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ministers and bad measures are not so readily cleared away and disposed of. Pulteney knew very well, no one could know better, the discordant materials of which the opposition had been composed; and it was his business, as the great leader and soul of the whole, by disinterestedness, openness, and an adherence to the great constitutional points for which he had contended, to have united as many of them as possible, and to have made no bargain with the court that could leave the reasonable part of the public any cause of complaint.
On all occasions like these, great difficulties must be experienced. The jealousies, suspicions, and rivalships by which a party is secretly agitated, while openly united in opposition to a minister, break out when the victory is once accomplished. The leaders cannot possibly satisfy, or even silence, the preposterous expectations, more particularly of those who have little real merit to boast. But Pulteney seems not even to have done what might have been expected. He left the court in possession of the important offices in the cabinet. The Duke of Newcastle was to be secretary of state; Lord Hardwicke remained chancellor; Lord Wilmington was suffered to slide, as it was called, into the post of first lord of the treasury; and the result of the whole was, that the alteration of measures, as well as of men, for which he had before appeared so anxious, never did, and indeed never could take place; for how were the measures to be altered but with the men ?
Melancholy to his own personal feelings were the consequences. Every term of reproach and indignation, all that could be suggested by the agreeable pleasantry of Sir Hanbury Williams, and the more elevated effusions of the muse of Akenside, were levelled at his character and fame; and the bissings of the public every where pursued the peer, the new made peer, who was now thought but the tool of a court, corrupted and corrupting, though so late, the patriot who had animated his countrymen by his generous efforts against the baseness of corruption, and charmed the House of Commons by the liveliness of his retorts, and the vigour of his arguments.
There can be no doubt that Pulteney was not so deserving of reprobation as was supposed at the time, or long after. In this, and in all other cases, we are to take the most natural solution of the phenomena ; and in judging of the conduct of men in difficult and critical situations, it is quite idle to exclude the supposition of occasional folly and mistake.
Pulteney seems himself to have meditated a defence, and to have afterwards devolved the task, and pointed out the proper materials to his friend, Dr. Douglas, the truly venerable Bishop of Salisbury.
But on his death, General Pulteney, for reasons that can scarcely have been sufficient, destroyed all his papers, as if the conduct of distinguished men were not, in fact, the property of the public; their example, if good ; their warning, if criminal or mistaken ; finally, as if silence was not an indirect confession of a bad cause.
The fault of the court in these transactions seems to have been a want of generosity, and even of common gratitude to their protector—to Pulteney. The objects of the court were to disunite the opposition, to form an administration on the Whig basis, and to save Sir Robert Walpole from a public impeachment, if possible ; at all events, to save his life.
In the two last, Pulteney was quite ready to agree with them. He was himself a Whig, and loved the constitution founded on Whig principles. He was not, he said, “a man of blood ;” and had always meant, by the destruction of the minister, the destruction of his power, not of his person.
But, alas for human weakness! he had an unfortunate wish for a peerage, a still more unfortunate dislike to office. These circumstances placed him sufficiently within the power of the court: and as there was therefore no need of either duping or deceiving him, or of representing him as duped or deceived, why was the Duke of Newcastle to insult him? What need for the king to break his word with him in the affair of Sir John Hinde Cotton ?
All this was a species of conduct in the court, not only ungenerous, but, as is always the case, unwise as it was ungenerous. Courts seem on such occasions to justify the reproaches of their enemies, and to teach mankind that every negotiation with them is to be a mere contest of intrigue and trick, of baseness and cunning ; so that men of openness and honour are to suppose them unfit to be dealt with, and unsafe
to be approached. Nothing can be more unfortunate for the country, and for the court itself, than that notions like these should ever appear to be countenanced by facts.
The public, lastly, were not without their blame on this occasion. Their faults were their natural faults: violence, precipitation, unreasonableness. They overlooked, in the first place, the merits of Sir Robert; considered not the difficulties of his situation; that he had to support the Brunswick family on the throne; that he had done so; that he might not be without his faults, but that at least this was his merit, and one to which no other could be put in competition : that with Jacobites and Tories to oppose him-many who would. have dethroned the Hanover family, more who would have suffered it to be dethroned-he was left to depend, not merely on the intelligence and purity of his measures, but obliged to fight his battle by the natural influence of the posts and places which belong to our establishments; and which he was to distribute among the great families of the country, so as to throw a weight of influence in one scale, to be opposed to disaffection in the other.
This is delicate ground on which I am now treading; this ground of the influence of posts and places, and even of positive money, according to the custom of those times, offered and received. I am well aware of it. But the era of which I am speaking, was one which cannot be brought into comparison with any other: and in this situation of things to suppose, as the public did, that Walpole was to answer with his life for what they supposed his malepractices; to imagine that he was the great author of all ill, and that patriotism and purity waited only the signal of his fall to rise into splendour, and to receive universal homage ; for the public to suppose all this, was surely to be, as I have already intimated, violent, precipitate, and unreasonable : in other words, was, according to their measure and opportunity, to have their follies and faults as well as their rulers.
A further insight into these curious transactions, which the more they could be known, the inore edifying they would be, cannot now be obtained. We have the known facts, the debates, and the pages of Mr. Coxe, drawn up after consideration of such private papers as now exist. Mr. Walpole, it appears (Sir Robert's brother) destroyed all the papers of the minister. “ The enemies of Sir Robert Walpole seemed desirous,” says Mr. Coxe, “ to impute to him alone all the measures pursued during his continuance in office: apprehensions were justly entertained that orders might be issued by the committee of secrecy for seizing the papers, not only of the minister himself, but even those of his brother. Mr. Walpole, therefore, went down to Wolterton, and burnt numerous papers, particularly a great part of the private correspondence between himself and his brother.
It is to this life of Mr. Walpole, afterwards Lord Walpole, by Coxe, that I must continually refer you, in conjunction with the common histories.
Lord Carteret next appears on the stage-a man of genius and ambition. He soon became a great favourite with the king; and he had talents that could throw a splendour round any measures that he proposed or defended.
You may begin with this twenty-fourth chapter of Coxe's Walpole ; and you will receive much entertainment and information on subjects that belong to this period :-the divisions of the cabinet; the relative abilities and political views of the leading men, particularly of Lord Carteret on the one side, and of the Pelhams on the other.
On the whole, however, the scene displayed through these chapters is not very pleasing. The Pelhams overpowered Lord Carteret, who had the favour of the king; but their system of politics turned out to be too nearly the same with his. At this period, the great point that could alone divide the opinions of patriotic and intelligent men, was, our system of continental interference. George II., as it may be supposed, thought chiefly of Hanover, and was ready to push the system to any extreme. Lord Carteret, a daring, ambitious, able minister, was ready to indulge him in all his plans and prejudices. Had the Pelhams resolved to adopt different views, the contest would then have been one of a grave, interesting, constitutional nature; one, in which it would have been very fit that both the monarch and his favourite should have found themselves unable to proceed, from a want of the assistance of the House of Commons and of the public. But though Mr. Pelham had himself very reasonable opinions on the subject of the continent, very different from those of Lord
Carteret, he was obliged, or induced, to give way to his brother, the Duke of Newcastle, who had been, in like manner, obliged or induced to give way to the king.
The king, therefore, after all prevailed. The result was, and the only result, that a Hanover system of politics was carried on by the king and the Pelhams, and not by the king and Lord Carteret: that is, the government was in the hands of ministers more constitutional and more reasonable for the management of home politics, but less fitted to engage with effect in the politics of Europe,
The peace of Aix-la-Chapelle at last took place. It is well described by Mr. Coxe, page 359. “The terms of the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle,” says he, “were highly favourable to the maritime powers, as France relinquished all her conquests in the Low Countries, for the restitution of Cape Breton. The House of Austria was alone dissatisfied with the dismemberment of Silesia and the country of Glatz, which was guaranteed to the King of Prussia; with the loss of Parma and Placentia, which were settled on Don Philip, and the cession of some districts in the Milanese, to the King of Sardinia.
“ Thus, after an immense expense of blood and treasure, ended a war, in which Great Britain and France gained nothing but the experience of the strength and power of each other. France perceived the riches and perseverance of Great Britain to be much greater than she imagined ; and Great Britain became sensible, that the power of France, acting in the Low Countries and in her own neighbourhood, was irresistible. The commercial disputes between Spain and Great Britain in the West Indies—the great object of the war-seemed to have been relinquished, and only specified in the treaty for form's sake; while each of these nations, though mutually weakened, found themselves in the same condition as before the war. The sober, sensible part of the English nation, began to speak with reverence of Sir Robert Walpole's pacific administration; and those who had been his greatest enemies, seemed at a loss to account for the reasons why the war had been undertaken.”
You will see reason, I think, to assent to these representations of Mr. Coxe.
As we proceed in the subsequent chapters of his work,