To understand what drove England and her fighting men to levels of such high success during the Seven Years War (1756-1763) one should learn of the life and character of her leader during those critical years. The levels to which Pitt raised his countrymen was such that England was able to bring her principal enemy, France, to her knees; and, in the process, was to gain for England most all of North America as the spoils of war.
Pitt was the grandson of Thomas Pitt, one of the first Englishmen to return from India with a fortune in his pocket, a nabob, one, who while not springing from a family of any political importance, died, in 1726, as one of the richest men in England. Thomas was a quarrelsome and parsimonious individual who was fundamentally estranged from his family.
Robert Pitt ( -1727) was the eldest son of Thomas Pitt. It is represented that he was "a clever and honourable young man who declined to yield his own inclinations to the power of his father's purse."1 Robert was to marry Harriet: "beautiful, intelligent, distinguished, and virtuous."2 Robert did not seek the approval of his parents when he married Harriet; and when his father found out, he was most upset. Upon meeting his new daughter-in-law, Thomas Pitt was soon swung over; and, indeed, it seems Harriet was one of the few people whom he was able to get on with. The quarrels in the Thomas Pitt household were almost continuous; but, the Robert Pitt household was usually serene. As von Ruville, William Pitt's biographer was to observe: "In this dismal wilderness of family quarrels the perfect harmony and peacefulness which characterised Robert's marriage stands out as oasis."3 Harriet and Robert were to have seven children: five daughters and two sons. One was William, born in 1708, the subject of this biographical sketch.4
William Pitt was first educated at Eton (1721-6); and, then he was sent up to Oxford. In 1732, having left Oxford without a degree, either due to disinterestedness or because of ill health (gout), William was to receive a commission in the King's Own regiment of Horse" or, as they were known, "The Blues." Pitt was then to have a steady diet of military history for the next few years.
Through one of his grandfather's seats, William entered parliament in 1735. It was said that "the outset of Pitt's career gave little promise of great achievement. He lacked the sound foundation of a thorough education and a definite profession."5 In 1736, the 28 year old Pitt was to give his first speech in parliament. His maiden speech was in opposition to the government of the day, and, it follows, against the king's policies. George the Second (1683-1760) was on the throne and every one knew that there was a huge rift between him and his eldest son, the Prince of Wales (Frederick Louis, 1707-51), the dislike amounted almost to a hatred.6 Pitt's first speech was interpreted to be one in support of the Prince of Wales. Walpole, the king's chief minister7, was incensed and was said to have exclaimed, "We must in all events muzzle that terrible cornet of horse."8 Pitt was dismissed from "The Blues." It was a bad move on the government's part, for, it brought the young William Pitt to the public's attention (and he was never to loose it thereafter) -- "Every one was talking of the young cornet who had lost his commission as a martyr to his political convictions."9
Pitt's rise to power from the time of his entry into parliament to the opening of the Seven Years War, I pass over, and come directly to the events of 1756. Early in that year, the Marquis de Montcalm had been appointed the French commander in chief in America. Montcalm arrived at Quebec on the 12th of May, and, then, this energetic and accomplished military leader, immediately concentrated his troops and lead them southwest. He dispossessed the English of all their holdings in and around the Great Lakes and established a solid communication network between the St. Lawrence through to the upper Ohio.10 This news must be taken with the news of the failure of the English fleet to get relief through to the English garrison at Minorca11, and its loss to the French. The public was mad. Indeed, the prime minister at that time, Newcastle, was greeted by a mob at Greenwich -- "pelted him with mud, obliging him to take refuge in the Observatory."12 These events led directly to Pitt coming into power. The king, as much as he disliked Pitt's comments made in opposition to government policy, through a "labyrinth of intrigues and negotiations,"13 called on William Pitt to take the reigns of government on December 4th, 1756. This first time up, for Pitt, was short. Due, primarily, to the Byng affair (see fn #11) and the machinations of his opponents, Pitt was forced to resign on April of 1757. Pitt resumed his position as a publicly supported critic, one, detested by the king and his ministers.
Not too much time passed before the king and his supporters realized that a popularly supported leader, such as was Pitt, was needed if England was to effectively prosecute the war against France. Feelers were put out: would Pitt be interested in a coalition of power with the Duke of Newcastle.14 Yes! But only if he, Pitt, was able to set the terms. Pitt "demanded nothing less than the conduct of the entire correspondence of the admirals and commanders, the admiralty being left only its executive functions."15 In this way, "Pitt gained full control of every naval expedition, and [it was Pitt himself who] sent instructions to the commanders of squadrons exactly as he did to generals, ambassadors, and governors."16
The story of Pitt's successful prosecution of the Seven Years War, such that it was to bring France to her knees and brought Canada under the English flag, is a story to be found elsewhere. Mention is to be made here, however, of Pitt as a negotiator. He was a hard negotiator. He was to win at the table as much as he had in the battle field. His working principle "was not to make offers, but merely to answer them." He was to lay down a set of unnegotiable terms, and, he would leave aside, by his silence, his views on certain collateral matters (for example, fishing rights). The opposition were left to guess as to what his position might be on these collateral matters; they maybe negotiable. The young king, George the Third and his advisors felt that Pitt was being too demanding during the course of the 1761 peace discussions. The view was that "the pride of victory and the consciousness of superiority" induced Pitt to adopt an imprudent attitude and "aroused a suspicion that he wished to break off negotiations."17 Pitt's enemies spread fear. If Spain were to come into the war (and it looked very much like she might join in to assist France) then England risked losing much. Pitt was unperturbed. If Spain wanted war then England with its superior naval power would add more valuable America territory to its holdings. The answer was to keep up the pressure with further military operations, including a pre-emptive declaration of war on Spain. The cabinet turned against Pitt; and, in October of 1761, Pitt calmly quit his office, and, once again, delivered up his seals of office to the king.
Pitt's health, always a problem, had slipped further while he was in office; so, friends and family supported Pitt in his decision to leave office. His powerful friends wanted to award him, and, interestingly enough, it was indicated that the governorship of Canada was available, should he want it. What he eventually settled on was a peerage18 -- not for himself; but, for his wife,19 who was to assume the title of Baroness of Chatham, a name Pitt chose. Thus the family was raised to the ranks of the nobility; but, Pitt, himself, continued to hold onto his right to run for elections and sit in the house; and, in any event, elevation to the House of Lords was regarded almost as a step in the direction of retirement.
Nonetheless, Pitt, thereafter, did go into semi-retirement and was to spend time at both Bath and at his newly inherited manor, Burton Pynsent in Somersetshire. He would go up to London when he felt like it and when his health would permit travel. In the budding crises with the American colonies, Pitt was to systematically oppose the bills introduced to tax the colonies. Thus, "the glorious liberator of the colonies from the French danger, the manly defender of liberal principles, was the object of special love and veneration on the part of the colonists."20
Pitt always took great pains to oppose any administration of which he was not in charge. He opposed almost any matter that was unfolded by the government of the day. He had amply demonstrated that he could take one position and then inconsistently turn around and take another (an example of this is his position against the Hanoverian policy during the Seven Years War while in opposition and then embracing it upon becoming the king's prime minister). It was determined, in light of the growing problems with the colonies that it would be better for government to have Pitt a part of it and a defender of its policies rather than to deal with him while he occupied an opposition bench seat. Thus Pitt was invited to take the prime minister's position once again and to carry out his duties as such from the House of Lords, to which he was elevated as Viscount Pitt, Earl of Chatham. Pitt, more for the sake of his family than anything else, went along with it. Lord Chesterfield was to write, "Mr. Pitt has had a fall upstairs, and has done himself so much hurt that he will never be able to stand upon his legs again."21 The king and the ministers of the day realized, as Pitt did, that the whole matter ought to be played down; and, as much as the public supported Pitt, the planned festivities that were to take place throughout the city were abandoned; and, Pitt quietly slipped into his new office, though sickness was to keep him away for extraordinary amounts of time.
Pitt's last term in office was to last two years and three months, during only eight months of which he was (and even then with considerable interruptions) to guide the affairs of the state. During November of 1768, Chatham retired.22
During the crisis caused by the rebellion in America there was a move to put Chatham back in power; but, he was, really, too ill; and, in any event, the King was not predisposed.23 There were those in England, particularly with the receipt of the news of Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga, that the matter of the independence of the new United States of America was moot, and, what with the expected assistance of the Bourbon powers, "it would be wise to yield at once on the question of independence, and then to come to as favourable an arrangement as possible with the new transatlantic republic, especially in matters related to trade."24 Then there were those, who were prepared for all out war, at any cost. Pitt did not like either extreme: he thought it was not necessary to give up; he thought that the matter might be brought to a conclusion through negotiation leaving England very loosely in charge but at the same time granting large concessions in respect to trade and self government.
On April 7th, 1778, one of the great scenes of history was to unfold. It was in the House of Lords, a place of grandeur where elegant political speeches are delivered. The Duke of Richmond was delivering his speech, one in support of a motion to withdraw the troops from America, and, at once, to negotiate a settlement. Then into this very formal setting, a door near the throne was opened, and, in came "an old man, dressed in black velvet and wrapped to the knees in flannel" a badge he wore often so to declare his sufferings from the gout. He had traveled up from his country estate to give a speech on the motion. On each side he had two men for support; the one, his son William; the other, his son-in-law, Lord Mahon. He was led through the ranks of peers to the bench where he sat. He heard the balance of the Duke's speech. At its conclusion, Pitt got himself up -- slowly and with difficulty, leaning on his crutches and supported by his two sons. The house fell still; a dropping pin could have been heard. Those in the house leaned forward; not a word was to be lost. Leaving the crutch yet in place he raised one arm. He brought his head back and his eyes were cast upwards, as if to heaven. "I am old and infirmed." A pause. "I have one foot -- more than one foot in the grave. I have risen from my bed to stand up in the cause of my country -- perhaps never again to speak in this house." Pitt then, quietly at first, but with his voice becoming stronger, recited the most important events which had passed and which had brought mother England and her colonies to this juncture. He emphasized how each event was predictable of the next; and, in between each recited event, as a separate, Pitt would utter, "And, so, it proved!" Then at the end of this recitation, a long pause; the House continued in its stillness; its occupants fully captured and under the spell of the speaker. He then proceeded to ridicule the apprehensions expressed of France's involvement in the conflict. England was safe! There existed no force that could take England. There was no real threat of invasion. England was too strong for any invader; on land and at sea. As for the British possessions in America: he declared he for one could never consent to the dismemberment of the British family. "I am not, I confess, well informed of the resources of this kingdom; but I trust it has still sufficient to maintain its just rights ... But my Lords, any state is better than despair. Let us, at least, make one effort; and if we must fall, let us fall like men!" The whole speech, I am informed, lasted but ten minutes. He sat down more abruptly then he stood up. One of the Lords leaned over as if to remind him of a point he may have forgotten, -- and his response was audible, "No, no, I will do it by-and-by." Then the Duke of Richmond stood up to reply. Pitt listened attentively occasionally showing signs of displeasure. When the Duke had finished, Pitt made several attempts to rise. He was seen to be trying to take something out of his pocket, when suddenly he pressed his hand to his heart and fell backwards, unconscious. Several of the Lords leaped to Pitt's aid. His sons were right there to help.25
Pitt was carried out of the great chamber and laid on a table in a near by anti-chamber. He was revived and taken away for recovery to a house of a friend on Downing Street. After two days he was brought back to his country estate. For a month his anxious family hovered around him. He died on May the 11th, 1778. Eventually, the corpse was brought up to London and laid out in state in the Painted Chamber at Westminster.26
Though Pitt could lay claim to aristocratic lines through his mother, he himself was not an aristocrat; his power came from within himself. Certainly, for the first part of his career and for that matter most all of it, Pitt had no great wealth at his disposal:27 Pitt's sole cause of his force and efficacy was his oratorical powers. I quote von Ruville, William Pitt's biographer:
"His attitude, his gestures, his movements, and his glance united geniality with dignity, though dignity was predominant. It was, however, the flashing eye which made the strongest impression upon his contemporaries; its glow could excite his audience and win them to his cause, while [his] devastating glance could terrify and confound."28
In his private meetings, Pitt was quite ready, if the situation called for it, and, in a moment, to make an angry outburst or to give a stern reproof.29 His voice was fine, and he was ready and able to use humour, "though any undue hilarity in his hearers was always kept in check by a background of seriousness."30 Von Ruville compares Pitt to others and finds them unlike: Charles Fox (1749-1806), the great debater; Edmund Burke, the philosopher; and, his son, William (1759-1806), who, like his father led England through a turbulent period, the father's arguments were not overwhelming whereas the sons arguments were preeminent because of their carefully elaborated proof.
Examples of Pitt's "contempt for precedent, and his inborn knowledge of men" can be found in his appointments of those in which he entrusted power, particularly those of generals, Amherst and Wolfe.
To conclude, I call upon two eminent writers. First, Pitt's biographer, Albert von Ruville, in commenting upon Pitt as an energetic and careful administrator:
"It is indeed marvellous to observe how he was able to create armies and fleets and send them into action at a distance or close at hand, at a moment's notice or with long preparations, and with due regard to all known and all possible conditions; how again he was able to abolish the carelessness, the want of initiative, the selfishness and red tape, which seemed permanently to have shackled English military power, and had hitherto prevented all decisive success. He first showed the world and the more despondent of his own nation that England with her comparatively small population was able, through her economic prosperity, triumphantly to sustain a duel with the mighty power of France, and that there was no need for the great coalitions by which she had formerly attempted to repel the attacks of her powerful neighbour. It was not, indeed, English troops who checked the main force of the enemy in Germany, but her allies there were maintained with English money, and their action was, in the ultimate resort, the expression of the power of England, if only of her economic power."31
And now, von Ruville's conclusion:
"At the beginning of this biography I compared Chatham to a landmark with two sides weather-worn to different colours. The fitness of the comparison will hardly be denied; and it suggests an explanation of the many contradictions with which his life abounds, nay, of which it is composed. He still belonged to the old times, stood with both feet on the old soil, whilst with his whole soul he aspired after the new age, yet without the power to become part of it. He represented in the House of Commons the rotten borough of Old Sarum, and had striven to make it the base of his political operations; yet he desired and demanded that the real will of the nation should find its expression in Parliament; distinguished by his skill in party intrigue and founding his power on party alliances, he yet desired to destroy the party system and to make pure patriotism the motive power in the conduct of public affairs. He could not find words to express his devotion to the king and undertook to rule the country as the king's minister; yet he enthusiastically supported the rights and supremacy of a free Parliament. He violently opposed the rising power of the press, and yet he objected to all infringement of the liberty of the subject. In the growth of capitalism he saw a serious danger to morality and to the rights of the people; nevertheless, he was always in close alliance with the great capitalists. He was an ardent supporter of the old rights of the mother-country over her colonies, and yet he desired to see the colonists recognised as free citizens and their communities as autonomous organisations. He loved patriarchal simplicity and the peace of rural life, and yet he had a taste for pomp and parade which often led him to extravagance, and he was never so much in his element as when absorbed in important and engrossing affairs of state."32
And now, John Richard Green:
"It is this personal and solitary grandeur which strikes us most as we look back to William Pitt. The tone of his speech and action stands out in utter contrast with the tone of his time. In the midst of a society critical, polite, indifferent, simple, even to the affectation of simplicity, witty and amusing but absolutely prosaic, cool of heart and of head, skeptical of virtue and enthusiasm, skeptical above all of itself, Pitt stood absolutely alone. The depth of his conviction, his passionate love for all that he deemed lofty and true, his fiery energy, his polite imaginativeness, his theatrical airs and rhetoric, his haughty self-assumption, his pompousness and extravagance, were not more puzzling to his contemporaries than the confidence with which he appealed to the higher sentiments of mankind, the scorn with which he turned from a corruption which had till then been the great engine of politics, the undoubting faith which he felt in himself, in the grandeur of his aims, and in his power to carry them out.
"He never bent to flatter popular prejudice. When mobs were roaring themselves horse for 'Wilkes and liberty,' he denounced Wilkes as a worthless profligate; and when all England went mad in its hatred of the Scots, Pitt haughtily declared his esteem for a people whose courage he had been the first to enlist on the side of loyalty. His noble figure, the hawk-like eye which flashed from his small, thin face, his majestic voice, the fire and grandeur of his eloquence, gave him a sway over the house of commons far greater than any other minister has possessed. He could silence an opponent with a look of scorn, or hush the whole house with a single word; but he never stooped to the arts by which men form a political party ...
"His real strength, indeed, lay not in parliament, but in the people at large. His title of 'the great commoner' marks a political revolution. 'It is the people who have sent me here,' Pitt boasted, with haughty pride, when the nobles of the cabinet opposed his will. He was the first to see that the long political inactivity of the public mind had ceased, and that the progress of commerce and industry had produced a great middle class which no longer found its representatives in the legislature. ... The temper of Pitt, indeed, harmonized admirably with the temper of the commercial England which rallied round him, with its energy, its self-confidence, its pride, its patriotism, its honesty, its moral earnestness. The merchant and the trader were drawn by a natural attraction to the one statesman of their time, whose aims were unselfish, whose hands were clean, whose life was pure and full of tender affection for wife and child. But there was a far deeper ground for their enthusiastic reverence and for the reverence which his country has borne Pitt ever since. He loved England with an intense and personal love. He believed in her power, her glory, her public virtue, till England learned to believe in herself. Her triumphs were his triumphs, her defeats his defeats. Her dangers lifted him high above all thought of self or party spirit. 'Be one people,' he cried to the factions who rose to bring about his fall; 'forget everything but the public! I set you the example!' His glowing patriotism was the real spell by which he held England. ... Pitt was essentially an actor, dramatic in the cabinet, in the house, in his very office. He transacted business with his clerks in full dress. His letters to his family, genuine as his love for them was, are stilted and unnatural in tone.
"Of ... clearness of statement Pitt had little or none. He was no ready debater like Walpole, no speaker of set speeches like Chesterfield. His set speeches were always his worst ... [yet he was] in the front rank among the orators of the world. ... He spoke always as one having authority. He was, in fact, the first English orator whose words were a power, a power not over parliament only, but over the nation at large. Parliamentary reporting was as yet unknown, and it was only in detached phrases and half-remembered outbursts that the voice of Pitt reached beyond [parliament] ..."33
 Ibid., p. 51.
 Ibid., p. 55.
 Thomas was said to be vigorous; William, sickly. Notwithstanding his nature, Thomas Pitt paid considerable attention to Robert's children. "The grandfather, Thomas, displayed kindly interest in them upon many occasions during their stay. He invited them to his house, and visited them in theirs. He presented the girls with beautiful fabrics which he constantly received from India ..." (Ibid., p. 69.)
 Ibid., p. 112.
 Ibid., p. 122. "... the breach between father and son was complete and public." (p. 135.)
 Robert Walpole (1676-1745) was the effective leader of England from 1721-42. He believed in the supremacy of parliament, which notion kept the king under control. Walpole kept control of the House through bribery (an effective means, which, at least here in Canada, works yet today). Walpole's long administration, because of his methods, is written up as a corrupt one, yet, Walpole kept England out of expensive foreign entanglements allowing her people to develop into the most important mercantile nation during these times and for a century and a half thereafter.
 Von Ruville, op. cit., p. 126.
 Ibid., p. 127.
 Von Ruville's biography on Pitt, vol. 2, p. 42.
 The English fleet which was sent was badly equipped and the French emerged victorious in this Mediterranean naval battle. The admiral in charge of the English fleet, John Byng (1704-57), was brought home under arrest, court marshaled, found guilty of neglect, and, on March 14th, 1757, shot on the quarter deck of the 74 gun ship Monarch as she lay riding at her anchor in Portsmouth Harbour.
 Von Ruville, op. cit., p. 43.
 Ibid., pp. 45-66.
 Von Ruville's makes this observation on the relationship between Newcastle and Pitt, thinking it extraordinary: their views upon many points were wholly divergent; but, neither could do without the other. Chesterfield humorously compared them to "man and wife who jog on, seldom agreeing, often quarreling, but by mutual interest upon the whole not parting." (Von Ruville, op. cit., p. 187.)
 Ibid., p. 129.
 Ibid., p. 130.
 Ibid., p. 379.
 His enemies, given Pitt's criticism of the practice of giving out royal favours, at once had "set to work to undermine his reputation by satirising his conduct. ... his wife was nicknamed Lady Cheat'am." (Von Ruville's biography on Pitt, vol. 3, p. 42.)
 On November 14th, 1754, William Pitt, at the age of 46, was to marry Hester Granville (1721-1803). Five children were born to this union: three sons and two daughters. (Ibid., vol. 1, p. 179.) Hester, the eldest, was born on October 18, 1755 (d.1780). Then followed, John, born September 10, 1756 (d.1835); Harriet, born April 18, 1758 (d.1786); William, born May 28, 1759 (d.1778); and James Charles, born April 24, 1761 (d.1780). The family hired a tutor and the children were taught at home. (Ibid., vol. 3, p. 309, 314.)
 Ibid., p. 163. Though we have not been left with any verbatim recordings of Pitt's speeches there are snatches, as are set forth in Ruville's work at pages 166-70: on speaking for the repeal of the Stamp Act: "Taxation is no part of the governing power. The taxes are a voluntary gift and grant of the Commons alone." "Sir, I have been charged with giving birth to sedition in America. The Americans have spoken their sentiments with freedom against this unhappy Act, and that freedom has become their crime." "I draw my ideas of freedom from the vital powers of the British constitution, not from the crude and fallacious notions too much relied upon, as if we were but in the morning of liberty." "The gentleman asks, When were the colonies emancipated? I desire to know when they were made slaves." "And shall a miserable financier come with a boast that he can fetch a peppercorn into the exchequer to the loss of millions to the nation [trade]." And with reference to the real problem of smuggling when commodity taxes are laid on: "... let not an English minister become a custom-house officer for Spain or for any foreign power." These speeches had a deep impact. The overwhelming majority in parliament, however, in spite of Pitt's eloquent oratory, reduced the arguments down to the question as to whether parliament was supreme, or not; and voted not only that it had a right to tax the colonies, but proceeded to do so with the results, predictable or not, of a armed revolt and the formation of a new republic, the United States of America.
 Ibid., p. 179.
 Von Ruville's biography on Pitt, vol. 3, p. 243.
 Pitt was biding his time and waiting a call from the king so that he could set his conditions. However, "George III. declared that he would rather abdicate than submit to dictation from Chatham." (Ibid., p. 338.)
 Ibid., p. 331.
 See von Ruville's accounting at pp. 340-3.
 Even in death, Pitt was to have detractors. A motion was made in the House of Lords that the House should attend Pitt's funeral, in corpse; it was defeated by a majority of one. Much comment was to be made when it was observed that George III nor any from his household was to attend the funeral. (Ibid., p. 345.) The House of Commons, however, the place where Pitt played out the most important events of his career, heaped praises and were to vote special payments and pensions for his estate and relatives.
 His father left him, not a thing; and all that he was to receive out of his grandfather's estate was an income of 200£ a year. (Ibid., p. 80 and p. 144.) In 1744, out of the blue, Sarah, The Duchess of Marlborough left 10,000 pounds to Pitt, she having been delighted with his performance in opposition, especially when he went after Walpole, her sworn enemy. Later, in life, Pitt was to receive another legacy from Sir William Pynsent, "a highly eccentric person." Pynsent, by his death in January of 1765, gave effect to a testamentary gift of his substantial estate to Pitt who thus received real and personal property worth about 40,000£. The yearly income, which was almost 3,000£, was chiefly derived from the property of "Burton Pynsent" in Somersetshire. (Von Ruville's biography on Pitt, vol. 3, p. 137.)
More than wealth, Pitt valued his popularity and his reputation. This might be demonstrated when he was a military paymaster during the early part of his career. It was the custom for a person in such a position to make money simply from the handling of such large funds as would pass through the pay master's hands. Pitt, as a matter of personal policy would not take a penny other then that which was due to him by way of his approved pay. Pitt's stand in this regard was to impress foreign ministers who had a great tendency to treat the state as a milch-cow. "When the King of Sardinia, who was astounded at such unusual disinterestedness, proposed to make him a present of an equivalent sum, he politely refused." (Von Ruville, op. cit., p. 279.)
 Von Ruville, op. cit., p. 145.
 Ibid., p. 146. In Chamber's we find: "His imposing appearance and his magnificent voice added greatly to the attractions of his oratory. His character was irreproachable, though his haughtiness irritated even his friends."
 Ibid., vol. 2, p. 169.
 Von Ruville's biography on Pitt, vol. 3, p. 346.
 Green, Vol. IX, pp. 229-34.