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William Pitt
by [?]

Tom might have wasted that money right shortly–there are several ways of dissipating a fortune–but he wisely decided to found a house. That is to say, he bought a borough–the borough of Old Sarum, the locality that was to become famous as the “rotten borough” of the Reform Bill.

He bought this borough and all the tenants outright from the Government, just as we bought the Filipinos at two dollars a head. All the people who lived in the borough had to pay tribute, taxes or rent to Tom, for Tom owned the tenures. They had to pay, hike or have their heads cut off. Most of them paid.

If the time were at our disposal, it might be worth while to let this story extend itself into a picture of how all the land in England once belonged to the Crown, and how this land was transferred at will to Thomas, Richard and Henry for cash or as reward for services rendered. It was much the same in America–the Government once owned all the land, and then this land was sold, given out to soldiers, or to homesteaders who would clear the land of trees; and later we reversed the proposition and gave the land to those who would plant trees.

There was this similarity, too, between English and American land-laws: the Indians on the land in America had to pay, move or be perforated. For them to pay rent or work out a road-tax was quite out of the question. Indians, like the Irish, will not pay rent, so we were compelled to evict them.

But there was this difference in America: the owner of the land could sell it; in England he could not. The law of entail has been much modified, but as a general proposition the landowner in England has the privilege of collecting the rent, and warning off poachers, but he can not mortgage the land and eat it up. This keeps the big estates intact, and is a very good scheme. Under a similar law in the United States, Uncle Billy Bushnell or Ali Baba might live in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and own every foot of East Aurora, and all of us would then vote as Baron Bushnell or Sir Ali dictated, thus avoiding much personal animus at Town-Meetin’ time.

But no tenure can be made with death–he can neither be bought, bribed, cajoled nor intimidated. Diamond Tom died and his eldest son Robert came into possession of the estate.

Now, Robert was commonplace and beautifully mediocre. It is one of Nature’s little ironies at the expense of the Law of Entail that she will occasionally send out of the spirit-realm, into a place of worldly importance, a man who is a regular chibot, chitterling and chump. Robert Pitt, son of Diamond Tom, escaped all censure and unkind criticism by doing nothing, saying nothing and being nothing.

But he proved procreant and reared a goodly brood of sons and daughters–all much like himself, save one, the youngest son.

This son, by name William Pitt, very much resembled Diamond Tom, his illustrious grandfather–Nature bred back. William was strong in body, firm in will, active, alert, intelligent. Times had changed or he might have been a bold buccaneer, too. He was all his grandfather was, only sandpapered, buffed and polished by civilization.

He was sent to Eton, and then to Trinity College, Oxford, where buccaneer instincts broke out and he left without a degree. Two careers were open to him, as to all aspiring sons of Noble Beef-eaters–he could enter the Church or the Army.

He chose the Army, and became in due course the first cornet of his company.

His elder brother Thomas was very naturally a member of the House of Commons for Old Sarum, and later sat for Oakhampton. Another of Nature’s little ironies here outcrops: Thomas, who was named for his illustrious grandfather–he of the crystallized carbon–didn’t resemble his grandfather nearly so much as did his younger brother William. So Thomas with surprising good sense named his brother for a seat in the House of Commons from Old Sarum.