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vinced that Bolingbroke was in the interest of the Pretender,
and numerous letters from the French emissaries, Gaultier
and D' Iberville, to Torcy can be quoted in support of their
opinion. This was also the Whig view of Bolingbroke's
policy. As early as November, 1710, Swift had written
sarcastically that " a Secretary of State cannot resign but
the Pretender is at bottom ; the Queen cannot dissolve a
Parliament but it is a plot to dethrone herself and bring in
the Pretender." Walpole always declared that the leaders
of the Whigs were fully aware of the Jacobite designs of the
Tory Ministers. Every motive of party interest combined
to induce the Whigs to adopt the cry that the succession
was in danger as long as the Tories were in power.

That this view of Bolingbroke's policy was unsound may
be gathered from the fact that, after the accession of
George I., the efforts of the whole Whig party were never
able to substantiate the accusations they brought forward.
And the reason of their failure to do so is obvious. The
Restoration of the Stuarts was no part of the policy of
Oxford and Bolingbroke. The Protestant Succession was
never in danger. Bolingbroke himself had no religious
scruples which would have deterred him from accepting
James Edward, had the country declared in his favour.
But the project of a Restoration so long as the Pretender
remained a Roman Catholic was never a feasible one, and

I both Oxford and Bolingbroke knew it.

n) On December the 28th, 1713, Bolingbroke had told D'lber-
ville that the Pretender had no chance of success: " Tant
qu'il sera Catholique, pas meme en epousant une princesse
Protestante " ; and in February of the next year Gaultier,
writing a letter at, he says, Oxford's dictation to the Pre-
tender, says plainly : *' Si vous voulez succeder surement a
la reine votre soeur, il est absolument necessaire que vous
dissimuliez votre religion." Speaking of the accession of
George I., Bolingbroke, in his Letter to Sir William Wynd-


ham, declares plainly that " nothing is more certain than this
truth, that there was at that time no formed design in the
party, whatever views some particular men might have
against His Majesty's accession to the throne " ; and, in his
State of Parties at the Accession of George /., he makes the
following weighty statement :

" There was no design on foot during the last four years of Queen Anne's
reign to set aside the succession of the House of Hanover, and to place the
crown on the head of the Pretender to it. . . . Neither could a design of
that nature have been carried on so long, though it was not carried into
execution without leaving some traces, which would have appeared when
such strict inquisitions were made. . . . But, laying aside all arguments
of the probable kind, I deny the fact absolutely ; and I have the better title
to expect credit, because it could not be true without my knowledge, or at
least suspicion, of it : and because even they who believed in it — for all who
asserted did not believe in it — had no proof to produce, nor have to this hour
but vain surmises, nor any authority to rest upon but the clamour of party."

During Anne's reign national interests were completely
subordinated to party interests. For party motives a war,
just and necessary in its earlier stages, had been unduly
prolonged. Mainly for party motives, though at the time
they happened to coincide with the national interests, the
Peace of Utrecht was made. Party motives led the Whigs
to oppose by every means in their power the progress of the
negotiations ; and the same motives, the same desire for
place, prompted them to declare after the accession of
George I. that all Tories were Jacobites. Swift, who was
intimate with both Oxford and Bolingbroke, always declared
his utter disbelief that the Act of Settlement was in any

"Had there ever been," he writes in 1716, "the least overture or
interest in bringing in the Pretender, during my acquaintance with the last
Ministry, I think I must have been very stupid not to have picked up
some discoveries or suspicions."

Lord Peterborough, too, on his deathbed declared that he
knew Bolingbroke had no scheme for a Stuart Restoration.


To hastily conclude that the whole aim of the Tory
Ministry, during Anne's later years, was to effect the return
of James Edward is to misunderstand the position of both
Oxford and Bolingbroke. The former, though ostensibly
leader of the Tory party, was a Tory by accident. He had
no real sympathy with High Church principles ; he had
little in common with the country gentlemen who were the
rank and file of his followers. He was the head of a
thorough-going Tory Government by no wish of his own,
but by force of circumstances, which no one regretted more
than himself. Like Marlborough, Shrewsbury, and Somer-
set, Oxford was an opportunist. He was not " insincere "
in the sense in which Bolingbroke applied the term to him.
He was certainly " unsound " in the matter of Toryism, as
Bolingbroke conceived Toryism ; but throughout Anne's
reign he acted according to his lights, and to his theory of
Government, with absolute consistency. Like Anne, he
was always desirous to avoid throwing himself into the
hands of a party. Like Bolingbroke, he had formed in his
own mind a very distinct conception of a perfect form of
government. According to Oxford, a Government should
not be composed of violent politicians, like the members of
the Whig junto, or of the October Club, men whose actions
bore the impress of party bias. On the contrary, Ministers
should be chosen from among moderate men, who would
avoid the Scylla of extreme Whiggism and the Charybdis
of violent Toryism. In this ideal Ministry moderate Tories
should certainly preponderate, but the presence of a few of
the more statesmanlike of the Whigs would act as a check
on the partisan spirit of the extreme Tories. As soon,
therefore, as any Government tended in his opinion to
become a cabal of party politicians, Oxford, though him-
self a Minister, at once threw all his influence in the scale
against his own colleagues. In 1704 he had intrigued
successfully against Rochester and Nottingham; in 1707


he employed all his powers to upset Godolphin, and with
him the Whig theory of Government by party ; in 1710 he
attempted to form a moderate and comprehensive Govern-
ment ; and in 171 3 and i7i4hetookup a position of passive
opposition to the great body of his own followers, who
viewed with dislike his schemes of compromise and modera-
tion, and who had begun to look to Bolingbroke for guidance.

That statesman's ideal Government was very far removed
from that designed by Oxford. He had no real sympathy
with the High Church temper of many of the Tories, and
with regard to the Succession question he was~ an oppor-
tunist. But he had a distinct programme and a clear
political ideal. The consolidation of Toryism had nothing
necessarily to do with Jacobitism, and was to be carried out,
irrespective of all questions connected with the succession.

It is quite possible that had Bolingbroke only found
sufficient time and opportunity ; had he not been ham-
pered by the Queen's hesitation to dismiss Oxford, and by
his own want of influence over the whole of the Tory party
before Anne's death, his scheme, though reactionary, might
have been realized. A series of Acts would for a few
years have protected the Church and country interest, and
during those years the influence of the Church would have
become so widely extended that there would have been no
cause to fear that " any rich or factious body of men "
would be in a position to choose " an ill majority of the
House of Commons." Such was the opinion held by
Swift, who advocated immediate and sweeping measures.
And Bolingbroke, "playing the part of an orthodox Tory,"
had every intention of carrying out a definite and ably
conceived policy.

His immediate object, then, was the establishment of a
strong Tory Government to carry out a Tory policy in the
interests of the Church and landed gentry, at home and
abroad. He wished to succeed Oxford as First Minister,



to place the whole administration in the hands of the
Tories, and to make the Tory party master of the situation.
He would then be able to dictate his own terms to either
George or the Pretender. He had no intention of effecting
a coup d'etat after the manner of a Monk, or even of a
Bonaparte. Bolingbroke was a statesman, and looked to
realizing his scheme by means of constitutional forms.

Bolingbroke was never a Jacobite, that is to say, he
never had any settled design of bringing in James Edward.
That he had dealings with Jacobite agents and delivered
himself of Jacobite sentiments is true. But it was necessary
to gain over the Jacobite section in England, in order to
secure a strong position at Anne's death. It was also
politic, seeing how impossible it was to penetrate into the
future. That he had intrigued with the Pretender is un-
doubted ; but who had not ? Godolphin, Marlborough,
Oxford, Jersey, all were tarred with the same brush.
Bolingbroke, like most of the politicians of the day, ne-
gotiated with both the Elector and the Pretender. The
unmistakable preference of George for the Whigs tended
undoubtedly to incline the Ministers to weigh seriously the
chances of the Pretender ; but Bolingbroke's immediate
object was, by consolidating the Tory party, to command
the situation on the Queen's death. The Tory Govern-
ment would then be ready for any contingency. If, con-
trary to expectation, the nation declared for James Edward,
or if the Act of Settlement was upheld and George suc-
ceeded, the Tories would be strong enough to secure an
arrangement favourable to their party.

But Bolingbroke was never anxious for an unconditional
Restoration, at any rate until he had consolidated the Tory
party. Had James Edward returned, like Charles II., free
and unfettered, before the '* scheme of four years' modelling "
had been carried out, the Tory position would have been
by no means an enviable one.


"The Tories," wrote Bolingbroke years later to Wyndham, "always
looked on a restoration of the Stuarts as sure means to throw the whole
power of Government into their hands. I am confident that they would
have found themselves deceived."

When, however, all was uncertain ; when the Queen
might die any day, and the crisis be upon the Ministers ;
when Oxford, overcome by the uncertainty and difficulty
of his position, had lost all power of action, the only man
who showed the qualities of a statesman, who had any
fixed policy, was Bolingbroke. During the fifteen months
that elapsed between the conclusion of peace and the
Queen's death, he made a determined effort to reconstruct
Toryism on a sound basis. But events were against him.
The dissensions among his supporters aided the vigorous
attacks of his opponents, and just when it seemed that the
principal obstacles in the way of success were removed,
when a few weeks would probably have seen the Tory
party in a strong position, the Queen died, and Boling-
broke's opportunities as a statesman were over.

The Peace of Utrecht had been hurried on, in order to
clear the ground for the consolidation of the Tory party.
" The Peace," he said, " had been judged with reason to
be the only solid foundation whereupon we could erect a
Tory system." But Bolingbroke's hopes were from the
first doomed to disappointment. The conclusion of the
Peace, so far from clearing the ground, and rendering his
efforts to "erect a Tory system " which should defy all the
vicissitudes common to political parties, brought with it
grave difficulties. " Instead of gathering strength either as
a Ministry or as a party, we grew weaker every day."
Many of the terms of the Peace were unpopular even in
England, and the Whigs seized the first opportunity of
criticizing the Treaties of Peace and Commerce which were
laid before Parliament in May. The Commercial Treaty
which, if carried, would have established Free Trade with


France, was thrown out by a union of Whigs and Hano-
verian Tories. " The very work," wrote Bolingbroke with
reference to the Peace of Utrecht, " which ought to have
been the basis of our strength, was in part demolished
before our eyes, and we were stoned with the ruins of it."
Early in 1714 the Whigs, supported by many Tories, and
indeed by the general feeling of the country, criticized the
absence of any satisfactory efforts on the part of the
Ministers in favour of the unfortunate Catalans, and voted
an address to the Queen, asking her to renew her efforts
for the expulsion of the Pretender from Lorraine. It was
with some difficulty that the Tories carried in both Houses
a motion of approval of the Treaties of Peace. The Whigs
had, however, raised the cry of " Danger to the Succes-
sion," and the Tory strongholds were shaken, while dis-
sensions had already bioken out among the supporters of
the Government.

The Tory party was during these years clearly divided
^ into three branches, the Jacobites, the Hanoverian Tories,
and the Neutrals. Of these the most insignificant in point
of numbers were the Jacobites — the party which firmly
believed in hereditary right, and desired, under any cir-
cumstances, to bring about the Restoration of the Stuarts.
Swift declared the party, exclusive of Papists and Non-
jurors, did not number five hundred : "and, amongst these,
not six of any quality or consequence." In their ranks must
be numbered Ormonde, Mar, Buckinghamshire, and Atter-
bury. The Peace of Utrecht was no part of the Jacobite
programme, for peace with France destroyed all hope of
securing French aid — so essential for the realization of their
schemes. But their relations with the Tory party compelled
them to support the pacific policy of the Government.

The Hanoverian Tories, or Whimsicals, those " odd
animals," as Lockhart calls them, were the men who were
devotedly attached to the Church of England. In the


House of Lords this party, under Nottingham, had in
December, 1710, voted with the Whigs against the Govern-
ment, on consideration of securing the support of the
Whigs in passing the Occasional Conformity Bill. "They
were Churchmen first and legitimists afterwards." They
represented the views held by the more enlightened and
discriminating of the Tories, who were ready to uphold
loyally the Act of Settlement if their ecclesiastical prin-
ciples were not at stake. In the House of Commons their
leader was Sir Thomas Hanmer, an ardent Hanoverian.
It was the coalition of Hanmer and his party with the
Whigs that wrecked Bolingbroke's Commercial Treaty with
France. Bolingbroke had no patience with them. " As
soon as the Treaties were perfected and laid before Par-
liament, the scheme of these gentlemen began to disclose
itself entirely. Their love of the Peace, like other passions,
cooled by enjoyment."

The revolt of these Hanoverian Tories shows that
Bolingbroke had as yet by no means secured the con-
fidence of a most influential section of his own party.

The Neutrals represented the great mass of the party.
For the most part country gentlemen, their views on the
Succession question were undecided ; they hated Whigs,
Nonconformists, and the moneyed interest. They dreaded
Popery and French influence ; at the same time they de-
tested all Germans. They wished to see the interests of
the country gentlemen and of the Church supreme in the
Government. They desired a Tory king. Bolingbroke
was their avowed leader, and Bolingbroke's Tory system
would have suited them admirably. But Bolingbroke never
secured the full confidence of either the country gentlemen
or the country clergy. He never was a Churchman ; he
never understood his own followers, and he failed entirely
to secure their hearty co operation. His reputation as a
dissolute man of the world, talented, but none the less seep-


tical, caused him to forfeit in great measure their respect.
This was undoubtedly serious, for the success of his efforts
in 1713 and 1714 depended in great measuie on the amount
of support he could secure from the bulk of the Tory party.
The Government was evidently far from being strong or
united. The successful attack of the Whigs, aided by the
Tory secession on the Commercial Treaty, had shaken
their position. Bolingbroke attributed the rejection of that
Treaty to Oxford's bad management, and by July the feud
between the two Ministers became most serious to the
stability of the Government. The Queen's health was
precarious ; the Court of Hanover was known to be hostile
to the Tories, and it was clear that the accession of the
Elector would be followed by a series of merciless attacks
on the Tory Ministers. There is no doubt that had Boling-
broke possessed sufficient influence with the Queen, and
had not been hampered by Oxford, he would, in the
summer of 171 3, have strengthened his hold in the country
by removing all Whigs from positions of authority, and
giving their posts to supporters of his policy. Seeing the
Tory party firmly established, the Elector would have had
no choice but to enter into an arrangement which would,
at any rate, have secured the Tories from the vengeance of
the Whigs. Though unable to carry out his policy in its
entirety, Bolingbroke, by dint of his determined will, did,
however, bring about some important changes, calculated
to place his party on a more stable basis. The interchange
of letters between him and Oxford on July the 25th and
the 27th was followed by the partial reconstruction of the
Ministry. Dartmouth became Privy Seal, and Bromley,
in November, succeeded Dartmouth as Secretary of State
for the Southern Department. Wyndham was made Chan-
cellor of the Exchequer in November, and a third Secre-
taryship was revived for Mar, who was to have charge
of Scottish affairs. Ormonde had been secured by the


Wardenship of the Cinque Ports, and Atterbury and
Robinson were made Bishops of Rochester and London
respectively. The result of these changes was that a
Secretary of State now sat in the House of Commons, and
the correspondence with France was at last in Bolingbroke's
own department. These changes, moreover, strengthened
the position of the Ministry, and illustrates clearly the line
that would have been taken by Bolingbroke had he only
been at the head of affairs. He, and he alone, could have
guided the Administration safely through the difficulties
that beset it. In August, 1713, Parliament was dissolved,
and Bolingbroke, whose relations with his wife were some-
what strained, spent the autumn at Ashdown Park with
his dogs and horses. The country was still decidedly Tory,
and Anne's last Parliament met with a strong Tory majority.
During the autumn Bolingbroke's influence at Court had
continually increased. He had secured the friendship of
Mrs. Masham ; he was in constant attendance on the
Queen ; he exercised an extensive supervision over foreign
affairs, the Irish administration, and the business of the
Admiralty. His influence at Court was growing stronger
each week, and we read how on December the 23rd he
wrote eighteen letters in order that he might spend an un-
disturbed Christmas Day and the succeeding fortnigt.t with
the Queen and Mrs. Masham. But on Christmas Eve
Anne was taken ill, and for two weeks she was in a critical
condition. All through January, 1713-14, alarming reports
were in circulation, and the nation was in a state of feverish
excitement. The stocks fell, and there was a panic in the
Exchange. Prior, who was in Paris, was seized with alarm : —

"If," he said, "the prospect be dreadful to the masters of Mortimer
Castle, Hinton St. George, Stanton Harcourt, and Bucklebury, what must
it be to friend Matt ?"

Steele at once published his Crisis, which was immediately
answered by Swift's Public Spirit of the Whigs. The Tory


chiefs had again a splendid opportunity of carrying out
Bolingbroke's scheme, of taking vigorous measures, and of
securing to the Tories a monopoly of power. Anne had
been for the moment roused to great anger at the conduct
of the Whigs. Had the Ministers been united, they might
have induced the Queen to lay aside her policy of modera-
tion, and " act a clear game with the Tories." But Boling-
broke had not the supreme control of affairs, Oxford made
no attempt to carry out a scheme with which he had no
sympathy, the opportunity was lost, and Anne returned to
her former policy of governing by compromise and con-
ciliation. Even at this crisis it is plain that Bolingbroke
had no definite schemes for a Jacobite Restoration, for on
April the 13th, 1714, he wrote: —

"What will happen no man is able to foretell ; but this proposition is
certain, that if the members of the Church of England lay aside their little
piques and resentments, and cement closely together, they will be too
powerful a body to be ill-treated."

It had become quite evident to him, at the beginning of
1 714, that no more time must be lost, or the death of the
Queen would find the Tories utterly disorganized. The
strained relations and conflicting views of the Tory leaders
were reflected in the jealousies and rivalries which had
penetrated deep into the ranks of their supporters. At a
time when order and decisive counsels were of the utmost
importance there was only confusion and vacillation. " The
party," wrote Bolingbroke (in April), " stands at gaze,
expecting the Court will regulate them, and lead them on ;
and the Court seems in a lethargy." And again at the
same time he declared : " The prospect before us is dark
and melancholy, and what wdll be the end, no man can
foretell." His difficulties with the Treasurer became each
day more serious. Oxford had hitherto insisted on con-
tinuing his favourite policy of compromise, of trying to con-
ciliate the Whigs, of attempting to run with the hare and


hunt with the hounds. Godolphin's Lord- Lieutenants were
still supreme in the counties. The country remained to a
great extent in Whig hands. In the Lockhavt Papers we see
the expression of a deep discontent.

"Several of the leading men of the October Club thought it now high
time to push matters a little more briskly ; they had hitherto supported the
Lord Oxford, and, now that Peace was concluded, they represented to him
that they expected the performance of what was often promised, and what
was absolutely necessary for the Queen's, his own, and their, security."

These men were not at all satisfied with Oxford's
attempts to put them off with soft words, and they began to
look to Bolingbroke, and : —

" thought that they had gained a great point if they could draw him in to
set himself at their head ; and this he was ready enough to do, as, V)y his
frank way of behaviour, he had already gained a great interest, affected
daily to be more and more popular, and aimed at nothing less than being
Prime Minister of State."

They accordingly interviewed Bolingbroke, who declared
himself in entire agreement with them, and promised that
he would carry out resolute and steady measures. They
then decided to support him and to follow his directions,
which were that they should act with caution and not " fly
in the face of the Ministry, seeing it might probably prevent
matters being brought about to their satisfaction." It was
indeed absolutely necessary that the condition of affairs
should be changed without delay. The whole Government
of the country must be placed in the hands of the Tories,
the leadership of the party must be wrested from the
incapable hands of Oxford, and the administration com-
pletely reorganized. According to Bolingbroke, the Trea-
surer thought only of making himself safe in the future,
and therefore tried to conciliate the Whigs, and adopted a
temporizing policy which pleased no one. His only deter-
mined view was to raise his own family. He was " eternally
agitated backwards and forwards." The ultimate end of
his policy never extended farther than living from day to


day." Being suspicious, he judged ill of all mankind, and
was so credulous that, Bolingbroke asserts, " he never
knew a man so capable of being the bubble of his own dis-

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Online LibraryArthur HassallLife of Viscount Bolingbroke → online text (page 8 of 20)