to strike Pulteney's name (1 July 1731) off the list of privy councillors and the commissions of the peace on which it had been placed (Doyle).
Walpole's proposal in 1733 to borrow for purposes of current expenditure half a million from the sinking fund was carried in spite of the vigorous resistance of Pulteney and other members of the opposition. Undismayed, Pulteney next energetically attacked the ministerial excise scheme. In his speech against the alienation of the sinking fund he had incidentally denounced the ‘plan of arbitrary power’ contemplated in connection with ‘that monster, the Excise.’ The phrase struck fire (cf. Caricature History, p. 103); and the ‘Craftsman’ added fuel to the popular agitation by a series of articles said to have been supplied by Pulteney's own hand (Craftsman, Nos. 342, 367, 389, in vol. xi.). The real conflict took place in 1733–4. In the debate on 15 March 1733 on Walpole's test proposal of excise duties on tobacco, Sir William Wyndham appears to have carried off the chief honours on the opposition side; but Pulteney made a signal hit by his reference to a passage in Ben Jonson's ‘Alchemist’ as illustrating the gap between ministerial promise and performance (Coxe, Walpole, iii. 208–9), and he had his full share in the subsequent overthrow of the whole ministerial scheme. The attempt made in 1734 to renew the clamour against the pretended designs of the government broke down, and other manœuvres of the opposition met with no better success. Among these was a proposal for the repeal of the Septennial Act, which was supported by Pulteney, although he confessed himself to have favoured the act at the time of its introduction (ib. p. 131). Personal differences among the leaders doubtless accounted for the opposition's failure. ‘Pulteney and Lord Bolingbroke,’ wrote Lord Hervey, ‘hated one another; Lord Carteret and Pulteney were jealous of one another; Wyndham and Pulteney the same; whilst Lord Chesterfield had a little correspondence with all, but was confided in by none of them’ (Memoirs, i. 305).
At the general election of 1734 Pulteney was returned for Middlesex, which he continued to represent so long as he held a seat in the House of Commons. But the ‘Country Interest’ (as the ‘Patriots’ now called themselves) were again in a minority; and Bolingbroke—largely, according to one account, by Pulteney's advice—retired to France (Morley, Walpole, p. 83). The opposition was in 1735 further weakened by the fall from royal favour of Lady Suffolk, who had been intimate with Pulteney, and who now married his friend, George Berkeley. The parliamentary warfare between Walpole and Pulteney went on, but after the intrigues of the imperial agent, the bishop of Namur (Abbé Strickland), with Pulteney and other opposition leaders had come to nothing (Hervey, Memoirs, ii. 58; cf. Stanhope, ii. 182), the signing of the Vienna preliminaries (October 1735) was patriotically approved by Pulteney himself (Hervey, ii. 243). Earlier in the year he had interchanged parting civilities in the house with Sir Robert, and had, ‘when rather dead-hearted and sick in body,’ paid a friendly visit to the elder Horace Walpole at The Hague (Stanhope, ii. 180 n.). In November he wrote to George Berkeley from Bath that he must recruit for the winter, but that he had for some time been making up his mind to give himself less trouble in parliament, in view of the inutility of ‘struggling against universal corruption’ (Suffolk Letters, i. 146).
During the session of 1736 Frederick, prince of Wales, became the figure-head of the opposition (Morley, Walpole, p. 193), and the relations between Walpole and Pulteney grew more strained. Pulteney was at the time on amicable terms with the court, and on 29 April he moved the congratulatory address on the prince's marriage (cf. Hervey, ii. 193–7, iii. 48–9). He seems to have at first offered the prince and his political allies counsels of moderation, but when the prince was egged on to decline a conciliatory offer from the king as to his income, Pulteney remarked that the matter was out of his hands. On 22 Feb. 1737 he moved, however, an address requesting the king to settle 100,000l. a year on the heir-apparent. His speech was deemed languid, and the motion was lost (ib. pp. 70–3; Coxe, Walpole, iii. 343; Stanhope, ii. 203). He had no concern in the subsequent rash proceedings of the prince, in which he believed the latter altogether in the wrong, but he thought that his apologies ought to have atoned for his misconduct. He was shooting in Norfolk when the king's message expelled the prince from St. James's, and had to be summoned by an express to Kew (Hervey, iii. 195, 208, 245–6).
During 1737 Pulteney played a subordinate part, but in 1738 he found more effective means of attack. The grievances brought forward by British merchants against Spain's claim to search for and seize contraband goods gave him an opportunity, of which he made the most (Stanhope, ii. 277). He eagerly fanned the agitation occasioned by