came paramount as the director of the internal policy of William. Several of his old subordinates obtained important offices, notably Trevor and Bridgman, while the chief secretary, Henry Sidney, was entirely under Sunderland's influence; this influence, though its possessor remained without office, rapidly became irresistible. In August 1692 William spent a night at his house at Althorp. Rumour was constantly busy with his name, and the post that he would have in the administration was a common topic of coffee-house politicians. In September 1693 he took a large house in St. James's Square (‘Norfolk House’), and became regular in his appearances at court.
His advice was largely directed towards an innovation, the adoption of which proved of the utmost moment in the development of the British constitution. Though the motive was different, it was in substance the same advice he had given to James as to the advantages of a homogeneous administration. His opinion was that so long as the king tried to balance the two parties against each other and to divide his favour equally between them, both would think themselves ill-used, and neither would afford the government a steady support. The king must make up his mind to show a marked preference to one or the other. The reasons, both general and personal, for preferring the whigs were then insisted upon. William's own predilection was for the opposite plan of balancing the two parties in an administration with the idea of exercising a controlling influence over both, and it was with great hesitation that he allowed himself to listen to Sunderland's arguments. Gradually, however, a united whig ministry was evolved in substantial accordance with his plan. The tory leaders, Nottingham, Trevor, Leeds, and Seymour, were one by one dismissed. Godolphin alone of the old tories of Charles's reign remained at Whitehall, and his resignation was ultimately brought about by Sunderland's skilful management. Wharton admitted this feat, from which the whigs themselves had shrunk, to be a masterpiece of diplomacy. Scarcely less adroit, however, was the reconciliation which Sunderland effected between the king and the Princess Anne. He prevailed upon the princess to write a letter of condolence to the king at the new year (1695) immediately after Mary's death, and, when she went to Kensington in person, he insured her a reception of marked civility. In this way, by terminating the quarrel between the king and heir-apparent, he rendered a real service to his master. In October in this year William paid him the compliment of staying the better part of a week at Althorp. Considerable surprise was expressed that in the next session, against the known wish of the king, he should have supported the scheme for a parliamentary council of trade; the fact showed the nervous apprehension he was under of aggravating the powerful whig majority. But shattered as his nerve was, Sunderland still felt a craving for the excitements and the spoils of office. It was not enough that, after all his crimes, he was still enjoying the splendours of Althorp, a pension from the privy purse, and the confidence of his sovereign about the most important affairs of state. When, therefore, Dorset resigned the post of lord chamberlain on 19 April 1697, men were not surprised to hear that Sunderland had been appointed in his stead. Three days later he was named one of the lords justices who were to administer the kingdom during William's absence in the summer.
Considerable uneasiness was felt among honest politicians at the time of the appointment, but little was said until the following December, when, in a debate upon the king's demand for a strong peace establishment, the remark that ‘no person well acquainted with the disastrous history of the last two reigns can doubt who the minister is who is now whispering evil counsel in the ear of a third master,’ let loose all the fear, jealousy, and hatred with which Sunderland was regarded. The junto, though they owed him much, were more than cold in his defence. Montagu frankly compared him to a fireship, dangerous at best, but even more dangerous as a consort than when showing hostile colours. The efforts of his own satellites, such as Trevor, Guy, and Duncombe, were quite ineffectual to protect him, and on his own part he exhibited a panic fear. William appealed in vain to the junto to come to the rescue, and an address to the king to remove such an evil adviser was impending, when Sunderland voluntarily and in haste resigned (26 Dec. 1697). His friends, who had come to discuss the situation, encountered him on his return from Kensington without the badge of office. He might at least, they urged, have waited till the morrow. ‘To-morrow,’ he exclaimed, ‘would have ruined me. To-night has saved me.’ A sanguine view was encouraged by the knowledge that his old influence with the king was unimpaired, and that he would still enjoy the emoluments of the office, the duties of which, until October 1699, were mainly performed by his secretary (cf. Luttrell; Vernon's Letters, pp. 466–9).
A few weeks after this storm in January