Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

which we are contending, the means for supporting the contest, and the probable course of human events, we should be inexcusable, if at this moment we were to relinquish the struggle on any grounds short of entire and complete security; that from perseverance in our efforts under such circumstances, we have the fairest reason to expect the full attainment of our object; but that at all events, even if we are disappointed in our more sanguine hopes, we are more likely to gain than to lose by the continuation of the contest; that every month to which it is continued, even if it should not in its effects lead to the final destruction of the Jacobin system, must tend so far to weaken and exhaust it, as to give us at least a greater comparative security in any termination of the war; that, on all these grounds, this is not the moment at which it is consistent with our interest or our duty to listen to any proposals of negotiation with the present ruler of France; but that we are not, therefore, pledged to any unalterable determination as to our future conduct; that in this we must be regulated by the course of events; and that it will be the duty of his Majesty's ministers from time to time to adapt their measures to any variation of circumstances, to consider how

far the effects of the military operations of the allies or of the internal disposition of France correspond with our present expectations; and, on a view of the whole, to compare the difficulties or risks which may arise in the prosecution of the contest with the prospect of ultimate success, or of the degree of advantage to be derived from its farther continuance, and to be governed by the result of all these considerations in the opinion and advice which they may offer to their sovereign.

CHARLES JAMES FOX.

MR. Fox, one of the most ceiebrated of English orators, was the second son of the first Lord Holland, and was born in 1749. His father, though a man of dissolute habits, was an influential member of Parliament, indeed for many years was regarded as the most formidable opponent of the elder Pitt in the House of Commons. The elder Fox received, as a mark of royal favor, the most lucrative office in the gift of the Government, that of Paymaster of the Forces; and he administered the duties of this position so much to the satisfaction of the king, that he was soon advanced to the peerage. His great wealth and his marriage with Lady Georgiana Lennox, a very accomplished daughter of the Duke of Richmond, made Holland House what it continued to be for three generations, the favorite resort of what

ever of culture and fashion allied itself to the cause of its own political party.

It was in the atmosphere of this society that the lot of young Fox was cast. The eldest son was afflicted with a nervous disease which impaired his faculties, and consequently all the hopes of the house were concentrated upon Charles. The father's ambition for his son was twofold: He desired that his boy should become at once a great orator and a leader in the fashionable and dissolute society of the day. In the one interest he furnished him with the most helpful and inspiring instruction; in the other he personally introduced him to the most famous gambling-houses in England and on the continent. The boy profited by this instruction. He made extraordinary progress. His biographer tells us that before he was sixteen he was so thoroughly acquainted with Greek and Latin, that he read them as he read English, and took up Demosthenes and Cicero as he took up Chatham and Burke. The father paid his gambling bills with as much cheerful

ness as he heard him recite an ode of Horace or the funeral oration of Pericles. At the university the young scholar furnished his mind with abundant stores of literature and history, but he paid no attention to those great economic questions which, under the influence of Adam Smith were then beginning to play so large a part in national affairs. Even late in life he confessed that he had never read the “ Wealth of Nations.”

Leaving Oxford at seventeen, Fox went to the continent, where the prodigal liberality of his father encouraged him in a life of unbounded indulgence. He not only lost enormous sums of ready money, but his father was obliged to pay debts amounting to a hundred thousand pounds. To distract the boy's attention from further excesses, Lord Holland resolved to put him into the House of Commons. The system of pocket boroughs made the opportunity easy; and, as no troublesome questions were asked, the young profligate took his seat in May of 1768, a year and eight months before he arrived at the eligible age.

« ZurückWeiter »