10 Feb. the Pelhams and their following resigned in a body. The king now invited Bath to take the treasury and select a second secretary of state with Granville; but it speedily became manifest that a majority in either house was out of the question, and that the government, if formed at all, would have to be formed of nonentities. Two days afterwards the king sent for Pelham, and the status quo ante was restored, except that Bath's remaining adherents were dismissed from the ministry. The attempt to turn him once more out of the privy council was, however, frustrated (Coxe, u. s. i. 192–6). The air was again thick with pasquinades and caricatures (cf. Caricature History, pp. 160–161).
Bath played no other part of consequence in public affairs, though he still occasionally appeared on the scene in the character described by Sir C. H. Williams (Works, i. 213) as that of ‘an aged raven.’ He was in Paris in 1750, and on his return he made a ‘miscellaneous’ speech, alternately pathetic and facetious, on the Regency Bill (1751); and there are notes of further speeches by him on Scottish and other business in the two following years and in 1756. In 1758 he supported the Navy Bill in another miscellaneous speech which ‘resembled his old orations, except that in it he commended Sir Robert Walpole’ (Walpole, Last Ten Years, i. 100–2, 128, 237, 240, 293, ii. 46, 290).
The accession, in 1760, of George III, to whom he had long been a familiar figure, gratified him (Life of Bishop Pearce, pp. 402, 403). He inspired in that year the ‘Letter to Two Great Men [Pitt and Newcastle] on the Prospect of Peace and on the Terms,’ by his chaplain, Dr. Douglas. It exerted no influence, though it was much applauded (Walpole, ii. 412). Among the old watchwords of the ‘Craftsman’ which reappear in it are the necessity of distrusting ‘French faith’ and the dangers of a standing army. It was Bath's last political effort. His remaining years were chiefly given up to social and literary dalliance with the amiable coterie of which Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu [q. v.] was the most interesting figure. Another member of it, Miss Catherine Talbot (see Boswell, Life of Johnson, ed. Birkbeck Hill, i. 232 n.), introduced him to Elizabeth Carter [q. v.], who has left an account of his life and ways at Tunbridge Wells (Memoirs of Mrs. E. Carter, i. 223 seqq.) He shared in a ‘plot’ to make her publish her poems, and affably composed the (laconic) dedication to himself prefixed to them. After the peace of Paris he and Dr. Douglas joined the Montagus and Miss Carter in a trip to Spa, the Rhine, and the Low Countries, from June to September 1763 (ib. pp. 249–50, 362). In 1764 a chill, said to have been caught by ‘supping in a garden,’ brought on a fever, and on 7 July he died, ‘not suddenly but unexpectedly’ (Memoirs of Mrs. E. Carter i. 386–7; Life of Bishop Pearce, pp. 407–9; Suffolk Letters, i. 201 n.) He was buried in Westminster Abbey.
His great wealth, including that of his late wife, who left everything to him, descended by his will to his only surviving brother, General Pulteney. His left no issue, his only son, Viscount Pulteney, had died at Madrid on his way home from Spain, at the age of seventeen, on 12 Feb. 1763. He was a youth of promise, and had obtained a commission in the army after his father had paid his debts (Life of Bishop Newton, pp. 122–4; Suffolk Letters, i. 146–7, 167).
Bath's character is very differently estimated by his friends and foes. They agree only in censuring his ‘too great love of money.’ He certainly was no stranger to the instinct of accumulation which is a besetting temptation to very rich men. On the other hand, he frequently responded with munificence both to public and private claims, and as a landlord was good to the church (Life of Bishop Pearce, pp. 376–9; Life of Bishop Newton, pp. 138–9). His intellectual gifts were unquestionably of a high order, and he seems to have preserved to the last that freshness of mind which in his younger days he combined with great activity of body (Suffolk Letters, i. 112). His skill in diversifying his recreations is celebrated by Ambrose Philips in an ode dated 1 May 1723. He excelled in conversation without ever seeking to ‘soliloquise or monopolise.’ Of the effectiveness of his wit abundant illustrations remain (cf. Suffolk Letters), and he was specially happy in quotation from Shakespeare and the classics (Walpole, Last Ten Years, i. 40 n.) He was author, among other ‘ballads’ and cognate productions, of a political song, ‘The Honest Jury, or Caleb Triumphant’ (written on the acquittal of the publisher of the ‘Craftsman’ from a charge of libel), which has been described as ‘once among the most popular in our language’ (Lecky, Hist. of England, i. 375 n.; Wilkins, Political Ballads, 1870, ii. 232–6). The ‘Craftsman’ is an enduring monument of his wit and literary ability. According to Horace Walpole (note to Hanbury Williams's Works, i. 132), Pulteney had a hand in ‘Mist's’ and ‘Fog's’ journals.
It is, however, as an orator that he is chiefly to be remembered. Ample evidence