Insensible to consequences

Friday, 22nd October

• WILLIAM Hazlitt advised what to avoid in choosing a PM in Character of the Late Mr Pitt (1806):

“The talent he possessed was… an artful use of words… every subject presented to him nothing more than a tabula rasa… having no general principles… no moral habits of thinking… there was nothing to hinder him from pursuing any particular purpose by any means… his own pride and obstinacy were the only rules of his conduct… he seemed perfectly insensible to the consequences of things, and would believe nothing till it actually happened.

“The fog and haze in which he saw everything communicated itself to others; and the total indistinctness and uncertainty of his own ideas tended to confound the perceptions of his hearers more effectually than the most ingenious misrepresentation could have done… plunging at once into any dangerous or absurd enterprise without the least regard to consequences… he seemed not to have believed that the truth of his statements depended on the reality of the facts… he proceeded to amuse his hearers by a series of rhetorical common-places… without ever showing their real application to the subject in dispute…

“He was able to baffle opposition, not from strength and firmness, but from evasive ambiguity.”

Sound familiar?

Archery Steps
St George’s Fields, W2

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