I fear I hear the knell of my country's ruin.”
But the most extraordinary instance of his command of the house, is the manner in which he fixed indelibly on Mr. Grenville the appellation of “the Gentle Shepherd.” At this time, a song of Dr. Howard, which began with the words, “Gentle Shepherd, tell me where,” — and in which each stanza ended with that line, - was in every mouth. On some occasion, Mr. Grenville exclaimed, “Where is our money? where are our means? I say again, Where are our means? where is our money?” He then sat down, and Lord Chatham paced slowly out of the house, humming the line, “Gentle Shepherd, tell me where.” The effect was irresistible, and settled forever on Mr. Grenville the appellation of “the Gentle Shepherd.”
A speech of Lord Chatham's is given on page 270.
EDMUND BURKE. 1731-1797. 348. From his “Speech on CONCILIATION with AMERICA,”
March 22, 1775.
Compare the two. This I offer to give you is plain and simple; the other full of perplexed and intricate mazes. This is mild; that harsh. This is found by experience effectual for its purposes; the other is a new project. This is universal; the other calculated for certain colonies only. This is immediate in its conciliatory operation; the other remote, contingent, full of hazard. Mine is what becomes the dignity of a ruling people; gratuitous, unconditional, and not held out as matter of bargain and sale. I have done my duty in proposing it to you. I have indeed tired you by a long discourse; but this is the misfortune of those to whose influence nothing will be conceded, and who must win every inch of their ground by argument. You have heard me with goodness. May you decide with wisdom! For my part, I feel my mind greatly disburdened by what I have done to-day. I have been the less fearful of trying your patience, because on this subject I mean to spare it altogether in future. I have this comfort, that in every stage of the American affairs I have steadily opposed the measures that have produced the confusion, and may bring on the destruction, of this empire. I now go so far as to risk a proposal of my own. If I cannot give peace to my country, I give it to my conscience.
But what (says the financier) is peace to us without money? Your plan gives us no revenue. No! But it does for it secures to the subject the power of REFUSAL; the first of all revenues. Experience is a cheat, and fact a liar, if this power in the subject of proportioning his grant, or of not granting at all, has not been found the richest mine of revenue ever discovered by the skill or by the fortune of man.
I, for one, protest against compounding our demands. I declare against compounding, for a poor limited sum, the immense, evergrowing, eternal debt, which is due to generous government from protected freedom. And so may I speed in the great object I propose to you, as I think it would not only be an act of injustice, but would be the worst economy in the world, to compel the colonies to a sum certain, either in the way of ransom or in the way of compulsory compact.
But to clear up my ideas on this subject, a revenue from America transmitted hither, - do not delude yourselves; you never can receive it — No, not a shilling. We have experience that from remote countries it is not to be expected. If, when you attempted to extract revenue from Bengal, you were obliged to return in loan what you had taken in imposition, what can you expect from North America ? For certainly, if ever there was a country qualified to produce wealth,
it is India; or an institution fit for the transmission, it is the East India Company. America has none of these aptitudes. If America gives you taxable objects, on which you lay your duties here, and gives you, at the same time, a surplus by a foreign sale of her commodities to pay the duties on these objects which you tax at home, she has performed her part to the British revenue. But with regard to her own internal establishments, she may, I doubt not she will, contribute in moderation. say in moderation, for she ought not to be permitted to exhaust herself. She ought to be reserved to a war, the weight of which, with the enemies that we are most likely to have, must be considerable in her quarter of the globe. There she may serve you, and serve you essentially.
For that service, for all service, whether of revenue, trade, or empire, my trust is in her interest in the British constitution. My hold of the colonies is in the close affection which grows from common names, from kindred blood, from similar privileges, and equal protection. These are ties which, though light as air, are as strong as links of iron. Let the colonies always keep the idea of their civil rights associated with your government, they will cling and grapple to you; and no force under heaven will be of power to tear them from their allegiance. But let it be once understood that your government may be one thing, and their privileges another; that these two things may exist without any mutual relation; the cement is gone, the cohesion is loosened, and everything hastens to decay and dissolution. As long as you have the wisdom to keep the sovereign authority of this country as the sanctuary of liberty, the sacred temple consecrated to our common faith, wherever the chosen race and sons of England worship freedom, they will turn their faces towards you. The more they multiply, the more friends you will have; the more ardently they love liberty, the more perfect will be their obedience. Slavery they can have anywhere. It is a weed that grows in every soil. They may have it from Spain, they may have it from Prussia. But until you become lost to all feeling of your true interest and your natural dignity, freedom they can have from none but you. This is the commodity of price, of which you have the monopoly. This is the true act of navigation, which binds to you the commerce of the colonies, and through them secures to you the wealth of the world. Deny them this participation of freedom, and you break that sole bond which originally made, and must still preserve, the unity of the empire. Do not entertain so weak an imagination as that your registers and your bonds, your affidavits and your sufferances, your cockets and your clearances, are what form the great securities of your comDo not dream that your letters of office, and
instructions, and your suspending clauses, are the things that hold together the great contexture of this mysterious whole. These things do not make your government. Dead instruments, passive tools as they are, it is the spirit of the English communion that gives all their