the story of Jenkins's ear. He was implacable in his condemnation of the Spanish convention of January 1739, and a partner in the futile secession of which, on the reassembling of the house, he delivered an elaborate defence (Smollett, Hist. of England, ed. 1822, iii. 89–90; Coxe, u. s. iv. 139–41; Stanhope, iii. 3–4). In October of the same year the agitation excited by the opposition drove the government into war with Spain. Pulteney's popularity was at its height, but at the moment, while staying at Ingestre in Staffordshire with his old schoolfellow, Lord Chetwynd, he fell dangerously ill. The general alarm was changed into joy by his unexpected recovery; his illness had cost him seven hundred and fifty guineas in physicians' fees, and was cured by a draught of small-beer (Life of Bishop Newton, pp. 45–6).
In 1740 the unpopularity of the ministry was increased by the widespread impression that the war was slackly conducted (see Caricature History, &c., p. 123). On 13 Feb. 1741 Sandys brought forward his celebrated motion asking the king to remove Sir Robert Walpole from his councils for ever. Pulteney took a prominent part in the debate which ensued. He denounced Walpole's foreign policy as consistently aimed at depressing the house of Austria and exalting the house of Bourbon. But the ‘motion,’ and its counterpart in the lords, ended in collapse (see Caricature History of the Georges, p. 129, the famous caricature in which
Billy, of all Bob's foes
The wittiest in verse and prose,
appears wheeling a barrow filled with bundles of the ‘Craftsman’ and the ‘Champion,’ a periodical, it is said, of coarser grain, which had superseded the former).
Pulteney threw himself ardently into the contest of the general election in the summer of 1741, subscribing largely towards the expenses of his party (ib. p. 233). Walpole's majority was greatly reduced. In the debate on the address (December) Pulteney attacked his policy along the whole line (ib. pp. 244–5), and obtained a day for considering the state of the nation. Before, however, that day arrived the government suffered defeat (Suffolk Letters, ii. 190–2). On 13 Jan. 1742 Pulteney moved to refer to a select committee the papers connected with the war, and the motion was lost in a very full house by a majority of three (Walpole, Letters to Sir Horace Mann, i. 120–2). A week later the ministry was placed in a minority of one on the Chippenham election petition. Walpole made up his mind to bow to the storm, and George II directed Newcastle and the lord chancellor, Hardwicke, to invite Pulteney to form a government (cf. Stanhope, iii. 108), on condition that he screened Walpole from any inquiry. Pulteney received the king's messengers in his own house, and in the presence of Carteret declined their proposal, remarking incidentally that ‘the heads of parties were somewhat like the heads of snakes, who were urged on by their tails’—alluding, apparently, to Pitt and the younger whigs. At the same time he offered to go publicly to court to receive any communications with which he might be honoured by the king (Life of Bishop Newton, pp. 48–9; cf. Life of Bishop Pearce, p. 393; Morley, Walpole, p. 240). A second (or third) message thereupon reached Pulteney, through Newcastle. The previous offer was renewed, without conditions; the king trusted to Pulteney's generosity and good nature not to ‘inflame’ any proceedings against Walpole. Pulteney replied that he was ‘no man of blood,’ but refused to accept the headship of the government or any post in it. He merely stipulated that he should be named of the cabinet council (Life of Bishop Newton, pp. 49–54; cf. Life of Bishop Pearce, u. s.). His refusal of office was apparently inspired ‘by a sense of shame that made him hesitate at turning courtier after having acted patriot so long and with so much applause’ (Morley, Walpole, p. 243). He could afford to resist personal temptations, but a certain lack of public spirit may have contributed to the result.
For the position of first lord of the treasury he recommended Carteret, for the chancellorship of the exchequer Sandys, and for other posts other members of the party. Soon, however, a section which had not been consulted in these arrangements, headed by Cobham, grew jealous. At a large opposition meeting at the Fountain tavern complaints were openly made that too many of Walpole's followers were to be kept in office, and bitter words passed between Argyll and Pulteney (Coxe, Walpole, iv. 271–6). At a subsequent meeting the presence of the Prince of Wales alone prevented an open rupture. Pulteney was, however, persuaded to acquiesce in the substitution of Sir Spencer Compton, earl of Wilmington [q. v.], as first lord in place of Carteret (Walpole, Last Ten Years, i. 155 n.), and changes were made in some minor nominations that Pulteney had proposed. The new ministers accepted their seals on 16 Feb. 1742; Pulteney entered the cabinet without office, and was readmitted to the privy council (20 Feb.)
Early in March Pulteney lost his only daughter, ‘a sensible and handsome girl’ (Walpole, Letters, i. 144). During his