THE AGE OF FACTION
FOURTEEN years had passed since the beginning of the war. The second generation who served with Pitt were scarred by conflict, in which all that the prophet Burke had predicted seemed to have come true. Concessions to which many of them by temperament or inherited politics would have naturally inclined, they now resolutely repelled. They would not for a Catholic cause, which in Ireland had brought rebellion, drive the King into idiocy, who not only stood between them and Fox, but between England and a precarious peace, with changes at home which would surely send England down the road traversed by France.
So had come into being a party of resistance, fighting in the name of the old King but built on supporters in every section and class. They were so intent on fighting for bare existence that they were losing the capacity to understand the life changing about them, and in justifying themselves by those exertions which saved the country became unfitted to cope with an England delivered, aspiring, and at peace.
The makeshift ministry, which Pitt had so unwillingly constructed, fell to pieces on his death. Two-thirds of its natural supporters were with Grenville or Addington, it was miserably weak in the Commons, Austerlitz completed the demoralization begun by the Tenth Report. For two hours Hawkesbury was Minister, Eldon was for a fight, the King fumed against 'running away', but those who best knew Parliament knew that the game was up. His Majesty, they finally advised unanimously, must call in Opposition; 'they are a party', wrote Yorke, 'there is none other now existing, thanks to Messrs. Canning & Co.'*
Really, the rival party was hardly more united than the Tories,____________________