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“ deavours to make all measures Electoral,” says old Horace Walpole.
Such was the state of things when the two Secretaries of State attended the King to Hanover, and when the pending contest came to an issue between them. At that time a marriage had been proposed between a daughter of Madame de Platen and the Count St. Florentin, son of La Vrillière, French Secretary of State ; but the Countess required, as a condition, that a Dukedom should be granted to La Vrillière. This Dukedom immediately became an object of eager interest with George the First, and Carteret instructed Sir Luke Schaub to make every exertion to obtain it from the Duke of Orleans. We should observe that this affair belonged to Carteret, as Secretary for the southern department, in which France was comprised, and that the other Secretary had no claim to interlope in his province. Nevertheless, Lord Townshend, unwilling to see an affair of so much interest in the hands of a rival, determined, if possible, to draw it from his management. With this view, and at the instigation of Walpole, he despatched his brother Horace to Paris, under the pretence of settling the accession of Portugal to the Quadruple Alliance, but in reality to watch the movements and counteract the influence of Schaub.
In the midst of these cabals, suddenly died the Duke of Orleans, and it was then that Bolingbroke came into play. He perceived that the party of Walpole and Townshend was much the stronger, and would finally prevail; and he determined to pay court to them rather than to Carteret. Accordingly he hastened to greet Horace Walpole with many friendly assurances and much useful information; and exerted his influence with the Duke de Bourbon for his service. Nay, more, he threw into his hands one or two very favourable opportunities for pushing his pretensions by himself. But Horace Walpole, who had a rooted aversion to Bolingbroke, received all his overtures very much at arm's length, and wished to accept his intelligence without either trust or requital. As he writes to his brother: “I have made a good use of my
* To Mr. Poyntz, January 21. 1730.
“Lord Bolingbroke's information, without having given “him any handle to be the negotiator of His Majesty's 66 affairs." “ This," says Bolingbroke, “I freely own, 6 I took a little unkindly, because I have acted a part “ which deserves confidence, not suspicion.” † But whatever might be the resentment of Boling broke, he was compelled to smother it: his restoration was entirely in the power and at the mercy of the English Ministers, and to obtain it, he could only continue his painful submission and unavailing services.
With respect to the affair itself of the Dukedom, neither Schaub nor Walpole could prevail. The French nobility considered the family of La Vrillière as not entitled to this distinction, and raised so loud a cry at the rumour of it, as to render its execution almost impracticable. Ultimately, Madame de Platen, being pacified by a portion of 10,000l. from King George, and no longer thinking a Dukedom indispensable to a husband, allowed the marriage to take place without the required promotion. But a total breach had meanwhile ensued between the two English negotiators. “It is impossible," writes Horace Walpole, “ for the King's interest to be carried on
here, so long as Sir Luke Schaub and I are to act jointly together.” † Thus it became necessary for the King to choose between Schaub and Horace Walpole ; in other words, between their patrons- Carteret and
Townshend. With little hesitation, the King decided for the latter; Schaub was recalled, and Horace Walpole received credentials as ambassador to Paris. Nay, more, Townshend obtained the dismission of his rival with the same honours which had formerly smoothed his own. The Lord Lieutenancy of Ireland was bestowed upon Carteret; his office of Secretary of State was transferred to the Duke of Newcastle, and the ascendancy of the brother Ministers became wholly uncontrolled. Cadogan and Roxburgh bent down lowly before the storm, and it passed them over ; and Carteret himself bore his defeat
* Horace, to Robert Walpole, Dec. 15. 1723. Coxe's Life of Horace Lord Walpole. + To Lord Harcourt, January 12. 1724.
To Lord Townshend, March 22. 1724. Coxe's Life of Horace Lord Walpole.
with great frankness and good humour. He owned that he considered himself very ill used, especially when Horace Walpole had been sent to interlope in his department, but declared that he should be much happier as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland than as a Secretary of State, thwarted in all his measures, and stripped of his proper authority; and at the same time he professed his intentions to promote the King's service, and still to continue on good terms with the Ministers.
WAEN Carteret was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, that kingdom was by no means in a state of tranquillity. A slight spark had, by the talents of Swift, been blown into a formidable flame, and a project, beyond all doubt beneficial to the nation, was ingeniously and successfully held forth to them as the greatest of grievances.
There had for some time been felt in Ireland a great deficiency of copper coin; this had gone so far, that several gentlemen were forced to use tallies with their workmen, and give them pieces of card sealed and signed with their names. To supply this deficiency, several proposals had been submitted to the Government in England, and one accepted from Mr. William Wood, a considerable proprietor and renter of iron works.* The scheme was first designed under Sunderland, but not matured till Walpole was at the head of the Treasury. A patent was then granted to Wood for coining farthings and halfpence to the value of 108,0001. This patent was directed by Walpole with his usual financial skill; at every step in passing it he consulted Sir Isaac Newton, as Master of the Mint ; lie took the advice of the Attorney and Solicitor General, and employed the utmost care to guard against any fraud or exorbitant profit. And when, on the first apprehension of troubles on this subject, a new assay was ordered at the Mint, the principal officers, with Sir Isaac as their chief, reported, that the coins in weight, goodness, and fineness, so far from falling short, even exceeded the conditions of the contract. It was requisite, on account of the difference of exchange between the two countries, that these farthings and halfpence should be little less in weight than those current in England, “which," says Walpole," was considered at the “time of passing the patent, and found to be necessary;
* Macpherson's Hist. of Commerce, vol. iii. p. 114.
and he gives reasons that, as he truly adds, “sufficiently “justify the difference of the weight of the two coins, “when at the same time it is admitted on all hands, that “ the Irish coin in fineness of metal exceeds the English. “As to the King's prerogative of granting such patents, “it is one never disputed, and often exercised.” *
So clear and well conducted a transaction seemed by no means favourable for the creation of a grievance, even with a people so expert in that kind of manufacture. Almost the only blamable part in the business does not appear to have been suspected, till the ferment against it had risen to some height; namely, a bribe which Wood had agreed to pay to the Duchess of Kendal for her influence in passing the patent. But this, however scandalous in the parties concerned, could not materially affect the quantity or quality of the coin to be issued, or still less the want of such a supply for purposes of trade in Ireland.
The affair, however, from various causes, took an unprosperous turn. The Irish Privy Council had not been previously consulted, and was nettled at this neglect; nor did the Irish courtiers
any jobs except their own. Amongst the people the patent at first was not clearly explained, and when explained it was already unpopular. Wood was disliked, as an utter stranger to the country; he was besides a vain, imprudent man, bragging of his influence with Walpole, and threatening that “ he would cram his halfpence down the throats of “the Irish.” To rail at all opposition, as Popery and treason, was not the way to disarm it. Nor did the Irish Government meet the first difficulties with promptness and energy. The Duke of Grafton, Lord Lieutenant, was a person of very moderate abilities, well described by Walpole as “a fair weather pilot, that knew not what he “had to do when the first storm arose.” | The Lord Chancellor (Alan Brodrick, Viscount Midleton) was an open enemy of Grafton, and a secret one of Walpole: he had talents, but so high an opinion of them, that he always thought himself neglected and ill-used; and though he
* Letters to Lord Townshend, Oct. 1. and 18. 1723. † Walpole to Townshend, Oct. 26. 1723.