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Reign of George II. (Continued.) page 3


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Newcastle, who wanted to retain his place in the new cabinet, was more successful. Pulteney said he had no objection to himself or the lord chancellor, but that many changes must be made in order to satisfy the late opposition, and to give the cabinet a necessary majority. Pulteney then declared that, for himself, he desired a peerage and a place in the cabinet, and thus the new ministry was organised: - Wilmington, first lord of the treasury; Carteret, secretary of state; the marquis of Tweeddale, secretary for Scotland; Sandys, the motion-maker, chancellor of the exchequer; the prince of Wales was to receive the additional fifty thousand pounds a year; and his two friends, lord Baltimore and lord Archibald Hamilton, to have seats at the new board of admiralty.

When these arrangements became known, the tory party became dreadfully exasperated. Had they not fought the battle through all those years side by side with the discontented whigs for the overthrow of Walpole; and now, when these whigs had triumphed through their help, were they to be not so much as mentioned? But not the tories only - there were throngs of whigs who had battled zealously for the same object, and with the same hope of personal benefit, and yet they were passed over, and Pulteney, Carteret, and their immediate coterie had quietly taken care of themselves, and thrown their coadjutors overboard. This result was certain to take place, whatever the arrangements had been. No party could hope to maintain themselves in office with a batch of tories amongst them, who had always been opposed to the Hanoverian succession, and so intimately mixed up with the Jacobites that they could scarcely be distinguished; and there were too many whigs to be all gratified according to their own ideas of their services and merits. Pitt, Lyttleton, Granville, and that class of ambitious young men whom Walpole had called the "boy-patriots," had from the first opposed all these arrangements, and were vehement in their denunciations of them. They protested that the country was betrayed by a knot of apostates, who, instead of a total change of men and manners, were only fortifying themselves to perpetuate the old state of things.

On the 11th of February, the day of Walpole's resignation, a great whig dinner was held at the Fountain Tavern, in the Strand, where the disappointed men gave vent to their anger in the most stormy harangues. The new ministers were invited, that they might have their conduct censured as the disappointed thought it deserved. Carteret declined going, but Pulteney, Sandys, and the chancellor of the exchequer attended. There were nearly three hundred men, peers and commoners, present, and the bulk of them smarting with anger and disappointment. Lord Talbot drank to the cleansing of the Augean stable, both of dung and grooms. But the duke of Argyll was the most violent. He had done as much as any one to throw down Walpole, and to have been passed wholly over, as if his services or his rank and influence deserved no notice whatever, was certainly enough to excite his wrath. He seemed converted, indeed, into an actual tory by his mortification, for he protested that no good would be done until tories as well as whigs were included in the ministry. This was probably to excite the hopes of the tories, and bring them down all the more fiercely on the new cabinet. Pulteney defended himself with great warmth, declaring that the arrangements had not originated with him, and that he and his friends had had nothing to do but to accept or reject what was offered them. As to tories, however, he confessed that it would yet require time "to remove suspicions inculcated long, and long credited, with regard to a denomination of men who had formerly been thought not heartily attached to the reigning family." Sandys excused himself on the same ground. When the king offered posts to gentlemen of their party, were they to decline them? If so, the king would have no alternative but to recall the old set. When the discontented had well blown off their vexation, they began to take a more business view of the matter; and as many good things were yet undisposed of, they more wisely made direct demands for them than wasted their time in complaining.

A meeting was appointed betwixt Pulteney and the rest already in office, and the duke of Argyll, Chesterfield, Cobham, Bathurst, and some others. The prince of Wales was present, and the different claims were discussed. Argyll was satisfied by being made master-general of the ordnance, colonel of his majesty's royal regiment of horse guards, field- marshal and commander-in-chief of all the forces in South Britain. He also obtained, after a stout opposition, a seat at the board of admiralty for his friend Sir John Hynd Cotton, a decided Jacobite. Chesterfield got nothing, professing to wait to see a more thorough change of men before he went amongst them; but Cobham was made a field- marshal, and restored to the command of the grenadier guards, but he could get nothing for his nephews, the fiery oppositionists, Lyttleton and Granville. Lord Harrington was made an earl and president of the council in lieu of Wilmington, who vacated it for the premiership. But what surprised the country most was, that Pulteney, hitherto the head and soul of the party, should have been content to sacrifice himself for the sake of a title. He was made earl of Bath and received a place in the cabinet; but by this change he forfeited the confidence of the country, which had always looked up to him as the most determined and disinterested of patriots. From this moment he sank into insignificance and contempt. Some others of the old officials remained in as well as Newcastle. Sir William Yonge and Pelham, brother of Newcastle, retained their posts, Yonge as secretary of war, and Pelham as paymaster of the forces.

One appointment the king positively refused to confirm, that of Sir John Hynd Cotton. This Cotton had not only been a determined Jacobite, but in the house of commons had attacked and harassed the whig ministry nearly as much as the "thorough Shippen." The king very properly declared that he would not employ the most daring enemies of his family, but should feel bound to promote and encourage those who had maintained the rights of the house of Brunswick. This again roused the duke of Argyll, who, in the house of lords, made the most severe strictures on this rejection, and he was supported in both houses by the tories, who were furious with indignation at the rejection of one of their party, which was significant for all. The duke of Argyll, it was fully seen, had not, with all his appointments, reached the height of his ambition, and it was correctly augured that he would not long continue in office.

The prince of Wales and all the leaders of the late opposition now appeared again at court; but it was observed that the king received the prince very coolly, merely saying that he hoped the princess was well, allowing him to kiss hands, and then taking no further notice of him. The prince was not long in showing his discontent: he again absented himself from court, and began to cry down the administration which he had helped to form. The cabinet itself did not exhibit much sign of vigour. Wilmington remained the same feeble creature that he had felt himself to be as Sir Spencer Compton, and Pulteney, who had been expected to form a patriot cabinet, and take the lead in it in a career of necessary reform, was regarded with universal scorn and aversion. From the most popular man in the country he had sunk at once into the most despised. Instead of being followed, as he had been for years, by applause, when he appeared abroad he was hissed and hooted. He was regarded as a traitor to the highest principles for the mere empty honour of a peerage; and to have received those honours as the wages of iniquity which he might have had as the reward of virtue. It was believed that Walpole had artfully betrayed him into this false step, and thus taken full revenge on him for his long and final persecution of him. When they first met in the house of lords, he said to his old antagonist, "My lord Bath, you and I are now two as insignificant men as any in England." But Walpole felt that this was true only of Pulteney. For himself, he might be said to have passed into the house of lords as a natural transition - as the natural result, at the close of a long life of public services in accordance with his principles, and was to the end as much considered as ever, and still consulted in difficult circumstances, by ministers. According to Chesterfield, the nation looked upon Pulteney as a deserter, and he shrunk into insignificance and an earldom.

The new ministry were now to find that it is a very difficult position to maintain, when they have to perpetuate principles and measures which they have for a quarter of a century been condemning, simply because they furnished weapons of annoyance to the party in power. They were now eagerly called upon to undo all that they had condemned in the administration of Walpole. Petitions were poured in by the merchants of London, Bristol, Liverpool, Glasgow, and almost all the larger towns in the kingdom, complaining of the miserable management of the war, and of their losses in consequence. It was alleged by Mr. Glover, a member for the city of London, upon an examination of a great mass of papers, and the examination of numerous witnesses, that the war had been carried on, not through negligence, but by a fixed and uniform design to expose the commerce of Great Britain to the insults and rapine of the Spaniards. A bill was framed on the basis of this monstrous assertion, and actually passed through the commons, but was thrown out in the lords, where Walpole was present, to expose its malice and absurdity. The pension bill was next revived, and Carteret voted against it, having on so many former occasions warmly supported it.

The public, still smarting under the ruinous mismanagement of the war, returned to the charge, by demanding an inquiry into the conduct of Walpole, whom they accused of their sufferings, though he had so long and vigorously resisted the insane cry for this war, and though it had been urged on him by the very men now in power. These petitions were introduced and recommended by what were called the boy-patriots - Pitt, Granville, Lyttleton, and the rest. As a means of popularity, they insisted on the standing army being abolished in time of peace, on the strict limitation of placemen in parliament, and on the return to triennial parliaments. These were hard topics for the patriots now in power to digest. But the depression of trade continued, and no one could suggest a remedy but that of reducing taxation at the very time that all parties were zealous for the prosecution of the war. Finding no other solution to their difficulties, the public turned again to the demand of an inquiry into the administration of Walpole, hoping to lay bare, in that, the causes of their sufferings. The people of Westminster demanded whether such a man was to be permitted to retire without scrutiny into the enjoyment of private tranquillity. Accordingly, on the 9th of March, lord Limerick moved for a secret committee to inquire into the administration of affairs by Sir Robert Walpole for the last twenty years. He was seconded by Sir John St. Aubyn, and supported by Pitt, lord Perceval, the new member for Westminster, and that section of the young patriots, and eagerly by the tories. It was vigorously opposed by Mr. Pelham, Sir Charles Wager, and Mr. Henry Fox, surveyor-general, and brother of lord Ilchester. Pulteney was not present, being in attendance on a dying daughter; but he had so plainly expressed his aversion to pursuing vindictively the fallen minister, that his party voted against it, and it was thrown out, but merely by two votes, in a house of four hundred and eighty-six members. When Pulteney took his place in the house again, the defeated party upbraided him with his apathy in the cause, and then the world saw this great patriot, who had so lately declared his wish to leave the late minister unmolested, actually encouraging lord Limerick to renew the motion in an altered form, so as to comply with the forms of the house. Accordingly, lord Limerick, on the 23rd of March, rose and proposed a committee to inquire into the administration of Walpole, not for twenty, but for the ten last years. Pulteney not only voted, but spoke in favour of this motion, and it was carried by a majority of seven. Having let loose the parliamentary hounds on the ex- minister, Pulteney excused himself from being on the committee, but recommended moderation and fair play. These qualities were just the last which, in the temper of the party, were likely to operate, as was speedily obvious. Horace Walpole, the son of the accused, endeavoured to defend the conduct of his father, but he was rudely handled in reply by Pitt, who displayed much more eloquence than generosity; and when the names of the committee were called over, it was observed that the majority were the rancorous enemies of Walpole, and two only could be termed his decided friends. Lord Limerick was chosen chairman, and such was the partial and vindictive spirit in which, they went to work in examining papers and witnesses, that the honourable-minded Sir John Barnard, though so stanch an opponent of Walpole when in power, declared that he would no longer take part in the labours of a committee which displayed so little regard to the general inquiry, but concentrated all their efforts on the ruin of one individual.

But the committee found itself opposed in these objects in the highest quarter. The king displayed the most firm disposition to protect his late minister, and was in constant communication with Walpole and his friends for the purpose. Every means were used to protect those who were possessed of the most important information from the scrutiny of the committee, and to induce them to remain obstinately silent. Mr. Edgecumbe, who had managed the Cornish boroughs for Walpole, and could have revealed things which would have filled the committee with exultation, was raised to the upper house, and thus removed from the power of the commons. Paxton, the solicitor to the treasury, a most important witness, remained unshakably silent, and was committed to Newgate; nor was the committee more successful with Scrope, the secretary to the treasury. This officer, who, no doubt, held most desirable knowledge in his bosom, as firmly refused to make any disclosures, though he was now a very feeble old man. Other officials refused to make statements whose disclosure might criminate themselves, and which they were excused from doing by the great principles of our judicature.

To remove this obstacle, lord Limerick, the chairman of the committee, then moved that a bill of indemnity should be passed, to exempt witnesses from all penalties in consequence of their disclosures. This passed the commons by a majority of twelve, but was rejected in the house of lords by a large majority. It was there supported by Chesterfield, Argyll, and Bathurst, and opposed by Carteret and Hardwicke, who, as lord chancellor, designated it as an outrage on every principle of our constitution, and, if passed, destructive of all personal security. Enraged by this defeat, lord Strange, the son of the earl of Derby, moved, on the part of the committee, that the opposition of the lords in this matter was an obstruction to justice. It was supported by lord Quarndon, son of the earl of Lichfield, and led to a violent debate, and sharp recrimination betwixt Sandys and the rejected lord of the admiralty, Sir John Hynd Cotton, but was defeated by a majority of fifty-two. The temper of the secret committee was now exasperated to fury; they again called before them the octogenarian Scrope, and handled him with an insolent barbarity disgraceful to any body of men. But the old man who had fought for Monmouth, remained as stanch as he was on Sedgemoor in the days of youth. He said, "I am fourscore years of age, and I care not whether I spend the few months I have to live in the Tower or out of it, but the last thing I will do is to betray the king, and, next to the king, the earl of Orford." The committee had sense enough to dismiss the sturdy old whig, and give him no further trouble.

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Pictures for Reign of George II. (Continued.) page 3

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