THE PARTY OF MR. PITT
AN age opened of new measures under a new man. His inheritance was a mass of ruins. An empire had been lost. The fabric of trade was obsolete. Ireland, having taken her autonomy, must be rewon if she were not to be lost. The fleet must be rebuilt. India was in convulsion. Consols stood at 56. Behind the minister were courtiers and reformers; the dispositions which would preserve, and the ardour which would change, all to be bonded together in royal favour and national confidence if he was to survive. This was a moment when character might not merely divert party, but create it.
At the age of twenty-four he carried, besides the burden of the State, the weight of a name from which much was expected, and of a virtue for which he had staked a high claim. At the name of a second Pitt, passion, fear, and confidence revived, in English democrats, in the French Foreign Office, in old men who had worshipped the father, and young men who believed in the son. So a half-pay Highland officer made his appeal--'a Cameron naturally looks up to a Pitt for protection, it was your noble father that called us from under a cloud'.*
What he could be as a man we know from some remarkable human beings. In old age Wellesley recalled 'the gay heart and social spirit',--'beyond any man of his time'--while the saint Wilberforce wrote of 'the wit and playfulness', and of the regard for truth, 'greater than I ever saw in any man who was not strongly under the influence of a powerful principle of religion'. The childless Prime Minister was most at ease with children, shoots of the same innocency for which full-blooded animals derided him, and only to a few grown men, to Harrowby or Canning, was he all in all. 'My ambition', he said, 'is character, not office', and even those who detested the man____________________