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placed the management of affairs in the hands of Sir Spencer Compton, who had been his treasurer, and who was at this time Speaker of the House of Commons, and also Paymaster of the Forces. Sir Spencer, however, was entirely incapable of occupying a foremost place. He found himself unable even to draw up a King's Speech, and in his difficulty he resorted to Walpole himself. The influence of Cardinal Fleury, who urged the danger to the French alliance of a change of Government, and the warm support of Queen Caroline, brought Walpole back to office, where he became more absolute than before. Sir Spencer Compton readily acquiesced in his own deposition, was created Earl of Wilmington in 1728, and two years later became Privy Seal, and then President of the Council in the ministry of his former rival. Townshend, who alone could in any degree maintain a balance of power, was compelled to resign in 1730, and the ascendency of Walpole continued unbroken till 1742.

It is the fault of many historians and the misfortune of many statesmen that the latter are often judged almost exclusively by the measures they have passed, and not at all by the evils they have averted. In the case of Walpole this mode of judgment is peculiarly misleading, and it is remarkable that great practical politicians have usually estimated him far more highly than men of letters. The long period of his rule was signalised by very few measures of brilliancy or enduring value. His faults both as a man and a statesman were glaring and repulsive, and he never exercised either the intellectual fascination that belongs to a great orator, or the moral fascination that belongs to a great character. He was not a reformer, or a successful war minister,

In the present generation Walpole has been made the subject of elaborate pictures by three very eminent writers, who differ as widely as possible in their political views and in the character of their minds-by Macaulay in his Essay on Horace Walpole's Letters; Lord Stanhope in his Hist. of England; and Mr. Carlyle in his Life

of Frederick the Great. It is curiously instructive to compare their estimates of him with that of Burke in his Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, and that of Sir Robert Peel in a remarkable paper in the Stanhope Miscel lanies (first series). Lord J. Russell has always estimated Walpole at least as highly as Sir R. Peel.

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or a profound and original thinker, or even a tactician of great enterprise, and yet he possessed qualities which have justly placed him in the foremost rank of politicians. Finding England with a disputed succession and an unpopular sovereign, with a corrupt and factious Parliament, and an intolerant, ignorant, and warlike people, he succeeded in giving it twenty years of unbroken peace and uniform prosperity, in establishing on an impregnable basis a dynasty which seemed tottering to its fall, in rendering, chiefly by the force of his personal ascendency, the House of Commons the most powerful body in the State, in moderating permanently the ferocity of political factions and the intolerance of ecclesiastical legislation. A simple country squire, with neither large fortune nor great connections, he won the highest post in politics from rivals of brilliant talent, and he maintained himself in it for a longer period than any of his predecessors. No English minister had a sounder judgment in emergencies or a greater skill in reading and in managing men. He obtained a complete ascendency over George I., although, the King speaking no English, and his minister no French or German, their only communications were in bad Latin, and although the favourite mistress of the King was his enemy. On the death of George I., when the other leading politicians turned at once to Mrs. Howard, the mistress of the new sovereign, as the future source of political power, Walpole at once recognised the ability and unobtrusive influence of the Queen, and by her friendship he was soon absolute at Court. Though George II. came to the throne with an intense prepossession against him, and though the King was as fond of war as his minister of peace, he soon acquired the same influence over the new sovereign as he had exercised over his father. His chancellor, Lord Macclesfield, excited a storm of indignation, and at last an impeachment, by corruptly selling masterships of Chancery; but Walpole, without unfairly abandoning his colleague, met the charges against him with such consummate tact and such judicious candour that the affair rather strengthened than weakened his administration. He managed the House of Commons with an

admirable mixture of shrewdness and frankness, and his facility of access, his unfailing good humour, the ease with which he threw aside the cares of office, his loud, ringing laugh, and the keen zest with which he rode to the hounds, contributed perhaps as much as his higher qualities to win the affections of the country squires, who were still so powerful in politics. Parliamentary government, under his auspices, acquired a definite form and a regular action, and he was a great Parliamentary leader at the time when the art of Parliamentary leadership was altogether new.

As a statesman the chief object of his policy was to avoid all violent concussions of opinion. He belonged to that class of legislators who recognise fully that government is an organic thing, that all transitions to be safe should be the gradual product of public opinion, that the great end of statesmanship is to secure the nation's practical well-being, and allow its social and industrial forces to develop unimpeded, and that a wise minister will carefully avoid exciting violent passions, provoking reactions, offending large classes, and generating enduring discontents. In many periods the policy of evading or postponing dangerous questions has proved revolutionary, or has, at least, increased the elements of agitation. In the time of Walpole, and in the degree in which he practised it, it was eminently wise. England was at this time menaced by one of the greatest calamities that can befall a nation-the evil of a disputed succession. Large classes were alienated from the Government. Strong religious and political passions had been aroused against it, and there were evident signs in many quarters of a disposition to subordinate national to dynastic considerations. In an earlier period of English history causes of this nature had deluged England with blood for more than sixty years. Since the time of Walpole very similar influences have corroded the patriotism and divided the energies of the leading nation on the Continent, and have led to the most crushing catastrophe in its history. To the systematic moderation of Walpole it is in a great degree due that the revolutionary spirit took no root in

England, that the many elements of disaffection gradually subsided, and that the landed gentry were firmly attached to the new dynasty. To conciliate this class was a main branch of his policy, and if this course was dictated by his own party interests, it is equally true that it was eminently in accordance with the interests of the country. The Revolution was in a great measure a movement of the town populations in opposition to the country gentry, and had it not been for the mediatorial influence of the aristocracy, who were connected politically with the first, and socially with the second, it might have led to a most dangerous antagonism of classes. It is, however, a remarkable fact that in the very first year of the Revolution, the Legislature, while gratifying the whole people by abolishing the unpopular hearth tax, conferred a special favour upon the landlords by a law granting bounties for the export of corn when the home price had sunk to a certain level.1 That this measure was economically erroneous will now hardly be disputed, but it probably had a real political value, and its enactment immediately after the great Whig triumph is a striking illustration of the conciliatory spirit that has usually presided over English legislation. Still the country gentry were, on the whole, hostile to the change, and the chief burden of the additional taxation was thrown upon them. The land tax of four shillings in the pound, which was carried in 1692, was extremely unequal in its operation, for it was based on a valuation furnished chiefly by the landlords themselves, but in principle the equity of the tax was generally acknowledged. By no other form of taxation could a sufficient sum be raised to meet the expenses of the war. For many generations extraordinary emergencies had been met by temporary taxes upon land. The prevailing economical notion that of all forms of industry agriculture alone is really productive helped to justify the tax, and it also contributed to' redress a serious injustice which had been done to other classes under Charles II. In that reign, as is well known, the feudal obligations which still rested upon land were abolished, and, as

1 William and Mary, c. 12.

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a compensation, excise duties were imposed on beer, ale, and other liquors, and on licences, and were assigned in perpetuity to the Crown; and thus the burden which had from time immemorial been attached to one particular species of property was shifted to the whole community.'

Under these circumstances the land tax required no justification, and at first met with no serious opposition. It is not surprising, however, that its unprecedented magnitude, and also the necessity of continuing it in time of peace, should have aggravated the irritation with which, on other grounds, the country gentry regarded the Revolution. Their political alienation was, perhaps, the most serious danger of the new Government. It was entirely impossible that the reigning family should be firmly established, and that constitutional Parliamentary government should continue if the landed gentry were estranged from the existing order of things; and their natural sympathies were strongly Tory, while Government, in the first two Hanoverian reigns, was exclusively Whig. The hatred the ordinary country gentlemen felt towards foreigners, towards traders, and towards Dissenters was hardly less strong than that dread of Popery which had induced them reluctantly to acquiesce in the Revolution. It was impossible, however, that they should long look upon Walpole as an enemy to their order or their interests. By birth and position he belonged to their class. He was so imbued with their tastes that, as Lord Hardwicke assures us, he always opened the letters of his gamekeeper before any others, even before the letters from the King. The Saturday holiday of Parliament still remains as a memorial of his country habits, for, as the Speaker Onslow informs us, it was originally instituted in order that Walpole might once a week gratify his passion for hunting. In the contest upon the Peerage Bill, which beyond most questions touched the interests of the country gentry, Walpole was their special champion. He carefully humoured their prejudices, and he steadily laboured, sometimes

'See McCulloch on Taxation, p. 58. Sinclair on the Revenue, i. 300.
2 Walpoliana.

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