A History of England in the Eighteenth Century - Vol. IV

By William Edward Hartpole Lecky | Go to book overview

single-handed one of the most powerful Oppositions ever known in England, fascinated multitudes who cared very little for party or politics, but who appreciated keenly the spectacle of an unequal fight most bravely and most skilfully fought. The spell which Pitt at this time threw over his countrymen continued unbroken to his death. It outlived years of discouragement and disaster, and it was scarcely weakened at a time when sagacious men had discovered that his powers as a legislator and administrator were by no means on a level with his almost unrivalled talent for managing a party, and for conducting a debate.

The result of a struggle waged under these conditions could hardly be doubtful. The King's friends, the East India Company, and all the classes that were most ardently Tory, were on the side of Pitt, and they were assisted by the Duke of Richmond, the advocate of universal suffrage; by Lord Effingham, and Dr. Price, the most vehement opponents of the American war; by Wilkes, who had himself fought a gallant fight against a majority in the House of Commons; by the great body of the Nonconformists, who had so long been the staunchest supporters of the Whig party; by the Yorkshire Association, and most of the supporters of parliamentary reform. The system of nomination boroughs at the disposal of great nobles made many seats inaccessible to the most violent fluctuations of public opinion, but in nearly every large constituency the strength of the torrent was felt. No fewer than 160 members, nearly all of them belonging to the Opposition, were driven from Parliament. Fox himself barely succeeded in retaining his seat for Westminster. The united Opposition was utterly shattered. The old lines of party division were, for a time at least, submerged or effaced, and Pitt met the Parliament of 1784 at the head of a majority which made him the most powerful minister ever known in the parliamentary history of England.

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A History of England in the Eighteenth Century - Vol. IV
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents of the Fourth Volume v
  • Chapter XIV 1
  • Chapter XV 205
  • Chapter XVI - IRELAND, 1760-1778. 312
  • Chapter XVII - IRELAND, 1778-1782. 481
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