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Osborne
Osborne
302

the same day the duke was heard in his defence in the House of Commons. To receive bribes, he argued, was a custom characteristic of the age since he had been in public life. Proceeding to the House of Lords, he magnified his public services, asserted his innocence, and asked either for a reconsideration of the vote or a speedy trial. A Swiss servant of his, John Robart, who, it was stated, had received the five thousand guineas for his master from the company, fled the country, and a proclamation was issued for his apprehension on 11 May (Luttrell, iii. 470). Without his evidence the commons could not proceed. Leeds thereupon moved, in the House of Lords, that the impeachment should be dismissed, and, although the motion fell to the ground, the proceedings against him were never revived.

Meanwhile, in May 1695 he was told to absent himself from the council (ib. iii. 475). For some months he retired into the country, but he soon returned, and by frequent speeches in parliament sought to regain his position. On 15 Oct. he resumed his place as president of the council (ib. iii. 537). Two days later he accompanied the king on a visit to Newmarket (ib. iii. 538). On 9 Nov. 1695 the university of Oxford showed their confidence in him by making him D.C.L. On 17 Dec. 1695 he became commissioner of a new committee of trade (ib. iii. 562), and on 10 Dec. 1696 governor of the Royal Fishery Company (ib. iv. 150). But although he clung to his salary and his nominal position in the council, he had lost all influence on public affairs. His public life was confined henceforth to occasional participation in the debates of the House of Lords. In the discussion of the attainder of Fenwick, he, with other tories, argued that it was not worth while to seriously proceed against the prisoner, and he took a prominent part in the attack on Monmouth for intriguing with Fenwick's wife [see Mordaunt, Charles, third Earl of Peterborough]. On 23 April 1698 he entertained at Wimbledon the czar, Peter the Great (ib. iv. 371). But in May 1699 he was compelled to relinquish office, and in August he ceased to be lord lieutenant of the three Yorkshire Ridings. On 23 Oct. the king received him with much politeness in private audience (ib. iv. 574). In 1700 a statute (12 & 13 Will. iii. c. 2) was passed, declaring, with obvious reference to his position in earlier years, that a royal pardon was not pleadable in bar of an impeachment.

Despite his great age and increasing bodily infirmities, the duke never relaxed his efforts to recover some of the ground he had lost. In December 1702 he made a fierce personal attack in the House of Lords on Halifax, asserting that his family was 'raised by rebellion.' A duel was anticipated, and Halifax and the duke's son, the Marquis of Carmarthen, were both bound over by the council not to accept a challenge (Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep.pt. ix. p. 96). During Queen Anne's reign, according to Macky, he 'was not regarded, tho' he still took his place at the council-board.' The same writer describes him at the time as 'a gentleman of admirable natural parts, great knowledge and experience in the affairs of his own country, but of no reputation with any party.' His staunch protestantism, on the other hand, still secured him a few warm admirers. Dunton, in his 'Life and Errors,' 1705, p. 423, asked 'where shall we find strict morals, unaffected devotion, refined loyalty, or that old English hero that made France and the world tremble, if not in Great Leeds?' In 1705 he supported a motion that the church was in danger (Boyer, Annals, p. 218), and in the debate on Sacheverell in March 1710 he made a long speech in defence of hereditary right (ib. p. 433). On 29 Nov. 1710 he was granted a pension of 3,500l. a year out of the post-office revenues (Harl. MS. 2264), In 1711 he was described as a strong competitor for the office of lord privy seal (Boyer, p. 515). Some part of his enforced leisure he occupied in publishing a defence of his conduct in Charles II's reign. In 1710 appeared two volumes on the subject: one entitled 'Copies and Extracts of some Letters written to and from the Earl of Danby (now Duke of Leeds) in the years 1676, 1677, and 1678, with particular Remarks upon some of them. Published by his Grace's direction,' and the other called 'Memoirs relating to the Impeachment of Thomas, Earl of Danby (now Duke of Leeds), in the year 1678.' A comparison of the printed papers with the original documents shows that the duke had liberally garbled them, and in the trembling handwriting which characterised his old age had altered crucial passages in almost all the drafts of the incriminating letters in his possession.

He died 'of convulsions' on 26 July 1712, aged 81, at Easton, Northamptonshire, the seat of his grandson, the Earl of Pomfret. At the time he was on his way to Hornby Castle, his home in Yorkshire. His will was proved in April 1713. He left a princely fortune, but in distributing his property passed over his son and successor in favour of his eldest grandson. Although some of his papers are in the possession of the present Duke of Leeds at Hornby Castle, the