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The remaining sixteen years of Pitt's life with one brief interval, were devoted to the Opposition. He was tortured with the gout, and during much of this period was unable to be in his place in Parliament, or even to leave his bed. But at times the energy of his will overcame the infirmities of his body and he appeared in the House, where he always made his voice and his influence felt. With the accession of the Tories under the lead of the King, the traditional methods of government were in danger. It was to combat these tendencies, -as he said : “to restore, to save, to confirm the Constitution,"—that all his powers of body and mind were directed. He was the champion of popular interests in opposition to the usurping prerogatives of George III.
It was during this period that most of his speeches preserved to us in one form and another were delivered. But the reporting of speeches had not yet come into vogue. Most of his efforts were written out with more less fulness by some of his friends. The
speech which every school boy learns, beginning: “The atrocious crime of being a young man,” was written out by Dr. Johnson. The speech on the Stamp Act, delivered in January of 1766, was reported by Sir Robert Dean and Lord Charlemont. The one selected for this collection, that on an Address to the Throne concerning affairs in America, was reported by Hugh Boyd, and is said to have been corrected by Chatham himself. It is probable that no speeches ever lost more in the process of reporting than his; for, more than any one else he was dependent on the circumstances and the inspiration of the moment. An eminent contemporary said of him: “No man ever knew so little what he was going to say”; and he once said of himself: “When once I am up, every thing that is in my mind comes out.' His speeches were in the matter of form strictly extemporaneous, and they acquired their almost marvellous power, very largely from those peculiarities of voice and manner which are wholly absent in the printed form.
Macaulay in one of his essays says of him: “His figure was strikingly graceful and commanding, his features high, his eye full of fire. His voice, even when it sunk to a whisper, was heard to the remotest benches; and when he strained it to its fullest extent, the sound rose like the swell of an organ of a great cathedral, shook the house with its peal, and was heard through lobbies and down staircases to the Court of Requests and the precincts of Westminster Hall. He cultivated all these eminent advantages with the most assiduous care. His action is described by a very malignant observer as equal to that of Garrick. His play of countenance was wonderful ; he frequently disconcerted a hostile orator by a single glance of indignation or scorn." To understand the full power of his oratory, the reader must keep these characteristics always in mind.
From the beginning of the reign of George III., Chatham, of course, was almost constantly in the opposition. Afflicted by disease and saddened by disappointment, he was seldom in
Parliament; and sometimes even when there, he was too weak to give adequate expression to his ardent thoughts. He was “the great Commoner"; and his influence therefore was much weakened when in 1767 he went into the House of Lords. But to the last his character was above suspicion, and it was finely said of him that “great as was his oratory, every one felt that the man was infinitely greater than the orator." Even Franklin said of him: “I have sometimes seen eloquence without wisdom, and often wisdom without eloquence; but in him I have seen them united in the highest degree.' His death occurred on the inth of May, 1778, in the seventieth year of his age.
ON THE RIGHT OF TAXING AMERICA. HOUSE OF
COMMONS, JANUARY 14, 1766.
The famous Stamp Act resorted to as a means of raising a revenue from the American Colonies during the Ministry of Mr. George Grenville, was approved on the 22d of March, 1765. The law was never successfully enforced ; and when, a few months after its passage, the Ministry of Grenville was succeeded by that of Lord Rockingham, it became evident that nothing but a change of policy would restore America to tranquillity. The plan of the Ministry was to repeal the act, but at the same time to assert the right of Parliament to tax the Colonies. Against this position, Pitt (for he had not yet become Lord Chatham) determined to take a stand. The following speech, made on the occasion, is a good specimen of his earlier oratory,—though in parts it was evidently much abridged in the process of reproduction. It was reported by Sir Robert Dean, assisted by Lord Charlemont, and the version here given is supposed to be more nearly as the speech was spoken than is the report of any of the other of his speeches, except that on an “Address to the Throne," given hereafter.
MR. SPEAKER :
I came to town but to-day. I was a stranger to the tenor of his Majesty's speech, and the