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Sir Robert Walpole, by whom he had six children, and whom he also survived.
Sir William CWyndham.
BORN A. D. 1687.-DIED A. D. 1740.
This eminent statesman, chancellor of the exchequer in the reign of Queen Anne, was descended from an ancient Norfolk family, which possessed the lands of Wymondham in that county from a very early period. He was the grandson of Sir William Wyndham, on whom Charles II. conferred a baronetcy. He received his education at Eton, and at Christ-church, Oxford. On quitting the university he spent some years
in foreign travel ; soon after his return to England he was chosen knight of the shire for Somerset, in which station he served in the three last parliaments of Queen Anne, and in all the subsequent parliaments, until her death.
Soon after the change of ministry in 1710, Sir William was made secretary at war. In August, 1713, he became chancellor of the exchequer. Upon the breach between the lord-high-treasurer and Bolingbroke in 1714, Sir William adhered to the interests of the latter. He endeavoured to attach himself to the Hanoverian party on the death of Anne, but Sir Richard Onslow supplanted him in the exchequer, and in the next parliament he appeared on the opposition side. He strenuously defended the duke of Ormond and the earls of Oxford and Strafford upon their impeachment; and altogether acted in such a spirit of determined opposition to the existing administration, as to draw upon him the suspicion of being connected with the Stuart party. On the breaking out of Mar's rebellion in 1715, Sir William was apprehended and sent to the Tower, but he was afterwards set at liberty without a trial. After this period he still pursued his career of opposition, but upon broader and more general principles. He died in 1740. Pope, with whom he was very intimate, thus mentions him :
“ Wyndham-just to freedom and the throne,
The master of our passions and his own.”
Sir William was twice married : first to a daughter of the duke of Somerset, by whom he had a son, who afterwards became earl of Egremont; his second wife was the marquess of Blandford's widow. There can be no question that Sir William possessed very powerful abilities ; but his political integrity is not altogether free from suspicion.
John, Duke of Argyle and Greenwich.
BORN A. D. 1678.-DIED A. D. 1745.
This able and honest politician, steady patriot, and celebrated general, was born in the year 1678. In 1694, when not full seventeen years of age, King William gave him the command of a regiment. His father, the first duke of Argyle, dying in 1703, his grace was soon after sworu of his majesty's privy-council, appointed captain of the Scotch horseguards, and one of the extraordinary lords of session of Scotland. In 1704 he was installed one of the knights of the thistle, and in 1705 he was made a peer of England by the title of Baron of Chatham and Earl of Greenwich.
At the battle of Ramillies, in 1706, he acted as brigadier-general, and though but a young man, gave signal proofs of his valour. He also commanded at the siege of Ostend as brigadier-general, and in the same station at that of Menin, and was in the action of Oudenarde in 1708. At the siege of Ghent he commanded as major-general, and took possession of the town. In 1709, at the siege of Tournay, which was carried on by three attacks, he commanded one of them in quality of lieutenant-general, to which rank he had been raised few months before. At the battle of Malplaquet, the same year, the duke of Argyle was ordered to dislodge the enemy from the wood of Sart,-a piece of service which he executed with great bravery and resolutio. In 1711 he was appointed ambassador-extraordinary to King Charles III. of Spain, and generalissimo of the British forces in that kingdom.
After his grace's return to England, he did not remain long in the favour of the ministry, for he heartily joined in opposing all the intrigues against the protestant succession ; and, in 1713, made a motion in the house of lords for dissolving the union, occasioned by a malt-bill being brought into the house for Scotland; which motion was carried in the negative by four voices only. In the spring of the year 1714, he was deprived of all the employments he held under the crown.
Upon the accession of George I. his grace was one of the nineteen members of the regency nominated by his majesty; and on the king's arrival in England he was immediately taken into favour at court, and made general and commander-in-chief of the king's forces in Scotland. In consequence of this commission, his grace commanded the army
when the rebellion broke out in Scotland in 1715. The particulars of this rebellion have been elsewhere related, and it seems only necessary in this place to mention, that his grace, during the whole course of it, exerted himself in an able and successful manner against the enemies of the protestant succession. After having put the army into winterquarters, he returned to London, and was most graciously received by his majesty ; but in a few months, to the surprise of all, he was dismissed from all his offices.
In June, 1715, when the famous schism bill was brought into the house of lords, he opposed it with great zeal and strength of argument. In the debate on the mutiny-bill, he opposed any extension of the military power, and urged the necessity of a reduction of the standing army, a step which was by no means agreeable to the court. In the beginning of the year 1719, his grace was again admitted into his majesty's favour, who was pleased to appoint him lord-steward of his household and to create him Duke of Greenwich. In 1722, the duke of Argyle distinguished himself in the house of lords in a very interesting debate on the bill for banishing Dr Atterbury, bishop of Rochester. It was chiefly owing to his grace's persuasive eloquence that this bill passed. In 1726 his grace was appointed colonel of the prince of Wales' regiment of horse. But notwithstanding these promotions, the duke, with patriotic
at zeal for his native country, warınly opposed the extension of the malt Seve tax to Scotland.
From this time we have no memoirs of any transactions in the life of this great man deserving public notice, till the year 1737, when a bill was brought into parliament for punishing the lord-provost of Edinburgh, for abolishing the city-guard, and for depriving the corporation of several ancient privileges, on account of the insurrection in 1736, when the mob broke into the prison and took out Captain Porteous and hanged him. The duke of Argyle opposed this bill with great warmth in the house of lords as an act of unjust severity. His grace's conduct in this affair highly displeased the ministry, but they did not think proper to show any public marks of resentment at the time. In 1739, when the convention with Spain was brought before the house, he spoke with warmth against it; and, in the same session, his grace opposed a vote of credit, as there was no sum limited in the message sent by his majesty. Upon the election of a new parliament in 1741, on the application of the city of Edinburgh, and several corporations, who addressed him in form at that time, he pointed out to them men of steady, honest, and loyal principles, and independent fortunes ; and, where he had any interest, he endeavoured to prevail with the electors to choose such men.
On the disgrace of Walpole, the duke became the darling of the people, and he seemed likewise to be perfectly restored to favour at court, for he was made master-general of the ordnance, colonel of his majesty's royal regiment of horse-guards, and field-marshal and commander-inchief of all the forces in South Britain. But in a few months, his grace, perceiving that a change of men produced little or no change of measures, resigned all his posts, and from this time retired from public business, ever after courting privacy and living in retirement.
The duke had been for some years labouring under a paralytic disorder, which put a period to his life in the year 1745. A superb monument was erected in Westminster-abbey to his memory, Sir William Fermor, while his grace was living, having left £500 to defray the expense of it, out of regard to the great merit of his grace, both as a general and a patriot.
Sir Robert Walpole, Lord Orford.
BORN A. D. 1676.--DIED A. D. 1745.
The earliest British statesman whose practical system of government may be said still to affect the politics of this country, and the man under whom Britain acquired the characteristics of her present mercantile power, calls for more minute attention than can be often bestowed on the memoirs of men more illustrious for their genius or respected for their integrity. Robert Walpole was born in his paternal mansion at Houghton, on the 26th of August, 1676. He received the rudiments of education in a private seminary at Massingham in Norfolk, of the
Coxe's Memoirs of Sir Robert Walpole, vol. i. p. 3. All the facts in the present Memoir, not otherwise quoted, are derived from the voluminous collection of that labori. ous historian.
master of which an anecdote has been recorded, which shows him not to have been aptly fitted to instil a towering ambition into the mind of the youthful statesman. During the long and brilliant period of Sir Robert's administration, the humble pedagogue remained as unobtrusive on the notice of his great pupil as he was unnoticed; but when the minister fell, his early friend visited him in his retirement. “ I knew that you were surrounded with so many petitioners craving preferment,” he said, in answer to the natural interrogatories as to the cause of his long absence, “and that you had done so much for Norfolk people that I did not wish to intrude. But," continued the simple-minded man, “ I always inquired how Robin went on, and was satisfied with your proceedings." He continued his studies at Eton under Mr Newborough, but little of his early qualifications is handed down to us, excepting a predilection for the works of Horace, and an innate talent for public speaking, which he is supposed to have possessed. On the 22d of April, 1696, he obtained a scholarship of King's-college, Cambridge, which, after having retained for two years, interrupted by severe illness, he resigned on the death of his elder brother in 1698. He appears for some time to have lived in family with his father, Sir Robert Walpole, a country. gentleman statesman, who lived retired from court, on an unburdened income of two thousand a year, occasionally repairing to the capital when his vote was wanted as one of the members for the borough of Castle-Rising, and spending the other portions of the time in rural jollity and the care of his estate. The young statesman incurred the danger of being made as excellent a fellow' as his father. 'The father, who had a very decorous dislike at appearing drunk before his son, used to remark during their convivial evenings, “ Come, Robert, you shall drink twice while I drink once, for I will not permit the son in his sober senses to be witness to the intoxication of his father.”
On the 30th of July, 1700, Robert married Catherine, daughter of Sir John Shorter, lord-mayor of London, and by his father's death in the following November, be inherited the paternal estate. During the two last years of the reign of King William, he commenced his political career by sitting as member for Castle-Rising, a borough, of which the two seats, along with one for Lynn-Regis, constituted the extensive electoral interest of his family. He immediately resumed his seat on the accession of Anne, and although he made no attempt at sudden distinction, he gradually assumed importance, and became a much trusted adherent of the zealous friends to the protestant succession. He seconded the motion of Sir Charles Hedges for extending the compulsory application of the oath of abjuration to all ecclesiastics and members of the universities, and made a motion (which was negatived,) to resume all grants during the reign of King James, as an extension of a resolution to apply all those granted during the reign of King William to the service of the public. When Godolphin, in 1705, found it expedient to support his ministry on whig principles, Walpole's political zeal was rewarded by an appointment as one of the council to Prince George of Denmark; and when the ministers achieved a victory over the favourites of the queen, by the dismissal of her tory friends, in 1708, he was advanced to the important situation of the secretaryship at war, in place of Henry St John, and as a zealous and powerful friend of the whigs, was appointed one of the managers of the impeachment of Sacheverell. In the performance of this delicate duty, his speeches are said to have borne more the aspect of philosophical candour than of party rancour, but he is known to have been the author of a pamphlet denouncing those who favoured Sacheverell as the abettors of the pretender. In the words of one of his adversaries, he was looked upon as “one of the whigs' chief speakers,”4 when he was involved in the fall of his friends in 1710. The tories, not at union with themselves, would undoubtedly have found the talents of this rising statesman useful to their cause; and there is every reason to believe that they made him offers, which he had sufficient firmness to reject.
9 The individual who was chosen lord-mayor by James 11.
On the 21st of December, 1711, he was accused before the house of commons of corruption, having in two forage-contracts in Scotland received two notes of hand, the one for five hundred guineas, the other for five hundred pounds; the offence was considered proved, and he was by small majorities expelled the house and committed to the Tower. In confinement he published a pamphlet in his own defence, showing, that the person who really profited by the transaction was his friend, Mr Mann, who had agreed to receive the sums in question as a consideration for giving up to the other contractors a share in the transaction, (amounting to a fifth part,) which had been reserved by Walpole in terms of the original agreement, for the advantage of any friend he might name; while the notes had been accidentally drawn in his own name instead of that of his friend. Few will doubt that party-feeling exceeded the love of justice in prompting the prosecution; while it must be admitted, that presuming Walpole not to have profited by the transaction, he at least showed that negligence towards the honest application of the public funds which afforded the firmest handle to his opponents during his administration.
When released at the termination of the session, he vigorously aided the opposition, and for a period injured his private fortune by a magnificent display of hospitality to those who might assist him in the return of his party to power, and in obtaining information for the purposes of attack. It may perhaps be worthy of being mentioned, that at the
period of the rupture between Oxford and Bolingbroke, Walpole, with a few other leading whigs, appears to have countenanced some advances on the part of the latter, the extent of which it is difficult to determine.” On the formation of the new ministry after the arrival of the king, Walpole was appointed paymaster of the forces, and several of his friends were provided with subordinate situations. He was appointed chairman of the committee of secrecy for examining the conduct of the former administration, and he showed himself the active leader of the transaction, not as an investigator, but a prosecutor; he was the man who impeached Bolingbroke of high treason and other crimes and misde
On the 11th of October, 1715, he was rewarded for his
'Four Letters to a Friend in Scotland upon Sacheverell's Trial,—" Falsely attributed to Mr Maynwaring, who did not write them, though he sometimes revised Mr Walpole's pamphlets.”-Horace Walpole's Catalogue of his father's pamphlets, Works, vol. i. p. 447.
Swift's Works, (Scott's edition,) vol. ii. p. 437. Swift's Works, vol. xvi. p. 195. On the day on which Lord Oxford resigned, Wala pole, along with Stanhope, Craggs, and Pulteney, dined with Bolingbroke.