Critical and Historical Essays — Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 877 pages of information about Critical and Historical Essays Volume 1.

But that change is too remarkable an event to be discussed at the end of an article already more than sufficiently long.  It is probable that we may, at no remote time, resume the subject.

WILLIAM PITT, EARL OF CHATHAM

(January 1834)

A History of the Right Honourable William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, containing his Speeches in Parliament, a considerable Portion of his Correspondence when Secretary of State, upon French, Spanish, and American Affairs, never before published; and an Account of the principal Events and Persons of his Time, connected with his Life, Sentiments and Administration.  By the Rev. Francis Thackeray, A.M. 2 Vols. 4to.  London:  1827.

Though several years have elapsed since the publication of this work, it is still, we believe, a new publication to most of our readers.  Nor are we surprised at this.  The book is large, and the style heavy.  The information which Mr. Thackeray has obtained from the State Paper Office is new; but much of it is very uninteresting.  The rest of his narrative is very little better than Gifford’s or Tomline’s Life of the second Pitt, and tells us little or nothing that may not be found quite as well told in the Parliamentary History, the Annual Register, and other works equally common.

Almost every mechanical employment, it is said, has a tendency to injure some one or other of the bodily organs of the artisan.  Grinders of cutlery die of consumption; weavers are stunted in their growth; smiths become blear-eyed.  In the same manner almost every intellectual employment has a tendency to produce some intellectual malady.  Biographers, translators, editors, all, in short, who employ themselves in illustrating the lives or the writings of others, are peculiarly exposed to the Lues Boswelliana, or disease of admiration.  But we scarcely remember ever to have seen a patient so far gone in this distemper as Mr. Thackeray.  He is not satisfied with forcing us to confess that Pitt was a great orator, a vigorous minister, an honourable and high-spirited gentleman.  He will have it that all virtues and all accomplishments met in his hero.  In spite of Gods, men, and columns, Pitt must be a poet, a poet capable of producing a heroic poem of the first order; and we are assured that we ought to find many charms in such lines as these: 

“Midst all the tumults of the warring sphere,
My light-charged bark may haply glide;
Some gale may waft, some conscious thought shall cheer,
And the small freight unanxious glide.”

[The quotation is faithfully made from Mr. Thackeray.  Perhaps Pitt wrote guide in the fourth line.]

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