Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

I.

A.D. 1716.

snare.

CHAP. secrets which have been confided to me in confidence,

would be but little service to his majesty, and would cover me with perpetual infamy.''

Bolingbroke thought, not without reason, that some such a sacrifice would be required of him. The ministers feared him abroad; but they also feared him at home. Could they extend to him a pardon upon terms which would ruin his reputation, a double end would be gained. They were not ignorant of the advantage of such a scheme; but Bolingbroke valued his honour too highly to fall into the

At the close of his interview with the Earl of Stair, he took his leave with these words:-“

-“ My lord, if you do me the justice to believe that my professions are sincere, the more you respect my reputation, the more you advance the interests of the King. If, on the contrary, you suspect my intentions, you have reason to demand from me conditions; but I, as a man of honour, have equal reason to refuse them.

The reluctance I show to promising too much, shows the dread I entertain of performing too little. This should convince you that I shall be scrupulous in fulfilling that which I do promise. At all events, time and the consistency of my conduct will convince the world of the rectitude of my intentions; and I would rather wait with patience the coming of that time, however long it may be delayed, than arrive shortly at my object by any path which deviates from the high-road of integrity and honour.”

I.

A.D. 1716.

[ocr errors]

The earl forwarded the particulars of this con- CHAP. ference to the English court, and pressed to be informed of the intention of the sovereign in his favour; adding, that the permission for his return should, if decided upon, be forwarded as soon as possible, since, as soon as it became known that he had made his peace with England, France would afford him no very comfortable residence. He bears testimony to the sincerity of Bolingbroke's character, and declares that he believes he has spoken to him the sentiments of his heart. His zeal, he says, he believes to be fervent; and that he would, if it were now in his power, eradicate every remnant of the Pretender's party. And he states it as certain, that there was then no person who could do the cause so much effectual injury as he could.

Perhaps the pledge he had given that he would never again attach himself to the Jacobite party, postponed the fulfilment of the King's intentions in his favour : no immediate benefit was now to be obtained from his return, and mere mercy could not rival the speed of interest. The Earl of Stair received no answer to his pressing despatch ; and Bolingbroke remained long in uncertainty whether it was really intended to pardon him, or whether he had merely been amused with a promise which was never to be fulfilled. *

* Coxe labours to prove that made to Bolingbroke, that he Walpole was not bound by the should be fully restored. It promise, which was certainly would not be difficult to con

CHAP.

I.

One circumstance, indeed, now took place which

intimated that the King had not forgotten him, but A.D. 1716.

which declared at the same time that his enemies had no intention that he should be restored to the rank and influence he once enjoyed. The rank which the act of attainder had taken from him was bestowed upon his father, who lived to a very great age. The empty title of Viscount was still retained by the son, who had earned it in its more substantial form ; the father was now created Baron of Battersea and Viscount St. John.*

tend that a promise upon such chancellor of the exchequer.
a subject is binding upon the It was not until the following
executive, whoever may becoine year that the schism took place
minister. But Walpole was at which led to his temporary se-
this time not only one of the cession.
ministry, but a very influen- * The patent is dated 2nd
tial member of it, holding no July, in this year.
less an office than that of

CHAPTER II.

The Letter from Avignon.--Essay upon Innate Moral Princi

ples.- Letter to Sir William Windham.-- Trial of Harley. Reasons of his Acquittal.- Anecdotes of the Duke of Marlborough. - Bolingbroke's Literary Acquaintance.

II.

Nothing was yet done to repeal the sentence of chap. expatriation which had passed against Bolingbroke; and now that the excitement of political enthusiasm A.D. 1716. had passed away, the lassitude of exhaustion succeeded. The Whigs still declaimed, the Tories railed against, and the Jacobites hated him. From this seething caldron of political animosity, something was constantly thrown up against his capacity or his conduct. Among these was a publication called “ A Letter from Avignon,” the then residence of the Chevalier. This detailed all his crimes, and argued all the points which had been alleged against him. Bolingbroke afterwards described it as a medley of false fact, false argument, false English, and false eloquence ;* but when it first appeared, it afforded him some opportunity of vindicating himself, and gave him, what to an active mind is as necessary as sustenance to the body, some object to

* Letter to Sir William Windham.

VOL. II,

с

II.

A.D. 1716.

CHAP. employ himself upon. He wrote several letters, in

answer to this effusion, to friends in England ; and these, although short and partial in their vindication, did much to stem the tide of obloquy which his enemies were pouring out against him.

The remainder of this year was spent in retirement. During

During his engagement with the Pretender, he could find no leisure to correspond with those friends whom he had left behind him in England : he now broke his long silence; and his letters give us an insight into his occupation, and the feelings and sentiments which accompanied him into his retirement. Pope, whose dawning genius he had fostered, was now rising towards the zenith of his reputation. Bolingbroke admired the poet, and Pope almost adored the philosopher. We prize the enjoyments we have in proportion to their rarity; and Bolingbroke doubtless now found in the correspondence of Pope more amusement than in more prosperous days he had derived from his conversation.

Swift had been swept away by the storm which had driven Bolingbroke from the helm. He had retired to his native country and his deanery with the feelings of a banished man. Querulous and discontented, as Bolingbroke tells him, his resentment rendered him unjust.* He vented his disappointment in reproaches against the whole ministry, because Oxford had been so unjust as to place his preferment in the country of his birth. The fate of

* Swift's Letters.

« ZurückWeiter »