Economic Annals of the Nineteenth Century

By William Smart | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
1806. THE MINISTRY OF ALL THE TALENTS

WHEN Parliament met on 21st January, the usual amendment on the Address was postponed " from the consideration solely of the indisposition of a right honourable gentleman at the head of His Majesty's Councils." On the 23rd, Pitt died.1

A Coalition government.

Lord Grenville, 2 "the most finished political economist of his time" according to Harriet Martineau, was asked to form a Coalition Government. Under pressure of circumstances, the King at last consented to Grenville's condition, and Fox became Foreign Secretary. Addington, now Lord Sidmouth, was Lord Privy Seal; Grey, now Lord Howick, First Lord of the Admiralty;3 and Windham, Secretary for War.

Death of Pitt.

____________________
1
His last speech, on 9th November of the previous year, contained a memorable phrase. To the Lord Mayor's toast of "The Saviour of Europe," Pitt replied: " Europe is not to be saved by any single man. England has saved herself by her exertions, and will, I trust, save Europe by her example." The proposal to honour the "excellent statesman" by burial in Westminster Abbey, one regrets to note, was passed only by 258 to 89. The main objection -- voiced by Windham among others -- was that something more than personal character was wanting to make a great statesman, namely, success. Wilberforce replied, with some indignation, that the idea that success was a proper criterion by which to appreciate the merits of a great man was inconsistent with wisdom and justice. If the character of the dead statesman were to be. tried by great public virtues and splendid talents, by a love of country as sincere and ardent as ever existed in any human bosom, where were we to look among the great men of ancient or modern times for anyone who had stronger claims to the gratitude and respect of their country?
2
Grenville was born 1759; member for Buckingham, 1782; Speaker of the House of Commons, 1789; then, successively, Home Secretary, President of the Board of Control, and Foreign Secretary; resigned with Pitt in 1801, but refused to go back with him when Fox was not included in the Ministry; little adapted for a party leader, with the cold manners and retired character and habits of his family, he seems to have strongly impressed those who met him in private life.
3
Charles, afterwards second Earl Grey; born 1764; graduate of Cambridge; member for Northumberland 1786; "one of Fox's most trusted lieutenants"

-110-

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