William Pitt, Earl of Chatham - Vol. 1

William Pitt, Earl of Chatham - Vol. 1

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William Pitt, Earl of Chatham - Vol. 1

William Pitt, Earl of Chatham - Vol. 1

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Excerpt

The subject of our narrative rises amid the history of England as a rock, mighty and strong, not however opposing the course of development, or directing the stream of progress into new channels, a type of character often to be found in English history, but rather as a dominating landmark, weatherworn on either side by the nature of preceding and subsequent periods, and yet forming a selfcontained and uniform whole. Such was the character of William Pitt the elder, as will be shown in detail in the course of the biography which I propose to write. This biography will further demonstrate the fact, that although no actual change of natural development was due to him, he yet contributed largely to the advance of the nation, and materially accelerated its progress. This constructive energy is not, however, apparent in this first period of his life, the period of his rise; what we shall observe here is the peculiar nature of his position midway between two epochs, and the special influence exerted thereby upon his character. For a correct understanding and appreciation of these facts a general view of the stage of development attained by the English state at that period is indispensable. We require an account of the region in which our landmark is situated.

The opinion is widely and generally entertained, that the English state is the purest form of constitutional government, and that it was impressed with this form at a very early date. While other states were labouring under great uncertainty or entire confusion of constitutional form, or were burdened by the weight of despotism, England is supposed to have secured a careful delimitation of spheres of influence and . . .

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