Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Saint-John, Henry
SAINT-JOHN, HENRY, Viscount Bolingbroke (1678–1751), statesman, baptised at Battersea on 10 Oct. 1678, was the only son of Sir Henry St. John, by his wife, Lady Mary, second daughter of Robert Rich, second earl of Warwick [q. v.] The elder Henry was the son of Sir Walter St. John, third baronet. Three of Sir Walter's elder brothers fell on the king's side in the civil war; and he inherited the baronetcy and manors of Battersea and Wandsworth on the death of a nephew. He married Johanna, daughter of Sir Oliver St. John [q. v.], chief justice under Cromwell (for genealogy see Collins's Peerage, ed. Brydges, vi. 53; cf. G.E.C.'s Peerage, i. 368). Sir Walter and his son Henry lived together in the manor-house at Battersea, where Sir Walter died on 3 July 1708 at the age of eighty-seven. Sir Walter repaired the church and founded a charity school. Simon Patrick (1626–1707) [q. v.] was for a time his chaplain; Daniel Burgess [q. v.], the presbyterian divine, was intimate with the family, and the younger Henry complained to Swift (28 July 1721) of having been so bored in his infancy by the sermons of Dr. Thomas Manton [q. v.], another presbyterian divine, as to be ready to become a high churchman (cf. first essay addressed to Pope). Henry, the son of Sir Walter, was a dissipated man about town, who got into trouble for killing Sir William Estcourt in a brawl in 1684, and is said by Burnet (Own Times, ii. 444) to have had to pay Charles II and two ladies 16,000l. for a pardon.
The younger Henry was sent to Eton, and afterwards, it has been said, to Christ Church. No record, however, appears at Christ Church, and the report may be due, as Mr. Churton Collins suggests, to the honorary degree conferred upon him at Oxford in 1702. He soon became conspicuous for such qualities as are typified by the heroes of Congreve's comedies. He was a hard drinker, and lived, says Goldsmith, with Miss Gumley, ‘the most expensive demirep of the kingdom.’ (The Miss Gumley who married Pulteney in 1714 has been confounded with this woman; see Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. ii. 401, x. 303, where a coarse caricature of St. John and his mistress is described). Goldsmith heard from an eye-witness that he had ‘run naked through the park in a fit of intoxication.’ He showed his pretensions to be a wit by a copy of verses prefixed to Dryden's translation of Virgil (these were afterwards prefixed, with some alterations, to the Chef-d'œuvre d'un Inconnu (1714), by Saint-Hyacinthe). During 1698 and 1699 St. John travelled on the continent, and there acquired a remarkably accurate knowledge of French. After his return he wrote an ode called ‘Almahide’—a remonstrance to one of his mistresses upon her infidelity (printed in Whartoniana, 1727, ii. 166; see also Walpole's Royal and Noble Authors, where are also mentioned one or two other trifles). In 1700 he married Frances, daughter of Sir Henry Winchcombe, a rich country gentleman of Bucklebury, Berkshire, and a descendant of ‘Jack of Newbury.’ His father and grandfather settled family estates upon him in Wiltshire, Surrey, and Middlesex; and his wife brought him a fortune. Marriage did not improve his morals, and Mrs. St. John had many causes of complaint.
St. John was elected to William's last parliament for the family borough of Wootton-Bassett in Wiltshire. His grandfather and father had sat both for the borough and county. Harley was elected speaker upon the opening of the session in February 1700–1701, and St. John became his warm supporter. Harley, like St. John, had been brought up under presbyterian influences, and had taken the tory side. St. John at once made his mark as a speaker. In one of his early efforts he was answered by his Eton schoolfellow, Robert Walpole. Walpole failed, while St. John made a brilliant success; though, according to Coxe, an intelligent observer prophesied Walpole's success, and said that the ‘spruce gentleman who had made the set speech would never improve.’ St. John was appointed in May 1701 to prepare and bring in the bill for the security of the protestant succession. He supported the impeachment of the whig lords for their share in the partition treaties, a question upon which he afterwards admitted himself to have been wrong (Eighth Letter on Study of History). In the new parliament which met in December 1701, St. John again sat for Wootton-Bassett. He was afterwards accused of having joined the opposition of the tories to the bill imposing an oath of abjuration of the pretender. He explains the vote which he gave upon different grounds in his ‘Final Answer’ to the attacks on the ‘Craftsman.’ In any case, he became distinguished on the tory side. The parliament was dissolved after the death of William, and soon afterwards St. John, with other tory leaders, received a doctor's degree at Oxford.
In the next session St. John took a conspicuous part in supporting the bill against occasional conformity. He was one of the managers for the commons in a conference with the lords on 16 Jan. 1702–3. He was also one of the commissioners appointed by the tories who reported against the Earl of Ranelagh, formerly paymaster of the army. The report was made the foundation of an attack upon Halifax for his conduct as auditor of the exchequer [see under Montagu, Charles, Earl of Halifax]. The lords passed a vote in favour of Halifax, and a sharp contest between the houses took place, which was ended by a prorogation. In the next session (1703–4) St. John again supported the bill against occasional conformity, and took a leading part in another quarrel with the lords, as to their right of examining witnesses to the ‘Scottish plot.’ He presented the report of a committee on the subject, which was answered by the lords in papers drawn up by Somers. He also took the side of the commons in the famous case of Ashby v. White.
At the end of this session (April 1704) the Earl of Nottingham resigned, and was succeeded by Harley, a step which marked the gradual divergence of the Marlborough and Godolphin from the extreme tory party. St. John became secretary at war at the same time, whether from his connection with Harley or through the favour of Marlborough. Marlborough certainly expressed great confidence in St. John, and in 1707 took pains to increase his ‘poundage’ (Coxe, Marlborough, 1818, i. 232, ii. 270; Private Correspondence of the Duchess of Marlborough, ii. 292 n.). St. John's office brought him into close relations with the commander-in-chief, and he of course accepted the government policy for the time. He voted with Harley against the proposal for the ‘tacking’ the Occasional Conformity Bill to the Land-tax Bill in November 1704.
In the new parliament of 1705 St. John again sat for Wootton Bassett. During the following period he appears to have conducted his business in parliament with general applause, and to have remained on intimate terms with Marlborough, whose special favourite he was generally supposed to be. Marlborough (see Macpherson, ii. 532), after the death of his son in 1703, is said to have transferred his paternal affection to St. John. Meanwhile Harley was beginning to intrigue against the whigs. Godolphin was becoming suspicious of St. John as well as Harley. St. John does not appear to have taken any important part in the private manœuvres. He belonged, however, to Harley's party in the government. Marlborough and Godolphin were relying more and more upon the support of the whigs; and when Harley was forced to leave office (11 Feb. 1707–8), St. John retired with him, and was succeeded by Robert Walpole.
Parliament was dissolved in April 1708, and St. John did not sit in the next session. He retired to Bucklebury, which was now his wife's property, her father having died the year before. He wrote a warm complimentary letter to Marlborough upon the victory of Oudenarde from Battersea, where his grandfather had just died. He professed to retire to philosophy and reflection, though some verses given to him by a friend at the time imply that he was still as much of a rake as ever (Journal to Stella, 13 Jan. 1710–11). St. John, however, seems to have read a good deal, especially in history, though he could not resign himself to be a mere student. He had kept up his relations with Harley, and when the revolution in the cabinet took place in the autumn of 1710, he became secretary of state, while Harley became chancellor of the exchequer. Harley, however, had desired at first to place St. John in a subordinate office, a fact which St. John did not forget (Bolingbroke Corresp. i. 132). Lord Dartmouth was St. John's colleague; but St. John took the lead, and was entrusted with the foreign negotiations. He sat in the parliament that followed as member for Berkshire.
Although petty backstairs intrigues had led to the fall of the whigs, the new government was supported by the great change of public opinion. Peace was clearly desirable, if not absolutely necessary. The country was becoming sick of the war, jealous of its allies, suspicious of the motives of the government for refusing terms of peace, and irritated by the attack upon Sacheverell. Harley and St. John appeared to be bound by the closest friendship (see Swift, Behaviour of the Ministers), and their chief difficulty at first was in the excessive zeal of their supporters, who formed the ‘October Club.’ St. John gave assurances to the Dutch of continued fidelity to the alliance. The ‘Examiner’ had been started in August in the interest of the tory party, and the tenth number, attacking the conduct of the war, was at once attributed to St. John, and served as a manifesto of the new policy. When Marlborough reached England at the end of 1710, St. John gave him a lecture upon the necessity of returning to his old friends (Corresp. i. 78). Although the duchess was dismissed from her office, the duke was persuaded to continue in command of the military operations. During the following session the commons, under St. John's management, voted various party addresses: they passed the act requiring that members should possess a certain income from landed property; voted a sum for building fifty new churches in London; and published a report stating that thirty-five millions of money had been spent without being sufficiently accounted for. The murderous attack upon Harley by Guiscard [see under Harley, Robert, (1661–1724)], on 8 March 1711, made the victim popular as a martyr. Guiscard had been the companion of some of St. John's disreputable excesses, and had at first intended to stab St. John in revenge for his arrest. Harley got the wound and the credit by accident, and this appears to have stimulated their latent jealousy. Harley's elevation to the peerage, on 23 May, left to St. John the management of the House of Commons; though Harley became lord treasurer, and was still supposed to have the supreme power. St. John, in the summer, was responsible for the expedition to Canada, of which he boasts that he was the sole designer (Corresp. i. 264). The tory policy at the time was in favour of diverting English enterprise from the continental war, which, as they held, was chiefly profitable to the Dutch and our other allies. The failure of the expedition was no doubt insured by the military command being entrusted to John Hill (d. 1732?) [q. v.], whose merit was that he was brother of Lady Masham.
Meanwhile negotiations had been started with the French government through the Abbé Gaultier, who had long been in England as chaplain to foreign ministers. He was sent to France about the end of 1710 by the ministry. According to Swift (Last Four Years), Gaultier had been previously instructed by the French court. The papers collected by Mackintosh show that this was actually the case, although Torcy in his ‘Memoirs’ gives an apparently inconsistent account. After some communications had passed, Gaultier came to London with definite proposals for a separate negotiation, dated 22 April 1711. St. John informed the Dutch pensionary of the proposals, with assurances that he would act in concert with the states. On 1 July Prior was sent with Gaultier to Paris, with definite propositions, and returned in August with Gaultier and with M. Mesnager, who had powers to treat with England or her allies. At the request of St. John, however, he was instructed to treat separately with the English. Although the Duke of Shrewsbury, as lord chamberlain (Corresp. i. 335), expressed alarm at the probable jealousy of the allies, the difficulties were overcome, and preliminaries of peace were finally signed on 27 Sept. Those relating to the English interests were kept secret; while more general articles were signed at the same time for communication to the allies. The English ministers were anxious for secrecy, in order, as Torcy observes (Torcy, p. 36), that the Dutch might not be aware of the advantages to be obtained for English commerce. The English ambassador, Thomas Wentworth (Lord Strafford) [q. v.], was instructed on 1 Oct. to propose to the Dutch to join a conference for a peace based upon these preliminaries. The allies were naturally alarmed at the separate understanding with France. Buys, the pensionary of Amsterdam, was sent to ask for explanations. Count Gallas, who represented the emperor at London, complained loudly, published the copy of the preliminary articles which had been communicated to him, and was forbidden the court (Corresp. i. 449). Marlborough and Godolphin were indignant; and the whigs arranged that Prince Eugène should come to England. St. John retorted by complaining that England had taken an excessive share of the burdens of the war, and intimated that unless the Dutch agreed to the conferences, she would cease to take the same part in the operations. The allies finally consented to the meeting of the congress at Utrecht on 1 Jan. 1711–12 [cf. Robinson, John (1650–1723)]. The whigs were furious, and a fierce paper war was raging. St. John boasted to the queen that he had seized thirteen libellers, and was at the same time inspiring Swift to write his ‘Conduct of the Allies.’ When parliament met on 7 Dec., a motion was carried by the lords condemning any peace which should leave Spain and the West Indies to the house of Bourbon. The preliminaries had stipulated that the crowns of France and Spain should not be united upon one head, which was understood to imply the abandonment of all attempts to expel Philip from Spain. The English ministry had, in fact, made up their minds to this practically inevitable condition; and they met the vote of the lords by the creation of twelve peers and the dismissal of Marlborough. A promise was made to St. John of a peerage at the end of the session, though he could not be as yet spared from the commons (Journal to Stella, 29 Dec. 1711).
During the following session attacks upon the corruption of the previous ministry were carried on, and upon one charge Walpole was expelled and committed to the Tower (17 Jan. 1711–12). A ‘Representation of the State of the Nation,’ drawn up by Sir J. Hanmer with the help of St. John and Swift, was presented to the queen on 4 March, attacking the ‘Barrier Treaty,’ and arguing elaborately that we paid most of the expenses while our allies were getting the chief benefits of the war. This view was best represented by Arbuthnot, another ‘club’ friend of St. John, in his ‘History of John Bull’ (1712). Meanwhile, the full explanation of the French proposals in February, at Utrecht, had again roused the indignation of the allies; while the English ministry were still communicating on friendly and confidential terms with the enemy. The death of the dauphin (14 April 1711) and of his eldest son (18 Feb. 1712) produced new difficulties. If the infant prince (afterwards Louis XV) should die, the king of Spain would become heir to the French throne. St. John proposed to the French that Philip should renounce his right to succeed; to which the French minister replied that, as the king ruled by divine right, any renunciation would be invalid. After some correspondence St. John (29 April) proposed an alternative scheme; and Torcy finally replied (18 May) that one of the two schemes should be adopted. The king of Spain was to decide which course he would take; and, meanwhile, he suggested, it would be very sad if any event should happen to destroy the good feeling. St. John was satisfied, and on 10 May, the day after receiving the despatch, wrote to Ormonde, who had succeeded to Marlborough's command, telling him not to engage in any battle. Ormonde was directed to keep these orders secret from the allies, and was told at the same time that the order had been communicated to the French court (Corresp. ii. 317, &c.). St. John told Prior afterwards that he believed that this order had saved the French army (ib. iii. 78). The French, by way of security, agreed to put Dunkirk in possession of the English until the peace, and Ormonde also took possession of Ghent. The allies had protested in vain against the desertion of the English. The Dutch, as St. John put it (20 June), ‘kick and flounce like wild beasts caught in a toil; yet the cords are too strong for them to break’ (Committee of Secrecy); and, although the foreign forces under English orders declined to abandon their allies, they were told that they were no longer to receive pay from the English. Upon the French victory at Denain (24 July N. S.) Torcy congratulated the English minister upon an event which was calculated to diminish the old obstinacy of their allies. Ormonde's behaviour was warmly approved by the English tories (see Journal to Stella, 19 July 1712). Meanwhile the prospects of a satisfactory peace had been announced in the queen's speech at the end of the session (6 June). One of the last measures was the imposition of the stamp upon newspapers, by which St. John hoped to destroy the influence of ‘Grub Street.’ As a reward for his services, he was created, on 7 July, Viscount Bolingbroke and Baron St. John of Lydiard Tregoze, with special remainder to collaterals. The earldom of Bolingbroke, held by the elder branch of his family, had expired in the person of Paulet St. John, third earl, on 5 Oct. 1711; and he was greatly vexed at receiving only the lower rank as well as at having to abandon his position in the House of Commons. ‘My promotion,’ he says (23 July), ‘was a mortification to me’ (Corresp. ii. 484). ‘Jack Hill’ was sent soon afterwards to take possession of Dunkirk; the king of Spain had made his renunciation; and in August Bolingbroke was himself sent to Paris to make final arrangements, taking Prior and Gaultier with him. An agreement for a suspension of arms for four months between France and England was signed on 19 Aug., and Bolingbroke considered that the queen was justified, by the conduct of the allies, in withdrawing from the war, and employing her good offices with France as a common friend.
Bolingbroke at once returned to England, visiting Dunkirk on his way, and leaving Prior to finish the negotiations. Bolingbroke would now have been prepared to make a separate treaty of peace (see Torcy, p. 202). He had, however, difficulties at home. Oxford was dissatisfied with a policy which might have led to an actual conflict with our former allies, and at any rate would shock public opinion. After Bolingbroke's return the conduct of the negotiations was for a time put into the hands of his colleague, Lord Dartmouth, though he continued to correspond with Torcy and Prior. He was greatly irritated when, in October, he was passed over in a distribution of the order of the Garter. The allies meanwhile suffered other reverses, and the congress at Utrecht was being distracted by petty quarrels. The French were beginning to take a higher tone than the English ministry could approve, and now endeavoured to obtain Tournay from the Dutch. St. John had declined to support this in the previous autumn, although he had suggested to Torcy the best means of removing the ‘unaccountable obstinacy of the Dutch.’ The Dutch, however, were now on more friendly terms with the English, and Louis, moved by his own ill-health and the precarious state of Anne, became more anxious for peace (Torcy, p. 217), and finally abandoned this claim. The last obstacle was thus removed; though there were various difficulties as to the treaty of commerce still under discussion. Bolingbroke in February again took charge of the negotiations. He was now supported by the queen's favourite, Lady Masham, and, his influence becoming dominant, the Duke of Shrewsbury was sent as ambassador to France. At last everything was arranged; and the treaty of Utrecht was signed by the English and their allies, except the emperor, on 31 March 1713. The peace was announced to parliament, which now met after several prorogations, in the queen's speech on 9 April. The production of Addison's ‘Cato’ on 14 April was made the occasion of a party demonstration, and Bolingbroke turned the point against Marlborough and the whigs by presenting the actor Booth with fifty guineas for ‘defending the cause of liberty against a perpetual dictator.’
The peace of Utrecht became henceforth the object of the constant denunciation of the whigs, and the disgraceful proceedings in connection with the Duke of Ormonde's desertion of the allies admit of no defence. A full account of Bolingbroke's proceedings formed the main topic of the report of the committee of secrecy in 1715. The position in which the ministry had placed themselves undoubtedly enabled the French to obtain far better terms than they could have expected or had previously claimed, and however desirable the peace may have been in itself, it seemed to be an ignominious conclusion of a victorious war. Torcy points out the advantage which the French derived from their knowledge that Oxford and Bolingbroke were not only anxious for peace, but felt that their heads as well as their fortunes might depend upon their success (Torcy, p. 52). Bolingbroke admitted afterwards that the French had gained too much, but threw the whole blame upon the Dutch and the whigs, who intrigued against him (Eighth Letter on Study of History). The greatest feeling was aroused at the time by what now seems the most enlightened part of the arrangement. Bolingbroke hoped, as he said, that the commercial treaty would tend to produce permanently good feeling between the countries (Corresp. iv. 153). The proposed regulations, however, were not only attacked by the whigs, who were supported by the protected interests, but alienated some of the tories. Bolingbroke was represented in the House of Commons by Arthur Moore [q. v.], the only man whom he seems to have consulted on the question, who was suspected of corrupt motives and had little personal weight. The bill to give effect to the treaty was rejected by 194 to 185 on 15 June. Bolingbroke is also charged with the shameful desertion of the Catalans who had supported the side of the allies under promises that their privileges should be maintained. He appears to have considered them as troublesome and ‘turbulent people,’ made no effective demands on their behalf in negotiating the treaty, and scarcely remonstrated when they were forcibly suppressed by Philip.
Domestic difficulties had been accumulating for some time. Oxford, in his ‘Brief Account of Public Affairs’ (published in the report of the committee of secrecy), says that St. John was already making a party for himself in February 1710–11, when an attempt was made by Rochester to reconcile them. Swift (Change of the Queen's Ministry) says that he had very good reasons to know that there were jealousies at the time of Guiscard's attempt (Journal to Stella, 27 April 1711). Bolingbroke thought that Oxford had prevented him from receiving an earldom and the Garter. But the characters of the two were so opposed as to make discord certain. Bolingbroke, impetuous, brilliant, and overbearing, could not endure to be led by the timid, procrastinating, and vacillating Oxford. Oxford's occasional interferences in the negotiations and their temporary transference to Dartmouth provoked him, and matters soon came to a struggle for superiority. Swift, who was at Dublin in July 1713, was earnestly entreated to return in order to try once more to patch up a reconciliation. The case, however, was hopeless. The critical difficulty was one of which Swift was not allowed to be aware. The health of the queen was evidently breaking, and the question of the succession becoming daily more pressing. Both Oxford and Bolingbroke had kept up negotiations with the Pretender. Gaultier, on his first mission to France in 1710, had communicated to the Duke of Berwick a proposal, in Oxford's name, for the restoration of the Stuarts upon the death of Anne (Berwick, p. 219). Gaultier brought other communications, although the English ministers were very cautious to commit themselves to writing. Bolingbroke, it is said, threatened to send Gaultier out of the kingdom for putting on the table a letter signed with the king's arms (Marchmont Papers, ii. 241 n.) It is asserted in the ‘Mackintosh Papers’ that he had the secret interviews with the Pretender during his visit to Paris in 1712. Bolingbroke saw him in public at the opera (Macpherson, ii. 338; Swift to King, 16 Dec. 1716; Stuart Papers, Roxburghe Club, p. 383), but the private interview is at least doubtful. The Jacobites became suspicious of Oxford's intentions, but Bolingbroke took up their cause decidedly. He spoke openly to Lockhart of Carnwath, and sent advice to the exiles (Lockhart, i. 412–13; Macpherson, ii. 366–7). Bolingbroke's great point was that the Pretender should give up the catholic church. The Pretender honourably refused this concession, which would have removed one of the strongest grounds of objection, and both Bolingbroke and Oxford are said by Gaultier (Stuart Papers in Stanhope's History, vol. i.) to have ceased to insist upon it. The ‘Mackintosh Papers,’ however, show that they attached the greatest importance to the proposal. The difficulty illustrates Bolingbroke's real attitude. He had no enthusiasm for the Stuarts, and in fact no man despised their religious and political creed more heartily. It is doubtful whether a restoration of the Pretender ever appeared practicable either to Oxford or Bolingbroke (cf. Wyon, Queen Anne, ii. 517–19). Their position, however, as leaders of the tories compelled them to keep up some relations with the Jacobites. The accession to the crown of the elector of Hanover meant inevitably the triumph of the whigs and the ruin of the ministers responsible for the peace. Bolingbroke was endeavouring to strengthen himself by every available means, and was thwarted at every step by the timidity of Oxford. He made friends with the queen's favourite, Lady Masham, who had been gained by the Jacobites. His appointment of her brother to the command of the Canadian expedition in 1711, and afterwards to Dunkirk, marks the progress of this connection. Oxford asserted that the public had been cheated of 20,000l. on the first occasion. St. John and Arthur Moore had brought him the queen's orders to pay the money, which apparently went to Lady Masham or her brother (Oxford's ‘Brief Account;’ first additional articles of impeachment of Oxford and his reply; and see Macpherson, ii. 532). St. John now began to hold the predominant influence at court. By the end of 1713 he had profited by Oxford's weakness; was constantly advising the queen, and making his influence felt in every department of the government. At Christmas 1713 he went to Windsor to attend the queen, and found Anne suffering from a dangerous illness. General alarm was excited. On 1 Feb. the queen wrote a letter to the lord mayor announcing her recovery, and the intended opening of parliament on the 16th (printed in Boyer's Queen Anne, p. 660). Meanwhile public excitement was rising. Steele's ‘Crisis’ and Swift's ‘Public Spirit of the Whigs’ were the opening blows in a fierce controversy. Animated debates took place in both houses, and votes were passed in both that the protestant succession was not in danger. A demand from the Hanoverian envoy Schutz that the elector's son (afterwards George II) should receive his writ as duke of Cambridge perplexed the government. Schutz, at Bolingbroke's desire, was forbidden the court, and his recall was demanded from the elector. The queen was made to write indignant letters to the Duke of Cambridge and his grandmother, the electress Sophia, on 19 May (Boyer, p. 699), and the death of the electress immediately afterwards was attributed to the insult. To lull the fears which had been aroused, a proclamation was issued on 23 June offering a reward of 5,000l. for the arrest of the Pretender, if he should land in England. Bolingbroke privately assured the French minister that this would make no difference. At the same time a bitter warfare was taking place over the Schism Act, which was introduced in the House of Commons on 12 May by Sir William Wyndham, who had become chancellor of the exchequer through Bolingbroke's influence. It was carried by great majorities, and, after a sharp struggle in the lords, was passed with some amendment, and received the queen's assent on 25 June. The intention of the measure was to make a license from a bishop necessary for schoolmasters, and therefore to take all education out of the hands of the dissenters. Bolingbroke, whose indifference to orthodox belief was notorious, was bitterly taunted by the great whig lords, but carried his point. Oxford lost his last influence with his party by shuffling, and finally declining to vote either way. He still tried to hold on, and his last attempt appears to have been an accusation against Arthur Moore, who had been concerned in negotiating the commercial treaty with Spain, and was supposed to have taken bribes for himself, Bolingbroke, and Lady Masham. A censure was refused by a narrow majority in the House of Lords, and the session ended immediately afterwards (9 July).
A final rupture followed, and on 27 July Oxford was dismissed from his offices. ‘If my grooms did not live a happier life than I have done this great while,’ Bolingbroke had written to Swift (13 July), ‘I am sure they would quit my service.’ He was still in perplexity. On the day of Oxford's dismissal he gave a dinner to the leading whigs, and the next day told an agent to prepare for making overtures to the elector of Hanover. Meanwhile, it was generally noticed (see Boyer, Queen Anne, p. 679) that the army was being ‘remodelled’ and the most important posts put in the hands of Jacobites. The Duke of Ormonde was made warden of the Cinque ports, and the whig earl of Dorset advised to give up the governorship of Dover Castle (Walpole to Mann, 17 May 1749). Bolingbroke declared, as the French envoy Herville stated, on 2 Aug. that in six weeks he could have made matters safe (Mackintosh Collection). Queen Anne had died the day before. What Bolingbroke's plans may have been must be uncertain. He said afterwards, in his letter to Windham, that ‘none of us had any very settled resolution’ as to the steps to be taken. Probably he wished to attain such a position as to be able to dictate terms to whigs or Jacobites according to circumstances. He would not decide which card to play till he knew which was the trump suit. The intervention of Argyle and Somerset, and the appointment of Shrewsbury as treasurer just before the queen's death, destroyed Bolingbroke's power (in regard to this incident see Lecky, i. 164 n.) ‘Oxford was removed on Tuesday, the queen died on Sunday,’ wrote Bolingbroke to Swift (3 Aug.). ‘What a world this is! and how does fortune banter us!’
The dismissal of Bolingbroke from his office was among the first acts of the new king. He had held office for nearly four years of extraordinary activity. Swift (Behaviour of the Queen's Last Ministry) says that he ‘would plod whole days and nights like the lowest clerk in an office,’ and his correspondence gives abundant indications of his energy. He was as much given to pleasure as to business, and, as Swift observes in the same place, had a great respect for ‘Alcibiades and Petronius, especially the latter, whom he would be gladly thought to resemble.’ Swift also states that he partly broke off his habits of drinking, but did not refrain from ‘other liberties.’ The account is sufficiently confirmed by many passages in the ‘Journal to Stella.’ The ‘Brothers Club,’ founded by him in June 1711, was intended to bring together the leading politicians and authors, and to direct the patronage of literature (Journal to Stella, 21 June 1711, and St. John's letter to Orrery, 12 June), and rivalled the Whig Kit-cat Club. It became, however, chiefly political and convivial. Lady Bolingbroke appears to have been attached to her husband in spite of many wrongs, and was pitied and liked by Swift (see, e.g., Journal of 10 April 1711). They set up together in a new house at Golden Square, then the most fashionable part of the town, at the end of 1711. He spent his holidays with her at Bucklebury, where he indulged in hunting, knew all his hounds by name, and smoked and drank with the country squires (Journal to Stella, 4 and 5 Aug. 1711, and Swift to Bolingbroke, 14 Sept. 1714). They were never formally separated, though Bolingbroke's misconduct was flagrant (see Wentworth Papers, 1883, pp. 294, 395). Macknight's assertion that Bolingbroke had a ‘separate establishment’ at Ashdown Park is a mistake. He was at Ashdown Park, in the neighbourhood of Bucklebury, for a few days' hunting in October (Corresp. iv. 318, &c.), but his time was passed between London and Windsor. Lady Bolingbroke's letter in August is a playful reference to her being ‘discarded’ by Oxford, not by Bolingbroke. Voltaire is responsible for the story of the woman who said upon his taking office, ‘Seven thousand guineas a year, my girls, and all for us!’ (Works, 1819, &c. lvii. 273). Upon his dismissal Bolingbroke retired to Bucklebury. His papers had been seized, and a pamphlet called ‘The Secret History of the White Staff,’ said to have been written by Defoe at Oxford's instigation, endeavoured to show that Bolingbroke's high-handed policy was leading him to the Jacobites, and that Oxford had done his best to resist. A pamphlet in answer has been attributed to Bolingbroke. The new parliament was controlled by the whigs. Bolingbroke, on the motion for an answer to the king's speech, spoke against a passage reflecting upon the queen's ministers (22 March). He was defeated by 66 to 33, and in the House of Commons an address prepared by Walpole announced that an attack was to be made upon the authors of the treaty. Bolingbroke showed himself at Drury Lane, and bespoke a play, but instantly set out for Dover. Thence (27 March) he wrote a letter to his friend, Lord Lansdowne (reprinted in Somers Tracts, vol. xiii.), and passed over to Calais in disguise. The letter, which was shown about, protested his innocence, but said that he knew of a design to ‘pursue him to the scaffold.’ Marlborough seems to have given him a hint to fly, though he denies, in the letter to Sir W. Wyndham, that he was moved by Marlborough's ‘artifices.’ He ‘knew him too well.’ Bolingbroke says in the same place that one motive was his hatred for Oxford, whom he would not consult even for their common defence. If he supposed Oxford to have inspired the ‘Secret History,’ he might probably infer that his old colleague was ready to make peace by betraying him. Meanwhile a ‘committee of secrecy’ was appointed, and made its report, through Walpole, on 9 June. A motion for his impeachment was unanimously carried (10 June). An act of attainder, unless he should surrender by 10 Sept., was passed on 18 Aug., and his name, with that of the Duke of Ormonde, was erased from the roll of peers on 14 Sept. (Parl. Hist. vii. 66, 143, 214).
Bolingbroke was warmly received in France. His first step apparently was to tell the English ambassador, Lord Stair, that he intended to retire to an ‘obscure retreat,’ and would make no engagement with the Jacobites (Letters to Stair and Stanhope in Macknight, pp. 451–2). Berwick, however, says (p. 225) that Bolingbroke saw him at once and declared his goodwill, to the Jacobite cause. He retired to Lyons and in July received a messenger from the tories which determined him to have an interview with the Pretender at Commercy. He consented to be James's secretary of state. His first letter in that capacity (Stanhope, History, vol. i. App.) is dated 23 July (12 July O.S.). The bill of attainder, by a reference to which he justifies himself in his letter to Wyndham, was not yet introduced, but his assailants had no doubt sufficiently indicated their intentions.
Bolingbroke was now minister in a mock court, and found it hard, as Stair afterwards told the elder Horace Walpole (3 March 1716), to ‘play his part with a grave enough face.’ It was full of Irish priests, whom he especially despised, and who heartly disliked him, and of refugees cherishing absurd illusions, and as ignorant of England as of Japan. His own account of his conduct is probably correct enough. He thought, he says, that the English people were inclining daily towards Jacobitism. He was, however, fully convinced that a rising would be impracticable unless it were supported by the French. He hoped that Louis XIV, though not likely to intend a new war, might be willing to give help, and be ultimately entangled. He applied to Torcy for help, and warned the Pretender against an Irish friar, who professed to come from Ormonde to request James to start at once for England. The Pretender received the warning graciously, and in return gave Bolingbroke a patent for an earldom. In spite of this, he was only prevented by the interference of the French ministry from acting at once upon the message. Bolingbroke, with Berwick's advice, then applied for help to Charles XII of Sweden, but without success. Meanwhile Ormonde [see under Butler, James, second Duke of Ormonde] had been impeached, and fled to France at the beginning of August. The hopes which had been entertained from his influence in England were crushed. He occupied the same house with Bolingbroke at Paris. The death of Louis XIV on 1 Sept. (N.S.) was still more conclusive. Louis had induced his grandson, the king of Spain, to send money to the Jacobites, and some arms had been provided in French ships at Havre. The Duke of Orleans, now regent, was on good terms with Lord Stair, and resolved not to help the Jacobites. Bolingbroke had carried on some indirect intrigues with him through Mme. de Tencin, who was associated with his favourite, Du Bois. Now, however, Sir George Byng entered the roads at Havre, and upon his request the arms were removed to the French magazines, and the regent promised that they should not be used against the English.
Bolingbroke had protested against a rising without better prospects. The Pretender, however, had, without the knowledge of his ministers (Berwick, p. 245), sent orders to the Earl of Mar for a rising in Scotland. The Pretender resolved to go to Scotland himself, and Bolingbroke was employed to draw up a declaration. Bolingbroke was careful to make promises of security for the church of England, and was intensely irritated when he found that the document had been edited by James's priests and the assurances removed. Ormonde departed and made a futile attempt to land in the west of England. James started in October, but after many delays only reached Scotland in December 1715, after the rising had failed. Bolingbroke meanwhile stayed in Paris, and tried to carry on the plot. A woman named Olive Trant, with some congenial allies, had been in communication with Ormonde, who did not confide in Bolingbroke, and professing to negotiate on his behalf with the regent. On Ormonde's departure she applied to Bolingbroke, who, finding reasons to distrust her, applied directly to the regent, through his minister, Huxelles, and threw over Mrs. Trant and her friends. The Pretender on leaving Scotland went to Paris, and sent Bolingbroke to request an interview with the regent, who, however, declined. The Pretender then said that he would go to Lorraine, and asked Bolingbroke when he could follow. Instead of going to Lorraine, however, the Pretender went to the ‘little house in the Bois de Boulogne’ occupied by Mrs. Trant and her friends, and there listened to complaints against Bolingbroke. Ormonde, at the request of the Earl of Mar, repeated some phrases which Bolingbroke had when drunk applied to the Pretender. Next day Ormonde brought Bolingbroke notes dismissing him from his office and ordering him to give up his papers. He gave up the papers, which would all go in ‘a letter-case of moderate size,’ and was glad to be free from the connection. When Mary of Modena sent a message to him hoping for a reconciliation, he replied, ‘May my arm rot off if I ever use pen or sword in their service again!’ (Coxe, Walpole, i. 200). Bolingbroke was of course accused of treachery, and his secretary wrote some letters in answer (printed in Tindal's Rapin, ii. 477; see full account of these transactions in the ‘Letter to Sir W. Wyndham’). Berwick emphatically declares that Bolingbroke had done all that was possible for the cause (Berwick, p. 282).
Lord Stair sent an account of these proceedings to Horace Walpole on 3 March 1716. On 28 March Stanhope, the secretary of state, wrote to Stair, authorising him to sound Bolingbroke and to make him promises of the king's favour (letter in Macknight, p. 495). He saw Bolingbroke accordingly, who declared that he had abandoned the Jacobite cause, and would do all he could to detach his friends from it. He added that he would never act as an informer or reveal any secrets that had been entrusted to him. Soon afterwards Bolingbroke's father was created Viscount St. John, with remainder to his sons by a second wife. Lady Bolingbroke was interceding for her husband, and ‘found great favour’ from the king (Letters to Swift, 5 May and 4 Aug. 1716). In September Bolingbroke wrote a letter to Sir W. Wyndham exhorting him to abandon the Jacobites, and arranged that it should be submitted to the government before reaching his friend (see letters Coxe's Walpole, ii. 308, &c.). Bolingbroke afterwards declared that he had received promises of restoration from the king, though the precise terms do not appear. Nothing was done for him at present. He amused himself towards the end of 1716 by writing his ‘Reflections upon Exile,’ in imitation of Seneca. The Jacobites were meanwhile denouncing him as a spy and a traitor. He determined to clear himself and do service to the English government by writing an ‘apologia,’ and in April 1717 began the letter to Sir W. Wyndham, which is his most interesting autobiographical document. It gives full details of his conduct as the Pretender's minister, and appears to be a frank statement of his position. The letter, however, was not published till after Bolingbroke's death. Macknight suggests that he wished before publishing to receive some more definite pledge. The letter, however, goes into details which might well be thought unfit for publication, and Bolingbroke seems always to have been singularly shy of publishing anything under his own name. For some time he was left in a painful state of suspense. In 1717 he had formed an intimacy with Marie Claire Deschamps de Marcilly, who had in 1695 become the second wife of the Marquis de Villette, a cousin of Mme. de Maintenon. He died in 1707, and his widow was now forty-two (Grimoard, i. 145). She had a house in Paris and a family mansion at Marcilly, near Nogent-sur-Seine, where Bolingbroke spent much time, amusing himself with hunting, and superintending buildings. Lady Bolingbroke died in November 1718, when Bucklebury went to the heirs of her sister. She had left nothing to Bolingbroke, and had probably been alienated by the accounts of his relations with Mme. de Villette. Arbuthnot mentions a rumour of Bolingbroke's marriage to Mme. de Villette in a letter to Swift of 11 Dec. 1718. Bolingbroke had some rivals, but the marriage ultimately took place at Aix-la-Chapelle in May 1720. His wife joined the church of England on the occasion. According to an anecdote told by Grimoard, Bolingbroke's morals were not at once reformed, but he seems to have always lived on very affectionate terms with his second wife. Bolingbroke had invested some money in the Mississippi scheme, and sold some of the shares to buy, at the time of his marriage, a small estate near Orleans. His letters seem to imply, though the contrary has been said, that his speculation was the reverse of profitable (ib. iii. 63, 68). The estate was called La Source, from what Bolingbroke describes as ‘the biggest and clearest spring perhaps in Europe’ (to Swift, 28 July 1721). He rebuilt the house and ornamented the grounds. A description given in Robert Plumer Ward's novel, ‘De Vere’ (1827, iii. 186–200), applies to this, as is shown by the inscriptions quoted, not to a later house, as Lord Stanhope says. He here began philosophical studies, under the guidance of Lévêque de Pouilly, and discussed the chronology of the bible. He formed also a friendship with Brook Taylor [q. v.], the eminent mathematician, who stayed at La Source in 1720, and had himself a turn for philosophical discussion. Bolingbroke afterwards showed him much kindness (see Taylor's Contemplatio Philosophica, 1793). He was also visited here by Voltaire, who speaks with enthusiasm of his politeness, learning, and complete command of French. Bolingbroke, moreover, and his wife appreciated the ‘Henriade,’ then in manuscript (Voltaire to Thiériot, 2 Jan. 1722). In 1722 Bolingbroke met at Paris Lord Polwarth (Marchmont Papers, ii. 187 n.), who was on his way to the congress of Cambray, and complained of the delay in his pardon. Polwarth gave him a promise from Lord Carteret, who, as secretary of state, was then struggling in the cabinet against Walpole and Townshend. Bolingbroke, thus encouraged, applied to the king and to the other ministers. His pardon passed the great seal in May 1723. He went to London in June, and wrote to Townshend, thanking him warmly and sending acknowledgments to the king and the Duchess of Kendal [see Schulenberg, Ehrengard Melusina, von der]. They sent gracious messages in return, though pointing out that his full restitution would depend upon parliament. Bolingbroke now took the side of Walpole. He proposed to bring over some of his tory friends to Walpole's support (Coxe, ii. 264). Walpole warned him that such a scheme, if known, would be fatal to his hopes from a whig parliament. Bolingbroke returned to France, and there endeavoured in the winter to make himself useful to the Walpoles. Horace Walpole was sent there to oppose Sir Luke Schaub, Carteret's agent, in various intrigues which followed the death of the regent (2 Dec. 1723). Bolingbroke gave information as to the state of politics in France. He offered to use his influence with the Duke of Bourbon, the new prime minister, with whose friendship he had been ‘honoured these many years’ (to Harcourt, 28 Dec. 1723). Horace Walpole made use of Bolingbroke's information, but was on his guard against allowing Bolingbroke to get the negotiation into his own hands (Horace Walpole's letter in Coxe's Lord Walpole, chap. vi., gives the fullest account of these transactions). Although Bolingbroke was thus prevented from establishing so strong a claim as he desired, he had made himself useful, and more might be expected from him, as Horace Walpole observes. Mme. de Villette had entrusted 50,000l. to Sir Matthew Decker [q. v.] New family arrangements upon the marriage of a daughter made it desirable to obtain the repayment of this money. Decker made difficulties, on the ground that, as she was now Bolingbroke's wife, he might be responsible to parliament for the money. It was decided that she should go to England, with a recommendation from the Duke of Bourbon, to get the matter settled. The ministers approved, and a present of 11,000l. to the Duchess of Kendal brought the business to a successful end. Lady Bolingbroke with this influence obtained also a promise of parliamentary action in the next session (Coxe, ii. 325–32, 344). An act was accordingly passed, though with some opposition, in 1725 enabling Bolingbroke to inherit and acquire real estate, though still leaving him excluded from the House of Lords. Coxe states, on the authority of unpublished papers (Life of Lord Walpole, ch. vi.), that Walpole only agreed to the measure when ‘threatened with dismission’ by the king and the duchess, and then compromised by refusing a complete restoration. Bolingbroke therefore owed him no gratitude, and renewed his old enmity.
Bolingbroke now settled at Dawley, near Uxbridge. He was within a moderate distance of Pope's villa at Twickenham, and soon became the object of Pope's reverence and the inspirer of much of his poetry. Swift, during his visits to England in 1726 and 1727, renewed his personal acquaintance with Bolingbroke. Voltaire when in England at this time had his letters directed to Bolingbroke's house, and had some intercourse with him and his literary friends. It does not appear, however, that they really saw much of each other, and Bolingbroke evidently suspected Voltaire's sincerity (Churton Collins, Voltaire in England). Voltaire had talked of dedicating the ‘Henriade’ to Bolingbroke (Grimoard, iii. 269, 274), and, as Bolingbroke thought, tried to make a ‘dupe’ of him by ‘verbiage.’ Afterwards, however, Voltaire dedicated to him the ‘Brutus’ (first played in December 1730), in language hardly warmer than that of the early letter to Thiériot. Bolingbroke acted the part of country gentleman and farmer with great spirit, and had his hall painted with rakes and spades, says Pope (to Swift, 28 June 1728), ‘to countenance his calling it a farm.’
Meanwhile he was again taking an important though obscure part in politics. Pulteney's formal rupture with Walpole took place in the spring of 1726 [see under Pulteney, William, Earl of Bath], and he was ready to accept the alliance of Bolingbroke and Bolingbroke's disciple, Wyndham. The first indication was the appearance of the ‘Craftsman’ in December 1726. Bolingbroke contributed in the beginning of 1726–7 three papers, by an ‘Occasional Writer,’ bitterly attacking the Walpoles. He proposed to Swift to follow up the discussion (to Swift, 18 May and August 1727). He made a more dangerous move by sending a paper through the Duchess of Kendal to the king. The king handed it to Walpole, who thereupon insisted, for fear of being charged with keeping the thing to himself, that Bolingbroke should be admitted to an audience. The audience was granted; but the king only laughed, and told Walpole that Bolingbroke had merely talked bagatelles. Walpole, however, was greatly alarmed, thinking that in time the duchess's influence would be irresistible (Coxe ii. 344, 571). The king's death (9 June 1727) put an end to these intrigues; and Bolingbroke remained at Dawley, amusing himself with farming and in the literary warfare of Pope, whose ‘Dunciad’ appeared at this time. At the end of 1728 he again attacked the foreign policy of the government in the ‘Craftsman.’ His letters, signed ‘John Trot,’ brought him into conflict with Bishop Hoadly, and with a writer in the ‘London Journal’ who signed himself ‘Publicola,’ and was supposed to be Walpole. The illness of his wife took him to Aix-la-Chapelle in 1729. He returned to Dawley in October, while she remained abroad till the end of 1730. Bolingbroke now made it his great end to bring about a combination between the opposition whigs who followed Pulteney and the tories led by his old pupil, Sir W. Wyndham. His knowledge of foreign politics enabled him to speak with authority upon the complicated series of transactions which Walpole and his brother were carrying on, and upon which he could write dignified letters in the ‘Craftsman.’ His leading principle was that whatever the Walpoles did was wicked, corrupt, and blundering. He sent his private secretary, Brinsden, to Dunkirk to examine the state of the fortifications. Sir W. Wyndham made a motion in the house upon the subject, and asserted that the demolition was not properly enforced. Bolingbroke was bitterly denounced by Walpole and Pelham, who, according to Horace Walpole (Coxe, ii. 669), roused the warmest indignation against their enemy in the house. After the session Bolingbroke began a series of letters in the ‘Craftsman’ called ‘Remarks on the History of England, by Humphry Oldcastle.’ Chesterfield recommended his son to ‘transcribe, imitate, emulate’ them, although the style scarcely redeems the poverty of the subjects. The last letter (22 May 1731) was a defence of Pulteney and himself, which provoked ‘Remarks on the “Craftsman's” Vindication,’ inspired, if not written, by Walpole. Pulteney's reply to the ‘Remarks’ caused his dismissal from the privy council, while Bolingbroke retorted in a ‘Final Answer’ of some biographical interest.
Bolingbroke was now writing the philosophical fragments which were partly versified in Pope's ‘Essay on Man.’ Wyndham still represented his opinions in the House of Commons, especially by attacks upon the standing army, and by speeches in favour of the Pension Bill, first introduced by Sandys in 1730. This bill, disqualifying holders of pensions for the House of Commons, was so far popular that Walpole allowed it to pass more than once, and caused it to be rejected by the House of Lords. Bolingbroke frequently insists upon the topics upon which whigs and Jacobites could agree in opposing the government. The political world, however, was comparatively quiet until the great storm of Walpole's Excise Bill again roused the hopes of the opposition in 1733. Wyndham's speeches in the house were inspired by Bolingbroke, and regarded as the most powerful on the opposition side. The subsequent dismissal by Walpole of Chesterfield and other suspected traitors strengthened the ranks of the opposition by fresh whig deserters. Bolingbroke carried on the assault by a fresh series of letters in the ‘Craftsman’ called ‘A Dissertation on Parties,’ which were collected, with a bitter dedication to Walpole. They have often been considered as the ablest of his writings. In the session of 1734 he suggested an attack upon the Septennial Act. The whigs in opposition had some delicacy in proposing to repeal a measure for which their own party had been responsible. Bolingbroke, however, and the tories prevailed, and a motion for the repeal was proposed on 13 March. Wyndham, in his speech, drew a fancy portrait of Walpole, to which Walpole replied by describing a traitor who spat venom through the mouths of his dupes. The motion was rejected by 247 to 184, and the whigs in opposition appear to have been disgusted with Bolingbroke. Walpole had a majority in the new parliament, which met in January 1735, and Bolingbroke suddenly gave up the game, thoroughly discouraged. Some speculation has been wasted upon his precise motives. His letters to Wyndham at the time (Coxe, ii. 333, &c.) give vague generalities. In a letter written in 1739 he tells Wyndham that Pulteney thought that his presence in England was hurtful (Coxe, iii. 523; see also Marchmont Papers, ii. 179, and iii. 350). It is probable enough that the opposition whigs felt that the suspicions of his influence in the background made them unpopular. An intimation to this effect would be specially annoying to a proud and sensitive man, who, after struggling for years to form an alliance with the whigs, was now told that he was in their way. There were no immediate prospects of victory, and his restoration to the House of Lords was obviously impossible. Pulteney told Swift (22 Nov. 1735) that the cause of Bolingbroke's retreat was want of money. He would not be able to return, said Pulteney, till the death of his father, who was still ‘very hale,’ brought him the family estates. Bolingbroke was always extravagant, and was certainly embarrassed at this time. He was always impulsive and given to hasty decisions; and there seems to be no cause for supposing, as Coxe suggests, that Walpole had discovered intrigues with foreign ministers. It is of course impossible to estimate the importance of Bolingbroke's influence during the preceding period. Hervey (Memoirs, ii. 86) observes that the quiet of the next session (1736) was due in part to his departure. His writings in the ‘Craftsman’ were the most brilliant pieces of journalism between the time of the ‘Examiner’ and Junius. His policy, however, was on the whole a failure, and the attempt to unite irreconcilable elements led to a final collapse.
Bolingbroke now retired to Chanteloup in Touraine, afterwards occupied by the Duc de Choiseul. He endeavoured to dispose of Dawley, which was ultimately sold, after long negotiations, in 1739. Pope tells Swift (17 May 1739) that 26,000l. was paid for it. From 1736 Bolingbroke writes from Argeville (Addit. MS. 34196), a chateau on the Seine between Fontainebleau and Montereau. Bolingbroke, says Pope in the same letter, was still hunting twice a week, and had the whole forest of Fontainebleau at his command. One of his wife's daughters was married to the Baron de Volore, governor of Fontainebleau, and her other daughter was abbess of the convent of Notre-Dame at Sens (Rémusat, i. 408). Lady Bolingbroke spent part of her time at this convent, and Bolingbroke was allowed to occupy a pavillon in a garden belonging to it, where he could pursue his studies (Marchmont Papers, ii. 285). He wrote essays upon history and the ‘Uses of Retirement’ in the form of letters to friends, and contemplated a history of the reign of Queen Anne, to which Swift and Pope make frequent references. He had been discussing this project for years (see letter to Swift, 19 Nov. 1729), and in 1736 was asking Wyndham to apply to the Duchess of Marlborough for information about her husband's campaigns (Coxe, ii. 337). The only fragment executed is apparently represented by the ‘Eighth Letter on the Study of History.’ In 1738 he visited England upon the Dawley business. He was introduced to Frederick, prince of Wales, who was now the centre of the opposition party. Bolingbroke had apparently no concern in the quarrel between the prince and his father in 1737 (ib. ii. 494), but he now wished to recommend himself to the new combination. The result was ‘The Patriot King,’ dated December 1738. It is his most elaborate piece of rhetoric; and Chesterfield declares that till he read it he did not know ‘the extent and power of the English language’ (Works, 1845, i. 376). An essay previously written upon the ‘Spirit of Patriotism,’ and afterwards addressed to Lyttelton, forms an introduction, and a paper on ‘The State of Parties at the Accession of George I’ is an appendix, added at Lyttelton's suggestion. The manuscripts were intrusted to Pope, with whom Bolingbroke was staying at the time, but not published.
Bolingbroke returned to France in the spring of 1739. He had now ceased to have any real influence in politics. He continued to write to Sir W. Wyndham, and expressed the gloomiest views of English affairs in general. The death of Wyndham (17 June 1740) deprived him of his most attached friend. Letters to him upon this occasion from Pope and Lyttelton (printed in Macknight, pp. 643–9) indicate the great importance attributed to the loss. Bolingbroke now adopted Hugh Hume [q. v.], who in February had become third Earl of Marchmont, as the successor to his confidence, and said that he would address to him all the philosophical and historical papers, the historical part of which had been intended for Wyndham. He was at this time revising the papers addressed to Pope (Marchmont Papers, ii. 213), and Chesterfield, who saw him in France in 1741, says that he would talk nothing but metaphysics (Chesterfield, v. 443). A close correspondence followed with Marchmont, in which Bolingbroke wrote fully and vigorously upon the last struggle with Walpole. In April 1742 Bolingbroke inherited the house at Battersea upon the death of his father, Lord St. John. He visited London, but found that the fall of Walpole had made no opening for his activity. He retired again to Argeville, and left his house at Battersea to Marchmont (Marchmont Papers, ii. 280). In 1743 he was again in England. Pope had now fallen under the influence of Warburton. He had in the previous year shown Bolingbroke's letters on the ‘Study of History,’ containing remarks on Jewish chronology, to Warburton, and innocently assured his friend that Bolingbroke would be glad to receive a candid criticism. Warburton wrote some remarks on the spot, which Pope sent to Bolingbroke. Bolingbroke's wrath was roused, and he made some very disagreeable remarks upon his critic. Pope, however, now introduced the two, and they all dined together at the house of Murray, afterwards Lord Mansfield. A sharp altercation followed, which led to later quarrels (see end of Warburton's fourth letter on Bolingbroke's philosophy; the end of Bolingbroke's fourth ‘Philosophical Essay;’ and Ruffhead, Pope, p. 220). Bolingbroke was again at Argeville in June 1743, and went to Aix-la-Chapelle for his own and his wife's health in August. Thence he resolved to return to England and settle at Battersea with his friend Marchmont. He was present at Pope's death (30 May 1744), and much affected. His discovery that Pope had had a questionable transaction with the Duchess of Marlborough, and afterwards that he had secretly printed fifteen hundred copies of the ‘Patriot King’ [see under Pope, Alexander], roused Bolingbroke's indignation, and he complained bitterly to Marchmont (22 Oct. 1744). A bitter controversy followed a little later. Bolingbroke made up his mind to publish a correct edition of the ‘Patriot King,’ some of the copies printed by Pope being in circulation. David Mallet [q. v.], who was known to him as a dependent of the Prince of Wales and Lyttelton, edited the book, and was said to be author of the preface. In this an attack was made upon Pope for his breach of faith. Warburton retorted in a letter to the ‘Editor of the Letters on Patriotism,’ &c., and Bolingbroke replied in, or inspired, a ‘Familiar Epistle to the most impudent man living.’ A final reply of unknown authorship was made in ‘A Letter to the Lord Viscount Bolingbroke, occasioned by his treatment of a deceased friend’ (see Watson, Life of Warburton, p. 366, for Mallet's denial of his authorship of the ‘Familiar Epistle’). Bolingbroke's conduct appears to have been generally condemned. Chesterfield told him that he had now succeeded in uniting whigs, tories, trimmers, and Jacobites against himself (Marchmont Papers, ii. 380; see also H. Walpole to Mann, Correspondence, ii. 158–60).
Meanwhile Bolingbroke continued to live at Battersea. He was visited by his political friends, and kept up his correspondence with Marchmont. He speaks of political affairs in a tone of despondency, and had little influence, though still under suspicion. Chesterfield, who admired him warmly, defended Marchmont, of whom the king had complained for intimacy with Bolingbroke; and told the king that he frequently himself talked with Bolingbroke to profit by his knowledge of foreign affairs. Bolingbroke's last political writing was an unfinished paper on the ‘Present State of the Nation,’ written apparently in 1749. His own health was breaking, and his wife obviously sinking. She died on 18 March 1750, and was buried at Battersea on the 22nd. He ‘acted grief,’ says Horace Walpole spitefully, ‘flung himself upon her bed, and asked if she could forgive him’ (to Mann, Correspondence, ii. 202). The grief was certainly genuine. Bolingbroke's warm affection for his wife is the most amiable trait in his private character. As Walpole says in the same letter, she was greatly admired for wit, and reports of her talk in Marchmont's diary show especially that her familiarity with French society enabled her to take an effective part in conversations upon foreign politics. Her death involved him in a lawsuit about her property in France which outlasted his life. His marriage was denied by some of his wife's relations. Ultimately the case was decided in his favour in March 1752. He made his will on 22 Nov. 1750, leaving legacies to his servants, and all his works, published and unpublished, to Mallet. He died of a cancer in the face on 12 Dec. 1751. Chesterfield saw him shortly before his death, and reports his saying, ‘God, who had placed me here, will do what he pleases with me hereafter; and he knows best what to do. May he bless you!’ (see Chesterfield, ii. 448, iii. 432, iv. 1). There were also edifying reports of his refusing to see the clergyman, and occasionally falling into a rage.
Bolingbroke was buried by the side of his wife in the family vault at Battersea on 18 Dec. There is a monument with medallion busts of himself and wife, by Roubiliac, in the parish church, with inscriptions composed by himself. The greater part of the manor-house was demolished in 1778. Bolingbroke's father had married a second wife, Angelica Magdalene, daughter of G. Pittesary, and left by her four children: Henrietta, who became Lady Luxborough [see Knight, Henrietta]; Bolingbroke wrote affectionate letters to her for many years (Addit. MS. 34196); George, to whom Bolingbroke, when in power, was very kind, and who died at Venice in January 1715–16; John, who became Viscount St. John, on his father's death, and who died in 1749; and Hollis, who died unmarried in October 1738. John's son Frederick (1734–1787) became second Viscount Bolingbroke upon the death of his uncle.
An engraving from a portrait by Thomas Murray (1663–1734) [q. v.] is prefixed to his works. A portrait, by Hyacinthe Rigaud, is in the National Portrait Gallery; a third was painted by Kneller.
Bolingbroke's most undeniable excellence was in the art of oratory. Swift says (Behaviour of the Last Ministry) that men of all parties assured him that, as a speaker, Bolingbroke had never been equalled; and the tradition survived to the days of the younger Pitt. Pitt is reported to have said that he would rather have recovered one of those speeches than the best compositions of antiquity. It has often been remarked that his writings are substantially orations. Their style has been greatly admired. Chesterfield calls the style ‘infinitely superior to any one's’ (Works, i. 376, ii. 78, 109, 117). Chatham (Correspondence, i. 109) advises his nephew to get Bolingbroke by heart, for the inimitable beauty of his style as well as for the matter. The style, however, does not prevent them from being now exceedingly tiresome, except to persons of refined tastes. The causes are plain. His political theories are the outcome not of real thought, but of the necessities of his political relations. He was in a false position through life. A profligate and a freethinker, he had to serve the most respectable of queens and to lead the high-church party. He was forced by political necessities to take up with the Pretender, whom he cordially despised, and afterwards repudiated. Having given up the Jacobites, he denounced ‘high-flying’ principles in the spirit of Locke and the whigs of 1688. As he wished to combine whigs and tories, he insists that the old party distinctions had become obsolete—a theory for which indeed there was much to be said in the days of Walpole. He attacks Walpole for his notorious corruption, and accepts the whig objections to standing armies and placemen. As a typical aristocrat by temper, he traces one main cause of the corruption to the ‘monied men’ as opposed to the landed classes, and denounces the stockjobbers and the bankers who were Walpole's main support. This position leads him to attack the whole system of party government which was elaborated during his time and resulted in the subordination of the royal authority to the parliamentary combinations. His ideal is therefore the king who will ‘begin to govern as soon as he begins to reign’ (Idea of a Patriot King). The king is to be powerful enough to override parties, and yet to derive strength like Queen Elizabeth, whom he specially admires, from representing the true rule of the people. In other words, Bolingbroke advocates a kind of democratic toryism, and may be understood as anticipating Disraeli's attacks upon the ‘Venetian aristocracy.’ Disraeli claims Bolingbroke and Wyndham as representatives of the true political creed in ‘Sybil’ (bk. iv. chap. 14). His theories, however, had to be adapted to the circumstances of the day; and he was forced to see his ideal ruler in Frederick, prince of Wales. He emits brilliant flashes of perception rather than any steady light, and fails in the attempt to combine philosophical tone with personal ends. His dignified style, his familiarity with foreign politics, and with history especially as regarded by a diplomatist mainly interested in the balance of power, impressed his contemporaries. But his dignity prevents him from rivalling Swift's hard hitting, on the one hand, while his philosophy is too thin on the other to bear a comparison with Burke. His philosophical writings are still less satisfactory. He began to study such topics, as he says in the letter to Pouilly, when he was past forty, and was chiefly anxious to display his rhetoric. His favourite topic is a supposed alliance between divines and atheists; and, in order to attack both, he adopts a very flimsy deism. He hates the divines the worse of the two, and especially such metaphysicians as Leibnitz and Clarke, whom he assails with weapons taken from Locke and with strong language of his own. He made many attacks upon the chronology and history of the Old Testament, but without much originality. His tendency is best represented by Pope's ‘Essay on Man,’ which, though often brilliant, has never passed for logical. Bolingbroke seems to have been singularly sensitive to criticism, and often lost his temper in controversy. Mr. Churton Collins gives reasons for thinking that he had much influence upon Voltaire. The personal connection, however, seems to have been slight; and Voltaire had studied more thoroughly the writers from whom Bolingbroke drew. The concidences, therefore, may be susceptible of a different explanation. Bolingbroke's philosophical works were published after the deist controversy in England had lost much of its novelty. They were attacked by Warburton, Robert Clayton (1695–1758) [q. v.], James Hervey (1714–1758) [q. v.], and John Leland (1691–1766) [q. v.]; and Voltaire wrote a short pamphlet in defence of the ‘Letters on History,’ ‘Défense de Milord Bolingbroke, par le docteur Good-natured Wellwisher, chapelain du Comte de Chesterfield,’ which was also published in English. It is given in the section ‘Philosophie’ in Voltaire's works, where it follows ‘Un Examen important de Lord Bolingbroke.’ Bolingbroke's name is here merely used as a convenient mask for one of Voltaire's characteristic essays. Bolingbroke's works excited only a momentary attention, and are too fragmentary and discursive to be of much value. Burke's ‘Vindication of Natural Society,’ another essay in imitation of Bolingbroke, but intended to expose his principles, is an interesting illustration of the positions of both thinkers.
Bolingbroke's works are: 1. ‘Letter to the Examiner’ (1710); reprinted in ‘Somers Tracts’ (1815), vol. xiii. 2. ‘The Considerations upon the Secret History of the White Staff’ (1714); and 3. ‘The Representation of the Lord Viscount Bolingbroke,’ 1715 (reprinted in ‘Somers Tracts,’ vol. xiii.), have been conjecturally attributed to him. The following have been reprinted from the ‘Craftsman:’ (1) ‘The Occasional Writer’ (three numbers), 1727; (2) ‘Remarks on the History of England, from the Minutes of Humphry Oldcastle’ (5 Sept. 1730 to 22 May 1731, in the ‘Craftsman’); (3) ‘The Freeholder's Political Catechism,’ 1733 (reprinted at the time and in ‘Collection’ of 1748, but not in works); (4) ‘A Dissertation upon Parties’ (27 Oct. 1733 to 21 Dec. 1734, in ‘Craftsman’); reprinted in 1735; 11th ed. 1786. In the ‘Craftsman’ appeared also an ‘Answer to the “London Journal” of 28 Dec. 1728;’ ‘Answer to the Defence of the Enquiry,’ &c.; ‘Final Answer to the Remarks on the “Craftsman's” Vindication;’ and the ‘First Vision of Camilick.’ These are reprinted (except the ‘Catechism’) in his ‘Works.’ A ‘Collection of Political Tracts by the Author of the Dissertation on Parties,’ 1748, includes the ‘Occasional Writer,’ various papers from the ‘Craftsman,’ and the ‘The Case of Dunkirk considered,’ not in the collected works. It was reprinted by Cadell in 1788. The ‘Letter on the Spirit of Patriotism,’ ‘The Idea of a Patriot King,’ and the essay ‘On the State of Parties at the Accession of George I’ were published (see above) in 1749.
The ‘Letters on the Study and Use of History,’ the first dated Chanteloup in Touraine, 6 Nov. 1735, were privately printed before Bolingbroke's death; but first published by Mallet in 1752, in 2 vols. 8vo, with ‘Plan for a General History,’ ‘True Use of Retirement and Study,’ and ‘Reflections upon Exile.’ In 1752 was also published ‘Reflections concerning Innate Moral Principles’ (not included in his ‘Works’), in French and English, said to have been written for the ‘Entresol’ Club, founded by Alari, of which there is an account in Grimoard, iii. 451, &c. In 1753 ‘Letter to Sir W. Wyndham,’ the ‘Reflections on the State of the Nation,’ and the ‘Introductory Letter to Pope’ were published by Mallet. Finally, in 1754, Mallet published the collected works, in 5 vols. 4to; which add ‘Substance of some Letters written originally in French about 1720, to M. de Pouilly;’ ‘A Letter occasioned by one of Archbishop Tillotson's Sermons;’ ‘[Four] Essays addressed to Alexander Pope,’ ‘Fragments or Minutes of Essays,’ &c., which, according to Mallet, were sent to Pope as written. This edition was ‘the gun charged against Christianity’ of Dr. Johnson's famous comment. Another quarto edition was published in 1778, and an octavo edition in 8 vols. 8vo, in 1809, with the ‘Life’ by Goldsmith prefixed.
[A contemporary Life and History of Bolingbroke appeared in 1752, and a Life by Goldsmith in 1770. Other contemporary memoirs appeared about 1740 and in 1754. A short life is prefixed to the editions of his Works. The first life worth notice, by George Wingrove Cooke [q. v.], published in 1835, is superficial. A Life by Thomas Macknight (1863) shows more research, though not always accurate. Mr. John Churton Collins's Bolingbroke, a Historical Study (with Voltaire in 1886), gives a spirited summary and criticism. Life by Thomas Harrop (1884), and Dr. Moritz Brosch's Lord Bolingbroke und die Whigs und Tories seiner Zeit (1883), add little. Mr. Arthur Hassall's Bolingbroke (1889), in the Statesman Series, Dr. Gottfried Koch's short notice, ‘Bolingbroke's politische Ansichten und die Squirearchei’ (1890), and Walter Sichel's ‘Bolingbroke and his Times’ (1901–2) may also be noticed. Rémusat's L'Angleterre au Dix-huitième Siècle, i. 111–452, gives a fair summary of his career, and his philosophical position is outlined in Carran's La Philosophie Religieuse en Angleterre depuis Locke, 1888, pp. 64–91. The original authorities are chiefly for the last four years of Queen Anne, Bolingbroke's Letters and Correspondence, by G. Parke, 1798, containing papers saved by his secretary, Thomas Hare, at the time of Queen Anne's death; Swift's Journal to Stella, Memoirs relating to the Charge in the year 1710, Inquiry into the Behaviour of the Queen's Last Ministry, Four Last Years and Correspondence; Torcy's Memoirs (quoted from Petitot's Collection, vol. lxviii.); The Report of the Committee of Secrecy (printed in appendix to Parl. Hist. vol. vii.). Macpherson's Original Papers; Lockhart Papers (1817); Stuart Papers, at Windsor, from which extracts are printed in the appendices to the first two volumes of Stanhope's History; and Mackintosh's Collections, now in the British Museum, from which extracts were given in the Edinburgh Review for October 1835, are the chief authorities as to the early Jacobite intrigues. Berwick's Memoirs (Petitot Collection, vol. lxvi.) and the Letter to Sir W. Wyndham give the best account of the first period in France. The Lettres Historiques, Politiques, Philosophiques, et Particulières, &c., 3 vols. 8vo, 1808, with introduction by Grimoard, contains translations of letters published elsewhere, with some new letters to the Abbé Alari, a friend of Bolingbroke, and Mme. de Villette, and to Mme. de Ferriol, from 1717 to 1736. Grimoard's introduction adds a few facts. For the later history, the correspondence published in the second volume of Coxe's Walpole (quoted from the quarto edition of 1798) is of chief importance. It includes Bolingbroke's Letters to Wyndham from the Egremont Papers. The correspondence of Swift and Pope contains many letters from Bolingbroke, and much incidental information. The Marchmont Papers, edited by Sir G. Rose, contain many letters from Bolingbroke during his last years, in vol. ii., and some accounts of him in Marchmont's Diary, in vol. i. Phillimore's Life of Lyttelton and Chesterfield's Works add some letters and notices. In the 9th App. to the 14th Rep. of the Hist. MSS. Comm. pp. 465–7, 470–2, 515, are some interesting remarks by Speaker Onslow upon Bolingbroke's relations to George I, the Duchess of Kendal, and Walpole. See also Spence's Anecdotes; Nichols's Literary Anecdotes; Schlosser's Hist. of the Eighteenth Century; Stephen's Religious Thought in the Eighteenth Century; Watson's Life of Warburton, and Walpole's Letters.]