Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I like Ike!

The Amateur Historian is, fortunately or unfortunately, an American and as plagued to death with the endless sufferage of the primary season as the rest of the country. However, it has given the Amateur Historian time to reflect on the necessity of a campaign slogan.

The human brain is wired for language and, in an odd turn, particularly susceptible to rhyme.

One such political rhyme destroyed the candidacy of one Henry Addington, 1rst Viscount Sidmouth in 1804. Addington, it must be admitted, did not have the greatest record while in office. He unsuccessfully attempted to sue for peace with Napoleon before giving up and declaring war on France again and was a terrible orator. Mind you, these were the days of Burke, Fox, Sheridan and Pitt, where gentlemen learnt to recite Horace in school; to be a bad orator was to be a bad politician. To be a bad politician meant one could not rally MPs to one's cause and therefore to lose one's bills and, thereafter, to lose the trust of the king.

When compared to Pitt's successions of pan-European coalitions, his renowned oratory and his successful management of the Houses of Parliament, Addington looked a poor figure indeed, giving rise to the epigram:

"London is to Paddington
as Pitt is to Addington."


  1. Well said! Was Pitt a fan of Gillray? I read in Ehrman's vol 1 "The Younger Pitt" that Pitt had a collection of Gillray's caricatures of him over the years at his house at Holwood.

  2. It's Stephenie again. :)

  3. That he was! I believe that Lady Hester Stanhope, his niece, recalled that Pitt was very proud of his collection. Pitt also gave Gillray a pension in the early 1800s, which might either be a sign of Pitt's personal sense of humor, or his desire to recruit Gillray against his political enemies.

  4. Fascinating! :)
    I also read that Pitt didn't come out of his rooms for several days after his affair (if one can call it that) ended with Eleanor Eden. Is that true, and do you believe he really loved her? Sorry to barrage you with questions but he really interests me!