Lord Chatham and America

Lord Chatham and America

Lord Chatham and America

Lord Chatham and America

Excerpt

On the fifth of October 1761, while the Seven Years' War was still raging, Pitt resigned the Seals as Secretary of State, and with the resignation entered on the third and final period of his life -- a period at once magnificent and sombre when, in spite of the burden of years and the mounting load of infirmity, he strove to guide the country into the path of wisdom at home, and to save her from calamity abroad. At the time, and for many years after his death, the world recognised that, given the chance, he and he alone might have warded off disaster. But the one chance he had came too late, and darkness fell on him and humiliation on the country. Recently, the pendulum has swung the other way, and historians have begun to lay at his door the futility of the age, holding him responsible for the weakness and waywardness of shallow ministries, and, by implication, for all the losses and disquiets of the times. From such an interpretation I profoundly dissent, and pray that this book may help to redress the balance.

If it is to do so, it should begin by setting out the indictment. Here it is in words other than mine: 'It was his [ Pitt's] intractable incalculable nature, his genius tinged with madness, which, at least as much as the immature, unbalanced, passionate obstinacy of George III, produced the chaos of the first ten years of the new reign, and during the next fatal ten years placed the Government in incompetent hands. He would take no account of other people, nor pay any regard to their wishes or feelings; he objected to Bute taking office, but when Bute declared that "he would be a private man", Pitt objected to his being "the Minister behind the curtain". Even now a leader has to put up with colleagues whom he might prefer to do without.... In 1760, the King, with his "friends" or servants, filled the place of the party organisation, and had a clear right to be represented in the Cabinet; but Pitt would not have it. This produced the first difficulties; after that he would not lead the Opposition, though they were ready to follow him, and in critical moments he would make the proscription of those who had had any share in the Peace Treaty, or the obtaining of . . .

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