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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

William Pitt

  • [The celebrated English statesman, second son of the Earl of Chatham; born in Kent, 1759; educated at Cambridge; entered Parliament, 1781; chancellor of the exchequer, 1782; prime minister, 1783; involved England in a war with the French Republic, 1793, which was continued after the rise of Napoleon; resigned 1801; prime minister again in 1804 until his death, Jan. 23, 1806.]
  • I am glad I am not the eldest son. I want to speak in the House of Commons, like papa.

  • Young Pitt showed that “the child is father of the man” by his exclamation at seven years of age, August, 1766, when told that his father had been made Earl of Chatham.
  • Jennings quotes an entry in Horner’s journal, 1805, that during some conversation concerning the sports and exercises of the common people, and the impolicy of suppressing innocent amusements, Pitt’s name was mentioned among those whose opinion on that subject might be of importance; and Windham exclaimed, “Oh, Pitt never was a boy!”
  • And, if this inauspicious union be not already consummated, in the name of my country I forbid the banns.

  • The figure with which he closed what Brougham pronounced the finest of his speeches. It was upon the unpopular coalition between Fox and Lord North, and the peace of Amiens, which Sheridan said “all men were glad of, but no man was proud of.” The war which followed the rupture of the peace, Pitt called “a conflict of armed opinions.”
  • Stopping in a speech in 1781, to allow Mr. Welbore Ellis to whisper to Lord North and Lord George Germaine, Pitt remarked, “I will wait until the Nestor of the treasury has reconciled the difference between the Agamemnon and the Achilles of the American war.”
  • During the war with France in 1805, Pitt called together some country gentlemen, says Jennings, to consider his Additional Force Bill. One of them objected to calling out the force “except in case of actual invasion,” to which Pitt objected that it would then be too late. When considering another clause to render the force more disposable, the same gentleman objected again, and insisted that he would never consent to its being sent out of England,—“except in case of actual invasion,” suggested Pitt.—Anecdotal History of Parliament.
  • When the Duchess of Gordon said upon her return to London, “Have you been talking as much nonsense as usual, Mr. Pitt?” he replied, “I am not so sure about that, but I think that since I saw your grace I have not heard so much.”
  • He said in 1780, on the India Bill, “Necessity is the argument of tyrants and the creed of slaves.”
  • Fold up the map of Europe!

  • On entering his house at Putney, on his return from Bath, where he had unsuccessfully sought a return to health, Pitt observed a map of Europe, which had been drawn down from the wall: he thereupon turned to his niece, and mournfully said, “Roll up the map: it will not be wanted these ten years.”—STANHOPE: Life, chap. 43. This was immediately after the battle of Austerlitz, Dec. 2, 1805, by which the Austrian and Russian armies were crushed, and the coalition of those powers with England against Napoleon destroyed. Only a month before, Pitt had said, in reply to a toast to his health at Guildhall, “England has saved herself by her own exertions, and will, as I trust, save Europe by her example.”
  • The Hon. James H. Stanhope, who was present at the death of Pitt, his relative, and made a statement of his last moments, says that the dying statesman uttered these words in a clearer voice than usual: “Oh, my country! how I love my country!” and never spoke again.—Ibid.
  • Wilberforce said of him, “Mr. Pitt preferred power to principle;” but of his resistance to Jacobinical principles, “He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague was stayed.”
  • Fox said of his rival’s speech on the renewal of the war with France, in 1803, “He has spoken with an eloquence which Demosthenes would have admired, perhaps have envied.”
  • Burke was moved even to tears by Pitt’s first speech, and exclaimed, “It is not a chip of the old block: it is the old block itself.” “Pitt will be one of the first men in Parliament,” said a member of the opposition, to Fox. “He is so already,” answered Fox.
  • When Pitt was laid in the grave of Chatham, in Westminster Abbey, the Duke of Wellington asked, “What grave contains such a father and such a son? What sepulchre embosoms the remains of so much human excellence and glory?”