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official situation in the Bank of England. He was, I believe, in early life a clerk in the Treasury, or one of the Government offices, and for some time acted for Mr. Pitt as his confidential clerk, or temporary private secretary.
Christmas was one of the most obliging men I ever knew; and, from the position he occupied, was constantly exposed to interruptions, yet I never saw his temper the least ruffled. One day I found him more than usually engaged, having a mass of accounts to prepare for one of the Law Courts: still the same equanimity; and I could not resist the opportunity of asking the old gentleman to give me the secret. "Well, Mr. Boyd, you shall know it. Mr. Pitt gave it to me:—Not to lose my temper, if possible, at any time, and Never during the hours of business. My labours here [Bank of England] commence at nine, and end at three; and, acting on the advice of the illustrious statesman, I never lose my temper during these hours."
He also related to me an instance which came under his own observation of Mr. Pitt's extraordinary powers of mental and physical endurance.
Mr. Pitt had been immersed all day with Christmas in intricate accounts (I assume, preparing for the conflict of a War Budget), when, looking at the hour, he said, "I must now go to the House, but shall return as early as I can, although I fear we shall have a late sitting." It proved so, as he did not rejoin his private secretary until six in the morning. He had something kind to say to Christmas for keeping at his work, adding, "I must now have a wash," and, going to the end of the room, threw off his coat and neckcloth, and applied a wet towel to his head and face. When this improvised ablution was over, he declared to his fidus Achates that he was quite fresh and ready for business, and for four hours he was hard at work, in going through the accounts Mr. Christmas had prepared during the night.
ME. PITT AND THE CUSTOMS DUTIES.
Bight Son. Sir Cr. C. Lewis to Earl Stanhope.
April 2, 1862.
Lord Grenville told my father that Pitt had formed a plan for abolishing all Customs Duties, and that he would have carried it into effect, if the war of the French Kevolution had not broken out, which defeated all his financial and commercial schemes. Lord Grenville said that the amount of the public expenditure at that time rendered such a plan quite feasible.
Note on Sir Or. C. Lewis's Letter.
I am not enabled positively either to confirm or to gainsay the recollection, as here recorded, of Lord Grenville, since I have not found among the Pitt Papers any that bear on this design. But the great speech of Mr. Pitt upon the Budget, of February 17, 1792, a speech revised by himself and delivered only a few months before the war with France, while it announces a present surplus of no less than 919,000?. upon a revenue of 16,730,000/. (or an average surplus of 400,000?. upon the last four years), unfolds the plan of applying that and every succeeding surplus in equal proportions to the diminution of taxes and to the reduction of debt.
Of the Customs Duties as they then existed Mr. Pitt made this significant remark :—
"Many of the articles under the head of Customs in which the augmentation is most apparent consist of raw materials, the increasing importation of which is at once a symptom and a cause of the increasing wealth of the country."
Another passage of that speech which I will here transcribe may serve to show how immense was the importance attached by Mr. Pitt to "that constant accumulation of capital" which the remission of the duties on raw material would be so much calculated to promote, and how large were his ideas of progress, not for England only, but for mankind.
Mr. Pitt said :—
"The great mass of the property of the nation is thus constantly increasing at compound interest; the progress of which in any considerable period is what at first view would appear incredible. Great as have been the effects of this cause already, they must be greater in future, for its powers are augmented in proportion as they are exerted. It acts with a velocity continually accelerated, with a force continually increased. Mobilitate viget, viresque acquirit eundo.
If we look to a period like the present, of con
tinued tranquillity, the difficulty will be to imagine limits to its operation. None can be found while there exists at home any one object of skill or industry short of its utmost possible perfection—one spot of ground in the country capable of higher cultivation and improvement; or while there remains abroad any new market that can be explored, or any existing market that can be extended. From the intercourse of commerce it will in some measure participate in the growth of other nations in all the possible varieties of their situations. The rude wants of countries emerging from barbarism, and the artificial and increasing demands of luxury and refinement, will equally open new sources of treasure and new fields of exertion in every state of society and in the remotest quarters of the globe. It is this principle which I believe, according to the uniform result of history and experience, maintains on the whole, in spite of the vicissitudes of fortune and the disasters of empires, a continued course of successive improvement in the general order of the world."
Note to the Second Edition.
In April, 1803, Mr. J. E. Mao Culloch brought out In a revised form his " Treatise on Taxation aud the Funding System;" and in a passage at page 238 he took occasion to show the great improbability of the plan ascribed to Mr. Pitt for abolishing the Customs Duties. I must acknowledge myself convinced by his arguments. I believe that Lord Grenville, in speaking to Sir T. F. Lewis, either expressed himself inaccurately, or was misunderstood—that he meant to say "most" or "nearly all" the Customs Duties, but not "all."