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THE

QUARTERLY REVIEW.

Art. I.—Correspondence between Mr. Pitt and the Duke of

Rutland, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, 1781–1787. (Pri

vately printed.) London. 1842. pp. 174. ITI

T has been laid down as a rule by a great orator of ancient

times, that writing well is the best and surest preparation for speaking well. Stilus optimus et præstantissimus dicendi effector et magister are the words of Cicero.* On the other hand, it seems natural to suppose that a man able and ready with his tongue should be still more able and ready with his pen. If he can without premeditation pour forth acute arguments in eloquent language, surely the advantages of leisure will supply the same acuteness and the same eloquence in at least equal perfection,

Neither of these conclusions, however, is entirely borne out by experience. Burke, whose writings will delight and instruct the latest posterity, often delivered his harangues to empty benches or a yawning audience, and was known to his contemporaries by the nickname of the Dinner-Bell.'

• Too deep for his hearers, he went on refining;

And thought of convincing, while they thought of dining! Fox, so pre-eminent as a debater, appears with small distinction in his authorship. Nay more, even the high skill of the Reporters Gallery fails to give any just idea of the real merits of a speech as well or ill adapted to its hearers. Every one must have frequently felt surprise at his inability to discover—with the “Times' or the Chronicle' in his hand-any good points in the speech which the night before has made the whole House ring with enthusiastic cheers; or, on the contrary, has wondered at the slight effect produced at the time, by what he afterwards reads with so much pleasure. We have lieard a most eminent living statesman observe how very erroneous an idea, as to the comparative estimation of our public characters, would be formed by a foreigner who was unacquainted with our history, and who judged only from

* De Oratore, lib. i. c. 33. VOL. LXX. NO. CXL.

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Hansard's

Hansard's · Debates.'* Who, for instance, now remembers the name of Mr. Charles Marsh? Yet one of the most pointed and vigorous philippies which we have read in any language stands in the name of Mr. Marsh, under the date of the 1st of July, 1813.

It has, therefore, always been a subject of doubt and discussion, notwithstanding the oratorical eminence of Mr. Pitt, whether he likewise excelled in written composition. Up to this time the general impression, we believe, is, that he did not. This impression has, in part perhaps, proceeded from the example of his father, the great Lord Chatham, whose style in his correspondence appears by no means worthy of such a mind-swelling, empty, cumbrous--and, even to his own family, seeking metaphors and epithets instead of precision and clearness. Another cause of that impression may have been, that Mr. Pitt, whenever it was possible, preferred transacting business in personal interviews rather than in writing.

Of this usual course in Mr. Pitt a strong proof came under our own observation. Once, when the writer of this article was on a visit at Lowther Castle, the venerable Earl, who amidst advancing years never wearies in acts of courtesy and kindness to all around him, indulged his friend's curiosity with a large packet of letters addressed by Mr. Pitt to himself, and to his kinsman Sir James. These letters had been most properly preserved as autographs; but, with one or two remarkable exceptions, they were very short, and nearly in the following strain :- Dear Lowther, Pray call on me in the course of the morning.'— Dear Lowther, Let me see you at the Treasury as soon as you can.'— Dear Lowther, When shall

you be next in town, as I wish to speak to you?'-in short, referring almost every subject to conversation instead of correspondence.

But whatever doubts may have been entertained as to Mr. Pitt's abilities for writing, are now, as we conceive, set at rest by a fortunate discovery in the House of Rutland. It may be recollected, that the late Duke was appointed by Mr. Pitt, in 1784, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, and died as such, in 1787, at the early age of thirty-three. The Duchess, his widow, survived till 1831. Not long since, as their eldest son, the present Duke, was arranging Her Grace's papers, he unexpectedly lighted upon a long series of confidential communications between Downing Street and Dublin Castle. In this case it was manifestly impossible for the Prime Minister to hold personal interviews with the Lord-Lieutenant: in this case, therefore, Mr. Pitt wrote, and wrote most fully and freely. The greater part of the letters are marked private,'' most private,'' secret,'* most secret,' and are evidently composed, not merely as between official colleagues, but familiar friends. The value of these documents to illustrate the history of the times and the character of Mr. Pitt could not fail to be apparent, and although there might be some ground against their publication at present, the Duke of Rutland has in the most liberal manner consented that a certain number should be printed for the gratification of his friends.

* We cannot mention Hansard's Debates' without noticing the valuable addition to them now in course of publication-Sir Henry Cavendish's Reports. These Reports (176?–1774) contain much curious matter-inter alia, upwards of one hundred new speeches of Burke ;-they, in fact, go very far to fill up a hitherto hopeless gap in our Parliamentary history and the publication, with its important appendices, does great honour to the skill and industry of the discoverer and editor, Mr. Wright.

Of the letters thus printed in the course of the present summer, we have had the honour to receive a copy, and we feel no hesitation in saying that--written though many of them were, in the very height of the session, or the utmost hurry of business—they appear to us models in that kind of composition. We can scarcely praise them more highly than by saying that they rival Lord Bolingbroke's celebrated diplomatic correspondence, of which, as we know from other sources, Mr. Pitt was a warm admirer. They never strain at any of those rhetorical ornaments which, when real business is concerned, become only obstructions, but are endowed with a natural grace and dignity-a happy choice of words, and a constant clearness of thought. Although scarce ever divided into paragraphs, they display neither confusion, nor yet abrupt transition of subjects, but flow on, as it were, in an even and continuous stream.

Of these merits, however, we shall now give our readers an opportunity of judging for themselves. Here, for example, is a confidential inquiry, which was addressed to the Duke of Rutland as to some faults imputed to his secretary, Mr. Orde,* and which, as it seems to us, most justly combines a zeal for the public service with a tenderness for personal feelings :

· Mr. Pitt to the Duke of Rutland. '[Secret.]

Brighthelm stone, Oct. 28, 1785. My dear Duke,- I would not break in upon you in the course of your tour, if the business I wish to bring under your consideration was less pressing and important than it is. You will be so good to understand what I have to say upon it as being in the most entire confidence and secrecy, as indeed the subject itself sufficiently implies. Various accounts have reached me from persons connected with Ireland, too material to the interest of your government, and, consequently, to us both, to make it possible for me to delay communicating the substance immediately to you, and desiring such farther information and advice as you alone can

* The Right Hon. Thomas Orde. He had been Secretary of the Treasury, in 1782. In 1797 he was created Lord Bolton, and died in 1807.

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give.

give. While all quarters agree in eulogiums, which do not surprise me, on every part of your own conduct, and on the prudence, spirit, and firmness of your government, the picture they give of the first instrument of your administration is very different. They state that Mr. Orde has incurred the imputation of irresolution and timidity, and a suspicion even of duplicity, still more prejudicial than his want of decision; and that if the management of the House of Commons, and the duties of secretary, are left in his hands, it will be impossible to answer what may be the consequences to Government even in the next session. This information you may imagine does not come directly to me; and I neither know how far it is to be depended upon, nor have any means myself of ascertaining it, but by stating it to you, who may be able to do so. I receive every such intimation with great allowance for a thousand prejudices or secret motives in which it may originate; but I still think it too serious to be wholly disregarded. From all I have had an opportunity of seeing, I give Mr. Orde credit for considerable abilities and industry, and for perfect good intention. I am, therefore, inclined to think such representations as I have mentioned at least greatly exaggerated. But I am sensible that his manners do not lead him to be direct and explicit in doing business, and that his temper is not decisive. This may make him not distinct enough in his dealings with men or personal objects, and content, without knowing as distinctly as he ought, on the other hand, what he has to trust to from them; and these circumstances will sometimes have the appearance, and generally the bad effect, of the qualities imputed to him. It is stated particularly, that when the commercial bill was brought forward he had neither taken sufficient pains to ascertain who were the friends of Government, nor to collect those who were certainly.so, but had trusted to vague assurances and general expectations, which produced the consequences we saw.

This I am more apt to believe, because I think, even now, after that session, he is not prepared to give any clear and satisfactory statement of the support on which Government may rely. I do not mention what passed on the commercial question as a thing to be lamented in the event: on the contrary, if the effect of more exertion in Mr. Orde had been to procure twenty or thirty more votes in the House of Commons, it would, as events have proved, perhaps have been a misfortune; but occasions might arise in which the same want of address or vigour might be fatal.

Upon the whole, if there is any reasonable ground for the suggestions I have mentioned, I think you will agree with me that it would be very desirable to open a retreat for Orde, and to endeavour to find some other person you

approve of to take his place. But, at the same time, this is not a resolution to be lightly taken, because, although the pledge for the continuance of the same system, and the main grounds of confidence, would still continue (where they have hitherto existed in your own person, yet even the change of the secretary must interrupt and derange for a time the machine of government in a way which ought to be avoided, if there is no strong necessity for hazarding it. All, therefore, that occurs to me, under these circumstances, is, first, what I have now done, to state the whole to you, and to desire the most confi

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