Pitt the Younger resigned his post of Prime Minister in 1801; George Canning was one of the men who supported Pitt's return to power. Canning composed the following poem under the pseudonym of Claude Sprott Esq. for a banquet in honour of Pitt's birthday on 28 May 28 1802. Pitt did not attend the event.
If hush'd the loud whirlwind that ruffled the deep,
The sky, if no longer dark tempests deform;
When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?
No! Here's to the Pilot that weather'd the storm!
At the footstool of Power let flattery fawn,
Let faction her idols extol to the skies;
To Virtue, in humble retirement withdrawn,
Unblam'd may the merits of gratitude rise.
And shall not his memory to Britain be dear,
Whose example with envy all nations behold;
A Statesman unbias'd by int'rest or fear,
By pow'r uncorrupted, untainted by gold?
Who, when terror and doubt through the universe reigned,
While rapine and treason their standards unfurl'd,
The heart and the hopes of his country maintained,
And one kingdom preserv'd midst the wreck of the world.
Unheeding, unthankful, we bask in the blaze,
While the beams of the sun in full majesty shine;
When he sinks into twilight, with fondness we gaze,
And mark the mild lustre that gilds his decline.
Lo! Pitt, when the course of thy greatness is o'er,
Thy talents, thy virtues, we fondly recall!
Now justly we prize thee, when lost we deplore;
Admir'd in thy zenith, but lov'd in thy fall.
Oh! take then-- for dangers by wisdom repelled,
For evils, by courage and constancy brav'd--
Oh take! for a throne by thy counsels upheld,
The thanks of a people thy firmness has sav'd.
And oh! if again the rude whirlwind should rise!
The dawning of peace should fresh darkness deform,
The regrets of the good, and the fears of the wise,
Shall turn to the Pilot that weather'd the storm.
Last modified 6 March 2002